Racing – Day 6

Today was a make it or break it day! There were still a few things in the Welker bag of tricks to pull out to see if anything would make a difference. And like other projects before this, the go to solution is…duct tape. Sure, why not? We’ve seen a lot of red neck ideas amongst the million dollar ones. What’s to say one is better than the other? 

This car is so aerodynamic to start with, it’s hard to add to that feature. They started by taping up any holes that may be causing drag and then cut some foam board and taped it completely over between the tank and the back axle. Yes, that black triangle just gives it that new and improved look I believe Andy was going for. At this point, give it a shot, it can’t hurt!

And the result is…..

168.895 – You’ve got to be kidding me! I know I kept saying that over and over. $10 worth of duct tape did more for this car this week than anything else did. Really all it tells me is that now we have to go home and make more modifications to the back of the car to get rid of all the drag that is apparently happening. That is what I see! And if you read the slip, this was going into a 6 mph headwind. He thinks he was doing roughly 173 when exiting but that doesn’t count for time. 

At this point of Speed Week, the racers are quickly exiting and the lines are really small. Since this run went well, Andy decided to try another one but running on the long course. They now combine all cars to one but he can only run the same short distance. Back to the pit to freshen up the duct tape and add a bit of a tail behind the axle and see it that does anything. 

We flat towed to the line this time hoping to push a bit quicker without having the trailer behind the truck. We basically got the car ready and got to the line right away. When we picked him up after his run, he noted why so many drivers had issues on that course. He said he was all over the course, the grooves in the salt tend to take you where they want to sometimes. They actually moved the long course this week due to issues and had a bunch of cars spin out on it. All due to the salt conditions. With all this, and a head wind, she still ran a 164.0. Not too bad considering the car, and the driver, is still in one piece!

He was thinking of doing another run tomorrow but after seeing how this course was, I think we will be smart and stop now. We can take her home in tact and be glad nothing went wrong. And all I’ll have to hear about is that she needs a bigger engine. Not that I haven’t heard it before. I’ll have to start a GoFundMe page to see if there are any suckers, er, I mean, sponsors that would like to donate any money to the cause. 

So, for today, we started to pack up and will finish tomorrow. I did keep forgetting to show my mode of transportation in the pits. The last time we were here I realized how big the pit area was. A lot of people bring four wheelers, bicycles or something so you aren’t walking. I had seen a motorized bicycle and thought it was pretty cool so this came in handy for checking things out this week. And it’s just really cool!​ No reason Andy should have ALL the fun.

​As for my quote, I’m not sure if it was today or yesterday since they have all run together at this point. I just remember looking at Cora and saying, “Stop licking your feet.” Can’t even imagine how salty they tasted but I guess it’s better that they were at least her own?

Racing – Day 5

Today was roughly the same schedule as yesterday. The morning line seemed a bit longer and it was around noon until he actually got to run. The modifications were slight this time, changing only the  gear set back to the fastest set so far, just trying to find that right combination that might get that extra power needed to give her some more horses under the hood. This time she ran 163.297. Still hanging around the same spot as the other runs but not coming up with anything special to make a big difference. So, back to the pits for some more tweaking.

I wanted to go over Andy’s safety equipment that he either wears or has on board. Most of which is required in the class that he runs, he added a bit to make himself feel more comfortable. He wears fireproof underwear, socks, what looks like long johns, a head sock and then his quilted pants and jacket. He also has a HANS device, this is worn behind your neck to protect your spine and keep you head from moving around too much. He also has special shoes, gloves and helmet. The car has two on board fire extinguishers, one with nozzles pointing on the engine the other with nozzles on the driver. There is a knob to pull above the steering wheel if they are needed. All of this is extremely important to have on board and I hope it never ever gets used. I’d rather it just looks nicer than ever getting tested out!

Back to today, the second run resulted in roughly the same outcome. The only change this time around was the fuel mixture. This run was 164.531 into a 6 mph headwind so we just can’t seem to catch a break. Where is the tail wind? And again, it was just so hot, everyone was starting to feel the effects. If you stand still for too long you start to feel as though you are burning, even through your clothing sometimes. It’s really pleasant, I recommend it to everyone!

