Post By m610
Post By m610
Sears Pointless 2016
Too soon? I haven't even finished unpacking from the last race. But, the spring race, which is usually in mid-March, will be a month earlier this year so it's time to start getting ready.
Friday, 12 February 2016
10am-5pm: Mandatory Friday tech inspection.
1pm-4:30pm: LeMons testing.(tentative) Organized and hosted by Sonoma Raceway, details TBA.
Saturday, 13 February 2016
7am: Gates open
9am: Mandatory drivers' meeting
10:00am-5pm: Race session I
Sunday, 14 February 2016
9am-4:30pm: Race session II
8pm: Hungry mountain lions released--better not be around
Yep, that's Saint Valentines Day weekend. Very romantic, likely to strain some marriages, but also an excellent basis for fantastic themes.
I'll put the car up on jack-stands this weekend to start the post-race process. Besides the usual (fluids, brakes, wheel bearings, cleaning) we know we need a new head gasket (it has started weeping water on the driver's side) and we were getting a fair bit of oil out of the dipstick, which was messy, but no big deal. The googly eyes got a little water logged but I have spares.
For drivers I expect Zep to return. He's only missed one race since summer 2010. Jon might not be able to make it. To be fair to his family he needs these races to be spaced out more. Gary is interested, and we might have a new driver, April, who has years of spec Miata experience, some ITB, and has been campaigning a Ford Ranger in Lemons for a couple of years. She's got skill and spunk. We could use more skill and spunk. Getting Randy Pobst to drive for us is a real possibility. We'll see.
The February race could be rainy. Oh, well. It's difficult and dangerous, but still fun.
I'm hoping the Phoenix Opel guys can race with us. They've improved a lot and almost made it to the checkered. They lost oil pressure and developed a rod knock with only a couple of hours to go.
I finally got Christmas and some work out of the way and had time to work on the car.
Post-race normally includes fluids, wheel bearings, thorough inspection, possibly spark plugs, possibly new brake pads, definitely bleed the brakes, plus cleaning. We had two minor issues creeping in at the end of the last race. Water had been seeping out the head gasket on the drivers side. It was never wet, but you could see where the water had dried. Anyway, it needs a new head gasket. The head is now off and in my kitchen. Tomorrow I learn how to lap valves, then it all goes back in.
Also, engine temps had started to rise towards the end of the race. Today I noticed a lot of black dust on the front of the head and I knew what that was. Fan belt. I grabbed the fan and it turned easily. The belt had stretched and/or worn. So much high-RPM driving. Anyway, that just got on the post-race checklist. New fan belt, every race.
The head and pistons were pretty thick with carbon. I figured a race is like an Italian tune-up, right? Well, I had done a bit of street driving with it since the race. I'll clean the head and what I can on the pistons. I can't turn the engine lest I mess up cam timing.
Any suggestions on a good cleaner to get the carbon off the head and piston? I was going to go at it with Simple Green, razor blades, and maybe green pads.
Mike, some denatured alcohol on a rag helps to clean the top of the pistons also, & everything else..
Thanks. I'll try that. A razor blade and Simple Green seemed to do the trick on the head.
As long as the head was out, and getting a little cleaning, it seemed like a good time to check the valves and valve seats and maybe do a little lapping, because 1. ounce of prevention, and 2. I had never lapped valves before.
To prove I have never lapped valves before, is there a difference between lapping and grinding. The Permatex we found at O'Reilly was a grinding compound, and the instructions were pretty ambiguous, saying something about starting with 120 grit and finishing with 220 grit. The grit size was not mentioning on the product, and the guy behind the counter said it started out as 120 grit and ended up at 220 grit, which sounded creative.
Anyway, things are on hold until I can clear this up.
1000 Post Club
Mike, my friend Dave in Woodland (the Bonneville streamliner) is a good source for info. In a pinch, I call him with all kinds of "stupid" questions and he can make me (almost) understand all the time. If you want the phone number, PM me.
Just a quick status update.
The cylinder head is back on the car. It had started weeping coolant which I took to be a sign of imminent failure, so it got replaced. While I had the head off I inspected everything and reground the valves. There was a little pitting on them, which is normal. Also, a Donahue trick was to build and engine and race it once, then redo the head. The bottom end would be seasoned, everything fitting nicely, and a little more valve work on the top end did the trick. So, we are like Mark Donahue. But you already knew that.
Anyway, the engine is together again. I just need to get back out there and adjust valves, start it up, and adjust valves again.
For the next race we have: me, Zep, April, and 99% we have Jon. I just saw Gary's 2016 race schedule and it made me wonder how during these past two years he could ever find time to race with us.
