BFGoodrich CENDIV Series Event #2 - Peru

With one week left to go before the big Pro race in Oscoda, the race that may well decide our Championship hopes for this year, we had two distinct goals - get the new tires scrubbed in and heat-cycled, and get the remote-reservoir doubles installed and tested.

Thus, we were off to Peru for CENDIV #2.

Thursday, the last couple of parts remaining arrived from ShockTek, and the new front shocks were mounted in the car. There was no time to fabricate sexy brackets for the reservoirs (it being 12:30 AM Friday by the time the rest of the work got done) so the reservoirs got mounted to anything sturdy via some monster zip ties. A quick check revealed the braided steel lines weren't rubbing up against anything (they'll saw through almost anything if they're allowed to rub) and a quick test drive showed everything was hooked up and working. Off to bed.

Friday, we load up the rig, and have an uneventful drive to Peru.

Saturday AM, and Street Modified is running first heat. It is COLD, unseasonably cold for Peru, and the skies threaten rain at any second. The course too is a little unusual; it has no transitions to speak of. Instead, it more-or-less follows the stairstep-shaped perimeter of the B52 pad that is the Peru competition surface. Today, the course is predominantly left hand turns. Tomorrow, when we run it backwards, it will be mostly rights.

Virgin Kumhos are greasy tires, it takes a good scrubbing and a heat cycle or two before they really start working. That, together with the cold, means the car will be a little slithery, so the first run is a little conservative - I'm feeling out the car, see how all this stuff interacts. As I cross the finish lights, the time is OK - nothing spectacular, but there's lots of room for easy improvement.

And then all hell breaks loose.

I'm braking for the exit from the course, and the car just DIES. I know I didn't stall it, but dead it is. I go to restart it, but it doesn't crank. I think for a split-second that maybe the battery cable has come off somehow - but no, the panel lights are still on - and in any case, I don't have time for troubleshooting, there's another car coming up fast! So I stick an arm out the window in the universal signal for "It's broke!" and the corner workers come running to push me off course. The car behind me is red-flagged without undue drama.

Back in Grid, I find that the main 30A ignition fuze cartridge has blown - odd. What's more, I realize with a sinking feeling that I don't have any spares. These aren't the usual blade fuzes, these are the big bad boys in that box under the hood. Further investigation reveals that the cartridges are KEYED, so you cannot stick a wrong-rated fuze in the slot. I have one spare - the power windows use the same type fuze, and I don't need the windows at the moment.

In it goes, and the car starts up. I look everywhere, but can't find a short...

I turn my back on it for a second, and it dies again. NOW we're in trouble. The second fuze has popped. Now not only do I not have any spare fuzes, but I know that I have a real live short on my hands. This is not good.

Raleigh Boreen offers to let me drive his Camaro, and I finish the heat in that. It's impossible to imagine a car more different from mine than that car, but I manage to do OK in it. I'm in 6th, 1.7 seconds back.

The car gets pushed back to the paddock, and I start looking for the short. the crew chief roars off to Kokomo with orders to buy every single 30A cartridge she can get her hands on. When she gets back, I haven't found the short, and I'm getting pretty frustrated. We plug in the fuse, and I try and start the car, but the fuel pump isn't on... WTF? Then there's a cry of SMOKE! and I kill the ignition and jump out of the car.

There it is. The braided line from the driver's side shock has slipped down next to the intake manifold, and has sawn through the wire leading to the tach noise filter capacitor (thanks Josh for helping me figure out what that was) 30A of current have been travelling through the wire braid, which is looking a little burnt - and feeling a little moist (and hot!)

Hoping that the oil I was feeling was just wicked down the braid from when I installed the shock, I zip-tie the line out of the way, and hope for the best.

Sunday AM. Cold again, but I'm back in my own car at least. The first run, the car is all loosy-goosy, but as the tires warm up it's feeling really good. As the runs go on though, the car starts pushing and pushing, and by the last run every single right turn results in a big squawk from the left front tire. Even so, I manage to improve my time (although it's nowhere near as fast as it should be) and manage to pull myself into 4th and the trophies.

When we get back to the paddock, I find the problem - the line has burst, and the entire wheelwell is coated in shock oil. The short wounded the line to the point where it failed, and with no shock on the corner, the car wouldn't turn properly.

So I'm now learning how to rebuild shocks, and am in a mad scramble to get it together before Friday. If I can't, we'll go to Oscoda with the singles instead.