Buckeroo Watkins Glen report

You need a bunch of things to be successful at Watkins Glen: 1. Good Handling Car - Didn't have that. 2. Car with Good Brakes - Didn't have that either. 3. Jerico or T101 transmission - Three for Three. 4. Good Driver - Well, since I had no ...

You need a bunch of things to be successful at Watkins Glen:
1. Good Handling Car - Didn't have that.
2. Car with Good Brakes - Didn't have that either.
3. Jerico or T101 transmission - Three for Three.
4. Good Driver - Well, since I had no practice.....hmm.

Our Glen weekend started early in the week. We had pulled the motor out of the intermediate car and decided to take our OLD short track car. The brakes were suspect, but I had a rebuilt set of big AP brand calipers that had been sitting on the shelf. We needed to be at the track Thursday morning so we worked on getting the brakes done on Wednesday (4th of July). Of course we ran into problems and there was no where to get parts. I was short one bleeder of the four needed for the front calipers. Got the brakes bled but one caliper would not move fluid to the second side pistons. Had no parts so we would work on this at the track.

Thursday we arrived at the Glen and readyed the car for practice. We were "breaking in" five new pit crew guys. Four guys had never seen the car before. Everyone worked fantastic. We had taken two motorhomes and we stayed in the paddock area all weekend.

Practice was nearing and I had not made much progress on the brake caliper. At the track there were two guys from CV products that were on the way to service AP calipers and brake systems in the Busch garage. However, they did not show on Thursday. Busch guys came in on Friday... 11:00 am.

I decided to put the system together and we would practice short 1/2 of one caliper. I went onto the track and took it real easy on the first time around. However, the first time down the front stretch the car would not slow down for turn 1 and I put it in the gravel trap. Returned to the garage where the guys dug out all the gravel from under the car. Vowed not to return to the track until I had some decent brakes. A big part of the problem was I didn't have the right transmission either. I was using 4th gear down the front stretch and needed to downshift to 3rd, then 2nd in order to get into the 1st corner. My trans required the use of the clutch which most of my competitors were not since a Jerico can be shifted without. Plus, the Jericos could be geared for the track. I needed a gear between my 3rd and 4th.

So anyhow, we were continuing to work on the caliper with no success.  Then
a big and I am talking big storm came ripping through.  This had horizontal
rain and lots of wind.  It ripped off the awning from one of the motorhomes.
Many in the garage lost the ez-up awnings in the deal.  This pretty much
washed out the rest of Thursday.  The guys from CV would be there Friday in
the AM.  I was stumped on the caliper and had to have their help.

Friday morning came but the Busch garage did not open until 11:00 am. The CV guys were coming in then and our practice was at 8:30 to 11:00. When they got there they jumped in with both feet. They looked at what I had then decided that both calipers needed to be redone and we needed to get some better rotors. We got the system done in time for qualifying short of the rotors. Qualifying was done grand am style. Therefore I had a couple laps to get a decent one in. The first lap was a warm up. The second was the one I took and qualifyed 19th. The third lap I entered the inner loop too fast and jumped the first curb and went through the grass. They had told us if we took a short cut through there our lap would not be counted. I checked temperatures and pulled back into the garage at the end of that lap (so it was not timed). We were in the race. After inspection of the brakes, a small crack in the left front rotor became a large one. It could not be used.

We used the rest of the day trying to get some rotors to fit our chassis. We were running an old Banjo chassis. Normal rotors that go with the calipers we were using would not fit over the front hubs. After some searching, a machine shop was found in town that would cut down the diameter of the front hubs to accomadate the rotors. We took off the hubs and sent them off. We missed the last practice but thought we had our problems worked out. They guys came back from the machine shop with nicely turned down hubs that fit the rotor hats well. We had the morning on Saturday to reassemble and get ready for the race.

Saturday AM we repacked the bearings and assembled the hubs. The rotors would not clear the lower control arms. On a Banjo chassis, the lower control arm is perpendicular to the frame and it actually rides up inside the rotor when the wheel is in bump. We were screwed again.

With two hours left before the race we found someone else that ran the same chassis and could tell us what rotor would work. He was racing in the Historic Vintage class and had just bought a rotor off the Busch parts truck.

Went and got one and put it all together. We really had to thrash at the end and got the car through inspection at 1:20 for a 2:00 pm race.

So the race started and I thought the car would be OK. The first lap went alright and I was able to keep up. I followed the guy in front of me down the front straight and he was able to get slowed down for turn 1. Me on the other hand went out into the gravel trap. I was stuck there for 2 laps until they pulled me out. The car was unhurt and we continued. About ten laps later I was going through the outer loop (a long right hand turn) when I noticed the oil pressure bouncing when I exited the corner. I watched that gauge the rest of the course and it was solid. But sure enough it happened again on the next lap. It probably happened every lap, but I happened to notice it once which go me looking. Our normally left turning car was starving the engine for oil in the long right hand corner. I came into the pit and asked the crew to add (overfill) the tank so it would have a chance to live. I lost several laps getting this done under green. It didn't help.

I had to make a decision. Park the car or find a way around the problem.

The only way around the problem was to slow down in that corner. I am talking caution speed. I worked my speed up until I saw how fast the car would go before oil pressure would be anything except solid. Five thousand rpm in second. Slow. I would go as fast as I could everywhere on the coarse except the outer loop where I would slow way down and let everybody pass on the outside. I lost a ton of time, but was able to finish the race where a lot of others were dropping out with motor or tranny problems. We finished 14th: 12 laps down.

So we learned our lesson about the Glen. Not a place to bring substandard equipment. You can't get by. I we come back here next year we will be ready. We know what to expect. I need to thank my crew. Both the new guys and the regulars. We had to thrash all weekend but came out in 14th in the race and 10th in points.

We will check the bearings in the motor this week and get the speedway car ready for Michigan. We plan on skipping Kentucky and probably Pocono, then hitting the rest of the schedule hard.

-Mike Buckley ARCA #28 http://www.goddessfiona.com/buckleyracing

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Mike Buckley