So here's how this race went for us.
After the incredibly stressful last event, we were prepared to the max this time around. We sorted the car out, and picked up a spare drivetrain. I almost turned Keith's van into a cylinder with the pallet forks on my loader getting it out. Mike rigged up a cool-shirt system consisting of a igloo cooler full of ice water, bilge pump, and shirts modified to route hose through.
Honestly, I didn't have much faith in it. From what I've heard, these setups can be finicky. Wrong. It worked AWESOME. In fact, the most comfortable person all weekend in the high-90's temps was the guy driving the car. Without it, we would have been miserable in the extreme. Friday tech inspection and BS went smoothly. We got no penalty laps and got knocked down to B group. This is great because the car/team just can't hang with the well-sorted, well-driven 10-event veterans in A. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I replaced a cam seal that had a slow drip. Installed the seal using the cam sensor to push it into place. I proudly proclaimed "We are ready as shit!". I pulled the sensor back off to make sure the seal was seated, but did not check the lip of it. We surveyed our competition. One team had RENTED an incredibly rusty 65' Impala wagon that day, and were caging it overnight. My favorite was easily this blimp.The best lemons cars IMO are the ones that look absurd, yet hold their own on the track. Such was the case with this blimp. Even with it's spinning propeller ridiculousness, it was still a pretty fast MX-6.
That night, we ventured into swank-ass South Haven, and annoyed the locals. One of my friends has a house and shop there that we stayed at. We went out on Lake Michigan in the Protector RIB craft. The water was smooth as glass, very unusual. A good time was had by all.
Saturday's session went well until the end of the Keith's stint when he complained of smoke in the cockpit. The seal was leaking again badly. It was collecting under the cam sensor, then sloshing out onto the CV boot, shooting it all over the muffler. We rigged up an "oil gutter" from a battery hold down and a Monster can to channel the oil away from hot stuff in an effort to quickly send him back out. When we tried to restart it, the battery was dead. We attempted to push start it, the engine banged back and forth violently, then we heard coolant spraying out. We use the repurposed power steering cooler as an extra radiator under the car, and it had burst. It was clear we would be wrenching for awhile. I also realized that constructively leaking oil onto the track was a terrible idea anyway, so we sent a guy for a new seal, grease, and new radiator cap which was now leaking. I changed the seal, ensuring the lip was intact this time. We replaced the cooler with the stock U-hose from the extra engine, did a quick bleed of the system, charged the battery, tightened up a coilover, and sent Dave out.
Dave gets a black flag for spinning in short order. After getting told by the judge to "Do something....different" we leave the penalty box with a push start. Ten minutes later, he comes back, running on 3 cylinders. The coolant gauge and the engine compartment air temp gauge were now showing 250*F. The plug wires couldn't handle it and spit out of the rear head. You could cook an egg on the engine cover. We pushed the wires back on, added some water, and sent him back out. Battery dead again, WTF. He comes right back with the same problem. Push the wires back on and it takes a long time to fire back up. I take a test drive through the pits and barely make it back to our spot before the oil pressure light comes on and the engine promptly locks up from overheating. We are done for the day, and thinking we may be done for the weekend since the motor won't even turn over. It's too hot to even look at.
We weren't the only ones having problems. The punishing environment knocked out half of the field. All of our neighbors were getting greasy on their machines. The blimp guys broke one of the cams in half on their V6, and were in the process of blocking off a bank of their engine so it would run on 3 cylinders. The "Love 2 Hate 2" Jetta smoked just about every brake component on the car (I believe they finished with only 23 laps). The team next to us with a Dodge shadow blew their ring lands off with only 8psi of boost. They managed to fit some wrong pistons overnight. They made it back out onto the track sunday with frequent stops to extinguish brake fires, and 2 gallon oil fill ups. Lemons is hard.
At the end of the day we try to figure it out. The water was still 230* after sitting for 3 hours. I wire the thermostat full open and reinstall. After the 1st cooling system problem, we must not have fully bled the system. When this happens in the Metsho, the water surges back and forth in the piping and doesn't move anywhere, hence overheating. We tilted the nose of the car up and did a full bleed and fill. Our charging and running issue was caused by a voltage drop in the extension-cord alternator wire running all the way to the kill switch. Once cooled off, the engine fires right up and runs smoother than I have ever seen it. Things are looking up. That night at the bar, I tell the team that the Chevette Diesel (the slowest car on the track by far, and even had to do a tranny swap) now has a commanding lead on us. Goal for day#2 is beating the Chevette Diesel.
In the morning we replace the alternator wire, and our fried engine oil. Mike goes out and only lasts 10minutes before stupid plug wire problem happens again. Wires are salvaged from the spare engine, another is repaired. He leaves and comes right back with a cracked wire. Now we do some wire shuffling, running low on supply of long wires. Leaves, comes right back again WTF! Now the wire is off #3 only and I hear compression leaking. WTF, where is the plug? It has exploded, the porcelain pushed out of the metal body like a push-pop. I realize we forgot to bring extra plugs. I pull one from the rear head of the spare engine and IT IS THE MOST WORN PLUG I HAVE EVER SEEN IN 15 YEARS OF WORKING ON CARS. These plugs have 130k miles on them. Then I get to thinking, "Maybe some shady-ass mechanic only replaced the plugs in the front head". Sure enough, I pull a nice plug from the front LOL. Mike goes back out, and says the car is awesome. After wasting an hour, we have no issues for the rest of the day.
Our fastest driver, Eric gets in the car next and does some truly incredible things with the car. This CRX's best lap was the fastest of the weekend, beating ours by 5 seconds.
Cornering is a little hairy for us, as we always use a controlled slide in the turns. Correcting your line is near impossible, so we are always very careful and slow from approach to apex. But...there was not one car here who can out pull us on the straights. This lead to constant back and forth battles with the top cars during Eric's stint. With an hour of racing left, I checked the standings, then informed the team that we were now 2 laps ahead of the Chevette! Cheering erupted.
At the end of the day:
Metsho 38th (out of 63)
Chevette Diesel 39th
Geo MetSHO | LeMons | Gingerman from kaizophoto on Vimeo.
So in the end, it was a good event. Everyone drove. We didn't win shit. Everyone had a blast. Eric took a couple naps under the truck. We learned a lot of shit about ourselves and the car. Keith's scooter has an awesome horn. Next event is at Autobahn south in cool October, and I have a few upgrades planned for the car.