Moneymaker August 2010
It’s time for the second article and I would like to thank the two folks I met at ATCO Raceway’s Hoosier Footbrake Race who admitted to me last weekend they had read the first article and enjoyed it. They also requested to remain anonymous due to not wanting their friends to know they read it. Well thanks for your support and don’t worry both of yours secrets are safe with me.
I picked up the new ride on May 24th in Northeast, MD with all the parts that came with it. I got home to Windsor Locks at 1:00 AM. The next morning I was helping fellow racer and good friend Mike Fitts (no nicknames Mikey is one of a kind) get his new motor to Lebanon Valley.
After helping Mike bring his new motor to Lebanon Valley and install it, I was back to my ride by around noon on Tuesday. By Wednesday evening I had changed valve springs, installed a larger aluminum radiator and electric water pump, swapped out batteries, and added an alternator. I got the car running and had fuel leaks everywhere. So instead of thrashing anymore I scrapped the idea of a time shot back at Lebanon Valley that night. I spent all day Thursday changing to my carb, nutting and bolting the car, greasing the front end, and washing the car.
Friday there was a track rental back at the track. I got the first pass off in the new ride at 10:00am. I hit the tree leaving at 2500 rpm, Deep-staged for an .018 light and 1.76 60 foot. The engine seemed to labor up to 6000 then charged to 7000 where I shifted. After the shift it lugged down to 5000 until 6000 where it began charging again. It crossed at 7100 rpm and ran 11.223 @122. I’ve felt farm tucks leave better than this! I took a few more passes straightening out fuel pressure and adding squirter but it just wasn’t close to “right”.
Chuck Morris' "Moneymaker" at Lebanon Valley Dragway
I called Bud McNasby and described what was happening and 15 minutes later he told me to check cam timing sounded like the cam was installed retarded (he assumed four degrees).
My introduction to racing was through my cousin Gil Grismala(many nicknames but I don’t want to get my key to his shop revoked).Though he is a round track guy, applying his knowledge to my stuff has never steered me wrong. On my way back to Windsor Locks I called my cousin to see if I could get the car in the shop to check the cam timing. What transpired ended for both of us at about 1:00 AM after moving the timing from 110 (where Bud said I would find it installed) back to 106 where it was supposed to be. I had found out the cam wasn’t installed with a degree wheel when I called the previous car owner sometime on my way to the shop.
So the reason the previous owner had given up on this car was it had a skip and was 4 tenths slow. Keith (the guy who had owned the car) had assumed it was because the wrong valve springs had been installed (they where also installed with no locators underneath them). On top of the wrong springs I found a bad fuel leak(the needle and seat was stripped into the carb bowl), and now the cam timing off 4 degrees.
Back at the Valley Saturday morning car went 11.028 at 124.54 MPH. Leaving at 2500 I went .021 with a 60 foot of 1.743. Squirter change next. On the second pass I was -.012 red with a 60 foot of 1.724 leaving at 2500 RPM. The car went 10 .947 with a squirter change of 2 in the front (up to 037) and three in the back (up to 040) which picked the car up 8 hundredths. I changed the power valve after checking the vacuum in the range I was launching. I went from a 6.5 to a 4.5 to help cleanup the signal in the range I wanted to leave (between 2300 to 2600). Next pass, the car went10.988 when I lowered the Rpm to 2400 to stay green. My Reaction time was .004 with a sixty foot of 1.734. I left everything alone and made another pass. The car went a second 10.988 reaction time and I was .030 having lowered rpm again to 2300. The last pass I aborted early but a run completion it comes out to 11.005. Reaction time on the last run was .005 leaving back at 2500. I had the motor hot this run (170 vs. 150 the first 2 runs) and believe that’s the reason for the variance. I was ready to go win ALL the money I was sure of it. Man, sometimes its way funnier when you look back at when you THINK everything is sorted out.
