Photography & Motorsports






Sunday, 17 April 2005
     Marathon hours of work and effort prove not to be enough to make it to Las Vegas.

     The past two weeks have been really hectic. Trying to get the bugs sorted out from what we learned in Moroso has been frustrating to say the least. Additionally, I have been attempting to complete my two final licensing passes.

     After returning from Moroso, the number one item on the agenda was to correct the 2-Step so that I could build sufficient boost to create the horsepower needed to launch the car. I installed to MSD DIS2 ignition boxes as recommended. After installing the two units and I began testing those, the engine would rev to 7000 and that was it.

     The reason was I had to provide the MSD a "Waste Spark" input signal from the MicroTech instead of "Sequential" or "Coil per Cylinder" as I had. Then once I was able to rev the engine above 7000, it was behaving erratically on the 2-Step. With the assistance of MSD customer support, we diagnosed the reason to be incompatible ignition coils.

     I frantically tried to find coils locally so that I could get to the track to test the car and complete my license passes on Friday evening. I ordered 4 new coils from MSD to have them delivered on Saturday morning then was able to track down and borrow coils, make a temporary installation to make the track on Friday.

     At the track, we prepared the car, tested the ignition 2-Step and had 20 psi of boost. Exactly what we needed to get the car to launch! At the line, I did a burnout and felt the car was strong. I staged, let the clutch go and the car lurched forward nice and straight, I shifted to 2nd gear, it felt really good and then the car just lost power. It felt as though a hose had come off and lost boost. Back in the pits, we pulled the hood off and were in total shock. We had suffered a catastrophic turbo failure like nothing I have ever seen before. The data log revealed that over boosting was the cause of the failure. Even though the test session ended prematurely, I was encouraged by what I felt and saw in the data. Even though "I was in the gas" for just 1.8 seconds and short-shifted for 1st to 2nd, the car still ran 6.83 at 85 mph in the 1/8 with a lousy 1.32 60-foot.

Clearly, this turbo was subjected to conditions it was never designed to do.

     This data also permitted us to make positive changes to the clutch setting. Something else we are learning as we move forward. Now this left us in a tough spot. With only 4 days to get it all back together, find a track open so that we could test prior to Las Vegas was a tall order.

     Thanks to Rotary Performance RX7.COM, I was able to bolt on a "truck" turbo that would at least make enough power to get me down the track so that I could make two passes. The only time I could make those passes was at a local track on Wednesday evening, the day before we had to be in Las Vegas. With the car "ready" and knowing we would have a new turbo to install in Las Vegas, we made the decision to be at the track at 6pm when it opened, make the two passes, load up, drive straight through and make the marathon trip over the next 23 hours to be in Las Vegas by 6pm on Thursday.

     It just wasn't meant to be. While setting the 2-Step and Boost in the pits prior to getting into the staging lanes, the engine lost compression on the rear rotor. Although it still started and ran, we decided to call it off. We all agreed, we simply were not meant to make the event. Additionally, the financial burden of not making this trip was a relief although my wife Gail and friends had plane tickets and hotel accommodations to travel to Vegas and watch us race. They made the trip anyway.

     With the pressure off, we pulled the engine out and diagnosed the problem. Simply said, just too much wear on our seals and springs. Yet another lesson learned. With around 50 dyno pulls on the engine, the track testing we had done and considering the over-boosting that had occurred, it was time to freshen it up. I am amazed at just how much "engine life" there was and that there was no internal damage at all. Thanks to my good friend Jesus Padilla (Kilo Racing) for a great engine!

     During this "down time" I spoke to Carlos Gonzales Sr. who is synonymous for his turbo charged 2-Rotor experience and a past Modified Champion. As he said, he has been doing this for many years and he has been in my shoes. He knows what works, what does not and their reasons. During the next phase of improvements I will make the recommended changes to the car, I will heed his advice and hopefully it will make our ramp up experience a lot shorter that it has been so far.

     That said, the motor has been freshened up, its back in the car and ready for testing. Our next event is April 30th in Englishtown where I know we will have a great crowd, a fast track and a lot of great racing. Stay tuned for more news and please be safe.

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