Photography & Motorsports

          

 

 

 

 

 

UP We ran a 7.86 @ 174 mph DOWN The car caught on fire. UP Pomona, here we come!

PRE EVENT NOTE: In preparation for this event, a lot of work has gone into the car. The most significant change is the brand new GForce GF2000 transmission which replaced the GF5R and a new Mark Williams aluminum drive shaft. Not only the physical changes of the transmission but there are also gear ratio changes and depending on the track conditions, we will make a rear end ratio change as well. The spare 3rd member is set up and ready to use if needed.

We have also made some changes with the tuning and the new onboard PCS D200 Dash. This is proving to be a great tool as it has many functions which includes boost control. Our testing has been consistent although not with the new transmission. The engine which was rebuilt after the horrific Moroso failure where a hole was blown through one of the faces on the rear rotor with two brand new rotors. With only minimal clearance of the apex seal groves and balancing, the engine is working great. It's making good horsepower and most importantly, it's RELIABLE. This is the best feeling of all going into Englishtown. We'll have to wait and see!

As I expected (which is a tremendous boost for us) the cars performance and reliability are without question headed in the right direction. With time to spare the morning of qualifying, it was great to visit with the fans and answer questions about the products we use and the car setup. The reliability of the motor program also created another benefit, I was able to really clean the car inside and out, power wash the underside and make it shine and smooth to the touch with the wonderful Turbowax products. When we rolled the car out of the trailer on Friday for tech inspection, it was noticed.

Just so everyone knows how confident we were, prior to departing for Englishtown , in race trim which included the clutch setup,  I took the car over to Rotary Performance and strapped it to the chassis dyno to see how much power we were making. Remember that this car has not been on a dyno for over a year. Making just 3 pulls and over 800 hp at the tire with 38 psi, I was very happy!

OK, for the first round of qualifying, all I did was add 2% of additional fuel to my "home made" map because the air was so good and rather than risk leaning it out down the track, better safe than sorry was my reasoning.

With the clutch set up as it had been in the past events, I did my burnout and the first qualifying pass was happening. The new GForce GF2000 transmission was fantastic. The comparison is like day and night as it is so much smoother when shifting. The clutch setting was obviously not enough as the clutch slipped the entire length of the track with the exception of the last 1.2 seconds of the 7.86 ET. The car felt great and went straight down the middle of the track and I only ran 38 psi of boost.

I was very excited and so optimistic for the second round of qualifying. I was obvious that this event was going to be the best the Modified class has ever been as my 7.86 ET was the bump spot for the 8 car field. The top qualifier was a remarkable 7.43 ET. I knew that my car would run faster and was sure it would do at least a 7.6 with the clutch set up correctly. So without changing a thing with the exception of adding another turn of base pressure in the clutch, I prepared for round two qualifier.

While in the burnout box and just beginning the burnout which seemed "normal", I felt a sudden and strange feeling like the power lowered and this very subtle percussion. Next thing I feel heat and see flames at the firewall and I look down and see "heat" under the car coming up by the transmission. My reactions at that time were turn the engine off and get the heck out of that heat as I can see everyone around the car yelling and gesturing FIRE, FIRE.

I did not even think to activate the on board fire suppression system. In fact I do not remember undoing my safety harness, taking down the window net and with my Hans Device and helmet on, I was out of that car is a flash. Usually it takes a little twisting to get in and out of the car but not this time! I immediately ran around to the back of the car and killed the battery power. Now I can really see the "heat" pouring out from under the hood. I opened the drivers door to get my zuest fastener wrench so we could take the hood off which was now turning a shade of orange. Once we got the hood off, the fire was extinguished immediately by the track officials. That minute or two seemed like an eternity and I realized our race week end was over!

I have to thank everyone who assisted in helping me out of the car and putting out the fire. Fortunately the damage is mostly cosmetic, the hood, a bit of burnt paint, the lexan windshield is melted at the bottom and the wiring was all burnt. It was only once the car was back in the pits that I was able to determine the cause of the fire.

Here is what happened. A bracket that is welded onto one end of the intake manifold that secures one of the four fuel rails to the top side of the fuel injectors broke. So, when the engine was at 8000 or so RPM, the fuel pressure pushed the fuel rail off the top of the injector #14 which in turn permitted a very high volume of methanol to be pumped out, spill all over the engine and exhaust header then WOOF!

I think the reason why there was fire under the car was because of the sheer volume of fuel that mechanical pump delivers at high RPM through a 1/2" hole, it just ran down onto the track and ignited. I am very fortunate to have a racecar today. If this had of happened somewhere down the track at 170 mph, I believe I would be writing a completely different story.

Check out some great Modified video  on PistonvsRotor's website:

Combete de Puerto Rico en NHRA (Video aficionado)

Finally, the repairs are completed. It required rewiring the car, replacing every connector and sensor and repairing the manifold. I hope to test the car soon at our local 1/8th mile track and run some high 4 second ET's so we can be ready to kick butt in Pomona.

See you all in California for the World Finals in Pomona October 21-22.

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