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Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/14/21 1:18 a.m.

The Bad Call (10/28/2018) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

I wake up early, wishing for another hour of sleep. Last night I was up late emptying memory cards, charging radios, and looking at data. I jump in my Acura TL to head to the track with it still dark and raining outside. I get a few miles down the freeway, and it's as if the heavens just opened up. In the Northwest we mainly just get drizzles and regular rain. But this was not that at all. This was monsoon level, I can't see where I'm going type of rain. As I'm slowed down 45 mph on the freeway to try see and avoid hydroplaning, I think "If I have to go this slow in my front-drive street car on all-weather tires.. how am I going to be able to race??" I was fighting hydroplaning so much with the Direzza ZIIIs last night, I just need something that will divert water better and not hydroplane so bad. I think about my drift car on it's full tread Direzza DZ101s, and I get an idea. If I steal the tires off my drift car, I should have better hydroplaning resistance. I immediately call my dad to let him know my plans and head back home.

Direzza ZIII on the left, DZ101 on the right. DZ101 has a lot more paths for water to travel through. This is genius!

 

"I'm just borrowing them, I promise they will come back later.."

We get the tires/wheels swapped out quickly in the rain and I am feeling quite proud of myself. At the track the starting order is generally decided by who manages to line up first, and for the first time ever we get right up on the front row! The driver's meeting rolls around, and Cathy mentions that the weather looks like it may clear up. Huh... that's not what I saw just earlier this morning when I checked. Hmm.. now I'm second guessing. The DZ101 is not as grippy of a tire, if we aren't worrying about hydroplaning then it won't be as fast as the ZIII will be. Do we swap back? We are on the front row.. that would mean cycling all the way to the back. After some angst over the decision, we decide to leave the tires on and just see how it goes.

The race starts... and it is not going well. The DZ101 are a 320 treadwear tire compared to the 200 treadwear of the ZIII. My dad immediately reports that the tires are no good and he is sliding all over the place. He drops from 2nd to 15th place on the first lap. None of our help has arrived at the track yet, so if he pulls in, it will be a two man pit stop changing four tires. And we are not exactly a NASCAR pit crew... this will be disastrous. And all because I thought it was worth starting on the front row! I start preparing to do the swap, and Dave pulls in after dropping to 32nd place. We get all four tires swapped out in a reasonable 8 minutes, however that is also giving the entire field a four full lap head start on us. Well there goes any hope of us continuing our 10 race streak of podium finishes in Portland!

Dave is immediately ten seconds faster on the new tires, and starts running quicker and quicker. The track is starting to dry out. My genius idea of swapping tires is looking really silly right about now. Dave starts making his way back through the field, climbing all the way up to 13th place by lap 56 when he pits. Unfortunately at this point, our fuel man Kyle is not at the track yet. Kyle is rock solid on fueling, and does nearly all of our fueling, which means we are not as in practice. And it's a two-man pit stop again. Dave starts filling fuel, the first jug is in and he goes for the second. Normally we would go to the third jug, and may use most of the last jug. But in this case due to our long pit and the track starting wet, we haven't used that much fuel. We are at full flow when the tank is full, splashing fuel all down the side of the car. We have a pan there, but it doesn't catch all of it so we get hit with our first fueling penalty. When it rains, it pours... well at least figuratively, as the track is nice and dry now.

I get in the car, and go serve my time penalty for fueling. We have now dropped all the way back to 20th again! I push all I can during my stint, knowing we have a big hole to climb out of. I get all the way up to 7th place running a 1:29.7 before I pull into the pits on lap 112.

During Dave's stint while he is driving the normal racing line through 12, a red Miata decides to try stuff a pass in right before the apex in Randy Pobst's "Vortex of Danger". He tags Blue Bayou with his front bumper in the very right rear of the car. You can see the Miata in the right mirror (this is during the impact).

\

As you can see in this shot, it was front fender to rear fender:

Unfortunately, this now means a black flag for contact, which costs us another two minutes. Dave runs cleanly for the rest of his stint, getting us up into 6th place. Dave pits on lap 171, having run a fastest lap of 1:32.4.

I get in the car for the last stint, and boy was this an interesting one! I run a 1:30.1, then a 1:30.2 as the track is dry and things are going well. A few laps later some drops of water start to hit the windshield, and it looks like something serious is moving our way. 

A view of turn 4 on lap 181, nice and dry:

As I turn onto the straight for lap 182, the track just looks white ahead in turn four. The pavement is dry where I am, but I can see what looks like a two foot high mist from all the water hitting the track. I've really never seen anything like this before!

A view of turn of lap 182, just one lap after the dry view earlier!

As I roll onto the back straight of PIR, the rain intensifies a bit.. then stops. I'm on dry ground again. What the heck.. this is a serious leading edge to this rain storm! As I head down the straight stretch again, the leading edge has moved past the finish line and I can see very distinct bands of wet and dry pavement.

