Racecars & Tuning. Its like any new relationship…
You’ve got to learn the little things about her (or him, but in this case as in most autos, “it” will be a she for simplicity sake). What she likes, what she needs, and the way she wants to be treated is reflective on the way she will treat you in turn. And as is true in too often the case, she mainly will only let you know what she doesn’t like, leaving you guessing as to what the heck she really wants (don’t even start guys… you all do it too).
The good news is that upon closer examination, the valvetrain problem in Valdosta was NOT a lifter issue as originally thought. I guess this pessimistic racer always comes to expect the worst in any situation, because as Murphy’s Law suggests, anything that can break, will indeed break and will destroy about a half dozen other things on its way out. So, thankfully, the valvetrain noise turned out to be merely a loose rocker whose polylock had wiggled its way free. No damage, no broken parts, no problems. ::knocking on wood:: Dan worked extra specially hard to make sure that my intake gasket leak, my dragging engine diaper, and my loose rocker situation was fixed, and I was ready for the weekend to test at Phenix City and prepare for Orlando with John Gullett & Ray Sanchez, who would be testing with me.
Good ole Murphy came knocking and of course rained on our parade. Literally. The stormclouds dropped what seemed like several inches of rain over the south, unrelenting for 24 hours straight. When the rain ceased on Sunday morning, the track was a marshland, with pools all across the track surface. After scrambling to find an open track that would be convenient for John’s trek back to FL and Ray’s flight to Canada departing that evening from ATL, we came back empty handed. Nothing worked for the other guys, who all had to head home without getting anything accomplished.
While making those phone calls, we discovered that Montgomery Motorsports Park had a bracket race, and while it was impossible & impractical for Ray or John to attend, the 90 mile drive was worthwhile for me to try and sort the car for Orlando. So Dan & I loaded up for Montgomery, after George Howard agreed to work me into the program for some test passes. What we did not know was that no cars had been run on that track for 3 months, and combined with the rains from the previous day, the track conditions were not exactly optimal. George’s crew were working very hard to prepare the track and get it to come around, and George was very genuine in his concern for mine and all other racer’s safety. Despite the conditions, which did improve as the day progressed, the passes were an excellent learning experience for driving in those type of situations. The first pass of the day, despite having drastically turned down the power on the car, she still managed to severely overpower the track, and got loose enough to have quickly caught my “full and undivided attention” (otherwise known as “pucker factor”). We then tried several other methods of controlling the acceleration, trying to slow the building of boost, timing, etc. but still encountered problems just past the 60′. Adding to the struggles of a new driver, having a new car with an untested combination makes it particularly daunting a task to get this thing down the track. Dan is forced to try and decipher what little information I can provide from my unfamiliar observations and couple this with the complicated graph readings off the ignition. After some calculations, he determined that it had too much rear gear (which we knew would not be able to carry through the 1/4 to begin with) and that it was exasterbating the violent launches.
So, a taller, less aggressive gear has been ordered and will be installed this week. This however, sealed my fate for yet again missing another Orlando event, which I endearingly consider my “home” and one of the few opportunities I have to see my family. That is the most disappointing aspect of the entire situation, any other event would easily be a perfectly rational decision NOT to attend without a well tested and performing car. Instead, I resigned to stick closer to home and race in the Dixie Pro Mod event (1/8th mile) in Macon this coming weekend, gain some more seat time and sort the new & improved gearing.