Topic: K car Fall Colors Tour Leg 2
Alright, this is going to be a long one. Feel free to skip to the end where I thank everybody.
I truly believe that the main issue that has been plaguing the K ever since Buttonwillow was the 2 loose wires I found buried deep in the wiring harness during the 2 days of post-NHMS wrenching at Mike Carr’s place in Doylestown. Once those were fixed she has run like the champion she now is. Another thing is, K doesn’t like her TPS sensor and refuses to run full bore with it plugged in. She even snapped in half and spit out a brand new one that I bought somewhere in VA on the trip up to N.H., causing the plug to melt into the exhaust pipe. But, she runs just fine without it. I don’t doubt there is some reason for this, but I’m too stupid to figure it out. Who needs it anyway? Not K. And not me.
Rolling out of Doylestown at 2:30pm on Wednesday, K was running great, although a little down on power. I figured out later this was caused by the 10” of packed steel wool that I crammed into the exhaust pipe to quite her down a little. I only did so in hopes of reducing the chances of attracting any more attention from the fine folks in charge of policing the highways and byways of our great country. That little run-in with the New Jersey State Trooper on cold trip to PA after N.H. scared the crap out of me. I wasn’t about to subject our fine to steed to any unnecessary scrutiny by the powers that be. Blowing her to hell and gone on the race track is one thing, but to be impounded by some overzealous lawman on a power trip would not be a fitting end to such a glorious and (in)famous racing machine. I pulled it out when I got to the track, baby needs to breath!!
I made it less than a mile, when stopped at a red light, the woman in the car behind me jumps out of her car and screams through my window that I simply must pull over so she can take pictures of “the craziest car I’ve ever seen”. She proceeded to tell me all about herself. Apparently she was a bounty hunter, had several names, was descended from royalty of some sort, and absolutely LOVED the K. Especially after she found out it was a racecar. She was also related to Mario Andretti it turns out, or A.J. Foyt, she couldn’t remember which. It’s funny, the mix of people that love the K. After way too many minutes of listening to the ramblings of K’s newest fan, I politely informed her that I simply must be going. After all I had over 900 mile to go and had only just begun. I was also not totally sure that K was done torturing me yet and wanted to have some spare time, just in case. Turns out that somewhere along the 1000s of miles and 100s of hours we had spent together that I had finally warmed the cockles of her cold Detroit heart and she was ready to show me and everyone else what she was really made of. Thank god!
After D.C. Doug and I freezing our asses off during the first leg of the trip, I was treated to some not too terrible weather for this part of the journey. 60 degrees and sunny, which became 60 degrees and dark, which became 60 degrees and massive thunderstorms. K didn’t seem to mind the rain, even with her snout poking through the hood in a torrential downpour; she soldiered on through the worst of it without as much as a whimper. Now, the old girl has sprung a few leaks over the preceding months and there were times when it was basically raining in the car. Oh well, at least it was 60 degrees.
It was all fuel stops and 3 hour stints through the night until around 6:30am I wheeled up at the gate of Road America! She had run flawlessly. I, on the other hand, was a wreck. 18 hours on the road and 900 some odd miles is a tough haul even in a comfortable vehicle and K isn’t big on comfort. So I snapped a quick pic of her in front of the R. A. sign and retreated to the Wal-Mart parking lot a few miles down the road. Here I once again wedged myself through the roll bars, climbed up the mountain of spare tires, parts and random flotsam and jetsam that always crowds her ample cargo area and using a 6x9 speaker for a pillow slept for four glorious hours with the rain gently falling on her thin tinny roof (and dripping on my left ass cheek).
Eventually I awoke from my slumber and after “breakfast” at Taco Bell and wondering around Wal-Mart for a couple hours, made my way back to the track. Now, because I drove a proper vehicle to the track, not some big ass RV or some ridiculous tow vehicle with a poor hapless “racecar” strapped to it, I didn’t have to go to the staging lot with the other poor saps, therefore I was the first one to sign in….. and be told I couldn’t come in because I wasn’t registered for the track day. Eventually they gave in to my charming personality, or grew tired of my endless stories of the harrowing journey I had endured over the previous week or so, and they allowed us to join the poor smucks that had shelled out $300 for practice, most of whom were eventually trounced on the track by the lowly K! Ha, take that racer boys!!
Friday was spent replacing the entire braking system, (well, not the rears, I don’t believe anyone has ever cracked open the Pandora’s Box that is the 25 year old rear drums on this fine vehicle and I ain’t about to be the first). In hopes of fixing the “locking up and not releasing” issue we had at NH, we replaced the master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pads and fluid. That fixed it. Turns out the master cylinder was completely gummed up with years and years of solidified brake fluid, nasty stuff. A few other loose ends were mended and K was ready for the big show.
