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DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
6/19/17 2:06 p.m.

Last week was hectic and stressful, but I made it to the Mt Okemo hillclimb over the weekend. I finished getting the car moving with the new rear suspension and quick change, and reinforced all the mounting points to the cage. I also got 99% of my power steering setup put together. The one thing I did not have was the fitting to thread into the mustang rack for the power steering return line. I ran out of time to get one before heading to Vermont, and the only parts store in town, which is usually open until noon on Saturdays was closed all weekend.

Anyway, this was my first time co-chairing a hillclimb event, so I had that little bit of stress and busyness (this word doesn't look right spelled this way) to add into the mix. With the event filled to max capacity, and forecast for rain and thunderstorms all weekend, I was a bit worried. But the rain came through Friday, and the rest of the weekend was hot and dry outside of fog both mornings. We had some communications issues on Saturday, and timing issues on Sunday, but despite that, ended up getting 7 runs in over the weekend.

As for how my weekend went as a driver. The word Lucky doesn't do it justice. Starting off on the Familiarization run on Saturday, I got halfway up the hill, heard a loud clunking noise from the back of the car, and then the rear end locked up. I was about 100 feet from the next checkpoint, and the safety crew pulled me up into the pull off area. I had an hour or so to get myself worked up about what could have gone wrong and how I was going to afford a new rear end 3 weeks before Climb to the Clouds. At lunchtime, the wrecker came up and pulled me down the hill-I had to sit in the car facing uphill (with no mirrors) and was told no matter how bad I wanted to I could not turn the wheel. Upon pulling the wheels off and inspecting things, I realized the noise was coming from the rear brakes. This rear end had been sitting for 5 years and the fam run was the first time it had moved under its own power more than 50 feet. So some corrosion on the rotors, combined with VERY loose slider bolts was causing the brake calipers to kick sideways enough to get jammed up. I also figured out the rear end was a bit (a lot) low on gear oil, and so I think all that combined just locked everything up. New fluid in the diff, and running the car on jackstands while riding the brakes cleared that issue up. Crisis averted.

I ended up taking two runs Saturday afternoon. The first was basically a re-do of my fam run, feeling out the car, seeing the road for the first time in a year, and making sure I really had solved my issue. Made it up and down uneventfully. The second run, I added a bit of speed, started feeling out the new rear suspension, and the dirt track tires I'll probably be running at CTTC (running dirt tires on pavement feels REALLY strange... the back of the car feels like it just keeps sliding and sliding as the sidewall and tread blocks flex, and then FINALLY it hooks up). The run felt good, nothing in the rear end felt totally wrong, but as I crossed the finish line, I hit the brakes to slow down and it took a LOT of effort to keep the car straight. I suddenly had a bunch of play in the steering, and a bit of a clicking noise. I was one of the last cars up, so I didn't have time to look at it at the top, but told myself I'd check it out at the bottom.

Well, I didn't quite make it to the bottom. About halfway down the hill, I was turning into a corner and SNAP! I kept turning the wheel and the car kept going straight. I hit the brakes and prayed I would have enough space to stop. What felt like 200ft of sliding looked like about 15 ft from the tire marks, and I slid just off the road into a nice, flat grassy spot (not very common at hillclimbs) about 20 ft from the entrance to what is a half pipe in the winter. I could not have picked a better spot on the hill for this to happen.

The parking spot:

I ended up taking a single run on Sunday in the SRT4 my uncle recently bought from my dad. Got clocked at 93 mph in the straightaway, and ran 1 second slower than the Dart the previous day, and good enough for 2nd place in class. It's amazing how much easier it is to drive a relatively stock car and for half a second I thought maybe I made the wrong choice between the Dart and my STI for Mt Washington. Then I looked at the Dart again.

TL,DR: Roller coaster weekend, loss of steering almost made this a lawn Dart, buying a lottery ticket today.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
6/26/17 12:46 p.m.

Got some things knocked off the list this weekend. 9 Days till I leave for Climb to the Clouds!

Replaced the steering U Joint. I used this opportunity to move the joint to a more ideal location, but that means I had to sleeve a small section of the shaft.

Started making room for the giant rear tires, so that I can lower the car down to a less truck-like ride height in the rear.

