The month was a little slower than most, as we spent 10 days at our little cabin on the lake.
The Screamin’ Woody Evac
When I came back from the June race in Wisconsin, I removed the vacuum pump to make it easier to run the valves. This meant I needed to fab up a non-mechanical evac. I ordered what I needed, it arrived, and I now have a pair of hoses venting from the valve covers to a catch can.
I didn’t ride the Chief (99 Kawasaki Drifter 1500) or Ole Blue (94 Harley Heritage) at all last year. Bad move. Batteries were dead and wouldn’t hold a charge. I ordered batteries and installed them. The Chief won’t start. It’s EFI and doesn’t appear to be getting fuel. Ole Blue has a carb leak. They’re on “the list” but not an immediate priority.
The racing plan for July was to race in the NMCA in Martin, Michigan, take my coach about 60 miles south to the factory in Middlebury, IN for scheduled warranty work, then head to Columbus, Ohio for the NSS Bash races Saturday and Sunday. Since I’d had problems with the wagon in Wisconsin, I wanted to bring the Thug too – even though I felt like I’d fixed the Wagon’s problem. Problem is that I have a front seal leak in the transmission of the Thug. While I need to properly fix the problem, there wasn’t enough time, so a quick fix solution was to fabricate a belly pan – which I really needed anyway.
I started with a complete underside nut and bolt check, and good scrubbing clean. I bought a sheet of aluminum, trimmed it around the headers and front suspension, and formed it around the oil pan and transmission with a rubber mallet. It is connected in the front with bolts going into thread certs, and the back to the transmission mount. It may be ugly – but it works.
Loaded Up and Headed To Michigan
We left in the afternoon of Monday the 18th, and drove just over 300 miles to Atlanta, TX. There’s a Walmart there with plenty of parking for the night, and Deb can run in for a groceries. Tuesday I drove 600 miles and we spent the night at a Walmart in Marion, IL. Wednesday we finished the remaining 400 miles and got to the track 10 minutes before they locked the gate. I set up my Pit before dark.
The Race Weekend
Thursday, NMCA sells two time trials, and I bought in. It was hot and muggy, and while the 60’s were off, the car ran low 9.70s. Thursday night it rained hard and Friday there was a little delay. We got one time trial and the first Qualifying in. I ran a 9.77 with some weight in the car. I figured I just missed it. In the afternoon it was very hot and muggy. I left 11 pounds in the weight box, and ran a shocking 9.86. Back in the pits I checked the timing and valve lash, and it checked OK. Everyone was complaining that they were off and had spun, and so I figured that must have happened to me.
It rained again Friday night and we again got a late start. It was again hot and swampy. My 2nd Qualifying pass was a horrible 9.93 – almost 2/10 off. Panic started to set in. A couple of racing buds came by to see if they could help. I drained the oil out of my evac tank, and it smelt like it had gas in it. I pulled a plug an it was sooty. My carbs had 113 square jets in it. I’ve never had smaller than 110 square – but I was convinced into taking a big swing with smaller jets – and put 104s in the back of both carbs – leaving 113 in the front. For the last qualifying the water grains was 130. 30 is bad, 130 is horrible for drag racing. The Weather Station said that the cars would run six numbers slower in the 3rd qualifying than the second. I ran a 9.84. That was nine numbers better than second qualifying plus the six numbers from the weather being worse – meant that I gained a 1/10 and a half from the jet change. That said, I was still 9 numbers off my index and was last place Qualifying. I don’t ever remember being a last place qualifier. This matched me up against Jim Netherland for Sunday’s Eliminations.
It again rained Saturday night, but not hard, so the track was ready to go hot at 8am. The weather was weird. My weather station said the weather was only 2 better. Doug Duell and Dennis Breeden’s weather station said 6 better, and Brent’s was different yet. I took the Passenger seat out of my car, which weighs 60 pounds and worth 6 numbers. That plus 2 numbers had me believing that I would run a 9.76. Doug on the other hand felt I’d run a 9.70.
I gave Jim lane choice, as he was the better qualifier (although rules are you flip for lane choice) and he wanted right. Frankly, I like the left against a slower car. Jim is a 10.25 Index, so I have to give him a half second head start, then run him down. As I was staging the car, my glasses fogged up bad in my helmet from the humidity, so I had to quickly take them off. My eyesight sucks, and you’ll never see me not wearing glasses. They’re the first thing I reach for in the morning, and the last thing I take off at bed time. Anyway, Jim leaves a half second before me, and at the 1000′ I see I’m catching him. I catch him at mph cone and lift – crossing a fender ahead of him. He’d hit the brakes when I lifted. However, I see his win light turn on. When I get the ticket I see I ran a 9.746 – breaking out by 4/1000 of a second. Jim went on to win the next three rounds and the event.
When I got back to my pit I couldn’t find my glasses. The car had done a pretty high wheel stand and the glasses flew all of the way to the back window, and got lodged in it. I had to remove rear Plexiglass to get them out.
Took Coach to the Factory For Warranty Work
Entegra’s warranty is 24 months and 24,000 miles. I have closer to 30,000 miles in 18 months, but I made this appointment months ago. The factory is on the Michigan/Indiana border, only 60 miles from the track. We got there Sunday evening. The deal is you vacate your coach at 6am and they bring it back at 2:30pm. I rented a car and we visited family in Toledo one day, laundry another, and drove around another. We were suppose to be there until Thursday 2:30 and then head to Columbus, OH to work on car Friday and race Saturday and Sunday. However, they found quite a few things wrong, which I hadn’t noticed, and needed an extra day. That hosed me on the Columbus race – so we headed home.
Friday night we drove 300 miles to Terra Haute, IN for the night. Saturday 700 Miles to Atlanta, Texas, and Sunday 300 Miles to the shop. Pretty much uneventful.
I started out the year good, but have had terrible luck in last two races. That bumps me down to 5th place.