Low Budget Race Report International Edition: Ensenada Grand Prix



The race format was three 150 minute enduros spaced in between the Mexican sprint races.  Two races on Saturday and one on Sunday.  These would be treated as one single race and the car with the most laps completed would take home the trophy and some piddly prize money.  We put Colin “The Bot” Drobnis in the hoop for the first stint.  He dove right in and was in a great battle with the BMW E30 of POS Racing, a Lemons winning team who is very tough to beat in the best circumstances.

These were not the best of circumstances as the street course was insanely rough and just pounded the Gnome to the bone and the tight hairpin turns accentuated the failings of our spooled rear end.  It  was hard to see how the tiny CBR1000RR motorcycle transmission could take that abuse hour after hour but it did and never missed a beat.  Speaking of dogs, there were more on the course than in our sequential transmission.  And children, and horses, and all manner of pedestrians of all species.  None of that stuff got in our way as we held down a firm second place  going into the second hour.  Here's a video showing some of the concessions that could be found on track.  Literally on track.



Chump has some pretty intelligent rules surrounding stint length and refueling.  No one driver can run more than two hours and a refueling stop must be at least 3 minutes long.  These rules serve to prevent driver exhaustion, keeping things a bit safer and serving to obviate any advantage gleaned by fast refueling the three minute minimum pit time is again a reasonable safety thing.  Since this would be a one stop race we expected to pull Colin in at about the 70 minute mark and put me in the car.  Best laid plans since at about 60 minutes Colin radioed in that the brakes were feeling a bit soft and he was having trouble slowing the car.  We have always had brake issues with the Gnome as it runs nothing more than stock 1995 Geo Metro front brakes at all four corners.  They barely get by with some brake ducts but really are not OK for a brake heavy track like this “T” shaped street course with 100mph straights piling into 10mph hairpins.  Anyhow, we told him to ease up and try to let the brakes cool off until the end of the stint.  A few minutes later he reports that the pedal is coming back.  Tragedy averted.

Well maybe not, because when the car pulled in for a driver's change and fuel it became apparent that we had bigger issues.  Steaming hot brake fluid was bubbling out the driver's side caliper and the car nearly missed the paddock space due to total brake failure.  The left front pad had worn all the way through letting the piston fall out of the caliper bore releasing a cascade of fluid.  After 20 minutes of hacking at the car we managed to get another piston in the offending caliper and a fresh set of pads in both sides.  I hit the track and the brakes actually felt pretty good for the rest of the race.  The 20 minute delay killed our chances for the overall though.  Now we would just try for top spot in the two remaining individual races.  Bragging rights only.  Here is a video of some really hot brake parts:



Anyhoo, after a nutritious lunch of cart vended tacos and deep fried whatnot we got ready for our next race.  Everything goes much smoother and the brakes are feeling a lot better now that there are actual brake pads in the calipers.  It's the little things that separate the winners from the also rans they say.  We were almost starting to get excited about the idea of winning one of these mini enduros when this happens:


Oh snap!  Full brake failure!  The funny thing about this is it was due to a totally new problem and not related to the steaming pile of brake parts we replaced during the last race. 



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