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BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/15/23 7:54 a.m.

Well... I wouldn't say I'm an expert who has done extensive research on the subject, but I have talked to a few folks about it before making my decision.

Summarizing, if you'll be daily driving the car and that is the primary use with some motorsports here and there, you'll be fine with a good set of konis or Bilsteins. The adjustable Bilstein are preferred because the adjustment knob for the rears is reachable without removing it.

If the primary use is motorsports of some nature, then you'll want to step up to coilovers. I went with the Megans and have been happy with them. I'm sure there are better, more adjustable options, but for less than $1000 the Megans are a good option.

The coilovers made a massive difference in the amount of traction my Mini has in corners. I'm sure part of that was the 18+ year old suspension that they replaced. 

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/28/23 8:06 a.m.

Any day racing beats...

just about anything else (family events excluded... obviously). We're getting into the final stretch before One Lap of America 2023, and we are officially in the event this year. No questions, no waiting list, entry fee paid, hotels booked, all in. All that's left for us is final car prep and shake downs.

With a new set of Falken RT660s replacing my Hoosiers, I needed to make sure that they wouldn't rub or cause issues on the street and still perform on the track. An autocross was in order. The ALSCCA was kind enough to schedule 2 of them before we had to head to South Bend for the start of #OLOA23. A bunch of thunderstorms came through in the very early morning, but cleared up and gave way to a perfect spring day in Alabama.


Everything was setting up for a great day of racing.... Until... (This is where you imagine the dramatic music and video effects that go on those true crime shows)...

Until, I signed the waivers and started to drive to the Barber Motorsports Park Proving Grounds.

I was greeted by a new light on the Mini. This wasn't a light I liked either. Interestingly the traction control light also came on. The car seemed absolutely fine though. Hoping for the best I pressed on with the event. The car didn't miss a beat or show any kind of bad behavior at all. I pulled the code and it was a P0303, misfire on cylinder #3. I hoped it was a plug, wire, even the coil pack.

After the event drove home and pulled the codes again. This time I got the same P0303 and added a P0313 (low fuel). I put the car up and focused on the traditional after racing meal of hot wings and beer.

I googled everything I could find about these codes, and as you can imagine the answers were all over the place. The only thing was to test and try and eliminate some of the simpler issues.

Ok, swapped plugs wires.. no change.

Next swapped the plugs... no change.

Recruit the wife to assist with a compression test (she loves when I make her do car things).

#1 - 145

#2 - 145

#3 - 100... E36 M3.

#4 - 145

Not the results I wanted, but honestly it's really what I expected. This car has all the temperament of a race car, why would it be easy right before its biggest event? It's likely the head that will need to be rebuilt, but I need to get or do a leak down test to provide the next bit of information.

So, for all my fellow XS competitors... I was running on 3 cylinders this weekend. That's my excuse and I'll stick to it.

The tires did really well once they got a bit scrubbed in. I'm pretty happy with them, which is good because it doesn't look like I'll get many other testing opportunities.

MiniDave Reader
3/28/23 2:15 p.m.

It's usually a burned exhaust valve, no idea why it's almost always on #3, except these early cars for some reason got corrosion on the #3 lead at the coil - if you're still running a stock coil.....not sure if that had anything to do with a burned valve but - coincidence? Cleaning the corrosion off fixed it. BTW, when these cars were new a lot of people went with aftermarket coils - experience showed the stock factory coils worked better.

So, I'd buy a spare coil and a spare #3 plug lead, then you should be good to go. (and of course - valve job)

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/28/23 2:29 p.m.

Shut, this sucks. 

If it ends up being the top end, are you going to have your head rebuilt or find one that has already been done?

I am afraid it will be difficult to find a machine shop that can fit you in as most as backed up. 

Worst case, if its a valve, I would remove the head and lap it yourself. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/28/23 2:34 p.m.

Also, I never used them, but I heard good things about these guys and they are close to you:

Auto Head Performance

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/28/23 2:41 p.m.

I'm taking the car to the guys over at Corsa Crew to really dig into, this is above my pay grade at this point.  If I wasn't on a deadline, I'd probably fight through tearing it apart on my own... but I don't have that luxury with One Lap about to start.