Power steering. Finally got the right parts all together, and got the power steering system set up. Mustang rack, Mustang pump, custom bracket to mount on the 440. I'm a bit scared that this will make the car too easy to drive at speed. The lack of power steering was a constant reminder that this thing is a monster. I can now spin the wheel with 1 finger with sticky 10" slicks on the car. (the pump and line aren't as close to the shock hoop as this picture makes it seem)

Started fabricating the bumpers. I was asked by the wrecker crew at Okemo to add bumpers after they realized there was nowhere to lift the car from when they came up the hill to rescue me. Front bumper is 90% done functionally. May add a little bit more style to it if time allows. The close up of the weld is to show what happens when the stars align.

Also, I hadn't posted this here. The Dart was chosen to be the subject of the dash plaque for Okemo. Steve Jones had an extra big version made for me. The number plates are finishing position. The 4 cars my family brought all got either 1st or 2nd, in 4 different classes.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
6/26/17 2:28 p.m.

Wow, sounds like a lot of luck that weekend.

I love the "lawn Dart" and that front bumper. Congrats on the dash plaque, that's sweet!

Keep up the good work.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
7/12/17 8:22 a.m.

Guess I need to find another host for my pictures other than photobucket.... Mt Washington Update coming soon

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/2/17 11:03 a.m.

It's been more than a little busy back on the home front, trying to recover from Mt Washington, and get caught up on all the things I neglected since April. It's a month late, but here is my update from Mt Washington:

It's going to be tough but I am hoping I can put to words the roller coaster of a week I had. I apologize in advance for the novel that follows.

The three months leading up to CTTC were crazy, as I was preparing the Dart for the event. So many friends and family members helped out and put hands on the car at some point. I can't thank everyone enough for the help and support.

The week before the event took that to another level. Preparations came to the last minute as usual, to the point that the fresh coat of paint on the car dried in the trailer on the way to NH. A few last minute things were finished up when we got to the hill on Thursday, and then the car passed tech with flying colors (thanks to Michael J. Ruggiero for the extra fire extinguisher bracket) and made it up and down the hill for a recce run with no issues.

Friday, we practiced on the top half of the hill. This was the first time I'd driven the car over 30 mph since changing the rear suspension geometry and spring rates, and adding power steering. The first run was relatively uneventful, and I made it to the top (WOOO!) While in the top parking lot, someone pointed out that my rear tire was leaking. Something had punched a hole in it. Thanks to Adam Noyes, I plugged the hole with a screw and some super glue.

The screw held well enough to get back down to halfway, and before my second run, one of the volunteers let me borrow their 12V air pump, and Erik H Reisner let me use some 12V power.

I set off up the hill, but as I was about to cross into the dirt section, the car broke up and stalled. Not the place to be stopped with cars coming up fast behind me. I got it to start again, and made it halfway up the dirt to Cragway before it stalled again and wouldn't start back up. At that point, I pulled as far to the edge of the road I could and waited. Seconds later the next car flew by. Apparently the screw didn't hold when driving at speed, as by the time the rest of the cars went by and then all the cars came down, BOTH my rear tires were completely flat. This was the FIRST time the Dart was rescued by a flatbed over the weekend.

Once down the hill, we figured replaced the ignition switch, which appeared to be the source of the ignition problem, and swapped out the rear tires for some stiffer dirt tires. I think the flats were because the dirt tires I started on had too soft of a carcass for the sharp rocks in the parking lots and the dirt section of the hill. The car then made another recce run with no issues.

Saturday went better than Friday, but still wasn't great. We practiced from the bottom to halfway. My first run, I though I was smoking the tires off the launch, but apparently it was the clutch.... I had tried to give Joshua and Amanda a push when they were having electrical issues in the Rally Mustang, and smoked the clutch on Friday. I apparently finished off the last little bit of life it had left. It really should have been replaced before the event, but was too low on the list of priorities to get it done. I made both my runs Saturday nursing the clutch, but there was no way I'd be able to make a full run on Sunday.

At this point I put an SOS post up on here, and Dan Fouquette, a friend from Maine, started making magic happen. We had called around locally and couldn't find a clutch at any parts store. Dan did the same, as he was about to head to the Mt from Maine. When none of the parts stores had one in stock, he started calling dealerships. He was told to contact Lambert Auto Sales, Inc., so he did, and wouldn't take no for an answer when he was told the parts department was closed. He finally got through to Jim in the parts department, who drove to their "old stock" warehouse and found a clutch on the shelf. While the rest of the crew was pulling the transmission out, my dad drove 5 hours round trip to Claremont to pick it up.

