Dean's SLC at Run and Gun

This was the first real running of the car. I had driven the car at Hallett earlier this year but when you set all the adjustments to zero and work from there you can’t really call it a true run for the car.

I arrived at the track on Thursday for a private shack down with about 8 of my buddies. The car was close on the setup but I knew I would have to do some tuning. I should tell all of you that the tires I am running where given to me by Fran when I picked up the car in late 2011 and they were already used from his race car. Needless to say, I wasn't on fresh slicks but that’s OK. I wanted to run 2 sessions on Thursday about an hour each. That way I could better control the heat cycles.

After about 45 minutes on the track I was dying of thirst and my lips were chapped and I had to pee so I came in. I really don’t know how the pro’s do it! The car felt good but it was a little slick in general. Not tight or loose, just felt slick on the track. I also felt the car slip more in the high speed left handers. I really just wanted to take Thursday and get use to the car. I had a new seat and I didn't’t have much time with a Hans Device. The other much larger struggle was getting use to a car with significant down force.

I had about 2 hours of track time Thursday and was growing more comfortable with the car but by around 3pm a nasty dust storm rolled in and that was the end of the day. Remember, I was just doing laps but I was at around 1:27 which is not good. The GT40 was faster than that as well as a few cobra’s.

Friday morning started off OK. I took tire pressures and they were all at 26 psi and it was around 60 degrees so I decided to check them again after a few laps. The heated up to between 31 and 32 degrees but that was with a different gauge. (you can see where I’m headed with this!) It turns out my gauge was off and I had more pressure in the tires than I thought. That probably added to the “slick” feeling and lower tire temps. The tires only heated up to 120ish on the outside to 135ish on the inside pretty much all around. The current camber settings are -1.8 in the front and -1.5 in the rear with 1/8 toe out in the front and 1/16 toe in in the rear. I didn't’t understand why I didn't have more heat but I had much more air than I ultimately needed.

I called and talked with Fran about a few things and he had some suggestions. I met a knowledgeable guy named Mark Brooks that helped me a ton throughout the day. I needed to check the axle bolts to make sure they were tight, they weren't. (You all need to check yours regularly for your first few runs just to be safe). Anyway, Mark helped me pull the rear clip off and tighten the bolts. He noticed that the drivers rear shock was in a bind. On further inspection, the linkage was set in such a way as to not allow the wheel to droop. Not good. We turned the spanner nut on both shocks down 4 turns on each side and then we turned the push rod four turns to make it longer. That was to keep the original ride height exactly the same so we didn't disrupt the balance of the car. It is hard to make a radical suspension adjustments without scales but we had no choice. With that change I was already down in the 1:24’s which was second behind an supercharged Ariel Atom driver by Eddie Hill. If you don’t know Eddie Hill, Google it and enjoy!

I noticed I had a lot of fuel leaking out of the cap area and running down the car. I didn't’t put a gasket between the filler neck and the fiberglass on the inside and the outside and it was making a mess. Fran suggested I find some fuel cell foam and jam down the neck as a bandaid to the problem. It worked pretty well. When I was in the garage talking to the track owner about the foam, etc.. we had a discussion about tires and tire pressure. He told me my tires were shot. I knew that already. He told me to reduce the air pressure to build more heat and make the car handle better. I took the foam and my new information back to the car and asked Mark to once again help me with pressures.

We started at 30 hot all around. I wanted him to reduce the pressure by 2 lbs. every time I came through pit lane. I just kept feeling better and better until it got down to 21lbs with hot tires then it was a little slick again. I increased it back to 23lbs and turned a 1:22 late in the day. The temps were closer to 170 -180 in the tires and the car was feeling pretty good. The damn Ariel was only .8 seconds ahead of me and if you looked Eddie up on Google, you know how good he really is.

End of Day one. The car is really feeling great. I have my oil pressure warning set to high so it comes on to much but that can be quickly reprogrammed. I would like to see pressures a little higher but that’s due to the 5w 30 oil I’m running. I am switching to 10w40 next time. That should help a little. It is rare that I see over 40 psi with oil temps around 230 deg. It should be higher up in the rpm band. All in all a very good day.

Saturday is the third day of driving the snot out of this car. It is still running great but I’m definitely getting tired. This is a day of strategy. My tires are clearly worn out. I need a few good runs out of them and they can be retired. I won the Super Unlimited class on Friday and Eddie won Small block Kit Car. I know these events are all about the people, lifelong friendships and camaraderie but if you’re not running to win your class or beat your friends, you’re missing the most exciting part!

I decided to run in the first session after lunch and see if I could lay down better time. The car ran good but the battery light came on and stayed on. The car ran good so I just thought maybe the alternator belt was slipping. This event was a handicap event based on the times from yesterday. I couldn't’t believe that I had to spot time to another car and he was ahead of me with his handicap by .2 second!!! I had to get back to the track. I grabbed the helmet/Hans and jumped in the car to chase him down. IT WON’T START!!!! I had no choice but to jump out and change the battery. I had a new battery in the trailer for the winch but I put this battery in the car before the body was on and it didn't look like it would come out! The tension at this point is crazy. We got the batteries switched but the session was over. I ran into the timing area to see if we would get another run. It looked like we could give everyone another 15 minute session. I jumped back into the car and started it right up, Hans, Helmet seat belts, steering, check systems and the S.O.B wont shift! Locked up! Three guys told me to get out and we tore the rear clip off. The cable was removed from the box and the box was OK. It was the cables that were jacked up. We pulled on it and hit the shift lever and something snapped and it was working! They told me to get back in the car and they would close up the rear end. All this was done in about 8 minutes I was thinking so I had time for a few hot laps but they had to be good.

