Before we get to what happened at Salem, we'll bring ya up to date on the events preceeding this race. After totally rebuilding the body work on our ETS Pontiac, we took our mount to DuQuion. As was reported about three weeks ago, I totalled...
Before we get to what happened at Salem, we'll bring ya up to date on the events preceeding this race.
After totally rebuilding the body work on our ETS Pontiac, we took our mount to DuQuion. As was reported about three weeks ago, I totalled the car in the hay bale combination armco fence in turn 3 at DuQuion. Both the front and rear clips were bent. The body, save the left door and roof were gone. We thought we may have to throw in the towel.
Well, we cut, and heated, and porta powered that front clip out. Replaced some right front suspension, did a lot of welding. It's not perfect, but then neither are we...so we race. We took the car to the body man (he welds on the panels to template) then back to our shop for bondo, paint, decals, and put the motor back in, a full day of tweeking (actually jerking) the setup back into the car. Needless to say, we been busy.
We traveled down to Seymour, IN to spend the night before hitting Salem in the early morning. Nothing much to report here, unless the details of a bunch of snoring crew members is of interest.....I got no sleep.
Arrived at Salem to unload at 6:30. Weather was partly sunny but cool. A fine day for a race. Practice started out OK. We were not terribly fast, but not slow either. The car was loose in 1 and 2 and started to wiggle in 4. If you have not seen the Salem speedway, it is banked like Bristol. Except the cars run about a foot off the wall in 3 and 4. Not a place for a push or to be loose. The motor was not pulling well down the straight. Time to put the engine builder to work.
The crew changed the gear, the engine guy tweaked on the carb and bumped up the timing and we got ready to put it into qualifying order. We drew 5th for qualifying...not a good number today. The stockers blew up a car exiting turn 4, oiling it down just before our qualifying. A bunch of oil dry and wreckers running it in delayed the qualifying a bit. The first ten or so cars had to pretty much qualify through it. My car did a little more than wiggle through that stuff exiting turn 4 but the motor came to life. I drove really hard into 1 and 2 to make up for it and turned a decent lap. At the time we were setting pretty good, but the oil dry worked on out, the track picked up, and the times went down. Cars we were clearly faster than in practice were now pretty quick. We qualified 20th. They started 32 and actually sent 7 home.
The race began and we started out OK. The car was a little tight at the beginning and was coming along. We passed a few cars, and missed a wreck when Dill Wittymore lost a rear wheel while on the inside of my car. He brushed the door when the wheel came off, then crashed hard into the wall. As the race continued we moved up, but were not on the lead lap. At lap 83, while racing with Roger Blackstock, he made the pass on the inside just before turn 3 entry. I followed into the corner, then hit the wall at the top of 3 and 4. You know, a Salem stripe. Just a little bit later in the race, Roger was DQ'd for an oil leak, so I think following him into 3 might not have been a good idea. Anyhow, the right front wheel got knocked out of align, I lost some caster which made the thing a bear to steer.
We stayed two laps down until after lap 120. We changed right sides and pulled away sheet metal at 96 and left sides at 145. Oh, I hit the wall on two more occasions after the first time in 3. It was really a handful. After the last pit stop, I had problems finding the gear and leaving the pit. I eventually popped the clutch and tore out of there. In the process, I spun the clutch due to the concrete pit pad. On the track it finally started slipping with 25 laps to go. I was in 11th working on 10th. We had to finish the race by running around on the bottom at about 5000 rpm to keep it from slipping as the rest of the field put us several laps down. We finished 14th.
All in all, we were pretty happy. The car performed much better than expected with all of the frame damage that occured in DuQuion. Next race is at Winchester, next Saturday, the 27th.
Still looking for any sponsor help to finish out the year. We have Winchester and Springfield left on the short track schedule. Spread the word, the Buckeroos need some bucks.....
Mike Buckley ARCA #48