Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

This weekend VARA held its annual High Desert Challenge race at Willow Springs Int’l Raceway. The club had about 110 entrants that ran in five Groups, and while the skies were clear, the winds blew hard and cold on Saturday. Luckily Sunday was warm and calm, and the lap times improved across the board. Instead of the usual Two-hour Twilight Enduro, this year the club ran a Relay Race. Three teams of five cars competed against each other, with each car racing two laps. The ‘baton’ was a waving flag as one team member entered the hot pit signaling the release of the next team member. While the team’s composition was designed so that each team would have the same overall time, the finish wasn’t as close as expected. Personally I suspect some sandbagging and judge tampering ;-) The usual Saturday night camraderie followed as we made our trailer into a make-shift potluck dining hall to stay out of the cold.

The Wagon’s new owner competed in his rookie race weekend, earning his rookie stripes quite well. His lap times fell every session, he held his line when being passed, and suprised a few regulars with some good moves on the track. Congrats to Team Villata, and I’m happy to see the wagon went to the right home. The Crossle didn’t have quite as successful of a weekend. We ran fine until the Sunday’s points race, where during a good battle with Roy Jones in his Winkelmann, I started losing oil pressure and pulled off the track. Probably lost a crankshaft bearing or two, we’ll find out this week.

 

Sometimes a little two-wheel fun is needed to even out all the four-wheeled action. Besides you can’t go racing every weekend… This is the Cuddeback Lake dry lake bed in the Mojave desert after a good rain.

Last weekend I raced with VARA and SVRA-West at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, about 50 miles west of Las Vegas. The raceway is part of the Spring Mountain Resort and Country Club, home to four race tracks, condos with race garages, clubhouses, the Ron Fellows Official Corvette Driving School, with expansion underway for a lake, hotel, casino, etc, wow, what a facility! We raced on the 3 mile, 20 turn combo of the west and south tracks. Turnout was good at over 120 cars, while the Formula Ford group I ran in had 16 participants. I was pleased to run in fifth place most of the weekend, the Crossle ran great and the new seat made driving so much easier. The fast four guys have been racing against eachother for years and I’ve got a ways to go before I’m a worry to them ;-)

During Saturday afternoon’s race my Go-Pro camera case broke off from the rollbar mount at the hinge (in the future I will be using a tether). After the races were over for the day I went out for a track walk with a couple buddies and hunted for the carnage. The case, camera, camera back, battery, and SD card had all parted company and spread themselves over about a 30 square yard area on the outside of the Turn 5 hairpin. Amazingly, after reassembly, the camera still works! Unfortunately the footage ends about 10 seconds before the dismount, it must be the camera version of post-concussion memory loss. The camera case did its job, the camera has a couple nicks on it but the lens is scratch free.

Here is an awesome organization I just found out about – HP Heroes. They are a group of vintage racers who are building modified race cars for wounded combat veterans . They are located in West Virginia, and while they volunteer all their time, they are seeking sponsorships and donations. Hard to think of a better group to donate to.

So after much research into custom seats, I decided to go with the Motorsports Southwest EIS foam seat kit for my Crossle 40f. There are several options out there: custom formed seats can be made out of creafoam beads (like a motorcycle helmet liner), old-school A-B foam, or the new-school SFI certified foam that I chose. Personal seats can be made for you at a shop, or you can buy a kit and do it yourself. Pro builds cost $1500-$2500, while kits run about $300-$500. My DIY project took me two full half-days to complete, with day one requiring the assistance of my racing buddy Tim Arnett to help with the set-up and pouring, and then a couple long sessions of cutting and shaping to finish things up.

I purchased the XL kit with a Long seat bag, for reference I’m 6′, 175# and the seat goes from my knees to my helmet. I probably could have gotten away with the Lg kit and standard bag, but I’m glad I ordered the bigger kit as it gave me extra room for mistakes during my first-ever seat attempt.  The kit comes with a nomex cloth cover, but I will race my first weekend without it to make sure I’ve got the shape right. Since this is my first custom seat I don’t have anything to compare it to, but the MSSW kit was very complete, came with excellent instructions, and I’m pleased with the result.

Here are the required tools for shaping your foam seat, an electric carving knife (supplied in the MSSW kit) and a Surface Forming tool. Seen here is the additional piece that goes above the fuel tank and fills the gap behind my neck. I poured the seat with the bodywork off and with me not wearing my HANS and helmet so the foam would fill this area during the pour. I then cut off the top 3-4 inches of the seat in one piece with a hand saw so it could be easily removed for car fueling.

 

With the help of my fabricator Paul Moore, I now have a Laguna Seca compliant muffler system for the Crossle. I bought a used Burns Stage 2 muffler, and along with a nifty custom support bracket, I’m now ready to roar at 90db. The neighbors can’t even hear my late night tuning sessions anymore ;-)