Apr 13, 2003 update to the Mini Cooper S project car

Pushy

The new rear bar measures 7/8" vs 3/4" for the first RDR bar.
The cruncher...
and the crunched
Supersprint header
The stainless header features a very thick flange that should not distort.

At the race in Sebring, we noticed that the MINI was still a little “pushy” in the corners, so in NASCAR-speak, we “loosened her up” by bolting on an even larger rear anti-rollbar. We worked with Charlie at Rossier Dyno Research to make a .875-inch rear bar (vs .825” which is RDR’s standard size) that fits in the stock location. It’s a tight fit, but works well for grippy surfaces.

For road racing, care must be taken until the rear tires are properly warmed up, otherwise the car becomes too twitchy. We solve this by keeping the Dynamic Stability Control turned on for the first few laps of any session. It helps prevent bonehead moves on cold rear tires.

Unfortunately, it didn’t help enough. We competed in the BMW CCA Club Race at Homestead Motorsports Park in South Florida this weekend, and had a bit of trouble in our first practice session.

Rennie got a little loose in Turn 10 and nosed the MINI into the tire wall at speeds of around 90 mph at the time of impact. Stunned corner workers were amazed to see the little MINI bounce off the tire wall and drive back to the pits with nearly everything still attached.

A quick visit from the helpful EMT’s and Rennie was pronounced OK, but frazzled. A look at the car showed that the brunt of the impact was on the passenger wheel area, but the entire passenger side and rear hatch were pretty wrinkled up. In addition, a broken radiator support (MINI uses a graphite-composite for this piece), a broken windshield and a bent driver’s front wheel were also on the list of casualties.

Armed with a cell phone, duct-tape and zip ties, Per, Rennie and a host of helpful BMW CCA people helped to put Humpty-MINI back together. The windshield was found within one hour, and installed right in the pit garage. The radiator was zip-tyed to the surrounding metal work and various bits and pieces were taped back together. One of our “street” BBS wheels was put into service to replace the bent BBS (and our Kumho was remounted free of charge by the Hoosier trackside support…thanks guys!). A trip to a local Goodyear shop’s aligment rack readjusted everything back to our specs.

Andreas Boehm of Pagid stopped by our pit area on Saturday and suggested we try their RS19 enduro pads (yellow). While the Stoptechs come with very capable street/track pads made by Axxis, the rigours of sustained high speed racing meant that we needed a true racing pad. Since the Stoptech kit uses a Porsche “Big Red” style pad, Andreas had the appropriate size in his stash, as these are the same pads that the Grand Am Porsche GT-3’s use. We bedded them in on our way too and from the alignment shop.

Per ran the car without incident during Sunday morning’s practice session, feature race and 60-minute enduro with Rennie bringing home the checker for the enduro. We wound up second in JP, behind a very fast and well-driven Z3 coupe owned by Doug Lee of Minnesota. Our races consisted of being toasted on the long straights of Homestead, and catching up to a few M3s and 911s on the tight corners and then getting toasted on the next straight. Repeat twenty times, pull into the pits.

It was hard to get close enough to the faster cars to be able to catch them under braking, thanks to the awesome StopTech brakes, but once we got past them in the corner, our horsepower deficit made the passes hard to defend. Our best lap time of the weekend was a 153.6 during the 30-minute feature race on Sunday.

We’re tentatively planning on running the 12-Hours of Homestead this upcoming Saturday, April 19th. We’ve enlisted the help of long-time GRM fan/helper/driver Randy Pobst and Catesby Jones to share in the driving duties. Randy is fresh from an overall win at Homestead during the Grand-Am Cup race this weekend.

And while the MINI is crunched, we’ll take advantage of the down time to make it a little bit faster in the next few weeks, when we install a Supersprint header and mid-pipe. The mid-pipe replaces the catalytic converter for some extra track-only power. The header is a tri-y design with healthy primary tube diameters, and we’re looking forward to seeing what it does.

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