WDMS Chapter 188
THE 2011$ GRASSROOTS MOTORSPORTS CHALLENGE
October 2011 Gainesville Florida
Yes yes, it is that time of year again. The Vorshlag Motorsports extra-curricular activities club for the racing-addict disabled once again decided at some point to take the car that couldn't even finish the 2010$ Challenge last year and attempt a repair and then drag it all the way to Florida and see what happens again this year. Since my father always said it was the definition of stupidity to do the same thing over and expect a different result, we decided to put different stickers on the car. And the stickers were a different color than last years. And spend a day testing. And replace the broken transmission with one that was identical yet felt like it had good karma and much better potential. "Yeah, that'll work", we all said.
So, if this sounds all new, you can read about last year if you follow this link. And then you can read up on our autocross test at this link. Go ahead, I'll wait <cue elevator muzak>.
Aight, welcome back. When we last left, the car had been tested and made quicker. We were happy with that. Now we had to peel off the year-old vinyl when the car sat part of the time in the sun. We were...not so happy with that. Lots of scraping and picking and finally it was done. It took hours. And hours. I wish we could have saved the hood since it had REALLY turned out well, but we didn't plan on it and didn't have another hood lined up. So with all the stickers off and several areas rubbed on with scotchbrite pads to help 'wear in' the old primer, we ended up with a mostly clean canvas. We left the pimptastic brow I did last year and the sticker on the rear license plate area and the Texas flag on the roof and all the rest came off. Once all was said and done the car got a thorough 6 minute wash and our canvas was ready for the masterpiece! <cue inspirational music!>
So the 'theme' this year was based on last year's BMW LeMans entry which was the latest generation of BMW Art Car (see above). Since our car had a scrapyard motor, scrap metal flares, motor and transmission mounts from scrap, and covered in scrap vinyl, it was dubbed the Scrap-E30 and we simply called it Scrappy. It kinda fits. When a sign shop cuts vinyl and ends up with narrow pieces that can't be run through a plotter, they scrap it. We used narrow pieces to imitate the original Art Car (which also was a BMW 3 series with a V8 in it too!!) and did our best to make it look 'cool'. The next photo shows us laying some colored strips onto the hood to get an idea of what it was going to look like.
It was now Sunday afternoon. Our canvas was still black but with Olfa knives, spray bottles and squeegees we set to work. We were due to leave Wednesday. If this didn't work, we were hosed. Completely hosed. We had no backup plan, no alternate theme, nor the energy to come up with one. However, every time we laid out another stripe to be installed the car just started looking cooler and cooler. We knew this was going to turn out okay. Once we had a major section done, iPhone pics were leaked to certain friends for an unbiased opinion and the reviews came back as 'stunning', 'stellar', and 'who is this??' With a solid 2 out of 3 majority, we worked late into the night and got everything but the rear deck lid done. It really REALLY looked good. To us. The desperate folks who desperately needed it to look good. Finally, with only a few minutes left before Monday arrived I had to head home, dead dog tired of cutting, peeling and spraying and sticking....just like the rest of the team.
I returned on Tuesday afternoon and helped finish out the decklid and go over the last minute checklist of 'things that we cannot forget'. Fair was pretty calm and I felt semi-good. While we really wanted to do well in the Concours, we kept reminding ourselves that the Autocross was the primary goal. Win the autocross. Or do really really well. I'm competitive as the day is long and wanted to win. Badly. Desperately. Inside, I had one worry. It was plaguing me and haunting me, but I could not share it with anyone. It festered, yet I remained stoic. Win. Stay focused. It gnawed. I suggested we take and cut some VORSHLAG decals of a very close color to some of the larger stripes and put the letters inside the big stripes that were on both sides of the car and on the nose for a subtle marketing slant on the car and it turned out really nice. Yet....my internal strife grew as the days got closer. Making the trip would be Fair (Terry), Amy and myself and their brand new iPad. I was anxious to play AngryBirds where I could see the whole screen and not have to shoot birds when I couldn't see the target. That annoys me and I feel my accuracy suffers.
