BRYANT FAMILY RACING
El Mirage '03 November
Recent rain on the Lake bed brought the 2003 racing season to a close. The El Mirage November 15th & 16th Meet was canceled due to water on the course.
We left Redding for the last meet on the salt for year 2003 on Monday at 3 PM We stopped at Lovelock NV for the night and continued on to Wendover on Tuesday morning arriving there at 12:30 PM mountain time.
Jeff and Barry had flown in catching a good tail wind and arriving about an hour earlier. We picked them up and went to lunch and then checked into our rooms before going to the Salt.
We had been fore warned about the water at the end of the road, but it still it was not a welcome sight. After going very slowly through the water for a mile or so we came to dry salt. Except for getting to and from the racing area, the water was not a problem.
We found a place in the pits, unloaded and proceeded to inspection. After the inspection was completed, we went back to Wendover for the night. Wednesday morning we arrived on the salt about 8 AM and prepared for the driver's meeting. We were told that the course was a bit rough, but it was dry. After the meeting all were encouraged to drive the course to check it out and familiarize ourselves with the turnouts.
The course did seem rough riding in the push truck, but surprisingly, it was not noticed in the race car. In my view, we had a great race course. Some of those that did not have suspension on their cars disagreed, however.
My first run was made at 10 AM on Wednesday and appeared to be a bit rich. The ¼ was 211.382, 1st mile @ 219.488, 2nd mile @ 233.417, 3rd mile @ 238.111 and a terminal of 239.243. At 1:20 PM we made the second run. This was more acceptable with a ¼ @ 216.241, 1st mile @ 223.782, 2nd mile @ 236.519, 3rd mile @ 241.004 and a terminal speed of 241.991. We accepted this as a qualifying run and went to impound.
Thursday morning we made our return run @ 9 AM. The ¼ was 219.654, 1st mile @ 226.187, 2nd mile @ 236.916, 3rd mile @ 241.041 and 242.167 terminal speed. After inspection we were granted a new D/FCC record @ 241.022 MPH.
It was now time to let the boys play! Jeff took the first ride with a ¼ @ 216.025, 1st mile @ 223.512, 2nd mile @ 236.068, 3rd mile @ 240.831 and a 241.660 terminal. His second run was slower with a ¼ @ 213.167, 1st mile @ 220.372, 2nd mile @ 233.178, 3 rd mile @ 237.214 and a 237.488 terminal. We had intended to richen the mixture for that run, but when we got our data out of the computer, we found tat the Exhaust Gas Temps were averaging above 1500 deg. F. from the 3 mile, ending the run with a 1554 average...definitely not richer.
We checked the fuel system, including removing and inspecting the fuel pump, but found nothing. During the night, I couldn't get this problem out of my mind. Next morning we decided that we had better check the select-a-jet box. I had installed the box on the firewall when we moved the engine forward at the end of 2001. To make the plumbing more compatible, I rotated the box 180 and somehow got the jets out of sequence. I thought that I had .097, but in reality it was a .103. After correcting the problem, Barry suited up for a ride. The car had been setting for quite a while so we thought it would be a good idea to warm the engine on the line before making the run. This was a mistake! When he dropped it into gear #2 cylinder went away. Still with basically a 264 cu in engine he posted a ¼ time of 203.098, 1st mile @ 207.636, 2nd mile @ 217.875, 3rd mile @ 223.901 and a terminal of 225.300.
His next run was.. ¼ @ 220.807, 1st mile @ 227.476, 2nd mile @ 238.176, 3rd mile @ 242.078 and a 243.162 Terminal. We put the car in impound again and went to town. Next morning his ¼ was 219.773, 1st mile @ 226.128, 2nd mile @ 236.005, 3rd mile @ 239.960 and terminal @ 241.333. His average was 241.019 on a 241.022 record, .003 MPH short. He brings home the fast ¼ and top time, but I still hold the record.
It is now time to put my grandson, Tim in the car for licensing. His first pass was ¼ 148.385 and 144.396 in the mile, 2nd run was ¼ 173.262 and 171.650 mile and the 3rd run which was suppose to be just under 200 MPH was a bit high with ¼ of 207.678 and the mile @ 204.732. He said he kept lifting, but it wasn't slowing down.
This has been a great year for us we have registered 90 miles on the car with relatively little problem, except for the near melt down on the first run when the water pump was not functioning. We still have one meet left at El Mirage where we will be attempting to get Barry in the "Dirty 2" Club.
Margaret and I got away from Redding at 4 PM on Wednesday the 17th heading for the Salt Flats. We stopped in Lovelock, NV for the night and arrived in Wendover about noon on Thursday. We went to the Wendover airport to pick up Barry and Jeff who arrived about a half hour after we did. After we had some lunch and checked in to our hotel rooms, we went out to the Salt to get settled in the pits and get the car inspected. John Beckett, our fierce competitor from North Carolina, had arrived on Wednesday with his new car and saved a spot next to him in the pits.
