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NASA 25 hours

Old 12-05-05, 01:30 PM
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NASA 25 hours

We were going to update live during the 25 hours, but I was a bit busy running the team..

Drivers:
Marcus Miller (me)
Scott Miller (my brother)
Tom Aiken (http://www.shedracing.com)
Sean Neilson (CSCC Pro7 driver, former karting champion)
Tim Gray (from Porterfield Brakes)


Here is our log, as posted by Tom Aiken:
1:
Live from Thunderhill raceway, for NASA's 25 hours of Thunderhill.

The Miller Motorsports team had an interesting test day.

Things started with a dead battery in the race car, followed by a new rear tire rub on the driver’s rear, and some intermittent electrical problems. We discovered the rear camber settings are radically different from side to side (zero v. 2deg neg). The radios have been barely adequate, and we have yet to get a really accurate assessment of our fuel consumption, although we did manage to have a nice fuel fire, which was successfully extinguished by driver Sean Neilson on the back straight. It seems the fuel cell vent wasn’t in a really good place, and some overflow was ignited by one of those pretty Mazda RX-7 backfires. The errant vent has been relocated, and a check valve added.

For a grand finale, the transponder quit working, so we don’t have a qualifying time.

We did manage to build a plywood platform to bridge the swamp located in the back of our pit stall, and kept the car pretty much in one piece, something that can’t be said for all of our competitors. The good news is the Porsche that ended up shiny-side down has had the roof banged back into place, and they were getting ready to install the new windshield last time we walked by. They will have it ready to run.

We will post more as time allows.

2:
Green flag plus 6 hours.

First stint was driven by Sean Neilson, to be used as the fuel consumption test. We have a 15 gallon cell, but are only allowed to put in 10 gallons of fuel per stop. The only active pickup in the cell is on the right side, and Thunderhill is mostly left turns, so the theory was that we would have plenty of warning before the cell ran dry, when it started to sputter on one of the few right turns, we would come in for fuel and a driver change. It seems our plan sucked, as the car sputtered one time before the engine died from lack of fuel. DOH. Sean rolled the car on the escape road before turn 6 and waited for a tow back to the pits.

Once the crash crew delivered the car to the pits, we refueled, and I got behind the wheel and went out for 5 or 6 laps, to burn off a little fuel, then I came back in for a quick gas and go stop to top off the tank and get us back on our planned fuel schedule. I went back out for a little over an hour, when I came in and Scott Miller got in the car. Scott's session was uneventful.

Tim Gray took over from Scott, and after about 20 minutes went off in the turn 5 bypass. When he came back on, the low hanging panhard bar caught on something, and broke. Sean, Scott and I were all experiencing a bit of wheel hop under hard braking, which certainly didn't help things, we think the bar was probably weakened a bit, and his off was just the last straw.

John Neilson, (Sean's dad) whipped out the welder and some scrap steel and repaired the panhard bar, which was reinstalled, and Tim went back out to finish his stint. I think we only lost 30 or 40 minutes.

I have no idea where we are in the standings, Timing and scoring are hell and gone from our paddock, and the promised live T&S on mylaps.com has failed to materialize.

Marcus is in the car next, after which we go back to the top of the batting order.

More updates as time allows.

BTW, we are in E2 class, in an ITA spec Rx7.

3:
Green flag plus 12 hours.

Tim completed his first stint into the darkness without incident. Marcus took over the car, and immediately had an electrical problem that left 2 of the 4 headlights dark. The car is set up with two Dick Cepek 130W off-road spotlights pointing forward, and 2 100W PIAA lights angled to the sides to light the apexes. A flaky switch left the two spots dark, leaving the apex lights the only illumination. A fuel pickup problem also surfaced with the cell, causing the car to sputter after burning only ~6 gallons of fuel, but the cause would be a mystery for a few more hours. Marcus hit pit road complaining of missing, and gas man Ron Swett threw in a can of fuel, after which Scott Miller fixed the electrical problem bringing the primary lights back online. Marcus went back out, and with the ability to see where he was going, he was able to pick up the pace, setting the fastest lap so far, a 2:17.xx

Twenty minutes after returning to the track, one of the brand-spanking new Miatas caught up with Marcus in turn 2, and decided that the best way to get around was to with two wheels off in the dirt on the inside. Marcus tried to adjust his line to keep the Miata out of his door, and ended up agricultural way off to the outside of turn 2. I am certain if it was daytime, we could have seen the cows running for their lives. Unbelievably, Marcus didn’t get stuck, and managed to make it back to the pits, but left a large portion of his front valance and brake ducts out in the pasture with the cattle.

