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Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:06 pm
April 28th......Flamboro Speedway
Exhibition Race As Our Grandson Gehrig, Makes Racing Debut
* 27 cars
* Wade Watson wins
* Gehrig has a great inaugural run
* Finishes all his races
* Only 12 Late Models
* Howse wins, David 4th
window net, smoking engine, move seat closer
Shirley, JJ, Jason, Lauren, Grandpa
This was a very exciting day for all of us. It was Gehrig’s first race, though not official in the sense that it was more of an exhibition outing considering he will not be racing here for points. It was a great opportunity to shake the car down, and at one point have him shaking pretty bad as well. By the end of the night things were much different.
Gehrig had only 10 laps in a car prior to this race. He had never been on a track with other cars before; and as well and had not experienced a practice session. Last summer I did go out with him for a few laps in the car to help him a little, but he was on his own and if his first set of hot laps didn’t discourage him, I don’t think anything will.
Things were normal when we got to the track. The car was ready to go. Gehrig was excited, if he was nervous he didn’t really show it, maybe because so many of us were letting him know just to take it easy. We agreed that I would coach him on driving, for this first day for sure.
I went over some basic instructions for practicing. I explained that his goal was to get to know the track, and his car. Going to the back would allow him to run where ever he wanted without pressure. Once the faster cars caught up, he was told to drop low and let them go by, he understood and we buckled him in. I also suggested to get started in 2nd, and cruise around under yellow, follow cars, and once the white came out, pick up speed and if the engine cut out, shift into 3rd. He was cool with that and I figured he should be okay being on the track for the first time with other cars, especially starting at the back and moving when the cars in front of him did once the green came out.
He drove out of our pit stall heading for the track entrance, spinning gravel along the way. The crew headed for the fence. Then it me, he shouldn’t be alone if he’s sitting in line, I could ease him a little, so I went over to the staging area. To my surprise he was lined up behind some Thunder Cars, and there wasn’t a Mini in sight, they were already on the track. I ran over and let him know he was in the wrong line up. He backed up and headed for the turn four entrance to the track. As I walked up to the fence I my heart started to pound very fast, something was wrong. I could hear the engines roaring as the Mini’s were under green. “Oh no” I thought, “he’s going to be entering the track under green flag conditions”. He was never instructed to do that. How crazy to send him out with cars coming around, even if he had 10 seconds, it wasn’t the scenario we talked about, I would never have sent anyone out on the track like that. He had never practiced with competition before, and it was going to be tough enough in normal situation, but under green flag conditions, I was almost sick.
I thought about running over and asking them not to let him out, but before I could do that his car was leaving the pits and crawling out on the track. Lots of drivers enter the track under green, but they leave the pits very quickly, trying to get clear of on coming cars. I was scared for Gehrig, worried that he might get hit because he would not be up to speed, and knowing how much stress this was going to cause him. If it was even half the stress that I had, and I’m sure Shirley, JJ and the rest watching, it would be over the top.
Whatever our pre practice thoughts were, about how he was going to do his first time out, was dramatically changed with this scenario. He came out of four and luckily stayed high, but was crawling in low gear. Cars were coming around four at high speed and all I could do was put my hands on my head and watch and pray that he wouldn’t get it. He shifted into 2nd just past the start finish line but more cars were coming. He tried to get down but cars were going under him. He was turning the steering wheel back and forth as he was avoiding and trying to get out of the way. Finally by the middle of the back chute he was free of speeding cars and able to settle in. I’m sure once the nightmare on the front chute was over and he was calmed down a little his first thoughts would have been “thanks grampy” !!!
No kidding, it was an insane situation for him but he survived. He ran about six or seven laps and then the checker came out to end the session. I was so thankful nothing happened, but I felt terribly guilty for putting him through that terror.
As he made his way down the pits from the turn to exit, I was wondering how he felt, this could not have been a good deal for him. When he got to the pits we could see the effects on his face. When he got out of the car a crowd gathered around him and he was shaking badly and crying. I went over after and let him know right away it was our fault how things went and we’d make sure it didn’t happen again. He was much calmer in a few minutes as different crew members high fived him and told him he did great. I kept looking at him thinking how hard that ordeal must have been. Two things were certain after this. One, if he could get over this deal he would have made had a huge leap in chaos at a race track. The second was for instructions. I would promise myself that once he got married, I would not give him any advice for his honeymoon.
In the heat race things were much different. Gehrig would start last and there would be slow laps leading to the green. He was much safer now, and I’m sure when he went on the track and was cruising around with the other 7 Mini’s he felt much more at ease, anything would be a picnic after what he had been through. He stayed at the back and did everything we talked about letting his car go to the wall when he was on his own and then move down when the lapped cars came around. One thing was certain he was in the wrong gear. The car was noticeably slow, and we could hardly hear the engine. He spun out in turn one and two, but got the car off the track. The yellow came out and he went to the rear. He did finish the race a lap down but with some good laps under his belt. When he got to the pits he said he messed up and put it in 5th instead of third. I said “no problem, but I want you to run the next race and the feature in 2nd”. He was okay with that.
There would be a consi, not sure why because everyone qualified, but we were okay with it. There were only 175 fans in the stands, so it wasn’t for them either, although maybe it was part of the promised program. Regardless, we were glad he would get another chance to race before the feature.
I went by myself in turn three to watch him closer. He started and stayed in 2nd. After a few laps I concluded he was racing his car, not driving it. He was running faster each lap. We noticed the car was smoking from the tail pipe. That engine was just put in the car and it was blowing blue smoke from the tail pipe on accel and then all the way down the straights. I thought he might get black flagged, but it wasn’t real bad, but certainly not something we wanted to see from our car. It was brought on because of the higher revs in second, but shouldn’t have happened. He did pass one car but got loose and going into three the other car got by. Gehrig was high in turn three and as he turned down the car broke loose and he spun to the infield. The car didn’t come right around. As he countered from the spin he started to spin back towards the track. Things got incredibly tense when he was headed the wrong way into four. I thought for sure he was going to get broad sided or hit someone head on, but in an instant the car stopped on the apron, and I was impressed that he got it stopped; I thought he would panic like me but he was okay. Everyone was very happy with his progress that race including him.
We found the car was overheating and made a repair. I told Gehrig to come into the pits after the first yellow so we could make sure it wasn’t leaking.
In the feature Gehrig started at the back. I let him know the leaders would be getting to him in a hurry, so to stay down. On lap two there was a huge wreck coming off two, he stayed low and got through. This moved him up four or five spots. I told him if there was any cautions just to keep going to the back for now. He wanted to go to the back but no one would move ahead of him. He stayed where he was and on the restart it was surprising how long he stayed ahead of the cars behind. Eventually they all got by but two. Gehrig maintained a good pace and soon the leaders were coming. He moved down and let them go, then a lap later a much bigger pack was coming and he did the same.
When the dust settled he had completed his first feature bringing the car home in one piece. We were all very happy with his first outing and so was he. We may have things to do to the engine, to stop the smoking, maybe a transmission change for Sunset, we’re not sure yet, but we have much more to do on trailers etc before then.
May 5th will be opening day for him and I as we head to Sunset Speedway for 2012
Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:06 pm
May 5th.....Sunset Speedway
* 18 cars
* Kevin Cornelious wins
* We win heat, DNF in feature
* Mike Bentley suffers bad crash from our trans oil
* Gehrig finishes 8th in both heats...NS in feature
transmission, driveshaft, clutch, release bearing, radiator, body
Bob, Steve, Ryan, Justin, Eric
Well, it’s official, I guess it was last weekend when I went to Flamboro without my race car. It was only the 2nd time I had missed an opening night at the track since I started racing. The first time was in 1976 when my engine blew the week before opening day and wasn’t ready in time.
I’ve been running Flamboro with the Hobby’s since 1972, though my first time on the track was in 1967 in a Demo Derby. Leaving a relationship after 40 years isn’t easy, but it had to be. I wish everyone well at Flamboro, especially John and Frank. If the track undergoes a major facelift I think it can enjoy the success it once had, but it will need a lot of work, investment and some dedicated people.
We headed to Sunset in the morning. We needed tires and to get through tech. Our first set of hot laps was amazing. We had the tires on the car from the CME show, and they had 10 laps on them from Flamboro. We turned quite a few laps in the 14:9’s with one in the 8’s. We were told that was a good time, but things would change drastically for us when we put on the tires we had to race. Those could only be used for practice because I didn’t buy them from Sunset and we understood that.
The tires we bought were mounted and sized but did not provide enough stagger. We will need to learn the 8” tire strategy because if we don’t we’ll not get into the 14’s without the proper stagger.
Our crew mounted the new set of tires. We were told to run 5 laps and then pull off and let them cool. Unfortunately for us we did not have the correct stagger. Our times showed it with no laps better than 15:1. We made the adjustment, however there were no more hot laps.
Sunset runs double heats, and being opening day, none of the drivers had a handicap. The start of the feature would be heads up, and in the future we’d line up according to our earned handicap.
When I went on the track Bob my crew chief and spotter told me to check out the sign in turn four. Another crew member Matt Smith and his family were there and they made up a beautiful sign that said "Welcome To Sunset Speedway Iron Man Gary Elliott". It was awesome to see that sign there.
