June 26th Lebanon Valley Dragway -- Test session.
Johnny, Jeff and I dragged the Bits And Pieces nitro funny car out for its first test session last Sunday. After arriving at the track, setting up tent (it was going to be a long day), we got the car ready for its first lap. Now since we have not fully determined the root cause of the rear main bearing issue from last month (other than the fact that the driver is blaming the owner for measuring the input shaft incorrectly....lol) we decide the first run will be on alky. I brought the entire nitro fuel system and pulleys with me, so we could do the change over if everything went well on the first pass.

After we warmed the car up on alky, double checked all the settings, we were ready for lap 1. I suit up and we head to the staging lanes. We wind up waiting for over an hour. We pull into the water box area. Johnny and Jeff start it up. I roll into the water box, roll on the throttle and proceed to do a real nice lengthy burnout. I ease on the brake, push in the clutch, and when the car comes to a stop, glide the lever into reverse. I tap the clutch pedal on occasion while backing up to keep the speed down (note to self, must re-check the stall). Jeff pops into view and he guides me the rest of the way back. Once behind the line, I grab the reverser, put it in forward and make sure the air shift buttons are pulled out. Jeff brings me to within a foot or so of the prestage beam, taps the body, gives me the thumbs up. I lower the visor and begin to ease up on the RPMs a bit. No dice, the stall is too tight and cant get much above 2500 rpm. I stage the car, it leaves like a dog, locks up the clutch and spits out my teeth! I pedal it once, shift into 2nd, rattles again. Pedal it one more time, yank the wheel back off the center line and truck on down thru into 3rd gear.

We get back to the pits, pull out the oil filter. Clean as a whistle. So we decide to cool the car down, eat some lunch and change over to fuel.

It seemed like such a simple plan....should take a couple of hours....but. After getting the fuel tank properly vented for a 25gpm pump. Installing the Hi flow K-valve and all related fuel lines. Installing 15% over pulleys and resetting the mag. It was time to fire it. We pass out the breathers and ear plugs. Johnny is in the cockpit. He asks to have the fan blowing at the front of the car. His reasoning is it will blow the fumes out from under the tent. Yeah...I think "well see".

Jeff turns it over, I get it running on gas and look down in time to see the geyser coming from the fuel pump. Outlet to BV is loose. One crisis adverted! Try again. We get the car running on gas, Johnny rolls the fuel on and the lil Chevy cackles to life with a wicked beat. I check hat psi, a little too high, but Im more interested in the fuel spray hitting me from the K-valve! shut it off again. Rebuild the K-valve, one more time. This time all went well. A quick minute and a half warm up as poor John was going just about blind from the fumes that the fan was blowing right back at him! I set the Crawford valve to 12psi, whack the throttle twice and we shut it down.

I suit up with the full Nomex underwear and we roll into the water box. The Chevy cackles to life and as Jeff lowers the body, the staccato rhythm of the exhaust rings off the tin work. Ive become braver over the winter and we are running 92% today and she sounds STRONG. I ease into the throttle and it quickly jumps up on the tires and begins to gain some speed. A short burnout was in order, due to the limited size of this fuel tank. I stop quickly, ease into reverse and enjoy looking into the sunset while listening to the cackle. Jeff comes into view and gets me back behind the line. Now heres where some of the confusion continues. The starter saw a fuel leak. I was trying to get Jeff or John to see me to confirm they would open up the Crawford valve once I was ready to stage. Well the little leak, became a BIG leak and the starter wisely shut me off. It appears the seal from the 3/8 hex shaft decided to leak on the burnout and not in the pits!

So done for the day, we will be going back out for hopefully a 700-800 foot pass on July 17th. Between then I will get a chance to pilot Rocky Roxlaus Vega at The Geezers At the Grove event in Maple Grove, PA. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Keith
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