Sunday we were off to a great start. We had our fastest driver (Jeff), at the wheel and the car was running like a top. We were in the low 60s, place-wise, and climbing. Alas, he picked up a black flag after being waved by to pass…under yellow. Luckily, it’s just a driver swap and we’re on our way.
I hit the track again, determined to drive like less of a wuss. As far as I can tell I succeeded, because The Missus wasn’t mocking me when I came in this time. Alas, my exhaust welding job from the night before failed and we had to yank the exhaust again. My shift ended with a passing under yellow penalty, which left us writing “I will not pass under yellow” 100 times on the hood.
While the rest of us retired to rest our cramped hands, Aaron hit the track and managed to blow turn 10, going 4-off on his first lap. Coming in 10 minutes after your last penalty rapidly erodes the Judges’ sympathy towards your team. This one earned us a 15 minute parking session.[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/7861466[/vimeo]
This threw Ted back on the track, for 1 hour, 15 minutes of trouble-free motoring. Alas, he was supposed to come after only an hour. Apparently the radio earbud wasn’t loud enough whenever we tried to call him in. The long shift wasn’t much of a problem, but the wreck and spin in turn 8 sure was. Per his account, he was in traffic coming into turn 8 and as he turned in someone came up the inside and caught him in the door, spinning him into the mud on the inside of the turn.
After a few minutes to get the truck out there, the UberBird comes in, looped around the front wheels. Minor issue: when you put a 2-foot nosecone on your car, it makes it tough for the tow truck to pick up your front end. As our muddy steed was dropped off, Judge Jonny and a whole crew from the “Other Party” were waiting at our pit. Looking at how worked up the other team was and hearing their driver explain how he totally had the line (a phrase that’ll get you nowhere with LeMons officials), it looked like we were about to have a brawl in the pits. Ted’srebuttal: “Wow, I guess I didn’t see you there”. Jonny sends Team Hothead back to their car and leaves us to de-mud the ‘Bird. We’re still not sure what team it was.
With the fenders pulled out and 20 lbs of mud knocked off the flatspotted tires, Aaron’s back in the saddle. Determined to get his money’s worth on this shift, he more-or-less takes it easy. Somewhere in the middle of his shift, he comes in with major brake issues. “It feels like a clutch pedal” he says. WTF?. We throw all four corners up and start checking the brake lines, then pull the wheels to check the individual calipers. Meanwhile, Jeremy finds the problem at the brake pedal itself: the pin that connects the pedal arm to the rod that pushes on the master cylinder has fallen out. Luckily, it’s rolling around on the floor under the driver. It’s supposed to be held in with a C-clip, but for now bailing wire will do.
We’d been losing time all afternoon, but finally we put Jeff in for what should’ve been either the last or second-to-last shift of the day. We were in the low-70s, but if we could just run laps for the remaining 2.5 hours, we’d climb way up. Alas, not far into his shift, Jeff comes back in on the hook. Backwards, this time. Apparently the car dropped out of gear, but now’s stuck in gear…or something. I fear this could be the end of our awesome three-speed auto.
I climbed underneath to see the normally straight shifter linkage bent into a “U” and a big chunk missing out of the guibo. Crap. Ok, let’s get to work: pulled the linkage to get someone started on pounding it straight, then pulled the guibo to swap for the one from Saturday. As I tried to line up the bolts for the new guibo, I noticed the tranny seemed way out of position. Turns out the tranny crossmember was hanging by only one bolt. As we reinstalled bolt #2, we realized the mount holding the tranny to the crossmember is in two pieces. That, we just let be. I threw on the straightened linkage, but again found myself with a pin that required a c-clip to stay in place. I put the whole setup in Drive, wrapped some bailing wire around the loose end and told Jeff to hit the track, but under no circumstances should he touch the shifter.
I wish we had some pictures of this nonsense, but we were all too busy to even think about taking pictures.
Anyways, Jeff took my advice and ran something like an hour before finishing with the checker. On his way into the pits, we noticed something was dragging…apparently my bailing wire fix on the shifter hadn’t held up: the shifter end of the linkage was dragging on the ground. According to Jeff, he was stuck in 2nd for a good portion of his stint, which was really only a problem at the end of the big straight.
But hey: we finished! After concluding the last race in the pits, it was great to see our car end the race under its own power. We came in 86th out of 152, which ain’t great, but it’s better than we did at Buttonwillow.
So what’s next? Despite being a little banged-up, the car only needs a few things: tranny mount, guibo, new tires and a re-welded exhaust.
Could it use some upgrades? Sure, but speed isn’t what’s holding us back. After all, we finished behind the #430 CherokeeBird, #143 Mystery Machine Minivan, and the IOE winning #62 VW Bug. How? Why? Gotta stay on the track, baby. The slowest cars were running like 2:46 laps, with the fastest down around 2:20. The shortest pull-ins take 5-10 minutes, to say nothing of 45 minute wrenching sessions. It’s gonna take a lot of 20-second-faster laps to make up 45 minutes off-track.
Anyway, I gotta say thanks to a great team. A recommendation for LeMons racers to-be: having a team you can work with is a million times more important than good drivers or guys who one time built a fast car. Whenever something went wrong on the car, these guys kept cool heads and were quick to jump into action. We all would’ve been less quick on our feet had it not been for the great crew of ladies helping us out in the pits. Daisy, my mom and family friend Sabrah kept us fed (pulled pork…mmmmmm) and hung on to the dogs all weekend. Next shout-out goes to Jeremy (aka DamnElantra), Nick and Eric for helping out in the pits and shooting great batches of pictures, from which I’ve pilfered for this writeup. Thanks to Mark for the use of his truck and generator. Thanks to whatever team was running the Ranger pickup for giving us someone to run with on-track. Last but not least, thanks to all the staff that make this happen: Jay, Nick, John, Jeff, Judges, and all the little people handing out forms or working corners without you, we wouldn’t be here (…we’d be on vacation or enjoying the thousands of dollars we would’ve otherwise saved!)