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Hallett Chumpcar report

Old 08-31-10, 10:49 AM
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Hallett Chumpcar report

We took our SCCA IT7 car and ran in the Chumpcar series EC class this weekend in Hallett, OK. Lots of fun with many trials and tribulations. The Chumpcar gang welcomed us with open arms. Here's the tale!

Arrived Friday afternoon at Hallett. Got through registration and tech with no trouble. The tech guy was glad we had been through something like this before as our paperwork was all in order. He commented we should receive bonus laps! The only bad thing was an impromptu sound check on the car. I babied the revs and it passed! Good to go!

I took the first stint in the car. On the warm up laps our transponder was acting flaky and we spent the first 15 minutes of the race getting it in order. CRAP, 15 laps down and we haven't even seen the green flag!!!!! We finally got out on track in 18th spot after fixing a loose wire and installing a portable transponder. (I considered a conspirancy theory against "real race cars" showing up as I was the only car having a problem and the rumor was we were all "ringers". Amazing that after we installed the borrowed transponder that they continued to get both of them for the race!) Off into Chumpcar history I go. The level of driving talent was very good and everyone behaved normally. Being we were one of two cars on "race" rubber the other guys quickly found out we could go through the twisties at a much higher pace than them. Even the V-8 guys would give us room at the end of the straights. Lots of fun! I managed to make up 2 positions in my 1.5 hour leg.

Steve Rhea in next. He continued the pace and had an almost uneventful segment. He managed to put the POS-7 off and lost some lower valance corner panels. (Who needs stupid aerodynamics anyway!) Steve did a great job and got us to the 3 pm break by making up an additional two spots overall.

Matt Smith (owner of the POScirroco!) up for duty. Matt was a bit nervous as he had never been in a "real" race car. (You laugh now I see!) He came to grips with the car quickly and laid down a 1:37 for team fast lap and at the time, 6th fastest race lap. He was smooth with the wheel and made up two more spots overall.

Chris Edens up for his turn. Chris is a young man with a LOT of talent. Chris took a lap or two feeling out what the POS-7 wanted and then just took off! We set second fastest race lap at this point with a 1:36 in that POS!!!!!!! Damn he's good! Chris managed to get us up to 11th overall with only a twelve lap split to first place. This in spite of changing a clogged fuel filter. (I have got to clean that tank!) At this point (6 pm) I thought we had a real chance to win this thing if the car could make it.

Then BJ got in............................................ (BJ is a long time racing friend of mine with the BMW club!)

Off BJ goes only to hobble in a few laps later with a clutch issue. Pedal very soft and not returning with no clutch actuation. The team went into action and we bled the clutch system till we got some pedal back. Back out BJ goes. No dice, same problem. We bleed the clutch system with a pressure bleeder and get the pedal back mostly. Off BJ goes again. The clutch seems fine according to a radio call. In two more laps BJ comes back in. He reports the hood is lifting off and flopping around. WTF?????? I look at the hood pin and its OK. I let BJ know this is normal and will cause no issues. (It's so easy to get a race car driver back on track, just tell them its OK and nothing bad will happen!) Turns out during a later repair that the pin backing nut had slipped about 3/4 of an inch! At this point we had slipped back to 13th overall and the non broken/non problem cars were putting a gap on us.

We put Todd West in the car for his stint. Then the clutch quit, AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! We make another attempt to bleed it and find a ton of crud in the lines. This gets cleaned up. and back out he goes. Two laps later he calls back in and says the car just died. The tow truck drops him at our pit and we find we are out of coolant!!!!!!!! Up to the garage we go to see what we are up against.

