Greenspeed Research + Tires = New World Record
by Dave Schenker (Greenspeed Research) We Did It! THE SHORT VERSION — With the last borrowed tire and wheel returned to its rightful owner, the Greenspeed Research adventures of Speed Week 2017 came to a close with an official speed record in hand.
Under your sponsorships, donations, and support, the GsR name is now in the Southern California Timing Association’s official record book. And Dave now has lifetime membership in SCTA’s much sought after Bonneville 200mph Club.
We beat the 215.091mph record at an average speed of 219.411mph in the C/DT Class. Beating a decade-long record for diesel trucks. We have set world records in the past, but none of them outstanding enough to warrant official SCTA recognition.
So it is time to once again offer huge thanks to all who have supported GsR over the last six years in this pursuit. We definitely could not have found this success without each and every one of you along the way.
You are now sponsors of a team that holds 2 world records and literally changed the rulebook for landspeed racing in the pursuit of showcasing the viability of plant based energy sources.
THE LONG VERSION
As you might remember, last year we had a catastrophic engine failure in the vegetable oil engine, and our common rail engine had bad leakdown from Speed Week 2013. This meant we had to build two new engines. As usual, our plan would be to take both engines to the Salt: one to run 100% pure vegetable oil and one to run diesel and bio-diesel.
SLS Diesel in Denver, CO built both of these engines for us with the parts from our high-end suppliers:
MAHLE pistons and gaskets
Dynomite Diesel injectors
FASS fuel system
Farrell Diesel injection pump
Fluidampr crank balancers
Hamilton Cams camshafts (air and fuel), head (for the vegetable oil engine), valve springs, and pushrods
Harland Sharp rockers
DEI thermal products
All held together with Vibrant Performance tubing, hoses, fittings, and clamps, all filled with Driven Racing Oils, and some last minute parts from Advanced Auto Boise.
*Sadly, because FedEx lost a brand new camshaft, the vegetable oil engine could only get partially finished at SLS (more on that later).
Once both engines were built and back in Idaho, the diesel engine was installed in the landspeed truck, and we were off to Adrenaline Truck Performance in Meridian, ID for some dyno tuning.
While was in Colorado with the engines, Patrick was re-pinning the Painless Performance wiring harness to run the 2006 ECM from Big Twin Diesel (it was designed for 2003-2005 ECMs). This would allow us to take advantage of the benefits offered by a more advanced tuning software package. Using this software, Adrenaline Truck Performance was able to develop a 900+ hp tune with zero smoke on their in-house dyno. Bravo!
With that, it was time to swap to the vegetable oil engine. We needed to get it to the dyno, get it tuned, head to the salt with it installed and beat the petroleum diesel record with 100% vegetable oil before swapping the common rail back in and going for broke with diesel.
Vegetable Oil Engine Issues
Unfortunately, FedEx lost the brand new Hamilton camshaft for the vegetable oil engine. We started talks with FedEX for compensation but without time to source a replacement, the cam from last year’s engine would have to be cleaned, inspected, and put in.
Two days were spent trying to get the vegetable oil engine to start consistently with the old cam installed. We were able to get it fired and warmed up enough for a head re-torque. It took way more time than it should have.
Once the engine cooled it took an afternoon of further coaxing, checking and re-checking timing for it to fire again. By then it was late Friday afternoon, Speed Week was in full swing and we had lost the window to get the vege-engine on the dyno. The next window would cost us two days of Speed Week.
We assessed the situation and decided to head to the Salt with the un-tuned engine. The salt didn’t earn the nickname “the great white dyno” for nothing – time to put that to the test.
Tire 1 (of 5)
About 1 o’clock in the morning, somewhere near the Nevada border (middle of the desert in August), a trailer tire disintegrated in a 4th of July level display of sparks. The rig made it safely to the side of the road and no fires were started. But, we found ourselves without our usual spare tires.
“Luckily” the other tow rig had sprung a fuel leak in the last town and was just finishing their repairs. They were able to find a replacement tire on their way back to us.
Also “luckily”, we had a healthy stock of ether (starter fluid) since the landspeed truck had been so hard to start earlier. This was used to seat the bead on the new spare tire after mounting/dismounting with prybars/etc (needless to say, this year we will be putting in a tire tool request to Snap-on and double checking that the spares are, in fact, packed).
It’s always a great feeling to pass from pavement to salt. It’s like the clock is stopped, and for a brief week it is just you, a blinding sea of white, and a sudden city of custom vehicles and racers. The only rules are the rules that matter and going (safely) as fast as you can. Everyone is rooting for you and everyone gets along.
2017 was no different. With the pit set up and the truck through tech inspection (with some new bits from DJ Safety and looking awesome with it’s new wrap from Signs2u), work continued on the vegetable oil engine.
