Labor Day Double 2014

This would be my first race for 2014.  There was a lot of activity on my dance card in the past year.  After last October’s “Duffus  CF/FF races at Summit, I decided my new old Crossle 45 needed some Horsepower and  I ordered and prepared the Honda kit.  With Sean’s help, we removed the old Kent lump and took the chassis off to Eric Langbein’s for the Honda fitment.  I scheduled a DOUBLE knee replacement for late March. I had hoped to get the Crossle back from Langbein by then, but he was too busy building a Pro series F2000 car.   Recovery from knee replacement surgeries took a lot longer than I expected.  I was useless for two months and lacked any appreciable stamina for an additional 6 to 8 weeks.  During all of this time, I was actively and daily involved in the big renovation of our new house in Williamburg.  The contractor required constant oversight and monitoring.

Langbein was not getting my Crossle finished, so we retrieved it in July.  The engine was installed, but all wiring,  data, fuel system, and plumbing and such would need to be done by me.   I completed the car over the next 3 weeks working at a somewhat leisurely pace.   The next regional race would be the Labor Day double at Summit Point.  With my stamina still being improved, I hoped to get Sean or Mark to do the seat time for the test day.  Turns out that Mark was unavailable and Sean had to back out at the last moment with serious blood clots in his legs.   I decided to skip the test day and treat the week races as a more spaced test day. 

I drove up Friday afternoon and setup.  There were only 12 entries in the “wings and things” group, so traffic promised NOT to be a problem.  Took the car for its annual tech inspection and fortunately got Mr. Scruffy who asked only to see the rain light work.  His fellow tech inspector was doing an Al Fiala impression on the unfortunate guy beside me.  (For example he tugged mightily on the seams of the guys gloves and driver’s suit to see if they were adequate; he also complained about the place of the SCCA stickers)

Being race group 2, we would be on the track early each day.  My 0845 qualifying session would be spent bedding in new brake pads and the new differential (accelerate slowly for a lap or two then come in and cool down.)  I had no chance to “behave” and do the bedding in properly as I had a cooling hose come off at the start of the second lap.  I believe that MEAT BALL flag is for me.  I came in before (I hope) doing any Honda damage.  Love these modern engines!  Looks like I missed something on the final nut and bolt check.

Dan Carney stopped by to help/visit on Saturday. The 10 lap race would find me starting next to last.  (I actually was faster on my out lap than one guy!)  There were  two of the motorcycle powered F600 just ahead of me and Sam Eyer in his newly restored Zink Z10 along side.    I got a good start and passed Sam and a DB1  in turn one and got by one of the F600 within a lap or two.  I immediately noticed two things; 1. The AIM dash was mounted too low on the steering wheel and I could only easily see the top 1/3 of it. And 2.  The engine was NOT getting enough RPMS to fire off the dash lights.  But, I seemed to have adequate power and Sam was glued to my tail for the entire race. (even  almost passing me a time or two before getting out braked in turn one.)  Sam Youngman in a DB1/Honda slipped by mid race and I stayed glued to his tail thereafter.  I almost ran over him a couple of times as I was braking much later and harder.

The last lap or so, the engine seems to sputter a time or two.  I wondered if I was low on fuel.  I would finish 3rd in CF and less than 0.8 seconds off Wayne Nicolette’s winning time.  The car and I would weight exactly at the 1100 pound minimum weight at impound.  (It has 1.5 gallons of gas left!)

Finishing relatively early in the day,  I went off the Winchester for dinner at Chili’s and watched a bit of the VaTech game on the bar TV.  Life is GOOD!

Sunday morning qualifying session was over quickly.  After the warmup lap, the engine started to cut out in many places.  Blaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  Came in.  Pumped the fuel cell dry using the fuel test port and filtering the gas in a strainer.  Flow was strong and there was no trash in the fuel.   Figured my problem has to be electrical.  Checked all grounds and connections.  The battery connection was a tad loose.  Not a smoking gun loose, but something.  My data system was not getting lap times (AIM later advised me NOT to use the GPS antenna supplied with the SmartyCam as it interfered with the EV04 GPS), but I could clearly see wide spikes in fuel pressure.  Having never run an external fuel pump like the one Langbein installed, I did not really know if it was sounding ok, but it seemed a little horse.  I hadn’t gotten around to buying a spare yet.  So, I hoped all the wiring tightening would jettison my gremlins.

Sunday race (again starting in the last row) went very well for a bit. Car was strong on the out lap and for the start.  Video did work all weekend.  I passed several cars  up to turn 3 where the engine started to cut out (Particularly on heavy acceleration).  By turn 7, it was bad.  I finished the second lap in the pits and retired.  (I should have done the test day…..?)  Being somewhat worn out and out of possible solutions, I packed up and headed home. 

My knees/body held up pretty good over the 3 days, but I was exhausted when I got home.  The car fix should be simple to do after finding the cause.  Looking forward to the October races.