Jul 17, 2019 update to the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 project car

Project Z06: Racing with Chillout Systems

After fixing our Z06's breathing issues, it was time to address keeping ourselves cool in our Project Z06

In case you’ve been living under a rock for a long time, we’ll remind you that we’re based in Florida and do most of our motorsports activities in the Sunshine State, and around the Southeast. We’ll also remind you that the typical median temperature in our fine state is “hot as balls” and not a single Florida racetrack is air conditioned.

Which is where a proper driver cooling system comes in.

About a year ago, we built a budget driver cooling system for a couple hundred bucks. It ran on parts from Amazon and WalMart and could cool the driver down with a nice flow of icy water through a cheap cooling shirt we found. It was a great solution for occasional use.

But life in Florida means more than occasional use for a driver cooling system. And while our budget system was certainly functional, its bare-bones nature was evident at times.

So recently we sampled how the other half lives, with a self-contained system from Chillout Systems. Chillout produced systems for IMSA and other pro teams, as well as the US military, for whom keeping chopper pilots operating effectively in hot environments can be a life-or-death proposition. It’s also hard to find a 7-11 in Kandahar to get a fresh bag of ice to top off your ice-based system.

The Chillout unit is completely self-contained and uses a small compressor-based chiller unit to circulate a proprietary coolant through the cooling shirt. The coolant is nothing particularly special—technically water will work—but Chillout’s coolant adds bacteria inhibitors and anti-freeze compounds to keep the system running at peak efficiency and eliminate the need for constant cleaning. If you’re running a purely water-based system, you’re basically wearing a petri dish.

Chillout’s shirt is SFI rated and contains over 160 feet of tubing, meaning more contact area with your skin, and thus improved cooling. The compressor-based system is also nice in that you can set it to maintain a constant temperature, rather than the freeze-then-stew temp curve that ice-based systems can sometimes exhibit during extended runs.

All-in, you’re looking at around $3000 by the time you get the chiller unit and a shirt, which seems like a lot when compared to budget ice-based systems, but starts to seem like a lot less when you try to live with an ice-based system for several track weekends a year. First off, ice-based systems require ice. Do you know how close the nearest ice is to Roebling Road, or Sebring? And do you know the likelihood that you’ll have any ice left in your cooler to fill up your cooling system for a 4pm track session in June at Sebring? It’s low. Very low. The Chillout unit is available with the flip of a switch, for that 8am session, or that 8pm session during an enduro, or that 3am session when the rest of the crew is asleep. Between the convenience and the ease of maintenance, suddenly the cost seems very reasonable.

We installed ours between the rear roll bar legs on a tray made from 1.5” aluminum angle. The unit comes with a quick release bracket and some top-notch wiring and connectors, as well as a USB-linked remote control that can be easily mounted within reach of the driver. Total install time was just a few hours, most of which was spent building the bracket, then changing plans mid-stream and rebuilding the bracket. Power requirements are low, and we saw no more than about 15-18 amps of current draw, even when we cranked the unit to its most aggressive setting.

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Comments
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te72
te72 Reader
7/17/19 11:52 p.m.

Is there an option for a second shirt hookup with this? My Supra has no AC, thanks to an external oil pump that occupies that compressor's former spot... so I'm looking for options. Saw one that was an in-car AC unit that is apparently the same ones used in Le Mans cars, and whoa... talk about a Le Mans price. All of a sudden, $3000 doesn't sound all that bad.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
7/18/19 7:56 a.m.
te72 said:

Is there an option for a second shirt hookup with this? My Supra has no AC, thanks to an external oil pump that occupies that compressor's former spot... so I'm looking for options. Saw one that was an in-car AC unit that is apparently the same ones used in Le Mans cars, and whoa... talk about a Le Mans price. All of a sudden, $3000 doesn't sound all that bad.

Yeah. They have Y-hoses for multiple shirts, shirt and helmet, etc.

ztnedman1
ztnedman1 New Reader
7/18/19 9:42 a.m.

I get it for certain cars.  But for something like a Z06 why not a switch to keep the PCM from killing the compressor WOT?

 

That giant box filled with water + 160ft of coolant doesn't look like much weight savings, and the 2hp draw isn't hurting a Z06.  Maybe I'm missing something? Why drop 3k on something that doesn't do anything different?  What is the point?

ross2004
ross2004 Reader
7/18/19 9:56 a.m.

Because you go around the track with the windows down. Your car's AC isn't going to do anything for you. 

sergio
sergio Reader
7/18/19 12:28 p.m.

That system uses way less coolant than an ice based one does. Block ice lasts a little longer than bagged ice but eventually it’s done by 2 hours at least here in Texas. 

te72
te72 Reader
7/18/19 10:41 p.m.

Sometime it is a matter of available space, or even weight distribution. In the case of my Supra, I literally have nowhere I even COULD put an ac compressor, even if I wanted to.

 

So, either I go with an electric ac compressor (Prius comes to mind), or I get something like this, that could probably be more useful on autocross and track days, when the windows are usually down.

 

JG, not sure why I didn't think there would be Y-fittings, seems obvious at this point. =P

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