At Road America Part II

Where was I-ah yes, right behind Dave Jahamiak on a set of Hoosier DOT Radials. Turned out they were slowing me down in the straights. I was only getting to 6400 RPM at the end of the straight instead of 6800 as I was earlier. Jahamiac was able to pull away from me as we climbed the hill of the front straight even though I had higher exit speed on the last corner than he did. The bottom line was I was getting better cornering ability but the increased friction of the tires, and perhaps their underinflation, was slowing me where it really counts at Road America–in the long straights. I felt kind of stupid about shooting myself in the foot like that. I finished third–behind the two Morgans and Jahamiak. I consider that second since the Morgans don’t count any more than an F1 car would if it were stuck in this group, but they were fun to see on the track.

They awarded prizes for the first finsher from each marque–I was first Triumph, so I won a really nice Seiko Chronographic watch. I was really pleased to get it. I have a few nice watches, and I rarely wear them, but I’ve been wearing this watch all the time, ever since I got it. As I understand it, Joe Alexander and Alexander Racing donated the watch, so thanks Joe.

There’s a lik to the results here. Looks like Jahamiak would have had me even without the tire fiasco. My best time with Speedsters was 2.44.something.

In the group four race I changed back to Hoosier Speedsters and even put an extra pound of pressure in each to reduce rolling friction. I was gridded about mid-pack, behind all the serious sports racers but ahead of the other production-based cars. At the green flag I charged into the middle of the sports racer pack, passing a number of cars. I expected a number of them to come barelling by after we got through the first turn, but they never did. It turned out that my most agressive competitor was a Lotus Super Seven. He and I battled for the lead in out private little race, swapping a number of times. He finally faded back–I think he overcooked a corner, and I was able to pull a reasonable lead and hold it to the end.

I finished first in my class–which wasn’t very hard considering I had about fifteen seconds a lap over the next car in the class–and about seventh overall. I accomplished my goal of beating the Porsches.

After the races I Loaded up Peyote and headed for Virginia. Before I left, Kas Kastner loaned me a set of lectures on CD, one set on Ancient Egypt, the other on Ancient Greece. Kas told me that the Egyptian one was really good, so I popped in the first lecture, assuming that I’d swap to something more entertaining as the night wore on and I needed stimulation. As it turned out, the lecturer is tremendous and the subject is fascinating. I listened to 28 of the 40 minute lectures by the time I got to VIR.

Making my way through Chicago was the most unpleasant segment of the trip so far. What a nightmare the highways around the city are. The GPS guided me right through the middle of the city. If I had known I probably would have figured out a way to skirt it. I wound up sleeping in a raodside rest area about twenty miles out of Chicago–exhausted. It was noisy in the rest area with eighteen wheelers idling everywhere and trucks coming and going all night. I slept like a baby: Slept an hour…cried an hour…slept an hour…

Monday morning I got rolling bright and early. Ate a bowl of cereal in the truck and craved coffee until I stopped for Diesel and filled up my mug with hideous dreck. It’s not easy to get a decent cup of Joe. I rolled on south, learning about the dynasties of Egypt and sliding by identical strip malls, one state to the other. I finally reached West Virginia and as I climbed one of the rolling hills I saw a tire carcass in middle of the left lane. I was safely in the right lane, but along came a pickup doing a good 80 MPH and ran right into it, flinging it against the trailer. It hit my grey and black water drain pipe a hard blow and then slid backwards to my power cord storage box, wiping it off the trailer. The box and the power cord were dragging behind the trailer so I pulled over into the breakdown lane. There was precious little room between the breakdown lane and the traffic, so I was in a tough spot to work. I jury rigged the power cord, threw the box into the trailer, and made my way to an exit.

At the exit it became clear that the drain pipe was knocked loose from the tanks somewhere. Not good–it’s a lot of work to access the tanks. I reinforced my jury rig and made some more miles, finally stopping in a KOA campground about a hundred miles from the track. I got the trailer hooked up, dumped the tanks, and refilled my fresh water tank to see if it had any damage (nope). Then I reworked the electrical connection so I don’t need the box. I spent a comfotable night, got back on the road early, and made my way to VIR.

I had made arrangements to leave the rig at the RacePlex at VIR while I flew back to Portland for my nephew’s graduation. The VIR Gold Cup isn’t until June 8-10. The plan was that I would fly out on Thursday, which gave me a fair amount of time to work on Peyote. I wanted to track down that nasty vibration. But now I also had to work on Nero. I spent some time assessing the damage to the waste tanks and determined that I couldn’t tackle the job in the time I had available. So I buttoned it up and got to work on Peyote.

