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Team PushingLuck #915 and our Story - VIR


Mikelly
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This is the telling of a story that is 100% true.  I am stating this up front because if someone told me what I’m about to tell you, I wouldn’t believe it, and making it up simply wouldn’t be as good as the truth, so here goes…


We are team PushingLuck, car #915.  You know, that Green and Orange Ford Escort GT that was “tearing up the fieldâ€?  OK that last part was a joke, but yea we were those guys… 


 


We unloaded the car Friday at 11AM and got in line.  HOURS later we teched and quite honestly, after every guy walked by and commented on how we were going to be killed for this and killed for that on tech, I thought “Well this won’t last long, wonder if I can make it home by dinner?† For the record, I was 10 minutes, given an AIV of $390 and all was well.


 


So practice was called and we suited up our local expert Ted Ambrose and sent him out.  I was on the radio and on his second lap, he informed me that he was off in the grass and zero oil pressure.  15 minutes later we were inspecting the car in the pits.  What we found wasn’t good.  A hole in the block showed that our little chumper was DOA.  TWO LAPS ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  I was now investigating local bar options.  But no, what happened next was, well, impossible to believe.  It’s 3:15 PM and I yell over my shoulder as I walk up to the restroom “If you find a motor for less than $500 BUY IT!†


 


They did.  DAMNIT!!!!  Anyway, off we went to buy this “motor†from “a†junkyard on the west side of Danville.  While three of us were off buying said motor, Triston, the 17 year old boy wonder was off finding an engine lift.  $250 and a promise from the yard owner later, we’re back at the track by 4:45 with a motor.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a 1.9GT motor.  And more unfortunately, it would require a head swap… So our other boy wonder, Mechanical Engineer Morgan runs off to find head gasket and other parts.   We get the old motor out, and start pulling the head on old motor to put on new motor.  BY 6:45 we run into the biggest challenge yet.  When the connecting rod broke, the piston spun and kissed the intake valve on the head, bending it.  Hmmmm… I’ve got ALL DAY tomorrow to get the car loaded up, and I can salvage my Sunday.  “Boys, where do we want to have dinner?†


 


Uh, no.  Morgan is a Mechanical Engineer, and Tom (My godson) is an aircraft mechanic and hobby blacksmith on the side.  They decide they can extract a valve from the existing motor and make it work…  Here is where the “BS†would come in if I hadn’t lived it.  These two geniuses pull a valve from the motor we bought, and cut it down to fit the intake valve port for the GT head that was bent.  Mind you, we have hand tools, a bench wire wheel, bench grinder, and a vise to work with.  They use water, MP spray and that wonderful kitty litter from VIR’s paddock to grind down the valve and make it fit.  Using washers and our hand drill, they make spacers to shim the spring/bucket for the valve and keeper.  By 1AM the motor is back together and bolted to the trans and ready to install.  We call it a night and head for the showers/hotel rooms.


 


Mike Kelly


Crew Chief


PushingLuck #915


 


Picture on my Facebook wall under Mikes Hobby Shop (Not for profit).


 


 


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Saturday morning we arrive back at the car trailer by 0800 and are hard at it.  The motor is in and we are ready to start the race by 10:20.  Yup, 20 minutes down and we are on track.  Shortly afterwards we are back in the pits with a temp issue.  The electric fan is wired backwards.  Back out, and we’re still having issues.  It would seem the oil pressure isn’t good… Back in and we are troubleshooting and sending our Texas driver, Charles back out again.  Back in a few more times and we decide we need to drop the oil pan and see what is causing issues.  I head off to buy oil, filters, diesel fuel to flush the pan, and food for the team.  When I got back to the track they were buttoning the car back up.  Sludge and junk blocking the oil pickup and covering the pan nearly half inch deep in spots caused the issues. 


 


So now we’re back out.  Tom gets Into the car with a bum charging issue, so off I go to buy a GM one-wire unit.  While out on course, the driver of that gorgeous 240Z apparently decided to pass in an inappropriate are and ended up wrinkling our sheet metal from rear bumper to the rear of the front fender on the driver’s side.  By the time I get back, Tom is out of the car puking from overheating and dehydration.  He couldn’t run the coolsuit because of the whole charging issue.  Morgan resolves the charging issue with a simple light bulb fix and we’re back out on track with Morgan behind the wheel, just in time for the rains.  For the next 1.5 hours we are good.  Then, the car stumbles, and Morgan is coming in for a change of driver or inspection of the car… We end up pushing him into the pits.  We check things out, make adjustments, and send Barry out for his first stint.  Tip for those who aren’t used to getting into a race car with harnesses.  If you set your seat far enough back so you can’t reach the switches, make sure someone else turns the coolsuit on for you… Barry is bitten by the overheating and dehydration bug as well. 


