Our First Race is now in the Records Book

We completed the 2009 December Sebring HSR event; we had a blast! There was lots of rain, but, by Sunday, it had cleared and the temperature had dropped from the 70s to the 40s. We actually ran only one practice session in moist conditions. For our first race on Saturday, it looked like the rain would not stop, so we changed to our rain tires, then went back to the dry set one hour before the race.

Our first priority was to finalize our Weber 45 DCOE jetting before the first of two races. We had done some preliminary tests and had made changes to the idle jet, emulsion tube and pump jet, and expected to only make changes to the mains and air correctors at the track. The process went as planned, although it took a bit longer than we had planned. We made stepped changes (three total), then removed the NGK A/F instrumentation.

A couple of minor problems during our first testing session were corrected, then the car went on track five times, requiring only topping off the fuel cell. The two mentioned problems were, in a way, almost comical. Firstly, our new shift knob with the Datsun logo came off in the driver’s hand. Then almost immediately, the driver lost the throttle … literally. The pedal plastic hinge broke and the pedal fell off! The driver completed the session, but heeling and toeing was out of the question.

We replaced the shifter knob and made a quick trip to the hardware store for a brass hinge to repair the gas pedal. Although we had a new gas pedal back home, we think the repaired part has some character to it; maybe we’ll leave it on.

Another problem that was noticed after our second test session was with a new reduction gear starter we had installed a few weeks earlier. The aluminum casting must have been defective and a crack developed that progressed almost all the way around. Luckily, Christian noticed the crack while doing routine checks. We had a spare starter and were lucky that the cracked starter didn’t unzip completely and dropped off on track.

We were hoping to complete our tire temperature checks to arrive at final front and rear settings for camber and toe. Unfortunately, setting the carburetors took longer than anticipated and the only time we had to take tire temperature readings was during a test session, when it was cool and moist, and the tires didn’t really get up to temperature. This will be one of our main priorities for our next race.

Our goal in Vintage Racing is to always keep improving, and this we did. This was our third visit (the two earlier visits were just track tests) to Sebring with this car. Our fastest lap time has improved with each visit. We plan to make more suspension adjustments to improve our handling.

During our first race, we were excited that the very first pass we made in actual competition was on a very nice vintage Aston Martin. We passed a few other cars, but during the last lap, we put two wheels off coming out of turn 1. Instead of easing the car back on track, we forced it and this caused us to spin. We think we followed the proper procedure of “when you spin, both feet in”, but we must not have been quick enough, as the engine stalled. Although the engine restarted right away, we had to wait for traffic and I think this put us dead last. However, we caught up and were able to make a pass on the car ahead on Turn 17 before the checkered.

The Sunday race started in very cold weather, and we were careful not to make mistakes with the cold tires. With each lap we picked up the pace, but at about the halfway point a problem, that later turned out to be very simple, stumped us at the moment and resulted in a DNF. The engine sputtered a couple of times, then quit. We later found that the inertia safety switch tripped and shut off our fuel pump. We were more ticked off at not realizing this at the moment and not being able to correct the problem on-track than we were about the actual malfunction, as the switch is resettable from the driver’s seat.

We went to the track prepared and it paid off, as we were able to deal and correct our problems.

We want to thank all those who stopped by and all the compliments we received. We’ll be back at Sebring for our next event, which will be with SVRA, during the 12-hour weekend in March 2010.

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