modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
7/29/12 12:23 a.m.

Copying this over from the Vorshlag forum. Originally written by Terry Fair.

Brianne Corn took her 2005 Subaru STi to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) in 2011 and came away with a historic class win in the AWD Time Attack class. She is only the 2nd woman in 83 years of PPIHC's running to win a class, and she did it on a shoestring budget. That was only one of many amazing driving feats she pulled off in 2011, which also included: a historic BMod open class win at the SCCA Solo National Championships (only the 3rd woman to ever win an open class), she was the Rally America Open Light Shootout Champion, raced in the support series at the WRC Mexico rally, and was named SCCA's Driver of the Year. Whew!

Brianne's boyfriend and race crew chief JasonM is one of our suspension guru's here at Vorshlag, and he does a lot of race preparation on the PPIHC Subaru as well as other cars she races - along with Brianne, who is an accomplished mechanic in her own right. Vorshlag was a small sponsor for this driver/car combo in 2011, but is stepping it up this year to do more, on a very compressed time schedule.

The 2011 race event was the last running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb that had dirt sections of the course, which was approximately 15% of the race route. Paving of the entire road up the mountain was completed in August, 2011, weeks after the 2011 PPIHC event. This means that 2012 is the first year that the entire 12.42 miles of Pike's Peak mountain road is paved. This massive change in surface has attracted a whole new crowd of hill climb and road racers to this historic event. 2012 had so many entrants that for the first time the organizers had to announce qualifying during the practice days, to weed down the field of entrants for race day. In 2013, the PPIHC event is being changed to a 2-day race format, to accommodate even more racers.

One other thing that changed was the merging of some classes. Since there's no longer a gravel element to this hill climb, the AWD and 2WD Time Attack classes were merged for 2012. This brings in some serious 2WD machinery to the new combined class (the old 2WD Time Attack record was 44 seconds faster than the AWD record!), such as Rhys Millen in the V8 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, a works Porsche GT2 911 with 700+ hp, among others. Brianne and Jason knew they'd have to step up the power, grip and the preparation level of the car for 2012 to have another shot at the win.

Nobuhiro Monster Tajima next to Brianne Corn at the PPIHC event in 2011

To address the power department, AWD Tuning in Flower Mound, TX built an all new motor, added a massive Perrin front mount intercooler kit, and a host of other horsepower upgrades. This all-new motor was built on very short notice. Since the event was delayed until mid August due to the wildfires in the Colorado area, there was some extra time to do more than just install some new shocks and camber plates, so we now have it at Vorshlag for various updates for roughly 3 weeks. Our sponsorship and labor commitment went from minor, to... a little more than that. We're jumping onto an existing, winning race car hoping to do a few upgrades that make sense in the short time window we were lucky enough to have.

Since Vorshlag specializes in suspension design and race preparation, we had originally hoped to concentrate on just upgrades to the suspension. Off come the Tein coilovers and top hats and on will go some AST dampers (We had a set of GD AST 4100s sitting on the shelf), Swift springs, and Vorshlag camber plates, front and rear. After seeing the skinny tires they ran and won on last year, I [I]insisted [/I]that we also add some of our Vorshlag/D-Force, 5x114.3 pattern, 18x10", lightweight 5-spoke wheels. On those wide wheels will go some 285/30/18 Hoosier R6 tires, in place of the old 245mm Hoosiers. Having +40mm of tire on each corner will improve grip tremendously, especially when there are 156 turns and 11+ minutes of abuse per lap.

Left: 18x10" wheels and custom flares on a 2-door Subaru Impreza. Right: 18x11" wheels and custom box flares on a BMW E30

To make those big tires fit this stock body chassis properly, at full bump travel and full steering lock, is no small feat. Luckily it is something Vorshlag has tackled many times in the past, on various chassis, including the two shown above. Essentially the shape of the factory front STi "box flares" will be enlarged and all new steel rear flares will be added. We will show that work in this build thread, as well as the other race preparation work we will attack.

Some substantial plumbing upgrades to many systems will also be performed, with parts/assistance/guidance from the hose and fitting wizards from Pirtek Plano South, including the shop owner Ed (who is a friend of Vorshlag) and two more guys from his crew. Both Ed and Mike from Pirtek are die-hard racers and both have extensive knowledge of many areas of race preparation, above and beyond just plumbing. Making a race car that can finish the entire PPIHC event takes some serious attention in the plumbing department, as the cooling, oiling, and fuel systems are taxed to their maximum in this event. With Pirtek's help we hope to make the plumbing on this car bulletproof.

We're excited that Vorshlag have a chance to wrench on this already previously winning, fast hillclimb car, and we mostly hope we can improve the handling and grip (since that's our specialty). Stay tuned for more details on the work being performed here at Vorshlag over the next 3-4 weeks. We will cross-post this thread on SCCAForums, Corner-Carvers, NASIOC, RRAX, and the Vorshlag forum.

modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
7/29/12 12:25 a.m.

Project Update for July 16, 2012:

Well the Subaru has been here for a hair over a week and we've accomplished a good bit. Let's take a look and see what has happened. If you have never read one of my build thread posts before... I add a lot of pictures. We try to share race preparation tips whenever we can, so people can see what it takes to do what we're talking about. Since we tend to "over-share", we can see lots of second-guessing and internet criticism, which is fine. Just know that we have nearly a dozen experienced race techs working and/or supervising on this build - so rest assured that each modification shown has had a lot of criticism before the first cut was made. :)

The first day it was here it was put in the air for a look inside, out and underneath. It was grimy, dirty and covered in muck after many years of hard race use, including blasting up Pikes Peak last year. Our guys wheeled it outside and put it up on jack stands. After a couple of hours with the pressure washer, suited up in rain gear + face shield, the underside and wheel well grime was mostly gone. The engine bay was washed with a bit more care and less pressure. Now it could be worked out on without too much nastiness getting on us. The Subaru is going to be wrapped from the shoulder line down, so all of the decals in those areas were removed and the panels cleaned.

After a look by the plumbing experts at Pirtek Plano South, they made a list of items and systems to tear down further for a closer look (fuel tank, rear subframe, cooling system, etc). It quickly became apparent that they wanted to do a major plumbing upgrade on every system of the car, front to back. That seems a bit overboard, and it is a huge undertaking, but the Pirtek guys are friends of ours and Jason's and they wanted to show off some of their race car worthy hardware. Vorshlag uses Pirtek for all of our plumbing needs. This car was purchased and then prepped a whole two weeks before the 2011 Pike's Peak event, so some of the race preparation work done in that short timeframe, or by previous owners, was probably rushed. We've got about three weeks to go back and do some updates and us and the Pirtek guys will need every bit of that time to get this updated. Hill climbs are brutal on every system on a car, so going in with all new race parts should add reliability.

After that first look few days later Pirtek came back with a three man team (Ed, Mike and John) and with JasonM's help they pulled the stock tank (full of E95!), then removed a tangled mess of OEM rubber and hard lines, as shown in the big box above. The long jumble of fuel hard lines from the tank to the engine bay are also gone for good. This box includes dozens of patches, fixes, and updates over the many years this car has been a race car. Not atypical when a race car has passed through several owners.

The rear subframe was removed, along with the differential assembly, to make room to extract the fuel tank. Once the fuel tank was out the factory fuel pump + pick-up assembly was removed and upgraded. Deleted the in-tank filter, TIG-welded -6 AN bungs in place of the stock push-lock ends, and securely mounted an in-tank Walbro 255 lph pump to the pick-up. The Pirtek guys new submersible fuel line to connect it all, as the outer jacket is of course covered in fuel (alcohol). These new feed and return line connections on the exterior of the fuel tank will with be connected to the rest of the fuel system with braided -6 lines using proper AN fittings everywhere.

It was noted that the subframe to chassis mounts were still OEM rubber, so a call was made to TurnInConcepts, who are sending a gaggle of their custom race bushings to install. Thanks! Once those arrive, we'll pop them in and reinstall the rear subframe; the fuel tank is already back in place.

With the OEM fuel hard + soft lines and fuel rails out of the way, a new set of billet fuel rails were purchased and installed. A new Kinsler fuel pressure regulator is now mounted on the left front strut tower, which will regulate fuel supply to the new rails. A fuel pump surge tank made by Integrated Engineering and supplied by AWD Tuning (which uses a Bosch 044 pump mounted in the top), will be fed from the stock fuel tank by the 255 lph Walbro in-tank pump (see above), acting as a lift pump. A 100 micron pre-filter will be used before the surge tank/pump and a 10 micron filter will be in-line after the final fuel pump stage. I will show this area in more detail once these filters and the surge tank are permanently mounted and plumbed.

With the Tein struts still installed, we mocked up the 18x10" wheels first with the 295/35/18 Nitto NT-05s that I ran on these wheels and our 2011 Mustang GT at the Optima Challenge event in June (200 treadwear minimum required - but even with that stipulation, these tires were terrible). The next day we rounded up an old set 285/30/18 Hoosier A6s from the shop that were mounted to the D-Force wheels, as Brianne will be running this wheel and tire package (on fresh A6s) for the Pike's Peak event. This now gave us the perfect package to build the steel box flares around (the custom flare work will be shown in my next post - it is well underway).

That front bumper cover had to be trimmed considerably to fit around the massive Perrin front mount intercooler, which we did in four iterations until it fit juuuust right. The OEM front bumper crash structure is all gone, which is a requirement for this FMIC kit, I guess. The flexible plastic that the bumper cover is made of cuts like butter with an air powered body saw, or a cut off wheel and disc. Then you can fine tune the finish with a sanding disc in a 90° die grinder, as shown above. Once the melted slag hardens (in 30 seconds or so) use a de-burring tool to make the cut edge look clean and smooth. Those brake cooling ducts were done in years past, but we're going to re-make the lower corner sections of this bumper cover and relocate the duct openings, which are int he way of the FMIC piping.

Cooling, Heat Management and Insulation

This STi has seen the rigors of Pike's Peak before and Brianne's team knows you can never have too much cooling going up this mountain. At 14,000 feet the air is so thin that everything trying to radiate heat can't do it very well - there's not enough air particles to bump into the metal from the various radiators. Instead of leaving the engine oil cooler and transmission cooler stuck behind the new FMIC, we are going to place them in an unusual place - under the factory hood scoop. This area has a nice blast of cool, high pressure air which can be put to a new use - since the top mount intercooler is no longer there. This Subaru was not equipped with any sort of strut tower brace, but since the strut towers are so close to the firewall on a GD Subaru, it's not really necessary. Still, a brace does make a great mounting structure for these two oil coolers, so we built a strut brace for that purpose and mocked-up the coolers as far from the turbo as possible.

The turbo itself will have a thermal blanket, as will the downpipe. The transmission tunnel will get some heat insulation, as will the firewall, clutch lines, fuel lines, and anything close to the turbo. The co-driver of this car usually has melted shoe soles by the end of a run, so hopefully the addition of all of this insulation and thermal wrap will help. Last year the clutch fluid boiled so badly that Brianne lost the clutch actuation 2/3rds if the way up the mountain, having to shift clutchless; with extreme rev-matching - hopefully that problem will be gone for the 2012 run. The factory cooling fans were also melted on last year's run, so more DEI insulating wrap will go around the exhaust headers that run next to the radiator. The old aluminum radiator also started to expand, so a replacement was found and will be installed shortly. A Moroso crankcase evap system oil catch tank was added and the factory battery will now reside in the trunk, for some front weight bias improvement.

