Friday, April 30, 2010

Rose City Opener 4/24-25

First race of the year and I'm back in the pits trying for another year to complete a Novice License attempt. What is it now, 3-4 years??!?! Aaargh.

But first...Drama!

On Wednesday the 21st, I find myself still chasing an electrical demon that won't allow the car to run well. If the Field is plugged into the alternator, the car runs awful (ammeter pegs at 30). I ran the HPDE without it, so I knew I had a back-up for the weekend.

But, me and my infinite wisdom, I choose to totally, yes totally, rewire the car. New fuse block, master switch, fuel switch, wires, connections. I'm going to root out this problem and fix some other troubling items in the process. Also, I'll have a wiring diagram to work with as a result.

In 6 hours, everything was rewired and the master/kill/alternator combo was per the kill switch wiring guide (Longacre). But, it failed. Connecting the Field wire on the alternator quickly bogs the motor down. More on that later. Because I had a race to go to.

Car is "ready" with 100LL in the tank to avoid pinging, engine recently rebuilt and Accusump accumulator primed with 2qts of 40psi Mobile 1 synthetic oil. Car is purring like a kitten, warmed up and ready. I'm now strapped in, Hans, arm restraints, and the other usual accouterments. Mirrors adjusted, time to head to grid. "10 minutes early guys!" the Novice director says. So I'm there, midway down the grid, Miatas everywhere like locust. A few Pro3 BMWs and a couple REALLY fast stock cars and GTIs.

5 minute warning. The sun disappears behind a dark, very dark cloud.

1 Minute warning, car starts right up and the drops begin to fall. We head out. By lap 3, the rain is pouring. The only sollace is that everything from my neck down seems to be in the dry (speed good!). But there's no grip on my older, hard near-treadless Advans. The high speed turns are treacherous. 50 MPH sideways is thrilling, but not when the front straight wall is coming at you.

Three more laps and the water is getting deeper on the track. I pull into the hot pits because I don't want to crash me or hold up the others. "I'm waiting to see if it lets up!", I tell the pit steward. "Only 2 minutes left in session!", he yells over the remaining cars going by. So I return to my spot in the pits (under my nice new canopy I got for last year's attempt).

Hour later and the sun has returned, track is dry. "Qualifying" run goes well, but the engine won't rev past 6k and full throttle seems to bog down the engine as the session goes on. But, no oil leaks, pinging, blown head gaskets. Even the brakes are much better. I'll race today!

Race was at 4:30ish. The car ran the whole 30 minute session without major issue. Yes, I finished dead last, but I have not overdriven the car and saved hurting it in the process. I pull into the pits, shut the car down, and a wave of emotion comes over me. I sit there for 5 minutes, just realizing that the car and I finally made it through a complete Practice, qualifying and race set.

FINALLY! And I'm spent. Mentally spent. I check in with the race director 20 minutes later, and there's no issues with me from the Senior drivers reviewing the Novice Race. Job well done.

Time to pack up and go home.


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