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UMC 24 hour - Vermont Bert One race report


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Fantastic weekend...hot, great racing, fun team. Ran the full course (4.4 miles) at UMC. 

My son and I ran with a local team, "Vermont Bert One", in their hoopty 240SX dubbed "Ernie". 5 drivers total, all local so we at least knew the track. Car was an ex-Lemons car, 2200 lbs, stock-ish, ran RS4 tires (one set), Carbotechs (one set). 150 horsepower brand new....well, she's not brand new anymore so we're guessing less than 120 at this time. I've never had my foot buried on the go-fast pedal as long as I did in this car every lap. It was either full brake or full gas with very little "breathing" of the throttle. 

First, this was our first wheel-to-wheel race and, of course, we had to pick a 24-hour race 🙄 
but wouldn't have done it any other way. Nothing like jumping into the deep end. Second, I was expecting more campy Lemons-like cars in the field but we were surprised with the level of machinery running at Champcar. Many of these teams could easily run NASA events with success. 

Hours 1-2 were drama-free. Just hammering around laps. Passing some, getting passed by others. Top runners included the Wilwood team running a fast Miata (because the answer is always Miata at these races), a couple of Fox-body Mustangs, a NA 944, and a sweet old turbo Saab. Only issues we had were long brake pedal travel (more on that later) and a misfire above 5,200 rpms (more on that later).

Hour 2.5 - Next driver out on his stint and comes back in after a few laps. Oil all over the hood and windshield. We fear the worst. Take the hood off and see that the oil cap has vibrated loose and popped off. Cap is miraculously sitting on the frame rail. 2 minute clean up on the car and sent back out. Mental note to double check tightness on everything. 

Hour 8 - First issues of the event. Brakes getting worse each stint. Lots of travel, having to pump once before each corner to pump them up. Misfire continues but no worse. Pull the car in, try to diagnose the brake issues. Run through all the obvious things. After much discussion, we decide to change the master cylinder. Bleed the brakes, go back out. Doesn't help. We just deal with it over the next few hours. 


Man it's hot. We're running a ghetto cool suit and it's keeping us sane. Camelbak in the car is also a life-saver. Car handles well, chuck it into a corner and she's sticks. 

Hour 9.5 - Getting ready for my stint and we hear something wicked fire up (no, not our hoopty). The Porsche boys are here running a shake-down session for next week's NASA 6-hour Enduro. The speed differential as this thing goes by is stunning. 


Car runs fine. Still the brake issue and misfire but have learned to drive around these issues. Everyone doing consistent stints. Proud Papa moment after my son's first ever W2W stint. He set fast times for the team (edit: actual fastest time was by Jim on the very last lap!), passed and got passed cleanly, and just had a great drive. This endurance racing thing is pretty frickin' cool.

Hour 11 - First real uh-oh. Car brakes are really becoming an issue again and it's feeling squirmy through the corners. Car in the garage for 15 minutes. Decide to assign everyone a wheel and look for issues. Glad we did. Fronts needed bleeding, rear passenger wheel bearing needs attention, driver front tie rod end castle nut loose, replace coil/spark plugs/distributor cap/signal wires thinking it would solve misfire (they didn't...more on that later). Team really impressive working quickly to diagnose and fix issues. Everyone just doing their job and pulling together.


My son goes back out for his first night time stint. New respect for anyone racing at night. 1/2 terrifying, 1/2 total adrenaline rush. Great advice Tobey. You really can't see anything in the car when someone is behind you with surface of the sun brightness lights set to 11. Just blinding. And you can't tell how fast or which side they are on until they are right behind you. Fast guys gave no quarter. Passed on the inside, outside, 2-abreast. Got split through the Attitudes on East. Crazy. All braking, apex, and track-out reference points are non-existent at night. Cracks in the road, skid marks, gravel, bumpers in the road are all valid markers. Butt-pucker moment of the event was driving down the front stretch, 5th gear, foot to the floor, and coming into turn 1 driving into a total white-out from someone coming off track. Completely blind, no idea if there is a car stopped on track in the dust. Luckily no but just crazy. Stint was exhausting. I've never looked in my mirrors more than I did in that stint. Just sensory overload and wouldn't change a thing...





Hour 14 - Son comes in from his stint a few laps early complaining that the brakes are non-existent in some corners. Back in the garage to diagnose. Take the hood off and immediately see the issue. Port #2 of 3 on the master cylinder is weeping a little. We think it's just a loose fitting. Take off the line and see that this port looks like a bubble flare and not double like the other two ports. Japanese pokey-yoke design? Cut the line, bubble flare it, tighten it back up and out we go. Problem solved. 

Hour 17 - My next stint is pretty uneventful except the misfire is getting worse. Last two laps and she won't rev past 4,500rpm. Back in the garage. Now the fun begins. We start to trouble shoot everything electrical and fuel. Look at fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, grounds, shorts, coil, distributor cap, wires, plugs, MAF, sensors. Test, replace, on track, no good. Back in. Rinse repeat for the next 2 hours. Finally replace the coil we replaced the day before when we were prepping the car. Bingo. Problem solved. Ernie is alive. 6500rpm never sound so good from this 150hp, err I mean, 120hp beast. Now the brakes. Need to figure out the mushy pedal. Go through everything from pad knock to the master cylinder again. Race pads look good on the front so we never figured they would be culprit. Swap to brand new front pads. Holy smokes, full, firm pedal. It was the front pads all along. The things you learn at 4:00am...


Hours 20-24 were the best laps she did all weekend. Rev-happy, firm pedal, cool(ish) morning air. Put down some very nice laps and just willed her to the finish line. I now totally get the scene when Clarkson was willing their BMW hoopty across the line at the Silverstone race years ago. Amazing way to spend a weekend with new friends and my son. 



Edited by cpaterson
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10 hours ago, Ron_e said:

Nice write up, there is a another thread just above or below this one that you could have added to instead of starting a new one.  Welcome to the madness.




Ok, thanks for the heads-up! 


Admins- please merge this post to the one Ron-e referenced if that works better. Thanks

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