Tag Archive: racecar restoration



rontsuspension at midohio

front suspension at Mid Ohio

Talking to the team before practice at Mid Ohio they were cautiously optimistic. They feel that the track was one where being down in horsepower wouldn’t be as much of a disadvantage as somewhere like Road America. However from the very beginning the car had a significant push. They would struggle with this all day Friday.

First order of business was to try to balance the car. To do so they took a little wing out, which required drilling new holes in the mounting brackets. Then a rear spring change was made to try to correct the push issue. But neither issue corrected the problem. All during practice the team had been running on used tires, which may have masked part of the problem.

For qualifying a new set of tires was mounted and the car picked up some speed. Unfortunately everyone else did also and John qualified sixth fastest. Ahead were the Corvettes of Tommy Drissi, Doug Peterson, Simon Gregg and Amy Ruman. Cliff Ebben qualified 5th taking the honor of fastest Ford. The push was still there, but this time a “clicking” in transition was heard, which would have to be addressed.

On Saturday morning, the first order of business was to inspect all the heim joints for play. Once that issue was solved a radical spring change was made in a last ditch effort to cure the push issue. Of course the results wouldn’t be known until the race.

Rather than go into a lengthy report on the race suffice it to say that John was able to finish 4th. One more restart, which didn’t happen as they couldn’t get Amy Ruman’s car out of the sand trap in time, may have allowed him to make a run at the 3rd place finisher. But it didn’t happen, so be it.

Great race, and the dicing at the front was serious but clean. If you get the chance be sure to go out and check out the Trans Am series. Good racing and it offers something that few series do.

 

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Some of us can remember when 300 Horsepower was a lot for the street, even some pretty exotic cars were fairly hard pressed to meet that number. But in case you haven’t heard time isn’t the only thing that has moved on.

My first GT1 car.

My first GT1 car.

The car in the picture was my first GT1 car. It had about 550 HP, on its best day, back in the late 80’s. Not bad for a club racer but its 351 engine was almost certainly the best thing about it. The professionals however wouldn’t have considered it.

By the time the second coming of the TransAm series ended they were running 310 cid engines with rev limiters. These engines were, at least for those at the front end of the pack, in excess of 700 horsepower.

But now things have really changed. The 310 has gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by the 358 cubic inch V8’s. Initially a lot of these were refugees from Nascar. Bought for less than one could build a 310 and producing big horsepower numbers. Initially some people just changed the cam, and maybe something with carburetion and exhaust and went racing. Worked pretty well and now the horsepower numbers were over 800.

But today the bar has been raised again. Some people have realized that an engine built purposely for road racing will out perform a converted stock car engine. This despite the fact that the horsepower numbers are the same.

And what are those numbers today? One racer who reportedly has about 830 HP told me recently ” I can’t pass them (the top cars) on the straight, but they can pass me.” His opinion is that he is 30 horsepower shy of the top cars.

So times have changed my friend, times have changed.

 


Do you have a maintenance plan for your car? While many of us, if not all of us have a checklist that we go thru between races that may be it.

Do you know when various items on the car were replaced? You probably change the oil and filters on some schedule, it only makes sense. But how long have the rod ends on the control arms been on there? Or the spindles (that probably came with the car when you bought it)?

Part of getting organized is having a plan that includes every critical item on the car, when it was installed, when it was inspected, and when you intend to replace it. Yes, it can be a pain, but think what happens when a rod end or a spindle breaks. We all either have had it happen to a friend or ourselves, some little part breaks that should have been replaced a long time ago.

It will save you money in the long run.

 


Ever had the mishap of a “stuck” caliper? If you have it’s probably something you haven’t forgotten. What happens is that when you apply the brakes the pistons in the caliper press the pad against the rotor and the car slows. All good, right?

But when you release the pedal the piston does not return to its seated position, allowing the pads to release the rotor. How much of a problem is that? When it happened to me a 550 hp engine could barely move the car down pit road. Not good.

Several things can cause this, just disuse, like in a car that has sat for a period of time. Or, more commonly the heat cycles that the brakes go thru eventually deteriorate the seals.

The answer, is of course to add caliper maintenance to your check sheet. Every 2 or 3 races, pull the pistons, check them over and replace the seals. Seals are cheap insurance and it could save a lot of heartache.

Brembo pressure seals available from 28-44 mm.

Brembo pressure seals available from 28-44 mm.

 

For those of you using Brembo calipers, they have a new design of anti-knockback seal. A direct replacement for their regular pressure seal it reduces the issue of pad knock back.

