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 Javelin-road race, American Iron, Racing

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