The 2016 Green Grand Prix has come and gone...I havenít died, but busy + this sites [lack of] usability on mobile has made me a rare contributor. This is my story, so if you want to jump to the Green Grand Prix itself, scroll down!
It all started in the 1980s...no, no, it started with some unfortunate events leading me to Wednesday, 24 hours before departure, and no air dam or side splitters. Whatever was I to do without professional builds? BUILD IT MY
Side splitters (veins?) were supposed to be aluminum sheeting, 18 gauge, 5 inches wide as the base, and 2 inch vertical drops on each end, totalling 9 inch pieces. This would be bent to make them flush to the car, but bent so it would be vertical to the ground, regardless of having a lop sided mounting point. Since this did not work out, I had to make Ďem at home. I used polycarbonate corrugated board for 3 inch strips (go BIG or go home!) that extended along the Roush side splitters, with the same 5 inch wide platforms to secure them. Each vertical portion (4) had 3 L brackets securing it on. Since I long ago ran out of nice sized sheets, these were made from ďWe give loans to people, not credit scoresĒ signs- meaning 12 inch sections. Secured by 2 by 2 chunks super glued, then duct taped. Cuts were made inside them, and the L brackets slid in. I photographed this, but donít hold your breath for those images! These were eventually duct taped, but realizing how much surface area it involved, the joints were ďtough tapedĒ and the exterior portions were black duct taped. This made me...rather close to the ground.
For the front, I failed an attempt, and settled on making an outline of the front by pen on cardboard. This was cut to fit the underside, and then foamed. With under 18 hours left, and 18 hours to cure, I had to just get it started. Layer 2 went on around 2200.
This FAILED...but weíll get to that.
Had lunch with some friends, and as usual, hit the road late. I planned to leave by 1100 vs 1600, so leaving at 1300 beat my usual time of 1800. I missed dinner with the gracious Mr. Loveland, lovely Mrs. Loveland, and modest SheepDog. I spent the evening picking on Jerry, meeting Redneck, and thinking Pete really looked like Wilson from Home Improvement when he hid in his coat! A great night- Redneck saw my idea of an acceptable air dam, and offered assistance. OH, what this would turn out to be!
Itís GGP morning...time to get busy! Redneck generously drove us out for materials (or he didnít want to sit in the back seat of the Mustang with everythingÖ) and prepares to blow my mind. We get back, and complete (the 90% needed) the air dam. This wraps into (pun intended) wheel gap fillers, and deflection of air around the front tires. Iím disappointed on how little value I really added to the build on this part of the vehicle, but I owe a Texas sized thank you for the knowledge and confidence I now have on an exceptional building material.
Time to get ready to roll...I fill up for the GGP, and my SCii has been 95% accurate for the past month. I see Iíve traveled 465.2 miles, and I need 10.8 gallons. I fill up at my station with non ethanol for 10 gallons, plenty of space for that last bit in an hour or so. Two weeks prior, I dropped air pressure from 47 to 40 to help wear the sides of the tires down, and for the event I cranked up to 50, (their gauge is...weathered) or as close as I could tell. After this, I THOROUGHLY exercised the engine to make sure she was nice and warm. Got lost...and eventually got to the meet point.
-ďThe instructions are in your packets! Nevermind, we took a bunch of them out...just do thisÖĒ
The instructions were only included for vehicles completing the car desruct-err, the rally. As the instructions werenít clear, I asked for clarification...it didnít seem to help. After the meeting, I received cleared instructions from a volunteer. It would have been nice if this was explained to the group. As I waited for the turn, 4 of the competing vehicles drove on thinking it was a different direction.
-Because of these fancy green stickers, we would be expedited through the WGI gate.
No. We still had to stop and fill out the form. More wasted fuel...
-Vehicle MPGs will be calculated by the in car readouts!
This year, if one an MPG readout in their vehicle, THAT is how MPG would be calculated. I know often these are fairly accurate, but in the 4 years (next month) of tracking my fuel use, I canít recall one time that my readout was within 10% of my actual use. If it read 30.0 MPG, I know the tank for a fact will be 33-36 MPG. Like many vehicles, I can also erase one portion of my readouts. For example, I could clear the MPG readout before I EOC into the reading area, and enjoy a superb performance of 99.9 MPG for the event, while all other readouts indicate since the last time they were cleared. At this point, my MPG readout magically broke, or I didnít have one, depending on how smart the person that asked looked.
