Laguna Seca report

Race Report NASA - Pacific Coast Touring Car Series Laguna Seca 5/24 - 5/26/97 Having fixed our blown head gasket, put in our thermostat, got the water out of the oil, JB welded the cause of the blown head gasket, etc.... we felt that we...

Race Report NASA - Pacific Coast Touring Car Series Laguna Seca 5/24 - 5/26/97

Having fixed our blown head gasket, put in our thermostat, got the water out of the oil, JB welded the cause of the blown head gasket, etc.... we felt that we were set for the Memorial Day weekend at Laguna Seca.


Saturday was a sponsor promotional day for PCTCC [] . Autoview Magazine (a used car mag) had put in a full page add inviting their customers out to the track on Saturday for a bar-b-que and a ride around the track in a Touring Car. Four cars were kept pretty busy throughout the day giving rides. Everyone was thrilled and amazed at what it's like to ride in a race car... (remember your first time). Of course, we got a few people really jazzed and they are now looking at attending a NASA school. Between Revkah and I, we got in about two hours of track time.

We had a few minor mechanical problems, but nothing serious. What was serious was Laguna and their sound policy. All cars had to meet 92dB at 50ft. This is allways a problem which leaves people scrambling to get their cars down below the limit. We were not an excluded from this fun. Running at 98dB, we kept pulling plates from our bolt on Supertrap. Finally, down to one plate, we got under the limit. The engine was so choked up it was having fits.

The diff was starting to whine a bit, so I topped off the fluid. When we got home we fabricated a shield which would direct the exhaust noise in the proper direction. Would it work???


We were quite lazy on Sunday morning and slept in until nine and left the house at about noon. We had this luxury as we weren't scheduled to be on track until 3pm or so. Upon arrival we proceeded to put the shield onto the "SuperChoke" and added plates back in and went out for a sound check. 94dB. Ok, more plates were pulled but we found a leak where the Supertrap was bolted on. We tried to patch it with some sort of muffler "patch" but that was quickly blown out. In the spirt of a "McGyver" episode, a Coke can was clamped on which help quite a bit and brought us down under the 92 limit.

The Touring Car demonstration race.... This was a 8 lap demonstration race that was designed to bunch the cars together for pictures and video taping. The lead group of 6 cars were having great time, swapping positions back an forth. The back group of 4 or 5 cars was also having a good time. Where were we? Right in the middle of the two packs. Choked down on power and running on our Z car's Toyos (we were saving the race slicks for Monday) didn't allow us to catch the front pack. About the time I decided to slow down and let the back pack catch up, the whine in the diff got louder and louder. Whisps of smoke started to enter the car. As I was heading into T5, _lots_ of smoke filled the car. Not knowing it was just the diff that had overflowed, I parked next to the flagger and scrambled out of the car. I popped the hood but there was no smoke. The worker told me that she thought most of it was coming from the rear. I looked under the car and saw diff fluid dripping..... Hmmmm..... maybe I shouldn't have filled it so full.

Fortunatly, we hadn't paid a single dollar in entry fees, there weren't points, cash, or trophies on the line, so this was a minor setback. Back in the pits, we dropped the diff and pulled the cover. The backlash had loosened up quite a bit and the diff was filled with "goop" the consistancy of valve lapping compound. Yuck. We cleaned out the diff while waiting for the Bar-B-Que to start.

NASA did a wonderfull job with this bar-b-que and I was quite pleased to see that there were just as many (if not more) drivers and crew attending as workers. The "Racing Family Spirt" is alive and well in NASA.


We returned Monday morning at 8 and proceeded to put the diff back together. We had an different set of shims in the shop, so we were able to take out some of the excess lash. The diff fliud was topped off (but not as full as it was before) and the diff was put back in. We pulled the IT tires and put the race slicks on. Revkah was took the car out for the first practice session, and returned to say that the diff whine had been reduced, and that she loved running on slicks.

I took the car out for the qualifying session. A dismal session of slipping and severe understeer showed that I was faster on the Toyos than I was on race slicks. A fresher set of slicks was aquired from Doug Davis and we put them on the front for the heat race. Since we hadn't gotten any sound warnings, we felt that it was safe to add another plate onto the exhaust. We also added another Coke can to reseal the one that we had burned through.

About that time, Revkah started making grumblings about not wanting to run in the heat race as it would set my starting position for the main event. I guess in addition to that, it was butterflies, as this would be her first race in this car, the first race ever on slicks, first standing start,.... The butterflies disappeared when the green flag dropped, she had a fun race and finished 7th in class. Overall, this was two positions higher than the crummy grid position that I had given her.

A miss at low rpm had developed during the race, so I went to work debugging what was wrong. I checked all the normal things and discovered an intake leak which I covered up with some sealant. It was better, but still not idling smooth. I decided it was ok, because race cars don't need to _idle_ smooth. So much time was spent on finding this miss, we had forgotton the fact that I needed the seat moved back. It takes about 5 minutes to undo the seat brace and move the seat and they were calling us to grid. Forget it, I'll drive just a bit closer. Not comfortable, but not too bad.

The start of the race was really fun and I picked up about 8 spots on the first lap. The newer slicks on the front were the ticket and this took about 3 seconds off my lap times. I could feel the old rears slipping but could compensate for it. I had settled in and was picking off a car per lap. Still _way_ off the pace of the leaders, really down on power, but I was having fun. The miss was barely noticeable.

As I came around start/finish, I got a mechanical black flag. Nuts. I must have been nailed for sound. I pulled into the pits and they told me that my muffler had fallen off, then they said it was dragging, then they said I had to go back paddock, then they said fix it and I could go out..... I had no idea what was going on back there, but one of Doug Davis's guys had managed to put on strap back on. The officials told me to go out again and then changed their mind as I was halfway up the pit entry. Since I was halfway onto the track I wasn't going to stop and turn around in the pit lane, so I continued.

Still not knowing if I was too loud or not, I passed the sound station in 4th gear at 3k rpm on the far side of the track. I still got a mech black flag at T7 and just pulled in back paddock on the last lap. I wasn't a happy camper. Thinking back I should have just taken the checkered and another mech black flag at the same time. That left Bob Stretch in 1st, Brett Stone 2nd, Billy Kwan 3rd, Doug Davis 4th and we managed a 5th in class as a few other cars had problems. This keeps us in the top two or three in season points.

It appeared that the exhaust hanger had split due to the excess heat of the SuperChoke and with the exhaust swinging back and forth, it popped the rest off the other hangers. Hazardous? Maybe, maybe not.... Scraping? Only in Turn 10. Did NASA make the right decision? Probably. All I _can_ say is that we are changing the style of exhaust hangers on that car.

What did we learn this weekend? Four++ hours of track time is tiring, but for only $150 it was well worth it. SuperTraps work ok to bring the car down under the sound limit just a tiny bit, but don't expect them to drop 10dB and still have any power. When slicks go away, they go away. We need headers, a decent exhaust and a muffler that works.

-dave Data Tech Racing ------------------------------------ | David Balingit | | | ------------------------------------

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Road racing
Drivers Bob Stretch