Despite the E30’s current engine problems (significantly down on power), Robby and I decided to press forward designing and fabricating the roll cage. One of the struggles of working in Robby’s shop is that he lives so far from supply shops that if you make a mistake, it can cost you a whole day of travel. Well, after traveling half a day to Lakewood and back, buying the the only piece of 1.5″ x 0.12″ DOM they had, our first hoop turned out too narrow because of an input error into the bend calculation software we were using.
The next day we drove all the way to Centralia to get another piece (this time 24′ in length, so there was enough extra for a whole hoop). This time things went much better, even though the bend calculator gave us the wrong cut length. Here’s a quick video of the bend preparation and the final product, which we’ll mount up on thick plates and a box.
Here is the video of all 4 of my runs from yesterday’s event. The video was taken with my iPhone 4 (so 720p is available). I’m going to get a shorter mount hopefully, so it will be more stable. But other than the shaking from the mount, I was very pleased with the footage.
Fast forward to the last run if you want to see my fastest run.
So, the race is over, our final result was 79th place (out of 106). The result isn’t very impressive, I know. But, at the very least, we finished the race. Which is especially good when you consider all the mechanical woes we had.
While our team captain, Richie, was completing the team’s 3rd lap, he spun on fairly mild corner. We all headed over to the penalty box to see what our punishment was, we all berated Richie and helped him with the punishment. Just as we finished writing “It’s too early in the morning for this shit” 100 times on the car, Rich noticed there was oil all over the front-passenger-side wheel. We pulled the car back into the pits and realized we didn’t have much of a choice other than replacing the main seals and the oil pan gasket. Almost 5 hours worth of work, luckily one of the local auto part stores had a main seal. After the work was done, we were then worried mostly about people getting seat time at all (in case the car didn’t make it), we rotated out drivers after 3 laps. After that, we did some longer rotations (still short) and then let Richie finish out the day.
Day 2 started with me putting the front air-damn back on after Richie broke it on Saturday when he lowered it onto the jack. That lip didn’t even make it through the first session as Rich spun the car coming down turn 5. This broke the air dam off again and tore the passenger-side-front tire off the wheel bead. We brought the car into the pits and did a fairly quick tire change (I was impressed considering how out of place everything was). Rich finished his hour stint, then it was John’s turn.
John’s hour went by without issue; then it was my turn. I went for just over 30 minutes before I tried a new line at turn 5 and spun it. I came in for my black flag and accepted the punishment having a steel cutout of 2 rabbits mating welded to our roof. Because the penalty took so long, I sent Richie out to finish my stint and run his.
Richie came in at the end of his stint; we thought because it was just time up, but that wasn’t the case. We lost the alternator belt. We called all the parts stores; they were all closed. At a last ditch effort, we ran around to other teams and asked, success! After a few minutes of getting the belt on, we were back out on the track.
It was Rich’s turn again. Rich started turning really fast times, managing one lap of a team best of 2:40. At the end of Rich’s session, he was black flagged again, this time for not negotiating turn 11 successfully and having to drive on the other side of the tire barriers. He convinced the judges his first spin was because the tire blew, so his penalty was to write “If I didn’t point out loopholes, I wouldn’t have to write this shit” 100 times. This took a long time because it’s a long ass sentence.
Then it was John’s turn again. John came back in with 15 minutes left for his turn because he apparently passed on yellow flag (which we find hard to believe because we couldn’t pass anyone). Because that was our 3rd counted penalty, we got a cone of shame stuck to the car (signifying we had 0 black flags left before being kicked off) and an hour penalty (which they only made us stay 40ish minutes of).
With about an hour left, we put 5 gallons in and I finished out the day, taking the checkered flag for the team. I was just running consistent, safe 2:44’s to try and get our lap count up. But hey, we finished! Overall, it was quite an adventure, having to rebuild basically the whole bottom end of the engine was quite a task. Luckily John and Richie knew what they were doing, because I sure didn’t.
Below is the extended length video of what we captured. I might put together a short highlight video later, but don’t hold your breath, there weren’t many highlights. 😉
Travel day started off well. Everyone was in good spirits, well prepared for our 9-ish hour journey. Things went well until just after Canyonville, Oregon deep in the mountains. 5 of the 8 bolts securing the axel to the hub sheered off and 3 of them backed all the way out. This caused the engine to over-rev and exploded one of our radiator hoses.
The 2nd day also started well and degraded with bad news. I personally was a bit of a dick and slept in a bit, but the rest of the team went to the track to get “a good spot”. We spent the first half of the day getting ready for tech.
