krek Posted September 11, 2011 Report Share Posted September 11, 2011 The road to the Chumpionship weekend started on our tow home from Nashville. We were very excited to be hauling the third place trophy along with our bruised and battered SHO. Several hours and seven pages of "to do list" into the trip we made the team decision to pull out of the Heartland Park Topeka race and concentrate on preparing for the Chumpionship.Within days, parts and tires were ordered and Topeka was canceled. Almost immediately we started catching flak on the forum for bailing on Topeka so I caved to peer pressure and we re-entered. This proved to be a great and yet horrible decision.The mechanically inclined portion of the team fixed the car while the Martha Stewart inspired portion (me included) started stripping off five layers of roller applied Rustoleum in anticipation of spraying on a proper paint job for Iowa.We cruised into Topeka with a car well prepped mechanically. Electrical problems on Saturday immediately took us out of contention so we used the day for a test and tune session for tire pressures. We learned a lot. Sunday morning we took the green with the intention of competing for the podium.Krek took the green and by the first braking zone realized that he had never taken a cold car onto track. Once the tires and brakes warmed up (and his sphincter relaxed) we were in the hunt. About 90 minutes into the race Krek radioed in asking if it was "normal for the brake light to come on". It was not normal, but he was instructed to maintain and it would be addressed during the driver change.Rookie driver Cliff belted in to take the second stint and came in one lap later with no brakes. The calipers had worn out from bleeding the brakes and were spewing fluid. For the second day in a row and the third race in a row we'd had a major mechanical failure.The highlight of the tow home from Topeka was a stop in Concordia, MO for BBQ. The low point was 12 pages of to do list for the Chumpionship which was less than a month away.Had we not entered Topeka, the electrical and brake problems would have caught us by surprise at the Chumpionship, so we are grateful to those of you who bullied us into attending.New calipers were ordered and a work day planned to install them. Our original SVT Cobra calipers were among the >5% made with coarse threaded bleeder screws. All four of the new calipers were fine thread. The bleeder screws are dealer supply only and the local dealer had to order them at a cost of $30 each. Fortunately our friends at STLSHO.com came through yet again with a pair of calipers with screws and O'Reillys took the return gracefully. The rest of the prep went together with no major drama, although the paint was still wet on the car when Scott from Izzy's Cages loaded the entire trailer by himself the Thursday we were scheduled to leave.Finally, we are on the road to Iowa. One of our crew volunteers was rear ended on the way to meet us, but was able to continue on. This was the biggest towing issue we had which was a welcome relief. We arrive in Iowa sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 am and piled into the hotel to sleep.Friday morning dawned clear and hot. We joined the queue to get into the track, visiting with old friends, making new ones and generally enjoying the promise of the greatest race we'd ever entered.The test and tune exposed a sputtering which we diagnosed as a fuel filter, coil pack or plug wires. We explored tire pressures and fined tune our strategy. We changed the fuel filter, aim the lights and tuck the car in for the evening, grab some dinner and have a late evening meeting to determine the driver's order. We text the crew about the plug wire problem but it is already 11:00 pm so we're stuck until morning.Saturday morning the car doesn't improve with the replacement coil pack so James heads to Des Moines for plug wires. The rest of the crew has arrived, we don our new EggBoy shirts and head to the driver's meeting. That is the last time on Saturday I remember being dry. As the meeting breaks up we get a text that the new wires are installed (which involves removing the intake) and the car is ready for grid. We hope we've cleared our biggest hurdle.Scott took the green and does what he does best, avoid danger on a crowded track and start "climbing the ladder". This would be our theme of the weekend while we were still running. At one point the rain increased and the car became unglued in the transition to the infield, he corrected and continued but the car hit deep water and hydroplaned into the tire wall. He saw Bear Patrol slide by backwards and suddenly the mirrors were full of Butterman BMW. Scott grabbed the harness belts and closed his eyes. The Butterman car regained a fraction of traction at the last minute and skated around the SHO.The car came into the pits under its own power and we removed the bumper cover and one broken