Oct 15, 2012 update to the Triumph TR3 project car

Racing at Lime Rock

Team TR3 included Gary Hunter, Tim Suddard and Jere Dotten.
We beat Adam Nolde for an overall group victory, or should we say triumph?

… by the end of the race, we were constantly missing shifts.

Lime Rock Park is some 1200 miles away from our offices in Central Florida. Consequently, while we’ve been there many times to promote our publications or cover events, we’d only run at Lime Rock twice: once in 1994 at an E-36 BMW M3 launch and once at a Formula Ford celebrity reunion in 1997. Needless to say, we were not very familiar with this 1.5-mile-long track. This was unfortunate, as we were about to be racing our 1957 Triumph TR3 on it. There wasn’t much we could do, other than purposely starting at the back on our first session on Friday. That way, we’d have a low-pressure environment to evaluate the car and learn the track.

Our TR3 ran better than ever, and our learning curve was short. We worked our way through the group of 25 cars in no time at all. Passing Ferraris, Big Healeys and Jaguar XKs in a TR3 is always a lot of fun. We qualified third behind the MGA of Werner Scheeren and the Austin Healey 100-4 of Adam Nolde.
Saturday’s feature race went well; we edged past Nolde on an inside pass, coming into the back section of the course (just before “the bridge”). At this point, we were on the outside pole in second position for Monday’s warmup and feature. Our fastest lap time was down to a 1:07.9.

Our only problems during the weekend were minor: our two-year-old battery failed just as we were trying to run a warmup session. Also, by Saturday afternoon, in the near 90-degree heat, we’d used up our now three-year-old tires. Fortunately, we found a battery at a local NAPA store, and we had a fresh set of Hoosier Speedster tires ready to bolt on for Monday’s feature.

Following some great car show activities on Sunday, Monday proved to be just as beautiful (if not a few degrees cooler). With some clear track, we focused our warmup session on learning the track and managed to knock off some more time. This was good news, as we later found out that the warmup times counted toward qualifying. We were down to a fastest time of 1:07.3 and sat on the pole. Now all we had to do was keep that bright yellow Austin Healey from getting by us. That was going to be tough, as Adam Nolde had qualified only a few tenths of a second behind us.

What unfolded Monday afternoon was one of the best racing battles we’d ever had. We seemed to have him nearly everywhere on the track, but we were still hesitant, tapping the brakes coming down the hill onto the front straight. Adam’s larger 2.5-liter engine, coupled with his great driving, had him closing in on us every time we entered Turn One. However, we were faster through the corners and were able to hold him off coming through Turns Two and Three. Then, a failing clutch master cylinder made it even tougher, and by the end of the race, we were constantly missing shifts. But our TR3 held together well enough, and we managed to finish off one of the best weekends ever with class and group victories.

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