Speaking to Bob, he didnít seem to acknowledge or mind that readouts could be manipulated. Honestly, his face implied I was a looney tune when I said mine is always inaccurate...I couldnít say if this was questioning my knowledge of my vehicle, or him not knowing of the pattern in sporty oriented vehicles to use more fuel than expected, and manufacturers rounding these numbers down to make sure drivers donít run out of fuel. Such as when my car says I have 0 miles to empty on my 16 gallon tank, yet I can only fill 13.5-14 gallons. When I ran out of fuel, she took more than 16, and it is not unheard of to run a tank 15+ gallons (that's when I carry the gas can) tank for me.
By the time I was driving up the hill, my ambition was shot. Confidence out the window. I thought I was going the wrong way (only car in my sightline to take the correct path), I didnít think my fuel readout would work, my car had only taken .603 gallons when it needed .8+ excluding my over the top warm up procedure, and the engine idling at the gate; I had given up.
Image from the prep areaÖ
I figured it was done. My tank was already off by .2+, and after the issue last year, I thought for sure I had gotten the driveshaft. I started wondering...what if the fill error was my first year? Did I really get 48+ (49+) MPG? Could the Mustang really be that efficient? Iím going to fail...this event will be another low number, and Iíll be a laughing stockÖ
Pulling up to the start line, we only got a bit of a push towards the front. I had given up; turn the engine on, and creep up there. Alfred State (maybe it was another college) even got a push/rolling start off the line from some great volunteers. Why bother for me?
No matter how defeated I am, how ill the waters, one can never give up. Worse case scenario, push through, do my best, and the cards fall how they fall. Just get in thereÖ
I tried in the event. I didnít just hold 2nd gear the entire time, I didnít drive like a jerk the entire time, but my imminent defeat let me relax more. My times last year 3:15:xx-3:30:xx were now 3:00:xx-3:10:xx, and a certain Hyundai that kept getting in my way inspired a few 2nd gear pulls through the S turn to avoid their nonsense. I was trying, but not like last year. My estimated 50+ last year was personally credited to a lack of weight: I had driven my @$$ off.
Half way through the race, I became more so serious about the lap time, and tried to slow down. Unfortunately, I continued to scrape my driver side splitter, but on the last half I started to hit the designated time. If I recall, there were at least 5 laps in the last 15+ that hit. Fuel economy was still the priority, but I gave it a serious go for better lap times!
As Sheepdog and I coasted into pitlane to get the fuel gauge checked, I couldnít help but wonder. The carís calculation of my fuel used for the race itself, excluding the fuel used on the Mt. Everest climb said I did 46.6 MPG. Pitiful. Disgusting. Disgraceful.
I pulled into the manual fill up lane (left pull in was for actual fill ups, right was MPG readouts), and a volunteer tried to get my MPG readout. I informed them I didnít have one, and they continued to question me...I gave a bit of a snap back that is was broken, and as they looked at my like I was lying through my teeth, I declared it was being pump filled and I continued pushing.
I was defeated, but I believed deep down I had to have done better than 46 freaking MPG, and Sheepdog and I headed to the station. We had the added benefit of the downhill coasting/DFCO, but letís be honest- it is impossible to gain the MPG back from the absurd hit taken from the hill climb. Pulling into the station, we had climbed up to 48.8. Mentally, I thought things were as awful as could be. Spiritually/subconsciously/emotionally...something said I had done better. Have hope. I calculated my mileage. I looked at the distance. 96.9 miles traveled. I reset this on the way up the hill, as Bob said the miles were predetermined since everyone would be on the same path, so it excluded a short portion I drove. I looked at the fuel I used. 1.830. This means, with the lowered traveled distance, I hit 52.950 MPG.
Go outside. Look in the sky. See those clouds? Thatís where I was.
The rest of the time was ecstasy. I was floating...completely elated. I enjoyed my time at dinner, with some ravioli that fit my diet (excellent!) and the great people from our Ecomodder community. And we got to the awards. Bob couldnít even present it the same way as the other awards...the modified 6 cylinder class winner, was me, in a 2012 Mustang- over 54 Miles Per Gallon.
Remember those clouds? Thatís where Iím at.