Take one of these
And one of these (well had to show both sides!)
And the end result is
And you have a weekend of epic proportions. Up early on the Saturday morning to be at the entrance gates for an 8am start (why cant the roads be that quiet normally Dunstable to Poddington at warp speed!). Eventually find out where the CCSE teams are pitted – and with the ‘access all areas’ pass, able to get within easy parking distance. Colin and the rest of the team were all ready busy prepping the car, but to be that close was slightly overwhelming to say the least. The engine bay is totally full of umm engine! (Well a 706CI lump isn’t small) with just about enough room for the dry sump tank, vacuum pump, rads and pipework. From working on ‘little’ Rover 3.5 lumps (and dare I say it…. screaming 4 pots) this had all started to get a bit serious, with a nagging doubt that maybe I was slightly out of my depth – first time crewing for a professional team and with a hi-tech car.
Get settled in, and change into something a bit more becoming of a crew member, off with the normal clothes and into my garage top then! and the steep learning curve starts…… first task was getting the oil around the engine before the engine is fired after its layup – a pneumatic wrench (with a few attachments!) struggles to turn the dry sump pump, but gets their eventually, oil can be seen flowing back into the sump. A few prods of the throttle, ignition on, starter on and……….. OMFG its LOUD in an enclosed space, the exhaust gases exiting via a 4 inch exhaust system exiting either side of the car (that’s a 4” complete system – not just the tailpipe exit). Engines warmed up, then shut off for final checks…. time to check the lash, rocker covers off, lash checked and adjusted where necessary as well as fixing a recurring problem with the flex plate (box and torque converter of and on again in an hour!). At this point im still feeling next to useless, but managed to find myself a job fetching tools while everyone’s either in or under the car, so I now know my way around Colin’s toolbox intimately.
Its at around this time that Colin’s crew chief turns up, young lad – late teens – by the name of Luke…… Robinson, only Andy Robinsons son, just to put a bit more pressure on me. Brilliant lad to have a chat with, and for his age, knows his apples from his oranges (neither of which are any use on a drag car). Out with the laptop and make a few changes to the MSD system for the engine and nitrous – that’s where the hi-tech side comes into play – I need one of these for mine, but first I think it’s a good idea to actually get a bit of racing under my belt!
Car is fuelled, nitrous bottle changed and class is called.
Now for those that know the Pod – we were parked past the start line (this becomes relevant in a minute). Colin, Gary and Luke take the car down to the fire up road, Im on foot with Anne-Marie – quick dash down to the car to find that it doesn’t have enough coolant, run back to the trailer for water containers then back to the car – and for a desk jockey, trust me it hurt (I am SO unfit its just un-true!). Arrive back to the car shaking, trying to catch a breath and attempting impressions of someone who has just run a marathon – muchos embarrassing!
CCSE class called to the line – this is it, first round of qualifying, some good times put on the board by the others, we are to run last….. Big burnout, nitrous purged, lights cut down….. Big wheelie but then straight as a die…. 8.37 @ 169mph!! puts us into the number 1 qualifier.
Back to the pits, valve covers off (lesson number 1, these get hot after a run) and lash checked again. I notice a couple of small pieces of what would have been circlips from the roller rockers, so everything is checked with a fine tooth comb, all present and correct so these must have been from a previous session. We’ve also lost a drive belt somewhere so this is replaced with a new one. Then is starts to rain and rain and rain – no more racing today, but it gives me a chance to have a chat with a few people and find out that Luke has a video of the Mopar Menace from 91/92 and that the old crew chief of the car now crews for his dad – up to the ProMod pits I go then!
Car is refuelled in preparation for the cruise on Saturday evening, and… the rain stops, hurrah! Lee Child (promoter of CCSE) comes over with the news that the cruise has been cancelled due to the fact that too much water is puddle on the roads, the racers response to this is to be expected and bad news for me as I had managed to blag a passenger ride.
Back in Colins pit the car is now given a thorough check over, rear wheels off, suspension checked and adjusted, panels cleaned down. Car refuelled ready for Sunday, changes made to the MSD maps (not saying what though!) and then time for dinner. Later on I learn that if someone offers you an air bed – take it! Despite consuming a little alcohol and having information overload its just not possible to sleep in a trailer with only a sleeping bag, every noise appearing to be right next to my head resulting in the grand total of 3 hours sleep – in future my list of essential items will include sleeping bag, air bed, pillow, ear plus! Up early Sunday to be met with track blowers out early drying the track and more importantly a bit of sunshine.
