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Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/22/20 6:49 p.m.

Blue Bayou Racing

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel: Blue Bayou Racing

Follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BlueBayou24/

In this saga we start with Hawaii 2-4-Oh (KA24DE): 

And continue until today's version of Blue Bayou (VQ30DE, race suspension, aero, big brakes, fuel cell):

 

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Have you ever wanted to get sucked into a hobby that requires a large portion of your time and money, then delivers all of its rewards in a just few bursts per year? With endurance racing that's what I got myself into. You can read here about all of our success and failures, as well as some tips and tricks we learned over the years with endurance racing.

I've been meaning to write a build thread for years.. and have just never gotten it together. Now that I have a ton of material, I guess it's time to make up for it.

How it all started for me:

As a kid I always thought Lamborghini's and Ferrari's looked cool, but was never interested in how they worked or how fast they were. But as soon as I got my driver's license, suddenly I was interested, and started learning everything I could about cars. My very first car was a 1985 Nissan 200SX, a rear-drive four-cylinder. This was a true 80's car, with a digital dash and voice prompts ("Fuel level is low.."), like the picture below.. complete with the bar-graph tach.

The 240SX was the next obvious car to become interested in, as it was like my first car only better in every way. My 200SX was angular in every way, yet the 240SX was smooth and new looking. I got my first 240SX in 2002 while I was going to college, a car that I still have. This car eventually developed rod knock, which turned into putting in the 2.0 turbo engine, paint/etc, bigger turbos, blowing that up, and eventually an LS1 that is still in the car (used primarily for drifting).

By this point, I had done various autox and track day events, as well as gotten into drifting. I had always been curious about racing, but in the Northwest ITE was the closest my car would fit into SCCA at the time and that would be way outside of my budget.

Building a Race Car:

In 2009, ChumpCar held their first race at Portland International Raceway and this got the ball rolling. A friend, my dad and I kicked around the idea of building a race car, and since we all owned 240SX's that was the logical choice. Rear-drive, cheap, and we already had plenty of spares and leftovers. In 2011 my dad agreed to let us use his stock daily driver. We got a roll cage donated by building the car at the PIR swap meet in the ChumpCar booth (Thanks to Russ at Racetech!) The downside was this meant leaving the car alone until about a week before the race, then trying to go from street car to working race car in a matter of days. Below is some of the last minute prep in the garage the day of tech. We chose the name "Hawaii 2-4-Oh", and everything was absolutely down to the wire including installing our fire extinguisher in the line at tech.

TECH TIP #1: Figure everything will take at least twice as long as you expect! When building a car there are always unexpected twists and turns that pop up.

 

Maiden Voyage (4/9/11) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

We had various failures in our first race, as to be expected in a car that had never been on the track and just barely slapped together. Our car ran too hot, our brand new fuel pressure gauge just started leaking right out of the gauge face, I thought the car caught on fire when our brakes started smoking, and my dad pit when he couldn't see out of a fogged visor thinking he couldn't open it. This was my dad's first ever time on a race track, and he entered a race track that was hot! Very intense, not the best way to do it! We finished 28th of 56 teams and had the 17th fastest lap time (1:39.9). Not too bad for a first outing!

TECH TIP #2: The race track is unforgiving; if a part can fail, it will on track. Replace ALL hoses and belts, and anything rubber that you are able to. It's really sad to see someone spend hours putting a junkyard engine in a car, only to have a hose under the intake manifold end their race.

 

Mysterious Failure (4/10/11) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

For the second race it was sopping wet, a pretty typical condition for Portland. Nathan Feigion was in the car and you can see where the drifting experience really pays off. Unfortunately while he is driving the car suddenly loses power, and we spent hours trying to diagnose the issue. The car didn't want to rev over 4000rpm unless you gave it easy throttle, which led us down the path of fuel filter/fuel pump/exhaust restriction/etc. In the end it turned out to be a failed ECU, which we didn't have a spare of. After borrowing a spare from Paul Newman's Revenge (thanks guys!), we were back on track. We finished 41st out of 52 cars at this event. We had a blast and all loved it! My dad had rented his race gear, figuring he would just do this first weekend and we would rent out spare seats. However after the weekend, he decided he wanted to race with us every time.

TECH TIP #3: Bring spares of everything you can fit! It's like the Umbrella Effect, if you bring it then you probably won't need it.

 

The Long One (10/29/2011) - 12 hours - Portland International Raceway:

This time we had a chance to get the car prepped for the event, which was good as this would be our longest race at 12 hours. We had a laundry list of things to do, building a new exhaust/lexan windows/gutting weight/etc. We were using an open trailer, so the door windows actually got reinstalled after the race to keep the interior from getting too soaked. We had installed a new light setup, HID bulbs in Hella projectors. This actually worked surprisingly well. One thing we tried was hanging a tinted piece of lexan of over our wink mirror, but this was a flop. Headlights would show up in multiple mirrors plus the tinted plastic, so even with one car behind you might see 6+ white dots in the mirror. This was enough for me to decide to get rid of the wink mirror and move to a convex mirror. We were running factory brakes with Axxis Ultimate brake pads, and we found their limit. We ended up having to swap pads during the race, pulling it off in 12 minutes. It's not fun changing brakes when they are this hot! We still managed our best finish yet at 14th place, and dropped our fastest lap from a 1:39.9 to a 1:37.4!

TECH TIP #4: For night races, put a piece of masking tape (or two) across the top of your visor. You can block the rearview mirror when needed, but easily look up and check the mirror.

Our custom headlights:

The brake pads..

This is the custom rear lexan we put in, this definitely helped reduce drag on the car!

Here's a pumpkin that I carved for a contest at this race.. Frankenstein in a crash helmet:

Left to right: Ken, Nathan, Nate, Dave

 

The Soaker (10/30/2011) - 6 hours - Portland International Raceway:

My dad (Dave) started the race, and struggled in the wet conditions. It was sopping wet all day, so drifting experience really helped here. We had a reasonably clean race and managed to bring it home with a 7th place, our best finish yet!

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/22/20 8:58 p.m.

