UK Top Alcohol Championship (Round 3) — Santa Pod Cannonball 2001
Back to Basics (and back on track?)
Well we only made this race by the skin of our teeth - what is thought to have been the cause of the head gasket failure was found on the return of the repaired block (incorrect machining from new) which was quickly and expertly repaired locally - built in the USA / sorted out in Barnsley! - well done Bland Engineering.
It was all on to get to the track for Thursday night (1st qualifying session was on Friday this year) after a few small problems which inevitably turned in to big ones (as a result of me being paranoid) and 12 - 1 am finishes every night by Richard and myself we finally made it.
Then there was the usual Santa Pod story as soon as we put the high dollar :-) awning up the wind started .......... culminating in the awning giving up the struggle on Saturday afternnoon - much to Doug Bond's amazement when he suddenly gained another awning over his! - I think I will have to invest in a new one!
Sorted a lot of minor problems out (leaks etc.) but - I was still paranoid about the head gasket seal and consulted Dave ("not so Grumpy") Wilson and developed a real safe and very fat (rich) fuel system tune-up - my apologies to the guy passing the pit just as I blipped the throttle and a big gob of raw fuel sprayed out! - so much sorting out had to be done we missed the one and only session for Alcohol cars on Friday.
We were finally ready for the first session of the day and ran a 6.16 shutting off at 3/4 track - on returning to the pits we found everything was ok with the exception of a very bad leak-down on one cylinder - this turned out to be nothing more than a distorted exhaust valve seat - not a big problem but we missed the next (and final) qualifying session - amazingly enough we were #2 qualifier!
The weather was hot!!
Tony bangs on the truck door at 7am (we had been working till 1am the previous night) eager to get started and be ready in time for the first round.
First round - we were paired with Wendy Baker - I made some adjustments to the fuel system but it was still very rich and stumbled a bit when the revs were brought up in stage but our shut-off 6.29 was enough to take the win - unfortunately we oiled down the track (sorry) and I thought the worst when I saw the engine covered in oil - but it was only a rocker cover breather that had worked loose and - the repaired valve seat had held up.
Second Round - this was effectively a bye as unfortunately Darrell Bradford could not repair the engine in time - we staged the car and were into the final.
Final round - We were up against our rival Bob Meyer built car of Rob Turner - unfortunately the race was over before it began as our car was again stumbling with the rich fuel mixture in pre-stage - when I brought the rpm up the car crept forward and I red lit :-(
We returned from the race in "Mission Accomplished" mode as we had -
Special thanks go to my skeleton crew who were severely overworked and the following guys who made it happen -
Click on image to see more photos from the race ..................
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