Destination SSM One Miata's Journey through Hell


Packwood ProSolo

Posted by David de Regt

The ProSolo was an interesting weekend.  The course was the most annoyingly not-fun collection of ridiculously tight offsets and stupidly slow corners that I've ever driven.  I feel like, in 8 years of autocrossing, I have to have driven a less fun course than that, but none come to mind.  On the upsides, I managed to squeak out a win (barely -- 0.009 seconds) and it highlighted a lot of things to focus on for the next phase of development for the car.  Also, we had zero reliability issues with the car again, so I'm just waiting for something expensive to explode at this point...

One of the big obvious weaknesses this weekend was power application.  I think that part of the problem with my current build is the forward weight bias (we're at about 56% front right now), which isn't leaving any weight on the rears to put power down.  I've been working on a design to try out that will let me drop down to a 1.6 motor, non-intercooled, which would drop a ton of weight off the front end, and potentially give me room to ballast up the rear.  In the interim, I need to explore a fuel cell so we can run less fuel without starving, allowing me to ballast up the rear a bit.  I'm starting to wonder in general about just running more fuel after seeing Sam Strano, a man who is already heavily ballasted, running a full tank of fuel in his SS C6 Corvette, because the extra power application he gets out of the weight over the rear is worth the weight gain from the gas.

An unrelated huge problem this weekend was that my front splitter wasn't playing nice with the Pro light sensors. I could get the car to "stage" in a couple different places, and it was very hard to tell which one of the two places I was staged in.  As a result, when runs really mattered, I had to run extremely conservative lights (7xx-8xx) just to make sure I wouldn't redlight.  If I'd hit the deep stage hot spot, then I'd still redlight even waiting that long (see my first run of the challenge, for example -- 498 redlight, and I didn't even start to release the clutch until right before the GREEN light came on, so I must have been deep staged millimeters from the next sensor...)  I've emailed Howard Duncan to ask how high the lights are, so I can make some "endplates" for my splitter to make sure that I hit the sensors in a reliable place at the next event.  This problem made every run an unpredictable nightmare.

I also need to just learn how to launch.  I cut everything from a 1.935 to mid 2.2s 60-ft times all weekend, mostly doing around 2.10ish, which is pretty terrible.  On low grip asphalt, even after the course rubbers in, the car has enough torque to break the rears loose at basically any point in first gear, so it's extremely hard to find the balance between a little bit of wheelspin and way too much wheelspin.  I'll hopefully learn eventually, but until then I'll be running almost STS 60 foots while I burn up expensive rubber.


Packwood National Tour

Posted by David de Regt

The whole month of June has been filled with rainy weekends that we didn't even bother bringing the car out to autocross in.  One of the downsides to running a high power car is that, in the wet, you just get hosed on PAX.  So, as little fun as I have autocrossing in the rain in general, it's also uncompetitive, so the idea of towing for 3 hours each way to get creamed in the rain is unappealing.  Seattle might not have been the greatest place to build this car...

Fortunately, it gave me some time to mess around a bit with the car.  I bought a 12+1 tooth crank trigger wheel from Trackspeed Engineering, and after ~20 hours of trying to make it run reliably, I gave up and switched back to the stock wheel.  I don't know if there's noise on the crank hall sensor from something or if the AEM just doesn't like getting that many tooth updates, but it's off the car until I have time to spend more time debugging.  I replaced both the cam and crank angle sensors with brand new ones from Mazda (they had absolutely no effect on the 12+1 wheel, incidentally,) and replaced the main relay (the relay that broke in Lincoln) while I was in there, which, interestingly, had been superceded by a much different part.  We also learned that we're not allowed to run shoulder harnesses in a non-rollbar-convertible, so we pulled the 4/5 point belts and put in simple lap belts, which removed a bunch of weight from the car and made it a lot easier to get in and out as well.

After having no problem with power application in Lincoln (and even limited problems with power in Packwood,) I upsized the crank pulley (that the SC feeds off) from 120mm to 125mm, and spent a bunch more time on the dyno.  We're up to 330rwhp and 258rwtq and spent a lot more time on the low RPM portion of the map.  The car is now faster and has much smoother power ramp-up, so it's more drivable too, and is better at putting its power down than it used to be.  I think this will be the end of my attempted power mods before 2012 Solo Nationals.  It's time to work on the suspension setup and on my driving.

