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2022 Willow Springs Results and stories


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It was one heck of a weekend. We showed up Friday feeling like we were ready to go. Took it easy for a few hours and then decided to get out on the track for some practice laps. For most of the team it was our first time on this track. Three of us did some practice laps and agreed the car felt good. Our fourth driver starts his first hotlap and we see him slow in turn one, and then hear him on the radio a few seconds later telling us he lost the clutch. Track missed him being stuck in turn two, so we waved down their safety worker and they went and got him. Car comes back, clutch is super soft and obviously not engaging. Lift the car, see brake fluid coming from the bellhousing. Pull the slave cylinder, and the rod is hanging loose held in on by only the rubber bellows. This part was an Autozone sourced part that was needed in a pinch when originally building the car, but it has survived several track days and our botched race at Daytona.

 

We find the part down in Palmdale at an Autozone. One of our drivers takes off to get the part. We get the part in and rebleed the clutch. No change. Rebleed several more times using a variety of different methods for bleeding, still no change. Noticed there was minimal fluid pressure getting to the slave cylinder, started to suspect the master cylinder was bad. Started getting dark so we go back to our AirBnB and research. 

 

Saturday morning, I pull the slave and find it accordianed out the rod. So while a driver goes to do an exhange at a different Autozon in Palmdale, I decide to isolate the slave cylinder and clamp off the hose to test just master by itself. No change, soft clutch. After some debate we decide it is the master cylinder. At this point we figure at best we might get on track for a little bit Saturday and be good for Sunday. There are none available to get over the weekend in a very wide radius. Decide to do a rebuild. Rebuild it, rebleed the system... still soft. Clamp off the slave cylinder, this time the clutch pedal goes hard. So at least we know that we did have an issue there and fixed it. Go back under the car and see more brake fluid coming out the bell housing. Pull out the slave cylinder and it is completely missing the rod. It fell off inside the bell housing. We try to get it, no luck, considered dropping the trans, team was low on energy, so I decided to call it and pack up. I head over to registration and let them know we're done.

 

Roto-plookers came over to us after they helped pushed the car onto our trailer. They suggested, "it might sound crazy, but why not run it without a clutch?" Michael on their team grabs Dana and the both come talk with me, and I decide, "ah heck, I am skeptical, but with the support they and some of the other teams had given us, it wouldn't hurt to try". We pull the car off the trailer and give it a go. Our car didn't come with a neutral safety switch, so with a few people pushing, some judicious throttle, and putting the car in 1st gear and hitting the starter... We roared to life. Rev matched a shift in the paddock. As I drove by a few of the team and heard them clap and cheer, I knew right them, that "damn it, we're racing Sunday". One of the driver's who hung around for the test gave it a go, and was on board as well. 

 

Sunday morning, myself and the driver with me on Saturday evening were the planned drivers for the day. We prep the car and switch back to our Maxxis VR-1's. I like them way better than our RS-4's. We get out of the pits and join the formation lap. I settled into 4th gear and decided we are just going to stay in 4th as 85% of the track is a 4th gear track for us anyhow. I take it super easy at first and start working up some speed where I can. Click off a 1:46 lap, bogging a bit going up the hill and coming out of turn 6. Feel even without 3rd gear there is a few seconds we can gain. Everything is going smoothly, then suddenly on our 22nd lap, going through six, 4th gear partially disengages. It revs, but not as free as in neutral, almost like slipping the clutch. Pop it into neutral. Can't get it back into 4th or any other gear. Well, drats. Coast it into the paddock still can't find a gear. Day is done, but we got on track and raced. I stuck around for the awards at the end of the day. I am honored at getting the Chandler School award "spirit of champ car" and am going to work extra hard to really earn it.

 

Get home and all the gears are engaging again. So next up is to drop the tranny and see what's going on. See everyone at Harris Hill. With a properly working car! 

