Saturday dawned with the wind down to a 3 or 4 mile per hour headwind. The air density was very good, with all that northern cool, dry air providing lots of oxygen.
Being able to see the results from Friday, we elected to soften Sam’s bike up and see how things looked after the second qualifying pass. Ignition timing was a key player and taking a bit more off the primary weight helped as well.
This pass for Sam looked very good. I’ll be honest, I remember one of the Saturday qualifying passes being a 6.11 second run, which ultimately placed us as the #2 qualifier, behind Larry McBride’s 5.92. Ian King was #3 with a 6.13 and Dave Vantine came in at #4, with Mitch Brown sitting at #5.
We changed a motor and set about putting a new clutch pack in Mitch’s bike along with a look at the input and output shafts of the B&J transmission.
With a rebuildable cylinder head needed, we made a decision, and I started in on the best of the pair. This lasted into the night and the half hour drive to the motel makes for a long day.
Up again early in the morning, we dined, checked out, and as I was headed for the driveway exit, Nick asked if I was forgetting anything. I was puzzled and then looked in the rearview mirror and noticed….no Fred. I stopped and backed up and there he was just coming out of the motel. With the full compliment, we headed back to the track.
Getting ready for the days elimination rounds was a process of finishing up the details left from the night before, including the final assembly of the head. Unfortunately, we needed a different length intake valve than we had so came as close as possible with the biggest shim and had to settle for a stopgap.
Mitch’s bike was back together and we proceeded to try and get the electronics as close to Sam’s as we could, using a previous generation of controller and by all rights it should have worked.
Arriving at the starting line, we ran second pair out, against Mitch as he was the #5 qualifier, and Larry McBride as #1 got a bye run in the first round.
First pair was Ian King and Dave Vantine squaring off. Dave had a good leave and Ian went up in smoke just after the launch.
We were next and after the burnout, Mitch experienced the haunting by the gremlins experienced earlier. Seeing he was broken I let Mike Dryden know and as he staged Sam, he relayed that information. The idea here was to not have Sam wait too long for Mitch and overheat the motor or the clutch. This wasn’t a good idea it turns out as Sam is singularly focused on the tree once he lights the first bulb. This threw his routine off and he didn’t get that last bit of throttle needed to start all the management systems and the bike never really got going.
The only good thing here was that we discovered this in a situation where we were afforded a “competition (earned) bye” for the next round by virtue of Larry having received a bye in the first round and it was a five bike (uneven numbered) field.
So the next round was Larry McBride versus Dave Vantine, with us having a solo bye run. Dave and Larry left together and just flew. Side by side five second runs were just missed with Larry running a 6.04 to Dave’s 6.06. Dave also ran 239 mph, a huge speed.
We decided to run the right lane to get some data there as it was likely that Larry’s 6.04 would be capable of putting us in that lane as we had only run a best of 6.11 on Saturday and nothing stellar the first round today.
After the burnout and pushback, Sam staged and left right on time with an .031 second reaction time. Otherworldly on a Top Fuel motorcycle. He got a little over to the left of the lane, near the centerline and stayed on it. His 6.02 e.t was amazing. He definitely earned his cookie for that bit of riding!
There is a photo on our Facebook that shows the three side by side on the return road after the passes. We got to show Sam his time slip and he got to have lane choice by virtue of the 6.02. There was a bit of an Oklahoma jig when he learned that.
Nick had ridden down with us when Bruno headed back I looked back and lo and behold Nick was back a ways, just trotting along. I seem to be leaving my guys behind in one fashion or another.
We got back to the pits and it was definitely a positive moment for everyone.
Servicing the bike, we still had a bit of high leakage on #3 and #4 cylinders, but since it hadn’t changed from before the run, we elected to stay with that motor. All the valve clearances measured within specs, and after the adjustments, we were ready. We got a little extra time because the 6.04 had cost Larry a motor and they were needing a bit more time to complete the switch and adjustments.
Rolling up to the starting line it was definitely tense as here we all were, having run 6.0’s the round before and the air getting better and the possibility of side by side 5’s looming.
After the burnouts, the tension was so thick you could nearly reach out and grab a handful of it.
Staging was done carefully and as the lights came on, evidently something happened and Sam went red by .001 of a second. It may have been the vibration of the bike, or some other thing, but it is virtually unheard of to be red by that amount.
What really hurt was that Sam ran a 6.11 to Larry’s 6.23.
On the big end, Larry and Sam didn’t know who won as they were concentrating on the riding, not the little white light at the finish line.
Larry had already congratulated Sam and when we got there and let them know, the congratulations were reversed. We gave Larry’s crew their props and headed back.
Sam was really hard on himself, unduly. Videos showed a green bulb before the bike moved, but the track didn’t want to hear about it so there it stood.
All in all it was a race we made more tuning progress than any other single race I had worked for the team at, and it served notice that we could consistently get down the track, using more tuning weapons in the arsenal. The ability to do this was a quantum leap for the group.
Loading up and heading north, we arrived home in the early afternoon and I finished the day at the shop with a pretty short four hour workday, catching up on what had transpired while we were away.
As an epilogue, Clyde Day, in his inimitable way, pointed out that the single 233 mph pass was before we removed some more primary weight, and the lower mph and torched exhaust valves was because we didn’t add the weight back on elsewhere in the clutch, as there is a minimum amount of clamping force needed to transmit the power and that is a function of the total weight on the clutch arms. So arms # 6, 7 ,8, and 9 will need more added to them. That will be on the agenda because running big speed can be an intimidation factor in competition and you can run someone down on the big end if things don’t go perfectly at the beginning of the run.
So there you go with a bit of clutch tuning intrigue.
We are making reservations for the motel room at Wendover for the Bonneville outing in August and will keep you all up to date on that.