Above: Wednesday after work. We have the car, we have the glass bottle Cokes. "Aight, let's go!"
Below: Somewhere when it was dark getting fuel for the truck and somewhere in the morning getting fuel for the team (WAFFLE HOUSE!!)
So we loaded up the truck and headed out Wednesday evening and arrived in Gainesville in the early afternoon, several hours before the official Welcome Party/Registration event. The trip was flawless and went by without a hitch. We were not at the host hotel but a few miles away and after we checked in Fair and Amy wanted to nap on a surface that wasn't going 70mph and I had a diversion to handle. About 30 minutes away is a little kitplane maker and I wanted to see one of their aircraft in person since Rob and I didn't make it to Oshkosh this year to see it (his plane was sick, but it's better now). With the trailer dropped I scooted to the next town over and had a great visit with the folks who are building these kits. After a solid hour and a half going over everything I needed to head back so we could go to registration but just then their chief test pilot offered me a 'quick hop around the patch' to see what I thought. Now, honestly, I'm not exactly the trusting type and I like to know who I fly with but this guy seemed pretty heads up. He is ex AF and right out of initial he got fast movers in SE Asia. Phantoms. Really? My father was in Phantoms based out of Thailand. In a weird cosmic twist, this guy was in the same AF and same SQ as my father and reported just a few months after my father left. We knew a lot of the same names. It was eerie. He had built his own plane (the 2 seat version) and had over 2200 hours in it in the past 10 years. Sign me up, let's go fly. This particular four seat version is powered by a big aircraft six cylinder and one of the options is to put an LSx motor in the nose. Yeah, I'm liking this idea. With a quick pre-flight and briefing I taxi'd us to the runway and we leapt into the air and were climbing like mad. It was bumpy, but workable as we ended up jumping up to 4500' or so and trimming the plane out and getting over 170mph with the throttle pulled pretty far back. We played around a bit with some basic maneuvers and stalls (stalls me no likey, just ask Rob) and after about a half hour we headed back. I handled the downwind, base and final approach and then handed over to the master who put it spot down on the numbers and we made the first turn off with ease. This is one SLICK plane. Back at the hangers, a few guys who were building their planes there with factory help were back from running errands and I chatted with them for a few and all too soon I was running WAY late to get back. It was an awesome diversion, but my time was up. I drove quickly back to the hotel after telling Fair I was on the way...the whole time split between elation about the aircraft and dreading the upcoming decision that was chewing at my insides. Once to the hotel, we head to the welcoming party and register, snack a bit and wander the parking lot and view the carnival atmosphere that is typical of a GRM Challenge event. I was outside about 10 minutes when I was asked if I had any metric taps (they don't know me very well....metric? pshaw!). Next question from a frantic entrant was if we had any hose clamps. We chatted with the Condor guys, the TAMU Engineering guys, Wreck, etc etc. It was a fun night but we went home early and straight to bed. I was exhausted and my bed felt like the most comfortable bed ever and thankfully the internal chewing died down as I checked out.
