As the team got ready for another pull the phone rang and Rado was informed that the neighbors were complaining about the noise (What's the problem? It was only 2:30 a.m.) and they had to shut the dyno down for the night. Bummer!
Rado reserved Maple Grove Raceway track for the next day, so the team decided to resume testing on the quarter-mile dyno. As luck would have it, the team had a late start to the day and it was well into the afternoon before the Celica was lined up to make it's first pass down the quarter-mile. Wanting to make sure that the radical chassis was going to steer straight and not produce any unexpected maneuvers, Rado elected not to do a burnout. "I really just wanted to get a feel for the car and make sure that the transmission works as it should," he explained. "When I launched, it felt good and then I tried to engage second gear and nothing happened. I tried to get second several times with the same result and finally just rolled down the track." The problem was quickly diagnosed back in the pits. The compressed air bottle that supplies the Lenco was not turned on! A simple mistake that will never happen again thanks to a harsh lesson on the maiden pass.
Another problem was evident when the crew spoke to Rado after the run. Rado could not see were he was going. The one-piece front-end needed to be modified to increase driver visibility. With no time to carry out the modifications the team decided to make the next pass without the front-end.
Once again the car was started and staged without a burnout. Rado launched the car gently and to the sound of a collective sigh of relief from the crew, second gear engaged perfectly. As Rado eased into the power the cold tires spun like crazy and he shifted into third. The tires again went up in smoke as the 3RZ got into boost. The run was aborted and the team decided to make a few checks on the car.
An inspection of the cams revealed a major problem that would end proceedings for the day. One of the cast cams had snapped! "We have billet cams on order but they didn't arrive in time," Norwood explained. "With the extreme spring pressures we are running, the cast cams were a little over-stressed. We will get the new cams ASAP and be testing again at the earliest opportunity. It's not a major problem."
So, the car's first live action was not quite what the NORAD crew expected but it did provide one or two valuable lessons. Although we have reached the end of our series of stories we will still be keeping a close eye on the testing of the NORAD Celica and will update you on a regular basis.
This has been a long, hard road for Rado, Norwood and the rest of the team. With the major work now finished the crew at Norwood's are planning to start on more interesting projects including a 3RZ-powered Modified class Celica and a Scion tC being constructed to compete in the '05 National championships. The tC will also be powered by the mighty 3RZ and will feature a bulletproof Powerglide-based automatic transmission.
The NORAD Pro FWD Celica will be ready to race in the next few weeks but the team are going to treat the remainder of the 2004 season as an opportunity to test in preparation for a championship effort in '05 when the car will be re-bodied as a Scion tC.
Final words go to Norwood, "I wish I could say I was going to take a few weeks off and relax but I simply haven't got time. We have new projects waiting to start and we are going to be hard at work getting ready for '05.
One thing is for sure. The 2005 season will be a great year for the sport and I hope that NORAD will be right in the thick of the action."