Racing – blog devoted to my AMC road race and street cars and all things AMC and Rambler related Sat, 14 Nov 2015 05:13:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Race Report! – NASA AI Javelin @ Sonoma Oct. 24/25, 2015 Tue, 27 Oct 2015 05:08:20 +0000 Continue Reading Race Report! – NASA AI Javelin @ Sonoma Oct. 24/25, 2015]]> I took Friday off and got the car all loaded up in the morning. Dan was already at the track and had saved me a spot. I parked next to his rig and got the car unloaded and the trailer unhitched. I had filled the car with gas earlier in the week and I took the time now to fill up my three 5 gallon jugs with gas. I knew that would be enough to get me through Saturdays sessions. Then I put a cover on the car and headed home to load the truck with all the gear so I’d be ready to head to the track first thing in the morning.

Sat. Practice
Slept OK but not great. Got up at 6:30am and headed for the track. When I got there Don was waiting for me. He had come up Friday night and camped at the track. I got the cover off the car and we set tire pressures and torqued the wheels. Practice is a bit crazy in that they stuff 3 separate groups on track at once. Remember that a group is a collection of classes. So we’re talking a lot of cars. I was driving in my mirrors trying to stay out of the way of faster cars. One of the first things I tried was to break hard and see if the wheels were still hitting anywhere. Sure enough on one hard brake application I could tell the passenger side tire was still hitting a little bit. Damn. I knew I should have been more aggressive with my fender trough clearancing. Also I was seeing the oil light here and there. And on one lap in particular, coming out of the carousel it went low I got out of the accelerator and had to wait a few seconds for it to come back up. So I pulled into the pits.

The good news was, no leaks! After having the front of the motor off to replace the cam gear it was definitely a worry but everything looked dry. We got the front wheels off and saw that on the passenger side there was rubber on the corner of the notch I had made. Luckily being parked right next to Dan’s rig meant we had power. So I got out the cut off wheel and notched out a few more inches on both sides. As for the oil pressure I decided I just needed to add more oil. So I put in 2 more quarts.

Sat. Qualifying
Went out for qualifying and when I tested the brakes I could tell I finally had no rubbing! Yes I could actually use the brakes! I was still having to get out of the way for most of the cars but I was coming across a few that I could pass. After a few laps I got some open track and was feeling good. Came across the line and looked at the traqdash and saw 1:57.3. Yes! A new personal fast lap. This was a LONG time coming. My previous best was a half second slower and was run back in 2012. So I was finally faster and with a car that was down 50hp to the old car and 150 lbs heavier to boot! I backed it up next lap with a 1:58:00. Then on the next lap I came out of the carousel down towards turn 7 real hot. Got on the brakes late and hard and locked up the rears. Just kept it going straight and ran into the runoff area but stalled it. I waited a few seconds and tried to refire it but couldn’t get it going. Kept trying until the safety truck came by to get me I told the guy I couldn’t get it going and he was about to get ready to tow me when I tried again and it fired. So he pointed me back on track. I pulled off into the pits that lap as I knew the session was almost over at that point. Got back to my spot and was stoked to be able to tell Don about the brake issue being solved and my new fast lap!

There was a big gap between qualifying and the race and I had arranged for Dave Brown (Life’s Good Racing) to run a few laps that afternoon to see what the cars potential was. So I gassed up the car and we sat around waiting for the HPDE 4 session to come up. As we’re all sitting around a golf cart with 3 or 4 guys rolls up and a guy jumps out and starts yelling “who’s the idiot running this javelin!”. Or something like that. I recognized him immediately. It was Ken Epsman who owns the #2 Roy Woods Racing real Trans-Am Javelin (along with several other high dollar cars including a Bud Moore Trans-Am Mustang). He was running around the car saying “how cool is this!”. I’ve met Ken a few times over the years but he didn’t remember me. So I reminded him that the first time I met him was right there at Sonoma (Sears. Pt. back then) when I came to the first (or one of the first) Wine Country Classic vintage races. I have a picture of me in his car from back then… anyway, he seemed to be really into the car and wanted to check everything out. After a while he says “we need a group picture!” and says he’s going to go down to his garage (at the track) and pull out his Javelin. I said sounds great and off they went…

Maybe an hour went by and then one of his guys finally came back and said the Javelin wouldn’t start so could I bring my Javelin down to the garage for the photo op. So I hopped in, fired it up and drove down to the lower garages. I get down there and Ken is standing out front directing me in. As I pull in I see they have his Javelin pulled out so I stop with the cars nose to nose. I got out of the car and Ken asked if I had a camera (which I did). So I started taking pictures of the two cars. After barely a minute Ken says they have to go get ready for his next session (I think he was running a vintage Nascar). He said, “move the cars around however you want and take whatever pics you want and when you’re done just close the door”. I said “no problem, but, which Javelin do you want me to leave behind???”. He just smiled…

So my friend Matt and I spent 10 minutes in his “toy box” rolling his half-million + car around to get a few different angles for pictures. crazy… I now have pics of my car next to BOTH Roy Woods Javelins. I just need the #6 Sunoco Javelin to complete the set 🙂

After we got tired of rolling the cars around Matt and I headed back to our spot to wait for Dave. Dave is a Pro driver, with Life’s Good Racing, who’s been racing for 20+ years and has many many championships in many different categories under his belt. Back in 2012 I worked with him for a day of driver coaching at Thunderhill. I also put him in the Javelin because I wanted to see what the potential of the car was. He went out and did two laps at speed and was instantly 9 seconds faster than me… NINE. I had contacted him before this weekend and asked if he would do a few laps to baseline the car for me in it’s new configuration and he said sure. So about an hour before my race he took the car out in the HPDE 4 group. He did about 5 or 6 laps. He came in HOT so we could take tire temps. As he was sitting there waiting for us to get the temps the car boiled over and barfed some water out of the radiator… Once the temps were taken he drove back to the pits to let the car cool down. Interestingly this time he was only ½ a second faster than my best time of the day… however, he was babying the car and never rev’d past 6k while I was running up to 6500… he had generally good things to say about the car (which wasn’t true when he drove it back in 2012) so I was glad that he confirmed that all the changes have resulted in a much more capable car. He did say the front shocks were not great and so I’m planning to change them. One other thing he did for me was adjust the brake bias. I have a Wilwood brake bias knob but I’ve never adjusted it (because I don’t know how). He dialed in a LOT more front bias and said I might even be able to go a bit further. I’d been having a bit rear end hop under braking and dialing in a lot more front bias has almost gotten rid of it.

