BRYANT FAMILY RACING
The two-day meet at El Mirage in November has been the capstone of our season of racing for the last few years. It is no different this year. We made the 600 mile trek with hopes of getting Jeff in the "Dirty 2" 200 MPH Club. We were running D/GCC class again this year, against the record we set last year @ 198.494 MPH.
We arrived in Lancaster about 5 PM on Friday and settled into our motel, readying ourselves for two great days of playing in the dirt. It isn't necessary for us to get up early and rush to the Lake bed because this is our first time to run El Mirage this year. The starting line order is determined by the earned number to date and that leaves us at a distinct disadvantage, basically at the end of the line. Consequently, we got up late, ate a leisurely breakfast, and then made the 35 mile trip to the race course.
After the car was unloaded, inspected and prepared for the first run, we made our way down course to do a little spectating and shoot a few pictures. Finally, time came for us to attempt a record setting run. It didn't come out quite as planned. The first run topped at 183 MPH, not pulling well in high gear. I had forgotten to bring the spark plug box, so the run was made with well worn plugs and the engine was a little too cold at the end of the run.
It was now early afternoon and the course was becoming a little loose, so it was decided that they would shut down @ 3PM and change to a new course for Sunday's runs. It was clear that we would not make any more runs today, so we secured the pits and went to town.
Next morning, we were able to get our first run early because several had made second round runs on Saturday. We had purchased a new set of spark plugs and after warming the engine, installed them for the run. Unfortunately, Jeff had crossed #6 & #8 wires when installing the plugs, so on the second run he had to shut down early, netting a 162 MPH top speed.
We had installed a RacePak data collection computer on the car just prior to the World Finals. We had been getting readings on the air scoop pressures that were puzzling. Above 6000 RPMs we were reading almost 10 inches (of water) negative. It appeared that the scoop was not allowing enough air into the engine. We decided to take drastic measures and cut the nose off the scoop to give it more air. It worked! The pressures on the last two runs was now acceptable, zero to .5 inches positive. The third run was 192.201 MPH and run four was 199.852 MPH.
Still no "Dirty 2" membership for Jeff, but we did raise the record a tad, so we ended the season on a high note. As usual, we didn't accomplish all we had planned for the year, but we learned a lot and had a great time in the process. As the saying goes, "There is always next year."
It was with the usual "Great Expectations" that we set out for the "Salt" for the third time this year. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to make the trip each time there is a meet scheduled. We have arrive where we are in the performance arena by making these trips. I know that those that run Maxton understand this, you learn something each time you run. It is difficult to answer the questions that often come to mind if you can't test the car.
2001 has been a great year for the Bryant Racing Team. Barry, my youngest, has gained a lot of seat time, which will eventually lead to a "Red Hat" I suspect. John & Joe can fly the D/GCC Record Flag for yet another year, but we did come close with a 228.570 mile and a 228.801 exit. This was done with a TH350 missing 2nd gear. Barry still pulled a 208 quarter mile time picking up high gear at 3400 RPMs.
After changing the transmission, we eventually worked up to a 212+ quarter but still fell short on the other end by a couple of MPH. We were experiencing some kind of problem with the ignition, the timing was fluctuating. While attempting to set it, it would jump around so that we could not be sure what we had. Something wrong in the MSD box I think. We ended our day on Saturday with the driver's door coming open at the top of 2nd gear (150+mph). It was strictly my fault, I didn't firmly close the door as I usually do and give it a test pull on the handle, I just shoved it toward the car, it slammed shut firmly, but not firm enough it seems.
This meet was without a doubt the best course I have seen at Bonneville. Team Vesco underscored that with a FIA Record of 458 MPH and they didn't use all the course available to them. The salt was so dry that it hardly picked up on the car. The weather was cool, the track was smooth and the lines were short. There were no incidents, not even a spin. Even though we did not do what we came to do, it is really difficult to come away with my head down. Sure we have to do some fiberglass work to fix the door, but the engine has over 150 miles of flat out runs and is still ready for the November Lakes Meet. Just have to find out what is happening with the ignition.
Margaret and I left for Wendover about 8:30 AM on Wednesday, 9/19/01, arriving at our destination at 7:05 PM California time that evening. After getting settled into our room at the Rainbow Hotel and got a much needed night of rest. We didn't rise too early on Thursday, getting onto the Salt at about 9:30 AM. We found a pit site, unloaded the car, dropped the trailer and unloaded our gear. We then went back to town to pick up Jeff and Barry who had flown in from Red Bluff CA. After lunch, we all went back to the Salt, took the car to inspection and leisurely finished setting up our pits.
Friday we arrived on the Salt at 8:30 AM, attended the driver's meeting and prepared the car for its first run of the meet.
Speedweek we were running too lean and couldn't get it rich enough to show color on the plugs. I suspected the fuel pump (actually I had sent the pump to Kinsler for a new shaft seal. They called me and said it had low output, but I thought it had been performing well so I had it resealed anyway.) I had a new pump at home so I installed it before going to the WOS. Now we had a new set of problems. Too rich on top and I didn't have a big enough jet to get it lean enough. I can't really complain too much, though, during the two meets we have run in excess of 110 miles flat out with no real engine problems, except for overheating, which I believe we now have under control. Our best run was in the 221 MPH range, about 8 MPH short of what we needed.
