What's all this about?
Armed with a team of barbeque and
automotive experts and a 1989 Saab 900
purchased for $400, Team Carbeque is a
unique racing team determined complete the 24 hours
of LeMons... all while making barbeque under the hood.
Find out more: >> Click here to read our mission statement
The Carbeque Smokes Thompson Speedway
Posted by Captain A-Dam on April 11, 2016, 10:07 pm CST
Its been awhile since the last time the que hit the track. Last spring, the car was involved in an incident that left the front end in shambles. The splitter had been broken off, as well as the front air dam, grill, headlights, and the entire frame was bent. The car sat for awhile, and was eventually rebuilt using the corner from a donor car. About a week before the race, the final coat of paint went on over the fresh welds, and the BBQ box was installed, caressing the exhaust manifold. Front end work had to be done to make sure too much airflow didnt interrupt the cooking process, so a new style of airdam was built to cover most of the bottom, and the headlight holes were sealed up. The EBC Bluestuff brake pads still had a considerable amount of meat on them from last race, so we would run em.
With the car on the trailer, and the ribs in the cooler, we headed out to Thompson, Connecticut for the inaugural LeMons race there, a series for very cheap cars to compete over the course of the entire weekend. With about 16hrs of on track time, its the perfect opportunity to get some serious manifold cooking done. The cars motto is Low n Slow, which describes the race cars performance, as well as the cooking technique, but for this race a few things changed. The new front aero work was much lighter than the outgoing affair, utilizing sheets of plastic rather than metal.
Much of the car was also "skinned", a term used to describe cutting unnecessary support structure out of all possible areas of the vehicle. This includes the hood support ribs, hatch, and doors. Where you once had a strong, heavy piece of Swedish steel, you are left with a flimsy skin that requires you to pin down to the body, because they are no longer strong enough to support their own weight on hinges. With the removal of headlights, associated wiring, metal front aero…total weight loss was over 100lbs.
With the addition of a set of wide wheels with 225 width tires, The Carbeque was now Low n Fast, which doesnt rhyme, or describe the meat cooking process. Even with high ambient temperatures and closed off airflow, we had trouble keeping enough heat in the BBQ enclosure to cook. This forced us to extend cooking times, and low n slow was still in place for that.. We painted the stripe on the airdam on Friday, because to be a true LeMons car, it has to be finished at the track.
Day one went well, with only a few problems.
Around 2 oclock, Josh radiod in that he had lost all drive. When he was dropped off of the tow strap in our paddock space, we hustled to look around the drivetrain and see what it could be doing. I had him put it into gear to unleash the horrific grinding, rattling noise that happened in place of forward momentum. When I noticed the axle turning and the wheel was not, we quickly confirmed an outer CV Joint had failed and we immediately wrangled up our spare and got to it. In about 20min we were strapping in the next driver and back on track.
For the next pit stop, the car refused to start back up after refueling. We pushed the car out of the hot pitlane, since there is to be no work done on the car there, and yanked the hood off as soon as we cleared the wall. Immediately we noticed that the Crankshaft Position Sensor had rattled out of the engine block, and with a quick clearance calibration, the car was once again on track, with minimal time lost.
We switched racks of ribs during this hasty service as well, and shared it with fellow eEuroparts.com sponsorees in their Mercedes 260E. One of the team members mothers described a book we love, Manifold Destiny. If you havent heard of it, check it out. Its full of recipes for manifold related culinary adventures. The one good thing about being stopped in the pits is that the ambient temperatures of the manifold and engine seep into the BBQ, giving the cooking process a quick turbocharge. The car got back on track with good meat temperatures.
Towards the end of the day we realized that we were in 2nd place in our class, and was tracking down the leader already, even after our equipment failures. When the car came in at the end of the day, Dan forgot to hit the manual cooling fan, which ended up blowing a thermostat gasket and causing water to spill onto the ground as it came to a stop. Whatever, we made it, and had spares. The meat coming off was perfect.
Everyone cracked open their beers and got ready for dinner, supplemented with coleslaw, chips, and potato salad. Even one of the Mod Squad guys came over and said hi. We put the car on jack stands to change the brakes out, discovering a few of the EBC Bluestuff pads were down to the metal, and the rest were pretty thin. Still pretty amazing that we got 1.5 endurance races out of this set, or about 24 straight hours worth of combined on-track abuse. Definitely got our moneys worth.
