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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Club Racing needs a paradigm shift

Auto racing in general, began with two manufacturers pitting disparate designs against each other. As it became commercialized and "the show" was more important than validating a product, BOP adjustments became the norm. Amateurs dream about pro racing but never consider that it is fundamentally, a cost ineffective method of providing close competition. Club racers come and go as budgets briefly bloom then evaporate like the tire smoke they generate. We have to rethink the paradigm by building a series that borrows little from pro racing. The biggest and most painful step is removing the car from the equation. This means one platform, no nooks and crannies in the rules that reward spending wars. Carefully choosing a spec tire that is competitive right down to the cord. Points tables that reward consistency over a few wins. Those are the building blocks. The mortar, as it were, is the mission statement of supporting and coaching both new and experienced drivers from within the series. It should be about the drivers experience, not the fans, promoters or manufacturers. SRF is the largest club racing series in the US and follows this formula. Supermiata was created in the same vein. One single specification for all cars, easily met and monitored performance caps. Native coaching from the "leaders" or most experienced drivers in the series. Inverted grids, short races.Sponsored BBQ for drivers and crew with high quality catered food and beverages Saturday night. Racing now becomes less about the anxiety of the car's competitiveness and more about the excitement of expanding your knowledge under the wing of the pros and national champions running at the front. We're doing things a new way and if the growing field sizes and general buzz are any indication, it is what the drivers have always wanted. Looking forward to 2017 with two new classes and expansion to the east coast with WRL. See you in grid!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I am branded

Yes I am an asshole. That is because I stubbornly refuse to spoon feed those individuals that ask a question based on several layers of misconceptions and are insulted when I don't stop to either give them the answer they want to hear or take the time to explain why their question doesn't make any sense. For this, I am thus labeled.

   I have a choice to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time walking the customer through all the reasons they are asking the wrong question. To be blunt, we are not here for that. We make parts. They are good parts, priced fairly, shipped quickly and perform as advertised.  Got a simple question about one of our products? We'll handle it. Got a giant, open ended question based on years of misinformation and conjecture that we know won't actually help you to attempt to answer? We'll redirect you to our website, or a forum somewhere so you can do some additional research. We do this because it is not any company's obligation or responsibility to be your" best friend that knows a lot about cars".  It is a pragmatic choice, though not always a popular one.

  Got a  tech question entirely unrelated to anything we sell? We'll redirect. We will do this even if we know the answer. Why? Same reason as above.

  We could, simply answer every question ever posed to us  to the best of our knowledge, in perpetuity. In fact, I did this for the first few years of my current business.  After a few years, I realized I was the only one in our little niche industry doing so. I also realized it was costing me almost a day a week. That's expensive and something we could not afford. Some of those customers would eventually buy something, most would not. So I gradually learned to filter questions pertaining to our products from the general  "I'm clueless, impatient and it's your fault if I can't find an answer" inquiries. Thus the reaction from some individuals.

  Communicate with any large company with such a impossible or convoluted question. You will usually get a patronizing, canned answer that does nothing to help you. Now try to get the owner of the company on the line for a "straight" answer. What?  You mean that's not possible? If you could, there is pretty good chance they would also not have a satisfactory answer anyway.  

 I choose to educate, to be distinguished from spoon feeding by rote. An example might be a customer asking what our wheel offset is (published on our website) so they can make sure our 17" wheel fits the back of their Honda Civic. Giving them the simple two digit answer will not help them. It will instead, help them dig a deeper hole of mis-application. I know that. The fellow on the other end of the phone does not. When I suggest that the wheel we offer will not fit his car and that they do some additional research on Honda forums to see what other Civic owners are installing, I am met with righteous indignation. Sometimes quite colorful indignation. 10 minutes later I am branded on facebook and two forums. Why didn't I just take the fellows money? I know, I'm an idiot for trying to raise their awareness instead of taking their cash.

