View Full Version : First leg of the ITTC is over!

07-28-2008, 05:39 PM
Not quite the turnout we'd hoped for -- the cost of towing, the hot weather, and the California forest fires all damped the turnout. The fires? Thunderhill is not directly at any of the fire sites, but it's downwind, and the haze and smell of smoke is unmistakable. It was especially bad Friday afternoon & evening, with watery eyes and coughing a common occurrence.

All told, we had 35 IT cars take the green flag, mostly in ITA. One two-car wreck mid-race limited the green flag time as well, but altogether it was a very successful weekend and barring some other unforeseen external influences, I'm sure we'll do better next year!

Results posted here: http://www.mylaps.com/results/newResults.jsp?id=899729

07-28-2008, 11:31 PM
josh, want to thank you for being a very clean driver this weekend,it was a pleasure driving with you in the race and qual! kim willcox # 62 ITA miata

07-29-2008, 12:07 AM
josh, want to thank you for being a very clean driver this weekend,it was a pleasure driving with you in the race and qual! kim willcox # 62 ITA miataSame here Kim, and congrats on the ITA win!

Marcus Miller
07-30-2008, 03:17 PM
congrats Kim on the Win!! Love o see it.

Here is our report, as written by my brother Scott:

Improved Touring Triple Crown Race Recap

Miller Motorsports in partnership with Mo Laps Racing decided to contest a race in the Improved Touring Triple Crown race at Thunderhill the 27th – the first race of the 3 race IT Championship.

To do this we upgraded our venerable #68 Spec Miata with a pile of new parts – New shocks/springs, a new rear end, new tires (the purple goodness), and a stand alone ECU, to mention a few.

Backing up, its been a pain to get this car built. Parts have been delayed, local vendors have taken longer than expected to get things done, some things haven’t worked, some parts broke!... so its been a challenge.

The two weeks prior to the race saw us with a mad dash to get the car on a dyno to tune the stand alone ecu, but all the dynos having booked scheduled. John Pagel was finally able to fit us in on his new dyno, which wasn’t even set up yet!

The rear diff we so badly wanted couldn’t be assembled in time. Despite repeated efforts, John Pagel couldn’t make it work – it appears we need some custom parts machined to fit it all together.

A bit of foreshadowing, while prepping the car I noticed some water stains on the oil filter. We chalked it up to the throttle body change (we’d failed a throttle body in our test event a few weeks prior).

On the dyno just three days before the event, we noticed a few pools of water. I inspected the car and dismissed it as overflow or water leaking out of the chassis. We’d had the cooling system open numerous times fitting the new parts and replacing the throttle body.

So, loaded up, we head off to the event… but I didn’t head out. I ended up stuck at work on Friday until 11pm. Note that I was supposed to have had Friday off entirely so I could go help Marcus at the test day.

Saturday. I rack at 4am after just 4 hours sleep and head out to the track. I arrive to find Marcus has done a masterful job getting the car sorted out and we’re in a great group of folks – forgive me for not knowing everyone’s names, but we were with Juan, Joe, Mike, and two other fellows who’s names I’ve forgotten. Dean had come up early, the night before, and we were looking good.

We’re running two race groups – ITA for the IT Fest Championship and ITX for fun.

We go out for practice and get a meatball. The sound stewards call us at 108db. They proceed to tell us we’re actually blowing 112, but because of the way their meter is located it reads 108.

We call this bs, but have to fix it. I head into town to look for a muffler after asking some of the bigger teams around the paddock. Those guys would get used to seeing us! 7 places in Willows can’t sell me a cheap generic glass pack muffler. Useless.

I return to find Kim Willcox, our main competitor in ITA, has loaned us HIS quiet exist, a whole bunch of parts to install it, and then crawled under the car alongside Dean and Marcus to install it. A quick trip over to see the Hoover guys to have them disassemble our exhaust and we’re on the way. Kim started a train of folks helping us make our weekend.

Also coming out of that first practice were performance problems and handling problems. I adjusted the ECU and Marcus and Dean worked the suspension. Marcus changed the Spark Plugs, and curiously, one of them appeared to be very clean. More foreshadowing here.

Next practice. The kludge exhaust gets us to 94db (anyone want to bet that 108 was bogus?!?!?!?!?). Handling is changed but not optimal, and the ecu is no better.

So, we swap the ECU for the stock computer, borrow a different air meter and make more handling adjustments.

ITA Qualifying goes ok. We take 2nd in class behind Kim Willcox.

A tweak on the air meter and some more suspension components follows. While working on the car, I hear an unusual gurgling in the engine compartment. Its clearly coolant. I start a visual inspection and discover several of the bolts are broken off of the intake manifold. This is the source of the water on the floor at the dyno, the unusual stains on the oil filter and the clean spark plug, as the intake has cooling passing through it. Water is leaking out of the intake (probably while hot or under pressure) and going onto the ground and into the cylinders.

