Despite yearly vowing not to return to the ĎJuly FryĒ to spend 3 Ĺ days among the sand, ants, gnats, and equipment and driver debilitating heat, we returned.† I wanted to share my car with son Sean since I had wrecked the motor before he got to race at the VIR double last month.†† He would go first this time.† Wives and potential crew showed great intelligence and stayed home even though the weather forecast was for temperatures only in the low 90ís.†
We took a leisurely 8-hour drive down on Friday.† We found a nice spot in the paddock with a big shade tree.† We would sing its praises many times over the next few days.† We would stay at the Red Roof Inn near the airport since it was in a convenient location.† On our last Savannah visit in March, the relatively new Red Roof had gotten considerably shabby.† Apparently the word is out and practically no one was staying there.† There were maybe 5 cars in the parking lot.† We likely had the third floor to ourselves.† Sean said it was spooky, like the old movie, The Shining.††
Saturday morning qualifying.† We mounted two new R45 tires on the left side and lightly used R35ís on the right.† Sean went out and turned a good 1:10.3 lap on his third lap.† Times went up as the temperature rose.† He did about 20 laps and was having fun.† The Shelton clans were there in numbers (6 Stohr cars) and were turning amazing laps in the 1:06 range.† Lap record WAS around 1:09.6.† If you donít have a state of the art Stohr in the Southeast, you are racing for maybe 7th place.† To help the participation numbers, Sean was racing as a CSR (6 entries).† I would race as a DSR (12 entries).† Two drivers, same car, same number, in different classes was really too much for the registration software being used.† Most of my laps got attributed to Sean and they tried to make me start my race last since I had no qualifying times.† Took some negotiating to get my modest 20th starting position (the usual FA/FC/FM/CSR/DSR group).† No S2000ís showed up.
I got the late afternoon session on Saturday.† By then it was HOT (data system says cockpit temp was 112 degrees and the track temperature was a lot more!).† I ran about 9 laps struggling to get down to 1:12.† The clutch, as Sean had reported was not working and I wasnít as adept as Sean to shifting without it.† Not much fun.† After the session we took the clutch slave off the motor and turned it upside down (nipple pointing up) to get the air out.† Worked.
Sunday was Seanís day.† He got a qualifier in the morning (as group 5, it was about 10:30) but couldnít find any more speed.† He stayed out for lots of laps trying. .† Near the end of the session, I saw him come around Turn 9 onto the front straight and what looked like a batch of toilet paper exited the rear of the Cheetah.† The end of the muffler and all the packing had exited.† Regardless, he gridded 4th in CSR and 17th overall.† We fitted a scabby old muffler I had in the trailer.†
He got his typical good start and passed 5 cars on the start.† The Savannah Steward plied the usual screw-up a few laps into the race.† Double yellow flags were shown for a bit them quickly pulled down.† By the time Sean noticed (WHAT the HELL???), several cars snookered him.† Sean was pedaling hard, but his lap times were growing.† With 10 laps to go (of 23), he didnít come around again.† I got on the ATV and went off to search for him.† He was parked at the turn one flag station.† He got a flat tow back to the pits, so I knew the body and suspension was intact.† The scabby ďspareĒ muffler had sprouted a couple of big holes, and the resultant heat had melted some wires causing ignition problems.† With electrical smoke coming into the cockpit, he decided to park the car.† Most of the CSR field also suffered various aliments and Sean got a finish and a second place trophy.† Neat.
The hot wire from the alternator had melted and did some welding.† Sean went off the AutoZone store to get an ďemergencyĒ muffler and some big gage wire.† I spent the time pealing off the tape covering the wiring harness to assess damage.† Didnít look too bad.† There were a few wires that were deadheaded in the harness, but it didnít look like they went anywhere.† Worrisome. We fitted the Cherry Bomb muffler, replaced the melted/shorted alternator wire and fired up the car.† Relief, it fired.† Surprise, it wouldnít idle at less than 3000 rpm.† Uhmmmm, something amiss.† The ground wire coming out of the alternator rectifier was hot to the touch.† We decided that maybe it was wounded.† We disconnected it. Didnít have a spare, of course, and neither do anyone else.† While looking for one in my spares box, I came across the spare ECU and we decided to try it.† It cured the abnormal idle speed.† Iíll never understand this electrical shit.† I could run without an alternator, but with dry sump, electrical water pump and the fuel injection, it would be iffy.† Time was passing and we got back to the Bates motel about 10 PM,
Monday, my race day.† Bill Gurley found a rectifier in his stuff and brought it around.† Some relief.† I did 7-8 laps in the morning qualifier, and everything seemed OK, but lap times continued to grow and the engine seemed a bit lethargic with the stock ECU.† I decided to use the other lightly used R35ís on the right side.† When mounting the wheel, we discovered that the right front wheel was EXTREMELY LOOSE!† (Major random toe in/out)† This is somewhat of a chronic Cheetah problem.† We tightened the big nut that secures the stub axle several turns.† Ah, we said, this explains why lap times were getting progressive worse.†
Gridded 20th (after much explaining) for the race.† As NOT my usual practice, I got a great start and passed 4-6 cars.† Things were looking up.† On lap two someone dove inside me in turn one and hit my rear wheel HARD.† Lost some places.† Handling got worse and worse.† Went wide in turn 5, had a real struggle in all slow turns.†† Lap times were in the horrible 1:15 range.† On lap 9 going into turn one, and braking earlier that usual, the car refused to run and I ran straight off to the sand berm and stuck it.† Race over.†
Post Mortem.† Right rear wheel now has some positive camber and lots of toe in.† Left side tires are totally shot with cord showing.† We were so busy with car repairs, I didnít think to check them.† Dumb.† One of the fallouts of being outclassed by so many new Stohrs is that you kinda dismiss buying new tires as futile.†