Sunday morning. As the dawn brought the warmth and the sunlight, Autobahn Country Club slowly shook off the grogginess and the blur of the night before and readied itself for a full day of action. The second day of GridLife Chicago 2016 was under way.
If you haven’t checked out part one of the recap of the weekend you can read it (HERE). After a couple of hours of eating breakfast, drinking coffee, chatting, and fixing yesterday’s damage on the cars. All of the drivers reconvened at the podium by the South Timing tower for the second drivers meeting of the weekend. With it, the Gridlife staff let welcomed any newcomers for the day, and gave everyone a refresher on the rules and guidelines for the day.
With the conclusion of the drivers meeting, we beginners had another meeting in the South Tower’s conference room and were given our passes to go out on track for the day. While we were busy with our meeting the Intermediate and Advanced HPDE groups were out on track for their first sessions of the day.
My instructor for the weekend, Bill Griffin, was busy out on track with one of the Time Attack competitors. I guess even the guys out there competing for the fastest lap times need a little help with their lines every now and again. So I hopped in with Chuck McMillon and his Blob-Eye WRX STI to get a different perspective and to see how someone else drives the South Course.
Unfortunately, my first session on track in the morning didn’t last very long. If you read the first part of our coverage, I talked about how the Rx7 was having a fuel starving/cutting issue at the top of fourth gear. After a couple laps of my first session on Sunday, the problem got worse. MUCH WORSE. It wasn’t just doing it in fouth. It was doing it all the way through third, and even at the top of second. I didn’t know what was going on. so rather than risk damaging the car. I pulled off track with a few minutes left in the session to see if we could find out what was going wrong.
After a few minutes checking over the car, filling it up with fuel and asking Chuck (Subaru guy and rotary guru). We had it narrowed down to something with the fueling system. What exactly? We had literally no idea. We gave everything a once over, couldn’t find the problem, and were stumped as to what was causing the problem. So rather than make it worse out on track (I still had a three hour drive home remember), we decided to call it and sit out the rest of the day. Which was a very hard thing to do, as I still had four scheduled sessions the rest of the day. I would be missing out on nearly half of my paid track time.
It was right around this time that the attendees of the Offset Kings show, presented by Fatlace, were staging in order to enter their show ground in an organized fashion. This allowed us to get a little look at what was on offer from the show that was to take place alongside all of the on track action for the day.
One of the first cars I came across rolling into the show was this MK6 Volkswagen Jetta. Remember how back in my Water By the Bridge post I was complaining about how eveyone was doing the same thing in the Volkswagen scene? Well apparently, in order to see something different, you have to go to a predominately JDM show. This particular car was sporting a scrumptious set of Work Meister S1’s and an appropriate amount of low. Hidden behind the white Japanese wheels were a set of Porsche six pot calipers. Off what model? I have no idea. However, the blue contrasted perfectly with the white exterior of the car. Elsewhere, in the interior. Re trimmed blood red Recaro bucket seats were in place of the stock seats. Overall, it was a good car to whet my pallet with for the rest of the day.
There were a few familiar faces out on the grass for the show. This Varis kitted GT86 is a car we’ve seen a few times in the Chicagoland area. Just like the Subaru GC8 above it, neither of them disappoint each time we see them!
Out on track, the time attack guys were working at whittling down their lap times in order to make the top 12 shootout at the end of the day. Known as “Final Grid”. It’s a one lap, make it or break it sort of competition. Whoever can set the fastest lap, gets top honors for the event. So it was enjoyable to watch these guys slowly make adjustments to their driving and their cars in order to try and get the perfect lap.
While the Gridlife action was taking place out in the pits and on the South course. Some of the local Radical Club members (yes, that’s a thing), were out on the North course getting some practice time in for their club races held on the Autobahn circuit. So if you got tired of watching HPDE, Time Attack, Drifting, or perusing the Offset Kings show. You could still have something interesting to watch out on the North course. While I don’t know HOW you could become bored with what was happening at Gridlife. It’s nice to know there’s a little bit of variety.
While we didn’t get to shoot any of the two drifting sessions that happened late in the day. Mainly because we didn’t want to fight the crowds around the fence and in the pits. It was still nice to see a few locals come out to represent the Chicago drifting scene. The guys from Risky Devil, Proceed, and GLEAM all came out to show what they had to the few thousand spectators that flooded the gates of Autobahn that day.
A short while later. We met up with our friends Pat and Vinh and strolled around the show for a while. Chatting about the recent happenings since we last shared each others company. Then Brad and I decided that we wanted to have a look at the private houses/ garages that dot the perimeter of the track. While walking over, we came across this mean looking FB/Sa22c Rx7. Giving me a little inspiration for mine. As I have been contemplating doing some visual mods like this one. The whale tail wing and full rear louvers giving me confidence that those modifications would indeed look awesome on mine.
Many of you eagle eyed readers may spot the air cleaner poking out of the hood. While I didn’t get the chance to see what was hiding below the cut hood. One would assume that it would be some form of Chevrolet or Ford small block V8. While I’m not one to dispel swapping out the factory rotary engine for something with pistons. I think that a small block V8 isn’t the worst choice in engine to swap into the diminutive sports coupe. Parts availability and reliable power being the two main reasons I don’t scoff at the notion of swapping one of the two engines in. Because we all know that finding rotary parts isn’t getting any easier.
As we came around the corner of the Radical building on the far east side of the circuit, we were treated to something special. Hiding between a BMW x3 and an RV was one of the “Holy Trinity”. While I’ve seen a few Porsche 918’s before. I’ve never come across one in the wild. Plus, this is the first time I’ve seen this slate grey sort of color too. Truly something special. Unfortunately, I could only get one photo before our time in the restricted area of the circuit came to an end. Not wanting to get kicked out, we decided it best to stop walking where we shouldn’t and go back to the show.
After meeting up with Pat, Vinh, and Brenden again. We proceeded to watch the “Final Grid” shootout then decided to grab some food. At this point, after sitting for most of the day. The Mazda seemed to have forgone its fueling problem and was running tip top again. Which was good news. As I thought I could make it home without a cinch. I was wrong.
About an hour and a half from home. After fueling up for the last time. The fuel cut reared it’s ugly head once again. At this point. It’s past midnight, raining and cold. So we pulled off at a closed service station and began to diagnose and attempt to fix the issue. After about an hour of playing around with the carburetor and other things in the engine bay. We decided to check the fuel pump underneath the car. “Here’s the problem”, said Brenden a few seconds later.
The fuel filter had fallen out of it’s bracket underneath the car and was pinching the old, crusty fuel lines. Causing no fuel to come from the tank to the pump. Which explained why it would cut out at higher speeds. The wind rushing underneath the car was pushing the hanging filter back and cutting off fuel flow. After re-attaching it to its perch underneath the car. We made the rest of the trip home without any issues.
With the problem since rectified. The car has been running great. Looking back. I am beyond proud of this little car and all it was able to do over the weekend. I think I’ll give it a break now however and continue making sure the BMW is the track car.
Until then, I can’t thank the Gridlife staff for putting on an awesome event once again! I would also like to thank my instructor, Bill Griffin for really helping me out immensely over the course of the weekend. I leaned a lot and can’t wait to do it again!
Till next time!
You can view our full Flickr album of photos from the weekend. ——> HERE