The 2012 Packwood National Tour arrived in a real hurry.  I spent 2 weeks messing with the trigger wheel to no avail, and had to rapidly switch back to the stock wheel on the Monday night before the NT.  Wednesday the car went in to get a new muffler, since we were consistently blowing 102dB at Lincoln (over the limit.)  Thursday I spent 3 hours on the Dyno at Pina Motorsports, and then 6am Friday morning we pulled out from Redmond to head down to Packwood.

The practice course was the dirtiest (gravel/etc.) course I've ever driven on, but we did some rough shock tuning and the car was working really well.  Ironically, both of our paddock-mates' cars broke, so we spent some time helping fix them.  The rest of the weekend, the car performed perfectly (despite us driving it inadequately,) and I managed to put a 1.776 second victory on the class, running fairly consistent times.  At the end of the weekend, we rolled the car onto the trailer and drove home, ready for the Pro in a few short days.

We learned that the car's fuel starving at around a third of a tank, which will require some investigation after the ProSolo.  I am also sure at this point that the car will be faster with more confidence-inspiring brakes, so that will be another focus for after the ProSolo.  The traction control also needs some further tweaking, and the wing really needs some string+video attention and a Gurney Flap.  Time, time time...

Here's some videos of my fastest runs for the weekend (expand for 720p.)  As you can tell, I'm still driving the car incredibly abruptly.  It's still more than a bit of a shock, coming out of stock class.  At this point, I have at least as much speed to be gained in learning to drive than will be found with further car setup...


Spring Nationals

Posted by David de Regt

Because of the alignment and truck issues, we, of course, had another frantic last minute prep session.  We spent Monday afternoon pulling the front UCAs off to bend them more, reinstalling them, and getting the car to an alignment shop with zero notice in time for them to work on it.  While some of that was in process, we had to pull the alternator off the truck and get a rebuilt alternator and install it.  That evening we finally got to clean up some last minute stuff on the car and packed up the rig to head to Lincoln.

2 days of towing later, we arrived to glorious 90 degrees and humid Lincoln, NE.  We spent Thursday doing practice starts to figure out how to launch the thing (which neither of us ever got any good at – my best 60ft was 2.01s.)  Everything was going well, so we retired to beer.

Friday (ProSolo day 1) morning, I got 3 runs then the car sputtered and died sitting in line to take my 4th run and wouldn’t restart.  We pushed it off to the 2nd driver line and let it sit for a minute.  We checked everything – nothing obvious was wrong, but a minute later we tried firing the car back up, and it happily did.  My dad then got 2 runs in before it died in the same way for him and we retired to impound.

Very perplexed, we guessed it was a fueling issue, and I’d been worried about my fuel pump since the Packwood weekend of harness melting/shorting.  So, at lunch we changed the fuel pump to the new Deutchwerks pump.  I didn’t get a right side run (apparently I rolled out of my one right side run, grr), so my dad got to go first.  We sent him out without a hood for afternoon runs, on the off chance something was overheating, to get some more ventilation into the engine bay.  He got his 4 runs in, so we hoped it was fixed and put the hood on for my runs.  I got one run before it died again briefly after I departed for my second run.  We again retired to impound and had an evening to consider.

Fortunately, I had noticed, when it wigged out on me, that the tach was going nuts, implying that the ECU had lost cam/crank sync (or something far more heinous, possibly.)  I asked around the paddock and found two very nice competitors (Bill Schenker and Mike Heinitz) that had spare crank and cam angle sensors to loan me, and swapped them onto the car.

The next day, we decided the better part of valor was to run without the hood again (but we “replaced” the hood with a strip of tape, which is technically legal under SSM rules, stupid as that may be) and I went out for my runs.  The car had no issues, and I managed to save for 3rd place, and my dad also got his 4 runs in without issue.  When we tried to start the car up again after weighing it, it wouldn’t start, or even show any signs of ignition signal.  We towed it back to the paddock and poked around at it for a bit.

I found nothing wrong, but finally decided to try swapping the main relay out for a spare I had lying around, and the car sprung to life.  That relay had likely been damaged in the wiring debacle of the Packwood weekend, but it’s still a little distressing.  The car seemed fine after that, so we declared victory and went for celebratory BBQ and beer.

