FIR­ING UP

Chevy High Performance - - Contents -

Doh! Be­ing “that guy” at Holley LS Fest West 2

Back in early May, we drove the Chevy High Per­for­mance ’71 Camaro project and a few other com­pany project cars out to the 2018 Holley LS Fest West in Las Ve­gas. Weeks prior, we spent a good amount of time ty­ing up loose ends on the car and we were look­ing for­ward to get­ting seat time on the au­tocross, road course, and dragstrip.

The 270-mile drive out to Las Ve­gas went flaw­less. The car ran great and I was feel­ing like we had a com­pet­i­tive ride that would do re­ally well at the event.

On Fri­day, the first day of the event, I got a cou­ple of shake­down laps on the au­tocross. Af­ter get­ting locked in on the course and putting in some ag­gres­sive runs, the rear of the car felt a lit­tle loose so we made a sus­pen­sion ad­just­ment and the car re­sponded pos­i­tively by knock­ing off one sec­ond from our time. Right on.

At this point, I was start­ing to get con­fi­dent in the car and fig­ured it was time to see what it would do on the dragstrip. Af­ter a tech check I was ready for a few quar­ter-mile blasts down the fa­mous Strip at Las Ve­gas. I ac­tu­ally ran it there last year but had a driveline vi­bra­tion so I shut it down early as to not do any dam­age to the car or my­self.

Anx­ious for some straight­line ac­tion this year, I got in the stag­ing lanes early and man­aged to be one of the first cars to line up. I ran in what Holley calls the Grand Cham­pion class, which in­cludes all the cars run­ning in the au­tocross, road course, and 3S Chal­lenge. The cars in that class must run 200 or greater tread­wear street tires. That alone makes for in­ter­est­ing launches and not-so-in­ter­est­ing 60-foot times.

Fi­nally, our class gets called to the dragstrip for time tri­als. Af­ter a quick burnout to clean the tires, I stage the car. At this point I re­al­ize I for­got to ask if we are run­ning a Pro Tree or Sports­man Tree. All the am­ber lights come on at once. Crap! We’re run­ning a Pro Tree! I panic and dump the clutch with the rpm way too high and in­stantly spin the tires. All I need is a slow re­ac­tion time so my buds can make fun of me for “sleep­ing” on the line. Too late. Re­ac­tion time sucked. It’s all good. I’ll just mash the pedal the rest of the way to see what the car will do on the top end and worry about e.t. on my next pass.

Un­for­tu­nately, there wouldn’t be a next pass as the en­gine de­cided to spray some fresh 5W-30 on the head­ers, caus­ing a ma­jor smoke fest from about half­track on—all without my knowl­edge. The only in­di­ca­tion of some­thing be­ing wrong is when I saw the safety ve­hi­cles ap­proach­ing the track with their emer­gency lights flash­ing. My first thought was some­thing must be wrong with the car in the other lane. (Poor guy.) I looked over and saw noth­ing wrong with that car, so ap­par­ently their sights were on me.

I glance in my side-view mir­ror and see a huge trail of smoke.

Crap! I in­stantly let off the throt­tle and pull to the side of the track as quickly as pos­si­ble as to not leave oil down the mid­dle of the track. Too late for that. The dam­age was done.

I am now “that guy.” You know, the guy who oiled down the track and caused a good 30 min­utes of down­time. The guy who every racer in line is hat­ing on be­cause of said down­time. The guy who I used to think was ir­re­spon­si­ble for not hav­ing his car in proper work­ing order. Yep, and I’m now that guy be­cause of a failed 10-cent rub­ber dip­stick O-ring!

I gotta tell ya – it re­ally sucks to be “that guy.”

I’m sure there are quite a few of you who have been that guy, or gal, due to a faulty part that costs less than a dol­lar. If so, I want to hear your story. Hit me up at nick.li­cata@mo­tortrend.com.

Project Or­ange Krate, our 1971 Camaro is in here some­where do­ing its best James Bond smoke­screen im­i­ta­tion.

If you break down on the dragstrip, you’ll be pro­vided with a free ride back to your pit stall, also known as the “ride of shame.”

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