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Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/15/21 5:47 p.m.

LDRL Howl-o-Ween Derby (11/1/15) - 8 hours - Portland International Raceway:

After the deluge on the first day, the second morning the weather is pretty reasonable. It's damp, but at least not a downpour. Today is an 8 hour race, and with 2 hour maximum driving stints that means trying to make it the full two hours to avoid an extra pit stop towards the end. It also means that the pits will be quite crowded at the first pit stop. We are running used Hankook RS3s from they day before, having switched up from our usual Dunlop Direzza Star Specs.

I get in the car first, and start in 16th place at 9am. I get a decent run as there is a mist off of the track and a rainbow forming in the sky. Our buddies in the #177 Finally Racing BMW get taken out int he first corner and we make up a few places. With the mist spraying everywhere and the sun out, visibility gets pretty challenging at times. I make my way up towards the front of the pack, battling with an Acura Integra for 1st place. The track is drying out, and I am able to pick up more speed and move into 1st place. At 11am I pit on the same lap as the #71 Shift Autosport Jetta and #177, who are now behind us in 2nd and 3rd place. My fastest lap was a 1:34.5, good but a far cry from my 1:31.98 record.

When I pull in the pits we don't have any help yet. Nathan and I do a two-man pit stop: fueling, checking oil, and cleaning the windshield. Nathan has a dry track at this point, with cool air and few clouds in the sky. Nathan battles it out with #71 Shift Autosport Jetta for a few laps, maintaining 1st place. At noon Nathan manages to pass #177, putting us a lap up! When Nathan pits at 1pm, we are a lap up on both 2nd and 3rd place. Nathan ran a fastest lap of 1:33.1, nearly a second and a half faster than mine. Our help has arrived, and we have a good clean pit stop. #177 has a slow pit stop, and now they are two laps behind putting Shift Autosport in 2nd.

I go out again, and get quite a bit of good clean laps in. I run a 1:33.4 before the rain sets in a little after 2pm. It rains just long enough to make things slippery, then starts to dry out again. I finish up my session in the damp full of slipping and sliding, and turn the car over to Nathan at 3pm two laps ahead of #177 in 2nd place and 3 laps ahead of Shift Autosport.

When Nathan gets in the car, it's getting quite a bit more wet. It's now extremely slick all the way around, so he spends much of his time drifting and avoiding spun cars. Nathan does a celebration drift out of turn 12 and we finish in 1st two laps ahead of #177 Finally Racing! Our first weekend with Lucky Dog and our first time ever with a double-win in a weekend!

After the race one of the drivers of the #177 BMW said, "In the dry we had a bit more speed than you, and we both struggled when it was really wet, but in the damp your car is a monster!"

Video Overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/15/21 11:28 p.m.

In January of 2016 I went on a work trip to Europe, and got a chance to go to a very nice museum in Brussels, Belgium. They had a ton of amazing cars there!

Lamborghini Gallardo race car:

2013 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Touring Superleggera:

2015 Lamborghini Veneno (very rare!):

Maserati MC12:

Amphibious car:

Electric car (replica) - First road vehicle faster than 60km/h

Lancia race car:

 

I also had been driving a beat up automatic 240SX and the transmission had failed on it. Rather than fix that car, since it was already not in good shape, I decided to put together a new 240SX street car.

I had this chassis which was fairly straight, but it had no engine and had a sunroof. I'm tall, so sunroofs are no good.

We also had another chassis that we had picked up to make our next race car out of.. but it had a bent/separated frame, so it was sitting there doing nothing. So I stole a piece of it's roof:

Then I cut the sunroof out out:

I tacked the new piece on, using my tape/measurements as a reference:

I also welded in the factory bracing so it would work like factory:

I smoothed up the welds:

Then it was time for filler..

.. and some primer:

Then fast forward a bunch more hours later.. and some black paint is laid down:

A little prettying up of the engine:

And with the car all together and some Hyundai red paint:

I put in manual belts, bluetooth stereo with mic, Bose stereo system out of a Maxima, etc.. a fairly comfortable street car.

While moving some stuff around.. took a picture of our very cool looking trophies:

 

Now that we were racing with Lucky Dog, we had less limitations on what we could do to the car. The rulebook was basically open, but not so much our wallets. So we looked around at what we could do on the cheap. I had a Whiteline sway bar that had been taken off of my car when I put the V8 in it.

I also had some RS*R "race" springs that had been on my personal 240SX before the coilovers. After installing the Whiteline front bar, we reinstalled the factory rear bar we had disconnected for the rain at the previous race. With McPherson front struts we were looking for a little less body roll (and camber loss). We also picked up a set of our tried-and-true Dunlop Direzza ZIIs and got those mounted up.

We checked our brakes.. nope! No swaps needed.

LDRL Racecapturing The Ridge (4/23/16) - 7 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

Nathan Feigion starts the race and we are in 39th place. It's random, and OK to be that far back, I'm confident he will move his way forward, there's lots of time. There are also a lot of cars with 49 cars starting the race. It's a bit damp out, but the sun is out and is drying up. The Ridge is a horsepower track, with multiple long acceleration zones, and we are a momentum car. Many of the cars here can run away from us on the straights. Nathan runs a fastest lap of 2:04.9, and gets us all the way up to 6th place by the time he pits.

And the big news of the race, my dad is healed up! Dave heads out on track for the second stint. Dave is warming up to the track and getting used to things again, but he is still consistent enough to get us up into 4th place with a fastest lap of 2:06.1!

I get in the car next and am getting frustrated by so many cars pulling away from us on the straights. It's dry for the first part of the stint, then it starts raining. The Ridge has pretty good drainage and is newer than Portland, so it doesn't get nearly as greasy as Portland does. I just barely edge out Nathan Feigion's laptime with a 2:04.6, but I have gotten us up into 1st place!

Nathan goes out on course (now in 7th after the pit stop), and the heavens have opened and decided to dump out buckets of rain. Visibility is an issue, brake lockup is an issue, and hydroplaning is an issue. Nathan makes his way past a few cars and gets up to 3rd place for a trophy! #177 Finally Racing won the race (with a fastest lap of 2:02) with the #40 SC-YA SC300 getting second place (with a fastest lap of 2:03).

Video overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/16/21 12:16 a.m.

This very cool car was out there for the weekend. If I remember correctly it was a Porsche 914 converted to single seat.. I believe it may have been a single rotor RX7 engine. While I was very intimidated by how awesome the car looked, but it turned out to be a little slow with a fastest lap of 2:22.

LDRL Racecapturing The Ridge (4/24/16) - 7 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

Sunday morning we are still wearing Saturday's shoes (Direzza ZII) and haven't touched anything else on the car. It's so nice to not have to mess with the brakes! I start the race in 19th place on a dry track. I'm again frustrated by seemingly every car's ability to disappear from us on the straights, but we can make up enough time in the corners that our lap times are competitive (well, if ~3 seconds off of the fastest lap of the day is competitive). With a very busy track I get us up to 6th place with a fastest of 2:03.5 and turn the car over to my dad.

Dave gets ready to go out on track, and *just* misses getting out before the pace truck and a very slow lap. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. And here we basically just lost a lap. This knocks us all the way back to 25th place. It's a long race.. we can make it up. Dave continues through the dry track, eventually getting us back up to 6th with a fastest lap of 2:06.4.

