Who would have thought that the weather during the weekend after
Thanksgiving would be perfect for racing in Wild and Wonderful West
Virginia? Or that the first race in a freshly-built car by a new owner would
be almost trouble-free? The Chief Boffin of the High Speed Triumph Research
Laboratory, for one, did not. Events, however, proved him wrong.
Newbie FoTer Steven Groh, owner of the green and red ex-Bill Manning #3
Spitfire, entered VRG's Turkey Bowl vintage race at Summit Point's main
circuit. This was his first event in his new toy. HSTRL provided some
support in the persons of the Chief Boffin (me) and Adjunct Boffin Craig
Wensley. Oh-Dark-Thirty Friday brought sunny skies and temperatures in the
60s for practice and the weather stayed that way all weekend.
Steve turned 1:38s right out of the trailer. The head gasket leaked oil onto
the engine and Steve reported vibration. We decided to live with the small
oil leak for the weekend. The vibration proved to be rubber build-up on the
left front, which Steve scraped off with the scariest hunting knife I have
ever seen. The lap times dropped steadily through the day as Steve became
familiar with the car. Steve's smile just got bigger and bigger as the fun
meter went toward max.
Andy Konopka (sp?) arrived with his green #24 Spitfire and family. Thanks
Andy for the tire pressure advice! Andy replaced a head gasket at the track
and his car suffered from low power all weekend.
Scott Janzen brought his green #31 GT6 Friday night, accompanied by Rich
Rock. Every Triumph there was green! Scott's engine missed Saturday morning.
Scott's pit was full of activity as Rich, Craig, and Scott chased the miss.
They replaced this and adjusted that all to no avail. At the end of the day,
the activity had stopped and the crew stared at the engine with many a
furrowed brow. Scott then declared himself to be Beaten by Equipment, and
put away the tools and parts spread all over the area.
Meanwhile, Steve's lap times continued to fall. On the grid for Saturday's
race, #3's gear-reduction starter failed and we had to push-start Steve. The
Marshall held him until dead last so Steve had fun passing cars and dicing
with a big Healey. Steve decided to live with the dead starter and just
push-start the car for Sunday's race.
Sunday morning, Steve decided to change the starter for a stock one he had
brought. Rich and Scott changed it out and we got #3 on the grid just in
time for Sunday's race. In fact, I was buckling Steve in while the car was
still on jackstands and Rich and Scott were putting the finishing touches on
the starter installation! Old #3 ended up second in class to a yellow Alfa
and about seventh overall. It looked like he was catching the Alfa, but the
race was a couple laps too short! Lap 13 was a 1:33.81. I don't know, but
that seems pretty good for 1300cc on treaded tires. And the first time out.
I think Steve was very pleased with his little Rocket. He never put a wheel
wrong all weekend as the lap times fell. Bill Manning did a great job in
prepping the car for it to do that well right out of the box. And, as Craig
would say, "Steve's no slouch as a driver."
I am thankful that Steve allowed me to contribute my mite to his weekend. I
just wish Andy and Scott would have had a better time!
Dr. John R. Herrera
Chief Boffin and Managing Director
High Speed Triumph Research Laboratory, Soggy Bottom Facility
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