FRIDAY MORNING! Wakey Wakey, eggs n bacey!!! The hotel breakfast looked good but I skipped it for some juice and a few bananas. We arrived to the track early and waited for the gates to open pondering why tracks do it this way. We have the same thing in Texas where they hold you right to the minute. The track is rented, so why don't the organizers specify a time early enough to get the early folks in to alleviate the paddock mess due to an onslaught? So we sat there till 0800 and then everyone rushed in and it was disorganized hilarity. As usual. While waiting outside Amy and I decorated my new helmet (old one is a 2000 and thus, expired for real racing) with more scrap vinyl to complete the theme. We were still working when the gates opened and so we just kept working in the trailer with the door latched open as Fair drove us inside and parked. It was done pretty quick and then it was time to roll Scrappy out and see what the reaction was. I slid inside as Fair was finishing pulling the straps and just kinda vegged there as a few straps were taking him a while. I fired it up and it resonated oh-so-sweet inside the trailer. Once we had some oil pressure I did some quick light revs as I released the brakes and nosed out of the trailer. It was a storm of flashes as the paparazzi surrounded the tail of the trailer and hundreds of folks were rushing up, mouths wide open in utter and pure astonishment as I inched this bad boy down the ramp. AWWwww Yeah!! I was glad I had my sunglasses on to show no emotion towards the wanton stares and dozens of finger pointing. Cell phone cameras were quickly pulled from pockets as I zinged the motor to announce our presence with authority. "C'MON, LET'S GO!!" Fair yelled and it jarred me back awake, so I started the car and pulled it out. A few folks looked over, but most were busy unloading their own crap to notice ours. The plan was to get through Concours as early as possible and get a solid autocross run in before the potential rain came, then go from there. We did NOT want to get caught out with no dry run if the wet stuff fell from the sky. Forecast was for 50% chance. <sarcasm> Brilliant. </s>
Soon enough it was time for the Official Meeting and we walked down there. After the meeting the course was open for walking for 30 minutes, then the Pros would practice and then the course would be open. Fair and Amy headed back to get Scrappy ready for the Concours and I stayed to walk the course. Lots of folks rode the course on bicycles and I cursed not bringing mine since the thought had crossed my mind. The decision time was drawing near and I could feel the pressure welling up inside me making the bananas unstable but I pushed it down and focused all my attention on the course. I walked it the first time, jogged it the second and third, then walked it again the fourth and fifth. By then, they were yelling to finish your walk so the Pros could take to the course. The course was marked oddly (pointers on BOTH sides of some gates, pointer cones on the second cone in a turn, etc) and for novices I'd have had a lot more laydowns for the offsets, but this wasn't my party and nobody asked me. Sadly, after the walking and a few Pro drive-throughs (I stayed and watched) they changed the course up in some areas and then marked it. I wasn't real happy about that, but on the other hand it was the same for everyone and that's okay.
A new rule this year is that you get FIVE runs and not four, but the Pros can only take four in any 1 car. This encouraged teams to at least drive their creation once after the Pro did it four times. They encouraged teams to ride with the Pro and then take the 5th run themselves. For us, it meant I got five runs. Wahoo. So, with the walking and Pros warmup done, the first Pro took to the course in a Challenge entry and promptly center punched one of the BIG cones near the end and hit the timers too. Delay of game. After that, it moved along pretty smoothly and I stayed and watched the first few dozen runs from several angles around the course. On the way back, my gnawing suddenly reappeared almost to the point of panic. Not cool.
Above: Concours inspection and documentation. Over 400,000 pageviews of the buildup threads!!
Below: I like how the old "Vorshlag" logo is visible under my name, and my steed awaits
So I walk back to the rig and the car is just sitting there. My new helmet is on top of the car and Fair and Amy are hanging out. The line at the Concours is already 6-8 deep and my gnawing internal panic quickly turns into 'we are now behind schedule' panic. "Why aren't you guys in Concours?" I semi-demand in a nearly I'm-in-charge-and-I'm-kinda-panicked" type of way. Fair says "We're done, we were first car!". Half of my panic faded and they told me how it went, what all was said and what the judges had remarked about and the whole story. I was smiling on the outside, gnawing on the inside. Time was creeping up on me. "Let's go watch some runs" I said, and we all headed over to the Autocross side of the lot. The overcast was breaking up and we'd have some sunshine pretty soon. Fair and I theorized that once the sun was out for a bit, we'd take two runs bam-bam and then park it. If it rained, we'd be covered, and if the track got faster later we'd have 3 more to play with.
