Thunderhill 2021

We raced at Thunderhill last weekend. As usual it was a crazy weekend, but I’m fairly pleased with how it went.

My son and I towed it up on Thursday evening so we could get in early and get a spot under the big metal canopy. We did get a spot there and it was a life save. It got into the high 90s on Saturday and about 105 on Sunday. The next morning another team arrived and pulled in next to us with another CB7 Accord. That was pretty cool. Their car had an F20B that they said was good for 200hp. We passed out tech inspection without trouble and they put is in B class with 0 laps like usual. Oddly they did the same for the 200hp Accord, B 0.

One of our regular drivers backed out a week or so before with health concerns, so we got the same guest driver that joined us at Laguna Seca. But then Thursday another driver also decided against driving. I decided we were not going to be competitive and to just have fun. The other drivers suggested that, since I’m the oldest and least in shape, that I should go first while it was cool out and drive as long as I could.

I did and it went great. Started in 79th drove for 90 minutes and finished my stint in 28th place and just 2 laps down from the leaders. The car was running great and handling better. It was a joy. Except that the the exhaust started leaking and then the 4 to 2 connector came apart and it got very very loud. But they didn’t black flag me so I decided to stay out. After that I started shifting earlier which probably slowed me down a bit, but not too much. This car is really a momentum car, and finally for the first time I felt comfortable carrying very high speeds through turns 1 and 8 (like top of 4th gear fast). 8 I could do without lifting, though I usually lifted a bit to do a little weight shift forward to get a nice turn in. 1 required only a lift during the turn in, unless there was traffic. These two corners scare lots of drivers and so you can just blow by them on the next straight if you can carry full speed through them. My previous fastest lap on the Thunderhill five mile was 3:56 and Saturday morning I did a 3:53.9. I was wiped out when I came in even though it wasn’t super hot yet. The guys did a great job reconnecting the exhaust, but we lost lots of places during that stop.

Our guest driver went next and went off twice in his first lap then couldn’t find the pit entrance. So we were in trouble with the judges. The rest of the team and my son worked on me hard and convinced me to let my son (17) drive. We got him enough safety gear to wear, and late registered him after our third stint started and the car was still running.

During the day we started having fueling issues again. I never experienced it, and it seemed to help when the tank was full. Our fuel usage was quite high too. During Jason’s drive he hit a curb pretty hard and a few laps later that wheel decided to go for a walk. All 4 studs were sheared off. Luckily he went off and the disk only hit sand. We were able to replace the studs put the wheel back on and send him back out.

Before my son drove we found that the fuel pressure regulator was loose and leaking. We hoped that would solve the fueling problem but it didn’t seem to.

While my son was driving I was a nervous wreck, but he did pretty well. The the red flag came out. Red flag means every car stops and pulls to the side of the track because there is a bad crash or a fire. I panicked, but it was just a minor grass fire. That was about 20 minutes from the end of the day so they just called everyone in and ended racing for the day.

The next day I started again and again didn’t have fueling issues. I had a great time driving and managed a 3:47.6. It really handles well, enough that the lack of power isn’t too big a deal.

So the guys with the 200hp F20B accord that had a paddock space next to us? They blew up their engine on the second lap. Worked all day and night to swap it with another F20B. The next morning on lap one the passed me like I was standing still but on the second lap I passed them back. They had blown up a second motor and were pulled off on the side of the track. So maybe a high strung VTEC motor isn’t the right answer for low budget enduro racing after all. I tried to convince them that an F22A is a ticket to finishing the race and getting in lots of laps, but they didn’t listen.

We finished in 63rd place which wasn’t even in the top half, but no surprise we had several issues during the two days, and any race where I have the team fast lap isn’t our best.

On the way back we returned the car to our new house. It’s in the garage now. With an indoor work space I can take on projects like an engine rebuild and replacing the camshaft.