One thing we had to do to prepare for the rear flares was move the fuel fill pick-up tube and gas cap. It ended up being a bigger job than expected. The stock fuel fill location had a normal flip-out filler door that is right in the middle of the right side fender flare section, so we decided to move it into the trunk. There are no timed pit stops in hillclimb, so speedy filling is not a concern. With the gas tank removed, a hole was cut in the floor for the filler neck new routing and then opened up a bit more (this will be sealed once the location is nailed down).

The factory fuel fill tubing runs in the right rear wheel well (that tube is shown in the 4th picture of this post), which is too close to the wheel/tire debris for comfort. Moving it into the trunk will now make it safe from road debris, as well as making the right rear fender flare easier to fabricate. The fuel filler neck relocation took a bit of thought and some fabrication time this past Saturday (when the shop is normally closed). I was the only one on hand that could weld at that time (which is scary), so I got tagged for this work. First, a piece of steel tubing was swedged and added to the stock up-bent piece (by Pirtek, who had two of their service trucks on hand), to extend it near the trunk opening. Half a dozen OEM brackets were cut off, some extraneous holes were welded closed, and two new brackets were welded to the fill tube. An aluminum bolt-on bracket was built and added to secure the filler neck to the trunk structure. The Unleaded Fuel Only nozzle restriction was cut out with a hole saw and smoothed, then the entire tube was painted and bolted into place. It wasn't half bad in the end, and I can point to one small part of this 3-week project and say I did that. The rest of the welding on this project will be handled by a much more skilled fabricator - Vorshlag's Ryan B.

I will discuss the custom box flares in my next post. They are progressing along nicely. The suspension we have in store is also pretty slick - stay tuned.

modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
7/29/12 12:26 a.m.

Here's what I wrote about the car last year. Lots of upgrades since then.

Originally Posted by Jason M View Post We bought the car just a few weeks before leaving for the PPIHC and had very little time to get the engine built. We used every bit of adjustability in the chassis and engine and every hour available to tune it on site in Colorado. Everything that was "stock" limited us somewhat and everything that was aftermarket was alternately genius or crap! The 2011 version: The car is surprisingly stock. The tub is uncut and the only bracing is a rear bolt-in Cobb tower brace and the welded in SCCA legal road racing cage. The HVAC parts have been removed and a fixed firebottle system has been installed. Sparco seats (good) and some not-to-be named here sucky harnesses were installed. Engine is stock block, stock crank, Manley rods, Arias pistons, MA Performance head studs, stock rebuilt heads, Grimspeed TGV deletes, Grimspeed coated and polished intake manifold, Grimspeed ported and polished throttle body, AWD Tuning modified WRX injectors, Warbro 225 fuel pump, MA Performance 20G turbo, Perrin equal length headers, Grimspeed coated up-pipe, TIAL 40mm wastgate, Perrin oversized topmount intercooler, Samco inlet pipe, Grimspeed electronic boost controller, APS intake, Cobb catless downpipe, Cobb exhaust, Exidy stage 1 street clutch, Amsoil Dominator racing oil. The engine was run on Hyperfuels E-95. We did use DEI heat wrap on the header and a Fluidyne radiator. With a custom AWD Tuning tune loaded onto the OEM ECU it produced 358 hp at 5745 rpm and 400 ft/lbs at 4349 rpm. The transmisison, center diff, rear diff, diff controller, axles, hubs, etc were all stock except for Amsoil lubricants. We did use a Kartboy pitchmount and TurnInConcepts shift bushing kit and transmission mount bushings and diff outrigger bushings. We didn't have time to install some of the other bushings they provided. Vorshlag gave us lots of parts, but we only had time to install their studs and lug nuts. Their fantastic camber plates will replace the Tein units soon. The suspension was Tein Ultimate Spec Circuit Master Super Racing struts with camber plates and we removed the antisway bars. It's wasn't ideal, but we made it work. The rear trailing and lateral arms are Cusco pilloball arms. Front arms/subframe had an anti lift installed. The brakes were stock except for the DBA lightweight two-piece front rotors and Hawk DTC-60 pads. We did modify the original handbrake handle to lengthen it and make it non-locking. The steering wheel is a Sparco suede racing model with their keyed weld-on quick release. The race-day tires and wheels are Volks CE-28 Time Attacks in 17x8.5 with custom hand grooved Hoosier A6 tires in 245/40-17. The engine, turbo and tune produced an amazingly flat torque curve and was easy to drive with the stock transmission ratios. The suspension, tires and grooving took a lot of time to get right. We had just got the car bolted together and had no debugging time before arriving in Colorado, so we paid to use Pikes Peak International Raceway for testing days in addition to our practice days.
modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
7/29/12 12:34 a.m.

Project Update for July 23, 2012 A lot of hours and late nights have gone into this project in the past 7 days. Plumbing, flares, suspension, and more. Let's get everyone caught up on the last week of Vorshlag work on Brianne's Corn's hill climb Subaru (including Brianne, who is also watching our work progress online) by the crews here at Vorshlag joined by our hose and fitting experts.

Major Plumbing Upgrade Work

The crew from Pirtek Plano South have burned a couple of nights and most of last Saturday at Vorshlag getting the complete plumbing upgrade of the car knocked out. This is a big job happening on a compressed schedule. First they worked with our crew to get every device mounted, then mapped and planned the hoses, got the AN fittings ordered. Once the fittings arrived (including some they custom built for this application, to reduce adapters) each dedicated hose end fitting (+ adapter, if needed) was installed on each device. With these in place the individual hose lengths can be measured, then the complete hoses were built at the Pirtek shop, then the hose + fitting assembly was installed on the car at Vorshlag. This is normally a multi-thousand dollar plumbing upgrade - luckily Pirtek is a sponsor to Brianne's race effort.

The fuel filler tube hole is covered with a Hurst boot - yes, a manual shifter boot - and it works like a charm. The custom double-mount for the two fuel filters (pre- and post-surge tank pump) has rubber sheeting on both sides for vibration protection and bolts to a threaded fitting TIG-welded to the chassis (called a "weld nut"). The surge tank is mounted to the unibody through poly isolators as well.

Vorshlag's fabricator Ryan and assistant Cameron re-worked the initial shape of the strut tower brace (aka: the dual oil cooler mount) with larger 3/4" square tubes for the forward section. Pre-drilled brackets were tack-welded in place, the coolers were bolted to these, and the AN fittings were pre-installed for hose routing. Ed from Pirtek is shown laying out some hoses under the hood - he will be traveling with Ryan and Jason from Vorshlag to help support the Brianne Corn Racing effort during the week of the PPIHC event and will be joined by 4 more Vorshlag employees around race day as well as tuners from AWD Tuning. If it "takes a village to raise a child", it takes a crew of experts in their respective fields to help make a car capable of winning at PPIHC. It goes without mention that it also requires an awesome driver and navigator, too! We know that formula is there, with Brianne Corn and Jeremy Rowland. We are all so excited to see this driver, navigator and this car attack the mountain again!

With all of the fittings and hoses in hand, they got to work properly routing and plumbing it all. The RedHorse AN fittings look great, the hoses are all secured, the routing tweaked, and any hose that can rub against anything else will have some abrasion protective sleeve added.

I will show more of the under hood work after the new coolant expansion tank is added and the new coolant lines are plumbed. That's happening in the next few days. At the moment the entire fuel system and oiling lines are all upgraded and completed. We still have heat management issues we want to address, but that's a job for next week.

Suspension Upgrade Shaping Up

With only a couple of weeks notice before the event, and a tighter than normal budget, AST-USA worked with Vorshlag and Brianne to come up with a custom set of inverted AST dampers that will suit this unique Tarmac Rally setup for this car. A mix of track worthy AST 5100 inverted front struts (45mm shaft) was paired up with some inverted AST 6100 Rally (50mm shaft) rear struts, for a combination that has the proper bump travel and extreme droop travel necessary when attacking the one of a kind Pikes Peak asphalt course (and again, this year is unlike any other before, with a fully paved course). The old front struts had almost zero droop travel, which is obvious when you look at the comparison picture of the old TEINs, the AST 5100s, 4100s and 5100 Rally struts. More travel = mo better! There were many corners last year where the car had 6" of air under a rear tire. Not conducive to good corner exit acceleration when you have a driven tire in the air.

We tested with four different front struts on the car and ended up picking the off-the-shelf GD 5100 front struts after we found that they had the perfect amount of bump and droop travel. Ryan tweaked the mounting holes in the lower half-brackets on the strut bodies for maximum tire clearance. Then Erik and Stuart at AST-USA checked out and went though all of the struts in short order, and got them to us from start, to testing, to finished in under two days. It sure is handy being located next door to their shop! These struts look great and should be strong as hell on this car. Our standard Vorshlag GD front and rear camber plates will be on top of each strut, of course. To gain an extra 5mm of room for spring length our single row race radial bearings are used in the front set - which we do on a lot of race cars. The GD rear plates/perches always use the single row radial bearings.

One way to pick custom damper and spring lengths is by checking the travel on the car. We start by removing the springs and installing the strut (or shock) + the final top mount onto the car while suspended on a lift. Then we lower the car onto the tires and allow the suspension to compress down and touch the bump stops, then raise it up to check maximum droop (we check for fender flare clearance the same way, too!)

We did this testing on both ends of the car with several dampers. Since we already had the wide body front flares completed in steel at this point, the front wheels we used were the custom-Vorshlag-run of 18x10" D-Force units, while the skinny stock wheels were tested inside the not-yet-flared rear fenders.

These tests + lots of calculations dictated the proper spring lengths and rates for the unique dual spring set-up Jason is developing for each corner of this car. The front flare is made to allow the wheel outboard enough so that a 10-12" long spring assembly can be used. In the rear, it is set up to use 11-12" of spring stack, all placed above the tire. One of Vorshlag's spring vendors, Swift Springs USA, stepped up and sponsored Brianne's PPIHC race effort this year with free set of eight springs! That was very cool and much appreciated. Jason ordered those + another twelve springs from Swift for tuning purposes next week as well as during the week of the Pikes Peak event.

Wide Body Flares - Part 1

I didn't show much flare work in my last post, but it was already well underway (we began on Day 1). I have been posting teaser pics on the "]Vorshlag Facebook page, which if you "like" will show you spoilers of most of our projects before they are formally written up in our various build threads (as well as new products, ong-term project cars we are selling, and other news). http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vorshlag/460717830112 http://www.vorshlag.com/blog/?p=455l Let's take a step-by-step look at how we're making this custom fabricated set of steel fender flares for this car. As usual, we show more behind the scenes steps than most folks are willing to share, and hold back nothing.

[I]The factory box flares look great, but they have trouble covering more than a 255mm tire. Not good enough for Pike's Peak![/I]

The factory 2005 Subaru STi fenders already have a modest little box flare, and instead of lopping those off and taking a short cut by welding on a new rounded flare section from a donor BMW fender flare section (like we have done on non-STI Subarus in the past, the VoMo team instead opted for an exaggerated factory box flare. http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=56132#post56132 This is an old fabricator's trick where you take an existing flare section or bodyline, slice open the upper section, and extend it. Seems easy, but the proper execution of this method is time consuming and tricky. We're burning 1.5 man days per corner, just in fab work.

Even though this process takes longer to do than the rounded flare transplant, or slapping-on some composite flares, we went with it for aesthetic reasons (it just plain looks right!), but also because it makes for a stronger, more durable finished unit. Steel flares can take a bit of a beating (smacking autocross cones, gravel hits, etc) that will normally crack fiberglass flares. Show me a real race car with fiberglass flares and I'll show you the cracks. We were also short on time for finding the right kind of widebody kit, such as ordering fiberglass fenders + overflares (which are usually built to order and almost never just sitting in stock). We could start making the steel flares in-house on day 1, which we did, using our past steel flare experience and the skills of our in-house fabricator Ryan. Sticking with steel worked for this tire size package, this car, this crew, and this timetable. Luckily the car owner Brianne left it up to us, as we were the ones that talked her into the 285mm tires.

