Ron Carter’s recap of the HSR West
Vintage Race at Phoenix (Feb 06)
Several of us caravanned over to Phoenix and the trip up was uneventful. We arrived at 7:30pm local time to find that we could not unload our cars / trailers in the infield without the proper wrist band and all the members of HSRW and TCRA had already left for the day…After lengthy negotiations with the guard, I dropped my car in the paddock , a guarded area.
Saturday morning we arrived at the track at 7:00am, moved our cars to our garage area and unloaded cars and equipment.
With the cold evenings in the Phoenix area, our cold blooded Datsuns were very hard to start for our early morning session. To such a point that I could not get my Roadster started and Les could not get his 1200 started for the early morning session on Saturday.
We got the cars started for the afternoon session and got a solid clean 30 min on the track, we were out with 30 other small and medium bore production cars. I was still working out tire pressures with my new Hankooks and they were a bit over inflated so my car was very slippery through the infield. Up on the banking, was a different matter as I was working up to faster and faster speeds on the banking, again getting used to the car. We started at the back of the grid due to missing the morning warm-up and I quickly realized that my stock roadster transmission gearing was a detriment to putting down really fast times. However, I did get around at least 4 or 5 cars and finished in the top 20. A solid performance for a track I have never driven and a car that I am still sorting out. At the end of the session the water temp was pretty high and my radiator cap was loose and had been pushing water out for the entire session. We got the car cooled down and started to look into why it was running so warm, we finally discovered that the pressurized cap on the roadster overflow bottle was not releasing pressure and caused the main cap on my radiator to push water past its seal.
Sunday morning was a similar situation, cold weather made for hard starting and we were still battling with the radiator issue so our early morning warm-up was lost to working on the issues listed above. We had all the bugs worked out and lowered our tire pressures for the cup race and got out on the grid in plenty of time. I was on the grid behind a Fiat Abarth and Les in his 1200. We got off to a clean start where I quickly passed the Fiat and was on Les’s bumper. I was able to keep up with Les for several laps until a missed shift, shifting into 5th instead of 3rd coming up onto the banking out of turn 9. This killed my momentum and opened the door for the Abarth and a Lotus 15 to get around me. I battled for several laps with the Abarth who I could keep up with through the infield and pass cleanly at turn 9 only to have him retake me at the end of the banking down into turn 1. We battled for several laps until lap number 5 or 6 when I checked my water temp only to find that I was still running hot…I backed off the next lap letting the Abarth go and screwing up my rhythm, going into turn 7 the carousel, I found that I was in the wrong gear going too hot onto the dreaded concrete patch (slippery) where I got out of shape and spun the car.
It was a struggle to get the car fired, but it did finally and I exited the track back to my garage to look into why my roadster was getting hot.
Results for the weekend; Classic Motorsports one, two and three finish in Group 3R. We now believe that my Roadster was spinning the water pump too quickly at RPM causing cavitation. We will be looking at an under drive pulley, a better electric fan and a tune up prior to our next event.
HSR Race Recap, Fontana, June 2006
Upon returning to from Phoenix we discovered a bent valve due to one of the missed shifts at Phoenix. We pulled the head and found that the rings were way too tight in the bores and were wearing heavily on the cylinder walls, and creating a lot of friction and heat. As a precaution we pulled down the entire motor and inspected it for any other problems. Everything else was fine. We changed the inner spring rates on the valve springs replaced 3 valves, (1 that was bad and two that were suspect) and replaced the rings and honed the cylinder walls. Since we had the motor out we decided to put in my recently acquired and rebuilt Ultra Close Transmission.
We now believe that the rings were the cause of the excess heat buildup in the motor. As a precaution we closed off the hood scoop and raised the hood a touch to create better airflow through the engine compartment. At Fontana, the toughest track that we run at the motor stayed cool and ran like a champ.
Fast forward to Fontana. We arrived Friday and set up in our garage space. Jon Linares, has volunteered, and was on hand as my pit crew and we went through the steps to get the car ready for Saturday morning.
Saturday Morning came and we were the first group out after the drivers meeting. Well we could not get the car ready in time to be on the grid right after the drivers meeting so we went out late, only getting 3 laps in. We checked our plugs to be sure that we were running well, and the plugs looked good. Saturday afternoon was a similar situation; we got out in a timely manor only to get about 2 laps before I came in to the pits, due to a miss at 5300 rpm. After looking at all the obvious things I happened to put my hand on the distributor and it moved in my hand…The distributor had worked loose and moved so that the car would not rev.
For the Sunday morning warm-ups we were out on the grid in good time and I laid down some fast times finally as now the car was running really well. I finally got a good idea of how the track works at Fontana and got used to where to shift with my new gearbox.
Sunday’s Trophy race was one for the record books. I started out in the 11th position as I had not qualified well on Saturday afternoon. In front of me was an early Corvette next to me was Hector Cademartori in his 240Z and behind me was a Trans Am 510. We got out and completed our warm-up lap and formed up for the start. The green flag waived and we were off, except the Corvette in front of me hit the brakes! Forcing me to brake and kill all of my momentum crossing the start/finish line. I was passed by several cars but was able to gather back up and get around the Corvette and a V8 powered Devon and the Trans Am 510 going into turn two. Hector managed to stay in front of me, and I followed him closely around the track and back up on the banking where the power of the 510 was able to get a run on me and pass me just past the start finish line. The 510 then went after Hector and they were both looking to work around each other going into turn 2 when I took the outside line and passed both of them coming into turn 2. The 510 got me back on the exit of turn three as I had gone into turn two a little too deep and lost some momentum. Hector followed by passing me in turn Four but I got him back coming out of the hairpin on the short infield straight. From there I was trying to track down the 510 but he had stretched out a little too much of a lead and I couldn’t catch him. Little did I know that Hector was working his way back behind me and was right behind me with two laps to go. At this point my tires were getting a little slick and my brakes were not as strong as they were at the beginning of the race. I managed to keep Hector behind me until the last lap at the hairpin turn, exiting the chicane prior to the hairpin I drifted a little wide and dropped the two left wheels in the dirt under braking causing my roadster to wag its tail severely. Hector backed off expecting me to spin, but I did recover, only to loose a lot of momentum though the hairpin. Hector with more torque at lower speeds was able to get a run on me and passed me with about a half mile to go about 2oo yards prior to going back up on the banking towards the start/finish line. I was in hot pursuit. I got a run at Hector coming up onto the banking and I drafted around him and passed him right at the line. Margin of victory; 1 one-hundredth of second, or about 2 to 3 ft!!
I finished 4th in class and 5th overall…This by far was our best run with a large field of cars. The new transmission was a huge improvement. There are still 4 to 5 seconds we can find at Fontana, and we will work on that prior to our next outing in September back at Fontana. Hector has vowed to get me back! I can’t wait.