The Day of Reckoning

After almost a whole year of faffing, it was time to actually drive the car properly. The week prior to Saturday was pretty torturous, massively nervous about the day. Had I tightened this properly, what about that, what if the new fuel pressure regulator wasn’t the same, and my AFR’s were way out, what if one of the naffing oil hoses burst, even after all the messing about, what if, what if.

Friday night I popped over to the unit and we loaded the car onto the trailer, treated the windscreen to a coat of Rain-x on the outside, and Fog-x on the inside. You know, just in case..

With my mind firmly set on the car surviving, I completely failed on the taking photos front. I also realised the only go-pro clip I had with me was broken, which meant no video footage either, doh.

The drive to the circuit was an odd one, for some reason I chilled out. My mood changed from, holy shit what if it fails, to, so what if it does. For a hobbiest, like myself, I’d done well to even get this far!

With the signing on/briefing formalities out of the way, Legend Stace, Chris, or Stace’s Dad, however you know him had arrived, along with Mummy Stace. Eileen offered me cake, whilst Chris set to work checking tyre pressure and the like. Eager to get the day started I made my way to the track entrance, and waited first in line for my three sighting laps. Steady away, the car felt good, and upon returning to the pits nothing was leaking, result.

After a quick check of everything once more, I strapped myself in and headed out for my first proper session. With just two cars on track it was a great time to get some heat into the new brake pads / disks (check), check AFR with a 3rd and 4th gear pull (check), and make sure oil pressure was good (check). With those out of the way, I picked up some speed, but after a couple of laps I could hear something wasn’t quite right. At first I thought it was rubber pickup from the used A048R’s I’m using, but one of the marshals flagged me down to tell me it sounded much more sinister than that and to go check it out.

Whilst impressed by the attentiveness of the Javelin marshals I began to wonder what it could be. This is where having Chris around was invaluable, we checked around the car to discover a worryingly loose tapered wheel bearing nut. Typically this was one of the few parts of the car I hadn’t touched, I also have no experience with tapered wheel bearings. Chris tightened it, as well as the other side and off we went again. Without having Chris around that might well have ended my day, I’m so thankful for the Stacey’s help from Day 0 of this journey/build.

A few more laps down, but my spidey senses were tingling, and every sound the car made was a worry. After a couple of more short stints, something just didn’t feel right. Time was pressing on at this point, so we checked over everything once more, and swapped the tyres front to back as there was still a lot of pickup on the ‘inside’ (anti-clockwise circuit) rear tyre. With that done it was time for lunch, and just in time for the heavens to open..

I sheltered in the van, and waited out the storm. As soon as the track ‘opened’ I jumped in the car and queue to go make sure everything was OK. Unfortunately, the rain had been so heavy the track was covered in lots of standing water. For the time being the track was closed, and with no end to the rain in sight, I started to wonder whether or not I’d ever find out if the car was OK.

An hour or so passed and the rain began to let up, the sky got brighter and Colin yelled from his car the track would be opening. Great, time to get some steady wet laps in..

A few steady laps turned into a few more quicker laps and the car felt great, the problem now was getting any heat into the oil and water. I struggled in the morning, but put that down to me going steady and the ambient being cool. But as I increased the pace, temps didn’t seem to increase, so back in and a short conversation with Nige he said to cover part of the oil cooler and go back out..

With that done, and a drying track I pushed on, gaining confidence in the car, and finally seeing Oil Temps in the 90’s. The car was great fun to drive, a little soft in places and the more used rear tyres that I swapped to the front started to go off a little, or at least that’s how it felt, the car became a little more understeery as the laps went on. But as a starting point, fun, pointy, and very easy to gather up if it got a bit waggy, all in all, confidence inspiring.

About to come in after a fairly lengthy session, an old school friend of mine who had booked on a Toyota Only day in his VX220 appeared in my mirror. I saw this as an opportunity to bench mark the car against something of a similar horsepower and weight, I let him past, then the chase was on.

The little grenade did well, and we were both evenly matched all over the circuit, as you would expect his car was slightly more composed through the quicker turns, but there was nothing between the cars in a straight line and through the slower stuff. The circuit had dried completely by this time as well.. It’s funny though, he keeps posting how nothing came close to his car, yet no mention of our little tussle 😆

I lost an indicator at some point as well, rescued by a marshal but pretty much scrap plastic now.. ah well. One final session to close out the day and take the chequered flag. A quick once over the car, and as instructed by Nige, I was going to check the plugs. But numb nuts here forgot the spark plug socket, so I didn’t get chance to do that, whoops.

Car loaded, minus drivers indicators, I said my goodbyes and drove back to Sheffield, dodging some localised flooding but with a massive smile on my face.

So, it works, I/We did it! Big thanks to everyone who’s helped, Stace and his family, Jebson, Matty, Nige, UB, Weeman, loads of folks.

I guess now the real work starts, as it get used more things will break. I already have a few things that need addressing..

– A weep from the brake T-Piece – Tempted to replace with braided hose
– Make a part/full shroud for my oil cooler
– A full once over of all suspensiony bits and rear brakes
– Coolant expansion tank filled at the end of the day, bit of a worry

But that can wait a week or two, I need a break from it all, and should probably spend some time with Katherine who I’m sure is feeling a little neglected. 😆

TL;DR; Day went well, no real dramas, yet and the car was fun to drive. :thumb:


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