We looked at another similar project's work (Kevin Byrd's beautiful LS3 widebody E30 M3, of Two Guys Garage TV fame - http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Cars/Kevin-Byrds-E30-M3-LS3/), followed his example, and modified this proven method to fit this Subaru's boxy body lines. The total amount of room added is about 2" per side, with a sliced/and-filled pie section only about 1-1.5"" wide at the top of the flare and a re-shaping of the radius where the flare meets the body. The front inner fender lip was also rolled once it was pieced back together. These flares will cover not only the 18x10" wheel and 285/30/18 Hoosier, but an even larger 18x10.5" wheel and wider 295 tire - in case Brianne wants to go wider in the future.

A TIG welder was used with a very specific rod that can take a lot of heat without blowing out, and a very steady hand. These pictures show the cutting, slicing, patching, and re-shaping necessary to make a wide body flare in steel. What you don't see is the hammer and dolly work, the tweaked contours of the bumper covers to match, and the hours and hours spent getting the metal shaped and re-shaped to the final contours. There are a lot of radii built into the Subaru box flare, surprisingly! Overall, all I can say is: "It's a lot harder than it looks".

We still have all hands on deck attacking these flares, trying not to let this push anyone's deadline back. In fact, last week we pushed up our own the deadline to get the car to the tuner half a week sooner than originally planned.

Two of my racing buddies and I volunteered our bodywork talent (of which we have very little!) last Saturday to try to make these look "race car good" before the vinyl wrap. I came back on Sunday and did some more filler, did another round today, and I will keep attacking the bodywork every night to keep from dusting up the shop during the day - when they are cutting, welding, and wrenching on this car. I think I've ingested enough body filler dust to make a 1/25th scale, sand castle replica of Windsor Palace.

So far we are on target to get the rolling chassis back over to AWD Tuning on Thursday night or Friday, fully plumbed and on the big wheels/tires, for their tuning work. The flares won't likely be 100% done by then, but they should be clearanced and the 285mm tires functional. Hopefully the tuning can be wrapped up Friday and then that gives us all weekend to swap in the new Swift dual-spring set-up, corner balance and align the car, and work on more flare stuff. Hopefully we can sneak out of work for a few hours to do some track-side testing early next week as well. After the test (and any subsequent changes), we can vinyl wrap the car and add sponsor decals and number graphics.

I will show one teaser pic of the rear flare work, then describe it in more detail in "Flares Part 2" - just know that the fronts were EASY to widen compared to the rear, which also encompass the rear doors as well as the fuel filler door:

Nice, fat back end shaping up. See why we moved the fuel filler to the trunk? That fender will be seamless when its completed. Again, more pics of the rear flares next time...

Stay tuned!

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/1/12 7:07 p.m.

Project Update for August 1, 2012: Wow, started writing this Monday and I'm still writing it on Wednesday. Its been a crazy week. The Subaru arrived back from AWD Tuning on Tuesday the 31st, who had it for 3 days sorting and tuning the new motor they built. I am not allowed to share the power numbers until after the race, other than to say it makes "plenty of horsepower" with the conservative tune necessary to complete the grueling PPIHC event. With no car to wrench on our guys here at Vorshlag took the weekend off (much needed!) but got back to work Tuesday morning, after it returned to Vorshlag. Let's get caught up from the last week of work.

More Plumbing and Thermal Protection Updates

Even after my last July 23rd thread update there was still a bit more plumbing to do. The engine bay had a factory late model STi plastic coolant expansion/fill tank, but that made us a tick nervous. It also was plumbed with hoses using worm gear clamps, which Pirtek wanted to change to use threaded ends. We found an aluminum Moroso expansion tank that looked pretty good. When it got here a few modifications were made and this new coolant expansion / overflow /whatever tank was mocked up in the car, as high as possible. Brackets were made to bolt it to the LH strut tower, then another threaded aluminum bung was TIG welded onto this tank (after it was machined down to a reasonable size on the lathe). The modified tank was then mounted and coolant lines plumbed to the radiator and turbocharger, with lines made by the guys at Pirtek. There's an overflow line (tied into the radiator's puke line) if the cap over-pressures as well. The high mounted location of the axillary tank makes the coolant (water only) system that much easier to fill and purge of air. Its also now metal instead of plastic, and has threaded connections instead of clamped.

Below are some shots of more plumbing work, start with the two -6 braided stainless lines and Red Horse bulkhead connectors and end fittings for fuel. These two lines run inside the car (protected from being ripped off by under car debris) along a protected part under the cage, then snake behind the dash and come out through the center of the firewall, away from any heat source.

Some more of our heat insulation solutions are shown below. The main source of heat is, of course, the turbo. It now has a form fitted thermal blanket and the downpipe is fully wrapped in ceramic header wrap.

An picture of the custom oil cooler heat shield is shown below. Here you can see the oil cooler feed and return lines routing very near the (wrapped) exhaust header primaries. A stainless steel heat shield was fabricated with an air gap to the exhaust and also has a shape to keeps these lines routed smoothly away. These two lines have since been wrapped in thermal sleeving and a reflective thermal barrier film was applied to the heat shield on the top side. Next to that picture is a shot of the stock clutch salve cylinder. The OEM "Clutch Delay Valve" (CDV) has been removed and the clutter of 3 OEM hard and soft lines has been replaced by a single Teflon-lined, stainless braided, BrakeQuip hydraulic hose, custom made at Pirtek Plano South. This new clutch line will be also be wrapped in thermal sleeving, as this line was thought to be the culprit behind the mysteriously missing clutch actuation about 2/3rds of the way up the mountain in Brianne's 2011 PPIHC run. No clutch = no smooth shifts. Hopefully this thermal management will prevent this issue from cropping up this time up the mountain.

Other Fab and Prep Work

To work with various thickness wheel spacers, some extra long ARP wheel studs were installed in both the front and rear hubs. With the rear hubs removed it was obvious the bearings were shot, so those were pressed out and new bearings went back in. When the Subaru arrived here it had a full-sized battery (35+ pounds) in the OEM location, way up front. A new Odyssey AGM style battery was picked, a new mount fabricated in aluminum, and it was all bolted to the trunk floor way in the back, for better weight balance. All new 0-gauge cables were made with swedged ends. All new wiring was made to the new fuel pumps, with isolation relays, as well.

Another custom fabricated part shown before is now painted red - the strut tower brace and oil cooler mount. The engine oil and trans/diff fluid coolers are shown mounted and fully plumbed. This was one of the most well received parts of the build so far, which was surprising. It is pretty simple fabrication work, but everyone that's seen it first hand loves it. No, this won't be some production piece we make to sell, as it is completely custom made set-up specific to: this turbo, this intercooler, and these two oil coolers.

One little area to fix we ran into was a cut apart lower radiator core support, done by a previous owner way back down the line. This is a structural piece that was an easy fix for Ryan. He cleaned off the paint, stitch-welded the cut metal back together and then patched a larger opening with a bent piece of steel sheet. Once it was all tied back together it was painted black and the FMIC was then put back into place in front of it.

After many more late nights and long hours the car was finally plumbed up, the fender flares were far enough along to fit the 18x10" wheels, and the wiring was done. It was time to fire it up... [I]VROOM![/I] It ran, but had a miss, but nothing leaked a drop - which was a minor miracle considering the complete plumbing replacement done by Pirtek. Our guys quickly diagnosed a misfire on both rear cylinders, but it was intermittent and we couldn't see what we had done wrong. Turns out it was a fuel injector harness that was pinched on both rear cylinders when we switched to the billet fuel rails. There's more to it, but long story short, AWD Tuning figured it out and got the motor running smoothly.

The car was loaded onto the trailer at Vorshlag Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm. JasonM left here to tow the car across town to AWD Tuning and promptly had two blowouts on a borrowed trailer. One of our shop guys took him a spare, tools and jack and they limped the trailer on 3 tires to a local Discount Tire store, purchased 2 new trailer tires, and was outta there by 6 pm. The car finally made it to AWD Tuning on Friday night...

14 Pieces of Flare

After the tuning professionals at AWD Tuning did their magic, making huge improvements in power and engine smoothness, we got the car back to Vorshlag late Monday night. Tuesday morning we all came in and got back to work, with fender welding underway by 9:10 am. Its been late nights since then but much progress has been made.

Here's where we are at the moment on the rear flares. Most of this is Ryan's handiwork, with some assistance from Cameron on grinding, cutting patch panels, and holding things in place while welding.

Below you can see the under-fender patch work that is involved with any rear fender flare job that alters the unibody tub for wide tire clearance at full bump. Cutting, patching, welding, hammering, seam sealing, painting. Not glorious work anyone will ever see. Using the patches Ryan and Cameron had made I tack welded these in place this morning before the gang arrived. MIG welding is fine for these panels (great, since I personally can't TIG weld), which have a bit of an overlap to the chassis panels (for strength and ease of welding). We'll grind the welds down a bit and smear every line with seam sealer, than paint it.

The inspiration for these box flares came from our little E30, which sold last weekend. Left rear fender work shown at its first stages below also.

Here's more of Ryan's work, showing how he tied up the rear of the fender sections back into the body. Cameron with the assist.

Still have a lot of grinding to do, plus my least favorite - body filler and paint. Gonna come in early tomorrow and get crackin!

Suspension Updates

As I mentioned before, AST USA really hooked up Brianne on a killer set of inverted struts. The fronts are regular off-the-shelf 5100 single adjustables with 45mm chrome shafts. The rears are actually called 6100s, which are 50mm shaft inverted rally struts. Normally for a car being used in an event like this we would custom order a complete set of 6100s, but with a very short time frame we were happy to get this set-up on the car. After a call was made to Swift Springs they stepped up with a nice sponsorship and 20 springs are on hand for testing and set-up before race day.

With the dual-spring set-up on the AST strut below you can see how much travel is available on the car now. This is crucial for tarmac rally events like this. Running a single short spring, like you would in a road race setup, won't allow the extended strut to have any spring tension in droop. Also shown below are 8 fresh Hoosier A6s from Hoosier Tire, another sponsor of Brianne. These will be used for qualifying and on race day mounted to two sets of Vorshlag/D-Force 18x10" wheels (a whole new pallet of these arrived at the shop today).

We still need to install the Kartboy end links from TurnInConcepts on the front swaybar, corner balance and align the car.

Exterior Work

After fighting with the existing sanding tools I already owned (DA sander, inline sander, and a couple of small sanding blocks) I finally broke down and bought a complete set of Dura-Block flexible sanding blocks. These 7 pieces gave me round, flat, and other shapes of dense foam sanding blocks of several lengths to use to get better results when shaping the body filler and finish putty on long flat surfaces, inside curves, and other odd shapes on the front fenders. After a some early mornings of making a mess of the shop before the crew arrived I got the front fenders good enough for some high build primer, and moved on. Rear fenders are tomorrow...

The factory titanium silver whatever color paint doesn't photograph well, and we were making a mess of the finish with all of our box flare efforts. Since we're out of time for proper paint it was decided by the crew chief and driver to wrap the car in basic red vinyl and put white graphics over that. After a little experimentation it seems to be working, with a wet layup, stretching and heat gun use. The color was inspired by our 2011 Mustang GT, shown here.

That's all I've got for now. If I keep writing I'll keep taking pictures of work happening right now and this will never get posted.

Until next time...

Terry Fair @ Vorshlag Motorsports

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/4/12 9:23 p.m.

