Sears Pointless Sunday

team photo

We finished!!!!!  That’s a huge win in my book.  I am ecstatic.  The car just kept going.  We finished in 112th place with 222 laps!!!  Fastest lap was about 2:14.759  (that was almost certainly Tedd).

PnP Racing final standing

The real story was brakes.  Last night I went online and found that Pep Boys carries a line of racing brakes.  EBC The Yellow Stuff.  The website said they had some in stock in the Vallejo store.  Ewan and I were there waiting for it to open at 8.  On sundays they open at 9.  So we went to the race empty handed.  After the drivers meeting we went back and we puzzled over whether they were the right pads.  We got The Red Stuff pads which aren’t as good, and didn’t end up fitting so it was back to the crappy el-cheapo pads.  We were able to get about 2-3 hours out of each set.  Altogether we must have had about 3 hours of brake pad related downtime.  By my calculation had we maintained the same pace and hadn’t had all that downtime we would have finished in about 85th place.

I spent my morning looking for pads.  So I took the third shift.  With mostly fresh brakes and new confidence in the car I had a hell of a time.  I held off the race winner for almost a whole lap.  On the front straight he way out powered me but until then he wasn’t getting around me.  I raced with and passed several other cars including a 928 (twice), an Opal GT (twice), a few Bimmers and more.  It was so much fun.  My last drive late sunday was very different.  The new brake pads were hopeless and one of the rotors got warped.  By then every bushing in the car was dust and it crashed and rattled over every bump.  But those tires!!  Dunlop Direzza D2s.  Amazing tires.  Once I learned to trust the tires the corners were amazing.  But those appalling brakes were terrifying.  Sometimes you’d be braking hard with your foot all the way onto the floor, the whole car was shaking like it was going to explode and here comes the turn.  Luckily those tires were there for us.  Tedd brought it into the checkered flag with a shift that was way too short because a race official told me there was 90 minutes left when there were only 60.

Ever since friday morning I keep breaking out into spontaneous giggles.  When I think about the race I just get all giggly.  It was so much fun.  I think Dennis felt the same.  He’s talking about helping out with parts funding for the next round!

Oh, and that JB Weld suspension fix.. It held.  No problems all weekend.  It makes me want to compose a rock opera tribute to the wonders of epoxy.

checkered flag

I got to the track about one minute after it opened this morning.  I got the tarp off the car, put the cover on the canopy, delivered the spare tire set, and put the wheel on.  Tedd came next and he went over and got his suit inspected.  Dennis was next and Chris, Tedd’s brother.  Not a bad team, two experienced racers and two complete newbies.  After the drivers meeting Ewan and Lara showed up.  I suited up with the help of everyone else, got in the car and drove it out onto the starting grid.  My row of cars got to go first so for the first lap I might have been in the top 20.  They continued to let cars out onto the track and each lap got more crowded.  They kept the course under yellow (yellow flag is caution, no passing) for about 20 minutes.  It was plenty fun just driving around under the full course yellow.  We were going plenty quick and it gave me a chance to get used to the craziness of it all.  It went green, but I might have had one or two laps in the first hour where I didn’t see a yellow at some point.  It was crowded and crazy and it was a blast.

We are not fast.  Our car does not have lots of power.  The suspension feels exactly what you would expect of a 24 year old car.  It’s loose and noisy. The brakes started out not all that great and by the end of the day they were appalling.  The fact that they continued to work at all is a tribute to the Motul 600 fluid we used.  But our tires are big and sticky and it handles well enough.

I can’t describe the noise, sights, or sensations.  It’s like drinking from a firehose.  There were just a handfull of cars that were lots slower than us.  I passed an army green 928 army ambulance (M*A*S*H) them twice in 30 minutes.  I don’t know if he pitted, I can’t believe that lapped him.  There is an AMC Eagle that Every passes every few laps.  I diced it up with a pinto for a while.  Towards the end of my stint I was passed by the diesel 911 in the carosel but after that he wasn’t pulling away from me.  I stayed with him through the back hairpin and the twisties, the bus stop, and all the way to turn 11 the hairpin before the front straight.  There were a few faster cars catching up with us and I took the inside right behind the 911.  My brakes had been getting softer for a few laps and that 911 had great brakes.  I got on mine and a lot less slowing down happened than I expected.  I had to dart around him to the left which cut off someone else behind me, who thankfully was able to dodge me.  That put me in the turn all wrong, but who cares.  It was close but I didn’t hit anyone and kept going.  After that I came in on the next lap.  My 60 minutes were up anyway.  I completed 16 laps.  We checked all the fluids and the torque on the lugs Tedd got in the car.  The brake fluid had gone from max 1/4 of the way to minimum and the gas was at 3/4.

Tedd got out there.  I changed out of the suit into better clothes.  I went with Lara and Ewan to watch the race from the bleachers.  We were on our way back to the Paddock when Tedd signaled he was coming in.  The checks revealed the same things.  Everything was fine but the brake fluid was down again, almost to the minimum.  I topped it off. Someone, I think Tedd checked the brake pads and saw they were mostly gone.  The gas was at 1/2 full.  Time for gas on the next stop.  Time for new brake pads on the next stop.