April is new to the team. She brings a lot of racing experience, instructor experience, and has owned and maintained race cars. Plus she's a veterinarian. Somehow that will come in useful.
If April's regular team gets their car done she may be splitting her time between us and them. If not, we get her all to ourselves. Even so, if any of the rest of our current and past Tinyvette racers feel the need for moderate speed in a pretty, nicely balanced, generally very reliable LeMons icon, now's the time to let me know.
I have all of the parts I need for the rear disc brakes. I also have a spare rear end to fit everything to before attempting it on the Tinyvette. I've been swamped with work and hope to be clear of that soon so I can focus 100% on the car. And yes, this will become an article for the Blitz.
We recently installed a window net and a partition between our right leg and all the pointy stuff in the center console area. The next addition, something I've wanted for a long time, is a proper fire system, CrazyMike is setting up a group buy but has been slow to get it done. I'll bug him again.
Jon is setting up some skid pad time for us. I really want some slip-and-slide time in the Tinyvette. That racing in the rain business last month was difficult/sucked, and the solution is to either not race in the rain, or learn to race in the rain. I'm always up for some learning. But if the Thunderhill skid-pad plan doesn't work out, how about a rainy day in the parking lot at the Oakland Coliseum?
Race weekend is this coming weekend. Yea, it's Valentines Day weekend, but apparently racing on this weekend is forgivable. Racing on Mother's Day, not.
Anyway, we are almost ready. Here's a version of the update I just sent our team.
Jon, Zep, April, and me.
I'll get everything to the track on Thursday night. There's a slight chance we might have to park in the lot above the paddock but that's only if the crews aren't able to clear the paddock following whatever shindig they have going on earlier that day. If we do end up in the staging area we'll be let in early Friday.
The plan is to set up next to the Ford Ranger team, near where we were last time, but probably a little more north, across the lane that leads to the track entrance. This is assuming their new motor is good and they are coming. Anyway, I'll coordinate that with Ranger Gene. Ranger April, a long-standing member of that team, will be driving with us. Anyway, being paddock neighbors, maybe we can help each other out. For example, when fueling.
It is still on jack stands but is about to come down. The motor is all together and just needs to be warmed and have the final valve adjustment done.
The wheel bearings looked fine so I just repacked them and put them back in.
The brakes looked great. We have enough to get us through Saturday and maybe Sunday. Of course I have spare pads.
I have all the parts I need for the rear disc brake conversion, but haven't had time to install them. I know. Lazy, or something. I really like working on the car but haven't had much time.
I found out what was causing the car to pull to the right late in the December race. The right-side upper control arm bolt was backing off again. I thought we had solved this problem. No damage was done and everything is snug again. I'll order spares and we'll keep an eye on this. It's a really easy thing to check so we'll include this in our pit stops.
Spring time is rain time in California, usually, and especially usually in El Nina years. Jon has checked the long range forecast and it looks like we'll have clear sky and dry track. In other words, a fast race. I'm looking forward to it.
Believe it or not the checklist I stick to the windshield during pit stops is only one of many I have. If I remembered where I kept them I'd use them more often, and forget less stuff I need to bring to the race. Anyway, it is attached. See what you think, and let me know your thoughts on using them during the race.
I'm also attaching the Tinyvette spec sheet. It's a work in progress. I wanted to have all the essential torque specs in one place, and a list of key parts, things we might have to run to NAPA to get.
Even with a heliport and air strip on the premises, no one expressed an interest in race. Well actually, April did, and if the costs for two people weren't so high I would have gone for it, 900 mile tow and all. We've done long tows and two-driver races before. So, with mainly cost as the factor I withdrew from the Arizona race. Maybe next year, when Compuware finally sends me that bag of money.
Fame and Fortune
I, and no doubt many others. threw our name in the hat for a team to follow while filming a segment for AutoBlog. I got a nice response from the producers who did not say they planned to feature us, but they did ask for my number while at the track. So, make sure you are Hollywood-ready, well, New York-ready, just in case.
I've lost a little weight. Not much. You might not notice. But I have, and if I keep this up I'll be as fast as Zep, 'cause you know that's really all that separates us lap time-wise.
These two lists are awesome. Answered so many questions I have had about what to check before, during and after hitting the track. It is also cool to see what a trackable GT is running.
Look forward to seeing it in person on Saturday!
Thanks. Eventually they will be completed. I also have the full electrical schematics, lots of spreadsheets and calculations, plus tech sheets from Valvoline, etc. I should probably create a Tinyvette Handbook.