After more diagnostic tests on the engine’s timing, we discovered the timing was changing every time the engine would finally fire up. The only way we figured this could happen is if the camshaft had sheared the key in last year’s violent shutdown. Unfortunately, this is something unlikely to be caught with a visual inspection.
It was now Monday and we still hadn’t taken a run. The whole team had their heads buried in the truck from before the sun came up (with some sweet ECCO LED lights keeping everything bright) until we would get kicked off the salt, all while hearing racers roar down the courses behind us, at speeds over 400mph. We were all eager to get to the start line and there was no sense in blowing an engine if we could avoid it. So, we had to throw in the towel on our hopes of beating petroleum diesel with vegetable oil for Speed Week 2017. BUT, we did have another engine for a reason.
With all hands on deck we swapped the engines. You can watch a time-lapse video of the action here: https://youtu.be/JR5Cn_EOcGo. By early Tuesday afternoon, the truck was fired up and ready to push to the start line.
There were over 550 entrants this year, and the lines for the course were packed. The SCTA had prepped 3 courses (long, short, rookie) and they were all getting used. While salt conditions in general are improving, they are far from “good” yet, but the SCTA officials made the best of it. (If you feel so inclined, visit http://savethesalt.org to see if there is a way for you to help restore this unique natural wonder.)
Last year, our landspeed truck went 209mph at about 3000rpm on 100% vegetable oil. We knew we would have no issues this year finding speed on diesel or bio-diesel.
First run on the new engine netted a top speed of 202mph at just over 3000rpm. Temps were great, truck handled well, all systems go, just needed more daylight.
The lower speed with higher rpms was a little troubling though. After some sleuthing and another round of system checks we found the torque converter lockup and overdrive switches had been mislabeled. Face -> palm. It was an easy fix.
With those straightened out, we were ready to head back out, but the day was over.
We were back in line Wednesday morning and had a clean pass, but only got about 180mph out of the truck. Dave said it felt as though it wasn’t shifting into overdrive, or at least didn’t shift OUT of overdrive while slowing down.
Maybe this is would explain the lower speeds?
Dave got on the phone with Ultimate Transmission and discussed the possibilities. Dave (at Ultimate) was ready to make the trek to the Salt from Boise, tools and parts in hand, to fix any issues we had. He gave a list of things to try first.
One of these things was pulling the overdrive unit and inspecting it. Up on jack stands the truck went, and overdrive unit dropped out. Thanks to modern technology (a video call to Dave in the next state), we were able to decide all was well with the overdrive unit. It was shortly back in the truck and back to the start line for another run before the end of the day.
Still only about 180mph. What the heck??? Are the tires spinning? Is there a loose connection in torque converter or overdrive wiring?? It definitely feels like it’s shifting when it’s supposed to. The course was super bumpy and soft in places, but it should still have been going faster.
Back in the pit, Patrick did some calculations. Theoretically, 3000rpm is 187mph and 3500rpm is 225mph. This confirmed what we knew, so Dave just had to go faster, simple as that. Sheesh DAVE.
We rushed back to the start line but got there about 15 minutes too late for another run. We left the truck at the start so we could get on course early in the morning.
Fourth Run – Tire 2 (of 5)
The team showed up Thursday morning ready to tear the course a new one and see how fast the truck could go.
The truck pulled hard off the line and reached 140mph in no time. That was when the passenger rear tire burst. It didn’t take long for the exposed steel wheel to start digging into the salt and send the truck off course. It started to turn and slide to the left. The teammates in the support truck looked on worried.
Dave was able to yank the parachute quick enough to keep the truck from spinning, or worse, flipping.
An SCTA course worker pushed the truck to a spot safely off course and the course was reopened. As we limped back to the return road with our mangled tire and wheel (and MOON EYES wheel cover that now resembled a fruit bowl), we witnessed the next vehicle spin out and roll at the same spot. The driver was okay.
The next thing we heard over the radio was the officials closing the course so they could move it over to a fresh spot. It would be freshly groomed salt, AND WE DIDN’T HAVE A TIRE AND WHEEL TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!!!
Face -> palm.
Everybody was in a little shock by the time we regrouped at the pit. Lots of poking and prodding at the shredded tire, with blown minds at how destroyed and bent the wheel was. Through all that, the chassis remained stout, with suspension fully outfitted with FK Rodends bearings holding everything together. We were also thanking our lucky stars the BAER Brakes rotors and calipers narrowly escaped damage.
Jen repurposed one of her Greenspeed flags into an “I need a tire” flag and fastened it to our comically small pit bike. Dave took the pit bike for a search down the pit lanes for anybody with a spare tire/wheel combo that would fit.
A few trips up and down the pits and no luck.
Dave stopped at the radio tower and was offered some airwaves to get the word out.
Still no luck.
Back in the pit, things were looking pretty low. The team was watching another record setting opportunity slip through our fingers from an equipment failure. It is the nature of the racing.