In our first heat we started 8th of nine cars. The pack was tight all the way through. Tight racing is something I’m going to have to get use to. The cars are fairly equal and on a fast banked track with lots of side by side racing, it will be hard to pass, patience is a must, although I can see getting in the high lane as fast as possible will be a good thing as well.
After our heat race our crew took tire temps. Mike McColl came by and asked me how the car was and I told him. He read the tire temps and immediately made a few changes. He took out camber on both front wheels, tipping the right front out more and the left front in more. He also had us add a spring rubber and take half a turn off the bar.
Perhaps Our Most Exciting Heat Race Ever
The second heat line up was reverse of the first, we started outside pole beside #10 Ernie Fumerton. This race went 8 laps side by side. I don't remember ever running so long beside someone, at least not for 8 laps, and not getting run into. Ernie crowded me a few times, like on the back chute about half way down, a few car lengths before letting off the gas he turned right a little. It was a quick snap of the wheel. Dirt drivers do that sometimes to set up for the turn, some pavement racers as well. It's a tactic that can also be used to push the car outside up out of the way, or get them to backoff a little. When running side by side keeping in the racing lane is very important. Once the outside racer gets too high, he falls back. Same when the inside racer gets pinched down, he can't run in as hard and therefore has to back off because he is not running the preferred line on the track for the inside, and this track has a good line for both. When either racer is out of their groove, the other racer has a much better chance of gaining the lead or the better groove, which is claiming a little of both. The beauty of Sunset Speedway is the fact there is two racing lanes, so if both drivers are patient and respect each other side by side racing is possible and both cars can race hard. At Flamboro the outside driver has to be much faster to pass and that can happen many ways, one he's simply much faster by a few tenths, or two, and the most common at Flamboro (to avoid wrecks) is the inside driver has to back off or run into the car beside him, and that's usually the case. Ernie raced as hard as I did, he tried to force me up a little, and I suppose I would do the same. It's much easier to judge when you're on the outside looking to your left than it is racing hard into the turn and trying to look to your right....that's suicide for sure. Ernie never hit me and I must say it was one of the best, heat races I have ever been in spanning 43 seasons, the only to go so long side by side. David and I had an amaziing heat finish at Barrie Speedway when we came off turn four side by side to a near photo finish, but we never ran that way all race, like this race. The hard charge was getting to me a little. At one point I fell back to Ernie's rear bumper, but within a lap we were side by side again. It was a work out, but our car was very good. We had a push in the heat, and if the car was a little tight, running on the outside made it less apparent. With two laps to go we were starting edge in front. going into one Bob said "clear low", but I decided to stay high and also going into three. Coming off four we were a car length ahead and then I took up some of the inside lane going into one. At the checker I was very happy and so were all our crew. As I slowed down going into three I drove up to the wall in turn four where the beautiful sign, and beautiful people were cheering. What a great win for us, and though it would be the only thing for us to cheer about this night, we would not be missing the moment even after the races were over.
Sunset Speedway Championship Chase...Starts Now
After qualifying was complete the line up procedure for opening night was heads up, and that’s fair and understandable. No one has a handicap so heads up is as good as any for the first night.
We had an 8th and a 1st and knew we’d be mid pack, but we’re actually a little further back starting in 11th of 18 cars. Our goal tonight was to get to know our car on bump stops and learn as much as possible about our competition. Knowing the competition is a huge benefit in any quest to win a title, and that’s our goal.
We got a good start in the feature but I noticed almost instantly that we were tight. Not a good sign early in the race because as fuel gets used up the car would tighten up even more. My only hope was to get outside and try to run the outside lane. The trouble with that plan was that everyone else had the same idea.
We ran on the inside for a while and I was having trouble getting on the gas because of the push. The car would wash up the track and I really didn’t want to get into anyone. I dialed in some rear brake to help, but it wasn’t making any difference.
On about lap nine Bob our crew chief and spotter called out “clear low”, so I dropped to the inside lane. About two seconds later I got hammered and spun around. “okay, what was that” I wondered. Bob soon let me know. “The 29 ran into you Gary, he just drove in, didn’t even slow up”. New guy on the block, got to put him in his place mentality maybe, or possibly a mistake on his part. Who knows, I figured he would come over after the race and say something but he didn’t and that’s cool to. He probably read that we don’t do pay backs and rarely run into anyone. He may not have heard that I’m going through the change of life, so who knows.
Anyway, there was no damage to the car and I wasn’t too happy being so tight and felt maybe at the back I could run the upper lane and see how the car worked.
We didn’t go very far when another yellow came out involving some of the cars in the top seven. I maneuvered around a few body parts in turns one and two but it looked like everyone was good to go.
Meanwhile up front, 2011 points champ Kevin Cornelious was having his way leading the feature with little pressure from Tom Walters who was second. Tom said he could catch Kevin going in but lost two car lengths coming off the corners.
We got under way again, lap 14 and we had moved up to 12th. I could see potential of advancing because our car was getting better as I stayed outside. On lap 17 that all changed in a second, for us and Mike Bentley #51 who was right behind.
Going down the back chute just past midway, our night went from a car that pushed to a car that slid sideways at high speed, in my own oil, heading to the wall, with cars right behind. It started with a dull, kind of familiar noise, like I remembered from my inline days, followed by thuds, thumps, smoke and the car going into a death spin. I jammed on the brakes and could still hear crashing and banging under the car. I was hoping I wouldn’t slam the wall and just as I came to a stop, I thought “we must have blown the engine”, and then BANG, I was hit by Mike Bentley. I could not see from all the smoke, the inside of the car looked like an early morning in London England. I could see the hood buckled and figured we got a double jeopardy, a blown engine and a wrecked race car. Bob asked me what happened and I said “I think we blew up”. Years ago that would have been true, and I was wondering how we’d blow up the Crate engine. “Oh well, not a good start to our Championship chase” was my thoughts as I got out of the car. I really didn’t know what had happened because I was so preoccupied in the smoke filled Impala just trying not to slam the wall. When I got out I saw my left front wheel off the ground, the front bumper smashed and the hood buckled. Then I saw Mikes car, the incredible damage to his front end, I reasoned it must have happened when he hit me. Wow what a mess.
Then I walked around picking up parts, but not engine parts. The first part was the drive shaft, ripped in two, then transmission parts, a yoke, the input shaft and more parts strewn everywhere. So it was then I knew it wasn’t the engine. I figured for sure our front end was junk because of Mikes damage and my car lifted a foot off the ground.
Finally tow truck hauled us to the pits, or at least tried to. We wrecked in turn three and the exit was in turn two, so we went down the front chute and off the track, but as we tried to exit the tranny caught the top of the track and jammed. As the tow truck tried to back up the transmission fell out on the track with the shifters still attached. We had to get a 9/16 wrench to undo the shifters to get the trans out from under the car to get it off the track…..madness.
When we got to the pits I started to survey the damage and naturally my first place to look was the suspension. The rad was gone, the shroud, the front bumper, transmission, driveshaft, starter, driveshaft hoop and the floor was smashed up 4 inches, but the frame was good. I said to Bob, “the frame looks okay, how did Bentley do so much damage to his car”. That’s when I heard that Mike had slammed head on into the wall and hit me when he glanced off it, but only hit my front bumper, not the front wheel.
We were still in lots of trouble, damaged parts and a lot of work ahead of us. I went over to see Mikes car and could not believe how bad his car was crushed. I saw Mike and gave him a hug. He was sore, but more hurt from his wrecked race car. He handled it very well.
We headed home quite late, a disappointing and expensive night for us, not to mention a huge hit in the points standings. We did look at the positives and realized it could have been much worse.
I thank God that no one was hurt and with the help of our crew would start the process of getting our car ready for next week.
Congratulations to #17 Kevin Cornelious and his team for winning the opening night feature. They will be tough to beat in 2012, but by looks of the first race night there are a few very fast cars.
Season #44 didn’t quite start the way we wanted, but we know of the many situations that await race teams when they go to do battle, this is one of them, hopefully it’s our last for this year.
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 2:06 pm
May 12th…..Sunset Speedway
•Tony Tiemersma Wins
•We get 10th …mechanical woes
•Last lap wreck controversy
•Gehrig struggles again with engine miss
Clutch, gas pedal, routine
Bob, Justin, Eric...and special guests...Ken Stenhouse and Jim Hulzinga
We got away late, mostly because of the repairs needed for our Late Model. We got to the track by 3:45 thinking we had lots of time. However, we were wrong, practice for Late Models ended at 4:10 and we missed practice.
Shirley also arrived at about the same time and Gehrig missed warm ups as well.
We had to put gear oil in our car and a few other small things but we were ready for the heat. The reason there was no gear oil is because I discovered more damaged parts from opening day. We were finishing off the car on Friday night, I was under the chassis cleaning and noticed one of the ears on the yoke, that holds the driveshaft in place, was broken. I called Junior hoping he might have one, or could fix it. He told me Grisdale had a few of them so I headed there first thing Saturday morning, but was out of luck, they didn’t have one, but ordered me one for next week. I called Junior and he told me to bring the yoke and a u-joint and he would fix it. By 11:00 we were in business and headed back to the shop to install the yoke. The only problem was it had to be packed with silicone and would need a few hours to dry, so we decided not to put in the gear oil until we got to the track.