A quick inspection found most of the damage cosmetic, but the lower skid plate was rather loose. Sean took over the car, and went out, but we had to call him in a few laps later when the corner workers reported sparks from under the car. It turns out the skid plate was looser than was initially thought, and was dragging on the track under the car and kicking up sparks as it was being ground away by the tarmac. Hasty removal of the offending part put Sean back on the track with minimal delay.

Thirty minutes into his session, Sean pitted with sputtering. An initial assessment that the vent check valve was sticking allowing the cell to pressurize was proved wrong, when the check valve was removed and Sean went back out on track, the engine still sputtered in some corners. Ron added 5 gallons of fuel, and sent Sean back out on track, while the crew conferred on the likely cause of the fuel problem. A decision was made to swap to the other pickup from the cell to see if it helped. After another 30 minutes to finish his stint, Sean came in and Ron swapped the fuel cell fittings and refueled the car. And I got back in the seat for my first night session. Swapping the pickup points fixed the fuel starvation problem, as my stint was uneventful, and I ground out laps for about 80 minutes without incident. Scott Miller got back in the car for his second stint, and returned to the pit lane some 10 minutes later with his right front fender pushed in and rubbing the tire from mild body contact with a Camaro. Some quick tugging on the fender fixed the rub, and Scott went back out, and finished his stint without any incident.

Tim is back in the car, Marcus is on deck, after which he will bring the car in for some quick maintenance, just past halfway.

Last time we heard, we were ~40th overall, and ~11th or 12th in class.

4:
Sorry for the delay in posting, but I was too beat after my pre-dawn stint to post.

Tim’s second stint was clean, as was that of Marcus, who went out after him. At the end of his second stint, the race was passed halfway, so Marcus brought the car behind the wall for scheduled mid-race maintenance. 25 minutes later, Sean reentered the track with fresh front brakes, bearings, and strut inserts. Some time during the night, one of the Dick Cepek lights quit working, but the other was working well enough that it wasn’t a problem. Yet.

Sean had another clean run, and after 70 minutes, he came in and I got back in the car. When I fired the car up after the fuel stop, the remaining Dick Cepek off-road spotlight failed, leaving me to run my whole 70 minutes with only the PIAA apex lights. I had another clean run, followed by still more poorly lit but clean sessions by Scott and Tim, who drove the car into the first light of day.

We had survived the night.

Marcus resumed the controls, and the Panhard rod broke yet again, sending the car behind the wall again for some therapy with the welder. After a short delay, we got going again, with Sean back in the car, starting the 4th rotation through the driver lineup. The standard 70 minute stint schedule was dropped at this point, as our position in the finishing order was unlikely to change, as there were 12-15 laps between the cars ahead of and behind us. The schedule was adjusted, to allow one more complete pass through the rotation, allowing Team Principal Marcus Miller to finish the race.

As Sean’s stint was drawing to a close, I was suited up ready to get in the car for my last session, I made my normal last chance bathroom break about 5 minutes before Sean’s scheduled pit window, only to return and find him on pit lane with what seemed to be another fuel pickup problem. It seems he hit pit road as soon as I left the pit box. Luckily Scott Miller was in the pit box, in his driving gear so all he had to do was pull on his helmet and hop in the car and go. I came back to the pit box as he was getting in the car. Sean reported that during his stint, the clutch had started slipping after 3rd to 4th gear shifts.

About 25 minutes into a scheduled 40 minute stint, Scott came back into the pits, saying “Something broke”. Ron quickly dumped in a can of fuel and Scott headed behind the wall, where after a brief investigation, it was found one of the bolts for the transmission crossmember had fallen out. A bolt was quickly removed from the Pro-7, and I hopped in to do my last stint. Scott reported the clutch was pretty much gone. My final stint consisted of nursing the car around in 4th gear the whole time, taking it as easy as possible, as the finish was in sight, under two hours away. The rear end had also developed a very unpleasant intermittent noise under braking. I managed to nurse the car around, where I handed it off to Tim for his final session. After he was strapped in and Ron dumped the last can of fuel into the car for the race, Tim turned on the fuel pump and ignition, hit the starter button, and nothing happened. No cause of the problem was immediately evident, the fuel pump was running, and the battery had voltage, so we push started the car on pit road, and Tim headed out on track.

