Beautiful if hot today – a Great Race course that took us through the cool glades of the Allegheny National Forest and then down the valley of the Allegheny River. We were out after the spindly Model T Speedster today, and it made for some very fine photos. Unfortunately, the dumb driver left the camera turned on in his pocket, so we might not have more pix to share after today!
We could tell from our course instructions this morning that this would be a day that helped us figure out where we’ve been making errors. The morning was a driver’s test – all speed holding and changing, with few stops or turns. Then the afternoon run was the reverse – LOTS of stops and corners, with limited steady-speed distances. Before I tell you the results, let me tell you about the ride. We left the Adam’s Mark hotel in downtown Buffalo, NY – quite a hubbub at the fountain in front – like a car show of old!
We rolled south through Seneca territory and past Seneca Lake. Did you know that New York has more Indian reservations than any other sate? 64, in fact. Today we drove through at least one! As we crossed a reservoir; we saw a big nest in the top of a lamppost on the bridge. Coulda been osprey – but that white head and the size of it all told us Bald Eagle, the All-American bird for our All-American race! The Forest was cool and green, but as it opened into rolling farmland (including some Amish); the weather grew hotter and heavier. The heat started to take its toll on people and cars – spacing around us got all wrong – but we were pretty sure we were OK.
When we rolled into Franklin, PA; they had a lunch spread set for us in the shady city park! Perfect. The Franklin area is where oil (petroleum that is, not whale oil or salad oil) was first discovered (and the reason for the ‘Quaker State’ brand!). Just think, none of this Great Racing or the very cars we use would ever have existed without that discovery – and at the time, they thought it was a useless byproduct of the natural gas they were seeking.
Rally master John Classen cooked up some devilish turns and twists in the afternoon, and it quickly became clear that we had a real challenge on our hands, managing the brakes that are suffering a combination of fade, wear, and grab-and-lock; almost as bad as last year when we had the cracked drum! It becomes impossible to predict or smoothly control deceleration braking rates of times. This is doubly annoying because we rebuilt these brakes completely after the last year’s debacle. GRRR. On top of that it was hot enough to melt brains – and I really did overload at one intersection, tracking speed, deceleration rate, traffic from the left, traffic oncoming, brake pedal feel & fade, timing for the stop, and turning to the right. All at once. I forgot to even call my mark and then failed to fully stop, when the light turned green. A classic overload meltdown. I’m blaming the brakes – that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
Sure enough, when we picked up our scores, it was a very solid 1 second late and 2 seconds early in the morning; but 21 and 27 seconds early in the afternoon. In the morning – no stop signs; but afternoon legs had more than a dozen each. If I call a mid-point mark during decel, but then the final part of slowing to a stop comes much slower due to brake fade; then the even with a perfect accel; the mark-to-mark time Dave records will be longer than the real mid-speeds interval – so he’ll call for a larger correction to make up time we really didn’t lose. If that error is 1-2 seconds for each stop this afternoon – that would account for our entire error scores! Dave has gone to get yesterday’s records to see if the same holds true there too. He’ll likely stop to help with the 1907 Renault (with which he has fallen in mechanical lust/love).
Our evening stop and meal was in Warren, Ohio – at the Packard Museum. Packards were first built here, before moving to Detroit. The museum was grand – with beautiful Packard examples of all eras, including a speedster from South America, that looked ready to go with us! The building is interesting – the main entrance having the shape of the famous Packard grille.
But rain did come (you can’t pump that much heat into the air without scaring up a storm!). In classic Great Race style, we all coped. Here’s a particularly stylish example.
Tomorrow, we are 75th out, almost last. So we’ll have some time to pull the left front drum and see if there is a broken return spring or lining damage, or even just too much dust build-up. We can hardly make it worse, but I’d be REALLY pleased to have viable braking for the rest of this GREAT RACE!