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/20/23 12:33 p.m.


A quick introduction and catch up with Solomon and Bryan, give them a like and subscribe:


BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/23/23 9:17 a.m.

It has been just short of a week sense the end of Tirerack.com's One Lap of America 2023 presented by Grassroots Motorsports. I'm still processing the last several days, it's a bit of a blur with thousands of miles and many fast food meals in between getting to run some great tracks and hanging out with great people.



One Lap is one of those shared trauma events that brings people together and creates a bond. Everyone's story is a little different, but they all share the same things. You spend 8+ days in a car and likely a hotel room with your teammate(s), you get so little sleep, you hurry up and wait constantly, there's adversity that you have to overcome, you're never quite satisfied with your on-track performance, you travel thousands of miles in all kinds of conditions, and you end up back where you started.





My stress at One Lap started before the event even began with the head rebuild and almost no testing to sort out any issues. I was able to drive about 35 miles before getting in the car to drive to South Bend for the start. So, from the start of the event, I was worried about finishing the event. The 10 hour drive up to South Bend helped to add confidence in the car. Aside from potholes causing tire rub and trim to be dislodged, the car ran great.



Another concern going into One Lap was the trailer. I had used it a few times and it seemed good to go, but 20 miles locally is substantially different than 4000+ miles all around the country, with expensive tools and gear and no back up plan. Again here, aside from the constant bouncing from our terrible interstates causing some minor damage to the items inside the trailer, the trailer itself was great.





All jacked up on anxiety and excitement, we set off to South Bend not knowing what was in store for us on the journey. Spoiling the end of the story, we made it. We completed the event, and participated in every on track session. It wasn't without its trial however. Each time, the thought crept into my mind if this was the problem that was going to ruin the trip. That's a terrible way to feel, but it took 2 years to get into the event, I spent a ton of money and effort getting ready for the event, I was terrified that it would come all crashing down and be a waste. **Deep breath** But it wasn't. Here's what all went wrong for us:















  • The suspension on the car was setup to provide the best balance on track with just the driver in the car. That was fine, and the car felt great on track. It was less ideal on the transit drives. Adding a passenger, a hatch full of luggage, and a trailer full of tools, fluids and whatever else I thought we might need on the trip effected the ride height. On every transit drive (except the one from Road Atlanta to Nashville) the potholes on the interstate beat us, the cargo and the car up. At every gas stop, I was literally clipping pieces of trim back onto the car only to have it beaten off again. At the end of the trip the damage was pretty minor: a couple missing plastic clips, a set of pillar got broke (inside the toolbox), 2 of the plastic tubs with spares and supplies were destroyed and trashed, and my toolbox earned a few new dents and a bent handle.
  • A wheel stud came loose when rotating our tires at Road Atlanta. Fairly quick repair (I brought plenty of spares), but had some PTSD from the last time I had to replace a stud.
  • Check Engine Light (or Service Engine Soon for Minis) for a major evaporator leak. This one seemed to resolve fairly quickly. Vacuum lines were the first thing I checked. There was no obvious disconnects, but it did look like some clips had come loose (probably from the potholes) and some connections may not have been as good as needed. I worked through several of those, found some wiring connectors in a similar state and fixed those as well. Cleared the codes and went about the event.
  • Got a screw in the tire either in the paddock, the grid, or on the track in Nashville. There was construction going on, so likely the source of the screw. 2 other teams also collected screws that day. Had to learn how to plug a tire.
  • Return of the Check Engine Light. This time for a minor evaporator leak. I guess that means we had some improvement from the major. I chased this code the rest of the event. I think it is the connection on the purge solenoid. I would redo the connections, and the code would go away for a day or two, and then come back. It had been off until the last fuel stop on the drive home when it came back on. I guess I'll replace it with a new one and see if that fixes it permanently.
  • When we got to Oklahoma, we noticed that the fans were kicking on after a drive to cool the car. To this point, the car had run at a perfect 194 degrees the entire time. There was no visible damage anywhere, so we checked the coolant. It wasn't clean. There was a small amount of oil that could be detected in it. I really thought this was going to be the issue that ended our event. We talked to the guys at the race shop at the track and one of the other competitors (Ian Stewart) actually runs a Mini repair shop. Everyone agreed that it was likely a faulty gasket on the oil heat exchanger. Oil in the coolant is much more manageable that coolant in the oil. After a brief consideration of letting the Dadbod Carmod guys rig up an external oil cooler, we decided to drive around the issue and monitor it.