The 2012 Laguna Seca Mustang on soft Pirellis laid down a 46 second run that pretty much nobody was beating in the first two hours. The Pros hot lapped it for a while at first and then it just sat getting its picture taken (a lot....gorgeous car!). Some cars came close and then finally someone cracked off a very high 45 to be the 'time to beat'. Fair and I gave a quick sideways glance at each other and then looked to the sky. The sun was just coming out from the skirt of a cloud and it looked like we'd have a half hour or so of sunlight before the next clouds took over. Some had dark-ish bottoms, so it was time to act and lay down two runs. We turned and walked back to the rig, silent.
Above: Out with the old and in with the new. Time to play.
First off, I'm a superstitious person. Not with anything you'd likely guess, but with some really oddball stuff. All through athletics growing up I did a certain few things certain ways. For the past ten years I've slipped on this yellow helmet and breathed in that familiar aura and snugged it tight. This is actually my second helmet with this scheme, but I've done a LOT with this helmet on my head. From my first Rally win to the 100 Acre Woods...and from hot dusty circle tracks to simple karting events that yellow and checkerboard (taxi cab?) lid has been on my head. CrapCan races to yelling at buddies/students. Ug. Now, the past few years have been really good. GT1 win in the rain. TX2k11 Track Day champ. NARRA win at TWS. Several track records and blah blah blah. I'm attached to this helmet. Attached. This baby has some really good JuJu going on. For this event, I can run it if I want. They don't care about the safety dating that road racing does. But at some point it is going to sit in my olive-drab issue helmet bag and the new one will take over. I love the new helmet. Smells all fresh and the Bell fits me like a champ. I didn't want to be a traitor to it and go blue chrome on the visor again, so this new helmet has silver chrome. It has yet to be painted, but it will get the same taxi-cab look pretty soon. But was it time to let go now? Like, right now? <sigh> The new helmet matched the car and for the pictures that would look the best. I don't think I've ever been described as image-conscious, but this was the Vorshlag entry and it needed to look the part. Fair was checking the air pressure and torquing the lugs when I walked into the trailer and patted my old helmet still sitting in that olive drab bag. I told myself that if these first two runs didn't feel right, that yellow lid would be right back on my head. And I mean RIGHT BACK on my head. But I made the decision and the gnawing subsided. It was time to go do what I traveled 1000 miles to do. Lay down the fastest run that little Scrappy could manage. I slipped on my play shoes and dropped into the car. I rigged up my radio and lit the fire. Fair put on his headset and I told him I was going to warm the brakes and would meet him at the grid. I went outside the gate and put some heat into the brakes and tires a bit. Once it all felt decent I headed slowly back into the paddock and crawled over to the grid and sat. We watched some runs in the sunshine and most were in the 46-50 second range, with still nobody challenging the current 45.9 best. Wreck Racing's Winged Miata (Georgia Tech's team who won autocross and overall last year) was still being worked on but the Condor 2002 turbo had put a few runs in. With the big cloud getting closer we knew we were going to lose the sun soon so Fair's voice cracked into my helmet and said "Let's go". He is pathetic at waiting.
Lit the engine, turned on the fan and eased up to the line. Starter didn't chat with me (my visor was down) as I stared down the first section of the course. Quick chicane, 2nd entry slalom, setup for parabolic right 180. I repeated that over and over until the green waived in my peripheral and I came quickly off the clutch. Quick-ish shift (save the trans!) in mid chicane and get my eyes up. The run went pretty well, I laid up just a bit in two spots but really nailed the finish and was rewarded with Fair's "THEY DIDNT GET THE TIME...THE TIMERS ARE BONKED....GET BACK IN LINE!!". I was still pretty calm and cut quickly back towards the start line. Fair dumped the accumulated air pressure and I went back to the line. Fair's quick final words "Looked like a GREAT run, do it again" and the radio went silent. We had agreed no talking during the runs.
