Update from Got Salt Racing
Well another Bonneville Speedweek has come and gone…….
This year was very special for me…….since we set a record last year and this year was my turn to pilot the car. In 2011 Frank Silva (partner and last years driver) drove for the record and now has his Bonneville 300MPH Club Hat. We went to the 200/300MPH banquet to introduce new members to the club and learned that Franks record was the fastest new record set in 2011!!!!!……and we did it on gasoline!!!!!!…….very cool! To keep Franks record intact we decided to run the car in the Blown Fuel Class for 2012! We ran Methanol (Alcohol) as the fuel………something our team has limited experience with and something that I have no experience with.
We completely rebuilt the engine and many of the car parts……fuel tank, break away dash board etc. to get the car ready for Blown Fuel. The record in this class is 329.562MPH.
We went to Bonneville knowing that this would likely be a “test and tune” year as we learned what it takes to tune and run an alcohol engine……….and I learned what it takes to pilot the car. Of course we hoped to set another record……but being realistic……I think this possibility was unlikely.
We arrived at Bonneville on Thursday evening and it took all of Friday to set up the pit area and get the new configuration through technical inspection. Saturday morning when racing began we had a few modifications to make on the car and as a “rookie” driver, I had to attend the “rookie” driver orientation which took four hours! We decided to prep the car and run the car in the pit area to assure we were ready to push down for the first of many licensing runs early the following morning. Rookie drivers are required to make runs between 125 to 150MPH (Class D license)…….150 to 175MPH (Class C license)……175 to 200MPH (Class B license)…….200 to 249MPH (Class A license)……..and finally 250 to 299MPH (Class AA license) ………. with these licenses we could then try a 300+MPH pass which we know the car is capable of.
We talked to the officials at the track and they agreed to wave the 125 to 150MPH run, given that it’s difficult in a car like ours to run these lower speeds. We made our first licensing run Sunday morning and ran 181MPH average speed over the second mile. While this was slightly over the 175 requirement…….the officials approved this run as good for the Class D, C, and B license……..Hooray!!!!! What a blast!!!!!
Unfortunately when we returned to the pits………(I was very excited!)……..we found that we had made the entire run with a broken rocker arm in number 7 cylinder. This is fairly difficult to replace and required that we disassemble the entire top half of the engine including the cylinder heads. This took all afternoon and we found and changed a few other minor parts that were suspect given the rocker arm failure.
By the following morning (Wednesday the 13th) we were ready to make our next run at the Class A license level (200 to 249MPH). We actually made this run at 1PM. On this run everything went smoothly until I entered the 3rd measured mile when I got an emergency engine warning light and I terminated the run …….opened parachutes……..and pulled off the track. As it turned out I went fast enough 204MPH average in the 2nd mile and 212MPH average in the first quarter of the 3rd mile to satisfy my Class A license……but we needed to know what the warning light was all about.
After careful examination of the data and the engine we determined the warning light was a false alarm and was the result of an intermittant wiring problem (really a good outcome)! But while we were checking out the car we found another broken intake rocker arm! Not good! After much research we determined that the valve spring pressure was too great for our rocker arms…….particularly on the intake side and we took the top half of the engine and the cylinder heads apart again!! We had the ability to change the spring pressures……..and we took all of our rocker arms to Salt Lake City to magnaflux them to be sure no others had cracks. We spent all day on the 14th checking out parts……… reassembling the cylinder heads and the engine. We were again ready to run on Wednesday morning for the AA license (250 to 299MPH).
We made this run on Wednesday at 11AM. The car and engine appeared to run well through the middle of mile 3 when I experienced an engine “miss”. I stayed with it briefly to see if it would clear……..but it stayed with me and I again shut the engine down before the end of the third mile. The good news is I did go fast enough to qualify for the AA license averaging 252MPH in the 3rd mile with a top speed of 273MPH.
Examination of this problem confirmed that we damaged cylinder number 3 and that the cause is related to a fuel and air management problem that will require more sensors, and related data on the car to find the root cause. We concluded we could not get the sensors and problem corrected before the track would close for Speedweek 2012.
Speedweek 2012 was a blast! Driving the car is the thrill of a lifetime!
With luck, and a fair amount of work, we will be back in 2013. I believe the car is capable of setting the Blown Fuel Record and that would be really cool!!! Look for more in 2013!
Best Regards………..Ross, Frank, and John……….Got Salt Racing