The Dream (2/1/2012) - 7 hours - Laguna Seca:

Like many, ever since I was a kid playing Gran Turismo I was a fan of Laguna Seca. I still remember the computer trying to drive the Shelby Cobra would crash every lap in the Corkscrew. I had driven the track so many times in games, I felt like I really knew the track, but there were a few things that struck me when we arrived. I hadn't realized how much elevation really changed going down into the first corner, and the enormity of the Corkscrew itself. The very first time driving over the Corkscrew it was really just, "Ok, from what I know I should be pointing here... woooo!!" The games really did help me dial in my laps much quicker.

We upgraded to an enclosed trailer for this event which was a big plus! Much better for packing spares and keeping things clean and dry. We put some KYB GR2s on the car, which helped to tame some of the floppiness of the previous shocks. We slotted the shocks to give some extra camber.

 

The Disaster (3/31/2013) - 10 hours - Portland International Raceway:

We started this race in the rain in 26th place. Nathan Feigion ran an excellent first stint and got us up to 5th place! I get in the car and we are fighting back and forth for 1st place in the rain with the front-wheel drive cars. This is the best we have ever ran and it is looking great for a podium! It's still wet when I pit in 2nd place to turn the car over to Dave. A dry line has developed, but is still quite wet off of that dry line. While coming down the straight at PIR, a car pops out to try to outbrake a bunch of cars. However those cars are on the dry line, so it is a very overly optimistic move. Dave never sees it coming, and gets slammed in the front end while going into the chicane. The right front strut tower is moved over a foot, our day is done.

Crash at 7:00 in this video:

 

Now we need to decide what we do about the car..

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UltraDork
11/22/20 9:00 p.m.

Great thread

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr PowerDork
11/22/20 9:58 p.m.

Moar!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/22/20 10:20 p.m.

Building Blue Bayou:

We had a few issues with our first hastily-built car we wanted to address:

  • Roll cage had X-bars in the doors, difficult to climb in/out
  • Roll cage was too close to my head. We tried cutting the floor out and lowering the seat, but it was not enough.
  • Lots of weight left on the table. With ChumpCar rules we could cut/weld just about anything, but adding horsepower was not in the cards.

With these items and a smashed chassis, we decided to look to the spare 240SX coupe chassis for my drift car. This already had a roll cage in it, but the design was not great. It also had the rear fenders cut out for massive tires, but we would be running factory tires. We rolled the drift chassis into the shop and got to work. We had never built a roll cage before, but had done enough reading to be confident if we took our time we could make something safe we would be happy with.

We bought a tubing bender and a pile of tubing. We also bought a plasma cutter, which I cannot recommend highly enough! It seems a lot of people think plasma cutters are only for bigger shops, but I think this tool should be right in line behind a welder. Every single time I use this thing I am so happy that we bought it. It is SOOO fast, easy to use, and compact. It also does not leave a sharp edge, which makes it perfect for chopping out sheet metal in a race car.

TECH TIP #5: Buy a plasma cutter, you will thank me!

In a dual-purpose move, we chopped out the A-pillar and ran the roll cage up in this area. This drops weight from the factory structure up top as well as getting the roll cage further from my head. With the old car, I was constantly bumping the cage, with the new one I have plenty of room. Here you can see how the A-pillar bar was ran.

Since our strut tower moved so far when we got hit.. we also wanted to help support the strut towers, so we ran the cage up to them as well.

We made use of the old roll cage pad to make a little bit of footwell anti-intrusion, and moved to more of a Nascar-style door bars tied into the sill.

Here you can see we put the bars as far out as possible (touching the door skin) in order to make the car easier to get in and out of. We also tried to tie the cage as much as possible into the sheetmetal to stiffen the chassis.

Roll cage finished and painted:

We got some quarterpanels from the local junkyard and welded those in.

I never liked how unfinished our car looked with no dash, so I put a modified factory dash in.

I also redid the entire wiring harness, simplifying and shortening the factory harness down. This was so much more work than I had expected. Hours with the factory manual, removing circuits one at a time, then consolidating relays, shortening wires, re-purposing fuses, consolidating fuse boxes.. over 40 hours just in wiring. While I did save weight and money, it just wasn't worth it.

TECH TIP #6: Either do basic simplification of factory wiring, or rewire from scratch. Completely re-engineering the factory harness is not worth the time!

To help with our cooling situation, I made a vent in the factory hood.

We set up a makeshift paint booth, and I tried spraying a car for the first time ever. With a race car, less pressure if I screw it up.

While it's far from perfect, I was pretty happy with how it came out. The biggest issue was I put three coats of paint on the rear quarterpanels and only two on the rest of the car and it was super obvious next to the door.

I cut the lexan rear window with a skill saw, masked the back side, and spray painted the edge with black to give a little more factory look.

I was super happy with how they came out!

I borrowed our new team name based on the Mitsubishi paint named "Blue Bayou", this was my original sketch of the logo:

We are not from the South, and I know nothing about any real bayous, it's just a play on "Blew by you". I thought this was obvious enough, but I've had a variety of people come up to us saying that they hadn't realized this for a long time. There was even a Reddit thread about it that blew up:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/c0matc/which_two_and_two_did_you_just_recently_put/er672bn/

Here she is all done up and pretty!

This is a time lapse video I put together of this build:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/26/20 3:32 a.m.

It shows potential! (4/13/2013) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

This was the first race with our new chassis. We had done a lot of work to strip weight out of the car, and had shed around 100 lbs between the old and new chassis. The entire drivetrain/suspension was just transferred over, so that portion was exactly the same. With the lighter/stiffer chassis, this thing is good. Surprisingly good! Nathan Feigion starts the race in 23rd place and starts working his way through traffic. By the time he is done with his stint, he is in 2nd place and has ran a team-best 1:35.0!

I get in the car and make it up into 1st place with a fastest lap of 1:34.7, a whopping 2.7 seconds faster than our previous fastest! The car feels great as I slowly put a full lap up on second place. We have never before been in the lead of a race, much less have a lap up on 2nd! By the end of my stint I have been in 1st for 43 laps, and it's time to pull in for a driver change. We have a great pit stop, put my dad in the car, and send him out.