The NT went mostly without issue.  They yelled at us after the ProSolo, because apparently our exhaust was blowing 103dB consistently (limit of 100dB), so we had to attach a clamp on muffler for the tour.  I had a small power burble on day 1 in the middle of my third run, but it’s vaguely possible it was just fuel starvation.  We made it through -- I got 3rd again, 1.4 off the win.  The only day two issue was when, on the way out to grid for our day 2 heat, my dad drove the truck over the hardtop I've been using to keep the car dry/sealed overnight, which is now forcing me to come up with some new solution...

On the drive home, so far, I’ve ordered brand new replacement relays from Mazda and also new crank and cam angle sensors.  I noticed the cam sensor and the main relay had both been superceded, and reading up on, it looks like my issues are pretty known issues, so I’m vaguely hopeful that I’ve discovered the cause(s) of my more major problems.

We also had a chance to play with the Hoosiers vs. Goodyears at the Prosolo, and we both agreed that the Goodyears make the car much more drivable, so for the forseable future, it looks like it’s going to be a Goodyear car.  They seem to be able to put down power much better, and also they don’t overheat nearly as badly as the Hoosiers do, both of which are good things for an SSM car, especially at a hot site like Lincoln.

I hopefully will have time coming up to work on some of the other projects for the car: a front brakes solution, possibly moving to a permanent carbon hard top, venting the hood for real, tuning the rear wing, canards, etc.  The really short summary, though, is that the car, for its first showing, when it was working, proved that a Miata can get it done in SSM (if I stopped driving like such an idiot.)  So, despite all the other stresses of the weekend, it was a resounding success.  I also had some more time to mess with the data system that I'm developing, and worked some of the usability kinks out, which was helpful at the events and should be even more useful as the year goes on...


Second Packwood weekend and Spring Nationals Leadups

Posted by David de Regt

It’s been an incredibly hectic two weeks.  I spent a couple days tearing into more of the electrics and found that the fuel pump wire down the driver’s side of the rear harness had rubbed through to the chassis, which is probably what started everything.  I ran a new thicker gauge wire and re-loomed/moved some of the harness, so it should hopefully never rub through again, and the thicker wire will be less prone to heating.  I also ordered a Deutchwerks 300LPH pump due to my decreased confidence in the Walbro, intending to use it as a spare if the Walbro died.  Finally, I moved the fusebox out from under the side of the engine bay into a spot near the intake with some airflow, in case it just needed some ventilation as well.

The subframe that we were told existed wasn’t actually the right subframe, which we didn’t discover until after close of business Thursday night.  We got to wake up early Friday morning and call every parts shop in the area to find a new subframe.  The only one we could get before Monday wouldn’t be pulled until 5pm that night, 2 hours from home.  So, we picked it up, got back home around 7:30pm, and spent the entire night swapping the subframe and front control arms.  Shaikh finished up the shocks Thursday night and overnighted them so those arrived Friday morning, and when we finished with the subframe, we got to also assemble/swap the new shocks (mounting canisters, etc.)  Around 11:30pm we finally finished with all the work, then spent until almost 2am doing a ride height set and string alignment.  We realized the alignment wasn’t going terribly well, and we couldn’t get enough camber out of the front anyway, so we called it good enough for a shakedown and went to bed.

We decided that waking up in 3 hours and driving to Packwood for the morning session was out of the question, so we went down for the afternoon, which was a nice dry day, and had no major issues at all with the car.  The car was pretty loose, but still drivable, and we settled into liking a RaceLogic setting of 20% slip and 5.0mph wheel differential.  Sunday morning we woke up to a wet ground and ongoing rain, and we ran a very wet morning session, where we got to throw on the Hoosier Wets (225/50/15 H2Os on 15x9 6ULs) and play with the RaceLogic to figure out a wet setup, which worked out quite well.  We tried 5%, which seemed pretty good, but 10% was really the sweet spot, if you had quick enough hands.  The car is remarkably drivable in the wet, which is good to know.  On a very representative course, I was only 0.4 behind the Hyman GT-R car in full wet trim, which is closer than I would have hoped to get.  We had no issues with the car in the wet either, called it a day, and drove home.

On the tow home, the alternator on the truck let go, though, adding some more insult to the existing injury.  Nothing is ever easy...


