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April 2010 California Trip

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The plan was a quick trip from NY to California and back with my son Brad to attend the Volvo Challenge race at Sears Point - Infineon Raceway near Sonoma California.  The return trip was supposed to be a little more relaxed - 4 days to return vs 2 on the way out,  with a couple of pleasure stops thrown in  -  for what ended up being 6593 miles in 6 days of driving - 8 days total.

You can click on the above map to follow our route - from Syracuse NY we took route 90 to route 80 and stayed on that all the way to California. 

Although part of a long term plan to get back to racing our own cars rather than just doing customer racecar prep, the trip was never definite.  There were  issues to be resolved right up the last minute, both as to whether there would be a race, and whether we could make the trip.  We had projects to finish here first and there were questions as late as the end of March whether there would be enough Volvos attending to make the trip worthwhile and give us a separate " all Volvo " race group. With those issues finally resolved the week before we were supposed to leave, and a final acceptance of our car into a vintage production car race group, all we had to do was get the car ready and get there.

So the weekend before the event the car came apart. We knew the rearend needed work and new axles, so they had been ordered. At the last race at Watkins Glen the wheels locked going into a corner breaking an axle.  The hope was that the problem was limited to the rearend and plans were made to replace the axles, ring and pinion and LSD if necessary.
Unfortunately, the problem was not just the rearend, which was in better condition than expected - needing only new axles.  The bigger problem was with the close ratio transmission which had to be replaced. Its often hard to determine what broke first and how far the damage extends with severe shock loading, so after the trans came out to be replaced by a non close ratio spare, we also took the engine out and took it apart for a complete inspection. Fortunately it turned out to be fine and could be re-assembled without any changes or repairs.

The new axles came in on Monday so the rearend went back together and was installed on Monday night. The engine and trans went back in on Tuesday night, but a mixup at the driveline shop where a new slider yoke was supposed to have been installed on the driveshaft ( the output  shaft of the spare trans is slightly different from our usual race transmission ) meant that we had to wait to have the slider yoke changed again on Wednesday. This delayed  installation  until Wednesday afternoon, when we had originally been scheduled to have the car on the chassis dyno.  Fortunately we were able to reschedule that for Wednesday evening and  passed the dyno test with flying colors. The plan now was to get to California by Friday night so we could get a good night's sleep before Saturday's racing.

The full story of the trip, with photos will be posted shortly.  Race photos are in the Race Photo Gallery.

Off the dyno and ready to go.