In our first heat we started last, but knew we’d be pole in the next. I noticed almost immediately that the clutch seemed to be slipping. We had originally needed 7 shims to get the clutch to disengage. People were telling us not to use so many, and we agreed but it would not disengage. We did take out 2 after we bought the new clutch and pressure plate, leaving us with 5. That still seemed like a lot. We were told there had to be pre load on the pressure plate, and with it not disengaging we agreed that to be true. In this race we finished last, but stayed with the pack.
We made a few small changes for the next race where we’d be starting pole and thought we were ready. Unfortunately on the start of the race coming off four I hit the throttle and the clutch slipped huge. I started waving cars by me immediately knowing there were 7 cars behind me. I cruised for the rest of this heat, once again finishing last.
We decided after the second heat to pull out another shim, we had to do it because the clutch was slipping. We got it out and now had 4 shims left on the trans shaft.
Meanwhile our Mini Stock team was having all kinds of trouble. The car would not run. Gary, an expert on these cars came over and tried all he could to help but it was no use. They found both wires on the electric fuel pump loose and reasoned the poor connections could be the cause. Still, after getting them secured, the car would not start. Shirley bought another fuel pump for $200 and the car did start, but would stall out, run rough and hesitate.
Hopefully he would start the feature.
We were starting scratch again in our feature, because of our poor qualifying. There were 19 cars out, one more than last week. We would have been up front, but unless our car is capable of competing, up front is the last place we want to be, and a slipping clutch is one thing that should not be one a race car, but if it is for some reason, going to the back is the only way not to get run over.
On the green the car felt good, no slipping. We were actually able to race. A yellow came out on lap 5 and we were now up to 15th. On that restart going into three I was stunned to feel the engine rev up and go nowhere with the clutch once again starting to slip. It was very much but was dangerous with four or five cars right behind me. I immediately pulled high in turn three letting everyone go. Bob, my spotter asked me what happened and when I told him he was almost silent with unbelief.
I decided to stay out, although we would not be competitive at all. Over the next few restarts we developed a pattern that we would fall back on the green, but after a few laps get a rhythm going allowing us to catch up a bit. It was kind of depressing but made the race as fun as possible. On one long run we caught up to the back of the field after being 10 car lengths behind. I could drive in deep, get on it slow and get off the corner smooth allowing us to keep up momentum. I figured the clutch might be done anyway, though it wasn’t burning.
Every caution I’d go to the back letting accident cars ahead, a natural thing to do since we were way too slow on the starts.
Up front a battle was on going the entire race between Mike Bentley and Chris Morrow. They ran hard on this very fast track. With two laps to go Chris was in front by a nose. Taking the white flag Chris raced hard into one almost a car length ahead of Mike. Mike got a great run coming off two and they raced down the back chute with Chris slightly ahead by the nose of the car. As they went through turns three Mike pushed up a little and Chris got loose. With the checker flag out Chris came down into the side of Mike and then ricocheted hard into the turn four wall. Kevin Cornelious was right there in the high lane and hit Chris hard again. Mike crossed the line in first place followed by Tony Timersma, Taylor Holdaway and Billy Zardo. We came across near the back, because by the time I got to the wreck the yellow was flashing.
It was a mess. Chris was furious and when Mike drove by, threw his helmet at the #51. The track wasn’t sure how to call the race so they went back a lap and gave the win to Kevin Cornelious. However protests were flying after the race and the race would not be official until mid week.
Unofficially we were scored 12th, but after a review by the track they recanted going back a lap and gave the win to #7 Tony Timersma. Mike was considered an accident car and was sent to the back. Kevin who crossed the line in 5th with sparks flying from his car, did not get the win, but was credited with 4th place after Mike was scored at the back. The final finish put us 10th, crazy but we’ll take it.
Meanwhile Gehrig got to start the feature but only ran a few laps, the car was missing so bad he pulled off.
On Sunday Shirley took the car back to Sauble to Jason who will have another engine installed. Besides the constant smoking, Jason will try to fix the miss as well.
We have a much lighter work week, but we do need to get the clutch problem solved, it’s a poor start for us, but we’re not giving up and have no regrets of making Sunset our home track. Soon our woes will be over and we can race….likewise for our grandson Gehrig, who has been very patient sitting out the first feature and now parking his car early in the next. Things can’t get worse for him either. Hopefully he doesn’t get discouraged.
Special thanks to our crew, Bob and Justin, for their extra hard work tonight trying to get our car ready for the feature, and Ken Stenhouse and Jim Hulzinga for their help as well.
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 2:06 pm
May 19th ......Sunset Speedway
* Mike Bentley wins
* We finish 9th
* Poor qualifying hurting us
* Track doing everything it can to keep parity and smart racing
routine check over, cosmetic
Bob, Steve, Ryan, Jason and Matt
Part Of Our Team Missing
It was a tough night for us not having our grandson Gehrig in the line up. Last week end Shirley took the Honda to Jason Legge in Owen Sound to replace the engine and transmission and to help find the source of the engine miss. Jason’s main man Chad, road tested the car and verified the car would not go over 4000 RPM. They did replace the engine, because it was smoking and the transmission, but ran into all kinds of issues trying to trouble shoot the engine miss. Chad tried everything he could to get to the bottom of it, including taking time off work. Both he and Jason wanted us to have the car back in time, but it wasn’t to be, the miss was still there. It would need an OBD2 scanner to pin point the power loss. Shirley and I agreed there was no sense in getting the car and having Gehrig run like that anymore, it was over the top frustrating for him and we would sooner him wait a week then even consider going on the track knowing nothing had changed. He was good about it, I appreciated that, it was tougher on us than him, and I’m absolutely sure, on Jason as well.
What Will Go Wrong Next
We got to the track early this week, 1:45. We had nothing to do to the car, so getting hot laps was going to be easy. We did go out twice and the car was turning the same times as the rest, 15:2-3’s. The track was very hot and times would not be in the 14’s until things cooled down a little. We were happy with the car after warm ups and prepared the car for the first heat race.
Our crew worked efficiently making sure everything got done. Bob our crew chief made sure we were on top of all the pre race prep.
There was a Late Model drivers meeting before qualifying. Only the owner, spotter and driver were invited. This meeting was a result of the bad wreck last week with Mike Bentley and Chris Morrow. Mark Dilley did all the talking, letting us know we can’t keep wrecking stuff. He was concerned about the high costs teams were getting from the wrecks. He also let the drivers know they had to give room, not to pinch down, or push up and crowd cars. He warned that we would be watched more and that drivers not showing respect would be black flagged. Everyone agreed with his points. Mark said if wrecking continued he would cancel the points and split the money evenly, but that was more of a desperation threat than reality, because he didn’t want to do that either. He also suggested allowing each team a drop night, but of the 15 cars represented in the meeting, the vast majority were against it. Mark let us all know that Sunset would do whatever it took to make sure things went well for us, that all teams were treated fairly. All in all it was a great meeting, refreshing.
You would think after such a meeting, and a racer who rarely hits anyone would be the cause of the first caution on lap one of the first Late Model heat. We started inside pole beside #10 Ernie Fumerton and going down the back chute into three we picked up a little speed and as we got on the gas my car started to push up. A second later I got hit hard and thought for a moment that Ernie chopped me, but the car did push up when I got on the gas. Going for the green we raced into one and again my car pushed up in the middle and I caught Ernie again only this time ripping our right front tire and send him sideways off turn two. The yellow came out and I limped around to the infield. After the race the tow truck tried to tow me off but the strap broke so I said I would drive it in. I got off the track and waited at the bottom thinking my crew was coming, but they thought the tow truck was bringing me. I walked up to our pit at the far east side and got the crew to bring a tire, jack and impact gun. We got the tire replaced and headed back to the pits.
Once there we started to inspect the damage.
I wasn’t sure exactly what happened. I asked if the #10 pinched me down going between three and four just before the green. David said “no dad, you pushed up into him, both in three and four and in one and two”. I couldn’t figure that out because the car was really good in hot laps and it didn’t make sense that we’d have such a push. He reasoned I may have had the flat tire going into one, but I didn’t think I did until we hit again.
We decided to check the toe and see where it was. It was 2” out, so something must have been bent. Then David discovered the right front steering arm was cracked in half, and only held on by a four inch gusset I had installed a few years ago. With no spare we immediately took the front end apart. Jason Green went to the pit tower to see if there was a welder and there was. David and Bob started stripping the right front spindle. The rest of the crew completed the maintenance in case we could make it out for the next race.
The welder was watching his daughter race and so Bob and David waited for him to return. Once welded, we got it back together and set the toe. It was suggested not to touch anything on the car chassis because of the push in the heat in hopes of determining if the incident may have been caused solely by the steering arm, possibly being cracked already. We hustled and got back out for the 2nd heat. It was perfect because we were scheduled to start last.
I took it easy for a lap or so but soon got racing and the car was as good. We ran on the outside for much of the heat but could not do any better than 8th. Once back in the pits we all agreed the culprit for the heat wreck was the steering arm, it cracked and opened up the toe so much that it made the car push.
While the boys got the car ready for the feature I went to Ernie’s pit and apologized to him for causing the mess in the first heat, and that I appreciated him running me clean in the second heat. He was okay and we shook hands.
