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Paul Edwards was a classic “gas station mechanic.” His fingernails were permanently blackened by grease and his coveralls never stayed clean for more than two minutes on Saturday mornings. He had beenknocking around the professional circuit for ten years after dropping out of school at sixteen to follow drag racing. He lacked the sophisticated engineering training that was getting more common in racing, buthe did know racing engines.John had discussed the gasket problem with Paul two days ago. As he waited for Paul to come to the phone, he reflected on their previous conversation. Paul was a man of few words, and was not given to overstatement. “The way I see it, the turbo-pressure during warm-up -- in conjunction with the different expansion rates for the head and block -- is doing a number on us,” was about the extent of what he had tosay on the problem. It was his personal opinion on the cause of the engine failures and he would never represent it as anything else.It was the same story John had heard twenty times, but it did not match Tom’s data. “Paul we have chewed this over before. How do you know this is the problem? When we ran at Riverside the temperature was 75 degrees and we still lost the gasket and the engine.”“I am not sure what happened at Riverside,” Paul had replied. “I am not sure that temperature is the problem, but it is the only thing I can figure out. It is definitely the gaskets that are blowing out and causing the engine to go.”Part of Reagan Racing’s success was due to a unique turbo-charging system that Tom and John had developed. They had come up with a new head design that allowed them to get more turbo pressure to the engine while maintaining fuel consumption at a fairly constant level. By casting the head and turbo bodiesin a high-strength aircraft alloy, they had also saved almost fifty pounds of weight. The alloy they were using was not as temperature sensitive as the material in the engine block, but the rubber head gasket should be able to handle the different expansion rates.John could hear the sounds of race day in the background as Paul approached the phone. “Hello John,” he said, obviously excited. “The Goodstone coveralls just got here. We are talking some fine threads, and no sew-on patches from these guys. The logo on the back and our names are stitched right into the material. Iguess this means we get to keep ‘em. Course, I got some grease on mine already, so they probably won’t want ‘em back anyway.”“I’m glad you like them,” John said. “I need some information from you. What are we doing about the gasket failure business?”“The car is set to go. We have been using a different sealing procedure since Slippery Rock, and had no problems for two races. Tom says the Goodstone deal is set as long as we finish in the money today. The guys in the shop want this bad. Goodstone is a class act. They can make us the number one team on the circuit if they decide to take us on.”John had only ten minutes to make up his mind when he called Tom. There was one last thing he wanted to know. “Give me the temperatures for the races where we did not have any gasket problems.”“What do you need them for?”“Just call it idle curiosity. Do you have them?”
“Hold on.” Tom was organized, which counted for a lot at a time like this. “Okay, here we are. I am goingto give you the number of races at each temperature. Let’s see: One race at 66 degrees; three races at 67;