Thursday, May 30, 2013

CMC Mustang - NASA MW/GL Quals/Race @ Putnam Park 5.19.2012

After the difficulties with the water temps on Saturday, I was not sure how Sunday would unfold.  And I would know right away with warmups at 9:30am.  The outcome; water temp issues persisted still.  I left the car in the owner's hands again with Qualifying coming up around 11am.  At this point I was pretty much leaning towards heading home and not wasting my entire day once again.
After a chat with the owner prior to Quals, he explained an updated repair plan.  The new plan was to swap out the water pump with a new model - thinking that Ford made 2 models and it could be broken or possibly even the wrong one.  So that change along with another full system flush.  A repair like that would fit between Quals and the 3pm race - but not before.  So I was instructed to top the car off with water and just run 1-2 laps to get a Qualifying spot while the owner ran quickly for parts.

I went out late for Qualifying and fired 1 hot lap as best I could.  I ran a new weekend best of 1:23.1 w/o the tires being fully up to temp and navigating a bit of traffic front & rear (see vid).  It felt a bit better actually but I just simply needed more seattime in the car and with all the issues I was not getting many laps.  My time placed me in 7th today however, about 1 second out of 4th, with only 8 cars making it out as there was some attrition.  Below is a pic of the in-class cars (me in the #20) of CMC - Camaro-Mustang Challenge.

After Quals, the car went under the knife again and I relaxed with the wife and chatted up some friends around the paddock.  The car returned later and was deemed ready for action with about an hour to spare.  We packed up most of our gear for a quick post-race getaway and I got suited up for the race.  I hopped in the car to start it about 10min before the race and it would not crank over.  The owner immediately hopped under it as we jacked it up and with some quick 'massaging' to the starter it cranked over.  We all hopped in our cars and headed for grid with a few mins to spare.  Crazy crazy quick fix!

The race was another standing start, and again I was not the best out of the gate.  I think I made 2-3 laps keeping an eye on the water temps and they were unfortunately shooting up quickly once again.  Coming out of T8 it felt like something burst and the car slid sideways briefly as I decided to exit immediately.  Turns out the radiator hose came off.   Total laps for the day:  9.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CMC Mustang - NASA MW/GL race @ Putnam Park 5.18.2013

I got to Putnam Park about 8am on Saturday.  Just in time to find the car I'd be driving and meet the owner prior to the 8:15am required drivers meeting. This would be my first time ever in a Mustang; and first time in class CMC (Camaro Mustang Challenge).  The specs are 264whp @ 3205 lbs.
We went over the car briefly, as it recently had the shortblock replaced.  The plan was to keep an eye on the temps (of course) and basically just give it hell.
First up at 9:30am were warmups; which would determine the grid for Qualifying as the event was pretty full as usual.  I ran some laps getting used to the Toyo RA1's and shiftpoints as well as the clutch and steering.  The car was fairly well balanced and I was pleased to have power steering for once!  The water temps did start to rise and eventually the car started squirting what looked like oil from under the hood.  As it had started to rain during the session and Putnam is horribly slick in the rain, the session emptied out about halfway through as I ran a best of 1:27.8.  Back in the pits I figured out quickly it was the radiator overflow tank as the car simply ran hot and the water was very rusty and/or dirty.  We also discovered the car did not like to start once it was hot (more later).
After talking with the owner, the fix was to run the fan immediately on HI on track.  Qualifying went ok; after being stuck behing a FFR for a few laps I finally got 2 open laps and put down a 1:25.7 which was 2 seconds faster than my practice time and slotted into 3rd of 10 in class for the race.  However the car overheated again after pulling off the track.  I also got stuck behind another car leaving the track and the idle got low and it died - and unfortunately would not restart since it was hot.  I sat and waited and eventually had a friend come and help pushstart the car and I put it in the tech line as I didn't want to get DQ'd and lose my gridspot.  I was not called into tech but the car died again and we left it to cool down.
With the race not for 3+ hours, there was some new fixes planned.  After eating I found the owner replaced the radiator cap and thermostat I believe along with more water.
The race... it would be a 3-wave start.  Our class - CMC - would be the 3rd wave and would be a standing start which is normal for the class; but my first ever!  I was 3rd and did ok (didn't kill it or light up the tires too much) but I was late based on my video I've watched as I waited for the flag to drop rather than going on first movement.  Newbie...  I fell to 4th going into T1 as I was more watching my mirrors for the rest of the pack rather than going aggressively into T1 and taking 3rd back as I had the inside line.  No matter; I was in 4th and held that for several laps - best of 1:23.5 - best I could manage as the tires started to degrade and the temps started to rise once again.  I was quickly forced to back down the pace in hopes to help out the water temps but eventually I retired after 11 laps into the 35min race.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Race Weekend - Putnam Park with NASA!

