Salem-Winchester Buckeroo report

Mike Buckley ARCA ...

Mike Buckley ARCA #48

Well, its taken me a while to recover from the activities of the past two and a half weeks. We're all exhausted and I needed a little rest before reporting on our Salem (yes, that place) and Winchester (that place too).

Before our Salem experience began, you will remember that we hurriedly fixed our car for the Kil Kare race after being wrecked at DuQuoin. With new rear clip, the car was spray bombed to make the Kil Kare race and was in need of major bondo job. The front of the car was in poor shape, so we had a nose and new fenders hung on the car. No sense in bondoing and painting only the rear half, right? The bondo work began and the car was freshly painted before the Salem trip. We were running out of time before Salem in car preparation. The crew came over after the bondo and paint flew (good timing, hey?) and the rest of the mechanical work, (there was plenty) was getting done. We were planning on leaving for Salem on Friday night for the Saturday practice. On Thursday night, 11 pm, my attention was finally put on adjusting valves in the motor and changing oil, etc.......Hey, why are all these valves on this side of the motor loose... very loose. Better check the Oberg....... full of aluminum...chock full. The motor ran great at Kil Kare, I didn't have a clue.... I was very upset that I waited till the last minute to do the motor work.

Most teams would install the spare.... The Buckeroos went into motor rebuild mode. Friday was spent pulling the motor, disassemble, start scrambling to the machine shop for parts. We had broken two spring in the rev kit below the head. The pieces went thru the oil pump. There was aluminum in the motor and a complete disassembly, clean up, new cam bearings, new mains and rod bearings. I sent the crew home at midnight on Friday, stayed up all night putting the thing together. The crew returned in the morning and put the motor in the car as I went to bed. We missed the Saturday practice (got rained out anyway), and left Saturday night for Salem for the Sunday race.

We started off practice at Salem just fine. We spent the first session running around on the bottom and breaking in the motor. Put on some good tires and started turning the fastest laps I've turned at Salem. We were keeping up with Bowsher during the practice. The car was strong, handled better than ever..........then the motor shut off. Just plain quit with lots of smoke. Got back to the pit with the help of a push truck and found that the camshaft was not turning with the crank. There was to be no repair at the track. We loaded up and got the car on the trailer before the ARCA race started. We watched the first few laps, saw the crash on lap 4, then said goodbye to Salem....... back to Ann Arbor to fix another motor in preparation for Winchester....... Did I mention our team motto? We have a picture of Mark Martin's torn up car at Darlington where the crew patched a body together out of bar sheet metal, cardboard and duct tape... Never give up.

Monday was spent taking the motor back out and disassembling. The cam shaft gear had come off and tore up the timing chain and put a hole thru the cover. Two valves were bent and pushrods destroyed. Seems the engine assembler..(yea, the same guy who bondo's, paints, and drives the car) didn't locktite and torque the bolts that hold the gear on. Expensive lesson in time managment.... Oh well, here we go again. The valves needed to come from North Carolina and didn't arrive until Thursday. The motor went back together on Thurday night, very late. Oh yea, we also rebuilt the quick change because Salem tore up the ring and pinion. Friday we reinstalled the motor and the rear end. Finished up about 2:30 am, cleaned up and left at 4:00 am for the trip to Winchester, IN. Arrived at the track in time to unload into the infield and prepare for Winchester practice.

For those not familair with Winchester, its fast.....very fast. The car was a little underpowered but was handling well. Again, we were pretty quick, the car was on a rail and the foot was on the floor. We need more horsepower in order to really be competitive... but we were going to be OK. The motor was running OK, then not OK, then OK.... In the pit it sounded like maybe one of the valves that were not replaced need to be and wasn't seating all the way. On the track, at race RPM, it was strong. During qualifying, the crew said the motor sounded a little flat and too deep for our normal whiny six cylinder. We qualified 20th.

The race began and the motor never really got up to speed. The the third lap I radioed in that I had lost a cylinder. I was still in a pack of cars and needed to get to the bottom before getting run over.... so the foot stayed on the throttle. Finally got to the bottom and pushed in the clutch.... The motor then seized up. When we coasted into the pit and opened the hood we saw lots of oil.... mixed with lots of water.

We then watched the rest of the race from turn 3-4 where Phil Rider was standing. Wasn't much of a race with Tim Steele wiping everything up until.... he hit the wall. Then it was a ten lap sprint between Frank Kimmel and Scott Neal. Frank came in for tires while Scott did not. When the green came out Frank started working on Scott to no avail. Frank was clearly faster but Scott didnit waver his line. (Past History: These two have come to blows earlier this year due to Scott Neals driving habits at Louisville)..... On the last lap Frank gets under Scott and run side by side into the last turn. A little side to side contact puts Frank in front by half a length.. then at the line Scott Neal turns left sending Frank nose first into the wall at the stripe at the checkered flag. Frank looses a right front wheel and stays in the gas because now he wants a piece of Scott, and when the car comes off the banking in turns one and two flips over onto its side on the back staight. Frank climbs out of the car, removes helmet, and sprints across the infield to "talk" to Mr. Neal at the finish line. Little bit of a melay then followed, with most keeping their heads, others not...... Of course the crowd goes wild when it is finally announced that the winner was Frank Kimmel across the line first.

We then made the packup and long trip home. Our season is done with the short tracks as the Sebring race in October was cancelled. Not a great way to finish up the season. I don't think I will look at the car for a couple weeks.... then we will start the rebuilding process for next year.. Any engine builders out there reading this? We've got a lot of blowed up stuff and truly need some good horsepower with reliablity to prove what we can do. Looks like we should end up around 16th in points for the year. We'll be working now on the speedway car, and engines. Our short track car looks like new and the rear end just rebuilt so we are in a little better shape than this time last year. Thanks for all your support this year... we'll be reporting soon at our next event... Hopefully Daytona, 1997.

Mike Buckley ARCA #48

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Mike Buckley , Frank Kimmel , Tim Steele , Mark Martin