Home of the Napacard 200 NASCAR race, Evergreen Speedway is located in Monroe, Washington. The big boys run the Super Stocks on Saturday night, but we race in the Modified class and they run on Fridays. This is a very versatile track. There are 3 ovals, all nested inside each other. The smallest inside oval is about a quarter mile, the middle oval is where we run and its 3/8th of a mile, and the biggest oval is 5/8th of a mile. Racing here runs the gamut from bump-to-pass (you have to hit someone before you can legally pass them) and figure-8 all the way up to the NASCAR Winston Cup pros. Boat races and school bus figure-8's too. Boat races consist of vehicles towing boats racing each other. School bus figure-8's is self explanatory. Thats right, we have nothing better to do between salmon runs and hunting season, so we drink beer and smash into each other.
Saturday, August 7th, 1999: We ran the car at Evergreen Speedway on Thursday and Friday night and it ran well, so we decided to take it over to Ephrata and help support the class there. The trip really started Friday afternoon, though. After I got my truck back from GMC for a tune-up on Friday, I called Doug to let him know I was heading to his house in Arlington. He told me Eldon and Jimmy were at Jimmy's house replacing a harmonic balancer on Eldon's '88 Chevy 4 door 1 ton dually...the racecar tow vehicle. That didnt sound good so I went down there and sure enough things were going badly. The balancer those guys got from a Chevy dealer had a different threading in it for the crankshaft pulley bolts, and the dealer failed to mention that...even though its clearly noted in the Chevy parts book. We were in a huge hurry to get to the track (45 miles away in Friday traffic) so we just crammed 3/8 x 16 coarse thread bolts (the originals) into the balancer's 3/8 x 28 fine thread holes and headed for the track. This trick didnt work well and we could see the crankshaft pulley was bent or not properly attached. ::shrug::
So we got to Evergreen Speedway at Monroe and raced and decided to head to Ephrata the next day. We were worried about the balancer so Eldon came over Saturday morning and we took it apart, ran a thread chaser through the bolt holes, and replaced the coarse bolts with the correct ones. Didnt help a bit. In fact, it looked worse and made more noise after we were done. So we hooked the trailer up anyways and headed across the mountains, Eldon and his wife, Debbie, pulling the racecar and the rest of us following in my truck. We got across the mountains to Wenatchee, Washington before it got really bad. We pulled off the road and attempted to fix it again...which we couldnt. By now, both the crankshaft pulley and the harmonic balancer were ruined and the pulley would barely stay on. We were only an hour from the track and we were late so we just went for it.
We made it to the track just in time to unload the car and roll it out on the track for qualifying. Doug agreed that we need some more push in the car here so we dropped the left rear down substantially and sent Eldon out. He qualified really well and we had the pole for the trophy dash, the heat, and the main race. We still wernt getting any push in the car at all, so we made a smaller adjustment, dropping the rear of the car down a bit more for the heat race. Eldon ran really well there and lead for a few laps, including during a yellow flag for a spin. He got a great jump on the restart and was able to hold off his main competition and take 3rd place in that heat. We still couldnt get the car to push out any in the turns so Doug made another small adjustment....but he accidentally went the wrong way and took out the changes we made. In the main race, Eldon again was doing well holding back Wally Wally, his main competition (and the former owner of Eldon's car) but we noticed lap times were down a bit. With 2 laps to go, the car cut loose under power on the front stretch and Eldon had to back down and let Wally pass him. We took 4th in the main, but could have probably done a little better with the car.
Overall, it was a very very good outing and well worth the problems to come. The other racers were happy to see Eldon show up and it was a good experience for all of us. We had a little excitement too. Standing in the pits along the backstretch wall, we were watching some stock cars go around prior to the modifieds and on the green flag lap, one car got sideways coming out of turn two and collected another car. Both cars hit the backstretch wall 10 feet from us going about 60 mph. You have never seen a bunch of good old boys move so fast.
Doug, Jimmy, and I were all pretty sure Eldon's big truck wouldnt make it home. We were not surprised then when about an hour from home, coming down Steven's Pass in a drizzling rain, Eldon slammed on the brakes and pulled off the road. The pulley had thrown the serpentine belt and wrapped it around the fan. It was sheer luck that it happened near a wide pullout in the road. Rt 2/ Steven's Pass is one of the most dangerous roads in the state, especially near the top, at night, in the rain. It was also sheer luck that nothing was really totally destroyed. The serpentine belt and the v-belt were both chewed up but still in one piece. The pulley was pretty wasted but still usable. The problem was the balancer. It looked like it had melted. All we could do is take it apart and try to bolt the pulley back on the balancer. We couldnt run the truck without at least a water pump, so we needed that pulley. We scrounged a few washers off of the race car and Jimmy crawled under and bolted the thing back up and off we went. Eldon and Debbie made it home...amazingly...and I think they are probably throwing a fit at that Chevy dealership as I write this.
Friday, August 13th, 1999: Heck, lil ol superstition never hurt no one, so we went racing on Friday the 13th. It rained, but racing on Nu-Tread slicks is fun in the rain. Doug and I loaded up the car at his place and got to the track about 6pm. Everyone else was already there and Eldon had the 30' pit trailer set up. It was only a little wet for practice and the first heat, but then it started gushing and the track was drenched. Several of us wanted to bag it, but Eldon wanted to race if the rest of the Modifieds were. He started on the pole for the 20 lap main on a very wet track. On the last pace lap, he brought the field around Turn Four for the green flag, everyone jumped on the gas, Eldon's car spun out from under him, and Wally hit him pretty hard right on a new tube on the left rear bumper that Doug had just welded on a few hours before. Wally's car was damaged and he was towed off and left the track before any of us could look at the damage. Eldon got straight and was able to continue, eventually finishing last. He ended up just trying to get the car around the track 20 times without wrecking...the conditions were really bad for our car and driver. It was good experience though, and we didnt do any serious damage to the car.