Tag Archive: V8 Stock Cars



Several quick things this morning before we go try to earn an honest living.

First, F1 testing is over and the teams have a short time to get ready for the first race in Melbourne. And not all is well with several of the teams. Two of the newer teams, HRT and Marussia, were unable to get their 2012 challengers ready in time to do the test. Obvious they will do some testing in the form of “filming days” or straight line tests, but hard to see where they wont be way behind at the start of the season.

A couple of the major players dont appear to be in that great a shape either. There are continuing whispers about how bad the new Ferrari is, and Red Bull is saying they will have a “B” spec car at Melbourne. The surprises of the testing have to be Lotus, (formerly Renault) and Sauber. But we will see the truth come the first race as to who has what. My money is on McLaren, while no fan of theirs they have the organization to take it to Red Bull.

On the Nascar front, to me the big news is not that ratings and attendance are back down to 2010 levels. Rather to me its this: the announcement that HMS has signed a Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturer to a sponsor deal on the number 5 car driven by Kasey Kahne. Think of the precedents this sets. To my knowledge there aren’t any other foreign sponsors. Multinationals sure, foreign no. But a interesting move nevertheless.

Speaking of sponsorship was the case of Kenny Wallace pleading for sponsors for his RAB Nationwide series car. Saying that they were broke, and that they could race on a 100k a race where others were getting 150-200k per race. Wonder does this show us why the Nationwide series is struggling? Many small and medium size companies just dont have that kind of money to spend on a race car, far away from their home market, unless they get a LOT of TV exposure. At some point Nascar, or the teams themselves, are going to have to address the issue of cost control.

Wonder is Aurora having trouble supplying rod ends these days? Have gotten a lot of calls both internationally and domestically from people I hadn’t heard from before.

Still trying who was the voice on the telecast from Phoenix last week who, right before Harvick “ran out of gas” came on the radio and said “we have a problem”. Remember according to the rules the teams are not supposed to be monitoring telemetry from the cars during the race. So, whose voice was it? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

 

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Just going to throw a few odds and ends together  about motorsport on this Sunday morning. Sure many of you have seen some if not all of them.

The V8 Stockcar series opened its season this weekend, at Sebring Florida. This marked the first time the Nordic Camaro challenge had raced over here. The first race was won by Jan Mangussen, who many remember from his exploits in international endurance racing. Mike Donahue has some good pictures of the cars on his Facebook page. I hope to have reports on the other races soon.

The first F1 test session of the year is over. Four days at Jerez Spain. And as is always the case its hard to tell who was fast, and who wasn’t. While we can speculate that everyone was on a different program, the stopwatch  does give us some hint.  The Lotus, both with Kimi and Grosjean driving was fast.  This of course is the former Renault team. Ferrari, after struggling with trying to figure out what they had set the second fastest time of the entire four days. The usual suspects, Red Bull and McLaren appear to be solid and just concentrating on development. Caterham, formerly Lotus, appears to have made big improvements. Williams remains a question mark. With the next test at Barcelona we should know a little more.

One of the more interesting things floating around is a photo of an alledged invoice from Williams to Pastor Maldonado for the ride in their car this year. The amount? 29,400,000 pounds! That is over 46million US Dollars! In candor there is some doubt as to the validity of this document. However it is in the realm of what Williams was believed to be asking for the ride. The people who would be paying this bill? The government of Venezuala.

So if you think that the pay drivers in Nascar are a little off color compare them to that.

Speaking of Nascar, they fine new EFI systems they will begin using this year – made by McLaren and one of its subsidiaries, Freescale.

Hope to have some more info from Sebring shortly. Now back to my nap.

 


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.


Scott Murphy at VIR 2008

Just a quick note to announce that the agreement to help provide information on the V8 Stock Car Series. As many of you know this one of, if not the longest consecutively running, non club, road racing series in the country. This will be the ninth racing year, and despite the economic conditions it appears to be stronger than ever. Currently they have four classes, and in addition will be running with the Nordic Camaro Series. These cars, based in Sweden, and featuring at least two ex F1 drivers, promise to put on an outstanding show.

So beginning later this week we will be running an article each week on one of their classes, as well as the rules, car types etc. Race results and links to associated articles will come as appropriate. It ought to be an exciting season.

So I encourage you to check out their website at http://www.v8stockcar.com


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 …….