Wedge Racing in 2016
 

Sebring - January (MAJORS)      

Linda couldn't go with me, so I went alone, but had some help at the track.  The Sebring weekend went great for the first 3 sessions.  The car was great and I was the fastest in all 3 sessions .. and also including the first race.  HOWEVER, near the end of the first race came DISASTER.  I got CLOBBERED by an FF trying unsuccessfully to lap me in the 2nd apex of the high speed T14 resulting in SIGNIFICANT damage to my car. That turn is a flat out, high speed, sweeping, double apex, 100 MPH turn, and I could just not spare the time to track the oncoming FF past my point of turn-in.  I HAD to look at my line or I would take myself off the track.  It appears that the FF took a 'short cut' of the defined track (because it was paved) and just decided he could get to the apex before me... he didn't - he got there just a little behind me, catching me just behind the left front tire and 'riding me' into the concrete wall at speed. Although I don't think it had any affect on my accident, it was nearly DARK when the race ended.  In the race before ours, every car that had headlights was using them.  The sun was brutal (in our eyes) in the first couple of laps, then went down and it GOT DARK RAPIDLY.  It was dark enough that the corner station closest to our incident couldn't file a report because they couldn't SEE that far - it happened about 100 yards from the corner station.

Saturday night, Central Florida Region had a "big feed" for everyone, so JR (who was there to crew for me) and I went up and gorged ourselves on some really good BBQ, potato salad and slaw.. Oh.. and some COOKIES.  Afterwards, we spent some time getting Bullet into the trailer for the night.

Overnight, I decided to see if there was anything we could do to get Bullet back on track for the next day.  I had already paid the money for the sessions and there would be no other way to get on track before my next event without spending a LOT of time and even more money.  I didn't expect to be competitive, but I really wanted to try to get at least a couple of laps so that I could try to determine what ELSE was broken - things that can't really be determined in the paddock or garage .. must be at speed on the track.

JR and I worked HARD all morning - the additional time from being the LAST group just barely allowed us to line up for the race.  We worked all through the morning qualification sessions, lunch and performed all kinds of surgery and 'McGivering' to try to get Bullet kinda pointed in the right direction and be safe enough to not fall apart in front of anyone.  We just made the 'five', and although I still had the pole from my Saturday qualifying time, I elected to start last.  I had no real expectations of being able to finish.  Just wanted a couple of laps to feel out the car.  I started slowly, managed to miss 2 spinning FF in T7 and started on my mental list of things ... brakes.. (we had replaced the rr brake drum and FORGOTTEN to readjust the brake shoes)... steering.. the steering box had developed some 20 degrees of free play - makes it pretty busy between turns... couple other things.. but by and large, Bullet was 'RACING'.  My times were almost equal to the lead pack of 3!  I actually passed a couple of people and made my way up to 5th place and was closing pretty rapidly... then I added another item to the list.  I couldn't get 4th gear cleanly.  I started to miss shifts... then I had to HOLD it into 4th.. then soon thereafter it would not go into 4th AT ALL!  My session was done.

But I did learn a lot and was pretty sure why I couldn't get 4th gear - my guess turned out to be correct.  The rear frame was 'floating' and had bent up to block the shifter.  That would not be an issue later since the entire rear frame was probably going to have to be replaced anyway.

 Although I was basically uninjured in the wreck .. except in the wallet (ust a scratch and couple of bruises), Bullet "took the bullet" for me. The rear of the frame is bent badly.  I have created a page dedicated to the wreck and repairs at http://www.WedgeRacing.com/Sebring concrete 2016 .

 This report is WAY late due to the effort required to put Bullet back together again.  I have already run NOLA (report below this one) and we are getting closer.  The next test starts in a few days at Road Atlanta.  I HOPE we are where we need to be to compete again now.