Tim’s final stint was essentially the same as mine, but he did determine the grinding noise from the rear was probably coming from the LSD, as it only seemed to do it if you were trail braking. As long as you braked in a straight line, it was quiet. Tim left the car running for the final driver change, as Marcus got in the car for the final 20 minute limp to the checkered flag.

As the time ticked closer to zero, the crew nervously waited in the pits when Ron pointed out that every time Marcus drove by, the car was a little louder. An ugly exhaust leak had developed, and with about 10 minutes left in the race, the exhaust pipe broke in 2 pieces just behind the header, and the resonator and pipe were hanging under the car, nearly dragging on the track.

Marcus held out to take the checkered flag, finishing the longest closed course endurance race in the world. We finished 34th overall 15th in class, and completed 511 laps.

It was a blast.

Congratulations to the Lost 'N Spaced Racing Porsche 911, who took the overall win. I believe second place car was the SSF BMW M3, followed by the Car and Driver Subaru.

Marcus will have more later I am sure. I am going to bed.


***********************
This event was fun, we certainly learned alot...
For example, next year don't make your shakedown race the 25 hours....

How did our other Rx7clubbers do?

Marcus
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Old 12-05-05, 02:42 PM
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great job guys! it was neat to see that most of the ratary powered cars finished (i think the only one out was the factory prototype thing)
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Old 12-05-05, 03:11 PM
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Good showing, Marcus. I hope to make the 25 one day before I or it dies...
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Old 12-05-05, 10:36 PM
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Looks like fun. You did this in your Pro7 car? Good finish....it's good just to finish.
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Old 12-05-05, 10:39 PM
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one quick update- we were 13th, not 15th. Our press official sucks.
Thanks!
CT, make it out next year, its really not that expensive. Or, come out and do the 10 hour at Buttonwillow http://www.raceten.com
CPA- we ran it in my "new" ITA car.
http://images.miller-motorsports.com...ldr=misc112705


Marcus
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Old 12-05-05, 10:44 PM
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That's right I remember when you posted the build. Very nice. I guess it's broke in now.
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Old 12-05-05, 11:42 PM
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broke in? yep! broken is more like it.

Marcus
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Old 12-06-05, 12:38 PM
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If you can get more people to buy Miata parts from me, I'll see what I can do!

PS - now that I'm experienced in driving cars without steering wheels, I think that boosts my stock as an endurance driver, and therefore my share should be reduced. Yeah, yeah, that's it!
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Old 12-06-05, 12:53 PM
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Only a racer would spend 25 hours with tired people, fuel problems, near wrecks while not being able to see where you're going, parts falling off the bottom of the car throughout the day and end the story with "It was a blast"

I can't imagine how much work it must have been.
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Old 12-06-05, 01:31 PM
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CT- with miata's going national, I bet there will be a need for lots of Miata parts

Damon- you are right! It was a pile of work, and then some.

Marcus
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Old 12-07-05, 01:31 AM
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Congratulations! I was in the silver #52 1970 Datsun 240z GT-2 car that kept breaking wheel studs. Every time I went by your car on the track I thought "I should go down and say Hi!". Unfortunately, our crew called to tell us on Friday that they weren't coming, so all of our fueling and maintenece were done by the driver roster. We changed ELEVEN broken wheel studs, a transmission, battery, regulator, altenator, headlights, a stub axle, and even survived a second lap "incident" with a certain Porsche that left us with over half an inch of tire eating toe-in on the right rear! And all work courtesy of drivers, so unfortunately it seemed that I never had time to make it down to your pits. We finished 22nd overall, and 6th in class with a finish so I am happy. That's two finishes in two starts - pretty cool race, huh? The race was the TWENTY-THIRD 24 hour or longer race for one of our drivers who has done the Nurburgring, Spa, Mosport, Daytona, and Thunderhill to name a few. He has FINISHED the last 17 in a row - we figured we needed to have him just for his good luck!!!!!!!! Sorry I missed you, and with just a few more 12 hour sleep sessions, I might just begin to feel normal again.

