Objects of Desire August 2013

The ‘curse’ of NNJR

By Emily Atkins, Provinz Editor

emily-atkinsThe annual, joint NNJR-UCR track weekend is a high-summer tradition for many UCR drivers. Almost guaranteed to be a sweltering affair, it attracts a core group of die-hard trackies and a generous sprinkling of newbies from both sides of the border, making for an eclectic cross-section of Porsche owners. There’s plenty of entertainment on track as those new to CTMP at first get in the way of the experienced drivers, then start chasing them through faster and faster laps.

As regular readers may recall, it was at this event last year that I blew the engine on my red 944T, and enjoyed the generosity of my fellow club members who drove me home, let me use their cars on the track and trailered my dead vehicle to its near-final resting spot.

Given the history, I was a little tentative on my way to the track. But all was calm. Friday was a spectacular day—perfect weather, absolutely divine driving. New brake pads, new rubber and a car in excellent running order. Even the run back to the city on Friday night was relatively traffic-free.

Saturday dawned well: same delightful atmospheric conditions, no traffic. But on track in the second run group, I was tooling up the back straight on my warm-up lap, only to feel a slight pop followed by a dramatic loss of power. We limped into the pits, and irretrievably stalled as I slowed down, resulting in a long coast to my parking spot. Thank goodness for the elevation drop off from the hot pit to the paddock.

I barely resisted kicking the car as I stomped off to look for some insight. Yarko Matkiwsky, of Response Engineering, was the first one I found who might have a clue, because I sure didn’t. He kindly came over for a look and offered a number of good ideas. He introduced me to another of our UCR tech experts, Ian McQuillan, of Hockley Autosport. He very thoughtfully asked me numerous diagnostic questions about the car and what had happened. Ian offered to take a look after he helped a friend who had even more serious car trouble.

I was quite willing to wait it out, so wandered over to chat with the previous owner of my silver 944T, Charlie Croskery. He has become my go-to guy with questions about the car. I would strongly recommend buying an old, used, modified Porsche from someone like him—a person who is willing to stay in touch post-sale. He has been incredibly helpful and insightful in the year I’ve had the car, always ready to answer my often dumb questions.

This time, he seemed intrigued by the problem, and came over immediately with his diagnostic kit (a goose-necked flashlight and gloves). Within a nano-second he found the issue and declared it easily fixable, right there at the track. The vacuum hose had popped off the idle stabilizer. Luckily the hose clamp was still attached, making the repair one of ‘simply’ reattaching the hose and tightening the clamp back down.

Of course it wasn’t quite that simple, and it being a hot day, the job was sweaty and more than a little frustrating. Charlie did not complain once, did the job with grace and speed, taking a break only to go and drive his run group. In time for my next run, the car was back to perfect, thanks to Charlie’s skills and willingness to help.

Once again, the ‘curse’ of the NNJR weekend was turned to a blessing, thanks to the helping attitude of our members. Their generosity makes me wish I had more mechanical skills to offer to return the favour. What I can do is say a big public thank you to Yarko and Ian for their diagnostic help, tool loan, and offers to do more, thanks to my paddock pals Mark and Mike for the push and moral support, and of course to Charlie for effecting the repair so efficiently. Clearly the love for cars and driving is not selfish—we all feel the same way about it, and will go out of our way to help others fulfill the need for speed.

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