Friday, August 24, 2012

Repair, Rebuild, Return to Racing

Well, onwards and upwards.  I said when I was leaving Daytona that I would take time off from racing  and save up money to build a competitive engine.  But then Monday rolled around and I wanted to go racing again.  It just so happens that there was an Enduro/Regional race at Sebring 2 weeks away, so I figured out what I needed to replace at a bare minimum to get Sandy back on track.  I figure with a little more hammering I only really needed to replace the front bumper, right front fender and intake tube.  So I called up my good friend Esteban in Orlando.  

Esteban has a warehouse full of wrecked Miatas(read Heaven).  I ended up trading him my A/C compressor and $85 for a new front fascia, fender, intake tube, and eventually hood hinges

With the new parts I towed the car down to the body shop next to Dave's alignment shop.  I expressed to the puller that I could do as much of the non-specialist labor as possible and that I am a broke race-addicted junkie.  They initially quoted me ~$600 for the job.

I guess Sandy was more cooperative than expected, because when I talked to them again they thought the total would be closer to ~$360.  Sweet!!!!

Once the body shop is done Sandy will go across the street for an alignment and then I will paint and fit the new pieces to the car, bash the headlights into submission, buy and install new hood pins, apply new SCCA stickers, zip tie in a new mesh screen and do a couple confidence inspiring shake down laps in Viera.  I am trying to decide if I will just paint the new panels blue, or try some crazy new paint scheme.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


So Daytona didn't quite go as planned

After qualifying 9th out of 40 cars, with 1 second separating the top 10 cars, I was in good shape for the race.

I got a horrible start when I missed the third gear shift moments after the green flag and immediately lost 3 positions.

I started to make a charge back through the horseshoe, and by the time I reached turn  6 I had pulled away enough from the cars behind me to use the full racing line, or so I thought.

Still not completely sure what happened, but I believe the guy behind me was trying to out-brake another car and couldn't get slowed enough and wound up tapping me in my right rear quarter panel (you can see the car in my right side mirror)  That bump was enough to  push me into another car then off track.  Unluckily for me it had rained last night and the grass was still  slippery.

I realized when I was sliding downhill that I had no control, I then shouted an expletive and smashed the car into the armco. 

The damage looked mostly cosmetic at first...

Then as we investigated further we found out several components were bent, ie control arms.  So Kyle, Jared and I began tearing into the car pulling parts, hitting things with hammers and wrapping the whole car in duct tape in an attempt to get the car back on track.

Well after replacing the left front lower control arm, tie rod, sway bar endlink, passenger side engine mount, upper radiator tube, intake tube, bashing and rolling the fender, bending the hood pins back in place, aligning the car, duct taping the hood to bumper to headlight to fender, we got the car ready in time to make a couple hot laps for qualifying.  16th out of 40!!! Success!!!!  It felt so good just to get the car back on track, because I had assumed my weekend was done.

During the race a vacuum line came loose from the intake manifold resulting in a significant power loss.  The car wasn't competitive on the straights, no one would even give me a bump so I knew we weren't going to win this one.  However there was a major incident that produced a full course caution, stacking the cars back up for a restart.  I had since moved up from 16th to 12th.

I got a great restart making multiple passes on each turn through the infield.  I was in the "zone" and Sandy was in her element.  I carried as much speed as I could through the bus stop and got sucked into a bump-drafting train that allowed me to dive bomb a couple more cars into turn 1.  In a little more  than one lap I had gone from 12th to 4th.  Granted that when I got to the back straight and no one gave me a push I went right back to 15th, but I didn't care.
I make a cameo appearance in this video, fast forward to the 8:50 minute mark and notice how important the draft is at Daytona.