I filed a PROTEST against the FF driver.  During the proceedings, I told the SOM's that the only reason I was filing this protest was to try to do something about BLOCKHEADS that attempt impossible passes just because they are faster than us (FV).  The SOM upheld my protest and gave the FF driver a spank on the hand and 1 point on his license.  NO - it did nothing to help me really.  It did not fix my car and it didn't save me any money, but the SOM told me that, without my filing a protest, there were NO CONDITIONS under which the stewards would take any action.  The ONLY way we can bring this issue closer to SCCA HQ is by FILING PROTESTS. I say this to all FV drivers to point out that you MUST file a protest (supporting video is highly recommended, since otherwise it is often just a word battle between the drivers) if an overtaking driver blasts you off the track without regard to your safety... or his/hers.

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NOLA - Got ready JUST in time to go....

  An additional circuit is planned to mirror below the existing track.
That's a Kart track at the top right. The paddock area is the large paved area just right of center. Track length is 2.75 miles.

We made the trip with no issues.. except that the RV Air brakes seem to be bleeding down in less time than it took to put fuel in the tank.  Something else to look at when I get back home.  We arrived at NOLA before registration opened on Thursday, so we had to wait around a couple hours before we could get in and set up in our spot. Friday was a test day and although I considered testing, I opted to NOT spend that money.  I was pretty confident in the changes we made.  I used the day to sort tires and go over Bullet again looking for 'loose stuff'.  Saturday morning (2 day event) was a practice session, so the time would not count.  In that session, we discovered a couple oil leaks, a couple more bolts that needed to be tightened again and that we were pitifully SLOW compared to previous trips to NOLA.  Fortunately, everyone else was almost equally slow, so we weren't going home just yet.

Our first qualifier came up just before lunch, so we put on some slightly better tires and headed out on track.  The session was pretty decent, but I was still just SLOW compared to previous years.. at least 2 seconds slower.  Bullet felt "pretty good" except in the esses on the back side of the track.  The rear just seemed to want to beat me into every turn.  I tried some slightly different lines and picked up maybe a half second, but that was all we had.  After the session, we still weren't that far off - Charlie Hearn had the pole and I was 2nd and both of us had over 2 minute lap times. Last year we both ran in the 1:57's.  I never really figured out where that 2 seconds disappeared to.  Other classes were setting new lap records .. but not us.

Later in the afternoon, the first race went pretty much as I might have expected.  Charlie took the lead and drove away from me.  Not FAST away.. but still away.  He was beating me by 1/2 second or so per lap on average.  I gradually pulled away from Sherman Engler and we finished in that order.  This weekend was nice in that there were not many faster class cars, so I didn't have to 'drive in my mirrors' so much.

There was a second qualifier on Sunday morning, but it didn't change anything on the grid.  I was still finding little things to fix, but the list was getting smaller, thankfully.  And no major issues.

The Sunday afternoon 'feature' race started almost exactly like the day before .. except that Charlie broke a rear brake drum entering T1 on lap2 and dropped out of the race.  That left Sherman and I to battle it out .. and a battle it was!  We swapped the lead several times before I decided to just follow for a while and see if I could 'intimidate' him into a mistake.  Well.. I'm no "Dale Earnhart", so I was not successful there.  It came down to the last lap.  Sherman was leading as we came under the start stand .. and the leader of the group (FF) was BEHIND us.. so we did NOT get the white flag signal.  A big question... was the leader going to pass us .. making this our last lap .. or not.. meaning we would have another yet to go.  What to do?... ??  I waited and watched... Finally, I saw the leader make a move and pull out to pass coming out of T6.  Sherman was also trying to figure it out, but I was able to tuck in behind as the leader went by and pull myself 'JUST' ahead of Sherman as we entered the esses.. I was on the outside in the gray, but determined to stay ahead.  It was quite close, but as the ess turned the other way, Sherman had to give ground and I took the lead.  I was able to hold the position to the flag when Sherman seemed to 'slip' a little leading onto the front straight.

