Joey Dille's


Quarter Midget #67


Racing Log



This is a week by week log of our experience during our second season. They are taken from e-mails that I have sent to my friends. The logs are arranged in order with #1 being our first experience.

Racing Log #1

Welcome Race Fans!

Many people enjoyed following Joey's racing adventures during his novice year. I plan to continue publishing a weekly log of his experience as a Junior Honda racer in the 2000 season.

The Winter

After the racing season the car needed some work to prepare it for 2000. One of the ongoing problems was the rear axle. Instead of a differential the left rear wheel freewheels on the axle. The outer bearing was riding on a threaded portion of the axle. The bearing wore the threads off and started to wobble. I fixed it during the season with JB weld, but it only held up for a week or two. I had worn part welded up and machined true.

The body was a little worse for wear and I had to repair some missing bits with fiber glass.

The old exhaust was cracked and welded several times. They are awful picky about the exhausts in the Honda class so I had two new exhausts fabricated from scratch. These were shaped differently from the original and I had to modify the body to clear it.

One of my primary goals for the new season was to get Joey leaning as he drove. This gives the car a better weight distribution. This is more important in our car since it has little offset compared to the newer cars. Joey was quite opposed to leaning last season. I also wanted him to learn to use the brake to slow down during racing instead of lifting off the gas.

Practice #1 3/24 18 laps

Load the car and family in the truck and head up to the track. Joey was just getting his bearings on the track and another driver bumped him from the rear. No big deal and Joey kept on going. I called him in and he overshot the parking space. I figured it was inexperience, but thought I should check the brake anyway. I had him hold the brake down and I saw why he could not stop.. The small bump caused a leak in the brake line. Oh well, pack up the car and head home.

Went to the parts dealer and picked up a new line and fittings. I had it fixed that night.

Practice #2 3/25 50 laps

Packed up the car and family into the truck and headed up to the track the next day. Joey was rusty, but it was coming back to him. He turned some times down in the 6.7-6.8 second range, but he was inconsistent. Many laps were around 7 seconds. Joey was quite tired after only 50 laps. Not bad for a first time out after the winter off.

I Started working on repairing and painting the car. Originally I was not going to paint it, but were having some family car parts painted and I could get it painted with the same paint virtually free. First I repaired fiberglass on nose and tail piece using Kevlar mat and polyester resin. I fixed the missing bits by forming copper sheets over missing and weak sections to give the repair the correct form and placing the wet mat on the inside against the copper form. Once the resin was cured I used Bondo to fill in the rough spots. I also modified the outside shape of the body to better fit where it interfaced with the rest of the car. When I sanded through the old paint I found the car had been day-glow orange and 1970's large metalflake orange. It was quite a site, blue, white, primer and shades of orange. The car sure looked spotty. Joey was concerned.

Practice #3 3/30 70+ laps

Joey was very slow to start going fast. I broke up the practice by having him work braking to slow while racing instead of lifting off gas. I also tried to tweak his line with hand signals. There were a bunch of novices at the track and one of the dads wanted to practice line ups. I was all for it. Joey did good assuming his position and staying in line. This is good practice, but the Jr. Hondas drive much faster while lining up. Still Joey did good.

Joey's times were a tad slow. He tended to play follow the leader with the novices and assume their slower line. Then he went out with 160 Honda and started turning high 6.6 low 6.7 laps. Last few laps were quite good. Need more time at the track.

During the week I worked more on the car and had a heavy coat of sanding primer sprayed on. I sanded the primer down smooth using 600 paper. The body was looking fairly good. I also installed a new fuel line made from industrial Teflon-lined braided stainless with a quality compression fitting on the one end. This will allow me to quickly remove the engine by releasing the compression fitting, which is much easier than pulling the rubber hose over the hose barb.

Practice #4 4/7 70+ laps

Joey was not really into practicing this day. He was very timid going around the track, backing off the gas and turning inconsistent laps in the 7.0 range . I pulled him off and we sat down and had a Coke and a talk. I discussed his line which was too square and how he had to push the car to get it to perform correctly. He went back out and started to improve. Finally, something clicked and he started to go fast. His times went down to 6.6-6.7 with a few 6.5s thrown in for good measure. It took over 50 laps to find the groove, then once he found the groove, he started to get tired. At least he found the fast line. I asked him to remember what he was doing when he was going fast.