We carry AP, Alcon, and Brembo caliper seals in stock ready for immediate delivery.


Under construction. The lower portion of the chassis taking shape.

Under construction. The lower portion of the chassis taking shape.

Can you guess what type chassis this is under construction? Brand? Well the type is pretty obvious. Its a GT1/Trans-Am/IMSA style road racing chassis.

Brand may be a little more difficult, because it is only the second one built.

Everyone that is involved in racing does so because they have a passion for it.  And part of that passion is a dream. A dream to succeed at the highest level. And of course  we all love to tackle those projects that are a challenge.

Thats how it is for Mark K. one of the principals in Roadraceparts.com. A veteran vintage racer he had dreamed of driving a Trans-Am car. Not just drive it but own it as well. So when the opportunity came about to purchase the engineering drawing for a professionally designed chassis and spares he jumped at it. Of course, knowing that one car had been built and successfully raced made it a little easier.

a start

A start. one of the sections that will become part of the lower chassis.

So in this brief article you can see several photos of the chassis on the surface plate. Work continues and all indications are that the results will be well worth the effort.

A professional at work.

A professional at work.

Bottom section of frame completed.

Bottom section of frame completed.

So that’s our little sneak preview. Hope you enjoyed it.

Chicago Rawhide spindle seals.

Chicago Rawhide spindle seals.
CR26144 – their price $22.49 – ours $17.99
CR27271 our price $14.49

So give us a call at (804) 921-0902 or email at sales@roadraceparts.com


It’s no secret to anyone not wearing rose-colored glasses that Motorsports is approaching a crisis. This is not confined to the U.S. but is a global issue. Whether you are talking about F1 or road racing in the U.S. unsettling things are happening. Things that do not bode well for those concerned.

In F1, generally considered to be the pinnacle of racing, the HRT team barely made it to the end of the 2012 season. They are not listed on the FIA’s list of teams to contest the 2013 championship. While many of the world’s major companies are involved, I doubt if other than Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull any of the teams are awash in cash. (Forgot Mercedes, but it may be approaching put up or shut up time for them.

Nascar had declines in both attendance and viewers from 2010. I don’t mention 2011 because that was a slight increase over 2010. In other words the decline has resumed.

Road racing in the U.S. is a total basket case. Grand Am has been on life support for its top class, Daytona prototype for some time. ALMS, while enjoying a wide range of manufacturer, primarily import, support had been for sale for a few years now. Now it has agreed to be purchased by Grand Am. (Remember Grand Am is owned by the France family, i.e. Nascar)

Trans-Am is gamely trying to recapture  the glory from the days of manufacturer involvement with the pony cars in the 60’s and 70’s. While the introduction of what are in essence stock car chassied pony cars bodes well, the lack of a viable TV contract is a MAJOR constraint.

Even vintage racing has taken a hit. Car counts are down at many venues, despite the fact that this is one of the most affordable ways to participate, maybe not race, that there is.

So what is to happen? Will all the brave talk of the “new car” in Nascar bring fans back? Will Twitter return Nascar back to its glory days of only a few years ago? Or, will a Generation 6 spec race car provide the same type of racing that has caused fans to abandon the sport in droves? And is Twitter another way to keep up with the sport without actually attending races?

As to GrandAm/ALMS what are they going to do? Will they try to make it a road racing version on Nascar? Or capitalize on the strengths of the two series?

Trans- AM is returning to the classic road racing circuits in the coming year. The addition of Sebring and Daytona, plus a return to VIR can only be viewed as positives. But even more so is the alignment with SVRA. That is probably the most natural fit for them. But still the major players aren’t coming in without a TV contract. Hopefully that will be addressed, because it is great racing.

Hopefully 2013 will be a year for growth in motorsport. But there is something going on in the world regarding Motorsports beyond the economy, and the powers that be need to address it. Iphones sell millions on the day they are introduced, but Nascar was down 24% in the 18-34 demo. Hmm? That should be speaking to somebody.

Now lets see, I have a car, all it needs is a few upgrades, and  if I could find a driver with some money………..


Some of you may know that “the lump” is a term used to describe the engine in a car. Normally it refers to a race engine. That huge mass of iron, aluminum, titanium, unobtanium and who knows what else that resides under the hood of the car.