Dennis was up next and was a champ.  Having never driven it before and starting under green, he drove for an hour without crashing or breaking and did well  at it.

While Dennis drove Ewan and I drove to the NAPA auto parts in Novato for pads.  Of course this model year had two caliper manufactures with different pads.  I didn’t know which we had so I had to buy both.  We got back before Dennis finished his turn.  We all pitched in on the brakes.  Tedd put in a gargantuan effort and got it done.  It was really hard to get the new pads spread enough to fit over the rotor.  After he succeeded Christ got in and drove to the gas pumps.  The nice guys with 10 or so 5 gallon jugs let us go in front of them on the only working unleaded fuel pump.

During Chris’ turn I wolfed down food that Lara bought just minutes before the concessions closed then got suited up for another turn.  There was only about 90 minutes left so we each did a 30 mintue turn.  When I was ready to drive off I noticed that the brake pedal went all the way to the floor with little resistance. It wouldn’t pump up either.  Chris assured me that there was some braking available.  I tested it a few times on my way to the track and it did have some.  So what the hell I went out and put in an incident free 30 minutes.  Passed that 928 twice, got really good at my “pass me on this side” hand signals, particularly at the entrances to turns where lots of braking is called for.  I brought it back in after 30 and Dennis got it to drive until the end of the day’s session.

After one hour (all me) we were in 92nd with 16 laps and a fasted lap time of 2:24.872.  That included the 20 minute full course yellow.

After two hours (mostly Tedd), which included our first pit stop, we were in 111th with 31 laps and a fastest lap of 2:17.939.

After the third hour (mostly Dennis) we were in 105th with 51 laps.

After the fourth hour (Chris) we were in 127th with 57 laps.  That included the lot pit stop for brake pads.

After the fifth hour (some Chris, some me) we were in 131st, with 68 laps.

After the sixth lap (some me and some Tedd) we were in 116th with 88 laps and a new fasted time of 2:16.942.

At the end of the day (Dennis took the last 30 minutes) we were in 103rd place with 121 laps.

If you take out our pit time we seem to do about 2:27minutes per lap.  So we lost us about 28 laps which would have put us in about 65th place.

Set the same pace tomorrow.  I predict we will squeak into the top 100.  If we were able to keep the same driving pace and only stop for three driver changes I think that would put us better than 60th!!

We made it to day two.  In the morning we’re going to bleed the brakes, and I have a lead on some race pads. With real brakes we could do some real racing tomorrow

We’ll see.

Inspections and more suspension drama

Met Dennis and Tedd at Tedd’s.  We used Tedd’s van to tow the car.  He had installed a tow bar on the front structure under the bumper, and we hooked that to the tow hitch.  It’s called a flat tow.wpid-20150320_074815.jpg

As I pulled it out of the driveway I heard a clunk and they yelled to stop.  For a moment the tires on the car decided to go left while I was turning right.  But it straightened out and seemed to work.  Dennis followed me in his car and we headed for the freeway.  I was harrowing.  In the mirror it looks like someone is tailgating you like you’ve never been tailgated.  On the freeway when you go over a bump you feel the van bounce then you feel the car bouncing which bounces the van.  They charged me freekin’ $20 on the Carquinez bridge!  the normal toll is $5.  I’m glad I had a $20!  We got there and got a decent spot.  We have nice neighbors.  Tech didn’t start ’till 10.  We got our site setup (after some difficulty trying to figure out how to un-hitch the car.

We noticed that the front right had lots of visible negative camber again.  It looks like the adjusters had slipped while towing.  Maybe on that curb.  So I took off the wheel and re-adjusted the alignment.  We went to tech.

Tech was dizzying.  It took less than 5 minutes.  When it was done they handed us our form and said to get our packet at HQ.  I asked, “What about BS?”  They said they’d done it already.  We got put in class B with 0 laps.  We got our suits, driver’s license, and credit card inspected.  The last was for the transponder.  We drove back to our paddock and the camber was back.  We also thought we saw lots of toe out.  so we worked on that for the rest of the day.  We spent some time measuring the camber and toe, and figuring what to do. The problem is that the camber correctors are total garbage and don’t work.  It is impossible to get them tight enough to hold.  I tried.  Eventually I stripped the threads on one.  Lucky we had two extras.  I installed the back-ups.  Our neighbor (monty python themed VW “killer” rabbit) who needed to borrow our camber tool, suggested that I fill the gaps in the camber correctors with JB weld.  He may have saved our race.  I did it with JB Weld Steelstick.  It is curing right now.  It has a reported compressive strength of 14,000psi.  I really believe that it will work.

Driver’s meeting is at 9am tomorrow.  I will try to live blog when I can..

I’m going to take the first shift behind the wheel. I think we’re going to start with 1 hours shifts.  We’ll see if we can get everyone some seat time early.  Then based on our fatigue, gas consumption, and reliability we may adjust.

Ewan is going to video and photo document the race for us.