ChumpCar World Series: Watkins Glen International – Part 2

ChumpCar World Series: WGI Part 2 – Did No Budget Racing Finish?

by Frank Ewald

'No Budget Racing 1' is a bright red Honda Civic bearing #881. 'No Budget Racing Too' is the #998 Mazda Miata that you will find me driving. Our team of highly trained professional race drivers are very focused throughout every possible segment of the day. If we are not driving the car then we are dissecting and reviewing data, watching video clips to improve our line, and if you do not find us there then maybe we are running laps on the outside of the track to ensure that we are in top physical condition. The title picture was used in Part 1, but it is worthy of getting another viewing!

 

Hey! Who took this picture of us? Okay, so maybe we don't do all of those things. Give us a break! This is an endurance race and we do need some downtime!

It would be awesome if we were all professional race car drivers, but we are not. I am an elementary school principal. My teammates include a dentist, an insurance appraiser, a Ferrari mechanic, an industrialist, a manager of a high end automobile retailer, and an auto executive (While I have never owned a Chrysler, my dad has owned several). There is a lot of experience in this group, but we are just coming together. Rob, Afshin, and Ralph have participated in multiple racing ventures together, including the ultimate race in North America – Targa Newfoundland. Some of the crew on our weekend were with them at Targa – so they are used to trackside repairs and creative solutions. Steve and Sergio have been part of this team for quite some time. Steve being a world class mechanic and Sergio quite active in local racing circles. John joined the team last year and, with John, the Miata. I lucked out because I had no Miata to bring to the table; but I am a nice guy and John trusted me to drive his car thus I was invited to join the team. So 'No Budget Racing Too' became the newest addition to this legend (there is not really a legend yet, but give us a few more races and we will at least have stories to tell).

 

This pic shows that I should be out running laps when I'm not driving. Age has caught up with me. My Sparco suit is baggy, not because I bought it online where you cannot try it on. I knew from the charts that it might be a bit big, but as I'm large I figured it would be okay. Even more important, it was a fantastic deal.  If I can wear socks and sandals until they're in style, I can wear a baggy driving suit! Here we are fueling up our #881 Civic while the Squirrels do some window cleaning while they finish their driver swap. Photo by Mike Agiannidis.
The #881 Civic ran flawlessly for one session on Friday morning and then electrical gremlins struck. It would simply die in right handed corners. Steve and the crew tried everything, but it wasn't until the car was back home that they solved the problem.

The swapped CRV engine and transmission were off to a great start on Friday but, after the first ninety minutes of flawless driving, it simply seemed like the optimism that a podium was within grasp had vanished and the question was if the car would even be able to complete the weekend! Sputtering and stalling, it was evident that something in the wiring was not right. The various parts of the ignition system of the car were checked out and numerous parts changed as the search was on to discover why the red Civic would simply die in corners. Early on it was discovered that flipping the kill switch (yes, we checked the kill switch) on/off would seem to restore the car until the next aggressive corner, so a unique driving style and a relocated kill switch was put into place. A front wheel bearing went Friday afternoon and so the trackside garage was called into service for this issue also. To say it was seized on would be an understatement.

There was lots of optimism as the Civic headed out on Saturday morning, only to pit early with the same issue rearing its ugly head again. As the weekend progressed it began happening on the straights. Even a trip to a local pick’n pull auto wreckers – who upon calling told us they had two of the cars we needed on site and anything we wanted and could remove we could buy – did not solve our problem. Sounding too good to be true, two guys headed off to get the entire ignition system, only to arrive and discover that everything under the hood had already been removed. As expected, it was literally too good to be true.

 

After burning the midnight oil Friday and Saturday night – and trying virtually everything only then to have lost the transmission's fourth gear on Sunday – even the most optimistic felt the burden of frustration. All we could say was 'wait until Calabogie'.

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