Quick chicane, 2nd entry slalom, setup for the parabolic. Quick chicane, 2nd entry slalom, setup for the parabolic. A momentary distraction out of my left eye and the clutch comes out a bit smoother and the used HooHoo's make that lovely gutteral noise as they bite into the asphalt propelling Scrappy out of the gate and spewing little asteroids out the rear. Faster shift this time (sorry Mr Borg and Mr Warner) and concentrate on giving it only as much throttle as the tires can take. We don't have enough weight aft so I've got to be extra careful. I was right on top of the slalom cones and right where I wanted to be for the parabolic. Really lean on those tires and maximize that lateral grip all the way around and snap the gas as it straightens up so the loose diff does not hurt me too bad. Eyes up. Offsets. Place the car exactly where you want it. Breathe on the brakes while still on the gas and then feed the middle pedal down as the gas comes up and smoothly transition it into the second turnaround going back to the throttle to carve the perfect arc maximizing the width of the exit and proving that exit speed is indeed life. Carry that life to a quick shift to third as I bend the car toward the next maneuver. Quickly straighten the wheel for the moments it takes to brake HARD and then put the steering angle quickly back in as my foot comes off the binders. Easy transitions from throttle to brake keeping my eyes a few gates ahead to position this pile of scrap as perfectly as I can. Heading to the finish I can feel my cheeks grinning. I love the finish. It is a well done punishment-reward section that truly sacrifices you if you get greedy. Patience. Go in gently and come out thumping because if you go in thumping, you come out center punching a cone and hitting the timers. I'm conscious that I'm actually holding my breath the last section as well as smiling like an idiot. I'm willing the tires for every last ounce of lateral grip and praying that they hold the tiny advances in throttle that I'm trying to feed in and get this thing across the line at least a few moments quicker.
The announcer is blowing up the speakers and Fair is in my ears immediately. I heard GARBLE-GARBLE POINT NINE!. I immediately think it is a 44, but I am secretly hoping for a 43 and by the time that thought registers Fair repeats "FORTY THREE POINT NINE" and my smile is validated. My chest is booming, my breathing is fast and I am beyond stoked. The announcer keeps repeating that the Vorshlag BMW now holds Top Time and now...really...the paparazzi cameras start snapping. I stop in grid, Fair dumps a bit of air and we chat as lots of folks are now snapping pictures. That is only my first official run and the plan was to put two in the books now. Fair tells me it looked great and very smooth (more on that later) but it looked, to him, like I wasn't going deep enough in the braking zones. I tell him it aint braking very well, but I'll give it a shot this next run. Bad idea. I carried an extra few feet into the second turn around and it was just too much. I skirted the cones to save the body (our bumpers are not held on by much) and brought it home with a DNF. No biggie. Still grinning. Announcer still heralding the new king of the cones. Lots of cars heading into line now as we head back to park the little wunderScrap. Quietly I thought this new brain bucket might be ok after all.
Grabbed a glass bottle Coke and walked back to the Autocross where a LOT of cars were lined up to take a crack at the course. I was near one car whose team were debating on letting a pro drive the car four runs, or just three and let their own driver take two to get over the learning curve of the course. The Pros were theoretically already masters of the course, but a lot of cones and DNFs frequently stated the other side of the discussion. Granted, they were hopping into unknown hoopties frequently having bizarre handling traits but more than one Pro had a car swap ends near the finish. The team saw me and invited me into the discussion and I weighed the sides with them and then they gingerly asked if I'd drive it for them. I declined, although I think the car had a whole lot of potential to be a contender. My job was with Vorshlag and going faster in another team's car was likely the quick way to be walking home! A while later while chatting with another team it was gingerly asked if a driver from team A could drive team B's car. I smiled and said the only driving I was doing was Scrappy and told them which Pro (you could request) I thought could get the most out of their car. I was very honored to be considered and approached. A few Pros, just like last year, 'offered' their services as well. "I sure would like to get a ride in your car" said one, and I slyly replied "I'm sorry, but we don't have a passenger seat".
