Project Racer – Part 6: The Sweet Scent of… Coolant?

annie sam project racer

The Sweet Scent of…Coolant?
By Annie Sam

Ah the sweet scent of victory. Or is it burning coolant? A smell reminiscent of warm apple cider, yet a scent which can make your heart sink to the bottom of your stomach by the imminent doom it foretells.  Black smoke, white smoke, the distinct smell of hot oil and burning coolant; these are the tell tale signs of your car communicating to you that something's gone wrong, and in my case very wrong.

The NX2000 and its sister, the Sentra SE-R are extremely tough and reliable cars. But they all have their Achilles heel; the cooling system.  Although you can drive pretty hard at the dragstrip or on the street without any immediate fears of overheating, a trip to the road course on a day with temperatures hinting of summertime can send engine temperatures soaring.  Without careful monitoring of the gauges, the temps can easily skyrocket, sending your motor to SR20 heaven.

The day at Willow Springs was the perfect recipe for disaster, 105 degree sweltering heat, a black, black car, and worst of all, a black, black overheating prone NX2000. It was the last session of the weekend, and the car had held up rather nicely. Confident of my newfound experience, I decided to hit the course one last time to see how much I'd be able to keep up with a fully built racecar. It was already on the track, hot lapping around the course so it was unknowing of my secret race against it. I waited at the pits for the flag person to give me the go ahead. As soon as my target zoomed by, I made my way onto the course, just several car lengths behind the racecar. I did one lap, two laps, as the car in front of me inched away – more like footed away rather quickly. I was tunnel visioned on that car, trying to mimic the lines it was taking, when it would shift gears, when it would brake. I was doing quite well for myself until my car sputtered slightly. I looked down at my gauges to see the needle tapping the right side of the H mark. Alarmed, I looked at the Techtom to see the water temperature at a whopping 230 degrees! I let off the throttle, accompanied by a slew of profanity and then quickly regrouped. I crawled my way towards the exit of the track, leaving a trail of white smoke behind me. I pet the dash of my car and began to sweet talk it, praying that it'd be nice enough to me to let me make it off the track. Old faithful came to a crawling stop less than 3 yards after the exit of the track. I swore I heard it sigh one last sigh before it died on me.

Though overheating is a common problem among the general SE-R crowd, it is a know fact that overheating is an even more annoying problem for NX's with their tiny grill openings and poor airflow to the radiator. For the NX, it was only a matter of time before the poor thing overheated without the proper cooling upgrades. Luckily, I was able to trailer my little egg home where I could remedy this problem.

Black Flagged, Miss Sam, your car is on fire…


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