The parts arrived at around 9:30, but thanks to my awesome crew, and Last Ditch Racing for loaning some spotlights, we had the whole thing back together by 11:30, and I was back at the house to get some sleep by midnight.

On Sunday morning, I felt like my stomach was doing somersaults. We had gotten the car back together, but couldn't fire up the car at midnight to see if it would work. The clutch was grabbing, but wouldn't fully disengage. I couldn't put the car in gear while it was running. But after some adjusting, I could start it in gear, and shift it once I was rolling. A huge weight came off and I thought we'd be okay.

Since practice didn't go too well, and cars were in order from slowest to fastest, I was one of the first cars to go up the hill on Sunday. At the bottom of the hill, I tried to keep myself composed. Pulling up to the line, I still didn't know that the clutch would hold. But I got the green flag, and the car took off like a bat out of hell. I was finally able to feel the power the car had to offer. The bottom of the hill felt awesome, and I went through the radar trap at 81 mph, which was the fastest for the first half of the cars that went through.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ScrbrpTKaQ4

Around the halfway point at Signal Corps, I started hearing some noise from somewhere in the car. It was definitely rotational, but at this point, I wasn't going to stop. I pushed on as the noise grew louder. I made it through the dirt and Cragway. As I was approaching mile 6, I tried to shift and the clutch pedal went to the floor. I heard a snapping noise and the car lost all forward motion. I was done. My heart sank.

I was rolled down to a turnoff, and climbed up to the corner station. I was in good company with Ryan Symancek, Steven Harrell, and a few others (sorry I didn't catch everyone's name). It was really tough to watch everyone else go by while I was stuck.

In all, I'm certainly disappointed that I got a DNF. But I can't really ask for more out of my crew or my equipment. We did all we could do, didn't leave anything on the line, and it just didn't work out this time. E36 M3 happens.

I can't thank everyone enough who helped me get as far as I did. But there are 3 people I really need to thank more than any others.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I also need to thank my sponsors, Rekleiner Vinyl Graphics, BridgeMoto, Anthony's Seafood, ADSI High Performance Driving School, GIGMotorsports, and Newport Sportsmans Club.

At the end of the weekend, the organizers announced that CTTC will return July 9-12, 2020. Mt Washington has 3 years to be ready for my run at vengeance.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/2/17 11:12 a.m.

Here is the video of my DNF. The run was going great until it wasn't.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hKcR9zxtqGc

My cousin Josh and his girlfriend Amanda ran their 92 Mustang in the Rally class, and kicked some serious butt. they won their class by 12 seconds, and were only 3 seconds off the class record in their first time ever at the hill.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/cyt0dMfFnwU

Here are some of my favorite photos from the event:

KevinGale
KevinGale Reader
8/2/17 11:22 a.m.

I really like this photo of the car. Definitely bad-ass! Pay no attention to that huge drop off. Just step on throttle and hang the rear end out.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/2/17 11:25 a.m.

Yeah this one is definitely my favorite. I'm going to talk to the photographer about getting a high res version to get a poster sized print for the garage. It's funny you say that about the cliff. I was WAY more comfortable on the dirt than I expected to be. The soft suspension setup really helped there.

java230
java230 SuperDork
8/2/17 12:08 p.m.

Sorry for the DNF, looked like it was going to be a good run!

KevinGale
KevinGale Reader
8/2/17 12:11 p.m.

In reply to DennisMotorsports:

From the last Washington I've got a print on canvas of my car hanging on the wall. Worth doing.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
8/2/17 12:41 p.m.

In reply to java230:

Thanks. Piecing together my times from practice and the run up to 6 mile mark, I was on par to break 8 minutes, which was my overall goal. It's frustrating to be so close, and not seal the deal haha

KevinGale
KevinGale Reader
12/15/17 2:48 p.m.

I know there must have been Dennis shenanigans since August.  

Challenger392
Challenger392 New Reader
12/15/17 3:05 p.m.
DennisMotorsports said:

In reply to java230:

Thanks. Piecing together my times from practice and the run up to 6 mile mark, I was on par to break 8 minutes, which was my overall goal. It's frustrating to be so close, and not seal the deal ha

I was awful bummed that you didn't make it to finish.  Being there and competing I can understand the disappointment.  But I think you definitely should get a prize for car with the most attitude.  The 440 really makes that car.

