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2008 Season  

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

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El Mirage - November

#216 D/CC did not appear at the November meet as usual. The following story attempts to put this in prospective appears on the 2009 page....

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World of Speed September 16-20, 2008

On Monday September 15th, at 9:30 AM, Margaret, Barry and I left Redding CA for the Bonneville Salt Flats to attend the World of Speed. This was the Utah Salt Flat Racer’s 22nd Annual Event. The “Tom Thumb Special” has competed at each of these events, the only entry that can make that claim. We particularly enjoy these events since they are a bit less hurried and the atmosphere of fewer entries is reminiscent of earlier SCTA Meets that I have attended since 1957. It is not that I don’t enjoy the current SCTA-BNI Meets, I would not miss any event on the salt purposely and Speedweek will always be the important event because of its place in salt racing history. However, the size of the meet has required changes that diminish the overall experience of the less formal events of the past. Having said that, I want to give praise to all those volunteers and paid staff who labor and sacrifice to make the events happen. Many of these people are competitors as well and having done this in the past, I know what it takes to perform your duties and try to run a car as well. 

We stopped in Elko, NV Monday night for some much needed rest and arrived on the salt about 10 AM Tuesday morning. After selecting a pit site and unloading the car we got in line for inspection. Our son Jeff, and Jim Eddy, a good friend that has been involved with our engine program since the mid-seventies, arrived in Wendover by air about 12:30 PM. After the car was through inspection we joined them in town. 

Since our engine problems at Speedweek necessitated a major overhaul, with Jim’s help we rounded up the needed parts and put together what seemed to be good HP for the World of Speed. I took the first ride on Wednesday, using a conservative tuneup and posted respectable times, ¼ mile @ 213.309 mph, a 220.726 mph 1st mile, a 233.967 mph 2nd mile, a 239.647 mph 3rd mile and a 241.261 mph exit speed. We were short of qualifying on our 244.260 mph record, but nonetheless a good run. 

Thursday, I put Barry in the driver’s seat and began tuning. On my run, I had experienced a strong fuel odor at the end of the pass and although the computer readings indicated higher than normal water and exhaust temperatures, I chose a .004 leaner jet, remaining conservative on the timing. Barry recorded a 217.389 mph ¼, a 224.548 mph 1st mile, a 236.397 mph 2nd mile, a 241.488 mph 3rd mile and an exit of 242.859 mph, also complaining of strong fuel odor toward the end of the run. The speeds were better so I leaned it another .006 and the next run was a 217.389 mph ¼, a 223.588 mph 1st mile, a 234.263 mph 2nd mile, a 239.263 mph 3rd mile and an exit of 240.663 mph. The speeds were lower, so I determined that we were definitely too lean. I richened the mixture .004 and chose to advance the timing by 2 degrees. This produced the best ¼ speed since 2004 @ 219.343 mph, a 225.432 mph 1st mile, a 236.754 mph 2nd mile, a 241.495 mph 3rd mile and an exit of 243.054 mph. We are headed the right direction now, but engine and exhaust temperatures are still too high. We need to go richer yet, but we thought it wise to take a look at the valve adjustment at this time. It was a good decision since we found an exhaust rocker damaged to the point that we could not proceed without replacement. Unfortunately, we did not have spare parts and the rockers are specialized so we were through for this meet. 

It was disappointing for our chase to end this way, but it was fortunate that we didn’t do major damage. We will make repairs and hope for a World Finals Meet to continue our quest for speed. We had hopes of putting Mary West in the car for this meet, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, we can do that at the Finals. She has been patiently waiting for us to get it back to record speeds since her licensing in 2006. 

Overall, it was a great meet. Bill “Sparky” Smith and Seth Hammond were battling in AA/GL both setting records @ 305.277 mph and 311.853 mph. A first timer, Scott Hunter was there with the Jim Johnson “Great Grape” Studebaker that he has recently acquired and did his licensing with a top speed of  204.881 mph. McDonald-Pitts finally posted a record over 300 mph @ 308.983 mph in their Firebird. Lots more…go to for the complete story.

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Speedweek 2008

This has been a different kind of year for us. We went to the May Lakes Meet and came home with some good data, but no record. After checking over the engine, we were basically ready for Speedweek so no thrashing needed this year. There were a few odds and ends to take up my time, but nothing of a critical nature so I was able to relax a bit. 

Margaret and I left for the salt at 7 AM Saturday the 16th stopping overnight in Elko and getting to the salt at about 9 AM Sunday. After a partial pit setup and getting the fire bottles certified, we went to Wendover to pick up Jeff and Barry who flew in from Red Bluff CA. That is a better way to travel, but Dad and Mom still get to tow for 12 hours. Something is wrong with this picture!

We didn’t get the car ready for inspection on Sunday before they closed the line, but it worked out well since the line was much shorter on Monday morning. We got through inspection about noon and readied the car for its first run. I took the first ride, running a 200.005mph ¼, a 207.239mph 1st mile and shut down just after the 3 mile when the oil light came on. This was a very sad moment since last year we had two crankshaft failures (broken rods). After changing the oil, checking the Oberg Oil Filter and finding it to be clean and getting everything back together, I found the wire to the oil pressure light switch had been captured by the valve cover which eventually grounded causing the light to come on. Oh Happy Day! A stupid thing to do, but I have done worse. 