It is clear that we need more practice so Joey can get in the groove quicker and build his stamina.

Opening day was scheduled for 4/15. To start the season I purchased new outside tires. Soft for cool temperatures. I had the body parts back from the painter and they looked great. We were getting ready to race.

Practice #5 4/14 60+ laps

Opening day was only a day away. The air temperature was 65, which I figured would be about right for the new tires. Joey took a while to warm up but started to run fairly consistent 6.6 times. The car was really hooked up, perhaps a bit too well. One of the novices that was out practicing signaled to go off the track then pulled back onto the track. Joey cut inside and went onto the bumps on the infield at the same time he bumped the other car mid corner. The combination of events, combined with the sticky outside tires caused Joey's car of go up on two wheels big time :-8. The car teetered on two wheels for about 50 feet then came down on all four. Joey continued to drive and had his line back in 1/2 lap. Cool.

Joey runs one half the track of the track well, the other needs improvement. I am not sure why he is asymmetric. Team Dille is not in mid-season form, but we have cleaned out the cobwebs. All in all I feel we are ready to race.

April 15, Opening Day, Canceled due to rain

Practice #6 4/20 100+ laps

Joey did a great job warming up. Temperature was 71F. In 5-6 laps he had the tires warm and he was in his groove. His times are only so-so mid 6.7s with a few high 6.6s. When he pulled off after his first session he said the seat belt bothering his neck. I saw it had rubbed a raw spot on his neck. One of his more experienced racing friends, a third grader, told him about the pads his dad made for his belts. Sure enough I looked at his car and he had small pads on the belts next to his neck. The pads were simply made from the thin pink foam they sell for sealing drafts under the sill of the house and electrical tape.

One of my friends at the track watched Joey and the car and made a few observations:

The car is hooked up too much, which was slowing him down. Joey is not leaning. Joey's line is off entering turn 1, which causes a problem exiting turn 2. Turns 3 and 4 are fine.

He suggested some radical changes to the set up. Harder tires that would not stick so much and slow the car down. Lowering the car 1" in the back and putting less weight on right rear. He and his son also spoke with Joey about his line and not leaning enough.

We made the changes and went back out on the track. For the first time Joey was leaning correctly. The car was looser, but it rubbed the belly pan on the track. Joey's times were about the same, but he looked like there was the potential for improvement. When I pulled Joey off I noticed the brake line was damaged by running with the rear so low. End of practice for today.

All in all a good learning practice. I think the light finally came on regarding leaning. His endurance is improving. Joey still needs to practice. We discussed his line and I think I may be able to adjust his entry to turn 1. I think a 6-9" change will make all the difference in the world. I have to match the tires to the track temperature. I will re-adjust the chassis to loosen it up a tad, and lower the rear only 1/4" or so. Hopefully, we can get in some practice next week.

April 22, Opening Day 4/22 Canceled due to rain

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.

Racing Log #2

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Racing Log #3

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Racing Log #4

Like many Quarter Midget tracks Oaklane shuts down for two weeks for the Eastern Grands. The Dille family took this opportunity to take a family vacation. I figured with the long brake from racing Joey and I could do with two practice sessions this week instead of the usual one.

I installed the new front axle and aligned it to the specifications that seemed to work best for us. Unfortunately, I have gotten fairly good at performing alignments on the tiny front end due fixing crash damage over last season. I have also found a few tools that help me get everything straight. It was nice to install a new axle that had no battle scars.

Practice 7/4/00

Being the 4th of July there were only a few cars practicing at the track. I put Joey out and he looked good. He warms up so fast now. One slow-ish lap then he puts the hammer down running a wide line letting tires warm up. Two or three more laps and he brings his line in and gets into the groove. Quite a difference from the kid that took 50 laps to get fast in the beginning of the season. The car was hooked up and he was driving a good line. The car was pushing a bit so I took two clicks out of the front shocks. This appeared to help. I am not sure if it was the two clicks or the placebo effect of bringing Joey in and having a talk. In either case it worked. Joey was turning 6.6 laps with an occasional 6.5 thrown in and looking in control.