So, what else could go wrong?



Well... namely... the weather. It always rains during One Lap. That's a given. The gamble is on how much. Do you go for all weather performing tires and give up the ultimate lap time, or do you take the risk and get the tires that are amazing in the dry but compromised in the wet? We decided to run 245/40-15 size tires and that only left 2 choices. We could have run 205/50-15 tires and had more options, but given up contact patch. Going into an event like this, you want to give yourself every edge you can, so we went with the Falken RT-660s in the 245/40-15 size. These tires are amazing in the dry. They have so much grip. They are completely terrible in the wet. It rained... a lot. I think the only event that it didn't rain was at Nashville (it actually rained overnight, but had cleared up by the morning).

















Despite the conditions we fared pretty well. We definitely lost time compared to the dry, but I think the only event where we were the only group of cars impacted was during the afternoon session at Eagles Canyon. Most of the other cars ran in the dry and had packed up and left by the time the rain came and I got on track.



It wasn't just the on track sessions that were impacted by the rain. We had several other transit drives where we battled through it. Driving from Oklahoma to Kentucky required a re-route towards St. Louis, and then a last minute change to a highway in the middle of nowhere to avoid the worst parts of the weather. The final transit of the event back to South Bend, there was no avoiding it and our tires were in terrible shape. Our speed dropped from 80, to 42 because that is fast as I could go without completely losing control. As it was, I'm pretty sure I was more of a Captain than a Driver that last hour or so.



One Lap is about overcoming adversity and making it to the end as much as it is about winning a trophy. The people and the teams come together to help everyone make it. All in all, our challenges were minor, everything worked out with just a little effort. Other teams faced major challenges, and other teams jumped in to help them overcome those challenges. The effort that the Toyota and Dadbod teams put out every day was amazing to see.

ojannen HalfDork
5/23/23 9:51 a.m.

I saw the green mini in some frineds one lap coverage and didn't realize it was your car.  I am happy you finished.  It looked like a tough year.

Ian Stewart helped me setup my r53 back in the day.  We did one long tire trailer tow with the car up to solo nationals and lost fender trim pieces along the way too.

fusion66 Reader
5/23/23 10:35 a.m.

Great One-Lap write up - thanks for sharing the journey and challenges that presented themselves.

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/23/23 10:48 a.m.

In reply to fusion66 :

There's plenty more to come... just trying to get the videos processed and then I'll share all the fun stuff.

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/10/23 10:36 a.m.

Alright, this admittedly took a lot longer to complete than I expected. Partly due to work, partly due to having an old Macbook, partly due to other priorities, but enough excuses. I wanted to share with you our recap video from the 2023 One Lap of America event. The whole event is a ton of fun, but really long (and that is the point).



We've already signed up for the 2024 event. If you are curious, you can check out the event here: https://www.onelapofamerica.com/

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/10/23 11:43 a.m.

Cool video!

The SC sound is insane, reminds me of an R53 that autocrossed with me back when the cars were new. 

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/21/23 4:45 p.m.

Sharing some of my favorite professional pictures from the OLOA event:




BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/24/24 9:04 a.m.

Well... it's May, and really the end of May. Kids are getting out of school, most racing seasons are well and truly started, and here I am just about to dust off the Mini and get going.

One Lap of America 2024 has already concluded. Through an unfortunate turn of events, I wasn't able to find a co-driver and had to back out of this year's event. That was pretty disappointing. OLOA is one of those events that gets into you and if you don't do it you really feel like you are missing out. The #FOMO is real. For those of you that have never experienced it, it is the closest thing to doing a Top Gear Challenge for real people. This year featured several tornadoes, attacks of tumbleweeds, and a gauntlet of Kansas Highway Patrol. I'm sure the yearbooks will be amazing.

