Not the Way We Wanted to End the Season

It all started out pleasant enough at the final WCHRA of 2011. We went down on Friday night to the TnT session before the race to try and work out some launch bugs. We made a couple of good runs before calling it a night

On Race Day, skies were a bit dark and it was sprinkling. We noticed that the score board on the right lane wasn’t working. As it turned out, the score board had been hit by lightning over night and it fried the wiring! This was just a little taste of what was to come.

The sprinkles didn’t last long, and the program commenced on schedule.

With qualifying complete, I’m paired with an early 70s Vega for round one of eliminations. All I’m hoping for is a green light start, just to make a race out of it. We roll onto the line like we’ve done hundreds of time before. We both stage, a flash of ambers and we’re off! The blue car’s clutch had a lot of slip, helping me go green. By half track, we’re wheel to wheel, jockeying for position, and I’m confident!

Then with out warning at about 1000 feet, the blue car shudders and the motor shuts itself off. I look in the rearview and there’s no smoke, but I pull ‘er over to the side and bring ‘er to a stop. The track guy rolls up on his quad, and I told him it just shut off. He said” Yep, it’s blown. You got oil spray out of the decklid vents.”


He pulls us off track and said we didn’t put any oil on the track. I said “I have a catch tray.” He thanked me profusely, saying “It’s guys like you that make my job easier,” and he said he wished everyone had a containment devise. That felt good.

The knowledge we were done racing for the foreseeable future did not feel good.

Sunday morning back at home, I start getting into the teardown to access the damage. I feared the worst, that everything between the heads would be toast. But the motor still turned with a wrench fairly easily. Poking a flashlight into the hole in the top of the case, I could see the rods were still intact. A glimmer of hope that not was lost!

Once the rest of the motor was apart, there was no apparent damage to the heads or valves. The #4 lifter and lifter boss of the case were gone and the camshaft was broken in half. One connecting rod was pretty badly damaged from debris, and the crank has a few dings on the counterweights. The scavange side of the stage and a half Autocraft pump ingested some debris and that is toast. (dammit! I just replaced that too!)

So, the next steps were to have the crank and rods checked out. I had a couple good spare rods, so we were good to go there. The crank checked out OK, but I put that into stasis and Rick Sadler at Bugpack supplied us with a new flanged crank.

All things considered, 2011 has not been a great year for us and now our season is done, and the March Meet will be upon us before we know it. And all this year, I’d been thinking I wouldn’t be done any major work over the off season. I reckon that’s what I get fer thinkin’!