Day Three


Street Machine - - Driver Reviver -

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

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