Well, I'm home. Its only Saturday. First of all, I'm OK. It could've been much worse. Looks like we did our job properly with the seat mounting, steering column, leg braces, interior pad, etc. I'm pretty sore and stiff everywhere. Have...
Well, I'm home. Its only Saturday.
First of all, I'm OK. It could've been much worse. Looks like we did our job properly with the seat mounting, steering column, leg braces, interior pad, etc. I'm pretty sore and stiff everywhere. Have bruises where all of the harnesses come across the body, and around the arms where the arm restaints worked well. Some pretty sizeable bruises on the bottoms of the legs where the edge of the seat is.
We got to the track early and began getting things setup. We had to have a new fuel cell and can. The one we used at Daytona and Atlanta went into the short track car. This kept us from getting a good setup until we could fuel the car just before the first practice.
We practices on very old tires. Times were slow and the motor didn't have any pickup. We thought it might be the gear but checking around we were in the ballpark. We needed corner speed, and the tires we were using weren't going to get it. On our second practice the right rear hub loosened up and spit out a whole bunch of rear end dope. Big mess. Had to rebuild the hub, replace the seals and clean up the grease mess and do it in a hurry..... because.....
Lee drew the #1 qualifying position in the random draw. He's no longer allowed to draw for qualifying. We were on the pole! ..... For two minutes.
I didn't get to see anyone else qualify, and with the new tires the car stuck OK but I didn't drive it into the corners at all...had no confidence in the setup.
We then had about three hours before the next practice. Pulled the plugs and had an engine builder look at them. Too rich, changed jets. Took the car in and out of the ARCA line checking ride heights, using their scales to find the setup, etc. Reworked the setup, spent all of the time getting it right.
Practice then started again at 7:30. Our goal was to get the tires warm. Bonzie a couple laps and get some temperatures for a setup change that would help us in 2nd round. We purposly didn't go out until 8:00 so that the track would be less congested. We began with the warm up and then a couple of good hard laps to get the tires in temperature. I had already picked up a second on the qualifying time. There was a car closing on the backstretch. I told Lee I would wave him by and then start the hard laps. I lifted out the gas coming out of 4 and waved him around. When I got to the 1st semi corner in the front stretch, I was hit on the right side, then again in the right rear which turn the car head on into the wall at the start/finish line. The right front hit first. The nose stayed in the wall and slid down to the next semi -corner in the front stretch. The car then caught fire in the engine compartment for oil and fuel. I couldn't get out, the steering wheel and column had moved away from me but the wheel was bent over the shaft and the quick release was jammed. The Butler seat was bent forward where the belts go throught the seat, but held at the mounts and held me down in it. The fire crew put out the fire, then helped me out of the car after a pretty thourogh checkout in the car. I bumped my knee on the column, but was OK otherwise.
The other car involved was Rick Heuser, #99. There was quite a difference in opinion on whose fault it was. There was my version, "on the bottom, got hit and turned into the wall" which seemed to match every other persons version who saw the wreck right out in front of everyone. He felt that I didn't give him the room up top. I think that when he went around the outside, the wall comes up fast and he reacted by coming down in a hurry. Just my opinion. He said I tagged him first. We'll leave it at that.
Anyhow, they took their car out of the track somewhere in Charlotte to get it fixed because they had qualifyed 12th and they've got money. Our car is destroyed. The front clip was under the front of the motor. The rear end is bent and locked up from where his car hit it. The whole car is twisted and mangled. We spent Thursday night in the hotel, then bought a bunch of Sawzall blades for Friday.
Leo and Mellissa Heiblinger were there to greet us and lend a hand Friday morning. They lent a hand while we cut off the front clip, removed the motor and transmission. Got the rear end to turn by getting the drive plates off and then loaded the car (front fire wall back to rear wheels only) into the trailer by holding the front of the car up with the engine hoist and winching the hoist and all into the trailer. Took us most of the day.
The motor looks pretty broken up. The harmonic balancer was knocked off the crankshaft. We won't know for a little bit if we will be able to save it and put it in the short track car for the upcoming Kil Kare and Flat Rock races.
We're pretty upset and disappointed and now very far in the hole and sinking fast. But I'm here to talk about it, and thats whats important. We'll regroup and see what we've got left to continue.
Mike Buckley ARCA #48