After a couple more laps of this, the track is fully soaked again with puddles. We later find out that during this crazy burst of weather, just across the freeway a tornado touched down and overturned a few semi trailers.

In the map below, you can just see Portland International Raceway below the overturned trailer pictures.

Overview of tornado path and damage.

After all this craziness, I finish the race on a wet track in 6th place. As it turns out we were four laps off of the podium, my initial call to put on the DZ101s as well as my stubbornness to give up our track position at the beginning of the race to change tires really cost us that podium. Lesson learned, rubber compound is way more important than siping, especially if it's not full wet!

We still went home with two trophies, and my son absolutely loved the sprint race trophy with the skeleton on top! He inexplicably named it "Green leg", which I still have no idea where that came from.

Video overview:

 

java230
java230 UberDork
5/17/21 4:42 p.m.

Thanks for sharing the write ups :)

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/18/21 6:27 p.m.
java230 said:

Thanks for sharing the write ups :)

You're welcome, thanks for the encouragement! As long as people are reading them, I'll keep them going. I just need to keep working to get this thing current so I can talk about what we are doing now.

java230
java230 UberDork
5/18/21 7:15 p.m.

In reply to Nate K :

Your making me want to try LDRL.... 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/18/21 11:54 p.m.
java230 said:

In reply to Nate K :

Your making me want to try LDRL.... 

Great! If you are in the Northwest, come out to a race, it's free! Chat with some teams at the track and potentially rent a spot on a team before you think about making a car. Our next race is at PIR in June 26/27.. provided we get our car together. Currently we are working on fabricating motor mounts, getting our rear subframe together, building an exhaust, rewiring the whole car.. etc.

therealpinto
therealpinto GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/19/21 12:17 a.m.

I agree, the reports are great, and inspiring.

So inspiring that I actually did the first work on our Primera since last year, recently. We're finally starting on the master switch.

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/19/21 1:43 a.m.

We had a few things to take care of before our next race. One was that the power steering system had acted up towards the end of the July race. The other was that our gearing was currently way too low.

Our electric power steering had cut out in the heat of the race, and in listening back on video I could faintly hear it beeping around the time that it gave up. I tried doing a bunch of searching around the internet for beeping electric power steering, but apparently that's not a common issue. From what little I gathered, the system seemed to be overheating, and then giving up. I had initially mounted the controller to the roll cage along with the thermal paste, but it was attached to steel instead of a large aluminum column like it was designed. I needed some way of getting some heat out.

Since the box is up under the dash fully protected from any moisture, I drilled some vent holes in the cover of the electronics.

I then took an old graphics card fan along with it's heat sink, and attached that to the bottom of the controller along with some thermal paste. I wired it to be on any time the power steering is on. That should do it. It had acted fine during the October race, so I think we should now be just fine.

The next issue was gearing. And that was really two issues. I was still struggling a bit with the weirdness of downshifting into 4th gear for the very tight chicane at Portland, it just doesn't seem natural. The other much bigger issue, is that our driveline vibrates at high speed. We actually went through great lengths to try to help this, and even sent back our driveshaft to get a different one that had been more finely balanced. Oddly they accidentally made the second one an inch shorter, but we weren't making a ton of power so it still worked with a little less splines engaged. However no matter what we did, the driveshaft started to resonate once we got deep into 6th gear. You can actually see/hear it in video, it starts to really shake the camera and you can hear the resonance. The fix? We needed taller gearing to match the 350Z transmission! The 240SX has a 4.08 final drive, and the manual 350Z has a 3.538 final drive.

We were running the helical limited slip from the 99-01 Silvia (Japan only), but in the S13 (89-94) 240SX pumpkin with factory 4.08 gearing. This differential works great, I just wanted different gearing. The 350Z pumpkin is a massive amount of rework to get it to work in a 240SX. It's been done, but I wasn't interested in changing axles, mounting, etc. After poking around various R200 options, I finally stumbled on exactly what I needed. I found an S15 entire pumpkin complete with a 3.692 final drive on Ebay! With my wallet a little lighter, we got to work.

This is the front mounting ear of the S13 240SX, it is solid mounted in the front and rear.

Here is our S15 differential getting drained and cleaned. We had already popped the cover, so the four-bolt S13 one is laying there. Here is where I got a little lucky. This differential with it's speed sensor on the front of it, is about an inch longer. Now our driveshaft would be perfect! You can see the front differential mounting ears are much larger openings, they are intended to hold a rubber bushing.

I hoisted the differential into place, and the top of the differential hits before the ears touch. This is going to need some spacers.

After using my patented "Differential Spacing Device", I determined that I needed 0.562 inches of spacer to get the pinion matching the previous differential.

