2001 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

The Dastardly Details of Plan-B.

Sunday, March 4, 2001

The hotel room I shared with Jim Graham had two beds -- one was a single bed, the other a double.  Jim must have been feeling sorry for me since he finished the day ranked 4th in the Chevette standings, whereas I was still way down in 14th.  So Jim very generously suggested that I take the larger of the two beds, and I quickly accepted.

Of course that was before I found out we were sharing our room with a third driver!

To spare him any embarrassment, I probably shouldn't tell you his name.  But I can give you a couple of hints.  This former Chevette Champion drives a purple car and earlier this day he was involved in a rollover accident which knocked his car out of competition for the rest of the weekend.

He never seems to have much luck in Lac la Biche.  A couple of years ago on the drive up from Edmonton, his trailer got a flat tire.  Because of that he arrived so late he missed registration and Saturday's first practice session.  He just barely got his car unloaded and registered in time to make the grid for the first Chevette race.  Then he woke up on Sunday morning to discover his race car missing, presumably stolen.  It turns out the Lac La Biche police towed the car away and impounded it because it had been parked overnight on the street without valid licence plates.

Anyway, he arrived in town this day with no hotel reservations only to find that everything was booked solid.  Jim Graham, being the official organisor of the Chevette series, offered to let him sleep in our room.  The guy was planning to sleep on a blanket on the floor.  But it's damn cold at night in Lac la Biche in winter, and it would have been very uncomfortable sleeping on the floor.

So, being the official occupant of the double bed, I was obliged to share my bed with him.  Oh well, I guess that's racing.

After everyone finally was nice and cosy, lights out, and drifting off to sleep, Jim and I were dismayed to learn that our guest SNORES!!!

We're talkin' earth-shaking, window-rattling, howitzer-grade, high-calibre snoring here.

He evidently slept soundly, whereas Jim and I hardly slept a wink all night long.


Timing Belt Sprockets The morning arrived much too soon.  Jim and I were still dead tired, but our guest was well rested and clear-headed.  Which is probably why he was the only one to come up with a reasonable theory for why my car was running so poorly.

He suggested maybe the timing belt driving the camshaft had skipped a tooth and now the cam timing was slightly out of phase.  Yes!  That's exactly what it felt like to me.  The engine was running smoothly enough, not misfiring or hesitating at all.  It just felt abnormally flat all the time.  If the camshaft timing was off, it would feel like that.  This was encouraging.  It was an explanation that made sense.  I was itching to find out if that's what it was.

So after breakfast, after checking out of the hotel, after moving the cars from their overnight lockup compound back down to the track, after tech inspection, remounting video cameras and all the other usual preparations, we had a leisurely five minutes left over to check the timing belt only to discover that it was perfectly okay.  Damn.

But, hello.  What's this?

The distributor cap is just sitting loose on top of the distributor.  Furthermore, it's not even on squarely.  It's kinda hanging off to one side, and the busted rotor spinning inside has chewed a hole clear through the side of the distributor cap!!!  It's amazing this engine runs at all.  Chevettes just never give up.

Holy Distributor Cap!
Could this possibly affect the way the engine runs?

Jim quickly dug into his box of spare parts and came up with a brand new distributor cap and rotor.  We whipped those into the car just in time for the start of the morning's first practice session.

After a good night's sleep (not), and full of renewed confidence, we took to the track to start Sunday's events...

Up next, Hate to Lose.

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