There was a pretty quick turn around time from the race two weeks earlier in Bradenton — especially since all of the NMCA races are so far away that each is a week adventure. At the same time a lot has been happening in my private life – so I’ve been spread thin despite Dallas and I spending 60 hours a week in the shop.
On the Big Red Ram that Dallas runs, we were getting stress cracks in the oil pan — requiring its R&R three times to get welded up. Additionally, our original chassis shop really didn’t do the brakes well or safe — so we had to redo the whole brake system. Sounds like such simple fixes — but they didn’t go smooth and were time consuming. We did finish the car the night before we left.
On the Texas Whale I run, I had a new engine that ran well when we took it to the local track and tested — but it was leaking a little from the rear main seal. It too required two shots at replacing the seal and three shots at sealing the oil pan to fix (mostly because of the cold raining weather and the shop not being climate controlled) — again we finished it the night before. Since I am in second place (and less than a round out of first), I didn’t want to chance taking it until we’d done more testing. That track once pushed me back in the Semis for a couple drops (seriously — they pointed out 4 drops of water to Dallas after my burnout) of clear (don’t use anti-freeze – just Royal Purple’s Purple Ice) water in the Semis — and have me gun shy.
Additionally, the race rig needed it’s 100,000 mile service, needed to be inspected, and to be washed before loading up. That took a solid day.
We leave Texas at 9:30AM on Wednesday morning – late because I-10 was closed due to a bad accident. It was still closed so we decided to take 59 to I-20. In the stacker the Vitamin C was on top and the Big Red Ram below. We had a pretty uneventful trip (except and hour to center the Vitamin C again after it loosened up) and arrived at Commerce at 2:04AM Thursday.
Up at 9; through the gate at 11; and the pits set up, credentials established, and cars teched in by 4PM. When timing the Big Red Ram — the oil pressure fluctuated between 50psi-25psi-50psi so we shut it down. We inspected the System One oil filter and there were a couple of gold flecks in it. Changed the oil to 25-50 and ran it for a few minutes. Again the high RPMs didn’t have the right Oil Pressure — and so we shut it down and checked the filter again and saw more gold. Even though the motor is three years old — it only has 136 passes on it — so it was disappointing that we appeared to be starting to eat a bearing. Dallas is beginning to have the year this year I had last — and I’m having his last year this year. We didn’t run the car except to go up and break the beams for the 1st round Qualifying — so the car was on the ladder and Dallas got the points.
The Vitamin C is our backup car — and it is slower than the other 9.50 cars we have — running the 11.00 Index. The first Friday TT pass it ran a 11.02 and the second Time Trial was a 11.01. That wasn’t going to cut it Sunday when the forecast was to be hot. Checking the timing we found it a little low and bumped it to 35 degrees. I was able to squeak out one more Time Trial and ran a 10.97. In the evening we ran the first Qualifying and I spun badly at the line and did a 11.06. The other 21 cars also had problems (except Brian Merrick who ran a 10.000 on his 10.0 Index – but blew a seal doing so) — so I managed a 6th after first round Qualifying. Problem was my lights were not very good, and I needed to work on them.
Saturday were the other two Qualifying Passes. The morning pass I ran a 11.03 with a decent light, which managed me to keep 6th.
In the afternoon’s 3rd Qualifying round, it was very hot with a stiff head/cross wind. Knowing that the 21st and 22nd Qualifiers were broke and wouldn’t make eliminations, I decided to push the envelope and go for 2nd place (would need a 11.00X) or breakout trying, and hopefully get bumped to the 10th or 11th position for a broke Bye.
I ran a 10.99 with a 2 – breaking out. That did bump me down to 10th — giving me one of the Broke Byes.
Sunday Morning for the first Round of Eliminations — I had to take a stab at the amount of weight to run in the car as the humidity was way up. We sat in the lanes for a while and it got hot quick — so the car ran a 11.03.
For the second round I drew Bud Cochran. When I left I couldn’t believe I’d “Red Lit” (as I haven’t been doing that in Eliminations for some time) and knew it couldn’t have been by much. I ran the car out — but would have won the round as I took the stripe by about 15 car lengths since I was already the loser. I was absolutely miserable over this as I had really felt this was going to be my race — and my lights had improved (for a foot-brake).
The only redeeming factor in this was that every other of the heavy hitters in the points race (00-Hoe, Barry Camp, Doug Duell, Dallas Schultz, DW Hopkins, Doug Poskevitch…) were also out by the second round — and I’ll remain less than 1 round out of first place.
We left the track at about 6PM and the drive home had us in a pretty horrible storm with hail. The wipers were on for the last 700 miles. We arrived home Monday late afternoon.
The plan is to move my new engine from the Whale to Big Red Ram. I have a 580ci 572-16 head motor being assembled in Indy — so I’ll drive the one coming out of the Ram up to Indy to get freshened and bring back the 580. Dallas is assembling a new Rollerized transmission for that motor in the Whale. We’ll take the transmission I’ve been running in the Whale and put it and a fresh (but relatively mild) 572 spare motor in the Vitamin C — so that it can run the C/FX -A/NSS index as the backup car for the rest of the season. We’ll do that after the Whale and Big Red Ram have been tested — as the Vitamin C is a pretty dependable 11.0 car right now.
The next race is in 5 weeks at Gateway in St. Louis. The Dave Duell Classic. Dallas has won the FX Race for the last two years — and I’ve won my class more years than I haven’t — so we’re looking forward to it. I’m really hoping this can be my year.
That’s my story — and I’m sticking to it.