Nelson Ledges July 17-18 2021

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Location: in the garage

Nelson Ledges July 17-18 2021

Post by MostMint »

This is the sixth race we've done at Nelson Ledges, and it was definitely different than any prior race there.

The ground was wet. We'd had a lot of rain for weeks beforehand so the ground was already wet. The weather allowed us to set up the "garage" tent on Thursday and unload items that Dave, Fred and I brought. Shortly after the wind/rain kicked up and blew the thing over before I even left. We had put our stuff under a separate tarp (out of sight out of mind) so I removed the tarp from the tent (to keep it from blowing away). I also noticed my friend Jeff's tent had blown over so I secured that as well. Then I had to get home and get the car and truck loaded up.

Friday I ended up getting there a bit later than planned but we were able to get the garage tent patched and the car and our gear through tech before the rains came. We were told our dash bar needs to be straight, or add a gusset. I checked this is NOT in the rule book. Also I learned that my HANS was expired, which is also NOT in the rules. Rules say must be SFI approved, which in their interpretation means current. Stupid tech BS is a continuing theme in ChampCar unfortunately. To get around this I learned we can share HANS devices so I told them I would use Rachel's.

Around 11:40 they called all the cars in and the pouring rain started. It was a drenching downpour. There was so much water there was water running across the track in a couple places. Our pit stall was at least ankle deep in standing water. One of the drains in the paddock area had water coming out of it. There was so much water. They held off starting the afternoon practice session until the flow rate slowed across the track. So a 1 hour lunch break ended up more like two hours.

We sent Rachel out first on the worn tires on the car. You could hear the RPMs going up every time she went through the water running over the front straight. She got some good practice with door to door - her first time doing that.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon we each took a turn in the car - and we switched out a lot of tires to test them for balance. We also uncovered loose rear suspension bolts that definitely had a weird on exit of the oak tree turn.

There was no rain for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday was wet. It was raining on and off. We started in the rain. We had new RE71Rs, as well as new wiper blades and our defrost is working. The random draw for start finish had us starting near last for today, though we will be near the front for Sunday. Dave took the green. The track actually started drying out near the end of Dave's stint. Dave went off in 13 near the end of the stint and just tagged the tire wall. I think the only thing that made contact was the tow hook, though it did crack our front bumper cover where it bent down.

Then it was my turn. It was raining. I've driven this car in the rain before and been on this track in the rain before. There was standing water on the inside of the carousel exit, and the inside of turn 13. Like 6 inches in the deepest parts, and there was water running over the track before turn 12. There were large pond size puddles at various places alongside the track - anyone going in there is going to be soaked. I got into the puddle on the inside of 13 and splashed water into the car - causing instant fog on the inside of the front window. Quick turn on the defrost fan and it was fixed. After I got situated I could see I was faster than a fair amount of the field. One of my best passing spots was turn 13. heading into turn 12 I would get the braking done then splash through the water running over the track, and then accelerate through 12 and take the inside line and brake late and make the pass by getting back to the gas sooner coming onto the front straight.

It started raining really hard during the stint. The rooster tails made it really hard to see on the back straight. Really the best thing to do was back off a bit and find a better place to make a move. I learned after they were really close to red flagging it due to visibility. I was glad they didn't. We've carried that heater core for 10 years finally got a chance to use it.

I watched a lot of people making mistakes. Several of them missed to the left of turn 12, with one of them ending up tearing off their splitter and ending up backwards on the track. It was sitting more or less off line for a lap or two, but then someone ran over it and it got back into the line. Unfortunately I ran over it with the right side tires, and saw sharp metal. Shortly after they went full course yellow and I was just a few cars behind the pace car. I decided to come in and have the tire pressures checked on the right side. It moved us from P13 to about P18.

I was able to gain a little bit of that back before my stint ended.

After that we put Colin in the car. I think the worst of the rain past but I don't think he got any dry pavement to run on. Colin had a good stint and brought the car back in good shape.

Rachel went in next. She had several adventures. Before she left pit lane she stalled the car at pit out, and it wouldn't start again! We pushed it back to the pit stall and Dave went to work on troubleshooting. He found a questionable wire connection, fixed it, and the car started up again. Off she went. The car ran for a bit but then Rachel went off around turn 3 and while getting close to the tire barrier, she didn't make contact. And again the car would not start. So 10 minutes into her first stint she is on the tow rope. Well I never explained how to be on the tow rope. Tried to convey it on the radio. Fortunately it all worked out OK and the car was in the pits before too long. Again we were troubleshooting. We tried several different things, checking fuel and ignition, hooked up the laptop to confirm the ECU was getting good info. Eventually I decided to pour some gas into the throttle body to see if it would fire. Kinda felt we were not getting adequate fuel pressure. Well it started! So we put the air cleaner back on and sent her back out. Lucky it was not raining very much while we were debugging.