Immediately we get back on the radio that the engine is running on three cylinders. What? No... that can't be right.. it has been working so perfectly! We did check the oil during the pitstop, and the dipstick is right next to the distributor.. Did a plug wire get pulled out? We call my dad into the pits and start checking the easy stuff. Plug wires all look good, everything seems seated good. Fuel injectors are plugged in well, nothing obvious.. but we do figure out that it's cylinder #3 not firing. Let's send him out and come up with a plan. We don't have a spare cap or wires with us, so Ken drives to grab some while Dave circulates PIR, running 1:43-1:50s.. we are down to 5th and sliding. Ken gets back with our parts and we try swapping #3 plug wire and spark plug. No help... send him back out again while we regroup. We are now down to 10th. We suspect we have a failed fuel injector. We have a spare fuel rail with injectors in it, so we decide to swap the entire setup out. 20 minutes later, we are back on four cylinders! However we are also in 21st place.

Ken gets in the car and he starts moving through traffic again. We finish the race in 16th. We are happy we triumphed over our fuel injector issue, but we know we have the capability of running up front. We finished with the third fastest lap behind two modified V8 cars. We start the ritual of swapping out brake pads and check things over for the next day, then get some rest.

TECH TIP #7: If the rules don't have a minimum weight, take advantage of that! With ChumpCar rules we had very limited modifications we could do to the engine, but cutting out weight was open. Losing 100 lbs (a lot of it high in the chassis) and gaining the stiffness was worth over 2 seconds for us! (I'm sure we had some driver improvement as well..)

 

The First Trip to the Podium (4/14/2013) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

We send Ken out in wet conditions, and he starts in 25th place (random starts in ChumpCar). PIR is notoriously tricky in the wet. Old racing surfaces with a lot of rubber worn in, flocks of geese that like to deposit poop that is more slippery than baby oil, and the track is absolutely flat. Zero elevation change. A fellow Nissan team with a Z31 300ZX (Red Square Racing) goes hard into the wall right in front of us. It is treacherous out there, but Ken keeps moving through traffic and in one piece. By the end of his stint the track starts drying out. 

Dave gets in the car and heads out on a mostly dry track. Things are looking up as Dave gets into 6th place until.. it starts raining more. With the least amount of experience on track, Dave is struggling in the treacherously slippery conditions of PIR. The front-wheel drive cars are now walking away from us and we drop down to 9th place. The track starts drying out again as Dave pits to turn the car over to me.

I have a lot of ground to make up, but the sun is out, the track is dry and I can really push. We are six laps away from a podium finish, but I start the work of unlapping ourselves. We have good cornering speed, but quite a few cars can outpull us on the straights.  I run a 1:34.8 as my fastest lap, and turn the car over to Nathan for the last stint two laps away from the podium.

Nathan also has dry track and starts laying down some great laps. With 44 minutes left in the race, Nathan passes the 4th place car to put us on the same lap. At 27 minutes to go, he passes the same car again for 3rd place! Our team is ecstatic, this is our first trophy! The welded together scraps making an alien from the movie 'District 9' is unique and so awesome looking! it's so cool... we want another one!

Left to right: Nathan, Nate (me), Dave, Ken

You can see in the picture below that Nathan just beat my lap time at 1:34.7, starting a friendly intra-team competition for fastest lap.

TECH TIP #8: After a race weekend, go out for pizza (or whatever favorite food)! If the race went great, you are celebrating. If it didn't go well, you are drowning your sorrows. Either way everybody wins!

Video from the race:

 

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
11/26/20 6:34 a.m.

 Very cool. I assume it's a ka24 engine?  Perhaps I just missed where you said...

that hit was really hard and really amateur.  Did the driver who hit you guys have any repercussions?  I'm assuming they didn't offer to help repair but did they at least apologize?

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/26/20 1:55 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry (FS) :

Good point, I never did actually say the engine. We started with the KA24DE in the car, it would have been making around 125-130whp. It burned oil so we were always having to check oil at pit stops, but overall was pretty decent.

The driver of the other car felt terrible and admitted it was a very optimistic and poor move to try to come up the inside like that. Luckily with where our car was hit, the energy mainly went into moving the front end over and spinning the car, so my dad didn't take the brunt of it. There was about a 1.5G spike registered by the datalogger. This impact got us to rethink the foam neck donuts that were mandated by ChumpCar at the time. You will see at the next race my dad and I had bought Necksgen devices. 

You can see in the picture below we still had the mismatched #3 plug wire from the previous race.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
11/30/20 1:10 a.m.

Learning a New Track (8/24/2013) - 10 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

This was our first time racing at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA. The track just opened 2012, but I missed last year's race because I was in Europe for work. On Friday we did a practice day, but it didn't work out very well with the track being crowded and slow. At tech we get our first glimpse of the awesome trophies. The 1st place trophy is a massive Predator, definitely the coolest one I have seen yet. Knowing that other teams were racing here last year and we are newbs, we know chances are extremely slim of a trophy at this track.

At the beginning of the 10 hour race, our pitmates Son of Andre (#16 V8 Mustang) are putting in such fast laps they are lapping the field easily. We can see that unless they have major mechanical issues there is no hope of catching them. We set our sights on a top three finish and start pushing. Dave is out first, and he is doing a great job of whittling a 2:20 down to 2:10. He brings us from 28th up to 14th place. When he pits, we are already four laps behind Son of Andre as their fastest lap is a 2:01. While in the pits, there is a red flag. Car #128 had rolled and is pulled off the track (this is key later).

Nathan Feigion goes out next, and starts putting in some fast laps. He gets us up to third place before pitting.

I go out next, and get to second place, two laps ahead 3rd place. Around 2pm, there is a car off course in turn 8 and they are stuck, really stuck. There is a local yellow flag, but no safety vehicle yet. We circle around again, and turn 8 is still yellow, now with a Safety Truck. I slow for the yellow behind a pack of cars, when I hear tire squeel and BANG! I am suddenly rotating 90 and come to a stop with the engine stalled. I look in the mirror, and with the massive impact I expect to be staring at the bottom of my trunk. Amazingly, all I can see from the inside is that the taillight internals popped out of the clips on one side. (I have a camera pointing exactly this direction in the video)

I restart the engine, and start to straighten on course when the red flag comes out. The corner worker tells me I have a gashed tire that is completely flat, and they will need to flat tow me. However they only have one truck that can flat tow, and since I can limp they have me follow the flat tow of #60 (the car that hit us) to the pits. The driver came by our pits to apologize, no hard feelings. We have to wait until the red flag is over, then we swap out the tire. The fuel tank has a softball sized dent, but no leaks. The tire has a 1” chunk missing from the sidewall, but the wheel is not bent. Sheet metal is smashed in that corner, but the suspension looks straight. We can't believe how lucky we are that we have no leaks and a driving car. #60's front suspension is demolished, it will be many hours before they have their car together.