Before I left for E Town my good friend and first mentor (or dementor) Mike Fitts made it a point to stop me and ask what my plans where. I told him I was going racing. He then got himself an audience before going into a little speech he had for me. He started with a very poor attempt at a southern accent (when you sound like you’re from Boston naturally trying on a southern accent is tough).
He said to me “Boy you shouldn’t be racing that car quite yet. I know you think you found out all the stuff wrong with it but I swear I keep hearing banjo music when you drive by me.” He then hummed the opening line from “dueling Banjos” for affect.
Mike then continued, “You need to find that banjo music and eradicate it from your new ride before it goes and takes your investment and vanishes back into the swamp. If I was you that motor would be coming out and I would make sure you had all those rods and them bolts that hold em in.”
After his little speech we both laughed and I told him I’d give him a call from ETOWN when I was done tomorrow. He just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head with that grin you give the idiot who is just too stubborn to listen(I have been on the receiving end of that grin A LOT). I was positive I had it right this time (I’m sure you ALL know what’s coming).
I talked to Crutchy after the second day of tuning and told him of my findings. He asked me what the tune up was.(Timing ,jetting, plugs, power valve) and told me to set the timing higher and jet up front and back.
Etown is 3 hours from lovely downtown Windsor Locks. I left on Sunday morning at 6:00 AM making sure to give myself time in case of traffic in NYC at the GW bridge. I got to the track at 9:30 AM and found myself a spot between the family Tice and Jack Alloway (friends and Joisey racers). At Etown you get one time shot per class and then right to racing. One of the benefits to entering both classes is Super runs first elimination. So feeling I have better odds in Pro verses Super I get three times shots with Super running first and then into Pro. Etown is at sea level versus the valley being at approximately 600 feet above sea level I usually see my car run close to a tenth quicker there anyways.
First time shot car runs 10.817 @127.14, leaving @ 2500 deep with a -.002 red light.
Next shot I run 10.826 @126.70, leaving at2400 rpm with a .016 light. Now we’re ready to go!
First round of Super I have a car dialed in at 10.00. First run I chose to dial what I just ran in the last time shot (10.82) because I don’t know how much I can kill in this car yet. So I would use this pass as a barometer and another time shot for Pro. I was sure my not holding anything was the wrong choice when the car started running rough after the burnout. The leave was lazy and I felt I missed (I was .051 Opp was.072). The car runs like a bag of junk down track and I am behind before the 1000 foot cone. The car stalls after I leave the racing surface and when I open the hood I find the front bowl dumping fuel. A tap on the carb cured the issue momentarily and I drove back to my pit where I took the needle and seat out. I saw nothing wrong but didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this.
As fate would have it I got my friend and guy I was pitted with Jack Alloway first round (not on purpose). With the car having run as far off as it had I threw out any reliance on the car and dialed what I ran on the brakes, a 10.92.
My judgment of the car revealed to be right when after my burnout the car stalled (like it did on the top end) and I couldn’t get it fired. The only good part was my buddy got a freebie. I got pushed off the line and when I opened the hood found the fuel dumping again. I tapped on the carb again and went back to pits for further examination.
This flooding carb reminded me of a problem I had years ago when I contaminated my fuel and ruined a fuel filter. So I checked the filter only to find there was none (what did Mike Fitts say about checking the car over some more?).
I took off the fuel bowls to find a fine powdery substance usually found in alky systems when they are contaminated. I emptied the fuel filtering it through a funnel with a filter. I found the culprit of my malfunction in the fuel cell. The fuel cell had about a handful of the powdery substance in the bottom below the outlet. I had dumped the old fuel and started fresh but never had checked in the cell. These issues could have easily been avoided with more diligence on my part. After I got the fuel system cleaned and back together I went up and took a time shot in which the engine started popping. Back in the pits I lowered the timing and then attempted a second pass, but the engine was now on seven cylinders. I open the hood to find one of the wires was broken (Did Mike Fitts say something before I left the track yesterday?). The final shot I went -.003 red with a 1.698 60 foot time ET of10.853 @126.32, less than .03 slower compared to five and a half hours earlier.
