24 Hours of LeMons

La Povera Angelina
(Poor Angelina)

she did not have a good weekend in New Hampshire.

After the horrible engine failure at Thompson, Greg had worked relentlessly to rebuild the engine in time for this race. He did not get a replacement cam shaft in time, so he plucked the cams out of his GTV6. On paper, they are a little less cam than he had originally, but still strong, and there is some data (as yet not completely analyzed) that this combo might make more power a little lower in the rev range than the old cams did; plus, it might not use as much fuel as the old setup.

Nick went down on the Tuesday before and spent the whole day — until almost 9pm — helping to put the car back together. Ted and Frank helped Greg get the car ready to leave.

The first disaster of the week happened before the car even got to the track. While leaving for the track in NH, Greg's tow truck developed engine problems. Back to the shop, transferred the car, tires, fuel jugs, and some basic equipment into Ryan's small trailer and pickup. Ryan and Ted were on their way to get to the track in time for tech inspection and a little shake-down practice (with the newly rebuilt engine). Hours spent trying to fix the truck yielded no results; they then gave up and rented a big box truck, which meant that EVERYTHING in the trailer had to be moved into the rental truck. It is truly hard to believe how much crap is needed to get through a race weekend. The trailer is big enough for two cars, and even with only one car it's packed so solidly that you can not walk inside it. It took hours of work to make the swap.

Semi-secretly, everyone had the same thought: Maybe this got the bad luck out of the weekend ... maybe.

Of course, as usual, we got a late start, but from almost the very beginning we were in first place. Ted was out first and he was hammering it. The only thing that worried me was that he was hammering it (he was not making too many friends on the track — he is pretty aggressive out there). He was in first place, but there were 4-5 other cars sticking on the same lead lap. As hard as he was driving, he was not making any distance on the field — a problem for later, maybe.

Nevertheless, first place was first place. Next up would be Frank, who is quick but not in Ted's class (not many are). Then Nick was scheduled for the last part of the day, and he is in Ted's class, so we had high hopes for the day. We made a fairly slow driver change/fuel stop — not too bad though, and Frank was off. He held first place for quite a while and then I could see that he was dropping quickly down the standings. That is not good. I returned to the pit to find the car there. DAMMIT!

Something in the drive line was making a horrible grinding noise. We found that one of the transmission mounts was broken, which allowed the box to move up dramatically under load and the drive shaft was grinding away on the drive shaft tunnel. We had a spare, but it took about two hours to change. There is no coming back from a two-hour stop, so from that point on, we were running for fun. Nick went out, picked up about twenty places, and had a ball. He said the car was fantastic. It was balanced, smooth, predictable, and stable. The power was great, the brakes were great. Even though the track was getting pretty slippery, you could put it anywhere on the track that you wanted and it would just grip and go.

Phil went out first on Sunday and had an uneventful run. He picked up a few places, agreed that the car was fantastic. Then a leisurely driver change back at our setup and Greg was off. Since we were out of the race, he took his turn first as a test drive, but then changed to take-no-prisoners mode and started ripping through the pack. All was going well ... until the car failed to come around again.

When he got back to the pit, he reported a broken drive shaft. It had been banging around quite a bit at the front, up by his feet — a little nerve-wracking. Needless to say, of all the things that could have gone wrong showing those symptoms, this was the worst one. The drive shaft had broken in two. Rent asunder, you might say.

We got the bloody stumps out of the car (real easy to do when the drive shaft is broken in two, so we had that going for us) and were going to swap in a new one, but then found that all the pieces normally on the front of the drive shaft (and now missing from it) were firmly stuck in the flywheel. If we can't get that out, we can't get the new one in. FINITO. Fun over, time to start packing up for the trip home.

This is a pretty rare failure (i think), and at this point it is still unclear why it occured. Angelina's engine is strong, but I doubt it is that strong! Perhaps it was due to the transmission mount failure ... perhaps not. Hopefully, we'll figure it out before the next race.Tiny Quadrifoglio

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Angelina when ambulatory


24 Hours of LeMons