Author Topic: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune  (Read 9274 times)

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September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« on: September 12, 2011, 01:18:27 AM »
Drag Week registration and test 'n tune was today at Heartland Park in Topeka Kansas.  You had to be in the registration line by 2:00 PM in order to get registered for the event.  After our long night last night Joel and I slept in today until 8:30, and then after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel we headed for the track.  My Mapquest directions turned out to be wrong, so it took us about an hour to make a 15 minute drive, but shortly after 10:00 we rolled into Heartland park to register for the event.

We decided to take the car off the trailer and get it ready to race, and then get into the registration line.  This line moves very, VERY slowly, and its not unusual to be in line for a couple of hours.  When we got to the track the line was already over 50 cars long; it turned out at the end of the day that 177 cars registered for Drag Week, the biggest turnout ever.  As we got the car out of the trailer and began putting it together a bunch of old friends came up and said hello.  Drag Week is a fabulous community of racers, and I've made lots of friends there over the years.  Its kind of like a big annual get together for the event each year, and I have to say that I enjoy seeing all my old pals just as much as the race itself.

Before we took the car out of the trailer, I filled it with water again.  I had drained the water with the Moroso ceramic sealer in it out of the car after we'd put it on the trailer at BradFORD's shop, because you aren't supposed to leave it in for more than 24 hours, so I had to refill the engine before we started the car.  After this the car started up cold with no problem, and backing it out of the trailer was uneventful.  Compared to the Galaxie this car is easy to put on the trailer, and you can even open the door a little to get into the car when its is in the trailer.  The Galaxie is so wide that after it was in the trailer I always had to climb out the window to get out of the dang thing, so the Mustang is a lot easier to deal with from this perspective.

Work on the car under the hood involved putting the injector stacks on in place of the short stacks with the air cleaners, and adding the belt and additional AN line for the vacuum pump.  Last time I'd used the injector stacks was on the dyno, and they had been all taped up with duct tape to seal them to the air box, so I had to take some time and clean all the duct tape adhesive off the stacks before I installed them.  Then with the help of one of the guys who came by to say hello, I got the belt tightened on the vacuum pump, but discovered after it was tightened that some of the other bracket bolts holding the pump in place needed to be snugged up too.  We left that for later.

While I was working under the hood, Joel took off the exhaust system and bolted on the race tires.  After looking at the clearance between the tires and the wheelwells, we decided that the car had better go up in back a little to gain some tire clearance.  In addition, the slicks were awfully close to the front of the wheelwells at the rocker panel, with maybe only 1/2" clearance.  This was kind of confusing to me, because when I built the car I had bolted on the slicks from the Galaxie to check this clearance.  The Galaxie uses the exact same Hoosier slicks and the same size and offset wheels, and I'd swear they had a lot more clearance to the wheelwell, but in any case we had what we had, and had to make the best of it.  The first step was to raise the rear coilovers a notch on the mounting brackets to gain some clearance.  This helped a lot, but we still had some areas of the inner wheel well where the clearance was suspect.  Joel took off the tires and began gaining more clearance with the ball peen hammer; here he is hammering on the car:

This helped a lot, but we still had an issue at the front of the left side rocker panel.  Since this area bordered on the outside of the car's body, Joel handed the hammer off to me.  I taped up the corner of the rocker at the leading edge of the wheelwell so that I wasn't banging directly on the paint, and hammered away to get another 1/4" or so of clearance.  Some of the paint came off, but there didn't appear to be any damage to the outside of the rocker panel, so overall this worked out OK.  While I was pounding on the car, Joel began telling some unsuspecting spectators that I was beating on my "original" 69 Shelby Mustang with a ball peen hammer.  He then pointed out how I had cut up the "original" hood so that the injector stacks would poke through.  After I got done with the hammer I had to reassure these people that the car was a clone, and not an original.  I can see that Joel is planning on having fun with this all week; I will have to stick a "misinformation" sign on his back or something, so people don't believe what he says...

The last thing we could do for tire clearance in the back was to adjust the four link setup to move the rear end back 1/4" or so.  But I wasn't ready to do that yet; I hadn't yet decided where to position the four link bars for racing.  At BradFORD's shop I had measured all the critical dimensions, and had planned to make a CAD drawing of their location so I could calculate instant center and anti-squat percentage at the different bar positions, and therefore make an intelligent decision on where to put the bars.  But I was hoping to talk to Larry Larson about that before I did so.  Larry is the guy who has been the overall winner of Drag Week for the last 3 years, and he is a chassis builder by trade, so I figured he would have some good advice for me.  By this time it was about 11:30, so we decided to hook the trailer on the car and get in the registration line.  I planned to make my CAD drawing while in the registration line, and hopefully bump into Larry sometime at the track and ask him about setting up the four link.

