Tag Archive: SCCA Racing



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Probably all of us, or maybe just some of us can look back on some awkward moments.  For me at least they generally are of the beautiful plan gone horribly wrong category. as a case in point I offer the following example.

My first experience with a GT1 car was a sobering one. Having raced a ITA Mercury Capri for several years with indifferent results I had to take the plunge.  One of those times when you know you shouldn’t do it but everything works out so you can. An acquaintance had a Thunderbird bodied stock car chassis that he was about to give up on trying to make work. At the same time a guy walked up to me at Summit Point and offered to buy my car. So he became the proud owner of an ITA Capri, and I became the owner of a GT1 car. Well almost. To get it to where I could afford it, a lot of parts were not included. But with the help of my best friend, and a patient wife it once again became a car.

The first time it was out on the track was a drivers school, held in a monsoon, at Summit Point. The second was my second drivers school.  These revealed a couple of things in graphic detail. One we had a really good engine. Two the brakes, from a late-model stock car, were marginal. Marginal with a capital M. Lastly it was a pig. The handled was so bad I didn’t have a clue on how to make it better.

So, rather than address the handling I bought myself some brakes. Straight from the bigger is better school of thought (low buck edition) I bought the entire front brake setup from the #31 Mike Skinner Sprint Cup car.  They had run it at Sears Point that same year. A great deal, 2 giant Wilwood calipers, about 10 rotors, several sets of hats, and bunches of sets of brake pads. All for a reasonable, it seemed, price.

So we redid the caliper brackets, bolted everything in place, bleed the brakes and awaited our next race at Summit Point.

When the time came we loaded the car, drove the 126 miles to Summit Point, unloaded the car and awaited our turn to get out on track. When that time came we went out on the course feeling that this time it was all going to be good and we would be a contender.

That good feeling lasted for maybe two laps of practice. It became apparent to me that some thing wasn’t right. The car wouldn’t accelerate like it should, and the brakes were weird. So I pulled into the pit lane, my friends came out to see what was wrong, and after a short conversation we agreed I would go out and try it again.  It immediately became apparent that we had a major problem. The engine for all its power would barely move the car along pit road.

Finally after some head scratching and oohing and wtf’s? Somebody put their hand on the center of the front wheel. Wow! It sure wasn’t supposed to be that hot. So even to the rookies that we were it was obvious that we had a brake problem. After taking the front wheels off we were able to push/pull the car back to the pits. Obviously too hot to work on we went to find help. Fortunately a fellow competitor was not only able to diagnose the problem as a stuck front caliper but point us toward someone who had spares. (Of course we didn’t, after all we’d just gotten the brakes).

So now came the process of fixing the problem. Once they had cooled sufficiently the calipers were removed from the car. Before the pads were removed, a block of wood was inserted between the pads. Then an airline was put onto the fitting where the brake line attached. A slight puff of air and the pistons pressed the pads against the wooded block. Than the wood and pads were removed so that the pistons could be removed from the bores.

So now we had to correct the problem. The old seals were removed, and the pistons lightly sanded, LIGHTLY sanded, with a fine emery paper. New seals were placed on the pistons, which were then reseated in their bores. Calipers were bolted onto the front uprights and brake pads installed.

No more problems, and a very valuable lesson learned. Always check, no matter what the pedigree, new or used. And spares are necessary whether you need them or not.

So if you want to avoid a similar situation give us a call at (804) 921-0902 or visit our store at http://www.roadraceparts.com

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We all know that racing costs a lot of money. And to an outsider it sometimes seems that the large professional teams are almost swimming in it. f course that brings the inevitable chorus of “I hate them, they only win because they have the best drivers, the best equipment, blah, blah, blah”.

That complaint ranges from the club racer in SCCA road racing, or your Saturday night short track right up the ranks. Well, today there was an interesting article on the PlanetF1.com website which I have shamelessly copied. Here are the thoughts of the chief executive of the Sauber F1 team. An interesting comment of a form of racing that we think is immune to financial woes. Check it out:

Sauber throw weight behind budget cap

Tuesday 3rd April 2012

Sauber throw weight behind budget capSauber throw weight behind budget cap

Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn has backed Bernie Ecclestone’s calls for a budget cap in F1, saying it would make the sport “more interesting”.