Carnage happened of course. Two cars lost wheels, cars died, snap spun, ate cones, dropped bodywork, etc. No huge explosions or fire of any kind, and that was pretty nice too. Wreck Racing finally got to the grid area and then 20 of the crew promptly kept thrashing on the car for another 30 minutes. The potential rain kept skirting us and the sky stayed a mix of sun and shade as the clock advanced to the early afternoon. The wonderbug (a circle-track metric frame, with a pushed back 400 small block lowered to the ground on Hoosiers with a Bug body tacked on) took runs and ended up in the low 44s and they went back to their paddock spot and begin converting it back for drag racing. Wreck Racing got some runs in with a best in the mid 44s. The gorgeous red LT1 firebird ran a 45.5 with Condor right behind him with a 45.6 in their very very cool turbo 2002. How strikingly different those two cars are to run within .1 of each other. Condor's awesome little ride is below.
The autocross would finish at 4pm and by about 2:30 Fair was itching a bit again. The sun was out, and had been out a while and he was ready to put the last three in the books. I wasn't too worried at this point, but wanted to improve if I could. Back to the car, slide in and harness up. Slide on the new lid and fire up the radios. Lots of photographs again as we head to grid. I go through the runs but the brakes are simply not biting like they were in the morning and the track seems slick. Lots of marbles due to some teams running old hard street tires and just cranking in the steering angle. A few cars misted the track with trans fluid and coolant also. I was close on time, but after three tries, my 43.9 still stood. Now the waiting really began and Fair was anxious. With 15 minutes to go, the TAMU team finally got their car running after working on it since they arrived the previous day. Their driver hoped in and took a run which was painfully rich and likely used at least 1 gallon of gas. Some laptop taps and 30 seconds later he goes to the line with a few minutes remaining and the car runs much better and he drops 5 seconds. More laptop mods, the green waives and he comes in again 5 seconds sooner. Repeat. They slide the Pro in, but the car was done (no alternator and battery kaput now). They were just elated to get the car running and actually make a run, let alone 4! With the final run done, the track was closed and folks headed back to the paddock. Fair and I and the TAMU team all pitched in and picked up the entire course and with Fair's truck we delivered all the cones back to the timing trailer much to the appreciation of the local club running the Autocross event. Texans got manners, y0!
Above: Oops, and the gorgeous SpecialK car.
Below: Chassis flex anyone? and the TAMU Engineering car in action!
Above: TAMU team and the Georgia Tech Wreck Racing team with Fair asking "You have 500lbs of rear downforce and 4lbs downforce on the nose....how's that work?"
Above: Early in the day with 25 guys standing around and 1 girl actually working on the car.
Below: The Pro dodging cones in Wrecks car, and most colorful use of SUNOCO stickers!
Scrappy gets the front tires swapped for the 'skinnies' for the drag racing and put back into the trailer and locked up. We head to the hotel and clean up a bit and then head over to the banquet and our included dinner. The food was very good as was the conversation. The Concours results were posted and we garnered 7th. On one hand we were pretty happy with that as there were some incredibly clean cars here, but on the other hand we only snagged one point more than our 'no-theme' from last year. The engine bay was now awesome and the graphics made it (I'd bet) one of the top photographed cars in the paddock. Regardless, we were okay with that as we had accomplished our primary objective and that was to win the autocross. Vorshlag is a suspension company and carving corners is what we do and if we got last in Drags and last in Concours but won Autocross, we'd smile all the way home. With our smiling now assured, it was time to relax and chat. Fair found a seasoned iPad g33k and they bonded really well as the iPad Master taught his padawan learner how to do whatever it is they do with more better whatever. I liked playing AngryBirds on the bigger screen, so it was already a success.
