The one-mile temporary street course at Exposition Park that was home Sunday to the fourth annual Ford Los Angeles Street Race was not kind to the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour cars in the 125-lap feature event.
Frequent downshifting and braking are required to negotiate the eight-turn course, and the race became a war of attrition for the 36 drivers competing.
Winner Craig Raudman of Bakersfield had to pit three times to bleed the brakes on his Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and he said he had to pump the brakes six or seven times on every corner.
Pole-sitter Greg Pursley of Newhall and M.K. Kanke of Granada Hills were not as fortunate as Raudman.
Pursley, who led the first 31 laps, was in third place on lap 91 when the car's brake pedal went to the floor in turn four. The car slid against the wall, breaking a linkage in the rear of the car.
Pursley's crew replaced the linkage but could not repair the brakes. He returned to competition and finished 11th, 10 laps behind the leader.
"We were talking about putting a heat shield over the [brake fluid] reservoir and master cylinder, and we didn't do it," said Pursley, who improved to fifth place in the point standings. "It's the mechanical stuff like that that kills you. You think you have it figured out, and you never do."
Kanke experienced brake failure while at the front, leading to contact with the wall. But he ended up parking the car after 82 laps, settling for 21st place rather than risk another accident.
"I was chasing [Jim] Inglebright and [the brakes] went to the floor," Kanke said. "I pumped them up until they locked up, so I actually got it stopped just before I hit."
Brake failure was not the only problem.
Frank Maronski Jr. of Quartz Hill stalled between turns seven and eight on lap 47 because of a broken shock absorber in the rear of the car. He returned to competition and completed 106 laps to finish 15th.
"Once again, the car was a bullet," Maronski said. "At the end there, it was a little bit of satisfaction to run with the leaders."
Bob Lyon of Agua Dulce, 10th in the points standings, collided with Jeff Hill of Hanford in the pits on lap 39 but went on to finish 13th.
Sean Woodside of Saugus benefited the most from perseverance, improving to third in the point standings with his 16th-place finish despite running the majority of the race with car problems.
The brakes on Woodside's car were squealing loud enough to be heard by spectators, and the rear end was clunking loudly. But Woodside completed 101 laps and his car was still running at the finish.
"We tried to stick another axle in it to try to make it lock up," said Woodside, who also experienced rear-end failure in practice Friday and Saturday. "We ended up out there with one-wheel drive waiting for people to crash, which they did."
Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills finished 10th.
Joanides, who totaled his car at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield in the last race of 1999, made his first start at the street race.
He is building a new car but purchased one of Pursley's back-up cars from Craig Keough of Las Vegas to compete in the street race.
"We've been building slowly all year," said Joanides, who finances his racing solely from working as a real estate appraiser. "We're just happy to be back. We'll end up with two cars, so we'll actually be in better shape."
For the first time in the three years the Southwest Tour has been part of the street race, Lyon's construction company did not participate in building the course.
According to Lyon, Intertex General Contractors got involved with helping L.A. Events build a racetrack through Lyon's participation in the Southwest Tour.
"We basically donated most of our services," Lyon said. "We did it because we wanted to help them out, help the race out and help the area out."
Maronski, like many of the drivers in the Southwest Tour, works at a regular job when he is not racing.
Because he is working at Nickelodeon Studios in Hollywood, Maronski did not have to take a day off Friday to participate in the first practice session. He took an extended lunch break that coincided with the scheduled practice times.