Topic: The Sad Tale of Schumacher Taxi Service's First "I Got Screwed" Trophy
*sigh* Here goes...
So after the 4AG-ZE (supercharged) motor that we had in our 1st gen MR2 blew itself up for the third time at Summit Point last year, we decided to go for something a little less high-strung and a little more reliable. After seeing some posts on the swap, we ended up settling on a 3VZ-FE out of a 92 Camry. We started the build in January. The donor car had a blown head gasket, which allowed us to buy it for cheap - we scrapped the body for the same price we bought the whole car for. Free motor! Winning!
The build took about 8 hours per day for the 8 weekends preceding the race. Colossal amounts of work went in, but we finished everything on the car on the Sunday beforehand and still had time to pack everything that day. The car was well sorted, and we had a small checklist of things to do on Friday. Things were looking good.
We showed up on Friday and registered for the track day to get some shakedown time on the car. Our first driver took the car out in the pouring rain, and on his third lap understeered off at T5 going about 35 mph. The soaked grass had absolutely zero effect on the car's speed, and it hit the Armco, still going about 35 mph.
The car came back in on the wrecker and we surveyed the damage, which could have been a lot worse. The front control arm and rear tie rod were bent, and the front corner was smashed in enough to give us negative castor on the driver's side.
Of course, the parts car didn't make it to the race, so Rob and I hopped in his truck and made the 1-1/2 hour drive back to his house. The disassembly was surprisingly painless, but the whole trip cost us about four hours that day. I have to give major props to Bill Strong, who came over and helped the rest of our team remove the smashed front fender and correct the castor angle with a bottle jack. Without his help we would have been totally boned. By the end of the day, we managed to get the car back together and into decent race shape.
At dinner on Friday, Rob mentioned that he had heard some clunking from the rear just before the wall incident. I had been a little worried that we didn't get the motor aligned quite right and the driver side axle was binding. We hadn't had any issues in the couple of short drives the car had taken up and down the street, but we decided to check on it in the morning.
Saturday dawned, and we took the car for a spin around the pits. Sure enough, the axle was binding every rotation. We scrambled to disassemble the suspension, remove the axle, and start cutting. If you heard the cut-saw going during the beginning of the driver's meeting, that was us.
With the axle shortened and sleeved with roll-cage tubing, we took it for a second trip around the pits. Everything worked, and we headed out on track. The car was spectacular. I cruised around in 4th gear for a couple of laps and then pinned my ears back and dropped the hammer. Lap three, the car was blazing fast until the bridge - then disaster. As I downshifted for the left-hander, the motor stalled. A bump-start into third started it again, but the problem was obvious - spun rod bearing. I limped back into the pits in 5th.
We dropped the oil pan and started exploring. Turns out Toyota, for some idiotic reason, had tapped a hole into high pressure oil in one of the main journals (we think it was actually a fitting to pre-oil the crank and rod bearings during assembly). The 10mm bolt that capped that hole was laying the oil pan and the bearings on each side of that journal were destroyed.
We had a set of .020 oversize bearings laying around, so we tried to throw them in. Once the rod end was installed, the motor was locked. Fail. The next idea involved an angle grinder, an trailer fender, and a bunch of c-clamps. Judge Phil got some good photos here. Also a good shot of our sleeved axle there.
After working most of Saturday slowly grinding down the backside of the bearings, we finally got one that was thin enough to work. Between the holy-shit-there's-nothing-left-ness of the backing plate and the heat damage, we decided to live to race another day. The last thing we wanted was to put a rod through the block. A set of bearings and the car will be set for Summit Point.
Total laps in the MR2 for the weekend - six. And half of one lap was tied to the back of a wrecker.
On Sunday, the other STS car offered us rides in the Miata they brought, with the understanding that we would be very careful with it. The car is slated for a race in that other series in two weeks - they only brought it to get some shakedown time on Friday. That morning, our third driver went out and proceeded to t-bone Bill Strong's MR2 when they spun in front of us. The damage was minor - some broken headlights and a tweaked bumper support. The team understandably packed up the car after that though.
Rob, who drove the Galaxie in its debut at CMP, talked to the Speedycop team in an attempt to get us some seat time. Of our four drivers to this point, we had: Rob (2.5 laps, crash), Dave (2.5 laps, blown motor), Kurt (15ish laps, crash) and Mike (0 laps). The Galaxie team decided they would allow us each 15 or so minutes in the car towards the end of Sunday. A second major props of the weekend have to go out to that team.
Unfortunately, no one told them that we might actually be cursed. About 15 minutes after they promised us rides, the Galaxie came in. On fire. The early diagnosis was a cracked block.
That's about when we gave up. We turned in our wristbands and cracked open some beers. The real kicker of the story is that the Galaxie turned out to not have a cracked block, just a loose oil filter and an amazingly concurrent power steering line failure. When they came over to ask if we still wanted rides, we were already two beers in.
Needless to say, Mike (0 laps) went home with the "I Got Screwed" trophy. Almost. He would have if he didn't forget it while unpacking at Rob's house.
coROLLa - 2 time loser, RWB MR2 - 5 time loser
The Craptation - IOE WINNER! Lemons South Spring 2010
Crown Vic - Please God Don't Ever Make Me Go Through That Again