1 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 09:59 AM)

Topic: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

The story of my (still very young) Lemons career is scattered between this and other forums, and i figured i'd get it all into one place. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, but we're getting better. Our story is an amusing one if nothing else.

Part 1 - the car.

When i was 19 I decided that I didn't know enough about working on cars, so I set off looking for one to buy and tear apart. I found two suitable candidates, both for $600. The first was a 1987 Porsche 924S. the Second was a 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby. I bought the Porsche because I wanted to say that i owned a Porsche at 19. But I had unwisely instilled some praise of the daytona in my head. So in the early winter of 2010 when my team was looking for a car to race, and someone found a 1989 Daytona Shelby I didn't even think, I just took some money out of the bank and went to go see it.

I should have been scared away. It would barely run with out jumper cables (dead alternator and old battery), the shifter had no boot or shift knob, and if i had looked closer i would have seen the Ebay special turbo, sketchy MBC, and other random fixes. But i was blind to this and only knew i wanted this car that i had passed on 4 years ago. I was back a day later with a trailer and the rest of the $500 he wanted and I returned home smiling the whole way.

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/165157_543871714852_599185_n.jpg?oh=4441f92196c21832e5249e3bd266f7ac&oe=55F1B72F
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A few team mates came up just after christmas and we dug into the car a little. It was scary to drive. The boost cam on late and laggy, and the tires were so bad that even the tiny amounts of power it had chirped tires as the boost came in. The steering was vague, as were the brakes, and as we backed into the driveway from the first ride around the block we saw oil staining the snow everywhere we had been. In a word it was terrible, but somehow exciting. We bought a new alternator and battery, I registered it, threw some plates on it, added liability on my insurance and drive it home to my parents for a few days. The car kept running the whole time, and seemed to get a little better each time I drove it. I was optimistic.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

2 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:04 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Part 2 - Prep for Race 1.

We slowly started working on the car, not wanting to buy too much of the large budget items till we knew if we'd be accepted into the inaugural NH race for 2011. Knowing what i do now it's hilarious to think that the judges wouldn't accept a turbo chrysler, and i wish we had dug into the car sooner. The engine came out so that we could evaluate the condition. Some new gaskets went into it, but nothing more. In reality all i did was pull the head, reassemble, and put the engine back in. This process somehow created a smoking exhaust however. Strange.

Once we were accepted into the race we tore out the interior, bought a seat and harness, and called up a cage guy to schedule some time. When we showed up with the car to drop it off for a cage the builder almost fell over laughing. This is a guy who works out of his garage, but has built for grand am, road rally, real rally, etc, and we bring him a daytona spewing smoke. His name is Bill, and he runs Cage This out of Lynn MA, and i can't compliment him enough. His work is top notch and he's a perfectionist. A few weeks later we have a cage, mounted seat, and something that is starting to resemble a (crappy) racecar. We raced to get things done, but we had a few things against us.

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First is the fact that none of us had done anything like this before, but no matter, my team was made of engineers so clearly we could not fail.  Second was that my team mates live scattered all over new england. I live in southern NH, two live in CT, one in MA, and one lived in New Orleans at the time. This meant I was left to do most of the work with random help here and there as the others could. As a result we weren't really ready when we showed up friday morning to our first ever race. The kill switch had only gone in the day before and we still needed radios, the anti-submarine belt, the seat back brace, brakes replaced, and a few other little things. But no matter, by the end of friday we had a tech sticker and a car that appeared to be ready to go racing. It didn't matter that Jay, Phil, and Evil John had all independently come to see the car, laughed, and predicted 5 laps total before destruction,  I was still optimistic.

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/227547_560973852032_5840521_n.jpg?oh=8a6af255793ff7178477fef839cafda3&oe=5606D059

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Keep it coming!  Stories like this are the real gems of this forum.

