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Monday, December 14, 2009

Homestead TTE record lap onboard video

Went to PRI tradeshow in Orlando last Friday. Customer and friend, Josh Feingold offered (insisted) to let me drive his Miata in a NASA time trial the next day at Homestead Infield Road Course. Being a car whore that I am, I duly accepted. The result was a new lap record of 1:46.815, 1.5 sec faster than the previous record. A good weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

First race, and some drifting

Did the first wheel to wheel race with ARC June 6-7 at Buttonwillow #1 CCW. Killed the trans the week before. Let the car sit all week, remembered Friday (one day before the race) that it still needed a trans swap. Panic! So I stayed late swapping the trans, got it together in the wee hours of morning, slept for like 9 minutes and head up to Buttonwillow. ARC is the wheel to wheel segment of www.NCRC.org. Its "gentleman's racing" so no contact, no real classing, simple tech. Just a fun, low key way to get in and dice with other cars, gain experience and shakedown the car. Practice, qualifying, two races each day

Saturday June 6

Helping Aaron sort out his brand new S2000 and coach his rental customer on car set up a bit. Minor problem with EDFC install had the damping settings different side to side which led to some quirky handling. Client takes the car out with the warning to not go full out, lest he toss the car off due to the quirky, as yet to be sorted handling. He responds by chucking the car off at the esses going about 100 and tearing a corner off. While he's doing this I'm in the main building downloading the destructions for the Tein EDFC. I stroll out, lap top under my arm and hear over the PA "5 minutes remaining in qualifying". Oops. That would be
my qualifying session. Dash to the car, sorta fasten the harnesses and dash out to the hot pit, get onto the track just in time to get a grand total of one practice/qualifying lap before the checkered. Hadn't run that config in about 18 months so I was just a bit lost. damn! Managed to qualify 6th out of 13 cars on a set of A6's I keep just for such shenanigans.

Roll back into pits to see steam escaping from hood. In that one lap I got a pinhole leak in the rad from some gravel off a passing Viper. 1:30 to race #1 start. I scurry over to 7's only to get some fast setting JB weld for a professional repair. Closed. 1:15 to start. Jet back to truck, unhook, drive 100mph to truck stop at the town of Buttonwillow 11 miles away. Buy anything that looks like it has anything to do with plugging holes in radiators. :50 to race start. 100mph back to track where a a few of the rapidly growing crew of Jennings Engineering pitted next to me jump in and help fix it. JB stuck on, rad empty, I jump in the car. "Last call for pre-grid" over the PA. Rad topped off, fire it up and try not to speed through the pits. Make it to pre-grid just as P1 is rolling out. Pause, Theo runs over and pokes his head into the nose. Head pops back up, with a grin and thumbs up. Looks like we're racing.

Good start. Get past a supercharged Lotus Exige Cup car. Race goes well until about 5 laps in. Shifting up to 5th the clutch pedal goes to the floor and I'm clutchless. I fumble through two shifts trying to shift without it and succeed only in making a lot of expensive noises. None of which are particularly welcome considering I put a new trans in about 12 hrs prior. While I'm trying to prove to myself that syncros are for sissies, the Lotus is rapidly eating into my gap. Knowing that all the parts of the track where I make up time are done in 5th, I nurse into 5th one last time and commence to figuring out a new line for 5th gear only. For about two laps the Lotus ekes closer, now looming in my mirrors in the braking zone for Sunset. After a bit I start to figure out a line that works for my limping Miata and start to claw open up a gap again.

Lotus guys stops by to say hi after the race. I tell him I had a heck of time keeping him at bay with only 5th gear. He looks a bit disappointed .

Confirming my suspicion, I find the clutch slave cylinder missing one of its two bolts. Borrow a bolt off Gordon Jennings coil bracket and I'm back in business. Race #2 is great. Good start, passed one car and ran steady. 4th I think.

Sunday June 7

After Aaron's beautiful Mango S2000 was crippled, he was left without anything to drive. Feeling a bit sorry for him, the irrational part of my brain said I should let him drive the OGK in race 1. As racing is inherently irrational, I felt this was the correct decision. He qualified well, had a good battle with Gordon early on and almost hunted down a Viper towards the end. Went off Sunset with bending it and only lost about 3 seconds. Good stuff.

Race #2 was a pretty intense battle with Tony Colicchio in his roofless beater Miata. Video of Race #2. He had put a fresh set of R430 Goodyear cantilevers in the morning. That just about made up for the 15-20whp I had on him. What made it more challenging was the "driver" in the 700hp GT1 Corvette that had hsi hands full blocking two 140whp Miatas for the entire race. When confrontedafter the race his reply was "My transmission costs more than your whole car and I shouldn't even be racing with you. I don't have to let you pass". Alrighty then.

ARC Race 2, 06-06-09 Buttonwillow from 949 Racing on Vimeo.

