Racing is expensive and we are fortunate to have a good crew of team mates and good support from some great sponsors. That doesn’t cover all of the costs nor does it even get close much of the time, so our pet name for this years Mint 400 has become “The Tax Return 250.” 250 because two laps is what our class runs and that is about 250 miles and well, it’s tax season… so you can figure out the rest.
We have been planning for the Mint for months now. Racing is a long process of preparation with a short time of action. Our preparation included electrical this year. When we built the car we wired it all and it all worked great. As we have been using the car we have found that some of the connectors we used were less than desirable. We also found a few little quirks that were causing gremlins to pop up. Matt Wilson has been spearheading the solutions on this front and Josh has been routing and rerouting until the wiring is as clean as we can make it. This is a slow and tedious process but it is completely worth it to eliminate frustrating electrical issues. One of the notable things that we learned in this process is our LED warning light on our dash are affecting charging! Of course it makes sense in retrospect, but we overlooked the fact that the indicator on our dash was preventing our alternator from charging our battery until the battery was very low! With the help of a friend, Tommy Kilpatrick, a fix was devised and we now have a small box full of resistors or transistors or both, ready to keep the car running and our Indicator light working.
The Mint has a lot of special needs, Discriminator valves, special aprons, fueling rules and more. When you race in Mexico it really feels like you are just using your best judgement, when you are racing in the US you are preventatively trying to figure out what rule you may accidentally break that you would never guess could be a rule. A discriminator valve is a valve that prevents overflow of your fuel cell when you are filling it up. This little $250 cylinder with two ping pong balls in it seems expensive, but it turns out it gains us about 3/4 gallon in our fuel cell, which is probably another 10 miles when desperation hits. The fueling aprons we had to buy are fire proof fueling aprons, which need to be worn over a fire resistant suit… Double redundancy for a car that we typically fill up at the gas pump. The BLM requires tarps on the ground and fire extinguishers galore. Honestly, we prefer those last two things anyway. We prefer to take the safest route when we are racing. We know that we are taking a risk by racing in the first place so why not eliminate peripheral risks!
With the electrical complete and the rules met we had a few other odds and ends to deal with. Packing! Selecting the appropriate replacement parts that make sense for the race. Do you bring an additional transmission when replacing a transmission is going to definitely put you over on time limits? Front Beam? These types of items have been completely rebuilt and inspected on the car so we have to make the assumption that it is going to hold up. We also went through the entire car, Removed torsion springs and leaves then regreased and installed all our bushings. Everything was inspected along the way. We went through the engine to make sure everything was in good shape, tuned it and changed the oil. Finally, we cleaned it all up, painted up a new fender and made sure our livery was all complete. Making the car look good is almost as important as making sure it works. We need to represent, not only the class, but also the great folks that have supported us over the years.
We added Lights for an early morning start, we added a second Parker Pumper and we are packing it all up… The car is ready.