Here are some of my notes from the 2003 edition of the Portland, Oregon America Cup.

Prolog:

Dave Cloud had sold the old, fast cars, #40 & #41, over the winter. He still had the car that was new, and slow last year. During the week before the race, Dave had built a new nose and canopy for the old #42 car. He had also built new rear hubs, and mounted disk brakes. Wednesday, I stopped by to see how it was going, and noticed that the new mirror pods would probably fit the mirrors I use on my bike. Thursday, I bought a couple, and stopped by after work to see about installing them, but ended up installing the instrument panel instead. Dave was up till about 1AM Friday morning painting it dayglow green. We had been in search of 24 laps at Portland for two years already, so I printed out schedules for 24 and 25 laps before I left Saturday morning. We renumbered the car to #40.

Saturday May 24, 2003

Portland International Raceway
Portland, Oregon

I arrived at the track at about 10:30AM to find Dave in a near panic because I wasn't there yet. We got through tech in time, and with no problems. There was still a lot to do though.

I was in the second row at the start, and when the flag dropped, I wasn't going to hurry, until I could do it safely. I still managed to get to turn one in the lead. I think I was by myself for the first two laps. The gear ratio we had chosen was the one we used last year, 23-40, with Primo Comet 20x1.35 tires all around. I was drawing 55-60Amps at the end of the front straight, where I would let off, and coast, from where the festival turns came back onto the straight. I would coast through turns 1, 2, and to the apex of turn 3. I would be on the throttle again for a bit, then coast till the apex of the left hand turn 4. A little more, then coast till the apex of 5, then on the power for the back straight. I was drawing 45Amps at the end of the straight before I would start coasting again before I saw the braking markers. The power came on again at the last apex before the straight, and the current would be at 80Amps going under the bridge. At 20 minutes into the race, I had used 15.64Amp/Hours. Dave had told me that I could get 45Amp/Hours from our race batteries, so I was right on target. At 40 minutes into the race, I had used 30.something Amp/Hours. In second place, was Mark Murphy with 20 laps.

As I crossed the finish line near the end of the race, the BatMan said I was at 53 minutes, 30 seconds in. I figured I could maybe get 3 more laps, so I pulled out the stops, and managed to cross the line with 3 seconds to go, but I had no clue how many laps I had done. At Portland, I usually see how far the car will coast after getting the checkered flag, this time I only made it through the first three turns. I ended up with 23 laps, 24 miles, at 47.26Amp/Hours, 48.01, by the time I made it back to the pits.

This was not a very auspicious start for our attempt on 24 laps. When we got the car on the stand, the rear wheels didn't turn so good. Dave realized that he had been welding on the hubs with the bearings in, so He changed all the rear bearings.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Since the car hadn't rolled so well yesterday, we decided to change the gearing to 22-40, and use the same tires, as I hadn't been able to go fast enough to wear them much. Today, I got the pole position, since I won yesterday. A few other cars pulled in front at the start, but I passed them by the time turn 1 came by. Most of my worries were exactly where I would pass the next car. At 20 minutes, I had used 15.65Amp/Hours, at 30, 22/Hours, and at 45, 33.15Amp/Hours. I knew I was going deeper into the corners, letting off at the top of the hill on the front straight, about halfway to the corner from where I was yesterday. I was letting off at the first braking marker, on the back straight. Was I going faster? I crossed the finish line with about 1 minute to go in the race. This time the car coasted to where I could at least see the back straight. I had finished with 23 laps at 44.81AmpHours, but faster. Still not as fast as last year. When I got back to the pits, the first thing I did, was to tape the lap schedules onto the instrument panel, remember the lap schedules? I hadn't.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Dave's daughter Shannon had painted wheel covers for the inside of the rear wheels, and installed them. Dave closed up some of the gap around the front wheel, and we decided to go back to 23-40. The tires weren't really bad, after two days, but we changed them all anyway.

The start was the same as yesterday, and I was only 3 seconds behind schedule, as I crossed the start/finish line after the first lap. I was 3 seconds ahead of schedule on lap 2. I kept gaining on the schedule till about lap 10 when I was about 55 seconds ahead. How bad would the batteries drop off, and when? I stayed 55 seconds ahead, till lap 20. The next lap lost about 5 seconds, then 8. Dave had spent the race calculating where I should be, because I had forgotten to give him his copy of the schedules. I was pretty sure, I couldn't blow this, unless I did something stupid, and spun, or crashed, so I got really careful. I knew I had the battery to go faster, but I would just be more likely to make a mistake. I lost between 8 and 10 seconds on the next two laps, to finish about 30 seconds ahead of schedule, and I knew I had a new record! This time, the car coasted onto the back straight. 24 laps, 46 miles, and 46.01Amp/Hours.

Epilog.

You might ask what the difference is between 23 and 24 laps? About half a set of tires. At 23 laps, I hardly used any tire at all, at 24, they were pretty worn out. I was probably doing about 52MPH at the end of the straights, and having to slow down to less than 40 coming out of the corners. 46 miles when I had to slow down for corners, what can we do with a big oval?