BANG! – NASA American Iron Javelin update…

After the relative success of the Oct. NASA race (car ran all sessions and I got a new best time for me) I wanted to get on track ONE more time before parking the car for the “winter” (in quotes because, California).

I had reviewed the Traqmate data from my best lap of the race weekend and Dave Brown’s best lap (½ second faster). At first I thought we were pretty much driving the same line. However, when I zoomed in to the track map I saw a few places where we differed. I also saw that he was downshifting to 2nd in turn 4 and shifting UP to 4th before 6. I had been keeping it in 3rd all the way from 3 to 6. I wanted to try “Dave’s way” because my way didn’t feel good. It was lugging in 4 and I was hitting the rev limiter before 6. I was doing that because I was intentionally trying to avoid shifts as shifting takes time. But he was faster so I wanted to try to copy his lap as best I could.

The other differences were that I was turning into 4 too early and that I was drifting to the inside of 7 and 11 early as well. So, I headed back to the track and hoped I might be able to get a new even faster lap.

I signed up for the afternoon session and got to the track around 11am. After signing in I took a minute to take a pic of the car on the hill above the track. Then headed down to the paddock and unloaded. Got lunch at the grill and then waiting till 1pm for my session to start. While eating lunch I ran into Ken Epsman again (owner of the #2 Roy Woods Racing Trans-Am Javelin, see my last post about the Oct. NASA race). Unfortunately he was running his NASCAR and not the Javelin.

I headed out for my first session and went around for about 4 laps. There was actually a bit of traffic. Seems like a few Lemons cars were testing as well as a couple of spec E30s and a couple of Miatas. On the couple of “clear” laps I did get I was seeing the oil light at the top of the hill (turn 2). So I pulled in and added 2 quarts of oil. That’s my default now. See the oil pressure light, hit it with 2 quarts…

Anyway, went back out for the 2nd time and did 8 laps. Got a couple of 1:58.xx laps and a 1:59.xx but didn’t get back to 1:57.xx… After 6 laps of “pushing it” I came up on the Miatas so I backed off and pulled off that lap.

After another short break I headed back out. Unfortunately by this time the sun was low and blinding in turn 2. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get a fast lap now but I figured I try to work on the rest of the track. After 5 laps though I was getting tired and decided to pull in for another break.

Rested for 15 minutes and then decided I need to get back out there and keep working. So, fired up the car and headed out for round 4… The sun was still in 2 and I was running around the track on my out lap just warming the tires. When I got to turn 10 I took it at about 77mph (10 mph SLOWER than my usual)… right after I apex’d at 10 there was a loud BANG! and the car just washed out toward the wall. WTF! It was obvious something broke but I didn’t know what. I just kept the steering wheel turned away from the wall and started applying brake. Luckily I got it slowed down. Once I had it under control I realized I was heading right for pit in so I just drove off track right up to my trailer and parked it. After shutting down the car I climbed out and checked the passenger side. Everything looked fine. Then I checked the driver’s side. There it was. The steering arm was separated from the upright and laying on the ground still connected to the steering rack. I wasn’t interested in crawling around for a closer look so I just loaded up and headed home. Once home I took a closer look and the two bolts that hold the steering arm to the upright sheared. So, figuring out how to not only fix this but make sure it doesn’t happen again will get added to the winter list. Video below…



1974 Javelin-road race, Suspension, Track Events, video

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