  We get contacted for info because we are experts, professionals in our field. This is what we do for a living and we are very good at it, just like your lawyer, doctor, psychiatrist or real estate agent.  Contrary to those professions however, we do not bear a recognized certification that makes it socially or commercially acceptable to charge for that professional advice. So like your friend that is a florist, we are expected to dispense free expert advice upon demand, in perpetuity.  For this, I am branded.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

SuperMiata aero

Some pics from Streets of Willow today. Testing the SuperMiata Cup Car spec aero wing and air dam.Balance is good, height is just right. Doesn't look to shabby either. 

OGK 2.0 engine

This is the engine we built for the OGK last year. Finally got it into a car. Making 182whp on CA91 with a rough tune. Still a few more things to adjust and test. Should make close to 200whp when we're done. Then we'll add a C30-94 Rotrex and aim for 400whp. Should be fun.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Daily driver gets a new heart

The 95R package we picked up for $750 two years ago finally got it's makeover. The goal was a clean looking daily driver that should pass emissions testing in every state. Current weight is about 2150lbs with a splash of fuel. 147whp on CA91.

We fitted Xida-S with 700/400 rates. RB 1.125" #54105 front sway bar. Rear is the OEM 12mm with urethane bushings for street, 14mm bar for track use. Prothane control arm and diff bushings, SuperMiata end links. Diff is the stock 4.1 type 1 Torsen.

Brakes are OEM Sport Brakes with our two piece rotors and XP10's up front, XP8's in back, stainless lines all around with Motul RBF600.

The car has an NB front subframe, spindles and depowered steering rack.

We blueprinted an NB2 motor with Supertech 11.0:1 83.5mm pistons that were shaved down to create 10.5:1 compression. Supertech valve springs, SCAT forged rods and ACL race bearings. The rest is 100% OEM parts. Head and bottom end is otherwise stock. 5W30 Amsoil. Magnaflow Metal core cat. Exhaust we built is a bit too loud so we're putting a Racing Beat midpipe and Powerflow muffler on it. ECU is a special Adaptronic 440 ECU configured just for this type of conversion. Thread on the ECU here http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=403239

  As an experiment, we initially built the car with an EUDM header and heatshield to retain a full OEM appearance and functionality. We also kept the OEM NA8 airbox and NB2 MAF. With all that OEM hardware and a cat, we squeaked out 126whp on CA91.

  Next we experimented with a few different intakes and settled on a K&N 60-6900 CARB legal kit. With that kit installed we made 147whp after wrapping the crossover pipe in thermal sheet and adding a Racing beat header. With the header, our CARB emissions compliance went out the window.

For now the car has no oil cooler but we'll add a very small Setrab with -10 push on hoses and Mocal thermostatic sandwich plate. Koyo 37mm radiator and Koyo cap with M-Tuned reroute.

6 speed trans running Amsoil MTG. Clutch is a clutchnet stage 2 for 1.6 (200mm), organic sprung hub. Lightweight 8.8 lb Cr-Mo flywheel. 15x9 6UL's on 225/454 RS3's running about 26psi. I painted the wheels Ford tungsten gray code T8.

Miscellaneous bits
Harnesses are G-Force 5 pt camlocks. Seats are OMP Grip with custom made fixed brackets. Bar is a Hard Dog HC DD. Wheel is a Momo 350mm mod 78, NRG 2.5 QR and Momo hub.

We added V8 Roadsters subframe braces for added torsional rigidity. We'll some E-Code 55/65 halogen lights so we can actually see where we are going once the sun goes down.

John did a partial wire tuck under the hood. The relay box and ECU are behind the pax airbag cover.

Driving it
  It's a blast! Amazing throttle response and torque way down low. The gearing and light flywheel let it zip through the gears like a kart. One can short shift at like 2500rpm and still keep way ahead of traffic from a light. In 6th gear at 45mph, it still has enough torque to squirt into spaces in traffic. The ride with the 700/400 Xida-S is very firm but not harsh at all. Feels a bit lumpy at very low speeds but smooths out and begins to glide once you start hammering it. Brakes feel amazing. Super sensitive, tons of power. The XP's dust quite a bit but that's typical of the XP's.