We're sitting around a big 'seats 8' table and chatting about the day and another entrant tells me "Congrats on the win, I can't get over how smooth your car looked on course". I grinned like he was joking and said "Oh yeah, real smooth!". He looks a little startled and said "No, really...it was the smoothest car out there". I looked over at Fair and he chimed in complete with hand motions of a car going through a slalom "It was, you were not upsetting the car at all, just nice and smooth looking on the outside". "Well it may looked like that on the outside, but inside I was all making like a duck and it was all flailing about getting in my own way to try and go fast" I said as I flailed my arms about an imaginary steering wheel. Everyone laughed and the guy said "Like a duck?". "You know, like a duck on the water...it's all smooth on the surface but underneath he is paddling his ass off!" I replied. It was very true. The inside of the car was incredibly busy and the term 'like a knife fight in a phone booth' very adequately describes the inside of this car on a quick run. After a few hours, the tiredness set in and after one more pass around the parking lot to chat with folks we headed to the hotel for our final night in the comfy bed.
Above: The INSANELY clean honda 600 with a rear engine from a newer honda. Incredible! Unstable, but incredible!! (bicycle pic stolen from GRM forums)
Below: Not quite running yet, but brought out anyway to shock folks, the Festiva with the 2.5 Chrysler mill in the back. Looked VERY cool and VERY clean! Next year!!
As we prepared for the Drag day, we realized we checked out in the morning. We got our gear organized and Amy checked the forecast. Really good chance of rain. Up until that point, we had not done the math to see where we stood for the overall score yet. With the chance of the Drags getting rained out, we took a few minutes and totaled up points for the top few cars and found we were in the lead by a slim margin. Hmmm. Rain dance anyone? We'd have to simply wait and see. Fair is horrible at waiting. And he snores.
Above: Volvo and BlockImposter. Below: Yeah, a series II 3800 supercharged in the back of a mini truck!!
Above: Real GLH and Subie motor'd 914. Below: C4 and BIG turbo BMW
SATURDAY = DRAG DAY!!!
We got their early and before the meeting we got hit with a downpour that lingered for a bit and then was gone. A local drag racer who came out to watch said it takes about 2 and a half hours to dry the track when the sun is out and there was no sun in sight. Only dark overcast and a slightly darker shade of dark overcast. With a few hours of no rain, the puddles got a bit smaller and the track workers doubled their efforts to dry off one lane so folks could make passes. With iPhone doppler radar it was not a matter of if it would rain more, it was a matter of when and how much.
Above: Shot from the stands. Below: Scrappy usually had an entourage around it and with lots of Saturday visitors, it was a magnet.
Above, you can see Fair demonstrating driving style to the crowd. On the right Fair is chatting with the Condor guy as we are about to run. The announcer was very gung ho to get the drags going and perhaps he was looking at a different sky than us, but it seemed pretty far fetched. It had not rained in about 2 hours but the air was heavy and the slightly darker shade of dark clouds had now taken up residence over the area and it looked bad. They announced the track was ready, but they had only cleared the 1/4 mile itself and not touched the shutdown area so the pleading caution to take it really easy on the shutdown was repeated several times. I didn't like this and I'll tell you why. While we had 60% of the weight on the nose with skinny little all-season tires, we only had 40% of the weight on the rear tires that were 275mm or no-tread having Hoosiers. While the front would no doubt stick at 150mph, my guess was the rears would hydroplane at about 60. Not bueno. I would not have been concerned nearly as much had we been on all-season tires, but we weren't. Some teams were, but not us.
