Well I got the car back together in time to make the next event which was at Sebring using the ALMS 12-hour full course configuration. This particular event included an hour and half endurance race, my first. There are a couple high speed corners on the full course that require larger attachments than the short course so that was fun.
On Saturday I had 2 practice sessions, 2 qualifying sessions (1 for the Sprint races 1 for the Enduro) and the 90 minute Enduro. Unfortunately my tires had already been through their "optimal" 8 heat cycles at the last event, so I knew I wouldn't have the most competitive set-up but I just wanted to make it to the end.
In the second practice session, unbeknownst to me a Porsche dumped a bunch of oil in turn 1 and I was the first to reach it. Turn 1 is taken at roughly 85 mph and there isn't a lot of runoff room to be had if you get it wrong. Everything appeared normal as I entered at race speed. Mid corner the rear end decided it wanted to lead and I became a passenger at that point. I remember thinking, "Noooo! not again". I got extremely lucky and spun parallel with the wall about 10-15 ft from the concrete. Major pucker factor, full vapor lock.
Qualifying went a little better, I qualified 6th out of 27 Spec Miatas and 22nd out of the 90 car field for the Enduro and then followed that up by qualifying 4th for the sprint races. I was stoked!
Also here is a badass photo documenting my ascension from 13th to 4th at Daytona post wreck. (Thanks Angela)
For the Enduro my Crew Chief Kyle and I had come up with a genius scheme of attaching my stopwatch with zip ties to the steering wheel. We would both start timing when the green flag dropped. The strategy was to come in for fuel around the 45 minute mark. Now in this series they enforce a 5 min mandatory pit window for refueling. The only problem was that the refueler had to have a Nomex suit. OK, well my drivers suit is Nomex, so I will just refuel myself when I pit right? I had purchased a race style fuel jug in anticipation of self fueling, with the idea that the race-style jug will flow faster than the lawn-and-garden jugs I had been using. On race day I found out that the hose diameter was too big to fit in the hole. Never heard that one before.
So cut to 45 minutes into the race, keep in mind it is hot as balls and I had already done 4 sessions on track prior to the Enduro. I am exhausted. I pull into the pits and begin unstrapping. I am very dehydrated. I climb over the wall and grab the lawn-and-garden fuel jug and clamber back to Sandy. Now with this particular fuel jug you have to constantly hold down a release lever in order for liquid to leave the container. 5 gallons of fuel has never felt so heavy. I am trying to hold the bottle steady but I keep pinching the hose in my attempt to rest the jug on the car while holding down the release. It is taking forever. A quick look around the pits reveals that we(read me) are idiots. No one else sucks this bad at planning and most teams have 2 drivers. After what seems like an eternity, the car is fueled, I return to the pit wall to dispose of the jug. While there Angela hands me a large red Gatorade. I flip up my visor and take several large gulps before sprinting back to the car. I strap in with Kyle's help, start up the car and head off.
6 minutes and 31 seconds. That's how much time it took. A minute and a half over what was necessary. Fock. We are learning though right?
The rest of the race I was in the zone. Probably the most consistent 45 minute session I have ever had, it was amazing. I have a new love for enduros. The balance of the car was constantly changing over the course of the race from neutral/loose to pushing quite a bit, I managed by adjusting my corner entry braking and steering inputs.
I finished the race, that in itself was awesome. How did I do in class? 6th. How about if I had taken a 5 minute pit like most people? 3rd and only a couple seconds behind the 2nd place finisher. Lesson learned for the next Enduro. (Another awesome photo taken by the beautiful Miss Angela)
Yay. Onto Sundays Sprint races. I started in 4th and worked my up to 3rd after a few laps. But then a strange thing happened. The people I had passed were getting larger and larger in my rear view mirror. Exiting turn 16 I went to shift from 3rd to 4th as per usual but the revs were much lower than they normally were. I get passed on the back straight like I'm sitting still. Sandy never makes it to 5th.
I round 17 and head onto the front straight, right before the 4th to 5th shift I hear crrrrggghhssdhhsdafggggghhhhhhhhhhh. No power, only smoke and the sound of metal bits clanging around outside of the engine.
Well it was bound to happen at some time. Sandy had approximately 239,000 miles when I bought her and had since gotten ~2,000 track miles before the engine failure. The photo below is the under tray. That is a hole created by molten hot engine magma.
Remove hood, check.
Remove engine, check.
Stand in engine bay looking like a tool, check.
Found this little guy hanging out on the sub-frame cross-member. That is a connecting rod, it is supposed to be inside the motor and in one piece.
I decided to clean the engine bay while I had the time, this is a before shot
Now it feels as if I am building the car again. I have a long list of To Do's and not a lot of money. That's racing I guess. In my next post I will lay out what all is being done to get Sandy back out on track and in a more competitive state, I hope.