Project Update for Aug 4, 2012: Final thrash underway for the trip out to Colorado Springs that leaves tomorrow. The last few days have been a blur. I just worked a 25 hour stint and got back to the shop after a few hours sleep. Please forgive spelling/grammar/logic errors in this post, as we're all having trouble remembering what happened. Final hours of prep are here!

More Exterior Prep

I think Ryan had finished metal work on the right rear fender where we left off. From there Ryan finished up welding the left rear flare, Big Paul helped with some metal grinding, and I got to work on the bodywork on the right rear. This is the one with the fuel door and was extra fun. I started on this at 7 am Friday morning, knocked that out, we went to the test (more on that below), came back and I worked through the night on that plus the left rear. I suck at body work - we don't normally do this work - but it's done and they are wrapping the car now.

Don't ever try to make exaggerated OEM steel flares like this on a Subaru. Just cut for the tire clearance you need, buy composite flares and slap them on. This was an epic amount of work - like 150 man hours or more. Not what you do for race car flares.

Matt has been working on the hood, hood scoop and bumper cover wrapping for the last 2+ days. Amy and Jason are jumping in now to help cover the rest of the car now. Lots of work to do.

I left the shop at midnight on Thursday but Matt and Ryan were still going strong. We had talked... talked about replacing the OEM rear wing but there just didn't seem like we had time left to get it on, do some testing, and make the matching front splitter. Well I made it back into the shop at 7 am on Friday and saw this monster bolted to the trunk. They took the GTC-300 carbon wing from my Mustang, mounts and uprights as well, and made it fit Brianne's Subaru. Fit perfectly, bolts securely to the full steel trunk lid, and the forces go right into the rear fenders/chassis. Massively strong uprights - .250" thick 6061-T6 plates. Trust me - we've heard all of the suggestions on Facebook already: No, it doesn't need cables or guy wires or more structure. The same wing worked fine on my Mustang just bolted to the trunk, going into Turn 1 at 150 mph at Texas World Speedway, and it worked on the Subaru in testing at 130+ yesterday. No shimmy, no shake, and it isn't falling off.

More Race Prep

Thermal wrap is still going on in many places. The ECU is still in the factory location, under a metal "shoe rest" in the passenger foot well. To keep heat from the ECU and the navigator's feet we've covered this section in thermal insulating blanket, sealed to the floor. The downpipe is fully wrapped, too. No more melted shoe soles.

Making it up the mountain without overheating is difficult. This will be the single biggest failure point for new and old teams alike. I suspect it will take out 50% of first time Pikes Peak teams. One trick for combating the heat of the thin atmosphere going up towards 14,000 feet is spraying water on everything, the whole way up. About a mile into the race co-driver Jeremy Rowland will flip a switch and turn on the pumps, and the two spray bars will mist water in front of the massive Perrin front mount intercooler and the CX Racing aluminum radiator. They tested the flow rate of the pump and found a water reservoir that slightly exceeds the amounted needed for the ~11 minute run. It is mounted securely with straps that go into anchors in the chassis.

On Wednesday I took a 4x8' sheet of .063" aluminum to Janco Fabrications and borrowed owner Kurt's sheet metal brake and sheer. Took the templates Ryan made and cut out a rear bulkhead and top shelf, separating the passenger compartment from the trunk, which has the fuel filler neck, fuel tank opening, and fuel pumps. Mike from Pirtek helped me cut, mark, drill, trim, and install both pieces. We must have had them in and out of the car 20 times - you know how it goes. Both pieces bolt in to existing holes and they bolt together. Aluminum tape will seal the edges and rubber will surround the fuel lines and battery cables shown passing through.

I kind of screwed up when I bent the top piece, so instead of taking the sheet back to Kurt's and making the bend angle again, we made a home made "sheet metal brake" with our 1200 pound fab table, some angle iron, and a crap load of clamps. It was pretty ghetto but we got the bend right. When its midnight you do what you gotta do.

Somewhere in there our fab man Ryan made a new exhaust from after the downpipe, during the wee hours of the same night he mounted the rear wing. Its made from the normal 16 ga 304L stainless, 3" mandrel bends and strait pipe we keep in stock for just such occasions (we also stock 2.5" and 2.75" bends, V-bands, and poly hanger mounts). No muffler, as per AWD Tuning's request - makes more power, and makes more bark. It is loud but it sounds like a proper race car!

Friday... no Thursday morning? I worked on the inner fender panel structure welding, covering the big gaps made when the rear fenders were sectioned and mounted outboard 2". These make the fenders rigid once more and keep water and crap out of the trunk and passenger compartment. Had to do the rear doors also. Seam sealer normally goes over these joints and it all gets painted (but not today - out of time!) The AST 5100/6100 suspension was on and ride heights were tweaked Friday morning.

The car was corner balanced, race aligned, and fluids were topped off. With driver and co-driver it is sitting at 57% front bias - not bad for a AWD car with the motor way out in front like this. The rear diff was removed Wednesday night, taken to AWD Tuning, and their techs installed a new OS Giken rear differential that was another sponsored part for Brianne's race effort. Ryan reinstalled the diff, Motul synthetic gear lube went in, Amsoil went into the motor, and it was fired up once more.

Quick Track Test

With the rear bumper & brake lights still removed and barely started rear bodywork, we loaded up the Subaru into the Vorshlag trailer and headed out to the Mineral Ring, a 60+ acre asphalt site we rented west of Ft. Worth, about 2 hours from our shop (2.5 hours with some construction traffic). Not ideal, but Eagles Canyon Raceway was down for repairs and the folks at MSR were none too friendly with my requests to rent some track time that day. We made the trek to Mineral Wells, unloaded the car and set-up a crude course layout (approx 1.5 miles long), sort of following something the drift crowd had run there recently. Tried to test elements that Brianne might see on the mountain: medium speed corners, some low speed stuff, and one faster straight/turn to check the rear aero.

Ryan and (Brianne's crew chief) JasonM checked all of the systems and I drove the car. This was because Brianne couldn't make it on Friday for this systems check, I fit the seat width and location set-up for Brianne, and had tested in 500+ whp race cars at this same test site. We had one set of practice tires (from my DSP BMW at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals) and another set of 285 A6s mounted to 2nd set of Vorshlag/D-Force 18x10 wheels (one of her two sets of race/quali tires). The testing itself was brief but productive: two sets of recon laps to get everything warmed up, then two sets of hot laps. The guys used an IR gun to check temperatures then pyro'd the tires to see how our pressures and camber settings looked.

Video of session 1 (1 lap): Link Video of session 2 (4 laps): Link

First video is short, the 2nd is about 4 laps and a little more exciting. The site was DIRTY and we didn't have the time to clean a good line, so we made do with what a course we could set up quickly. I don't pretend to have half the driving talent of Brianne, but maybe enough to at least get a feel for the car. The car felt great: it makes PLENTY of power (thanks to AWD Tuning), grip was excellent, the R4 Porterfield pads bedded in nicely, and all systems were in the green. On my 2nd set of hot laps I ran over something and cut a tire at the end, so we wrapped up testing and loaded the car back into the trailer before the tire went completely flat. Didn't want to risk cutting a new tire on this dirty course. That's all we really wanted to do - a handling check and a short stress test of the mechanical systems and see if anything broke. Nothing did. Win.

Grabbed some food on the way back and made it to the shop by 9, then we all worked all night. Sure, a day at a proper road course with Brianne at the wheel and the car 100% prepared would be ideal, but we always knew that with the timeline we had this wasn't likely. The crew does have a few days in Colorado (to rent PPIR or during practice on the mountain) to fine tune things a bit, but I feel like the handling is very close and everything else felt spot on.

Last Little Bit!

Brianne is now here and joining the crew, already hard at work. We're all going strong but they are debating some last minute additions that could help make Brianne's race effort that much faster, but it would eat into the "one day buffer" built into the transit time going from Texas to Colorado (16 hours one way). That's a day that could be used to acclimate to the high altitude in Colorado Springs, a day to deal with any transit problems on the truck trailer (which I feel is low risk, being that both are in top shape/have new tires/etc), or a day used in our shop to build more go-fast goodies into the Subaru. Some things can be finished up on site, but big things cannot.

[I]Decisions, decisions...[/I]

That's all I have for now. I will post up one more update covering the last of the Vorshlag shop prep, and of course a big post after the event itself.

Stay tuned!

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/8/12 4:49 p.m.

Project Update for August 8, 2012: The last several days have been a blur and we're just digging out of the rubble here. We were thrashing and putting in some crazy hours the last couple of weeks, fueled by energy drinks and a looming deadline. We pushed past the original departure time by only 12 hours, but it was time well spent. This thread update will show the last the pre-Colorado updates and preparations done to Brianne's car before they hauled out of Texas to go to Pikes Peak.

Last of the Wrap + Decals

When I posted last we had begun wrapping the car in red. We had a lot left to do, and the wrap crew went from one person, to two, to four people in quick succession. We never remembered to call Costas, who can wrap any car, but we weren't really awake enough to remember that. Matt took care of the hood scoop, trunk, rear bumper, and trimmed the door and fender vinyl for Amy and McCall. JasonM handled some other bits, and Amy + McCall wrapped a big chunk of the car too including the rear quarter panels and roof.

Some of the panels came out great, but some of the curvy bits got a bit complicated. None of us were skilled in wrapping cars, and we were very tight on time, but I think it looks good from 20 feet at 20 mph, heh.

Once the red landscape was laid down, Amy and JasonM applied the cut vinyl decals that Jason had designed in Illustrator. These angled stripes each have the names of the bigger ($1000+) parts sponsors. There were also decals on the front and rear bumper covers, hood, hood scoop, and even more are being applied today at Pikes Peak.

Front Splitter & Air Dam Construction

Once the rear wing was installed, it was obvious in high speed corners at our short Mineral Ring test that we had an aero imbalance, with significantly more rear downforce (wing) than up front (none), even with the wing trimmed all the way out. I had been pushing for us to include a front splitter since day one, with as much of a front undertray as the rules allowed. Once we decided to hold the car another 12 hours, it was splitter makin' time!

Due to the time we had left, plus the rigors that Brianne was likely to put through the splitter, there was one material that made sense - plywood, with a tubular aluminum reinforcement structure. If we had more time maybe aluminum plate could have been used, or a carbon+aluminum composite splitter. I wasn't about to make something from sign shop material, because my "rule of thumb" is if a material can be crushed [I]between my forefinger and thumb[/I] it doesn't belong in a splitter. Aero forces alone will tear it to shreds, and any road scrapes or rubs with FIA curbing will fold it up like paper. I've spoken up against using Alumilite and other plastic corrugated material on forums in the past, and stand by that statement. We got some grief for the plywood splitter on our GRM E30, but the unit we built works and can take a beating on the street or track. The driver of this Subaru can do [I]swan dives [/I]off of this splitter as well. Haters are gonna hate, nothing we can do about it. Refer to it as a "carbon based composite" if you like.

As you know plywood is tough, abrasion resistant (F1 cars use a wooden wear plate material under their chassis), and has significant cost advantages over almost anything else you can dream up. It is an easy material to quickly fabricate with and because of the cost and ease, we made a full duplicate main plane for only a little extra scratch. They now have a back-up if this unit somehow gets broken in practice (it would take a big hit to break it). Using a plumb bob to trace the bumper cover outline, Ryan and Ed marked the splitter's main plane a full 5" beyond the front bumper cover's shape, per the PPIHC rules, and used massive 3/4" thick slab of plywood. I had voted for 3/8" or maybe 1/2" thick material, but JasonM wanted to make it Brianne Proof (TM), so he went Texas big.

