Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wilmington ProSolo

We arrived at Wilmington Thursday night so we could take it easy and not feel rushed like almost every other race weekend. The temperature was a bit on the cool side which was a nice break from the recent heat but we were mostly concerned with the weather forecast for the weekend.

Wilmington, OH - 7/24/2014
We got on site on Friday to register and to get tech inspection out of the way. This time I decided to forego the practice launches as I was already resolved to launching at redline and didn't want the added stress of additional launches potentially breaking anything on the car before the race. We noticed that paddock was a good half mile to grid so rather than waste time walking back and forth, we went to the local Walmart and picked up a cheap BMX bike that was quickly modded to be what we shall now call "Bumblebike". Walking the course, I knew I was up for another uphill battle. The course this time was much more balanced than Toledo but the distance out of the line was longer than usual and I would be at a disadvantage from the launch being the least powerful car of the group. 

Bumblebike - Wilmington, OH - 7/25/2014
Day 1 kicked off and we got our morning runs in the dry. The grip in Wilmington was very comparable to Toledo but more consistent all around. I was happy that we were able to light up the rear tires again at redline and thankfully I think the 10mm spacers worked and no more crumpling of the fenders occurred. There was a chance of rain in the afternoon so I inflated the Hoosier H20s in preparation of having to switch over to rain tires. I didn't expect to go faster on the wets but I've been wanting to do some testing since I've never run Bumblestook on Hoosier wets before.

Hoosier H20 - 245/45/17 - 7/26/2014
Somehow the rain skirted the airfield and we got dry afternoon runs as well. I was able to move up a few spots but was still too far off pace compared to other BSP cars running in SPA. I knew I was leaving a lot of time out there so I had to drive more aggressively and trust the grip level more. Overnight, the forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms. I had fully expected to have to run in a torrential downpour but again, we were saved and not only did we get to run in the dry but the sun even found its way through the clouds.

Getting ready to run Day 2 - 7/27/2014
I found nearly a full second between the left and right courses and was happy with the raw times but I coned away the fast left side run which would've left me in the trophies. Bumblestook's feeling really good right now though and I'm looking forward to the coming weekend for the Wilmington Championship Tour. The only minor issue is that we blew sound this weekend, getting logged as high as 101.3dB going flat out through the slalom so we'll have to find a way to quiet her down a few dB before this weekend so we don't get disqualified. However I think the position of the sound station, the low clouds and the strong winds contributed to this. Still, better to not take any chances.

Bumblestook at the Wilmington ProSolo
Wilmington, OH - 7/27/2014

Overall I think it was a successful weekend despite not finishing where we wanted. She's running great and handles exactly the way I want and didn't break anything. Being out of the points running, we're going to skip the ProSolo Finale this year and just go to the National Championship to save her from any further brutal launches until next season.

Packed up and ready to battle again next week - 7/27/2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wilmington Prep

With back to back races in Wilmington, Ohio coming up, it was time to go over Bumblestook yet again to make sure everything was still ok after surviving the brutal Toledo ProSolo. First up though was having my trailer modified by Steve at SJF Performance so I can carry an extra set of wheels with me. The Touareg is a fine towing vehicle but it's impossible to fit a set of rain tires, an extra set of race wheels and spares and supplies for such a long trip. Steve welded on removable threaded poles to the trailer tongue make let me bring extra race tires on the trailer instead. He did an excellent job and I can now operate the trailer in either configuration (with or without the extra wheels) without too much trouble.

Mount for removable wheel poles added - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Poles installed and wheels mounted - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Secured wheels - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Trailer loaded with extra wheels up front - 7/20/2014
We then put her back on the alignment rack to see if anything had shifted after running on the grippy concrete and sure enough the right rear toe had moved quite a bit with a significant amount of toe in. We suspect this could happen due to the wonky bolt but it also turns out that the forces back there had somehow also slightly bent the little tabs the alignment washers push up against. Steve hammered them back into place so everything is nice and tight and we replaced all the camber and toe bolts in the rear to restore my alignment back to what it was before Toledo except this time I could actually get the rear toe to 1/16" toe in. Steve's new machine can also take additional measurements of the car so we noted those down too for future reference in case anything ever shifts.