Breakfast out the way and the car is checked over again, valve lash, fuel pressure, nitrous & tyre pressures checked – and the car fired up, then the wait for the class to be called, and wait and wait and wait (everyone who didn’t put in a pass on the Saturday is now running on Sunday – pushing everyone back).
The class is eventually called and I have the pleasure of taking the car down to the fire up lane, this thing is AWESOME, it’s a snarling, popping, hot, smelly, noise filled animal and now I cant wait for mine to be running!! a quick and very small flex of Colins toe gives me an idea of what the car is capable of it jumping forward at a rate of knots and not really coming of tick over!
For this run Im now responsible to taking tyre and track temperature readings after the burnout and while the car is staging. The noise and smell on the start line are incredible – and its only then that I find out how sticky the track is – my feet making a lovely squelching noise at each step! Colin stages cuts down the tree and runs an 8.5 1/4 though having to lift due to tyre shake leaving us with the number 1 qualifying spot,.
Back at the trailer the pressure is now on to get the car turned around even quicker – im starting to feel more like a crew member than a spare part, wiping off the rocker covers and refuelling in record time! Nitrous bottle changed and the runs recorded in the spreadsheet for reference later.
Class is called and off we go again – for the first round of eliminations, Colin taking the left lane with the ‘Fat Boys’ in the 34 in the right side. With the other team capable of a very good light, this should be a good race. The tree counts down and Ian Hook pulls a cherry and then his driver door flies open, Colin runs an 8.421/174.31 to take the win.
Mad dash pack to the trailer usual checks carried out – then the wait starts, we wait and wait and wait (the other classes having a large field have more people to get through) the later we go, the temperature starts to drop…… CCSE is eventually called and out the cars go…. until a LARGE oil down on the start line delays the run (its now 6 PM) and, to add insult to injury… it rains and blows a gale, the wind attempting to sandblast anyone or anything in the barn or around the fire up lane. After around a 45 minute delay the bike race is called off – a nasty crosswind at the top end stopping play – though the cars are allowed to run, hurrah. In this round we have slippery Ian Jackson whos been playing mind games since the last round – its very true that the best of friends can turn into the worst of enemies when they have to race against each other. This race should be close as Ian has been running between 9 and 8.5 sec ¼’s this weekend. Big burnouts from both cars get some heat in the tyres, but the track is 20 deg F colder than earlier. The tree cuts down Colin leaving before Ian…. but cuts a cherry and hands the race to Ian – if it hadn’t been for the red light we would have been through to the finals as Colin had a lead of 0.5 of a second over the 1/4.
All in all a brilliant weekend, apart from the weather and the cherry! A real eye opener for someone whos used to RWYB and being a spectator at the events, I for one cant wait until my car is up and running, and to top it off, Ive been invited to crew at the next event, so I cant have been that bad!
Apologies for the length of the post – shorter version would have read as “fast nosiy car, 169mph 8.32 sec ¼ mile, too much rain, no sleep, ache, muchos fun – most do it again!” Ive also omitted anything technical in relation to the car setup – so for those looking for a techie read…. sorry.
More pictures and the full report are available here http://www.eurodragster.com/santapod...ls/default.htm
And - you have to remember this is a street legal car, running on treads, indeed Mickey Thompson (tyre manufacturers) were over as they cant believe the teams are running so quick on them
One day I will have an engine like this - detuned down from 1250 to 1100 N/A with the capability of swallowing an extra 1000 bhp of N2O down its throat, this lot are totally mad - you wont find a better bunch
Fantastic post mate, glad you had a great time
Tumble - some of those vans are very quick - though I had to laugh when I overheard the commentator say something along the lines of "here comes the power" and we waited, and waited (thinking we had missed it) until a couple of bugs come trundeling past the finish line everyone has to start somewhere though, me included !Originally Posted by Tumble
And I get to repeat it at the end of August - if my wife isnt in labour then!Originally Posted by Lowe
3 day event at Shakey (or whatever Avon park is called these days) must remember to take air bed, pillow and ear plugs and I 'may' get a bit of kip.
There are a LOT of people waiting for my debut now - which is slightly worrying......
Hopefully should be able to get out on the cruise and get an idea of what these things are like on the road
Sounds like a cracking weekend.
but to the uneducated.. (me) what is a cherry?
I shall read and digest it all tomorrow...
looks like I have a read and a half ahead
nice work mate....pleased you enjoyed SO MUCH ...cant blame ya tho
Gotta go out now
Tumbles right - a cherry is when you leave before the green light.Originally Posted by CocoPops
The semi-final race was VERY tense - as a LOT of people wanted Colin to win that round, its a shame as colin had been getting some very good reaction times that weekend (the idea being you start to leave before the lights green)
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