The Season Begins

Photo for The Season Begins

The racing season has begun for us and, as always, the sweet scent of orange blossoms from central Florida brings us to Sebring.

Honey Bee's main motor will not be finished until April sometime so Kevin has installed the backup Prather motor we bought from Russ Mowry last July. It was one heck of a motor in 2008 but has not been used since 2009. Russ said he turned it over fairly often and when Kevin opened up the oil pan it looked fine. I was happy, but concerned, as the motor had sat in New Hampshire going through cycles of minus 15 to 95 degrees for 9 years. Kevin got the motor running and Rosemary and I appeared in Culpeper, VA, home of Richards Auto Technologies or R.A.T. for short, on Saturday eve. Fortunately the weather was good. We've gotten ready for Sebring in sub zero a few times, so 50 degrees was wonderful. Sunday we took HB to a chassis dyno shop and worked her out through about 5 runs. Re-jetted and moved timing up a bit, adjusted valves and we ended up with a solid 9 HP gain. Monday was spent finding all the "stuff" that needs to be in the trailer which was scattered in a dozen places. We found all of it and Tuesday morning took her over for a front end alignment. About 3:30 Tuesday afternoon we headed south. The trip was pretty uneventful (thankfully). We found a great spot in the Sebring paddock with 50 amp electric (go air conditioning) and Ford Heacock moved in next door and the Chief and Bob Coleman were our tent mates.

Sunrise at Sebring

SVRA nominated this event as the free entry for MG's race. Over 20 have shown up including 6 MGA's. This morning was the usual drivers meeting at 07;30 and I was up and going at a little after 6. I was greeted by a spectacular sunrise that was glorious to see. We were ready for this mornings practice session and I figured to take it easy on the motor and shake the cobwebs from my driving. The darn motor ran just fine. It pulled well and did not stumble at all like the main motor. The tires were not great as they were the same ones we had used at VIR and COTA in the fall but still driveable. I am getting better with the Quaife transmission and had a great time with a very fast MGB and some 356's. Times were excellent at 2:48 which was enough to put us fastest in group 1. I was pleased but knew darn well the sandbaggers were waiting for the afternoon and the first qualifying session.

The temperatures were in the mid 80's and the track was hot and a bit slippery. On the first lap Dawn Myers locked brakes and spun, on the 2nd lap Steve Schultz did a monster spin in front of a gaggle of Porsches and me but we missed him. The Devil Pete Uzduvanis and his midget was able to come up to me as I went way off into the dirt to miss Steve. He went by me into turn one but I got a run on him into two and re-passed. Suddenly he was gone. I found out later his rotor and distributor cap had cracked. Chris Myers MGA was sitting on the side of the road after another couple laps but old Honey Bee and her older driver continued cranking it out. The combo of the old tires and slippery track made for a lot of fun slides and drifts but I felt we were doing just fine. The laps did not feel any faster than the morning but still pretty quick.

Putting on Helmet

The news? After qualifying one we are 13th overall and first in group 1 out of 35 group 1,3 and 4 cars. This evening Chris Meyers and the MGVR club and I hosted a burger, beer, hot dogs and peanuts party. Poor Chief Carl George lost his clutch and decided not to have us pitch in and change it and is headed home in the morning. He will be back at the end of the month at Road Atlanta with his very quick black roadster. Larry Smith's midget lost some carb parts, Chris Meyers problem was the front crankshaft nut that holds the pulley came off. I never heard that one before. We ended up just fine. Oil pressure was great all session at 62, oil temp at 210, water temp at 180. Our exhaust temps were high on one side and perfect on the other and I am not sure exactly what to do. We jetted up on fuel when EGT's were close to 1300 in the morning and I don't want to go any richer.

So the first day of the new season ended really well. The motor, while not as powerful, is driving well and pulling her own. I'm back to about 90% driving and hoping to see a 2:46 tomorrow. We've done 2:46's and even the occasional 2:45 here before so I know it is possible. But racing cars is probably the least predictable sport ever invented so Lord knows what will happen on Saturday. We are out at 11am for qual 2 and 2:50pm for our first race. Sunday is another points race in the morning and the all MG feature just before the TransAm big event.

It's good to be back and don't think for a minute we're not going to go for our 6th championship. Lewis Hamilton - eat your heart out. I'm coming for you.

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Last updated on March 12, 2019.