RetroRacing-1973 Super! Beetle: 2010 CMP Fall-Judges' Choice, 2014 Barber-DFL and I Got Screwed!, 2-time winner: You Talk Shit Better Than You Race (YTSBTYR) Award
Now available west of the Rockies as... Nine Finger Drifters- 1982 te72 Toyota Corolla Wagon (it's got a HEMI!)
Also, fall in love with my one man show: G. D. Yo-Man: No! YOU Ams Da A&&hole! (coming soon to a racing venue near you)

4 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:08 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Part 3 - Loudon Annoying 2011

Saturday started so perfectly. Around 7am i was walking back from a shower when someone started playing "what a wonderful world" over the infield PA system. It was beautiful. We checked the car over again, suited up, listened to Jay lead the drivers meeting, and i got strapped in. I was terrified. I've done track days, AutoX, Road Rally, but this was different. I was now sitting in a crap box racecar about to go honest to god racing. I rolled onto the track and completed what felt like 3 hours of yellow flag laps (it was more like 5 laps). The green dropped while i was on the hill, and off we went. The daytona was laying down a smoke screen to make James Bond jealous, which resulted in a black flag just halfway through lap 2. Optimism slightly lowered.

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In the penalty box, upon hearing that we were flagged for "excessive smoke" Phil exclaimed "It's a Daytona! Can't we get race control to give them a little leniency?" Optimism raised. 30 seconds later however Jay noticed a large amount of oil leaking from under the car. Optimism falling. Thus began the great oil chasing weekend. Getting the car on jacks it was impossible to tell where the oil was coming from, because it was everywhere. The power steering rack was leaking, the dipstick was being pushed up, the case breather was leaking oil, the turbo seals were gone (hense smoke screen). 10 minutes of track time and we'd murdered it.

But no matter, we'd get this working. we pulled the power steering belt, which slowed that leak to a small drip. We secured the dipstick, and threw together a catch can for the case breather. We plugged any leak we could identify. Eventually we decided that we would just kill the turbo in an effort to reduce smoke. Off came the wastegate arm, and off came the turbo oil lines. We were running NA for the rest of the race. The only thing left was to plug the hole where the turbo oil feed once was. This is where we made our largest mistake of the whole weekend, and racing career thus far. We didn't have a bolt that would fit in the hole to just plug it. but we had tubing and hose clamps. Hose over the fitting, bolt in the end, hose clamps on each end. start the car and it held. We were granted one test lap to try it. After the lap the leaks were down to a tiny drip now and then so we went out racing. One lap complete. Cautious optimism. Full course yellow. oh god no.

I watched with rising despair as one by one every car except mine came down the hill. Soon there it was, on the back of a flat bed, being welcomed in to a judge announcing over the PA "Oh not the Daytona!" If you couldn't guess, our plug let go. The entire oil pan emptied over the track and caused our driver to spin out. Optimism crushed. This all happened 1 hour before the end of they day. We were the 3rd car to close the track for cleaning that day, and we cost everyone an hour of racing, I was devastated. I went and apologized to Jay and Phil, explaining how our fix went wrong (to much laughter). Jay said if I was really sorry I could jump on the PA and make a public apology, so I did.

We poked at the car a little, but everyone was just wiped from the day of thrashing. We were told that if we cleaned the car up and fixed it right we could go racing again. We did some cleaning and then just gave up to relax for the night. Day 1 complete, and dead on prediction we had 5 laps recorded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=devIdIy4AC4

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Sunday arrived and I was down to three drivers. One had left the night before assuming he'd get more seat time at an autoX event, and the other weighed the chances of more racing and decided it was too low. After the drivers meeting I lost another. As other teams fired up their cars My only remaining team mate and I looked the car over and decided to work. If it got to a racing state, awesome, if not, at least it would be clean. Around noon the oil feed was plugged correctly, and the entire car had been wiped down to remove the impending oil fire. Suddenly there was hope. We took it through tech and got an ok to take it out. My other driver, who had no seat time at all suited up and went out for some slow cautious laps.

