26 & 27 February, 2005 SOLO II National Tour, El Paso
OK, no official play-by-play story this time, just some highlights. The long story would involve the team taking toothpicks to a gunfight, but regardless of the turnout, we had a good time. Then again, we always do. Gary and Tilton showed up at Nick's in San Antonio Thursday night and they all came over to my work on Friday about 1030. We loaded Nick's Z28 into my trailer and headed out with the Alien and Tilton running blocker in Alien's Z28. Without any further delays, here are random pictures and stories:
We're tooling down I-10, Costas is all giddy from his truck just
puuuuuulling his trailer so damn quick. Can't remember how far out we
were, but it was less than 100 miles, and the left rear trailer tire
delaminates. We take the very next exit rather quickly, and get out
to assess the damage. We take the tire off, and find two chunks of
the tread lodged between the (hub and brake??). Not sure what it was
lodged in, but it was STUCK like white on toast. We're both like
FRAK!! Try to pull it out, no go. Grab the sawzall!! The tread just
laughed at the sawzall. Laughed, then taunted, then laughed some
more. Gary and Tilton were ahead of us, so they had to find the next
exit 20 miles down the road and pull a u-turn. They get there, and we
all yank the living crap out of this piece of tread, trying to set it
free. Finally, after wedging things in there for 40 minutes, we get
it loose, put the spare tire on, and GO. We lost about 45 minutes
sitting there dorking with this damn piece of tire.
Second story... (also Nick)
After that, it was smooth sailing for quite some time. We make it
another 300 miles or so, and stop in Van Horn, TX for gas. As we're
leaving, Gary says over the 2-way "I hear a noise...like squeaking?".
So we pull over at a scenic overlook. Grab the jack, up goes the left
front, give it a little wheel wiggle, and wouldn't ya know, the wheel
bearing is t-o-a-s-t. So Gary calls around to find the only parts
store in town, a NAPA (whoop!). From what I heard, the guy told him
"yeah, we closed about 15 minutes ago, but if you come right now,
we'll get you what you need".
So we head over, all piled in the Dmax, trailer in tow, through the
town of Van Horn, to the local NAPA. Pull in, store is closed, door
is open, three guys at the counter. Two NAPA employees, and a
"local". Chit chat ensues, "blah blah we're on the side of the road",
"hey what's in the trailer?", etc. The best was the NAPA guy offering
us a Tecate.
"You guys like Tecate? You want a beer?"
"No thanks, we're driving."
"I didn't ask if you were driving, I asked if you wanted a beer."
These guys were cool, down to earth regular "folk". Joking, making
car comments, and they even feigned laughter when Costas made
left-turn jokes about NASCAR. He handed us his business card, told us
if we needed anything else, call his cell. (Did I mention he was
Gary gets his bearings, and a new rotor, we pile back in, pull out of
the NAPA and onward back to the scenic overlook. Pull in, unload,
gogogogo tearing apart the 3rd gen assembly. When it came to take the
spindle nut off, Gary pulled and pulled, and finally it broke free.
Unfortunately, with it came the spindle threads. NOT GOOD! So here
we are, 120 miles from El Paso, in the town of Van Horn, TX, with a
smooth spindle, impending nighttime, and a progressively colder
breeze. So Gary whips out the NAPA business card, rings up "the
dude", tells him the story. The Dude tells Gary the best news he's
heard all day...."Yeah, well, I think my buddy at the junkyard has a
3rd gen, lemme call him". So we wait a few minutes, he calls back
"yeah, he's got a 3rd gen and the spindle is there, $40". <insert
scottish bagpipe angel music>
So we meet Cool NAPA Dude at a gas station, and Gary and I ride with
him to the "junkyard" of his buddy to see this glory that is the only
3rd gen driver's side spindle in a who-knows-how-many-mile-radius
And as we pull in the gate, the truck kind of bounces and stops, and
when it settles, the headlights are illuminating this beatiful, faded
dark brown, hoodless, doorless turd gen Camaro, with the driver's side
spindle looking RIGHT at us. No rotor, no caliper, aching to be
pulled off! NAPA guy talks to his buddy, comes back and says "for an
extra $10, he'll pull it off for you, it'll be about 45 minutes".
