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Team Rusty Igloo


Guest matteg
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I'd like to start off by saying - most fun I've ever had in a race car hands down. Driving in the rain at night was an absolute blast (even without properly aimed lights) - i can't wait to do that again.

Also a warning - I'm fairly wordy and enjoy the sound of my own voice but don't write very well... you've been warned. Cliffs notes: It was awesome - crashing sucks - it was awesome.

Our team got off to a bit of an interesting start - having run Lemons last year we knew we wanted to go somewhere that racing was a little more "serious" yet still cheap and fun. One of us had heard about chumpcar from the internets and decided this was for us - we just didn't know when. October 5th rolls around and while having dinner with a fellow teammate he convinces my wife that we should pull the car out of the field and go to chumpcar... The next day it was booked - damn.

We had just five build days to get the car to the garage, put suspension, wheels, tires, engine, drivetrain, seat, exhaust, transponder, brake ducting, and lights on the car - oh and I suppose I shouldn't forget our BEAUTIFUL paint scheme. With a full weekend mad scramble three days before we were to leave we managed to get it mostly done. Into the trailer it went and down the road the team was. A fairly uneventful tow from Edmonton to Portland (1558KM) was had by all - though having done something nasty to my back working on the car on the weekend it sure was painful.

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IMG00252-20101028-1144.jpg by codenude, on Flickr

We arrived in Portland around 10PM Thursday evening and checked into the Best Western - a brief team meeting was held to discuss strategy (drink beer) and off to bed it was.

Friday morning began with us checking our list and realizing that we'd forgotten to pick up a bunch of important stuff like oil, brake ducting, food, back pain medication, beer, etc. A quick phone call to a long time internet acquaintance (thanks Marc!) and he had us on our way to Albertsons and good old Baxter autoparts. Having satisfied our need for sustenance and cheap car parts we lined up for tech refreshed and ready early Friday morning. After making it through tech and bull cookies inspection +1 lap (-1 for suspension) we were pumped and ready to go. Next began the adventure of getting our pits setup.

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In the pits at ccws portland 2010 by codenude, on Flickr

I thought to quickly take a photo of the car on Friday night after aiming the headlights remembering that it would quite possibly never be this "pretty" (it's all relative - right?) again. Boy was I right.

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Before ccws portland 2010 by codenude, on Flickr

Friday ended with yet another team strategy (beer and food) meeting and off to bed early after a full day of slapping the rest of the car together in the pits (brake ducting, alignment, lights, stuck tie-rod, etc).

The team was up and ready to go by 630AM (oh god - why?) and at the track for gates open at 7AM. Dressed in our Saturday best (lumberjack coats and fuzzy hats) we headed off to the drivers meeting at 8AM. This was where we realized we were in the right place - Eric and John ran a great drivers meeting discussing key points of racing that we felt got missed at the Lemons side of things. Our entire team is made up of racing organizers from back home (as i'm sure a lot of the field are) and we were all impressed with the organization and overall approach you fellows took. With the end of the drivers meeting came the start of the race.

And what a race it was! First driver out for us was Mike - after circulating under yellow for a few laps the green flag was thrown and we won the green flag lottery starting 6th overall! If you look close you can see the car going by on the right! Ha!

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IMG00256-20101030-1558.jpg by codenude, on Flickr

It was a touch damp having rained all night but being ice racers we weren't too worried (outwardly anyway) and Mike put in consistently quick laps for his entire stint. 85 minutea in and it was time for our first pit stop - a process that is awesome by the way, the 5 minute rule is great - in to the pits Mike came and into the car the next driver went. Our race continued fairly well for the first 7 or so hours - fairly uneventful other then an overly zealous pink miata cranking us in the left rear corner and a certain fox body using us as a braking aide in festival a few times (sorry to the Volvo Coffee team who we slid into in that mess). When one of us finally managed to get to the timing booth we noticed we were in the top 12 and consistently making time on the rest of the field - we were delighted!

Only one of the four drivers had driven the racetrack before (the last time being in 1985) so we were all out there learning as we go. One of our more experienced (old) drivers was consistently picking up speed near the end of his stint setting faster lap times each lap when he went a lot over zealous into festival and out braked himself in a group of about 8 cars. None of us are quite sure who got involved in that mess but our bad - rest assured we paid for it. We were running top 5 at the time and gaining (we were as surprised as anyone else) when I saw him go into 1 - I knew before the turn that it was going to be a mess and I was on the radio immediately when I saw no ugly white car exit festival. "Did you make it through clean? What happened? Where are you?" - no reply - "Repeat - what happened?" *click* "Stupid - stupid move *grumble*, no I didn't make it through clean. Dammit - *grumble*" - "Was there any damage? Does it go straight?" - "I smell some sort of burning smell. Coming in." - "We'll be waiting."

