Countdown: The Last Checkered Flag

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shakedown at Harris Hill Road

Well, THAT went well. Hell Week paid off and we got both cars to Harris Hill Road (H2R) on Sunday for a shake-down. I was proud of the team for all of their hard work and yet, there were early signs that our efforts were still - SNAFU. For example, I was just on the verge of driving out of town with one of the cars, when I realized that nobody had bothered to put a safety harness into the car. I guess we could have taped ourselves into the seat or maybe braced ourselves while driving, but c'mon guys. So, I had to make a trip to team headquarters to pick-up the harness.

When I got to the track, Ryan and Stef were already there, so we decided to go ahead and take the old car out for a spin. That's about when we got a call from Ken saying that he had the cut-off switch key. At the time, Ken was still back in Austin prepping the new car and wouldn't be in San Marcos for a couple of hours. Sigh. Luckily, there were some race cars in the H2R garage and we borrowed a key to get going.

I took the old 90 out and Ryan followed in his Miata. The #444 Audi 90 is our veteran race car and is well-sorted and dependable. I expected it to run well, but when I got it on track, I noticed it wasn't pulling as hard as it should have. The car should have been able to pull on Ryan's 1.6 Miata in the straights, but he was glued to the back bumper. Ryan later reported that there was a bit of smoke coming from the 90, as well. Then the engine died a couple of times. The car would immediately restart on its own, but I took the car in just to have a look. I coasted to a stop and the car died. When I tried to refire the engine, there was nothing - no click, no whir, no whimper. Nothing.

We went inside to cool off and then I decided to look for the problem. I suspected maybe a wire somewhere had come loose. I thought I would start in the trunk where the battery...found it!

Nobody had bothered to secure the battery in the brackets, so the battery got thrown around out on the track and the cable finally came off. C'mon guys. This is our GOOD car.

Then the bad other car arrived. After a quick BBQ lunch, Ken took the red car out with Eric chasing in the #444 car. I followed in Ryan's Miata. Ken made a good showing, but he came in after only a few laps and said the car wasn't pulling as hard as it should. He couldn't get it into the high rpm range. After that, was a long day of taking the car out for a couple of laps and finding something else wrong. The car wouldn't start, it wouldn't idle, it wouldn't pull, the gauges wouldn't work right, and finally, it started leaking oil.

Mike tries to wake Eric from sleeping on the job, while Stef films.

There was some good news. All of the drivers reported that despite not yet having a rear swaybar, the red car handled very well. Also, Charles Braden, our guest driver filling-in for Andrew Bianchi, drove down from Dallas to get some seat time in the #444 car. Charles has race experience in LeMons and Chump Car, but he had never driven a quattro before, so he was able to get acclimated to the car he will be driving.

The shake-down test day was a successes - it showed us just how much more work our new car needs. Stay tuned for Hell Week II.


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