So.. a 2nd place and then a 1st for the weekend and I loaded Bullet into the trailer with no more damage than I arrived with .. and with quite a few follow up items ticked off the list.  I now need to figure out what has changed the handling so I can get back up to the speeds I think I should be turning.

Sunday Podium (not sure why SCCA has to put their 'watermark' on it, but ....
'
That's Sherman Engler (2nd) on left, me and then Jim Doyle (3rd) on the right.  Jim has shown quite an improvement in the last 2 years.  We might start seeing him on the podium a lot more often now.

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Road Atlanta (#1) - March - MAJORS weekend
2015-Petit-Map

In short, the weekend went about as well as I could hope for, but rather than type out my entire race story, this time I decided to ad some descriptive text to my videos. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and I just can't type that many.

Race 1 Video is at
https://vimeo.com/160134896

Race 2 Video is at
https://vimeo.com/159802676
(yes - the text is messed up just after the BFA. Not worth the time to fix it)

There were some things that won't be in the videos, so...

I found brake line issues on the motorhome during the NOLA trip.  The air pressure would bleed down in less than 10 minutes ... and the RV doesn't MOVE without air pressure to release the brakes.  When I stopped for fuel, I had to spend an extra five minutes at the pumps waiting for the air pressure to come back up so we could leave.  I actually found SEVERAL problems related to that - but no need for further details other than I replaced 2 lines running from the front to the back of the RV as well as found and fixed a VACUUM leak that affected the air pressure loss and the operation of the controls for the heater/air conditioner. 

We ran the last 2 sessions of the Thursday test day to try to figure out why Bullet was so ill-handling at NOLA. By magic, WE FOUND IT!  The last session was shortened by a BFA due to a car in the gravel at T1, and I came on back to the paddock.... and I'm certainly glad I did.  The rear suspension was hanging by a thread.  If I had made ONE more turn at speed, it likely would have let go completely and possibly put me into a concrete wall AGAIN . This is a picture of the broken part.


This is the front mount for the left rear trailing arm. At the left (bottom on the car) you can see where the weld actually pulled the tube apart from the impact with the Sebring wall.  It is hard to believe that it was this way for the entire NOLA weekend.  When I came off the Atlanta track, the suspension was all askew, but it still took me a minute to find where it was broken.  The end that is broken was completely hidden from my view.  Replacing this part seems to have returned Bullet to his normal great handling self.


Bullet leads the train out of T7 during Sunday's race.  Me, Stephen Saslow, Donnie Isley, Dale Rader in view. That's the front of Cliff Johnson's red FF just behind Dale .. recovering from his spin at T3.  Also right behind Dale are Sherman Engler, Mitch Ferguson and Greg Bruns. Laura Hayes had registered her Vee, but had an opportunity to race an FF instead and took it.

 
This is a couple of pictures of John Pickle's F500 that caused the delay in Sunday's race.  John got out OK, but stopped FAR from any corner station.  The fire was small when he stopped, but the fiberglass was burning and his on board fire system was not enough to put it out. With no immediate help, all John could do was watch it burn until the fire truck arrived.

Other 'exciting things' that happened during the weekend ...

1).  The starter bushing in the bell housing wore out suddenly and the starter wouldn't crank the car.  I THOUGHT it was a battery problem, so replaced that. It started ONCE, but when I shut it off, poor Linda had to PUSH ME OFF to get going again.  Finally, after then end of the day on Friday, it occurred to me to check the starter bushing and... sure enough it was bad.  Replaced that and starting was back to normal.