For those of you who weren't there - Marcus's car announced it's rotary pride with authority crossing the line after 25 hours with that broken header!!!!!!
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Old 12-07-05, 12:07 PM
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Marcus if you need another pair of hands crewing next year just contact me. Although I've never raced, I do have 22 weekends of track days under my belt and built my own car below. Know a thing or two about 1st gens.
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Old 12-07-05, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Boswoj
Congratulations! I was in the silver #52 1970 Datsun 240z GT-2 car that kept breaking wheel studs. Every time I went by your car on the track I thought "I should go down and say Hi!". Unfortunately, our crew called to tell us on Friday that they weren't coming, so all of our fueling and maintenece were done by the driver roster.
Thanks!
Wow. Our gas man called us about 4AM on saturday to annouce he would make it, after telling us friday he wouldn't That saved us.
Our main crew issue was that we hada bunch of people who came to pimp the shirt nad strut aroudn claiming they were "crew members" with no intent to work. This incuded our self appointed "team manager".. that stressed us a bit. I spent 23 hours in our pit box....

Originally Posted by Boswoj
We changed ELEVEN broken wheel studs, a transmission, battery, regulator, altenator, headlights, a stub axle, and even survived a second lap "incident" with a certain Porsche that left us with over half an inch of tire eating toe-in on the right rear! And all work courtesy of drivers, so unfortunately it seemed that I never had time to make it down to your pits.
Yow. 11? were you guys on slicks? Let me guess, #25?
Its cool, I'm sure we will catch up one of these days.

Originally Posted by Boswoj
We finished 22nd overall, and 6th in class with a finish so I am happy. That's two finishes in two starts - pretty cool race, huh? The race was the TWENTY-THIRD 24 hour or longer race for one of our drivers who has done the Nurburgring, Spa, Mosport, Daytona, and Thunderhill to name a few. He has FINISHED the last 17 in a row - we figured we needed to have him just for his good luck!!!!!!!! Sorry I missed you, and with just a few more 12 hour sleep sessions, I might just begin to feel normal again.
Yep, awesome experience. We areplannig for next year. I'm just not sure how we are going to get that chasis competitive with the yellow honda. I got home about 9PM on Sunday, and didn't go back to work until today.

Originally Posted by Boswoj
For those of you who weren't there - Marcus's car announced it's rotary pride with authority crossing the line after 25 hours with that broken header!!!!!!
heh...I'm glad it lasted that long. That was courtesy of the pro Mx-5 that later tangled with the Cobra. He knocked us off course about 2AM. That cost us the front air dam, the undertray, about 1.4 inch of toe in up front, both front fenders, and the nose panel. IT also detroyed the *Brand new* ISC header and expansion chamber. (which was actually what failed with 2 laps left)


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Old 12-07-05, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DriveFast7
Marcus if you need another pair of hands crewing next year just contact me. Although I've never raced, I do have 22 weekends of track days under my belt and built my own car below. Know a thing or two about 1st gens.
Brad, you got it. We are always looking for experience hands to help. Hopefully next year will be a bit smoother.


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Old 12-08-05, 02:30 AM
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I know what you mean about that yellow Honda! Those guys were really hustling that thing. Gotta give credit to Carlo and his bunch as well - they kept that Miata on track and circulating at a good clip. Both those E2 cars easily beat our ES car in the overall - not becasue they were quicker, but because they did such a good job of running consistently near the capabilities of their cars and simply keeping it out and going around. Our biggest problem was having somewhere close to 2 hours total back paddock, and having to run below the limit of the car to extend the failure rates of damaged components.

The California's best team should be a pretty good indicator of what can be done with a 1st gen though. We will be back in something again next year, and I hope to have time to get down and say hi! Until then - good luck and be safe!
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Old 12-09-05, 12:02 AM
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I give Carlo immense credit.

Mike and the PDQ team deserve it as well ( yellow Honda).

Our goal for next year will be to be the top finishing E2 Rx7. Cal's best, here we come
talk to you Later Bos.

Marcus

Last edited by NasaPro7; 12-09-05 at 12:09 AM.
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