Sat. Race
Went out Saturday with the goal to just stay out of everyone’s way. I was hot and tired and so I didn’t manage any new fast laps. But I finished, and being the only car in my class, I believe that means I won!

After the race I got out of my driving suit and rested for a while. Then I went to the pumps and got more gas. came back and filled up the car so it would be all gassed up for the morning… When it was time Don and I hit the BBQ. NASA always thows a BBQ on Saturday night . Eventually Chris from Life’s Good Racing (Crew Chief) showed up and sat down and talked with us for a while. Don introduced him to me in September at the Trackmasters track day (where I cut the tire). Chris has been really helpful talking through stuff with the Javelin and offering his years of insight. Really appreciated that!

By 8:30pm I was ready to collapse. Dan was going home to sleep but said I could camp in his trailer for the night. My wife was having a birthday party for a friend so I decided I’d stay at the track. Got my pad and sleeping bag set up and settled in. Not the best nights sleep but not the worst either. The track has a lot of lights that stay on all night and there are a couple of vents in the top of the trailer that let that light in. So the inside of the trailer had more light than I would have liked. But it was dry and off the ground so I appreciated it. Got up around 6:30am on Sunday and started getting ready for the day.

Sun. Practice
Went out and was even more tired than the day before… just driving in my mirrors and staying out of everyone’s way (or trying). Dan didn’t even go out for Practice. I thought about skipping it too but decided to just go out and confirm that the car was still working. A couple of laps before the end of the session I hit the curb in 3 a little hard and got some air. Came down and heard a “thunk”… I thought I had just bottomed out so I kept going and finished the session.

When I got back to the pits the plan was to swap the front tires side to side. I started the weened with the new tire on the passenger side (the side I cut during the last outing). So we swapped to get more even wear side to side. While the wheels were off I asked Don to look around and make sure everything looked good. That’s when he found it… the driver’s side sway bar mount (on the lower control arm) had snapped off. I had welded that on myself with my little 110 buzz box and did not get enough penetration to survive that hard landing. I assumed I was done for qualifying (which was only an hour away). But I figured I could find someone at the upper shops who could fix it for me. The race was still 5 or 6 hours away… Don was having none of it! he ran over to Life’s Good Racing and borrowed a Millermatic 180 with autoset feature. only problem was that Dan’s rig didn’t have 220v… but the guy park on the other side of Dan had a monster, rolling Honda generator that DID have 220v! He graciously said we could borrow it. Thanks!

So I got to work grinding the snot welds off the bracket (Dan had a grinder) and then used a wire wheel to clean the paint off the lower control arm. I wasn’t working that fast and was still assuming we’d skip qualifying. But Don went into crew chief mode and said (incredibly tactfully) get in there and get it done! we’re making qualifying! 🙂 So I picked up the pace. Life’s good didn’t have a welding helmet or gloves so I had to do it blind. I set the dial to ?” and the wire speed to auto for .30 wire. I lined up the gun, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. bzzzzzzzt… I could tell instantly by the sound the settings were perfect! Got the thing rewelded in a few minutes. I did flash myself a little a couple of times but not too bad. Anyway, then Don put the sway bar back together. the swaybar link was bent but it was still able to be connected. I got into the car and on grid with 2 minutes to spare!

Sun. Qualifying
More of the same. Tired, hot, driving in my mirrors… just didn’t have the strength to really push. But I completed the session and got back to the pits. When I checked the time sheets I found out they didn’t have any times for me for practice or qualifying for Sunday!? Said something about the transponder being intermittent… I went and got the transponder and showed them it had plenty of charge. They just shrugged. So I went back and put it in it’s charging cradle (unplugged). This is supposed to basically turn it off. I thought maybe if I did that it would be like restarting it… guess it worked because they had times for me for the Sunday race.

Sun. Race
Exhausted, hot oh and now the sun was right in your eyes at the top of the hill for turn 2. So I knew I wouldn’t be getting any good times and just rode the session out and brought it home…

So that was the weekend. I have to call if a HUGE success. Car ran all 6 sessions (plus the Dave Brown shake down). The tire/fender trough/spring perch interference has been eliminated! The brake bias got adjusted to something more more reasonable. I didn’t have any oil pressure problems (after I added the 2 additional quarts). and, I believe I “won” 2 races. I also believe that means I’m the American Iron Norcal champ for 2015! I know that doesn’t mean anything as there was no competition BUT I am happy that, whatever the reason, an AMC JAVELIN is going in the NASA record books as a Champion! 🙂

This *might* be it for the season. There are a couple of test days and another Trackmasters weekend in November at Sonoma. And there’s an NCRC weekend at Laguna Seca in Dec. I may do ONE of those. Otherwise I’ll start working on all the needed improvements for next season!

here’s some pics and video from the weekend:

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Race Report – STRIKE THREE!!! NASA American Iron Javelin update Tue, 17 Mar 2015 04:34:48 +0000 Continue Reading Race Report – STRIKE THREE!!! NASA American Iron Javelin update]]> So the continuing fiasco of getting back into racing the Javelin continues. After the 2nd test was a partial fail (car ran but something was up with the brakes) I only had 3 days until the race weekend. Couldn’t find anything wrong with the car so I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Dan was racing his new (to him) RX7 GT (from Seven’s Only racing). He got to the track Friday afternoon and saved me a spot right next to him. I had loaded my car up and brought the truck/trailer to work. Once he had the spots I headed from work to the track, a 12 minute drive 🙂 Got the car unloaded and the trailer disconnected. Hung out with Dan a bit and checked out his new car and then headed back to work.