As for the salt, if you haven’t read anything about it before, it’s not what you would expect. They have to groom any courses that are being raced on and the areas that the racers should use such as a pull off from the course. Any return roads, pits and areas you are okay to drive in, is groomed, otherwise, it looks like this.

This year it’s like little balls formed on top and yes, it’s hard. It is cold and moist to the touch. Not at all what you would expect. When it splatters on the vehicles, it dries very hard like this.

Yes, that is the running board of our truck. Imagine what the inside looks like. It just gets drug everywhere and will take forever to fully clean out of everything. 

The quote for today goes to Andy as he was opening a bag of Middlesworth BBQ chips we had brought with us. “It smells like home.” And those of you that live where I do will fully agree to that.

I would like to make a request that since tomorrow is our last day of racing that those that are following please reply to one of my posts. I am very curious to know who is following out there. I can see how many people but I can’t see who you are. We really appreciate all the support so a quick little comment with your name and city is all I’m asking for just so we can get an idea who is following. Thanks in advance.

Racing – Day 4

And so today, we did miss the first run. The boys went out early again and got in a much shorter line this morning. Things started to thin out today and will quickly do so tomorrow until Friday. Many teams don’t stay the whole time, a lot blow up engines or simply break things that can’t be fixed in the middle of a dry salt lake. Some just come to set records and leave as soon as they do, it really varies, especially depending how far you’ve come. If you’ve come a long way, such as us, you stick it out until the end and make good use of the time that will be forthcoming. Either way, I’m hoping the three hour lines are long gone.

The first run for today came in at 165.397. I feel like he’s trying to win a prize for the most runs with the closest times, if so, we are in the running for it. It was another clean run but as with so many of the other teams, it’s a head scratcher trying to come up with a solution to make it go faster. They’ve talked to many other teams that have run identical to what they have here now or even more horse power than what they have previously and they are ending up going slower. The thought is that the rolling resistance of the salt is different this time which is holding them back. Based on this theory, we may never know this year is she will go any faster but we’ll keep trying.

For the second run of the day, Andy decided to switch back to regular pump gas to see if it would make any difference. It worked okay before and he wanted to see if that would change the outcome in our favor this time. And the time was…..164.837. So, no. No difference to the pump gas from that expensive race gas! I told Cale we should take it home and use it in his pulling tractor and see how well it works. He might be the fastest one around!

By the time we were done with the second run, the short course we were on had no line and you could hot lap if your car was ready. That’s how it will start to get tomorrow as well and they will also shut down the rookie course. The heat is just taking a toll on everyone. Our pit neighbor didn’t even bother after his morning run. He said he really underestimated how hot, hot really was. It’s in the nineties with low humidity but so many days of it is taking a toll on the vehicles and the crew. 

On that note, what do you do with a toddler on the salt? I’d have to say this was probably a first at Speed Week. Why not, we brought everything else! I certainly think she’s been having a good time with everyone. 

As for the quote of the day, I am seeing a trend starting. Anytime a vehicle is started, someone should be inside in case something would happen. Brock has been hopping in the tank when this needs to be done. Apparently he got in it today, “Man, it really stinks in here. Oh, wait, I think that’s me.” I told you it was hot!

Racing – Day 3

I thought I was going to miss it today! The boys got in line and didn’t have the normal four hour wait this morning. We got to the starting line right before she made her first pass of the day. That little bug was buzzing along and got us there just in time to throw Cora into the truck and off we went. I really thought we weren’t going to make it. 

This time it all went right! She ran 165.319 which is just over the 164.9 she ran back in 2012 when we were here. Not too bad but I know we are all hoping there is more in there. Andy felt that it was still running rich and wanted to put to make some minor adjustments before making another attempt. 