Once the aluminum structure was added to the splitter, it became even more rigid and was ready for some paint. In case you are wondering, the entire thing weighed 38 pounds and if 1/2" thick material was used it would have been closer to 25 pounds. The splitter sits about 4" lower than the wrapped exhaust header and oil pan, with about 3" of front ground clearance. The main plane was painted with gloss black enamel and the aluminum was shot with some black spray enamel by Brianne herself. After the splitter dried overnight it was bolted on (via the four front brackets and two rear bolts into weld nuts added to the lower subframe), we had a big air gap to fill between the bumper cover and the splitter main plane.

We don't have many pictures showing the air dam construction, as they are still on the memory card in my Nikon, which is in Colorado. I will show it's construction in my post after Pikes Peak. The air dam is simple and functional. JasonM had picked up a 7' length roll of 3/16" thick ABS plastic sheeting from a local circle track supplier (Smiley's), which was a red that matched the wrap. I made a dozen or so brackets from 2" x 2" x 1/8" angle aluminum, bolted them to the splitter, with a drilled hole and a Rivet Nut (RivNut) pressed into place on each vertical portion - with the help of two of Brianne's volunteer Austin crew members. This series of lower brackets (see below, right) allowed us to bolt the lower edge of the ABS sheeting onto the brackets for easy removal of the splitter. The upper section was riveted onto the bumper cover with backing washers behind. This looks a little crude, but it keeps the high pressure air pressing against the splitter, directs some over the hood, and forces some of the air stream into the radiator or intercooler openings in the bumper cover. Two slots for brake ducts can be seen at the bottom edges.

In order to make sure we were on the right path, we did some "static testing" during construction. Ed stood on the plywood splitter without any aluminum structure in place... and it barely flexed at all. I was about to choke when he hopped up on the lip! Once it was beefed up with a few pounds of aluminum tubing, Brianne was hopping up on the thing like a kid on a trampoline. It doesn't flex an 1/8" with her on the thing, so I guess it's Brianne Proof after all.

Brianne was a good sport and posed for a couple of splitter pictures, above. You can see the finished air dam on the right picture, and the splitter structure is visible in the left picture. There is a front tow strap we added visible in the center, poking out of a slot between the splitter and air dam. This air damn was made very quickly and only completed an hour before they loaded the car into the trailer to head out.

More pictures above are of the completed car, right before it went into the Vorshlag trailer Sunday afternoon.

Cool desktop wallpaper, with a ghosted view from the hood open merged with a picture of the hood closed: http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Vorshlag-Test-Pilots/Brianne-Corn-2005-STi/i-NC9wN9g/0/O/smallerDSC5428-copy-O.jpg

Arrival and Tech

Jason and Brianne led the caravan that drove through the night, along with two cars carrying support crew, and made it to Colorado Springs Monday around lunch time. They spent most of the day just acclimating to the altitude, and then went to tech with the car on Tuesday. As of now, half of the Vorshlag crew is on the mountain. The guys uploaded this picture last night, during tech and scrutineering. They had a small issue at tech that I will quote straight from the Brianne Corn Racing facebook page:

[QUOTE]Tech was odd in that our car which has had an SCCA Log book since like 2005, and was raced here last year (without issue), (but then) didn't pass tech (this year). It turns out that there were 2 incomplete welds in the (top of the) cage. I found the maintenance shop at PPIR and talked the guy into letting me loose with his welder. An hour or so later we passed tech and were out on the test course turning laps.[/QUOTE]

Good news, in that was the only wrinkle they've had so far in Colorado. Last year they were still building the car at this point, so they are way ahead this time around. There have been a number of cars that lost motors and/or overheated at a test earlier in the week at PPIR, a small oval track with an infield road course south of Colorado Springs. Brianne and Jeremy have made some test laps in the Subaru are very happy with it so far; they are making some slight tuning tweaks and are ready to attack the mountain.

The major sponsors are listed in the side stripes, such as Vorshlag, AWDTuning, Pirtek Plano South, AST-USA, Ignite, Swift and Amsoil. There's still a few more decals to go on, but it's 99.5% done and it is race ready. According to our folks at tech, the car was very well received by fans and competitors alike. People were constantly taking pictures of it, like this guy above.

Practice on the Mountain Wednesday

The team spent the morning at the very top of Pikes Peak (all the way up to 14K feet) doing some shakedown practice runs, shown below.

After these practice runs they adjusted camber (it had "way too much") and AWD Tuning was adjusting the tune. The crew is heading to PPIR with the car [I]right now [/I]for some additional handling tweaks and more testing tonight. As I write this Brianne and Jeremy are driving up the mountain in a street car for some recon runs, then will blast down and meet the crew at PPIR to drive the STi. Tomorrow the rest of Vorshlag crew flies out of Dallas to Colorado Springs and we will all be there over the weekend (our shop will be closed Friday) to support her race efforts. We will post up more pictures on Facebook during the race weekend and will make a mega-post after we get back from Colorado next week. If you want to see more during the event go to the Brianne Corn Racing or Vorshlag facebook pages.

Thanks, Terry @ Vorshlag

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/16/12 4:27 p.m.

Project Update for August 16, 2012: As in my other project race car forum threads, I would normally start off with a post-race report right about now. But not this time. The 90th running of the PPIHC was so out of control that I [I]have [/I]talk about the event, the crashes, and the mistakes made by the race organizers first. I apologize in advance to the readers, as this is not all roses and snowflakes. I will follow up with a real post-race report from the perspective of Vorshlag, Brianne's car, our support crew, practice, qualifying, the race, and more. In short: Brianne finished 5th out of 23 in her class, starting after a long (90+ minute) crash delay, which put her running in the rain and hail. Not complaining about the conditions - we know that if she would have qualified better she would have run earlier, in the dry conditions like the first five cars in her class did. Again, I will expand more on Brianne's story in my next post.

I started writing about my thoughts of the event itself on Monday (the day after the race), but it took me until Thursday (today) to really get my thoughts together. All of our crew has finally gotten back and more facts are available now, so I am glad I waited. Jeremy Foley's crash video has 2+ million hits on YouTube in two days, with Paul Dallenbach's videos close behind. So many people have seen the multiple crash pictures and videos and want to know more, I have had dozens of people calling and texting me for "what happened?!", so here is my version of events. This is as seen through [I]my [/I]own eyes, without rose colored glasses or my normal niceties. These are not the views of the rest of our crew, of the driver or co-driver from Brianne Corn Racing, or anyone else. Just my views, from my perspective.

Who am I to talk bad about the ninety year old, revered PPIHC event? I admit that I haven't even been to a Pikes Peak competition event before this one. However, in the past 24 years of my own racing experiences I have seen a good number of club and professional level races in several countries. From endurance events, circle track, sprint races, F1, NASCAR, drag races, road races, open road races, autocrosses, HPDEs, time trials, and more. It doesn't take too much experience to understand when things are FUBAR, like the 90th running of the PPIHC was.

From my point of view there was a lot of weirdness going on. I saw safety issues and race organizer decisions that would be unacceptable at any other race I've ever entered or attended, and I feel that I have to share them here. After talking to dozens of people at the event who said they followed our build thread for this car (which is on eight forums now), I don't want somebody to read a filtered version of the race from me, then think that Pikes Peak might be safer or more organized than it was, so I'm not holding anything back. The big problems at this event all stemmed from a few key mistakes made by the race organizers, which anyone involved with the event already know about.

Read This Bill Caswell Article: http://jalopnik.com/5934725/how-pikes-peak-became-the-most-dangerous-place-ive-ever-raced

Please stop reading here for a moment and read Bill Caswell's article about this PPIHC event that he wrote for Jalopnik. It is aptly titled [I]"How Pikes Peak Became The Most Dangerous Place I’ve Ever Raced"[/I]. Caswell is a fixture in the rally scene, plus a party animal and a real character, but he has a sharp mind and has seen a lot of races across the globe. His comments about the lack of safety at the event are spot on. The organizers made too many mistakes and allowed too many entrants, including drivers and car builders without any race experience whatsoever. The abnormally high number of entrants (rookie or otherwise) made for compressed practice days with many fewer practice runs per team than normal. He withdrew from the event after qualifying, for the reasons he stated.

Brianne and her crew chief JasonM have competed in four PPIHC events, but as I have stated this was [I]my [/I]first time to watch a Pikes Peak event up close. It was a very cool event, but also a big hot mess. I get why the event is attractive - it's an absolutely [I]beautiful [/I]road to drive, especially now that it is completely paved. Some veteran PPIHC racers were peeved about the lack of dirt, and how that changes the history of this event, and I get that. I don't share that sentiment, as I'm a pavement kind of racer, so Pikes Peak was more attractive to me now than it ever was before.

[I]$250K Dacia entry before and after running over a GoPro in the road. Click to enlarge[/I]

However, after seeing what I did in practice, qualifying and on race day, I can honestly say that this road and this event is the most dangerous sanctioned race in the world (on par or worse than the Isle of Man TT Race). It has 156 turns, almost all of them without guardrails, and if you screw up you are going into trees or over a cliff. If you make even a small mistake, or say if you drive over a freakin' GoPro camera that some d-bag spectator puts in the road "for a cool shot" and get a blow-out (which happened to the Dacia team this year! Picture above from practice), you are in for a potentially very bad crash that could end in death or severe injury for you and spectators. The 12.4 mile long race course also starts at 9390 feet and goes up to 14,110 feet of elevation, so there's barely any air to breathe for the drivers or to cool the cars.

[I]Co-driver Jeremy Rowland showing the hail falling at the peak after their race run (take a close look at the wing, one racer was using it as cover from the hail!)[/I]

I will be the first to say that the event organizers had a LOT of things to deal with, from spectators wandering onto the road or falling off the mountain (one girl was on top of a rock that was hit by a car, at least one fell off a cliff, and there were two more spectator "incidents" that were reported on the radio), they had to manage too many entrants, and they had to deal with some seriously bad weather. But... these were all known issues and/or ones they created themselves. The organizers had nobody to blame for the event running long and the resulting weather issues/delays but themselves.

[I]Racing finished so late the drivers drove down the mountain in the dark[/I]

Logistically I don't know how they pull it off, with so many crash crews, cops, ambulances, helicopters, media, spectators, and racers strewn across 12.4 miles of pavement. I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to the safety crew, helicopter pilot, and the various sheriffs and policemen that had to deal with a bunch of drunk spectators. There is virtually no cell coverage on the mountain, so I couldn't find out much from our folks located higher up or from the internet, so it was a bit frustrating as a spectator. It's a longer race course than the Nürburgring, and having driven both courses, Pikes Peak is infinitely more treacherous to drive on or to support.

As you can see in the class qualification listing above, it seemed to me, in my humble view, that they had a rather large number of rookies (11 of 23 qualifiers in Time Attack class alone). Some classes had 50% PPIHC rookies and other classes had as much as 75% PPIHC rookies. That's a big red flag to anyone that has raced wheel to wheel at even the club level. In order to race W2W in SCCA Club Racing, you have to go to a competition school (or two) and then compete on probation for two or more race weekends before you get a full competition license. Pikes Peak has none of that... they let people with only autocross experience or very little road racing experience enter. Some without even that, all the way up to the Unlimited class. This caused an unusual number of people on the mountain that had zero track experience, much less any actual previous rally or hill climb experience.

I feel that the normal dangers of this race combined with the huge number of racers (and compressed practice time) and the high percentage of rookies contributed to the abnormally high number of crashes, and many lengthy race delays. Then there was a big change in weather in the afternoon (which apparently happens like clockwork between 2 PM and 4 PM almost every day during this season) that was also a major factor in run times, crashes and delays. The event ran so long that they had to truncate the runs to finish at Glen Cove (about 1/2 race distance) for some of the Time Attack racers and all of the Open Wheel division cars. We drove up to the start line at 4 AM and didn't get off the mountain until 9:30 PM, and they were still piling down the mountain for an hour or more after us. Normally they are done with competition by 3 PM and can miss the predictably bad weather that this mountain sees.