After bribing our machinist friend Greg, we got some nice aluminum spacers turned to fit the hole. Then topping that all off with some industrial thick washers from the hardware store and we were fitting nicely. And since our speedometer has not moved since we put the VQ30DE in, maybe someday this speed sensor will be useful... for now we were running out of time and it was ziptied out of the way. I start torquing all the bolts to spec... and disaster strikes. One of the front mounting bolts goes soft when torquing.. it has pulled the threads. I only have a couple more days I can work on this car before our next race at the Ridge. My dad and I start brainstorming to see if there is a way we can fix this without swapping the entire subframe, as we just don't have the time to do that.

First up is some exploratory surgery. We do have a spare subframe that can serve as a donor, can we get the captive nut removed from it? I plasma in, not being shy about how big the hole is, mainly just not wanting to damage the nut. The cage that holes the nut has an opening on the front of the subframe... this may just be possible.

With some more careful plasma surgery in place on the subframe in the car, I open up a hole.

With the help of an old farmer's cow magnet, I extract the stripped nut! I am then able to slide in the replacement, torque it down properly, and cover up the hole. Success!!

Another issue we had been having was our 5th gear synchro was getting pretty crunchy. We had initially thought we were buying a CD009 350Z transmission, which is known to be the "one to get". It turned out that the years that G35s and 350Zs got CD009s were off a bit, and we ended up with a CD008. I started looking around to try find a CD009 to replace, and found someone parting out a 2006 350Z with some rod knock. After hearing the engine run (and knock quite loudly), we made a deal to pick up the engine with transmission, wiring harness, and another engine that knocked for $1k. Since these transmissions can often go for $800-1000, I was pretty happy with this deal. These engines may come in handy some day... He needs time to pull the drivetrain from the car, so we'll pick these up sometime after the race.

Hmm.. these brake pads are finally getting down there a bit. But.. they'll last another race or two.

Randy Pobst is going to be at this next race at the Ridge, so I am really hoping we can get him into our car. I've been saying for years it would be awesome to get a pro in our car that could tell us what is good or bad about it, and so we could see what the car is really capable of in the right hands!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/19/21 1:44 a.m.
therealpinto said:

I agree, the reports are great, and inspiring.

So inspiring that I actually did the first work on our Primera since last year, recently. We're finally starting on the master switch.

Gustaf

Great to hear Gustaf, thanks! Do you have a build thread for your Primera?

therealpinto
therealpinto GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/19/21 3:40 a.m.
Nate K said:
Great to hear Gustaf, thanks! Do you have a build thread for your Primera?

Sort of, but it's not been updated lately;

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1991-nissan-primera-gt-sdc5000-low-buck-endurance-/117038/page5/

Covid took last year away and the thread covers both the first P10 and the present P11.

Gustaf

java230
java230 UberDork
5/19/21 8:54 a.m.
Nate K said:
java230 said:

In reply to Nate K :

Your making me want to try LDRL.... 

Great! If you are in the Northwest, come out to a race, it's free! Chat with some teams at the track and potentially rent a spot on a team before you think about making a car. Our next race is at PIR in June 26/27.. provided we get our car together. Currently we are working on fabricating motor mounts, getting our rear subframe together, building an exhaust, rewiring the whole car.. etc.

I may have to try to catch you at the ridge. I have heard its a fun track

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/19/21 2:08 p.m.
therealpinto said:
Nate K said:
Great to hear Gustaf, thanks! Do you have a build thread for your Primera?

Sort of, but it's not been updated lately;

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1991-nissan-primera-gt-sdc5000-low-buck-endurance-/117038/page5/

Covid took last year away and the thread covers both the first P10 and the present P11.

Gustaf

Thanks for the link, that's a great looking car! What lap timer are you using? The seat looks like there is a lot of lateral movement, but I tried to check my video and realized my seat is just out of view. Is it on sliders? Might be worth a seat back brace.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/19/21 2:10 p.m.
java230 said:
Nate K said:
java230 said:

In reply to Nate K :

Your making me want to try LDRL.... 

Great! If you are in the Northwest, come out to a race, it's free! Chat with some teams at the track and potentially rent a spot on a team before you think about making a car. Our next race is at PIR in June 26/27.. provided we get our car together. Currently we are working on fabricating motor mounts, getting our rear subframe together, building an exhaust, rewiring the whole car.. etc.

I may have to try to catch you at the ridge. I have heard its a fun track

We will probably be at the September 11-12 race at the Ridge this year. It's always been a great driver's track, although it used to be terrible for viewing. Now that there is a spectator bridge to get up top it's a much better viewing track.

therealpinto
therealpinto GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/20/21 3:16 a.m.
Nate K said:

Thanks for the link, that's a great looking car! What lap timer are you using? The seat looks like there is a lot of lateral movement, but I tried to check my video and realized my seat is just out of view. Is it on sliders? Might be worth a seat back brace.

We use RaceChrono now on one of my old cell phones, and it works pretty well I think.