Nathan Feigion is in the car next, and after a couple days of hard driving on them.. the Direzzas are getting greasy. Nathan is really trying to manage the traction, but these tires are pretty toast. Nathan has made his way all the way up to 2nd place with a 2:01.3, it's looking like we may be able to get another podium! Nathan has caught up quickly to the #3 Rainbow Unicorn E30 BMW, and they recognize us as a faster car. They point Nathan by on the straight.. but stay in the throttle. And they start slowly walking away. We really need some horsepower here! Rainbow Unicorn is now entering the fastest corner of the track (corner 1) while watching his mirrors to see if Nathan is going to come by him. Rainbow Unicorn brakes for the corner and Nathan looks to the inside to pass in the corner, just as Rainbow Unicorn locks up the rear brakes and spins directly in front of Nathan!

With the spin happening directly in front of Nathan, he is unable to avoid and contacts the BMW. The right front tire gets cut and goes flat, and Nathan pulls into the pits. We swap the tire to a Hankook RS3, and I get in the car to head out on track. As soon as I move forward, I hear something strange. It sounds like something is grinding, so my assumption is something is bent and rubbing in the right front. We can't see anything, so I head out on track.

We are in 6th place with a little under two hours remaining. I can still hear some kind of rubbing happening, but the car is still fast and nothing feels wrong. I'm trying to make up places when I get hit with The Meatball. The Meatball is a black flag with an orange circle, which means something is wrong with the car. They tell us there is a brake problem of some sort. Back in the pits, we find that the left rear brake caliper had come loose, and was dragging on the wheel. It was still gripping on the rotor, just partially off of it. While we are in the pits we swap out the rest of our mismatched tires, so I am now running on the Hankook RS3s. I get back out on track in a disappointing 17th, and now my goal is to see what kind of lap time I can pull off with the used RS3s. We finish the race in 13th, and I get my lap time down to a 2:01.8. Still not quite enough to beat Nathan! I'll blame it on the RS3s being old and the bad aerodynamics from the smashed bumper, it can't be my driving!

This was the race that fully finalized in our minds.. we needed more horsepower. There's a lot of options out there to gain horsepower though... decisions, decisions!

Video Overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/16/21 2:28 a.m.

We started looking into options for increasing power on our car. One of the major considerations was that we wanted to run Lucky Dog as well as ChumpCar, which meant we didn't want to increase power too much or would have a bunch of penalty laps tacked on with ChumpCar.

1. Turbo the KA24DE

Pros: Nathan Feigion was making of 400whp out of a turbo KA, we have experience with turbos

Cons: Engine bay heat is a constant problem cooking anything and everything, transmissions don't really like turbo KAs

2. Lexus 1UZ-FE V8

Pros: Able to be mated to KA24DE transmission, shown to be successful solution in 240SX, relatively cheap engine

Cons: After a team was blatantly cheating with this engine it looked like ChumpCar was going to put a hefty penalty on running this, too much fuel consumption for factory tank

3. VQ35DE from 350Z

Pros: Great engine, plenty of power

Cons: Would be a huge pile of penalty laps, too much fuel consumption for factory tank, expensive

4. VQ30DE from Maxima

Pros: Very reliable engines (many well over 200k miles), cheap/easy to find, just enough power without causing penalty laps with ChumpCar, fuel consumption probably OK for factory tank

Cons: Front-wheel drive only, uncommon swap

After some deliberation, we decided the best option was to go for the VQ30DE from the Maxima. It's a newer design engine compared to the KA24DE, makes just enough horsepower we don't get into big penalty lap issues, yet should still give us a big enough gain to be worth it. A good VQ30DE should make 190-200whp, and the average KA24DE makes 120-125whp so we were looking at nearly a 75 horse gain. That should keep those BMWs in range!

The first step, was to find as complete of an engine as we could. Piecing things together gets expensive fast. We started looking for donor cars, and stumbled on a great find. We picked up this 2001 Maxima for $100. It started and ran, but sounded a little rattly in the midrange (potential bearing issue). However it had the ecu, wiring, key, gauge cluster.. all the things we needed to make an engine run.

I stole the seatbelts and Bose soundsystem from the car and put it in the street 240SX. I've already more than made up the $100! We then picked up a low mileage manual engine with the flywheel/clutch for $450:

Turning the engine sideways meant turning it into a baby 350Z engine. We picked up the transmission (most expensive part of the swap at $675), 350Z exhaust manifolds ($40), and a 350Z oil pan ($100)/starter ($50) for the purpose of turning the front-wheel drive engine to rear-drive. One question we had during this project was, "Would it sound like a Maxima or a 350Z?" It was basically going to be a 3 liter 350Z engine, but is it the exhaust manifolds that give the Z it's distinct sound? Or the variable cam timing that we wouldn't have?

Our low-mileage junkyard engine looked nice and clean inside:

One of the first obvious issues we would run into, was the intake manifold. Rotating the engine to RWD would put the throttle in the firewall. We played with the idea of flipping the entire manifold 180 degrees, but the one valve cover is shorter than the other and this just wouldn't fit.

This plastic manifold is the main reason why this engine makes 222hp and the older model made 190hp, so I want to use it. It has a very trick variable length runner design. Nissan calls it VIAS, Variable Induction Air Control System. Basically it's a short runner/long runner setup, and the short runners are normally blocked off until around 5200 rpm. This way the engine can make good torque as well as good top end power. 

The "power valve":

My idea for getting everything to fit... was to cut everything up, flipping some things around.. and fitting it all back up again.

At the same time we got to work trying to mock up the engine/transmission in a donor chassis. Since Blue Bayou was working, we didn't want to touch it until we had some of these details worked out in case we didn't get this done before we wanted to race. The first things we discovered, was that the sway bar and steering shaft would both be tight:

We also needed the coolant hoses to be at the front of the engine, so we picked up a Pathfinder coolant piece. It has a thermostat for the block, something the Maxima also had.

Mocking up how the intake would sit together:

I beveled the edges of the manifold (fiber-filled Dupont 66 nylon) and made some brackets to hold it together.

Then my first pass was just with a soldering gun, melting the two together.

Then I started laying in some filler material, and as luck would have it, the Harbor Freight zip ties I bought were made of Dupont 66 nylon as well.

With a little porting, I actually had a straighter shot into the manifold than the factory setup had.

After getting it together and cleaned up, I was really happy with how it was looking:

We also picked up a 350Z manifold and toyed with the idea of using that, but we decided we would wait for the dyno to decide which manifold was better. I assumed the torque out of the VIAS manifold would win, while the horsepower may be a tie.

For the back of the engine we were going to run the Maxima flywheel, since it has a unique pattern that is different from the 350Z flyweel. However the 350Z flywheel/clutch is significantly thicker than the Maxima setup, so we spaced the flywheel out by putting the automatic flexplate spacer behind the flywheel (~1/8" thick).

This also meant the starter moves in relation to the flywheel, along with the fact that the 350Z and Maxima flywheels are slightly different diameter. We found the perfect mesh for the starter gear, and found where that needed to be spaced and positioned. We then greased the starter and filled the area in with JB Weld so that the position would be repeatable and then popped the starter back out.

We also needed to space the throwout bearing closer to the clutch by around a half inch, so we lathed up a spacer and extended the throwout bearing holder:

Then after determining the spacing we needed, we added the large washers to push the throwout bearing out:

For the radiator I was looking for a factory option. We needed inlet lower left and outlet upper right, which is different than factory. After researching a bunch of different Nissan radiators, I found the 1995 Infiniti G20 radiator was what we were looking for.

The radiator dropped right into the factory mounts and had the hose points where we needed them, and wasn't too tall (like most of the options I looked at).

For motor mounts we bought a generic LS1 mount kit, then hacked them up. Since the engine is normally front-wheel drive, the plates to bolt to the engine were very different.