Beckett & Timney set a very respectable record (228.697 MPH), I knew that it would be difficult to reclaim it, but, I don't give up easily! Hopefully, at the World Finals (if it happens) we can get somewhere in between our setup of the last two meets and come up with the numbers we need. If not, then I'll have to get the new engine ready.
I am running a bit late on recapping our Speedweek adventure for this year, but I will see what I can remember.
Fortunately, most of the real problems occurred before we left for the Salt. We had run last in November of 2000 at El Mirage where we set a new record in D/GCC at 198.494 MPH. That had made it necessary to remove one cylinder head to measure the engine for certification. Since the engine was partially disassembled, and a couple of cylinders were not sealing as they should, we decided to remove the engine and freshen it up for Speedweek. We were going to need a quality engine to qualify on the 228.697 MPH record set last year.
We sent the block out to be honed, purchased new rings, and checked the heads and bearings. I decided to reuse the rod and main bearings, and use the heads as they were, since all looked in good. We got the engine assembled and put it on the dyno to dial it in. After the engine was properly warmed up, we made a couple of pulls and lost oil pressure. Checking the oil filter showed lots of bearing material which meant that we were going to have to hustle to get it repaired in time for Speedweek. I took the engine home and disassembled it. We had spun two rod bearings, damaging the crankshaft and two rods. Evidently, I failed to get the engine clean properly after the honing. I hadn't pulled the cam bearings, which was a fatal mistake it seems. This was Friday 8/03/01, we were to leave for the Salt on Thursday 8/09/019. Lots to do in a short time.
We got the engine repaired and back on the dyno on Wednesday 8/08/01. The results were good, 575 HP at 7700 RPM, the best I have seen with this motor. We didn't get to leave on schedule, but did leave at 8:30 AM on Friday 8/10/01. Arriving in Wendover about 8 PM that evening.
We went out to the Salt Saturday morning, set up the pits and got the car through inspection. After attending the driver's meeting and taking a drive down the course, we went to Wendover to pick up Jeff and Barry who were flying in. After we picked up the boys at the airport and got them settled into their room, we grabbed a quick lunch and returned to the Salt. We readied the car and put it in line to make the first pass. As is customary, I was to take the first ride and check the car out before putting Barry in to make the qualifying attempts. Late in the day I strapped into the car and waited to make my pass. After about 45 minutes of sitting in the car because of a blown engine course cleanup and then a cross wind down course, I got out of the car to cool off. The wind didn't subside and the meet was called for the day. We left the car in line and was to make the first run on Sunday.
After record runs were completed Sunday morning, I finally got to make a run down the course. The car seemed to be running well, but when the run was finished it looked like a Stanley Steamer. The water pump had not come on and it was super overheated. My times were 197.508 in the 1/4, 204.502 in the first mile, 214.559 in the second mile and 216.660 in the last. Inspection in the pits showed that we had lost #4 spark plug do to heat, so it was a seven cylinder run the last part of the run. After making the necessary repairs, Barry made his first pass with roughly the same speeds that I had run. He also lost #4 spark plug do to the plug not being properly tightened. It blew the porcelain out of the center of the plug and torched the treads of the plug severely. We did manage to get the plug removed, which was a bit of luck in itself. Monday morning I put my brother Gary in the car to do a licensing run. He hadn't been in the car in a few years, so he took an easy pass, shutting off in the middle mile when it blew a water hose. On his second run he managed a 193.940 third mile with a exit speed of 200.923, still not good enough for his "A" license. The last run of the day, Jeff took a ride. Since he is more experienced at speed, it seemed that we should get an idea of what the car was capable of doing. He ran 203.524 in the 1/4, 210.194 in the first mile, 220.372 in the second mile, 224.425 in the last mile and an exit speed of 225.963. We are still about 5 MPH short of the record.
During the rest of the week, we tried a lower gear and several jet changes, but to no avail, we were against a wall with 226.096 as our best exit speed. It was time to put Gary back in the car for his licensing run. This time he leaned on it and got respectable results..199.852 -1/4, 205.870 - first mile, 216.240 - second mile, 220.155 - third mile and a 221.489 - exit speed.
Although, as usual we didn't do as well as I had hoped, Speedweek 2001 was a good year for us. We made fourteen runs, the majority were over 220 MPH, Gary got his "A" licensing and Barry, with nine passes, got comfortable in the car.
I still am working on getting the cooling system to do a better job, the engine is still much too hot on most runs. We replaced fuel pump with a new one, it appears that it may not have been delivering enough fuel since we couldn't get the plugs to show any color. After leak checking the engine when we got home, we found #4 and #5 exhaust valves were leaking so we did a valve job. Hopefully with these changes we can find the 5 MPH we need to reclaim the record at the "World Of Speed" 9/21-24/01. I will recap that meet later this month.
Last Updated: 09/09/2010