Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pujo! attacks the track! Then the track counter attacks...

Pujo! finally got a chance to see what a real race track is like. Sadly only I was able to see what Pujo! is like on the track. Initially everything seemed pretty good, but I became concerned about a distinct lack of power. Handling is nice and neutral, braking is excellent, but the power just wasn't there. After about 15 minutes I noticed the temp gauge start to climb, I reduced my speed to right around freeway speed to see if it would cool off, and it did for about a lap, then it began to climb again. I wasn't overly concerned but through my ridiculously padded and insulated helmet (I'm rendered effectively deaf in the damned thing) I began to hear an alarming rattling sound from the engine compartment. Right about this time a '64 Mustang with a dry sump ruptured a line and dumped about 30,000 barrels of oil on the track. Fortunately I'd already slowed to about 30mph by the time I reached the Mustang Valdez oil spill and stayed on the track. Sadly the same couldn't be said of an Acura and an E30 (S**t, those things are friggin' everywhere) some sea otters and about a dozen arctic terns. Once I'd passed the environmental disaster and climbed the hill back towards the paddock, Pujo! decided he'd had enough and passed out by the side of the track. The radiator overflow then boiled over and clouds of steam billowed from beneath the hood. I tried to restart to keep coolant flowing but Pujo! refused to wake up. Once we rolled him back into the pits and gave him a chance to cool off, he restarted normally. Except for the disturbing rattling noise. We figured at that point we had a bad connecting rod bearing. I was glad we brought the trailer. After a 2 hour delay while hundreds of volunteers scrubbed the otters, terns and track with loving hands and Dawn liquid dish detergent, we finished the rest of the day in Bret's Miata and Brent's M3.

The next day Scott and I got to work on Pujo!. Embarrassingly the overheating appeared to be caused by an improperly burped cooling system. There was plenty of water left in the overflow bottle, but the radiator was several inches down. Since I was the last one to drain and fill the thing, the blame rests squarely on me. The lack of power turned out to be from a crack in the accordion hose between the MAFS and the turbo. Most cars won't run at all if that happens, Pujo! simply gets tired. Luckily, the old black car (remember Pugly from way back when we started all this?)had a good one it wasn't using any more. What about the alarming rattle from the engine, you ask? We pulled the oil pan and discovered the chain driving the oil pump was loose and could clatter against the timing chain cover. Thankfully all really simple and quick fixes.

Pujo! lives to drive another day.

Pujo! leading a 911. Well, ok, running away from Germans. At least he's not hiding in the sewers yet.

Pujo! being held by the Axis powers after he'd surrendered for the day.

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