Last weekend VARA held its October 2015 race at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort (formerly Ranch) in Pahrump, NV, home track to the Ron Fellows Chevrolet driving school. We ran the challenging 24 turn, 3.2 mile track configuration, which was definitely a small bore favorite. Only one short straightaway, several very tight banked corners, and almost no time in top gear. Some of the big bore drivers complained, but I found it quite rewarding to figure out it’s complexities. And the club held a Friday test day as well to help us out with those regards. Peter Brock and John Morton, the godfather’s of Datsun racing, were on hand to celebrate the club’s Datsun tribute to Mr. K, and their presence in the pits made for a terrific weekend.
The 710 had completed its recent overhaul just days before the event. The motor rebuild (from my Spring screw-up) was freshly installed and a short dyno session at Z Car Garage helped get it sorted out. Fresh paint and vinyl added a new look, my new seat was installed, and we did a fresh chassis set-up to go with the softened rear springs. Even bought a fresh set of tires since the car had not seen track duty since last year. Testing on Friday went well, we tightened and adjusted a few things here and there, while I readjusted to the Datsun after spending the last year in my Formula Ford. The softer rear springs allowed the driveshaft to make tunnel contact over one of the track’s big bumps, so we had to raise the rear a bit. And the heat and altitude (95 degrees and 2600′) left the fuel mixture a bit rich, so we leaned out the Mikunis to get them back on song.
Saturday morning Practice showed that our tuning efforts on Friday were paying dividends. Next time out was Qualifying Practice, and it had us in 4th place. A drivetrain noise started to raise it’s head, but everything was tight and the fluids were full, so nothing left to do but head out for the Qualifying Race. I got a good start and found myself in third place of the four-car pack out front, battling with my former B-Sedan competitors of season’s past. But on lap 3, the noise got real loud, then real quiet, as the teeth on my pinion shaft decided they’d had enough. I watched the rest of the race from the side of the track where I came to a stop, and waited for my rope tow back to the pits. With no spare differential parts on hand, I was unable to race on Sunday, but stuck around to bench race and give a helping hand. I was disappointed to not complete the weekend after such a long tow, but was pleased with the pace we showed on such a fresh package.