The danger factor at this event is indescribable... it is [I]simply off the scale[/I] compared to any sort of racing I have ever experienced or watched. I don't know how they can keep doing this race without some significant safety changes - better cage/seat/safety regulations, better spectator control (fences), and maybe even some added guardrails. I saw so many wrecked cars coming off that mountain it was staggering. Radio calls all day that included things like "we have lost three cars on the mountain", or "send Flight for Life", over and over again.

This one is now famous, so I have to include it. Here is a picture of the Evo going off near Boulder Park and the crash recovery on Monday.

[I]Evo crash pictures (click to enlarge)[/I]

The cage rules, seat mounting and FIA date rules, and complete lack of window nets requirements put too many driver at risk. Sure, the more experienced folks had these items even though they weren't required to, but with the entire 12.4 miles of race course paved, it attracted a whole new crowd of teams and racers. Many of which came from Time Trial and Drift racing, groups that don't even have Rally cage requirements.

Pikes Peak Cage Rules Insufficient

Let's look at the post-crash cage structure from Foley's EVO. Nobody likes to do this, but it needs to happen so the PPIHC race organizers will improve the safety requirements before someone gets killed, or barring that, other racers will see this and take these matters into their own hands by building a rally-worthy cage for their own Pikes Peak entry. Jeremy and Yuri were both extremely lucky to not have suffered much worse injuries. The cage they had met the rules, and in fact exceeded them quite a bit, but that does not mean that the cage was sufficient for hill climb/rally use. It was not. Being lucky does not trump being properly prepared.

Cage pictures on Autoblog: http://www.autoblog.com/photos/jeremy-foleys-crashed-mitsubishi-evolution/full/#photo-5212775

[I]Click to enlarge[/I]

[I]At left you can see the main hoop buckled and B-pillar crushed inboard. Right: The A-pillar bar failed completely[/I]

As you can see, there were substantial cage structure failures in several key places. Places that would otherwise be reinforced in an FIA style rally cage. First, look at where the A-pillar on the passenger side was crushed and deflected downwards over a foot. Second, the main hoop was not tied to the car's B-pillar and both deflected (in different directions) over a foot each. The roof had one diagonal (as it was made for one occupant) and left the passenger's helmet very unprotected in a rollover (and seeing the damage to Yuri's helmet, it is obvious why).

[I]Seat pictures. Click to enlarge[/I]

Now let's look at the passenger seat, which was bolted to the sheet metal floor and not tied to the cage at all. This is done in road race cages (but probably isn't a great idea there). When the B-pillar deflected inboard a foot, it knocked the seat and ripped it from the sheet metal floor, allowing Yuri to flop around in there. There was no window net to keep his arms inside the cabin, and that allowed his arm and hand to come completely out of the cage structure during the 10+ roll overs. His head came out of the car as well - it's visible in some of the high resolution pictures.

[I]Helmet pictures - click to enlarge[/I]

The cage in the Mitsubishi Evo above buckled in many places, which would have been avoided if it had the an FIA spec'd cage - which has extra bars missing from lighter road racing cages. Some experienced PPIHC competitors pointed out the under-built cages to many of the new teams, including the Evo above that pancaked the A and B pillar bars, before the event (see comments by "DaveK" (Dave Kern, who finished 2nd behind Millen at the 2012 event) in this thread). Yes, this car had a huge off and smashed down a mountain against a bunch of big boulders, which you can see in the video, but it could have been better protected.

The cage experts on other forums are already over-analyzing the various failures, which need to happen. Foley was lucky to not sustain any injuries after this horrible crash. His co-driver Yuri was not so lucky, sustaining a dislocated shoulder and head trauma when his helmet cracked along four axis. His injuries were compounded by the obvious cage buckling and seat mounting failure (it ripped off the sheet metal floor). They life flighted Yuri off the mountain because of the very visible helmet damage. Looking at the passenger seat and cage area, it's a miracle he is not dead. That was a horrendous crash and apparently not uncommon for Pikes Peak, from what I hear. What would have made this crash safer? An FIA rally spec'd cage. I hope the organizers see this wreckage and make some much needed rules changes for participants safety.

The problem is not with the cage builder, it is with the origination of the cars and the PPIHC [I]cage rules[/I]. Cars entering the Time Attack class at the PPIHC come from four main race groups: converted Rally cars, converted Time Trial cars, converted Club Level Road Race W2W cars, and converted Drift cars. These four racing venues have very different safety requirements and substantially different cage requirements. Rally has the most over-built cages, Time Trial/Club Racing W2W cages are in the middle, and drift cars (that might hit a water barrier at 20 mph) have the least strong cage requirements. The problem is, Hill Climbs like Pikes Peak see crashes that are nearly identical to Rally, but PPIHC doesn't require Rally style cages (that include A-pillar "FIA" bars, double diagonals in the roof, B-pillar integration with the main hoop, and more).

Should the competitors rely on the minimum cage standards set by a racing organization? Obviously not. But did anyone have an "illegal" cage for this event? I really don't think so. It was unfortunate for EvoD that their car crashed, as now everyone can analyze the roll cage failures and point out improvements. Again, they built a good road race cage, none of the welds tore, but it was not a rally or hill climb cage. I sincerely hope they take this criticism well, learn from this, and if they come back to another hill climb they bring a car with a rally-worthy cage. I hope the race organizers learn from this and require FIA legal rally cages for all cars entered in their [I]extremely dangerous[/I] hill climb event. Their driver's will be safer for it.

After seeing this crash, Brianne's crew chief JasonM isn't happy with the cage in Brianne's car - he wants to add the front FIA bars to the A-pillar and a second roof diagonal, plus seat mounting tied into the cage itself. I personally have changed my own minimum standards for cages after seeing this - I used to be all about "the bare minimum cage" for weight savings, but not anymore. So at least there is one good thing from this: people are going to improve their cars after seeing this.

(continued below)

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/16/12 4:28 p.m.

(continued from above)

Click to enlarge

The cage in Millen's drift car, shown above. Those skinny bars are 1" tubes, the "big" ones are 1.5". This car had one of the weakest cages in a professionally built car I've ever seen - it wouldn't pass a NASA or SCCA tech inspection for a club level race, but it still met the minimum requirements for PPIHC (which are based on Drift cage rules). I crawled all over this car during Friday practice looking at the cage, but of course didn't have my camera. The tubing sizes and layout were staggering to me - I wish I could share that here, now. It uses 1.5" diameter tubing for the main structures and 1" tubing for large parts of the car. At PPIHC tech, this car weighed 2999 lbs with him in it. Sure, this minimalist cage is good enough for doing the driftoro thing in a parking lot, but if he had gone tumbling down the mountain or into the trees, Rhys would be one of the least protected driver's on the mountain. Well, maybe the 2nd least protected...

Click to enlarge

I was scrolling through Matt's pictures from FanFest, trying to find better pics of Millen's cage and stumbled upon this gem. This is another random competitor in Time Attack Class, above and below. This 5th gen Camaro had a supercharged engine, some blingy 20" wheels and a wrap, but was almost a totally stock street car. Remember: [I]This car passed PIHC tech[/I], checked off as "safe" to drive up the most dangerous hill climb in the world. This is the 2nd year it has entered and run PPIHC. What is wrong with this picture????

That wiggle in the down bar is bad enough, as is the bolt-in nature of the cage, but the front down bar doesn't even go to the floor! It also has little dune buggy seats. The PPIHC tech folks looked at this, two years in a row, and said, yes, this cage is good enough to withstand a potential crash like the EvoD car encountered. Riiiiiiight....

Even seasoned PPIHC veterans suffered big crashes, like Paul Dallenbach's huge off. What was noteworthy here was how close this car, traveling 130 mph off course, came to a pack of spectators standing on the outside of this turn. When I saw this on the video it made me think: "Was this a race in [I]Mexico [/I] or the USA?!" How they get event insurance coverage is a complete mystery. Allowing people to stand on the outside of turns was ludicrous, and it stopped [I]right [/I]after some of the key crashes happened that day - I know this first hand, because I had to move from where I was taking pictures near the start line. I don't care that it "has worked for 90 years", allowing spectators to wander willy-nilly around the race course under green flag conditions obviously wasn't working then. From what we heard, a little girl was injured after the boulder she was standing on top of was hit by a car, but she was released from the hospital the next day. Stuff happens here that doesn't happen elsewhere.

Dallenbach's crash was pretty massive. 1400 whp, going 130 mph in 5th gear, throttle stuck wide open, off into the trees, barely missing spectators

As many have reported there were too many crashes at this event; I've heard that this event had more than ever before. After driving up and down the mountain a couple of times, once in the rain, I can see why. Personally, I now have zero aspirations to ever drive this course in anger. You have to be a little nuts to race up this mountain. ZERO room for error - you go off, you are probably going to go tumbling down the mountain or blasting through the trees like Dallenbach.

While I have respect for anyone that races at Pikes Peak... I still think they are [I]all [/I]bat E36 M3 crazy. Nice folks, but just a bit nuts. :) This event was by far the most dangerous thing I've ever seen. As harsh as I have been in my critique here, I do respect hill climbs, as this sport involves the short term intensity of autocross with the biggest dangers in all of motorsports, rally. It is a unique type of event and Pikes Peak is unique among hill climbs. Yes, mistakes were made, but they can be fixed. The number one issue still lies in the number of entrants they allowed to run the course on race day. 170 drivers (the entire amount left of the 211 that signed up) took to the mountain, which was about 50% too many. This was after qualifying had whittled the field down to 100 entrants. At the last minute the event organizers caved to political pressure from many entrants (possibly rightfully so) and changed their stance Saturday morning at 8am to allow [I]all [/I]entrants to race, two hours before a protest hearing. This allowed too many entrants to fit in the allotted race period and allowed some entrants that honestly were not qualified to race on this mountain. One of the Unlimited class drivers had never done any sort of competition driving... not even an autocross. Nothing. Crashed twice in practice, banged up his co-driver a (edited), and was still allowed to race. These things don't need to happen.

In years past, the attendance from cars at this event had dropped so low that the organizers were bending over backwards to allow just about anything, creating new classes to attract Drift racers, rally racers, and more. They adopted their existing safety regulations, to try to entice them to come without having to modify their cars. Last year they had about 70 racers make it to race day. This year they had 170 racers and ran very late, with many racers running in the predictably bad late afternoon weather, causing more crashes and delays. Now that the mountain is fully paved and they have an over abundance of entrants, these safety concessions need to be readdressed. I know of several racers that are already sending letters to the PPIHC board to ask them to tighten up safety requirements, reinstate vetting of some kind to try to reduce the number of inexperienced racers (and car builders), and to make the event safer for both racers and spectators.

Come Watch before you Race

One thing that anyone contemplating running a PPIHC event should do is go and work crew for a team one year. If that is the only thing you take away from this post, then at least it was worth writing. Coming from a time trial, road racing or other W2W background, some things you see here will seem foreign, disorganized and very different to you - as they do me. But if you talk to enough experienced competitors you will likely get an understanding of [I]why [/I]things are done differently, and how the minimum rules aren't always the best way to do things. I'm still processing all of the data I learned at this event, almost a week later, and at least I know more than I did before going to this event.

This event has been run for 90 years so the organizers might not be amiable to change anything. If the safety regulations do not get a big update next year, future PPIHC entrants will have a choice - do they built super light cars & cages and skimp on safety, just run the safety regulations from whatever racing series they are coming from, or do they follow rally safety regulations and build a car with a proper cage/nets/seats that can survive a crash on this mountain? I hope, after reading this and seeing these pictures, they give it a second thought.