After a little optimizing/painting:

The transmission mount was a GM poly trans mount grafted into the factory cross member:

To help solve the steering issue, we shortened the steering knuckle:

The final piece was rotating the steering rack backwards, which required modifying one of the mounts:


 

The shifter was too far backwards, so the aluminum bracket was cut off and shortened. This also means the shaft for shifting was shortened.

We picked up an aluminum conversion driveshaft, which looks nice and pretty in there.

To give room for the coolant pipes on the left side of the engine, we made a custom bracket to rotate the alternator down. We figured moving the weight down was a good thing, and it just fit better. We needed to measure and track down a shorter belt after this though.

At this point everything was mocked up in the other chassis, and it was time to get to work on Blue Bayou. The first thing we wanted to do, was to get a pre-dyno with the four cylinder. With our bets ranging from 120whp to 125whp.. we made a whopping 161whp! Our first thoughts were that the dyno was optimistic, but the operator said that most 240SXes put down around 125 on this dyno. This was a fresh factory style build, with some custom porting, a header, and an intake. Factory cams, etc. So on the one hand, that's a great number. On the other hand.. that means our V6 might only be a 30whp gain..

Our 161whp KA24DE freshly yanked out of the car:

Our VQ30DE setup ready to go in. I don't remember exact numbers any more, but we were hoping this all aluminum setup would be lighter than the iron-block 4 cylinder, but we gained at least 25 lbs, mostly due to the transmission.

With a little plasma work, the shifter was in place:

Resting in it's mounts:

The exhaust we built as equal length as we could, using a 2" to 2.5" Flowmaster collector:

We picked up some swaybar spacers, as our swaybar would contact the oil pan under compression if we didn't..

And then there was some wiring.. the 240SX has a speed sensor in the transmission, but the 350Z has it in the differential. Since we had a 350Z trans and 240SX diff, we had no speed sensor at all. I already had built a unit that was reading data from our DL1 datalogger, so I figured I might as well use the GPS speed from that to drive the speedometer. This was my proof of concept showing I could drive the speedometer using an Arduino (and a circuit to help translate voltages from 0-5v to -5v to +5v)

I discovered a chip in the ECU (car computer) used for idle had fried. Apparently this is a common issue with the Maximas relating to leaking active engine mounts. I picked up another ECU/key from an Infinity J30. The key itself I ziptied into the antenna that sits around the lock and wired the immobilizer into the ECU as it expects. This way I was able to get around the anti-theft (NATS) and get the car to start.

Then I discovered I had completely miscalculated my room for the throttle, and there was no room for the idle control motor anyway, so I had to make a blank plate:

Then I got even deeper with the wiring.. and it's looking like a bit of a mess at this point:

The 350Z oil pan does not have a provision to hold the crank sensor position sensor for the Maxima, so we need to make a custom one. We checked the gap on the other engine, and the sensor runs very close! Here you can see us setting it up with feeler gauges. It got another bracket on the right side.

It's close!

This is what the engine looked like when we first fired it, but it started!

This is what it looked like when we were bleeding the coolant:

One thing that I never figured out, was that the VIAS system would not activate. I don't know if it was from the many check engine codes that were tripped or something else, but the ECU would not trigger it. I just got an RPM switch from Summit and used that instead. In our videos you can see the blue light kick on at 5200rpm where I had it set to trigger the VIAS.

The intake manifold required a little "clearancing" of the hood:

We also finally swapped our brake pads after putting over 50 hours of racing on the Raybestos ST43s! As you can see they are tapering, but not nearly used up. New pads are so thick!

And our car was ready to race again!

Video overview of the V6 swap below. You will hear in the video at the end, it does sound like a baby 350Z engine!

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/16/21 3:30 p.m.

So for my engine swap impressions.. it is quite a bit of work to turn the front-wheel drive setup to rear-drive, and mostly makes sense for horsepower or dollar limited series of racing. For the money it's a decent upgrade, but having a 400whp V8 240sx, I was slightly underwhelmed by the 190-200whp car. It's certainly smoother than before, and the power pulls all the way to redline with no noticeable dropoff in torque towards redline. The KA24DE drops off hard enough that it was pointless to run to redline.

We sadly never did put this engine on the dyno, as I was a little depressed by some of the lack of gains. This dyno below is NOT our car, but the same engine type to show the general powerband. In this example you can see between 5000rpm and redline, it only drops about 20 ft-lbs of torque. At redline it's still making more torque than our KA24DE ever did. Our KA24DE drops roughly 50 ft-lbs in the same span, giving a very noticeable lack of pull up top.

Our old KA24DE dyno (note the torque dropoff, power peaks at 5500rpm):

VQ30DEK dyno (NOT our car, just an example, but power peaks at redline):


We decided to experiment with running no manual steering. It saved some time and a little weight, and we figured it was worth experimenting with. While obviously the steering was heavier, it wasn't too bad catching a slide.

One of the most striking things I noticed up front, is that with the combination of the new trans and stock differential, the gearing is much shorter. So now everything was a gear higher. Definitely a little mental gymnastics.. only downshifting into 4th for the chicane feels very weird! I am also used to being able to shift by sound and feel, and with this engine I can't feel the drop off in torque to know when to shift, and I'm not used to the sound. So occasionally I bump the rev limiter, which hits pretty hard since it's still pulling at redline.

Another thing I noticed was that once I was in 6th gear, there was quite a bit of driveline vibration. The driveline is going pretty significantly fast at this point, but this was not expected. We tried doing various tricks on the lift like using a band clamp rotated to different positions to see if we could affect it, but we only seemed to be able to make it worse. Eventually we shipped back the driveline to be checked out, and they sent us another one. This one still did it, although not quite as much. Oh well, hopefully it doesn't wipe out any bearings.

Unfortunately my GPS to speedo connection did not work out. Once I had the Arduino reading and translating all the information from the datalogger, it wasn't fast enough to still do the pulsing for the speedometer.

Here's some of my first laps from the track day getting a feel for the car:


To compare my fastest laps with the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder, I was hitting just 3mph faster on both the front and back straights. Lap time difference was a 1:31.61 versus my old fastest of a 1:31.98. The car made cooler noises and felt better, but it was certainly not nearly the bump up we thought it was going to be when we had such a freak 4-cylinder to begin with.

 

So after all this work, we are *slightly* faster. The real kick in the gut is that while we've been working on getting this engine in, ChumpCar pulls out of the West Coast. So the race series that got us to consider doing this engine instead of the 350Z engine is now out of the picture. Oops. Would I do it again? Only for certain rules/reasons. The VQ30 in a street car would work out really well, it's bulletproof and gets mileage as good as the KA24DE while making more power and sounding better.

One thing with our old KAs, is that our first three engines burned oil. We were used to having to add oil at every pit stop, and only our last engine did not burn oil. We also got 37 hours, 50 hours, and 49.5 hours out of the first three engines (this one pulled due to burning too much oil even after rebuilding the head). Our last engine was the best and still going strong when we pulled it out at 83 hours. Our VQ has fantastic compression and doesn't burn any oil, so hopefully we get a lot of hours out of this one!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/17/21 3:19 a.m.

We hadn't raced in a year, and showed up to tech on Friday. Even though we are bringing a little more firepower, we start thinking that maybe we brought a knife to a gunfight. In addition to the usual suspects, there are some very rowdy sounding cars. There is a Corvette with the 1994 ZR1 OHV engine and various other cammed V8s that make us real nervous.

While waiting in line for tech, I am by myself while Nathan and Dave are doing the gear check. I need to move the car forward, and now the car which had started faithfully since the first try was not wanting to start. The car would crank, but just wouldn't fire.

