LeMons virgin no more!

posted Feb 8, 2010, 12:42 PM by Scoob Edoo
What a weekend.  I drove so much and slept so little that I'm going to have to play catch-up for a few days.

Thursday night: left Rob's at about 8.  He decided to take 81 down instead of 95.  Distance is pretty close, but you avoid Baltimore, DC, Richmond, etc.  It was not a good choice.  I took over driving at about 1:30 am.  Starting at 2 on the nose we hit the huge snow storm was was blowing up from the Southwest.  At times it was snowing so hard that some big rigs were stopping!  I kept on going up and over the mountains.  Coming down the mountains was interesting: fog was added to the blizzard conditions for about 2 feet visibility.  At the bottom it turned to pouring rain instead and we had that the rest of the way to the track.  Took us 11:45 to get there (about 650 miles) with the two stops we made and creeping through snow and fog.

Friday: Did I mention it was raining?  While the mid-Atlantic region was being blanketed in 18-32" of snow, CMP must have gotten 3" of rain that day.  It was miserable and about 34 degrees.  At some point I sat in the warm truck with Lori and dosed for maybe 30 min.  That was the only sleep I had since Thursday morning.  We got the car completely ready (wink), went out with the coROLLA team for dinner, then checked into our respective hotels.  I took a shower and crashed for 9 hours of sleep.  I felt much better on Sat morning.

Saturday: started with breakfast at the diner with the other boys staying at the Executive (an entirely reasonable hotel in Kershaw), then headed to the track.  I was in the car first and the drizzle was still falling, albeit faintly, with a promise of further clearing throughout the morning.  At the appointed time, I suited up and got in the car for my stint.  It was predictably slippery and we did about 4-5 slow caution laps to get used to the surface, etc.  Then someone came out after about 3 laps and laid down a beautiful layer of oil over the entire track.  I still have no idea who it was, but they stayed out oiling the course for at least a few laps.  Several folks spun in the mess, but it was deemed 'safe enough' to start anjd people pussy-footed around trying to get grip at the green flag.  So my first wheel-2-wheel racing was in less-than-ideal track conditions, but the car seems to be OK.  I noticed that our boost was not exactly coming up over zero, the clutch was terrible again, and we had a strange fuel or boost cut-out between the lefthander and the next right on several of my laps.  Rob called me in to the garage to investigate.  For some reason the supercharger was not getting properly grounded, and Dave tracked down a ground to fix that issue.  I took it back out and we had boost (like 10-12 now) and the track had dried and cleared up considerably.  I still had no clutch to speak of, so I generally kept it in 3rd and used the boost for speed.  I used most of my time trying different apexes in the corners and testing how much speed I could carry through each.  The MR2 is very neutral and oversteer is a non-issue.  But I learned that lifting mid-corner can correct incorrect apexes and/or speed problems, so I focused on learning how the adjust my lines and carry more speed and get back on the gas earlier (especially important without a working clutch).  It was a good stint overall, with no contact, maybe a few passes on the slower cars, and generally clean racing.  I was pleased to have a 'successful' first stint.  And I handed the car back to Rob in one piece, no worse than I left with it.

Throughout Saturday we had some intermittent issues: clutch was re-bled to little effect, battery was consistently not charged and sometimes we had to push-start after a stop.  But the real big event of the day was in the early afternoon when Jerry was driving the coROLLa and blew 3 rods coming out of turns 1-2.  We were doing a driver change and fuel stop in the pits when it happened and we could easily see the one hole in the block with the fire shooting out.  Jer was OK, but the ROLLa was done for the weekend.  It had been getting faster and they had a good strategy to be in the mix at the end.  4 of their drivers had not gotten to drive and a plan was put in motion to get them into the MR2 for the Sunday morning session (9-11, quiet time 11-12, then 12-5 racing again on Sunday).  We also got serious about finding our clutch problem and found that the master cylinder was shot and leaking fluid (and sucking air) in the footwell.  We scavenged the master from the ROLLa, put it all back together, and bled it again.  PERFECT!

Sunday: I did not sleep well on Sat night - alcohol and not a lot of food was the culprit.  But the forecast was for slightly warmer temps (up to mid-40s) and some sun, so spirits were up for most folks at the track.  Some heroic fixes were afoot in some other paddock spots, but we pretty much just had to show up for work.  As planned the previous night, the 4 ROLLa drivers took 30-40 min stints in the MR2  They all decided not to shift much since the shifter is quite notchy and they weren't sure about the clutch, so they didn't push and there were no problems on track.  During quiet time we charged the battery and got ready to race in the afternoon.  Again, I went out first and what a difference a clean, dry track makes!  There was so much more grip and such clean racing that I was merely focused on apexes and didn't pay much attention to anything else for a long time.  But after a pretty good clean period, I started looking at gauges and noticed that the boost gauge was only showing about 4-5 psi of boost, versus 10-12 on Saturday.  I called that into the pits, but we were having problems with the radios intermittently on Sunday and I wasn't sure if they had heard.  I had one spectacular spin going into turn one which bought me a black flag, but it was a quick stop-and-go and I went back out to finish.  That's when the starter switch stuck on and I thought something was wrong with the supercharger.  I came back in immediately and Dave yelled to me about the switch and I corrected it and went back out.  My stint was over pretty quickly after that, but I finished again with no contact and was able to race a lot more on Sunday than I had been on Saturday.  Having 2nd gear was a great benefit, even if I couldn't heel-toe.

The rest of Sunday had us diagnosing the boost issue - it had gone to Zero in Lori's stint.  Dave found the gauge hose was pinched very badly, so that might have had something to do witht he gauge, but the boost was clearly down regardless of the gauge readings.  Rob lost the muffer from the header during his stint.  The assemly was kept on by the O2 sensor cable, so we had no problems keeping everything in tact.  I put it back together and Dave jumped in to finish the race.  And finish we did!  I don't know the final standings, but at last check we were around 20th.