Topic: Rust Belt GP '20 Results
Having won class B at Gingerman in my S10 #808 last year, the pressure was on to repeat as an arrive-and-drive with Andy Didorosi in his 1990 U-Stall Lexus ES 250. Heading into T7 on the inside in traffic, I reached over and mashed the brake at *just the right time* with *just the right pressure* to be able to safely get through the wolfpack. I'd done this countless times before in 808 and the Team Sheen Integra. It's the Ol' Dippety-Do. The Whoosie-Whatsit. The drivers I pass there are initially irked because, man, that stings, but then they're just impressed because holy shit that was awesome. It's like those 80's movies where the dude gets the girl and the even the bad guys can't help but clap their asses off at the end.
However, on this occasion --toward the end of my first stint on Saturday (like around 1:15?) -- the sequence went thusly:
Tell you what, let's get back to that in a bit. First some background:
The car arrived at the track on Thursday evening, having last been raced in Lemons in 2018. Summit Racing failed to timely deliver the now-required fire suppression system ordered weeks before, so a system was sourced from nearby godsend Lane Automotive on Friday morning and installed that day.
A soft brake pedal beguiled us preparing for and during practice on Friday: after bleeding the brakes six ways from Sunday multiple times, we could only get a barely-serviceable pedal. Inspection revealed a potentially weak hose on the passenger front ballooning out during application. A visit to O'Reilly's Auto met with an especially helpful sales clerk who was able to determine that a hose from some year RAV4 had the right sized fittings and was close to the right length. We installed the new hose the following morning, re-bled the brakes, and thought the soft pedal issue had been largely resolved.
The car made it to grid in time on Saturday morning, however, while sitting at grid, Andy decided that the brakes were too soft to safely go on to the track. So, we moved some teams out of the way and brought the car back to our pit in the camping area to attempt to re-re-re-bleed the brakes. After quickly bleeding all four corners and obtaining no additional air bubbles whatsoever, the pedal continued to be very mushy. However, with the booster removed, the pedal didn’t go to the floor. It was thusly decided that the car would be operated sans booster -- at least for the rest of the day -- until additional parts could be obtained to replace the perhaps-faulty master cylinder.
We went on track two laps down in class B, 35th or so in class and god knows where overall. After 1 ½ hours, Andy brought it into the pits in 12th Pl. (I believe). Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the fastest or most efficient pit with the new crew, and we spilled a little more fuel than would have been otherwise preferable (read: none), but eventually I shoehorned myself into the vehicle and began my first stint.
Not surprisingly, the brakes were immediately suspect. I am not without substantial leg muscles, and I would estimate that pedal pressure required at least 120 pounds before any noticeable clamping force happened. For maximum braking force: probably closer to 180 lbs. Maybe a brake booster is a good idea? The pedal also required two or three quick pumps to obtain full pressure, and suddenly I felt like I was driving Phil Ehlinger’s AMC Whornet at NJMP again.
The driving seemed mostly decent during my stint. I had a good back and forth with the Product Design Saturn. There was a forest green Mustang that was fun to chase down.
Let's get back to the Whoosie-Whatsit at T7 toward the end of my stint. You prefer the Ol' Dippety-Do? Fine:
Foot goes: mash
Something in the driver’s front wheel goes: *CLANG!*
Brake pedal goes: *CLANG!* (on the floor)
Whole car goes: *Memba that movie Bustin' Loose?"
Blake goes: *LITTLE GIRL SCREAM*/downshift/pump brakes/huck car sideways
Using my utmost skill (OK, likely blind luck), I avoided hitting anyone, going off track, and spinning out. I took a few moments coasting to get my wits about me and limped the car back to the pits with the front left shaking quite a bit. Headed through Gingerman's one-way paddock down the slight hill toward the tower, Jay motioned at me to slow down -- which of course I couldn't. I just hollered "Sorry! No brakes!" and kept limping back to our paddock spot.
Inspection in the paddock revealed that the brand-new race pads on the front had been completely worn through in barely more than three hours of track time. The CLANG from the driver's front, turns out, was a pad backing plate having been ejected from the system, replete with related caliper damage. Without spares on hand, a crew member drove two hours each way to Chicago and back for a spare. Meanwhile another crew member had pulled a master cylinder from a Lexus in a yard in Holland. Saturday evening thus involved a brake party with the install of a new (used) master, reman. caliper, and new O'Reilly ceramic pads (there being no spare race pads on hand). While the pads were less than ideal, it'd be good to have the braking system back to full working condition to start Sunday.
With the new parts installed, the bleeding began again. Then the re-bleeding. Then the re-bleeding of the master. Then the MightyVac enabled re-bleeding. Despite all this effort: the pedal never firmed up.
By Sunday call to grid, the car remained untouched on jackstands. Satisfied that the brakes weren't salvagable, I endeavored to load up my stuff and head out on the 5 hour drive home. At some point after the jesus hour the car went back on track, the braking system apparently revived by adjusting a piston in the master during a track-side rebuild. Lap times seemed improved, as apparently the brakes had been dragging on Day 1. Sadly, shortly after returning to the track, the driver's front wheelbearing failed, likely due to overheating from the prior day's braking system shenanigans. *SIGH* That's racing. Andy had a wheel bearing fail on the trailer on the way home just for good measure.
It was good seeing everyone and having some track time. It was especially cool that Andy invited a bunch of Lemons first-timers out to crew with us at the track. They seemingly enjoyed the challenges and spectacles of Lemons racing, and were a ton of help all weekend long. I'm always amazed at the good folks I have such dumb luck to run into -- Lemons seems to mostly attract good folks.
Congrats to all the winners, especially Nick, Bill, Mark and Brett in the Class C winner.