Race 3: Lows and Highs

September 24-25, Harris Hill Road in San Marcos.
http://www.harrishillroad.com/
This weekend consisted of 2 independant races, each 7 hours long, one on Saturday, one on Sunday.  A typical ChumpCar event.
<click on pictures for larger versions>
This was a trying weekend for us.  We started with high hopes.  The new engine was finally finished.  John did all the work on it, and it ran like a champ.  It was just new rings and rod bearings, along with a new head gasket and a resurfaced head.  But it was noticeably stronger than the long-in-the-tooth junkyard engine from the 18-hour race.  John and Tobey ran about 30 laps on the Friday before the race to get it broken in.  Then they changed the oil, and retired for the night, excited about the race.  The stronger motor, along with some suspension tuning had the car turning much faster laps than during testing at the same track a few months before.
 
After a good night's sleep, we showed up bright and early on Saturday for the race.  What can we say other than, "Saturday sucked."  Hard. It started bad and ended worse.  John went out for the opening stint, and the car started sputtering during the pace laps.  He brought it in, and we diagnosed that the alternator wasn't charging the battery.  
We put in our spare alternator, still no good. Put in our 2nd spare alternator, still no good.  It was now time to get serious.

Tobey and Thomas' dad  pulled out the wiring diagrams and the multimeter, and finally diagnosed the problem.  For some reason, the positive output from the alternator was not getting to the battery.  It was completely isolated from the car's electrical system.  We made a jumper wire (we have a suspicion, but we still don't know exactly where the problem is), and all was good.  All this drama meant we missed the first hour of the race.  It took us a little over an hour to get all this done, but the race start was delayed due to lack of an ambulance.
 
 
Then, just to rub salt in our wounds, John came back in a few laps later as the car had no top end power.  Turns out the distributor wasn't clamped down tightly, and had rotated.  Ugh.
The car was running good, even if we were in 25th place or so.  We were completely off our game, though.  The radios didn't work, we weren't monitoring the front straight for signals from the driver.  Our pit stops were crap.  Most of the time, the driver and the crew had different ideas about when to pit, and so the car would show up for fuel and a new driver, and we would be completely unprepared.  Not our finest showing.  But we were just marking time until the Sunday race.

All's well until Tobey gets in the car for the last hour and 15 minutes.  He leaves the pits, has some clear track, and knocks out 3 really fast laps.  All 3 laps were faster than his previous personal best, and he wasn't even in a rhythm yet. Then on lap 4, "I was hauling ass. I got a good line and went through turn 1 flat out in 4th gear.  The RPMs were up around 6200-6500 when I lifted to brake and downshift for turn 2.  As soon as I lifted, I heard a muffled 'boom', parts started bouncing off the bottom of the car, and smoke poured out from under the hood. I hit the kill switch and coasted into the grass."

The No. 2 rod decided to go seek greener pastures somewhere. Looking through the 5"x2" hole in the side of the block, the rod is nowhere to be seen. It blew with authority. The rubber motor mount was broken in half, and the metal mount bolted to the engine is bent out of shape. In the picture, the two mounting bolts are broken free of the block, and you can see how the bracket is twisted. More carnage pictures are below.  It wasn't a missed shift or anything; it was still in 4th when he coasted to a stop. We're thinking an oiling issue; maybe we'll be able to diagnose when we tear it completely down.





We brought our spare motor with us (the one used in the 18-hour enduro), because, you know, if you have the spare, you'll never need it...  We even brought the engine hoist.  After some time to let the car cool down, collect our thoughts, and refocus, we got to work on the engine swap.  We pulled it out with the the transmission attached, put the transmission on the other motor, and reinstalled it all.  We got the engine swapped and the car running in about 3.5 hours, then went to bed to rest up for Sunday.
Our  drivers did fantastic all day. Tobey went first, and was in 5th place when he pitted.  We ran as high as first when pit stop sequences were in our favor, and never lower than 7th.  7 hours later, we finished in 6th place, within spitting distance of the winners, just 7 laps behind 1st place.  We did 226 laps, or about 430 miles.  3 of the 5 cars that beat us are former winners, so that's some good company to be in.  By the way, that "spare" motor now has about 30 hours and close to 2000 miles of hard racing and testing on it.  We're going to stencil "Old Reliable" on it, and never touch the inside of it.
 


More Engine Carnage Pictures
 
Oil Pan Contents
 
 
The piston, looking up through the cylinder.  Notice where the wrist pin broke out.