Next morning I got up early, went to 7/11 to grab some drinks/donuts and got to the track around 7am. Annoyingly my group was first out at 8:05am. So I fire the car up around 7:30am and let it run until it gets temperature and then shut it down. Don had come up Friday night and camped at the track so he was there too. About 5 minutes before it was time to go out I climb in, get all my belts on, hans on, put the net up and go to start it. Nope, battery’s weak and it won’t turn over. I about lose my mind. The battery should have been fully charged. I’m so frustrated. Anyway, Don snaps me out of it and I un-belt and jump out of the car and grab my SPARE battery. I have the batteries set up with quick disconnects. I do have to undo two nuts to remove the hold down but we get the battery swapped pretty quick. The new battery starts the car fine so I jump back in the seat and get all belted in again and head out on track.

I accelerate up the hill and no oscillation, whew… then I go to use the brakes and, argghh… the shimmy is still there. Shouldn’t have been surprised since I didn’t do anything to fix it. But, it’s not just there, it feels worse than it did 3 days ago… It’s actually feeling really bad and I’m going really slow and having to stay out of everyone’s way. I come around start finish and take one more lap… it feels like it’s getting worse each time I brake. I start realizing whatever the problem is it’s at the BACK of the car…

sigh, so after only 1 1/2 laps I pull into the pits and get out of the car. Jeff’s there now too. I tell Jeff and Don that it feels like the rear end is going to fall out of the car!? So we jack up the rear and start shaking and pulling on it. Don’s looking under the car for a bit. I’m just standing around confused… Nothing is immediately obvious… I’m just at a loss. And then Don goes… “I got it! I see the problem…”. He’s gotten out from under the car and he points INSIDE the car at the 3rd link mount and… the mount is tearing itself out of the car!!! Holy Crap! So glad I pulled in… FINALLY, we start to realize what’s been going on with this car. THIS is the cause of all the problems I’ve been having. The rear end has been ROTATING (under accel/decel) and it’s been getting worse as the metal fatigued to the point of tearing… letting the rear rotate would put the drive shaft angle in bad and changing angles… at the first test day the angle was causing oscillating at the front end. What I thought was a front-end problem was really the tail (driveshaft) wagging the dog… On the 2nd test day it probably “stuck” at a spot where the oscillating didn’t occur but shimmy under braking did. Crazy… I was done for the weekend. BUT, at least I finally knew what the root of all my problems were.

I called up Evil Genius right on the spot and told John what had happened. He said bring it in and he’d take care of it. So I loaded the car up and went straight from the track to Sacramento and dropped the car off. Should have it back in a week or so… I swear, you can’t make this shit up. When the car was originally built support bars were welded between the main hoop and the 3rd link mount. After the car was wrecked in 2012 and they frankensteined in the new rear clip they DIDN’T redo those bars. Well, turns out those bars are an absolute necessity so they are getting added back!

Wondering if I’m ever going to get this car sorted out. Here’s a pic of the original setup with the bars and the failing mount with no bars.

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Chumpcar West Coast Chumpionship Dec. 8/9 2012 Mon, 10 Dec 2012 23:57:35 +0000 Continue Reading Chumpcar West Coast Chumpionship Dec. 8/9 2012]]> The Javelin may be scrap but I was still able to get one last weekend of racing in for the year! Chumpcar is the bomb and if you want to go racing relatively cheaply this has got to be your best bet (except for maybe go karts?). Anyway, this was the 4th event the Dirt Track Pirates have run. We started in June 2011 at Buttonwillow for a 14hr race and only managed to keep the car running for 7 hrs of it. Then we went to Fontana in October of 2011 and did two 7 hr races. We came in 2nd for both races! This June we went back to Buttonwillow for another 14 hr race. We finished 4th…

Well the 2nd place and 4th place finishes qualified us for this Chumpionship race at Sonoma Raceway (our home track). There were 26 cars competing for the Chumpionship and 56 cars total. The previous weekend had just poured rain non-stop but we really lucked out with dry weather both days. The format was a 12.5 hr race split into two days but it was ONE race so the winner was the one with the most laps over both days. Saturday we ran the NASCAR chute which was cool because I had never been on the chute before. Sunday we ran the carousel. Both days we did NOT run the full esses. Instead we ran the back straight and then the chicane to get back on track at turn 10.

The car was great and everything went pretty smoothly except for a couple of black flags we got for passing under yellow. Joe got one his first session and then I got one too. That sucked. Between those two black flags we probably lost about 3 laps. In the end we came in SECOND in the Chumpionship as well as 2nd overall. We were 5 laps down to the winners running a Geo Metro with a Hyabusa motorcycle engine! It was great to get on the podium but we’re getting tired of always being the bridesmaid. We really need to WIN one of these races at some point.

Here are some pics and I’ll try to get a video together soon.

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Race report Buttonwillow – NASA AIX AMC Javelin update Fri, 19 Oct 2012 03:52:28 +0000 Continue Reading Race report Buttonwillow – NASA AIX AMC Javelin update]]> Well, that was a total bust… The title of my last post was “back in game” but it looks like I spoke to soon. I spent the week before the race nut and bolting the car and cleaning it. Doing whatever I could to make sure the car was ready to go. Friday I got up and hooked up my new (used) tilt trailer and got ready to load the car. I bought this trailer from Tim Pinelli who was racing the AIX Outlaw series but has decided to move on. Loading on my previous trailer was a bit of a project. I had to drive the car up to the trailer, pull the ramps out and get them set up, crawl underneath it and hook a strap up to the front sway bar and then use the winch to pull it up. It worked but I was looking to make my life easier. The tilt trailer lived up to my hopes. I simply pulled the two pins to let the ramp tilt, went and got in the car and just drove it up. The one issue I had was deciding how/where to strap it from in front with the new set up. With the old trailer I went THROUGH the wheels. Mostly this was because the trailer was so short that there was not enough room to use a ratchet strap effectively. With the new trailer I was able to hook around the lower control arm. Everything looked good so I hit the road.

Stopped at the first rest stop on I5 about an hour into my trip. After hitting the rest room I did a walk around the trailer and checked all the straps. That’s when I noticed it… I had stupidly run the straps UNDER my front swaybar arms. These arms are steal and have a sharp edge. On the drivers side I noticed the strap getting all frayed and fuzzy where it passed under the swaybar arm. crap! I loosened up the strap and about 50% of the width of it was completely sawed through?! The other side wasn’t too bad. Luckily I had some other straps but they were much lighter duty straps. So I changed the straps so they went OVER the swaybar arms and then added the additional light duty straps I had. I then drove to the other side of the highway to the truck stop and tried to see if they sold straps like the ones I had cut… they didn’t. So I just had to get back on the road and keep my fingers crossed.