Once our car was prepared for the feature I had to reflect how awesome it was that we made it back out for the second heat. Over the years we done some amazing things to get out for a race, tonight is another to add to that long list of not giving up and validating our Iron Man attitude. Also, getting back out was a great opportunity for us to see what caused the accident and it obviously wasn’t the chassis set up.
After all the work was done for the feature, and the crew set to go to the infield, the only thing left to do was put the hood on. Bob noticed the top rad hose was swollen quite a bit. We checked a lot of things over and found all systems working properly. It was agreed the hose was bad, we had a spare but it was too big at both end….so it wasn’t really a spare. We decided to run the first few laps of the feature and on the first caution come in to the infield to have it inspected. David, Steve, Jason and Ryan went to the infield, Bob went to the grandstands to spot.
Finally A Decent Run
Because we had such a poor qualifying run again, we started 15th. There were four cars missing from the week before, #5, #7, #11 and #88.
On the green we stayed up and ran with the pack. The first caution came out early on lap 2, when #55 Bruce Rankin and #22 Kyle Mombourquette got together. It was the end for Kyle in the #22. I went to the infield and some tape was added to the hose in case in grew a little and rubbed on something.
I returned to the track and restarted at the back. The next few laps went green and all was good until lap 5 when #03 Dario Capirchio went high in turn three and stopped in turn four. He was towed off.
The rest of the race went green, all the way. We got into some great battles with Ernie Fumerton, Billy Zardo and Taylor Holdaway in the middle of the race and once we got clear we pulled away and ran down the #6 Keith Maiato and #49 Frank Davey. That battle was crazy as Frank tried a number of times to get under Keith but he would not surrender. The three of us were side by side and bumper to bumper right till the end and we settled for a 9th in the feature, our best finish this year, but the first time we were actually racing in a feature.
Mike Bentley won the feature, followed by 2011 Champ Kevin Cornelious. It was a good run for Mike, after destroying his car on the season opener, and then getting into the controversy last week.
The 9th place finish moves us to 12th from 15th in the points. Too bad we had such a bad start in our first two nights, but it is a long season and we are getting to know everyone here, and our way around the track.
This track is so awesome in many ways. Racing is fast and furious, and very close. I have never ran outside as much as I did here. I use to a lot in the Hobby car no matter where we went, but not so much at Flamboro. Of course we did run outside but here you have no choice but to run hard to move up.
The fans are great, the staff is amazing, all 20 of them. They are constantly encouraging us and thanking us for coming.
I was somewhat taken when a friend of mine asked me what was wrong with me this year, he said “I’m use to seeing you up near the front, not at the back”. I was disappointed at that, but it’s true, this has been a tough start for us and most watching might think we should have stayed at Flamboro, but we know why we’ve struggled and have a handle on it. Things will get better for us for sure.
Our crew is one of the reasons we’ll get better, they were amazing tonight and we learned a lot. We’re hoping for a much better night next Saturday.
Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 2:06 pm
May 26th.......Sunset Speedway
* 18 cars
* Kevin Cornelious wins
* We get messed up in feature
* Still struggling in heat qualifing
get ready for Pro Late Model race
Bob, Ryan, Justin, Matt, Eric
Friday night Gehrig and I headed to Owen Sound to pick up the Honda. On our way we stopped in Fergus to get four racing tires for the Honda from John Ross.
We got to Spring Mount around 5:45 and then to Jason Legge’s place 10 minutes later. The car wasn’t there it was a few miles down the road and wasn’t quite ready when we got there, but at least we knew it would be within a few hours meaning that Gehrig wouldn’t miss another night of racing. Jason Legge had things under control for us and his friend Chad was the Honda guru who changed the engine and worked hard to get the miss out of the car.
We had about an hour and a half to kill so we headed to Joe and Sue Chisholm’s beautiful home on the lake. Joe and I did 20 episodes of the Iron Man Minute played on Race Time Radio.
After that we headed back to Chad’s garage and picked up the car. He gave us three things to complete. A return fuel line needed to be installed because for some reason the car kept quitting and the return line was definitely plugged, a kill switch for the electric fuel pump and finally secure the ECU.
On Saturday I got up early, dropped off the new tires we got at Grisdale’s to be installed on the four new chrome racing rims we order a month ago. I picked up the parts I needed, fuel line, some clamps and a switch and headed to Flamboro where Shirley, JJ and the kids were with the go-cart for Laurens racing. JJ and Gehrig had the Mini Stock on a cement pad, jacked up and ready for me when I got there. It didn’t take too long and after 45 minutes the car was running, sounded great with just the ECU to secure.
After this I was tired, mostly from getting home late from Owen Sound, but got home around 11:30 and met Bob.
We finished cleaning the Late Model and loading up but I was troubled because we had a few issues to deal with. We would be late getting away because I had to make sure our crew chief Bob could get a ride back from Sunset, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to make it, and I really wanted him to be there.
I put a post on face-book, but there was no response. It was kind of late going on regardless. With no one returning Saturday night, Jason Green offered his vehicle for Bob to drive back and that settled things for me, because Bob didn’t mind driving back and I wouldn’t be
without my much valued crew chief.
We arrived around 3:30, still giving us lots of time to get a set of hot laps. Once signed in (drivers don’t pay…awesome) I drew my heat starting spot. The first week was 34, then 18 followed by 4. This week was 13, and I’m not superstitious, but what followed sure made this number’s bad luck omen have some validity.
Most of our crew were not at the track yet, so Bob, Matt and I unloaded the car by ourselves, and that’s when the first disaster struck. We’ve done it a lot of times but this time things didn’t go well at all. A combination of wrong ingredients produced an incident that would cost us much extra work and turn our relaxing moment into a chaotic event. We’d been having trouble with our winch; it would jam up and get knotted. Sometimes it would not uncoil and other times release the car for about 2 feet at once and then catch. We were doing okay until it suddenly free wheeled for a few feet but when it caught the tow hook on the front bumper snapped and the car started going down the ramp of the trailer on it’s own. I yelled for both Bob and Matt to look out but also to stop the car, not sure how they were going to do that. If they hadn’t stopped the car it was downhill from there, literally and at the bottom was Mike Bentley’s new Late Model. The last thing I wanted to do was wreck Mike’s car, he already lost one because of me when our transmission and everything under the car evacuated their position and spread gear oil all over the track, resulting in Mikes car getting demolished. Yes, seeing that car go down the hill was the first thing on my mind, perhaps why I yelled so loud.
As the car went down the boys got a good grip on the body to slow it down but the jolt from the winch turned the front wheels and the left front fender caught the back door cable of the trailer ripping most of the nose off the car. Once the dust settled we were stressed because we wanted to unwind a bit (not like the winch) and be mentally prepared to snap our bad luck streak. Picking #13, then having this happen 10 minutes later was definitely not stopping any streaks, although I was very happy we stopped the Late Model from streaking down into Mike.
The boys got the car fixed and I sorted through our tires. We had tickets to get some tires but I felt the ones we had were okay for one more night….wrong. Maybe the inside front was, but the rest were due to be changed and should have been. My dilemma was simple. After buying four new tires for the McColl Pro Late Open on Sunday, there were no more funds for the regular show. So I did what any conscientious business man would do I ran older wore out tires. I should have done what a smart racer would have done, bought the new tires that were due and put them on the car. Running what you have is better than not racing right? Of course, but if you’re going to run older tires that are much slower, get out of the way, like start scratch or get run over, and we did.
I our heat we started fourth. We ran okay but it wasn’t long before I got hit and spun out. I don’t think it was necessarily because of the tires. We were spun again by #29, twice this month. He never said anything the first time and I would guess he wouldn’t this time either. So I drove by him and pointed letting him know I wasn’t happy, but the gestures I got back from him indicated he couldn’t care less if I was or not. I calmed down and went to the back and finished there.
We checked the car over and found a tire damaged and removed it. There wasn’t much else to do, except check the toe and it was okay. In 7 heat races this year, we won one and finished last in the other 6.
We started this race in third and followed the 7 and 51. Mike would go on to win and we finished 3rd a few car lengths behind the #7 Tony Tiemersma but a few ahead of #29 Sean Grossman, who was fourth.
We qualified, finally and thought our car was okay to battle up front. I took my handicap spot, inside pole beside my friend Ernie Fumerton #10. We raced side by side for two laps. My car was tight for sure, I wished I was outside. Coming off two I thought I could get Ernie but I got tagged and spun toward the outside wall, right into Ernie. The car bounced off the #10 and came down to the inside lane right into #6 Keith Maiato. Next thing I was up on his front end, could not slow down and we both spun to the infield but by the time I got back on the track I could not slow down and hit the inside wall bending the bumper nose and twisting the pins that hold the hood. We also cut another tire. That’s 5 destroyed tires of 8 in our inventory.
I headed to pit row and our crew changed the right rear tire and I restarted where it was safe…at that back. Unfortunately for us, the right rear spring did not set back down in the pocket, instead sitting on top of the pocket and totally de-wedging the car, but I didn’t know it so I raced thinking we were okay.
For the next dozen laps our car was very good, not as fast as the leaders but good enough to get us up to 7th of 18 cars. I ran on the outside most of the time. I really didn’t notice the car being real loose, although I could not get on the gas as quick as I wanted. A few times I felt it was loose going in so I dialed in more front brake. If I had ran on the inside lane I would have noticed for certain how loose the car was, but the outside is less stressful on the car when it comes to turning.