I get back out on course with the new tire. Our lead on 3rd place has evaporated, but we are still in 2nd. We had made sure to set the tire pressure correctly before putting it on the car. Unfortunately there are two tires.. and the wrong tire was grabbed. So for the next twenty laps I deal with a car that wants to oversteer at the thought of trailbraking and I am pushing hard trying to get a gap on 2nd. When I pit I am told the tire has nearly 45 psi!

TECH TIP #8: Set the tire pressure on all your spare tires!

Ken Feigion goes out next, and he is having an epic battle with Socket Monkeys (#39 Civic). Every lap when he passes the pits, Socket Monkeys is in direct tow behind him. This continues for around ten laps with Socket Monkeys not able to get by and Ken not able to create a gap.

It is towards the end of Ken's stint, and we see Son of Andre in the pits early with cooling issues. They are venting steam and refilling with water as their four lap lead dwindles. We get on the same lap at one point. We look at the clock and see that there are two hours and 15 minutes left in the race. Son of Andre will have to pit again, but will they need fuel? This is going to be a race!

Nathan Feigion had our fastest times, so we send him out for the last stint. He is battling hard with Martini Racers (#10 VW Golf) in traffic and they are excellent at sneaking through traffic. It is back and forth for a good portion of the session, when Son of Andre comes into the pits for their last driver change. They have a two lap lead, but they need fuel. This is going to be close! If we can pass them in the pits, we might be able to stay ahead in traffic. If they get out in front of us, the car is too fast for us to pass.

We radio Nathan when Son of Andre is about to leave the pits, and he is just entering the straight. We are all on pins and needles watching, and the Mustang exits the pits just ahead of us. We are disappointed, but hope that with a fresh driver getting warmed up Nathan might be able to put some pressure on. This seems to work, as the Mustang is not up to their typical lap times and making some mistakes. Soon we are watching the downhill section, and we see our car exit first! Martini Racers are also pressuring from behind, and Nathan begins to slowly stretch a lead.

Car #128, that had rolled earlier, is allowed out to make some parade laps just to take the checkered flag. Nathan had already lapped the car once when we got a scare on the last lap. We hear that we were called in for passing #128 during a yellow. After some discussion with the officials they luckily decided to cancel the black flag as it was a car that shouldn't have really been out there running. This is a really close call for us, but this allows us to take the checkered flag in 1st place!

For a ChumpCar podium we had to bring the car to impound, but we were not prepared for a podium and had to borrow two jack stands from Paul Newman's Revenge (thanks!) Then when those jack stands were too tall for our jack, we also had to borrow a jack from 2nd place Martini Racers, who are always great competitors and great guys (thanks!)

 

The car is mostly straight... except for this corner. You can really see in this picture how bad the paint doesn't match having three coats on the quarter and two on the door..

This is the massive and awesome Predator trophy, I love this thing!

Look at the awesome details here, how many hours does this take to build?? Way better than a generic chrome trophy..

We were also voted "Corner Worker's Choice" for the small trophy to the right, as they were entertained by drifter Nathan's "Amazing Saves" into turn 2. 

The highlight video:

 

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr PowerDork
11/30/20 8:43 a.m.

Very cool!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/5/20 3:21 a.m.

After the Ridge race we had some damage to try clean up. We picked up a Porta Power and try to straighten the sheet metal a bit. We did some pulling with a bracket on the outside, some hammering from the inside, and some Porta Power work. We also swapped the fuel tank as it had a softball sized dent.

We got the corner a lot straighter, as well as installed a new fire system.

With the corner mostly where it belonged, I took the car for a short trip to the gas station. 

I couldn't resist getting a picture from the unmolested side as well!

Penalty Laps Are Painful (8/25/2013) - 6 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

With ChumpCar, we had an MOV (Margin of Victory) penalty coming to us. Even though we had only finished 15 seconds ahead of 2nd place, we were given 2 penalty laps. Given that we barely made it up front by the skin of our teeth, a 2 lap penalty was a massive uphill battle for us. We start the race in 27th and make it as high as 4th place. In the end we are technically in 5th, but dropped to 7th based on our penalty laps. Our fastest lap was a 2:05.9 compared to Son of Andre's 2:00.5, so we are definitely not up to their pace.

Another New Track (3/22/2014) - 7 hours - Pacific Raceways:

At Pacific Raceways event Nathan and Ken Feigion decided to not drive, so it is my dad and myself driving with Nathan . This is a track I have done one track day years before but my dad has never been here. I put my dad in the car first so he has a chance to do some yellow flag laps and scout out the course a little. In our random draw for a start, we start in 5th place, what a great way to start the day! On lap 5, my dad radios in that he has lost a tire. Ugh, terrible.. these are brand new Direzza II Star Specs that were working quite well. We throw on a spare in the pits and drop all the way to 36th place. Well this just soured our race.

 

Pacific Raceways is infamous for the amount of race cars that it eats on the back side. It is one hungry track.. while my dad is driving he comes to 5a looking at the bottom side of a car on the side of the track. Never a good situation!

I get into the car in 26th place and start to get used to the track. This is a busy track. Normally there is a nice long straight to relax, check gauges, and reset. At Pacific Raceways the straight has a kink where you cross over to the end of the drag strip. That means you are lining up between cement barriers to get onto the straight, where you then move over to the left to prepare for a very fast turn 1. There is also some good elevation change dropping down a very tight 3a and 3b before you make it to the dangerous 5a and 5b corners with Grand Theft Auto style ramp curbing and a steep dropoff to the right.

