Flood Vehicle Repair

We’re in the process of attempting to repair a 2003 Mercedes E350 (211 chassis) flood vehicle. The vehicle is clean and doesn’t smell inside. The new owner bought the car at a super low price, but was unaware of what he was getting into. We see this a lot and if you’re not familiar with the electronics or the complexity of newer vehicles you need to get an expert opinion before purchasing a vehicle with any type of damage (water damage, accident damage, fire damage, etc . . .)

This vehicle ran and drove and appeared clean to the purchaser. We’ll repair some initial wiring and controller area network communication problems and then see what electrical components and gremlins need to be worked out after that. Here are some pictures of the main battery cable: it’s almost one inch thick and is completely corroded internally (turned the copper strands into copper oxide — a highly resistive white powder). I’ve also posted pictures of ground connections that need to be repaired and some C.A.N. connectors or bus bars that need to be replaced and the harness connectors cleaned or changed.


We have a Flood vehicle info page on our website.


          We had a 2007 Superformance GT40 (a recreation of the original GT40, made in South Africa) in our shop for service and a charging system problem.  It’s basically a street legal race car.  The alternator would have required about ten hours of labor to replace as this is a mid-engine vehicle with the alternator mounted against the firewall and down low by the driver’s side frame rail. We tested the alternator and found it to be working when the alternator regulator was bypassed. The regulator was easy to remove (two hours) and the alternator was fairly new, so we replaced just the regulator. The system is charging correctly and the customer is happy. Here are a few pictures of the car and the alternator location.








You can barely see the alternator, hidden under the headers and blocked by the frame from underneath





This view is from underneath the vehicle. There’s just enough room to test and replace the voltage regulator.



 This view is from beneath the car. There’s almost no room between the engine balancer and the frame.



Our A-Best forklift race team got together at our race shop and within a few hours had the car stripped and ready for repair. The chassis will need at least a new front clip and this needs to be installed on a special-made jig to ensure everything is in the exact location when the chassis is welded back together. Our Troyer chassis needs to be sent up to the North East for this to be done. We’re going to get the chassis back to New Smyrna speedway before speedweeks ends and one of the other racers or the chassis builder will get in up to the Northeast for us. Here are some more pictures of the crash damage. The chassis and other safety equipment on the vehicle worked perfectly in the crash and kept Jon from being injured.


front clip collapsed and bent upwards as designed

 most of the accessories on the front of the motor are damaged: $$$! The motor will need to be checked out for internal damage.

chassis designed to collapse and absorb energy to minimize possibility of driver injury

broken mechanical fuel pump with no fire!

broken transmission bell housing




I just returned home from Speedweeks 2009 at New Smyrna Speedway (much earlier than we had planned). Our A-Best Forklift team had tested our new NASCAR WHEELEN MODIFIED at Punta Gorda speedway on January 11, 2009. The car felt good but we did not have any benchmarks to compare it with and we only got two short practices.  We were there to race our Late Model, and the track does not have a class for the NASCAR tour type modifieds. Speedweeks would be a great opportunity to get some practice and race seat time behind the wheel of the new Modified car. We were a little disappointed that we only got another two 15 min practices with the car. Speedweeks has a very busy schedule and they put on a great show. The car felt good and our lap times were not far off from some of the top touring teams.
We were going to use the first 25 lap race on the first night of Speedweeks as another test and shakedown of the car. Jon qualified the car in 13th place with a respectable 17.44 second lap. The pole was a 16.9x ; there were about 5 cars that ran 17.40’s right with us and some respectable touring teams that were behind us. Jonny Kay (driver) insisted we were not trying to win the race and elected to the rear of the field at the start. These guys put on a great show and were so competitive that they tore some real good equipment up — usually for no apparent reason. We were trying to stay out of trouble and gain some experience but before we knew it we were in 5th place. We didn’t have great luck staying in the rear of the field as some of the drivers there were "off the pace" and driving inconstent lines so I talked John out of dropping back to the rear of the field again. The car was handling well and our lap times were consistent and respectable and we were "just coasting" and trying to stay out of trouble.
I guess when you are trying to stay out of trouble, trouble is probably trying to find you. With three laps to go in the 25 lap race we were going into turn one, at top speed just were the driver transitions from the accelerator to the brake when the car violently jumped to the left and then turned sharply to the right and impacted the wall head on. The accident was without question hard enough to cause serious injury to John but due to the safety features of the car and his Hans device, John was not injured (other than some next day soreness and major damage to his wallet). We hope the track video captured the accident so we can figure what went wrong, but we do know the car turned so violently it was not from driver error. The spotter for the 9NH car that was a car length or so behind us came over to me on the spotter’s tower and said something tubular flew out from under the car just before it spun. We haven’t yet found out what broke and may not be able to due to the extensive damage to the car. It may have been something on the track. We may never find out, but will try when we unload the car on Monday.
I hope my old friend Louis Mechalides from Tyngsboro Massachusetts does good the rest of the week at Speedweeks. It was good to see him again. I was planning on talking with him more but decided to head home after our accident. I will post more information and pictures later but here are some for now.  -> JASON ATHANAS owner / pres. Autobahn Performance Inc., crew chief of A-Best Forklift Team 48 Racing
All of the paved spots were taken. We had to buy plywood to put under the car so we could work on it. New Smyrna Speedway is a big place. This should give you an idea of how many racecars were here. 





 Louis Mechalides (40) and Johnny Kay (48) line up on pit road before race.





 After the wreck. There is a lot more damage than it appears.








Tour-Type Modifieds Qualifying Results
122Chuck Hossfeld16.973
259Matt Hirschman17.049
300Ted Christopher17.071
450Kevin Goodale17.125
509Bobby Grigas17.146
617Robbie Fuller17.302
773Jon McKennedy17.328
82XRyan Preece17.351
912Jimmy Blewett17.352
1029Kenny Horton17.365
1176Tim Zacharias17.376
1248Johnny Kay17.443
1358Eric Goodale17.459
1491John Jennson17.664
1540Louie Mechalides17.673
169Pete Jarvis17.674
172JR Bertuccio17.675
1889David Cranmer17.752
1996Butch Perry17.961
201Darwin Green19.054