By now a few people from other teams start taunting: "What a pile! Failed in the tech line, one less car to beat tomorrow! Hahaha!" I don't say anything.. but they are really ticking me off. It's bad enough to put that many hours into the car and have it start failing. I'm thinking, "Oh you just wait for tomorrow." I finally get the car to fire and make it through tech. I try to look into why the car hadn't started and find a failed code for the anti-theft system. I clear the code but I'm not able to find any smoking guns as to why it had happened. The wiring all seems OK as well as the key is ziptied directly touching the antenna. Well, hopefully it holds up.. it's been working fine.

First Race with the V6 (7/22/17) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

During qualifying our first gremlin pops up. The tach starts dropping out. The car is running fine, but it's difficult to tell when to shift since the torque doesn't drop off with no tach or speedometer.

Nathan Feigion starts the race, having to learn new shift points with completely new gearing. It's a massive field, and we start 20th place out of 78 cars! The sun is shining and it's dry but not too hot out. I start to feel a whole lot better with the previous day's taunting as Nathan is moving up through the field. That Corvette I was worried about.. is just not nearly as fast as I think it should be. By the time Nathan pits, he has made it all the way to 2nd place! We are behind Dimsum Racing, a 240Z with a Honda J30 engine. Nathan ran a lap time of 1:31.3, faster than what I ran on the practice day.

I get in the car, and it doesn't want to start. Crap! Quick.. need to do something smart here. I theorize there may be too much voltage draw since the car doesn't want to start and the tach doesn't want to work. I ask my dad to unplug a few accessories on the right side of the car. It works! The car fires up and I have a tach again! We lost about a minute, so not too terrible. We can make it up. And once I make it out on track.. the tach drops out again. I have a rare off with the car where I try to catch a slide and fail. I'm used to power steering in my drift car where I can flick the wheel, and I am too slow with my countersteer and go off track. Luckily with dry grass it is no harm done and I make it right back on track. On lap 71 a full course yellow comes out. Now normally if they bring out the pace truck it picks up the 1st place car. Occasionally that doesn't happen, and that was the case here. The pace truck just missed the leader, so they pick us up. Well that is unfortunate.. that means the leader basically got a free lap around behind us now. Eventually I make it around and I'm behind Dimsum racing. It's kind of funny, both Nissan/Datsun cars, with 3.0 liter fwd V6s moved to rear drive.

I finally get by him, and now we are in 1st place! I run a fastest lap of 1:33.0, which is well off of Nathan Feigion's pace. What is my excuse this time? Let's see.. I'll go with tires. It can't simply be that he's a better driver! Nathan must have used the last of the RS3s very long life, as we've put around 18 hours of racing on these tires at this point!

After our pit stop Dimsum is now back into 1st place, and Dave is in the car. It is busy out there with 78 cars on the track! Dimsum pits on lap 163 and Dave pits on lap 175 so Dave is in first when he pits, but Dimsum gets us back.

Nathan jumps in for his second stint in the car, and is in 2nd place chasing Dimsum. As the race is winding down, we still have not made it past Dimsum. We think we are going to have to settle for 2nd place, when Dimsum has a mechanical issue! This puts us in first and we have now won three Portland races in a row! Nathan ran a fastest lap of 1:32.9 in the last session, so these tires are just done. Tomorrow we will try the Hankook RS4 for the first time!

Video Overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/19/21 12:23 a.m.

Trying Some New Tires (7/23/17) - 8 hours - Portland International Raceway:

Today we finally retired our well-worn Hankook RS3s and put on some nice new Hankook RS4s. It is an even hour race, which means pit stops every two hours for all that are able to make it that long. It means there is less margin for error and less ability to strategically pit where there is a yellow, the window is very small. With some attrition from the first day, we were down to 69 cars for this race, which is still a large field. Our tach is still not working, and I am first out in the car. At the beginning of the race we realize that the camera is not charging.. and I forgot to charge the GoPro last night. Ok, no morning footage.

The sun is out and the weather is perfect, and I start from 12th place. The tires feel better than the RS3s, there is definitely a stiffer sidewall. I'm not sure the rubber compound is much different though, as my fastest lap was 1:32.2 as I get us up to 3rd place.

My dad is in the car next, he runs a 1:35.0 and slips back to 5th place. The teams ahead of us at this point are Son of Andre (light V8 Mustang), Race Invaders (Ecotec-swapped Miata), Scrap Attack (Honda Civic), and Dimsum Racing (V6 240Z).

I get in the car at the next pit stop, and the car does not want to start. I then shut off all the accessories (including dataloggers), thinking that will help. The car still won't start, and I try turning on the DL1, and the car immediately fires. Is that a clue to what is going on? Or is this random?

I get out on course and I'm chasing Dimsum Racing. I keep getting hung up in traffic as the very expertly piloted 240Z keeps disappearing. A little while later I am in turn 6, trying to eek every last bit of traction out of the car.. and the Race Invaders Miata just drives around me on the outside. They have a wing, and suddenly I'm jealous. I can definitely see the advantage they have cornering, I may have to look into aero a little more seriously! Due to our issues in the pits, we are a lap down on the leader Dimsum Racing. On a yellow flag restart they are just one car ahead of me. The green flag drops and they are off like a rabbit! I chase them down in the corners however with a few years of technology in the suspension between the 70's 240Z and 90's 240SX. After a lap I make it around them, and now I need to put another whole lap on them to get the lead. I don't have a chance to make up the whole lap before I need to come in.

Nathan Feigion gets in the car next, and thankfully it actually starts in the pits. Dimsum has their fastest driver in their car, and.. as much as I hate to say it, so do we! Nathan is pushing the car hard, and he is getting close to Dimsum. There are very few yellows, and Nathan is putting in a lot of quick laps. With 15 minutes to go, Nathan starts running out of fuel. When trying to rev match for the chicane, enough fuel is leaving the pickup that the car is stumbling and not reving up quickly enough. The factory S13 240SX tank is fantastic for a factory tank, but it is just *barely* big enough for our 200 horsepower. Amazingly this engine doesn't really use any more fuel than the 4-cylinder that it replaced. Technology is great! Dimsum gets called in for a black flag which gives us 1st place, and we get *very* lucky that there is an incident and the last two laps are completed under caution. Multiple cars were running out of fuel, and amazingly we limped all the way to the finish line and won the race!

Now we have a lot of work to do before our next race. While we managed to win both days with manual steering, I ended up with a blister on my palm from 6 hours of racing in the heat and manual steering. So power steering is up next on the mod list. Figuring out what is going on with the electrical system is also very high on the priority list now!

Video overview!

 

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
4/19/21 3:14 a.m.

Nice writeups, again!

I really feel that it would be interesting to build a S13 or S14 if we ever decide to step up a notch in our endurance racing. I have only ever street driven S13's and S14's but I like the way they feel. 

We would probably aim for a NA SR20VE (if we find one...) or just a 350Z driveline if rules allow. We'll cross that bridge if we ever get to it ;-)

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/19/21 1:34 p.m.
therealpinto said:

Nice writeups, again!

I really feel that it would be interesting to build a S13 or S14 if we ever decide to step up a notch in our endurance racing. I have only ever street driven S13's and S14's but I like the way they feel. 

We would probably aim for a NA SR20VE (if we find one...) or just a 350Z driveline if rules allow. We'll cross that bridge if we ever get to it ;-)

Gustaf

Thanks Gustaf! Depending on the rules, it might be worth just stepping into a 350Z with their large factory fuel tank. We have so much parts/knowledge with the S13 now that it wouldn't make sense for us to make the jump at this point. We would have definitely gone straight for the VQ35DE if we weren't trying to work within Chumpcar horsepower rules. The only real benefits to the VQ30 over the VQ35 is that it's cheaper and fuel usage will be less. SR20VE would be interesting in a class where you needed to stay at 2 liters, but I think I might look more towards the Honda K20.