There's an article in the Blitz from last year that went over the things we had to do to keep this car racing, things we learned along the way. Things like brake upgrades, reinforcing the lower A-arms, etc.
The car has been back together for a couple of days but I still haven't fired it up. I need to warm the motor and adjust valves. I was all set to do this today and got in and I pressed the gas pedal, ready to crank it, and the pedal didn't come back up. On inspection I could see that the linkage near the pedal was bent. We have dual DCOE carbs and we use a combination of the original linkage and a cable. I was thinking the cable was kinked. There is a tight bend near the carbs, next to the firewall, but it is not kinked. I had spent the last day or so tinkering with the linkage to try to minimize friction by getting things better aligned. I also installed another spring on the shaft of the original linkage. It seemed to me that the return springs on the carbs needed a little help when you took your foot off the throttle. Well, I guess it was too much and the 90-degree part of the linkage near the pedal twisted. I bent it back. It's pretty soft. I messed with the linkage again and the it bent again. I also noticed the tab welded to the firewall, above the foot well, is flexing a lot. We need to reinforce that before it breaks off.
I'm seeing several things here. It is definitely more difficult to operate the carbs with this cable system, but not a lot more difficult. We recently bent then almost broke a tab that help the end of the cable away from the cards so we reinforced it. Now we're bending stuff farther up the line. The nice thing about the original tab was it would flex if the pedal was pressed farther than needed to fully open the carbs. So we need to strengthen everything and limit how far we can press the throttle. We should also add a return spring to the gas pedal, or very close to it, to reduce the load on the linkage, something that could prevent the carbs from immediately returning to the idle position.
I'll get the valves adjusted tomorrow and will load up on Thursday and haul to Sears Point. On Friday I'll get the car through tech early then will head into Petaluma where Kurt, one of our crew, can help with some fabrication and welding.
I hate cutting things like this so close to our green flag deadline, but I'm happy that I discovered the problem before the race started.
Unfamiliar territory for me. I was done with the car early and was mostly packed up last night. That means an easy-peasy Thursday and I'll get to the track on time.
For the past couple of years there have been bold attempts to broadcast these races. Recently RaceCast company has tried streaming cell phone video to the web. That works not bad. For this race Road Kill is pitching RaceCast's efforts.
Watch 24 Hours of LeMons LIVE from Sonoma Raceway this weekend - Roadkill
If interested, or really bored, give it a try. I won't be able to watch any of it so tell me how it went.
Anyway, I'm out of here at around 4PM, to return late Sunday with the results.
We came, we raced, we lost. We usually lose. Most teams lose. Practically everybody loses. That's part of why it is so much fun. Most of us go home losers, with smiles on our faces.
The short version, we got as high as 18th over all on Sunday and finished the day in 30th. 18th is unprecedented for us, and so is finishing day one in 30th. We crept back to 21st when the race ended.
The track was full, 160 teams, down a little from past 180-team races. Still, plenty of action. Well, maybe a little too much at times. I guess LeMons is getting popular and has started attracting the wrong crowd. You know, real racers hoping to get noticed and get a real ride on a real team. Win-win-win-NOW kinds of drivers. There were reports all day of asshats dive bombing and cutting passes razor close. Eventually that led to consequences when two asshats split the beloved and new to LeMons (second race) 1960's Ranchero as it was going into T2. The car going inside clipped it and spun it and now it was just over the crest of a hill where the track dropped away, the Ranchero facing back down the hill that offered a spectacular view of the valley and the C4 Corvette coming up the hill. Yes, they met, and the red flag came out for the second time that day.
As of January 1 LeMons started mandating head and neck restraints, purging the series of the remaining neck donuts. The driver of the Ranchero was wearing his H&N for the first time, and he said he definitely felt the straps doing their jobs. He was fine and not even sore the next day. The driver for the Corvette was OK but had to be cut out of his car. Everyone walked away, the Corvette came in on a flatbed, and the Ranchero got dragged screeching and grinding down an access road. Very sad. And yep, this is real racing, but my feelings are, while you are much more likely to crash in a LeMons race than on public roads, you are much less likely to get hurt.
The other red flag was due to a fire caused by a broken oil cooler line. No injuries and the car returned to racing soon after.
There was another really long caution mid-day due to a blown up engine. That happens a lot, engines blowing up, but Jon, our driver at the time, enjoyed this one so much I have to mention it. When he'd pass the incident he'd radio in that there had been a massive motor blow, and a lap later described the scene as a debris field like you'd see at an airliner crash site, and a lap later he described the 6' x 9' lake of oil he had to go around. Photos and stories I saw and heard later confirmed all this. That motor, the whole thing, was in lots of tiny pieces. Even the crank broke into 5 pieces. Excellent job, gentlemen.