ARC race 2 06-07-09 Buttonwillow from 949 Racing on Vimeo.

Next comes the JDM option drift practice event and D1 scouting invitational at El Toro June 20th. Lent my car to a driver I sponsor, Charles Ng, in hopes that he would be one of the 3 drivers that would be invited to a D1 qualifying event. It's not easy to get invited and is a big step in his driving career. Well he made it. Managing to connect the high speed course in the little underpowered OGK with manual steering. Hes a hugely talented guy and I think he'll go far.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lap records

Last week I finally took the OGK to Buttonwillow again for another crack at the 2:00 minute mark. Got it done, 1:58.989. As far as I know, no one has gone faster on BW 13 CW config in a normally aspirated Miata.

In car video from the slightly out of control record lap

Monday, April 13, 2009


Oh My God. I love Thunderhill. I mean, deep spiritual connection with a kindred spirit. Whomever is responsible for it's layout, I want to buy you a beer. Now I see what everyone rave about. Some say Infineon is better but I think driving wise they're equally challenging, Thunderhill with more gut-check high speed turns and is leagues safer than Infineon. So in my book, no comparison. Thunderhill is the best overall driver's track in California.

So anyway, you all want to read about the car and update have been scant. Well I've been missing a lot of sleep, driving way too much, working to many hours and still really don't have time to make an entry, but I feel guilty so here's the latest..

Rattle canned the cage in flat black after install. First time at the track and it works! No reflections on the windshield whatsoever. Great video too. The Momo seats while being quite snug, also keep me from splaying my gangly legs apart to clear the steering column. So my knees were hitting the key among other things. Stripped everything down to the bare column, dug the little plastic ignition switch out from behind the heavy die cast key cylinder and zip tied it to the dash bar. The key was now useless so I fashioned a "key" out of a little stamped steel chrome flat wrench, ground it down and used some fine stainless cable to hold it in the socket. Works like a charm and shaved about 4 lbs. Bets of all I have plenty of knee room and was able to move the wheel towards teh windshield with my adjustable steering hub spacer. The company that makes my forged lugs also makes these things. Looks like a coilover adjuster. Very handy.

Gauges don't work, except the fuel gauge which does work. Something in the harness I no doubt screwed up when removing the dash. have to get in there with a VOM when I get a chance. Be nice to have a tach.

The Tubular subframe was a piece of cake to put in. I'm in love with it. So much room to work around and really easy to attach things to like undertrays, oil cooler hoses, remote reservoirs for the dampers, what have you. Bunches easier to do trans/clutch swaps now too.

Which brings me to the 7.25" twin plate clutch we're developing. The engineers gave me a set of organic discs to test and the experimental bonding adhesive didn't work. So out it came and the sintered ceramic-metallic discs went it. The ceramic discs weigh about 1.1lbs more the pair than the organics. Boo. Anyway, the clutch is just fantastic. Despite having no mass and be able to speed shift it now, I can still creep it up into the enclosed trailer at a snails pace. Magic. The organics for the briefe period I had them in were even easier to modulate. In teh video's attached, you can hear how quickly it revs now. Like some kind of built race motor and it's just a junkyard bottom end with a little (very little) head work.

When we took it to Laguna Seca for the Miata 20th anniversary celebration, I didn't get the suspension assembled right so I wasn't able to run. I did do about 10 laps kinda limping around while trying to diagnose the problem and manage about a 1:43 anyway though.

Next outing for the new build was Streets Of Willow (CW) on Friday, April 10th. First time I realy got a chance to beat on the car for a full session and see how the new XIDA's handle the bumps at SOW. It's probably the best track for suspension testing beside Buttonwillow because its so bumpy. The short version of the verdict: smooth! Iwas expecting a harder, choppier ride but it was a bunch smoother than the revalved Flex's and Mono Flex's I'm used to. Kind of undramatic actually. No fuss, no extra motion, just rocketing over stuff that would have any other Miata I've ever driven bouncing, skittereing or needing steering corrections. I played around with damper settings but it felt good no matter what I did. I tried to make it pump upest the car by cranking in way too much compression damping but it was still fast, just harder to drive smoothly. Turn the comp adjusters back a few clicks and it was faster, and easier to drive. On smoother track like Thunderhill and Laguna Seca, one could definitely take advantage of that stiffer range without penalty.

Next on the list of thinsg to evaluate was the OS Giken differential. I wsih I could say that I could tell it was working but much like the XIDA's, it was really transparent. No sudden locking, no noise, no jerkiness no nothing. You turn in off throttle and the car rotates just like Torsen. Trail brake and you get much less, or no inside rear locking. Stomp the throttle on a slow, bumpy or off camber turn and you get no wheel spin. That's not a little wheel spin. No wheelspin. Anywhere. The main thing I noticed is that I could get on the power way, way earlier than I copuld with the Torsen I ran for most of last year or the 140in/lb preloaded FC RX7 diff I ran for the last 8 months. It's almost like having a lot less power. I mean, you can jump on the throttle in places that would have just spat you sideways with the torsen or RX7 diff. Now it's just feed power in , the rear squats down without changing the attitude of the car and it just rails around the turn.