We finally headed over to tech at 1pm, only to fail for a transmission leak that made itself evident when the car was jacked up on the passenger side and because our front wing (Pike’s Peak style) was “too sturdy”. We begrudgingly took off our lip, made a trip to the hardware store for a bolt, cut the bolt down to size, and riveted on some ABS plastic to make an air dam. Then with 30 minutes to spare, we took it over to tech and passed.
I got 4th (out of 10) at NWR-SCCA Event #2, which was good for my first ever NWR-SCCA event trophy! It was a pretty sweet trophy too.
Finally, my 2nd 24 Hours of LeMons team and I are heading down to Williows, CA tomorrow for the race this weekend. Technical inspection is Friday and the race is Sat/Sun. We’ll be driving the super-pimp Grouppe Festiva.
The first slush event of the year, “Totally Stoked”, was today at Sanderson Field. I was able to convince my brother to come out with me as a tire warmer, his 2nd autocross ever and his first one was 3 years ago.
I rode with Robby for all 4 of his runs, coaching down his times each run (for the most part). He ended up getting 1st in his class. I ended up pulling out a great 4th run and getting 3rd in ST1, bumping myself into the trophies.
During tech, I also found out that I trophied in ST1 last year, so I was awarded a pretty cool Ogio waterproof duffle bag with a custom inscription.
In honor the occasion, I decided to spend a little time to add the WWSCC Slush series results to the alpha AXED site.
Because I’ve been planning on rearranging our car situation, I’ve been car shopping. I decided I want to get a car that’s seriously competitive in autocross and noticed, while I haven’t been driving very well, the cars I’ve picked thus far just aren’t competitive and simply aren’t used in competition. I grabbed the 2009 Solo results and tried to figure out what cars showed up, which ones won, and why.
I’m not going to provide much analysis, but below is the data for anyone else who wants it. I will say this though, for any class that offers a car with a double wishbone front suspension, you basically eliminate the cars with MacPherson struts from being competitive. Even cars with more torque and better power to weight ratios seem to be out-classed in autocross. The one exception to this seems to be the Chevrolet Cobalt in D Stock, which is touted for it’s excellent stock suspension (and one of the trophies was grabbed up by the very talented Kevin Dietz).
Currently I’m leaning towards the RX8. I like the car’s styling, suicide rear doors, and suspension. However, I’m having a lot of trouble getting behind the rotary engine, which offers a fairly awful power / MPG ratio, all while remaining pretty torqueless. All the other reasonably priced cars in A-D Stock seem be convertibles, which are definitely not my thing.
Tuesday and Wednesday I was at the Evolution Performance Driving School in Packwood, WA. I’ve been waiting a long time to take that school (almost 2 years) and it was totally worth it. I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in getting better at autocross.
The school was nothing like what I thought it would be in terms of what you learned. At autocross, you hear people talking all the time about “looking ahead”. During your runs, you’d try and “look ahead” and might not get any faster. This school totally taught me what looking ahead really means and showed me a lot of tools to make sure you’re looking ahead.
I was also nice to be able to ride with some national champions so they could show you what your car is capable of doing. My scoring results sheet showed a huge improvement after one ride with Karl Coleman driving my car through the slalom.
The 2009 WWSCC Understeer and Oversteer events were this Saturday and Sunday. Participation was low so we all got 5 runs per session. The event went very smoothly and the course was very fast. I did pretty poorly on Saturday but improved a bit on Sunday. The key to the course was to get up the courage to just stay on the gas through the back slaloms. I really love these style courses, I’m still just not very confident in the M3 yet or it’s tires.
On the bright side, I got Sean to come out to the event. He took a bunch of pictures with his 5D Mark II and I drove him around the course a couple times, which he seemed to find fun.
Last month, we decided it was probably best to start getting the car ready to match our theme (Bottom Gear, our take on the diesel BMW endurance race episode of Top Gear).
Nick and I drove down to Robby’s place we didn’t there until about 6pm if I recall because we got a super late start. However, before we left, we had to drive all around the Renton/Kent/Auburn area collecting paint and supplies to do the job. While we were doing that, Nick thought it would be important to smash our front lip into a parking curb. While only annoying at first, it turned out to be quite an incident later on while we were driving down the freeway and the lip started to come apart.
We paint-prepared the car Saturday night. I use the term paint-prepared lightly as it is really hard to prep a car in that bad of shape for paint in 4-ish hours. Then we got up super early on Sunday to paint it. The results aren’t half bad and barring some paint sprayer malfunctions we did a good job.