For most of us, I dare say we really have no idea what is inside of that big piece of metal. We rely on people who, because they are “engine builders” , tell us all kinds of stories about how complicated they are, how every piece is hand polished and machined to .00000000001 of an inch.  And of course since so much is involved it is a bargain indeed, regardless of the price. A price which no rational person would pay, and makes us live in mortal fear that the wife will discover. Having listened to many of those stories both as a former racer and a parts man for quite a few years, today I just smile.

So I thought I would share with you the tale of a couple of engines in my experience. Now what is special about these engines?  Not a thing. Two engines from different stages of my racing career, if you want to call it that. Just two collections of metal that started life at a couple of Ford plants somewhere in the world.

The first one was a V8, size and engine builder omitted to protect the innocent. Or maybe the guilty. But this was my first experience with a Gt1 car. And of course i had read all the stories and articles about the powerful Gt1 cars. So I had a local engine builder who specialized in short track cars build it. The only thing left from Ford was the block itself. One of the proudest days in my life was when I picked it up and paid the bill.

First let me say that we were/are amateur racers, and everything we knew could dance on the head of a pin. That thing was a pain from the day I got it. Constantly ran hot, not a lot of power,  despite the engine builders claims, or maybe I didn’t know what to expect, etc. On one occasion when we shut it off it was running fine.  When we next cranked it up it was missing, checked – bent pushrod.  Finally at its last scheduled race before it was to be replaced, the oil pressure began to drop,  and 10 laps later we drove it into the pits and retired. My brother looked under the hood and said “you might as well shut it off you have water coming out of the breathers”. When pulled out  and inspected, the webs in the block were busted in three places. needless to say was a great conversation piece and I still have some paperweights I think.

The other was a V6 Ford. We pulled this out of a juck car we bought for $200 to use the engine and transmission. Put it up on a stand, and scapped all the oil and dirt away so we could pull the pan off. Pulled all the rod and main bearings out. Didn’t measure anything, and replaced them with new std. bearings. Torqued everything back down, put the pan back on, and put the engine back in the car.

This engine ran  through the drivers school at Daytona and Charlotte. At Charlotte it got so hot, (idiot owner and friend had forgotten to tighten down the hold down clamp on the distributor so variable timing) that we finally had to put it in 4th gear, hold the brakes and choke it off. Did I mention that it had water running out of both exhaust pipes?

So we let it cool down, found every plastic pepsi bottle we could, filled them with water, put 2 cans of Bars Leak in the radiator and drove it the 200 miles home. After a couple of stops it sealed up and ran fine. Shaved both cylinder heads and it was as good as new.

Now this was no race engine of course, and didnt pretend to be one. But every time after that when the hand built race engine blew up or screwed up, we put that engine in and kept racing. You just couldn’t kill it. In fact a friend now has the car, and has had some more exotic, modern engines built for it.  But you know what he does when they go bad? Yep, back in goes that same old motor.

And the moral of this is that sometimes things exceed your expectations. Or, maybe you don’t know when you are well off.

Are you ever amazed how the old family cruiser keeps running after all this time? Remember the days when nobody had a car that made a 100,000 miles? Well I do.


lotusf1

If you follow motorsport, this is a bittersweet time of year. Until the Daytona 24 hours there is almost no racing, and in fact precious little testing. Therefore up passes for news is generally pretty uninteresting, and obviously was a streetch on the authors part.

The exception to this is the constant flow of information about the two largest racing series in the world, F1 and Nascar. Before anybody starts to aim their digital flamethrower in my direction, let me say that I know F1 is far and away the king of motorsport. And as you look at the news articles you can see why.

But every now and then somebody does something to make you sit up and take notice. This time it was Caterham F1,one of the newer F1 teams, formerly known as Lotus F1. But lets not get sidetracked as to why they are Caterham, and the former Renault team is now Lotus. I can explain, but I wont.

As you may recall, every year all the F1 teams unveil, or launch, their new cars. And this is one of the highlights of the winter doldrums. To finally get to see your heros and the all new car which will, hopefully, win the World Championship. Its the motor racing equivalent of when we were kids getting to see the new model Chevy/Ford/Dodge. Remember those days, when the cars were brought to the dealership all covered up so nobody could see them? Well, those days are gone, but not the F1 launches.

I digress however. So why if this happens every year was I impressed by the Caterham launch? After all these things happen every year, and they have been done in every type of location from exotic to mundane. From elegant and understated to way over the top. In fact, I was beginning to believe that the only way they could come up with something different was to shoot it out of a cannon and land it in a bunch of Hooters girls.

