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|A SHIT SHOW AT June Sprints||Tuesday, June 18, 2019|
|We have never had good luck at the Sprints and this year was no exception. To be fair, we knew there was a gremlin in the car from the way it acted at Mid Ohio but we needed to flush out the bug since it only came out after 15 or so laps and would not show up in the shop.
Sheryl & I loaded up the rig Wednesday morning. I started driving at 11:20 and arrived at the track just after 9 pm. I hit several delays driving around Chicago at 5:30 and then hit rain near Milwaukee but it was a nice trip.
I got up early as there was plenty of activity early but they would not let me in the track unless we were doing the test day. Registration opened at 11 am and I got in and set up in turn five in a great free spot with power. Kevin showed up earlier than I expected at about 10:30. We were both beat so we went to bed.
We got up early and it was raining. It rained through our practice session at 10:50 so we bagged it. We finally got out for our first qualifying session at 4pm. The car ran but started missing right out of the gate and was not run-able by the 6th lap. We still managed to take 5th overall and 2nd in class right behind Eric Prill in his Prather Miata. We spent several hours working on the car to no avail and finally decide to go to our favorite old fish place for dinner but they were sold and didn’t have fish anymore – par for the course. After we got back we checked the spark plugs for sparks in the dark and they were fine. The car seemed to run better.
Lyle came to help and hopefully to watch our race. We missed the second qualifying session at 10:15am because the car would not run at all. We finally took off the windshield and opened the dash pod to check wires. We actually found a couple wires to the TPS and the EPM that were questionable. After we reattached them the car started up and ran pretty good. With only our one wounded qualifying session we were still in 2nd place in FP so we took her out for the 3:25pm race. Immediately at the start the car was missing so Kevin only ran 6 laps before bringing it in. The engine log confirmed numerous, almost constant, timing errors. We went to the dinner which was pretty good, then went to see Joey Moser’s boy JJ drive his Kart right there at Road America. It was great fun to watch.
We got up early to try to find the problem. Among other things, we replaced all of the coils, spark plugs, coil driver, and the EMS4 with no improvement so we decided to bag it and head for home. Kevin connected the Excursion to the race trailer and we loaded it all up and buttoned up the RV which I was taking to Oshkosh. Kevin commented “I’d rather be loading up a broken car than a crashed car” – for sure! When we were ready to leave the Excursion decided not to turn over at all. We talked with RA and they told us we had to move it to outside the track since they would be setting up for the Indy cars the next day.. A big to tow truck came to tow the Excursion outside the track. We reconnected the trailer to the RV and pulled it out to the Excursion. While he had it up in the air we looked at the starter and thought it looked bad. Kev & I drove the RV back to Oshkosh for the night, stopping in Fond du lac for a new starter at Advance Auto.
We decided we could replace the starter so we headed back at 7 am to get an early start. It was finally a sunny nice day and we had all of the jacks, stands and tools in the race trailer. After we got it jacked up it was not too much of a job getting the old starter off and installing the new one. Before we took it off the stands we decided to test it. DAMN IT, it still would not turn over. Since it was a diesel we thought if we could just get it to spin it would probably start, so I crawled back under and installed a wire to the coil terminal up and ran it up to the engine compartment. We touched the jumper to the battery and she fired right up – YAY! We turned it off, took it off the stands and put everything away back in the trailer. Then we went to start it to get it hooked up to the trailer and guess what??? It wouldn’t start!! Fortunately Kevin knew his vehicle and decided it need a stronger battery to fire. We borrowed a small Honda generator from some guys that were working on SRF cars right next to us and let it charge. After about a half hour we tried it again and IT RAN. We were definitely not going to shut it off again. Kevin took it out for a test drive and it seemed OK so we connected it up and he headed for the shop. Eight hours later he pulled the entire rig into the building at the shop and headed home. I took the RV to the Oshkosh Lake House
Well we avoided the expensive and time consuming local repair shop but now we can take time to find the problem at home. And we still have a wounded race car that will not be easy to fix. Oh well, if it was easy, anyone would do it.
|TWO WINS AND TRACK RECORD AT MID OHIO||Tuesday, June 4, 2019|
I drove the race rig to Mid Ohio Race Track at 10am. When I arrived there were not many rigs so I set up in the middle of the lower paddock. I got the car off, got some fuel for the car and took it for its annual tech inspection, then went to registration and got the tech sticker. I made a frozen lasagna for dinner in the microwave for myself. Kevin drove up after work and stopping home to play with the kids and arrived at 10:30pm.