Pulled the 15/16?" FM front bar I had been using and fitted a 1.125" Racing Beat (94-97 thinwall). With that and teh giant APR GT-II twin element wing, I had a turn in push all day. A bit tight coming off but managaeable. Anyway, s
et the new absolute SOW CW lap record for Miatas, 1:24.128

Left SOW early. Just as I was pulling out, a 997 pulled into the pits with coolant steam pourig out of the engine bay. Little did I know that about 20 seconds later 4 separate cars went off the chicane at high speed after hitting the coolant spill. One fellow totaling his beautiful S2000 and banging himself up pretty bad. No one was seriously injured, thank goodness.

I woked through the night the Thursday before SOW to prep the car so I was operating on virtually no sleep. Rolled out about 2:00and headed north on the long ass drive to Thunderhill. It's like, in another country, I swear. Had to stop for three power naps. Got in a midnight. Blessed sleep. Going to bed thinking, "this track better be good".

So Sonny, Andrew, Nick and myself all had a blast tearing around Thunderhill on Saturday. I knew I needed to free up the car to get it to go fast in the high speed stuff so I put the smaler FM front sway bar back on. In my haste to get it back together and on the track, I forgot to reset the toe after adding some 3/16"rack shims (bumpsteer). So I had like 3/4" toe out or something horrific. Came in after one session scratching my head "why is the steering so rubbery, why are the insides of both front tires so freakin hot and why is it still pushing like mad?". So I'm standing there in the pits staring at it when I notice the right front is steering of towards Nevada while the steering wheel and left front are headed to Hawaii. This might be the problem. doh.

Fixed that, removed the second element of the wing, went back out and magic. It rotates! Pretty much left it like that for the rest of the day, just fine tuning pressures and compression settings on the dampers. Late in the day while I was stepping up to proper entry speed for T9, I locked up the rears and went off. No harm done, rolled back to the hot pit, took one full turn of rear brake out of the proportioning valve and that did the trick.

Well, that's it for now. It's 12:17 am. Dammit. Worked past midnight again..

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Just a quick note. Will fill in all the new stuff when I get back from SOW and Thunderhill this weekend. Miata Challenge!

Finally got the engine in the OGK dyno'd at Church's in Wilmington. Made 158whp, 142tq.

Big dip at 3000 is definitely my funky intake pipe. I plan on going back when I have some time and taking a big box of intake pipes. Ended up with cam timing of I +2/E 0. (crank degrees).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cage in

Picked the OGK up from Drew's Saturday. Dropped of William's NB for the same treatment. William's car has the Kraftwerks Rotrex supercharger. To get my helmet as far below the main hoop as possible, we notched the hard top where it contacted in the corners. Then we laid the seat back to about 25°. Tested a medium gray paint on a section of the cage but it's still too shiny. I can see the reflection in the dash. I love the way a semi gloss white interior and cage looks but can't stand the reflections. Driven gutted and caged cars with white interiors and it's damned annoying. Trying to use as light a color as possible to make working on the car easier and maybe make it a tad cooler, but I don't want reflections inside the windshield. Probably end up with flat black or at least charcoal.

Now I have about 3 weeks to get everything done before Miatas at MRLS
  • Paint cage & interior
  • Make tripod mount for steering column and gauge cluster off of cage and trans tunnel
  • Install and set up prototype XIDA double adjustable coilovers
  • Install V8 Roadsters subframe I got like 3 months ago!
  • Install Energy Suspension bushings all around
  • Assemble engine
  • Install engine
  • Dyno engine
  • Re-do body wrap with revised graphics
No problem.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More cage pics

Wen't by Drew's today to get the seat fitting and driver position just right. He's putting the harness bar exactly at the height it need to be for me. The main hoop is being located aorudn the Momo seat and my position. Custom is good :)

Squatting on the bare floor of the car while we pushed it into Drew's driveway. Am I going fast yet?
Forgot my camera so I just took a quick cel phone snapshot of one of the main hoop foot boxes. The tiny bit around the belt anchor will get welded in so the anchor is permanent. Otherwise you compromise the integrity of the box and have a built in failure point.

The rear seat bracket mount bosses on the tub have been removed. This will allow me to put the Momo seat right on the floor. Drew will mount the front using the side mount bosses on the seat and a custom bracket that bolts to the stock bracket location in the tub. The rear will have no mount, just resting on the floow with a high density rubber pad, probably a strip of tire sidewall. the seat back will get a brace that's bolted to the harness bar. The FIA seat is quite burly so it should be rock solid.