Got to Buttonwillow without any more drama and started setting up “camp”. Another reason I bought the tilt trailer is that it has a flat surface. The other trailer was open in the center. I bought a tent and set it up on the trailer. This meant I didn’t have to unload everything from the back of my truck so I could sleep in it. Setting up the tent went pretty well although the wind picked up just as I was trying to set up which blew the tent around until I got some bungee cords and lashed it to the trailer. The first night I didn’t use the “rain fly”. If you don’t camp (I’ve never used a tent before this weekend) a rain fly is a cover that keeps moisture/condensation from getting in your tent. Luckily Adam Ginsberg loaned me a monster comforter which kept me warm enough but without the rainfly the TOP of the comforter was damp in the morning… put the rain fly on for Saturday night and it was much better. No moisture!

Anyway, you probably don’t give a crap about the tent and want to hear about the racing. Well, Saturday morning I head out for the practice session. I was late to grid and when I did get out there were two local yellows for the whole session. So I never got a green flag lap…

For qualifying I went to start the car and had some trouble. It didn’t want to start. When I finally got it started I had to rev it to keep it running; it didn’t want to idle. So I get on track and the first lap I see the oil light come on. WTF!? So I immediately pulled off. No way I was going to take a chance blowing up this freshly rebuilt motor! Looking back I should have tried to look into the not wanting to start/idle issue. Instead I obsessed about whether to add another quart of oil or not before the race. Before I blew the motor I didn’t have an oil dipstick. Lame, I know. Well, when the motor was rebuilt I had a dipstick added. The dipstick said the pan was full so I shouldn’t have needed more oil (and I have a 3qt accusump).

For the race I had trouble getting the car running again. But I did get it fired and I got out on track. Within a few laps the car started running bad. It was missing and popping and back firing. I pulled the car off and parked it. Ughh… what now… After the race I got Mike Plum and Adam to help me. Everyone said the symptoms sounded like timing. So they rotated the distributor a bit and the car fired right up and idled nice. Huh, so the timing was off? Well they got a timing light and rev’d it up and set the total to 34* or so. Then we shut it down. Problem solved right? nope, I immediately tried to start it again and it wouldn’t. same shit. at that point I figured I must have damaged the distributor when I blew the motor and we didn’t know it.

Besides the timing issue the car was also handling terrible. It was understeering really bad. Well, after getting some dinner at the Agent 47 trailer (thanks for the awesome grub Corey!) I walked back to the car and noticed the driver’s front tire was FLAT… that explains the understeering. I did have one unmounted, shaved tire ready to go but the with distributor problem there was no point in trying to get it mounted…

So that was it… I hung out Saturday night, got up Sunday morning and headed home… here are some pics and video.

1974 AMC road race Javelin AMX in the paddock at Buttonwillow raceway 1974 AMC road race Javelin AMX ]]> 0
Chumpcar – Buttonwillow 2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 02:56:50 +0000 Continue Reading Chumpcar – Buttonwillow 2012]]> While the Javelin is laid up with a blown motor I’m not totally out of options for racing. It’s time for another round of Chumpcar racing with the Dirt Track Pirates. This time last year was our first race weekend in the RX-7. If you haven’t read my write-up from last year let me just say it was a disaster. It was fun and a real learning experience but the car was only on track for 7 of the 14 hours of the race and we finished almost in last place…

We followed that race up with a double 7 hour Chumpcar race weekend at Fontana in Oct. of 2011. That weekend went much better. We came in 2nd in both races! Now it was time for our 3rd outing. We had high hopes. Was a win finally in our grasp?

We got into Buttonwillow Friday afternoon and unloaded and got through tech. Then we hit Willow’s Ranch for dinner and turned in for a good nights sleep. Got up early and already knew it was going to be a scorcher! The race started at 9am and went till 11pm and the temp was north of 100 degrees for almost all of it! I heard people say it was 107 in the paddock mid-day… Dan had set the driver order and pit strategy and Joe headed out first. Then it was my turn and after me Dan went and then Jeff. Everything was going great until we got black flagged for going too fast under a yellow. They pulled us into the pits for what should have been (we think) a drive through. Instead they held us for a full 5 minutes which dropped us back a couple of laps.

We were in the top 4 all day and even lead for a while but after the black flag we were playing catchup the rest of the race. Because of the heat the race was red flagged two separate times. In both cases someone had heat stroke and the ambulance had to take them to the hospital. We couldn’t race without an ambulance on station so the race was stopped until a replacement ambulance showed up.

It was brutally hot in the car. Several teams were running cool shirt setups and we are DEFINITELY doing that next year. But this year we just had to roast. Each stint was about an hour and forty five minutes. After my first stint I climbed out and thought I might pass out. The only thing that saved me was the towel the guys dunked in the cooler of ice water. It was soaking wet and I just covered my head and shoulders with it. Probably took me a 1/2 hour before I started feeling ok again…

In the end we came in 4th… not bad but we were hoping for more. However, because of our 2nd place finishes at Fontana and the 4th place finish here we’re qualified for the regional championships at Sears Point (formerly Infineon) in December. Can’t wait!

*sorry no pics/video yet. I know it’s lame. Didn’t really take any still pics and haven’t had time to throw together a video. Will get to it eventually and update this post.

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Race Report – NASA AIX Outlaw AMC Javelin AMX – Buttonwillow April 21, 2012 Sun, 22 Apr 2012 03:44:32 +0000 Continue Reading Race Report – NASA AIX Outlaw AMC Javelin AMX – Buttonwillow April 21, 2012]]> Fresh off my test day with Dave Brown I had less than a week to get ready for Buttonwillow. I decided last minute to try and get a little more downforce at the front to try to help the push Dave said was holding the car back. I had previously cut out a pair of lexan front spoiler extenders but never installed them. I really wanted to try something, so 2 nights before I had to leave I started figuring out how I was going to mount them. I spent an hour or so the first night and finished up the night before I left for the race (Thursday). The real pain with this is that it had to be something I could take off and re-install at the track because I wouldn’t be able to load the car on the trailer with it mounted. So I drilled a bunch of holes and made four half-assed struts to keep the spoiler from deflecting. It looked promising…

Friday I got up and got loaded and headed for the track. Got there around 4pm and found the Outlaw guys and pitted near them. It was hot and we already knew the weekend was going to be a scorcher. I unloaded the truck and put all my totes on the trailer and got my tool cart setup. then I got my “bed” set up in the back of the truck.