Formula One commercial rights holder Ecclestone recently re-opened the debate about a budget cap as he felt there are still too many people “running around with rose-tinted glasses” when it comes to the spiralling costs.

“The teams have to learn to be competitive without tonnes of money,” he said.

“They have to refocus again on the basics – on racing, spending on the sport – and not on baronial motorhomes and all kinds of entertainment.”

Kaltenborn says the Hinwil-based Sauber is in favour of limiting the spending by teams.

“We started it with the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), and that in itself was already an important step, but of course it is far from the only one you need,” she told the official Formula One website.

“We now have to evolve it to the next step, and in my view the future should indeed lie in some kind of budget cap under which each and every team could do what they want to, because we all have different strengths. Looking at our team, for example, we have a good infrastructure and a good wind tunnel, so it would allow us to benefit from that.

“Others have other assets. Overall I think it would make Formula One more interesting as it would also mean that we would all use different strategies and take different approaches to the business and the sport.”

Ecclestone suggested cap could come into force from 2013, and Kaltenborn also feels it should be introduced “very soon”.

“I think we should have the next step already in place for next season and take it from there,” she said.

“Next season for me should already see a major step forward in the financial feasibility of a team.

“When the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end at the end of this season, I think it would be a good time to set some kind of rules.”

When the budget cap idea was first mooted by former FIA president Max Mosley a few years ago, some of the big teams refused to back it with Ferrari even threatening to pull out of the sport.

Kaltenborn, though, believes all teams know that something has got to give.

“By now even the big teams should appreciate that Formula One with four teams would not be overwhelmingly attractive to fans,” she said.

“That would be a very wrong message.

Perhaps there are other forms of racing (Nascar?) that would do well to heed her comments. Preparing a Plan B before you need it isn’t a bad idea.



Above are some pictures of Mike Donahue’s TA 2 car. As you can see this is a nice example of the diversity we can expect to see at the Trans-Am Series races this year. You will see the full tilt Corvettes, Mustangs and Jags of the TA, cars like Mike’s Pontiac, and the new type pony cars of TA2, and then TA3 will almot certainly have an ample supply of Porsches.

As always this brings up the issues of costs. What does it really cost to race in a professional series such as the TA? Depends on who you talk to? For the TA, one owner told me that at a track where he spent the night in his own bed, i.e. no lodging cost, it cost him $5500 and that did not fiqure wear and tear nor did he have any damage to repair. The biggest expense he had was buying tires for the weekend. Another told me that over a year he estimated 12-15k per race. His biggest cost were engines, transmissions and tires. I suspect the real number is at least as high as the later, maybe more for a winning effort. I’m sure some teams are spending far more than that.
In TA2 the numbers are probably half of a TA car. Primarily because the engines are less expensive and more durable.There is one report of a rental for $5k per weekend plus a substantial deposit in case of damage. I assume this does not include tires. The biggest advantage they have in the cost area is that stock car parts are so much less expensive than road racing parts.
I wont venture a guess as to the Porsche’s as I’m not at all in tune with the cost of their equipment.

If anybody has some information as to the real cost of racing these cars I would be glad to hear it. As well as what do you think could be done to control the costs? Or, are you of the opinion that racing is expensive, if you cant afford it dont do it?


Mustang Vintage Racer

Mustang Vintage TA Car

Aerodynamics is probably the most important aspect of the modern race car. Those of us who are F1 fans see how those teams spend untold sums of money, expend more man hours in wind tunnels and employ unimaginable computer power to gain just the slightest advantage in down force or drag reduction. Who would have imagined a couple of years ago that the engines exhaust gases could be used to increase downforce? Or that how that was executed would be the difference between a world beater and a mid pack car.

But how, if at all, does aerodynamics effect our world, where the bodywork is made from carbon fiber or fiberglass, and all made from the same molds? The answer isn’t simple, and I will freely admit that I dont know everything that is going on here.

But we do know that in the days when steel roofs were required, things were creative.  A steel roof was required to prevent the cheating up of the windshield. However a stock roof will not fit the molded bodywork. Not only was the metal stretched, but it was sectioned. In other words a pie shaped section cut out so that the stock windshield fits but the greenhouse is as small as possible.