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A little while later he came in again to sort a radio problem. I couldn't convince him to take more laps before I turned any, so I jumped in and headed back out. The track was much less crowed sunday afternoon, and i was genuinely enjoying myself. For a few laps I was even holding a challenging E30 at bay. Then, as I approached the braking zone at the end of the straight "BANG!". "What the hell was that?!" Without thinking i killed the engine and coasted through the cones out of the way onto the oval's banked turn. An ambulance came out and pushed the car back to the pits. It was now mid afternoon, and we decided we'd pushed our luck far enough and packed up. 18 laps recorded, and amazingly not last!

At the awards ceremony we were surprised to hear a description of a team that sounded like ours being announced. For "unwisely trusting the name Shelby" we were awarded the "I Got Screwed" award. I was thrilled. It didn't matter that we hadn't turned laps, I was reveling in the spectacle that was Lemons racing, and I was determined to come back.

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Race 1 complete, 18 laps turned.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

18 laps is a lot for an I Got Screwed winner.

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Kudos for sticking it out! Your Saturday Only teammates should be ashamed of themselves.

I'm the doctor who is a wife. Which makes the grease hard to explain to my patients... www.tetanusneon.com.

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Judge Phil wrote:

18 laps is a lot for an I Got Screwed winner.

We made up for that at stafford, don't worry.


Dr. Wife wrote:

Kudos for sticking it out! Your Saturday Only teammates should be ashamed of themselves.

I can't blame them too much. it wasn't looking positive that we'd get back on track. It was race #1 for us, we had no idea what we were in for. Now we do.



The rest will come tonight, I have a whole year to finish writing up. But i have to do some work while i'm at my desk today.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

8 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:09 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

decided to post the rest one part/day. So here's part 4.

Part 4 - Aftermath and More Race Prep

Following Loudon Annoying I asked my team if we wanted to try and make Stafford in July and we decided that sure, lets go for it. We applied and then I let the car sit for 2 weeks. I needed a mental break before dealing with the mess we had made. Finally I went out to the car, threw a compression tested on it and stared in horror as the numbers came back 140-130-60-130 (as best i can remember from a year ago). Well that isn't good. Out came the engine. I started laying pieces across my garage and finally got to pulling the rod caps off. What I found was not encouraging. The cranks was scored on every surface. Great. Next came the pistons. As I pulled out #3 i heard the sound of metal hitting the ground and noticed half a ring missing along with a large chunk of ring land. Well spectacular.

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I noticed a lot of evidence of running very lean throughout the engine, which struck me as strange, the engine should have been running rich if anything with the turbo unable to make boost. Unfortunately Chrysler is stupid. The ECU is programmed in such a way that it will run lean when no boost is made. Brilliant. Time to find another turbo and get that working again.

Around this time another 1988 Daytona Shelby popped up on craigslist for $400. I jumped on the opportunity and promptly stripped it in my driveway salvaging the engine, spare set of wheels, and random pieces from around the engine bay. I scrapped the rest of the car to prevent the neighbors getting too angry at me for having two junk cars sitting around. I bought new bearings, gaskets, seals, etc, and from the two engines I cobbled together one good one and got it back into the car. The spare engine gave me a stock Garrett turbo to replace the disaster that was the Ebay special. We set that up in stock configuration, hoping that stock would be good for being semi-reliable (go ahead and laugh now.)

With the engine in the car and less than a week till Stafford we started gathering everything together, and then finally turned the key. Tick tick tick tick. Valve noise, awesome, better than than low end noise I guess. Then our worst nightmare, oil, draining quite quickly under the car. Damn it. It was pouring out of the bell-housing, which was very odd, we'd not ever had an issue with the transmission, and the main seal on the engine was brand new. Out came the engine again, and our conclusion was that since nothing on the engine looked to be leaking, and from the streaks in the bell-housing it was the transmission input shaft that was leaking. Calling around we found the closest dealer that had a replacement seal was in CT. We had a team mate go fetch it, but we couldn't put it in before the race. We resigned to the fact that we would be pulling the engine Saturday morning at Stafford to replace that seal before we went racing. We packed up, left the engine barely bolted in, and sought a few hours sleep before driving to CT early Saturday morning.

Optimism clinging to life.

