Scratcher - First Test, Tuesday, 24 July 2007
sUp4r S3kRaT T35t!*
With the GRM UTCC only 3 days away I figured maybe I should perhaps drive the car and see how she does. Sure, she had already moved nearly a whole FOOT on her own this past Sunday, but I had no clue if the transmission would work in all gears (after all, I am the one who put it together, heh heh heh), if the brakes would stop the car or if the thing would even negotiate a turn.
On Monday night Fertitta and Nick came over and built a set of covers for the transmission and the driveshaft. It isn't going to win any awards for best fabrication or best metalwork, but it DOES work and it was an awesome feat for two guys and a few hours. I mounted the tire temperature sensors for the front tire and completed random things on the punch-list. Tuesday the 24th dawned (kindof...looked like more rain maybe) and the stark realization that there was only 3 days (including today) till the event slapped me in the face as the alarm clock went off after another night of less than 5 hours of sleep. I laid there and thought about the situation. This had the potential for a lot of egg-on-the-face if we haul this car that far and it brakes/blows up/etc. I had been living off Airborne and little sleep for quite a while now. We had all thrashed on this car for many weeks and I had stopped smiling as I walked into the garage lately. My hands are absolutely hammered, much worse than when we built the rally car in 4 weeks. I was slowly talking myself into not going. It was 1400 miles. I'd never even driven the car. What if nothing worked right? Is it going to be even close to being balanced? I'm not exactly a shabby driver and I can usually get decent performance from a car, but if it so far off then what am I going to do? Additionally, I'd never driven the track. Shaking down a new car and trying to work the inevitable bugs out while trying to learn a new track and a new style of car seemed fairly daunting. On Monday I had stopped at the trailer place and picked up another spare wheel as one of my last spares was damaged. I definitely wanted two spares for this long of a trip. As I stood at the counter they had a sign about 'Persistence'. It talked about how the persistent man was better than all men. The world is full of talented men who have done nothing. It is also full of genius' who have done nothing also. That sign flashed through my head along with the 'one day at a time' adage. So, one day. Today. Load the car, take care of the pups and get to the test. The next step will be determined by the test. If I felt the car was ok then we'd make the run to VIR. If not, then I'd come back home and decide the next course of action. I eased out of bed and began. Loading took a long time as it was the first time the car had been in the trailer with full bodywork Everything that could delay my departure happened. Nothing big, but my 10am departure slipped all the way back till 2pm. This put me at the site at a little past 5pm
Above: Nick working on the tunnel
Above: Tire temp sensors for the driver front tire
Above: Camera mount. Don't get your hopes up, it was too wobbly and we didn't have time to get it right so there was no on-board vid of the testing or VIR. :-(
Above: She fits! Rally and Race keep a sharp lookout
Wade met me there to take the new tires (jumbos) to be put on the new wheels and to get a tire put on my 2nd spare trailer rim. By the time he got them dropped off and back, Scratcher was unloaded, final checks and a few last minute things were done and with everything else looking good, I slid in the car. Todd had come out to help also and I was thankful. With his late model and CP experience his eyes would be nice to have out there.
In short, the car was incredible. Lots of power, turned well, and everything seemed pretty tight. Todd drove it and (SHOCKER) he actually had only good things to say about it. For those of you that know Todd, for him to not even have ONE little rag-on-you comment was truly a phenomenal thing. Wade even took it for a spin (once he got it launched...*snicker*). Scratcher was on the very hard Bridgestone radials and had trouble putting down power in anything but 3rd or 4th. Rolling into the gas in second was mostly futile even with the 13" wide tires. It was pure joy to drive the car and makes all the thrashing easily worth it.
Above: About 2 pounds of gravel from the test site. Of course, VIR will be all paved and nice, right?
Above: Wade and Todd fixing the small teething problems all new cars have
After we ran out of daylight and loaded the car, we went to Todd's shop and balanced all my tires and I changed oil in the duramax. We double checked everything in the trailer and our lists and called it a night.
Above: Todd's House of Big Tire Balancing, which is thankfully open late!
Although there are still things to do (transponder, overflow bottles, DL1 install, etc) the car is now in the trailer and Wade and I will launch tomorrow (Wednesday) morning bright and early and head to Virginia. Wish us luck...
VIR here we come!
*Super Secret Test :-)