On about lap fifteen, going into turn three, cars spun in front of me. I hit the brakes and came around again. It was crazy, I didn’t hit them that hard, but the car spun right away. Not knowing what was wrong, the spring out of place, I once again dialed in more front brake.
The race continued with a few more yellows and once again we were up to 8th. I noticed more and more as the race went on that my car was not right. Now that I was on my own I didn’t run in as high as I was in traffic.
On lap 28 I spun on my own going into three and decided to just finish and not try to keep up with the field. There were only two laps left and when we crossed the finish line we ended up 12th.
After the feature I said to Bob, “I have no idea why I was so loose, I must have been dialing in rear brakes”!! Bob said “look at this”, and showed me the spring on top of the purchase. He said “you couldn’t race it.
We watched the Mini Stock feature, but Gehrig who at first reported that his engine was fine, changed that story when we could see there was still no power on the straights. It was starting to miss again and he was all but ready to retire of racing after only 4 nights.
I promised Gehrig, as did Shirley and JJ, that we would get to the bottom of it.
How disappointing this season had become for us. Our race program was very discouraging, and so was Gehrig’s. There was no hope now of either of us attaining our goals, a Championship for me and Rookie Of The Year for him. With the way our car ran here the past two seasons in the Pro Late Model shows, I was getting shell shocked at how terrible our luck had become….for both cars. The bottom line however is that none of us is ready to give us, we want desperately to get our seasons turned around for both cars.
Once all the races were done and our car was cooled down, we started getting ready for the race on Sunday. Ryan, Dustin, Matt and Bob all helped and we got the lead removed, the transmission, bell housing and clutch out, reinstalled the 5.5” clutch and left the carb for Sunday.
Jason Green and I stayed at Ryan and Jenn’s place. I was having a tough time sleeping. I’ve had seasons like this before, back in the early 70’s and 80’s, but this season was slowly making it’s way to be the worst in 44 years.
It wasn’t, nor is it, just me feeling the stress of not being able to compete and get a good finish, all our crew feel the same way….but like I said none of us is considering giving up, that’s not an option.
Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 2:06 pm
May 27th.......Sunset Speedway
Race #5 (First McColl Pro Late Model 75 Lapper)
* 27 cars
* Tom Walters wins
* We wreck bad, do not start race
* David finishes 6th (great feature run)
* Long time to complete...Walters in a league by himself...not even close
Not enough room to list....everything that bolts, is welded or rivets to the car is bent, broken, twisted, tore or crushed.
Ryan, Justin, Matt, Eric and Dave Baker as head spotter
May is now referred to as Mayhem.
We worked on the car Saturday night changing the clutch and removing led. Justin, Ryan, Matt and Bob all helped try to get our car converted before it got too late. The first problem we ran into was our release bearing working in the new bell we had. This bell housing was the one we got after the drive line explosion on Mayhem 5th. It was our goal to keep the two systems separate. We have a different release bearing for each set up, the 5.5 inch clutch and the 10” or tow-motor clutch. The first thing we did (accidentally) was put the small clutch in without putting the bolts in first, so we had to do it again. Then we couldn’t get the release bearing to mount up because this bell had a different ball mount than our original beat up bell from Mayhem 5th.
We borrowed one from Chris Morrow and when we put it in it would not screw in all the way making it impossible to put in the transmission. We decided to grind it down to make it fit and it worked. Time was going against us quickly, the track wanted to close down, and we really wanted to get to bed. Bob left, he wasn’t staying for Sunday’s race, it was Megan’s birthday. We finally got everything in and all the led removed and decided just to cover the car over for the night and continue in the morning.
We headed to Ryan’s home, Jason Green and I, Shirley and Lauren stayed in the RV and JJ and Gehrig had a room already booked.
I was having trouble trying to sleep, mostly with all the trouble we’d been having this year and again this night. Taking over two hours to get the clutch in was discouraging as well. Our team desperately needed a good run and not getting it Saturday was bothering me a lot.
We woke up to a great breakfast….thank you Jenn. We had to be at the track by 10:30 to finish the clutch, get it bled and fix what we could with the front bumper that was twisted out of shape.
After picking JJ and Gehrig up we got to the track and started working on the car. Our first issue was with the release bearing. I thought it seemed far too loose. David came over and within seconds seen there were no bolts coming off the transmission to hold the release bearing. With the 10” clutch we don’t use the bolts we use shims. Once David explained it I knew what we had to do. He measured the bolts and we removed the transmission again, and got it fixed. I think we have removed our transmission more times this year than our tires.
Finally we were done messing with the car and put it down off jack stands.
During the night I was thinking about our season and was concerned about running the new tires we just bought. My tire inventory was depleted huge with 5 damaged tires, and the other three wore out. I really couldn’t afford to run the new tires I bought on Saturday for the McColl Pro Late Model show. I talked to Mark Dilley and asked him if I could put the four new ones in our inventory, I had accumulated four coupons, so it was legal. He said sure. I showed him our remaining three tires and they were in sad shape as well. I was glad we were allowed to do that, it meant we’d have new tires for next weekend.
By the time we were ready to practice it was getting late and there was only one set left. We ran the tires I had on the car from the CME show in Toronto. They only had 20 laps on them and 2 cycles. Since all teams were only allowed 4 tires for the feature, and 2 spares that could only be changed if a tire was cut, I knew we wouldn’t be too far off knowing all of us were on the same playing field.
I should have been happy with our draw for start in the first heat. I got #1, but was so bummed out by how bad our car had been running that starting up front only gave me the feeling that I could be in the way of the fast group of cars in this field. I understand being negative only adds to the dilemma, but after the start we’ve had, being puck shy is part of the psyche I’m going through. A good night of racing would help build some much needed confidence. Also, our finances have seen better days, and trying to make every race has been a challenge in 2012, especially with the bad luck we’ve been having.
There was more stress on the horizon for us. Our head spotter Bob, would not be at the track and I appointed Shirley to spot for me. She really didn’t want the stressful job, so she appointed Dave Baker. Dave and I discussed the strategy and what I liked and we were set. I said to Dave “talk to me all the time”. He knew he didn’t have to tell me how to drive, just let me know where the other cars were and where our car looked strong or where I could improve.
Our heat was loaded with some fast cars. We started on the pole with Mike Bentley outside and Brandon Watson right behind Mike. Brandon would win the race with Mike 2nd and us 3rd. Our car had a slight push in the middle and I could not get on the gas, however we didn’t fall too far behind the #51 of Bentley.
We made two changes for the 2nd heat, raised the track bar and took out a little front bar. In this heat we started last. On the green I knew right away our car was good. It would turn in the middle as soon as I got on the gas, no push. We ran about four laps and got by a few cars. We were up to 5th and going into one #1 Jaxson Jacobs ran into the back of Taylor Holdaway #41. I got outside of Jacobs and we raced down the back chute passing Holdaway off two. We raced into three and our car hooked up real good. Suddenly the #1 got loose coming off four, I went high and got on the gas knowing the looseness would slow him down. As we came off turn four I was hard on the throttle when Jacobs headed from the bottom of the track right towards the outside wall on the front chute. I was already there and could not get on the brake, or out of the way. At about the same time I saw him come up on my left side he was into me and I was into the front chute wall. Our car climbed and rode the wall taking out the right front suspension and brakes, and when it came back on the track headed full speed for the inside retaining wall. I could not believe our car did not come to a stop on the front chute. Heading to the inside wall I jammed on the brakes but there was no pedal, I couldn’t slow down, in fact it seemed as though the car was speeding up. Seeing the inside wall come at me, after slamming the outsiide wall very hard, was a real test of the body and mind. I let go of the steering wheel as the left front smashed hard into the cement sending the car to a stop about 60 feet further down the track. I was almost to turn one by the time the dust settled and parts stopped falling off the car. I was sore, and felt a pain from my left hand. One of the track crew workers told me I was cut and bleeding. He asked if I was alright and after a one second glance I nodded that I was okay.
I got out of the car to a cheering celebration, oh how nice that would have been with a checker flag in my hand. I waved but was stiff and aching all over. Track staff kept asking me if I was okay and I let them know I was. The blood on my hand was running down and when Shirley seen it she started yelling at the ambulance people to attend me. They did and I ended up in the ambulance. They had a debate for a few minutes, one saying my hand was broke, the other saying it wasn’t. I could move it so I figured it wasn’t.
After 7 or 8 minutes I got out of the ambulance to another cheer from the fans. I waved again. It’s funny how that kind of makes you feel good, in spite of the fact our car was sitting on the track demolished. Two tow trucks were having the worst time trying to get our car hooked up. They were going to take it off with one in the front and the other in the rear, two of them balancing it carefully, although I didn’t know at that point if there was anything left on the car they could hurt, most everything was bent, broken, twisted or crushed.
With the red still out I was going to head to the pits and I looked over and saw the #1 sitting in between turns one and two. I wanted to go talk to him before the yellow came out. I ran towards him, leaped over one wall on pit row, and then the second. As I got closer I slowed down and when I got to the car I spoke to the driver asking him what happened. I can normally read a situation on the track, but I was totally shocked on this deal, and had no idea he would come up into me like he did.
