2013 CORVAIRS AT THE MITTY
Wednesday April, 24:
We arrived at Road Atlanta 12:45 today. No problems on the trip down.
We met Mike Levine who was also in line at registration. The place was crowded like last year.
We had a long wait and slow entry at drive in, same as last year. We were next to last in line but, we have our usual pit area in the Pro Pits infield. Mike and I unloaded our cars, James Reeve arrived and a few minutes later Michael and Tracy LeVeque drove up and unloaded their car. Michael and James were busy getting James fitted in the drivers chair. Finally we got as much of our area set up as we could, covered the cars and it began to sprinkle rain.
Cloudy out at the moment but it quit raining. Weather for tomorrow looks good but the next three days are real iffy. They are calling for 50 percent chance of rain and highs in the 60's. We'll see what happens. Test Day/Driver Orientation drivers meeting at 7:30 tomorrow morning. First session for Group 2 is at 8:30. We have plenty of beer in case it doesn't go well! Had dinner at Chik Filet as per usual.
Thursday April 25:
A great day at the track!
The weather was cold this morning but true to the forecast it got better as the day wore on. I missed the first group practice as I had things to get set up but James made it out in Michael's car. He had a good run going until the "meat ball' flag came out and he returned to the pits with oil dripping out of the engine compartment. Turned out someone had left the oil cap off! I'll let Michael tell that tale but, it involves her son Logan. (He left the oil filler cap off! We all know what that does.)
When the next Group 2 session came around I was ready with Mike Levine’s help and anxious to get on track to see if I had a good engine or not. I am here to say it runs like Jack the Bear! It's so nice to be able to pull 7000 RPM on the back straight and no sign of strain. When the session ended I returned to the pits and found the belt had turned over and was frayed but stayed on. No oil leaks at all! We changed the belt, refueled and were ready for the next session. In the meantime Michael's car lost a belt due to the idler pulley spring had come off. A fix was performed by Michael and James.
After lunch we went out for our session and after two laps my belt off light lit as I hit turn seven on a down shift. Damn! I nursed it back to the pits watching my cylinder head temps to find the new belt was frayed and off the pulleys. I decided to replace the idler pulley with the one from my old engine which was in the truck so, I was late getting out on the last session but I got four laps in and no belt problem. Also I really hosed it down with silicone this time. The car is a ball to drive especially since the engine is running so well. I am using my big bore carbs with the 1 1/2" butterflies and machined taper and extended venturi arms. So far I am a happy camper. Tomorrow is practice and qualifying plus the Challenge race.
Tonight at the free cocktail meet and greet party put on by Hagerty I got to meet and talk to the Grand Marshall, David Hobbs, a very famous racing driver and sports caster!
Here's hoping the weather holds for another great day with Covairs and good friends.
Friday, April 26:
Day three has been a nice weather wise day for air cooled cars and old fat guys in
fire suits! Morning temps were cold enough to freeze the dew on the car covers. During
the day it snows greenish yellow tree pollen! I never had that here before.
No failures to report. My race engine is running well with no leaks. Checked some plugs and I liked what I saw so no jet changes. Also, I liked the color inside my exhaust pipes. All said the mixtures were good.
Today was practice runs. We had one in the morning and one in the afternoon. One of my first runs was cut short when the belt came off in turn 7 and I nursed it back to the pits keeping a close eye on the cylinder head temps. I put my fan on top to help cool it off as it did get a bit warmer than usual. My last practice run of the day was with 55 freakin cars on track! It was fun picking off the slower ones and there seemed to be a lot of newbies who were very unpredictable in the twisty bits. I had great fun chasing these guys. Some of the lighter cars were better on the straights but I was sucking them up in the corners. There were a few who were so slow I’m not sure they should be out there but, I remember what it was like my first time.
Earlier while trying to start the engine first thing in the morning it sounded like it had a weak battery but Mike said when it caught it blew raw gas out the left side pipe so he thinks it was hydraulically locked. May have washed down a cylinder wall but, there was no evidence of gas in the oil. Mike suggested we lower the float levels which I elected to do Saturday morning. I did get out of course for the Group 2 Feature race in the afternoon.
I learned an interesting thing which James had told me about. If you stand on a practice lap for your starting position you are gridded in a second group of cars doing the same. The cars that ran qualifying are grouped in a first bunch which means a lot of the slower than you cars will be ahead of you. It makes for some more fun getting around but your class position finish will be lower because you waste time getting by them…unless you are James Reeve that is!
I was being held up by a 1971 Mazda RX2 that I couldn’t pass on a straight but was killing in the corners. He made two laps with all the corner workers waving the blue flag and me all over him until he got the message to let me by. It was a great time to be sure. After getting by the Mazda I began to catch a red MGA-B who was in my class, EP. I finally reeled him in but for the life of me could not out accelerate him on the straights where I like to make a safe pass. I began to see where I could squeeze by in a corner as again, I was killing him there. By the same token his being slow in the curves broke my momentum coming off the corner. About that time I saw the white flag and thought I have one last chance to get by but, I didn’t want to do anything stupid on the last lap so I just followed him. On the back stretch I gave him thumbs up as it was a good time racing him.
