With Tracey gone from the workshop Danny and Rick spent the next hour working on replicating the errors Rick had found. Through the data recorded by the car during the race and the data already stored on the computers at the workshop they were able to simulate racing conditions of both the last race and their track testing days. They were also able to physically stress test the suspension components that Rick suspected were causing the issues.
Generally when it came to failing parts once they were proven to be the problem the offending items were just pulled out and replaced. Failing parts were often dismantled and tested on a work bench by other members of the team to see what went wrong, kind of like a crash investigation team trying to find out what happened in a road accident, but rarely was it up to the driver and lead technician to analyse parts so closely.
Both Danny and Rick, and probably the majority of the team, knew why the suspension issues were being so closely scrutinised and checked by Rick, why he was testing the car so thoroughly and why he was dismantling the car and leaving no stone unturned to find the issue, it was personal. Rick’s family owned the business that had been supplying the team with suspension components for the last five years. They’d built the business on the back of supplying tough, race ready suspension to a quarter of the race teams on the Touring car circuit and while one failure wouldn’t mean an end to that business it was still PR that the business could do without. Rick finding the problem and a solution could alleviate and bad press and help his family fix the problem early before it grew.
By lunch time Rick had the offended suspension components out of the car and on the work bench, by afternoon smoko with the suspension broken down as far he could get it he had found the problem and what was causing it. Then by knock off time, just before 5pm he’d removed the suspension from the opposite side of the car, dismantled it and realised exactly where the flaw was and how it could be fixed.
“It’s a two fold issue.” Rick said to Danny as they cleaned up for the day.
Danny had been required to spend the afternoon doing media interviews and team PR so he hadn’t had a chance to catch up on the news or where Rick had got to with the suspension.
“But it can be fixed?” Danny asked.
“Yeah of course.” Pointing to the large computer monitor in front of him Rick started explaining what he’d found. “The tension of this bolt is bloody crucial to the way everything else acts. You’d never think it from looking at it but if the darn bolt is too tight the stress put on the suspension is unbelievable.”
“But shouldn’t all four of those bolts be at the same tension?” Danny asked referring to the mounting bolt for the suspension on each corner of the car.
Rick agreed but suggested it may not always be the case because it was one of the few components on the entire car that didn’t have an exact tension setting, it had a recommended range. Rick then went on to explain how the the lower steering arm, when shunted but not bent as it had been when Fittzy ran Danny into the wall worked against the bolt and caused the smallest movements which in turned effected the way the suspension rebounded.
With the racing cars being the precision items they are Danny knew the movements Rick was talking about only have to be fractions of millimetres to cause problems. He also knew that it was that movement he was feeling in the steering that couldn’t be detected with the naked eye when the technicians were under the car in the pits. It was only a keen eye looking for the right things that even noticed such a tiny problem on the computer data.
“So Fittzy did us a favour pushing us into the wall?” Danny said figuring the issue could have remained undetected and dormant in the car without the shunt.
“Well yeah, I guess he did in some ways, but it’s still a shit of a favour.” Rick replied.
“Fittzy is a shit of a bloke!” Both men laughed. “Have you spoken to your dad about this?”
“Yeah, he’s got his guys looking into it. He’s taking it all seriously and he’s bringing a few boys around here tomorrow to look at all the data but he’s not convinced it’s a serious issue. He was only thinking out aloud until he gets all the data we’ve got here but he’s actually thinking that the most that needs to be done is to reduce the suggested tolerance in the bolt tension. He doesn’t think the problem will replicate itself in every car.”
“Well that’s good news, with a bit of luck he’s right.” Danny replied hopefully.
“Looks like it’s pub o’clock!” Rick stated looking at the clock on the wall that indicated it was seven minutes past five.
“Yep, it’s not 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s 5 o’clock here.” Said Danny making reference to the Alan Jackson song.
“Do you want to hit the ‘Barrow?” Rick asked inviting Danny for a few after work beers.
“Yeah, but I better not. As you heard Tracey is going to be at home and if I don’t get this fucking talk she wants to have out of the way it’s just going to hang around.”
“What do you think she wants to say?”
“Buggered if I know. What can she say? She’s the one who walked out and left me for three months.”
“What are you going to do?” Rick ask wondering if Danny even had an answer.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you want to happen?”
Danny just shrugged his shoulder and said nothing. Rick’s question was one Danny had asked himself many times but despite that he still didn’t have a definitive answer.
On the short trip home a thousand thoughts went through Danny’s mind, the race car was of course mixed in with those thoughts, as was whether going to the pub with Rick was a better option than going home but the majority of the thoughts were about Tracey. Did he really want her back? Could he trust that she wouldn’t up and leave again? Would she explain why she was gone? Was there any excuse that he could forgive? Did he love her? The problem was that while he didn’t have the answers to all the questions he knew the answer to the last one was yes!
Pulling into the garage Danny knew Tracey was at home because her car was beside where he parked his dual cab ute. Walking between the garage and the house he kept telling himself that he wasn’t going to lose his cool, wasn’t going to raise his voice, if Tracey was willing to talk he was going to do his best to keep the conversation calm and relaxed. He’d been working hard on his anger issues and while he still loved his wife and her temper could reign supreme he couldn’t let his do the same.
Danny stepped in through the kitchen and dining room door, he didn’t know where Tracey would be but it obviously wasn’t there. Saying nothing he dropped his keys and his wallet on the bench and walked towards the living room where he figured Tracey would be watching TV. As he stepped into the living room and was jolted back to reality as he realised how wrong he was.
Naked as the day she was born Tracey grabbed Danny, threw him onto the couch and jumped on top of him.
Previous Racing story here.