Amazing Car

12 August 2007
I really have my doubts about writing this–I’m feeling a bit superstitious about how good this trip has been going. But I’ll knock on wood and toss some Heineken over my shoulder.

Okay, that didn’t work very well.

What an amazing car Peyote has been. I can’t think of another car that could have done this expedition with such grace. Not only is the car welcomed anywhere, and our paddock constantly visited by people fascinated by the car and its history, but it’s performed beyond anyone’s expectations. Even mine and I started off amazed by it. It’s pretty much flogged every competing car it possibly could have beaten, and many, many cars that it should not have stood a chance against.

I really wish I understood why, but the more people know about making cars perform and handle, the bigger a mystery Peyote is. There is nothing about it that should enable this level of performance. Nothing all that trick in its motor, nothing magic in the suspension, it’s not light or sleek. It’s just fast.

Beyond that, it has stayed together while being driven at its limits for more than fifteen events–at least 5o races, qualifiers, warmups, test and tune days, and practice sessions–probably more like 70. It raced all last year without major work, and all of the All Aluminum Tour thus far.

In all that time it’s used up four sets of tires. Two sets of Hoosier Vintage TDs last year, a set of Hoosier Speedsters and Hoosier DOT radials for the last half of last year and most of the AllAluminumTour. I got a new set of Speedsters at the Kohler at Road America, and I suspect they’ll last past the end of the tour.

Most of the stuff that caused problems were my own silly mistakes: Mounting a fan using the stock through-the-radiator mounts (wore a hole in the radiator), mounting the same fan in the mouth of the radiator air inlet (blocked off airflow and caused overheating).

One throttle cable broke, the driveshaft bearings went south, I changed the oil a few times, swapped out a couple of gratuitous sets of spark plugs that were probably just fine, at Brainerd it needed to have a clutch hydraulic line repaired, and that’s it. The bins of parts I brought with me remain untouched. Not so much as a set of points, a condenser, a distributor cap. Sure, I’m chasing a high-speed miss that bugs me, and reverse gear is toast. But it is still race-ready, still competitive, still running as fast and hard as anyone could expect it to.

You’ve got to love a car like this. We’ll see how it does for the rest of the tour, but I’d bet it will continue to amaze me, right up to the CSRG race at Sears. What a car.

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