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jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/9/16 7:46 a.m.

I’ve been racing “36” since 2003. Well, honestly, “36” has been four different cars, but as I transition from one car to another, enough parts seem to migrate that I consider them the same car. It is an early (for the most part) 944.

Current “36” was built as a SPEC-944 car, to the letter of the law. Unfortunately, that is not a NASA class that has gotten much traction in my area, so I have run it (in fairly underdog status) inside of GTS-1. As classes come and go, GTS1 is now thinning out, with many guys moving to GTS2 or to something else.
A couple of weeks ago, my son James and I headed to Dominion Raceway, a new track about halfway between DC and Richmond. My plan was to race the 944 and James was to attend his first HPDE. It’s a 2.0 mile, 12 turn track that is still under development, but I am super excited to have a new track “close” to home. We got there Thursday afternoon and helped build some tire walls just beyond turn 1.

We pulled the 944 with our Wanderlodge, which is a relatively new acquisition, and it makes a fantastic race support vehicle (and doubles as a NASA Official’s Remote Command Post during particularly hot days). Also, the diamond plate roof makes a killer observation platform.

We signed up for the Friday test and tune. Unfortunately, I hold the distinction of being the first racer to completely grenade an engine at the new track. Session two, second lap. I don’t have any rear facing video, but it was as though I was coming out of a perpetual tunnel, bright in the front and pitch dark in the rear. The inside of the cockpit sounded like a paint shaker doing its job with a can full of pebbles. I pulled off track left, coasted to a stop (irritatingly close to pit in) and waited for the hot pull, bathing in oil smoke and a 115 degree cockpit. Back at our paddock, I let the car cool down and then took a peak at the top…looked pretty normal. Looking below, I found A CLUE.

Seeing there was no chance of repair at the track, we pushed the car on the trailer (with the help of new friends) and I enjoyed watching James. We had a spectacular weekend visiting with old friends and meeting new ones (the bus was parked in a prime spot for air conditioned viewing of turns 1-8….you tend to make friends in such situations). James experienced the classic “stuck in reverse” 1990 miata syndrome along with a failed clutch slave cylinder, so his weekend was also cut a little short. There’s no such thing as a bad day at the track and we enjoyed the rest of the day and a nice drive home in the bus. This weekend we pulled the engine. I was fairly impressed with the first look.

So…what to do? Prior to this explosion, I was toying with selling the 944 and changing classes. Maybe an E36, or Miata or build something crazy like an old mustang. Now, I’m thinking it would be fun to bone up on the Performance Touring rules and see what the little car can do, given half a chance. I poked around the paddock at Dominion, spoke with Xavier, the series liaison, who gave me advice on rules and offered to help me along as I strategize the build. Having run with the PTE group at Summit Point earlier this year, I know they are a great bunch of guys with a healthy field of cars. I need to double check my math and script the build before I start spending money, but it looks like we could go a couple of different ways. We could go with a pretty intense build and keep the car at its class weight. Or I could pick up about 15HP over the current engine and lose some weight. I’m sort of leaning toward a mild build, try to land around 150 HP to the rear wheels and lighten the load a bit. Mainly because I’m cheap. Picking up a few ponies, going back to Hoosiers, and not adding weight seems like a good time in the making. Thus begins a new chapter in Higginbotham racing, and a new incarnation of “36”.

bentwrench
bentwrench Dork
8/9/16 9:23 a.m.

LS swap!

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
8/9/16 10:25 a.m.

^^ What he said. You have a C5 Corvette with electrical issues that got crashed into a porch, don't you? DON'T YOU?

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/9/16 10:53 a.m.

BUSTED. Well, I have a C5 that is RUNNING GREAT and don't really need TURN SIGNALS or much of whatever else that was up there in the nose that's now on the shelves in the shop. I do need to pop a toggle in to get the fans working reliably, but that's for another project thread.....Besides, one day I'm going to rip the stuffing out that Corvette and make it the machine it always wanted to be. Whatever that may be. I will limit the mods to be PTE legal. The (ok it's a really good) idea of the LS swap puts me in STU. Now if it was a street car........