2).  After Saturday's race, I was adjusting brakes and noticed something ODD about the rear master cylinder - it was 'pumping up' a little - meaning that the first time you press the brake, the pedal throw was longer than it would be if you pumped them again.  I messed with things a while with no improvement.  Sunday morning,  I decided to replace the master cylinder and it went downhill from there. The second m/c (new) seemed a bit worse than the original.  I called in an 'expert' friend Tim Minor who pointed out that I had some bulging in the brake lines at the rear wheels. So... I replaced the brake lines.  Then it got a LOT WORSE.  We took the rear brake drums off and inspected the action of all the moving parts.  We didn't find anything for sure, but I went ahead and replaced one of the wheel cylinders too - again with no improvement.  By this time we were getting pretty close to green flag time and I was running out of options.  I hurriedly reassembled Bullet and drove him around the paddock a couple of laps.  The braking was TERRIBLE.  There was a SIGNIFICANT delay in brake action to the rear of the car.  All I could think about was going into T10 at 110 MPH and finding NO BRAKES when it came time.  I was quite concerned, but there was no way to test anything in the paddock - the track would have to tell us .. during the race. I told Linda to not be too surprised if I came in after a couple of laps.

I was still on the pole since no one turned any really fast laps during the Saturday race. John's car (above) laid down a LOT of oil on that first lap.. . which kept me slowed up a good bit more than I might have been.. but when it came time to roll down the hill into T10, I just backed out of it and watched cars go by me.  The brakes didn't seem as bad as I had feared, but they still felt REALLY weird.  I 'adjusted' my braking style and lengthened my braking time and it just seemed to almost work.  I had one more half lap to play with braking till we got BLACK FLAGS to head for the pits (this is when John pulled off the track).  We sat in the pits for almost 20 minutes while they cleaned up the oil and hauled John's car back to the paddock.

On the restart, I was not QUITE as timid as that first lap, but still did not 'challenge' any of my late brake markers during the race.  I got somewhat used to the feel and wasn't giving up a great deal under braking .. but still some.  In the end, the race was further shortened by another crash in T1 involving 3 cars which led the RaceChair to throw the checker on the NEXT CARS that came by S/F - without regard to where the actual LEADER was.  Since all the vees were already past S/F, we had a somewhat normal race back to S/F for the end of our race.  Linda told me the checker was out as I went through T3 ... also pretty sure that MOST of the rest of the vees knew it too.  Maybe not Mitch.. don't think he has a radio.  At any rate, Mitch, Donnie and I were the closest together going into T10 and I managed to hold them off to take the win.  It took the scoring crew quite a little while to sort out the finishing order, but they finally agreed that the last lap would COUNT rather than reverting back to the previously scored lap.  I just happened to be leading BOTH of those laps at S/F, so it didn't affect me, but had quite an impact on a few others.

All in all, I was VERY HAPPY to be able to DRIVE Bullet back into the trailer with 2 more wins under our belt.  I still have some things that need to be addressed before VIR - mostly the BRAKES, but no new damage and all 'discovered' issues from the Sebring crash are now finally resolved ... I HOPE!

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VIR (Virginia International Raceway)- April - MAJORS event

http://virnow.com/files/2014/03/FullCourseMap2014.jpgThis weekend was NOT to be a good one for the team.  The tow and the weather were great, but we sure had our hands full all weekend.

Donnie was first in the Southeastern Conference points .. I was second with an outside shot to take over the lead.  I basically had to win both races and Donnie had to get little or no points in at least one of the races.

Friday Practice - I scrubbed in a new set of tires and bedded in a new set of front brake shoes. At the end of the session, we found 3 corners of the car with dragging brakes - not terribly unexpected since they were new.  Bullet felt GREAT and I was looking forward to a great weekend.

Friday Q1 - Bullet was respectable, but we ended up running with only one other car.  All the fast times came from the other group of 6 cars.  I was a bit disappointed that I could not pass the other car in my group.  Either the engine was not turning up like it should, or I had another dragging brake.  At the end of the session, we found, yep... another dragging brake.  Wasn't dragging much, but it doesn't take much.  The handling also didn't seem quite right.  After adjusting the brake, I decided to add another degree of camber to the rear.

At the end of the day, we attended the evening social and met up with several workers that we don't get to see much.  Also grabbed a bite of food provided by the NCR Region.