After my day I called Mr. Fitts letting him know I would not attempt to race on Monday and was headed home to pull the engine and check for any other Banjo music.
In review the issues I found with the car in the first week included: wrong valve springs, cam timing four degrees retarded, fuel leaks, trash in the fuel, and a broken spark plug wire. I also added an alternator and upgraded the cooling system. If it’s going to be cheap expect there will be work involved. I knew that likely I would have a lot of sweat equity to get this car righted.
It’s only fair to note that the guy who owned the car before was completely up front with the issues the car had and though I am messing with him about “banjo music”, truly it’s all in fun. I can’t thank Keith or his wife Christina enough to allow me to race this car BEFORE paying them in full.
Everything checked out when I dropped the pan, so I chose to go on with changing the intake to see if I could get better signal down low for throttle response and staging. The motor came with a huge HVH intake, and though it makes a ton more power than other intakes it may not be the best approach for footbraking because not having a lot of velocity at low RPM. I switched to a Performer RPM Air Gap. The change made the car real easy to stage and though I lost more than two tenths in ET and 2 MPH, I am willing to sacrifice for better control over rpm while staging. The next few outings were poor on execution and then I went on my first family vacation in a few years.
Since racing at bigger events would have to be done on money I won and when my car and driver were ready, I was unable to attend this years WFC event. This race is one of the events that is a must do if you foot brake because it is one of the best run races at a great facility.
I chose the first money race I would get to attend would be the Hoosier Footbrake Race at Atco. For me to want to race a big race I have to have a car that is predictable. Two races before ATCO I had the car running 9 out of 13 passes on the same no. over a 2 day stretch. I lost that weekend when I ran into Bill Kirpens, Sr. (a fixture in the footbrake category at LVD and great people) in the fourth round.
I got the car working great so I changed it. That sounded like a good idea at the time. Though the car was getting very consistent, I was behind on the tree in the range I wanted to leave. I believed a three speed trans would help get the reaction time where I wanted it to be. The extra gear would also help get closer to hitting the tire and this should help make the car more consistent still.
The next week I put a new TH350 transmission I had swapped for the used powerglide out of my Malibu that had good parts in it and was still in great shape. Henry Huard (of H&H Transmission) not only swapped my trans but also had me bring the car down and we (I use the term “we” but really he did all the real work) installed it at his shop.
I need to point out I SWAPPED transmissions not to get into buying more parts (which I can’t afford).All changes (except valve springs) have been parts I have loaned myself from my Malibu.
Henry has been a part of my racing since he took my car and me cross-country to Pomona in 2004 and I could never thank him and his son Mark enough for their support.
I brought the car out the following Saturday to Lebanon Valley to test before the next points day. First pass the car was 2 tenths faster (11.04) and a tenth quicker in 60 foot. My light was.005 in the same spot I was .040s. In two more time shots my lights were -.005 and .016 when I lowered the RPM 100 rpm, and I entered the weekly gamblers race.
Four rounds later and I was winning my first race in the new car. Though it wasn’t a point’s day or better a big money race I was ecstatic! Now just light the world on fire the next day and we be rolling into ATCO the next weekend ready to take em all on.
After losing first round on Sunday in both classes and the car being nowhere near as consistent as it was the day before, I really wished I had more time to test before my first attempt at a big money race but I was already double entered for Saturday and hopefully testing Friday at ATCO would help find the consistency I had the day before.
I got to ATCO around 5:30 PM Friday night. Bud watched me take the first couple time shots and made some suggestions as to the reason for the new major inconsistency (loose nut behind wheel).
The next morning I moved the trans cooler away from the radiator and changed my warming routine to look for more consistency. I ran the time shots for the big event and first round. I cost myself one buyback but had both entries in the second round. There, I lost one getting beat on the tree (second time that day I had missed) and then I blew the tires off. I came back to my pit a bit dejected and while I was asking Bud why he thought it might have spun so bad they rattled he said, “Did you look at the tires?”
“No.” I responded.
