Thursday, August 28, 2008

A quick word about our sponsors...

How do all!

I just wanted to give another quick thank you to all our sponsors this year for helping us in our inaugural season!

TNT Mechanical - Heating and Air Conditioning

Speedway Performance - Autobody and Repair

Papa Murphy's Pizza of Monroe - Mmm, Mmm Good!

Melinda - One of the coolest Women we know!

Visual Ventures - Design and Branding Services

Fire Down Graphics - Race Car Graphics and Design

And all of our friends and family who have pitched in here and there to keep us coming out to the races.

Our sponsors are very important to us and we here at Team LaCross really do hope that you take the time to click on the links on the lower right side of our web page and visit our sponsors and when you do, tell them that we sent you!

Don't forget to come see us during the Autograph Session this Saturday!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A weekend of Challenges...

Paul Simon's classic song pretty much sums up the last race...

Slip Slidin Away

Slip Slidin Away

You know the nearer your destination

The more you're Slip Slidin Away...


This is a racing clutch


Now, as many of you are probably aware, when your clutch starts going out, it makes it extremely difficult to get your car going. This is what happened to us on Saturday night... A burned up clutch ended our night before it really got a chance to get started.

The car was a handful from the moment we unloaded it from the trailer. We spent the majority of the day trying to get the car to handle properly, with limited success. By the time the main rolled around, I had pretty much just thrown caution to the wind and made 4 or 5 adjustments and told Scott to drive it like he stole it and see what happens. Everything seemed normal on the pace laps, but when the green dropped, I knew right away that something was wrong. We got absolutely left in the dust of the field... the yellow flag flew indicating a full restart and a few seconds later I heard the words over the radio I knew were coming... "There is something wrong with the car... I think we lost the clutch or the rear end..."

Our assesment was confirmed on the 2nd restart as we struggled to get up to speed. I watched for smoke coming from the rear end, which I did not see as Scott played with the throttle a little to try to get the car to go. We pedaled around for about 23 laps, hoping to at least finish the race, staying out of the way as much as possible, but the officials finally asked us to pull off, which we did without question. It was a fitting end to a terrible day of racing for us. Fortunately, the guys in the positions in front and behind us in the season points race also had off nights and we were able to keep 7th place in sight and 9th place behind us.

Last night, we pulled the clutch and confirmed our suspicions... the friction plates were toast. I suppose its a blessing in disguise as while clutch plates are not exactly cheap, Transmissions and Rear ends are much more so! I had been thinking about that clutch for the past few weeks and been impressed with its durability, as it had at least a full season on it between Roger and Scott. Couple that with the fact that with our 2 speed, Scott regularly has to slip the clutch a little to get the car going, I guess it was high time for it to surrender...

It should also be noted that we suffered (3), yes boys and girls, 3 flat tires Saturday. I will take this opportunity to thank the track for doing such a stellar job of cleaning up after the monster truck show the night before... we hadnt suffered from 3 flats for the entire season to this point. Oh well... it's only 140 bucks a tire, right? But I digress... There was a bright spot to the day... it came in the form of Golden ears of corn, cooked to perfection and drenched in melted butter... yes, we got to have fair food!  I tried my first deep fried Twinkie... It was ok I guess, but at least I can say I tried it.

Next up, the WiredX Energy Drink double feature night featuring twin 50 lap super stock races, bombers, minis and stinger 8's. The points battle between the 00 of Naima Lang and the 51 of John Zaretzke is really heating up and this weekend has the makings of an epic stretch run to the Championship... dont miss it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another week, Another set up, Another top ten

Well, the dust has settled on yet another week of racing at Old Evergreen Speedway.

Last Saturday we showed up with a new setup, high hopes and 4 new skins, ready to do battle... and battle we did... Battled to get the right stagger, battled to get the car to loosen up in, battled to get the car tighter off...

We unloaded and hit the track to scrub, knowing the tires were a little, shall we say, Off... We used an inventory tire we were sitting on since the beginning of the season and it was really small for some reason, so I was chasing stagger all day. Unfortunately, we don't have the budget to buy new practice tires, so we ran the best of what I thought we had to try and get a handle on the new set up... They were junk, but we did figure out we were too tight in.

All day we struggled to get the car to loosen up in, through Qualifying and the Heat race we tinkered. The result was not what we had hoped for. From the 10th starting position in the main, we were able to struggle our way up to 7th and maintain it to the end. The car was scitzophrenic at best and Scott fought it valiantly the entire race. When he got out of the car at the end, he looked like he had just went 15 rounds with Tyson, whooped up on and drained of all energy.