But you say that’s just vintage cars whats that got to do with the cars we run now? True, point well taken. But remember that the laws of physics are the same for an F1 car or a GT1 car. And  its all about managing the flow of air around the vehicle and underneath the car. So I will just point some things in no particular order. And remember, in making these points I am not accusing anybody of doing anything.

First, back in the old days of the Trans-Am series they required that the body not below the line of the chassis. As part of the tech inspection a straight edge be placed across the bottom of the car. The advantage of course being that dropping the body below the frame, (which has a belly pan) you create diffuser tunnels between the door and the frame rail.

Even if the body is even with the frame rails, you can do the same thing with the filler panels between the body and frame. This requires a little creativity so as not to be conspicuous.

Speaking of the area between the door panel and the car itself, I have seen some radiused pieces placed at the front of the filler panel. The purpose was obvious, but how do you get that air out from under the car? Its blocked by the rear wheel tub, so wouldnt it be better to get it out at the front wheel opening?

A few years ago one of the major Ford teams cars cars appeared to be a little different. Just by observation it seemed that the rear undertray had more of a slope than the other Fords. Of course the part had the proper approval stickers.

The mesh on the grill opening can effect the amount of downforce on the front of the car. Of course the finer the mesh the less air can get through. And using one consistent mesh is just a matter of convenience right?

Speaking of Fords, the 93-up Mustang had a huge flat rear deck. That made these cars more responsive to body rake. By getting that deck exposed to more airflow, you increased the downforce. Almost like using a larger spoiler. Other makes may have the same issues.

Dive planes of course are useful in tuning the front end.

And the primary goal is doing anything possible to first prevent air from getting under the car, secondly to exhaust the air that does get under the front of the car. I had a steel bodied Mustang, that used a steel hood, with a scoop, that had all the reinforcement removed. Down the straightaway the rear of the hood would rise up to the full extent of the hood pins. Perhaps 6″ in the center. If we could have prevented that it could have meant some nice gains. Food for thought.

If its allowed by the rules, opening up where the rear license plate was allows a place to exhaust air from the rear. many people  use this as a place to place an oil cooler for the trans or rear.

And of course the wickerbill on the rear end can be used as a tuning tool, as well as the angle of the wing itself will increase rear downforce.

Like anything else when you change one end of the car it effects the other as well. We’ve just thrown a few things out there, and obviously just scratched the surface of what may be going on. But if you look closely there may be things that make you say “hmmm?”


I suppose the question we all ask ourselves, and our buddies is:”What’s going on?” On the surface a pretty innocent question, asked every day.
But for racers in general, and road racers in particular, its asked a lot in the hope that somebody has the answer. What is the current state of motorsport as well as its future. Will it continue as it has been or will it die off, will it change into something we dont recognize? I have yet to find someone who has the answer.
But for my two cents worth, I think its going to go in two diametrically opposed directions.
(1) I think that there will be an increasing tide of “green”. This will probably be led by the manufacturers. And will be more the current ( of the time) production cars.

(2) A continuation of the traditional race cars, as we know them today. These will continue for the foreseeable future as we baby boomers move through this cycle of our lives.

In upcoming blogs we will have some comments on the current generation of cars, their technical specs, and a report on the TA race at VIR.


Seems like there is no way to escape the fact that there are still only 24 hours in a day. Remember when computers were going to free up so much time we wouldn’t know what to do? How did that work out for you?

Anyway we had to farm out the work on the GT1 chassis we had lying around. Sent it to a friend to put the body on it, and get all the brackets welded on it. Seems like at my age theres just not enough light for me to be able to see.

I know that he wont be done in time to race it this year, but maybe next year we can get back out on the track again. Perhaps even find a young whippersnapper who wants to give real racing a try.

Now to finish the rest of todays tasks.


By now most people with any interest in the TransAm Series have heard about the schedule for the 2011 season.  And, it seems like among other things we’re going to get what we’ve asking for. The news out of PRI, is that at long last the Trans Am races, or at least some of them are going to be on television.
Hopefully this will be a major step toward getting the series the recognition it deserves. We’ve seen the struggle with the car counts the past couple of years.  Certainly a lot of credit goes to those who have put forth a lot of effort into keeping the series going when things didn’t look so good.
Hopefully this move will encourage more people to bring their cars out and participate, even if only in selected races.  And it might even encourage some sponsors to participate as well. Neither one of those would be a bad thing.
All in all this is the best news Ive heard in a while.