The Shake Down – RACE edition – NASA American Iron Javelin update

Well I survived the first outing with the Javelin! Pretty amazing. I started the build over a year ago and had delusions of finishing in time to start racing in Feb. of this year!? Obviously that didn’t happen. But on Saturday I was at Infineon with Track Masters plus my secret weapon, Joe Carr (big thanks to the Dirt Track Pirates; Joe, Jeff and Dan for coming out!). Thankfully the rain didn’t come and, for the most part, the car worked! I have a list of “bugs” to work out but I ran every session and got progressively more confident in the car.

Session 1 I went really slow, bedded the brakes and came in early when I saw the oil pressure light flash. Realized I just needed MORE oil. I’ve got a 7 qt. pan, the filter, a 3 qt. accusump, a cooler and a lot of lines. After putting in more oil I went out for session 2 and had no more oil pressure issues. I did have a horrible rattle, in left turns, at high speed. We ended up finding two sources for the rattle. The major one was the driveshaft rubbing the safety loop. Seems like the rear end must be moving around a fair amount for it to be touching. We pulled part of the loop. The other rattle is coming from the 3rd link mount on the rear hitting the bottom of the trunk tin work. This was more minor so I just lived with it for the day.

Session 3 the driveshaft rattle was gone. I was starting to notice that my seating position was too low. I had the back of the seat titled down and really felt like an old lady trying to see over the dash/hood of the car. Before the 4th session I raised the back of the seat. This was a definite improvement but I still want the seat a little higher. The 4th session was the first session I really felt like I was starting to drive the track instead of worrying about whether the car was working or not. I had pretty much been pointing everyone in my group by in the first 4 sessions though.

Session 5 I got my fast lap of the day (on the last lap) – 2:03.6 I know I’m going to need to get under 2:00 but I felt pretty good about that time. It was cold on Saturday (50’s) and I was not pushing as hard as I could. The car definitely has more in it just as it sits now (and there’s a long list of improvements to be made). This session I still pointed a couple of the really fast cars by but I was finally starting to pass a lot of cars myself. The 6th session I didn’t improve my fast lap but did most of the laps in the 2:04 – 2:05 range. I backed off a bit because I was tired, it had gotten colder and because a Miata had backed into the wall in the previous session and the Track Masters people had warned everyone on the PA to be careful.

So, the issues that came up:

1 – drive shaft rubs safety loop
2 – 3rd link mount hits trunk bottom
3 – started throwing the alternator belt once I got up to speed (ran the 6th session with no belt)
4 – was pushing a lot of oil out of the valve cover breathers (we think that’s where it’s coming from)
5 – visibility (rear/side) is not that great
6 – the tach is kind of sticky/bouncy, not sure what that’s about
7 – accelerator pedal isn’t positioned for good heal/toe
8 – car actually runs too COLD (at least in the 50* weather we had on Sat.). need a smaller (or no) fan although I don’t know how hot it will run in Buttonwillow in June…

I might be forgetting something but those are the main issues. Now I need to fix the bugs, get it painted and try to figure out who/where I’m going to try to race. I’m sure I’ll do at least one more track day before actually trying to get in some kind of race. Maybe late January? I’ll have to start checking the 2012 schedules… stay tuned!

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

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