Saturday I headed out for the warmup session at 9am. Got 6 laps and a best of 2:14.x The rest of the AIX Outlaw group was running 1:57 – 2:04. So I was 10 seconds behind the slowest car in the group. I couldn’t tell if the front spoiler addition was helping or hurting. In qualifying I only got 1 lap before my damn oil light came on again. I shaved a second off and got down to 2:13.2… everyone else improved a couple of seconds so I actually lost ground.

I’ve been losing oil from somewhere for a while but couldn’t figure out where. Finally I got Ryan Walton to take a look. He’s a tech at a Toyota dealership and last years Outlaw champ. He poked around for a minute and suggested it was coming from the fuel pump… I had never thought about oil coming from there so I had never checked those bolts. They weren’t really loose but I was definitely able to cinch them down a bit. When I came in after the race things looked basically dry. Not 100% as I still have a little drop here and there but MUCH less that was leaking. Thanks Ryan!

The first lap of Saturdays race was pretty hairy. I think there were 3 times where someone put a wheel off and kicked up a dust cloud which leaves you COMPLETELY blind for a second or two! anyway, I survived the race and improved to a best lap of 2:10.8…

Let me take a moment to say it was really HOT! Knowing it was going to be a scorcher of a weekend I went looking for Derek Tsinger who had offered to sell me a used cool shirt setup at Infineon back in February. I didn’t buy it then but I was wanting it now. He had it and sold it to me. I ALMOST got it installed before the Saturday race but needed about 15 more minutes. In addition to the heat my back started to hurt at the end of the 30 minute race. I realized that although my seat holds my rib cage pretty snug my skinny butt actually moves around in the seat. It makes me use my lower back muscles to keep from moving and in the longer race sessions my muscles tire out and it really starts to hurt. of course that affects my concentration level. I need to try some foam or something to fill the voids so my butt can’t move around.

After the main races were done for the day an Endurance race started that went till 10pm at night. Pretty interesting to be sleeping in the back of my truck with cars still racing on track. I slept “ok” but one mildly annoying thing is that I parked my truck in a way that it was slightly tilted to one side…

Anyway, Sunday warmup was at 9am again. 6 laps and wasn’t able to improve my best time. at least my cool shirt was working (sort of). Not sure why but by the end of the session it wasn’t really cooling anymore. I had just wired it with an on/off toggle switch that Ron Klamecki gave me. I found out that Corey Weber has a timer switch that cycles the pump on/off. Only bummer is these “switches” are $150+ bucks. I’m buying a cycle timer kit for $30 bucks and am going to see if I can get that to work…

After looking at the track pictures from Van Happ and talking to some people it seemed like the nose/hood was still really lifting at speed. Talked to Corey about it more and he said maybe the front spoiler extensions were actually hurting in that they might be directing MORE air up through the grill and into the engine compartment. So, before qualifying I pulled the spoiler extensions off… Sunday Qualifying I did 7 laps and got back down to a 2:10.8 so I didn’t really see any difference with or without the spoiler…

Sunday’s race was quite an experience. It was my first standing start race. We came around and got lined up at start finish. I put the clutch in and the car was about to stall! I quickly gave it some revs and when the flag dropped I did the lamest lurching start ever… I did about 5 laps and then it happened. I missed a shift (went 3 -> 2 instead of 3 -> 4) and spun the motor sky high 🙁 it was strange because it didn’t lock up the rear and I didn’t realize how bad I had over rev’d the motor… I continued that lap and the next time I came onto the straight, at the top of 4th gear, the motor just went POOF!!! and died instantly… I pulled off between turns 1 and 2 waited out the race. Got towed back to my paddock spot, loaded up my junk and got back on the road for the 5 hour drive home.

Got home after dark and had to deal with getting the car back in the garage. I live on a hill and my drive way has an incline to it. That means I can only get the car in/out if I DRIVE it. well that wasn’t happening so what I tried to do to get it in was to let it roll down hill a little and then back it into my drive way. We’ll I didn’t cut the wheel early enough so I had to put on the brakes. I managed to beach it on the exhaust flange. what a pain. Had to get my wife to help me man handle the car over the hump and into the garage…

ugh… so there you have it. 3 races and my first blown motor. I can’t say this was totally unexpected. I knew it was a possibility that I was going to have something like this happen. I was just hoping it was later rather than sooner… I’m not going to touch the car for a couple of days. Just need to recover from the weekend.

here’s a video of Saturdays race. Unfortunately Sundays race wasn’t recorded… lame. I had done a great job all weekend making sure the camera and lap timer were working and on but for Sundays race I forgot to actually start recording. So when I finally got back to the paddock I turned the camera “off” but was actually turning it on… got 2+ hours of the car on the trailer driving home… luckily Bryan Rogers of Agent 47 was running the Drift cameras on all the cars so there should be footage of my race and the motor blowing. I’ll try to get it from Bryan and get it posted soon…

1974 AMC Javelin race car at Buttonwillow raceway

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Race Report – NASA AIX Outlaw AMC Javelin AMX – Infineon March 2012 Fri, 16 Mar 2012 02:36:34 +0000 Continue Reading Race Report – NASA AIX Outlaw AMC Javelin AMX – Infineon March 2012]]> well, another action packed weekend under my belt. I’m the slowest thing out there but I survived another weekend with myself and the car intact. Went to Joe’s on Friday and had him scale the car and adjust the toe. Needed to do this because we changed rear springs at Evil Genius when I was doing the dyno runs to find the vibration. Got to the track Friday afternoon and got setup in my garage space. I’ve been REALLY lucky to not only get garage space for these first two race weekends but also to be next to the CMC2 guys (Adam, Mike and Ron).

