LEAVING LAS VEGAS
ON TUESDAY we were back at Motech to get the new fan installed, as well as a larger radiator. Not long after lunchtime the job was complete, and Mark was finally able to drive the Valiant with temperatures staying level. Escape from Las Vegas was in sight.
The car was packed up with all the luggage, the Mickey Thompson drag radials strapped to the roof, and Steve was sent to the airport to return the hire car. Mark started up POR440 with a rumble and with some waves to the folks at Motech we were on our way.
But not more than two kilometres down the street, the motor went silent. It was the school rush hour and horns blared as Mark tried to find his way to the side of the road. Refired – okay, let’s go. Then silence again. Refired. Silence. I don’t know that I have ever seen a man look as defeated as Mark did right then. After two days solving problem after problem, another issue had seemingly materialised out of thin air. Parked on the dust near a Breaking
Bad-style RV, Mark lifted the bonnet one more time. He got in touch with Haltech in Australia, who were able to do a live session on the ECU and sort out the issue. It turned out there was too much pressure being built up in the cooling system, and the engine management system was automatically shutting off the LS when the pressure reached a cut-off point.
Happily, the boys from Motech arrived on the scene and quickly diagnosed the problem. An O-ring from a filter used earlier to fill the cooling system had become lodged just under the radiator cap, preventing it from venting properly. Once the pesky piece of rubber was removed, the system functioned properly and finally, mercifully, POR440 could begin its journey.
The LS1 sung sweetly along the interstate, attracting curious looks from other road users. Subtlety is not POR440’S strong point. We picked up Steve from the airport and three miles were added to the tally before the motor began to surge.
Sitting on the roadside sweating in the heat, we opened another live session with Haltech, who switched the fuel pumps and brought life to the motor once more. It really was like having a virtual mechanic along for the ride.
Movement brought air flow and cooled us down as we left Las Vegas behind, heading for a brief stop at Hoover Dam. With the sun already having set, we wouldn’t see much, but it was Hoover Dam or bust and Mark was going to damn well see it. And he did.
Tourist stop complete, POR440 barrelled along the highway as lightning flickered on the horizon from a distant thunderstorm. Only the need for fuel would stop us, along with the need for sleep.
A word on passenger comfort. The Valiant was made into a three-seater by Mark before the trip, with a race seat sitting atop the rear tinwork between the rollcage. As the youngest and most flexible of the team, it was my job to fold my way into the back seat several times a day, requiring a graceful fall over the rollcage bar and into the bucket. Getting out required a limbo underneath the rollbar, hanging onto the top of the ’cage like some kind of strange jungle gym. I guess she’s built for speed, not for comfort.
Just when the guys thought everything was sorted, a cooling system pressure issue reared its head. But it was an easy fix, and the Val was finally on its way out of LV