Well, at Byron we didn’t get in the 8.70’s like we wanted…. we got an 8.68! And then it surprised us all by going even faster! Read on for full details…
It is getting near the end of the season and we needed to get at least some seat time in the bikes before winter.
The red bike was pretty much ready to go once Fred tightened up some loose screws I must have overlooked. Seems to be the story of how things have been for me lately, one loose screw after another.
We got it into the staging lanes and were ready to go but got held up by an oildown. It is late in the season and it seems racers try to get one more run out of a motor or another race out of a set of tires. Well evidently the connecting rods in the old Chevy said “enough is enough….blam!”
After the oildown delay of 45 minutes, things moved along and getting to the starting line presented a 20mph crosswind. Normally you don’t run at Bonneville with anything over 3 to 4 mph. Well I figured “what the heck” and got underway. It was a pretty slow start and once things spun up it seemed like no time at all before it was time to shut it off. I started from the right side of the right lane and eased out to save the clutch and wound up in the left lane going through the lights. It was spinning the entire length of the track and I held it on a bit past the lights because the shutdown is smooth and uphill. It was at that time I remembered I had the Bonneville “afterthought” brakes on the bike and it weighed a lot. Well I got to explore parts of the shutdown I never had before seen. Turning around, I managed to get back to the return road in a less than embarrassing time and waited to see the Pontiac Firebird with a big-assed Whipple blower and alcohol come through the lights. That was cool! Riding the bike back to the pits was much easier on the bike than me and my hips hurt for a couple of days afterwards. The video through the screen is on Facebook and YouTube as well. The wind kept up for the rest of the day and I felt discretion was the better path and left it parked. All in all, the view through the screen had excellent downtrack clarity and I can’t tell more until we actually look a mile down the course at Bonneville, but it is encouraging.
The nitro bike was next, and with the huge car count contributed to by three clubs having their end of the year events together, we waited and waited. Just when things were looking good for us getting out there, a Nova called “Monkey Business” decided that he would test both retaining walls going down the track. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt, but the cleanup took over an hour and we were lucky to get one run in.
After the warmup in the pits we knew it could be interesting. When the bike is tuned correctly, a nitro motor sounds more like a .44 magnum going off than a motor revving up. With the new pistons and cylinder heads, the tuneup we put in it did just that. Heads came up and we were the center of attention. Nick did the burnout and the bike immediately wanted to hurt itself by rpmming so quickly. Getting to the line, he hit the throttle and the beast took off. Coming back on the wheelie bars it unloaded the tire and kept on going. Nick picked up three more gears and had to click it off 80 to 100 feet before the finish line due to the wind blowing him across the track and the motor sounding a bit too sporty at the top end. It still got us an 8.59 second elapsed time at only 147 mph. A stout pass, quicker than any of our others by .05 sec., which doesn’t sound like much, but when you are working the edges of the envelope, it is a ton.
There is a video of this pass on Facebook and YouTube as well.
Back to the pits, change the clutch to calm it down a bit and hopefully be a little more productive in the first 60 feet (having run a 1.35 sec. 60 foot, there needed to be more to be really productive). A richer main and second high speed and we were ready to go. Unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t agree and we wound up rushing things into the trailer as it began to rain.
We will be going back on Saturday to Byron, October 26, so don’t go the store, it will be closed, but come on down to Byron Dragway in Byron IL for a last fling!
October 26 Update
Well it was certainly cold enough. What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that this Saturday was the Fall Diesel Pickup Truck and Blackout Nationals. I had never been to one, so had no idea what was going on.
We arrived in plenty of time to get a good spot in the pits and unloaded, then started the process of getting the bike up to temperature. This was again, the propane salamander heater, a windbreak made from one of the tables and a tarpaulin over everything.
Looking around I then realized that basically none of the trucks had slick tires on the back (or the front either as most if not all were four wheel drive). This was a cause for concern we had thought about on Friday, but since everything was in place, we decided to come anyways. One characteristic of the treaded street tires is they strip and polish the starting line. I was hoping the traction the trucks had would keep the spinning to a minimum, and it did, but it also imparted a strange pattern to the starting line that made reading the track surface impossible. The track personnel were willing to spray some traction compound for us, but that has to be worked in by slicks before it is effective, and that was unlikely, soon to be proved.