Hella. We left the other broken Hella embedded in the tire wall and appreciate the safety crew dropping it off overnight. We sent the car back out in 12th place missing its lights and with a wrinkled hood and fenders. Scott started climbing the ladder again.During our first driver change we evaluated the light damage. With no safety break, we are going to have to replace the wiring and lights on the fly. We break the process down into three segments that should take less than three minutes each so we won't lose any time on the stops. The last step of every stop is a radio check. Pat is headed out on track and can hear the crew chief but we can't hear him. A quick check of the push-to-talk button reveals the wires are broken... the cable is entirely severed. We pull the cable but leave the button attached to the wheel as our five minutes are up. For the next 100 minutes we communicated by asking yes/no questions and getting replies by brake lights... one tap for yes, two for no.Road racing rookie Matt makes it his mission to repair the cable on the next stop while James again plays parts chaser and heads out in search of replacement Hellas. Pat's stint goes completely according to plan and he brings the car back in having captured 8th. It is a long race and we're climbing the ladder.Pat gets out, Krek gets in. Matt grabs the steering wheel and repairs the cable while the car is being serviced. Krek is screaming for the wheel, he doesn't care about communicating with the pits but he really wants the ability to steer. The wheel gets slapped back on, cable connected, zip ties zipped and clipped and we're still held at pit out. Another great job by the crew.At this point I'll switch to first person as I had more fun over the next 100 minutes than I've ever had in a car (yes, including at the Drive In). With no grip and therefore no tires screaming in protest, I simply drove the road course, passing and lapping traffic. I managed to avoid getting passed more than once. It was quite a different experience than a year earlier when I made my racing debut at Iowa and lost four positions plus took a black flag for punting cones. During the transition to oval the crew kept me busy on the radio and I was thankful to Matt again for the quick fix. We went green on the oval and I had no idea what to expect. What I immediately realized is that FWD was my friend and the oval coaching I had receive from a wily old racer was spot on. At one point I was literally laughing out loud as I passed five cars in NASCAR 4 and found an empty straight in front of me. I took a tap from the 20 car which resulted in the rear bumper being broken. As it was not dragging I stayed the course. I lapped My Little Pony and was rewarded with a round of applause from the pits and the announcement that we were back to Fourth. We were climbing the ladder.I came in and turned the car over to Steve. I'm not sure what was accomplished in the stop as I ran to the porta potty, having narrowly escaped being the first driver on our team to urinate in the driver's seat. Important safety tip, over hydrating before a stint in the rain is different than over hydrating before a stint in the dry... one doesn't sweat as much and that liquid has to exit one's body somewhere.Like his brother Scott, Steve drove a quick and drama free stint. The ladder got steeper the higher we climbed it but Steve got us into Third. We were climbing the ladder.Matt (the road racing rookie) took over. It was my turn to fuel turning the next stop so I went to the trailer to put on my suit. I stopped by Registration on my way back to the pits and chatted with Cathy and thanked John for having the vision and determination to make ChumpCar happen. While there I heard the call that car 21 was in the tire wall again. By the time I lumbered into the pit, the crew had removed what was left of the rear bumper. We fueled and got ready to send James out but the car wouldn't fire. The SHO crew jumped to action and hardwired the PCM to regain spark and we sent James out in ninth place. We had slipped back down the ladder.James is a very technical driver and the tiniest bit competitive. We fed him rabbits to chase and he tracked them down. We watched in admiration from the pit as he consistently turned laps several seconds faster than the field in the wet and dark. James brought the car in to a hearty round of back slapping in Fifth place. We were climbing the ladder.Scott finished us up for evening. Fourth was well out of reach at that point so he maintained the position and saved the car for a hopefully drier Sunday. We finished Saturday in Fifth.We replaced a driver's side wheel bearing, bled the brakes and left the crew with a laundry list of items to check and maintain. The drivers got back to the hotel, ate some pizza, debriefed and decided on Sunday's driver order. We were in bed shortly after Midnight dreaming of climbing ladders.Sunday morning was cool