We took it to round 1 of the 2012 Miata Challenge at buttonwillow Sunday Jan 29th. Clocked a 2:02.813 which is almost 2s faster than the Spec Miata lap record, and we did it on "street" tires.Very happy to have a concept, piece it all together tune it and have it turn out even better than I envisioned. These cars just so much fun to play with.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2011 Thunderhill 25 hours - Winnage

  It's taken me a while, perhaps too long, to sort of assimilate the win and what it means to me. In a word; huge. Certainly my greatest motorsports accomplishment. I say "my" with the significant qualifier that we had a 20 person team that made it possible. It's traditional for a team owner to offer some thanks to the team, "job well done" and all that, after a big win. In this case, it's simple, the team held us together when the shit hit the fan. The team fixed stuff that they hadn't trained for. The team went far above and beyond to ensure we had the best chance of winning. We would not have won if our team had not been the walking talking action heroes they are. There are forum posts sprinkled around the web by team members recalling their stories so I won't even try to tell them all here. Here are at least a few brief insights into the level of commitment and admirable skill displayed by everyone:

Good to the last drop
 The two fuelers, Manny Rodriguez and Murat Guruz were scheduled to switch off roughly 6hr shifts fueling. Early in the race they figured out that they could knock 12~15s off our pit stops by doubling up and fueling together. So, entirely of their own accord, decided to stay up the entire 25 hours in order to increase our chances of winning. Those guys moved 3000 lbs of fuel into the spec 5gal jugs. Filled both cars all week and made about 28 flawless fuel stops during the race for both cars. Not a drop spilled. To see the guys at 3am in full fire retardant fueling gear, helmet on, visor down, sleeping under a blanket in the pit right next to the wall.. inspiring. None of us wanted to let them down.

Hell Hour
  Between about 12:30-1:30am, we had a successive rash of failures and mechanicals on both cars. For an hour our crew was literally sprinting from the pit back across the wall to the paddock spot to perform emergency repairs. Shouted commands, tools clanging, guys diving under cars, frantic calls for spare parts. That some of the mechanics were asleep when the cars came it added to the confusion. Just before the chaos, we at about the halfway point in the race with a unassailable 10 & 12 lap lead over P3. Killin' it pretty much.

  We had a wheel fall off of Enzo after the improperly installed wheel studs sheared off. This after an unscheduled stop for front pads. A few laps after that, Crusher had a big brake fade sending William off the top of T9 onto the hillside. As it turns out, there is an access road there. Good thing because by the time he got the car slowed down, he was about 200' from the track edge. The in car video shows him about 100' up on the hillside above the track. He crept along about 1/4 mile down to T11 to rejoin. A lap later the brakes failed completely, just before the pits. He managed not to stuff it into anything and limp into the pits brakeless. Crew jumping on the hood to stop it.

When the dust settled around 1:30, the two cars were back on track, running fast but about 11 laps down on P1. Crusher spent more time in the pits so Enzo inherited P2.

   Just after the frantic repairs and getting the cars back out, our team collectively had a short phase of well, dejection. It was easy to get discouraged. A big lead evaporated, confidence in our entire effort seriously shaken. Me and a few key members made an effort to rally the guys back on point. The reality was that we easily had enough time to regain the lead considering our pace and track position before the mechanicals. The somber air was short lived. Everyonne quickly realized we were very much still in the race for the win. From there on out we all had this unspoken feeling that we were just plain going to win it. As if the mechanicals were some sort of test we had passed. Are we worthy? Damn straight we are.

In the end, we finished 1-3 in class and 8th overall. What's blew us away was that we beat every other class except ES. Huge.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wet weather testing

Wet weather testing at Buttonwillow. Partial dry conditions here, dry line forming. Feeling out where the grip is. Open test day so no rescue on site. That means flipping it in the mud is not a great idea as it might be an hour or two before anyone digs you out. Thus, a wee bit tentative on the out lap. Also a brand new race car built for T25 so wadding it into a ball trying to be a rain meister on an empty track would be, ah embarrassing.