Tomorrow: Our disaster at Stafford

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

The difference between a team full of engineers versus a team full of beer-guzzling rednecks is that the engineers will try to analyze problems based on the data in front of them, while the rednecks will just start flailing around with tools and junkyard parts. In Lemons, the latter approach has always been more successful.

10 (edited by TheEngineer 2012-07-24 04:33 PM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Judge Phil wrote:

The difference between a team full of engineers versus a team full of beer-guzzling rednecks is that the engineers will try to analyze problems based on the data in front of them, while the rednecks will just start flailing around with tools and junkyard parts. In Lemons, the latter approach has always been more successful.

truer words have never been spoken. I do my best to not think like an engineer during repairs, and leave that thinking to building strange things on cars and old motorcycles. It is hard to get the team to stop over-analyzing and just start fixing during a race,  but we're getting better. See the difference between the 2011 races and the 2012 loudon race (once i get there)

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

TheEngineer wrote:

I noticed a lot of evidence of running very lean throughout the engine, which struck me as strange, the engine should have been running rich if anything with the turbo unable to make boost. Unfortunately Chrysler is stupid. The ECU is programmed in such a way that it will run lean when no boost is made.

Are you sure that the lean damage wasn't a result of the prior owner's actions?  They had an MBC with the ebay-special turbo and (probably) a box on the MAP sensor signal to avoid the overboost cut.  Or, perhaps no effort was made to avoid boost cut and they just pounded on the car.  The lean running damage may have been in the engine when you bought the car.  The fueI injection quantity is largely driven by the MAP sensor, crankshaft position sensor, charge air (intake air temp) sensor and coolant temp sensor inputs.  If the MAP sensor and Baro read solenoid part of the system was connected correctly, I don't see why it would run lean or rich with the turbo disabled.

Team Co-Craptain, Los Cerdos Voladores
Plymouth Neon
Yeah, we're horrible...but we're LEAST Horrible

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

I had the engine head off before the race so i had a pretty good look inside before, and then after. So I had a pretty good before and after to make the conclusion.

The statement about the ECU tending to run lean came from one of the dodge forums. I posted the broken piston and an "expert" made the claim that the ecu will go lean with no boost and cause detonation.

When i picked the car up it was only making about 7-8psi, down from the 12psi stock, so i'm not convinced the previous owner was trying to go for boost records.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Judge Phil wrote:

The difference between a team full of engineers versus a team full of beer-guzzling rednecks is that the engineers will try to analyze problems based on the data in front of them, while the rednecks will just start flailing around with tools and junkyard parts. In Lemons, the latter approach has always been more successful.

Our team is stacked to the gills with engineers, and we learned this lesson many times.  When disaster strikes- just start swappin' stuff!  It's almost always gotten us back onto the track.

The difference, I think, is that we're *real* engineers; i.e, guys with shop experience and mechanical intuition, not just some B.S. from a prestigious university (although we've got plenty of those, too). 

The resumes of our teammates include such notable career choices as assembly line worker and coal miner, previous to our engineer jobs.

2008- 2010:  1966 Volvo 122, "Charlie"
2010-present:  1975 Ford LTD Landau...doesn't have a name?

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

This might not be the place for it, but I have two Turbo II-style Garretts in my garage that came from running cars should you be in need of any more turbos.

Lorin Mueller
Team Haulin' Ass - 83 Plymouth Scamp
Team Soccer Moms - 93 Dodge Caravan

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

I'm always in need of more turbos.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

I know plenty of engineers in Lemons who are as good at fixin' stuff as any incoherent redneck with a tree for an engine hoist... but I know many more who aren't so great at putting theory into practice, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

This sounds like Team Anarchy's Dodge Shadow. I even have pictures of the broken lands from the #2 and #3 pistons. Even a "new" motor couldn't save them at Autobahn.

Newest member - White Trash Racing
Owner of the Traveling Hat

18 (edited by mike944 2012-07-25 10:56 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Judge Phil wrote:

The difference between a team full of engineers versus a team full of beer-guzzling rednecks is that the engineers will try to analyze problems based on the data in front of them, while the rednecks will just start flailing around with tools and junkyard parts. In Lemons, the latter approach has always been more successful.