 

Here is our best lap from our Catalyst:

 

Edited by Fetterhund
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On 6/20/2022 at 10:30 PM, Fetterhund said:

It was one heck of a weekend. We showed up Friday feeling like we were ready to go. Took it easy for a few hours and then decided to get out on the track for some practice laps. For most of the team it was our first time on this track. Three of us did some practice laps and agreed the car felt good. Our fourth driver starts his first hotlap and we see him slow in turn one, and then hear him on the radio a few seconds later telling us he lost the clutch. Track missed him being stuck in turn two, so we waved down their safety worker and they went and got him. Car comes back, clutch is super soft and obviously not engaging. Lift the car, see brake fluid coming from the bellhousing. Pull the slave cylinder, and the rod is hanging loose held in on by only the rubber bellows. This part was an Autozone sourced part that was needed in a pinch when originally building the car, but it has survived several track days and our botched race at Daytona.

 

We find the part down in Palmdale at an Autozone. One of our drivers takes off to get the part. We get the part in and rebleed the clutch. No change. Rebleed several more times using a variety of different methods for bleeding, still no change. Noticed there was minimal fluid pressure getting to the slave cylinder, started to suspect the master cylinder was bad. Started getting dark so we go back to our AirBnB and research. 

 

Saturday morning, I pull the slave and find it accordianed out the rod. So while a driver goes to do an exhange at a different Autozon in Palmdale, I decide to isolate the slave cylinder and clamp off the hose to test just master by itself. No change, soft clutch. After some debate we decide it is the master cylinder. At this point we figure at best we might get on track for a little bit Saturday and be good for Sunday. There are none available to get over the weekend in a very wide radius. Decide to do a rebuild. Rebuild it, rebleed the system... still soft. Clamp off the slave cylinder, this time the clutch pedal goes hard. So at least we know that we did have an issue there and fixed it. Go back under the car and see more brake fluid coming out the bell housing. Pull out the slave cylinder and it is completely missing the rod. It fell off inside the bell housing. We try to get it, no luck, considered dropping the trans, team was low on energy, so I decided to call it and pack up. I head over to registration and let them know we're done.

 

Roto-plookers came over to us after they helped pushed the car onto our trailer. They suggested, "it might sound crazy, but why not run it without a clutch?" Michael on their team grabs Dana and the both come talk with me, and I decide, "ah heck, I am skeptical, but with the support they and some of the other teams had given us, it wouldn't hurt to try". We pull the car off the trailer and give it a go. Our car didn't come with a neutral safety switch, so with a few people pushing, some judicious throttle, and putting the car in 1st gear and hitting the starter... We roared to life. Rev matched a shift in the paddock. As I drove by a few of the team and heard them clap and cheer, I knew right them, that "damn it, we're racing Sunday". One of the driver's who hung around for the test gave it a go, and was on board as well. 

 

Sunday morning, myself and the driver with me on Saturday evening were the planned drivers for the day. We prep the car and switch back to our Maxxis VR-1's. I like them way better than our RS-4's. We get out of the pits and join the formation lap. I settled into 4th gear and decided we are just going to stay in 4th as 85% of the track is a 4th gear track for us anyhow. I take it super easy at first and start working up some speed where I can. Click off a 1:46 lap, bogging a bit going up the hill and coming out of turn 6. Feel even without 3rd gear there is a few seconds we can gain. Everything is going smoothly, then suddenly on our 22nd lap, going through six, 4th gear partially disengages. It revs, but not as free as in neutral, almost like slipping the clutch. Pop it into neutral. Can't get it back into 4th or any other gear. Well, drats. Coast it into the paddock still can't find a gear. Day is done, but we got on track and raced. I stuck around for the awards at the end of the day. I am honored at getting the Chandler School award "spirit of champ car" and am going to work extra hard to really earn it.

 

Get home and all the gears are engaging again. So next up is to drop the tranny and see what's going on. See everyone at Harris Hill. With a properly working car! 

 

Here is our best lap from our Catalyst:

 


Good to hear you got some laps in and sorry to hear about the clutch problems. 

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