The first run was interesting as we hadn’t reset the fuel injection after changing the idle speed and had no idea what was going to happen when warm. While setting the barrel valve and checking the throttle response I saw a puff in places puffs shouldn’t be, between the cylinders. This proved to be a case of the motor making a lot of chamber pressure and lifting the head off. We checked the head nuts and they had loosened up so we tightened them down. Not else to be done at that point, so it was pretty well-behaved and we were able to get a 1.38 60 ft. time and an 8.71 e.t at 156.86 mph, out best speed so far in the quarter mile. It sounded a bit crappy in the lower two gears, but cleaned out and took off in third and fourth.
That was encouraging until Nick mentioned the motor changed tone a bit approaching the finish line. When he looked a bit closer at the rear cylinder, the head gasket was visible. Off comes the head and a new gasket goes in. The cylinder and piston looked nearly new and so after checking the front head nuts and finding them tight, out we went. During the reassembly I noticed the ignition had been turned back on inadvertently and the pickup coil for the front cylinder was warm, but not hot. Off to the staging lanes we went.
This run, it sounded funny in the burnout and missed like crazy going down the track, never really getting right. Looking at the GOPRO we saw the front cylinder EGTs (exhaust gas temperatures) never really came up to where the rear did. Shades of Valdosta and the dreaded pickup failure due to too long a time with the ignition left powered up. We checked the leakage of the cylinders to see if the motor was hurt and 11% on the front and 4% on the rear meant that most everything was where it should have been. So on with a new set of pickups and off we go.
The bike had been a bit violent so we had been lowering the wheelie bar and taking air gap out of the clutch to try and calm it down. We had some extra help with an old friend, Jim Morin, who helped with the Top Fuel program in the early 1980’s. He works in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin, so it is nice to bring that intellect to bear on some of our problem solving. His suggestions with the fuel system and clutch are always helpful. I was hoping that gearing it up by taking two more teeth off the rear sprocket would be enough, but I think this thing is making a lot more power than we had been before. A bit of changing of the location of lean and rich in the fuel system would hopefully clean things up on the bottom and account for a bit higher values on the EGTs than I liked, although with the reworked plenum, they were more balanced.
The bike sounded very good in the burnout, but still had a bit of a miss. Nick pulled up to the line and we waited.
The bike left hard and pulled right along. There was a still a bit of a crackle in low gear and the 60 ft. time of 1.30 was good. Hearing the shifts, they were deliberate and a bit earlier into fourth to try and tug on the motor. What came up was a totally unexpected 8.43 @ 158.46 mph! I think I heard at least three or four jaws hitting the ground, mine included.
Bringing the bike back to the pits, we changed the oil and made another change to clutch and couple of small ones to the fuel system and off we went.
By this time, it was getting colder again and the trucks had pretty much had their way with the starting line. Finding a path through the imprinted patterns was pretty much impossible.
The bike sounded great in the burnout, assuring the changes to fuel system were good. Up at the line it left hard for the first twenty or thirty feet and then started to spin, shake and misfire. Shifting into second yielded more of the same, and it wasn’t until third gear was engaged that enough of a load was put on the motor to get it to clean out. The e.t. of 8.88 still got us a mph of 154.95, which is pretty good considering the first 250 feet was pretty much a waste.
At that point we decided to put it in the box and go home while we had it in one piece. We can take it apart and discern wear patterns now. Blown up, it is hard to learn much from shrapnel caused by a rapid loading and unloading of the motor and driveline.
Well, we were the second quickest Ducati in the world for about a day, with my getting an email from Wayne Patterson in Australia that they had gone an 8.33 in Australia the next day. Oh, fame is so fleeting. Congratulations to them!
I realize this last few bits of the blog weren’t about the turbo, but the two bikes do travel in the same trailer, and the same people are involved (the usual suspects?).
The people involved that I want to acknowledge are:
Rider, tires, brakes and chassis maintenance, Facebook: Nick Moore
Motor building and electronics (EFI) tuning: Fred Weege
Bodywork and Paint, and website: Jacki Whisenant
Driver and Loading on the salt: Bob Crook and Louie Lamore and Noel Hackbarth
Expediting, motel reservations and general logistics: WJ Shields
Patience and support: Patty Whisenant
And of course ALL THE SPONSORS!!!