Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow but predictable

Last things first, the win this weekend went to... Pandamonium! Our Siamese twin sister team finished Saturday in first and held on to the lead - despite enthustiastic competition from several teams, including the Eyesore Racing Batmobile Miata - finishing in first place.

But more importantly, the Mystery Machine FINISHED THE RACE! In 62nd place, out of a field of 150 or so.

When we took her out on the track on Friday, fresh from the engine swap, we discovered right away that all was not quite right - she's okay at idle, and okay up to about 4200rpm, but after that--nothing. Couldn't top 55.

After some contemplation, we hand-adjusted the timing. Having forgotten to line up the timing mark when we replaced the flywheel, we were reduced to: rotate the distributor cap a little bit, rev the engine, see how it sounds. (Scientific!) But it kinda worked: we still couldn't really top 4200rpm, but at least there was power lower down, and when the race started on Saturday morning we were slow, but functional.

Here she is, on Friday night, getting all ready to race:
From THill Lemons 09

Despite the lack of top end power, the Mystery Machine hummed around the track, doing her best impression of a rolling chicane. And our fourth driver this time around was a ringer: Rob, also driving for Pandamonium, who promptly put all our complaints about lack of power to shame by turning in lap times only 24sec slower than in Ling Ling - 2:47 in the Mystery Machine, to 2:23 in Ling Ling.

Here she is, out on the track:

(from Laz's gallery)

Driving the Mystery Machine gives a great view of the race, especially at less-than-full power - you can't go very fast, particularly on the straights, so you have a lot of time to check out the other cars. It's largely an exercise in being passed gracefully.

We turned in a fair amount of damage on the first day - a hard hit each to the driver and passenger side doors, and some assorted whacks on other body panels. Here's the Mystery Machine experiencing a slightly less-than-graceful pass, which knocked out the right front headlight:

At the end of the day's racing there were a few retirees, like the Killer Bee MG, which landed on its roof:
From THill Lemons 09

Pandamonium drivers changing brakes for the morning:
From THill Lemons 09

On Sunday we settled into the super serious business of not melting an engine in the last hour of the race, which was a huge downer at Reno Fernley - just staying predictable, out of the way, and out on the track. Fortunately our engine's persistent refusal to top 75mph kept us from getting anywhere near overheating.

Two more cars flipped on Sunday: the v8olvo (formerly the Black Metal Volvo) flipped right before I arrived on the scene in the van in turn 10, and this BMW apparently lost a wheel:
From THill Lemons 09

Meanwhile, things were heating up for Pandamonium, who was still in the lead.

("We're gonna need a yellow to fuel," Laz suggested. "Maybe we could get Jinnah to roll the van." I nixed this plan on the grounds of being really, really fond of that van.)

Ling Ling on the track:
From THill Lemons 09

From THill Lemons 09

Pandamonium in the pits:
From THill Lemons 09

The rest of the field:
From THill Lemons 09

From THill Lemons 09

JDH driving:
From THill Lemons 09

We started Sunday in 73rd place, stayed around there for most of the day, and started to steadily climb at the end of the day, as other cars dropped out, but we kept going. Last I saw, we were in 62nd place.

They threw the checkered flag at 4:30, and I was fortunate to drive the Mystery Machine across the finish line -- bringing her back triumphantly accompanied by people shouting things like "Mystery Machine, you're slow as shit, but we love you anyway!"

Aww, we love you too.

Here we all are, while going through Tech inspection:
From THill Lemons 09

Left to right, drivers: Rob, Astrid, Jinnah, and Jen.

And here's Scooby, hanging out in Ling Ling during the award ceremony:
From THill Lemons 09

Lastly, huge thanks to Laz and Rob from Pandamonium, who put in the past four weekends, along with JDH, on the Mystery Machine's engine swap. We couldn't have done it without you.

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