Leaving in a few hours for Putnam Park raceway just outside Indy.  Racing a '95 Mustang in class CMC at the NASA MW/GL crossover event.  I'm sure it'll have an awesome turnout after looking at the entry lists.  Forecast looks good, which a change of rain Saturday:

  • Sat:  79 degrees - 30% chance of rain
  • Sun:  85 degrees and sunny
I also heard from the car owner this week (it'd been about 10 days since we'd talked).  The car apparently had some issues at it's first event last month.  So it's got a new (used) shortblock in it for the race weekend.  Everything checked out on the install, so he said the only thing to do is "drive the hell out of it"!  So that's my plan.  Hopefully the install was a good one!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

4/21/2013 - 24 hours of Lemons @ Gingerman Day 2 (wrap-up)

Day #1 ended with us still holding 2nd place overall, thanks to our solid pit strategy and consistent driving for everyone on the team.  After 9 hours of racing on Day #1, Day #2 would be about 5.5 hrs long to finish out the Enduro weekend.  The top 10 would be gridded 1-10 with everyone else lining up at random.  See pic (left) for the top 4 as we rolled out Sunday.

Although we were sitting 2nd in class and overall, we could tell at this point the only real chance we had at winning was if the top car either broke or made some mistakes.  They - along with the rest of the top 5 - were clearly faster than us on a clear lap.  Pit strategy, good driving and good traffic management can only go so far when the other teams run 5+ seconds a lap quicker with open track!  And sure enough, the top place team - a BMW e30 named BuckSnort - turned a blazing 1:39.5 lap early in the morning.  The 4th place car - a Lexus V8 named Don't Mess with Lexus - turned a 1:40.3.  In contrast, our fastest lap of the entire was a 1:46.5 turned at the end of the race running basically on fumes!  As a further comparison, in 2009 in NASA TTB trim (~310whp, 245 Hoosiers) I turned a 1:30x in the #929Evo on a single hotlap which is a record that still stands today!

The day rolled by with the top 10 staying largely in tact.  There was a few cars trading a few spots around pitstops and some broken cars getting back, etc.  The #3 car - a white Neon - unfortunately had issues and had to retire.  Team Bucksnort quickly put us a lap down in the morning and we lost another lap later in the day - the Lexus was much faster than us but either their driving skills or their fuel-thirsty V8 kept them just far enough back.
After 15.5 hrs and 441 total laps; we'd hold on for 2nd place overall, 3 laps behind Bucksnort.  6 laps behind us in 3rd was the Lexus.  4th place was another 14 laps back (26 laps behind us), but 4th-9th were only separated by 6 laps!  I can also say we truely had a $500 car... where some of the competitors seemed to have very nice setups.  In the end we got nothing for 2nd place sadly.  However, we did something!  We were awarded the Organizer's Choice Trophy; which goes to the team that, in the eyes of the Chief Perp, really gets the point of the 24 Hours Of LeMons. aka: Doing is the right way.
A few more pics and a short vid are below.  Overall I had a lot of fun in my first ever Lemons race.  I thought the skill level was very good considering there were 67 entries; much much better than my experience with Chumpcar Midwest Championships last year where the drivers were very sketchy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Next race scheduled! NASA @ Putnam

I have secured a car for the NASA Midwest & Great Lakes Crossover event at Putnam next weekend.  I'll be racing the #20 1994 Ford Mustang in class CMC; Camaro Mustang Challenge.  The car is classed at ~265hp @ 3200lbs running on a spec Toyo tire.  Should be a lot of fun!  It's also an American V8, so the power band should be strong - I just hope I can get it to take turns!  In comparison with my Evo which ran a stickier Hoosier tire, it makes about 100whp less with similar weight.

Altogether there are 10 entries in the class I'll be running in; which is a crazy high amount for a regional event!  There should be some great in-class racing which is always a treat.  I'll be racing in the same rungroup (Thunder) as I've ran a few times in the past which is about 1/2 full of America V8's and the faster ST cars which are power/weight only with unrestricted aero and unrestricted tires.

Putnam is a fun track and imo, favors mometum cars moreso than outright HP.  It's also pretty tight everywhere, with nothing overly wide except for the main straight.  Should be fun; more details to come!

Friday, May 3, 2013

4/20/2013 - 24 hours of Lemons @ Gingerman Day 1 (Part 2)

To the right is a nice pic of the car.  As I mentioned, these are $500 cars with some homemade parts and then street tires and full safety equipment (cage, harnesses, seat, etc).  They can be pretty interesting; I'll share some more pics in the next post. 

Onto Part 2 of my 3-hr stint on Saturday which is spliced up below.  I highlighted about a 20min span of working through traffic to give everyone an idea of how things work over that type of timespan (vid is only 7min).  I didn't really realize it until that evening, but I was pretty much following the white Focus through traffic.  He noticed as we talked later that night and we both agreed we ended up working pretty well in some lead-follow succession.

My stint ended after about 3 hrs and being my water bottle fell out of it's holder about 45min in; I was more than thirsty!  Overall beginning with the the first hour or so my hands and feet were pretty cold as it was cloudy and in the 40's.  Never having driven the car before I settled in especially through hour #2 (vid below) and made sure to stay clean while I clicked off the laps.  Eventually my stint was complete and I brought the car in for a fuel stop and driver change - still in 2nd place!  We were about the slowest car in the top 12 or so with regards to top laptimes, but good driving and strategy were keeping us in the running.