Shakedown no. 2 – NASA American Iron Javelin update…

with the car out of the paint shop it was time for another test session to see if all the tweaks we made after the first outing in November improved the car. the big issues from that first outing were the oil leak, low water temp and rubbing driveshaft. I’m signed up for an NCRC track day at Thunderhill on Monday the 23rd but I had also been eyeing a test session at Infineon on the 13th. The weather around here has been amazing (but is starting to turn) and was looking good for Friday so I decided to jump on the Infineon test session while the weather was cooperating. the other benefit of running infineon is that I already had a lap time from November to work with (2:03.x).

So the car came out of the paint shop on Thursday and the next day I was at the track. I head out for my first lap and crap! the driveshaft was still rubbing! 🙁 I came right into the pits. Luckily I had Matt and Dan there to help me. After talking for a minute we decided to pull the driveshaft loop out. that took about 20 minutes and then I headed back out. ahhh…. no more driveshaft rubbing. now I could start working on driving again. I did a number of laps and started getting consistent 2:00.x times. I was happy but really wanted a sub 2 minute time. after being out for awhile I was getting a little tired so I came back in for a short break.

there were a number of black flags (and even a red flag) that had me out for a lap then in, then back out. anyway, once the track was green again I managed a 1:58.2! yes, the sub 2 minute lap time I was looking for. I’ve still got a long way to go but was very happy to have dropped over 5 seconds since my first outing and I still didn’t feel like I was really pushing (still mostly focusing on what the car was doing, coolant temps, etc).

One of the things I was working on during the afternoon was trying to get the car to run at 180*. In November the car never made any temperature. at that session I had a 3/4″ restrictor in. for this session I switched to a 180* “racing” thermostat (with 3 small bypass holes drilled in it). the theory was this would let the motor warm up and keep it there. it didn’t work. the plastic fan I’m using pulls so much air. I tried covering some of the radiator with cardboard. it seemed to help but still was more like 160* – 170* out on track.

in my 2nd to last stint on Friday I came up the hill and turned right for turn 2. at the same moment I got a spray of water on my windshield and I spun out (presumably in the water I dropped). they black flagged me and I came in and the track person said I “blew a hose”. by the time I got back to the pits the temp gauge was reading 200*. hotter than it’s ever been but not exactly nuclear considering I dumped a lot of water on track and drove it back to the pits. Dan popped the hood and after looking around for a minute said it was the radiator cap that let go… I’m not sure what happened but I *think* what happened is that the car never got to 180* so the thermostat never opened and there was enough of a pressure build up that the cap finally let go. this is all a complete guess and I’d love to hear from anyone who thinks they might now what my problem is. you always think you’re going to have to fight overheating with a race car. I’m chasing the opposite problem… anyway, I ran over to Wine Country Motorsports (shop at the track) and bought a Longacre cap (29 – 31 psi). we filled up the car with water, pulled the tstat housing and replaced the thermostat with the 3/4″ restrictor I was running in November and I headed back out. after one lap I saw a bit of moisture show up on the windshield again. not wanting to take any chances I pulled in so Dan could take a look. He didn’t see anything leaking so it was probably just left over water under the hood from the previous incident. but at that point there was only a few minutes left in the test session so we decided to call it a day and load up.

so, bit of a mixed bag. very happy with the lap time and feel that I should be able to do even better but a little frustrated with the cooling system issues and the driveshaft rubbing. my plan now is to remove the plastic fan I have and go to an electric pusher fan with a thermostatic switch (with a manual switch override in the car). I may also switch to a smaller restrictor (1/2″). I have already taken another pass at fixing the rubbing driveshaft but will need another track day before I know for sure if it’s really fixed. so far with these 2 sessions I’ve been so focused on the car that I haven’t been able to focus as much on HOW I’m driving (what RPM’s I’m running at various parts of the track). I really think I’m someone who would benefit greatly from a data acquisition system. so I’ll probably be looking into that in the near future.

In other news I got the car tech inspected and got my log book! also got my rookie license now. all the pieces are coming together. I still need to get all the stickers/decals I need on the car and I need a HANS device. only 26 days until the first race of the season!

check out the video. I was experimenting with a new camera angle but didn’t have time to perfect it so sorry about it being a little low. I did this in response to Don who suggested it as a way to see if I was unwinding the steering wheel coming out of turns. unfortunately you can’t always see the track very well in the video. also, I was hoping to see the shift light and gauges but the damn right side net is in the way. I might have to suck it up and get a containment seat so I can delete the net… the other disclaimer on this video is that I really ended up with very little footage. after my first stint I came in and saw that both the camera and the lap timer had run out of batteries. so I had to take them out and recharge them while I went back out. so a good chunk of my track time was not recorded (I’m probably going to wind up hard wiring these gadgets so I don’t have this problem again). anyway, lot’s more to come…

1974 Javelin-road race, American Iron, Track Events, video


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