That's an awesome quote.   Very true.   We have a team chock-full of engineers too (Hmm, seems to be a common theme in Lemons)     My teammates will probably say that i'm the worst one to try to diagnose the problem before taking anything apart!

Maximum Effort Motorsports - Mid-engine 1979 Chevette - Class C Winner - GP Du Lac Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg
New England Long Winter Build Award - 2015
IOE Winner, Loudon Annoying 2011, Judges Choice - Loudon Annoying 2012
Class C & Least Horrible Yank Tank winner - Boston Tow Party & Overhead Cam Bake 2011

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

mechimike wrote:

The difference, I think, is that we're *real* engineers; i.e, guys with shop experience and mechanical intuition, not just some B.S. from a prestigious university (although we've got plenty of those, too).

Hey! I both resemble and take offense to that remark. I went straight from school to an engineering job, but i consider myself to have a decent sense of mechanical intuition. I spent most of my free time at school in the machine shop just making and fixing things.


Judge Phil wrote:

I know plenty of engineers in Lemons who are as good at fixin' stuff as any incoherent redneck with a tree for an engine hoist... but I know many more who aren't so great at putting theory into practice, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

As a team we're still on that learning curve. By now I can look at most problems and know how to fix them, but occasionally get stumped on how to do it with the tools and resources at my disposal. We're getting better.





cabinboy wrote:

This sounds like Team Anarchy's Dodge Shadow. I even have pictures of the broken lands from the #2 and #3 pistons. Even a "new" motor couldn't save them at Autobahn.

yea, these are not ideal cars for this race, but i think i've got it kinda figured out. October will be a real test of my knowledge of these engines and what i've learned so far. If we can go from zero laps at stafford to 143 laps at NH this past may, i think we can do more than 250 at NH this fall.


More parts to this story coming tonight, just need to dig up a picture or two.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

20 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:12 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Part 5 - Stafford, Our Darkest Hour(s)

6:30am in Stafford CT on a weekend promising to be the hottest in recent memory I arrived at the still closed gate. As other team mates started showing up we set to work prepping the engine to come out while the car was still on the trailer. The gates finally opened and we found a spot, set up the engine crane and got to work. The engine came out, and we dug the old transmission seal off the input shaft, replaced it with the new one, applied some RTV, and sealed it all back up. Around noon we had the engine in, and turned the key. The sight of oil pouring out the bell-housing made me almost smash my head into the ground.

Some digging revealed one of the most frustrating discoveries I've ever found on that car. Hidden under the upper intake tube are the turbo oil and coolant feed lines. These are situated right above the inspection hole for the transmission. The chances of what was happening are so small I would never have guessed it in my life. The turbo oil feed line was leaking right into the inspection hole, and the bell housing was so dirty that the oil was coming out black, tricking me into thinking there was no way this was the new oil I had added a day ago. I took a lap around the pits to calm down.

http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w116/cegan09/Daytona%20Turbo/LCT11-UG-0177-1.jpg

A few hours, a trip to the store, and 6 hose clamps later the leak was stopped. With unearned optimism we drove the car to tech. As the car sat running a new noise started to develop and join the light valve tick. This new noise was worse, and growing louder. It was the unmistakable sound of rod knock..... I wanted to cry. Killing the engine we were bombarded with suggestions. "Run gear oil" "Pull spark plug wires to identify which cylinder it is" "Just do your 5 laps before exploding" "Add beer can to the bearings to make up the slop". Resigning to diagnose and see what the hell had happened Jay started taking bets on how many laps we'd manage that weekend and recording them on the roof. Pessimism taking over.

http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w116/cegan09/IMG_20120725_173921.jpg

