Thursday, September 29, 2011

Racing the Mongoose.

Dale H and the Mongoose II @ Greenwood IR, Iowa.(1965)

I made allot of interesting acquaintances visiting me in the garage that later would become my friends as I was building the Mongoose. They would sit around on barrels or boxes they had pulled up and small-talked about current affairs or just shot the breeze. All the time keeping me company and all the time wondering what the heck I was doing. As the Mongoose project begin to take shape, the visitors gained more interest. Some even volunteered to help me out at times by holding wrenches on nuts that I couldn't reach, etc. As other strangers would hear about the project, they'd come by to watch too. Eventually I had identified some really good enthusiastic prospects for my devoted race crew. They had to be dedicated and just like to be involved in the Mongoose project because they sure weren't getting paid. It was their chance to go to the races, get in for free, have free run of the pits and feel a extra special part of it all. Several were just car guys with some general automobile know-how, the third one was actually a working professional automobile welder. The last guy was a cross between Elvis and a Little Abner type muscleman besides volunteering to be on my Mongoose crew, he soon became my very own personal bodyguard. Always placing himself between me and possible harm, even when we were off duty out club'n at night. He was afraid of absolutely NOTHING.

Mongoose II and Crew, Greenwood IR. Iowa (1965)

The crew chief Roger the one on the left above, had a strong take charge personality. Nobody really liked him much, even though he was smaller than the rest he became an authority figure, loud and rather pushy. But they had confidence in him realizing that he always speared them on to higher levels of performance, all the time shouting out orders and reminding them of things to do.

The Mongoose crew was one of the few crews of that day to have matching uniforms. Someone in the crew had gone to the Army surplus store and gotten orange pilots flight-suits for all, to match the color of the Mongoose. Then the crew got white iron on letters saying MONGOOSE and put them on the back. Tom Atkins, the Elvis / Little Abner type guy, always liked to look a little different, so he usually  just wore a black T-shirt and Levis, often with a black barrette. It showed off the muscles in his arms better that way. My jump-suit was orange just like the crews, but I had to soak mine in a borax solution to meet the SCCA regulations, making it a valid fire retardant drivers suit.

Mongoose crew @ Greenwood IR (1965)

Onetime the crew stayed up all night without sleep in Ontario, Canada rewiring all of the electrical wires that had been burnt after the engine fire mishap at Greenwood, IR. We got free race entry fee and tow money for gas just to bring the Mongoose up to the race in Winnipeg. We lost the off-ramps to the trailer somewhere on a lonely stretch of freeway the night before on our way to Canada, causing us from that day forward, to unhook the trailer from the tow vehicle and tilt the back of it down to get the Mongoose off.

The organizers of the race in Canada, held the number one starting spot on the first row of the grid for our featured Mongoose. After blowing out the freeze plug on the side of the injector fuel pump during the first few laps of the race, the accelerator foot pedal had absolutely no control over the gas flow to the engine. It ran wide open, full speed ahead.  It could only be controlled by disengaging the clutch and causing the engine RPM's to rev up to a harmful sounding rate.  After a few laps of running the slower, lapped competitors ahead TOO FAST in to the corners, in some cases actually causing them possible harm, I had to drop out of the race and run the Mongoose up against it's trailer in the pits, to kill the engine. Turns out the freeze plug hole on the side of the injector fuel pump could easily be fixed as it was exactly the same size as a US buffalo nickel fortunately found in a crew members pocket. With a little fast drying epoxy glue the repair was soon complete. The higher pressure in the fuel pump on the dual metered fuel injection, could never cause the freeze plug to blow out again. But by then the Mongoose was so many laps down, continuing on in the race seemed rather futile.  

That buffalo nickel stayed in the Mongoose ONE OF A KIND duel air metered fuel injector until the injector was sold on ebay many decades later.

Mongoose II @ Greenwood International Raceways (1965)