Gary goes "AYE!" So we pull out, tell him where to meet us, and NAPA
guy takes us back to the trailer. He asks us if there's anything else
we need, and Gary says yeah, a new castle nut for the spindle, seeing
as how the old one has some extra threads in it. So he says he'd go
check at his store if he had one that fit. In the meantime, we told
him we'd be inside Papa's Diner (or something like that), where we
grabbed some grub (good grub at that...).
While we're eating, CoolNAPAGuy comes in, and as he's making his way
over to our table, shakes just about every hand in that restaurant,
saying hi or whatever small talk to all of them. Makes it over to us,
and drops a brand new castle nut, with cotter pin on the table. We're
all still kind of in shock that there are actually people like this
left in the world. We thank him profusely, and he walks off. Keep
telling Gary he needs to send him a muffin basket, or
beers-of-the-world basket, or something :-)
So, dinner is done, and we meet the guy who pulled the spindle, toss
it in the truck and head on up to scenic way. The rest is pretty
normal, it was really really really really cold out, good breeze
blowing, and Gary got it all swapped out, and we were on the road
again. I think we lost about 3-4 hours during the whole ordeal. And
damn if we weren't the luckiest SOB's on I-10 that night.
<--Nick's dream wheels...
Costas: Basically we took a street car to fight in SM class. Now yes, SM stands for StreetMod, but still. Nick’s car was on 315s all the way around and they were about a year and a half old roadrace tires. We had put some softener on them to try to help but it didn’t seem to after the first runs.
Nick’s first run: 67.0+1, and the leaders ripped 58s. Ouch
Costas’ first run: 65.6 and I had a few statements to make
Costas: OMG THIS THING WON’T TURN!!! WTF??
Nick: uh…it kinda feels normal (with a 40 degree track temp, the hoosiers aren't getting warm....at all....)
Nick’s next run: 65.6 and the leaders stayed put
Costas: ‘I watched your run closely and the car is NOT turning in. At all. Not even a bit. Not a smidge. Let’s pull off the Hoosiers and slap on Hunter’s V700 Ecstas (which we brought as rains, just in case)
*Insert mad dash on grid to swap 4 tires, we make it with about 15 seconds before I have to launch and put the car in line*
Costas’ 2nd run: 62.833 and it now has grip, but still won’t turn in well. -add some air to the fronts-
Nick’s 3rd run: 62.684 w00t!
Costas’ 3rd run: 62.482 and it still won’t get in a corner well, but the ultimate grip is up.
After runs debrief : let’s get under the front end and poke around. We bring the fronts to full soft and back WAAAaaaay off on the front sway bar till it is nearly loose, then just barely snug it. Go to the hotel room, pizza, chill out, and to bed. DAY TWO:
Nick’s 1st run: 65.649+1
Nick: OMG THIS THING WILL TURN!!! TEH WIN!!!!
Costas’ 1st run: 62.9 (The leader’s are only 4 seconds up (only….hahahahahaha))
Nick’s 2nd: 66.2+2 … stop hitting cones Nick!!
Costas 2nd: 62.3 and I left some time out there…
Nick’s 3rd: 64.513 clean….niiiiice.
Costas’ 3rd: 63.0…Ug….pushed too hard and fubared 2 corners.
BEST PART: We are at the scales and as the car JUST gets onto the scales the worker dude on the far side of the car wigs out and hollers to the scale-operator ‘HEY, THEY STILL HAVE TWO HELMETS IN HERE!!!!’ to which the scale-operator hollers back ‘UH, THEY ARE NINE HUNDRED POUNDS OVER, I THINK IT WILL BE OK!!’ Costas ended up 4th (they trophied to 3rd) and Nick ended up 6th.
Trailer, Knocker, Nick, Alien, Tilton...