Next there was the American Challenge race which is open to anyone to sign up and
run at no extra cost. Mike Levine and James Reeve ran it. I was busy with the carb
floats. I wish now I had run it. There were 71 cars of all types and speeds. It was
crazy but our crew did well with no mishaps. Mike placed 21st overall out of 71 cars
with a fast lap of 1:42.745 and a 2nd place in class. James placed 37th overall out
of 71 cars with a fast lap of 1:48.566 and a 1st in class! Good job by all!
The weather for the rest of the week end looks grim with the threat of rain every
day. We'll see.
Tim Suddard of Classic Motorsports Magazine came by with his early model turbo Spyder convertible. Seems it was having a problem, not running well. He begged and pleaded with the guys to look at it. Mike Levine and Michael LeVeque worked on it and discovered the Pertronix kit was at fault. They replaced the plate with a regular set of points. The plate was scavenged from my old race engine I had in the back of the truck. Michael had some points and after installing them and timing it all was well again. Later Michael took it out for a 15 mile test drive and said it ran nice. I suspect there may be something in a future issue about our gang helping out. It's a nice looking car.
We all partook of the free Mexican food and beer at the pavilion which is provided by one of the race sponsors. I did this the first year in 2009. It was packed as usual and they had a Mariachi band playing.
There will be more spectators tomorrow and racing I hope on a dry track. I'm tired but happy.
Saturday, April 26:
Great day at the track!
It was raining this morning as predicted with temps at 53 so, not as cold as it has
been earlier. Maybe we'll get a dry window to run our group. We go out at 9:40 for
qualifying and the feature race for Group 2 is at 12:55.
The weather held off and we had an excellent day at the track.
Mikey was due out for qualifying at 8:00 AM but due to the nasty weather didn't go out. James and I were due out at 3:15 but I decided to stand on my best practice lap from yesterday as there was no way I could cut a better lap on a wet track. Besides with Barry Ellison helping I needed to adjust my float levels which we did. James decided to go out as Michael had a set of rain tires. Not sure he cut a better lap but, he got to feel the tires in the wet.
Spence was fighting a balky transmission but made the grid for the feature race.
The group 2 feature race was due to start at 12:55 or after the Can Am feature race. Those are some serious ground pounders with big block American fuel injected power. James, Spence and I were lined up on the grid for the feature race. It actually went very well for a grid parking event! James of course qualified well ahead of us. Finally the signal was given and it was on. We had two pace laps because everyone was not lined up. It's kinda like herding cats
With 66 or so cars it was a rolling traffic jam. I don't remember where I was gridded but, there were some really slow cars ahead of me. It was still fun picking them off. The track was dry and my engine was running very well. It has been consistent and really fun to drive. No belt issues. I thought at first I had the Latulippe belt throwing curse. Not so. Changing my shift points to 6000 RPM and a few other mods cured the belt issues.
So, it was time to hit the track with lots of cars and traffic. I had an absolute blast. I was hitting my apexes and shift points just right. When you have a car that is running well it makes it easy and fun to drive. I really felt I laid down some fast laps. The time sheets proved I was right. I cut a best ever lap time of 1:51.404. I finished 31st of 55 overall and 12th in class. James finished 10th of 55 overall and 3rd in class with a fast lap of 1:48.988. Spence finished 48th of 55 and 15th in class.
Mikey and Group 5 go out at 8:00 for his qualifying session and doesn't race until 2:35 this afternoon.
He was having an issue with spinning the rim inside the tire on the rear yesterday!
Can you say Horsepower? Not a problem in my ride. I'm just happy it's running well.
Mike said the V8 Vair was running great but he didn’t feel he was up to speed yet
but getting there. He finished 21st of 40 overall and 4th in class with a fast lap
of 1:43.548. Not too shabby!
Sunday morning dawned cold and rainy and did not let up. It’s a little bit after 7:00 AM and from our room it looks real gloomy outside. Also cold and damp with a weather report that just gets worse. I believe the decision to stay or go home will be coming soon. It’s time to head out to the track and wait on the rest of the group to see what the general feeling for the day will be. My time here has been a great success so anything else is just icing on the cake.
We had to decide to hang out and see if the weather would change and be able to make the afternoon Group 2 Feature race or call it a day and check out before 11:00 at the hotel and cut out for the house.
So far the weatherman had been dead on so, we checked out, hooked up, said our good byes and boogied for the home twenty.
It never quit raining during our trip across four states! Saw several accidents in South Carolina where someone spun out from hydro planning and punched the center barrier. There was a lot of standing water there. We came through the front door at 7:00 PM on the dot. It was a stressful drive with the wet roads and dodging the dumbasses that shouldn’t even own a car much less driving it on public roads.
I elected to not unload the car until today as we were both very tired from the week’s activities and the drive home from a very different Mitty experience. I guess I was feeling a bit anti-climactic from all the excitement of last year with nonstop Corvair racing and engine changing action but, it was a total success not only for me but the rest of our group. No catastrophic engine failures! Let me repeat that, Nobody blowed up! It was a nice change to be able to concentrate on the fun and excitement of racing and being with great friends instead of worrying about which part gave up or was making noises like it wanted to.
We had good weather from Wednesday through Saturday. For the first time in five years of attending the Mitty I cut it short by a day and we didn’t go to Sonny’s Bar B Que on Sunday evening for supper with the group as has been our tradition. I missed that. All that being said we as a group and me in particular had a very successful event.
I am actually thinking about next year.