Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Southern Discomfort

While the original February time of the CMP race often lived up to the name, you really can't call May in South Carolina "Southern Discomfort". The weather was beautiful. Highs were in the 70's, nights in the 50's and besides some sprinkles on Friday, was sunny for the whole weekend.


We got off to an inauspicious start. Pulling the car onto Todd's open trailer I gunned it a little to make sure it didn't hang up on the ramp. It didn't. It ripped the exhaust out from under the car like a fish getting gutted. On the way out the exhaust bent the shift linkage and knocked off the rear swaybar mount. Also hanging low before pulling onto the trailer (but not after) were the submarine belt mounts. There were big washers on the bottom to prevent them from pulling up though the floor, but nothing but the eyebolt head to keep it from being pulled through the bottom. The only bit of good fortune is that it happened right in front of the shop, so we had access to all of the tools to put it back together again. Needless to say we left for CMP about 4 hours later than planned. We arrived late Thursday, had a couple of beers with the Bees and the Tunachuckers and went to bed.


Friday was spent setting up the dome. We got it done in about 3 hours thanks to the new hardware. Turbo Schnitzel's biggest fan stopped by to throw her bra at the dome. Sabine had found a 911 bra cheap and brought it to use on the Turbo Schnitzel.  Craig's keeping it.

The new hardware allowed us to pre-build the hexes and pentagons that made up the dome on the ground and then quickly connect them at the corners. Taking it down on Sunday did not go as smoothly. Tech was smooth, though Jay did hassle us about our on-off switch. We will probably redo it when we rewire the car.


We sent Kevin out first so that he could circulate under yellow before the race began in earnest. He managed to stay out of trouble during what can be a chaotic session with many formerly untested cars getting wrung out by new drivers. Craig went out next and turned in some solid laps, moving us up in the rankings to 11th place. I got into the car afterwards and after a very long yellow behind a very slow driver, I was presented with a clear track. Taking full advantage I set our fast lap...and then spun. Tracking out wide on the carousel the wheels got into the rumble strips. The car was a bit upset and refused to be placated until it was facing the wrong way. Phil sent me back out quickly, but as soon as the car was back out on the track the repaired exhaust popped off. One noisy lap later and the car was back in the pits for a 20 minute repair.

The rest of my stint went smoothly. I followed the Radioactive mustang for a dozen laps and they managed not to hit me when the car got a bit wobbly as I tried to pass at the kink. Todd took the car out next, but managed a black flag for passing under yellow and got a somewhat sterner lecture from Phil. He went back out again, but came in early with some vibration in the front. A quick inspection showed that a tie rod end was missing its cotter pin and was working its way loose. A quick repair.

Kevin hopped in for the last stint of the day. He had to dodge a pair of cars that were each trying to out-brake the other into the corner and ended up 4-off. Phil was characteristically unsympathetic as it was our third offence for the day, and gave him a scavenger hunt list of selfies to take.


Craig took the long morning session. His duty was to make the fuel last the full two hours until the 11-noon quiet hour, which with the help of a large number of yellow flags he was able to pull off without breaking a sweat. He reported some engine roughness and had lost some gauges when the oil pressure gauge worked its way loose, so we spent quiet hour checking out the wiring.

The loose gauge had shorted the wiring and blew a fuse that was easily replaced. I took the opportunity to check the grounds and added a valve cover ground that had gone missing during the last engine swap. We also checked the cap and rotor to see if it had any contribution to the roughness, and somehow dropped a screw. We jacked up the car to look for it in the sandy floor of the dome. The jack slipped off the front subframe and managed to bend the radiator like a magician flexes a deck of cards. We were somewhat mortified to say the least.

The pressure tester showed that the radiator seemed to somehow not be leaking even though the plastic upper and lower housings were flexed about an inch. That's when we realized that the hood would no longer close. Two stacks of washers under the hood pins was our temporary fix.

I strapped into the car and rolled towards the track entrance. The car was about 100 feet away when Craig reminded me that it had no fuel. In all of the excitement over the radiator we had forgotten to put fuel in the car during the quiet hour. I made a circuit of the track and they met me at the fuel pumps on track. Mike was there fueling up cans for the 39 car and graciously allowed us to fuel up on his credit card so we didn't have to wait for the pump's credit card authorization modem to sync.

Finally getting out on track the car was doing well. The tie rod end being fixed gave me a bit more confidence going into the kink (it had felt weird over the hump on Saturday) and I was able to follow and eventually get a point-by from the Monza. Todd hopped in the car and almost made it to the end of his stint when he felt some wobble. Bringing the car in we found that the front passenger side shock had pulled through its grommet and was only casually connected to the car. It was probably repairable, but the rear wheels seemed to also have a fair amount of bearing play. With about a hour and a half to go in the race we called it and focused on tearing down the dome.