Ups and Downs

Posted by David de Regt

It's been an interesting month.  Soon after the last post, I decided that nothing was coming in soon enough and that I should just bring the car in to get painted.  I had Showcase Auto do it, and it came out great (for a racecar -- painting carbon fiber body parts is never fantastic unless you put 20 pounds of paint and bondo on it, hence removing the point.)

I got the car back a week and a half ago, just in time to try to put all the new parts that arrived on it.  The Ciro Designs wing came in, and we fabbed up a splitter (currently in revision 1, there'll be canards and paint later).  The control arms and delrin finally came in, and we spent days assembling the car and finally, this past weekend, had a chance to bring the car down to Packwood for what was supposed to be a 2 day event, getting a ton of runs on the car in preparation for the Lincoln mini-nationals in 2 weekends.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.  We took a couple runs in the car, which were pretty good, but quickly started getting some nasty rubbing making the sharp turn to get to the start line from grid.  We ignored it, planning to look into it at lunch.  A couple runs later, we started getting something acting like the car being out of gas in the middle of my dad's run, and then shortly thereafter it gave out entirely and refused to run any more.  Some quick diagnosing led me to find that the ignition lead was shorted to an always-on battery line somewhere, and it wasn't obvious where.  In addition, when you shorted the fuel pump on with the diagnostic connector, the circuit main relay under the dash started buzzing heavily, and was rapidly heating up (to the point that the wire insulation was melting).  So, after spending a while with it, we decided to bail and head home to diagnose with more tools and time.

Monday, my dad and I converged on the car and pulled the front wheel off, only to discover something really unfortunate.  The rubbing apparently was caused by the new front control arms pretzeling themselves under the stress of the Packwood bumps, or somethingorother.  I'm working with the EPMiata folks to try to figure out if we have a good answer, or if their arms are just not strong enough for SSM autocross duty.  However, that give us a bit of a major problem.  There's one more weekend of events (19/20th) and then we have to hit the road Tuesday to get to the Lincoln events in time, which means we only have one more shot to test this stuff out, and it needs to be ready for this weekend.

As a result, just to have a prayer of making it to Lincoln, I'm enacting a fallback plan of using stock front UCAs.  AWR is overnighting me some delrin bushings for them, which come in Wednesday, and I'm putting the V8Roadster ball joints into them.  We're going to bend them in a press a little bit to get the camber level we need, and run it as is for now to hopefully get some events under it before going with another custom solution of some sort.

I also pulled apart most of the electrics in the car today (pulled the dash, fuseboxes, and relay blocks) to try to figure out the problem.  The only issue I can find so far is that two of the wires in the main fusebox had melted together, which shorted the ignition (white/red) line to another fused always-on line (white/green).  I re-insulated them and separated them, and I will be moving the fusebox to somewhere with more airflow to keep it cool (the event this weekend was quite warm, and I think the splitter was keeping underhood temps higher than usual).  In addition, I should probably add some vents to the hood to let some of the air out, which will likely assist with front downforce as well.  I'm replacing the main circuit opening relay with another I had kicking around from a lower mileage car, and hoping for the best this weekend.

With any luck, I'll have better news to relay soon.  Tomorrow I get a different used front subframe to swap mine out with (we had to drill the front UCA sleeve out to 5/8" to use the EPMiata control arms) so I need to get another stock one to put the stock arms back onto, and the delrin bushings come in to reassemble everything.  The real DA shocks come in from Shaikh either late Thursday or early Friday, leaving me a few hours to get the car aligned for the weekend.  From there, hopefully our last minute changes here will keep it running long enough to abuse it all weekend, then head east to Lincoln a few days after that...


Test Run – Phase 1 Complete

Posted by David de Regt

The past several weeks have been on and off busy and not.  Even though the car dynoed, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up.  I had the car aligned and ride heighted while I got some work done the next day, and we had an emergency all day session on Friday trying to finish the car in time for going out to a karting track (that allowed cars that day) -- seatbelt installs onto the firewall, custom bracket for passenger seat, fender and bumper cutting to fit the giant tires, front swaybar install, etc.  We decided not to bother going down to the kart track by the time we finally finished up all the last touches (weather/lack of daylight to make it worth it), but at least the car was drivable.

Instead, Brian and I spend Saturday doing a bunch of work.  We measured bump travel vs offset for the front and rear of the car, to plan the new uprights, and then took the car out for its first spin (turned out to be a gorgeous day, but with no autocross all weekend anywhere in the northwest).  The car worked great and we dialed in the Throttle Pump settings and had some fun.  The car was showing signs of being incredibly loose, but we didn't care too much at the time.