I felt a *bit* more prepared than last time in terms of the tools and supplies I brought. After getting the car gassed up and torq’ing the lug nuts I went home. Woke up at the crack to get back to the track at 7am and got ready for the 8:05am warmup. Got out on track and on my 2nd lap I thought start/finish was showing me the meatball flag but I wasn’t sure. Came around again and was able to see the small sign with my car # next to the flag. So I pitted after only 3 laps. Drove up to the flag station and was told I was leaking gas… great, now what?! so I pulled in to the garage and took a look. I think all that happened was I had the fuel cell completely full and some fuel sloshed out of the vent tube. Another lesson learned. Don’t overfill the fuel cell. My vent hose vented in the trunk and Adam suggested I vent it outside the car. So, I took a longer piece of hose and made a coil and then drilled a hole in the bottom of the trunk and passed the hose through. A small improvement to the car that will hopefully help keep me from getting further meatballs for leaking fuel…

In the qualifying session we only got 5 laps before there was some wreck or something and the session was checkered. but, at least I had a couple of sub 2:00 laps. my best was a 1:58.8. this is a good NINE seconds behind the fast AIX guys but at least I was back in the 1:58’s and felt that I could do a bit better with more track time… when I got back to the garage there was a lot of fluid on the underside of the car. after looking around for a while I realized it was coming out around the power steering reservoir cap. This is an aluminum can that I got from Speedway Motors. I don’t know what the deal is but after having it short time the cap will not close tightly anymore. I took a screwdriver and pried the lip out to make the cap seal tighter. I also wrapped a rag around the cap and duct taped it in place and hoped that would keep any fluid from going everywhere…

Saturday’s race started with some drama in turn 2. A couple of the AIX mustangs touched and there was lot of tire smoke and a white mustang spun off track. the rest of us all checked up and threaded our way through… after that I just got dropped by the pack. not only that but I spent most of the race dealing with faster cars (I checked my laps and out of about 55 cars in the session only about 10 had slower lap times than me)… my best lap in the race was only a 2:00.117. Not only do I need to get a lot faster than 1:58 but I also need to do it every lap…

After the race I went through the scales and Gaetano said I was leaking something. crap… so I pulled back in the garage and as I was backing in I could see a trail of fluid I was dropping. Hopped out and jacked the car up in the front. After a few minutes of poking around I found out that it was the OTHER power steering rack hard line that was leaking… argh! if you’ve read my previous posts you know I had another power steering leak in one of the hard line bypass tubes. I swapped it over to a hydraulic hose assembly. when I did that I had intended to do both of the bypass tubes but I wasn’t able to get 2 sets of the fittings I needed and because I had other things on my list to get ready for the race I decided not to mess with the bypass tube that wasn’t leaking. well, here was my reward. it failed in the same way the other one had. It was 4:30pm and I didn’t have the parts to make another hose. I had thought I was going to get home early Saturday night and hang out with my wife and have dinner. instead I started running around the track looking for AN -6 hose and fittings. went to McGee’s and after a lot of rummaging around they sold me a used piece of hose and used fittings. I’ve made a lot of braided hoses with AN hose ends and this should have taken about 10 minutes now that I had the parts. well, really quickly the whole thing turned south. I had my electric grinder with a cutoff wheel and made a nice cut on the hose. but when I tried to put the AN hose end collar on I couldn’t get it to go. The braid just sprung out every time. then I had to make a new cut and try again. I tried everything, electrical tape, tie wrap, leaving the tape on but nothing I did worked. I grabbed Adam’s bike and pedaled over to the Agent 47 trailer and asked those guys to help me. A couple of the mechanic’s tried for 20 minutes and they couldn’t get it either… I was FRUSTRATED. finally, a couple of hours into this fiasco Adam came back from dinner with new in-the-box Aeroquip hose and new fittings. He left earlier to make a parts run and I asked him to look for the parts. even after I got the stuff from McGees I told him to get it anyway if he could find it. it’s a good thing I did. working with the new hose went fairly smoothly. I was able to get one end on no problem. when I tried to get the other end on we ended up shearing the fitting off while tightening it! luckily I had the used fitting that I got from McGees. I used that and finally I had a completed hose. Got the hose installed, fired up the car for a few minutes. no leak! finally left the track at 8:30pm; completely exhausted but at least thinking I was ready for Sunday.

Sunday the first session wasn’t until 2pm. So I got to the track around noon and just had some lunch, gassed up the car, torq’d the lugnuts, etc… headed out for the qualifying session and on the out lap I saw my oil pressure light come on in a couple of turns… what the?! I went around one more lap and it did it again so I pulled off. not happy but I assumed I was just a little low. it’s not easy for me to check the level (no dipstick). I have to pull a plug on top of the oil pan kick out. it’s burried behind the headers. so, the car has to be up on jack stands and preferably not hot for me to check. oh, and I have to make sure that the accusump is FULL and CLOSED… anyway, I added a 1/2 qt. and hoped that would take car of it… you can probably see where this is going… I started the race and the light came on again?! I went around one more lap to make sure but I kept losing pressure in long turns so I had to pull off. so both of Sunday’s sessions were a total bust… my first DNF. Even though I’m totally uncompetitive I’m still bummed that I didn’t at least finish the race. I’m assuming/hoping/praying that I am just low on oil. Need to check it soon. I can’t imagine what else could cause me to lose oil pressure like that. If there is a problem with the engine I don’t know what I’ll do…

So I loaded up and headed home. oh, when I say home, I mean it. for the first time EVER I brought the car to my house! I’ve had this car at Jeff’s for TEN YEARS. Started building it in his shop in Aug. of 2010 and Sunday was the first time I’ve ever had it in my garage! I’m hoping this helps me spend more time on the car. I, of course, have a fresh and long list of things to get done. First, the things that went well this weekend:

  • the USB cables I have wired into the car now worked and I didn’t have any problems with the camera or lap timer running out of juice
  • staring both races this weekend means I’ve completed my rookie period and should be getting my full comp. license in the mail soon!
  • this weekend I ran 96 octane gas in the car and had NO run-on issues. I had been running 91 oct. and the car would diesel when I shut if off
  • the really bad vibration is gone! (it was the driveshaft). there IS still some vibration but it’s a low frequency vibration, isn’t that bad and isn’t holding me back

what I’m going to work on for the next race:

