After not getting any runs in at GT Speed Day I decided to return to Mojave last weekend for the Mojavi Mile. I had not run my GT hard since getting it back from the GT Guys with my Accufab freshened motor and I was looking forward to trying out the C-16 tune. Another motivation was provided by Car & Driver Magazine who was bringing a 2012 Bugatti Veyron along with several factory techs who would make sure it performed well. In the abstract I knew my TTGT should be faster in the standing Mile than a Veyron but who could resist a same day heads up contest? Sounds like fun.
The Bugatti arrived with great fanfare, multiple photographers, and was swarmed at tech inspection. After Jack's tragic accident 2 weeks earlier the fire and emergency crews put my GT (and me) through the wringer but I finally emerged with permission to run up to 235 MPH. That should be plenty even if #34 ran lights out. So how did it go?
With a DA of 4500 feet and a slight headwind my first run was 212 MPH and my car wasn't pulling well in 5th gear. Something wasn't right but I couldn't put my finger on it. 2 more runs, another 212 and a 213. Respectable speeds at a high altitude Mile but #34 was not putting out a winning effort. Still, the Veyron made 3 passes with a best of 201, and got slower with every pass dropping to 196 and then 191. Car & Driver wanted to make a 4th run but the Bug's factory minders said NO. Even when running poorly, a TTGT easily smokes a new Bugatti Veyron. A Bugatti rep came by my trailer to explain why the Veyron didn't run faster and to look at my GT. He couldn't seem to understand how a V-8 Ford with 2 turbos was faster than his W-16 with 4 turbos. He looked inside my car and asked me, "Is that a manual transmission?", "Do you shift that and use a clutch pedal on the floor??" He looked at that stick shift like it was a starter crank handle sticking out of the front of the radiator. I asked him if he would like to sit in it and he said NO, as he knew I was going to take his picture in a REAL performance car.
With that contest settled, there were 90 other cars at the event and one of them, the Big Red Camaro Team, had run a 217. They were spraying larger shots of Nitrous every run and told me the car dyno'd at 1400 HP. If my car was running well it would have been in the 220's and out of reach but it wasn't. So......let's make one more run and perhaps put down a 218.
At the 1/2 mile mark #34 was flying but again it struggled in 5th gear and as I approached the finish line I heard a loud 1 second rapping sound and then BOOM as an explosion shook the car and filled the engine compartment with smoke. I got on the brakes and turned at an intersection to roll up to a fire crew where I bailed out and popped the clamshell. Lots of smoke but no fire. My weekend is over. The fire crew towed my GT back to my trailer and I winched it in. Late Saturday night I called John Mihovitz and told him that I thought my new engine was toast. His first question was, "How fast did you go?" 213. "That sucks. The way I built it, it should have gone 230." His second comment was, "I don't think there is anything wrong with your motor, and if there is, it would be the first one to ever come back”. “You are 3 hours away, meet me at 10 Sunday morning at Accufab and I’ll look at it.” How about that, Sunday morning service by the man himself.
The next morning John met me with one of his techs and they spent over 2 hours bore scoping and compression testing every cylinder and looking at whatever they look at to see if it’s safe to start. “Your motor is perfect, it must be the turbos, I didn’t work on those”. Nothing like confidence ‘eh? So his tech starts the car while John stands behind it. The car is run for 3 seconds and shut down. “The right turbo has a broken shaft, your motor is fine”.
They help me load the GT back into my trailer, repaired the nylon runner under one of the trailer ramps, checked the air in the truck and trailer tires, and shot the shit for a while. Nothing that Accufab had worked on had failed and those two men spent almost 3 hours after coming in on a Sunday morning to look at my GT . What do I owe you? “Nothing, have a nice day”.
Extraordinary customer service is the norm at Accufab. They are so busy building engines (and they are the best in the business there) that they don’t normally work on cars, but they always stand behind their products. Here they turned my blown turbo into a fine morning. Thanks John! As it turns out my right turbo did have a broken shaft but both of my turbos appear to have been over spun with the blades going supersonic and self-destructing. A proper postmortem will determine their exact cause of death. It’s clear now why my TTGT was not performing. I’ll replace them and try again.
A couple years ago a great movie came out called “The Worlds Fastest Indian”. It was based on an even better book called “One Good Run” about an old man from New Zealand who worked on his ancient Indian motorcycle and took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats every year trying to put together the right combination that would produce that one good run. I know just how he felt. Cheers.