Over the next week, I continued tweaking things.  I built a temporary intake out of cheap parts, we added some lexan panels to the hood to block water getting all over the headlights, I added a cabin-switchable intercooler fan, etc.  There's so many little things to do building an SSM car.  The weekend had an event in Packwood, but it was going to definitely be rainy (100% chance of rain both days) so I ordered a set of 15x9 6ULs and some Hoosier Wets on Monday, which ended up having 3 come in Friday and one come in Tuesday (good job UPS), so I missed that weekend of events.

Fortunately, the following weekend had a gorgeous pair of events up in Vancouver.  My dad and I towed the car up and ran a PCA event Saturday and a VCMC event Sunday, where the car showed great promise.  It turned out to be at least as loose as we anticipated, but it was still keeping up with CSP cars on a non-power course (we checked the datalogs, and were both over 60% throttle for a collective less than 1 full second).  In any event, my dad signed on for codriving for the rest of the year, which should make for a smooth first year of towing to events.

The car's waiting for several things right now.  The shocks are taking a little longer than originally anticipated, the wing pushed out a couple weeks longer than they thought, and the EPMiata upper control arms are also being pushed out a couple weeks.  As a result, even though there was an event this past weekend, I didn't figure on there being much point in running it, as the car's current handling is largely a result of the temporary suspension setup on it.  So, instead, I brought it into the local body shop to start prepwork on painting it, and over the next week or two it'll get painted while I wait for the rest of the parts to come in.  I've abandoned my San Diego entry and I'm aiming at the Lincoln double now, which should actually be doable...

Filed under: Delays, Handling No Comments

Dyno Complete

Posted by David de Regt

Another hectic day at the dyno.  We laid in a base fuel tune and then went to play with the boost tune, and everything was going well until suddenly the car shut off and wouldn't start up again.  This was easier to diagnose, though.  Dead fuel pump.  80 miles or so on a Walbro 255HP and it's kaput.  Really bodes well for continuing to use that thing...

In any event, presented without further comment, 298.6rwhp, 220.7rwtq on a Dyno Dynamics:

We didn't get to playing much with the bottom end before the fuel pump gave out, so that'll have to wait for a future session.  In the interim, this is more than enough to play with for now.  The torque curve is super flat, and could probably be flattened  out even more (mostly the bottom end) with more time tuning.

Tomorrow, a new fuel pump comes in (overnighted), the car gets cornerweighted/aligned (assuming the fuel pump goes in), and we try to assemble the rest of the seatbelts, passenger seat, hood, fenders, and the front swaybar.  Then, if all goes well, I try to take it out for a first outing at Pacific Grand Prix (a local big go kart track that has car lapping days twice a month).  That should vaguely approximate an autocross experience, at least enough to get some basic setup info dialed.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a picture of an assembled car, finally...

Filed under: Dyno No Comments

Dyno Attempt #1

Posted by David de Regt

On 3 hours of sleep, I ran down to get some 100 octane race gas, threw some more 92 into the SSM car, and we loaded it up into my dad's trailer to haul down to the dyno (the car still doesn't have a hood or fenders, and it's an unknown drivetrain, so towing seemed to be a good idea -- this proved to be a good decision).  We unloaded the car, I quickly wired up the TPS while Andre (of Pina Motorsports) started laying in a base tune and configuring anything I'd missed on the car, and then we loaded it onto the dyno.  We made it about 1/3 of the way through the base fuel map when suddenly the motor backfired lightly, cut out, and refused to even pretend to start again.

We debugged a bit and found that the cam/crank sensors weren't syncing properly, and were in fact syncing largely randomly.  We tried messing with it for a bit, but to no avail.  We did a quick compression check on #1 and found no compression, which implied something far more serious was wrong and decided to call it a day.  We loaded up the car and brought it back home, tail between our legs.

After getting some sleep (I was a zombie at this point), the next day I tore the valve cover and the timing covers off the motor and started toying around.  I quickly realized that while the cams were in sync relative to each other, and the crank pulley was correctly marking TDC (verified), they were nowhere close to correct relative to each other.  I assumed the Gates belt I'd used stretched and the belt had slipped, so I ordered a new timing belt and tensioner spring and started messing with other stuff in the car.

