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2007 Season 

El Mirage - May         Speedweek     World of Speed     World Finals 
 El Mirage - November

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El Mirage November 10 & 11 '07

As the season winds down, I reflect on the year as one I don’t want to repeat. I began the year with a total left knee replacement, which went well, but none the less is a bit demobilizing for a while. We went to the May El Mirage Meet with positive results but no record. Then in August, after a bit of fun we broke a rod, In September, we burned a piston, repaired it and then broke another rod. We came home from the World Finals with a running engine, but our  performance was still lacking. Our Bonneville season had ended with mix results, but educational none the less. 

I had been nursing a back problem for a couple of months, finally had a MRI after the World Finals, (can’t let these things interfere with racing) . I was scheduled to see a back surgeon on the 15th of October for an evaluation and ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery. So this left the preparation of the racecar to the boys. We had decided to disassemble the engine and install a couple of sleeves to repair the damage to the lower #2 & #3 cylinders from the Speedweek blowup. We got the engine back from the machine shop on Tuesday the 6th. Although I was not supposed to lift anything of weight, I did put in a couple of 12 hour days helping to get the engine together. Exhausting, but worth it! 

We made our yearly November trip to El Mirage without negative incidents. Since my back surgery, I have been grounded as a driver, so the boys, Jeff & Barry drove me to the lakes. We made one run on Saturday @ 205.974 mph, Barry was the driver. Short of our goal, but we got some good data. The fuel pressure we have been fighting appears to be cured and the tune-up was close...average EGTs at the top end of the run was 1080 deg. I think it is safe to apply the nitrous now, if we chose. I still believe that we should be able to top the record of 211.085 mph without using the nitrous. It will just take a bit more of tweaking of the tune-up.  

We were running a 3.18 gear on Saturday, which registered 8400 rpm for the 206 mph run. Obviously there was a little tire slippage. We should have been at 212 @ 8400. Expecting over 8500 rpm in high gear to top the record may be too adventurous so I decided to change to a 2.95 gear for the next run. This will put us at about 8000 rpm for the record with the same tire slippage. We left the tune-up as it was for another run. 

By the time the first round of runs was completed, the officials decided to shut down for the day and move the course. We went back to our motel in Lancaster and hoped for good conditions for Sunday. When we arrived on the lakebed Sunday morning, the wind brisk out of the north-northeast. The meet was on hold. As the morning progressed, things didn’t get any better. The wind had shifted to coming from the west (El Mirage HP) but lots of dust was in the air. At 10:30 AM Jim Lattin announced the meet was called due to wind and low visibility. 

A 1200-mile roundtrip for one run was disappointing, but I considered it worthwhile. We feel that the information gained will be useful for next season. It is my hope that the SCTA will start the season again in 2008 with a Two-day May Meet. If they do, I plan to be there.

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World Finals ‘07 

Just when you think that it can’t get worse, you find that it wasn’t that bad after all! 

Today, October 16, 2007, I am writing this from a hospital room. A couple of months ago, I experienced lower back pain, (not an uncommon problem for many of us), and my right leg was hurting and weak. I made four visits to a chiropractor for adjustments, but being too busy with the racecar engine failures, I chose to ignore the warning signs. At any rate, I had a herniated disc and yesterday had emergency surgery to correct it and remove a blood clot. I am doing well, but it will be necessary to slow down a bit. It will to be difficult not to go about life as I have in the past, but it appears that the younger, more pliable ones must do the heavy work from here forward.  

Losing my engine builder to cancer in 2004 was a blow, but I continued to use his shop for my machine work. They are good people and build lots of engines; I won’t place blame on them for all my engine problems, however, each of the last two engines that Randy built accumulated more than 200 miles at full throttle without problems. Since rebuilding at the end of 2004, I have had four bearing failures; obviously, this wasn’t working for me so we did choose another shop to do our machine work. I also brought Jim Eddy to the team. He had worked with me since the mid-seventies, Jim closed his engine shop in 2003, but like most “gear heads” loves Bonneville and jumped at the chance to be involved again. Although he no longer has the equipment, he has the expertise in areas where I am lacking. This should improve our performance eventually. It seems that one of our problems was that the dry sump system, although we had cleaned it carefully, was retaining debris that was being circulated through the system.  