  • replace the power steering AN hose I put on at the track (it was a temp fix, need a high pressure line)
  • replace the power steering reservoir (I’m going to try a plastic unit from Summit)
  • add a power steering cooler (Adam GAVE me a cooler at the track, thanks Adam!)
  • check my oil level and see if I can come up with some kind of dip stick
  • LOWER the car. (ordered 2″ drop spindles and will try to get the car lower)
  • try some aero (I’m going to make front and rear spoiler extensions to try to get a little downforce on the car)
  • seal up the front grill area as much as possible (Corey from Agent 47 said all the air getting into the engine bay is acting like a parachute and slowing me down)
  • come up with a better rear-end breather setup. the one I made keeps kinking the hose which means it’s NOT allowing any venting when it kinks

here’s a couple of pics and a video of Saturdays race. 37 days until the next race at Buttonwillow!

1974 AMC road race Javelin AMX in the garages at Sonoma Raceway

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First race report! – NASA AIX Javelin – Infineon Feb. 11/12 2012 Wed, 15 Feb 2012 17:56:16 +0000 Continue Reading First race report! – NASA AIX Javelin – Infineon Feb. 11/12 2012]]> wow… after more than a year and a half the Javelin completed it’s first race weekend! it was sooooooo much work and I was completely exhausted by the end of the weekend. here’s a summary of how the weekend went down. On Friday I went to the shop and spent the day just trying to tidy up the car. I secured the wiring for the electric fan I installed, I applied my rookie “R” stickers that are required and nut and bolted the whole car. I also adjusted the driveshaft loop, AGAIN to where I felt it was 100% centered at ride height. then I loaded up the car and got to Infineon around 5:30pm. American Iron parking was way over behind the grand stands. I found a spot, unloaded and drove the car over to the pumps to fill it up. Adam (American Iron series director) had said he would try to get me a spot near him and some other CMC guys who had garage spots. well, I lucked out when Derek Tissinger was able to sell me an extra garage spot he had right next to him! this was great because it had been raining off and on all day and was starting to rain again. I had no car cover for the Javelin and had thought I was going to have to leave it in the paddock all night in the rain. instead I got a garage spot which meant the car would be dry and secure all night! I went back to where I had unloaded, disconnected the trailer and brought my truck over to the garages and unloaded all my gear into the garage. my plan for race weekends this year is to camp at the track but because Infineon is only about 45 mins from my house I went home and got to sleep in my own bed.

got back to the track the next morning a little after 7am. I had to run around to take care of a few odds and ends. I had to turn in my rookie license to race control. then I went looking for a transponder. I thought you were supposed to be able to rent them but apparently they don’t do that in Norcal… so I had to buy one from I/O port racing. I got the transponder installed and went out for the first warm up at 8:25am. The track was wet with standing water in some places. so I just tooled around for 4 laps and brought it in. a few hours later I did the full warm up session. There was (is) a really bad vibration when I get going fast. I’ve tried to describe it to lots of people and I haven’t figured it out yet. it doesn’t seem to be a huge problem but it just doesn’t feel right so it keeps me from trying to push the car harder. people have made all sorts of suggestions about what it could be. it is not a “shimmy”. it doesn’t feel like something is out of balance (a wheel or driveshaft). what it feels like is that something that vibrates is touching the chassis and resonating it. like if you took a sawzall, pulled the trigger and held the body of the saw against a tin box the box would vibrate/resonate like a mofo… based on that my latest theory is that the exhaust is touching somewhere when the car is accelerating and leaning in sweepers. I’ll check the entire exhaust system next time I’m with the car to see if I can tell if it’s rubbing anywhere.

after explaining the vibration to guys back in the garage the idea was floated that my diff. was going 🙁 that set up a whole chain of events where I was concerned that I shouldn’t run the car anymore. Adam said if I thought the car could make it that I should take the green flag for the race so I could get points. I didn’t really feel getting points mattered for me but I decided to follow Adam’s direction and started the race and then pulled off after one lap. because there was only 1 other AIX car all weekend that meant I actually got a 2nd place for that race.

back in the garage I decided that I needed to find out if there was a problem with the diff. or not. so I jacked up the car, drained the gear oil, pulled the rear wheels and axles and pulled out the diff. ugh… the LAST thing I wanted to do with this car was start pulling it apart after spending the last 18 months putting it together?! but I did it. there was no obvious big damage. there was some fairly fine metal in the gear oil but no chunks. one interesting thing we did find though was a small aluminum insert that was threaded into the end of the axles had come out and was floating around in the diff! not good but the piece was not chewed up at all and is so light everyone doubted it was the cause of any vibration. by now it was after 6pm. the rest of the guys had gone to a banquet at the track for dinner. I didn’t have a ticket for the banquet. I was exhausted and starving as I hadn’t been able to grab lunch before the grill closed. so I bailed and went home to get food and sleep. on the drive I started thinking about what I could do to get back on track the next day.

after thinking through a lot of things Saturday night I decided I would head back to the track Sunday and try to get the car put back together in time to at least take the green flag for the race (which was at 2pm). I also had a couple of ideas to try to find/fix the vibration. during my first couple of test sessions with the car I had trouble with the driveshaft rubbing the safety loop. I didn’t think I had rubbing any more but I couldn’t tell because the driveshaft already had wear marks and you couldn’t tell if any of the marks were new. so I spray painted the driveshaft so I would be able to tell if there was fresh rubbing. the other vibration issue I knew had existed earlier was the 3rd link upper mount touching the bottom of the trunk sheet metal. Joe had shaved down some of the mount so we thought that had probably fixed it but I wanted to be sure. so I borrowed a grinder from Derek and Daniel and cut a hole in the trunk over the mount. there was no way the mount would touch now. it had tons of room to come up into the trunk if it needed. while doing all this we noticed that the drivers rear coilover had the bottom locking ring loose and was all the way down and binding on the mount. we got that sorted and tightened up the rings on both sides. but we also noticed that the bottom of the shock body was touching the moount. we disconnected the bottom of each shock from mount and Daniel clearanced it with a grinder. then we buttoned it all back up. for the rear-end, Ron Klamecki explained to me that I could separate the pinion carrier from the ring carrier and get a closer look inside. I did that and the opinion was that the pinion bearing felt notchy or rough if you put your fingers in it and turned it. but everyone agreed that it didn’t look like it was ready to blow any second. so, I put the whole mess back together and filled it up with new gear oil and got on the grid for the Sunday race.