I suspected the problem might be the driveshaft, so I put the car up on jackstands, pulled the driveshaft and all four wheels, and headed for Danville–the nearest town. In Danville I found a good tire shop that could check the balance of the tires and learned that there wasn’t any driveshaft service shop in the area. The tires were way out of balance, and the driveshaft looked fine as far as my visual inspection by feel was concerned. So I decided to put the car back together and see if I could get back to Portland a day early. When I got back to the track I remembered that the seal on the input shaft of the rear end was leaking a little, and I knew I had replacement seals, so I decided to replace the seal while I had the driveshaft off.

I pulled the seal and discovered that my replacements were the wrong size. Since I couldn’t reassemble the car without the seal, I decided to bring the driveshaft back to Portland and get it checked out. I loaded Peyote back into Nero, tossed all the loose parts into it, cleaned up and headed for Raleigh-Durham airport. I had a flight out the next morning.

I did a drive-by of the airport to see where I had to go in the morning and figure out the parking situation. I needed to leave the truck for two weeks–I didn’t want to do that in some short term lot. The Raleigh-Durham airport turns out to be one of those multi-mega cloverleaf nightmares–I had no idea where I was going. Even the GPS was lost. I finally gave up and found a nearby hotel Marriot to spend the night. I figured they could tell me how to handle the parking. Imagine my surprise when they told me I could leave the truck there for free, and they’d shuttle me to the airport! What a great service.

After a restless night I caught my plane to Cincinnati and then on to Portland. Uneventful flight except they wouldn’t let me bring the driveshaft in my carry-on (it’s short enough to almost fit in my daypack). Apparently bludgeons are a concern. Whatever, I went back to the desk and checked it through to Portland then worried all the way about what I would do if it didn’t make it. I should have measurements of the closed and open lengths of the driveshaft so I could get it duplicated, but I don’t. It’s not a stock triumph one–it’s been shortened at least ten inches. Fortunately it made it to Portland without drama.

Read magazines, watched half of a really bad movie (Catch and Release), ate rubber chicken. I was very happy to be home and see Diane.

I took the driveshaft down to Driveline Services who quickly determined that it was ready to come apart like a cheap suit. One yoke was totally hosed, the bearings were starting to brinell, and the caps were rotating inside the yokes. Good thing I didn’t have the right input shaft seal or it would have probably come apart at VIR. There’s nothing more than a little aluminum between me and the driveshaft. I might have to look at that. I have all the parts ready to go back on the car, including the right seal. I also turned out a tool on my lathe to make replacing the seal a more precise job.

On Friday I went to PIR to watch my friend Cameron Healy drive his new 906 Porsche at a Lotus Club track day. What a great car. Cameron’s going to have a fine time with it, I’m sure.

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Cameron and his new toy. I’m still figuring out how the autofocus works on my phone’s camera.

Saturday we met Cameron and his wife Suzy at Scott Paul winery in Carleton, OR. A small winery he’s a partner in. They make great pinots and import fine burgundies from france. Had a nice picnic with Cameron and Suzy, tasted some nice wines and called it a day.

I’m spending the week until we get back on the road cleaning up my shop. It’s a nearly hopeless task, but I’m chugging away at it. I’ll start posting again once we’re on the road. Until then, be safe, have fun, don’t fight.

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3 thoughts on “At Road America Part II”

  1. Thanks for the great write up. I wnet to Egypt in 1999 with my wife and a class of 20 grad students. The professor who lead the trip was a Coptic Egyptian who had left Egypt 20 years earlier. We floated on the nile, trecked the desert, went to Aswan, Siwa, Alexandria, Luxor, etc. Great 20 day trip. I read everything I could before we went. The pyramids and the tombs at Luxor exceed comprehension given they are 38 to 45 hundred years old!
    Took my race car to a track day last week. Could not figure out [till to late] why it would only make 4000 rpm in 4th. On the third lap [one in which I was driving at half spped with my hand up] inbetween 5a and 5b [Pacific Racway] the hose on my Accusump decided it wanted to be free. My hood is slighly open at the back, and the reult was a faceful of hot oil [thank goodness for a shield on the helmet. Needless to say I rapidly exited the track in 5b as the oil hit the tires.
    Got pulled back in and had a couple of friends indicate the car did not sound good when running, like maybe only on 3 cylinders. Opened the hooc, verified the hose had let go, then looked into the problem. Funny how when the number 5 spark plg line goes to number 6 and vice versa the car does not run correctly. Had pulled the dizzy last thing the night before to reverse the drive dog as the plug lines were 180 out. Took 5 and 6 lines off the plugs to do this, then carelessly put them back wrong. Urrrgh!
    Now putting the PI back in and off to the dyno on Friday to tune. More adventures to come.

  2. Bill,

    That Lotus Super 7 was driven by a multi SCCA National Champion. It was the first time that car has seen the track.

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