Saturday morning Q2 - this was to be the best session, so I checked everything over again and thought we were ready.  This time I would be in the pack, with the attendant drafts.  Bullet seemed to be running good. We were at the back of the pack - with 7 cars in front of us all drafting together.  That made it quite difficult to pass, so I decided to just USE the draft I had and see what I could do with it.  Unfortunately, on the second lap, the transmission hung up in 3rd gear and I could do nothing except come in. Only ONE timed lap and it was slow as we were all just coming up to speed.  Sure enough the times dropped another second in that session and I lost another spot on the grid.

In the pits, I discovered that the oil seal housing on the transmission nose cone had come loose and wedged itself between the nose cone and the shift linkage attachment hardware.  I used RTV to "glue" the seal assembly into the nosecone and hoped it would hold.

Saturday Race 1 - the only thing about the race that was good was that I finished.  The engine again.. or more dragging brakes .. or something.  After the race, I found THREE corners of dragging brakes again.  I started taking things apart and found the brake shoe material was delaminating from the brake shoe itself on one shoe on all three corners.

   You can see the delamination in this pic.

I replaced each shoe (2 rear and 1 front) with some used shoes I had in the trailer.  I also checked all of my head studs to make sure none were broken and then decided that I should check the valve adjustment.  I had had the heads off since Atlanta to clean them and might have reset the valves too tight.  On inspection, I found that, YES, all 4 of the exhaust valves appeared to be significantly tighter than they should have been.

Sunday hardship lap - I decided that I should do the 'take one lap' hardship just to make sure I had everything put back together correctly.  One lap isn't much to work with - it really isn't even a complete lap - I get to go out of pit out and return to pit in.  But it was better than nothing and I found only 1 shoe with slight drag at the end.  Couldn't tell anything about the motor since I was alone on the track for the lap.

Sunday Race 2 - After going over Bullet again and adding some safety wire to the rear shifter seal assembly, we would again start at the back of the 'fast pack'.  At the green, Bullet felt pretty good.  I didn't get dropped from the pack and was even able to pass one car.  On the back straight, it felt like we had decent power and could hang tightly with the pack.  Things were looking up.  On lap 2 I passed another car, then another on lap 3.  That left only 4 cars in front of me and I was RIGHT THERE!  The handling seemed better (I was on better tires) so I stayed where I was and tried to put some distant between me and the car behind.  DISASTER...On lap 6, going down the back straight, the shifter HUNG UP IN 3RD AGAIN!!  My day was done .. again.  Back in the paddock I found that the shifter seal had again, backed out of the housing and jambed the linkage at wits' end.  All in all, a pretty crappy weekend .. however, much JOY compared to Sebring as I drove the car into the trailer in one piece with no new damage.  Back to the shop to get this shifter problem FIXED!! 

Part of my 'needs' for the weekend were met as Donnie failed to finish the Saturday race and got only a couple of points.  However, I didn't win either race and also didn't finish one of them. SO.. I end up second and congrats to Donnie on wrapping up the Championship.  Laura Hayes ended up 3rd in the points after a crash in the Sunday race.
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Mid Ohio? - This would be the first 2016 Majors race for Great Lakes Division and was expected to be well attended. I signed up for it, but the group kept growing.  It now has 53 cars - 29 vees, 15 FF's and 9 F5's.  After due consideration, as much as I would LIKE to go for the 29 vees, with the other classes out there at the same time, there is NO CHANCE that the vees will be able to have a decent and fair race.  There is also a HIGH likelihood that there will be some CONTACT between the faster cars and the vees.  I choose NOT to be one of them. The turns there are just too close together, with few places for a clean pass.  I am going to withdraw due to safety considerations.