File:Pacific Raceways (Kent, Washington) track map.svg - Wikipedia

For the next session my dad gets back into the car in 15th place. This time there's another car off this time in 5b, stuck partway up the hill. My dad finds that this track can be tricky to find safe places to pass, and without a lot of power the uphill sections and straight are difficult to make it past people.

I get in the car in 11th place, and this time I'm already warmed up so I start trying to see if I can improve on my lap time. I am pushing hard, but maybe just pushing too hard. I only get to within 0.5 seconds of my previous fastest. I get up to 8th place by the time the checkered flag is waved. Not bad for a first time and having a punctured tire! During the race we had tried to get the tire repaired, and found that it was a 2" long piece of a wheel weight that had gone all the way into the tire, and just doing a partial lap was enough to completely destroy the tire inside. So unfortunately with the tire looking brand new on the outside, it was now garbage.

 

It Was Fun While It Lasted (3/23/2014) - 7 hours - Pacific Raceways:

My dad starts the second race of the weekend in 33rd place. Not quite the luck of the draw from the first day, but hopefully no flat tires today. The Flying Lumberjacks go off in 5a and nearly go down the steep dropoff! While they did not go down the steep area, this off does end their race.

I get into the car in 26th place and soon after I get into an epic battle with Kyle in the General Leif Volvo. He carries more speed than I do into turn 2, but I am able to pass him back later in the lap. He then proceeds to pass me in turn 2 again, and this continues for many laps. We were giving each other room, fighting hard but fair. What an absolute blast, this is what it's all about!

General Leif pits, and I begin to focus on trying to beat my 1:43.8 from the first day. While in 11th I pass The Gray Cloud RX-7 and am now looking at the gap in the cement barriers to transition to the main straight. I shift into 5th, and something doesn't feel right. The car doesn't pull very hard in 5th normally, but this feels weak. Suddenly I realize that I have not been checking my gauges on the straight. I look down at the coolant gauge, and the engine is hot. Way too hot. I see around 260*F on the gauge and immediately know our day is done. I missed it, and I killed this engine. I limp back to the pits, and the car cuts out as I roll back to the pits.

We later found that the radiator had failed, and reviewing video showed that the engine had been hot for 20 minutes while I did not check the gauges. I was looking at lap times while trying to push as well as keeping an eye on the cement barriers, and our poor KA24DE paid for it.

TECH TIP #9: Check your gauges EVERY lap on the straight. It is also very helpful to put big warning lights in the car the light up when the engine gets into the danger zone.

 

SuperTouring
SuperTouring New Reader
12/5/20 10:00 a.m.

Glad you posted a thread on here Nate! I've been racing with your team at PIR since 2016 in a miata, and now my own 200sx.  Threads like this are really good for new teams starting off and building their cars. 

Sweet car BTW! 

Honsch
Honsch New Reader
12/5/20 12:49 p.m.

The Flying Lumberjacks go off in 5a and nearly go down the steep dropoff! While they did not go down the steep area, this off does end their race.

HA! That was me.  I totally blew the setup for 5a.  My brain yelled "Don't be a hero!  Straighten the wheel and drive straight into the gravel, it'll be fine!"  So I did, and the car made a hard right and headed for the edge.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   I ended up high-centered on the edge.  Sorry about red-flagging the race while they dragged the car back to the track.  The car was fine, the only damage was the transponder mount that failed sometime later in the day.  We ran the rest of the race just fine.

There's now a big dirt berm there so my poor judgement can't be repeated.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/6/20 1:43 a.m.
SuperTouring said:

Glad you posted a thread on here Nate! I've been racing with your team at PIR since 2016 in a miata, and now my own 200sx.  Threads like this are really good for new teams starting off and building their cars. 

Sweet car BTW! 

Thanks!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/6/20 1:45 a.m.
Honsch said:

The Flying Lumberjacks go off in 5a and nearly go down the steep dropoff! While they did not go down the steep area, this off does end their race.

HA! That was me.  I totally blew the setup for 5a.  My brain yelled "Don't be a hero!  Straighten the wheel and drive straight into the gravel, it'll be fine!"  So I did, and the car made a hard right and headed for the edge.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   I ended up high-centered on the edge.  Sorry about red-flagging the race while they dragged the car back to the track.  The car was fine, the only damage was the transponder mount that failed sometime later in the day.  We ran the rest of the race just fine.

There's now a big dirt berm there so my poor judgement can't be repeated.

Oops, I was going off of number of completed laps showing for the race and had assumed this ended your race. Glad to see you on here, no worries on the red flag!

Honsch
Honsch New Reader
12/6/20 4:56 p.m.

Oops, I was going off of number of completed laps showing for the race and had assumed this ended your race. Glad to see you on here, no worries on the red flag!

Yeah, our transponder mount broke and we ran the rest of the day with zero laps registered.
Chump never told us we weren't being logged. angry

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/11/20 12:03 a.m.
Honsch said:

Oops, I was going off of number of completed laps showing for the race and had assumed this ended your race. Glad to see you on here, no worries on the red flag!

Yeah, our transponder mount broke and we ran the rest of the day with zero laps registered.
Chump never told us we weren't being logged. angry

Sorry about that, that is frustrating. What happened at your race at Area 27?

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/11/20 12:16 a.m.

In our story we are now into 2014, and I had swapped out the 2.0 turbo in my purple drift car and put in an LS1. So we now take a little interlude for some drifting and drag racing.

We got a chance to drift at the Ridge as a demo (Nathan Feigion in the blue hatchback, me in the purple coupe).

 

NASA finally came to the Northwest and we were able to run at Portland International with them. Very well ran events, I am a big fan!

 

Generally when I make a big power change I like to go drag racing once just to see what the car can do.. then I'm bored with drag racing again. These were my first couple runs, and you can see I'm used to watching for a finish line.. and I stay in it too long (this was at Portland International Raceway). This gives a decent feel for what the car is like to lay into it and how quick it goes through gears, it's fun!

 

Honsch
Honsch New Reader
12/11/20 11:36 a.m.
Nate K said:Sorry about that, that is frustrating. What happened at your race at Area 27?

For the first time in ten years of racing a VW Fox, we had a front wheel bearing failure. 

It got so hot it welded to the outer CV and snapped it off.  When the wheel escaped it broke our hard to find brake caliper bracket, which we didn't have a spare of.  Race over.