 


I jump in next.  The car is not revving past 4K for me.  Breaking up and falling flat above it.  So I’m trying to let people by and waving them off as best I can.  So if you encountered the mighty Escort GT during the “dusk†hours between 7-8:45PM, that was me.  If you are that certain someone who decided to “bump me†out of the way at complain and then flip me the bird, well then you know you deserved the “assist†thru the corkscrew.  You know who you are and maybe in the future you will race a little cleaner.


 


I turned the car over to Ted for his night stint and he promptly turned it over to Charles, our Texas driver.  By Midnight Charles was running very respectable 3:54-3:58s in a car that shouldn’t be running.  Then it happened.  Around 12:20AM on Sunday morning, the car overheated.  A pinhole leak developed in the upper radiator hose.  The car slowly cooked and blew the headgasket.  Our ordeal and race weekend was finally coming to a close, no really… this time it was over… We started in the 104th place, but managed to finish in the 70s with a car that was making about 80HP to the wheels.


I want to thank the guys who loaned us the ORANGE engine lift.  Without you guys (and I honestly have no clue who we borrowed it from) and your generous loan, we wouldn’t have been able to get as far as we did. 


 


I also want to thank John and the crew.  John, when you came by and extended your offer to help with a future entry, it meant the world to our team, and honestly gave us more fuel to fight harder to get this car to continue.  My goal was at minimum one stint per driver and we met that goal.  Charles from Texas was able to get TWO stints in the car, and we did manage to race beyond the 12 hour mark.


 


As I stated upfront, this is what happened with our race weekend. If someone else relayed this story to me, I’d have called BS, but I lived it. 


 


Mike Kelly


Crew Chief


PushingLuck #915


 


Picture on my Facebook wall under Mikes Hobby Shop (Not for profit).


 


 

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While out on course, the driver of that gorgeous 240Z apparently decided to pass in an inappropriate are and ended up wrinkling our sheet metal from rear bumper to the rear of the front fender on the driver’s side.

 

 

Sure you don't mean a 240SX or 300ZX? Just wanted to clarify that you're not talking about our Z. We weren't involved in any contact until we were taken out of the race at around 8:30 PM, and that contact was with a tire wall. Also, our damage was on the driver's side, so unless one of us was going backwards... :lol:

 

If we did somehow manage to hit you, I was unaware, none of our drivers mentioned any contact and we have no damage to show for it... and if that is the case, I sincerely apologize, we've been in six races now and have never been involved in any contact with another car or black flagged for any reason. So I hope it wasn't us!!

 

Otherwise, great story. Hope it goes better next time!

 

*EDIT* Correction, it was us. :(  We have a small tire mark on the door of the car but no body damage at all so I didn't even realize we came in contact with another car, but I spoke to Kevin and he told me that he did hit you. I'm really sorry about that!

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When I heard the announcement on the loudspeaker asking if anyone "has a spare 1.9l Ford engine" I thought at the time, "well it doesn't hurt to ask, I guess, but those guys are toast."  Glad to see I was dead wrong!  Nice job, and thanks for relating the story.  I guess sometimes the luck pushes you, and sometimes you push the luck.  ;)


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jsausly if your car was the BRE looking Zcar, then yes one of YOUR DRIVERS came over and apoligized to my driver for hitting him.  I can post pics after we unload the car later this week.  Maybe it was your passenger rim/tire that did the damage, but pole your guys and ask if any of them hit the Green/Orange Escort GT.  If your car was the BRE looking Zcar then one of the team drivers owned up to it.


 


Mike


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You're correct, it was Kevin. We have a donut on the side of the car to prove it, I didn't realize that we did that much damage to your car.. sorry about that, I really apologize. We do have a little bit of orange and green paint on the car but NO body damage at all otherwise so I didn't realize it was more than a wheel-to-wheel touch. I'm glad he came over to apologize, we really do this sort of thing for fun so we have no intention of racing hard enough to cause any contact. Again, I apologize - I'd love to see pics of your car. I'll pictures of ours too when I can. I'm surprised it caused any damage, we don't even have a dent.. I'm assuming it was the tire that did it. 


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