UK Top Alcohol Championship (Round 3) — Avon Park (August 2001)
Lots of Little Problems Don't Always Make a Big One!
The plan for this race was to return to a more aggressive (but safe) tune up than the Cannonball ultra safe "Fat Boy" deal - now that I had proved to myself that the head gasket problem had been solved.
We arrive at the track after traveling 80 miles with the truck exhaust hanging off - then started to unload the car - for anyone who has seen this maneuver they will realise how much of an integral part the Engine Hoist plays - yes you guessed it it failed! - luckily it would not lift the car (so it could have been worse). Fortunately Dave Wilson had arrived just before us and we borrowed his - 1st problem solved.
We then had to erect the NEW heavy duty awning - well where do I begin - it only arrived 4 days before the race (they promised 2 weeks earlier) - so we could have no trial run - needless to say it would have been easier to erect the Pyramids (and quicker!) but after 2 solid hours we got it up - it didn't fit - but we got it up! - 2nd problem sort of solved.
The car was assembled for the warm up prior to the first qualifying session - aaagh! - couldn't find the magneto and leads - although the box was there, there was nothing in it - they were in the airing cupboard back home - 130 miles away!. Fortunately a frantic phone call to our next door neighbour (Graham) revealed that they had not set off to the track - 2 hours later we were in business. - missed the first qualifying session but problem number 3 solved.
2nd Qualifying Session
Something strange happens as I light the 2nd stage light - I pull an instant red light without moving - we still give it an all out pass - unfortunately no time and speed are recorded. I knew that the car had run well and the data recorder (for what it's worth) recorded a high 5 second run
Back to the pits - stripped everything down (remember how paranoid I get!) - everything seems ok.
As Sunday it a short racing day at Avon Park (due to local Planning restrictions) we had to get in on this qualifying session - lit both stage lights and an instant red again! - I looked at the starter - he looked at me - we both knew that the car had not moved and something was wrong - he reset the start sequence - exactly the same again - we shut the car off so the starting system could be checked. Everything appeared to check out ok - so we white washed the front wheels to try and eliminate any strange reflections. There had been a full track length oildown in the lane we intended to run in as we were refueling so I decided to run in the other (right) lane - leaving on idle then getting sideways and almost crossing the centerline I managed an early shut off 6.5 - not very quick but, we had just snuck in as number 3 qualifier. Problem 4 solved (we had qualified)
First round - we were paired with recently licenced Funny Car driver Doug Ripley - I was still dubious about the red light scenarios so decided to run (as we had lane choice) in the right lane - the car started to move around at about 1000' so I shut off a little early and ran a 5.90/213mph - this was only 0.003 seconds slower than our best run ever (we threw the rods out at 1000' on that one!)
Semi-Final Round - as we were warming up the car in preparation for the next round the crew spotted a small fuel leak at the rear of the engine - all the joints were checked and "O" rings replaced and the car started again - it was even worse but it was coming from the blower/manifold gasket - the blower was pulled off and the gasket frantically replaced just in time. As we again had lane choice and the car had decided to go wandering on both runs in the right lane - I decided to run in the left - you guessed it both stage lights lit - instant red!
After the racing was over we took the car down to the startline and with the help of the track timing crew we found that in the left lane that one of the front wing spill plates was interrupting the guard beam if the car was rocked slightly from side to side (simulating the engine running). Problem number 4 explained.
So although we might have done better and were frustrated by a technicality - it would appear that we have returned to last year's form but without the mechanical carnage.
Click on image to see more photos from the race ..................
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