Photography & Motorsports
Competing since 2001, I finally get to race at Indy!
Disappointed and Frustrated!
Although we had done two test sessions trying out different combinations, none of it worked and consequently, we went back to the same setup and combination that had worked for us the entire season. However, we did dispel several "theories" or "ideas" that were supposed to make performance improvements when in fact, we experienced nothing buy lower power period.
With a fresh motor in the car and one for a spare plus I had time to go through the entire car, I was excited about our chances and excited about being able to compete at the famous IRP track. The track was every bit as good as I had heard. It was in excellent shape, smooth, wide, long and fast. Additionally, the staff at the track were all top notch and made us sport compact racers feel welcome.
I had decided to fly my good friend and ace tuner Jesus Padilla in for the event to help me tune the car during the coarse of the event plus I had friends Eduard who is a great help and Tommy Meyer for taking these great pictures.
Round one of qualifying at about 3pm on Saturday was probably the worst experience I have had driving this car, especially at this track and going in thinking we had a car to beat. I was paired with Paul and in the right lane following the burnout, I launched the car and no sooner had I engaged 2nd gear, it backfired like never before and just fell flat on its face. I managed to complete the run after it backfired a second time near the end of the 1/4 mile.
Once we returned to the pits and downloaded the data, it was very clear that the cause of the backfire was low fuel pressure. The manifold pressure at backfire was higher that the 100 psi sensor and it did it twice!
We pulled the nose off the car and began to look for a problem. Russ pointed out the fuel pump belt was loose. Further investigation revealed that the fuel pump bracket had broken resulting in the belt slipping and consequently had low fuel pressure. The backfire had also bent the throttle body blade rather badly. Thanks to all my friends for helping out between rounds. Kilo took care of the throttle body, Tito welded the aluminum fuel pump bracket and Eduard helped me with the clutch service. Once all the pieces were back in place, we started the engine and found we had a blown intake manifold gasket too. We quickly removed the manifold and replaced the gasket just in time for round 2 of qualifying. We started it back up and also found a crack on the manifold itself but had no time to repair it.
Round two I was in the left lane and following the burnout which didn't feel that good, I staged and when I launched, the car fell flat on its face again. What was up? Back in the pits, the downloaded data revealed only 20 psi of fuel pressure. There was only one other thing that we did not check after the first round backfire and that was the fuel pressure regulator. Fortunately, I have an electric primer fuel pump that runs when the starter motor cranks the engine. We ran this pump and noticed we had no pressure and the fuel was returning straight back to the fuel tank. The regulator! We took it apart and it was obvious that the backfire had moved the diaphragm off its seat. We cleaned the diaphragm up, reassembled the regulator and tested the fuel system. Ha, it was now OK.
I was sure the two qualifying attempts lean conditions and back fires had damaged the motor but it started right up and we elected to run it for the 3rd and final round of qualifying.
Finally, the car made power and launched with a 1.10 60-foot but fell off by the 1/8th mile to run a 7.82 at 168.72 mph. At least we were headed in the right direction. The data showed the tune was off and we elected to wait to the morning to make a decision on which direction to go and to take the manifold off to weld the crack.
We were at the track by 9am. We pulled the manifold of and Tito repaired it. We put another new intake gasket on and connected all the lines back up. When draining the oil breather tank, we noticed the oil was snow white. So was the oil in the oil pan. I drained the oil, replaced the filter and added fresh Idemitsu oil. I started it up and saw we had no water in the radiator. It was obvious the motor has an internal seal leaking probably caused by the huge backfire.
Without enough time to swap motors, Kilo pulled the radiator pressure washer off the radiator cap then filled the radiator and ran it without pressure. we ran the motor to operating temperature and check the compression. It was down quiet a bit so I would have to hope for a miracle to get by Paul in the first round of eliminations.
I did what I had to do on the line with a 0.057 RT to Paul's 0.162 RT I had a respectable 1.11 60-foot but Paul passed me before the 1/8th mile and that was that. The end of a very frustrating week end especially after I had expected to run well and retain the points lead. However, that was not meant to be and as a result, we move down a position to second, 7 points behind Paul with Brent closing in 3rd position.
Next stop is the fall race in Englishtown. I can assure you all that I will be ready. Stay tuned for more updates as I will be testing some new "stuff".
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