From there she was faced with water running over the track on the front straight as well as before turn 12, and the standing water. She kept the car running and took the checkered flag.

We ended up 26th of 36 despite losing almost 30 minutes due to our ECU woes. We ran 252 laps, good for just over 500 miles of racing added to the total tally.

It was a long wet day, and I kind of opted out of doing post race inspection. The tires looked good as they had been in the wet virtually all day.

Precipitation stayed away on Sunday. We got to start near the front. Dave went in first and made it about 1:52 when the car sputtered and he ducked in for fuel - not quite the two hours I was hoping for. He complained that his right foot was hot.

I changed up the order and put Colin in second. Again it was a solid stint, with a couple exceptions. The LF fender got cracked when Colin decided not to give when someone was holding him up. Minor damage. The big one though was when Colin radioed in that he was losing focus and had to come in. I was not happy but we got ready, and put Rachel in the car. The issue turned out to be that Colin never turned on the cooler system pump, so he never got any help from the coolshirt.

Rachel ran her stint, and slowly improved her times throughout the stint. Before it was over she was running 1:28 which is where she practiced. She did have an incident where she ended up in the middle of a three wide at exit of oak tree, and she made wheel to wheel contact with an E30. Our Bassett wheel had the rim bent over and flattened the tire. She brought it in - they changed the tire - and sent her back out. Minimal time loss.

I took the last stint. Getting out on track I noticed immediately the brakes were pulsing badly. Post race uncovered the brake ducts were detached from the front bumper cover and the right brake duct was crushed. Unclear when this happened but the failure to inspect could have been a factor here. All the standing water and water running over the track was gone. Still some puddles in low areas but much of the evidence of deluge was gone. Out on track though I learned fairly quickly that we were slow. Thanks to Dave's old phone and lap timer app I could see my lap times. Eventually I worked my way down to 1:22 though that was a second slower than Dave. It was quite a bit warmer, and pulsing brakes, and not as good tires might have been factors. Hard to tell. Anyway I was really slow on track. I think there were three cars I passed, and a couple of them it really depended on who was driving, as some times I was passing them and others they were passing me. I almost got run off in turn 12 when the Sahlen's passed me on the inside and I had a hard time holding my line managing a pass there.

There was one small issue with my stint. I noticed relatively early on that the oil pressure was dropping in the corners. As I'm watching this I'm thinking I should have replaced the rod bearings when I was replacing the pistons. After a while it was getting under 10 lbs and I radioed in to confirm that oil was added. It was. So I kept going. Eventually it got to where the pressure was fluttering when I hit the bumps before turn 12. At that point I decided to bring it in. What we quickly learned was the oil cap was not on. I still don't know exactly how much oil was added, but a quick trip to the parts tubs and we had a replacement cap, and I was off to finish the stint.

The car felt a little flat on power, but our lap timer data had us over 105 mph max speed, which is same as our prior race. Cause of this feeling still TBD.

I also had a few issues with finding the gear, which almost caused me to go off. I would have a rhythm - brake, downshift, turn. When I would miss alignment on the downshift I would keep trying to do that instead of the turn. After a few times I realized to fix the downshift after the turn.

Car ran fine though and finished the stint - and again we took the checkered. We ended up 20th of 34 cars. Without the rain and the ECU problems, we ran 272 laps even though this was only a 7 hour race.

Post race work uncovered our flex pipe was broken. Also there was oil everywhere in the engine compartment, and down the driver side of the car.

I was happy to see Rachel get her first racing laps in, and not be deterred by the pitfalls that came. She also understands very well she needs to work on pace.

Packing up was another adventure. I had made multiple trips to get it all here and had to bring it home in one trip. We filled Dave and Fred's truck, put some in Kurt's car, and managed to fit the rest into Rhonda's truck and the Saturn.

Summing up the weekend, while I hated all the wet, it made for some fun racing and allowed me to have one competitive stint. Everyone got their seat time and the car while oily, made it through in pretty good shape. While our speed was very similar to past events, the increased pace of the overall field was eye opening.
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
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