I knew his car got loose as he got on the gas, that’s when I got on it hard and went high off four. He said his car just washed up. The term wash up usually refers to pushing up. His car broke loose and when he turned hard right to counter, the car gripped and threw him straight towards the wall, but of course we were there and took the full impact slamming the cement very hard.
I talked to him for a few minutes, knowing I had time as the tow trucks were still working on getting our car off the track. He looked very young, but I had no idea how young. He was 14 years old and this was his first time at Sunset Speedway. After a brief discussion I let him know everything was cool and shook hands with him before leaving the track and heading to the pits. I was convinced he did't do anything on purpose. I was also convinced the accident was totally his fault, although I became a factor as soon as I decided to go into the race in the first place. I usually don't use that as an excuse to make me somewhat responsible, but once any racer goes on the track, he risks getting wrecked. My comfort was the youngster showed remorse. He may never race against me again, and may not even remember my name, but I offered him forgiveness allowing both of us to move on.
When I got back to the pits the first people to meet me were Shirley and Lauren. Shirley was crying and we hugged. It was a bad crash no doubt, and scary for our family. As we headed back to our pit Mark Dilley asked me what happened. He heard about the wreck but didn’t see it. He said when I knew what was wrong with the car to call him in the morning. I’ve never had a race promoter even say something like that. In New Brunswick in 1984, when 6 or 7 Hobby cars got wrecked, promoter and owner Ernie McLean told us we could use his shop to fix the cars for our next race and everyone took him up on it. But as for a home track promoter, I was very surprised when Mark showed that much concern for us.
Meanwhile back at the pit our guys were working feverishly trying to get all the bent parts off the car so it could be loaded. The amount of broken parts was incredible. I have never broken, bent or crushed so much stuff in one race. We would lose alot of parts Inside the Hobby in-lines when they would let go at 7000 RPM, but never had this much carnage with chassis and bolt on parts.
Dave Baker was a big help to Ryan, Justin and Matt as they worked non-stop making it so the car could be taken home.
Mike McColl came by and told me to call him if I needed his services. I knew with Nonie coming home from the hospital there would be no way our crew could take on this project and expect to have the car ready for next week end. We also would not have the use of a good welder to fix the roll cage bars and chassis support bars that were bent. This wreck was bad, my worst ever and if we tried to fix it we may miss some key parts, or cracks. The dilemma I was in was the work load and the cost to fix it. I could handle the work load if Nonie wasn’t in need of me after her knee replacement, but I promised her I would make sure she could count on me all day for at least two weeks. That meant my only chance to get ready for June 2nd was to send the car to McColl's.
We headed up to watch the Late Model race. David had a great run finishing 6th. Tom Walters won, easy, there wasn’t a car in the house that could match him in any way. There were at least seven different cars that restarted outside of him, but none had a chance including Cole Powell, Brandon Watson, Jesse Kennedy, Brad Corcoran or Mike Bentley. Most of them couldn’t stay with Tom for one lap, the closest was Jesse who ran outside for a few laps but then gave way for the lead and soon fell back three or four car lengths. If this race ran non-stop Tom may have lapped the field, he was by far the quickest car there.
After the feature a lady came up to me and asked if I was Gary, I said yes. She thanked me for the grace I extended to her son Jaxson on the track. She said I had every right to be angry but instead forgave her son, and she said that was the most important lesson he learned today. I was very thankful that she told me that, made it easier for me to prepare for what was ahead.
Steve Slaughter and many other fans and staff came by and offered their support for us. Steve was kind of angry, not at Jaxson, but that we were having such a bad season. He noted that I left Flamboro to race at their track and have had nothing but bad luck all season.
We were noticing that many fans are cheering for us, hoping we turn things around. Our crew and I agree, if we could win a feature at this track we would have every fan in the place cheering, maybe every driver as well. The support, or should I say sympathy has been awesome.
Special thanks to all my crew, this was a very tough weekend for them. They did a lot of work and got no rewards for their effort, no joy, and worse, a ton of disappointment. I know they feel as bad as I do when we have the kind of trouble we’ve been going through. They deserve a break and I hope soon we can share one together…..soon!!!
Thank you Sunset Speedway promoters, staff, teams and precious fans, you have made us feel welcome at this incredible track. We know all of you want the best for us as well.
Our next race will be June 2nd....no more Mayhem, maybe our Lord will bless us with June Jewels.
Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:06 pm
June 9th.........Sunset Speedway
* Fan Appreciation Night
* 16 cars
* Rained out before qualifying completed...will announce rain date when it's confirmed
* First round of heats completed
* Trouble with brakes....not giving up paid off and Bob found the culprit
* Kevin Cornelious a true champions and very classy
Fix caliper, prepare for MRE Pro 75
Bob, Steve, Matt
This was a hectic but fruitful week for us. We immediately stripped our car down after last week’s rain out. Our car was just going in the trailer when we heard Sunset was cancelled for June 2nd. Bob and Steve took all the unpainted panels off and I was able to drop them off Monday morning for paint. All the needed decals were ordered as well on Monday.
By Wednesday the afternoon the panels were painted and Bob and I headed to Creative Edge to have the numbers installed on the doors and more importantly, the big Quaker State put on the side of the car. We came back to our garage and later that night installed all the painted panels, and then we installed all the decals.
By 9:30pm we put the car in the trailer so I could take it Friday morning for a taping on Cross Roads 100 Huntley Street. Eric Uprichard made the trip with me and the morning was a great success with awesome weather and only needing one take to get all the information we needed. The show will air this coming Friday at 9:am on CTS television.
We still had a few things to do to the car once we got to Sunset. There was a small leak on the floor of the garage and I suspected it was our release bearing again. It was brake fluid and in the middle area of the car, but we knew it could be a brake line as well since all the lines at the front of the car were removed when McColl’s did the repair the week before. We had done a full double nut and bolt check and did brake clean the car down to see if we could pin point the leak. We also had two body braces to attach and install the front valence. We figured if we got to Sunset early enough we would have time to get this stuff all done before hot laps.
The weather was not very promising for the Stroud area. There was an 80% chance of rain and not very promising to clear up. The Waterdown area was similar except it was calling for sunshine around 4 or 5.
We were very aware of the Grisdale Triple Crown race that night at Flamboro Speedway, and I thought I would like to go if we got rained out at Sunset. We knew we wouldn’t have time to do all the changes to the car we wanted, like the clutch and taking out the lead, but if we were not running at our new home track, I definitely wanted to run the G3 race.
I called Adam Lockwood in the morning and asked if he had any used 10” tires. I didn’t have any, and if Sunset did get rained out, I was in no position to buy tires, but I would go in the race with used tires. Adam called me back later and Bob and I went over to Grisdale’s and Adam and his son Ryan and Bill Grisdale set us up with 4 decent used tires. I was very appreciative but told them I wouldn’t be going if Sunset was a go.
This was not only a great race to be in, and I love the Grisdale people, Bill has been very good to me, but the race was carried live on Sirius radio through Race Time Radio. I talked to Joe Chisholm and he really wanted me to try and make it, but I told him I was dedicating this year to Sunset and I could not miss a night, even though we are not doing very well in the points. It would also be an opportunity for me to run with David this year and I miss racing with him.
Eric Uprichard and I went to Delaware Speedway Friday night to watch David and he ran the most amazing race in the heat, winning it on the last lap. It was his first ever Late Model win at Delaware. He also finished 7th in the feature although for most of the race he was in the top four. There were 25 Late Models and a great crowd.
I called Mark Dilley to see how the weather was at Sunset and he said it was clearing, so we headed up right away.
We got to the track and it was beautiful, a little humid. Our list of things to do, though short, was done quickly. We double checked all the brake fittings and line to make sure the leak was not coming from our brake system. We found a loose hose, and then bled all four brakes. Once finished we were set for the final set of hot laps.
The brake pedal was good when I went on the track. I warmed up the tires a little and tested the brakes to make sure we had good pedal. Our cars have always had a very high and firm pedal, a must for racing competitively. When the green came out I pulled down to let the cars behind us go. Bob let me know it was okay clear to get up to speed and so I pulled out in the top lane on the back chute. Almost immediately I felt the pedal get softer and travelling too far. I slowed down and eventually pulled off after three laps. We headed immediately to tech so we could get a read out on the car for ride heights and chassis numbers. I pulled #3 out of the bucket for our starting spot in the first heat, but at this point with the brakes the way they were I was going scratch. Bob was okay with that as well, since we wouldn’t get back out again to make sure they were okay. Over the years, when our car has had any issues, handling, brakes or power, I have not taken my spot at the front because of the high potential of getting into a wreck, spun out, wrecking someone else or just not being able to compete period. Taking your starting spot up front when you’re not able to keep up is a big mistake, and can end up causing a ton of trouble added to the existing issues you had prior to the race. Plus, who wants to wreck another car because you are having trouble.
It is bad enough when trouble happens on the green that you didn’t expect. We’ve had a throttle cable break, a steering arm, a starter cable come off, run out of gas and a clutch slip. Starting up front and knowing you have those issues is insane, I don’t know too many sensible drivers who would take the risk. Earlier this year we were on the pole and coming off four when we got on the gas our clutch started to slip. We had removed the transmission after the first heat and adjusted the preload on the pressure plate by removing a shim on the trans input shaft. The car was slipping slightly in t he first heat and so we were confident we would be fine after removing another. We were lucky and so was everyone behind us. I waved instantly for cars to go under me and no one hit us, all was good.
