In The Beginning 5/1998 6/1998 7/1998 8/1998 9/1998 10/1998 Current News
It was too good to last. Got the motor back Friday, and spent the rest of the day getting the car ready. Start 4th in the heat race. Can't see a friggin' thing going into turn 3 because of the sun. I take my time and end up winning the heat race. This puts me outside row 3 for the main. The car starting in front of me fails to make the main so I move to the second row, behind Roy Bridge. We get a great start and fall into second. The car feels real good and we hang behind Roy for a while. I take a run at him on the first of many restarts but can't get past him cleanly. Still lots of time left to make a move when the engine lets go again in a big way. Looks like we floated the valves. Hurt the cylinder, wrecked the head and piston, and a bunch of other stuff. It's gonna take quite an effort to try and get it ready for Saturday.
Where do I start? Despite our best efforts, we were not able to repair the motor damage in time for this Saturday. Special thanks to Walt Bedell, subbing for Dan, for the extraordinary effort trying to get things done. The damage was more severe than we had first thought, 4 pistons, 2 rods, the crank and oil pump. Plus we needed to correct the mains by line boring the block. We should be done for the coming weekend. Unfortunately this left us without a powerplant to race with. I really didn't want to miss the races so I made a phone call and was able to arrange a ride in Chris Kokosa's backup car. The deal would be to try to qualify for the main, start the race and drop out. All this was necessary to avoid being handicapped with a 2nd place finish for not racing. We started the heat race in 5th in Chris's Troyer. The car felt really great, passed a couple of cars and ended up 3rd. There were a few changes I would have made for the feature, but since we were planning to run only 2 laps, we left the car as it was, a little tight, and with heat race fuel in it. I didn't even check tire pressures before I lined up for the feature. I drop to the rear of the field from my 7th place starting position before they throw the green. There's a big wreck with one lap down. As I drive through turn 4, I can't believe it. There's Chris wrecked on the bottom. So now I'm looking to the pits for a signal to come in before the 2nd lap to give Chris the car for parts or something. I don't get it, so I take the green again. Another caution on lap 2 is my chance to pull the car in. I no sooner stop, when Chris runs over and tells me to go back out and finish the race. I get back out before they drop the green so I don't lose a lap. So now, with no expectations and no pressure (except to not bend up Chris's car!) I start moving through the field. 5 to go, and I'm in 5th, running with the big dogs. Cassidy, Chalmers, Hackel, Collins. A caution on lap 17 and Marcus shows me his nose, GREAT! I can't hold him back and we end up with a 6th place finish. There is less than a gallon of fuel left in the car. Too damn cool.
An early wedding departure (congrats Dan and Betty!!) and lengthy caution during the mod feature find me at the track in time for the first Sportsman feature. Quick change into my suit and on the the track in the inside fourth row. It's immediately apparent the changes we made last week have worked, the car is definitely turning in better. I pass a couple cars and get passed by a couple others. Some serious banging is going on. I'm just trying to bide my time a little bit, but I'm getting knocked around pretty good. It all comes to an end too soon in the fourth turn. The car in front of me gets way loose and I try to slip by on the high side and end up collected in the wall. The damage is not too bad, we need to replace the front axle. Of course we don't have a spare axle set up so it's lookin' a lot like a Chinese fire drill chasing parts and trying to get things buttoned up in time for the heat races. Everyone does a great job and we finish with about 5 minutes to spare. Third row start for the heat, some more banging, and we qualify for the second feature. Or not. As we come across the line, something lets go in the motor. This ends our night. Looks like a busy week ahead...
This week I decide that a return trip to Albany-Saratoga is in order for Friday night. Of course I didn't do my homework so we end up with the with the wrong tires, the wrong stagger, and the wrong gear for the heat race. Talk about out to lunch! I end up with a fine last place finish for my efforts. Ronnie Johnson helps me out with some tires and a set of gears so we can take a stab at the consi. Unfortunately we still have about 2 inches too much stagger. I get my ass kicked on the original start and end up two spots out of qualifying. At least we know what not to do next time.
Saturday finds us at the 'Valley running under threat of rain. We're still chasing what we think is an ignition problem and with the changes we made this week, the problem seems to be less severe. They were able to get the heat races in and I qualify for the feature before the rain puts an end to the night's festivities. Double features next week, which is the the worst possible scenario for us, since we will be attending Dan's wedding next Saturday. Please excuse me while I prepare a special rain dance for the Lebanon Springs area next Saturday ;).