2009 12 Hours of the Cascades Enduro
October 17 - Portland International Raceway

This year's attempt at the 12 Hour Cascade Enduro was going to be a little different. The big change being the turbocharged engine in the car. I had gotten the car up and running by mid summer and it showed a lot of potential but it also proved to be a tad inconsistent. Case in point being the misfire/stumble the car picked up in the last session of the Doernbecher weekend. I changed a few things and the problem was gone for the next race at Pacific Raceways. Problem solved, I thought.
The drivers this year were Mike McAleenan, Bruce Trenery, Spencer Trenery and myself. I got the car down to the track early on Friday for practice. Mike and I would practice in the morning and Bruce and Spencer would get in later in the day. We got the pit mostly setup and everything was looking good. I took the car out for the first session and immediately the engine started stumbling in turn 6. I did a couple more laps just to confirm I wasn't going crazy. Whatever problem I thought I fixed, was back with a vengeance.

We tried changing a few easy things like the DME relay and TPS sensor to no avail. Then with a fuel pressure gauge hooked up, the fuel pressure suddenly went to zero and the car died. Ahah! We quickly rigged a switch and an impromptu direct electrical connection to the fuel pump. The car started right up and proceeded to run great the rest of the day. Problem solved, I thought.
Rain was forecast for race day but the morning was dry and beautiful. It wouldn't last long, however. It was still dry when Mike got ready to do the LeMans start, but the clouds were already looming.  We were gridded third but had trouble getting Mike off quickly and ended up leaving in mid-pack at the start. Mike had some nice dry running but the rain started to fall as the second hour began. The rain was increasing and our ace weather man, Ashis, correctly called its approach. We were up to fifth overall when we brought Mike in on lap 40 to switch to rain tires and put Spencer in the car.

I didn't know it at the time but apparently Spencer is quite the wet weather driver. Before long he was setting a pace only the leading 996 could match.  In 30 laps he took us from 16th to 3rd overall and by lap 95 we had moved past the Helton M3 to second overall. The leading 996 had made a driver change and we were now catching them at 5 to 8 seconds a lap. We were the fastest car on track and life was grand. Then it wasn't.......
Spencer had been reporting an intermittent stumble. This engine and car combo had never seen the rain prior to race day. Was it ingesting water, an electrical problem or something else? We didn't know. But, in the wet it was not hurting our pace too badly. Then on lap 109 the car completely cut out on Spencer. He was able to restart and brought it behind the wall. I tried cleaning some grounds and the car started and seemed okay so we sent him back out. The stop had dropped us to tenth but the car was well enough to soldier on.

We kept Spencer out for another 30 laps as a dry line developed. The plan was to change tires and put Bruce in the car in one stop. We were back to sixth overall but unsure what was happening with the car. Bruce buckled into the car and I again tried the grounds that seemed to get us going last time. We were all ready to go but the car wouldn't restart. Well it would start, but it would only unsteadily run for a few seconds. Eventually the car was pushed behind the wall and everyone descended on the car in a scramble to find the problem. Unfortunately, when a 951 engine sort of runs, the problem could be just about anything. As the search for the problem stretched on, the urgency waned. It became clear any chance of a decent finish was disappearing.

After more than an hour of fruitless searching I finally found the SMT6 piggy back was dead to the world. I rigged up a wire to jumper the connector and remove the piggy back from the equation and, what do you know, the car started right up.  I put my gear on and took the car out, an hour and forty five minutes after we had stopped. The SMT6 was controlling boost and keeping the air fuel ratio in check so without it we were going to have less fuel and less boost. As I feared the car was running lean, but if I stayed below 4500 rpm things were okay. I did fifteen laps and decided that putzing around at partial throttle was pointless, not to mention boring. I brought the car in and parked it.
Photos by Camden Thrasher
At this point I probably should've had a beer and packed up, but there was still half the race left. We can't quit yet. It dawned on me that Eric S., who was crewing for Hal in the next pit, had offhandedly mentioned on Friday that he had a spare Vitesse SMT6 in his garage. He kindly agreed to drive home and get it so we could use it.

After another hour and a half of down time, the new SMT6 was plugged in and a map downloaded from the laptop. Just like that, the car was back in business. The car was running good but I found it hard to be motivated to push very hard. Being so far behind and all the scrambling had zapped my enthusiasm. When the fuel tank was empty, I was more than ready to get out of the car.

Bruce finally got in the car just after sunset. At the end of my stint I had noticed the headlights were not working well. Two of the four were not working and the ones that were working were not aimed well. We did a couple extra stops to aim the lights and find a blown fuse. At this point, our position didn't much matter. We were just trying to make it to the finish. Bruce completed a trouble free run, not counting the headlights, and we put Mike back in for the final stint.
Photos by Curtis Creager
Things were going well until the final 30 minutes. The car started to misfire and it was gradually worsening every lap. I had Mike bring the car to the pits and we would wait for the checkers to come out. There was nothing to be gained by working on the car or staying out. The plan was to wait for the checkers then drive across the finish line in the pit lane. The checkers mercifully flew at 10:45 pm and Mike drove the car across the finish line in the pit lane. However, the marshal at the end of the lane said he didn't think that would count, so Mike limped the car around for a full lap. Eventually, he did make it back and it was over. Until next year...

Enduro Stats:
- Drivers: Bruce Trenery, Mike McAleenan, Spencer Trenery, Eric Krause
- Crew: Ashis Vaidya, Cam Norton, Emmet McAleenan, James Temple, Randy Krause, Scott Norton, Stephen Guy, Steve Adams
- 7th of 8 cars in class
- 20th overall
- Too many pit stops, electrical problems
- 287 laps completed
- 1:20.596 fast lap (McAleenan)