So before he left for his next run he looked and said “You’re on the cords, take ‘em off and swap my spares off my rims.” Funny he shook his head the same way Mike Fitts did a few weeks earlier. All the testing in the world won’t fix not LOOKING at your stuff.
I entered the high roller race that night, if I didn’t score on that I would be rolling out of ATCO back to LVD instead of racing the $5,000 main event Sunday. In the time shot the car goes 10.995, and my light was .047 leaving at 2200. My sixty-foot and ET are within 9 thousandths from before I blew off the tires(I guess tires don’t work as well on the cords). At this point I am not ready to dial honest (because I cant trust what the car will do). I can’t hold a certain amount (same reason), so I choose to dial the number I feel will be the slowest the car can run. I dial 11.04. I am also in need of moving my light at least .020 numbers to be anywhere near in the game this round and that may not be good enough. Experience tells me I am not comfortable being more aggressive than this in a circumstance like being .050 and going for more than .020 better light on the next hit because I have red lit a ton trying to make a bigger move.
I leave on time and can’t stay in front (opp is dialed 10.95) and kill anything. I drop hard (a little too hard) and my win light comes on. I am .030 and my opponent was .047. He breaks out getting their by .0492 and I am .02 over my number killing .06. The best part is the car ran within one thousandth to the 1000’ cone. Tires DO work better with rubber, amazing!
Next round I have a local hitter and know I have got to be more aggressive on the tree or it just won’t matter. I chose to leave the dial alone knowing if the car repeats again I am now in the range where I can kill all I am holding with a spot drop. As I am staging I set the rpm at 2500 but before I move I lower it a hundred rpm because its dusk and I can see the bulb real well. We leave and I am chasing (opponent dialed12.11). I get up top and know having watched my opponent drive before he will be needing to kill something. I actually start killing before the drop spot and chose to stay right behind so when he kills I will get in front. He doesn’t kill until much later than I anticipate and it’s only luck I get back by .0009! I was .003, my opponent was .028 ( glad I had backed down the rpm). He was on his number with a six and again I am a couple over.
Next round my opponent comes up to me and requests he doesn’t become part of this article. He also lets me know he liked my first article. I was real happy to meet someone who had read the article until it dawns on me this also means he’s been reading the same stuff I read on here and is going to be up for anything I am about to do at the finish line. I am getting a bit more comfortable in believing the car is repeating but choose to leave the dial alone and rely on the spot drop with the opponent chasing and having a huge MPH spread (he’s dialed in at 9.08). I leave the launch rpm alone thinking now its dark I should only be .015-ish. We leave and I feel I am on time as I look back from the thousand foot it appears to be a dead heat if we both stay wide open. I hit my drop spot correctly and as I do I swing my head around to see my opponent is killing next to me and is very close. After we cross I can see no win light on his wall and catch the win light just as it goes out in mine! It went down like this: I am .020, opponent is .026. I get there by .0026 and break out by .004 while my opponent breaks out .008 with both of us spot dropping.
In the final I leave the dial and launch RPM alone. Again I have one of those opponents you know can eat your lunch with ease. When I leave I feel I missed it and as I get to the top end he checks in real early, so my fear I missed it seems to be correct. I cut him loose but before my spot which left the door open but good fortune shines upon me again and the win light comes on!
I stop at the top end stands and watch Bud win his final and get to take victory lane shots next to my friend and mentor at ATCO for the first time. Moments like this are what keep me coming back. The win didn’t pay for the car like winning earlier in the day would have but it did pay for the weekend (for the second week in a row) and standing in victory lane with the guy who helped you learn the skill set needed to try something as crazy as racing on a budget while attempting to turn a profit, priceless.
Chuck shared the winners circle at Atco with friend, mentor, and TIBR Guest Instructor Bud Mcnasby after each won a high rollers race at the Hoosier Footbrake event.
Now on Sunday I went and visited the list of “don’t do that”. It’s a list compiled from times when I have called my mentor Bud after losing in the dumbest fashions possible and the only response he can give me is “don’t do that.”