I figure it would be a good thing to let Joey drive the car in senior Honda configuration (with out the restrictor) since he will be entering that class next year. Removing the restrictor takes the car from 5 to 6 horsepower. This would serve two purposes: break up the monotony of practice and give Joey more confidence when he runs with the restrictor. I had discussed this with Joey on the ride up and he liked the idea. I decided today would be the day. After about 75 laps I pulled Joey in and asked if he wanted to try it without the restrictor. I did not have to ask twice. Joey was all smiles while I worked in the back of the car to remove the restrictor.

I waited until the other car was off the track before putting Joey out. Joey was excited and a bit nervous when I pushed him off. He got out on the track and immediately started to explore the extra (1) horsepower. After 5-6 laps he had it floored and was working on his line. I figured he would spin it at least once with the extra power, but he kept the car pointing the right way. He was sliding around a bit until he moved his racing line out to the wall. After about 20 laps he was lapping well and his times were in the 6.3s with an occasional 6.2 for good measure. The surprising thing was Joey’s times were quite consistent. At least a consistent as with the restrictor in, perhaps a bit better. Joey put in about 50 laps with the uncorked engine. I pulled him off the track when he started to look tired. All in all I was very happy with Joey’s quick adaptation to the extra power. I was also pleased that the car appeared to handle the extra power without extra effort.

Practice 7/7/00

Since Joey had several weeks off I wanted to get some extra practice in before Saturday’s race. I had put the restrictor back in and tweaked the front end alignment. I hoped that there would be some more cars on the track so Joey could play in traffic. There were a handful of cars at the track so I figured it would be a good practice. The car was handling a bit funny and Joey was having a bit of trouble exiting the corner. His times were a bit high too. He had his first spin of the season. I called him in and loosened the car up a bit by adding 2 psa to the right rear. I put Joey back out and he was looking better. He had about 30 laps total into the practice when a Sr. Novice spun in front of him and he hit her. The crash did not look that bad, but the axle was bent. Bummer. We loaded up the truck and went home to lick our wounds.

All along my mantra with Joey has been “look where you want to go”. This has helped him develop a good racing line and has allowed him to avoid several accidents. It really helped when his brakes went out last year. On the other hand the brakes are a good thing to use for certain situations. In particular they can lessen the impact if you can’t get around the car in front of you. On the way back I discussed braking as an effective strategy for dealing with a spun car in your line. Slowing allows you to turn better, and if you do hit the car won’t get damaged as bad. I did not yell at Joey, just explained that it would be a good thing to do.

Back at home I broke the news to Patti that our new axle was bent and I would have to work late to be able to race. The axle was bent, but not broken. The radius rods were bent to about 90 degrees and the rod ends were broken. I was able to bum a set of the rod ends from a fellow racer, but the axle and rods would have to be straightened. I learned from last year that the axle needs to be heated to straighten it without breaking it. Out came the torch and 20 minutes later I had a dented, but straight axle. The dent is not really a problem since that part of the axle is not highly stressed during normal operation. The radius rods are soft aluminum and I was able to get them straight-ish with the help of a vise and a long pipe. I changed from grade 2 to grade 8 fasteners for the radius rods to the chassis. These looked like the weak link in a front end collision and the stronger ones may help protect the front axle in a crash.

I adjusted the alignment of the front end and had a look over the car. The brake appeared to be dragging a bit so I adjusted it and managed to improve the situation. I was still not happy with the way it was, but they stopped the car just fine. I was done at 1:00am.

Race Day 7/8/00

I got to the track a little extra early to let Joey practice and let me know how the car was after my rework. I spent a minute discussing proper action if a car is blocking the track. Not too much, but just reviewing the fact that the brake is the first option. We hopped out of the truck and got right on the track. The car was working well and Joey was driving well. There was even a spin in front of Joey and he managed to avoid contact. Cool.

