Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The schedule for Saturday started with a drivers meeting at nine followed by the first round of practice sessions.

Formula cars would be first since it was the smallest field. Then came the bracket racers and the Spec Miatas, followed by the formula Mazda warm up and finishing up with the GTO, Vintage V8, practice.

After that would come the qualifying rounds in pretty much the same order. About the only change was that the red bracket would run with the Spec. Miatas because the lapping times were similar.

That would carry us until the lunch break.

After lunch we started on the days racing. Most races were scheduled for twenty minutes. First the open wheel cars, then a fifteen minute all bracket / Spec Miata heat race. At two thirty we would have the forty minute Formula Mazda feature followed by the big V8 bash and a final heat race for brackets and Spec Miatas.

* * *

We gassed up and started getting Hugh ready.

He took it out and turned only one lap before coming back in.

He could not get the car into fourth gear.

We took the rear body section off the car and started looking for the problem.

When you looked at it you could see that where the connection to the shifting shaft had moved. I also noticed for the first time, another of Carl Watral’s many innovations. He had some kind of spring loaded mechanism which I think was supposed to keep the shift handle in the right position.

After a bit of struggling we got to the point that we could get the car into gear again. First was still a little dicey but the only time you might need first on this track was when you left the grid. Other than that, most races only involve third and fourth gears.

Hugh took the car out and put in three qualifying laps that were not too inspiring and came in saying that the car as very "squirrelly" and that it seemed to be "all over the place".

Working with this incredibly astute and descriptive data I tried to analyze the problem and plot what a solution might be.

We had already resolved the camber situation so I went to the next item on the list.

I checked the tire pressures and was really surprised. The rears were running over thirty pounds and the fronts were 19 pounds on one side and twenty five on the other. No wonder the car would not handle like it should. I adjusted the tires to eighteen pounds on the front and twenty on the rears.

Hugh had not run enough laps to do much more than get in a qualifying time but it really didn’t matter. The grid position was going to be the same anyway. With four different cars, which would normally run in four different classes, lumped into a single "open wheel" group, the grid would be determined by the relative speeds of the different classes. That was exactly the way it worked out. We were slowest and last.

Until we get enough cars in our class out there to make a field we will be stuck in this category. There will be no opportunity to race with anyone, much less win a race. We haven’t gotten to the fun part yet.

All of us were pitted in the same area. The fastest of the group is Lee Romine, who drives the Formula SCCA car. It is very, very quick; even faster than the Formula Mazdas.
Lee is a super nice I guy. (I think he is an Orthodontist) He seems to be a very gentle man and it always amazes me that some of the most soft spoken people are the most competitive on the track. He also competes in the Spec. Racer Ford group in SCCA.

Hugh lined up in last place on the grid and went out behind the pace car to start the race.

I was keeping lap times getting frustrated. The times were awful. I could not think of anything that would cause them to be that bad, especially when every thing we had done should have made the car faster instead of slower.

It was the next day before Hugh told me that since he knew where he was going to finish he had not bothered to try to make good lap times. Instead he had spent the whole race just concentrating on one or two corners at the time, trying to work out his best lines through them. Unfortunately this also leaves us with no knowledge of what other problems we might have that show up when you are going fast. He did however say that the car was handling better than it ever had.

Thanks for small favors.


Post a Comment

<< Home