We put the trailer ball on the car and attached the trailer, then I started the car and drove it into the registration line.  The car seemed to start a little harder this time.  Hmmmm....  Here's a picture of the car with the trailer attached, waiting in the registration line:

Once in line I started on my drawing, but didn't get too far until I had to start the car and move it forward to keep it in the line.  The car started hard again this time; it seemed to be starting harder as it got warmer.  I continued to work away on my CAD drawing when who should sit down in the passenger seat but Larry Larson!  Joel had bumped into him on his way to the concession stand, and pointed out to my car, so Larry came over to say hello and look at the four link setup.  He said that he thought for my car that the ideal setup to try first would be to have a couple of degrees of down angle on the lower bar, and 13-15 degrees of down angle on the upper bar.  Unfortunately, the way the car sits in the back, it was not possible to get any down angle on the lower bar; the best I could do was a few degrees of up angle.  Larry said I would probably have to live with this, but could probably make it work, since it wasn't a real high horsepower car (Larry's idea of high horsepower is 1500+).  He suggested an instant center about 40 inches in front of the rear end, so I should adjust the four link bars accordingly.  I thanked Larry for his help and continued working on the CAD drawing in the car so I would have a decent frame of reference for the adjustments.

After I got the initial part of the CAD drawing done, I crawled underneath the car to look at the four link setup.  While I was laying on the ground some people came up and started talking about my car, and I looked up and it was a bunch of the guys from Rockford Il who we had raced with at DW09.  Curt, Roger, Bubba, and some of the other guys were there; it sounds like they are running a couple of late model Mustangs with BBC engines this year.  Joel came over and we had a good time talking about the events in 2007 and 2009, and generally catching up with them.  One guy who wasn't there was a guy named Mike, who runs a Pro Street S-10 pickup that runs in the low 8s.  Apparently his wife is seriously ill, and I was really sorry to hear about that because he's a great guy also.  Those kinds of things put the whole event in perspective for me; to me at this point Drag Week is more about the people than about the race, and its too bad to hear news like that.  I wish Mike and his wife the best.

Pretty soon again the line moved, and I had to start the car and move it up again.  This time it started really hard, and backfired and popped through the exhaust several times before I got it running.  The line was moving in stretches of 10-12 cars, so when I stopped again I'd left the Rockford guys behind.  I got out of the car and took a couple of shots of the registration line.  In the first photo the you can see Larry Larson's Nova, just behind the red car:

After taking the photos I got back to work on the CAD drawing.  Just as I finished it up and decided where I was going to put my four link bars, the line moved again.  As I prepared to start the car, though, Fordsel's son Clint came up and said hi.  They are here with Fordsel's FE powered car, and apparently they unexpectedly bent a pushrod earlier in the day.  Clint wanted to know if I had any spare pushrods, but of course with the cammer motor I don't need spare pushrods ( ;D), so I couldn't help him out.  It sounded like they had a work around to the problem, but I promised to keep an eye open for anyone who might be running an FE and have some extras.  Then, I tried to start the car, but repeated attempts yielded no start.  The car continued to pop back through the exhaust, like it had a timing issue or something.  After a couple of minutes of trying I decided to push the car up in line, assisted by Clint and some other guys.  Next time the line moved, it was the same thing; no start.  Some of the guys helped me push the car up towards the head of the registration line, and I parked it there while the line went around me.

Lucky for me Scott Clark (Dieselgeek on this forum) was attending the first couple of days of the event.  He is an EFI expert and the technical representative for the ems-pro EFI system.  I gave him a call; he was up at the starting line at the track, but promised to come by and help within a few minutes.  When Scott arrived we hooked up the laptop so he could watch what was happening while I was trying to start the engine.  He saw that the crank signal was cutting in and out.  I had seen this same problem on the dyno, but it had eventually gone away.  Scott thought that it might be a battery voltage problem, and suggested we go back to the truck and trailer to check it out.  But since I was already at the front of the registration line, we decided that we would just push the car through registration.  My pal Vince in his black GTO let us cut in front of him, and Scott and some other guys helped me push the car up to registration.

After we went through the registration process, we pushed the car all the way back to Joel's truck and trailer.  Not exactly the way I wanted to start the event.  As I cranked the engine we did some datalogs on the EFI system and the battery voltage appeared to be sufficient.  The car did start this time, and based on the fuel required to run at idle, we made some changes to the cranking fuel numbers in the EFI program to lean out the fuel during cranking.  We were still seeing the problem with the crank signal cutting out during cranking though, and this was the reason the engine was backfiring in the headers.  The crank signal would cut out for a moment, and then start up again, and when the engine fired it would ignite the fuel air that had gone into the exhaust while the crank signal was out.  The engine would pop and backfire, and with the additional fuel it made it difficult to start.

Scott wanted to look at the crank sensor, check the gap on it and look at the wiring, etc., so we jacked up the car so he could get underneath.  Right away he focused on the connector between the crank sensor and the cable.  I had put a connector there so that the wiring harness could stay in the car if the engine was pulled, but Scott thought that the terminals of the connector weren't making good contact, possibly because they were pushing out of the connector when it was pushed together.  I crawled under the car to look myself, and sure enough he was right.  An intermittent or poor quality connection would possibly cause the problems we were seeing.