Alignment #5 - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Frame is nice and square - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Frame is nice and square - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
We pushed the damaged fender out a bit so it looked a bit better and to address this issue, I switched from 15mm spacers to 10mm spacers and now the top of the tire is well within the edge of the fender. As a quick check of the diff health, we drained the fluid and it came out nice and clear with nothing scary (metal or otherwise) coming out. Cheap insurance for the beating we're about to take again in Wilmington.

10mm spacers and new diff fluid - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014
Other miscellaneous fixes included adding some screws to the rear bumper cover so it stops flapping around after I broke the tabs off from contact. We also added a drop of loctite on the nuts holding the throttle cable in the bracket to address the throttle debacle from Toledo. Thankfully there isn't a lot of stuff we have to do for pre-big race prep anymore. Hopefully we can do better in Wilmington and at the very least get some good set up data before nationals.

Ready for Wilmington - SJF Performance - 7/20/2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Toledo ProSolo...where 100% isn't enough.

It was finally time for the first big event on concrete for Bumblestook this season. All the testing, practice and prep the past few months would be put to the test at Toledo where all that grip would surface any issues around reliability and speed of the car. Practice starts went quite well on Friday. Despite going up to 315s in the rear this year, I was still able to get some wheel spin launching at redline (8600rpm) and overall Bumblestook felt strong and healthy.

Practice Start - SCCA ProSolo Round 7
Toledo, OH - 6/27/2014

Practice Start - SCCA ProSolo Round 7
Toledo, OH - 6/27/2014

Street Prepared Index A (SPA) Sat Morning Grid - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
We finally got to walk the course and I knew I'd be in trouble. I counted only 4 actual corners where I'd have to lift and it was very likely the other cars in my class wouldn't have to lift either thanks to the massive grip of the concrete surface. It was clearly going to be a power course especially with a hair pin that shuts you down a lot and where torque would be crucial. Without driving the course yet, this was just purely speculation so we'd have to see on day 1 how bad the situation would be.

Grip - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
Photo By: Perry Bennett -
Launch - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
Photo By: Perry Bennett -
Sure enough on Saturday, it drove as predicted...flat out in all but 4 corners and riding the rev limiter all over the place. With my top speed in 2nd limited to about 62mph due to gearing, it would be cake walk for the Vettes that could go well over 70mph in 2nd. Shifting to third would be an option but it really didn't help too much. To make matters worse, the grip level allowed me to three wheel the car out of a corner putting more load in the front corner than I had ever tested and the result was carnage on the driver side front fender.

Moment of impact - Toledo ProSolo - 6/27/2014
Photo By: Perry Bennett -
Fender damage - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
Quick Fix - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
I was able to fix it after the morning session and was ready to give it another shot in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my luck continued to run short. On my first launch, I suddenly lost throttle and the car was just stuck idling. I managed to use the momentum to roll off the course and found that the nuts holding the throttle cable in place had vibrated loose causing the cable to come off. I remounted the bracket but lost all my afternoon runs in the process.

Throttle cable off the bracket - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
Throttle cable secured back onto bracket - Toledo ProSolo - 6/28/2014
Sunday would be my last chance to redeem myself. There was threat of rain in the horizon but luckily it just skirted around the venue and we were able to get runs in the dry. I managed to drop some significant time on both sides but simply coned away my fast right side runs. Either way, with the course laid out the way it was, even going 100% and not hitting cones still wouldn't be enough to come close to a final trophy spot. The dirty runs tumbled me down in position ending up the worst I had finished this year in 11th out of 15. To add insult to injury, my wheel had touched the fender again this time creating even bigger damage.

Final fender damage - Toledo ProSolo - 6/29/2014
Our fastest raw times - SCCA ProSolo Round 7
Toledo, OH - 6/29/2014

Despite all this, I still had a great time in Toledo. The grip is intoxicating! I verified that Bumblestook could handle the grip and felt well balanced on that surface with no changes to any settings on the car. If the course was designed to be more balanced, I think we would've had a fighting chance so I'm looking forward to the rematch in Wilmington next month where hopefully someone can design an autocross course and not a simple drag race.