After exactly 444 days Franken-Javelin returned to Sears Pt. for a shakedown run. Signed up for the afternoon test session 1pm – 4pm. Got to the track around 11am so I had plenty of time to register, get unloaded and get the car gassed up.
While I was unloading who walks up but Gaetano (Track Junky from the Lat-G forum). He just happened to be in the area and popped in so see what was happening at the track. He hung out a bit and helped me unload but had to go before I got on track. Matt, Jeff and Dan also showed up so I had some support.
Plan was just to take it slow and see if the car worked. Did 2 slow laps and was getting a fair amount of smoke in the cabin so I pulled in. Jeff dove under the car and said there was a decent drip coming from somewhere. Only took him a few seconds to pinpoint the dipstick tube at the pan. So I jumped out of the car and got to work removing the dip stick tube so I could replace it with a plug (I knew I had one with me). Here’s where things get ridiculous. Of course when I pulled back into the pits I forgot to refill the Accusump and close the valve before shutting down. I should have known what would happen but I was so focused on trying to fix the problem (dip stick tube). As soon as I loosened the tube fittings and pulled them out… look out boys, we’ve got a gusher! Oil starting pouring out of the top of the pan. I dove into the back of my truck and dumped some stuff out of a catch pan and got the pan under the car. Not before a decent amount of oil had spilled out…
Once I got the dip stick tube out I could see that it had fatigued at the base. This was my fault because I never got around to securing the top of the tube. So it just vibrated like crazy and of course finally split. Put a plug in the top of the pan and topped off the oil and headed back out. Slowly started going a little faster. First lap was like 2:40… then 2:30, then 2:20… etc. After about 15 minutes I pulled back in. I didn’t like the seat position. I was having to look up OVER the hood. I remembered I’d had the same problem the first time I had driven the car on track. the fix was to simply raise the back of the seat one hole up. That took 10 minutes and then I strapped back in and got back out there. Lap times kept coming down till I got a 2:00 flat. The sun was getting low and was becoming a problem going into 2 at the top of the hill. I came back in for another brief break because I wanted to check the lug nuts and make sure they weren’t backing out (new wheels, aluminum lug nuts, so I wanted to double check). They were mostly ok but I was able to snug a couple down. I was also noticing my back hurting. Again, something I had experienced before but had forgotten. The fix was simple, I just folded up a towel to put behind my lower back and hips. The deal is I’m skinny enough that although I’m strapped in tight there are voids around my hips and it tires my back out quick (plus it’s not like I’m in shape or anything…).
I headed back out for one last session. Got out there and the sun was even worse in 2. Basically blind for probably 3+ seconds. So, I did a few more laps but knew I wouldn’t be able to get a faster lap than the previous session. So that was it. The car works but with me being rusty I was about 3 seconds off my best (1:57.x). Disappointing since with the new tires, reconfigured panhard bar and blocked off grill I was hoping the car might be better than before. And who knows, maybe it is and I’m just that rusty… Anyway, I loaded up and headed home.
What now? Well, I need to get the bodywork and paint done. I’m going to strip the interior out and try to paint the cage and interior/trunk myself. Then take it back to Maaco and let them repaint the exterior. Finally, I get new stickers for the back half of the car. As for performance? The guys said the front end still comes up a lot going down the straight. I really need to get this car LOWER. It’s 9″ at the rockers and 7″ from the bottom of the frame rail. Joe says I can’t go any lower with the current setup because I’m out of shock travel. I really need drop spindles. I’m also going to try a front spoiler extension again. And of course the biggest thing is I need to start doing laps again to build up my confidence (in myself and the car). And, of course, getting in better shape would help a lot as after 20 minutes I’m getting tired.
we’ve come a long way and are basically back at square one… That’s life I guess. I’ll just keep plugging away and hopefully get the car and myself more competitive someday.
Here’s a couple of pics and some video from the day.