LeMons South 2014 - CMP

posted Oct 1, 2014, 9:41 AM by Scoob Edoo
Ah, back in a LeMons car again and this time at Carolina Motorsports Park, where my Lemons "career" started 4.5 years ago.  This time around was quite a bit different, though: the course was full instead of just the short loop, the team was the KnoxVegas Lowballers instead of the Schumacher Taxi Service, and the car was a front-wheel drive Contour versus the 1st gen MR2 we had at that first "Southern Discomfort" race.
My drive down was uneventful and right at 4:20.  Weather was great, though they had some rain at the track the night before so conditions were mixed in paddock.  We had an excellent spot, though - pretty centrally located, very close to the restrooms/showers, and pretty flat, too.  That last bit became pretty important over the weekend as we had to perform quite a bit of work on the cars to keep them going.
Friday afternoon we focused on getting the car and gear teched, then went downtown for the parade and BS judging.  It was a perfect evening, though we got dinged pretty badly for our upgrades to the car, so while we got classed in B, we god 34 laps added, so we were starting well-behind before we turned a race lap.  When it came time to go back to the track, we found that our clutch line had burst.  We thought about several fixes, but since we hadn't trailered the car there, we had to leave it there, drive back to the track, pick up the trailer, drive back downtown, load it, then come back.  We looked though various spares and didn't have the right one, so we had to scavenge Aaron's daily driver for the part.  At the end of the night (midnight or 1 am) the car was ready for racing in the morning.  I had driven the truck so I could sleep in the back and it worked perfectly.  Of course I didn't sleep well that first night with my mind active on what tomorrow would bring, but I got enough that I could function.
Saturday dawned beautifully, with a zero percent chance of rain and moderate temps.  Couldn't ask for a better day to race really.  I drove second and quickly found a rhythym to the course and traffic.  While this is the same car as the Barber race, David and Keith had done some significant upgrades to the suspension.  Stiffer springs and homemade camber plates gave us a much stiffer front end and theoretically more ability to turn in.  The reality, on the flat CMP course with a few slightly off-camber corners, was different - the front springs were too stiff and we got tremendous amounts of wheelspin at two key points on the course, really wearing the front tires and killing speed.  Even so, we were one of the fastest cars on track and were rarely passed except by the few faster A class cars running at the top of the class.  After we'd all cycled through, I think we were all within 1-2 seconds of each other, so I think we'd all reached the limits of what the front end would allow.  I did have one off at the kink that caused a black flag - the only one of the weekend for our car, I think.  I had lifted before the turn and somehow missed the apex and did a slow push off the left.  I just didn't trust the tires at that point and I had a mental lapse.  It didn't happen again.
Toward the end of the racing on Saturday, Will reported a brake problem and came in early.  We looked around and found a few problems, the main being the blown piston seal on the front right brake caliper.  Game over for the day and we pulled it into paddock and began the process of finding replacement calipers for the front end.  We also found that there was again no pad material on ANY of the corners, so we'd expended all brakes and were on the backing plates for who-knows how long.  Keith was already in town picking up some things so we asked him to search around for replacement pads and front calipers.  Pads were doable, but no calipers were available.  The team had spares, but they had a different mounting than the OEMs (different years or models), so again we had to scavenge from Aaron's car.  By the time we finished bleeding everything, it was after midnight again.  But we'd also detached the front sway bar in hopes that would alleviate some of the inside wheelspin, so we had high hopes for Sunday.  I slept much better that night.  We had moved up something like 31 spots with our speed!
I woke early on Sunday and hit the shower before there was a line.  Keith was up early, too, to drive to the local airport to pick up Aaron and Cathers who were flying in for a stint, then flying back (Aaron's wife is 8 months pregnant so he didn't want to be away from her for the whole weekend).  But because the racing started an hour earlier, Cathers was not going to make it in time, so David jumped in and raced until he lost the ability to shift.  He was stuck in 4th and when a full-course caution came out, he brought the car in.  Broken shift cable.  The team had a spare and we installed it pretty quickly.  Cathers went out for the rest of the morning session and put down some blistering fast times.  Yes he's an alien, but I think the sway bar fix had helped, too, and I couldn't wait to get out to test my theory.
After the morning break, David got back in and went out to try some fast laps.  It went well until the second shifter cable broke!  Again he brought it in and we confirmed that it was broken - and the other cable was also not functioning correctly.  We swapped out the gear changer from the spare motor the team has, but still nothing.  After working on it for 1.5 hours, it was obvious that we couldn't fix it and our options were limited - quit altogether or have me go out for 45 min in one gear.  We chose the latter option and selected 3rd gear.  When I left the paddock, Will saw some fluid and they chased me down to stop me - a fuel line had come off and I was spraying fuel.  They pushed me back to paddock and fixed that quickly and I got to go back out with about 35 min left in the race.  Having only 3rd gear wasn't bad and we were still faster than half the cars on track at that point.  So I brought it home for the checkers again.  I don't know where we finished but the shift cable problems likely wiped out all of our upward movement from Saturday.
Final thoughts - I think the suspension changes will work wonders for a track like Barber, with on-camber turns.  Even better will be better brakes.  We should drop a few seconds off the February times at Barber.  But I think we'll need to because I think they'll likely move the car to A class next time...