Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
3/6/06 8:37 p.m.

As discussed last time, the car was put together in a hurry to meet our stretch goal of a debut at the San Diego National Tour and the Fontana Pro Solo. With that goal made, it was time to get a baseline on national level performance. We were still running with a totally stock intake and exhaust system with the exception of a Supertrapp muffler but we had parts meeting us in San Diego from Racing Beat. The good news is that they arrived at my daughter's place in SD intact. The bad news is that she twice failed to bring them out to the site before Saturday so we had to run it that way for the first day. Kids! What are ya gonna do?

Friday at the track was spent getting a few runs in on the practice course. It was pretty tight and the surface was greasy, though, so little info could be gleaned from that other than the fact that our car was way too quiet and hardly moved the sound meter. We also spent some time getting the required series decals and the requisite partner logos on the car. After that, it was "wax on, wax off" in preparation for Saturday's competition debut.

With very little seat time in the car and a very narrow course, my first day competition runs were very tentative. For sure, the LSD was working, as pressing the throttle too quickly produced a nasty oversteer. Still, the car was pushing badly in sweepers, and even some transitional maneuvers. At the end of the day we were 8 tenths back sitting in second place.

That evening, we broke open the box of Racing Beat go-fast bits and installed both the beautiful stainless header and the intake system. The header install was very easy and everything matched up. Almost. The non-stock flange mounting nuts on our catalytic converter were too large to fit over the ridge in the header output flange, so we'd have to find some replacements. An hour's worth of parts store searching netted us a pair of "manifold nuts" which were perfect!

The intake install also went well, with just a little bracket bending required to avoid the adjuster on our aftermarket shock tops. Firing up the car with the new parts yielded a much throatier sound emanating from both intake and exhaust. A quick trip up and down an adjacent street and our butt dyno gave a resounding thumbs up to the newfound power. Throttle response was also very much improved. We'll be dyno testing these parts in the weeks to come to get real numbers on the improvements.

In addition to our newfound ponies, for Sunday's competition we made some shock adjustments to compensate for the pushiness of the car and to combat the LSD-induced oversteer (less front rebound, less rear compression). We also focused on being more aggressive driving the car and getting it to slide just a bit. The results showed the improvements as were right in thick of things now, leading the class right up until the very last run. In the end the first day leader moved back ahead (they were having their own troubles), and we stayed in second place. But the margin of victory had been cut to a measly .144 seconds. Not bad for a first outing. Still we were back away from STS and we should be beating that class.

One thing that needs immediate attention is our alignment. We still have the CSP low-camber settings on the car that worked so well on the short, wide, and stiff 13" Hoosier R-compounds. Unfortunately, this is not nearly enough camber for the comparatively mushy Falken street tires. We'll be addressing that to some degree this week before the Fontana Pro Solo. And the 12-run format of the Pro Solo will give us several chances to try things. Then later, we'll focus on it during a test session we have scheduled back in Texas in late March.

Next stop: Fontana.

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