River's Edge at Mission
Mission, British Columbia, Canada
September 4 and 5, 2004
Last weekend at Portland, I had a tough race because my brake line let go. I brought the car back and worked on it on Monday, making sure the other lines weren't in danger. I also purged the brake system once more, and tried to get it into better shape. I cleaned-up the car, and did a few bits of minor maintenance.
While I was putting the wheel back on the right rear, I noticed that the wheel was loose. At first, I thought I had left the wheel disc loose, or didn't tighten the brake caliper bracket. But sure enough, everything was tight. And the wheel was on tight, so it would just draw the brake disc onto the hub. The wheel would wiggle left and right pretty easily.
I figured this was a sign that I was getting ready to have problems with the right-rear bearing. Mark and Bruce agreed when they saw it at the track.
They joked with me about the wheel flying off, the bearing seizing, and so on. We went out and took Mark to the 14th Street Pub for his first birthday dinner. We had a grand old time.
I really was pretty worried about the wheel, so I decided to not run the practice session. I did the qualifying session in the afternoon, and set some times for myself. Carlo had some problems with the RX-7 that Chris was running. They discovered a blown apex seal, so he went off in search for parts and found a friends garage to work on the car.
I couldn't believe it when, the next morning, they were finishing the rebuild--putting fluids in the motor and getting ready to start it. Sure enough, it worked!
We stayed at the hotel and had burgers at the on-premises restaurant. Mark had a great time; we poured beers down his throat the whole night. I slept in a little and abandoned the afternoon qualifying sessions. I knew I couldn't run the bearing, and I needed to get points in my ITS race. Since my CP lead is rather sound, I decided to skip the CP race, too. The more I kept off the bearing, the longer it would last.
That left me with as much time as I could possibly have in the car for my ITS run. I decided I'd run the car into the ground. There were a couple more weeks before the next race, so even if something was seriously wrong, I could get the car fixed before the next weekend.
Knowing that the next morning wouldn't give me much to do, I slept in. When I checked-out, I did some exploring. There's a huge "Real Canadian Superstore" across the street from the hotel. I finally went in to see what they stocked. It wasn't much different from a Fred Meyer store; a smallish supermarket glued-onto a general merchandise store.
I went to Canadian Tire for the first time. That's a great store: they have a giant automotive section, and a bunch of cool stuff. I found that they had loose hardware in bins, which is always wonderful to find near the track; if a fastener goes missing, it's important to know where to find a replacement quickly!
After grabbing some breakfast and getting gas, I ended up at the track around 1030am. The news was worse for Carlo; his Miata stalled, and he figured out that he had lost a cylinder. Chris' rebuilt RX7 ran, but had a very high oil temperature though a normal water temperature. That ended his weekend, unfortunately.
Sitting around at the track isn't much fun. Normally, racing is a frenzy of activity--especially when running two groups. Here, I had to sit out one of my run groups, watching guys I normally chase around get to work. I wouldn't have anything to do to kill time; no tire or suspension adjustments, nothing to clean-up, and so on.
At lunch, we had a cake for Mark. It was delicious; a layer of fruit custard was a unique touch that I'd never had before. The whole gang came over to the pit to get a slice.
When the ITS race came around, I told Skip that I was still having trouble. He out qualified me by about seven tenths, and I figured I would just lay low. I warned him that if the car scared me, I'd have to bail out, and that he should expect the unexpected.
As the race started, I found myself towards the outside of T3. Everyone was bunched-up over on the left, hooking the corner. And they were almost stopped. There was plenty of room on the right, so I swerved around and dropped a gear to take the great-circle route. It really worked; I thought it was kind of desperate, but I had no problem getting around at least five other cars. I was in great shape for the chute to T4. Wow!
I ended up just behind Skip. On left turns, particularly the ever-important T9 before the front straight, I could feel the right rear tug a little. The car got hard to control a couple of times, but I stuck with it.
About seven laps into the race, I chased Skip into T1 and I was gaining on him under breaking. He put a defensive move on me, and I stuck with it. He backed it up, and then I dove inside him, still under braking, and got him on the inside. I couldn't believe it! I made the pass stick through T2, and then started walking away before the end of the lap.
My car kept together, and I noticed that Skip got black-flagged. In fact, I ended-up lapping him before he left the track. Once that happened, I got off the button and tried to save the car as much as I could. Finishing second was better than not finishing at all, and since Skip was locked-down, I was all set.
There was a Canadian driver who put down some great times in an Integra. I couldn't catch him, but I was quite happy to get some points back from Skip.
On one of the last laps, I busted around T3 to find a yellow flag with Bruce's car parked under it. The right-rear wheel was off! Bruce and Mark had some trouble with one of their wheel sets, which they had powder-coated. The coating wasn't even and the material prevented the mating surface from sitting flush on the wheel, and the nuts from getting set. I couldn't see what was wrong, but the second time around, Bruce gave me a thumbs-up so I knew he was okay.
My success, plus Mark's birthday, were the only bright spots. My mechanical problems, Bruce's catastrophic wheel failure, and Carlo's troubles made it a pretty bad race and a weekend worth forgetting.