The first on the list is “don’t” ignore the little voice that told you it was time to leave the night before and NOT enter Sunday’s event. The next is “Don’t” pull into the water box without your helmet on for your first time shot. The third is “Don’t” kill .05 and be .06 in front of your opponent and think you have killed enough (broke out by .03 when he fed me .03 more). “Don’t” short shift the car and kill more than you’re holding (both runs I had a sizeable advantage in the tree). “Don’t” buy back twice after doing the last two things. “Don’t” stage too deep (like.040 too deep), you will redlight. “Don’t” follow your opponent through because you’re confused why you can’t put a wheel on him (had to kill seventeen thousandths to win a double breakout).
Most importantly, ”DON’T” leave your credit card at the track when you buy back and carry no cash when you have $20.00 in tolls in your way of getting home (thank you NJFD for pulling me out of that one). Through all of the “don’ts” on Sunday I still had a good time (no idea why) and ended the day watching the final rounds hanging with Bud at the finish line.
That’s it for this month’s installment. Next month besides racing I am going to write about some of the parts that came with the car and what I have been doing to repair and sell them. By next month I will also be showing off the great work of none other than Michael Beard of Staging Light Graphics who is designing graphics for the Moneymaker car! Thank you again Michael.
I also need to thank Crutchy (John Crutchfield) of Crutchybilt Performance once again for all of his technical help and support. Everything has gone a lot smoother than it ever would have because of the info this guy has handed me on how to figure out how to find and fix what was up with this combo. Truly cannot thank him or Bud enough for their support (sorry guys Mike Fitts claims me as a dependent so you can’t use me on your tax returns, I checked).
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the second installment.
Let’s take a look at the cost of racing and sticking to the budget for this project. To go to my local track and run for a day costs $220.00 with double entering on a Sunday. That includes tolls, diesel (Did you know diesel trucks don’t run well on gas? That’s a story for another day), race fuel and entries. I am not accounting for wear and tear on the vehicles (tow vehicle, trailer and racecar) only because I don’t have an actual value placed on that yet.
I evaluate what races I will attend buy weighing in the risk verses reward. Risk includes cost. At my local track running two classes the ultimate goal (reward) is to win both classes (Pro and Super) the risk is minimal ($220) and the reward I am shooting for is $2000 (the payout if I won both). Any weekend I win more than what I am spending is a weekend I achieved the goal.
I ran seven weeks before winning. I also added 3 test days (two track rentals and a Saturday I didn’t bracket race) before I won with the car.
The first weekend I ran a track rental, a Saturday and traveled to ETOWN(added expense going to Joisey due to mileage and more tolls). Before I won dime one I spent around $2300.
The last two weeks I won $1450only to break even for these weekends due to higher cost of a big money race weekend.
Big money races LOOK like a great place to cash in and if you win a big event it will be worth more than a local win. That said using the risk/ reward thought process I know the odds are much tougher to get to the payday part of a big event. I have yet to win a big money race (I don’t count the bracket finals as a big money race, though it paid $7,000.00 when I won it plus contingencies you get $3500.00 only AFTER you travel to Pomona which is a HUGE expense). I have covered expenses at big money races 4 times in seven years.
I have won more often staying at my home track and have paid for the weekend (late rounds) a lot in that same stretch. I don’t look at how many rounds it will take to get to payback at an event. I focus only on the ultimate goal (winning the race) and count what I spent verses what I won at the end of the day.
A large portion of the money owed for the ride will come from repairing parts of the damaged engines I got in the deal. This is just a glimpse of what I will focus on in the next article I have already sold some parts (using Ebay and Racing Junk) and netted over $1000. That money will be used in the repair of the two shortblocks. Once I have the shortblocks done they will be for sale. We won’t get into that now (I don’t want to run out of material for next months article), but that’s where some of the funding will come from in my grand plan.
Your author, Chuck Morris (in his heavier days) at right with Atco Dragway owner Joe Sway