We now have three more brackets.  It won't happen again.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/16/20 12:20 a.m.
Honsch said:
Nate K said:Sorry about that, that is frustrating. What happened at your race at Area 27?

For the first time in ten years of racing a VW Fox, we had a front wheel bearing failure. 

It got so hot it welded to the outer CV and snapped it off.  When the wheel escaped it broke our hard to find brake caliper bracket, which we didn't have a spare of.  Race over.

We now have three more brackets.  It won't happen again.

Bummer! Glad you have it covered for next time, hopefully see you guys at the track next year!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/16/20 1:39 a.m.

Since I blew up the engine.. we picked up a new radiator and a used KA24DE to get the car drivable again.

And Then There Were Two (8/1/2014) - 5 hours - Portland International Raceway:

Nathan Feigion decided to take a little break from racing, so for this race it was just my Dad and myself. I started the race and got a good random start of 11th. It was a Friday, and even warmer than usual for the normally mild Portland track with an afternoon race start. We hit a high of 90 degrees, and that makes the inside of our blue tin box a sweltering sauna! By lap 8 I make it up to 1st place. I had been holding onto 1st place during my whole stint until an hour and 45 minutes later, the car starts bucking and is out of fuel. I make it back to the pits, sweating through my suit and fully exhausted. We are down a driver and not prepared for our pit stop, so it's 8 minutes when we need it to be 5 minutes. This does not help our day at all.

Dave heads out of the pits in 6th place. A Mustang is cruising up the front straight on the right side.. which is the wrong side. Getting to the corner, they lock up the rear brakes and completely loop it, hitting Blue Bayou with their rear bumper on the passenger door. Well.. that's one more area that's not so straight.. Luckily this doesn't affect the drivability of the car at all and Dave continues. Dave makes it back to 1st place by the end of his stint and hands over the car with an hour and 45 minutes remaining. Normally the car should go for that long on gas.. but it will be tight. We do better on our next pit stop, nearly getting it under 5 minutes.

I head out onto the track in 4th, with the sun just dipping below the horizon. I had taped up the top side of my visor to help with glare. I find that my radio connection was missed, and I don't have a way of communicating with the pits. I try unsuccessfully to find the end of the cable and get it plugged in, then give up on it and get to the job at hand.

TECH TIP #10: Remember to plug in your radio, it's helpful.

With 15 minutes to go in the race, I back in 2nd place. The #557 Mustang of Dog & Pony Show is in first, and are just ahead of me. Their car has more power and our car handles better. I can get really close in certain turns, but the straights are an issue. I know that time is running out, and I need to make the pass. I get a run on them leaving turn 7, outbrake them into turn 10 and finish the race! Unfortunately when I get back to the pits, I find out that I was just unlapping myself.. and we finished in 2nd. Considering the mistakes we had, this was still a great result! For ChumpCar being on the podium means going to impound, then once impound is done we can start on replacing all the brake pads as our Hawk Blues on stock brakes eat themselves alive. It is a light setup and brakes just fine, but it gets old having to swap brakes/bleed late into the evening every race.

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/19/20 1:52 a.m.

That Time It Really Wanted to Overheat (8/2/2014) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

For the second day of the weekend it was a 7 hour race. Having just placed 2nd to the Dog & Pony Show Mustang the previous day, our sights were set on trying to beat that car. Dave starts the race in 14th place while our newfound rivals Dog & Pony Show start up in 2nd! Dave quickly moves up through the field getting to 7th place by lap 5. My dad is still not that experienced on track (these races are his only track experience), but he gets down to a 1:36.4! By the time we are ready for our first pitstop, we pit after Dog & Pony Show and are leading the race for six laps. We add oil to the engine during the pitstop, which is normal for us as all of our KA24DE engines have burned oil. 

We drop to 5th during the pitstop and I head out on track. I make it up to 2nd behind Dog & Pony Show, then inherit first when they pull into the pits on lap 109. Things are looking good, but we still seem to be just a step behind the Mustang. I run a personal best 1:34.0 and turn the car over on lap 127 in 1st place.

Dave heads out late in the afternoon. We had planned our driver swaps so that I would end up in the car last when it was dark. Dave makes it through his stint setting another 1:36.4, but he stays in 2nd for his whole stint.

I throw some tape on my visor again to help with glare at night, and get ready to go out. As I am waiting at the end of the pit lane, Dog & Pony Show pulls up right next to me. Man this is going to be close! I get to leave the pits first, but the Mustang catches me on the next straight and passes me. Knowing that this is the team holding us between our second victory, I slot in right behind them and start applying pressure. I can get right on his bumper in turns 4,5,6 but he runs away on each straight stretch. I have my lights on and keep poking out to the side to distract him, but it's just not working. I keep putting pressure lap, after lap, after lap... 10 laps go by with me putting as much pressure as I can, and this Mustang has not put a wheel wrong once! Who is this guy??

I finally am able to get on the inside of him going right into turn 4, but he's not intimidated. We stick side-by-side through 4, then again to the right through 5, still side-by-side in 6 but I am gaining ground. By the time we get to turn 7 I have the inside line and I am able to pull ahead! I take the same defensive line that he has been driving into 10 and keep him behind me... but at this point I realize the engine is getting hot. I radio to my crew chief (Trish, my wife) and she asks if it's maybe just a false reading. Unfortunately no, as I have two temperature readings that both say it's hot, as well as water pressure sensors reading very low pressure. I keep racing, hoping some miracle will happen and the car will cool down..

The engine hits 214 degrees, and I could keep running hard and risk blowing the engine, or I can take it easy and potentially salvage a 2nd or 3rd place finish. There's just too much time left in the race, and so I start backing out of it to see if I can get it to cool down at all. As I slow down and the Mustang disappears into the distance, I have the defrost and fan blasting trying to take it easy. Even this isn't working... so the next lap I slow down even more. Eventually I am cruising half-throttle as the water pressure bobs around from zero to six psi as the water sloshes around. After a few laps of this and me thinking the engine will never cool down, I suddenly get my miracle. The engine drops down to 180 degrees and I start building water pressure again!