but dry and we found the car fully prepped for another day. The crew had even washed it with bottled water and paper towels before turning in after 3:00 am.Matt took the green and started climbing the ladder. We had quite a few laps to make up, but it was a long race. Unfortunately, the pressure and temps spiked in the right front tire and limited the grip in the oval. Matt one pucker moment but saved the car from hitting either wall.Matt came in, Krek went out. We replaced the RF and my first radio communication was to be prepared to come in on the first yellow to check the temps and pressures. Unfortunately for the team, there was no quick yellow. Even more unfortunate, Krek's wet line wasn't working in the dry and I was too stubborn to adjust. With Stogie in my mirrors I pushed through NASCAR 2, slid up into the marbles and spun hard. I ended up facing clockwise on the oval watching traffic drive around my stalled car. I had put "two feet in" so I was perplexed that the car was stalled and more perplexed when the car revved to the redline but was hesitant to move under its own power. I got turned around and started limping toward the pit, realizing the radio was telling me it was "yellow, bring the car in". I told them I was the reason for yellow and appeared to have a clutch or transmission problem. The car stalled at pit in and when it restarted the clutch and transmission where working as designed again. We bled off some pressure in the RF and sent me back out, a little shaken but determined to regain the Zen like enjoyment of my earlier stint.Despite quality coaching from the pits, I was still stubbornly stuffing the car into NASCAR too hot and causing myself and immediate traffic grief. Not long after that I saw the black flag popped on the straight. While the worker didn't point at me, I was alone so I figured "here we go again". As I entered NASCAR 3 the pit radioed me "Tubby just took a black flag" but I heard "We just took a black flag". Instead of taking one more 32 second lap to make sure, I dove for the apron to come in, carried far too much speed toward pit road and put the car into a four wheel lockup and slid toward pit in sideways. In slow motion I saw Joey yelling for the other worker to take cover while he was diving for the pit wall and I distinctly remember feeling bad that I was going to take the Farthinder Saab out of the race due to my negligence. And then suddenly I was stopped with at least 30 feet to spare and everyone but me was breathing again.Joey asked me what the hell I was doing (actually, he was very kind) and I told him I had been black flagged. He responded that Tubby had been black flagged and to get back on course. I got stopped at pit out and screamed at those guys to radio Joey for what felt like five minutes before I was released. Once back on track I had no idea how many positions I had lost, how much damage I had done to the tires, if ChumpCar was penning my lifetime ban for idiotic driving or even how much time was left in my stint. Eventually I settled back down and the call to pit came too quickly. We had tripped and slipped down the ladder.Pat went back out but I don't really remember any of the details of his stint, sorry Pat. Pat (like Steve and Scott) is a very smooth driver than doesn't generate any drama. I hate them.Pat came in reporting that the shifter was getting very "notchy" and we sent James out with instructions to only use third and fourth gear and to save the car for the remaining eight hours. James reported that shifting was difficult but the car was running well and we started feeding him rabbits again. About this time Clown Shoe found My Little Pony and that meant only Chump Change and Free Candy was between us and Tubby who was in Third. We started climbing the ladder and were in Fourth within eventual striking distance of Third when James radioed in that shifting was almost impossible... no sooner did we suggest bringing it in when the track went yellow and the SHO was sitting on the wall with smoke billowing from under the hood.The excellent safety crew brought us in on the strap and it appeared the transmission main shaft had snapped. We took it back to the garage where the diagnosis was confirmed. The hours on the oval had starved the driver's side main shaft bearings and eventually the inevitable happened.We took a team photo, lowered the EggBoy Racing flag to half mast, packed up and went into town for dinner and a few beers. We came back to watch the end of the race which was unbelievable and claim our 22nd place trophy.If you've read that entire story, you deserve these photos as a reward. If you skipped to here, enjoy them anyway. Thanks to Tighe for the photography, please contact him for download permissions./>http://www.flickr.com/photos/t_house/sets/72157627641877792/with/6135699636/ 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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