Each crewmember had a specific...
Each crewmember had a specific role to play that was well defined on a sheet that was circulated. I even had to work keeping a record of the tire pressures and temperatures. I was impressed at how fast this rookie crew of high school students picked up on everything and performed perfectly.
We were all set for qualifying. Pete had purchased just one set of new tires for this race and we had run them in the last practice putting about 20 laps on them. This would be a disadvantage in qualifying because all of the other top teams had sticker tires on. That was OK because this was intended to be a shakedown run and if all went well, we should be able to make up the difference in the race.
We qualified Sixth and the invert put us in the second row inside. On the start, everyone went outside and we got pinched down low for the first two laps until we could get back in line in about eighth place. Dan quickly passed two cars in the next three laps and set his sights on the lead pack. He was clearly closing on them at a rate of about a half a car length a lap. With twenty laps to go coming off of Turn 2, alone, the car suddenly snapped loose and spun. Dan said over the radio it felt like he had been hit, but no one was near him. We suspected a part failure.
Upon inspection back in the pits, we found we had sheared the left outside axle spline. We isolated the problem and debriefed the driver. From the look of the car on the track and the comments from the driver, we felt we had a real contender. The crew did a great job in all of the tasks and this just served to show that this high school program is all it was intended to be and more. These kids are genuinely excited and dedicated.
The next race would be two weeks later, and the next race Rob and I will be attending is the July 11th race. Until then we will be in contact with Pete and the crew to monitor their progress and help them in any way we can. Any changes to the car's setup or race routine will also be reported.
After the first practice we...
After the first practice we noticed that the LF tire was cooler than the LR. This indicated an unbalanced setup where the rear was rolling more than the front and causing excess load transfer to the RF. We raised the panhard bar 3/4-inch over the course of two runs and brought the temperature up to what it should be.
We wanted to start this project with a standard setup with normal shock rates and no frills or tricks up our sleeves. We really wanted to prove that by doing all of the procedures we teach in the pages of CIRCLE TRACK correctly and putting together a solid package, you can experience good performance without tricking up the chassis. I think this first outing proved that to be true.
The car was very neutral in the turns, it was as fast or faster than any other car there and it came off the corners like Jack the bear - anyone remember that clich? I asked Jerry, the crew chief, if he ever thought a pair of 250s up front and a pair of 200s in the rear would work and he said, "Never in a million years." But, it did. And that is the point. We intend to be competitive with this and other various setups because we will keep the car aligned, we will maintain the corner weights and make small tuning adjustments where necessary, but no large scale modifications to the setup. Yes, in due time we will be changing the setup to a softer set of front springs and a larger RR spring coupled with a larger sway bar. Do we think the car will get faster? No, but we will try it and report exactly what we find. Stay tuned.
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