Friday, March 19 - The Crown Plaza Hotel
After three days of driving and 2700 miles, I've made it to Vancouver. Way too far to drive from Ohio, but what the heck, I'm here. I never knew how beautiful this part of the country is!
The dome here in Vancouver is HUGE! From the outside it's deceiving because once you get inside, it's vast. The track is pretty much like El Paso's track - sandy, but with rocks in the soil - the layout is a pair of jumps on the front straight, a wide fast sweeper around the outside leading into a large double jump, then back into a pair of rhythm sections. It has to be by far the fastest track we've seen this year.
In tech, the points for the series have been posted with a dropped race. I'm back behind Joe again, with a deficit of twenty eight points. Unless Joe ends up tossing a race or a couple of heat races, I'm stuck with the number two plate for next year. Oh well, not much I can do about it. All my bad luck at the beginning of the year is just too much to overcome.
So far, we have six lites here. Joe Price, Doug Goodenough, Stacy Fay, Peter Kay, Shawn McDonald in another Pilot and myself. In the first practice, only Joe and I went out. Joe was having problems with his rear suspension and only ran a couple of laps. I was having a blast! I can run the car flat out through the sweeper without any problems. The double jump after the sweeper is pretty big, but clearing it is a breeze. The only section that is giving me any problem at all is the last couple of bumps in the rhythm section just before the right hand turn. The last bump is just in front of the turn and during the second practice, I hit it pretty hard and when I came down, wheels already turned for the corner, I snapped off my left front axle. I heard "Pop" and suddenly I had a very bad push and the car seemed like it had fallen over a bit. People that saw it said the wheel just kept going straight. Fortunately I had another set of front spindles, so I was race ready in about thirty minutes. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's race.
Sunday, March 21 - A Seattle hotel room
I saw the signs - I've been running the same engine this entire season. I knew that it could decide to let go any time and I had a backup engine ready to go when I needed it. Or so it's supposed to go...
The engine was running too many rpm on Friday's practice, so to keep from hurting it I tried to slow it down by doing some clutch work on Saturday morning. I don't think I did it soon enough. I noticed that around the sweeper before the double jump (probably the hardest engine load spot on the track) that it seemed like the engine was laying down a bit - that is to say that it just seemed to loose power a touch. I knew what it probably meant too. I was loosing my engine. Well, I was right. As I pulled off the track the engine died. No big deal, I've got a spare!
Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong. I pull the old engine and get the new one in, all pretty straight forward, but I don't know that the new motor has problems. It seems that when it was put together the crank bearings didn't get seated properly - maybe. The engine won't turn over! I spent over five hours fighting with the engine trying to get it started and in the end, the engine won. I had to scratch the race. Joe went on to win both the heat and the main and clinch the championship. I had an outside chance at the championship going into this weekend, but being forced to miss a race locked it up for Joe. Congrats to him for keeping the number one plate again.
I now have five days to sit back, relax and get my engine working for this weekend. I'll be ready for the final race of the series, no problem.
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