Hmmmm... Well... in the end, I decided to go anyway.  I NEEDED to get back out on a track after the disasters from this years' races.  Unfortunately (I *UNFORTUNATELY* end up saying that a LOT)... in the first session (practice), the engine started SEIZING about the time I noticed the OP light coming on.  From my "BUTT FEEL", it had done it several times, but I could not figure out exactly what was happening.  My Oil Pressure light is LED and if it blinks, it goes OFF IMMEDIATELY (no "hang time" like an incandescent), so I missed it. Obviously,  I need to increase the size of the light and maybe add a second one so I don't miss it/them.  The engine continued to run and SEEMED OK, but....who knows. After coming in from the session I pulled the valve covers to check for bearing flakes and found NOTHING.  So I added 1 and ½ qts more (it was HOT then, so the dipstick read correctly) to come up to where I wanted it.  I made a grave error to let it get THAT low but it did. 

Other than that, our group dodged almost all of the rain and I managed to NOT get tangled up with ANY other cars !NO CONTACT! .. and my Butler engine survived the entire weekend, despite my error.

I was testing a new tire .. the one that Hoosier is hoping will be the Spec Tire for next year.  Turned out to be PRETTY GOOD .. other than being about 3 secs per lap SLOW.  Oh well.. that's one of the reasons I went.  It took some studying of my data, but I have decided that the TIRES were really the only thing between me and the leaders.  I ran in the middle of the field and had a decent time.  I WON my "pack" on Saturday and finished 2nd in my pack on Sunday.  8th in Vee on Sat and 6th on Sunday. Sunday I managed to pass 4 cars that were gridded in front of me (I was 15th at start)  & the rest either took themselves out or took each other out ... or died. All in all, I think I would be happy running this tire as a spec tire next year - especially if it really holds its speed for something greater that 10 sessions. 

It's too early to tell for sure about the long term wear on the tires. I just had 5 sessions on them and one of them was damp.  The tires definitely reacted poorly to the dampness compared to the regular tire though.  Looking at them now, they look pretty good after 5 sessions of "significant trauma".  MO is one of the tightest tracks with multiple switchbacks that I've ever run.. probably THE most tough.  My Left/Right G's were down ~0.2 and the slowest MPH in turns varied from about 2 - 7MPH SLOWER (compared to my July 2014 data (at about same temps) .  Certainly enough to account for 3 seconds on that track.  It has 1 long straight and 2 short ones, but the rest of the turns are all back to back with changes in turn radius and significant elevation changes too. The current tires seems to last decently (for me) for at least 8 sessions - but I am often concerned that I MIGHT "run out of rubber" half way through a race, so I rotate them.. only starting races on tires that are no more than 4 or 5 sessions old.. at least if possible.  I have successfully used 6 session old tires for a race in a pinch though.  Extending that to 10 sessions would be a decent upgrade.  I've heard that SRF, using a very similar Hoosier tire is getting more than 15 sessions.  I guess we'll find out in a few months when the 2017 season starts.

All in all a quite successful weekend by the standard I decided to use happy.  I was the ONLY one on the "Spec Tire" and still had a respectable finish both days.. and I didn't HIT ANYTHING !

I'm going to pull the motor and have Rollin take it down and check the bearings .. just to be safe.  I just can't trust it going into the Runoffs the way it is.  Sorry, no pix, but didn't have anything really worth taking a picture of.

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Summit Point  ?-
I was also planning initially to make this race, however, the hosting Region has decided to add a NON-Majors group to the mix - further reducing our track time.  I refuse to support this decision and so am going to skip it as well.
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Remember that issue I had at Mid Ohio with the inadequate oil pressure warning light ??
Maybe this will work better ?? happy

Looks like the Runoffs are next up - Mid Ohio in September

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Runoffs - Mid Ohio Race Course - September
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OK.. well things didn't go quite like we hoped at wits' end.

So, I'm busy FIXING things for a while.  In the meantime, I'll post these pix - mostly about the race damage.  I'll get back to the report AFTER I get Bullet repaired and recover from my Knee Replacement surgery on the Monday following the Runoffs.


OK .. it's now 3 months later and I'm finally getting down to my report.  Sorry for the delay, but a knee replacement is pretty serious and there was a LOT of PAIN involved.  I'm finally now over most of it (I hope) and have even been able to get in some tennis in the last couple of weeks.