Robin, in the only other AIX car there, was having major clutch slipping and said he wouldn’t make more than a lap or two. I went out and followed him for the first lap. I got a little too fixated on following him and carried more speed than I could handle going up the hill and spun out. I got the car going again and kept going. the vibration was as bad as ever so I was not pushing very hard at all. the race ended early under yellow because a BMW had gone off. Robin had pulled off on the lap I spun so that meant I won. So I got a 1st and a 2nd on my first race weekend. this is not a strategy that’s going to work long term. the AIX outlaw guys are going to be running the next race and I am significantly slower than them. I need to get rid of this vibration so I can really focus on my driving and improving the handling of the car.

still I feel pretty happy to have survived the weekend. I had the car completely apart and got it back together and made the race on Sunday. one more clean race weekend and I’ll be through my rookie period and can take off my “R”s and my orange panel on the back. looking back now I feel like I could have tried to ignore the vibration and I could have gone faster. it’s hard though when you don’t know what’s wrong. you don’t know if you might be ignoring something that’s going to let go and put you in a wall…

ok, now it’s time for the thank yous! first off, the car would never have even gotten to the track without a lot of help from Jeff, Joe, Dan, Matt and Don. at the track I would have been sunk if I hadn’t gotten a spot next to Derek and Daniel. All the CMC guys (Adam, Mike Plum and Ron Klamecki) gave advice and loaned me tools, etc. but Daniel (Derek’s race mechanic) helped me a TON. Even on Sunday when he wasn’t feeling well he took time to help me. thanks Daniel! I also had Rob and Richard Alonzo from Sacrament show up on Saturday to cheer me on. They both got under the car and helped me with the rear end. On Sunday Gaetano showed up and got to crawling around helping me put the car back together. and Don was there running his TT Miata and was in the garage helping me whenever he had time between his sessions. thanks everyone!!!

so here’s a video of Sunday’s race. unfortunately the GoPro ran out of juice before the end of the race. for the next race I’m going to wire an accessory plug so I can get the camera plugged into the cars power and not have to worry about it running out again. next race is just 3 1/2 weeks away… yikes!!!

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Chumpcar video posted… FINALLY! Sat, 10 Dec 2011 06:03:36 +0000 Continue Reading Chumpcar video posted… FINALLY!]]> It’s been almost 2 months since the Chumpcar race down in Fontana. I got busy getting the race Javelin ready for it’s first track day. Plus I was just dreading trying to edit down all the hours of video. I ended up just doing the Saturday race but there wouldn’t be much difference with the Sunday footage. Anyway, if you haven’t read the write up of the weekend you might want to check that out first: here

Hopefully we’ll do a few more races in 2012. Enjoy the video.

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Thrash Week! – NASA American Iron Javelin update Sun, 06 Nov 2011 03:48:30 +0000 Continue Reading Thrash Week! – NASA American Iron Javelin update]]> yes, it’s been WAY too long since the last update. Shit happens. Anyway, finally was able to take some time off work. So, we brought the car to Joe’s shop on Tuesday and spent the next 4 days thrashing on it trying to tie up all the remaining loose ends. With the two of us on it, tons got done, here’s the run down.

– purchased and installed a mini 1-wire race alternator (with the help of Joe’s custom machined/fabricated mounts!). Here’s the alternator I got.

– installed rear window straps (which Joe bent up for me)

– installed a drive shaft safety loop

– put the rest of the roll bar padding on

– spent DAYS fixing brake leaks due to my knowing jack shit about brake fittings (and I actually thought I knew a little).

– RE-mounted the windshield. Brutal. I originally tried to install it using “windshield” adhesive (same as I used for the rear window). This stuff is REALLY hard to work with. It takes a lot of force to push it out of the caulk gun and by the time you’ve got a bead around the window it’s already starting to cure. I got the window sort of in but ran out of 10-32 allen heads/nuts and couldn’t finish the job. Joe said just use 100% silicone. So, we undid all the screws and I scraped all the crap out of the window channel to get ready for round two. Man, the silicone was so easy to lay down a nice bead. It still was a lot of work but we got the window in and got enough screws in it. Hopefully I won’t have to change the window for a long time.

– installed a front sway bar. Al from Control Freak sent me one of their sway bar kits that goes with the IFS I bought from them. After looking at options Joe suggested we use the control freak mounts (that bolt to the frame) with a straight, nascar style splined bar he had. He fabbed some extenders for the mounts and welded some shock mounts to the lower control arms and got the bar installed.

– we installed the hood and drilled the holes for the hood pins.

– I installed the taillight lenses.

– Joe modified my accelerator pedal and accelerator cable and I put on lighter throttle return springs.

– we bled the brakes and clutch and Joe hooked up the brake balance knob.

– filled the radiator with water.

– there was something else… what was it… oh yeah. we FIRED THE ENGINE! 🙂 yeah the engine has already been dyno’d but this was the first attempt at starting it in the car. Pretty much fired right up. Sounds AWESOME!

– Joe scaled the car and is doing an alignment today. The car weighs 2916 lbs w/o driver. I’m guessing about 3190 lbs with driver and 15 gallons of fuel. I’m guessing I’m going to have too much power for the 9.5:1 HP and 9.0:1 TQ ratios. I’ll be taking it to Evil Genius over the winter and getting it chassis dyno’d too see how much of the 456 hp is getting to the wheels!

So, that brings us up to date. I’m trying to see if I can get registered for a track day mid-November to shake down the car and find out what still needs tweaking/fixing. Then I’ll get it painted over the winter. Still not sure what I’m going to do with it when I’m done. No one raced American Iron in norcal this season. A handful of people are running AIX Outlaw but I don’t think I’d be remotely competitive with those guys. Right now I just want to get it on track and then see where things take me. Stay tuned.

1974 AMC road race Javelin AMX unpainted

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