Tall Guy Racing - Past Events 2006
I received an email from Brian Hamilton about a public open day on the new part of the Taupo race track. For a $10 donation to charity, members of the public would get to go around the new track. I remember thinking that this was a little unusual, as general members of the public are not normally allowed to go racing (for obvious safety reasons). Anyway, I was fairly keen to try out the new circuit, so I made sure I was there.
When I arrived, there wasn't anyone there that I recognised. The guy that seemed to be running things was Rob and I had never seen him before. He seemed a little surprised to see me as well. Anyway, I paid him the $50 entry fee and went out for a session around the track. I got grouped with some Camaros and a great big Valiant Charger. For once, the Falcon was the better handling car of the group and by the end of the session I was leading. I also noticed that there were no marshals anywhere.
When I got back and was watching the others race, I noticed that there were all sorts of weird and wonderful cars going around the other half of the track (quite slowly). I finally realised that I had gone half of the track. I went to Rob and told him that I thought I might be in the wrong place. He said that yes, this half of the track had been privately hired though Mainfreight and the other half was the public. He also said that the public had to go behind a pace car travelling at no more than 60kph. Later in the afternoon, they would open up the whole track. After the public had a go on the whole track we would be allowed to try it (with no pace car). There was a tiny I was welcome to continue the day with them or he would give me my money back and I could go with the public. While I can be a tight ass with money sometimes, I would much rather pay $50 and go racing than $10 and go dawdling behind some pace car. So I stayed where I was and had a great day!
At about 1:00pm the whole track was opened up and the general public went around. It seems that the pace car must have forgotten about the 60kph rule. We watched them for a while and there were some very interesting vehicles. There was a very large, bright green Kiwi Experience bus. There was an old Cortina that had a leather strap holding down the bonnet (who needs bonnet pins). There was a tiny Mazda 121 (1.5 litre engine) driven by a very large woman who was giving it an absolute thrashing. There were lowriders. There were many MPVs, SUVs and family station wagons, often with Mum and Dad in the Front and the kids strapped in the back. Great stuff.
Some of us got a session or two in with the general public. In my one 'recon' session, there was one car between myself and the pace car. By 'hanging back' before the main straight and creating a gap I was able to wind the Falcon up to about 170kph (no overtaking was permitted). (I also was not the only person to use the 'hanging back' technique.) We went around the rest of the circuit at a fairly reasonable pace too.
After that, the track was ours to go for a proper hoon. We started off on grid, which, given the inexperience of myself and the others around me, made me rather nervous. Fortunately, we all made it though the dreaded first corner without incident. The new extension to the track is great. There is a good variety of corners and a nice long back straight for the Falcon to stretch its legs. The surface is improved as well - nice and smooth and lots of grip. Overall the new track is a huge improvement and I am looking forward to going back!
Photos and Fluffy Dice Cam® here.
Another disappointing night at Champion Dragway. After five crap practice runs, I did a bit better in my first race - and consequently went under my dial in time and was eliminated. I didn't even bother staying for the burnout competition. This event has become very popular and it no longer seems worth the time and money for just a few minutes of actual racing time.
Photos and Fluffy Dice Cam® here.
It seems that the first session of a test day at Pukekohe often results in problems with the organic matter behind the steering wheel. I was using a new stopwatch to record lap times and was using the real start / finish line as a reference point, rather than a point on the back straight as I have done previously. It does not really matter where you start and finish your lap timing (these aren't 'official' times after all), but it is a good idea to pick a point where you are not too 'busy'. Shortly after the start / finish line at Pukekohe, you need to brake for the right hand sweeper. After a few laps in my first session I made the mistake of trying to see what my lap time was and as a result neglected to brake for the right hand sweeper. I very soon realised that I was going way too fast (somewhere around 150 kph) for the corner and there was no way I was going to make it. I braked as much as I could and attempted the corner as best I could. Inevitably, the back end slid out to the left. I managed to briefly hold the slide and then the back end flicked out to the right. Suddenly I was on the grass and the outside world was spinning around the Falcon. I observed a rapidly approaching wall go flying passed the Falcon. Then everything stopped. I looked around and the wall was still about four metres away. Yay - I didn't hit it. I tried to restart the Falcon. It was fairly reluctant at first, but eventually got going (why are engines difficult to start after a spin?) I got back on the track and took things easy for a bit. Everything seemed okay - no weird sounds or funny vibrations, so I wound the Falcon up and made the most of what was left of the session.
My digital camera can only record seven minutes of film in 320 x 240 mode. Originally, I thought this was due to the memory card size so I brought a 1GB memory card. Even with this huge card the restriction still applies, so I guess it is a design limitation with the camera, rather than the memory card. Anyway, my camera 'ran out of film' about half a lap before the spin, which really pissed me off. The footage would have been great. Check out what I did get here.
Best bumper sticker of the day: "Do not overtake overturning vehicle".
First event of 2006 and first event with the rollcage. Although it was fun, turns out that I wasn't very focused (and perhaps over-confident?) and kept on doing the courses wrong way. I didn't even realise that I was doing some of the courses the wrong way. I may have been too busy mucking around with the digital camera - setting up in car videos. Nevermind, it was still fun.
On the third course, the Falcon suddenly started running very badly. The idle was very rough and there was a fair amount of black smoke coming out the exhaust. The engine coughed and spluttered and misfired. I was told that the rings had gone (fairly major surgery required to fix that). Sean told me to look at the vacuum hoses. I did and everything looked okay to me (not that I really knew what to look for). I decided to hope that it wasn't anything serious and ignored it until after the motorkhana (not really a recommended course of action). After spluttering my way around the rest of the motorkhana, I parked the Falcon outside the clubrooms, so that Sean could have a look. Before he got a chance to look at it, I noticed that a hose had come off something that was mounted on the fire wall. I put the hose back on and, hey presto, the engine started running fine again.
Turns out that 'thing' on fire wall was the MAP sensor. If the vacuum hose that goes to it comes off, it tells the engine management computer that there is no vacuum. The computer then assumes that maximum power is required so advances the spark and ramps up the injectors to push loads of fuel into the cylinders. When the engine is idling this is about the opposite of what should happen, hence the coughing and spluttering. Basically, the engine runs far too rich. So I have learned what the MAP sensor is, what it does and where it is; that black smoke from the exhaust means the engine is running too rich and blue smoke means that the engine is burning oil. Blue / gray smoke from the tires means that the car is being driven in the correct manor, but I already knew that.
Photos and Fluffy Dice Cam® here.