Dan, Shirley and Tim arrived late Thursday evening with their new toy, a bar stool to race in USFRA's Bar Stool Class. On Saturday Tim ran 39+ mph on the contraption. The bar stool consists of a stool on wheels, driven by an automotive starter and a 12 volt battery. The top speed for the class is around 43 mph. If you want more info on this, go to the USFRA web site of do a search on the net for bar stools.
I was the designated driver for this meet. The first time in a long while that I have driven in competition. The last few years, I have been content to make the first check out run of each meet and turn over the driving to the boys. We had arrived on the Salt with a wounded motor. The heads had been removed for surfacing to correct damage done at Speedweek on our first run when the engine overheated due to failure to turn on the water pump. (The water pump now comes on when the ignition is turned on!) While the heads were off, I failed to check the valves and ended up with the four center cylinders with 30-35 lbs. lower compression than the end cylinders due to leaking exhaust valves.
We were running (on gasoline) against our D/FCC record of 234.393 mph that Jeff set in 1999. I managed to qualify on my first run at 235.607 mph. The next morning I ran 216 plus failing to achieve the record.. We later found #4 spark plug was shorting out due to a broken porcelain making the run a seven cylinder pass. Later in the day I requalified at 238.823 mph. On Sunday morning the return run gave us an average of 237.149 mph.
After the record certification process was completed, my brother Gary took a ride and qualified the car again on the new record @ 237.876 mph. He declined to attempt a return run, so Barry took a ride. While running 230 mph, at the 4 mile, the transmission decide to give up. This ended another good week on the Salt.
Repairs to the car, changing the transmission and doing a valve job on the engine, are in process, readying it for the World Finals. We are looking forward to more "fun in the sun" on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats at the World Finals October 14th through 18th. If all works as planned, my grandson, Tim will be doing licensing on the 18th, getting ready for driving chores in 2004.
It seems that every year we leave for Speedweek with great expectations. This year was the same in that respect, but a bit different otherwise. I had to attend a seminar in Dallas, starting on Friday before the meet and continuing through Sunday. My wife, Margaret, and son, Dan, our designated driver for this meet, towed the race car to the Salt, got it inspected and setup the pit. My brother Gary was driving to the Salt from St. Louis. He had picked up his brother-in-law, Roger Palmer, in Western Nebraska for his first trip to the Salt. They met me at the Salt Lake Airport Sunday evening and transported me to Wendover.
Monday morning we went to the race course with plans to warm up the engine and get in line to make our first run at the Salt on the new engine that had run so well in November at El Mirage. Well, as often happens, things did not go as planned! When we attempted to start the engine, the starter would not work. We removed it from the engine, checked it out and tried it off the car. It worked fine. We reinstalled it and it engaged once and refused to work again. After a couple of hours messing with the thing, we decided that the best answer to our problem would be to go to town and try to get a new solenoid and/or another starter. A solenoid was not available, but I did find a starter ($262.00 with core charge). I purchased it with the agreement that I could return it if not needed. While I was in town, a fellow racer, Rex Svoboda, drove by the pits and saw the starter apart. He stopped and offered a solenoid to our cause. This repaired the problem and in an hour or so, we were ready to make a run.
Dan left the starting line and headed for the clocks. As we made our way to the return road to go pick him up, we heard the 1/4 time..197.103 mph and the 1st mile @ 205.553 mph. This isn't sounding real good! I am questioning whether those were our times, then the 2nd mile time comes over the CB..224.948 mph...3rd mile @ 234.320 mph with an exit of 236.790 mph. That's better!! We are qualified with the first run off the trailer. Believe me when I say, this has never happened to me before. We put the car in impound and did the necessary chores and called it a day.
Next morning, after warming the engine, we were removing the warm-up plugs and found lots of water in the cylinders. Not a good way to start the day. Obviously, we had to abort record runs and go to the pits for some serious evaluation and repairs. Dan had forgotten to turn the water pump on at the start of the run, resulting in a severe overheating of the engine. The computer didn't give us the data on that run either, so all we know is that the gauge was pegged at over 250 deg. Fahrenheit. Fortunately, no damage was found except the head gaskets were a bit crushed. We finished the repairs in time to get out of the pits, but not out of the staging lanes, before the 5 PM deadline. The car spent the night in the staging lane.
About 9 AM Wednesday morning we made our second qualifying run. This one was better...1/4 @ 211.948 mph, 1st mile @ 220.242 mph, 2nd mile @ 235.788 mph, and the 3rd mile @ 241.761 mph with an exit speed of 243.641 mph. Dan could make his return run at 220 mph and have the record and 200 MPH Club Membership. Of course, Dan is not one to play it safe. Next morning his back up run was even better than the qualifying run...1/4 @ 214.200 mph, 1st mile @ 222.446 mph, 2nd mile @ 238.241, and 3rd mile @ 244.108 mph with an exit of 245.581 mph. Average & new record, 242.934 MPH.
