Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First track session sort of a bust...

I had planned everything so that I would arrive at St-Eustache well before 5:00 pm so that my car would be 100% ready for the first session on track. It was clearly going to be raining all evening, so I swapped the tires on the Civic for some street tires with lots of tread before heading out.  The drive was uneventful, although I did smell something bad on the highway, like plastic melting. The smell disappeared after a couple of minutes and the car was still running.When I arrived in St-Eustache, I bought a new passenger side wiper, as my old one was starting to tear. I had to make one final stop to fill up with gas. As I tried to leave the gas station, the car would not start. I had left the headlights on while gassing up, so I figured my battery must have weakened over the winter. I tried to use a little push and gravity to bump start the car, but failed. I asked a friendly-looking guy to give me a little push, but I again failed to bump start. I then realized the key was in the wrong position and we finally succeeded on the next try. I drove to the track and still had plenty of time to get the car ready. 

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The Civic, ready for action (sort of)
I left the engine running to charge the battery. When I tried to move the car to the pit lane, it stalled as soon as I depressed the clutch and would not start again. I popped the hood and saw that the alternator cable end had snapped off (and the sheath had partially melted against the header, hence the smell). By then, Marc had arrived and he helped me temporarily reattach the alternator cable and we bump started the car again. By this time, the first 20-minute session was half over. Still, I belted up and headed out. I took it easy on the wet track as it was my first time out this year and my first time in the rain in a long time. After a couple of laps, all seemed good, and although I was driving conservatively, I was slowly catching the Civic and 911 that were up ahead of me. After 3 or 4 laps, the engine started sounding a bit rough, and Marc black-flagged me, as he had heard it too. I came in after 5 laps and parked the car. Marc suspected it was running on 3 cylinders, and I was not sure if it was that or a misfire. At least I had managed to see that the water temperature remained stable and the handling of the car seemed fine. I decided to drive the car back to Pat’s and take the bus home from there. I called him on the way and he suggested I first try to spray some WD-40 on the spark plug wires, as we had not installed new ones. I stopped at a Canadian Tire and bought some Gunk Wire Dryer and sprayed the stuff all over the wires. There was no change. I drove home and tried a different set of used wires, but there was still no change. I pulled off the distributor cap, and all looked normal. I was about to pull each spark plug individually, but a neighbour complained about the sound of my “tests”, so I called it quits. I will drive the car to Pat’s tomorrow morning, and I hope it’s just something minor, like an injector or a bad kill switch or something. All in all, it wasn’t a total disaster, as there was only so much data I could gather in the rain. Also, I at least managed to get home under my own power, and early enough to give Jules his bath. So, to be continued…

P.S.: best lap time so far: 1:15.39 (rain)

Cool cars spotted:
Bentley Arnage Black Label
Ferrari 458
Ferrari F430
Jaguar XKR-S
Nissan Pulsar GTi-R
Alfa Romeo Sypder Graduate
Maserati Spyder (1990's)
Porsche 997 GT3
Porsche 991 Turbo S
Porsche 964 RS America
Lamborghini Aventador
Aston Martin V8 Vantage

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The inspiration and the inspired...

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Aventador at the Mount Royal Lookout
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Rare Alfa Spyder Graduate
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Also rare: Japanese market Nissan Pulsar GTi-R

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