The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

Race night has come to the Turd of Fire, and while we broke no records, and in fact plain down broke, we drove home under our own power.

First let me thank the many friends and family members that came to watch. Let me also thank my ‘Social Media Coordinator’, he’s the guy that talked me into making a Facebook page for the car and then invited everyone in the county out to see me fail, burn, win, or some strange combination of all three at the drag strip.

The first thing I learned is to keep your window crank in the car with you. It turns out you have to run the track with your windows up. I was unaware and rolled up to the starting line. The starter casually tapped my door and said something. I couldn’t hear him over my nerves. “Come again?” “Put up your window”. I grabbed the nub where the window crank would have attached if I had it in the car and twisted. Nothing. Tried again with both hands and accidentally moved the window even lower in the door, down below the window sweeps, ensuring that it definitely isn’t going to come back up again. I looked around the car desperately for pliers or anything I might have left laying there. Nada. “I don’t have my window crank, it’s over in my toolbox” I told the unamused starter. He said, “Hold on” and conferred with his coworker about the idiot with no window crank. “Windows up next time” they told me. Staging time.

The honest friend from work was very excited to see me stage with my back tires. He said someone does it nearly every grudge night. I was determined not to be “that guy” that does that, oils down the track, or otherwise screws up visibly. You know, like a guy that has his windows down and no way to put them back up. So, I’m easing in to the beams, lighting them both, and then pumping up and mashing the brake petal, holding the two-step button, and flooring it.

I had gone to the track with my two step configured to hold the engine at 2800RPM. On the street I was able to hold 2700RPM on the footbrake before it started to push the front tires. I figured the track could hold more. I was wrong. The front tires started popping forward, almost jumping either across the track or just popping forward, I’m not sure which. All I know for sure is that the car was slowly and inexorably pushing through the beams. By the time my panicked and adrenaline laced brain came up with a solution (let off the gas dummy) I had pushed through the beams for a redlight. I figured I may as well just go now, so I left off the brake and the two-step and went for a ride.

The drive down the track was exactly that–it seemed like a Sunday drive. The car was glued to the remarkably sticky track. It always spins first on the street, spins the 1-2 shift, and will spin second gear on a polished or other low traction road. But the track? It just drove. I shifted up to third and didn’t even steer. By 1100-1200 feet I was on the rev limiter at an indicated 118MPH. I had run a 12.83 at 117.45MPH. The car was together and still running, I had all my appendages and even a tiny bit of pride. I popped back to my parking space and picked up my window crank, then back into the lineup for the next race.

I had intended to increase my rev limiter from an engine saving 5500RPM to 6000RPM, and to increase boost to 15PSI from 12PSI. In reality all I got done was to decrease my two-step to 2600RPM and got my windows closed. There was just too much going on and I didn’t want to hold up the guys behind me in line so I could click things on my laptop. I staged (on my front tires), held the two-step, mashed the brake, and floored it. The car held and sat there on the line twisting up and misfiring, waiting for the big moment. I slept on the line (R/T .750) and finally got the car moving. I went up through the gears and again at 1100-ish feet hit the rev limiter at an indicated 118MPH. It was right about that time that the car filled with smoke. White, stanky, burnt oil smoke. I left off the gas and checked the mirrors, nothing but the tiniest puff of smoke behind me, and the car was not longer filling with smoke. I checked the oil pressure gauge (around 60PSI), water temp (240*–hot but not burn up all your oil hot), and listened to the motor and everything seemed fine. So I got back in it and took it back to the rev limiter, crossing the stripe at 117.78MPH after 12.13 seconds.

I picked up my timeslip while watching the engine continue to increase in temp, maxing out at 249* before beginning to cool. I pulled into my parking space and popped the hood. Oil covered the entire front of the engine, spun from the harmonic balancer up across both turbos, the water pump, bottom of the hood, radiator hoses, fans, you name it. Oil spatter had come out of the open fenders and covered both doors. It was a mess. It is obvious the oil had come from the front main seal which indicates that I’ve pressurized the crankcase somehow. I’ve either holed a piston, blown out rings, blown out a turbo oil seal, or burned up my PCV valve. I let the car sit there with the hood open to cool a while and trudged over to the viewing area to meet with the folks who’d come by to watch.

Beer was bought for those that wanted it, and we walked back to the car to poke around. I started by checking the oil–down about a quart. I sprayed the harmonic balancer and water pump with brake clean and fired the car up. No drips, and plenty of oil pressure. I let it idle a bit and we saw nothing coming out of it anywhere. After some peer pressure to run the car anyway until it flings parts everywhere we walked back to the stands for more beer and to watch the other cars run. Good times were had by all. And thanks again for coming.

I drove the car home and stayed out of the boost and appeared to leak no further oil. I suspected the Chinese check valve that I was using to keep boost away from the PCV valve had failed, but it was too hot and too late to check that night.

Lessons learned: 1) I don’t have nearly enough radiator. I still had the 19″ high radiator that I had in the car originally, so I decided I’d have to figure out a way to get that in the car. 2) I don’t have nearly enough fan. I bought a big sheet of fiberglass mat and we’re going to try our hand at that foolishness. 3) I’m giving up on Chinese check valves and not connecting my intake manifold to my PCV valve. I might run a line to the air filter. I might not and just let the valve cover vent to atmosphere. We’ll see. 4) My methanol valve corroded shut. My intake air temps were 140* before it melted the check valve and lost boost. 5) I should have put a 3.54 rear gear in it when I had the rear end apart, the 3.73 is too short. Instead of actually doing all that work I plan on just adding revs–that’s easier. 6) I’ve got 10s in that car, I just know it.

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