TDi North Easter Thunderball Weekend Report
Get a beer, settle down and have a read…..
The car is owned and driven by Adam Buckley from Northwich in Cheshire. After a last year’s “bump,” which was a result of shearing 1000hp ‘rated’ driveshafts, the car was still in for bodywork and paint on the Tuesday leading up to the first round of the Japanese Drag Series (formerly HKS Drag Series).
The body shop were dragging their heels and then claimed they wouldn’t be able to complete the job in time for the weekends racing, so we pulled the car. The bare shell was then completely rebuilt over the next 2 days, without a dyno shakedown, and on the trailer at 2am Thursday night.
Day 1 - Friday
We arrived at Santa Pod at about 6am, ready for a few shakedown runs and beginning to dial in the car for this year. After setting up the two awnings, the motor home, flags, Nissan Navara Bass/Tow mobile, the car was ready to run a shakedown pass.
Round to the startline and everything looked and sounded good on the burnout. With the car on 97 octane fuel, 24.5” M&H slicks, a fresh set of DSS 5.9 driveshafts and reverted back to the Spoon diff rather than the spool we used last year that helped in our meeting with the wall….the car ran a clean 10.3611 @ 144.3 mph.
For the second run, we changed spark plugs and increased boost to try and gain some more in the second half of the track. The run showed the car misfiring in third and fourth gears along the second 1/8th, and no boost increase. The car ran a 10.4797 @143.45 mph.
The track preparation was great, compared to the prep that you usually get at Santa Pod in our series, as the Top Fuel cars and bikes were running, including the jet cars and bikes, Nitro Cars, Funny Cars and Rocket bike….yes, a rocket bike. Those guys have balls of steel!!!!
The last run of the day was aborted because there were that many classes to get through, they ran out of time for our third run.
Day 2 - Saturday
After a couple of bottles of Chateau Neuf Du Pap and a heavy mixture of Smirnoff and Jack Daniels the night before, we fired up the BBQ for sausages and bacon to kick-start the day.
We only got one run in on the Saturday due to oil spillages and cars blowing up on the track. Plus being in the minority against the American V8 stuff, we were way down the pecking order.
We drained the tank and changed to Tesco 99 Octane!!! (whoa, way to push the envelope ) to see if it was the fuel that was causing the misfire. The car ran a 10.4592 @ 145.30 mph, still with a misfire in 4th gear.
Day 3 – Sunday
Another epic night of BBQ, music, beers, and any other alcohol we could get our hands on, we crawled out of our tents to find another blistering day, for the UK anyway! Track temps were in the mid 40’s and looked a nice setup for a lot of grip off the line.
Anti-lag was set up by Paul “Wizard” West, whose birthday it was….despite him being presented with a black wig, feather boa and yet another bottle of Jack Daniels, still managed to look cool. (IN PRISON!!) This allowed us to build boost off the line.
The car pulled cleanly off the line and ran a good first 1/8th, but the dreaded misfire was still there in 3rd and 4th gear, resulting in a 10.4492 @ 118.37 mph…you cant say we’re not consistent lol!
For the second run of the day, the car was still not creating any more boost, so we spanner checked the whole car and found a possible slight boost leak, swapped back to the previous spark plugs, changed coilpacks (from the TDi North Mugen FN2 lol) and checked for any vacuum leaks, the car was ready to run again.
Once again she hooked off the line with a 1.7 60ft, clean through second, third and fourth, no misfires and extra boost! So much so that it started getting out of shape in fourth gear so Adam lifted off and coasted in to a 10.2648 @ 130.95 mph.
We got the car down to the line for another run but a Top Fuel bike had left oil over the full quarter mile and the entire run off area. Track shut, come back tomorrow. L
Day 4 – Monday.
After another night of debauchery, with silly wigs, sombrero’s, going through the ghost train on foot whilst being chased by the owner and plenty of Tennessee’s most famous export; the car was rolled down to the line for another run.
We wound a bit more boost into her and left everything else the same for the first, and what turned out to be our only run of the day.
Leaving the line hard, and hooking up really well, no misfires, a slight weave as the boost piled in on the second half of the track, up popped a 9.9586 @145.81!!!!
The rest of the crowd, commentators and all the other teams lined up behind, stared in shock as we all went nuts!! Ben and Neil hugging (in anything but a gay way) on the startline, Paul and the rest of the team rocking the stands with shouts and screams.
We’re in the 9’s.
Got back to pits with most of us losing our voices, and elation across the camp, quick check over of the car showed that the engine had rocked back seriously hard, and with the exhaust in such close proximity to the windscreen, had cracked it.
We got out the superglue and duct tape to make good the damage. Datalogs showed that Adam was on the rev limiter for 0.7 seconds….we really need to wire in the shift light, imagine what the time would have been if the change was instant or at least 0.2 seconds….
No change in settings and back down to the startline which would hopefully reveal another 9 second pass. As we lined up for the burnout in the final round, the chief startline scrutineer came over and told us we couldn’t run!!!! ***!! Not even allowed to break the beams for points. Personally I’ve seen cars run with cracked windscreens a number of times, we could have even taken the front and rear screens out as Adam had a full face helmet on.
Talk about the highs and lows of drag racing. Ah well, back to the pits, everyone was a bit disheartened but the overall feeling of breaking into the 9’s dissipated the disappointment of not being allowed to run again.
First weekend of the year at Santa Pod, it was an epic one. To break into the 9’s and know that there is a lot left in the car, makes for a great start to the drag racing calendar for 2011.
We would like to thank all our sponsors and suppliers, people who have worked late nights and early mornings to get the car ready, people who make the brews and the butties and not just for this season and competition either. Thank you.
Roll on the rest of 2011 where hopefully we will get into the mid to low 9 second bracket and keep chasing down the Americans that are still quite a way ahead of us. We’ll get there, the times are coming and the car is getting good so there’s lots more to come, and not just from this car either…..
TDi North - Bad Ass Dept.