Don’t let that temperature fool you. It started out overcast and was wonderful when the sun was not glaring right on you but that soon changed. It got in the low nineties with about 12% humidity which makes everything dry out. We even had zip ties on the trailer busting because they had gotten so brittle. This place is just its own beast in which things can change in an instant. In fact, they did close the courses early today due to sudden wind that picked up. They announced about 24 mph winds which doesn’t work well with an event like this. We were glad we had gotten the second run in before this started and even happier about our improved flat canopy. We saw many a pop up tent start rolling away and crews holding onto tent poles to keep them from flying. One thing we did not worry about!

After making the necessary adjustments, they got back in line again and waited a few more hours for the second run of the day. And…..she ran 165.1. Not the direction I wanted him to go! But again, there are still tweaks to be done. The time through the first mile and the two and a quarter mile were faster, it’s the overall speed that is the same. A lot of the tweaking is due to the density altitude which is the equivalent of 7,000 feet. In this environment, the hotter the day gets, the more horse power you loose. That is why it’s nice to try and get an early run in before it gets so hot. 

They’ve changed the gear set to a slightly lower ratio hoping to give it more power and pull to a faster speed. They also checked a few other things and will roll out again tomorrow morning. My thought is to just put a woman behind the wheel and I’m guessing you’d get a bit more out of her!

In reference to the quote today, is this getting to a point when you know you’ve spent too much time with the same people? I got some sort of fluid on my pants in our trailer and Steve so graciously offers, “Let me smell it, I have good sniffer.” And oddly enough, I did. The smell has yet to be identified.

And this is just because it’s great. This is the Beetle that was resurrected by Steve and the boys just for this trip to yack around in. We’ve found it extremely useful and it’s also finding itself frequently being photographed. Everyone just loves a bug!​

Racing – Day 2

Well….today was a day of mixed emotions. The boys got up early and were on the salt by 6:30, as many others are since you can start arriving at 6:00. They did what they needed to at the pit and hauled the car to the starting line which was around 9:00. We are running on what they call the “short course.” This consists of three miles under power and a two mile shut down. One other course is for rookies and the other is the “long course” which is five miles under power and a three mile shut down.

The wait was about three hours today to get to the starting line. They always have two lines ready for the same course and alternate them so there is always someone ready in the event a vehicle has issues on the line. As we were up, someone spun out on the course in front of us. This causes a delay, especially if they have to sweep the course for debris, and they did. We waited for about a half of an hour. Luckily Andy had purchased a cool shirt which is basically like wearing an air conditioned shirt. I assure you, he was much cooler than anyone else!

​All that time and she went down the track for about 30 seconds. He said it just turned off as if you would have pulled a key out. So, back to the pits for a diagnosis. This is when you can’t decide if you should be worried or wait to see what they find out. I rolled with it. I still figure it’s better than something falling apart or burning up and with two engineers, I was confident they would figure it out. And after checking a bunch of stuff I won’t bore you with, they did.

Apparently a bolt that mounts the fuel pump came loose and allowed it to disengage from what turns it. This meant the fuel was instantly shut off from getting to the engine and explained why it suddenly turned off. It even made sense to me, no fuel = no go! At this point in the day, we knew there wasn’t enough time to get in line again. It was so hot that you really didn’t want to move anyway, at least I didn’t want to. 

That was the part of the day that makes you sad since you’ve come this far and basically lost a run. But, on the other hand, we are good to go for tomorrow! The better part of the day came when we were asked to be part of a belly tank photo shoot for Roadkill magazine. Now, the tv version of this is an extreme favorite of the Welker boys so I believe it made up for the earlier part of the day. Roadkill is a YouTube show done by two guys that work for Hot Rod Magazine. They do various odd car challenges such as racing at the Salt Flats to driving cars from a junk yard across the country. They recently started their own magazine so I’m hoping this actually gets in it. They got a nice grouping of tanks together, something you just don’t see too much.

So, back in line tomorrow to see what happens and hopefully the issue has been resolved with this fix. The other good thing about today is that the honey bucket got emptied…right when Cora and I were eating lunch. Which leads me to today’s quote, “I feel like I’m chewing on poop!” And yes, momentarily, it really did.