The seat is on sliders (I am short and slim, other drivers are tall and with more "muscle"). In Europe the use of seat back braces is not very common in road racing, only dragracing. But I have thought about something but since the seat has no real provisions for supports it´s a bit of a grey area.

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/20/21 11:17 p.m.
therealpinto said:
Nate K said:

Thanks for the link, that's a great looking car! What lap timer are you using? The seat looks like there is a lot of lateral movement, but I tried to check my video and realized my seat is just out of view. Is it on sliders? Might be worth a seat back brace.

We use RaceChrono now on one of my old cell phones, and it works pretty well I think.

The seat is on sliders (I am short and slim, other drivers are tall and with more "muscle"). In Europe the use of seat back braces is not very common in road racing, only dragracing. But I have thought about something but since the seat has no real provisions for supports it´s a bit of a grey area.

Gustaf

I don't know if it's distracting or not, but if it is I might look at putting some grippy foam on the end of a sliding seatback brace that could be adjusted during a pit stop. Not worth the extra hassle if it doesn't bother you though. 

therealpinto
therealpinto GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/21/21 12:23 a.m.

It bothers me mostly when I watch the in-car videos :-)

I'll ask the other drivers how they feel. But that kind of brace might be a solution.

What bothers me most in our car is a loud creaking noise from one of the roof profiles, not sure if it rubs on the roll cage or the roof skin. I have to find something that stops it...

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/21/21 12:38 a.m.

Our next race is in Shelton, WA at Ridge Motorsports Park. Even though I've been here for three different events, I still feel like I'm trying to find the best line through corners. We arrive on Friday to get in some practice runs and feel out the car. Since Randy Pobst is going to be here tomorrow, I want to make sure everything is as good as we can get it.

Since we have only run aero during races, we haven't done much experimenting. Since it's a practice day, the first thing I wanted to do was get a comparison of straightline speed with and without aero on the car. The splitter comes off to go in the trailer, so this was just a matter of taking off the four bolts that hold on the rear wing.

We did the morning sessions with no wing or splitter, then the afternoon with the wing cranked to maximum angle. We normally run around 7 degrees for the center part of the wing, this was cranked all the way up to 12-13 to see a big difference in drag. In the morning my fastest lap time is a 2:02.1.

Here's some data showing just the straight-line acceleration portion. The blue line is with the wing cranked way up and you can see that it definitely creates drag. However it's only 0.12 seconds slower down the entire straight, and the largest gap in speed was 1.7 mph. For a track with such a long straight, this isn't that big of a difference. My guess is that having a splitter up front actually cuts the amount of air going underneath the car enough that it counteracts some of the drag of the rear wing.

For this section here, a medium speed sweeper, the difference with no aero to wing at maximum is 1.16 seconds. Now keep in mind I'm still learning at this track and not the most consistent, but that's a big difference.

You can see the lateral Gs are consistently higher with a 11% higher peak of 1.279G (aero) versus 1.157G (non-aero) in turn 6.

It's late in the afternoon and I hear our run group called to grid, so I jump in the car, start it up and start to roll forward. CREAAK.. CREAAK.. POP-POP-POP-POP.. There is some kind of strange noise as I turn the corner. My first thought is maybe a wheel is loose, so I immediately back up and ask for a torque check on the wheels. Everything checks out, so I say "It might just be the spring I guess.." The noise is again very loud and it makes a pop just turning left and right on the wheel. While driving straight it quiets down, but still making some kind of noise. I take off from the pits, and while accelerating I hear nothing. As I get into the first corner, the squealing/groaning sound intensifies. Well clearly whatever this is, it has to be fixed before tomorrow.

We jack up the left side of the car and feel the front left wheel bearing, and it spins freely with no noise. There doesn't seem to be any extra play. We inspect brakes/springs/etc and can't see anything obvious. We jack up the right and do the same. Again there's nothing obvious. With the weight back on the front end, we try pushing the car forward/backward with the wheel turned.. and "POP...POP..POP..". It seems like it might be the wheel bearing, but at the same time I have never heard this kind of a sound from a wheel bearing. How could it be a wheel bearing already? Our last set of Timkens with Redline grease had lasted 89 hours of racing before we had an issue. These were brand new Timkens regreased the same as last time, with only one very wet weekend on them. Since it was wet, they should have been loaded even less.

This is my sad and perplexed face. I need this fixed to try get Randy in our car.

And here is my biggest problem. Not only do I not know for sure it's a bearing, and I also don't have a new wheel bearing. So question #1: How do I verify it's definitely a wheel bearing? And question #2: If it is a wheel bearing, how am I going to get one? It's late Friday afternoon, and even if I can find a bearing I then also need a press to get it into the hub. My drift car uses S14 hubs, which don't fit. Nathan Feigion's drift car is hours away and he is in California. I call him to ask him if I can steal a hub from his car. He gives me permission, but his car is also hours away in a trailer so it would be a big pain. We call around trying to find a bearing, but nobody has one in the area.

