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Jul 5, 2010

Watkins Glen World Challenge TC Weekend

Once again, another weekend of racing for myself and the DG Spec Racing team.  This fourth of July weekend format was a little different as we raced on Saturday.  Brad flew from LA to Ohio on Tuesday, met up with Jayson and they drove out to the track.   Dan, Johnny, and myself flew out of LA on Wednesday afternoon, and arrived in Ithaca around 11 pm.
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The puddle jumper from Philly to Ithaca.  Turboprop. Just about an hours flight.
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Johnny-Mac and myself in the turboprop on the way to Ithaca.
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Three in a room.  Dave’s luxurious accommodations. I think the mattress on the floor is actually more comfortable than on the horrible roll away frame.  The roll away frame just digs though the mattress into your back.

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The Scion tC’s and Tom’s race rig.  The eternally hemorrhaging engine oil golf cart, and no awning setup yet.  The clouds look pretty surreal in this shot. 
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In pit lane with Daniel, Roberts friend.  This was on promoter test day. During the first session, the supercharger on the #36 car gave up. Dave, Johnny, and Brad did manage to get it swapped just for enough time for Dan to go out at the end of the 2nd session and verify that everything seemed ok. 
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The big chunks of the wheel ended up getting caught in the intercooler.  However lots of dust coated most of the intercooler piping, and went into the engine.  We borrowed a borescope from the guys at Truspeed, and checked the pistons.  Everything looked ok, but some aluminum dust ended up getting ingested by the engine.
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Supercharger disassembly. We were trying to come to a conclusion about what exactly caused the failure. The speculation was that the jackshaft broke, however we found a failed bearing on the compressor side.  The shaft, once disconnected spun freely. Here is the supercharger broken down to “parade rest”.
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Sitting in the rig, looking out at Roberts car.  On the rear 1/4 window, you can just barely make out a sticker. It is a sticker that Dan has been selling to raise money towards Pancreatic cancer. The sticker says Richey Watanabe. When we arrived to Philadelphia, from our 5 hour flight from LA, Dan found out that Richey had passed away. Richey built the roll cage in the #18 car, and did much of the fabrication work on the car over the years. Over at MotoIQ, they posted a tribute to Richey.  The lead in picture is Richey building the cage in the #18 car. 
Richey Watanabe in the #18 Scion tC.
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A view from the golf cart, headed out to qualifying. In front of me, GMG’s tire rack.
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We struggled with a power problem with the #18 car all weekend. It would just lay over in 5th gear, and actually lose speed.  SCCA had knocked us down 200 rpm from 7200 rpm to a 7000 rpm limit, and had also knocked our boost down slightly to “equalize” the field. Sometimes one small change will have a greater effect than first thought. For some reason, it was really not treating the #18 car right.  One good thing about another rule change was that we could take a little bit of REWARDS weight out of the car. The revised REWARDS weight was 55 lbs.
For Qualifying Eric Meyer in the RX-8 was on the pole with a 2:13.757, right behind him was Dan in the #36 car with a 2:14.034, Alexander Lvov in a Honda Civic Si with a 2:14.401, and Robert in the #18 car with a 2:15.211.  For the race, the two Scions would be nose to tail on the outside.
After qualifying, we have a post session tech inspection. The cars are weighed, with and without driver. The ride heights are checked. The other classes of cars have other requirements they have to meet, but the TC class is pretty basic as we have no aero package. One of the post race inspections was a fuel sample. We gave our fuel sample, and waited.  Post race inspections take a while. Usually an hour or two. You have to wait in line, and normally SCCA Pro makes you wait until everyone is done, so no one has an advantage. The SCCA official came over to me and said that they wanted to take another fuel sample, as our first one failed. We didn’t get a chance to run the car much because the supercharger blew up during the first practice session.  We had put five gallons of fuel left over from Mosport, 5 weeks before, into the car.  Same Sunoco GTX fuel, just from a different track.  SCCA tested the fuel left in the can from Mosport and found that it failed too.  It is a little upsetting that the spec fuel, from a different track, fails the SCCA testing. We drained all the fuel from the #36 car, and then ran some Watkins Glen Sunoco though the car, and filled it up with track fuel. SCCA again tested the fuel and it came back at 88%, passing.  We then took three more gallons out of the car, and ran the car a little, and filled it back up again at the Sunoco truck.  Post race testing, they said that it still barely passed. Not too sure what to do about that other than throw my hands in the air. Nothing in either car but Sunoco GTX spec fuel since the beginning of the season. Its a strange thing, because we will occasionally have some left over fuel from the previous event, and I don’t want to have to drain and fill the cars at every event, wasting $7.50 a gallon fuel.
The problems with the #18 car caused Dan to see if we could get a hardship lap.  There were a few cars that wanted a hardship lap, so on Saturday at 10:30 am, we were given an out and in lap. The changes that were made to Robert’s car seemed to help, and the car didn’t lay over in 5th gear on the hardship lap.
The race for us at Watkins Glen was on Saturday at 4:15 pm.  Even though the race was then, we had to have the cars on Pre-Grid by 2:30 pm. Flag girls, presentation laps, and formation laps are all part of the pre-race. Canadian and US National anthem.  At the start Dan in the #36 bogged a little, but everything seemed pretty clean.  Robert in the #18 picked up 3rd place. By the end of the 2nd lap, Robert was in the lead.  During lap 4, Eric in the RX-8 hit the wall, putting Dan into 2nd place.  Robert was able to stretch his lead as Dan and the Civic of Lvov battled.  During the race I am on the radio with Robert and he is pretty quiet. I call out GT cars coming, as I see them, however I have a pretty limited view from the hot pits. We have a spotter for each car, that also helps out with the traffic situations.  On my phone, I watch the live timing, and generally just pace around nervously.  Ready for anything.   A pit stop during a 50 minute sprint race, means that you are going to lose a lot of positions, however in a points championship, every position is points. If we cut a tire, or run into another problem, we can change tires, or work on the car and send it out to complete laps. You never know what is going to happen during the race, so its better to be out there running, than retire.
The final lap of the race was a battle.  Robert was way out in front, and I nervously waited to see the #18 poke out onto the front straight and take the checkered flag. Behind him though, Lvov, and Dan were swapping positions, and paint.  On the TV screens, during the middle of this battle for 2nd, we saw the other classes of cars on their cool down lap. Frustrating. Robert took 1st, his 3rd victory of the year.   Then we saw  Dan in the #36 taking the checkered. 1-2 for the Scion’s at Watkins Glen.  Next race, 12 days. Streets of Toronto.
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Post race, mirror damaged. This is par for the course for Dan. So far this year, I think he has gone though 4 or 5 side mirrors.  The mirrors on the tC do not fold, they just break off. Close racing, and walls. We go though a few mirrors. The #36 car was the new car for this year, its starting to get as beat up as the #18 car.
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Yes, one whole spoke missing. Last lap, last few corners with the Civic, Dan traded places a couple times, and ended up in 2nd spot.
Source: World Challenge


Supercharger calculator said...

Strange to see a supercharger bearing fail like that ... did you over heat your oil ? dry cycle the charger ? or over-rev / over-gear the charger beyond the recommended impellar rpm ?

Strange carnage

Sean Morris said...

We have been running this same setup on the Scion for the last couple years. Same boost, same oil. Only on the race track.