Day two started late due to local noise laws (noon), so with only 5.5hrs of on-track racing, Zak and Dan gave up their driver stints so that we could limit the day down to 2 pit stops. This would allow us to save around 15 minutes, which would be enough laps to give us a significant advantage. The car currently in first place was a Toyota MR2 Spyder, expertly wrapped in a VW Vanagon. The #78 car of Mod Squad Racing was running good laps and never ever seemed to break, so we would have to run a perfect race in order to win.
The first stint went without a hitch, save for a really pathetic hickup that resulted in going 4-wheels off. With over 2hrs into the stint, and a long night previous (Zak brought a bottle of Tequila we couldnt find in the morning), we can chalk it up to driver fatigue. This was our only black flag for the race, and they let us right back out. With about 2 hours left in the entire race, a few us had eyeballs plastered onto the race monitor app. It told us that the Mod Squad lap times had begun to fall off, and a long pit stop of theirs to refill engine oil put us right on their bumper. We clinged to the fence as the white stripey SAAB glided up behind the orange bus, got alongside, and slid into the lead.
Now all we had to do is stay there to secure our first ever class win. We decided that because Josh was pushing so hard, we should bring fuel to the pit lane just in case he began to sputter out in the closing laps. While there, with about 50 min left in the race, we caught a panicked radio transmission from Josh, saying that the car was hesitating on throttle and needed fuel. Even though this went against all of our previous fuel calculations, we were already right there. We hastily finished putting our gear on and ran into the hot pits to put a splash in. Josh strapped back in and attempted to start the car, but there was nothing.
Let The Chaos Ensue
I ran back to the Mercedes garage to get a few tools for the CPS, which we thought had come loose again, only to find that once the hood was off behind the wall, the CPS bracket was tight. We looked around, pulling, poking, jiggling, and prodding everything we could see. When turning over, there was a horrendous rattle coming from the engine, we feared the worse. Josh slumped down in his seat, knowing we had lost. When we approached giving up, after trying everything, I saw something. One of the cables was out of place, my eyes followed it down to the starter motor, under the intake manifold (SAAB), and suddenly realized where there should be a throttle position sensor, there was just a shiney nub sticking out of the throttle body.
The noise was the custom
fabricated cobbled together bracket rattling against the starter as it cranked. In order to access it, I started ferociously pulling hoses off and emptied the water line to the throttle body in a huge geyser. With only a slight burn (!!!!), I was able to get the throttle position sensor back onto the throttle body, and "secure" it on with a zip tie to get it back to the paddock. Around this time, we realized there was only about 14min left in the race. Instead of finding appropriate hardware to fix it back into its proper spot, we ziptied it on tightly and sent Josh back out. He quickly radiod in that the throttle was sticking open, and the car "wasnt safe to drive". Define..."safe".
We asked if he was coming back in again, to which he replied with something like "I think I can make it". Every time he pushed in the clutch, the car would rocket to the rev limiter, but he was out there turning laps and giving the brakes a supreme workout. The car was stressing to its absolute limit, but suddenly the checkered flag came out, and the car made it back to the paddock spot after a completely ridiculous stop and go parade back to the pits with a stuck open throttle. Taking the hood off, I noticed one of the zipties had slipped over the throttle linkage, keeping it from closing. Doh.
Even after this debacle, we somehow salvaged second place, the Qs best ever class finish. Overall finish was 23rd. The Mod Squad guys did an amazing job, kudos to your fantastic reliability in such a strange machine. The meat coming off was perfect, and the whole B paddock came over to have dinner with us on the hood of our $400 SAAB 900. A short time later, we got yelled at over the intercom for being too slow to pack up and leave. We finished eating and took the front off the car, heaved it onto the trailer, and buggered out before sundown with one of our most epic weekends under our belt.
We finished around 12 laps back from the class C Leader, but we still felt like we won. It is now obvious that the only way to win is to run a perfect race, so as we try and get the car to the point of mechanical perfection, its important to realize that we are just there for fun, and if we ever begin to abandon this cause, we need to take a step back and realize why we are here. To drive a race car for a long time, and to have an amazing BBQ at the end of each day without having to bring a grill.
Check out the photo gallery [here]