Suddenly I remember that when we got our conversion hubs, I pushed out the Chinese no-name bearings and put them in a drawer. My wife is going to be driving up soon, so I ask her to grab the two bearings and bring them with her. Our next problem is a press. We can't find anyone in the pits that has a press and I don't know anyone in the area that would. My dad calls Harbor Freight and they have a press, so he heads off to make the 40 minute drive. I get to work trying to verify that a wheel bearing will truly fix it. I swap hubs left/right after swapping the sound is definitely coming from the other side. Ok, well now I have my answer, and I just need to wait for the press and bearing.

By the time we have the press and the bearing, it's now dark. And of course the press is in a box in pieces, and we need to assemble it. Kyle arrived with my wife and the bearing, so the three of us get to work assembling the press.

We get it assembled around 10pm, then press in the bearing and reinstall the hub. We roll the car back and forth by hand.. and it's silent. It's 11pm and time to get some sleep before the race tomorrow, hopefully this no-name bearing holds up!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/27/21 11:48 p.m.
therealpinto said:

It bothers me mostly when I watch the in-car videos :-)

I'll ask the other drivers how they feel. But that kind of brace might be a solution.

What bothers me most in our car is a loud creaking noise from one of the roof profiles, not sure if it rubs on the roll cage or the roof skin. I have to find something that stops it...

Gustaf

Yeah, squeaks in a race car are really annoying, although mostly in video later. :)

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/28/21 2:00 a.m.

The Rocket (4/27/2019) - 7 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

We wake up and find Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox outside. That's always a good sign, right? I'm pretty sure there is some superstition about seeing Babe the Blue Ox before a race being a good thing.

We are feeling good about our chances, as with the wheel bearing issue taken care of, the car has been feeling great. I ran a fastest lap of 1:59.1 during practice on Friday, just over 2 seconds faster than our last outing.

My biggest goal for the weekend was to get Randy Pobst in the car. He drives everything from VWs to Volvos to Ferraris on track, and has the ability to feel and articulate exactly what he is feeling. This is exactly what I need to help develop our car! I think it feels good, but what do I know? At the track I found out that there were already teams that had asked at previous races. Well, at least get my name on the list and see what happens.

I caught this Probe on the way to the drivers meeting, I love it!

Under the hood of the "Tire Dogs" car... that looks mean.

Driver's meeting

The Dog Pound

I go out for qualifying, and in the last turn the power steering suddenly tries to pitch me off the track to the right! That's scary.. I've never felt it do that before. I get the car back in the pits, and I find that if I wiggle the encoder wires the steering wheel twitches. Ok, well there's where my problem is, but there's not much time before the race! I get some tape to hold the wiring still, so hopefully it doesn't have the chance to do this and head out for the race.

I start the race in 27th, but immediately make up some places. Having the practice day before is really nice to get the confidence up in the car and the track ahead of time and I'm able to start the race a bit more in the groove. On the first lap I get up to 20th. On the next lap I get to 16th, 15th, 14th... by lap 38 I'm up to 7th place. While I'm out I am pushing my braking further and further.. until I have a pretty big lockup and go off in turn 11. Teams start cycling through their pit stops, and I turn the car in on lap 52 having run a fastest lap of 2:00.0 and in 1st. Not as fast as practice, but not bad.

My dad gets in the car, and we send him out. A couple minutes later, Randy Pobst walks by our pit asking if we know where the silver Miata is or anyone from their team. Nobody is there, so we start chatting. After a few minutes Randy says, "Well I'm all suited up with nothing to drive, would you mind if I drove your car?" "Yes!" was my emphatic response. I tell Kyle to immediately pull my dad into the pits so we can get Randy in the car. We had just pit, but I don't care, I'm not going to pass this up!

Randy asks, "How long can I drive?" I had been hoping to get at least 10-15 minutes of him in the car, so I just said, "As long as you want!" He decides he'll go for around an hour. We use the NASCAR style radio plug and Randy's adapter is back with his things, so we won't have any communication. I go over how the controls are set up, and tell Randy that our 5th gear is getting crunchy.. but to just ignore it. The synchros are not great, but it doesn't seem to be a major issue and I don't want Randy babying the car when I need the data. 

I'm really pumped to have Randy out driving our car on track! In 18 laps he has made it from 15th up to 8th place! This video and data logging is going to be so useful. Wait... did I turn on the data logger? It stops logging every time the car starts, and I'm not certain if I started it before or after he started the car. With no radio I can't tell him how to start it and I really need to make sure I'm getting data. I decide to use the pit board to pull him in. And as it turns out.. the data logger was NOT on. Whew, good thing I got that rolling. Pulling Randy in meant we dropped from 8th back down to 11th, but this information is way more important than a podium. On his way up to 3rd place, Randy runs a 1:56.6! Wow! I've never quite felt like I was getting everything out of this track, but THREE whole seconds! This is going to be some very interesting data to see what he is doing differently. On lap 96 Randy pulls back in the pits and my dad jumps back into the car.