I'm laying the seat back quite a bit to get my 6-3" frame well under the main hoop. Hard to tell exactly but probably like 25° We have also put little notches in the corner of the roof to raise the main hoop until it's right up against the center of the top. As it sits, my bare head is 3" below the main hoop, my knees don't hit the steering wheel and my helmet won't be resting against the bar that goes from the main hoop to the A pillar. Mission accomplished. Well, not yet.. Mission planned. We'll see when we get everything welded and bolted in.

We're going to try to put a heim joint at the rear of the window net shaft. Much easier to just pull it up and click it in rather than unbelting and trying to see around the wings or having a crew member wrestle with it. This way the driver can actually do it just with belts loosened. Nice for track days when I'm solo.

We're moving the battery cut-off switch inboard so it won't interfere with the passenger harnesses. Still an easy reach for a worker and also for me from the driver's seat. It'll be right next to where the I/O port camera mount should go.

Monday, January 26, 2009

OGK gets caged

First off, apologies for taking so damn long to add an update.

Last installment was from Buttonwillow where we broke a throttle shaft. I fitted another but toook the precaution of brazing the plate to the shaft. What I didn't do was braze both sides. That, as it turns out, was a mistake. So an few events later and I'm at Calif, excuse me, AAA Speedway in Fontucky, blazing down the front straight at about 120 when the throttle once again sticks open as I shift into 6th. Instantly shut it down and coast in. I already know what's wrong with it. Turns out you can still break the shaft even when it's brazed on one side. Upon tear down I realized that once again the screw had broken in half with head stuck to the brazing but the threaded portion sucked into the engine. Crossing my fingers I pulled the top of the BP4W manifold (two piece) and very gingerly dropped a magnet wand into each runner. #3 had a tiny little camper, the 2.5m shank of the throttle plate screw. My engine was safe, or so I thought.

So I get yet another TB but this time JB weld both sides in an attempt to keep any detritus from going astray. I install, fire it up and notice some wristpin noise. Lota wristpin noise. Dammit. Maybe running 7400 down the half mile front straight at AAA all day wasn't such a hot idea. So I went back to Buttonwillow a few weeks later to finish it off, which I did at the end of the last session of the day. Seized up tight just as I wound out 5th leaving the esses. :(

Ryal Greenwood at British Car Service in Tucson has made a custom TB for he calls Throttle Zilla. He pulls the OEM 9mm shaft out, bores the TB and installs a very nicely machined 14mm shaft in there, mills one face so it has .5mm less cross section and voila! I'm testing it for him as I know now that shafts only last about two events in my motors. We're also investigating the feasibility of a single barrel type throttle body that will bolt to the stock manifold and the manifold we're working on.

So the OGK now needs a motor. I have a fresh VVT head and 01-05 bottom end in the shop I can mate for a replacement. Good time to work on adapting the VVT head and control systems into the NA6 harness. I'll be using a proprietary ECU with a custom harness. If I can come up with a reasonably priced harness that I can serial produce, I'll offer that as a kit to the public.

While the motor is out, I'll get the Miatacage installed by Drew Staveley
Yes, the same Drew Stavely from Setup. Turns out he can weld and drive, my kinda guy.

Seats going in are Momo Daytonas. 20.3 lbs, Halo, $600 ea on closeout and FIA approved. Oh and they fit. So when everything is in it should finally look something like a race car inside and be about 1000% safer.

Along way we'll be adding the Energy Suspension bushings, OS Giken limited slip and finally, the V8 Roadsters subframe. We added a dual plane APR aluminum wing for Buttonwillow and wow did it make a difference. Going 90 through Riverside in the rain was not something I would have thought possible. The event before that we added an ISC Racing front airdam and as expected the car was a tad loose with it. Adding the wing made the car tight, totally overpowering the front downforce provided by the air dam. What's crazy is even at zero angle of attack, I could feel the wing making the car stick better as low as 60mph. Amazing.

The wing is made up of parts from three different models and the minimum rake was like 10°. So I drilled new holes for the stanchions, put some nutserts in and moved the stanchions wider while I was at it. It's mounted to the body outside of the trunk. No way the flimsy FRP trunklid would withstand the pressure without a bulky support structure underneath. Not being a fan of redundant structure, I elected to mount it directly to the body to save the weight. It's now rock solid and easily supports me bouncing up and down with my entire body weight in the middle of the wing and I have zero added support structure. Perfect. The downside is I can only open the trunk about 10". Oh well, it is a racecar.

So now it needs more front downforce. We'll add a 3" splitter thats sorta squared off on the outside corners. On those corners we'll add dive plane (canards) to help keep air off the front tires. Hopefully that'll balance the car out.

That's it for now. Dinner is waiting...