Sunday, June 23, 2013


Here's a secret that a lot of people know about ChumpCar but few people will tell you.  Gather in close now, you may not hear this anywhere else...

ChumpCar will take years off your life.  It's not from high-speed accidents, although those do happen.  It's not from exposure to various chemicals and exhaust fumes from every possible type of (poorly running) internal combustion engine.  It's not from stress and excitement, or even from unintentional exercise running back to cold pit to get your gloves and oh yeah the voltmeter (and hey has anybody seen the fire extinguisher).

It's from sleep deprivation.

You will lose hours and maybe days prepping the car.  You will lose more hours actually racing.  Even if you are less adventurous, and prefer to see where you're going, so you sign up for a daytime event, the ol' switcheroo may take place and you'll find your race starting a 8pm instead of 8am.  And you'll got to bed at 3 or 4am.  And you'll want to do it again.

First thing's first, mucho thanks to our awesome sponsor Husqvarna.  They even loaned us their super-nice pickup and trailer, which were rock solid and fantastic.  Here's a picture of our paint scheme/theme.  It's Husqvarna blue with a white hood.  If you've seen the Husqvarna fast tractor sold at Lowe's - the one that Jimmie Johnson has been riding in all those cool TV commercials - that's the look.
The paint scheme for the Zip6Racing Husqvarna 300ZX
Due to the messed up schedule, the race really didn't get started until about 9pm.  A couple of guys spun out on the first green-flag lap right in front of Eric, and he narrowly missed piling into them.  He hadn't been out long before he radioed in the car was overheating.  We brought him in and pulled the bumper cover and the hood off hoping the extra airflow would help.  It didn't do much.

We also had a charging problem.  The voltage kept dropping, and it was apparent the alternator wasn't working.  Jason found a blown fuse, and replacing it seemed to help.  But this was a persistent issue.

We spent an hour or two in the pits flushing the radiator, which seemed to fix the overheating problem.  The VG engine Nissan made seems to be pretty tough.  We ran this one a few hard laps with the temp gauge maxed out, and it hung in there.

We also had an intermittent miss that kept popping up again and again.  This pretty much ruined Duncan's entire stint.  But Travis was able to get maybe 45 mins in where the car ran flawlessly.  But when he came in for the driver change and cut the motor off, it never ran right again.

We just weren't able to conquer the intermittent miss.  We finally threw in the towel around 1:45am.  I think we were able to run approximately 55 laps.  I hope to find an official lap count and placement in the next few days.  Also, I'm sure some more photos will surface and we'll post 'em up.

We went through some grief due to the shower of sparks from the front brakes.  With a night race, the sparks were very apparent, and the tower kept radioing the pit bosses who came and argued with us a bit.  They insisted this was indicative of metal on metal, and we were out of pad material.  But we had put on fresh Hawk DTC-60 or -70 pads before the race, and we were confident they were ok.  Driver's insisted the brakes felt awesome.  And in the hot pit, after borrowing Nic's iphone to use as a flashlight (oops, somebody forget the flashlight?) I could see what looked like plenty of pad material and abused but not scarred rotors.  We will investigate more and report back, but we are thinking the brakes are ok.

After everyone recovers, I'm sure we'll get the Z rehabilitated and ready for the Chump race in Nov.  Or possibly a track event or two before then?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Switch - Changes and Kills

First switch:

The Charlotte Motor Speedway track administrator accidentally double-booked the track.  After several hours of negotiations yesterday, the race series administration announced they were going to change our race around.  Instead of racing from 8a-6p, our race would be moved to 8pm-2am.  Since that's cutting our 10hr race down to 6hr, they've compensated us by giving us a partial refund, and arranged a 2nd race in November that's 10hr and will be free for those registered for this race.
Although I'm too old to be staying up until 2-3am, at least
a) it will be cooler
b) I'm about to drive a race car under the full lights at CMS

Second switch:

The stinkin' kill switch.  As it turns out, our beast of a Z31 is very hard to kill.  Getting our car's wiring straightened out has lagged behind some of our other efforts.  Chump rules require a kill switch be installed that acts as a master power cutoff for the vehicle.  Our team has worked on that a bit the last week, but progress has been painful.  A late night Thursday night didn't produce a working kill switch.  We need to cut both ignition and car power.  Just taking the battery out of the circuit won't kill the car since it continues to run off the alternator.

Friday morning, we showed the car off to Husqvarna's marketing department, and then around noon we went over to Eric's to try to finish off the items needed to pass tech.  Gates opened at 11am, and tech was to be open from 12-5p.  According to the rules, if the car didn't pass tech by 5pm, our team had to leave to go to the driver's meeting, and we would have to tech Sat morning, taking lap penalties while we waited.  So we were very "motivated" to get this stuff wrapped up.

12pm passed by.  1pm passed by.  2pm passed by.  3pm passed by.  We were kind of getting a little nervous.  Finally, Travis and Duncan and Eric applied their brilliant intellects and powers of deductive reasoning and came up with a crazy solution (that seems to work).  Jason, sensing a disturbance in the force, swung by Eric's house on his way up from Columbia and helped electrocute Duncan just before we finished.  So we got the car to the track by maybe 3:30 or so.

We tech'd our personal safety gear, then put the car in the (long) line for tech inspection.  It immediately sprang a leak from a hose, which we had to tweak.  You know you've done a heck of a job on the wiring, when the inspector asks you to open your hood and sees the craziness and says "What happened here?"

Other than the nasty (hilarious) comments, we passed tech without any issues.

Photos and more updates coming later.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Getting Closer

Okay, let's go through the list...

Wiring - Most of this is finished.  Temperature gauge and speedometer are now working.  Switch panel is installed, with switches (including fan) mounted.  Kill switch was installed but needs to be wired.

Harness brackets were installed.  Harnesses were installed, but seat isn't yet mounted.  Window net brackets are done.

Inside rear view mirror done.

Race pads were installed, and we finished bleeding with fresh high-temp fluid.

Tires were mounted and balanced.  Alignment was done.

Holes (I think all?) in firewall were sealed off.

Roll cage is finished.  Padding was installed, but we may still need to zip tie pads to tubes.

Fire extinguisher installed.

Coolsuit cooler and tubing installed.  Needs some wiring.

Camera wiring needs to be done.

T-top panels were installed.

Steering column was spaced down a bit, and hub installed for quick-release steering wheel.

Exhaust system was modified (again) to comply with rules.

Coolant was drained and replaced with water.

I think we still need some work on the communications system.

We drew names for driving order.  Should be:
1) Eric
2) Travis
3) Duncan
4) Jason
5) Brad

We have been really lucky to land three sponsors for this race.  Husqvarna, a company that makes premium outdoor power equipment, has been incredibly generous.  A local repair shop ASI-Auto Solutions was nice enough to let us use their equipment to align the car and mount and balance the tires.  And NCXGraphics did all our vinyl decals for us.  Having sponsors like this make things go much more smoothly.

So given that we have a major sponsor like Husqvarna, we will have a very special theme.  Don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet, but here's a teaser pic of the car

The Chump Z31 gets prettied up