Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lemons Part II

Left to Right: Nico, Zack, Bob, Adam, and Mike (kneeling)
So, Sunday morning the Team Altimate Driving Machine was feeling pretty good, having finished our first day of Lemons racing in the middle of the pack, completed a fuel line repair, and we were ready for a two hour morning on track, then an hour break, and then finally four more hours of track time. We had improved our pit stop refueling time, recharged the radios, and were ready to put in a bunch more laps. With one full day of experience for the entire team of Lemons rookies, well, at least the weather was good, and we were having fun.

Team Coronautski Branded Fuel Jugs
Tip: High Flow Fuel is Your Friend!

During Sunday's opening two hour session of track time, we knew we weren't going to do it all on one tank of gas, so we just split the difference and planned one pit stop for gas at the hour mark. Not to brag, but this plan worked great, and at the quiet hour mandatory one hour halt to racing we were close to top ten in B Class, and sitting in 28th out of 80 teams overall. I was happy to have recovered from my "fuel fumes funk" of the previous day, and looking forward to getting in the car later on Sunday.

Team McQueen

Once racing resumed in the afternoon things were still going well up to the point where they didn't go so well! Funny how it always happens that way too! Our mighty Nissan #77 had lost some power and come to a halt, but then Zack was able to get it  restarted and return to the paddock. While we thought it might have been another fuel line issue, after testing for spark we discovered it was an electrical issue. After even more testing, the best diagnosis was that the ECU had overheated and totally failed somewhere that we couldn't identify and repair. So, with about two hours of track time still to go, we had to surrender and realize that we were out of the race. As disappointing as this was, we realized that it happens a lot when you're racing crappy $500 Lemons cars so it wasn't like we lost the world championships or anything really important.

Bonus: A Triumph Stag was Racing!

Our friends in Team Coronautski finished in first place in C Class, so congrats to all of them, and NMS-South driver Brian Nixon. This was their team's third Lemons race with the 72 Dodge Coronet, and it was very exciting to cheer them on after sharing the paddock with them and one other car from South Carolina. The Coronautski Crew had helped us out along the way, given us a ton of advice, loaned us parts, helped with repairs, and so we owe them a big thanks, and a big congratulations on their victory!

Racing a Lemons Convertible? You Need a Beauty Queen!

By the numbers with Team Altimate Driving Machine:

    44th overall out of all 80 cars that finished at least one lap
    232 Laps completed, on the 2.279 miles per lap Carolina Motorsports Park full course
    528.728 miles of racing distance, more than the Indianapolis 500!
    10 hours 11 minutes and 18.446 seconds of time on track (unofficial)
    The team's fastest lap was in 2 minutes and 0.965 seconds by Mike Sullivan
    18th place in Class B, out of about 30 cars

When you look at the big picture, and that we were 5 drivers that mostly hadn't met each other before this event, most of us hadn't driven this car before, we had a pretty good race for only doing about 12 of the 14 hours! With three drivers from South Carolina, one from New Jersey, and one from New York, well, we probably beat any other team with drivers from three different states! I think most of us had driven at CMP before, so that was at least one thing in our favor too.

Brian Nixon and Special Thanks to Julie Nixon!

For me personally, it was a blast to really be in a race car (yes, even a cheap one) and driving on track in a lot of traffic, and it was a big challenge just about every second out there. Besides the normal driving skills of keeping your eyes on the road, and making all the right decisions on braking, accelerating, maintaining the car, keeping a safe distance (also known as DON'T HIT ANYONE), on the track, in a race the driver has another long list of things to be doing and thinking about. Some of the best tips I got were to always check your rear mirrors before braking, and sure enough, with the difference in speeds there always seemed to be someone slower or faster trying to go through the same corner at the same time!

Race a VW  Bug? Lemons Approved!

Here's some more things that made this slightly more challenging than every day driving: driving in a car with a roll cage (getting in and out), while wearing all the safety gear, in a racing seat,  wearing the head and neck restraint can cut down your vision, wearing gloves and a racing suit, all these things affect how easy it is to drive and even move your head around and check your mirrors. Other new skills that keep you busy are simple things like knowing where all your switches for the engine, radio, operating the cool shirt system, fire extinguisher, cut-off switch, and even getting the harness fastened and released quickly are all more things to experience also.

Brian and Team Coronautski Celebrate the Class C Victory!

The NMS Team would like to thank our fearless team leader and Captain of the Altimate Driving Machine, Adam Powlas, for putting us together, buying the car, being the chief mechanic, being a great driver, and towing the car in his trailer! Thanks to Zach Stroman, another strong driver on track and in other events and another smart mechanic. Thanks to Mike Sullivan, who set the fastest time in our BMW, I mean, in our Nissan Altima painted like a BMW! Thanks to Nico Zamora for doing some awesome driving and being our tire expert and tire supplier too. Each of these guys put a lot of time, effort, and money into making this a reality. It was a great weekend and a great experience gentlemen, thanks to you!

#77 = Team Altimate Driving Machine

Other than feeling terrible from the fuel leak smell after driving on day 1, for me I have no complaints! Plus, now that I own all the race gear and know how to turn the car on and off, it makes it possible that I just might want to do this thing again! The Lemons race series continues just about all year at different locations around the country, so if you have any interest in checking it out, NMS says GO DO IT, SEND IT!

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