Since I don’t really cherish driving as I once did, I chose to let Barry do the driving for the rest of the week. He enjoys driving and does a great job of feeling what the car is doing and responding appropriately. His first run Tuesday resulted in a 212.934mph ¼ mile, 219.758mph 1st mile, a 232.701mph 2nd mile, a 238.358mph 3rd mile and an exit of 239.646mph. I had chosen what I thought was a rich jet, but the engine temp was 190+ which was above what I like to see with alky. During the check over in the pits, we found that we had collect debris in the nozzle screens. We cleaned them and richened a step for the next run. This run was to be the best of the meet for us. A 211.002mph ¼, 218.323mph 1st mile, a 233.418mph 2nd mile, a 240.775mph 3rd mile and a 242.695mph exit speed. Engine temp was again high 205 F. Again we found debris in the nozzle screens. We cleaned them again and this time disassembled the fuel filter, cleaned it and flushed the system from there forward with gasoline. 

I upped the jet again by .002 and Barry went on his fourth run. The speeds were down a bit, 212.380mph ¼, 218.943mph 1st mile, 231.815mph 2nd mile, 238.031mph 3rd mile and 239.939mph exit, still a good run. We haven’t run this well since 2004 so it is not that discouraging. We have been running less ignition timing (34 BTDC as opposed to the 39 BTDC) since being on the dyno in April. The quarter times have been lower than we ran in 2004. Our best in 2004 was 223mph and this year 212mph was the best. I believe that we could qualify if the ¼ times were 5 or 6 MPH better. Thinking that more timing would achieve that goal, I advanced to 38 BTDC. On the next run Barry shut off in the quarter after losing #4 cylinder. It now appears to be too rich! #2 and #4 plugs were wet. We leaned it a bit and made another attempt. At about 8000 rpm in second gear the engine abruptly quit. Back in the pits it was found that the camshaft was no longer turning. We decided that it was unlikely that we could make the needed repairs on the salt, so we broke camp and headed home Friday AM. 

After pulling the engine and making a partial teardown, we know this…there is a broken roller lifter, (apparently because of a sloppy lifter bore, this bore was damaged in our blowup during the 2007 Speedweek, obviously our repair was not sufficient.)  a bruised camshaft, a broken pushrod, two bent pushrods, and the lifter tie-bar found its way to the front cover exploding the timing chain, and a few bent valves. I don’t know how many since the heads have not yet been disassembled. It looks like a complete teardown is in order to assure that we have no hidden problems to plague us in September. 

All in all, we had a great week. We enjoyed being together as a family, (our sons, Jeff and Barry, my brother Gary who has been at every Speedweek since 1986 and nephew Ron who returned for the first time since 1990), seeing many of our longtime friends, and enjoying the atmosphere of just being on the salt. This marked my 51st year since first coming to the salt in 1957. I missed 1968 and 69, but otherwise have made all the meets since. Of course we would liked to have gone faster, but that will come. It was good not to have crankshaft problems and it appears that the fuel system is functioning as designed once again. We have a bit of work to do and then, weather permitting, more testing at the World of Speed.

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El Mirage, May ‘08 

As the 2008 Racing Season begins, looking back, I realize that it marks my 53rd year in this crazy endeavor. When it all started, little did I know the effect it would have on my life. There are many wonderful people I cherish as my friends, several that have gone on to the top of the sport, some that have given their lives in the pursuit, others have displayed their humility in accepting the failure to achieve their dreams. From these friends, I have learned to accept the good times and the not so good times, that records are set to be broken and that no one person has all the answers. This experience has taught me two things”One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints.” and  “If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert.” 

My sons Jeff and Barry and I went to the opening meet at El Mirage this past weekend. Our goal was the same as the last two years, to put Barry in the “Dirty Two” Club. We made three runs during the two-day meet. For the first pass, we ran the engine setup as dynoed giving us 202.473 MPH. According to the EGT’s, it appeared to be a bit lean so for the second run, I installed a step richer jet. Barry messed up on the shifting, which ate up too much course, and we ran 195.214 MPH, but the EGT’s looked better. Our other problem was that the rpm/speeds were not lining up with my gear charts. Our RPM’s were in the mid to high 7000 range and the engine likes to run in the mid 8000’s. As it turned out, we had put a step higher gear in the car in November '07 and didn’t get to make a second run, so I had no record of the change in the computer.  

I had five gallons of nitro left over from the 60’s that I have been aching to use. Having talked to a few about what to expect from a 10% mix and I decided that rather than go down a gear for the third run, I would give it a try. Well, it smelled good…sounded a bit crisper, but the results were not that encouraging. We left the lakebed with our goal in unchanged, running only 203.653 MPH. Barry will have to wait until November to try again.  

It was a great weekend; I visited with several long-time friends, spent quality time with my sons and found the engine to be sound, apparently ready for Speedweek. I have a few more chores to do with the car, but basically it is ready.

I received an email this morning, with pictures attached, discussing the plans for repairs to the salt. To my surprise, the salt is already dry and looks GREAT! Hope to see you there in August. 

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Last Updated: 09/09/2010