Like always, a new season arrives too soon! There are so many things you should have done…but never quite find the time to do.

Since the last outing way back in June, both Imps have had some work done – rollcage improvements, clutch repair, new distributors…and you guessed it – engine trouble has been found.

Doc’s car was so ill last year with a new engine, we decided to strip it, and found that it was not healthy at all, with oval cylinder bores among other things. It’s been a long story since then, but at the end of it, the car was fitted with the spare engine for this race, as well as a brand new set of Weber carbs. A new engine will be built up locally for this car as well.

Both cars were set up properly for the first time, with Doc taking care to get all the wheels pointing in the right direction. The backyard shakedown was as successful as can be….

In utter shock, we first got an offer from our friend Ole to transport the cars to the track for us, then realized everything was good to go three days before the event! That’s a first…

Racing NM på Vålerbanen

We arrived to an already set up camp on friday evening, and socialized for a few hours before we had an eventful and freezing night in the lorry. This due to the fuse blowing on the campsite power generator a few times. Doc, who had the lightweight linen took up commuting between the truck and the fuse box to ensure our heater was running.

I woke up with a bang as my camping-bed collapsed in the morning. A few coffee-cups later, and we breezed through scrutineering, and lined up for the warm-up. It all started out nicely with the cars running fine, but after two laps the blue Imp stopped dead. As expected, we found the rotor arm had snapped after an argument with the dizzy cap. We were rather put out by this, as this was a brand new distributor..so we fitted yet another new lid and rotor arm, and tried our best to discover anything wrong – but none discovered other than the symptoms. The yellow Imp ran like clockwork as usual, the spare engine singing nicely.

Armed with a spare rotor arm in my racing suit pocket, I set off for qualifying, only to get another 1.5 laps before it stopped again – at the exact same spot. Even though I gave them my best smile, the marshals stopped my attempts at fitting a new rotor arm trackside, so I was left watching Doc circulate with the others. At least the yellow car looked and sounded superb, and got quicker by the lap – and soon he was under his personal best, even with a lower-spec motor.

I fitted the new rotor and drove back to the pits as soon as the flag fell, leaving the tow-dude with his ATV scratching his head.

The cars, however, were promising. Doc had fitted proper Koni shocks to the rear of my car, and that combined with a decent setup had transformed it – even if I hadn’t even gotten the tires up to temp. Turn-in was instant, and the jumping and jacking of last year was gone.

So we set about with more head-scratching, trying anything to cure the Dizzy-problem before the first race. Eventually, I settled for a new cap, and borrowed a new Swift rotor arm from our paddock neighbor Marius. I filed off a couple of millimetres from the tip, as it was apparent that the rotor was moving out of bounds at high RPM smashing into the cap. The question was why – with yet another brand new Dizzy.

Racing NM på Vålerbanen

Soon enough, the race was upon us, with me starting from the back like so many times before. I don’t really mind as it usually makes for a great race, but any chances of fighting for a class win is lost.

With loads of elbow-rust and a brand new setup, the plan was to start out very carefully, and get some heat into the wide boots, and just do my best from there. The car was demon quick, as expected, and staying with the field was no problem. The yellow Imp was on a move too – and was incredibly quick considering it’s not up to par engine. Eventually Doc waved me by, the tires got sticky, and the little blue Imp flew around the track like a Scalextric-model. I couldn’t believe the grip and progressiveness it had, and the corner speed was way above the cars I was racing. I had to do a fair bit of sling-shot moves as I was outrun on all straights, but come the bends and braking zones I could get by most cars quite easily. I was having an absolute ball, and was just enjoying exploring the car without ever pushing it too hard, as what I really wanted was to make it across the finish line…

I had a few excellent scraps with Minis, Lotus Cortinas, Porsches and the odd Volvo, and on the final lap I was attacking a Mustang which was about twice as quick in a straight line, but helpless in the corners. I nearly had him, but a few corners from the end we lapped a Midget, and in my attempts to keep my ground I passed him a bit aggressively. To avoid scratching the beautiful Sebring sprite, I knocked away a few rubber track markers and threw up some dust, no damage done, but I had to let the ‘Stang go. I crossed the finish line 2nd in class with the leader in sight, 5th overall. Not too shabby coming from 18th. For the first time I can remember in ages, I wasn’t counting down the laps to the finish, as I was having so much fun! Doc had a lovely fight over 3rd place in class, and had to settle for fourth after a nice battle.

The race:

But there were a couple of spooks still around: the blue Imp had developed a misfire on the last couple of laps meaning more dizzy-problems, and the yellow Imp had a very gnarly noise coming from the gearbox as it was driven back to the paddock. After a quick inspection, the diff was proclaimed half-dead, and the car was parked for the weekend.

The results were a fun read, though. We had both set new track PB’s with about a second each, and my best laptime gave me 2nd overall on the grid for sundays race based on overall fastest race laps. I’d line up next to a Corvette and a Galaxie…

With the yellow Imp parked, we decided to try a distributor-swap yet again. So the immaculate parts were pulled from yellow imp and fitted to blue, and we crossed our fingers.

The evening was the usual perfect time off, with barbeque, great company, tall tales and a couple of glasses of vin rouge.

Once again my bed wake me up with a boom the next morning, this time at 0600. The bed was retired to the nearest bin on the spot.

We ran the warm-up, and everything seemed fine, so we were optimistic for the race. Then came the rain, and we had a bit of nail-biting wondering if we should fit the narrow yokohamas or not. In the end, the track dried off nicely.

2nd on the grid became 1st, as the Corvette had become ill. So a little blue Imp led the field round on the pace lap ahead of much meaner machinery. The start came, and the Galaxie took off. I planned on keeping the others behind, and see what I could do when the tires heated up again.
But immediately the engine started misfiring, not too badly, but it was worrying. Come lap two, and I couldn’t find the gear-lever. Looking down, it was bent backwards at an alarming angle. One more gear change, and it snapped off cleanly while I was in 4th. Cars blew by left and right…and I tried to see if there was a point in continuing around, but the need for torque became rather desparate, so I thew in the towel and parked it in the pits.

A not so great end, but….we had a lot of fun yet again.

With all these small things still bothering the Imps, we’ve decided to enter a track day with the good folks of Corsa Italiana on may 29 rather than travelling to the Knutstorp Revival. Might get some proper testing time at last.

And with a little help from the Imp Club, we might just have found the reason for the distributor problems. Doc’s already sweating in the garage. If all goes to plan, we’ll be at Velodromloppet in the middle of June, never giving up – as always!