Raceway, Buttonwillow, CA
usual we arrived at the track at around 7:15 or
so, and I took the electric scooter dohicky-mobile
for a couple of laps around the
track. After doing that, I took
a couple of photos of the paddock area.
Arnold is a fellow BMW Club Racer, but more
important he is a master BMW mechanic as
well. Since our Mini contains many BMW
components, he was able to help us figure out our
fuse-blowing problem. Right now Bill
and his co-driver Tammi Hull are battling for
first place in Bill's M3 in the Touring 3
class. I joked with Bill that I was so
thrilled with his ability to keep our Mini
running, that he would be the first I would marry
if I every switched
"teams"! Bill is
always willing to roll up his sleeves to help
fellow competitors, despite the fact that he is
probably busy dealing with his own problems.
He has an almost constant stream of folks looking
for his advice. Honestly, I don't know how
he does it, but I'm sure glad he does.
turns out we encountered a second problem with the
Mini as well, although minor. The fan that
cools the power steering pump has failed, so under
extreme conditions and very tight tracks, we can
lose our power steering until it cools. I
found this out yesterday at the end of my last
session, and the power steering went away.
We ended up removing the fan, since the non-moving
fan was actually blocking any air from getting to
the pump. We then fabricated a duct that
would direct air on the pump. So far that
appears to be working.
also have applied the sponsor decals from Mini-Madness
to the hood of the Mini, and although you can't
actually read them in this photo, they look great
in real life. Unfortunately I have to cut
the resolution of my photo's down so they load
reasonably well for those of you still using slow
is the yellow camera car preparing to go out in a
run group with the competing cars. The
Official OTC video will be shot at all the tracks,
and only the best footage will be compiled into
the final product. See the Willow
Springs page for details on how to order it.
Here you see many of the
Touring class competitors in the pit area.
Touring class cars are not allowed to be towed
from track-to-track. This adds to the
challenge as you are competing in your street
class cars can be towed from track to track.
Here you see a double-deck trailer that actually
stacks the cars.
Chavis, one of the event organizers, is competing
in this Mustang. You might remember Alan
from my One Lap Adventure last year when he and
his wife bought us lunch in Oklahoma City.
Mustang makes so much power, that it actually
broke its aluminum driveshaft in a most unusual
a driveshaft breaks at the flange, but in this
case it was simply ripped apart by the
torque. I have never seen a driveshaft fail
in this way.
is another competing Subaru WRX that runs in the
Touring 3 class. You can see their motorhome
in the background. Sleeping at the track is
very popular and convenient. You don't need
to commute to and from the track (which saves a
ton of time), and once the day is over, the track
is actually a very peaceful place to rest, as
usually there is nothing stirring for miles
shot of that ultra wide Porsche race car that I
showed in a photo yesterday. Here it
actually looks like a car. Many trailers
like this have canopies off the side that can
provide much needed shade in an asphalt pit area.
you know those UPS commercials where they talk
about UPS as "Brown".
Here we see that Brown likes the race track.
This driver wasn't actually delivering parts to
the track - he was just stopping by to see what
was going on at the track, and he happened to
bring along a few thousand parcels as well.
Brown likes Mini! Brown
says he may buy a Mini for his wife, but we really
know who Brown is buying the Mini for, don't we?
The day proceeded quite well,
but we blew one of our fuses trying to start the
car, and then our jumper wire started to
smoke. So from here on out we will be push
starting the car, Pat says just like a REAL race
car. We obviously have a short
somewhere in the starting system, or perhaps a bad
In a disappointing turn of
events, we finished 2nd in class today to the
Turbo-II RX-7. He is very fast at this track
(according to one of the drivers this is their
favorite track). So our first place lead has
been chipped away, almost completely. We are
still leading Touring 4, but only by the
absolute slimmest of margins. This is going
to be a dogfight down to the wire. The Turbo
RX-7 is very fast, and has about 40-50% more power
than we do, so we definitely have our hands
full. Our advantage over them is that we
drive very well at tracks that we haven't been
to. But if they have already been to that
track, that advantage is nullified by their own
experience there, as we can see. Since we
have never driven any of these tracks, what we
need is a track that they haven't been to
either, but I'm not sure there are any of
Unfortunately the Honda from
Hell did not make it to the track, but we have
heard they may try to make it to Thunderhill with
their replacement motor installed.
However since they missed this Buttonwillow event,
this will put them too far back in the points to
compete for first place. This is a shame,
because they were clearly the car to beat at the
start. But part of an endurance event
is to keep the car running, and sometimes you
break because you overbuild your car, and
sometimes you break simply due to bad luck.
We left the track by 5:00pm,
and with a 350 mile drive to the next track, we
did everything we could to make good time.
A slight disaster struck the
Mini on I-5 this evening. We lost part of
the front fascia / spoiler when we struck a
Semi-truck tire retread at about 70mph. It
was laying completely across the lane, and since
it was dusk we saw it too late to avoid it.
Losing this front body piece under the bumper
certainly won't help our aerodynamics, and it
doesn't look too good either. I will post a
picture of it tomorrow. We will be using
LOTS of duct tape in the morning to try to cover
up the gap was left when the part fell off.
We made it to the hotel just
before 10:00pm. Sorry for the
short update, but I need to get some rest as we
have a full day ahead of us tomorrow. Since
I have been following the Mini on the road with my
truck, I am not able to write until we make it to
the hotel. But please check back when you
can for an update...