I did meet a lot of really dedicated racers, great car builders, and saw lots of insanely cool machinery - which I will share and explore in a future post. Between me, Matt, and Brandon, we have tons of pictures that we will likely be cropping for days. Brianne's car arrived back at our shop early Tuesday morning so hopefully we can have the in-car video up later this week. Again, I am barely scratching the surface of the team's race experiences at PPIHC 2012. I just wanted to vent this insanity out first, then go back and talk about her car and experiences.

Thanks for reading.

Fair
Fair New Reader
8/16/12 4:29 p.m.

This review of the event is even more harsh than my own, coming from Brianne's crew chief, JasonM. Jason works at Vorshlag but his views are his own.

[QUOTE=Jason M]JHere's my take on what was right and wrong with this year's event:

Time for a Pikes Peak update. – Warning, this is my opinion and not from my driver or employer. I saw issues with the PPIHC organization, the drivers, and the on-site and virtual spectators. This was only my fourth year on the Peak, and many things I write about, particularly the past, were told to me by other, older competitors.

Short story, our run was in less than ideal conditions and did not end in a podium finish, but we took responsibility for our own safety before the PPIHC took responsibility for the competitors that ran after us.

Long story, this year will go down in recent Pikes Peak history as one of the most controversial years, the most dangerous years, and the most disappointing years. In the years before paving started on the Pikes Peak Highway (yes, it’s ironically called a highway), the race accepted applicants, vetted them to make sure only qualified, experienced drivers fielding decent equipment were invited to participate. Then, based on qualifying times, the slower drivers were eliminated so that only the fastest, best prepared teams participated in the limited time available on race day.

During the transition to pavement attendance fell and the event seemed to accept most applicants with little vetting and did not eliminate any competitors between practice and race days.

With the paving done I expected a huge number of competitor applicants (which happened) and a return to vetting and eliminating drivers without appropriate experience (which did not happen). This caused issue #1, lots of drivers with no rally or hillclimb experience and little time trial or roadracing experience. Some with no more than some autocross experience. And novices with little competition driving experience were allowed to enter a car in the Unlimited class.

Accepting all these entries swelled the competitor list and it was obvious that not all of them would be able to run on race day. Competitors quickly started asking what sort of solution the PPIHC board was planning and were told the Qualifying rule from the rulebook would be put into play. The rulebook actually has a number of methods for including and excluding competitors and many of the novice competitors and spectators whined about the fairness or politics surrounding these methods. Here’s a few that I found in a quick skim:

[QUOTE=PPIHC Rules]Section II. C. Any competitor who, in the opinion of the Stewards, shows insufficient skills, judgment, or ability may be disqualified from further participation in the event.

D. The Director of Competition shall have the right to require Competitors to demonstrate their ability to drive competitively on the Pikes Peak Race Course before they shall be permitted to practice or qualify.

Section III Part VII 7.2. Filing Entries-PPIHC will invite and receive entries only from selected competitors. PPIHC can set the number of entries in all divisions and classes, before the entry closing date.

8.2.4 Any race vehicle which does not make a qualification attempt may be added to the race program under the Race Director's option, subject to the approval of the Director of Competition and payment of all applicable fees.

8.2.5 The number of qualifiers for any division shall be established by the PPIHC. The PPIHC reserves the right to disqualify any competitor who qualifies outside a percentage (115%) of the fastest time. For spacing purposes the Director of Competition will notify all Stewards and Officials of those vehicles that fall outside of the 115% rule.

8.2.6 The race competitors shall be the stipulated number of fastest qualifiers, unless one or more of them fail to, or are not permitted to, line up for the race, in which case the Stewards may permit the next fastest qualifiers to complete the field. The PPIHC shall be allowed to add to the field at its discretion.

And this is all topped by:

Section III, Part I,

1.4. PPAHCEM Option-The PPAHCEM/PPIHC has the right to make and construe rules and to render decisions concerning them; to grant, refuse or withdraw licenses, sanctions and approvals; to assign and cancel dates for competitions; to appoint and rescind the appointment of officials; to impose and remove penalties for violation of its rules; to establish standards of eligibility for participation in competitions; to establish rules for its own procedures; and to do any and all things which, in its judgment, are consistent with the enhancement of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

1.6 Acceptance of Rules-Every person who participates in the event shall be deemed to be acquainted with the rules and shall agree to the acceptance of these rules as published, and as amended or supplemented, and agrees to be bound by same. [/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=Jason M]In addition to these rules, the competitors were told at the initial driver’s meeting that any competitor causing two red flags during practice or qualifying, or any competitor driving off the course on purpose (ditch hooking) would be disqualified from competition.

Well, that should thin out the ranks.

Instead, what happened was that the PPIHC followed their own rules with two exceptions. They changed the 115% of the fastest driver to 120% of the second fastest driver (seems acceptable to me) and they included a few high profile competitors under the guise of “promoter’s option” (see Section II 8.2.4 and Section III 1.4). The only reason I can see for competitors being surprised or upset about this was that the whole qualification requirements were not clearly stated before Tech Inspection was over (as required in the rulebook) or that they did not make the cut. This caused some anguish among rookie drivers who started a negative PR campaign against the PPIHC during Fan Fest. The PPIHC organization quickly caved to their pressure and issued a bulletin the next morning stating that all competitors would be allowed to participate in the Hill Climb, including those that wrecked twice, those that ditch hooked on course and those that were so slow they should be entered in the exhibition class.

So now we have unvetted competitors entered. We have far too many competitors entered. And we have inexperienced and unprepared competitors entered.

As an aside, we also have seven cars entered in the Electric class.

Back up to the actual practice days. The PPIHC organization tried a few things to make things smoother during practice days. Runs were allowed from dawn to 9:30, which is 30 minutes longer than 2010. But instead of allowing competitors to go to the start line whenever they were able and then halting the runs so competitors could return to the paddock when the line was idle like in past years, they broke up the runs by classes and practice runs could only be competed when your class was running. I’d estimate that cost us two runs in the top section, two in the middle and one at the lower qualifying section. In my eyes that was one experiment that failed. Bill Caswell has written on Japolink about the safety of the event and the lack of practice runs. This is one thing we agree on. The lack of practice and qualifying runs due to the huge number of competitors and the mico-organization of the runs damaged the competition of race day.

Something else they tried with success (in my opinion) was that the competition vehicles had to be in the pits by 6:00 PM on Saturday before the event. This eliminated the hours of getting competitors situated in their pit spaces on the morning of the event. Good call! Though we found another car in our pit space and had to have it moved, it was not really clear where our pit space started and ended, and we found our pit space boxed in a few times. Luckily our fellow racers are mostly cooperative.

On to Race Day.

Frankly, worked just like most PPIHC race days. Semi organized chaos. But that was expected. Competitors are expected to keep track of what group is running and when to stage in the start line. As unorganized as it seems, it always seems to work just fine and with a smaller race-day group it would work even better.

The race day was expected to be long, which meant we WOULD see a shift in the weather at some point. With a smaller competitor field they can sometimes finish the runs before 3:00 PM and they –might- be able to get everyone done before the weather changes for the worse, but with the huge number of competitors we estimated the earliest we would run would be 2:00 PM assuming we ran before the Unlimited class and that there were no delays. Even then there were plenty of competitors that had to start behind us. But the delays started early. Competitors (new and old) had mechanical issues on course and a larger than normal number of off course events that caused red-flags and delays.

I heard second-hand that we experienced a long delay because a fire truck was tied up observing Monster’s car after it failed on course. With the larger number of electrical cars entering it may be prudent to review the handling of electrical car fires to see if they can be made more efficient so the event can continue.

The red flags continued through the day and I have no issues with the race-day handling of the events that caused them. Very minor delays were caused by communication issues with safety trucks and ambulances, and that might have caused longer delays, but it seemed backup methods prevented those delays from being longer. Kudos to the organization for handling so many incidents so efficiently.

The LONG delay caused by rookie Jeremy Foley’s crash caused a few things that rankled the competitors. This was a wreck that closed the course for 90+ minutes and four competitors were red flagged and had to return to the start line for another run. Instead of returning to the end of the line per the rules they were allowed to start in front of the remainder of their division, thereby having the best possible weather conditions as the conditions were becoming worse. The long delay also caused a significant weather change to the course relative to the first four Time Attack Division competitiors, but that is a part of hillclimbs. The first four cars (the top four qualifiers) got to make their run in relatively nice conditions while the next seven ran in difficult conditions (rain, hail, sleet, cold). After two offs in the bad conditions the PPIHC organizers shortened the course mid-Division which caused some competitors to cry foul. But it was the right thing to do both for safety and to allow the remaining competitors to make a run. It would have taken too long to extract the two cars that had gone off and resume running the entire Highway. So the course was shortened to Glen Cove, below the two off-course cars and below the bad weather. The remainder of the Time Attack Division and the entire Open Wheel Division ran the shortened course.

The event finished and I attended the most lightly attended and latest PPIHC award ceremony in four years.

So what went wrong?

The big issues were that the PPIHC didn’t restrict entries to competitors with experience that crosses over to hillclimbs. They did not set a maximum entry number per division or per event and choose from the applicants and they did not eliminate competitors during qualification and practice. They also had minor procedure and communication issues during the event that most likely did not change the flavor, competition results or safety of the event.

The drivers used peer pressure, social media and threats of bad press to get the PPIHC organization to allow potentially unsuitable competitors to be admitted at multiple times during the event from the entry period, the qualification period and the time between the initial competitor list being published on Friday and the reversal email on Saturday. This has continued after the event with cries of “politics” and “unfair competition” after the event from a few bad sports.

In addition to the handling of the event, I believe that the safety rules regarding the cages for production cars should be changed to fall in line with FIA Rally cookbook cages, FIA homologated cages or Rally America cages. The simple cages used in some of the Time Attack cars is not adequate. Only through luck have we escaped using the current cage rules.

Some things viewed as issues that I think were the responsible thing to do:

Shorten the course. Had that not been done the delay caused by the off course cars would have caused the Open Wheel class to not run at all. Doing it in the middle of a Division was a difficult call, but any other call would have denied some competitors a chance at any run.

Including high-profile competitors when they qualified slower than eliminated competitors. Some competitors can whine all they want. But if their programs are attractive enough and they can generate the public buzz or be allied with the event, then they might have been included also.

Changing the qualifications from 115% of the fastest to 120% of the second fastest. Using the first qualifier would have decimated the divisions and left very few competitors for race day. Slightly relaxing them allowed for full slate of competitors. Though the eventual elimination of qualification hurt the competition and flavor of the event on race day.[/QUOTE]

DaveEstey
DaveEstey Dork
8/17/12 2:56 p.m.

I agree with everything I've read above. Very astute and certainly clear.

I do want to point out that not everybody with a red R next to their name is a true rookie. I know Jamie Melhuish personally and he has years of hillclimb experience under his belt, including Mt. Washington and other mountains in the north east. I'd be interested in seeing how the rules decide who is a rookie or not.

Hillclimb racing is no joke, and if we let it become more about the names/brands than safety we risk losing the sport as a whole.

sachilles
sachilles Dork
8/17/12 7:06 p.m.

Jamie also went off in practice, which tells you the hill is no joke.

modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
9/6/12 7:03 p.m.

Brianne and Jeremy finished their video of the run in the rain and hail.

http://youtu.be/OpDrBraoliI

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle New Reader
9/6/12 8:57 p.m.

That foggy windshield view was brutal.

Fair
Fair New Reader
9/20/12 2:57 p.m.

