Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Hugh gets really itchy on days like these. Somehow if he is not the first one to the track he feels like he missed something. We had loaded the car on the trailer Thursday night and packed the truck so he was off before daylight. Rusty and I followed at a more leisurely pace. As we were driving the 53 miles to the track we got a call from Hugh telling us there were very few cars there and not to rush. Now wasn’t that a surprise.

We got to the track and signed in plenty of time. I went on to help Hugh unload the car and Rusty went out to work as a corner Marshall, something he has done often with the SCCA.
They were running three groups. First would be what might be called prepared "Race cars". This meant racing Corvettes, GT 1 cars, Production based racers and anything else that was not street legal.

The next group was the open wheel cars. That was us, a formula SCCA, a gaggle of formula Mazdas, and two formula Fords.

The final group was "Street Legal" cars. This would include The Spec Miatas, improved touring cars, etc. The three groups would cycle 30 minute track sessions all day or until every one got tired of running.

* * *

Our car was essentially ready so all we had to do was gas it up and start checking it out.

I planned to use the day to get the car sorted out after the changes we had made. This would be the first run with the new wider tires and the heavier wheels. We left most of the settings just as they were so that Hugh could see what it felt like. I was curious about the changes in handling.
During his first session, he was no faster than normal and if anything a bit slower. When he came in he reported that he felt like he was on roller skates. Straight line was fine but the minute you turn it was sliding like it was being on ice.

One good look at the rear tires revealed part of the problem. The inner third of the tire was there only part being used. You could see the pattern where one part of the tire was touching the track and the rest of it very clean fresh.

A rear camber adjustment solved that problem.

Formula Vees tend to run a lot of negative camber for the rear wheels, but that is on much thinner tires. With the wider tires only the inside edge was actually touching the ground. By decreasing camber, or the "lean in" of the tire, we could make the tire sit more flat on the ground and provide more wear surface. With more surface in touch with the ground you had more traction or grip. More traction should equate to higher cornering speeds. Higher cornering speeds should mean lower lap times.

I didn’t see it happening. Ours was the slowest class on the track so most of the time Hugh had to drive with one eye on the mirrors to keep from being run over by faster cars. This does not make for great lap times. That might be part of it. But there was still something else wrong. Toward the afternoon he did get in one fair lap but that was about it.

On the other hand, he reported that the handling was improved and that he felt like he was getting more grip into and out of the corners. He said the steering was more positive and that maybe he was steering too much.

He also told me he did not have to slam the car into gear as he had before. Later in the day he said he could not get into first gear at all.

That really had him worried. He was afraid he was going to break something he could not afford to fix. I wasn’t concerned because I had been through this before.

The shifting linkage on a Vee is a strange hodge podge of tubes and U joints. It sometimes gets out of whack and has to be adjusted to get it all back in place. I was sure that was the problem.
It was getting on into the hot part of the afternoon when a couple of guys pitted near us came over and asked if we would like to use their "easy up" shade tent. They had to leave to get something done on their car and rather than take it down only to put it back up the next day they left it with us for the afternoon. It was a real luxury and fast became one of the items on our "have to get" list. Saves a lot of sun burned ears and necks.
Even better news was that when we got home the postman had delivered my new driving shoes and gloves. Now I only needed a helmet.


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