I was sent this in-car video from last weeks race, taken from a Capri I was racing with. He initially passes me on the entry into the Sunset turn, but I get him on the exit (the ol’ Earnhardt crossover), but then he gets me for good as I screw up the entry into Star Mazda and drift way wide. Track map
Archives for September 2010
One of the projects I ran out of time to complete before the Race Wagon’s inaugural outing was getting my pedals set up. I had no accelerator pedal, just the rod hanging down, and it sure made heel-n-toeing pretty impossible. I also had no dead-foot pedal to support myself in the corners. Well today I got around to fixing these issues. Here’s the tools ya need (something to cut, shape, and attach the metal with) and the final result. I’ll have to wait to try them out and see if any further adjusting is necessary.
After a long race weekend, the Wagon deserved a little servicing. I put almost four hours of race pace on it, that must be equivalent to at least a few thousand freeway miles, so My Lil’ Red Wagon got the Platinum Service. Motor/trans/diff oils changed, catch cans emptied, steering/brakes/wheels/tires inspected, bolts checked all around (yep, I found a couple loose ones), cylinder head retorqued, spark plugs checked, valves adjusted, and a leak down test performed. The engine short block I bought from a fellow racer had one previous race weekend on it, and the top end is fresh, so I was hoping for some pretty good numbers. Using 100 psi for the test, cylinders 1 and 4 looked great at 2 and 3% leak down, while cylinders 2 and 3 tested at 5 and 6%. A little higher than expected, but certainly within limits. I’ll keep track of the numbers for several tests and look for any trends. I had one motor that actually got better for its first three weekends, before it plateaued and then slowly deteriorated. One advantage of the leak down test is being able to find out where the leak is occurring. If you hear the air hissing at the exhaust pipe, you’ve got an exhaust valve leaking. If its through the carb, the intake valve is leaking. And if you hear it through the crankcase breather line, the leak is around the piston rings. At this point, I’m hearing just a little bit at all three. (You can find this post-race service list on my Racing Checklists page). More leak down info here.
During the Saturday and Sunday afternoon races, the oil temp was running a bit warmer than I liked, so I’m working on some remedies. First, I opened up the air inlet for the oil cooler. I had placed the cooler behind the OE headlight opening thinking it might be sufficient at 4.5″ x 8.5″, or about 38 square inches. Now I’ve opened the hole up to about the size of the cooler, 5.5″ x 10″, which ends up being 30% larger. Amazing how much difference just an inch or two makes. then I added some deflectors to better channel the air into the cooler. We’ll check the difference out at a track day planned in a couple of weeks.
The racing gods must have figured out I deserved a great weekend after all the hard work and preparation on the Race Wagon, and who was I to argue. We went down to Buttonwillow Raceway for a Friday test day and got 5 half-hour test sessions in. No leaks, nothing fell off, started every time, I was ecstatic. The handling was very predictable, the power was excellent, and we got faster every session. One of my crew members, Tim Arnett of Arnett Engineering, took it out for a session and came back with some good suggestions and compliments of how nice it handled right out of the box. Paul Moore at The Moore Speed Co did a great job picking out coil spring and sway bar rates, I was expecting to have to test a couple different combos but I think we hit it on the first try.
Saturday and Sunday I ran with VARA for their annual Octoberfest race weekend. Saturday had an Open practice, a timed Group practice, and a Group qualifying race. I ran in Group 4 which was made up of the large four-cylinder classes, with cars like BMW 2002s, Porsche 914s, Volvos, Triumphs, MGBs, a Capri (!), and of course Datsun 510s. We had 35 cars running in Group 4, and Saturday I was running mid-pack. The weather was hot and clear, light winds, and it was great to be back at the track. I hadn’t taken a green flag in over two years, and I’d forgotten about the chaos of turn one: 35 cars trying to squeeze in the room for two, man I missed this stuff! And it was great to see a lot of my old racing friends at the bar-b-que hosted by VARA on Saturday night.
By Sunday I was getting my groove back, I was getting used to the stiff suspension on the wagon, and a couple adjustments were paying off. I had a good warm-up session in the morning, and was excited about Sunday’s Flag race. I started 14th in Group, had a few great battles, finished 7th overall, and 3rd in Class. And the best finishing touch – I drove it on the trailer to take it home!
Special thanks to my weekend pitcrew of Cuffy Crabbe and Tim Arnett. It sure makes a race weekend go a lot smoother having some good buddies there to help you out. It was fun having lots of people stop by the pits saying they love the wagon. Some asked “why?”, some appreciated the unusualness of it all, and some just shook their heads. I’m exhausted and the wallet is empty, but it was worth it. Can’t wait for the next track session…
With the wagon’s first track day coming up tommorow, the rush has been on to finish the final prep. Yesterday I had Lyle at Vinyl Styles in San Carlos, CA do the numbers and logos, he did a great job at a fair price. Today I finished up some tube flaring and nozzle installation on the fire suppression system, got the seat belts in, solved a brake issue, cleaned up some wiring, figured out a catch can system, etc etc etc. Put the goon on the trailer and I’m ready to finally test this beast out. I’m officially calling this build complete; just tuning and racing to go!
Today I put the Race Wagon on the dyno. I’ve done this with all my racecars, and can’t understand why so many people don’t take advantage of this service. Why spend thousands building a high performance motor and not spend the last couple hundred bucks tuning it. I worked with Rob from Z Car Garage, he has a nice, clean shop in San Jose that services the South Bay Area Z community. We did nine runs over two hours, trying different jet sizes on my Mikuni carbs and different ignition timing settings. We gained 14 hp and 18 lbs of torque, well worth the time and money. Final figures at the rear wheel: 164 hp at 6000 rpm and 156 lbs at 4700 rpm. Using the recognized conversion factor for parasitic loss on a rear wheel drive car with manual transmission of 15-20%, that makes it almost 190 hp and 180 lbs at the flywheel. Not bad for a race prepped, 10:1 compression ratio L20b motor…