I ran an SR20DET for quite a while with T25, T28, GT2871R turbos on my drift car. With a turbo the SR is a lot of fun. I shy away from turbos on endurance cars though. People have made them work, but it adds heat and fuel usage (needs to be richer given a power level).

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
4/20/21 12:37 a.m.

So far it's all dreams and wishes, but the possible series I'm looking at either have a 2 liter or 3 liter limit.

Too bad the VQ engines are not readily available here, the "big" Nissan and Infinitis (sedans) were barely sold here.

I agree about staying away from turbos in endurance racing. I also have a turbo engine in my "fun" car (the Capri) but I wouldn't trust that for 4 hours, especially not in the hands of my team mates :-)

Gustaf

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/20/21 1:19 a.m.
therealpinto said:

So far it's all dreams and wishes, but the possible series I'm looking at either have a 2 liter or 3 liter limit.

Too bad the VQ engines are not readily available here, the "big" Nissan and Infinitis (sedans) were barely sold here.

I agree about staying away from turbos in endurance racing. I also have a turbo engine in my "fun" car (the Capri) but I wouldn't trust that for 4 hours, especially not in the hands of my team mates :-)

Gustaf

Yeah if VQs are not easy to find, there are likely cheaper engine options. I'm not sure how common they are there, but I found some guys in Sweden building a K20 CRX. Touge Factory makes swap kits for S13/S14 chassis 240SX for the K24, not sure if they also work for K20 or not.

With my drift car I finally went to safety wire on everything exhaust to keep it together and eventually got enough heat shielding to stop things from melting.. but I do sometimes miss all the fun noises and progressive shove in the seat when boost ramps on!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
4/23/21 11:32 p.m.

For our steering rack setup, we just put the hydraulic pump on, ran a 89-90 240SX power steering line (to match the side the pump is on), and then put our old hydraulic ran in. Filled it with fluid, bled the air, and were good to go.

After driving on various spring/shock combinations, it was time for a real suspension setup. We decided to go for a Koni race shock coilover setup, as well as moving to aluminum rear spindles from the 300ZX. Changing the spindles meant going from a bushing on the shock to a fork style mount. We took some very cheap coilovers I picked up locally, and changed from stock to fork style.

After getting the rear coilovers together with 8611 (single adjustable) Koni shocks in them, this is what they looked like:

The fronts still had the same style mounting, so they were a little more straightforward. They are an 8612 (double-adjustable) Koni shock.

After we got the suspension together, we put the car on scales for the first time. This was with driver in place, and some weight simulating the cool suit cooler, and I believe around a quarter tank of fuel. A little heavy up front, but good cross-weights.

Our next race was at Oregon Raceway Park, and we had never been there before. There was some serious forest fires going on, so the morning of us driving there you can see a very red sun and a lot of haze.

We showed up on a Friday to get some practice in. ORP is a unique track in that it is designed to be driven in either direction. So for the practice day we ran clockwise in the morning, and counter-clockwise in the afternoon. Our "track walk" was taking vehicles from corner to corner and stopping to talk about the track, and there was ash floating all over the place during this.

As the driver with perhaps the most sensitive butt, we sent out Nathan Feigion to feel out the suspension. We have no experience with multi-adjustable shocks.. just our single-adjustable drift cars where we've just kind of settled into "the middle" because the low end is definitely underdamped and the high end feels too stiff. Nathan went out, asked for more damping, we gave a little more, he tried again, and after a couple of iterations said, "I think that feels pretty good". And that was it. Our car was "pretty good" and ready to go.

The track is a blast! It is draped over the hills of Grass Valley, Oregon. There is constant elevation and camber change throughout the track. I had been playing with the track in a sim previously, but one thing I didn't feel the sim captured very well was how different the braking was. Coming to turn one the track drops out from under you, which suddenly reduces available braking. The in the braking zone for turn 3, the track goes up giving a sudden increase in braking traction. There are definitely a lot more layers of complexity than I was used to, as most of my laps have been at Portland where it is dead flat.

Feeling pretty good and ready for some rest, we headed back to our motel for the night.

MaxC
MaxC New Reader
4/28/21 1:30 p.m.
Nate K said:

We hadn't raced in a year, and showed up to tech on Friday. Even though we are bringing a little more firepower, we start thinking that maybe we brought a knife to a gunfight. In addition to the usual suspects, there are some very rowdy sounding cars. There is a Corvette with the 1994 ZR1 OHV engine and various other cammed V8s that make us real nervous.

While waiting in line for tech, I am by myself while Nathan and Dave are doing the gear check. I need to move the car forward, and now the car which had started faithfully since the first try was not wanting to start. The car would crank, but just wouldn't fire.

By now a few people from other teams start taunting: "What a pile! Failed in the tech line, one less car to beat tomorrow! Hahaha!" I don't say anything.. but they are really ticking me off. It's bad enough to put that many hours into the car and have it start failing. I'm thinking, "Oh you just wait for tomorrow." I finally get the car to fire and make it through tech. I try to look into why the car hadn't started and find a failed code for the anti-theft system. I clear the code but I'm not able to find any smoking guns as to why it had happened. The wiring all seems OK as well as the key is ziptied directly touching the antenna. Well, hopefully it holds up.. it's been working fine.

First Race with the V6 (7/22/17) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

During qualifying our first gremlin pops up. The tach starts dropping out. The car is running fine, but it's difficult to tell when to shift since the torque doesn't drop off with no tach or speedometer.

Nathan Feigion starts the race, having to learn new shift points with completely new gearing. It's a massive field, and we start 20th place out of 78 cars! The sun is shining and it's dry but not too hot out. I start to feel a whole lot better with the previous day's taunting as Nathan is moving up through the field. That Corvette I was worried about.. is just not nearly as fast as I think it should be. By the time Nathan pits, he has made it all the way to 2nd place! We are behind Dimsum Racing, a 240Z with a Honda J30 engine. Nathan ran a lap time of 1:31.3, faster than what I ran on the practice day.

I get in the car, and it doesn't want to start. Crap! Quick.. need to do something smart here. I theorize there may be too much voltage draw since the car doesn't want to start and the tach doesn't want to work. I ask my dad to unplug a few accessories on the right side of the car. It works! The car fires up and I have a tach again! We lost about a minute, so not too terrible. We can make it up. And once I make it out on track.. the tach drops out again. I have a rare off with the car where I try to catch a slide and fail. I'm used to power steering in my drift car where I can flick the wheel, and I am too slow with my countersteer and go off track. Luckily with dry grass it is no harm done and I make it right back on track. On lap 71 a full course yellow comes out. Now normally if they bring out the pace truck it picks up the 1st place car. Occasionally that doesn't happen, and that was the case here. The pace truck just missed the leader, so they pick us up. Well that is unfortunate.. that means the leader basically got a free lap around behind us now. Eventually I make it around and I'm behind Dimsum racing. It's kind of funny, both Nissan/Datsun cars, with 3.0 liter fwd V6s moved to rear drive.

I finally get by him, and now we are in 1st place! I run a fastest lap of 1:33.0, which is well off of Nathan Feigion's pace. What is my excuse this time? Let's see.. I'll go with tires. It can't simply be that he's a better driver! Nathan must have used the last of the RS3s very long life, as we've put around 18 hours of racing on these tires at this point!