Randy has some great feedback! The first thing he says is, "There is a flatspot in the right front that was there when I got in!" "Yeah, that was me.. a little overzealous in turn 11."

Randy's feedback on the car:

  • Engine and transmission feel great
  • Shocks are way too soft, need the damping cranked much higher
  • Too much front brake bias, need some more rear brake
  • Can really feel the aero working, but could use just a bit more front downforce
  • Some mid-corner understeer, may need to try soften the front suspension
  • Feels slighly darty, may have some toe out

Overall he loved the handling of it. He recognized that many cars have a lot more power than ours, but he felt he had a "superior weapon" in the corners. In talking about how soft our shocks were, it actually became the Chasin' Racin' video below, as this was filmed right next to our pits:

 

I ask Randy as much as I can about how he is driving the track. This is his first day at this race track, and I'm amazed at what he has picked up already! For example, he was discussing coming down the hill, how if you hug the curbing just enough to keep the inside tire on the concrete, but not enough to get into the rumble strips, there is a little more grip there compared to the blacktop.

While my dad is driving, Kyle Eisenbach of General Leif comes by. We have had some really epic battles in the past and Kyle is always super friendly. Kyle tells me that he had planned to rent a spot with the Purple Haze car, but it broke. He asks if he could rent a stint in our car. Hmm. My default answer to this is always "NO", as I have way too many hours into this car for it to be worth the risk. However, I know Kyle is a great driver that drives very clean and I do trust him. And at least there is no rain, that would really crank up the risk factor. I discuss briefly with my dad on the radio, he agrees and Kyle is now the first person to have asked and gotten a "Yes!"  My dad has made it up to 5th place, and pulls into the pits on lap 123 with a fastest lap of 2:04.1.

Kyle gets in the car, and after I give my second guest driver briefing of the day, he is off. Within five laps, he has already run a 2:01.8! He gets from 9th up to 7th place running his fastest lap of 2:00.5. Then on lap 153, he gets us up to 6th place! As the race is nearly over, it starts to rain! So much for the weather being so nice! It's getting very slippery out there, and there are a couple problems. I never even though to tell Kyle how to operate the wipers. And the second problem.. the wiper stalk came loose and is turned down towards the floor. Kyle slips and slides around to take the checkered flag in 6th place while it starts hail!

Kyle did fantastic in the car, for him to get in our car and run a 2:00.5, only 0.5 off of my fastest of the day, that is really impressive! And I'm going to be completely honest, If Kyle had beaten my lap time I would have been disappointed in myself. Only a half more second and he would have done that! I'm perfectly fine with Randy destroying my lap time, that is expected.

What a crazy day. Thanks Randy for the amazing feedback and pointers, and thanks Kyle for driving a clean race and giving our baby back unscathed!

Video Overview:

 

iansane
iansane HalfDork
5/28/21 9:52 a.m.

Wow, that's some amazing hustle. And to get some much data from other drivers sounds great.

I've really wanted to get out to the Ridge and check it out. Seems like they've been progressively improving the place.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/28/21 10:43 a.m.
iansane said:

Wow, that's some amazing hustle. And to get some much data from other drivers sounds great.

I've really wanted to get out to the Ridge and check it out. Seems like they've been progressively improving the place.

I can go into some of the data in my next post, it was incredibly useful getting his car feedback as well as the track advice then being able to see exactly where he was gaining the time. There is always more to learn!

The Ridge is great! Originally it was a great drivers track and terrible for viewing, as it has a tall pit wall and you could really just see the downhill section. Now they have added the pedestrian bridge you can actually watch around most of the track.

Looking down at the bridge and paddock (you can see this was during some wild fires in 2020).

Looking at turns 11 and 12.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/29/21 2:13 a.m.

Thanks Grassroots Motorsports!! Very cool to see the car in print!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
7/14/21 11:56 p.m.

Apply the Learning (4/28/2019) - 7 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

Before the next race we stiffened up the shocks, which was really the only easy adjustment to make. Brake bias would have to wait. We were having a leisurely breakfast, when I got a text from Kyle Eisenbach, our competitor and friend from the General Leif. He asked if we wanted our car moved out on grid. Sure, thanks Kyle! Thanks to his generous offer, we ended up starting on the front row for the first time ever!

I started the race lined up next to our friends in #177 Finally Racing. I'm on the right side, which is the outside of turn 1, but Kurt concedes the first corner and I'm through into 1st! In talking to him later, he said he thought we would do better on cold tires and didn't want to fight for it. However with their extra horsepower, it becomes a real fight as the come around me a few laps later. Cody Smith is in the Mad Greek and he gets by me, and I get a real treat watching him wring out every bit of performance out of a 260Z.