What a week we had! Our luck even extended past record runs. I haven't been in the car for about a year, so it seemed right for me to experience the new Horse Power we now have in the new engine. As we were pushing to the starting line, about 2.5 miles from the pits, Dan was steering the race car while I drove the push truck. He jerked the steering to miss a hole in the road and the steering arm broke. What a wonderful place for that to happen! Much more pleasing than at 200 mph plus on the race course. I don't think it would have created a serious situation since when the chute comes out the car will stop without steering input, but I do prefer to remain in control of the car.
At Speedweek we accomplished our mission. The Bryant Team now has five members, myself and three sons, Jeff, Dan, and Barry, and my brother Gary, in the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. Our next meet is coming up September 19th-22nd. As usual, we have a few things to do to the car before the meet, but the World of Speed promises to be a fun time as well.
PS: Monday 9/08/03
I did a leakage & compression check on the engine Friday and found that the head gaskets are leaking between the center cylinders on both sides of the engine. I now have the heads off and getting them ready to go to the machine shop for surfacing. Evidently the overheating on our first run did more damage than first thought. I am also doing some more work on the cooling system to try and curb this overheating situation. Only ten days until we are scheduled to leave for the World of Speed.
On the 12th of July, one of my Aunts in Southern California was celebrating her 90th Birthday. Since I want to attend and renew acquaintances with relatives that I hadn't seen in many years, and the party was not far from El Mirage, this was an opportunity to make another Lakes Meet to allowed Barry a second chance to get some speed in the "Dirt".
Margaret, Jeff, Barry and I arrived Lancaster Friday afternoon and continued to the lake bed to drop the car & trailer. Saturday morning we journeyed to La Habra, our hometown thirty five years ago, and visited familiar places including our last house there. Although Margaret and I had been back there several times since leaving Southern California, it was a walk down memory lane for all of us. About noon, we continued to Rancho Cucamunga for the Birthday Party.
Sunday morning, we arrived on the Lake Bed about 7:30 AM, got the car through inspection and waited our turn to make a pass. This time, Barry kept the pedal down and generated a 191.439 mph speed. On a second run, Barry put into gear too soon and the engine did not clean up and run well for a couple of hundred yards, enough lag to reduce the speed to 188+ mph.
Barry now has some confidence driving in the dirt. November will be the "acid test". We will have to wait and see what happens.
Coming off a very successful 2002 season, where we had accomplished our current goals, it seemed good to go to the first meet of the 2003 season and give Barry, our next "Dirty 2" Club candidate, an introduction to the dirt. Barry had been our primary driver since the 2000 season making numerous runs down the Salt at speeds above 220 MPH, finally setting the D/GCC record at 228.843 MPH, but he was to find that the dirt is a different challenge. Up to this point, he had not even used the parachute. At El Mirage, use of the chute is mandatory because of the limited shut off area and the congestion created by the multiple use the Lake Bed receives. At Bonneville we generally choose to just let the car decelerate with limited braking and clear the course without the use of the chute.
We arrived on the lake bed at 7:30 AM to make one or two runs which would allow Barry to get comfortable with the new arena that he would be performing in come November. We had not attended the driver's meeting, so while going through inspection, I posed a question about the "rookie line" since Barry had not driven in the dirt before. An adequate explanation of the process was offered, plus some comments about being careful not to exceed the record from the rookie line. It was not only frowned upon, but the record would not be allowed. Barry was also cautioned not to spin the car on his initial run.
Barry had arrived at the lakes with apprehension about what happens when the chute opens. Would he not be able to see because of too much dust in the car? What happens if it loses traction? Would he be able to recognize the end of the course? All these questions were good to keep in mind, but now he also had to worry about not going too fast and not spinning the car.
Barry got suited up, belted into the car and was finally was making his first run! With all these things going through his mind, at about 6000 RPMs in second gear the back end got loose, he came out of the throttle, short shifted and really never got back into the throttle. He finished the run with a 122+ MPH speed. We returned to the pits, repacked the chute and waited for our chance to make a second run. Unfortunately, the meet had been plagued numerous slow downs due to spins, broken parts and wind that kicked up the dust, so there were still cars that were waiting to make their first run when we left for home at about 3 PM.
Attending the meet was fruitful in that Barry knew a bit more about what to expect when he next runs in the dirt. During inspection there were a few things pointed out that will receive our attention before Speedweek. And, as always, it is good to see and visit with long time friends. At this point we are pondering whether to make a second trip to the Lakes in June. Time will decide that for us, I suppose.
Last Updated: 09/09/2010