We realize we’re going to need to fix this, and borrow an intake manifold gasket from Kim Henrickson (who Dean, Laura and I went to scca school with), who’s come to hang out and watch.

I wait for the car to cool and refill the cooling system. Not much lost, really, so we feel good about running the ITX qualifying before digging into the intake manifold over night.

I fire the car up to burp the system and discover the alternator case bolts are amiss. Half are missing, the other half are loose! We shut the car off and Dean makes a great suggestion to pull the belt really quick and free spin the alternator to make sure it doesn’t have excess drag and is vibrating or overheating. I attempt to borrow some alternator case bolts, but nobody has any spares (who the hell even checks for tight on these, let alone carry spares!), so we locktite and reinstall the two we still have on opposite sides and call it good. The alternator tests fine and we reinstall the water pump belt. Dean thinks the belt looks funny, but it runs fine and all goes back together ok, so we proceed to qualifying.

(mysteriously, the next morning, several alternator case bolts are taped to the car’s windshield, adding yet another person to the list of people who helped make our race weekend – but I’m not sure who!)

Who can guess what happens iin qualifying?

The computer and suspension changes are good. Dean notices the car is falling down on power after a couple good laps, and figures he’s done enough We know our changes are good and decides on the front half he’ll be coming in. As he works his way around he notices the temp gauge goes to the roof. He shuts it down in turn 10 and camps with some friendly workers who ply him with water. We hear over the PA “.. and our ITX pole sitter, Dean Thomas, is stopped in turn 10 waiting for a tow”, yep, Dean on pole.

The safety crew brings Dean around (adding insult to injury, there was another Miata getting towed and the safety crew on that car PASSES Dean (also under tow) on the back stretch).

We get the car back and discover its throw the water pump belt. Ugh. We refit the belt and attempt to start the car. No go. We wait for it to cool and fill it with water. Still no go.

We decide to compression test. I remove the spark plugs with no ratchet (they’re finger tight!) and discover the front three now are quite clean. A compression test leads us to our worst fears. Motor is dead.

We’re bummed. Tons of people helped with the build of this car. Marcus Dad and I spent hours assembling it. Dean came out more than a few times to help and do alignment and suspension work. Cameron and Bowie from Conover Motorsports supplied data, setup advice and parts. Mike from ISC racing sent us parts. Lee from Koni North America entertained an endless spring of dumb questions from me about shock setup, same with the ECU guys about the ECU config. John Pagel rushed us onto his dyno before he wanted to, and assembled parts for us when I came holding them in hand begging for help.

So, we go to find our 5th crew of Saviours (up to this point we’ve mooched off of John Pagel, Hoover Speed, Kim Willcox and Kim Henrickson) and head over to see Dave MacAnaney and Off Camber to drown our sorrows in some tasty margaritas.

To be continued...

Marcus Miller
07-30-2008, 03:18 PM
part 2:

After a few libations we had back to camp, anticipating clean up tomorrow, and proceed to drink with the paddock crew. One of the fellow’s who’s names I’ve forgotten whips up some awesome bbq, and Joe headed into town and bought a pickup’s full of chow. We pound 6 bottles of wine and bunch of beer.

About 9pm talk turns to finding a substitute car. Mike is selling a car, but none of us has that kind of coin to drop, and we don’t have time to do a proper setup, so we’d be lucky to run well – and we’re short on luck this weekend...

We talk about borrowing Dave Vodden’s old car, but its pretty beat up and would be tough to win with. I come to realize there is a fully setup, winning caliber car sitting at Dean’s house – the Mo Laps Sm #72.

I float the idea of going to get it (a 7 hour round trip),. We debate this for about an hour. We read the rule book. Marcus is resolutely against it (too much work). Dean thinks about it (I know his car gets enough wear and tear and he doesn't need two more races on it). I’m ready to go get it by myself, with zero impact to the rest of the crew, if Dean’s heart is in driving. It’s a draw. Those still awake in the paddock think it’s a good idea. Dean calls Laura to see what she thinks, and if she minds us raiding her garage at 1am. Laura thinks it’s a great idea and volunteers to help.

Its on.

Our paddock spot is a mess. It would take us an hour to fish the truck out, so Juan really saves the day (and I mean really), by offering up his f350 dually. This is the nicest truck I have ever towed with. Its incredibly comfortable and without it, I might not have been able to make the 7 hour round trip without incident. My truck wears me out, something I hardly noticed until I towed with Juan’s.

Dean opts to ride along and loans yet another piece to the puzzle – a valentine one radar detector – enabling us to push at an aggressive pace without fear of jail time.