Meanwhile, the Tinyvette is screaming around the track. Screaming doesn't make you go any faster, but it makes you think you are. Anyway, Zep was zipping around in fine 2:10/lap form, Jon was putting a hard chase on Joe De Battista's "Dadson" 300Z (Joe and his dad are the one's who restored the early 60's Kadett). April, our team member for a day, also did great, her first time in our car, with 9" of padding behind her so she could reach the pedals and wheel. And she had fun too. We all did. Even me, who did not drive on Saturday. With all the cautions and two red flags we had fuel to finish the day with just two pit stops.
I think it was Jon that got us into 18th position. Early in the race that number doesn't mean much since they pretty much drop the green flag at random and you can find yourself starting the race in 1st or 160th. But Jon had been out for 3 hours and that means we earned that 18th position. After his pit stop we were back in 28th. Pit stops will do that to you, especially if you are anywhere near the front of the field. We managed to say in that territory until the day's racing was done.
Jon had been in the car for three hours before April got in. April has a lot of racing experience in a lot of different cars, but she was new to our car. I knew she'd be fine. She reported in about the zany driving she was seeing, but seemed happy in the car. She was probably thinking about her regular team, though. She's with the Ford Ranger team and there had been doubts they'd have the truck ready for this race. It needed a new motor. April wanted to race so she joined us for the day. Well, Gene got it done and the truck came to race. The reason I mention this is that about 90 minutes into her stint she started asking for a driver change. Coincidentally, the Ranger had just been dropped off by a tow truck. It had died on track. We radioed April that her truck was in for repairs. She asked what was wrong with it and at that point no one knew. We suspected that she thought we were lying to her. I guess I should have put her teammate Gene on the radio. We really wanted her to stay out, to run as long a stint as possible, hoping we could win something on our flawed fuel strategy. I guess we finally convinced her that if she wanted race any more that day that she needed to stay in our car, because her truck was now in pieces.
I took the first stint on Sunday. They lined us up in the pits, 3 x 50+, for photos and sensible staging, sent us out single file, then dropped the green after circulating for barely more than a lap. I was out in a back section when Zep and Jon radioed "Green" and we were racing. I got in a couple of passes before everyone else figured it out, and I got in a lot more passes that morning.
It's hard to describe. The car felt so perfect. There were times when I'd pass three cars at a time in a double-turn at the end of the drag strip. I remember thinking how many times I had been passed there as I struggled with the car to get through there. Now I was THAT car, going in and grabbing second at the end of braking, getting on the throttle right away and going wide, around everyone. Later I had a great dice with the diesel-powered Nein-11 and after a couple of laps finally got by. Their low-end torque versus the Tinyvette's whatever. Coming out of the T11 hairpin we have no chance drag racing anyone, but coming out of the carousel we are in the power band and I think that's where I completed the pass. A little later I'd pass the Porsche again, not sure if I had lapped it or if they had just changed drivers. Later that day, in the final hour of racing, Ferkel, that's the car's name, passed me decisively.
I guess the idea of lying had never occurred to us until the April affair. I was out first on Sunday and was staying out as long as I could. Once the fuel gauge was near "empty" I called in to get ready. They told me to give them three more laps. I replied I might not last three laps. I slowed a bit and went for two they told them I was coming in. By now the gauge was steady on "F", which in our car means "E", and steady on "F" means there's not enough fuel to slosh around. They tired to talk me into going around again. I came in, to find out they had been ready for a driver change all along.
The car took about 12 gallons. I had a gallon left. I guess I could have gone around again.
We figured a good part of our position at the end of Saturday was being able to skip a pit stop. Jon had been able to stay out for nearly 3 hours, Zep and April for more than 2. So our strategy for Sunday was to try to repeat that. Unfortunately we came up an hour short and so I took the last hour and we did grab 21st overall, 6th in class. Thinking back, everyone else probably skipped a fuel stop on Saturday. All those red and yellow flags saved them fuel, too. Doubly-flawed fuel strategy I guess. Oh, well, it was fun.
We'll that's a taste of how things went. I wish the other guys could/would come on here to tell their version. I'm sure it would be even more grand a telling that what we heard at dinner Saturday night.
Pics coming soon, video a bit later.
It'll be a while before I have video from the race. In the mean time, here's a little Tinyvette action as seen from Ian's Nissan 240.
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