Into the pits he came just as Eric was coming over to chat with us about the racing move of the century. I was pleading our drivers case of "damn that was stupid - we missed the braking zone and blew it" which the marshals and Eric seemed to agree with when down the pit lane came the car. The car didn't look too bad from 100ft but then one of our drivers yelled "WTF? Is that the radiator?" from the pit wall. There had been no body damage to speak of other than a little dent in the left front fender but apparently the impact of the car and the curb had been enough to pop the rad out of it's mounts. The poor rad was now functioning as a lower air dam with nothing but the hoses holding it to the car while the plastic endtank dragged on the ground. Before I could get a word out Eric looks at me and bursts out laughing saying something along the lines of "Hahahah - funniest thing i've ever seen! Have fun!". Makeshift crew chief Marc stepped in and between he and I we determined that both mounting posts on the rad were worn off but it hadn't leaked yet. Armed with some zipties and a few hundred feet of duct tape we re-engineered the radiator mounting system (taped it to the rad support) and back out on the track we were in a fairly short period of time. A quick check in timing showed we were still in contention having only lost a couple of laps and the race was on again.

It was closing in on sundown and we'd put the only team member in the car who'd ever driven in the dark out there. An interesting radio call came through "There are sparks coming from the heater controls and the car just died." - "Get it to fire! KEEP GOING!" - "Copy" and around he came again. A second radio call "Honestly guys - not lying here - it shut off again!" - "AND? What do you want us to do? Keep driving! There is a fire extinguisher if you catch! See if the lights still work!" - "Copy". A quick check showed the lights still worked and we figured since drivers are expendable anyway we'd wait on any electrical troubleshooting until something really bad happened. Unfortunately it was about an hour after that when we got our chance.

A radio call came through of "Contact in the back straight with a red camaro - I think I broke a light but the car still drives.". Hearts dropped, babies cried, faeries died - "Copy - contact in front. Ensure that it doesn't overheat." - "The temp gauge is moving but it looks OK" - "Copy - stay out and we'll look on the way by.". From the pitwall in the dark in the rain it looked like we'd lost a light - no big deal. "Looks OK - keep gong." - "It's getting hot - coming in next time around. Be ready." - "poop - copy.". We threw on our gear and got ready to hop the wall. The car came in and as it came into view we all thought it was finished. What we'd believed was "slight contact" was actually the "radiator, rad support, and front rebar / bumper cover are now part of the exhaust manifold". This is where it comes in handy having an ex roundy-round guy on your team. Three of us were convinced we were finished - we had the spare parts but my god was the car bent in an unholy manner. We pushed it around the wall and into our pits - took a few minutes to yell at each other and have a pity party and then got right back at it. Bust out the hammer, pry bar, and welder and a whole bunch more tape and after 50 minutes we were back out on the track down 1 light in 19th place. At that point we were out of contention for any sort of podium but there was glory to be had!

It's important that I preface this. Like many of you - I'd never driven PIR before until that morning in the wet. Now I was going out in the rainy darkness down one light with the other two duct taped back in having broken both mounts driving a car that had just suffered the sixth frame bending impact of it's long and storied life. Apprehensive? Nah.. It was full on brick shitting time. The fellow working pit exit asked for my post-it, I told him we'd been in for a while after an accident, he eyeballed the car and says "You fixed it? Hah!" and sends me out. Into the dark I went and the first thing I notice is that our lights are bad, WAY bad, (sorry fellow competitors).. SO bad that I couldn't see the inside of most corners but I could see the beautiful trees and certain marshal stations occasionally. "Guys - the lights are bad.. way bad. And the windshield is super dirty and I have no way to clean it." - "Copy. Do you want to come in or do you want to stop whining and drive?"... I may have paraphrased a bit but that was certainly the message.

A certain cone damage miata found and passed me on the first lap out which allowed me to discover that they had super nice lights - and if I stayed close enough to them I could see the track! Bonus! I tried my damndest to do so but on cold tires in the rain (with my lack of driving skill) I couldn't keep up. It turned out that it wouldn't be a problem as there were plenty of people passing me that I could steal light from. That brought me to the front straight where I noticed going straight meant turning the wheel about 20 degrees to the right... I wonder if there was alignment problems. Hah. I managed to get my night eyes working and we put in some decent 2 minute laps and started passing folks. I found the easiest time to see was when I had no lights behind or in front as you could see the reflection of the curb paint and turn in. The back straight to festival wasn't bad at all as there was lighting but past that was fun. I was having a great time in the car as time went on learning that one could make some serious time out there in the dark if you were willing to commit. All was going well and we were about 10 minutes from the checkered when I came through festival and at the last moment noticed a stopped Red Bull mustang with no lights directly in front. I screamed like a girl and swerved out of my way - I managed to miss him but the poor fellow in the miata behind me didn't. We finished the race under yellow in 17th place having made back two spots (woo!) and were only a few seconds out of 16th. We were exhausted but happy to have finished!

