“Build it and they will come.” First, Utah gets the new Miller Motorsports Park, now Arizona gets the new Inde Motorsports Ranch. I sure hope this is a sign of good things to come, the SF Bay Area could always use another racetrack…
Archives for February 2010
The California Datsun community came through for me as I finally found the finishing jewel for my vintage Datsun race motor; a finned, cast aluminum racing oil pan. Design Products Racing is still making a very nice, steel comp pan for the 510 for about $600, but I was hunting for a cheaper, used one, and hopefully an old school looking aluminum one. This one has internal baffles and a windage tray. Special thanks to Steve Link for digging this one up for me.
Since I have cut out much of the inner skeleton from the wagon roof, there would definitely be some roofline flex under race conditions. And this would be further exaggerated by running a plastic windshield instead of a glass one. So I welded in a few braces between the rollcage and the A-pillars, and then between the main hoop and the roof itself. I’m taking a friend’s Lincoln SP-125 MIG for a test drive while I figure out what kind of welder I’m going to buy. So far I like it a lot.
I bought these fiberglass BRE style rear flares from Classic Datsun Motorsports. They cost a little bit more than other brands, but the quality and fit are definitely superior. Ya get what ya pay for… Since all the flares are designed for two-doors, you have to do a bit of work to get them to fit four-doors or wagons. I held them in place with a couple of pilot holes, trimmed off the forward edge below the door, then made the vertical cut so I can open the door with them on. I’ll trim them in when I get to the paint stage.
To make room for the flares, earlier I plasma cut the wheel arches to a larger radius. This left a gap between the inner and outer skin of the doors and fender wells that needed to be bridged. We welded a steel patch into the wheel well gap for some strength, but the welding left a little warpage on the fenders. So for the door gap I cut some aluminum patches and riveted them in.
Now that most of the fab work is done, it’s time to get ready for paint. Unfortunately that means stripping off all the suspension, steering, and brakes again. The good thing is that it makes you fix all the little problems discovered during the chassis fabrication phase of the project. Things like welding up cracks, replacing stripped out captives, and fixing broken hinges. This prep work will also entail a lot of wire wheeling, degreasing, sanding, and primering prior to the two-stage POR-15 Hardnose paint application on the underbody, engine compartment, and interior.
Do you think building your own race car and then trusting your life with it is kind of crazy? Then these guys are really crazy, they are the real extreme sport atheletes, the big wave surfers of Mavericks. Yesterday was the annual surf contest at Mavericks, a wave that takes special oceanic conditions to break about a half mile off shore of Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, California. Yesterday and today brought the 40+ foot waves to the cold, NorCal waters about a mile from my house. I sat in awe watching these guys drop in on waves bigger than a five story building. The acceleration and compression these guys experience has to be seen to be believed. Remember the wave in the background of this photo I shot is probably over a half mile away! Just the paddle out around the rock field is more than most mortals could handle…
VARA had its annual Driver’s School and Test & Tune at Buttonwillow Raceway this weekend. Attendance was particularly good considering the weather and the economy. We had almost 100 attendees, and dozens of club members attended as volunteers to help out. I spent the weekend as a “Wall Monkey” (aka driving instructor) and “Cone Boy” (aka track layout technician). The weather was cold and rainy, temps in the 40’s and 50’s, with intermittent rain showers Saturday and Sunday. The wet track is great for a driver’s school, it emphasizes car control and line adherence over outright speed. But after jumping in and out of a dozen cars, it also makes for some wet and cold feet. And for those racers willing to get wet, it gave them a great chance to get some practice in slick conditions. I had the opportunity to see some old racing buddies, make some new friends, and get some fresh motivation to finish my Wagon project.
For the past six months I have been in car guy’s heaven. I have been able to use my good friend Paul Moore’s fabrication shop to work on my Datsun Wagon race car project. I have had access to his lift, his welders, his tools, but most importantly, access to his talent and his tutelage. For this I am forever thankful.
His shop is getting full with customer cars, so it was time to get my wagon back home. The goon still has no drivetrain, so I had to figure a way to get it into my small garage which is fed by a short, steep driveway. I picked up a $70 DC powered winch at Harbor Freight that is designed for quads, and is optimistically rated at 3000#. After a couple minutes with the hammer drill to mount it to the garage floor, and stealing the battery out of my wife’s car to power it, the winch was ready for action. This winch has 35′ of steel cable and even comes with a wireless remote. It did the job of getting the wagon into the garage, but the 1 hp DC motor is pretty slow when loaded down. I’ll probably mount it on my trailer, and get an AC powered winch for the garage.