I try running a hard lap, and the temperature is actually staying OK! There is 30 minutes left in the race now. In the pits they do some math, and tell me that since my fastest laps are about 1.5 seconds faster than the Mustang, in theory there is  just enough time to catch the Mustang by the end of the race. Well that's all well and good.. but the last time it took me well over 10 laps to pass him while on his bumper! But.. I have to at least try. I need to run my fastest laps and not get slowed by a single lapped car and hope that he gets caught up on some lapped cars.

It's getting dark, and I get my head down and start knocking out laps. There's lots of calculating as I come up to cars trying to figure out the best line to pass them without slowing down. I keep getting closer, until I can finally see the Mustang! As I come onto the front straight, Trish tells me that this is the last lap. It's do or die! I see traffic ahead that we will both be catching, this could work out! As I come into the chicane, he is coming up behind a yellow Taurus, and I try to pinch the first part of the chicane to get a little run on the exit. As I am coming up alongside him, HE MISHIFTS! This is exactly the opportunity I needed, and I make it by. I'm in 1st place on the last lap! Unfortunately there are also two straight stretches between me and the finish line, and he is faster on the straight. I need to get a gap! I make it around the Taurus, and then after nearly blowing it with a slight lockup into 7, I also make it past a BMW on the back straight. I make it onto the front straight with enough of a gap and the most incredible feeling I have ever had in a race car! Math said it was barely theoretically possible, and we did it! To give you some context here, I am definitely an introvert and normally a bit reserved with my emotions. But when I pulled next to that Mustang in impound the first thing I did was go over and give the guy a big hug!

Now remember I was wondering who he was? He is Steve Mahre, silver medalist at the 1984 Winter Olympics for skiing. His twin brother Phil won gold at the same Olympics and they have both been racing since the 80's (Koni Challenge, SCCA, etc). Now I know why my amateur racing was not able to intimidate at all! They are both awesome guys, always very helpful and friendly while racing hard but fair on the track!

 

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
12/21/20 1:10 a.m.

Great story!

I am experienced enough to remember when the Mahre brothers raced against our Swedes Stenmark and Strand on the slopes, they always seemed to have good strategies and it seems they still do!

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/21/20 10:31 p.m.
therealpinto said:

Great story!

I am experienced enough to remember when the Mahre brothers raced against our Swedes Stenmark and Strand on the slopes, they always seemed to have good strategies and it seems they still do!

Gustaf

Thanks! Yeah they are absolutely class acts, I love that they are out there racing with us!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
12/28/20 1:34 a.m.

We only had a few weeks to get ready for the next race, and knew we had some overheating issues. I had added water pressure sensors to our datalogger, and in reviewing our datalogs I found where the car was venting pressure during a pitstop. I chalked this up to a bad radiator cap, since during the race we had seen the pressure disappear, then build back up again after the engine had cooled down. We replaced the water pump, thermostat, and radiator cap.

I also found myself completely exhausted and soaked with sweat getting out of the car in the last unexpectedly hot race (for the NW), so I went after building a cool suit cooler. Following some other directions online, I put together a cheap cooler using an Engel cooler, bilge pump, and a bilge timer.

Here it is attached in the car:

And here I am quite proud of my new Cool Shirt:

Until I realized the shirt was designed for the metal fittings, and I had the plastic fittings and it didn't clip in..

This groove was too narrow:

Mr. Generic Dremel to the rescue..

After being trimmed a bit, the fitting worked perfectly.

With that cleaned up we were ready for our race at the Ridge! Well, at least we thought we were.. I meant to get a warning light for the temperature gauge, but that didn't happen in time.

Rain at the Ridge (8/30/2014) - 4.5 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

I head out in the car during the yellow flag, but immediately find that the defrost is not working. I dive in the pits, and luckily my dad is able to quickly find a loose connection and my defrost is going again. There is massive spray everywhere and visibility is terrible, but the Ridge has relatively new pavement, and is much better than PIR to drive in the rain. I start in 36th place and start making my way forward in the field. The high horsepower cars are really struggling to put power down, so we really have just enough power for these conditions. I make it up to 11th place, then pit for my dad's turn with a best lap of 2:23.

My dad is out there and gets tagged in the back at the bottom of the hill. He manages to steer out of it without too much issue and continues on. By the time he pits, it's still wet and he has gotten us up to 6th place.

Since it's just the two of us at this race, I get back in the car and there is something wrong with the power. The car really seems to struggle to accelerate on the top end and is just not its usual self. I think it may be something with the knock sensor and the ecu pulling timing. The best lap I can muster is 5 seconds slower than my first sesssion! Luckily with all the rain this is less of a hit than it would normally be, so we manage to pull home a 4th place finish.

Drying up.. (8/30/2014) - 4.5 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

The ECU was showing a knock sensor code, so I dummy out the knock sensor with a resistor in hopes of fixing the power. I set out in the car for our second race, and it's starting to dry up. With the track drying up, I am reminded that the Ridge is definitely a "horsepower track". There are many long acceleration zones, and the 1/2 mile long front straight is preceded by a very slow corner.. so it's really a drag race.

Track Walk: The Ridge Motorsports Park – Racer on Rails

The car is still down on power and I am getting killed on the straight stretch. I manage a 2:17, but this is not going to cut it with the leaders having ran a 2:04. I'm in 8th but since we have a few more races coming up, I decide to pull in the pits and we do a quick swap of the ECU. Success! We are back down to 36th place but the car now pulls like it used to, and I immediately knock 6 seconds off my lap time getting down to a 2:11. This is still not enough to win a race, but with our 7 minute pit stop to swap the ECU we are out of the running for a podium anyway. At least the car is working, we still have more races. The car works great for the rest of my stint. Temps are holding perfectly and power is OK. I'm still left wishing for power every time I'm near one of the V8 Mustangs, or the BMWs, or V6 anything..

I pull into the pits, we top off with oil (like we do on every pit stop), and my dad gets in. The track now dries up completely, and we are getting dusted by every car with more power than us. Which is most cars. When my dad pulls into the pits, he says that the power just doesn't quite seem as good as it used to, and that it doesn't pull past 5500 as hard as it used to. While I am exiting the pits, multiple tents get blasted over the pit wall and into the hot pits! The wind is really gusting, although it is dry out.

