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.

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


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