Time is now getting short the last part required for the tow trucks gearbox arrived the week before the meeting and was promptly fitted and tested..it works lots of smiles the team will go to the Nostalgia Drags. The next hurdle was the MOT the lock down extension now being over the truck need to be tested it was quickly arranged by Steve and she passed, The Monday before the meeting the truck was taken to have the LPG system looked at and tested. The truck was picked up two days before Steve was due to leave.
In this world there are those people who have a strong commitment to life and there those that have steely determination and then there are those people that are just bloody minded, as from this weekend there is a new upper level of commitment now called "The Steve" Why? read on!
The plan was simple wash and clean all the sleeping bags and the fire suit borrow a Hans device form John O'Sullivan pack the truck load the barrel of Methanol and leave straight from work Thursday evening and spend the night in Toddington at a friends place, then go to the trailer the next morning and sort out things like putting air in the trailers tyres clean out the trailer set the back lash on the dragster in fact do as much as possible so not to have too much to do when at the track. However nothing is that simple when any of us are involved Steve rang me from work he had smelled something nasty on the way to work and it looked as if the rear wheel bearing had collapsed and that was it not going!. A little while later I got a call From Steve telling me was going anyway and if the dam thing seized or caught fire he didn't care it was insured and he had recovery on his insurance. The next call I got was to let me know he had made it to Toddington and that the diff had no oil in it so he had topped up and everything seemed OK. Next phone call from Steve came the next day, please remember I am in Spain, Steve rang me as he was locked in the storage depots yard where the trailer and dragster are kept, his security key fob had stopped working and it wouldn't release the lock and let him out, I had to send him the companies telephone numbers so he could get help and be let out. Dave met him at the trailer later that afternoon hitched the whole thing up and left for the Pod ready for the gates opening at 5pm they got there early and were directed into a field along with rather a lot of other excited racers. Now remember we were going to take this year off anyway...didn't last long that idea did it?
Camp was set up at the Pod that afternoon and Steve and Dave fettled the car ready for the first fire up of the year the next morning.
Early Saturday morning was where the fun started, The car didn't sound right so the fuel system was gone through, injectors cleaned fuel pipes flushed etc the car was taken tot he line but wouldn't run so the tam now including my other son Phil towed the car back to the pits, the team found the first of many problems a split fuel pipe that ran to one of the injectors, a replacement couldn't be found so a repair was made.
The car was fired up again but still wasn't running correctly so the fuel system was gone through again but still there was problem, so Steve took the fuel pump off and dismantled it and there he found the culprit the impellers had hit the surrounding bronze bush breaking up the bush and the impellers parts of which in turn had got into the bearing and knackered that as well, so that was it then race over? Well no!Steve never gives up there is always a way out of these problems..isn't there? Phone calls were made racers were asked but no go, then out of the blue Steve's wife Kerry made a surprise visit, she was staying over-night in a nearby hotel so Steve pinched her car drove all the way back to Swindon and picked up our old fuel pump from his workshop then drove all the way back to the track only to find there was a piece missing from the pump!! They had missed all of Saturdays runs but help out in hope of making some runs on Sunday but now that looked very unlikely. Until up stepped Anthony Coliver who runs the "From Hell" altered and he has a spare pump yippee. But the mounting was different so Steve drilled and tapped new threads into the front timing cover and fitted the pump and then had re-route all the fuel pipes to match. Along with re-routing and mounting of the fuel shut off valve and cable. All this work was complete Saturday evening but it was too late to try and fire the car up.
Sunday morning arrives the car hasn't made a run yet, because of the difference in fuel pumps Steve had to make some adjustments to the fuel system he needed a much smaller pill (jet) for the main valve the smaller the number the less fuel is returned to the tank and more fuel pumped into the engine, Steve changed the 80 that was already in place for a 60 which was the smallest he had and he had to blank out the high speed lean out valve and he had to fix the fuel shut off cable which had snapped due to being mounted in a different place.
The car was fired up but! still wasn't running right, temperature checks showed a problem with the middle two cylinders on the left bank, the same head and same place where in the past they have been repaired three times due to being torched ever so slightly, game over again?...well no! second son Phil then had a look and found the spark was a bit weak so he had a peak in the distributor and found some corrosion on the some of the pick ups so she cleaned them up and cylinders firing properly again but! there was now a problem with the two front cylinders which after more investigation turned out to be blocked injectors so once again out came the tools and the problem was fixed at last but the team had missed the days first run.
The car was towed down to the pairing lanes on what was to be its first run of 2020, it was everyone eases 6th run of the weekend the car was fired staged and run, now first of all the thing picked up its front wheels quiet violently which took Steve by surprise he backed off put his foot down again and had to back off at the top end as the engine was labouring..not enough fuel getting through but still a 9.6 at around 150mph after all the effort wasn't too shabby considering.
Back in the pits and another thank you to the Ball Breaker Team for loaning Steve an even smaller main pill a 30 this livened the car up a bit. Also during this time Steve made a very interesting discovery on the Saturday while chasing the problems with the car,, last year we let Dave had a couple of runs in the car at the Mopars to make things a little less frightening for him Steve restricted the Revs to 6000 Shhh! don't tell him!! Dave still ran a 9.1 on this setting but! Steve forgot to reset the rev limiter which means his later runs of 8.5, 8.4 and the best one of 8.3 were made with the rev limiter set to 6000 rpm so this was reset to 7200rpm and the car was towed back to the pairing lanes for the teams second run of the meeting.
On this run the first problem was that the idle was too high it was leaning out due to not enough fuel but Steve had no time to do anything with it and because he couldn't hold it on the brake he decided to use the trans brake to hold the car and he then bumped it into stage a la turbo pro mod style but he bumped too far and cut the second beam which meant an instant red light however he still floored it had the front wheel off the deck and this time as he went through the lights he checked the rpm it was just over 6500 and still rising. now bearing in mind Steve has hit 159mph at 600 rpm then probably he was going over 160mph, and as it was still pulling for a change Steve reckons that was fastest run he has done in that car so it probably would have been a low 8 second run. We will never know!
The third and what would be the final run for th team of the weekend was a little bit of an anticlimax as Steve didn't burn out over the line which resulted in wayward launch and some sideways action and yet another red light.....!
The team were going to try for another run but at just after 5pm the pairing lanes were closed so he couldn't do it, Wow what a weekend the team left happy at the end in the knowledge that they had found a lot more int he car than they thought it had more to work with so now the search for parts continues and with a bit of luck and a following wind the team might even make the Hot Rod Drags if they go ahead?? this covid thing is really messing everything up.
The team would like to thank Anthony Coliver and the "From Hell" altered team for the loan of the fuel pump, Daniel Boon and the "American Pie" team for the use of their timing light and leak down tester and for some slightly used spark plugs and of course to Mark and Steve of the "Ball Breaker" team for letting Steve have the smaller pill.
It was very frustrating for me here in Spain trying help and organise whatever I could making lots of phone calls and not being able to see anything as there was no live feed I understand why that happened. Here's hoping that the future brings an end to all this virus stuff and we can all get on with lives as normal as a drag racer can.