Initial diagnosis is no water circulation. BJ sends me down to the local race shop as they are running a new Spec Miata to debug it in the EC class with us to see if they have an RX-7 wp. BJ knew they raced Formula Mazdas so it was worth a shot. The rest of the crew starts to disassemble the water pump for a look see and bleed the clutch again. BJ works the phone and finds a store all the way across Tulsa with a slave cylinder in stock. I have no luck and return to assisting with the car. Chris and Mike had removed the wp and it was in great shape with no problems noted. We get the clutch bled again, topped the water off again, align the headlights and send Todd out again. The car seems to do OK and Todd is putting down low 1:40s IN A CAR HE'S BARELY DRIVEN, ON A TRACK HE HAS ONLY WALKED AND PUT IN THREE LAPS, AND IT'S DARK!!!!!! Great job! He was supposed to stay out till the midnight break but was thwarted when the temp spiked again.

We made a decision to work on all the stuff: clutch slave cylinder/fuel filter/adjust rear brakes/oil service/diff service/water top off and a few other niggling items. Did I mention the starter had given up by this point? We took about an hour and a half getting all that crap taken care of and buttoned the car up. Steve Rhea jumped in and gave us a good hour or so with no major problems it seemed. OOPS! In he comes again with a temp spike! At this point I really figured we were fighting a losing battle with the engine.

We took out the thermostat housing and found the thermostat had stuck closed!!!!!!!! Out of the housing it went. We topped off the car and put Matt Smith back in. Matt took off at 1:30 am. He gave us a good hour and came back in. WTF, again?????? Matt said I told him to stay out an hour!!!!!!! I was sleep deprived so sue me!!!!! He went back out with orders not to come in till after 3:15.

Fat chance on that happening! At a little after three he comes back in with a temp spike. Back to the garage we go. Yep, low water AGAIN! Something bad happening in the maze of spinning triangles methinks. We poke and prod and poke and prod but nothing appears amiss externally. We top off the water and put Chris back in the car. He goes out and runs two laps and brings it in with a temp spike.

After a period of discussion with the crew we call it a day/night. It's 4:30 as in AM!

Looks like the POS-7 now needs some engine work! It was due I suppose. We had a blast doing this and now I can check it off my "to do before I die" list. The drivers all commented on how easy the POS-7 was to drive and that certainly made me feel good. Its been a good car since we got it on track and still has a few more racing miles to see before we trash it completely or sell it.
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Old 08-31-10, 06:41 PM
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Glad you guys had so much fun. We blew our motor at our last ChumpCar event and had to swap it during the race. I'd almost rather have your problems .

Thinking about building/modifying to have a ChumpCar spec car in the future?

What was your take on the #1 car?
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Old 08-31-10, 06:43 PM
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How was the track? I wanna go there some time.
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Old 08-31-10, 07:06 PM
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My take on the #1 car: It was fast and well prepared. I'll only comment this one time about their effort. At most races our POS-7 can keep up with the Spec Miatas in the straights. Their superior handling is then evident in the corners. The 1 car would absolutely walk/run/sprint away from us at will anytime/anywhere on the track. Now a bit of that may have been driver skill but methinks there was more to this car's prep than meets the eye.

As far as the track goes, I think Hallett is the most fun, demanding, technical race course in the country. It just has a bit of everything you would want including handling and horsepower attributes.

The Chumpcar experience was such a fun deal for sure. We'll be back!
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Old 09-02-10, 02:46 PM
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i have done 2 chumpcar events in a rx7 i built the motor for the team and it has lasted a 24hr race and 2 7 hour races so far.anyways i think a bunch of guys from rx7club should build a chumpcar.

the racing is way faster and serious than people think...we were doing 143mph on the straight in our gsl-se rx7 at robeling road
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Old 09-02-10, 06:07 PM
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Wait, an IT7 car? That sounds suspiciously like a real race car, not a $500 special.
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Old 09-02-10, 07:32 PM
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They have a special class for other organization's vehicles, primarily ITA, ITB, ITC, ITS, SM, Spec E30, and Spec 944. You do not get to run for prize money only a trophy and finishing position. It's a "try before you buy" type of deal to get you to sample an event and then build a 500 dollar Chumpcar crapcan. We did it and we'll be back!
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Old 09-14-10, 07:50 PM
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Team logo. And one good pic before it died!



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