A few laps into my driving stint, I see the temperature start climbing. I radio in that I'm getting to 200F, where the temperature had been sitting rock solid at 180F. Just a few corners later the temperature starts to rocket up and I cruise it into the cold pits for the car to cool down. We discuss thermostat and other possibilites, then I loop around the pits slowly and the temps drop. I decide to take it back out on the track to see what happens. Just like at Portland.. I start pushing on the car again and temps are still right at 180F.. how strange, and frustrating. That pit stop dropped me from 20th to 29th. I get back to 25th with a fastest lap of a 2:08 before the car decides to randomly overheat and I pull into the pits to end our race for the day.

We swap in a known good fuel rail (complete with good injectors) as it seems like our fuel mileage is a little too good.

Please don't overheat.. (8/31/2014) - 9 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

My dad heads out on course for the first stint and sets a 2:07 lap time! He says the car is working good and feels great. My dad is still out on course and after about an hour we radio my dad to ask him how much fuel he has left and he says he has 3/4 tank. What?? That cannot be right.. fuel gauge must have quit working.. The temps are holding rock solid and the car is working good. My dad pulls into the pits in 9th place on lap 44. We can't even get two fuel jugs into the car... how is this fuel mileage possible?

I head out in the car and within two laps.. the car has decided it's time to overheat. I pull into the cold pits and let the engine start cooling down. At this point we have realized that our issues are serious enough that the easy fixes have not helped, and we likely have an issue with the headgasket. That's not something we are going to fix in the pits at a race track (I know many of you have done that, but we are not prepared and motivated enough to do that). We figure we will run as hard as we can while we can, then if it overheats, let it cool down, and try for more later.

This was really a turning point for our weekend. We had started getting really focused on trying to get onto the podium, and to some degree seemed like fun was equal to doing well in the race. Having problems meant frustration. However once we knew there was no hope for a podium and we would just learn and have some fun runs here and there it changed everything. We were now hanging out with family and friends at a race track, with a car that would at least last for a few laps, so if one of us felt like going out, we could. If we felt like hanging out in the pits, we could.

We pulled the spark plugs, and they are WHITE! This confirms that we were running super lean with the other fuel rail, so that comes right back out and the original one goes in. This is super strange, as this was a known working spare..

I head out on track.. and the car overheats on me within a few laps and I pull in. More time to hang out with family and friends! I start chatting with Paul Newman's Revenge, who also drive a 240SX, and they are wondering if I would drive their car to see how it feels compared to our car. Their car has a full 300ZX brake system with custom dual master cylinder and significantly stiffer springs than our factory cut springs. Hey, this is cool, normally I would be too focused on our own race to jump in other people's cars.

I get in their car during the next pit stop, but I sit for an extra long stop as their rear pads were worn out and they had to swap them. What they forgot to mention, is that they had Autozone pads in the back before, and were now switching to Hawk Blues. The bias adjuster doesn't work anymore, because the system requires so much leg pressure to work that the balance bar is bent. The Kirkey seat feels like it is straight up, and is definitely an awkward position for me.

I head out of the pits, and immediately notice the clutch pedal has a lot of movement side-to-side. As I shift from 1st to 2nd, I accidentally slip the clutch a bit. Oof, I never have this issue in our car, the engagement point seems way too high. Luckily it's yellow when I head out onto the track, but when I step on the brake pedal it just feels like a rock.. and I'm not really slowing down. I start standing on the pedal for all I am worth.. and the car starts slowing down some. Ouch, this is going to be a lot of getting used to! I start to get a little bit of a feel for it, and start pushing the car a little harder, then putting the 150+ lbs of leg force into the pedal for the braking zones. Their engine feels pretty strong (same KA24DE but with a bigger exhaust), but the shocks are terrible. The springs are extremely stiff but paired with stock shocks, so it's as if they don't exist. The car skips and hops in corners that our car has no issue with at all.

My dad had decided to jump in Blue Bayou and try to chase me down. As he was closing down on me, I see our old rival Son of Andre come on track and I decide to see how well I can hang with them. Despite the bouncy suspension and brakes that require way too much leg force I am hanging on behind Son of Andre, and my dad is catching me from behind. I head into the sharp left-hander turn 13, and brake hard. As I crest the hill I am trail braking and there is a slight bump and the back end snaps out. I had been drifting at this track in my personal car a few months prior, no big deal, just spin the wheel to catch the slide... except with no shocks and rock hard springs... the back end just won't grip up. I am at full lock and end up in the world's slowest rotation going nose first into the gravel off to the left. And I'm stuck. I have never been stuck on the side of the track before during a race, and now I did it in someone else's car. How embarassing! The only small consolation was.. most people don't know it was me. After getting pulled out of the gravel I pull into the pits ashamed and give my report on how the car felt. Thanks for the opportunity to drive it though!

Tech Tip #11: If a car works OK from the factory, make small tweaks, don't start from scratch! Our 240SX with lengthened control arms (for more camber) and cut springs is SO much easier to drive than the one with custom steering column, custom race car brakes, custom suspension setup, etc.

We end up 38th in this forgettable race.

Ok, we know you are going to overheat.. (9/1/2014) - 4 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

I head out first and run a bunch of 2:04s, setting our fastest lap at the Ridge! I get up into 6th place before on lap 17 the car decides it's time for me to hang out with friends in the pits. We have a blast catching up with other teams and treating the day more like a track day. We finish a forgettable 28th place but have lots of fun in the process.

Tech Tip #13: Don't take things so seriously that you forget to have fun regardless of the outcome!

Now for our fuel issue.. this was a bit of a head scratcher. We ordered new fuel injectors.. and those also came up as super lean. We finally figured out that the injectors that came with our mystery engine were actually bigger than factory injectors, and our fuel pump was starting to fail. Since the fuel pump had started failing at the same time the bigger injectors went in... it actually balanced out and we won a race with that setup! With a new fuel pump and new injectors, everything was good. We also bought an Air/Fuel ratio gauge so we could catch these kinds of issues in the future.

We also found corrosion on the ECU pins for the knock sensor and believe that is why it was triggering for phantom knock even with the dummy resistor. I believe our ECU was mounted too low in the car and water was able to splash up there.

Video overview of the weekend:

 

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