Well, its been almost a week. Enough time for me to cool off. Physically and emotionally...look at the car and see whats what. Our DuQuion experience has been the same for three straight years. Show up, wreck the car, go home. The trip...
Well, its been almost a week. Enough time for me to cool off. Physically and emotionally...look at the car and see whats what.
Our DuQuion experience has been the same for three straight years. Show up, wreck the car, go home.
The trip started on Saturday. It was hot in Illionois (or is this Arizona). We blew a trailer tire just east of Effingham. The tires were so hot from towing too fast and the spare was just a bias 6 ply tire but would get us there. I called ahead to Mt. Vernon to my crew guys who were already in the air conditioning. They started searching the town for a trailer tire, but being Labor Day weekend. They couldn't find one. We would have to go home on the spare. This might not seem important, but the story always gets better. This is DuQuion....
Practice started and while I was warming up the car on the bottom, I ran over something. The exhaust got super loud. I pulled in and was missing an exhaust pipe. Three other cars ran something over too. All the cars were sevearly damaged. Broke the front cross member out of one of them. A pipe was buried in the track when it was graded and worked its way to the top in the race line. The track crew dug it out and it was a two inch pipe about 5 feet long. Lucky we just lost the exhaust pipe. Fixed it best as possible, which was not all the way out the side. Got some good practice in.
Changed the gear and rear springs for qualifying. Then came what Randy calls the "ride". The car was extremely fast on the qualifying lap. It was flying. That is until the driver got it a little too far out of shape off of turn 4, overcorrected down the straight and headed backwards towards the inside rail. Somehow got the car back around the right way, but still hit the inside rail which threw me back the other way to face backwards on the straight. It didn't quite make the finish line. A wild ride. The crowd roared. The car wouldn't start and had to be push started to get back to the pit. Embarrassing...
The crew and I were already beat due to the heat and the problems we had in practice. Now we had to change an upper left A arm. Replace two bent rims, swap tires on spare wheels, and beat out the left side body damage. They were calling for us at the starting line before we were done. We got it to the starting grid and started dead last due to the excellent qualifying effort by our fine driver. We were absolutly beat, and we hadn't started the race yet.
I knew the car was fast. The race started and we began passing cars. I was following Andy Belmont who also started towards the rear. I got behind two cars that were side by side. The inside car was moving up, the outside car cut him off, and the inside car panicked, locked up the brakes and lost it in turn 3. He looked like he would stay low. I picked the high line and got slowed down, but he came up the track and I nailed him in the side. It was a square hit for me in the nose. I kept going and didn't think there was much damage. This all happened on lap 3. My crew wasn't even fully set up on pit road yet. The caution lasted for 10 laps. Someone dumped oil on the track. The temperatures were OK until lap 11 under the caution. The oil temp rose way up, then the water followed. I went by pit road at 12 (mistake) and finally came in on 13. That was two miles under caution that the motor literally cooked. It was detonating and wouldn't shut off with the ignition. Held the brake and popped the clutch to get it to quit. We were done. There was a hole in the radiator and the water was gone.
We collected our money for 32nd place; the ARCA president said he appriciated my qualifying show.
On the way home, just north of Fort Wayne, IN, we lost the spare trailer tire. It was 2:30 in the am on Labor Day. We slept in the pickup, parked the trailer and found a fellow racer we knew in Fort Wayne on Monday to get our rig going again. Got home late in the afternoon on Monday. Our DuQoin trip from Hell finally ended.
Inspected the motor on Tuesday. No bearing in the return filter, but absolutly no water in the block. The oil is burned to where it stinks. The motor is rolling on the starter like it dragging one cylinder. We think the rings are garbage along with probably the bearings and head gaskets. Hopefully the block is not cracked. We've decided that we are not going to rebuild this thing for the Salem race or the Winchester event; take our time and fix it right. The motor is the only good piece we have left for next year. So that means we're done for 1998.
Our car is not legal for ARCA for next year. Besides the frame rule change the body is a 1993 and would need to be changed. We are putting this car up for sale as a Hooters Pro cup legal car if anyone is interested. Time to regroup, figure out a plan for next year and get started building again.
Mike Buckley ARCA #48