After our pit stop Dimsum is now back into 1st place, and Dave is in the car. It is busy out there with 78 cars on the track! Dimsum pits on lap 163 and Dave pits on lap 175 so Dave is in first when he pits, but Dimsum gets us back.

Nathan jumps in for his second stint in the car, and is in 2nd place chasing Dimsum. As the race is winding down, we still have not made it past Dimsum. We think we are going to have to settle for 2nd place, when Dimsum has a mechanical issue! This puts us in first and we have now won three Portland races in a row! Nathan ran a fastest lap of 1:32.9 in the last session, so these tires are just done. Tomorrow we will try the Hankook RS4 for the first time!

Video Overview:

 

Just wanted to say that this was my first race with Lucky Dog, and the first time on track with your team. We were in the "Winning Bigly" Miata (basically a spec-miata), and took 1st in B-class, and 4th overall if I recall correctly.  The next day we lost out on the win by 50ish seconds because we couldn't go 2 hours on fuel.  The series has gotten a lot faster since then lol... 

Anyways, your video looked familiar when you went to pick up your trophy, and I found this picture taken just afterwards. 

I remember seeing your s13 before the race with the intake manifold coming out of the hood.  Being a long time Nissan & s13 fan I thought it was pretty awesome. Even cooler that you won!

Great thread.  Keep the stories coming.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/1/21 11:22 p.m.
MaxC said:

Just wanted to say that this was my first race with Lucky Dog, and the first time on track with your team. We were in the "Winning Bigly" Miata (basically a spec-miata), and took 1st in B-class, and 4th overall if I recall correctly.  The next day we lost out on the win by 50ish seconds because we couldn't go 2 hours on fuel.  The series has gotten a lot faster since then lol... 

Anyways, your video looked familiar when you went to pick up your trophy, and I found this picture taken just afterwards. 

I remember seeing your s13 before the race with the intake manifold coming out of the hood.  Being a long time Nissan & s13 fan I thought it was pretty awesome. Even cooler that you won!

Great thread.  Keep the stories coming.

Thanks Max! I hope to see you out there blasting laps in your 200sx in June! I'm not sure why there hasn't been more 240SXes out there racing, although now with the prices going through the roof I wouldn't start with one.

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/2/21 1:08 a.m.

A New Track! (9/16/17) - 9 hours - Oregon Raceway Park Clockwise:

Driving to the track the sky has cleared a bit compared to Friday.

During the practice day we dialed our shocks in as much as we knew how (go out, feel it out, stiffen it, try again) and the car was working well. However with most of the other teams having experience at this track we know it's going to be an uphill battle.

Nathan Feigion is in the car first, and he starts in 9th place. He is doing great and runs a 2:01.0 lap time, which was around our target of where we were hoping to get to. Unfortunately he also has a rare miss, and is called in for passing under yellow. This knocks us from 6th place all the way down to 13th place. Nathan is able to claw most of that back, and on lap 46 he pits with us in 7th place. He tells me that he's smelling gas fumes in the car. We take a look during the pit stop, but there is nothing obviously wrong. 

I go out in the car next and while I'm not as fast as Nathan, I am entertained and challenged by all the nuances of the elevation change. The braking grip varies in parts of the track. On the front straight stretch the track drops out from under you while you are braking, so you need to compensate for that and brake just a touch earlier. Going into turn 3, the track rises up which really increases the traction. So in that corner you start braking with medium force, but can really ramp it up when the car crams into the uphill. I notice the gas fumes, but they don't seem to be that bad. I make it all the way up to 3rd place (mostly because of cars cycling into the pits) with a fastest lap of 2:02.6.

Dave is in the car next. He spends his session bouncing around 5th and 6th place. He runs a fastest of 2:08.2 and pits on lap 140.

Nathan Feigion is back in the car for his second stint. It's a long race! He gets us solidly up into 5th place during his stint, spending most of the time there. With all the twists and turns of the track, it can be a little tricky to pass a car with more horsepower, especially if they are trying to hold you behind in turns. Nathan reports his frustration with a car that seems to be trying to block any attempt to pass in the corners, but then can run away every time there is an acceleration zone. Apparently our little V6 just isn't enough. Nathan avoids the red mist and finally gets by the car many laps later. On lap 180 he pulls into the pits, having just gotten us up to 4th place and running a 2:01.2.

I go out for the last stint, and while we drop to 8th for a few laps due to the pits, by the time all cars have done their last pit stop we are solidly in 5th place. The gas fumes are worse than earlier in the day, but I am able to manage it. I run a fastest lap of 2:02.9 and bring the car home for a 5th place finish on lap 233! After 536 miles of racing on an unfamiliar track, we got 5th!

We do have some work to do before the next day however. We were getting some clunks from the suspension as well as the gas fumes. For the suspension we find one of our locking rings has backed off, so we add a dab of Loctite to it and crank it down.

With the suspension sorted, we turn to the gas issue. We can see that gas has leaked down the filler neck and onto the tank. Is the cap leaking? We have a spare gas cap, so we swap out the cap. We are also concerned about the vent itself. We try putting some air backwards through the vent, and it seems to flow fine. We try extending the vent hose and tucking it as high as we can in the quarter panel. We also taped all the seams of the trunk and tried to tape up any holes near the gas filler.

We also re-purpose our rain diverter we have on our driver side window to try to pull fresh air into the car.

We head to the hotel concerned that we may not have found the root cause of the gas fumes issue, but hopeful that we can do better than 5th the next day.

A New Track.. Again! (9/16/17) - 6 hours - Oregon Raceway Park Counter-Clockwise:

It's a new day and a new direction of track. Typically tracks are designed to only run one direction, but Oregon Raceway Park is one of the rare tracks that can safely be ran either way. I get in the car first and I start 12th. Right before the race I had talked to Thomas Micich who was driving a Lexus SC300. He said, "Follow me up to the front!" When the green dropped, he slid to the inside and started charging past cars. I miscalculated my gap to him and was not close enough. By the time we got to the first corner I had made up five places, but there were now cars separating us. As I start putting in laps, I radio back to the pits that everything seems fine with the gas fumes, maybe we had fixed it!

However a couple laps later.. I start to get a whiff of gas. Well crap. The gas fumes start to get worse, and I'm having to wipe the tears out of my eyes. I turn on full blast (its only setting), hoping that it will put some positive pressure in the car and help push the fumes out. No such luck. As I am now very distracted by the gas fumes, I now start getting passed by some cars that I had been able to hold off. Am I high on gas fumes? This is a new direction of track so I don't have a great reference of lap times, but my fastest is a 2:03. Is counter-clockwise supposed to be faster or slower? Another car passes me. If I pull in the pits, I don't know what to do with the car at this point, we tried to do what we could come up with last night. Another car passes me. Is my driving degrading? Or is there something wrong with the car? It feels like it's not quite accelerating like I expect it to. Do I hear a misfire? I make a mistake and drop a couple tires into the rocks and dirt. Ok, I'm now convinced that I'm both affected by gas fumes as well as I definitely can hear a misfire. It's time to pull in the pits.

When I get out of the car I head over to the restrooms. When I look at my face in the mirror, I am baffled by what I see. There are white stripes going from my eyes to my ears. I have never seen anything like this. As I stare at my own face, looking like Tonto with war paint, it suddenly hits me. The white stripes are salt stains from my evaporated tears! Wow, I did not realize my eyes were watering that badly. I wash my face and head back outside.