Even a few SCTA volunteers reached out on our behalf. The biggest problem was that it was Thursday afternoon (Speed Week ends Friday at noon). The place looked like a ghost town compared to even a day before.
At about 4pm on Thursday afternoon, with less than 18 hours before the end of Speed Week 2017, Dave got on the mini bike for one last effort. One more loop around the pits, stopping and talking with anybody who even looked like they would have a tire.
On the way back, with one more trailer to pass by, gold was struck. The Jack Rogers team, which campaigns a trailer full of Camaros at the Salt every year, was tearing into one of their cars with the whole team. Every single one of their cars was sitting on a tire/wheel combo exactly like ours.
“You guys happen to have a spare?”
“Sure do.” was the answer. “As long as Kristin can ride that mini bike”.
With a deal like that, who could say no?? Dave ended up getting a ride back to the GsR pit (with the new tire) from a member of their pit crew who was on the Salt for the first time – and had flown all the way from Australia just for Speed Week. This is also the nature of the racing.
As you might imagine, there were a few smiles and hollers when three people and a tire showed up back at the GsR pit. We had a wheel!!
As soon as it was mounted, Chief (car) Inspector Kiwi Steve was called to re-inspect the truck and sign off on our “yellow card”. With that done, we were on our way to the start line! Again, we made it about 15 minutes too late for another run that day.
Back to camp.
Friday is a special day on the Salt. There are almost no people left, the pits are sparse, and racing is over at 11am.
Every other day of the race, if you qualify for a speed record, you go to impound overnight and attempt a record run first thing the following morning. In the mornings, the air is cooler and the vehicles have had a chance to rest overnight.
So what happens if you qualify Friday morning? You go to impound for an hour or two, then straight back out to race! We were under the gun (and a lot of sun) to get it done.
For the Greenspeed Team, Friday is reminiscent of our very first trip to the salt flats back in 2011. We made our first run ever as a team at exactly 11am on Friday. The SCTA officials kept the course open for us and made us take another run to get the “rookie run” out of the way. The SCTA officials are just as dedicated to their budding racers as they are the race.
Fifth and Fast Run
With all systems go, and no reason to not go fast, Dave left the start line. Time to let the landspeed truck open up.
He hit a whopping 223mph. Besting the existing record of 215.091mph. This meant Team Greenspeed’s first trip to impound for inspection and examining data collected with all the Automation Direct sensors and ISSPRO gauges. We were paying close attention to the intercooler water temps, as that was a major issue last year. All was well though, as the new Davies-Craig water pumps were doing their job.
It was an undeniable qualifying run and a first glimpse at the 200mph Club.
We could smell the win.
But it is only a win if we pass the impound inspection and make the defending run with a combined greater average-speed than the existing record. Many an engine has blown or other problems have plagued teams on their defending run. We were excited, sun burned, and buzzing with nerves.
Sixth and Winning Run
As we left impound, we were in a line of the final and few racers on the salt, including our friends at Salty Box racing with a similar truck in a larger engine class. The handful of us pushed our landspeed racers to the start line. The Salt was empty of other racers and the last of the pits were packed and heading for the road.
Dave smashed the pedal through the final run down the 5-mile course, monitoring the RPMs, temp, and pressure. Everything just worked. The team heard the record winning speeds announced between mile 4 and 5 as Dave exited the end of the course. Dave did not know the team had beat the record until Jen and Patrick nearly tackled him to the ground in congratulations.
Next Up: Beat our own record with a new cam in the vegetable oil engine.
Postscript: Tire 3, 4 & 5
As we celebrated back at the pit, the team found a leak in the front tire of the landspeed truck on the same side as the earlier blown rear. It held out long enough to get the record. On close inspection, with damage seen to two tires on the same side of the vehicle, it’s likely the vehicle encountered some kind of debris on the course. Very lucky there weren’t bigger issues!
On the way home, the trailer blew two more tires. You may be wondering “what the heck were these people thinking???” Well, the tires were not overloaded, just 20+ years old. What would have been a 6-hour ride home became 12. And we went through a lot more ether… The good news is we now have all new tires on the trailer!
Overall, we are incredibly happy with this years results. The truck is now a proven record setter, and we WILL be going back to the Salt to chase vegetable oil AND bio-diesel top speeds. The team was careful to make sure there would be room for more records by not blowing the current one out of the water. We did get a chance to visit with a new (extremely high dollar) Diesel Truck team with some lofty goals. Competition is beginning to be a thing with diesel vehicles out on the Salt, and we are super stoked about it!
The LSR truck is also a close contender (2 mph away!) of not only being the fastest at the salt flats but also being able to claim the fastest diesel powered pickup (from any event) in the world!
Thank you all for your continued support, and a very special thank you to all the Volunteers at both the Southern California Timing Association and Bonneville Nationals for all their hard work in putting on such a special event.
Pics to follow.
The Greenspeed Research Team READ MORE