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/9/16 12:07 p.m.

Audi V8 swap, just to be different.

Audi 2.7TT bellhousing spacer, 924 Turbo bellhousing, early Audi V8/flywheel/clutch, custom oil pan and motor mounts, mix liberally.

Or an Audi 20V Turbo which is similar to the above.

Or if you want to keep it "in the family" go with a 3.0L turbo build.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
8/9/16 12:55 p.m.

Oh and by the way, Jack meet Stefan. He's a front engine Porsche nut on the west coast and has also gone the carburetor route on a 924. His experience was much more positive than ours.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/9/16 1:09 p.m.

In reply to Ed Higginbotham:

Actually, I went ITBs (DCOE equivalent throttle bodies from TWM) and MegaSquirt on my 924 and it passed local emissions and it was a DD for a bit (if not a bit uncomfortable due to the lack of interior and seals).

It is back to the stock intake in preparation for a BAE turbo conversion, but we just had a baby so that's going to take a lot longer than originally planned.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/9/16 1:41 p.m.

Hi Stefan, and thanks Ed. Nice job on the ITBs. Yeah, we didn't get too far, too fast with the Mikuni set up. It worked ok with a bag of jets, but even with some sweet mods from Wolf Creek Racing, we still washed it out on hard rights. It was fun while it lasted and I was happy to see it go. My bedtime reading tonight will consist of the NASA Performance Touring rules to make sure I have it right....but I believe I am limited in my engine options. However, it is fun to dream. We had a 280Z for a long time that I wanted to drop either an LS or a Rover (Buick Aluminum V8) in. Unfortunately, when we finished cutting the rust out, it folded in half. One of these days.....

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/9/16 2:19 p.m.

If it helps, slap a 924 CGT nose on it and call it a 924 which might allow more Audi and/or VW based engines.

Some shots of the lil basterd:

Added some curved runners to the ITBs to try and improve low end, combined with the Franco Automatic timing gear, it actually helped that poor 95hp Audi lump.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/10/16 9:03 a.m.

That is KILLER. And maybe what I like best is how clean the engine bay is. Looks like you could house a small family in there. Well played.

Devilsolsi
Devilsolsi Reader
8/10/16 9:47 a.m.

There is a 944 Turbo motor on DC craigslist for $1,600.

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/mld/pts/5697675313.html

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/10/16 10:53 a.m.

In reply to jh36:

Yeah, after buying and working on a 951S, I went back to my 924. What a PITA that car was to work on.

Looked good though, the new owner is enjoying it and has made it much faster around an autocross course, but it helps that he has a bunch of spares and he's single.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/10/16 1:53 p.m.

Yep, and that PITA thing keeps me thinking about NA vs TURBO...once you have a handle on the 944 NA, it's not that weird really, as you know. And people say it's getting expensive to run a '44, but as long as parts cars are still around (and they are) and you turn your own wrench (and I do), I think it isn't any worse than average.
So, balance shafts...who needs them? Just make a really good fuel rail and shock absorber assembly (yeah, I've seen that go bad in a blaze of high octane glory), get the compression up a scooch, do some creative tuning...NATIONAL CHAMPION PTE. Yeah, it's that easy?

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/10/16 1:55 p.m.

All this coming from a guy that's been restoring a '57 100-6 since the early 90's. Sure, it's all easy.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/10/16 1:59 p.m.

I wouldn't ditch the balance shafts, too many broken engines and parts to make it worthwhile, IMO.

Especially on a motor that will see hard use.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the 944 motors in general, too much hassle to maintain due to their stupid belt setup, so many better engines available in similar sizes with as good or better power output.

How about a VW VR6? Used in the Cayenne among others, so there's lots of info and parts available.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/10/16 3:28 p.m.

You may be right....I've never done it. I've seen it done, with varying results. I'm not even sure the claimed HP gain is real....just hearsay.
I do know the stock fuel rail does not work in that environment.
You're making me think though.....

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/10/16 3:37 p.m.