The next day, I figured I should tear the rest of the front of the motor off so that when the belt got there, I could just throw it on.  While I was disassembling, I realized that I could spin the crank and the cams weren't spinning.  When I got the crank pulley off, I realized the issue.  I'm using a bolt-on 6 rib pulley from Fast Forward Superchargers that mounts into the stock 4 bolts on the front of the pulley.  What I did not notice, however, is that the hole in the center is about 1mm too small for the crank bolt to pass through.  So, while everything torqued together properly, the bolt was over 1cm too far out from where it needed to be, so the woodruff key was no longer held in place.  After running long enough, it managed to vibrate its way out of the timing pulley and let it spin freely on the crank, while holding the normal crank pulley in place.  With that mystery solved, I properly reassembled everything in the correct order, and went back to finishing up some rewiring while waiting for the coil that I left at the dyno to be mailed to me.

I'm using this delay to redo some wiring in the bay that needed to happen -- moving things like the TPS, IAC, IAT, etc. around in the front harness to properly reflect where they'd moved to in the final configuration, which should clean up the engine bay quite a bit and make the car easier to work on.  I'm also installing a console-switchable fan onto the intercooler for waiting in grid.  Tomorrow the coil should arrive and I can try firing the car up again, and then take it to the dyno later this week to try again, hopefully with more success...


Finishing the Drivetrain

Posted by David de Regt

Since the day that I got the Manifold (March 9th, over a week later than it was supposed to be), I've been working pretty solid on the car every spare waking moment.  As it turns out, after taking 4 months to work on the project, Corky ignored all of my measurements and schematics that I sent to him, measured a random supercharger he had on the shelf, and designed the supercharger mount and collector based on that.  So, essentially every measurement on the manifold was wrong, not to mention that the collector output ended up being directly into the alternator bracket, as well as contacting the live post of the alternator.  So, after opening the package and a few minutes later realizing these lovely things, I've been constantly fixing the stream of problems resulting from this.

I first fabricated a new alternator bracket out of crap I had lying around to get the bracket out of the way, and tried several different slightly shorter accessory belts to try to move the alternator ever so slightly further over so that it would clear the collector output.  I then had to modify the alternator live stud to point further down so that it would clear the collector as well.  After all that, the manifold would actually bolt onto the engine.  At this point, it was time to put the stock manifold onto the car and get the car back to Doug's so that he could make the final exhaust and we could work on the rest of this fab.

Corky was also supposed to create a radiator and intercooler from cores, which, for the last 2 months straight he said he was going to ship out at the end of each week I emailed.  When I finally pressed him "now or never" last week, he said he had no idea when he was going to be able to do it.  So, that night I spent a bunch of time measuring the radiator opening and browsing the net for substitutes and ordered a 3-row (2.5" thick) 92-00 Civic radiator and RX-7 sidemount intercooler from CXRacing, which seemed to get me the best combination of what I needed at the measurements I needed to make them fit in.  I ordered them up, and they arrived just in the nick of time.  Doug had made the exhaust all afternoon Wednesday (March 14), and the parts arrived midday Thursday, aiming to make a Dyno session friday, and then autocross all weekend.  So, the race was on.  I came over at noon Thursday to Doug's and we started working.

The next step was getting the supercharger to mount to the manifold.  I had to grind away a bunch of material from around the supercharger mount so that there'd be enough room to get a wrench around some bolts, grind away a ton of material from the collector inlet and intermediate plate, so that some air could actually get from the supercharger all the way into the collector, and replace the studs with bolts, since studs wouldn't clear the SC at all.  After several hours on the floor of Chase Race with wrenches, a sharpie, and a die grinder, I finally was able to attach the supercharger to the manifold.  Not exactly a light pile of metal, all assembled.

There's a very careful order of operations to install everything.  Off the car, the supercharger and intermediate plate must be attached to the manifold.  From there, the manifold must be attached to the car, and only after that can the fuel rail squeeze around the supercharger and nestle its way into its home.  Bill Freiheit did a great job making me a quick supercharger to throttle body (I went with a 75mm Mustang 5.0 BBK throttle body, the BBK-1503) adapter, which nicely dealt with that portion of the setup.  I'll deal with the intake later on, but I'm hoping we can make something that curls down by the passenger side wheel well to pull fresh air out from under the car.

