Day at the Races

The new tire combination, rubber from earlier this year and late last year, worked well in practice this morning.

Qualifying started at 10:30. I was warmed up, Yellow Jacket was warmed up. We were flying right along, I had just gotten by Kallberg and was accelerating out of turn 2 when there was a “BAM!” and I lost power. The engine revved freely but was not turning the wheels. I drifted down through the hairpin of Turn 3A and pulled off at the turn station, scrambled up to the safety shed.

They towed me back to the pits at about 11 a.m. I told Jeff Taylor I thought the the clutch had let go, maybe the transmission. I crawled under the car and started turning shafts and tires. The transmission sounded like it was chewing on beer bottles.

With a new engine, and a new clutch, we found the new weak link.

Three or four years ago, I sold my back-up transmission to Dave Edelstein. Dave sold it to Jeff and Jerry Taylor. The Taylors used it, took it out of one of their cars, rebuilt it and sold it back to Edelstein. Today, he offered it to me.

Jerry from Colorado had offered to let me use his back-up transmission, gratis, for the weekend. Tom Cantrell had three or four in his trailer, and offered me one of those. Humbling, this competition.

And then Edelstein asked if his mechanic, Ken, could help me out. Ken and Jeff Taylor dove under my car. The two of them hauled out the old gear box, put the new one in. I brought them tools and unhooked the shifter from above, filled the new tranny with gear oil. By 2 p.m., the job was done. At 2:30 we were back on the track.

I hadn’t realized until then that the old transmission was so bad.The newly rebuilt one shifts so much more smoothly. I took back to Kallberg the new set of tires he sold to me for this race, since a transmission breaks the budget.  The old skins were working fairly well, they’ll have to do.

They worked well enough that Kunicki, starting from the back, ended up in fourth, and I ended up in fifth. Edelstein is two spots behind behind me. Kallberg is still fighting mechanical gremlins.

And because of the help of friends, this weekend is not yet over.

About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon
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