In reply to jh36:

Here's an interesting discussion on the 944's balance shafts:

http://www.924board.org/viewtopic.php?t=39136

And here's a discussion on a VR6 swap:

http://www.924board.org/viewtopic.php?t=39136

034 Motorsports makes a VR6 adapter for the Audi 016 bellhousing (used in the 924 and bolts to the 944 torque tube)

http://www.924board.org/viewtopic.php?t=30054

and here's a site on the Audi 20V into the 944:

http://944-20v.nl

170hp in NA form with a nice exhaust note and somewhat cheaper VW/Audi parts.

Mister Fister
Mister Fister New Reader
8/10/16 3:39 p.m.

In reply to Stefan (Not Bruce):

It theoretically fits - my mechanical engineer friend went as far as to lower it into the bay on an engine hoist - but it required far too much fab work to make it realistic.

Stefan (Not Bruce)
Stefan (Not Bruce) MegaDork
8/10/16 3:51 p.m.

Read the threads I linked.

jh36
jh36 New Reader
8/11/16 4:39 a.m.

Ok, the 3.0s3 puts it out of class. The 2.5 s is legal but comes with a hefty weight penalty. Any make engine swaps are taboo. Pondering. I'm pulling the blown motor off the stand. I'm finding shards of metal in extraordinary places so I am going to write this off and start designing my new 944 engine coffee table. So I either go on the hunt for an s motor(2.5) or build an NA. This rule set seems to dictate these two choices. The s gets me 20 hp or so gain and added weight. I think I can get the 20 and not have to add ballast with the NA. And I have a (probably) good motor sitting here. Words I may regret?

Mister Fister
Mister Fister New Reader
8/11/16 1:38 p.m.

I own an S and you can buy it.

Just spent $11,000 rebuilding the motor to stock specifications.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer Reader
9/13/16 4:51 p.m.

Hey Jh36, I just blew up my engine too!

http://rennlist.com/forums/924-931-944-951-968-forum/951785-i-think-i-killed-my-88-944-na-best-way-forward.html

I bought a replacement NA engine but I'm hoping my original engine isn't quite as bad as yours was.

I plan to run the new engine at VIR in October, and then I'll spend the winter building all the go-fast tricks into my rebuild of my original engine.

Buy yourself an NA and let's create a "PTE-944-spec" class!

corsepervita
corsepervita Reader
9/15/16 12:06 p.m.

That shrapnel made me cringe. RIP motor.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer Reader
10/14/16 6:34 a.m.

Still going to build to PTE?

There's a NASA PTE group that's pretty active on Faceballs. I'm on there now, seeking advice on my build strategery.

The PTE rules may change in 2018, so be careful and plan ahead.

We have to get together and strategerize on both our builds! At this stage in the game (for both our cars), we have the opportunity to be the cars to beat! Maybe?

Time for an update to this thread complete with your mods list so I can copy it faithfully!

Ed, get up here and help your pop out! ;-)

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
10/14/16 8:08 a.m.
jh36 wrote: Ok, the 3.0s3 puts it out of class. The 2.5 s is legal but comes with a hefty weight penalty. Any make engine swaps are taboo. Pondering. I'm pulling the blown motor off the stand. I'm finding shards of metal in extraordinary places so I am going to write this off and start designing my new 944 engine coffee table. So I either go on the hunt for an s motor(2.5) or build an NA. This rule set seems to dictate these two choices. The s gets me 20 hp or so gain and added weight. I think I can get the 20 and not have to add ballast with the NA. And I have a (probably) good motor sitting here. Words I may regret?

Just FYI - sometime this winter (or sooner) I'll be pulling the "bad" engine out of my project 924S. I'm pretty sure it has a spun bearing but otherwise it does start and run (with much racket). IDK if that would be of use to you to rebuild, but if you were to, for instance, come help pull it out I'd be willing to just give it to you (minus a few things that I want to pull off of it), maybe in trade for random interior parts or something (I am not building a track car, I'm trying to build a nice weekend cruiser). I'm in Northern Va.

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