Runoffs Test Day on Saturday - the first session was damp. I thought I would be OK on slicks, but it was pretty horrible even though there were hardly any really WET spots. Came in after 2 laps, just happy to still be in one piece.

Session 2 - Dry and decent session. Pretty windy. Handling was pretty good on my spec tires, but my fresh engine just didn't want to pull down the back straight. My times were decent, but no where close to the fast guys. I made some changes in the rear spring and shock settings for the 3rd session, then waited .. and waited.  Finally - 5 minutes before our 3rd session, the RAIN started up again .. just in time.  I didn't bother to go out.  Spent the rest of the afternoon going over everything I could think of that might be "wrong" with the engine... found NOTHING.

Watched on Sunday test day to find LOTS of people going REALLY FAST - seconds per lap faster than I was.  Things were not looking good, but what else to do?  We're here to do the best we can.

Monday Q1 - Bullet seemed to handle better with my changes and was actually beginning to feel like we might have something .. but I still couldn't catch/pass much of anyone on the straights.  We were fast on the 'back side', but slow where it counted.  I went a good bit faster than test day with a 1:40.3, but that was only good for 14th on the grid.  Still, it was an improvement - we're only 2 seconds off the pole time now happy .

Tuesday Q2 - weather still holding out.  I had found a slightly dragging brake at the end of Q1, so changed the LR backing plate - having already replaced EVERY other part back there - thanks to Chuck Brewer who dropped by and started throwing out ideas .. one of which was the backing plate. The exhaust pipe still LOOKED rich to me - but it's easy to get fooled by oil burn in a fresh engine.  I tried dropping the main jet to lean it out a bit, but that turned out to NOT be the problem.  We were worse yet on the straights and only managed a 1:40.7 in the session.  A full study of my data told me that we were just fine in the tight sections, but losing several MPH's on the straights.  We checked everything on the car we could think of .. found a big fat NOTHING.  Something MUST be up with the engine.  I changed the main jet back to give it one more shot.

Wednesday Q3 - Decent session again, but we're still stuck in the mid 1:40's.. in about the same place (15th or 16th) on the grid.  Not looking good.  Time to CHANGE the engine back to "old faithful" for the last session tomorrow. We ran a 3/4 'hardship lap' at the end of the day to make sure there were no problems from the engine swap.

Thursday Q4 - last chance.  The 'new' engine WAS better on the straights - to the tune of 5 or 6 MPH.  I could actually close and PASS cars and I lowered my best time into the :39's, but the pole time was also lowered another 1/2 second to "keep me in my place" - 16th on the final grid.  Such is life sad.

RACE DAY - Friday.  The weather had held all week and when the green came out, we almost held our own.  I think I lost 3 spots and gained back 2 for a net loss of 1 going into the first turn (T4).  I'm a firm believer in the old adage... "You can't WIN the race on the first lap, but you can sure LOSE it".  So... we lost one more spot on the back side making sure we made it back to the conclusion of lap 1.  Past the Finish line and through T1 - things were feeling decent.  I wasn't "mowing" anyone down, but I wasn't losing anything either - just settle in for a bit and see where we stand. Through T2 and down the back straight - I CLOSED on the car ahead and managed to pull of a pass into T4 .. just then the DOUBLE YELLOW flags came out. (wonder what happened?.. and happy that it was not me!).  Around again and at T2 we found Nuby sitting sideways in the track and people dodging everywhere. We bunched up as I had to also take evasive maneuvers to avoid several cars.  I came out onto the back straight WAY BACK from the car ahead, so I planted the pedal so as to not get 'left out' if the green flag should come back out.  I was just barely closing on the car ahead (Donnie Isley).  I was trying to figure out where the leader was - was he already well on the back side or was the 'pack' still between me and the next turn?  Suddenly, Donnie HONKED on the brakes and my "barely closing rate" instantly became a "rather extreme" closing rate.  In the next few milliseconds, I could see NO PLACE TO GO... except the grass to avoid contact.  I braked for all I was worth and swerved left at the last instant to avoid going over the top of Donnie's car.  Into the grass for about 1/8 of a second more before I hit the CONCRETE WALL .. HARD and slid along it about 100 feet before stopping - day DONE.  I wasn't injured thankfully, but the car is once again TOAST.  Everything on the left side of the car was WASTED... as well as the frame getting tweaked as the LR axle slammed into the wall, driving the engine/trans across the frame - bending everything behind the roll bar.  A sad end to a good year.