We decided to cut the connector out of the harness, and solder the harness cable directly to the wires coming out of the crank sensor.  Scott had brought his soldering station and solder with him, and Joel's trailer has an inverter to plug it in, so within about ten minutes I was stripping the wires under the car and  soldering the three crank sensor wires together.  I taped them up with electrical tape, and then we tried to start the car again.  This time it fired right up without me even having to touch the accelerator pedal, and Scott reported that the crank signal looked fine.  Further testing over the next several hours gave identical results, with the car starting reliably each time.  So I think this problem appears to be resolved.

By now it was 4:00 PM; we had spent at least two hours in line for registration and another 30 minutes registering the  car, plus the time repairing the crank sensor connection.  The test and tune was still going on, but there was more work to do on the car.  While I'd been under the car soldering, some water had been dripping slowly down from the remote thermostat housing; there appeared to be a leak there.  Joel got going disassembling that to fix it, while I crawled under the back end of the car and started putting the four link bars where I wanted them.  This took a lot more time than I had expected, and I wasn't even half done before the track announcer came on to say that the test and tune was ending in 15 minutes.  No way I was going to be running the car today.  At 6:00 the organizers of the event were having beer and pizza at the registration building, so we got finished up with the work on the car by 6:15 or so and headed over there for free beer.  We bumped into some of the people we'd already seen, including Bill Fowler, who ran some 9.70s today with his Lima engined 71 Mustang.  Again it was great to catch up with everybody.

Around 7:30 Joel and I went back to the truck and trailer.  I finished up a couple of things on the car, including draining the  pump gas and putting race gas in the tank, then we loaded the trailer and headed back for the hotel.  When we got to the hotel I started programming in the shift light parameters and the rev limiter parameters into the ems-pro software.  I had a question about some of this so I called Scott Clark again, and he mentioned that he was having dinner with a few of the Drag Week guys at the Applebees right down the street from our hotel.  Joel and I talked it over and decided to join them, so we had a bench racing dinner with Scott, Bill Fowler, Jeff McConnel, and a couple of other guys.  It was really a blast sitting there talking cars, and Jeff gave me some pretty good advice on the four link setup, based on his own experiences.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to reset the bars to some slightly different positions based on Jeff's comments.

Drag Week 2011 starts tomorrow, and I'm going in completely cold.  We will have to see how the car runs and take our chances.  I understand that there are three or four other cars in our class, but with the work today getting the car ready to go I had no chance to go scout them out and find out about them, so I guess we'll see where the chips fall tomorrow.  It promises to be an interesting day.  I'll post another update tomorrow night.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2011, 01:20:33 AM by jayb »
Jay Brown
- 1969 Mach 1, Drag Week 2005 Winner NA/BB, 511" FE (10.60s @ 129); Drag Week 2007 Runner-Up PA/BB, 490" Supercharged FE (9.35 @ 151)
- 1964 Ford Galaxie, Drag Week 2009 Winner Modified NA (9.50s @ 143), 585" SOHC
- 1969 Shelby Clone, Drag Week 2015 Winner Modified NA (Average 8.98 @ 149), 585" SOHC



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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 01:46:30 AM »
I had tears in my eyes with your describing that mischievous Trunk Monkeys tales of your hammering on and cutting up a SHELBY.  The Trunk Monkeys could have really horrified 'em and told them that it's a late model OHC Modular FORD and you'd SOLD the original 428CJ and 4-spd for scrap-metal.
       May the Force be with you   ....having the luck of John Force's MUSTANG would not be bad either.


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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2011, 04:53:10 AM »
Good luck Jay, looks to be a good weather week for the midwest, so go get 'em.

- 70 Fastback Mustang, 489 cid FE, Victor, SEFI, Erson SFT cam, TKO-600 5 speed, 4.11 9 inch.
- 71 F100 shortbed 4x4, 461 cid FE, headers, Victor Pro-flo EFI, Comp Custom HFT cam, 3.50 9 inch


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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 05:11:41 AM »
Jay, you have already won by just getting there, have fun & i wish you the best of luck!....Craig


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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 05:52:20 AM »
Glad you made it, Jay.  Good luck!

After all the bad luck you had in the past couple of months, maybe things will fall into place now.  In any case you've done a hell of job just getting there. 



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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 11:21:45 AM »
Plus one to all the above comments!


Kerry j

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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2011, 08:48:42 PM »
You're da man Jay, I'm in awe of how much you get done. Sure hope the car does it's part for you after all you're thrashing!

alans 64

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Re: September 11, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Test n Tune
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 02:46:22 PM »
Sorry for all the rotten luck Jay.  was looking forward to coming out to the strip tomorrow and meet you in person. keep us updated.


64 comet caliente 427 fe, couple of 4 bbls, toploader, 9" and a few other goodies.
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