It was my first time driving the car when taking the checkered in an endurance race and the paddock spirit at the end was simply awesome. Clapping, cheering, hand shakes, what an awesome way to end a race!

We were all cold, wet, and tired at that point - and though the after track festivities sure looked fun it was time to head to the hotel for food, beer, and sleep.

Sunday started with some healthy optimism - we had nothing to lose anymore and knew that we could be fairly competitive if we just kept it together. The drivers meeting was again entertaining and we were on track ready to rock at 9. The green fell and we didn't have quite the luck of Saturday starting somewhere around 25th. Mike again put in a reliable and quick shift putting us in good position (top 12) going into our second shift. I hopped in the car full of excitement got out onto the track and put in a couple of laps. I was having a good race with a green maverick (I think?) - coming out of the turn onto the back straight I grabbed third and heard a loud bang - the car was still running but I had no drive. I could hear the right front axle slamming around in the engine bay and knew we were done. I coasted down the back straight and pulled off as out of the way as I could on the left. The safety truck came out to rescue me while our team scrambled to find our spare axle and get the tools ready. The two truck brought us in and back to the pit we went. Our team changed an axle in 15 minutes (no small feat on a honda) and I found myself back on my way to the hot pits.

Turning into the hot pits and then it happened again. BANG - clunk - clunk - clunk... no drive. Great! One of the teams pitted at the far end was nice enough to push me all the way back to my hot pit stall. Thanks a ton guys - I have no idea who you are but I really appreciate it! It was at that point we discovered that we'd sheared the welds on the passenger side motor mount and broken our spare axle. Damn. We pushed it back into the pits and figured it was time to give up. I got out of the car and unsuited - but hadn't seen one of our team members since getting back. Ken pops into the trailer and says "What're you doing? I found an axle! Lets get this thing fixed! We didn't come this far to quit!"... I grumbled a bunch - had a quick pity party - and then we were back at it. A friend that came and visited the us that day at the track (thanks Jim!) ran to Baxter and picked up an axle while we figured out how to reattach the motor mount. Some creative work with prybars and a jack as well as the gracious assistance of our pitmates Team My little Pony (thanks for the awesome welds) and we were back out there!

An hour and a bit is a LONG time to lose in the pits so we were again out of contention for any sort of position but there was glory to be had! The track was drying up and we were determined to see what sort of lap times we could put in with the ugly old crapcan. Ken was first out and went from 1:48's to consistent 1:43's and 1:42's - not bad for a stock civic on street tires. The track was dry by the time I went out and with some luck and some help from the fellow in the Volvo I was brave enough to try fourth through the back section and we got down to a 1:40:90. Taking the checkered again was an awesome feeling!

All in all we learned a few things this weekend - Chumpcar is totally awesome. Crashing sucks a lot. Chumpcar is totally awesome.

Thanks for your hospitality Portland, CCWS, and Marc our local crew chief. We really had a fantastic time and we will most definitely be back!

I apologize if you read that. :)

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Guest kmohror

Now THAT was a perfect story of CHUMP Car Racing. Priceless. We had fun with everyone on the track Saturday and Sunday.

Come down and race with us in Spokane next year!

KMOHROR

Team Formula Roadster

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Now THAT was a perfect story of CHUMP Car Racing. Priceless. We had fun with everyone on the track Saturday and Sunday.

Come down and race with us in Spokane next year!

KMOHROR

Team Formula Roadster

Thanks!

We plan on racing the Spokane 24 hr, the Calgary event as it's close to home, and hopefully PIR again. I'm full on addicted now.

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Thanks for taking the time to write your story!!! I always enjoy reading about these things... Even if I should've been spending the time doing something else... Look forward to racing with you guys again next time! Might be Spokane, or definitely the PIR events.

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Guest TroubleOnWheels

seeing that radiator bobbing up and down on the hoses while you guys were saying 'I don't think anything's wrong! I don't see anything broken!' was priceless.

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seeing that radiator bobbing up and down on the hoses while you guys were saying 'I don't think anything's wrong! I don't see anything broken!' was priceless.

I'm glad we were able to provide some entertainment. :) Even more priceless was the next day when the rad we duct taped and zip tied in was the only thing holding the engine off the ground after the motor mount sheared.

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