The car feels more stable and balanced with the shock change, so thanks for that tip Randy! There are a ton of fast cars out, and the Ridge is a horsepower track. After Mad Greek gets by me, I'm also passed by #931 Uboot Rennenwerks Porsche with the turbo Audi engine and the familiar #13 Race Invader's Miata. Both the Porsche and Finally Racing have quite a bit more straightlight speed, so I have to try to use traffic to my advantage and be more efficient in passing. We battle it out for a good portion of my stint, me catching up and then losing distance on the straights again. All the while 5th gear is still quite crunchy, but hasn't really gotten any worse since yesterday.  We know we will need to swap out the trans at some point, but at this point it is just a slight distraction. At the end of my stint I pit right behind #177 in 3rd place, having ran a 1:57.3.. nearly three seconds faster than the previous day and just 0.2 seconds slower than Randy's time! Now sure, it's after trying to get all of Randy's secrets, tweaking the shocks and with a full stint, but I'm super happy with that!

Dave gets in the car next, with us now in 4th place after the pit stop. Partway through his stint he radios back to the pits: "I can't get into 6th gear." Hmm... worrying, but .. we don't have to have 6th gear, it's not a deal breaker. On the straight you can shift into 6th, but you also won't quite hit redline if you stay in 5th. I radio back for him to just quit trying to use 6th and we should be fine.

He radios back that he also had an issue getting it into 4th gear. Uh oh, something is deteriorating fast. Occasionally when going for a shift, it just won't find a gear. Eventually he can't find 3rd or 4th and can only get it into 5th gear. That's not the worst thing.. until he gets stopped during a caution, and has to try start in 5th gear! Even with all the transmission issues, Dave finishes out his stint in 1st place after having run a 1:59.8, faster than my fastest first day lap!

I get in the car and see if I can get it going. I put it in 1st, and it works. I get rolling, try 2nd, 3rd, 4th.. everything seems perfectly fine. Well that's weird, I guess I'll just go racing! A few laps later, I do find that 4th is tricky to find, and eventually decide that shifting is too big of a gamble and I need to pick a gear and just leave it. Since I can run the straight in 5th, I decide that 5th is the gear to leave it in. A couple laps later, the power steering starts acting up and pulling to one side. Well, crap. I guess the good thing is with the flip of a switch, I can just disable power steering and move on. The downside.. manual steering. Now I know plenty of people race with manual steering and will think I'm a wimp for complaining. But with a car that is designed for power steering, going into turn two at 1.4G, it takes some serious force to keep the steering wheel turned!

I'm finding some entertainment in trying to keep momentum up and making use of just 5th gear. The first section of the track is not bad, all faster sweepers, but towards the end of the track there are some really slow corners where exiting in 5th gear is just wait, and wait, and wait... The straight stretch is particularly bad, where I'm being passed by stock Civics at the beginning of the straight, but then still hitting a decent top speed and flying by people into turn one. I get told on the radio that Randy Pobst is in the #820 Snap Oversteer V6 MR2. He passes me, and I desperately want to battle with him! I manage to stay with him up until the slow corners, but once I get stuck at low rpm, he disappears. I get into new unexpected battles, with cars that are a class lower. However, my slower lap times are not helping our cause. We are still in 1st place, but Randy is now just one lap down to us in the MR2 and is hard charging around the track. Without the ability to pull fast laps, I'm a bit of a sitting duck. I keep trying to find ways to maintain momentum and keep the revs up slightly, but the best I can pull off is a 2:01.47. Randy's fastest lap in the MR2 is a 1:53.8! I go as long as I am allowed, trying to give my dad a bit of a short stint to deal with the manual steering. I'm exhausted by the time I get out of the car, but we are still in 1st place.

My dad gets in the car, and Randy passes him for the lead. We hang onto 2nd place, and by the time my dad pulls into the pits the car is now stuck in 5th and he can't even get it into neutral. Time for a new transmission! I had a blast racing with my idol, and now I have some changes I can try making on the car to try get some brake balance.

Lots of videos from this event:

Randy Pobst fastest lap compared to my fastest lap:

 

My fastest lap with all gears versus just 5th:

 

Race overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
7/17/21 12:04 a.m.

We pulled our transmission out, and I tried taking off the inspection cover to see if something obvious had failed in the selector. Nothing obvious found.. and I didn't feel like digging too much deeper as we already had a line on a replacement transmission. I had looked around to see if people had fixed their transmissions, but everybody said just replace the CD008 with a CD009 (newer/better) and forget about it.

We picked up two 2006 350Z VQ35DE engines that both ran but made some knocking noises.. and a CD009 for $1000 total. The engines could come in handy some day..

We got the car high enough up off the floor to get the trans out:

And then yanked it out:

Hmm.. we have a problem, the CD008 and CD009 shifter brackets are very different. :(

With some washers we got it to bolt up, but the linkage was no longer the correct length. With a little cutting/welding of the linkage, we were back in business.