On Wednesday of the meet, I made the first pass, going the 3-mile to gather data. It was running 230 MPH at that point in the course, which would translate to 240+ MPH if I had taken it all the way. Barry made the second run and at about the 3 ½ mile he was getting smoke into the cockpit, which caused him to turn to the center. He was a bit gun-shy since he was the one driving on the previous two rod failures. (We found that it was just oil getting on the headers.) We checked the bearings as a precaution and found some bearings that debris had passed through, so we replace the rod bearings before our third and last run.  

I believe we are sneaking up on our problems. I removed a nitrous bottle that was requiring a 45-degree, fitting at the tank suction. We now have a straight fitting on both ends of the suction. I also removed the Vapor Separator System. (I intend to reinstall it when once I get it figured out) It is possible that the electric transfer pump was also affected by the 45-degree fitting, it is certain that there was not  adequate fuel being delivered in high gear. Basically, we are fighting the same low fuel pressure problem that we had experienced before installing the system. 

 Since the blowup Speedweek, we have a different motor. I had to replace the camshaft, which is a bit bigger and we are using less cam retard because of valve to piston clearance. Just to be safe, we started with 37 degrees ignition advance; we had been running 42 BTDC before breaking the rods Speedweek. I tried advancing the timing to 40 BTDC for the second run and it slowed down. I am not sure exactly what that means, but the engine is definitely responding differently.

The engine is completely apart again, we are putting the forged crankshaft back in the engine after its being repaired from the World of Speed blowup. No doubt, it has been compromised, but is still a better choice than the stock crankshaft we installed for the World Finals. We  have replaced the dry sump oil pump which was weak before this season, but was damaged severely during the two rod failures this year. We will do whatever Jim thinks is needed to bring the rest of the engine back to good condition. Hopefully we can end the season with some good runs at the lakes next month. Unfortunately, I can’t do much in the preparation except as a consultant. It is going to be difficult not to get into the fray with both feet. It is good that the last couple of years, the boys have stepped in and do much of the heavy stuff anyway.  

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World of Speed ‘07 

Bryant Racing was still fighting “Salt Gremlins” at the World of Speed. After the disastrous Speedweek, we rebuilt the engine and thought that we had rid ourselves of the performance problems. As it turned out, our troubles were still with us. With the three-week turn-a-round, we were really pressed to get the engine repaired and race ready. To complicate matters, Discover Channel had chosen our team to cover for the meet so we were hoping for excellent performance. The plan was for me to make a checkout pass and then give Mary West a shot at the record. 

Best-laid plans often go sour! My first pass resulted in a holed piston. (Some kind of a problem with the Vapor Separator System, it failed to delivery the proper fuel pressure in top gear) We quickly disassembled the engine to replace the piston, only to find that the crankshaft bearings going away, also. Dan was still in Redding so I called him and he was able to gather the necessary parts to make our needed repairs. 

Making this kind of repair on the salt is less than ideal, but we cleaned things up as best we could. Obviously, it wasn’t good enough! The next run we spun #1 rod bearing breaking #1 and #2 rods, the second rod failure this season. The Discover Channel Crew did not get to film great performance, but rather learned just how difficult it can be, and how many things can go wrong in pursuit of a record.

We are making repairs again and looking forward to the World Finals. We have been fighting fuel pressure problems for some time, which has accounted for the poor performance, but this is the fourth bearing failure since we refreshed the engine at the end of 2004. I feel it may be time to look to another machine shop.

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Speedweek – August 11-16, 2007

 It is 4 PM on Wednesday August 22nd and I have the truck, trailer and car clean up, the engine out of the car and disassembled, needed parts ordered, and should be cleaning up what is left of my engine, but it is just too hot (101F) so I will work on getting the report put together for our Speedweek.

 This year started out much the same as years past, but ended rather abruptly on Thursday the 16th. As most of you reading this report know, I have experienced fuel delivery problems the last two years and finally cornered the problem at the lakes meet in November '06.  Although the installation of the new Kinsler Vapor Separator System  solved our current problem, I was to find out just before our engine disintegrated that its design does not fit our type of racing. I haven’t yet talked to Kinsler about this, but it appears that the compensator valve that is used to overcome the pressure at the suction was dropping our pressure at the barrel valve by approx. 20 psi. 

We had started the week monitoring the fuel pressure at the fuel pump and I was getting the pressures that I was looking for, but our power was down, especially in high gear.  We came to the salt with a 2.57 gear (one step up from the gear we previously ran). On the first run, #2 cylinder was dead in high gear. The plugs were old, so we put in a fresh set and made our second pass. The cylinder was dead on this run also. After checking plug wire and distributor and finding no fault, we pulled the scoop and air box to get a good check on the nozzles. #2 nozzle was almost completely plugged with debris, probably from a new line I had made from the pump to the barrel valve. 