So, we head out. The trip down is uneventful, with frequent flashes of the V1 and slow periods where we avoid the long arm of the law. We do a nascar style pit stop loading the car and some ancillary bits at Dean’s houue (since it is 1am in a very quiet residential neighborhood and spec miata are not really quiet) and I drop Dean off at the hotel at 3:30ish (we beat the 7 hour mark, thanks Valentine!). and head to the track to catch a nap.

I awake at about 6:30 to find Marcus and Dean have offloaded the car and are prepping it. I’ve now gotten 7 hours sleep in two days. I’m Dead. Marcus is the best rested with maybe 10 over two days, but we’re all still drained from the previous day’s events.

Dean makes the necessary adjustments to his entry for a car change with registration and we make the grid with ease. With the 2 minute board showing I realize we may not have torqued the right side lugs and run across the paddock (I’m fat, remember) and get that done as the cars roll off.

The ITA race is… something. We start second, the start is a mess, Dean loses some spots. Charging through the field he gets knocked off course TWICE by the same guy, in the same corner. Once losing little ground, the other time spinning off sideways and losing a ton of spots. Dean spends the race charging back up through the field in an electric drive. A late race caution bunches up the field and Dean retakes 2nd, but with only 1 lap left cannot chase down Kim Willcox for the race win. Kim having been one of many who saved our weekend, its hard to be upset about – since just 8 hours before we didn’t even think we’d make the race.

In impound after the race, the car has no clutch. Crap. We push it back to the paddock spot and Marcus, Dean and Scott Neville (new arrived spectator, another who lends a hand in the weekend's mayhem) set about to repair the car while I make another 4 hour round trip dash back to Fairfield to drop off the dead 68 car (we’ve got two race cars but only one truck/trailer). Juan once again loans me his awesome tow rig (at his own expense, his race ending before I return, so he has to wait around for me) and with the Valentine 1, the trip is long, but uneventful.

The mechanic team finds a damaged clutch slave cylinder, likely from being throw off track in the race, and make repairs. I know we didn’t have one, so we probably borrowed this from some unnamed soul who continued to contribute to our race weekend.

I return just as the cars roll off for the race, remember, we’re on Pole.

Dean has a good ITX race with the faster classes as he got a great start. He holds point on the field and takes the win. The other cars in class have nothing for Dean.

This definitely ranks as one of the four hardest race weekends in Miller Motorsports history... We've had less stressful 25 hour races!

Thanks to everyone who pitched in to make this happen – named or not, I appreciated your help immensely.


07-30-2008, 05:27 PM
Holy crap Marcus, that sounds like a tough weekend! I almost feel guilty that mine was so pain-free ... qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag (first time ever, believe it or not). Usually Doug Makishima puts up a tougher fight but although he had a great start and an even better restart, both times he was unable to carry the outside in T1.

Unfortunately for the first time I had a complete video failure, so ... no video. But I had a great weekend!

07-30-2008, 06:46 PM
So are any of the IT guys who ran going to the ARRC or 'Fest?


07-30-2008, 06:55 PM
So are any of the IT guys who ran going to the ARRC or 'Fest?

Good question. Earlier this year, Donna Gilio told me that she was probably going to make a return to the ARRC -- but then she didn't show up this weekend, so I don't know that what means.

Kim Willcox (tahoez) mentioned the possibility a couple weeks ago. Other than Kim, I don't know of anyone else. Unfortunately the tow (2500 each way to either track from my house) makes it a very expensive proposition. It would probably be cheaper to fly and rent.

07-30-2008, 07:34 PM
you are a great bunch of people, that i consider good friends too,and dont worry i had my eye on dean in the ita race and was ready to go faster if need be and with that its rx7 that was shut down on the last lap i thought i was going to have to pass him no matter what to keep dean off my ass!!you all deserve a great hand for all of your hard work .i have done the same thing and it shows the true racers in scca,your whole team deserves alot of credit for all the hard work, kim

08-10-2008, 03:50 PM
(mysteriously, the next morning, several alternator case bolts are taped to the car’s windshield, adding yet another person to the list of people who helped make our race weekend – but I’m not sure who!)

This is why club racing is such a joy to be associated with.

WRT sound, don't always blame them. Depending upon your shift point, track position, traffic, etc. your 108 could be accurate. Normally the sound guys/gals try to get clear readings, but they are only human too.

Remember, that it's not just exhaust that makes noise on a race car. Tranny, diff, and intake also make "noise" so just changing the exhaust might not fix everything. Changing the exhaust is normally the easiest and the culprit, but not always the case.

The microphone @ TH is drivers right at the exit of T15 right near pit in. You need to make sure that your not pinching off the exit, and depending upon what gear your in, might cause the spike.

Just a suggestion, now that the microphone @ Sears Point as moved to the drag xmas tree, all 3 tracks not have sound on drivers right. hint hint hint

See everybody on Labor Day weekend @ Sears Point.