Thursday, April 24, 2014

24 Hrs of Lemons @ Gingerman - April 19-20

After a weekend off, I headed up to SW Michigan for a 24 Hours of Lemons event at Gingerman Raceway.  This would be a repeat event/team/weekend for me from 2013 and I was looking forward to it.  In 2013, I joined the #86 Little Lebowski Urban Achievers and ran the 2-day 15hr event and ended up with a 2nd place finish.  Needless to say; the team was expecting another good showing.

I buzzed N ~300 to Gingerman early Friday morning as we planned to run the practice day to verify everything was good with the car.  I got there around noon and took the 4th 20min session.  The car felt good; I had forgotten it wallows so much side-to-side that it literally makes you nauseous (kinda seasick) until you get used to it.  Except for someone - not me - leaving the hood pins disconnected and having the hood fly up again.  Funny enough; but I heard this wasn't the first time! 

With the practice session out of the way, the car just needed a bit of prep for the 9.5 hrs of racing on Saturday, with another 5 hrs to finish off the weekend on Sunday.
So we opened a beer and started to BS!  Then along came the truck pictured on the left.  It was a vehicle actually entered in the event too!  About 7 or so guys in a beer-themed bootlegging vehicle with an actual working tapper in the tailgate!  And yes, the beer was FREE!  We had several...  Only at Lemons!

Saturday morning we finished with prep and our 1st driver (Eric) got suited up and strapped into the car.  I'd be the middle of 3 drivers; sandwiched between the 2 co-owners with all 3 of us running lonnnnnng stints!

So Eric went to start the car for the 10am start.  It cranked but wouldn't fire.  So the hood came up, then the fuse checker came out and then Eric (the team mechanic) came out of the car which is never a good sign.  It was < 10 minutes to the green flag and everyone else was lining up.  We flew through the basic checks.  Wire were tightened, fuses checked, connections were verified, etc.  Then sparkplugs were pulled and so forth. 
While there was a delayed green, it eventually flew and that pretty much meant our chance at a 1st place finish was already gone.  5 minutes into the race.  Being the #86 Volvo doesn't put up the laptimes of the frontrunners, our advantage lies in long green flag runs, clean hard driving and just churning laps while NOT spending unnecessary time in the pits.

About 1 hour into the issues, we had at least 2 other teams over helping out and making suggestions.  It was pretty damn cool of them to help out really.  All the normal suggestions were checked and rechecked - battery, ignition, spark, distributor, etc.  Although it kept cranking, nothing would get the car to fire.  Around 1pm we broke for lunch, at this point pretty much out of ideas.  Everyone was starting to hit the internet looking for part stores, used cars on Craigslist and even junkyards.  Around 2pm, I went with Trevor to a Junkyard hoping a computer unit with a similar part # would convince the car to start.  No luck.  We tried to pick up a spare ignition box from Autozone to 'direct wire' the car but nothing was in stock. 

At this point it was around 5pm and I decided to bolt.  It was 5hrs home and I'd rather be there than waiting around for the 12:15pm start on Sunday as we really didn't have any new ideas.  So in the end, we turned 0 laps.  Last I heard, the car still isn't running.  So our next team race in July is a bit up-in-the-air!

I'll leave you with a shot from my 335i Trip Computer.  Including a stop for gas, this was my trip to the track early Friday morning.  I dare ya to try and average 76.7mph for 4 hrs with a pitstop that includes piloting through tollways (I-pass) in Chicago that are 55mph limits.  Not bad eh...  Oh, and 31.2mpg!

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