21 March, 2009

In on the Hook!??!?!

I had an adventure filled race today, day 1 of 2 out at Thunderhill. With the old 1200cc engine slotted back in, everything was pretty much the same as I ran the car last year, with a few a very minor changes.

We got out to the track super early to go through the 7am tech. Luckily, we don't have to tech tomorrow, so we can show up late. This weekend our ARC Club is sharing the race group with the Historic Stock Car Group. Literally old Winston Cup Stock Cars from the 80s and 90s, all built and painted up in their colors from back in the day, complete with the names of the original NASCAR driver over the door. We had ourselves some Alan Kulwiki, Morgan Shepard, and Brett Bodine. In reality, we had a group of guys in their 50s and 60s out pounding the asphalt in these great big beasts, running pretty damn fast! Like 1.57-2.02 times. Thats' Corvette ZO6 and 911 GT3 territory. They even had a full support truck with tire changing equipment.

I went out for the practice session and made it about 2 laps. I got the meatball flag as I was smoking a bit around turn 2, a long left hander. I went back out after the marshall gave it a look over and said it was just a little oil on the header. Going up the hill to turn 9, all hell broke loose. I lost power, and the exhaust sound had drasitcally changed. Uh oh. I switchd it off and coasted around to a safe spot outside turn 12. Then I got towed in on a rope.

I was assuming something terrible had happened, and even thought the weekend was over. After letting the car cool off, I inspected. I found the newly vented valve covers I had made for the 1700cc engine were leaking around the venets. And the valve covers themselves weren't that snug. And then I noticed the #3 spark plug (still attached to the spark plug wire) was just sorta keepin' it real, hanging out on the fan shroud. As in, not actually plugged into the cylinder head. Hhhmmmm.

After installing it, and making sure it was snug, the engine fired right up.

I went out for a full qualfying session with no problems, except I still had some smoke. I got out the big wrenches and really snug down the valve cover vents. I immediately planned a visit to the VW/Race shop on the way home to purchase new valve covers. I only vented these because the 1700cc had so much crank pressure, but never had that issue with the 1200.

I gridded up 26th out of 34 cars, which sounds pretty sad. But in fact, The top 15 cars were made up of GT1 Corvettes and all the Nascar boys, 10 in total. Without those fast guys, I would have been closer to my usual 15th out of 20 cars.

The race itself was good. It was exciting at the beggining, and then got boring. I managed two passes on the first lap, then traded positions with a Mustang GT and a white Spec Miata for the next few laps. In fact, we went two wide through turn 1, 2, and 3 on one lap. The Miata attempted to get inside me into 1, we were both a little slow, so the Mustang powered through. I went around the outside of the Mustang in turn 2, and held off both cars into turn 3. Of course, by the back straight they both left me. I stayed with the Miata for a few more laps, but it got busy with the leaders coming through at the half way point. I finished first in GT4, and beat about 6 or 7 cars. The last two laps got exciting too, as a full race Mustang lost a motor into turn 14. This was my first experience going through and across an oil slick, and holy shit was it slick. I damn near went off the track on the cool down lap, as I forgot the oil as there (no oil flag on the cool down laps.)

I gave the car a good douche after we got home, and installed the new valve covers. Hopefully we'll have less of a smoke show.

Of course, it started raining here a few hours ago, and rain is forcasted tomorrow. I plan on running, rain or shine. Unless it is dumping like a mad man. As it turns out, we showed a raise of hands in the race meeting today for those with rain tires. None of the big boys had rains, and said they would be running. So if we get rain, it will probably be me and half a dozen spec Miatas dueling it out for the slowest 10 lap race ever!


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