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We came out of Buttonwillow with some busted parts and a massive to-do list of what we needed to fix, along with a whole new theme.
We hit the track for practice on Friday about three inches lower, two feet more noseconier, four feet more winged and with twice as much swaybar. Aside from Ted (Mad_Science_Senior) attempting to hit the track 30 seconds after they shut it down, practice went off without a hitch: the wing was rock-solid and the nosecone wasn’t causing any overheating issues–in fact, the car was running cold.
Our biggest complaint from Buttonwillow (aside from breakage and a wreck) was the floaty mcboaty handling that came from running stock suspension (with a blown front strut) with 400lbs of weight taken out of the car. It ran like it had a 3 in lift kit. Consider that issue solved. The car’s new stance keeps it planted and handling about as well as a 27 year old 6 series is ever going to handle.
Saturday we started off running well, with Ted running about 90 minutes before coming in with with transmission issues. Turns out rubber ATF hoses will last about 27 years before they start to crack and leak. We swapped in a (newer) spare and Braff hit the track. He ran clean, taking only a few laps to acclimate to a whole new suspension, seat, mirror and track.
I followed Jeff out and ran with mediocrity for about an hour before getting called in for passing under yellow. Despite the fact that we had 900% better suspension compared to Buttonwillow, some combination of the car, the track and the new seat left me feeling less competent and less able to push the limits of the car. Nearly losing it on turn 14 on one of my first laps kinda spooked me, and I was reluctant to really get on it.
[singlepic id=576 w=320 h=240 float=left]Aaron hit the track after me and ran with no major issues, but one recurring annoyance. Our car seems to hate its exhaust system. At Buttonwillow the U-bolt clamp holding the muffler failed, so I made sure to weld up all the parts we put back on. Alas, the factory weld at the very start of the exhaust failed during Aaron’s shift (so that’s what that exhaust leak sound was coming from…). While he swapped with Ted, I threw on my welding gloves and yanked the whole thing. Nothing quite like a BMW M30 straight six running full blast right out of the header.
Aside from a false-alarm black flag, Ted ran his 2nd shift without incident. Running without incident was Ted’s goal after 80% of the body damage sustained at Buttonwillow happened with him at the wheel. He ran the tank right down to empty and pulled in for fuel right as they threw the checker for Saturday.
You succeed at LeMons by staying on the track, not by being fast, and so far we were succeeding on both accounts. We weren’t impressing anyone, but we were doing laps–and climbing in the ranks as a result.
Overnight I threw some booger welds on the exhaust (the Miller 180 proved to be a bit taxing on the generator) and Jeff swapped the guibo, as it was starting to fail. With those two fixes and the fluids topped off, we were ready to rock for Sunday. Tune in tomorrow for Part II.