Saturday, March 27, 2010

Running the Long Race

While I was at work this week, Alan sent me an e-mail letting me know that the LeMons site had updated the race information for the Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500. Most of the information was unsurprising: Friday will be tech inspection and track testing, Saturday will be drivers' meeting at 9 and racing 10-5:30, and Sunday will be racing 9-4 with a break at noon for the People's Curse award. No biggie.

Then Alan pointed out that we would have to bring our car home, which means our trailer must function. No worries. And if it doesn't, we'll just push it into a creek or something.

The LeMons Web site also posted a link to the track layout at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, where the race was taking place. The interesting thing about the track is that it can configured as one long 3.5-mile course or as one of two shorter courses. The LeMons link suggests that we will be racing the long course. And while it looks fun and challenging, it certainly presents our ride with a few obstacles.

The most obvious challenge here is the number of long straightaways going into tight corners. The course features three of these. There is also turn 7, which is a slight bend between two short straightaways. While I haven't driven the track, the angle on that particular turn looks obtuse enough that it can be taken at full throttle, thereby making it basically a fourth straightaway.

So why is this a challenge?

Well, to start with straights require the most toil out of our engine, which features less than 100 horsey-power1. Heaping four of them on every lap means winding out the gears and opening the throttle a lot. 20-year old engines typically don't enjoy this.

Additionally, the tight curves at the end of the straights require heavy braking. Even with a nice, clean rotor and good brake pads, braking from 90-100 mph will either wear the brakes out completely within two days or make the parts so hot as to render them completely ineffective.

Happy thoughts. The only consolation is that every other racing team will face the same challenges. I would guess Turns 11 and 12 will see a lot brake fading/failing and a decent amount of contact.

The other intriguing note on the course is the straightaway labeled "The Jump." This is worrying, because if there is indeed a jump, it will most likely knock our car completely apart like the Bluesmobile.

1 Our current numbers indicate that a stock 1.9L inline-4 engine, like that on our 1991 Ford Escort LX, produced 94 horsepower out of the factory. However, we may replace the engine with that from a Ford Escort ZX2. The 1.8L ZX2 engine made 138 HP out of the factory,. so the power difference would be significant. So would the work involved.

1 comment:

  1. Dang, dude. I can't believe how much work you guys are putting into this. Should be a very rewarding experience. Moar pics, plz.