We start troubleshooting the misfire. We find that when we disable cylinder #5, nothing happens. Ok, we found our dead cylinder. We check spark, it has spark. The fuel injectors are freshly rebuilt so it shouldn't be those, right? We ohm the fuel injectors, they are all similar. Ok, at least not a broken coil on an injector. We try removing the upper manifold to see if the injectors are firing. Looking down into the lower manifold.. the fuel injector is squirting fuel. Wait, what? So that cylinder has fuel and spark, but is still not firing right? We try swapping spark plugs around with another cylinder, no change. We try moving the #5 fuel injector.. and the problem moves with the injector. I guess it must be too little fuel, even though it is firing. We have 12 fuel injectors.. on the table.. at home 126 miles away. Well, I guess that's like not bringing the umbrella because it's not *supposed* to rain.

Dave decides he wants to get some practice in the counter-clockwise setup, so we take off the trunk hoping the interior will get some more airflow. Now that we know the problem with the engine, we unplug the bad fuel injector so that the cylinder won't be firing lean. Dave heads out on track.. but he is getting swarmed by faster cars. A combination of being unfamiliar with the track and being down on power is not good. He gets us up from 47th place to 46th place, but pulls the plug after we had put in just 35 laps for the day.

Not the most successful weekend we have had, but ORP is definitely a blast! We will be back one of these days to try to redeem ourselves.

Video overview of the weekend:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/3/21 11:25 p.m.

Addressing the Gas Fumes

Our first priority after all the gas fumes was to figure out what had happened. We dropped the fuel tank and started checking things out. This is a familiar sight for most people that have tracked a 240SX, the tank inner baffling broken loose. We found that this had bounced around and pulled off the vent tube internally. We thought maybe the vent hanging down in the gas might have caused it to push gas out of the tube during cornering. And maybe once enough gas was in the tube, the tank wasn't venting properly and pushed out of the cap? It didn't quite make sense, but at least was a direction.

It's never fun getting this baffle out of the tank, it usually involves mangling it with pliers until it fits out the hole.

We also hooked up a check valve and two small fuel filters to try to make sure fuel was not able to make it out of our vent.

While we had the tank out, we discovered some soot marks on the tank, and tracked down that our muffler was leaking. It wasn't quite this open until we started cutting, but the hot exhaust on our gas tank was building pressure faster than the vent was releasing, which opened the safety valve in the gas cap. The combination of raw gas making it out as well as the constant venting of vapors was what made our last race so horrible.

You can see the top of the muffler was letting go as well.

This is what we picked up to replace it.

We also put some heat shielding on the gas tank, all of these together should solve our issue!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/3/21 11:36 p.m.

Electric Power Steering

Our hydraulic steering rack, which previously had been fine, decided to start leaking at Oregon Raceway Park. Sick of fluid leaks, I started looking into electric power steering. I picked up an entire column for a Saturn Vue for less than a rebuilt 240SX rack, and we got to work.

The factory steering column was around 16 lbs with the adjuster, although I don't have the weights handy of the electric rack or the pump/lines/etc.

We chose to cut/weld the 240SX shaft to mate to the Saturn shaft.

On the steering wheel side we also chose to weld on the 240SX end as we already had a quick release to fit it.

Generally popped into place.

We decided to run the column a bit further back as I have long legs.

Here you can see a bracket adapting the Nissan bracket to the Saturn Vue pivot point. You can also see the three-bolt flange that we cut off and rewelded so that we could flip the motor upside down. I was concerned the motor might get in the way on the bottom left.

Here you can see the short adapter brackets we used to mount the upper part of the column.

To get more room I removed the control box from the column and mounted it to the dash bar.

We had to hack away a lot of metal to get the motor to fit up on the top side, but it's now completely hidden away.

Another view of where the motor passes through. You can also just see the red blank plate I put where the controller used to sit.

We were able to use the Nissan controls by simply hose clamping them to the tube of the Saturn Vue.

90 elbows, check!

It's pretty cool being able to just flip the ignition on, and have the power steering go active. We used an ebay controller for it, and there is a knob on the dash that controls the amount of assist. Unfortunately if you turn it down too far it shuts off, so it feels like it ranges from 60-100% assist, when I would prefer to go down to 40-50%. Oh well, for endurance racing a little lighter wheel isn't a bad thing!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/4/21 12:02 a.m.

Aerodynamics

Next up to make our car faster was to take care of my wing jealousy. Adding some kind of aerodynamics to the car had been on the "To-do" list ever since the very first race.. but we were finally doing it. My goal was to generate as much efficient downforce as I could with a very limited budget. Wanting to avoid drag scratched a spoiler, and while I looked very long and hard at getting a profile cut from foam and laying fiberglass on it myself, I just didn't have the time. I found some decent reviews of the "NRG" style carbon fiber 3d wing. It looked like an OK profile and people were saying that with just the wing they were getting high speed understeer, so I figured it must be doing something. I really wanted it to be mounted strong enough that I could move the car around by the wing and it not be flexing around.

I decided to try mount to the chassis, and the logical point was through the bolts in the rear frame rails that hold the rear bumper.

I took the aluminum bumper from our engine donor Maxima and hacked it in half to use as the vertical supports. Then I made some steel plates that would pass through the trunk. To try get some clean air, we mounted the wing about the same height as the roof.

While this isn't all bolted together, you can see the bracket going down into the frame rail as well as the small bracket going back to the tail light area.

The next thing I was trying to work out was how to cut the little slices in the trunk at precisely the right spot. I couldn't put the trunk on with the brackets on, and I didn't want to have any more cut than I had to. This is where Nathan came up with a brilliant idea to use a laser projector.

I lined up the line exactly with the bracket while it was bolted in, then took the bracket off, laid the trunk on it, and the laser line was exactly where I needed to cut the trunk!

We opened them up until we slide the trunk on, and there it is!

However after some tugging on the wing supports, there was still just a little bit of flexing. I put together a little aluminum structure tying into the strut towers, and now I could pull the car around without seeing any flexing.

These kinds of pictures can be hard to find online, so here is the profile of the NRG wing. The trailing edge is pretty blunt, but this is an OK wing shape. There is a pretty drastic difference in the middle and ends for Angle of Attack, but they don't make a constant chord version of the wing so I'll live with it. If I set the middle to a pretty reasonable angle the ends are likely not stalling.

The end plates that the wing comes with are small and incredibly thick. I picked up some carbon fiber sheet to make my own.

After reading around for a few hours, I settled on this shape. The most important piece is that they extend down further than the originals, and are larger which should help the wing be a little more efficient and make more downforce.

I really like how it came out, and it looks like it should do something!

Now if I didn't want to understeer like crazy.. the next step was to try balance it out. I picked up some 3/8" birch plywood and we cut out a rough shape.

We tried to extend as far back as we could, which ended up making sense to end at the subframe for mounting.

We also discovered that our sway bar and oil pan were a bit too low for the height we wanted to run the splitter.

We built an aluminum frame to attach to the frame rails as well as the subframe.

Again using an aluminum bumper from the engine-donor Maxima, we made some brackets for supporting the splitter. You can also kind of see that we used a router to round the edge of the splitter.

Bumper brackets with supports finished.

I had also read to treat a splitter as a consumable, so we made a second copy and primered them both.

After painting black and attaching our brackets, it was getting close.

We mounted it on the car and it had no problem supporting the weight of one Nathan! After this we added some plastic to the front to seal off the area between the bumper and the splitter.

Our swap bar we had previously relocated with brackets, but that rotated it down and in the way. To get around this, we bought the Sikky sway bar, which has plenty of clearance for the engine in the factory position.

Here are some shots of the car ready to rock!

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/5/21 12:49 a.m.