The pictures below show SOME of the damage details.  At this time, everything is pretty much "fixed" .. as fixed as it can get.  The frame has some new 'nuances' but it hopefully straight enough to still be competitive.  I'm just not up for building another frame .. at least for now.

As they say ... there's always NEXT YEAR, but at my age, those years are getting closer and closer together.  I'm planning to go to Sebring in January for our next race.  We'll see how it goes and decide what to do from there.


About the only change in the MO paddock was some paving of a couple roads and the addition of SIGNS for most of them.  NOTE above right as one of them is named DAVIS! Most of the roads were named for National Champions .. I suspect specifically those National Champs that won at Mid Ohio.  That name is most likely for some Davis other than ME, but I'll just assume that it's for ME and ignore the other 'Davis' that is a National Champ.

The several pix below show the DAMAGE that was done when I hit the concrete wall about mid-ways down the back straight on lap 3 of the race.  Unfortunately, I have no one other than myself to BLAME this time.  I just misjudged the closing rate (under double yellow) as the field 'packed up' following an incident in T2.  I suddenly found myself doing about 90 MPH with the cars in front of me going a mere 20 MPH.  I dodged too late, got into the grass on the left and went HARD into the wall.  The left side of the car was pretty much destroyed.  More later .. when I get over it enough to talk about it.


GREAT NEWS.. the valve cover was NOT broken!! Linda was even more disappointed than I was...


Front beam folded back at 90 degrees.


Left rear also pretty much folder back at 90 degrees.  Also bent the FRAME from the driving load into the rear axle.

 


Snapped off the rear shock and cracked the trans housing at the starter mount.


Hub, wheel, backing plate, axle, axle tube, trailing arm, etc, etc.


Even broke the distributor cap and rotor button from the shock of hitting the wall.


A decent season gone totally ALL WRONG .. again.  Later found much more damage (naturally). Now to try to FIX it all before January for Sebring 2017.

 

Thanks as always to Rollin at ButlerEngines.com, JR at RoxannesHeaders.com Roxannes Headers - Exhaust components for FV and other racing sports cars and ... Mike, John, Tim and Bruce at Hoosier tires (RaceTire.com) and Dietmar at QuixoteRacing.com  Quixote Racing - FV and FST parts and service.  Not to forget my wife, Linda, who travels with me to almost every race, and suffers me the joy of racing for all these years!

Regular Season team stats (EC races in yellow)

Race     Qualified Finished Points
Majors
notes
Sebring MAJOR#1 1st 8th 13  crash with FF
Sebring MAJOR#2 1st last 0 Bullet was torn up
NOLA MAJOR#1 2nd 2nd 21 Bullet still not QUITE ready
NOLA MAJOR#2 2nd 1st 25 Still not ready, but lucky
Atlanta MAJOR#1 1st 1st 25 finally ready
Atlanta MAJOR#2 1st 1st 25 ready and lucky
VIR MAJOR #1 8th 7th 14 not so lucky
VIR MAJOR #2 8th last 0 DNF - broken shifter
Mid Ohio Major #1 12th 8th - Out of conference
Mid Ohio Major #2 15th 6th - Out of conference
Season Total   SouthEast/Nationwide 123 count best 7 races

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Runoffs/Divisional Finishes for the Wedge Racing Team


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