Witchdoctor Motorsports Chapter 48

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Saturday...

19 November, 2005


It started out when the alarm went off at 0315 and pulled me out of a deep sleep. A quick shower and then load the truck. The trailer was already hooked up with the IT car inside. The previous week had seen a lot of work on Red to get her ready. I had not had Red on track in 2 years as we were Rallying a bunch and I was just doing HPDE instruction and autocrossing. Wendi helped a ton (as usual) and Frank pitched in several nights (including a late Thursday) to get the car up and ready to go. Red got new belts and a window net and a thorough look-over. The biggest changes from the last race were a new set of super-comp headers and custom exhaust system, but more importantly, 15” tires. In the past, Red was limited to 13” wheels but now I can run 15s and with a 225.50 tire, it really fills out the fenderwells and I was hopeful for the package.

Race (black collar) and Rally (teal) 'helping' me prep the car.

We pull out at 0345 for the 170-mile drive to TWS. The air was cool and the duramax was making good power and (as usual) pulling like a dream. Transmission temp never even got over 150 the whole trip there as the ambient temps stayed in the 40-50 range that morning. First sign of trouble was about an hour into the trip when Race started heaving lightly. It got worse quick and as Wendi was just grabbing paper towels (brought as a just-in-case) he threw up. If we could bottle the smell and drop it on other countries they would surrender. A 15-minute stop to clean up Race and the truck ensued. It was Ugly. We had not fed the pups since the night before and the both went to the bathroom before bed and before getting into the truck. Oh well. Rally was a trooper the whole time and riding in the truck does not faze her in the least. They have both taken trips before with no issues. Back heading East, I put the hammer down a little harder and after a stop to fill the fuel jugs, give the pups a little water and some grass time, we made the last segment to TWS. Race was doing better but would not sleep well or relax much. Rally was having a great time. Go figure.

Red....ready to go...kinda

We were, of course, group 1. We hit registration at 0645 and it was already open. A few signatures and we were heading under the T1 tunnel to paddock. I had a car that needed a tech inspection (annual was way out of date), my gear needed tech, and I needed to get suited up and on the grid in less than an hour. Great. At least the car was ready to go, just needed to be unloaded and fired up. We found a spot, unloaded and I took the car and my gear to tech. Got in line and blew a fuse on the IGN circuit. I have had this car for years and never had any electrical problems with it. Called Wendi and she brought down the spare fuses and after pushing the car through tech (it was in a garage and more polite not to fire up and be noisy) and easily passing, we pushed it out and it fired up and I took it back to our paddock spot. And it died as I got there. Pulled the blown fuse and knew that I was not going to make the qualifying session that started in 4 minutes. Turns out when I put back in the oil pressure line (braided) I did not run it back through the gap I had thought and instead of being isolated, it hung down and kissed a power wire. Kissed it for 170 miles and agitated it. Argh. Took about a half hour to undo and redo and then a quick bike ride down to the Chief Steward to get permission to A) start the race, and B) a hardship lap to see how the car ran. I went at the tail end of the SpecMiata session. The car handled and stopped well, but it took a bit from throttle application to acceleration to clear out and go. We had a carb/timing issue somewhere and it was also making the car hard to start. Usually the car instantly fired to life. Now it was taking some cranking and fiddling to start. With the hardship lap done it was time to look into the issue.

The fuel pressure was nearly 7psi and I assumed it was too much for the carb. I had replaced one of the fuel pumps earlier in the week but never rechecked the regulator. I now lowered the pressure. Checked the timing and it was ok. Maybe that was it.

Being group 1, our race was the first one after lunch and being one of several with no qualifying time I started at the back. I had seen the qualifying sheet and knew that I had gone faster than all the other cars in my class in the past. Could I do it now? In a word, No. Not today.

The pace lap was awesome. The car had power and I had some time to explore the handling and it was nice. Chris Taylor (a guy I had spoken with many times and fellow CC.com’er) had introduced himself on grid and we chatted. He also had no qualifying time and would be right behind me on the start. It was good to put a face with the name and I hoped to chat with him after the race as well.

Snackin on naners between qualifying and the race

So we came around to the front straight and I had some distance behind the guy in front of me and I jumped. Unfortunately the starter was totally missing all the ‘GREEN’ mental vibes I was shooting him at warp speeds. He was obviously deaf to my brain screams as I rapidly closed on the car in front of me. Finally, I hit the brakes pretty hard, checked to make sure that Chris checked up also and put some distance between me and the car on my nose. I floored the gas and held the brake as we closed on the starter and then the green flew. Red lurched forward as I came off the bakes and I dropped to the apron and started passing folks. It was the shark and the minnows. In front I could see one of the Baby Grands have his hood fly up. I didn’t laugh (too loud) as I had that happen in an ASedan car at Road Atlanta years ago. He held his line and evened out his speed as the field split him. Problem was he was slowly easing down the apron and it looked like we would be a merged plot here in another 10 seconds or so. Another car dropped down beside me and closed the hole I was going to migrate up through and I had to lift. It was depressing because I had made up some ground but as I went above the Baby Grand I think Chris went under him (in the grass!) and then I stabbed the gas and the engine went ‘rrrRRR-puuuuuuuuh’ and the car nosed over. This is going to be bad.

And it was. It was painful. It was the most painful laps of my life. I think the car was running out of fuel. It would not rev for any length of time. I had ok power in 3rd gear, but by the time I got to fourth it would fall on its face. 5th gear, if you can even imagine, was worse. I spent laps trying to figure out how much speed I can carry and staying out of the way. It was horrible. I had changed from the shark to the plankton and the fishes were swimming past me. I know the corner workers were baffled, as I would drop back some and then it would run fine and I would have a few really fast corners and reel in a few cars. But it would not last and I’d be back to putting around. Painful. I had a race years ago in Abilene (The Sun Burn Grand Prix) in my Lola S2000 that used to be my most horrible race, but I think this race has now achieved greatness in my shame list. In Abilene I was burning hot and sweating and praying for the laps to end, and although I was more comfortable this event, the Lola was running a small sliver of a percentage point better, so I think this event eclipses the Abilene event. I now have two horrible races in my past. Granted, the worst day racing still beats the best day working. This was a painful day racing.

Nappin on the way home with Mr. Duck

SO we have a puppy throwing up in my truck (the ugly) and a race that was terrible (the bad) and we are only missing the good. The good is easy. A weekend with at the track! Can’t beat that at all!

I love this pic...they weren't awake much, but very cute when they were...

The ride home was fine and the pups did great. I am thinking that maybe since it was dark he got carsick because he was awesome on the trip home. We stopped a few times and got out and gave them a bit of water and walked a bit. Most of the time they just slept and the trip went easy. Soon the car comes out of the trailer and we will begin the fixes that will put us back at the front of the pack. The new wheels/tires are very nice and the wear was minimal. The power, when it was there, was great. I need to fix a few small issues and take the car to a dyno and spend some time there. Figure out the best timing and then tune the carb to that.

There you have it…the good, the bad and the ugly. Overall it was still good, with moments of bad and (smelly) ugly. Not too much else to say. Gotta run, the new Potter movie is out and we are going to go catch it and some dinner!


Next time.....we'll get them next time...