The good news is that the car came back in one piece, despite the best efforts of one driver, who tried to take off the nose of the car on one lap. Just left a nice black tire mark on the nose in time for the biggest races of the year... Grrrrrr. So the main focus of work this week is setting things back to where they were 2 weeks ago and trying to improve from there...

This week, its the FAIR!!!! come on out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the fair and then top it off with an evening of cheering on your favorite race team as we dig to finish the season on a high note. Supers, Bombers and the Figure 8 Nationals are on tap Saturday night... it will be a great show!

See you at the races!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You just cant trust those spotters!

Ok, so I AM the spotter amongst my other duties on the race team. A quick tutorial...

The spotter is responsible for a great many things. He/she watches the car during the race, letting the driver know things like lap times, laps remaining, track status (green, caution, red, etc.), proximity of other cars... The spotter is also the liaison between the track and his/her driver, relaying information between the two such as restart positions, black flag info, notification of debris or fluids on the track, etc. The spotter is the Driver's extended eyes and ears, watching his own driver as well as watching the track ahead of him for danger. He/she is both a Cheerleader and a calming voice of reason.

You may be asking yourself, "why is Ed saying you cant trust spotters and what does that have to do with this week's race report?" Well, I will get to that in a minute...

This week, we ran a Double Feature night. This was decided upon a few weeks ago by the Track management to get in a race that was rained out earlier in the season. Two 50 lap races in one big night... our main concern was tires... we had to run both races on the same set of 4. Now, as documented in these pages, we tried the 2 races on one set experiment before to disastrous results, so you can understand our apprehension. As it turns out, this fear was unwarranted.

This week we chucked the old baby buggy set up completely for a more up to date one. It certainly isn't the bump stop or coil bind set ups that are currently popular, but its a far cry from the conventional we were running. The thinking was that Scott would perform better on this set up as it is a lot closer to the old set up we used to run in our Mini-stock for years.

The day started out with us learning that our team would be down 2 members. That left myself and Scott to do it all... A daunting task to be sure, but one that we both knew we could handle. We garnered the assistance of our friend and yours Fred Hall to help us drag our tool box and spare tires to the track and went to his shop to help him get his car ready for racing as well. Unfortunately, they were not able to get it ready by 2:30 and sent us on our way to the track and they would come over when they were done. So off we went, minus Tires and with just a few essential tools as we knew we could borrow what we needed from Jeff.

When we arrived, we unloaded and ran the car out to scuff the race tires. Being it was just the 2 of us, we were ok with just getting that done and not trying to do some gonzo framus to get practice tires back on for that 1st practice, which was no big deal since our tires weren't there yet. As the 2nd practice was starting,  we got a depressed call from Fred letting us know that they were not going to be able to make it out. He offered to bring our things over, but we told him to get his car done and get over there for the race and not to worry about us... While I was a little worried about not having much practice time, I knew that we had two races tonight, so we could get it figured out.

Qualifying rolled around and Scott, with a total of 5 laps on the set up running at 3/4 speed, went out and ran his first sub 18 second qualifying lap of the season! Who needs practice, eh?? :-) We were both elated to finally get that monkey off of our backs, but knew that the car had a lot more in it, so we went to work making a few adjustments for the main.  

A word about the Evergreen Speedway invert process... We have a 7/10ths rule at the track... the invert for the mains excludes all cars not within that time of the pole sitter. This week, we were 2/100ths shy of a possible 10 car invert and our 2nd pole start of the season. As it was, we started 10th on the field. The first main was largely caution free and we came home in 7th, equaling our best finish of the year. The car was pretty predictable and Scott felt that for the first time all year, he was driving the car, vs. riding around in it. A few more adjustments and we were ready for the 2nd main.

We started outside row 1 for the 2nd race, which was determined by our 2nd fast Qualifying lap. At the drop of the green, Scott took the lead through turn 1 and 2 and lost it again due to a little dirt excursion off of 2, but the Yellow flew after JZ's car was shoved off the track in turn 4. JZ was able to gather it up without too much damage and we got a full restart. This time Scott would not be denied... He took the lead again going into turn one and this time, held steady and opened up a 6 car length lead, We lead for 8 laps until the 11 car, who had much fresher tires than everyone else due to only running a couple of laps in the first race, went blowing by like we had an anchor out... Let me tell you, anyone who says tires aren't important can shove that noise up their nose!

