Where to begin? The 2016 editon of “The Mitty” was no doubt challenging. I’ll go ahead and warn you, there’s going to be some tech talk in this post so it’s going to be long and boring.Tuesday of race week we spent the day working with the brakes. We still had issues after all the bleeding, installing new lines, etc. So my last thought was to dump the stock proportioning valve. To do this I had to put in a Wilwood bias knob which I had purchased for a disc conversion. I decided to go with the popular disc conversion process of blocking one rear line off and installing a “T” but keep the drums for the weekend to avoid any hiccups.
We got the lines made but Wednesday I had previous commitments to visit the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with Racing for Kids so I didn’t have time to work on the car. Luckily my dad offered to come out to my place to take over on swapping lines and everything. He got it all finished up and we went to bleed it before taking the car over to the track. After numerous attempts we didn’t get much pedal feel but loaded it anyway.
Thursday morning, I arrived to find two nice puddles under both rear wheels, it was brake fluid. My first thought was great the new wheel cylinders are for some reason shot. I jacked the car up and couldn’t find a leak anywhere so I jacked the car up and placed some cardboard underneath. No sign of a leak. So I assumed it was probably just left over mess dripping from Wednesday’s last bleed. I went for a test drive and quickly realized the brakes were as bad as they had been and the prop box was not the actual problem. It became clear drums were indeed the issue. It took half the brake pedal to even see the pads expand. Not just that but we couldn’t get the adjuster to actually adjust or stay adjusted if we adjusted it manually. I’m sure we could have just rebuilt them but they’re a confusing uphill mess.
So, Thursday afternoon I realized I had one last option. Disc brake conversion. Right now. We got to work but kept needing small things here and there. At around ten we had to crank up the generator and air grinder to grind down a bit to make the caliper bolts fit. We finally finished it up at one in the morning.
Friday morning, I was pumped and ready to hit the track for the first session of the weekend but of course there was an issue. While bleeding (had to wait until that morning because I needed to pick up another brake line from the shop) the car started leaking from the RR caliper pretty badly. So I missed the session while I worked on fixing the problem. Luckily it was fixed and the bleeding continued, this time with a pedal that didn’t feel like jelly.
So the second session Friday came and it was wet. I was actually kind of happy to see a wet track as some people would opt out of practicing since it would be dry the rest of the weekend and it would give me a chance to mess with the brakes and bias adjustments. The first lap was cautious and I slowly built up speed as I adjusted the bias. I started pretty full to the front and dialed it back. I finished second overall in that session on the time sheets but as I said it was wet and people were being cautious.
The next session Friday was a race. The Bob Woodman American International Challenge. This race puts “Foreign Production Sports Cars & Sedans (over 1.5L) vs. American GT Cars by invitation (Groups 2, 3, 5)” together for a fun race. Last year there was a massive field of cars, I think over 60, this year they split it into two different races and split cars to more reasonable speeds. The race was fun as usual.
Saturday morning we had our final qualifying session before the first WeatherTech Sprint Race of the weekend. I had pole for the race in class (HPC) but at the start the orange Rabbit behind got the jump, a little aggressive for a pass at the start but luckily I could avoid hitting him. From then on it was playing catch up as that killed my momentum. We had a full course caution come out with a lap or two to go when I started to get a misfire as I have had previously. It got bad enough I had to pull in to retire as the checkered flag came out, I still got third in class though from the gap.
Sunday morning was race two of the WeatherTech Sprint Series. I was pretty excited to get this race underway and optimistic that the car would do ok. We cleaned up some grounds that we found in questionable shape and charged the battery. Funny how I always find these things at the track and not when I’m playing with wires in the shop. Maybe I’m blind. I’m starting to think the missing issue may be electrical and not fuel, who knows though.
It was cooler as the race was in the morning, so the car would like the cool air. I was starting further behind the orange Rabbit which I wanted to catch. I was able to make up ground and got pretty close, sadly I couldn’t get close enough, traffic is a big part of vintage racing and I couldn’t get through.
Overall a fun weekend of racing for me, it wasn’t as smooth as 2015 but the car is back in one piece and more issues have been sorted out.
I want to thank everyone who helped me such as my dad, my wife, my sister-in-law Charli, Aaron and Charlie, Casey Carden Motorsports, and of course my partners NOIZY Brands, VW Driver Gear, ATL Fuel Cells, Tech-53, and MotoSolutions. Also thanks to HSR for putting on another fantastic weekend of racing and Grassroots Motorsports/Classic Motorsports for putting on exciting infield activities. Lastly lets all keep Craig Bennett in our thoughts, he experienced a bad accident in one of the Shadows Saturday and is on the road to recovery with more surgery ahead.