Our car stayed in the tech building during the drivers meeting and Mark Dilley mentioned that he hadn’t seen any team as long as he could remember that has had as much bad luck as our team. Right after the meeting a number of staff came over to us and commented on how good the car looked, including the ambulance driver who didn’t want to see me again…in his vehicle. Kevin Cornelious also came over and let us know he appreciated all that we did to get back to the track.
Right after the meeting and getting our numbers, we headed back to our pit area and put the car on four jack stands. We removed all the wheels and once again took a deeper look at the brakes. We knew there must be air getting in the system somehow, we just had to find it.
We bled t he brakes again and this time Bob said he got some air from the left front. The pedal felt good. I talked it over with our crew and said I would prefer to take scratch just in case. They all agreed.
There were 16 cars in the field, eight in each heat. We took scratch and on the green I noticed the pedal getting soft again. Within three or four laps it was getting worse and I had to back off much sooner than I wanted to. We did finish the race but 10 car lengths behind 7th. Kevin Cornelious #17 won the race by a straightaway as the battle for second was furious with all of the remaining cars but us in a battle.
Back in the pits we went over the brake system again. It was driving us nuts. There were no leaks anywhere, we could seen any problems. The pedal was good in the pits and then went south after a lap or so on the track, even under yellow. Twice on the track and still the same issue. We bled the brakes one more time and double checked the masters. While we were working on the car Kevin Cornelious came up and asked us what was wrong with our car. I explained it was the brakes, but we couldn’t find anything wrong, and told him the scenario. He stayed for a few minutes and encouraged us to keep trying. It was nice to have someone like him come up and offer help or parts or whatever. His visit was classy, refreshing to have the track champion give us a thumbs up and wish us the best, that was twice this night that he did that kind of thing.
We went back out for the second heat and our brakes were good as we went around under yellow. Then just before the white came out the pedal started going south again. I told Bob it must be the calipers, because both front were replaced after our super crash on May 27th.
Once back in the pits Matt and Steve put the car on jack stands. I figured the problem had to be either a caliper, or the master cylinders. Enter the needle in the hay stack. I thought we had a set of used masters but we didn’t, but I really didn’t lean towards masters. There were four calipers all marked for each corner of the car. We pulled out both front. Bob started pulling off the driver’s side caliper first because that’s where we saw fluid leaking earlier in the week. We messed around for about 10 minutes and the rain stopped. All of a sudden Bob yelled out “I found it”. We all went over to see. He pointed out the flex attached to the caliper fitting and said “see the crack”. I looked and couldn’t see any crack, the line was new. Bob removed the line and then we could see it. After a few minutes Bob discovered why the line split right at the end, on the swivel part of the line. Someone had installed the caliper fitting backwards, putting the tapered end in the caliper and leaving the flat end for the line to go on. The line would go on about 2 turns then got tight, so whoever put it on thought it needed to be tightened more and as they did it cracked. It was a very small fine crack that opened up when I put the brakes on allowing air to get in the system, but would have been fine once it was bled.
The rains started coming down harder, then we remembered the Flamboro race was on Sirius radio so we put the truck radio on. We heard that David was running third at lap 27. Shirley went in the truck and would not come out until it was over, and David would pull off a second place finish….awesome David, Jeannie and the Pennzoil team. We kept busy on the car but realized that possibly the caliper could have been damaged with the fitting in backwards. Soon the track called a drivers meeting because the rain would not stop. They decided to run this race later in the season and for everyone to keep their pit wrist band.
The Honda days are over, and unfortunately the end for our grandson Gehrig. We have tried everything to get the car to perform and the results are the same, no power, sometimes a miss, but as Gehrig summed it up “it’s got no get up and go”. Steve Slaughter even tried to help us with the Mini Stock, but once again the night was a dud for Gehrig and his team. Shirley and I talked to Gehrig and agreed if we couldn’t get the Honda to run this night we were going to park it for the season. Branden Bullen has been good, trying to help as well. He brought another computer for us, the proper one, but it didn’t make any difference. Gehrig is heart broken, but so are well all. I hope we can get another car for him before the end of the season. He’s been very good about it, and I feel responsible for not giving him a decent set of wheels to learn on. It’s no ones fault, many people have tried to help us, but we are getting no where. At Flamboro last week the best we could do was get the car to within 3 seconds of an average time. That’s not acceptable at all. At Sunset even with the new PCM, a PO6, he could hardly stay with the pace car. Our issue is money, we’ve dumped way more than we wanted, and we’ve been blessed to have so many people try to help us by donating many hours. It’s time to park the car until we can get another one later this year or in 2013.
I must say the people, fans, staff and competitors have been absolutely amazing to us. Almost every staff member came up and let us know how glad they were to see us. During the fan appreciation we were surprised at how in touch the fans were with the racing. They not only wished us well, but let us know they could see potential in our car and just wanted us to have a good night. Mark, Steve and Linda went out of their way to make us feel welcome and let us know how much they appreciated us coming to Sunset.
Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:06 pm
June 23rd....Sunset Speedway feature race, a great video by Dan Craik. Congratulations to Mike Bentley for the win.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... McJBfClvO4
Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:06 pm
June 23rd............Sunset Speedway
* 20 Cars
* Mike Bentley Wins
* We win our first heat...not good after that
* Gehrig misses night
* Great crowd
Bob, Steve, Justin and Matt
We left home early again, to get settled and not rushed at the track. It seems to work out good for us. The car was completely ready and all we had to do was take it through tech, check the ride heights and then go over the scales. We were happy with the numbers and waited for our first test run in practice.
One of the things we miss, or at least that I miss, is seeing Lauren race her go-cart. I do want to get out to some races, and at least see her heats. She’s been doing well, but has gone through some tough times. Some of her bad luck was evident in the morning and included getting run over by another cart that climbed up her cart and hitting her shoulder. She kept going finishing 8th in the feature, matching the finishes of both her heats. Lauren tries hard and is running well with the pack of 24 carts every week.
Bob, Steve, Justin and Matt made up our crew tonight. They all did very well, learning more each week. We made 2 sets of hot laps. In the first I wasn’t happy with the car. We were tight in the middle. Bob and I talked about it and decided to raise the rear pan hard bar a 1/2". In the next set we were still tight so we added a spring rubber in the right rear, hoping to make the car turn better.
During the drivers meeting we decided to get some fuel from the track. I have never used the higher octane gas because it has never done anything for me in the past. In fact we tried Sunoco 94 Octane, but found the Shell 91 to be a better performing fuel. GM says to use 91 or 92 octane. It’s not unnatural for racers to think more octane is better, and I guess it would be if the engine was designed to run it, but our 602 was stock and I was happy with the 91, but decided today just to try the 101, at least that’s what I thought it was. It turned out to be 110 octane.
I was talking to Mike Bentley in his pit and Doug Hanchard, a racing friend from Klotz race fuels, said that we would need to make some changes in order to run the track race fuel. Doug came over and within 30 minutes we replaced the spark plugs and went from 74 to 78 jets. Doug also lowered the idle from 950 to 750. I figured if it worked we would be okay, I still had a full 45 gallon drum of racing fuel to use if we decided to go this way. On the other hand I was reluctant to make the change, but since we got the fuel, it was important for us to listen to Doug and get it right for tonight.
We started outside pole in our first of two heats. Billy Zardo #46 was beside me. We ran side by side for four laps and then we were clear and in the lead. After a few laps we were a few car lengths ahead and I didn’t push it as hard. A 10 lap heat is very difficult to gain any positions on this track because everyone drives in hard and most cars are fairly equal. We crossed the line in first place, getting our second win of the season. It felt good to win, our crew and fans were very happy. I did notice that we were not hitting the chip and that seemed kind of strange, I thought for sure with being up front we would have hit it.
We went through tech, they weighed the car and checked our tires to make sure they were part of our inventory. I have never had to do that before in 43 years, and forgetting to give them the tire numbers, though unlikely, would be a bad way to lose a race. I understand why they do it, to keep tire costs down. I think Sunset needs to look at their Crate engine program and get that monster cost down as well. More on that later.
After the race Doug came over and we checked the plugs and they looked good. He then said we should advance the timing and get a VDL carb. The investment in the carb would be about $700 and fuel costs would go from $55 per night to $150 per night. I was not really wanting to do that, but Doug reminded me that most everyone I was racing against had rebuilt Crate engines all pushing more HP than me and that my best chance without getting the rebuild would be to go with the race fuel, timing advanced and new carb. We decided for the second heat to up the jets to 80 and leave it.
Steve and Justin changed the gears giving us a little more pull coming off the turns.
In this heat we started 2nd last. There were 10 cars in each heat and we really wanted to see how we could do handling wise after the chassis changes.
We stayed with the pack in the early going and moved up to 7th and were in a heated battle from the lead back. Coming off four on the outside I got tagged by the #03 of Dario Capirchio. I felt the car turn down ward but corrected and got straight for a second only to find we were out of control and headed for the outside wall, then down into traffic. It was all in a matter of split seconds as the left rear tire was cut and went down quick. We ended up spinning into turn one but kept the car off the wall and away from cars behind us. That was it for us. We lost another tire and this one was only 2 heats old.