After practice Joey went off to play and I checked over the car. Bruce McKelvy stopped by on his K1100LT. Bruce and I talked about racing and I walked him around and showed him some of the other types of cars. We struck up a conversation with one of the handlers that just came back from the Eastern Grands. They had won the Jr. Stock class and placed into the B main in Jr. Honda. I learned that at least one other Oaklane member had won their class and region 2 won 7 of the 13 classes. We race in a fast crowd.

Joey had pulled the lowest number during sign in so he started on the pole for the first race. The kid who placed into the B-main with the 9th fastest time in the Grands was also in Joey’s heat. I pushed Joey off for warm ups and he went out and got to work. He looked real good. The car hooked up and Joey was flying. Joey got a great start and kept the pole. In fact he managed to pull away for a while. 15 laps into the 20 lap race the fast kid, passed Joey. Joey managed to hold onto 2nd to guarantee a spot in the A main. It was good to see our antique car could race with some of the fastest in the country.

One of Joey’s class mates was supposed to come up to watch Joey race, but race time was approaching and he was nowhere to be found. Joey was bummed. I strapped Joey into the car and gave one last look for his friend, but no luck. In warm ups Joey looked a little slow. I could not put my finger on it, and did not have a watch to time him, but he looked off compared to the other cars.

His 2nd place start in the heat race earned him the 4th starting position in the main. Joey got a fairy good start and raced well. The 30 lap race was exciting, Joey passed and got passed. Joey’s line was real good and he looked good. The only mistake he made was cutting a little too far into the infield on a pass coming into a turn. Nothing bad happened and he did not get a call, but it was not one of his best passes. All in all and exciting race. Joey finished 6th.

I pushed Joey over the scales after the race and his buddy Tyler was waiting for him. Turns out they got to the track just as I was pushing Joey off and saw the whole race. Joey was pumped. As I pushed the car back to the truck I felt a drag on the car. I saw the brake had a slight drag to it. Perhaps this was why Joey looked slow in warm ups. Something to investigate.

Normally I would have headed straight home, but I decided to let Joey play with his buddy. I sat down with his friends father and we watched some races and had a cup of coffee. It was a good night.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #5

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Racing 7/15/00

This week the first series of novice graduates moved up to the Jr. Honda class. This added about 8 more cars to Joey’s class and thus it went from the usual 2 heats to 3. The additional drivers have less experience and should be slower, but they are more likely to spin and cause accidents. The additional heats also require a top 3 finish instead of a top 4 finish to get into the A main. This could be complicated by the possibility of drawing a heat with fast drivers.

Joey draws a heat with a medium mix of drivers. Some known fast kids and some novices. Joey runs a good race and manages a 3rd place finish. Just enough to make the A main.

Joey draws the #3 spot for the start of the A main. This is where all the fast kids are. Joey looks real good in warm ups and I think about the possibility of getting a podium finish. The start goes fairly well but Joey still looses a position. On the second lap Joey is racing for third when the kid in 2nd spins just two car lengths in front of Joey. This was just far enough in front of him to allow the other car to come to a complete stop, but too close to let Joey avoid the stopped car. Bam! The hit was hard, very hard. Joey's face shield came flying off and went down the track along with the side pieces that hold it in.

The race was red flagged immediately and I hopped over the wall and ran to the car. Joey was crying, but did not appear to be hurt. I asked him if he was OK and he said he wanted to race. The front end was tweaked and the axle was bent a bit. I picked the front end and pulled the car off the track to the pits. Once I was in the pits I tried to straighten the radius rod mounts enough to allow the front end to steer, but no luck, we were out of the race. I found someone else to work my corner and I dragged Joey and the car out of the pits and off the track.

When I took Joey out of the car I found out why he was crying. Joey had asked one of the first corner workers on the scene if his axle was bent and he said it was OK. The second had said that the axle was bent. Joey started crying when he saw his hopes of finishing the race were gone.

A postmortem showed the axle was bent, but the radius rods were still straight. The grade 8 bolts held up. It looks like my theory on why the radius rods bent in a collision was correct. In fact it looked like the axle would not have bent at all if it was not previously bent. Lesson learned.


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