Photography & Motorsports
From high hopes to down in a pit in short order
In preparation for the first event of the season following the changes to the car, we arrived at the track on Friday morning to take advantage of the near perfect weather and the day of Test & Tune to set up the car suspension and improve on the tuning.
Once unloaded and we had checked the car corner weights, we went up to the line to make our first pass. With the tune purposely rich to be on the safe side and following the burnout the car launched well with a 1.13 60'. At the 1/8th I could feel it was "fat" and as I engaged 5th gear, the motor blew. I did not expect that to happen.
Once back in the pits, I started to remove the transmission and bell housing to fine the rear iron had cracked from a massive misfire and water filled the catch pan. Thank goodness for the catch pan as not a drop of the oil/water mixture fell to the ground or the underside of the car.
A post mortem revealed catastrophic damage resulting in a total engine loss.
Fortunately, I had taken brand new parts to build a spare engine. However, with the exception of the CNC ports in the iron housings, the remainder of the parts were bone stock. Thanks to fellow RX7 racer and friend Dee Karagiannis for taking the rotor housings and porting the exhaust ports. With a lot of moral support, I spent several hours assembling the brand new engine and finally completing it at 2am on Saturday morning.
I spent the night at the track and was up at 6:30 and began the process of installing the engine. It was done and running at 11am and in time for the first round of qualifying at 1pm. A quick shower and drivers meeting preceded the first round of qualifying.
Once at the line for the first round, I went through the normal procedure of a burnout and then stage. At that time the red bulbs on the tree came on and we were shut down. When I attempted to start the car again, I noticed and felt something was not right so I elected to not run. During my "long day" I had neglected to properly tighten the flywheel so the repair was not made in time to make the second round of qualifying.
Finally, I though I would be able to make a good pass and be in the field but that was not to be either. After the burnout, a small amount of oil made its way onto the bottom of the wind shield so that being my only chance to get into the field, I took a very slow pass and made it in. The problem was the dip stick had popped out. What luck!
On Sunday, my first round I was to be paired up against fellow Mazda racer Dee Karagiannis. In preparation for what I felt was going to be a good race for the fans, I was making sure the boost level on the 2-step was good and after 3 test runs while making minor boost setting, on the 4th attempts the engine let go and sent a cloud of steam and smoke into the air. Another misfire and another blown motor.
That was how the week end went. I have to say that that was the most frustrating and demoralizing event I have ever had in the 5 years I have been drag racing. That is why I was a now show for the first round of eliminations.
I would sincerely like to thank all who lent a hand.
The trip back to Texas gave me time to think about possible causes and a corrective action plan so that we can be ready to compete in two weeks in Richmond, VA.
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