First Report from the 2004 SVRA Season Finale
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2006
VIR! Oh, what’ta drive!
Yup, ‘ya read it (ed: on VSAAB); I destroyed the freewheeling. I had a very violent spin going into Turn 1 under hard braking. I swapped ends frequently, initially sliding left, then spinning right, and going directly into the center of the course.
At the very end of the spin, the car was still running yet had no gears. I had to be towed back into the paddock. I locked the freewheel to find everything was still working, much to my surprise. So, I proceeded to teach myself to drive the car without the freewheeling during the remaining track periods.
I was having trouble balancing the car into corners without the freewheeling functioning when I was very near the end of the last race session. So, in a very foolish maneuver I decided to try driving it like it was my Austin Healey and down shift into corners using whatever engine braking was afforded me, and apply power as if it were a 4 stroke when driving out of the corner from the apex.
While it was a far better approach to my unbalanced coasting with clutch disengaged (earlier attempts to mimic freewheeling), I feared I was suffering reduced crankshaft lubrication at the higher rpm "off throttle" downshifts. And, dear god, it sounded odd when downshifting the 2 stroke into a corner. I'd care to forget that sound. I thought the exhaust note that it normally makes was a shrill sound! It made a "sound," as if it was SCREAMING at an ungodly high pitch, I'm not at all comfortable with when downshifting into the downhill rollercoaster from 4th to third!
All I can say is I do not like it with the freewheeling locked! But! The Austin Mini classed with me in D-Sedan "expired," therefore Sunday’s race found me racing against the clock by myself! Yup! I crossed the finish line taking a first in class! (as the only car remaining in class! LOL!).
Not once did I ever let up. I still pushed it as hard as I could. However, somewhere during the race I noticed the temperature gauge slowly climbing. By race end, the engine was hot, but not over heating. I had killed another part, the high tech water pump.
I have not yet dissected the water pump. I have new "O" rings for the later style cup-type seals here and suspect that it is the "O" ring's seal to the impeller, and not the cup to the seat in the housing, that is leaking. I hand lap the seats in my water pumps before I reinstall them into the main housing, so I know they are in good shape for the cup portion of the pump to seat onto. Hmmm, time for an ‘exploratory’ on that one!
There were some doubts that Steve Church was going to run his final race session because of an oil pressure gremlin, but after annoying him senseless (Ok, I helped a bit, too.), he identified and solved the problem, reassembled his car, and ran in his Group 3 race!
It was a long, emotionally trying event, what with Steve’s oil pressure problems, me hurting my car and myself in the process (I bruised my sternum in the spin), and, after finally getting a good motor in Peter Dunn’s Morgan, his Quaife-geared Cortina gear box "grenaded!"
On top of that, a very good friend's Plus 8 Morgan had fuel delivery problems. They have plastic tubing from the fuel cell to the engine! Suspicions are it has a crimped fuel line in the cockpit under the upholstery. It's a near-stock car (right down to the entire interior in it!) with a roll bar and seat belts. It’s street legal! It had a fuel cell installed in it but I’m guessing that it never had a complete "plumbing" job done. Therefore, no one ever replaced the main fuel line running front to rear (the line is well buried under side-bolster upholstery). I was surprised, and somewhat freaked out, by the revelation! The car is being completely re-plumbed (properly!) this winter.
To add insult to injury, yet another Morgan had the exhaust system break and needed emergency welding, and Check Sadek’s Yenko Stinger Corvair literally shattered a valve seat!
It was a very busy time at the track, helping everyone I could and trying to get myself to the grid on time in my Saab. But, the end result was that both Saabs ran and finished their group races and we both put on a good show! My motor is back and up to running at full chat out on course and, although "skating" a bit in 4-wheel drifts in the tighter corners, it was completely predictable out on course!
A minor side bar to all this: my friends in my run group said they noticed I was running faster than I ever had previously. How did they know? Because it was more difficult to overtake me on the straights, they said! They usually whiz past me and wave as they disappear off into the distance! Not so, this time! (I thought they might be slowing up as not to hurt my feelings! LOL!), so I must be doing something right! Abusing a 44-year-old Saab the way I do must say something of the car as it still delivers one heck of a ride!
Right now, funds are depleted, the car mechanically displeased with me, and I need some "recovery time" (so does the car! LOL!). But! It is still running and I will soon begin to prepare for the Sebring 12-hour event in March (hopefully sporting the new, improved motor by then!). I guess we have to gather up all the Morgans, too (Grin). We all travel together to Sebring, and everyone needs some time to get the 2004 season’s damage sorted out and repaired.