A few laps later, we were running around in 2nd when the first caution came out... Jeff got turned going into 1 and 7 cars were involved in some way... It wasn't pretty as He and the 00 sustained heavy front end damage, enough to force them into the pits, only to return with no front body work. Now this is where the spotter screwed up... The track told us that Yellow flags would count after the Red to clean up the mess was lifted... this meant that I assumed the 00 car was a lap or more down once racing restarted... which brings me to the mother of all screw ups on my part.

We were tooling around having a good old time running in the top 5. Kelly Mann and James Muggee had gotten by and JZ got by in dramatic fashion on the low side of 2 (Scott came over the radio screaming with the excitement of a kid in a candy store as JZ made the pass.. He later said that he was on the white line and he saw a yellow flash below him, dirt and sparks flying everywhere... coolest pass he had ever seen) with 15 to go, the 00 was closing on us... not because he was markedly faster, but because as we assumed he was a lap down, there was no reason to grease up the tires and risk wrecking to keep him behind us. With 12 to go, Scott let him by and the 06 car freight trained with him. Then Kelly finally lost his left front tire which had been smoking most of the race and  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the scoreboard and the 00 was now in 4th with the 06 in 5th!

In the end, we finished 6th, our best finish of the year, but I really feel that we could have held Naima and Steve off for those last laps and got that elusive top 5 finally. Lesson learned; Race every car like its for position on every lap... never assume anything... and trust me, we wont!

We have the weekend off, but we are going to Idaho with Jeff and his team to race at Meridian Speedway. It should be a great time! Next race is August 16th on the 3/8th mile oval and then its two weeks of racing at the fair! If you haven't made it out yet, I highly suggest that you do during the fair... Make a day of it, enjoy the sights and sounds of the 100th anniversary edition of the Evergreen State fair and top it off with exciting Nascar short track racing!

See you at the track! 

Friday, August 1, 2008

150 laps = 18 gallons of fuel

There is a lot of scuttlebutt going around this week about people running out of gas or almost running out of gas last weekend and how they must be running big carbs, etc.

We were obviously not the fastest machine on the track last week, as evidenced by our 11th place finish. However, upon filling the fuel cell, we discovered that we used up a full 18 gallons of gas from our 22 gallon fuel cell. Not a very large margin for error considering that 150 laps on the 5/8s equals roughly 101 miles, which works out to 5.6 mpg. I figure we could have safely gone another 20 or so laps before we too ran out.

Now, if we were that close to running out, it is perfectly reasonable that the guys who were running super fast laps were cutting it even closer, in fact, if they didn't top up their tanks before going out, they might have even been out there with less than full capacity. So to all who are screaming foul, quiet down... your conspiracy theories are getting out of hand.

Now, on to our weekend. We showed up to the track not knowing what to expect. I loosened up the car substantially from the previous big track race but in practice Scott reported back to me that the car was STILL tight. So, with more wedge out and trailing arm adjustments, we went to qualify, which I'd rather not talk about other than to say we started shotgun on the field again. But, we were faster than our previous attempt, so even though it wasn't awesome, it was an improvement!

After qualifying, I must say I was pretty deflated and beginning to question my ability to make that car go fast. I'm sure that we have all felt a twinge of that so you know what I am getting to. I sat for a while by myself, watching the other classes qualify, smoking cigarettes and decided that come hell or high water, I was going to make that thing go! A little more wedge out, a small shock adjustment and it was time for the main event.

As I mentioned, we started 17th on the field. Roger had a little chat with Scott before the main and it really seemed to put a fire under him as he was driving the car deeper, getting it down in the corners and stabbing the throttle coming off harder and earlier than I have ever seen him do it before. He was downright Racy, running guys down, passing them and driving away from them. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who your favorite guy is (I hope its Scott, since you are following along here!) Naima was absolutely on rails and lapped the entire field! man, those boys over there sure do have it figured out this year and look to be in a great position to take it all.

In the end, our best lap time was 1/2 a second faster than our qualifying lap and we spent a good portion of the race under that Q time as well. We ended up in 11th place, an improvement over our finish last time on the big track and we felt good overall about the day's events. We all look forward to the last two races of the year when we are back out there, but I'm also looking forward to running on the 3/8s again for a few weeks.

Congratulations to last week's winners, Jeff Barkshire (Nascar Camping World West Series), Gary Lewis (ASANWT), Naima Lang (Speedway Chevrolet Super Stocks) and Frank Cowgill (Les Schwab Bombers) 

Tomorrow, twin 50 lap races on the 3/8s. Dont miss it!!!