What I Did on my Summer Vacation by Meredydd Francke

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For those of us truly experiencing the “winter” season, we thought it would be a good time to reminisce about warm weather and racing. Below are pages drawn  from Meredydd’s racing journal that are sure to entertain and maybe warm you up a bit.

My summer vacation began in June with a race at Sebring in my Vintage Datsun. What a weekend. First group out at 8AM, I made it to turn 4, where my trusty little 510 just stopped. Dead. In the road. It seems Crew removed an unnamed piece of metal from the engine compartment and laid it aside, and when I made the second right-hand turn on the track, this mysterious little piece of metal slid over and touched the coil. You got it, no power!

Got that fixed and went out in the first race, and again had a where-did-the-power-go problem. Towed in again. Sigh. This time we found that because there was wire bunched up in the distributor, the rotor came around and snatched it up. Another meeting with the tow truck guy. Crew Assistant was apparently responsible for “extra” wire in the rotor cap.

Actually finished the second race on Saturday, but the front end was hunting on braking and cornering, and since I had no idea what was causing this somewhat entertaining problem, to mention the low brake pedal, I just mumbled along and waited for the checker. Meanwhile of course everyone out there was just screaming past me…

Another Datsun racer came to our aid, and pointed out that there was no fluid in the steering box, that the steering wheel needed to be tightened, and that the camber needed to be adjusted, and that we should add a couple of pounds of air to the tires. The brakes were bled, and the rears adjusted up. Crew seemed to think that since it was just a little ex-ITC car, it didn’t need much in the way of maintenance. Grrr.

Sunday was a success – I could hardly believe it, and I actually beat someone, a really sharp lady in a Bugeye, who had her own share of troubles for about a year before everything came together.

Next was July 4th at Roebling Road, a double South Atlantic Road Racing Championship event, which I think I have already spun you a story about. At least I got two laps in…

Up a few weeks later, back to Sebring – and am I ever glad I have a Cool Shirt! Saturday went surprisingly well, and again I beat the little red Bugeye in the morning race and made good progress learning my new car.

Saturday afternoon was hot, as only an airport in Central Florida can be. Several drivers decided not to go out, and I guess I should have also. The goal was to beat the Bugeye again, keep the water temp around 180 degrees, and no higher than 200, and have fun.

Apparently my big mistake was glancing at the oil pressure gauge, which hovered around 40psi. Hmmm… The water temp rose to 200, the oil pressure gauge quivered, and I thought maybe the smart thing to do would be short-shift at about 5500 rpm (3rd gear is a real screamer, hits 6500 part-way through the Carousel, a long right-left turn onto the back straight). That worked fine, until I went into the carousel turn a little too late and in 4th gear – ran over a rumble strip, lost traction, slid, caught it, lost it again, and ended up hitting the right-side guardrail. KE-RUNCH. Ouch. Poor car – again it went back to the paddock on a hook. And we had just installed a new front valance, which was broken. The hood and both fenders have some nasty bends and creases too.

So last Saturday we went to Sarasota and bought a donor car and a couple of fenders and another hood. We had to bring our own wheels which we had borrowed from my Datsun to put on the new car. There was no steering wheel, so the wheel was turned with the aid of huge vice grips, and then it was winched into our trailer and tied down for the trip home. Sunday we towed the new Datsun up the road a couple of hours and left it with a wizard of an auto body guy and started home.

Then, as we approached a rest stop on I-95 there was a muffled “whump” noise, and I immediately said “tire”. And it was a fairly spectacular blowout on a trailer tire. Into the rest area – Ken got out the jack and a spare tire. But oops – the air compressor was empty, so first we had to find an electrical outlet and fill the tank.

Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll go back to Mims with my injured car, leave it there for whatever it needs – some time on the frame machine, cutting here, welding there, hammering, and a new paint job. Zinc Yellow, just like my street Ford Focus.

On August 8th we leave for a week in Louisiana, a part of my summer vacation that will not include anything that even partly resembles race cars.

THE END OF MY SUMMER VACATION

Postscript:

As I think I mentioned, this was the worst-ever season! I did get some reasonable times in the Sprite on the Long Course at Sebring at an event called Turkey Trot, the weekend after Thanksgiving – but then on attempting to shift into 4th gear at around 7200 RPM, there was a horrid, shrieking metallic sound – eeeek! then I was allowed to finish my shift, and almost didn’t go into the hot pits – glad I did – sheared all the bolts off the clutch. But hey, the engine ran fine, be grateful for small favors, I always say.

And then yesterday we drove up to where my 510 B Sedan Vintage Datsun has been in surgery for a total makeover – it is soooo beautiful – the 1800cc engine is in it, and now we have to finish making it go faster before doing a test day and its next race.

Yes, we lived in CT for 2 years, 6 months, 2 weeks, 4 days and 27 minutes – like to froze my whatsis off – I can remember little piles of snow beside the track at Louden, NH – as well as incredible fog, and I think this was May or June.

Read more about Meredydd and her escapades on our forum by clicking here!

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