19-20 November 2010
LeMons Louisiana, No Problem Raceway
The Fury Before The Storm!!!
(and you thought it was time for the racing story....pshaw!!!)
I woke up at 0700 on Thursday and it was now 0800 on Friday. Anna and I drove through the night to get the rig spotted early. We had just pulled into the racetrack and surveyed the near empty paddock and were happy to snag a spot right next to the track. This would be very beneficial as spotting places were nonexistent. The trailer would be a great spotting spot for our crew and help us keep track of what was going on.
The view from atop the WDMS trailer as the race started on Saturday afternoon.
The course. The WDMS trailer is just outside Turn 14 at about the yellow dash.
The car happily fired right up after the trip (it has a total of 10 starts maybe and so far so good!) and came out of the trailer easily. I put it in our paddock spot and began to arrange the trailer as the Franks sped closer and closer. Soon they arrived and we all began knocking out the short list of things we needed in order to pass tech. We'd worry about lights and such tomorrow morning since the race did not start until 1500 on Saturday, but right now we had tech to pass. Bic went up on four stands, trans fluid was fine, a nut and bolt of the suspension was completed, radiator hose clamps were tightened to hopefully fix a slight water leak (it didn't), boot covers were put on the ends of the spark plug wires to help protect them, brakes were checked, etc etc. Soon it was afternoon and time to see if this thing could negotiate the track. I sent out Fertitta first. He took a handful of laps, came back in and we looked the car over and sent him back out. 20 minutes later he came back in, we rechecked stuff, put Anna in the car and sent her out for a half hour. The track was being used sporadically and the track time told us that the car was solid and fairly quick. Nearing the last few minutes of open-track, I took the car for a few laps and brought it back in. A tech person had been wandering and basically approved our car with a few changes so we had a short list for Saturday morning. With the time change and winter gripping us, we were nearly in darkness already. The loose stuff was put back into the trailer, the car cover went on and we headed to the hotel. After pizza and 'The A-Team' (and 38 hours awake for me), the four of us slumbered. It was awesome.
Beaker putting clear film on the taillights, Anna cleaning up wiring
Triple gauges = SRS BIZNESS!!, and the normal pre-race flurry of activity
Alien wiring, Fertitta installing and Costas heat-shrinking the critical connections.
Bic with new stickers!!!
We arrived at the track before 0900 and quickly got to work. Gary and Laura showed up with Gary bringing the coveted spare radiator. The Franks made a trip to a parts store and walmart and we had all kinds of things to install and put in the cooler! New headlamps went in with new wiring on a left-side and right-side independent breaker/switch. The thought was an electrical problem (oh noes!) or impact (yeah, we had both!) may knock out one side, but we'd still have two headlamps on. The rules stipulate a car MUST have two headlamps working to run. Ditto for taillamps and brake lamps which is why our brake lamps (spares up on the cage) were on separate circuits also. Redundancy for the win!! Our radiator was pulled, putty put over the suspected leak areas and that became our backup as Gary's became our primary. Screen was put over the radiator, graphics went on, windows cleaned, radios rigged, camelback rigged, etc etc. It was indeed a flurry of activity as the car kept taking shape. Ron showed up during all this and began pitching in too and our whole group was now assembled. The final act was to put the best set of tires on the car (leftovers from the first two event) and send it to 'official' tech. It breezed through that and was laughed through BS judging with no lap penalties and we had it back in our spot wrapping things up.
Bic getting pretty close, Fertitta suiting up to strap in for the test
Fertitta had the longest 'dry spell' since the previous time he had been in a race car so he was elected for first stint. We decided to 'chill' for the first 12 hours and simply make laps leaving the car in 4th gear. It has a LOT of torque and easily pulled from the slowest corner in 4th, and that should be easy on the motor and fuel consumption and allow us to get a baseline. We knew it would not be in the top 10 quickest this way, but we bet (correctly) that half the top 20 would break before the halfway point anyway. This isn't an autocross folks, fastest lap doesn't mean jack. We all knew this was an endurance race and planned the first 12 hours accordingly.
Strangely enough they opened the drag strip on Friday night and we heard lots of teams made passes in their cars. Wow. I'd have hated to pay the $$$entry, drive all the way to nowhere-ville Louisiana and then break/damage the car prior to the start!!! But hey, to each their own! <grin>
Fertitta taking Bic around the 13/14 complex
Anna headed to the drag strip with the glare highlighting the reflective stickers on the rear quarter
Anna leading a pack 4-wide through T13 during the test day
Beaker installing the seat brace. Sure, the seat is carbon and FIA rated and can run the real Le Mans with no brace, but .....err......wait...
Fertitta getting the radios installed, while wiring the factory taillamps is happening too. Busy busy...
Two more entries with ties to TAMSCC! The black mustang on the left and white jetta on the right are both very quick and easily contenders for overall win depending on the usual 'if nothing breaks' and 'if we avoid black flags'. Jeff Stroh and some houston autocrossers drive the fivepointOH and Pranav and Brandon are both with the Jetta. Our team strategy is to knock out the first half of the race in 4th gear and then see where we stand. Start pushing if we need to, but if not, just keep coasting along in 4th. The motor has plenty of torque to come out of the slow corners and we don't quite reach the top of 4th on the fastest part of the course. No shifting means less wear on the clutch parts and a much easier driving stint. We agree if we need third to help with a pass or whatever, then sure, but for the first half our drivers will cruise in 4th, using the tires and brakes fairly well and seeing what kind of economy this little 2 barrel carburetor can get us.
Next up....the race begins...