In order to determine what the hell we had done wrong we drained the oil and pulled the oil pan. Cautiously I grabbed the first rod and wiggled it. It moved, noticeably. Crap. I grabbed the second, same thing. Oh No. Grabbed the third and fourth and got the same thing. What the hell. These were brand new bearings. They were fit checked with plastigage, everything had been solid when I assembled the engine. Finding a team with calipers we pulled off a rod cap and did some measuring. Unknown to me, the crank had been ground sometime in the past. Faith in my personal calipers immediately smashed. Faith in plastigage destroyed. We had standard bearings in an engine that needed one size over.

http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w116/cegan09/Daytona%20Turbo/LCT11-UG-0204.jpg

More ideas flooded in, but we were just too overwhelmed. It was after 9pm and it was still over 90degrees and we were just cooked. Race #2 and we doubted that we'd see track time. Looking back we should have just called a few places to find bearings, but we were demoralized. We went to bed. The next day we just resigned to the fact that we needed a break from that damn car and turned in our transponder. We stuck around the rest of the race to cheer others on, lend tools, play with dry ice, and try to calm down. The awards ceremony found the rest of my team already heading home and just me left to listen as for the second time in as many races a description of my team was read out and another "I Got Screwed" trophy was handed to me. Whatever the reasons Jay listed I knew the real reasons were my own inexperience and incompetence.

Race #2 complete, zero laps turned

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Next: sabbatical and renewed determination

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

21 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:16 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Part 6 - A long break and getting back in the game

Following Stafford the Daytona sat for a very long time, still fully loaded with race gear. I didn't want to think about it for a long time. I filled my need for wrenching with old motorcycle projects and my racing desires with karting and AutoX. Sometime in the late fall I pulled the cover off and started thinking about all the things that went wrong and how to prevent them from ever happening again. The day after Christmas I had some team mates up and we painted the cage. In February my dad and I ventured to RI to pick up a 2.5L Turbo I engine from a minivan as a spare. Around the same time we applied to the NH race for 2012 and started making a plan.

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We knew what had gone wrong in 2011. It was a bad mix of inexperience and poor planning. 2012 would be different, we were determined. In March I pulled the engine out of the car finally (in a record 2 hours with no one else helping), and went to work prepping the three engines for May. The radiator got re-cored to address the fact that it was rotting out, we found new brake pads and improved the braking system. The 2.5L engine got a new head gasket and went into the car after determining it was the best condition of all three. Bearings were ordered for the other two engines along with more gaskets and I set out rebuilding them as spares.

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A week before the Loudon Annoying 2012 race we were buttoning the car up and trying to run it for the first time since the previous July. Everything was in place, battery in, turn the key, nothing. What the hell. Check the voltage to the starter, and all seems ok. Check grounds, other wires everything, no changes. Finally we dug the starter out, grabbed it and a spare and went to pep-boys to get them checked. The machine said both were dead so we traded one for a new starter. Back in the driveway we installed the new starter, turned the key, nothing. Ok, we must be missing something. A deeper search found the ground wire for the starter relay not connected. Bang head against wall. Connect up the wire, turn the key, movement. Intending to check a few other things before really starting the car I let go of the key almost instantly, but to my shock the engine kept turning. The junk yard engine had started with no hesitation and no complaints.

Sharing dumbfounded looks with my Dad we watched the engine for a minute, then decided what the Hell, take it around the block. I eased the car out of the driveway wondering what the neighbors must think of this painted up car with no hood driving around. Ease out of first into second, go for the gas, the turbo spools into oblivion, but the gauge registers no pressure and we don't really go anywhere much faster. Interesting. Turn onto the next street and try again. fantastic turbo noises, but no pressure and no ramping acceleration. Pulling back into the driveway and we find that the lower intercooler hose was never clamped down and had blown off. Oops. Tightening that down we try again, and this time spooling turbo noises result in increases in acceleration (or a non-zero jerk for those engineering nerds out there). This was excellent.

I spent the rest of the week finishing building the spare engines and packing. Thursday rolled around and the car was loaded on the trailer and I sat down to talk strategy with one of my team mates. This time we were going to be smart. Low redline limits, run at 6/10ths, no passing unless it was absolutely smart, watch the oil gauge, short stints to allow the car time to rest at driver changes. Priority #1 would be getting everyone seat time. We knew how this whole Lemons thing worked at this point, and it was time to show what we could do. Cautious optimism returning.