The line moves forward and the first car makes a pass. Gets mighty squirrly and appears to cross the white line, or comes darn close. The second car lines up in the same lane since they've only dried one lane, and the misting starts falling from the now even darker shade of dark clouds. When 6 or 7 cars have made passes it is now faintly raining. We are car 11. Fair is geared up and we have radios going and I tell him this is not smart. Cars and slipping a bit and the shutdown looks like no fun with concrete closeby on both sides. Swapping a transmission is easy, repairing body damage from a concrete hit at 70 is not going to be. I suggest we pull out of line and go to the back. If it stops misting and dries out, let's make a pass. Fair declines, he has had enough waiting. Matt's gorgeous T/A goes in front of us, hangs too long in second gear then shifts to third. No nitrous spray on that run for sure. Fair lines up, dry hops the tires and goes. Spins like mad. I'm cringing as the announcer tells everyone how a slow shift is costing us time. Finally at the far end my headsets wake up 'blew the trans' and that was it. I knew before he said anything because when he keyed the mic it sounded like he was in a dumpster with 14 monkeys and baseball bats. Well, maybe not that quiet. It was now drizzling nicely and car 12 and 13 made a pass before they finally called it. Five minutes later the bottom dropped out and it was pouring and did so for an hour and a half. The wunderbug had a 10 second pass and Matt's TA had a 13.2 (a sprayed gutted lt1 4th gen could hit 11s I figure) and we had a trans-killing 14.6
35 folks did not get a drag pass, and I'd bet the only person moderately happy with their pass was the metric-framed small-block bug. I say moderately because I figure while he's happy cutting the best ET, it is obvious the car can run 9s and I'm sure he's bummed he didn't get to lay a really fast one down.
So the photographers ask us to get the car under the big awning and clean it up for some photos and we get busy doing that. Matt's TA is there along with several others and we get busy and wonder what they will do. Lots of crazy stuff is mentioned, but I kept busy getting the car ready for the pics and snacking. Sadly, Fair was clutching the iPad so AngryBirds would have to wait.
Above: Ags pushing Fair home (Gig'Em!) and a knitter and a third gen. She gave me an awesome little black/orange cone!!
Below: The Concours winner in line for the Drags. Absolutely gorgeous car!!!
Above: Fair has the Cleaning-Disorder really bad...
Below: Proper photos of Scrappy and team
Above: An incredibly clean TR, complete with all aluminum 215 punched out to an un-disclosed displacement
They finally announce the Drags will be thrown out and with hours and hours before the banquet everyone hangs out and chats. Over the two days we answered hundreds of questions about the car and pretty much everyone agreed it was a 'believable' entry. Visitors were not scared to tell us what entries they didn't believe too, and we simply said we didn't know how any other team did what they did, we only know what we did. Our iron block 5.3 can be had all day for 500$. Circle track wheels, cheap base e36 spindles, cheap transmission, etc etc. We were rightfully proud of our little car and it generated a ton of interest. When the hood was pulled, lots of lookers appeared.
So we do several photoshoots including one where I'm driving (it was loud, but workable) and shot an interview. Talked to pretty much everyone that wanted to chat and had a great afternoon. Loaded up and headed to the hotel. I snagged a nap and then it was time for a delicious dinner and some hardware. We didn't win 'top finishing classic car' which was for 25 year old cars and I'm a bit curious about that one since our car was 25 years old and we were the top finishing car. I didn't even realize that until it was pointed out to me. I was also bummed the Texas A&M Team did not win some type of 'Heroic Fix' award for working non-stop and then actually making successful autocross passes. No matter, when the time came, we snagged the big plaque for Top Autocross and we got the big one at the end that also included a certificate for a free set of Kumhos! I wonder what Fair is going to get me...
Lastly, I'm bummed about the transmission again, especially after the track day at MSR, but we know you can't shock load a trans like this and have it survive. I've done seasons with 400hp ASedans with T5s with no issues, but I've also seen T56s let go with similar shock loading abuse with less power. Argh. Oh well, it brought home the hardware and we won't be taking Scrappy back again. Way too many compromises and things we'd want to change if we ever go back. We had full glass, door panels, dash, wipers...and followed the 'street' car intent of the rules where many did not and didn't get penalized for it. It all worked out in the end though, and we did indeed drive home smiling. I'd like to thank Fair and Amy for letting me drive at the Autocross and I couldn't be more pleased with the win and the trip. Good times...
Need more pictures? Here is the pictures and videos from the trip: http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/2011-GRM-Challenge/19404689_M4HZSP
Fair's event writeup is on the Vorshlag Forum here: http://vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7295&page=10