We took the car out for our 9:00 am session in race group 3 with new Hoosiers in order to temper them for the Road America race in two weeks. Kevin turned in a 1:38.415 after just 6 laps and brought it in. We had our brake rotor temps measured by the Carbotec guys to get an idea of how they were working.
Carrie brought up Walter, Cora, and Edwin to watch Daddy run in the afternoon session. At 2:40 we went out for our first qualifying session and decided to temper another set of new Hoosier tires for the race on Sunday. Kevin turned in a 1:38.59 but actually spun on the last lap going into the keyhole. The spin saw the car sliding sideways which damaged the tires with a couple flat spots on the left side. That was good enough for 3rd place overall behind Chima with a very fast 1:36.98 and Breton Williams (EP) with a 1:37.11. Charley Campbell had car problems and did not get out at all. I helped them get their fuse sizes correct with the Race Energy unit.
After playing with the babies and doing some golf cart rides Carrie loaded them up for the trip home. They all snoozed on the ride home. Kev & I did the usual with the car and took the left side tires to Hoosier to have the tires flipped around to put the flat spots on the outsides. After that we met the Dunns at the Mexican restaurant in Lexington. The food and Golden Margaritas were particularly good that night.
For Saturday morning’s qualifying session we used the tires that ran the Sunday race at VIR and were in great shape. Kevin wanted to turn more laps that the previous two sessions to get in the grove. After 9 laps, Kevin turned in a 1:37.04 which was 2 seconds faster than the second place car in the session of Mason Workman. Both Chima and Campbell only ran two laps after having issues with their cars. That left Kevin 2nd overall behind Chima for the race.
Justin, Diane, Sheryl & Carrie with the kids all arrived before lunch on a beautiful day. The car just needed fuel and we adjusted the rear camber which was knocked out a bit by the spin. We left the tires where they were, 100s in the front and 80s in the rear. Kevin ended up starting on the pole because Chima’s Super seven did not make it out for the race because we had heard he dropped a valve. Kevin got passed by Breton Williams at the start but repassed him going into turn one on the second lap. He maintained first place for the entire race and took the checker flag. His best lap was a respectable 1:37.325, still just a bit behind Chima’s pole time. Right after the checker Kevin felt the car start to miss and run bad for the cool down lap. After seeing lots of timing errors in the engine log we found a broken coil on #4 and replaced it and it ran fine. Diane and Sheryl took the Odyssey with the kids back to Kevin’s house while Carrie took the RL to her sisters graduation party. I convinced Justin to stick around for a while so we joined the Huffmasters and Butterworths for dinner at the Roadhouse – excellent as always. That evening it rained hard and there was actually some hail. Luckily we had put the car in the trailer.
Sunday morning we were again favored with the presence of the three babies and Carrie. Bob Lawrence with Jackson & Mark also came to help and watch. Because it was cooler we decided to run 100s on the front but 75s on the rear so they would come in quicker. We have been considering changing to this tire strategy all the time and wanted to see how it went. The Sunday race was scheduled for 35 minutes or 21 laps vs the 14 laps run on Saturday.
Once again Kevin was listed 2nd overall but since Chima had broke, he started on the pole. This time however, Charlie Campbell was right next to him. Charlie passed Kevin at the start but Kevin quickly repassed for the lead. For most of the race Charlie stayed right on Kevin’s rear but could not pass. On the 13th and 14th laps Kevin turned in laps in the 1:36s to pull away from Charlie and on the 15th lap he turned in a 1:35.935 to set the all-time (including Runoffs) track record for F Production. On the 16th lap Kevin radioed in that the car was sputtering. At virtually the same time a full course yellow came out. With 5 laps left they ran 3 under caution and they threw the checker to end the race. Once again we had to tow the car back to paddock borrowing Campbells tow strap. We found all of the Iridium spark plugs were badly worn and there might be some issue with the Engine Management System. Our visitors left and we packed up the rig. Kevin stopped to take a shower so he could go directly to the graduation party and I took the rig back to the shop and left it outside.
It was a fantastic weekend with great spectators and great results. Kevin’s babies got to see Daddy race all three days. The car lasted just long enough to win both races. Now we have to find out what is going on with the car before Road America in 2 weeks.
|HUGE WIN AT VIR!||Wednesday, April 17, 2019|
|You would not believe how much work went into the car over the winter and what it took to get it ready for this race. That is why we took the opportunity to run the car last weekend at Mid Ohio with the Grid Life group. We did four sessions and fixed and learned something on every session. After that we had a list as long as your arm to complete in just three days before we loaded her up and drove to VIR. On this weekend at VIR we again had many gremlins to find, fix or adjust.