Tomorrow: Seeking Redemption At Loudon

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

22 (edited by TheEngineer 2015-06-03 10:29 AM)

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

Part 7 - Loudon Annoying 2012

My alarm went off at 5am Friday morning. I threw a few last things in the truck while steve went for gas and dunkin donuts. By 6am we were on the road headed towards loudon. At 7am we were at the track and signing in. Over the next few hours we unloaded the truck, wrapped up a few last minute things on the car and realized we had almost nothing to do. Tech opened at noon, and we rolled through just after the first rush of people. Tech inspection was a breeze, not a single thing asked to be improved. While waiting for Phil to be done with cars in front of us for BS inspection Jay came over  and told us "unless you really want to wait and be yelled at by Phil, I think we can just sent you along. We're giving you Zero laps and class C" No way we were going to argue with that, so we headed back to the pits.

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The rest of the day was bizarre. We're used to scrambling with the car trying to get it ready to race, but now we had nothing to do. The car was running, and everything was squared away. We drove the car around the pits a few times to check a few things, and even received some cheers from teams who knew our failed past. Finally we headed off to home depot and dinner. We came back with an expandable drainage tube to use as a driver cooling duct and some flame print duck tape. Realizing we still had nothing to do we busted out the projector, ps3, and driving setup for some awesome GT5 action. This turned out to be quite the hit with other teams, and a small crowd formed waiting to fight for fastest lap around laguna seca.

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Saturday morning I woke up at 6, showered, and searched for things to tidy up on the car. Following the drivers meeting we strapped Brian into the car and sent him out for the opening laps. We had barely done a lap and the green flag dropped. It was a weird feeling realizing that our car was actually out there turning laps with no visible problems. Optimism growing.

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It took until driver 2 to break the spell of disbelief and find something wrong. We pushed the car out of the garage and Ben turned the key. A click and nothing. Crap. A mad scrambling for jumper cables and batteries. Turn key, click, nothing. Grab another car, jump it, click nothing. So the starter is dead. Our brand new starter. Screw it, we’re push starting this thing. Five people pushing, dump the clutch and off she went. We just accepted that we’d be following that routine for the day.

It wasn’t until later that we found a new problem when Steve called in with throttle problems. Ok, as long as it’s not engine problems. Turns out the hole in the firewall that holds the grommet for the throttle cable has become larger with rust, and it had pulled through. We set it back in place, and rigged up some temporary fixes. Steve went back out to finish his stint. The throttle problems plagued us through Chris’ stint, until we found a way to hold the throttle cable shielding in place.

Finally I got my chance to take the wheel of the car I had slaved over for so long. And immediately got black flagged. Driving the pit out lane, there is a sharp left onto the straight before the uphill. Someone had taken out some cones, so it appears that you started to blend at that point. I started easing out, and suddenly noticed more cones. Damn it. I took out about three of them. The next three corner workers waved the black flag, and I acknowledged them all. Back in the penalty box I was greeted by Jay exclaiming “this is still running?!” Since we hadn’t been in previously that weekend we were sent right back on the track and I finished my stint in a blur of terrified exhilaration.

I need to explain how scary this car is to drive. It won't take corners. It just won't. You approach a corner and brake way more than you think you should have to. And as you're standing on the brakes you realize the bias is set way too far to the rear so the tail is starting to squirm. And even after slowing to a crawl the car still under-steers like a pig. And while you're under-steering the car is leaning 5+ degrees over.  Then as you snap back to level and apply power the car vibrates and sounds like it's ready to explode. Then boost starts to build and you're convinced the world is going to end, except it doesn't. Then you realize you're holding the wheel 20degrees rotated to go straight, and before you can figure out why, it's time to stand on the brakes again and every other car dive-bombs around you. It's amazing.