The Mini is ready to go. After surviving last year's One Lap event, a few minor issues had popped up. Two really: first, there was a vacuum leak; and second, the car wasn't keeping cool. We had a rush job to rebuild the head and get it on the car literally the day before OLOA last year and chased the vacuum leak and Check Engine Light the entire event. That ended up being the purge valve and a sensor that needed to be replaced.

Cooling was a bigger issue. At event at Hallet we noticed that there was some oil floating on top of the coolant in the tank. There was no obvious problem other than the oil and the sudden increase in engine temps when not moving. Our best guess (and consultations from others) lead us to believe there was a small leak in the heat exchanger. This has been a problem previously on this car. I took the Mini to the team over at Corsa Crew to help me sort it all out. The oil in the coolant seemed to have been just leftover from the previous issue with the heat exchanger, a full flush and refill solved that, but the trust wasn't there. So, we replaced the heat exchanger for an full external oil cooler. We also fixed / replaced some resistors on the fans that weren't working properly, a small leaking seal, and then vented the hood. All in all, the car idles 10 degrees cooler, intake temps are way down, and the temp doesn't spike after use.

The car is ready, and I'm ready to kick off 2024. This weekend will be my first "Knock the rust off" autocross. Also really excited to continue our partnerships with Red Line Oil and RaceBox. Both are exceptional products backed by great teams that genuinely care about the people in motorsports.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/24/24 9:40 a.m.

Do you think the 10 degrees are from the hood venting or a combination of the external oil cooler and vents?

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/24/24 9:54 a.m.
Slippery said:

Do you think the 10 degrees are from the hood venting or a combination of the external oil cooler and vents?

10 degree lower engine temps I'll put to the ext. oil cooler.

Intake temps are significantly lower, I'll put that to the vents.  They way my intake is setup (another project on the list) it just sucks in the hot air directly off the engine and headers.  Now the ram intake is able to push that hot air somewhere else.



Old picture, but you can see how the intake is currently setup and why that might not be ideal.

BradLTL GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/10/24 5:54 p.m.

Back in the saddle again, and it wasn't completely comfortable. The Mini ran great. There were 2 primary goals going into this event: first, shakedown the car and make sure we've sorted out the cooling issues; and second, shakedown the driver and see if he remembers how to drive the car.

As far as the cooling updates go, everything went perfect. The day started with a small thunderstorm that passed before the driver's meeting. Once that passed we were gifted with a southern summer day. That is to say, it was freaking hot. The perfect day to test cooling. The Mini would warm up to a starting operating temp of 185 degrees, if you were to keep (normal) driving on roads it is stable there with fluctuation up to 195. Obviously when pushing the engine hard, those temps would rise.

In the middle of the runs, when the car was hot the temp while moving was between 195-215. That's still really good. The concern was hot idle. That's where we were seeing issues at the end of OLOA last year. The good news is during hot idle (waiting in line for my next run), the temperature would climb to 220-222, but then the fan would kick on and the temp would drop back down to the 215 range again. I still did pop the hood between runs to prevent any heat soak, but all the cooling fixes and mods seemed to really do their part.



The driver on the other hand could use a bit more work. The course design ended up being fairly difficult for some reason. Lots of folks hitting cones, over cooking corners and having offs, a few spins... I was not immune from those effects. I think I hit more cones in this event than I did in the entire season last year. I managed 2 clean runs out of 7 (I gave up my last run so that Eli could have a go in the Mini). The best of those runs was good enough for 21st overall raw time (I don't believe in PAX) out of 78 timed drivers. Overall not terrible, but I really should have found more time throughout the day, and I just didn't. All my runs were in the 54s to low 55s and most of them were sloppy. Even my best run wasn't on the ideal line in a couple key spots.

Overall, a really good day to be back racing. The weather was great, the group of people racing with ALSCCA is great, the event was great... and to top it all off, my grandmother was visiting and got to come out and watch the event.

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