We put the trans back in the car, installed some ST45 pads in the rear to try to get some better brake balance. We found Randy was right (of course) and we had some toe out in the front, so we fixed that (we usually shoot for zero toe up front). I also fixed the power steering encoder lines, one of the wires had been cut somehow. With all that done, we were ready for our next race!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
8/8/21 2:02 a.m.

Home Sweet Home (7/6/2019) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

As is very common in the Northwest, the day starts off with some rain. It is very slick out during qualifying, but when the race starts the track has dried up a bit. I start in 12th, but get a great start and motor by some cars. By the end of the lap I have made it up to 4th place. A few laps later I am chasing the #39 K20-powered Civic of SMRT Racing and the #931 Audi-powered turbo Porsche of Uboot RennenWerks. Both cars have more power, and while I can close the gap, I can never quite make it past them. On one lap I manage to get a good run on the Porsche exiting turn 12. I am in 3rd and I reach for 4th, but when I let out the clutch it was 2nd gear! The engine zings to 8140rpm (according to the datalogs) before I can jam the clutch back in. I am kicking myself as I am concerned I just hurt the engine.

It's still drizzling as I chase them and they battle with each other. We come onto the straight and the Honda is ahead of the Porsche. The Porsche comes up on the left side for a pass, and the two cars bump and the Porsche spins around to the right and slams into the cement barrier!

There was an entire 4-page thread devoted to "Who's fault is it?" here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/how-not-to-pass-at-portland-international-raceway/155647/page1/

After watching through the videos again.. I see the Porsche following the #457 white BMW on the left side of the track, then he starts inching over to the right to pass the BMW on the right. He keeps inching over until the Porsche and Honda collide. It was just too optimistic that he would fit through the almost-Porsche sized gap. So to me this 100% on the Porsche, as it is also in the rules that the responsibility is on the overtaking car to make a safe pass.

The race quickly goes to a red flag to get the driver checked out (he was OK) and the mess cleaned up. While sitting still, the car starts to get hot so I shut it down. Once the red flag lifts, I go to start the engine, and it will barely even turn over. Uh oh, did I break the engine from my overrev? I try to start again, and it spins inconsistently and sounds terrible. I try again, still won't start. At this point I am panicking, thinking that our engine is toast. I try one more time, and it fires up! I finish up my stint and pit in 2nd place with a fastest lap of 1:29.9.

My dad is in the car next, and while exiting turn 7 on lap 67 the aptly named "Asphalt Mafia" car hammers the right rear of the car. My dad pulls in to self-report the contact. We lose 2.5 minutes in the pits, and that drops us down to 4th place. A few laps later, Dave is going into the chicane and the back end gets a little loose. He has it mostly gathered up and starts to pick up the throttle too early. When the car grips up it snaps the back end around and Dave ends up bumping the wall a bit with the left side of the car. Dave gets going again and at the end of his session pits in 4th place with a fastest lap of 1:31.5.

There's just the two of us driving, so I get back into the car with 3.5 hours left in the race. I chase my way up into 2nd place behind the #39 Honda, who has made up for the earlier pit stop after the contact. He doesn't get slowed down enough for the chicane, which means he has to roll through and stop. This is my chance! I make it past him and I am now in first place! I pit with a fastest lap of 1:29.395, which is our fastest lap ever at PIR!

Dave gets back in the car with 1.5 hours left in the race. He fights valiantly, but the #39 Honda passes him on the back straight to take back the lead. After a wild and crazy race, we finish in 2nd place!

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
8/15/21 7:49 p.m.

Sprint #1 (7/6/2019) - 45 Minutes - Portland International Raceway:

We didn't have a lot of time between the endurance race and the sprint and there was some work to do. After my dad bumped the wall, the left rear fender was rubbing on the tire and the splitter support needed to be bent back. 

After getting things straightened up I lined up for the start. I was lined up behind the #987 Mustang and a very nice black Evo running in the Super Dog class. He gets off to a rocketing start, and I try to just keep him visible. I make it around the #987 Mustang in the twisty section, but can't make any ground on the Evo. A couple laps later however, the Evo takes care of itself. It was apparently a new build and I believe it had popped an oil cooler line.

With white flags waving and a safety vehicle on course, I get passed by another fast Mustang, the white #12 of Three Thieves Racing. He make his way to the front, and somehow never gets called in even though we are not allowed to pass under a white. As I'm distracted by the Mustang.. the white flags drop, and the #39 Honda Civic of SMRT (Socket Monkeys Racing Team) gets past me. That puts me down in 3rd place. As the #987 Mustang gets more in the groove, he starts to put more pressure on me. He's significantly faster than me on the straight, and once he gets a good enough run on me there is no holding him back. I run a 1:29.5 and turn the car over to my dad. He puts up a valiant fight, but we finish in 4th place. Without the attrition and pit stop strategy of an endurance race, our car just doesn't have the horsepower.

 

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