After the NMCA Nationals in September 2021, I dropped off the Screamin’ Woody at Doug Duell’s shop in Evansville, IN. Doug is also a NSS Racer, and a very good friend, who has watched my last couple of years of “Trials & Tribulations” of breakage. He offered to have his crew chief Matt Wright pull my drivetrain and send them (the motor and transmission) with his to Jeff Taylor Performance (engine builder) and A&A Transmission (transmission builder) with his. I could pay them directly.
The original plan was for me to pick up the car before the first race of 2022, In Bradenton. While the transmission was ready in February, the World Supply Chain issues had other thoughts for pistons. The pistons in the Motor were Stock 4.530 and a little high in the hole, necessitating the previous engine builder using .120 thick head gaskets. Jeff ordered custom pistons for 0-clearance (wrist pin a little higher to bring the piston down) but they didn’t arrive until August 2022.
For the Bradenton race, I bought my backup car, the Texas Thug. That started out as weekend from Hell. I was fixing the slide-outs of the motorhome at a rest area in Mississippi on the way there. When I got to the Track, the in floor hydraulic fluid canister had ruptured, and the lift with the car was stuck in the air. After many hours online and making phone calls, I found that the canister was made of Unobtainium. I did find a junk one that would possibly work and went to Sarasota fetch it back. It was too big, but we got it to work to get the lift down and the car off.
The car never ran faster in Qualifying. The night before Eliminations, I was telling a friend at dinner that race cars always run their best just before they break. Sure enough, in the first round of Eliminations, the oil pressure warning light came on just before the stripe, and the engine stopped as I was reaching up to shut it off. The bottom line is that the Bronze gear to the oil pump broke. After getting the car home and tearing the engine down, the crank was twisted, the center map cap wouldn’t come off and a couple of rods were burnt. Supply chain issues and machinist backlogs (the block needed a lot of work) meant the engine wouldn’t be ready until after the 2022 season ended. However, all of that is another story. As a matter of fact, I pick up the rotating tomorrow.
So back to the wagon, it was finally finished in early September. I drove up to Evansville to pick it up and took it Moparty in Bowling Green, KY. That was the week before “The Finals” and I wanted to use that as a tuning session. Doug met me there and staged me to observe the launches.
While the car would run great from the 330′ on, it stumbled horribly on the launch. We thought it was a fuel problem and made changes to the pump linkage position, change carb springs,… By the last round of qualifying, we thought we had it. However, the first round of Eliminations the stumble was there, and I left a 1/10 on the starting line.
So off to Indy
At Indy for the two time trials on Thursday, I tried leaving with more temperature in the Motor. One pass was good and one was bad. For the first Qualifying Round, I increased my launch RPM by 500. That helped some. For the second Qualifying I increased it another 200, but that still didn’t have the 60′ I needed.
Doug runs Holley carburetors in NSS, but carries a set of Edelbrocks for when racing in Victory, whose rules require it. He suggested we Switched to his carbs, and we did. That was the ticket. For the final qualifying, Class Racing, The All Star Shootout and the Dave Duel Classic the car ran like a Raped Ape.
19 Passes between Moparty and The Dave Duell Classic, and no breakage. Been a long time since that’s happened. I really owe a deep debt of gratitude to Doug Duell for all that he did to see I have a dependable car again.
The Screamin’ Woody is home where it belongs, and about to get some other upgrades. However, that’s a story for another day.
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