Saturday dawned cold and cloudy, but the track was dry. I took 1st stint. The plan was to run for 2 hours, but K, as always, will have things her way. After 45 minutes it would start fuel starving on the left handers. Another 45 minutes and it was everywhere. So that dictated how we would run the rest of the race. Shorter stints and lots of fuel stops, but those first 45 minutes were glorious! Finally K was racing. Having never driven the track it took me the first half hour to figure out the track. Just before the starving and sputtering through the lefts started I laid down a 3:17, not too shabby for a K car. I wasn’t pushing her too hard. I didn’t want another race of 1 good stint and then wrenching all weekend again so I held back in hopes of keeping her alive for the whole race. I did make it up to P4 and was P7 at the 1 hour mark. By the time I spent 45 minutes nursing it through the starvation issue I pitted in P11. The first few stints went great, no issues, no black flags, just lap after lap of K ass-kicking. We did have a couple issues later in the day. The bracket that holds both shifter cables came loose and later with only 15 minutes to go, we had our only tow-in of the weekend when the front/back shifter cable separated from the housing. A few zipties was enough to get us back out for checkers and we ended the day in P26.
There were some repairs to be done so another cold dark wrenchfest til midnight ensued. Mainly the broken shifter cable had to be mended. We ended up fabbing a pretty amazing bent metal/hose clamp/bailing wire contraption that worked like a charm. The shifter was a bit stiff and I threatened the life of anyone that abused it on Sunday, but it held up.
Sunday the weather was a bit better. We got to line up 9th in line, by being in P3 of class C, which was pretty cool. Sasha the Crazy Russian was 1st at the wheel and beat the other 2 C cars into turn one when the green fell. We had decided on 1 hour stints for the day to get everyone another stint. That’s about all we could do anyway and we knocked out some pretty quick stops all day. The only mechanical we had was a busted left CV axle. It started going bad when I was out for the 2nd stint. It felt to me like something was coming loose in the right front. So when I came in I brought it to the paddock instead of the hot pit. A quick look over and we couldn’t find anything loose so we sent it back out. It wasn’t until Anton was out (4th stint) that it completely came apart. Luckily he was able to limp it back to the paddock and in 20 minutes or so we had it replaced and back on track. The only other off-track was Mark mistaking someone else’s black flag for him late in the day. No harm, no foul. We had enough cushion on those behind us and the gap ahead was too great to overcome, so it made no difference. To no one’s surprise Anton set fast lap, followed very closely (and I mean very closely, 2500th of a sec) by Troy, a Lemons Noob with only 1 other race under his belt (in the other series @ R.A.) which is surprising. That guy’s got game!
Checkers fly. P22 overall. 3rd in C class. I.O.E.
Some may not call that domination, but for the K, it was sweet, sweet, ass-kicking redemption for all the times when she just couldn’t keep up, all the tow trucks, all the blown motors, all the mystery ailments and misdiagnosed problems, all the broken parts and gallons of spilt fluids, and to all of those who have cared for her, all the bloody knuckles, the all night wrenching, the frustration and the heart ache…. It was.
Some have said that the success was all due to me and I will humbly take some credit, but I was just the (un)lucky bastard that finally spent enough time, blood, sweat, and tears with her to figure out what she needed. She is just like a woman after all and having lost a few good ones in my time, I feel privileged to have been able to see this one through.
The real credit goes to everyone in the K nation who has worked so hard, spent 1000s of dollars and so many hours I don’t think it could ever be calculated. What began as just another crappy racecar has brought people together from coast to coast and border to border. I doubt there are very many people in the crapcan universe who know nothing of THE K car. I believe she is the epitome of what it is that draws everyone to this sport, it is the underdog, the red-headed stepchild, the bastard son. Many have cursed her and some would see her destroyed, but for all of those who have sat in her rock hard seat, slipped around in her oily cockpit, struggled to reach her pedals, and have gone home with no laps but with a smile on their face just the same. I have to believe that most of us see her for what she truly is, The Greatest LeMon of all Time. But….. I’m an idiot.
Huge thanks first and foremost to Bob Mitchell and the NSF crew, you are Legend.
To Alex, aka Sasha the Crazy Russian, who I believe has spent even more time, miles, and effort in this endeavor than I have. I’m glad you were there to be part of it.
To D.C. Doug for your endless support and hard work. How you managed riding shotgun in that broken-ass Cordia seat for 1500 miles I’ll never know, (although it was more comfortable than the driver’s seat).
To Anton and Sophie who have shown so much love for the K.
To Ron Vickers, Mike Carr and all the Rally Babies, Ben Greisler, Jason Hiester, Eric Grithiff, NMF, Justin Howe, Judge Phil, Eric Rood, Chris Champion, Mary MamaDoctaWife Harris, Chris Overset, Brandon Spears, Frank Ferguson, Troy Hogan, Pete Peterson, Frank Jenkins, Kim Harmon, Roland and Stephanie Hahn, and so many more that I have forgotten or don’t even know about.
And to the team that helped bring it all together: Mark, Anton, Alex, Troy, and Nathan….
Special thanks to everyone at Road America that stopped to say Hi, show support and cheer us on. It was awesome to race with all of you. To team 666 black Saturn for feeding us all weekend, loaning us tools and everything else. Lost in the Dark and RunEXP for loaning us the fuel jugs. There is absolutely NO way we could have been as competitive with the crappy cans we had!!
And of course Jay, Nick, Jeff, and all those who give us a playground to play in.
And finally to Katie Mitchell, who I believe loves the K more than anyone.
What a great bunch of retards you all are! And I feel lucky to be counted among you.
Hope to see you all in Sonoma.