2008 12 Hours of the Cascades Enduro
October 25 - Portland International Raceway

This was to be our fifth attempt at the Cascade enduro. This time it would be a little harder as the race had been lengthened to 12 hours. To throw in an extra twist, I unfortunately, had crashed the car its last time out at the Doernbecher races. Due to the repairs, there was not time to test the car prior to the race. A lot of new parts had been thrown at the car and I was anxious to see if it was indeed ready.
The weekend got off to a shaky start. Practice started at 1pm on Friday and we were setup and ready to roll. I took the car out and on the first lap the glass on the drivers side mirror fell out! I was hoping that wasn’t an omen of things to come. The car turned out to be a handful too. It was very unsettled and darty. It didn’t like changing directions and had a mind of its own under braking. I was a bit stumped on what to do with it. Was this a lingering issue from the crash or was something else not right? I thought it was best to get the other drivers some seat time until I could come up with a plan. I sent them out and told them to be careful. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good plan as the first impression probably put a dent into the drivers confidence in the car.

I figured we could put some toe in to help stability, adjust the shocks to reduce forward weight transfer and put the race rotors and pads on and look things over. After the 2nd practice session we brought the car in for the raft of changes. While removing the old front rotors, Emmett noticed a lot of play in the front hub. Crap, the front bearings were way loose. At least we found a smoking gun! They were newly installed and obviously weren’t completely seated when I adjusted them. With the bearings re-adjusted, new brakes, shock changes and the same alignment, I went out to bed the brakes and see if we had indeed found something. Thankfully, we had! There was a huge improvement in braking and stability. We used the last session to get the drivers one more shot at the improved car and to scrub the race tires in.
Race day dawned bright and sunny. Bruce Trenery, was to be the first driver and completed the morning warmup without drama. The LeMans start was at 9:45am. At the horn, Bruce ran across the pitlane and I got him belted in fairly quickly. We were the 7th car out of the pit lane. The start is not really important in a long race, but it is a fun way to do it.

There was a lot of action for the first 30 minutes as cars sorted themselves out and several cars were called in for pit lane speed violations and being over the sound limit. At an hour and a half into the race, Bruce reported he thought we were losing a rear wheel bearing. Since changing that is no simple matter, we told him to stay out until it gets worse. Thankfully, whatever he was experiencing seemed to stabilize and he kept to his pace.

At 3 hours Bruce came in for a driver change and fuel. We jacked the car up and I shook the wheels looking for any play. It all felt good so we sent Mike McAleenan on his way to do the next three hours. Mike appeared, at least from the pitlane, to have an uneventful run and got into a groove and ran off a string of consistent laps. He reported the car was hard to turn right and he was getting a vibration from the rear. I was sure the vibration was caused by the tire rotating on the wheel. I had noticed the valve stems markings on the rear tires had moved a few inches from the start of the race, throwing off the balance. At this point we were 2nd in class but the leading M3 had checked out and was a number of laps ahead of us. However, the 996 and Fiero had problems and were behind us but closing.

Originally, I was going to drive last, but Steve suggested we switch so I could use my familiarity with car to do some fast laps in the daylight. Maybe we could hold off the charging 996. I got in the car at the 6 hour mark, 3:45pm. I didn’t know what to expect of the car when I got in, but I was pleasantly surprised when it felt pretty good. Portland is a rhythm track and if you can find it, you can effortlessly reel off fast lap after fast lap. I put together a string of 1:21’s and got down to a 20.7 as the fuel load lightened. The 996 was on the same lap but no longer closing in, then it went behind the wall with an issue.

As I was on my in-lap, for the mid stint re-fuel, things took a detour. I went to upshift to 4th on the back straight, but it wouldn’t go in gear. I tried to find a gear, any gear. I think I finally got it into 4th as I coasted the back straight. Had I blown the clutch? The clutch hydraulics? As I came around turn 12, I tried downshifting and the shifter went limp in my hand. Nothing. That is when I realized it was the linkage. I coasted down the pit lane, thru the gap in the wall and towards our paddock. I was met by a handful of the guys who pushed me to our stall. We got the car and jack stands and eventually found the bolt holding the collar on the selection shaft had disappeared. Let me tell you, the linkage on top of the transaxle is an unpleasant place to work on a car that has been racing for over 7 hours. I didn’t have the proper tapered bolt to go in there so we used a standard bolt and James cranked it down the best he could. It seemed to work, but how long would it last? We lost about 22 minutes and probably 16 plus laps for the fix. Luckily, other cars were having problems too so we did not lose a place in class. I took the car back out for another hour and a half. The linkage was hanging together.
By the time I brought the car in to hand it over to Steve Adams it had been dark for about half an hour. I knew it was going to be tough for him. I at least had driven thru sunset and got used to the darkness slowly. He would be going out in the dark. The apex at turn 7 was very hard to see. You knew it was out in the darkness to your right, but your only hope of seeing it was if a car coming out of 6 would light it up or just pray you turned in at the right time. The class leading M3 found Steve in the darkness and decided to use us for headlights. Steve wasn’t too happy about this at first but after leading the BMW around for over an hour, I think he got used to it. Steve was putting down laps which was quite good for the dark conditions and iffy shifter.

As we entered the last 20 minutes, Steve reported the clutch was starting to slip and it was getting hard to shift. This is when we started to get nervous in the pits. If we lost the linkage again, we would probably be stranded on course and be done. By rule, the car has to cross the finish line under its own power or else it is a DNF. No matter how many laps you’ve done. Steve slowed down tying to be as easy as possible on the car. The BMW in tow also slowed down. It was kind of funny, no matter what we did they wouldn’t go by.

All the crews gathered on the wall to watch the final couple of laps. We suggested to Steve to just put it in a single gear and cruise around. He didn’t and kept his pace up. I could not relax until I saw him coming for the checkered flag. We finished. We did it! At the end of the cool down lap he had to downshift to slow for his turn to enter the pit lane. He couldn’t get it back in gear! The race hadn’t ended a moment too soon. He did finally get it to engage and got it back to the pit stall but the car had enough for the day. We did 483 laps or around 920 miles. Second in class behind the M3. The overall race winner was a super fast sports racer.
Photos on this page are by Camden Thrasher, Curtis Creager & Randy Krause. Click here for credits.

Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Bruce Trenery, Mike McAleenan, Steve Adams, Eric Krause
- Crew: Ashis Vaidya, Cam Norton, Emmet McAleenan, James Temple, Randy Krause, Scott Norton, Stephen Guy
- 2nd of 7 cars in class
- 7th overall
- 7 pit stops
- 483 laps completed
- 1:20.715 fast lap