KevinGale
KevinGale Reader
12/15/17 3:25 p.m.
Challenger392 said:
DennisMotorsports said:

In reply to java230:

Thanks. Piecing together my times from practice and the run up to 6 mile mark, I was on par to break 8 minutes, which was my overall goal. It's frustrating to be so close, and not seal the deal ha

I was awful bummed that you didn't make it to finish.  Being there and competing I can understand the disappointment.  But I think you definitely should get a prize for car with the most attitude.  The 440 really makes that car.

 

I agree. I love the car. Attitude to spare.

 

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/15/17 4:27 p.m.
KevinGale said:

I know there must have been Dennis shenanigans since August.  

Haha! There have been some goings on, but nothing too exciting. Been doing some side work so I can hopefully afford to race next year! After sitting for a year and a half I finally got my STI in the garage and pulled the engine out. Not pretty. I already have a new shortblock and dropped the heads off at The Subaru Shop last week. Hoping to have an assembled long block by New Years. If all goes well, I'll be running the winter rallysprint at Team O Rally School in February

A few of us (myself not included) went to the ADSI event in November. Dan and Amanda drove Josh's Mustang

Oh and a friend and I had the best costume I've ever been a part of for Halloween

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/15/17 4:37 p.m.

In reply to Challenger392 :

Thanks haha. The 440 certainly makes the car a different animal. Hoping I'll have it back together for Ascutney. Especially if we run the long hill

KevinGale
KevinGale Reader
12/15/17 6:39 p.m.

Like the Mustang picture.  Not sure that is the fast way around but it looks cool.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/16/17 10:26 a.m.

David M D......My sincerest apologies.....I just now finished reading this(started a couple of months ago and then as the wife calls it my ADD kickedin)....Wow berkin' Wow!!!!.....All y'all KG, Ch392, the butchster and You have it all goin' on. Wish I was closer, this nonsense makes me want to do bad things to my MGB/GT. Good luck on next season!!!! Oh, and who is the "mascot' on the dash?

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/16/17 2:47 p.m.
KevinGale said:

Like the Mustang picture.  Not sure that is the fast way around but it looks cool.

That's about what I thought when I saw the pic. I heard the car was pushing a little bit. That explains it lol.

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/16/17 2:52 p.m.
759NRNG said:

David M D......My sincerest apologies.....I just now finished reading this(started a couple of months ago and then as the wife calls it my ADD kickedin)....Wow berkin' Wow!!!!.....All y'all KG, Ch392, the butchster and You have it all goin' on. Wish I was closer, this nonsense makes me want to do bad things to my MGB/GT. Good luck on next season!!!! Oh, and who is the "mascot' on the dash?

Thanks! Haha, hoping things are all back together by then! The mascot is none other than our (normally) orange furry friend Garfield! He's seen better days, but being attached to the dash of a race car with no windshield for 16 years will do that to a cat!

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/16/17 6:00 p.m.

DM,  is that a FIA approved harness for Gfield ?wink  Hey, are you allowed any engine set back in MadMaxD ?

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/18/17 9:11 a.m.
759NRNG said:

DM,  is that a FIA approved harness for Gfield ?wink  Hey, are you allowed any engine set back in MadMaxD ?

I dont think FIA certifies Zip Ties laugh
Unfortunately no room to set back the engine without modifying the firewall. It may happen at some point, but that was more work than I had time for this year.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
12/20/17 7:28 a.m.

Awesome car.  Did I miss the cause of the DNF at TCTTC?

DennisMotorsports
DennisMotorsports New Reader
12/20/17 9:06 a.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson :

Just realized I never posted the pictures here! There were actually two simultaneous failures. A hydraulic line going to the hydraulic throwout bearing never got re-secured after the clutch swap, so the flywheel chewed a hole in it. At the same time, the rear end killed itself. Something wasn't right and caused it to overheat and destroyed the pinion bearings.

Here's what it looked like under the quick change gear cover:

 

I thought I had some pictures of the rest of the destruction but I can't find them right now. I'll post those later

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
12/22/17 7:19 a.m.

That's pretty fubbard!

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