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Saturday kept creeping forward, with me expecting the car to explode at any second, and it refusing to. It wasn’t fast, it was making 2 of the stock 12psi, and it hated corners with an undying passion, but it was turning laps. Shortly before 5pm with Chris at the wheel we turned our 100th lap. And then it died 3 laps later. The temperature sensor wasn’t working in that particular engine (something we didn't find till race day), so we had no idea what the coolant was looking like. Our method of baby the car and take long driver changes had gotten us to 5pm, but that was it. Chris called in saying it lost power and he was coming in. As he turned the corner around the garages i heard the unmistakable sound of rod knock. in the garage we killed the engine and cut the fans. That turned out to be a mistake as coolant started gushing out almost immediately.

We accepted that the engine was done, changed out of our racing gear, and set to work. Working at a comfortable pace and waiting for the engine to cool we got a new engine in place in roughly 5 hours. At 10:45 pm we rolled the car outside, gave it a running push, dumped the clutch and it sputtered to life. First push. I couldn’t believe it, the engine even sounded better than the last one. Tidying up a few last things we crawled into bed by 11:30. Optimism at a new high.

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Sunday we were up at 6am again, and got to replacing the new starter with the old one. Miracle of miracles it worked, so we no longer needed to be push started. We got the hood back on, and the car buttoned up and I suited up to take the green. I managed the few laps under caution, and one under green before returning to the pits with suspension noise. Thank god for that because as soon as i pulled in the garage the car started puking water and steam again, as well as dripping oil everywhere. Turns out the fans were never on, and my gasket on the valve cover wasn’t really working. A little time to cool, a new valve cover, and some more water and we were ready to go.

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Back on track the car was feeling decent. We had real boost for the first time all weekend, a whopping 6psi anytime you went near the gas. It was amazing. I jokingly asked Jay how long he thought the engine would last now that it was really making boost. He laughed and said "I give it till noon." That's the last time i ask Lemons HQ for a prediction. Right around noon with 36 laps complete for the morning Steve brought the car in sounding like doom and boom. After a brief discussion about how much we thought was wrong and what to do we just decided to save the last 5 laps the engine had left in it for the checkered. 

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With 10 minutes to go till the checkered flag I strapped in, and we pushed the car around towards the entrance to the track. With 6 minutes to go we fired up the car (now sounding like complete death) and headed on track. With the oil pressure gauge reading zero and and the car sounding worse by the second I limped the car around the track following the vikings who had attached a giant sail to their car. With just a couple minutes left the racing camper joined the madness with the same goal. On the lap leading to the checkered flag I struggled up the hill following the vikings, leading the camper trailer, and laughing my head off. This was the most insanely amazing thing I had ever done.

We came around the last corner to the main straight with the checkered waving. I resisted the urge to floor it and bring on a massive engine failure, and settled on just celebrating. Around the back of the track I slipped through the hole in the wall to avoid having to climb the hill again, and followed the line of cars off track. Waiting for the traffic to get off track the car cut out three times, but managed to start again each time. I rolled through the crowd lining the track exit to some amazing applause, high fiving Phil on the way by.

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Our little daytona managed 143 laps on two engines. It made both green flags and took the final checkered. I couldn't have asked for a larger improvement after 2011.

Race #3 finished, 143 laps complete.

Tomorrow: The story up till now.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

this is epicly entertaining

If it moves and shouldn't, use Duct Tape.
If it should move and doesn't, use WD-40.
If those don't work, its BROKE!

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

I would've quit about eight times and would've long ago scrapped that car.  Your dedication is inspiring.

LemonAid - Changing kids lives one lap at a time.

Re: Chronicles of a Lemons Daytona

i think you're confusing stubbornness with dedication.

While maybe we would have had a little more fun with a car that ran reliably all weekend i wouldn't have learned nearly half the things i have by choosing a daytona. I've tossed around the idea of getting something reliable for racecar #2, but where is the fun in that. We're doing something awesome, with engines in the wrong places, maybe 2 engines. When i have the money to do so of course.

14 Time Loser FutilityMotorsport
2008 Saab 9-5Aero Wagon
Retired - 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby 2011-2015 "Lifetime Award for Lack of Achievement" IOE, 3X I got screwed, Organizer's Choice