Monday, April 29, 2019

Twenty. Four. Hours.

Yours truly, first stint in the new car! Thanks, Aaron for the awesome shot!!!
Just over five months ago, five friends decided they were stupid enough to buy a "new" car, tear it apart, spend way too much time and money and then commit to running it as hard as we could for twenty four straight hours on the racetrack.
John and Jason working on car prep Friday. 
I kicked off the race as first driver in the car at 11 am on Saturday. Handing the car over to Kyle around 1 pm, he came in mid-stint after seeing a spike in temperature, which turned out to be the water pump and alternator belt had come off. We threw the spare on and sent him back out. 
Our LED headlight rig quickly clips on to the hood pins. One center 12" bar illuminates ahead, while the two 6" lights help make sure we make all the turns. The stock headlights still work, but don't do the job at full speed. You can just see a black cable loop sticking out of the front opening in the bumper to quickly pop open the hood. 
Kyle handed off to John, who handed the car to Jason. We saw a fair amount of tire wear and threw on the second new set of tires and kept on racing. At some point we lost the belt again, but this time noticed it was getting caught on the timing cover, so we removed that plastic cover and solved that issue. At the same time, other teams had told us they saw fuel leaking and we finally tracked down a clogged spot in the emissions system, cleaned it out, and solved that issue.
That's Lemons one point Saturday, four of the five cars between all our friends were in paddock for repairs.
The car generally did it's thing, and as the sun started going down, we quickly attached our LED headlight rig and kept on charging into the night. I was back in the rotation around 9 pm, carrying the car through to 10:30 pm. Back to Kyle, John, Jason, then Luke. Around 4:30, Luke was feeling the brain fade and made the call to get out early. I was originally scheduled to be in the car at that time, and I was concerned around that time of morning brain fade would be an issue, so I could have seen myself making the same call.
Twilight during Friday testing so we could aim the LEDs.
I was back in the car around 5 am and pushed on through until around just after 6am when there was some light in the sky again. Luckily my strategy of 45 minute naps between pit stops kept me fresh, but I was ready to come out after about an hour. That put me at almost four and half hours behind the wheel in 24 hours. Kyle took back over and immediately came back in, noticing some vibrations in the car.
The team stands by, ready for a pit stop under the generator lights set up only for pit lane. Big thanks to Thomas (left) who helped out prepping the car leading up to the race AND hung out all weekend to help with the race! 
We ended up finding a loose suspension bolt and failing wheel bearing on the front right. We tightened the bolt and swapped in our spare wheel hub to replace the bearing. Kyle continued to click off some real quick laps. We were just loaded up to do the pit stop to get John back in when the Miata showed back up. The car was driving like it was on ice.
Kyle wheels the car at night (center). For most of the track, the only lights were the ones on the cars.
We quickly figured out the rear left wheel bearing had gone bad, and we had just used up our spare. It was 8:30 am, 2.5 hours left, and the team was spent. We made the decision to park the car until the last 15 minutes and send it back out at a crawling pace to take the checker, missing out on over 2 hours of running.
We added some LEDs to our Hella Sweet pit sign. No missing that thing! (photo credit: Alicia)
t was a tough weekend, but it was also good to get all the first time race car issues out of the way. We had good pace, great pit strategy, and consistent driving. Everything that broke is easily fixable with stock, cheap parts.
Some time around 9 am. Everyone's pretty dead and the bacon wasn't quite ready yet.
Racing at night is insane! We loved it! It was an incredibly unique experience and I think we'd all be willing to try it again...maybe after another 12 months of sleeping and recovery.

It's a Coronet! It's a Miata! It's the 24 Hours of Lemons! The cable looped on the left pops the fuel door. The squiggly metal rod on the right originally was connected inside the trunk to the key lock for the trunk lid, now we can slide it to the right and open the trunk where the cool shirt cooler is mounted for quick filling during pit stops (no key needed!)

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