Hallett 2013

(click on pictures for larger versions, and yes, we know we need to stiffen the suspension.  That's a post-Daytona project)

It's a good thing Hallett is such a fun track, as it is a long way up there from Houston.

I had actually raced at Hallett once, a long time ago, and remembered it was fun. But I forgot how much fun it is. Blind corners, off-camber corners, slow 2nd gear corner, fast corners, hard braking zones; it's got something for everyone.  See this picture for an example of a hard braking zone.  It was taken in daylight; at night, those rotors would have been lit up cherry red:



Unfortunately, John couldn't go with us, as a long-planned family vacation took precedence.  It was our first race without one of our 4 core members.  But we were able to draft Don to join us.  He's an original team member, that decided to only race occasionally.  And Don had run at Hallett many years ago also.

Don and I left early on Friday for the 10-hour haul up to Hallett.  The rest of the team decided to play like Rock Stars, and flew to Tulsa instead of driving.  It was a long trip, but we got there in plenty of time to get the car teched and everything in order.  So far, everything was going good.  (that's known as "foreshadowing" in your high school English class...)

Alas, our races didn't go so hot. Saturday, we were running in 5th place early, when the clutch started slipping intermittently. Clark found that if he went easy for a lap, it would work fine again. Then the motor sputtered, and so he made an unscheduled stop. One of the spark plug wires was on the manifold; we think that caused the sputter. While he was in, we inspected what we could of the clutch hydraulics. Nothing unusual found. He went back out in like 20th place, and we eventually worked our way back to 10th for the finish. Not great, as we had a car capable of 5th or 6th place.

 

The clutch disk had looked fine when Patrick and I assembled the engine and transmission a few weeks earlier.  So, we convinced ourselves that it was a hydraulic issue.  Saturday night after the race, we flushed and bled the clutch hydraulics. All seemed OK.

I started the race on Sunday. 30 cars, double wide, rolling start, going the opposite direction on the track from Saturday. Due to a dead battery and having to jumpstart the car, I was dead last on the grid. It actually turned out to be pretty fun, racing through the pack. Was having no clutch issues, just enjoyed the hard, clean racing. I should mention that it was 41 degrees and misting all morning. But the car was running great; the track was kept pretty dry by the cars. Only had a few "oh crap" moments due to lockup or wheelspin. 


Then, about 1.5 hours in, the clutch just decided it had better things to do than transmit power to the transmission. It would only hold under very gentle throttle applications. I limped to the pit, and got out. We decided to let it cool for a while, and let Thomas see if he could get 20-30 minutes After sitting for about 20 minutes, he went out, and got in about 45 minutes before it gave out. We did the same thing again, but Clark only got about 2 laps. It was finished, and we went home early.



Lesson learned. A clutch is kind of out of sight, out of mind. We're likely going to make it an annual replacement item to be safe. It's not that expensive when compared to the expense of going all the way to Hallett, Oklahoma, and not finishing the race.

Next stop is Daytona on May 26. Yep, running the full 24-Hours of Daytona course. One day, 14 hour race.