But instead they did something so different, yet simple that you have to wonder why nobody (that I know of) had done it. They simply announced that their launch would be the first of the year, AND it would be on the cover of F1 Racing magazine. Only the most widely read F1 magazine in the world. And of course they would follow with Facebook, and other digital media.

Of course some people got their issue early and the news was broken a day early. Which I’m sure caused a lot of crocodile tears at Caterham. And now ScarbsF1 has a great analysis of the car, F1 racing had a article to go along with the photos, etc.

All of this is just a long winded way to say that in a time where we wring our hands and blame the economy for every ill in motor sport what was this worth? In the name of full disclosure I must admit that I have been impressed by this teams PR savvy ever since its inception. That said,how much uncontested FREE publicity did those guys get from just having a simple idea? If you were a potential sponsor what would you think of such out of the box thinking.

So, if you’re out there trying to get somebody to help you with your racing, and your by the numbers presentation isn’t working, maybe you need to think about a different approach.


First let me say I do not know Patrick Head at all. Therefore I am absolutely not qualified to speak about him, and I wont. That said I have followed his career indirectly as it pertains to Williams F1.

Years ago as I  followed F1, Williams wasn’t my favorite team for a number of reasons, then in the era of Michael, I saw them as somewhat of the villian against my hero in his Ferrari. Lately however I have found myself increasing pulling for them as their fortunes have flagged. Maybe its that root for the underdog thing. And of course, because Patrick head and Frank Williams “were” Williams, I was rooting for them as well. But now he’s moving on to other pursuits, the alternative energy field, I understand. And that caused me to think a bit. (always a dangerous habit of mine at best).

In all those years, I bet not once did the crowd cheer for Patrick Head, or any of his peers. They are not the ones whose name is called in victory circle, who kisses the beauty queen, or unless something goes horribly wrong, gets their name in the paper.

But it is men, and women, like him that have made todays motorsports what it is today. They are the ones who put the speed in racing cars, and for that matter make street cars that at 100,000 miles we think of as just being broken in.

NOT ONE of those hero drivers, and or crew chiefs, can make their car go any faster than the laws of physics allow. AT THEIR BEST they can only come as close as possible to the limits that are imposed by the design. Who was responsible for the straightline speed of the McLaren a couple of years ago? Was it Lewis Hamilton, or the engineer that thought up and pursued the “F duct”? And the  jump in downforce despite the conventional wisdom that the rules had reduced it? Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, or some engineer that created the “blown diffuser”.

So what is the point of all this? Nothing, no more than this. If it wasn’t for the people, like Patrick Head, and the unsung, untold millions before him, we would still be drawing on the walls of caves. And there will be millions after him pushing the rock further up the hill. But for me, I just wonder who is out there tonight working on their dream, the idea that’s going to turn motorsport on its ear. And I hope I’m around to see it.


BAR 003

The most beautiful thing about motorsport and the love of cars generally is its diversity. Now before you click that mouse read a little further. In this case I’m not talking about gender, race, color, national origin or even politics.

Instead I am talking about the varieties of racing disciplines, the new versus the storied past, our favorite brands or marques, etc. We invest a lot in these mechanical beasts and we live vicariously through their success or failure.

Now we have all seen a lot of project cars, and restored cars, the latest factory flash, and after a while you kinda hohum your way through them. But I saw Twitter article yesterday that made me sit up and do the mental”WTF?”!!!

It was a link (provided by ScarbsF1) to an article on F1technical.net. It was in there forum section, and was one of the most fascinating thread I’ve seen in some time. Here you have a guy that is building a real F1 car out of parts hes buying primarily off of ebay! Now I dont know about you but I would have thought it impossible.  After all aren’t F1 cars the pinnacle of motorsports? Aren’t they built in some lab with more security than Area 51? How in the heck is he going to be able to find enough parts to do this? And he’s not building a 1908 Dingbat Purple Flash either. Rather he has acquired a tub from a 2001 BAR 005, driven and crashed by Jacques V.Even more amazing is this isnt a guy who has some country named after his great grandfather, rather a guy who has a mortgage and seems to live a normal life.

You know the thing I hate about articles like this? It’s that not not only do i find them fascinating, but I start to think “heck, I could do that”. Next thing you know I’m searching the internet, sending emails, and making inquiries. But not this time. Nope.

So I encourage you to check out the thread on http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=11542

But I swear to you that reading about it is all I will do. But you know I liked the looks of the Jag F1 cars. Wonder what ever became of all the chassis they built? Hmmh, think if I called …….