Photography & Motorsports

          

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Madness and a good weekend of racing at a great track

For the first time in almost a year, we were able to qualify and compete through the semi finals without and issues or failure and learned more valuable information at the same time. The track officials and staff of Bandimere Speedway put on a heck of a show making this a truly great event. The track, the fans and the weather were awesome! All we had to do was figure out the 5800 feet or so track altitude.

The fans were out in force!

This event was a huge success for our team thanks to Reactive Racing's Dee Karagannis and Russ Turner for there mentoring and generosity. These guys were not only inspirational  but kind enough to share their knowledge & experience with me which, without a doubt, had an impact on our results. Thanks guys!

The Modified Winners - Reactive Racing!

As I was out of town on business the entire week of the event and prior to that, the car had undergone a major change with no dyno tuning and only three very conservative 1/8th mile passes with my test engine. Dan Schechter was kind enough to load up and transport my car from Texas to Denver for the event without my assistance.

As I previously stated, the car had undergone a wholesale change. More specifically the electronics were replace and without any tuning to speak of before this event, I experienced both doubt and optimism. Little did I know that the doubt would soon fade away and the optimism would grow to a sense of relief and then confidence in the choices I had made.

That said, we checked the density altitude and it would be "way up there" in an area we had no experience with in a turbo car. First check, the density altitude was at 9341 feet. What could we expect was the big question? So with time to shine the car with Turbowax and put in a set of new NGK spark plugs and a tune that was "off" our first qualifying attempt wasn't too bad. An ET of 8.371 @ 160.37 mph. With the tune very rich (you could hear it going down the track) and with the first 1/4 mile data log  in hand, I made a small change leaning toward the conservative side plus lowered the 2-step setting because it was spinning the tires at the launch and ran the second qualifying pass of 8.731 @ 158.04 mph. Although this was slower it was progress considering subtle map change the worsening of the air density. The lowering of the 2-step was not a good idea and consequently effected the 60' time.

 

The 3rd and final qualifying approaching, I consulted with Dee and Russ and made a fairly significant map change to the fuel only, raised the 2-step to where it was while leaving the boost at a modest 32 psi. That proved to be a step in the right direction and we ran a 8.409 @ 158.80 mph. Following this pass, I began to feel good about the way the car was performing. I was evident that the performance was more consistent than it had been in some time and the engine was holding up without signs of falling off.

This was a great relief because I did not have a spare engine and the engine in the car was built with 100% stock 13-B parts. As luck would have it, I discovered my battery had died after the 3rd round so I had time to purchase a new one. Thank goodness for the voltage stabilizer module in the car.

With time to review the data we collected before eliminations began, one item I had not paid close attention to was the clutch. While it was "close" to how it had been in the past and with the help of a clutch professional, I did learn that my settings of base pressure and counterweight needed to be "adjusted" so with that knowledge, I made yet another significant change to the car not knowing how it would react.

Beside having to install the new battery on Sunday morning, it was a good feeling going into eliminations that the car was strong and consistent. The rest would be left up to my driving.

 

Round #1: With the new clutch setting and with no other changes following the final qualifying pass, it was now up to me to go rounds which is what the sport is all about. The million dollar question was how would it turn out?

During the burnout, the car felt strong and the adrenalin kicked in. During the staging which seemed like an eternity I said to myself, don't screw up and drive your own race. When I left the line the tires spun really bad and I remember moving to the left but I just kept my foot planted and when I pulled the parachute, I knew I had ran faster than previously. Indeed it was, a not so good reaction time of 0.776 but an improved ET of 8.086 @ 163.37 mph. I was a happy man.

For round #2, I was up against Paul Efantis who qualified #1 with a 7.9. I had my work cut out for me. What did I have to do to beat him? Considering I had spun the tires really bad, I received more advice and took some clutch out and changed a few things on the tune. I had "nothing to loose" at this point so here is what I did. Raised the boost from 32 to 35 psi, added 2 degrees of timing (my base timing was very conservative) and took quiet a bit of clutch out. With those changes, I felt like I had a car that would run side by side with Paul and possibly advance to the final round. Exciting stuff! I hadn't felt this way in a long time.

Round #2: Plain and simple, I screwed up! I thought I was mentally prepared for whatever staging duel may happen but boy, was I wrong. I was caught off guard and quite honestly I never felt so flustered at the starting line ever before.

I staged first in the right hand lane and Paul went in and lit both bulbs at once. My engine was idling and when I put my foot to the floor as it had done for every other run, it spluttered and in a panic I said to myself "you better get going" and at 4000 rpm instead of 8000 rpm, I let the clutch go and the light went red. I was so mad with myself I cussed at myself all the way down the track to the end.

Although I screwed up, not all was lost. The results clearly show the car was capable of winning that round. Congratulations to Paul and remember what happened at the starting line will never happen again. I'll be ready.

(W) Paul Efantis ('03 Solara)                   0.563      9.817 @ 133.25 mph
(L) Ken Scheepers ('05 RX8)                  -0.281(R)  9.496 @ 165.88 mph

Again, the feeling and accomplishment of going rounds in the competitive class left me with a sense of hope and optimism. As some would say, I got a shot in the arm which is exactly what we needed to move forward. Now we have something to look forward to in Las Vegas and the remainder of our season.

Again I want to thank each and every person for there support and direction. I could not have done it without you. Now I will build my SPECIAL engine, turn up the boost and get ready to kick some butt. See you all in Las Vegas!
 

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