Ole Girlís first Outing

August 6, 2010


Last monthís we went to Summit Point for the test day to check out the newly completed conversion of the Swift to the Honda motor.The car never ran on more than 3 cylinders and we trekked back home after a few hours of unsuccessfully try to find the problem.Turns out that the wiring harness in a rather inaccessible place was contacting a rotation part and some wires were damaged.


With the harness repaired, we returned to Summit Point for the August regional race and test day.I departed at 4 AM and picked up Sean on the way.We were unpacked and ready for the first Friday test session at about 0930.Sean would take the driving duties first and the car ran fine (on some very old tires).The only issues were to get the data system to recognize the GPS signal for the start/finish line and the clutch hydraulics went soft.Sean, with his recently reconstructed right arm was having some problems making the shift from 3rd to 4th gear.He would get much better at it as the weekend wore on.


Since it had been 14 months since he last raced and needed the practice, Sean continued as the driver for the next 4 sessions.(One being only 1 lap, as we had to wait while our less old used tires got mounted).Lap times improved and the car/motor ran flawlessly.With the clutch going soft, we bled the hydraulics after each session.By Sunday, the clutch was working fine.


I took my first session Friday afternoon.I quickly found out that I didnít fit in the cockpit very well and had difficultly reaching the full travel of the accelerator and clutch petals.I was also having trouble shifting down into first gear without grinding the gear engagement.Being on the track with FVs and MANY SRFs, it was hard getting a clear lap.


For my second session, we moved the seat about 3 inches forward so reaching the pedals would be easier.Immediately upon entering the track, I knew this was wrong as I was way too close to the steering wheel and had insufficient room to work the gearshift.I did discover that if one shifted into second gear while going down to first, all the gear grinding problems went away.I did about 7 to 8 laps getting down to a respectable (given the heat of the afternoon and old tires) time of 1:22.†† We definitely need to work on driver fitment in the cockpit before the next race.Sean was also having difficulty getting full throttle.


At the end of the day, we took the car to tech for its ďannual inspection.ĒThis process is frequently an ordeal.Having never seen one, the entire population of the tech shed came out to inspect the Honda conversion.They seemed very impressed and our inspection consisted of making sure the rain light worked.We didnít even take the front bodywork off.


By Friday late, the entire group (sans Dan Carney) of our racing clan was in attendance.Eric Cruz was there for the test day, and Mark Walthew and Thor and Karl Barbru had arrived.It was a reunion of sorts since it had been a long time since we all had been racing at the same track.Thor left his FA at home and would be Karlís crew slave.College student Karl would be racing the 35-year-old Zink 10b in Club Ford.


Saturday.†† As race group one, the qualifier came early.The Zink had a fuel cell leak and they would spend the next day fitting a borrowed fuel cell.The race group consisted of two DSR (Wayne Hayden had his engine expire), 3 FE,2 FC,and 4 FF/CF (two CFs came together in turn 10 on practice day and were not repairable).Mark had a plug wire come off his FF early in the qualifier and retired.Sean took the FF pole with a 1:21 time, as was 5th overall.


The 10-lap race was flagged off just before the lunch break.Sean chose 2nd gear for the start which was a big mistake as the top four qualifiers motored away by 100 yards and he got passed by Joe Marcinskiís CF in turn one.Joe is a very experienced and capable Ford driver and his motor is quite a bit stronger than the Honda (damned small restrictor plate!).Sean repassed Joe in turn 3 and held station until lap 8 when Joe drafted pass going into turn one.†† After dropping back 50 yard plus, Sean got motivated and repassed Joe going into turn one on lap 9 and held on for the win.Eric would have a ďmomentĒ in turn 6a while pressing to pass the leading DSR and shorten his nose cone by 12 inches and losing his front wings.(He has nice video.)Seanís best time was 1:20.3 and Mark would take third with a 1:20.8 time.


We took time temperature readings after the race and found the front tires were over inflated.We would reduce pressure by Ĺ psi for the Sunday race.We also found both rear tires were loose (somewhat significant wobble) and had to be tightened.Since the car and driver weighted 1130 pounds post race and the minimum weight is 1100, we removed the ballast weight (about 10 pounds) from the nose.


Sunday.Karl would have his Zink back together and would run the morning hardship session.The 16-lap race would go off at about 0900.Joe Marcinski had mounted NEW tires, so I figured that Sean would end up second to him.†† We had filled the gas tank to within 1 inch of the top figuring we might need the weight.When Sean fired up the car to head off the grid something very disturbing happed as a significant amount of gas came out of the vent tube on to the ground.Apparently, the high-pressure fuel pump and regulator, which is inside the fuel cell, created enough pressure to push some fuel out.(Lesson: donít fill near the top).I knew if the grid workers saw the fuel stream there would be trouble.I followed Sean to the grid on my UTV as he left a trail of gas.Fortunately, by the time he turned on to the grid, the exodus had stopped.Bullet dodged.


The race for Sean was relatively uneventful.He got a good start and gapped Joe by 100 yards or so by lap 2.While leading on lap 2, Eric would go off in turn 10 (he doesnít really know why) and end up in the gravel trap.The FE immediately behind him followed him off and hit him.Both cars had suspension damage and could not be moved and stayed in the gravel trap for the entire race.


By lap 14, Joe was beginning to close the gap to Sean a lot, but Sean turned his best lap of 1:19.Driving Iím sure with one eye on his mirrors, Sean let the gap close further the last two laps, BUT not too much.He took the win again.A great test weekend for the ole girl and great physical therapy sessions for the recovering boy.


The Honda ran great all weekend and the Swift chassis handled really nicely.We used about 13 gallons of fuel (about 200+ miles of racing).†† Fuel is 93-octane pump gas and is a real savings.I like this car. Now all we need to do is to get the driver fitment better.