Project Update for September 18, 2012: Sorry for the month long delay in writing our "post-race report" update with the details of how the actual event went down for Brianne. We've been busy with other projects, preparing for and attending/competing in the 2012 SCCA Solo National Championships, buying some cars, and more.

Vorshlag Race Photo gallery: http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/PPIHC2012/

I was only at this event for a little over three days and in this post I cover the Friday practice and Sunday race day from my point of view as a spectator/sponsor/race day supporter for the Brianne Corn Racing entry at the 2012 PPIHC event. No more talking about the event, rules, crashes, or other distractions - this is what I saw that related to Brianne's event.

2009 PPIHC Interview with Brianne Corn

Before you read about our race write-up, you should watch the video interview linked below. I had never seen this until today and actually found it while searching for the race day video from 2012. This interview was made at Pikes Peak in 2009, when Brianne first raced a motorcycle up the mountain. Great stuff, as it let's you see the history of her racing and her passion from 2004 to 2009. She talks about the moment she knew she had to become a racing driver (an [I]accidental [/I]mountain road drive in a rental Golf, following some caged rally cars in Italy). Her start in autocrossing, her move to land speed racing in 2007, then to an experience in the Baja 1000 (Class 3 truck), onto rally, then to Pikes Peak. Great stuff!

[I]Click the image above to watch this 2009 interview with Brianne Corn.[/I]

Excellent interview. You must watch this if you follow Brianne in her racing endeavors. Also, make sure to follow Brianne Corn Racing on Facebook, where you can keep up with all of her racing efforts.

Friday: Practice

Amy, Matt, his girlfriend, and I all flew into Colorado Springs LATE on Thursday night (at our hotel by 1:30 am). Then Amy, Matt and I got up at 4 am Friday morning to meet the team that had been here all week (including Ryan and Jason from Vorshlag) up on the mountain. Friday was the last day of practice and it took place on the middle stage of the mountain (qualifying was on Thursday on the bottom stage). It was a total CF once we arrived in tow with the crew, as there was no room for us to park at the start area. We made a split second call and drove our rental Impala to the top of Devil's Playground at 12,780 feet elevation, which was the finish area for that days practice runs. We were going to help with taking tire pressures, getting IR temperatures of key components, and snapping pictures as they came into this section and finished each run.

[I]Two excellent pictures of the Subaru during practice - click either for a larger view[/I]

We hopped out of the rental car at 5 am, which was wheezing and detonating like mad going up at this altitude, wearing our shorts and t-shirts (it was warm at the hotel!) and we were freezing our butts off. Oh DAMN it was cold!!! 40°F and a wicked breeze that went right through you. I had like three raincoats on and was barely able to stand it. Matt hiked down the mountain a bit and took pictures near the finish area and I stayed up top to talk to Brianne and Jeremy as they made each of their three runs up the mountain.

With air this thin, shivering, and working on no sleep I was a wreck. Can't.... breathe.... ack! I was in a daze all morning trying to acclimate to the altitude. Much of this has been relayed to me, as I was only semi-conscious during the practice runs. On her first Friday run up the the mountain she was feeling the car out and getting used to the road on this middle practice stage in this car. The suspension was sorted and had been tested at PPIR the previous afternoon. Brianne and Jeremy were getting their notes synced up and just taking it easy. The second run up showed some minor boost leaks that Keith at AWD Tuning fixed. These leaks were causing part throttle lag, that went away ones the leaks were fixed. With these issues sorted they made fast on their third run for Friday.

[I]Click the image above for in-car video from Friday's practice (on dry weather 285 width Hoosier R6s).[/I]

The "roof cam" video shown above is from their third and final run up the mountain on Friday, which was also their best time for the day.

[I]At right you can see Brianne's "race dog" Meadow - who was stealing water bottles and burying them in the woods all week! Cracked us up.[/I]

Now they had some other issues on Thursday, which was the practice day when final qualifying occurred (even though they had another day of practice on Friday). A pressurized turbo hose popped off on the only serious practice run that day and she lost power on the 2nd sector, limping the car to the finish. That made for a 10th place qualifying spot, which didn't really show the true performance of the car (other practice times were 4th or so). Brianne was confident she could finish much higher than 10th and hoped to get a clean, dry run on race day, even buried halfway down the starting order. She also knew that running less than a third of the mountain in practice runs is [I]nothing [/I]compared to running the entire, grueling course length in anger on race day. She was well acclimated to the altitude, had trained for this for four years, and the "last minute thrash built" car was finally sorted and fast.

Friday: Fan Fest (Car Show)

FanFest is a big car show and meet-and-greet with the drivers, held on Friday night in downtown Colorado Springs. They shut down the roads from ~4 pm to 10 pm and the top qualifiers from each class are required to attend and a big chunk of the other racers volunteer to bring their race cars out to this event as well. If you ever go to the PPIHC, you have to make sure not to miss this thing!

There are SO many cool photos from FanFest that I can only show a few here. If you start here in the Vorshlag photo gallery you'll see a bunch of the pics from FanFest that Brandon took. There was some incredible machinery gathered here for everyone to see - in a more concentrated area and easier to view than on race day or during practice.

[I]Left: The crazy LoveFab "NSX" which ran in Unlimited class. Right: Dave Kern's beautiful and FAST EVO, which placed 2nd in the Time Attack class.[/I]

This year's FanFest had a giant RedBull show with motorcycles doing jumps, interviews with drivers, crazy stunts on bikes, and a huge carnival-like atmosphere. Later in the night, they had two stunt parachuters drop out of a plane and fly down onto the motorcycle ramp. We had a ball and the entire Vorshlag crew ate at a great pizza joint right on the main drag, during a break in the meet-and-greet period.

Above you can see some of the Vorshlag folks and Brianne herself hanging around the car. She was talking to hundreds of fans, signing autographs on the free "team poster" she was handing out, and saying "Hi" to old friends and racers that stopped by. Excellent PR there and she made a lot of new fans that day. This is a good opportunity for people to get up close to the cars and teams even whether they do or don't attend the actual event on race day.

Saturday: Race Preparation

The entire crew spent most of Saturday doing a more through version of their normal check list. This includes going over every system in the car, including some repairs to the cooling system, removal of the splitter and front bumper to check all of the brake cooling and oil plumbing hoses underneath, verify the alignment and a complete "nut and bolt" of the suspension and drivetrain. The main radiator cap was bypassing at lower than normal pressures, allowing some water loss from the bypass line at the radiator. This bypass line was blocked off and the over-pressure bypass for the entire coolant system was then handled by the second radiator cap at the remote reservoir we added. This second cap worked fine and the car didn't lose a drop during race day.

]

This was all done in the motel parking lot, which is common for Pikes Peak teams during off days or outside of the designated practice times on Wednesday-Friday of race week. Lots of fans stopped by the makeshift "garage" to inquire about the car, the event and the teams' history.

[I]An excellent pre-dawn picture of Brianne and Jeremy taking the finish line at the Peak, during practice runs.[/I]

Most teams bring two trailers to the event, just like our crew. The main enclosed trailer stays at the hotel and a small open trailer goes with the team up the mountain for each day of testing. Why? Navigating the switchbacks with a big enclosed trailer is a nightmare, and parking in the woods (aka: paddock) on race day is impossible with a big trailer. So plan on having [I]two [/I]trailers for race week at PPIHC, if you ever go. The team was originally going to rent a trailer in Colorado Springs, but JasonM managed to borrow an open trailer from another driver who's car broke earlier during practice (thanks Dave C!), and the Vorshlag trailer was used as the home base with lots of spares and more tools at the motel (shown above).

Sunday: Race Day Weather Fiasco

Here's some external video from several of the Time Attack class cars on race day, taken from Gilly's Corner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzZMPFD1_pM

In order to avoid any of the brand new 285/30/18 Hoosier A6 tires getting a puncture while driving through the woods (paddock area) to the starting line, they left the R6s on that were used during practice. Once the car was on the paved road area at the back of the starting grid, we hand carried the A6s down with the help of Bill Caswell (1/4 mile away) and mounted them under Mike Ryan's tent, a fellow PPIHC racer who drove the crazy Freightliner (see below). These A6s were driven about 50 feet and then were pulled off...

The conditions in the hour or so before her run were terrible, with rain and hail covering most of the mountain. What is it with Brianne and hail? Much to my chagrin, the team switched to the skinny 245mm Hoosier rain tires moments before her run, right at the starting line. The team was prepared for potential bad weather and was ready for the switch. This was highly recommended by the race organizers, as the handful of competitors before her were sliding off the wet and hail covered mountain road left and right in the late afternoon. Seeing those skinny rains go on the car caused me physical [I]PAIN[/I], after the days of work Ryan and our crew put into making the steel wide body fenders clear the 10" wheels, but it was the only logical choice given the horrible weather conditions.

Brianne and co-driver Jeremy blasted up the hill with a vengeance, rain be damned. Without windshield wipers or a defroster/heater, she couldn't see squat, but she never let up! Amazingly, she was only five seconds off in these wet conditions than she was in her 2011 AWD Time Attack class winning run, which was run under dry conditions in the same car.

[I]Click the image above to watch the Race Day run in the Brianne Corn Racing Subaru STi. She ended up 5th in class with a 12:01 run in the wet.[/I]

The time of 12:01 placed her 5th out of the original 25 entrants in the Time Attack class, with the first three in her class running in the dry hours earlier (the class was delayed several times for crashes). Oh well, can't complain - should have qualified better to run towards the front of the pack with Rhys Millen and the others. After the event, Brianne was given the "Queen of the Mountain" award (a massive custom trophy belt buckle) which was pretty cool.

Comments from Brianne about this run: [I]"I think there were four life flights that day. One crash caused a 90 minute delay which caused us to run in the rain. In fact, it was our friends that crashed and when we left the line the rumors were flying around the start line as to the extent of their injuries. I think (co-driver) Jeremy was a little shaken up by the situation.

The weather turned at the last minute and we were told to swap to our rain tires by the race officials. We were sitting at the line and had no opportunity to scrub them in. It was a very interesting ride and one of the best times I have had in the drivers seat in a while.

That is until the windshield fogged up. This was also compounded by the fact that I was experiencing slightly blurred vision from an allergic reaction to something in the air below the tree line."[/I]

That was a hairy run towards the top and she was looking out the side window and going by the pace notes and road feel for much of that last quarter of the course. Yikes!

After our crew got back from Colorado Springs, they were all still recovering from a long week of 3 am mornings and late nights. The entire crew (both of our guys, the folks from AWD Tuning, and Brianne's other volunteers) put in one helluva effort, and Brianne had the best race car she's ever had at Pikes Peak. I'm very proud of their work and her driving, and it's a shame the weather played such a prominent role in the results for part of the Time Attack class and all of the Open Wheel and Super Stock Car classes. The weather conditions were so poor that the race organizers eventually had the racers run a shortened course that ended at Glen Cove (11,440 feet), which is about half way through the full course.

What's Next?

I don't know Brianne's plans for next year or the future of this particular car. We had planned to support this car and Brianne at the Global Time Attack this weekend at TMS, but she could not go for a number of reasons. There are no plans to race it again in 2012 and certain parts have to be removed and returned to their owners, as they were on loan. What a shame - this was a potent little package that was only driven once in anger, in the rain on skinny tires. Bummer! Who knows - she could be at Pikes Peak in it again in 2013. I hope so!

Brianne's Subaru was recently used in a photoshoot to help promote the Cupcake Meet's [I]Cupcakin' For Cancer[/I] car meet.

Click the image to enlarge.

If and when this car runs again, and if Vorshlag has anything to do with future work on this car, I will post again in this thread.

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