Did they latch the rear clip? That was my last thought as I pulled onto the track. I just told myself that Fran told me the rear clip couldn't come off if the doors were closed and I had no intention of opening the doors. I thought I could run a 1:21.50 and beat the handicap and the Atom. I had to trust the car because it probably had 4 seconds left in it but I didn't! The last lap of the last session was filled with what felt like crazy speed and impossible corners and came in at 1:21.21. It felt awesome! I felt awesome! The damn atom ran a 1:20.9 that same session. I still won the class but it sucks that I didn't catch Eddie. With new slicks, he's going down next year!

Sunday was some sort of auto cross that I didn’t really care about. So my laps were just to get a time. I did let the photographer shoot the car for a possible spread in Kit Car Builder that morning so that would be really cool.

All said and done, it was a huge success and the car drove into the garage late last night under its own power!

I am working on the video but I have never done video editing so it might be a few days.

Nice narrative.... now we really need to see some in car video. This is indeed a small car world - if it's the same Mark Brooks - he's given me some tech. info in the past regarding my Brunton Stalker. I also see that Scott Holley was there - know him from my superformance days - he's a good driver. Tried to check the run-n-gun results page but nothing posted yet :-(

Video, video, video.....Glad you had fun and nothing went "bang".

Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Good post Dean!

Sounds like a great learning adventure. I tried a set of slicks like those on my Cobra and went every direction other than where I was trying to go.. Could not get the pressures to a happy medium at all.. Finally flat-spotted the heck out of all four of them and gave them to a neighbor kid to go burn up on his Mustang..

So thats what Eddie and Ercie are up to these days eh? Glad to see he's still got the motoring bug...

Eddie Hill's Fun, Wichita Falls, Texas, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Victory, Yamaha, ATV, Motorcycle, UTV, PWC, Dealer, Used, Part, Accessories, Apparel

What a great couple!
Great write up Dean. Sure was fun watching you and Eddie tear around the track.

Eddie entertained us by telling how he demo's the Arial Atom by doing 0 - 80 - 0

In his driveway!
What does coil bind look like? Also, how do those pushrods (that connect LCA to bellcrank) work ... i've tried turning mine in and out and havn't really noticed any changes in ride height
Excellent work and thanks for taking us with you on your adventure. Dean, you are one competitive SOB!!! LOL,.. Good on you for feeling that fire and for making such a fine race car.
This is indeed a small car world - if it's the same Mark Brooks - he's given me some tech. info in the past regarding my Brunton Stalker. I also see that Scott Holley was there - know him from my superformance days - he's a good driver.

That might be the same Mark. He was driving a pretty fast cobra this year. Scott was there with Kent Morgan. They are both very good drivers that won there classes.

I'm not sure when the results will be posted but it will probably be a little while. Clois and I are pretty burned out on the event and just don't want to look at it for a while.

Alex, it wasn't coil bind. The bell crank was rotating to the point that it was hitting the shock body. I needed to change the orientation to avoid this. If you lengthen the push rod you will raise your ride height. If you lower your spanner nuts, you will lower your ride height. Thats why we needed to make both adjustments to land at a neutral point and change the orientation of the bell crank.

John, your right! I love this stuff! I love the science behind making these cars really scream! I would love to run with you someday.
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Dean, Thanks for the write-up, it was like being there. I've got a trailer on my xmas wish list, so maybe i can join you. Wasn't Eddie Hill the first to put 2 side by side V8's on a dragster? He brings that Ariel up to eagles canyon and is a pain in the side.

Were you running your hoosiers at 22#'s? Whoa, i went down to 28# and thought that was extreme. Guess ill take it a bit lower. Great tip.


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I'm running the Dunlop slicks. Thats a different animal all together. If you have a friend at the track that can help you play with your tire pressures during a session you'll find your comfort zone.
Hey there Dean,

You might want to take a look at the cable location for your gearbox cables, it sounds like they might be a bit too close to things that are generating a substantial amount of heat and the inner sheath might be melting to the cable and jamming them up once they cool off.

I will be interested in finding out if that is what might have happened.

Erik Johnson
Erik, thanks for chiming in. I spoke to Fran about the problem and he said the same thing. Over the course of the winter I plan to re-route the cables and wrap them in insulation. I also meant to wrap the headers but time got away from me and I didn't get it done before the event.

The gearbox ran great!
That is great news Dean,

I am always happy to hear how the finished products turn out. Could you send me some pics when you have time? We would like to put up a customer page on the website at some point with all of our customers finished products.


Erik Johnson

If this doesn't inspire others to finish their cars and go out, nothing will. Thanks, your write-up was great.