It was discouraging to have another DNF, but worse, a failed chance to have back to back good finishes. At least with the car free of damage we could get it ready for the feature although the one thing we were lacking was good spare tires. Our tire carnage this season reached 7 tires including the one we lost in this heat race.
Steve and Justin headed to the infield with a tire, jack and chordless impact gun (thanks to who ever invented that tool). We waited there until the Mini Stock race was over and headed back to our pits where all our crew did a full nut and bolt inspection and charge the battery to prepare for the 30 lap feature. Because of our low handicap from this poor start season, we’d be starting pole. Starting up front is the equalizer, and it works very well when the car is in top form.
We were the 2nd class out. The Super Stock, aka, Thunder Cars were out first. We set the tires a little lower than the normal running pressures, and though it was cooling down, for some reason I didn’t make the adjustment on the chassis for the cooler temperatures. It was a tactical mistake, but one of two things that would make our car not competitive for this field of cars.
Not Crate Engine’s
Before the feature report, here’s my rant on engines. I could be wrong, but this is what I think is going on, and what’s wrong with it. This has nothing to do with our bad luck, or our lack of performance in this race, but an opinion based on many things I’ve heard and seen since February.
The idea of the Crate motor is to keep the cost of racing down, period. We were the first team to run the 604 at Flamboro in 2005, and the success I had against the built engines was incredible. Most built engines cost in the range of $15,000 to $30,000, a killer for any racers budget, and race tracks who desperately need car count. The introduction of the Crate engine was a huge blessing to the racing industry.
The 604 costs about $5500 and the 602 used mostly in Thunder Cars, Super Stocks and Limited Late Models, costs less than $3500. Flamboro allowed teams to install the Holley racing 4 barrel (no modifications) and the 5.5” clutch on the 604 making it a very competitive engine at a total cost from the water pump to the bell of about $12,000. Add to that the fact that it only rev’s 6200 and will last three years, it’s a racing business dream and win-win for everyone. There is one catch, the 604 engine cannot be touched or taken apart other than by an authorized GM store or race shop. The fear is that the engines will be modified or enhanced and make the program null and void. The proper procedure is to replace the engine, not rebuild it, plus a rebuild on a 604 is about $3900, so for another $1600 you can have a brand new 400HP engine. That’s the way to go.
The 602 costs about $5000 total with clutch (10” at Sunset) and carb, the Holley 500, but there’s one catch, you can modify the engine and the carb. The engines are sent to engine speed shops that can take the 325HP engine and give it another 25 horsepower for about $2500. The Holley 500 can also be replaced with a VDL carb that will produce a few more HP at a cost of $695 compared to the Holley that sells from $350 to $400 depending on who you’re buying it from. It’s fair for race shops to make profit, so it’s just as fair for racers to shop around and get the best legal deal.
Fuel is another costly issue. Teams are running racing gas instead of pump gas. VP or Klotz racing fuel is helping increase HP through the octane and oxygen in the formula. It requires the stock Holley to be jetted higher, the timing increased, and if you’ve had an engine overhaul that got you another 15 to 20 HP, advancing the timing a few degrees is the perfect receipt for a very costly engine program. What should cost $3200 for the engine and $400 for the carb, goes through the roof when a rebuild charge of $2400 (sometimes performed on brand new engines) and the VDL or other high performance carb is added can bring this engine cost from $3600 to $6200. That seems insane to me. I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t just buy a brand new 602 for $3200 instead of buying a used one and then spending 80% of the cost of a new one to have it rebuilt. Okay so the reason is obvious, they are allowed to do it according to the rules, and plus they have a chance to increase their horsepower significantly.
When allowed to do these things it’s NOT A CRATE ENGINE PROGRAM. The deal from GM was to save us money, not make us spend more. Once everyone opens engines, teams have no choice but to join in, run slower or leave.
We use 91 Shell octane for our Crate, at a cost of $60 to fill 2 cans. Compare that to $150 for 2 cans of racing gas, a nightly increase of 150% in fuel expense.
I think for the future of racing anywhere, the new rule books for 2013 should not allow any touching of the Crate engine. A chip should be mandatory as well with a 6200 rev limit.
I will also suggest for the 2013 rules, to replace the 10” clutch with the small 5.5” clutch to help with braking and ease on the engine. It rev’s quicker and brings the engine down quicker. Even the 71/4 inch clutch would be a good system for the Late Models.
Back To The Feature
We started inside pole and I was slightly spooked. Perhaps lack of confidence and the constant worry of wrecking again is playing havoc on me and our team. The guys all feel it. We want to have a good run, we just don’t want to get wrecked again, not for five or six years. The easiest thing to do is go scratch and play it safe, but we were here to try and win the points. That is gone for sure, but we can still salvage the season and the best way to get us moving up in the points is to have a good night. Points are important to me, and maybe that’s my problem, but since point standings exist, we want to get the best spot we can.
Starting inside pole I knew would be an issue because the outside is clearly the faster lane. However, if a car can get hooked up on the inside and wear the car out on the outside it’s possible to get in front and then run the groove most comfortable.
None of that happened, but on the green we did get a good jump off four but going into one our car was tight. I should have adjusted for that but didn’t. It would only be a lap before we lost 2 spots on the outside to Ernie Fumerton #10 and Mike Bentley #51. Soon Jason Witty #19 was there and I was thinking freight train on the outside.
A caution came out after the lap one was completed. A new car, #13, not sure who was driving, was having all kinds of trouble and spun coming off four into the front cement. He was in trouble from the start, no radio’s and first time on this very fast and aggressive track.
We restarted 3rd and it was this first restart that I noticed our car hesitate badly when I got on the gas. It was a miss, it was as though it was flat, just not power, like an automatic transmission when you try to mat it and there’s a lag. Soon Witty got by and then Billy Zardo was outside. By lap three Chris Morrow was beside me and I couldn’t really do anything but race hard into the turns. The car was tight and I couldn’t get on the gas quite as fast as I wanted. It wasn’t crazy tight, but enough for me to lose a little every turn. Bob was spotting perfect and let me know the cars lined up and soon said clear high once Morrow was ahead and we were enough ahead of #03 Dario Capirchio. We ran outside for another few laps and then Billy ran into Jason causing himself to spin. There must have been another reason for the yellow because the #46 got his spot back on the restart.
Mike Bentley was leading now and wasted no time getting on the gas. I anticipated our car being lazy on the start, we were 6th, so I tried to get on the gas slowly but it didn’t help much and when I did Zardo checked up and I let off the gas and lost more time. We got going into three and Ernie got sideways in four. I headed high thinking it would be a disaster but he got straight. Now I was stuck in the marbles unable to get back in. The yellow came out right away when #49 Frank Davey spun. That allowed me to get my spot back.
On the next restart, lap 6, I still couldn’t figure how to get on the gas without losing so much space. I raced side by side with Dario for another three or four laps. We were back a few car lengths from the cars in front, but slowly reeled them in. We were catching Ernie and Billy who were racing side by side. I was able to get ahead of Dario and run fairly strong in this run. Coming off four Scott Beatty #88 got in a mix up and spun to the inside but kept it off the wall.
We were still running 6th and now on the outside behind #10 Fumerton and beside #03 Capirchio. Once again we got a bad start going into three but by turn one was up to speed. We ran this way for a few laps until lap 12. I couldn’t get around the #10 because the #03 was inside of us. Going down the front chute, into one things went nuts when Chris Morrow’s upper rad hose came off his #11 machine. I was in the high lane and seen him spin and cars come flying in hitting each other. I went high towards the wall and squeezed between Chris and the wall.
It took a while to clean up the mess. Once we got going again I was trying my best to try to get by #10 but couldn’t. Soon we were being mobbed by some very fast cars, the elite runners were knocking on my door. I just needed #10 to stay low but he came up in front of me and I ended up losing a few more spots. In the dying laps we caught the wall slightly coming off four and I think that took any drive I had left. The last thing I wanted was to finish at the back and wreck the car. I would sooner just finish at the back. In the last lap a few cars got by and we ended up 16th. Congrats to Mike Bentley and his team on a dominating win. Special thanks to Kevin Cornelious #17 who got behind me but didn't rough us up or push us around as we battled with other cars. Very classy and we appreciate the respect.
It was a disappointing run but we learned a few things. One, the fuel won’t work on our car. Doug was a great help trying to get us geared up with racing fuel, but in order to make it work we’ll need to buy a carb, advance the timing and then try to sustain the cost of racing fuel every week, and I cannot do that, and don’t really want to. As stated before, there’s something wrong with a Crate engine program that tells me I have to spend the same amount of money on fuel as a Super Late Model or CVM.
The other issue was the set up, that was my fault, but the car wasn’t that bad, just the combination of things hurt us. We’ll try again in two weeks.
Next week the CVM are at Sunset and I get to race my Coupe.
Looking forward to that night of racing and I will be at the back, first night out, but that’s okay.
Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:06 pm
There was a great story about our team and a youngster who offered all of his money to help our team. Please read it here.
http://www.simcoe.com/community/wasagab ... le/1383027