Even after correcting the dead hole, I made another run. I had trouble with the shifter and ended up making a high gear only run. There certainly was not enough hp for that. Since I was having brain fade, I decided to let my grandson, Tim take a ride.  A 231+ mph exit speed was our best run so far, but it was decided that we just couldn’t pull the gear so we changed to the 2.63 that we had run in the high 240s with in 2004. I made another pass and netted a  234.686 mph exit speed. The gear change had not helped that much. We weren’t making much progress, so I put my brother, Gary in the car. He hadn’t driven since 2004 and had a few problems with the shifting, etc. and ran 209+. 

We decided to do a leakage test on the engine and found the head gasket leaking between #3 & #5 cylinders. We fixed the problem and were sure that the next run would be in the 240s. We had made a couple of changes to our computer monitoring. First, we changed the oil pressure monitor to the Vapor Canister to see what pressure we were actually running there. Second, we moved the fuel pressure connection from the injector pump to the barrel valve side of the compensator valve. My son, Barry made the next pass. Although we pushed the computer set button, we got no readings because we neglected to turn the computer switch on. Barry posted our best run @ 235.481 mph, far short of what we had expected. The next run Barry was in he seat again, everything was turned on and the computer set, but at about 190 mph in high gear we spun #3 & #4 rod bearings. This resulted in a lot of broken parts, but we did get useful information about the fuel pressures. 

As I said earlier, the fuel pressure on the nozzle side of the compensator valve was down, 70 psi @ 8500 in second gear. On a previous run with the same jet, the pressure, at the pump,  was 91 psi @ 8500. A deficit of 21-psi.  We are rebuilding for the World  of Speed. It appears that our blowup was the result of too much alcohol in the oil. Obviously, I should have changed it, but my tunnel vision focused on the performance problems caused me to neglect the maintenance. Sometime it seems that I haven’t learn much in the fifty years doing this. However, this was a very expensive lesson, and in the future I will remember to change the oil every three or four runs! 

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El Mirage – May 5 & 6, 2007

  (Our first meet with the new paint -Click on picture for larger view)

Picture courtesy of

 After a few months to address the fuel delivery problems of the last two years, we have finally come to a conclusion of the matter. We proved to ourselves that the problem was caused by a 45 degree tube fitting in the suction at the fuel tank. At the November Meet ’06, I had turned the fuel tank 90 degrees counterclockwise so that a straight fitting could be used. This appeared to have corrected the problem, proving, to myself at least, that the 45 degree fitting was causing aeration of the fuel resulting in fuel pump cavitations. 

During the winter months, with time on my hands, I purchased a Vapor Separation Tank System from Kinsler and installed it on the car. This system allows pressurization of the injection pump suction. This should guarantee air free fuel pump suction and consistent quality of fuel delivery.

We got to test the system at the May 5th & 6th El Mirage Meet. Margaret and I spent Tuesday through Friday at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures and the boys met us in Lancaster Friday evening with the car. Unfortunately, through my tinkering with various components of the engine while preparing the car resulted in my getting the MSD Crank Pickup Wheel  incorrectly positioned when reinstalling it. I actually tried to check the timing while warming up the engine at the Lakes, but the mark was hard to see and crank triggers don’t move anyway, right…WRONG! We made our two runs on Saturday with 71 degrees BTDC timing. (161 mph & 181 mph respectively.) After our second run, with EGTs very high and the loss of a couple of spark plugs, jetted richer than we should have been, we decided that we had better find out where the timing was actually set. 

We worked on the car for a couple of hours before leaving the lakebed on Saturday and got things in proper order. Since we had to be out of the motel by 2 PM or incur additional charges, we were going to get only one chance to make a good run on Sunday. With the timing at 39 degrees BTDC, a fresh set of spark plugs, and a strong Northeast wind, coming at the car from about 10 o’clock, Barry left the line after setting there for about an hour. As it turned out, the engine was stone cold, ending the run at less than 150 deg. F, But the results were good. Barry ran 208.831 mph on a 211.085 mph record. If we had had this tuneup on Saturday the record would have surely fallen. A generous tail wind was with us all day and several records were set with an assist from the “El Mirage HP”. I don’t think many records were set on Sunday due to a strong cross to head wind. 

All in all, it was a good outing. Our fuel system is working well. We do have a strong car for August and I believe it is safe to use the nitrous now if we should have the desire. Only time will tell...

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