Racing – Day 1

Today began the first day of racing, something long anticipated by so many that have come from all over the world just to race against time. To go over the goal of those that race, you don’t win any money nor do you win any prestigious awards. It becomes a drug that can only be acquired at a few choice places. Some people buy their vehicles and just race them whereas others, ourselves included, have built them from the ground up and know every inch of their vehicle. The event is not sponsored by anyone so everyone feels as though they are on the same playing field. You have everyone here from backyard builds to million dollar custom creations. Everybody just hopes that you do good no matter what kind of vehicle you are running or what class you are in. 

I have noticed again that this is definitely a mans sport. And an “older” one at that. Our small group of seven probably holds the highest majority of minorities on the salt. I’d say there are no other two year olds for sure and kids in general are even hard to come by, same as the ladies. I’m totally guessing but the average age has to be at least 65 but who else has the time and money to do this? I guess we’ll have to find something else to do by then since we are doing it at such a young age.

The morning started with a drivers meeting where they go over all the rules and regulations. Very important that all essential crew and drivers attend. They will tell you about the courses and where the cars turn off when they are done, etc. 

After the meeting, it’s time to get in line. This ended up being about a four hour wait. The cars seemed to be going out slow today, not sure why. I will say, that canopy on the trailer worked great to sit under and stay in the shade.

She got going really well and took off like she was meant to do. Now, here is the technical part I can only relay to you. Because we were running race gas for the first time, we decided to play it safe on the fuel mixture and ended up being way too rich. This means that there is too much fuel going into the engine which sacrifices power and it won’t reach the proper rpm’s. He ended up hitting 158 on the first run which isn’t horrible knowing this was kind of a test run using this new fuel. It’s an easy fix to get her back to the line tomorrow. As long as nothing broke, I’m happy with it! And Cora was happy when she heard her name being announced on the radio as part of the pit crew. I just have to laugh because the one announcer just won’t say the name of the car when it goes for a run. What’s that about?

As for my quote, I really didn’t hear anything worthy. I did have one but it wasn’t family friendly so I’ll skip it and try for two tomorrow.

Getting Geared Up

Today proved to be long and tiring even though racing doesn’t start until tomorrow. Set up continued with the addition of the newly constructed flat canopy. 

The last time we were here we had regular canopies with peaks and learned quickly why they aren’t the best. A wind stormed  arose and we didn’t know to remove the canopies. We all grabbed a pole and held on as tight as we could for quite some time. That was enough of a lesson for an engineer not to come back with that same equipment. We will remove the tarp each night like most pits do but can leave the frame in place. Which is a good thing because that’s not an easy up for sure! Not that I helped put it up but it did take them a while.

Another change this year is the towing of the car upon finishing a run. We had flat towed it behind the truck before but someone has to sit in it and it’s very slow that way. This year we added this trailer which the car will get towed around on instead. The canopy was added after we got here and will aid in keeping the car cool after each run. 

We got water for the radiator and racing fuel for in the tank. Which, at $15.00 a gallon, was the cheapest they were selling! I’m told it doesn’t have any ethanol in it and is very specialized in many other ways which I know nothing about so I won’t even pretend to try to explain it. 

The car did get started and seemed to run good. I think she’s just ready to stretch her legs again since she’s been couped up for so long.​ She sounds good!

​There is a driver meeting tomorrow morning at 9:00 and then racing will begin. As suspected, there are a lot of cars and motorcycles here so we are anticipating long lines and possibly only one run tomorrow. 

The weather is pretty warm, low to mid nineties but without any humidity which is something we aren’t used to. It’s not bad if you stay in the shade, that’s why you see so many big hats. People make their own shade. The sun is hot on your direct skin so a lot of people just wear pants and long sleeves. It just depends what you can put up with.

Sad to say I didn’t really get a great quote today since I was mostly watching a toddler. I was told that when they were assembling the canopy, there are different colored marks on them so they could match them up easily and Cale said in reference to them that,”We got them out of different spray cans!” Really???