While I finished getting the manifold together, Doug had been working on making custom mounts for the intercooler and radiator and finishing up some other stuff (exhaust tweaks, etc.)  As it turns out, they work fantastically and fit great in there.  I was originally planning on getting custom ones made down the line, but it's possible I'll be happy sticking with these for quite a while now -- 100$ intercooler and 70$ radiator, can't beat that.  We finished those at about the same time, so I turned my attention to the intake piping.  Doug was new to welding aluminum, so this was a new game for him, and I'd never designed intake piping before, so I had a fun challenge of trying to fabricate legos that played nice with each other.  In the end, the assortment of stuff I got from SiliconIntakes worked great for really cheap, and we ended up with some functional piping.  Neither of us are particularly proud of our work, but it did get the job done.

The last major thing was the SC belt.  I'd managed to find the shortest belt that would go onto the setup (required forcing it over the crank pulley while turning it with a wrench), and then found a 6-rib Gates auto-tensioning pulley (usually used in mid 90s GM cars) and come up with a harebrained scheme that I figured just might work.  I did some hackneyed "measuring" with a sharpie, staring at the engine bay, and formed a plan.  We cut out a chunk of aluminum, drilled a bunch of complicated holes in it, welded on a bracket, attached it to the manifold, and, much to both of our surprises, it just worked.

Finally, there was a ton of other cleanup/finishing work -- doing some rewiring, fabricating a throttle cable bracket, running vacuum lines, etc.  Around 4 AM, we finally got the car fired up.  Remarkably, it basically fired right up without any fuss.  I spent some time futzing with the fuel map so that it'd be drivable, we identified 2 coolant leaks (one was easy, one was a total pain) and after celebrating with a quick beer I managed to finally get the car home a little after 5 AM.  It drove perfectly, and it was really hard to keep my right foot from squeezing out some more whine, even though I'd zeroed out the on-boost timing map and made the on boost fuel map super rich, just in case.  Even pushing just a couple pounds of boost on the drive home (really really light squeeze),  I could tell it was going to be fast.


Tightening Schedule

Posted by David de Regt

Despite the massive number of delays I've been through in the last couple months, the project has still been steadily moving forward.  At this point, I'm actually caught up with everything that's arrived, and I'm basically waiting on the last parts to show up (and for Doug to have enough time to do some fab work) for the build to finish.

After getting the car to start up a week ago, I'd barely run it at all.  It has been rainy out (and the car didn't have a hood or a top or anything to keep the water out), and I haven't had much free time, so I was working on the headlight project and cleaning up a bunch of electrical loose ends.  I didn't want to run the engine much since the worst way to break a race engine in is idling it in the garage.  Tuesday, though, I needed to get the car over to Doug's to get a temporary exhaust put on (connecting the stock exhaust to the Racing Beat header) so that I could street tune the car without getting arrested on noise complaints.  That meant I actually needed to get the car to drive, so I spent a few hours futzing with the tune, debugging some issues (the traction control ECU was left connected but not set up, so as soon as I went above 2250 RPMs with the car in motion, it started fuel cutting -- that took me a while to figure out), and working on a base map that'd get the car to drive.  Eventually I got it all worked out and drove a very loud open-header Miata 20 minutes over to Chase Race, while trying to break in the motor and not rupture an eardrum, and the car made it over without any issues whatsoever.

The car comes back to me tomorrow, with cut rear fenders, a real battery bracket made up (the battery has been loose in the engine bay), and a working exhaust.  From there I can debug the traction control ECU and test out the 99 ABS unit (and the brakes in general) and finish breaking in the motor.

Tomorrow (thursday), the new intake manifold/supercharger mount arrive in the mail.  I can start test fitting that to the car and figuring out a tensioning system as soon as that shows up.  The radiator/intercooler ship out of BEGi on Friday, the carbon parts (hood, fenders, and seats) ship out of St. Louis tomorrow (thursday), the new throttle body and connectors all shipped out today, and some miscellaneous stuff (boost gauge and hood pins) will ship out tomorrow.  As such, the supercharger hopefully gets mounted and tested late next week, Doug can do the full custom 2.75" exhaust on the 13th, and I can then immediately get the car tuned on the 14th.  This puts me ready for the Slush #1 event on the 18th for the car's first event.  This, of course, assumes that nothing goes wrong between now and then...

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