Kev & I met early Thursday morning to load up the trailer and start off driving. We got on the road at 9am so we didn’t have to contend with Columbus rush hour traffic but we would still get into the track around 5:30pm. It was a nice drive but it is always unnerving to take the RV pulling a 10,000lb trailer over the mountains on US58 East. Coming down the East side of the mountain is especially fun with 9% grades. Fortunately the Discovery has engine braking to help out a lot.
We arrived at the track and expected a long line of rigs waiting to get in to a paddock due to over 500 entries for this “pre-Runoffs” event. To our surprise we drove right in and were taken to a great grassy spot near the track, just across from the Hotel. It was a bit of a drive to grid but it was a great place to watch the race. We were glad to see it was on top of the hill as we knew there was lots of rain coming. Because of the impending rain we decided to put up the big 10’X20’ canopy to have someplace to work on the car out of the rain. We were glad we did! After we got set up we got out the grill and made some sausages for dinner.
Early in the morning at 2am the Inverter stopped and we discovered the house batteries which were now 7 years old were ready for replacement. We also had a problem with the RV water system which was not working. Since we were in Group 1 we had to be on track at 8am. We put on the used tires from the last weekend at MO and went out on a dry setup and got three laps before it started raining. Driving up to the paddock with wet grass wasn’t too bad….yet.
The sensors were still not working correctly so after studying at the AEM wiring diagram we decided to divide the chassis ground and sensor grounds on the AEM EMS4. That seemed to make the sensors much happier so we took it down to grid for the 1:30pm qualifying session. When we got there we realized that we needed to remove all of the changes we made to the sensor calibrations to get back to a normal setup so we took the car back to paddock and loaded an older safe program. When Kevin returned to the grid the cars were gone so they would not let him enter the track there. After he went down to pit out they held him for a while and then a black flag came out. After the track was cleared and everybody else was let back out Kevin finally got on the track. His third lap put him 6th but they did not allow is as it was too late. His second lap put him in 20th position (2:43.636).
It continued to rain and lighting popped a few times so the cancelled the last four sessions of the day.
Friday night we went to the socializer at the barn which was quite nice. They had great appetizers and beer and we got to talk with all of our race friends. The paddock access roads on the grass were now getting pretty muddy.
Saturday morning they had to make up a couple qualifying sessions from the day before (shortened), and they cancelled some run groups sessions as well. Our 8:00am qualifying session went out at 11:00am and we got only got 4 laps before it poured rain but our time of (2:32.556) put us in 3rd for the session and 4th combined with the first session behind Charlie Campbell, Ryan Kristoff in GTL, and Eric Prill with Ken Kannard right behind us.
The race started at 1:40 and it was raining steady so everyone when out with rain setups. The car was running well after several more changes and installing the .095” rear sway bar. Unfortunately we had a severe vibration in the front right wheel which forced us to come in after the first lap. Charlie and Ken swapped the lead several times but Ken took the checker for a great win. Both of those guys run well in the wet and know this track very well.
Sunday morning we both up very early and were not feeling very good about the weekend. We had gotten a total of 12 laps so far and were pretty much swimming in mud. The car was covered with mud and there was no point in cleaning it. We started 5th for the race at 9:00 am and it was finally not raining so we used a set of tempered Hoosiers. However the track was still damp even after two practice groups went out before us. Kevin kept going faster and faster after his tires warmed and the track dried up. Charlie got way out in front by 12 seconds while Kevin and Ken were dealing with gaggles of slow B-Spec, HP and FP cars. Then, due to 3 separate cars off track, they had a full course yellow which allowed Kev & Ken to get up behind Charlie. It was Charlie, a lapper, Ken, Kevin, 7 lappers, and Eric Prill at the restart. From that point on it was a three way battle for the lead. Because of the double yellow Kevin’s tires cooled off some but came back in by the last lap. Going up the esses Ken passed Charlie but spun in Oak Tree corner. Charlie had to lift just for a second to avoid Ken which gave Kevin the opening he needed. Kevin motored past Charlie and led all the way down to the checker flag, turning in the fastest lap of the race (2:10.797).
It was a great win but one that was very much a team win. We both fought hard to get the electrical systems, the new transmission, the car setup and suspension, and the fantastic Hoosier tires to a point where a great driver could win that race. And it was a win against the best FP cars in the country. We really missed Diane, Carrie and the kids who hopefully will be there in October for the Runoffs race.