Hitting every light on the way to work and showing up half an hour late. Parking seventeen miles away from the mall entrance, and coming out to see that not only has someone parked next to you BUT they have completely ignored the lines and are millimeters from your car’s door. Running out of gas. All of these are considered bouts of “bad luck”. Brendon Stewart laughs at your bad luck. Why does he laugh at your pain? Because while you were sitting in traffic he was in his garage replacing his second transfer case pinion gear. While you were contemplating teaching that fellow a lesson, he was missing ANOTHER race weekend because his Evo decided to not want to work. What was he doing while you were trudging to the gas station, readying your body for the gouging you were about to receive? Well, let’s just say it was worse than that…
Despite all of the problems, Brendon is hopeful for the 2014 season. He sat down with me to talk about last year’s problems and this years plans.
What happened last season?
In general what happened?
Yeah, in general what happened.
Oh man, last season was tough. I had a lot of really unfortunate situations with mechanical failures in the car. Just seemed like every single time I went out I didn’t ever have a very successful day, until the very last race of the year; so I was always working the car and everything was always not right.
The most spectacular failure that we all saw was the fire. What happened there?
Umm, that was incredibly unfortunate because that was a brand new engine. So my stock engine spun a rod bearing after 5000 race miles, which is not really that unusual. It was probably time for a refresh, but because it happened I ended up building an engine. Thought I’d spend the money and make it nice, not cut any corners, and it ran really, really well. It was a really good engine, first day.
It was too good to be true
Second day unfortunately, just kinda down the main straight it spun another bearing and started knocking. And I just tried to limp it around to get back to the pits, and it didn’t even make it another half a lap. It seized, shot a rod through the block and everything caught fire, and that’s that.
So you said that was a new motor, but was that the original transmission? Did you have to replace that?
I believe that was the original transmission, which has been rebuilt a few times. New synchros, maintenance stuff. There’s never been any catastrophic transmission failure, which is good… yet.
Yet *knocks on wood*
But I have blown through two transfer case pinion gears, two engines in this car now. Umm… I think that’s the extent of the really big problems.
The really big ones that have sidelined you. Was this your first year doing door to door or your second?
First year doing door to door. I was just working on doing all my individual rookie races done so I could get my full competition license. Unfortunately I was only able to complete two full race days, which actually count, so I still need to work on that. Gonna be an interesting 2014.
Did you have to change anything going from TT (time trail) to ST (door to door)?
Umm yeah, the biggest changes were safety items in the car so I really didn’t have to change a lot of, really anything for rules other than safety cause the power to weight ratio rules and stuff like that were all the same.
So nothing mechanical wise, just safety stuff.
Exactly. I had to get an updated harness, I had to add either a new seat or a seat brace and I added a seat brace. Window net, fire suppression system. I had to change my roll cage a little bit cause it was uncompliant. But other than that…
The car is for sale, and all I heard was that you want something V8 and rwd for your next platform. But the car hasn’t sold…
The car has not sold, but I do have an interested person potentially … So we’ll see what happens with that, but if it doesn’t go through then I’ll continue to just race this car through next year. Hopefully work on making it more reliable, and be able to finish developing the car because I still don’t feel that I’ve been able to reach its full potential in its current state.
What were you going to be getting? If the Evo sold you’d be getting…
If the Evo sells, or sold, it’d be an S13 240 chassis with an LS1 V8. Pretty basic, reliable.
I don’t want this to happen, but I gotta ask: if last season’s events start to repeat (this year) will you just hang it up or will you keep trying to get out there?
I don’t know. That’s a really tough question honestly, because it’s been really difficult to keep going and I have so much passion for this sport that I really want to keep going. But at some point. I don’t know, something needs to change for me to keep being able to do it. If I keep having bad luck, or if there’s a really big problem then it’s going to be tough.
Hopefully you can get back out there! And I noticed something. When the car was orange you had the sock monkey hanging from the riser on the spoiler, and everything was kick ass. Then the next year you didn’t (have the sock monkey) and everything went wrong.
Can you have the sock monkey on the spoiler? Or…
Umm… I’m not sure because I got a lot of grief when it was on the spoiler previously, but they let it slide cause it was actually sewn on and they were afraid it was going to fall off and cause debris. But that was also before we moved into the NASA rule set, so they’re a lot more strict now. But maybe I can put it inside the car now.
Kinda like Mumphrey, with Ryan Gates and his Evo.
One extra horsepower!
Words by Michael Chandler. Photos by Michael Chandler, Trent Bray and Michael Wells.
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