 

Data

One thing had been troubleshooting after our first race with the V6 was with the tach dropping out. While during the race I just unplugged as many accessories as I could thinking we had a voltage problem, what I discovered was that it was actually an issue with the datalogger. The tach signal from the computer was being drawn down by the datalogger and the signal would go low enough the tach wouldn't recognize it any more. The rpm switch still worked and the datalogger was logging the RPM, but the tach was more important than the datalogger. Due to this problem, I decided to remove the tach signal from the datalogger when we went to ORP. There was also a datalogger I had been interested in that better real-time feedback called Race Capture. I finally decided to pull the trigger and pick up a Race Capture system and got that wired in.

Major pros for the Race Capture system are the ability to connect to a tablet for data display (expensive option for most loggers) as well as the ability to do telemetry (not even an option for most systems). I had previously been using a Race Technology DL1, which is a great unit with very comprehensive analysis software. Unfortunately with the DL1 it feels like everything is nickel and dimed. You want to use the general purpose output pins? Need to pay to unlock. Want to sync video? Need to pay for a license. Want to use the second built-in serial port? Need to pay to unlock it.

Data is so incredibly useful, I really feel it is one of the reasons we were able to go from a new team placing 28th our first time out, to winning races. If you have someone fast on your team, you can compare laps and see what they are doing that makes them faster. If you get a chance to have some local hot shoe or pro driver, that is the ideal to see what the car is capable of and what you are leaving on the table. I saw Randy Pobst drove a 240SX at Daytona in an endurance race.. one day I hope to get him in this car.

Another thing I didn't mention before, is I had finally figured out our issue with the car not starting. While I had ziptied the key directly to the side of the antenna, it needed to be centered. Once I shimmed it into the center of the antenna, I have never had an issue with the NATS (Nissan Anti-Theft System) again.

The First Race with Aero (7/7/2018) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

The weather was looking glorious for our July race. Not too hot, but clear and dry. We were pitted next to this amazing looking Mustang with hand-made fenders! Lots of horsepower, but a very unfortunate choice of tire (no grip).

We went out for qualifying, feeling the car out. The power steering is a little light for my tastes, but it does it's job. Our brakes feel a little soft, but they always have after putting the Wilwood calipers up front (more fluid to push). We qualify in the fastest class A, which is where I like it. If you are in B class and towards the front, you are always in danger of being bumped to the very bottom of A class. In A class, the only thing to watch out for is running "too fast" and getting to the Super Dog class, but our car is never fast enough to hit those times.

Nathan Feigion takes the green flag in 20th place. Not to worry, it's a long race. Settle in and start putting in some consistent quick laps. Nathan makes quick work of the traffic, getting up to 6th place on lap 9. Our previous lap record at PIR was a 1:31.3, and Nathan is already demolishing that. By the time he runs a 1:29.4 on lap 35 he is in 1st place, and has put in eight laps faster than the previous record. The aero and suspension are definitely working! Nathan pits in 1st place on lap 53.

Dave goes out in the car next, and we are currently in 2nd behind the #37 Red Line Oil Racing BMW. Dave fights back and forth with the #4 Miata until the #37 pits and we are back into 1st place. Dave runs a very respectable 1:31.8, his fastest lap ever! Dave pits on lap 113.

I get in the car for the 3rd stint, and the car feels really good! I hadn't driven anything with any downforce before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I don't have that sensitive of a butt for this kind of testing, but in the medium speed corners (65-70 mph) it was a feeling of, "Ok, and it's going to start letting go right.. oh wait.. it didn't.." It took some learning to trust the car was going to stick and keep pushing a little more. If you were to just plop me in a car blindfolded and have me drive it (after removing the blind fold of course), I don't think I could tell you if it had downforce or not. But even with my insensitive butt I could tell this was working better than before. The higher speed corners (80+ mph) were where the car really seemed so much more stable and confidence-inspiring. The car is a blast to drive, but towards the end of my stint I notice the right front is developing a vibration and the brakes are getting a little softer. Uh oh, this isn't good. I run a personal best 1:30.5 and pit in 1st place on lap 180. At this stage of the race Finally Racing #177 BMW, Preying Mantis #67 BMW, and the Race Invaders #13 Ecotec swapped Miata are all in the hunt just behind us. After I pull in the pits we inspect the right front, but we are not able to find anything obvious. The wheel spins fine, and the slop is difficult to gauge because these shocks can rock at full droop.

Nathan heads out with the #67 BMW hot on his tail. The vibration is getting worse and the brakes are getting softer. Nathan is having to pump the brakes up at this point to get them to work properly. #67 has their fastest driver in the car (Cody Smith), and he gets around Nathan. At this point we know the failure is a right front wheel bearing, and we need to just get it to hold together to finish the race. Nathan backs out of it and gets it to hang on to the end and we finish in 2nd place!

So now that the race is over, it's time to figure out what to do about the bearing. We are using aftermarket conversion 5-lug hubs, and since we have never had a wheel bearing failure we haven't prepared a spare. My personal car uses S14 hubs which use a different bearing. Nathan Feigion's drift car uses conversion hubs and luckily is not too far away. He heads back home to yank a hub off of his drift car while I prepare Blue Bayou for it.

These were Timken bearings that had been repacked with Redline CV-2 grease. Apparently we're putting a lot more load through the suspension with all this extra grip..

These ball bearings are not quite so smooth and round any more!

After we got the new hub swapped in there, we were ready to race another day!

So is aero worth it?

These charts are not entirely apples to apples, but this really shows some of the difference of aero. You can see how the lateral forces (top graph) for blue (aero) are higher all over than red (no aero). The speed chart on the bottom really shows how much the minimum speed is brought up in some of the corners. While you can see the slower acceleration on the straight from the drag, it is much more than made up for in the cornering speed.

Video overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/6/21 12:34 a.m.

Redemption (7/8/2018) - 8 hours - Portland International Raceway:

After having our crazy 5-win streak at Portland broken by the #67 Preying Mantis BMW (and our failed wheel bearing), we are ready for some redemption. We have the hub on the car from Nathan's drift car and we are ready to go. It's an even hour race, which means we need to go the full 2 hours on a factory tank which we can just barely do depending on yellow flags. It also makes for some crowded pit stops, as nearly everyone pits at the same time.

I start the race this time around in 13th place. The skies are clear and it's warm but not hot, a gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest! With the lap time competition between Nathan and myself, I am convinced that the first stint of the day has an advantage due to cooler air and cooler tires. We are running on the same Hankook RS4s as the previous day, as these tires easily will go 24 hours. Things are going very well as I'm clicking off 1:29s and 1:30s and making my way forward through the pack. I fight my way past the Finally Racing #177 BMW and the #39 Socket Monkeys Honda Civic. I get up to 2nd place, with just the #13 Race Invader's Ecotec-swapped Miata ahead of me. I am just *barely* running quicker lap times than they are.

It's lap 43 and I am going down the straight with a gray BMW is ahead of me. We are coming up to the chicane, and it looks like they see me coming and take an extra-wide line. Hey, how nice of them! I turn in to take the apex, expecting them to leave a car width. Then suddenly I realize they are now gunning for the apex, I was wrong! I go into full avoidance mode, jamming on the brakes and trying to get the front end of my car tucked into the corner further. My front left tire just barely kisses their car, and we continue on. My mistake and a dumb move! I pride myself in driving clean, so I feel pretty crappy about this one. In Lucky Dog it is encouraged to self-report contact, so the next lap around I pull in the pits to chat with the pit marshal. This drops us all the way down to 11th place, crap! Well, there's still a lot of race left.

It's getting towards the end of my stint, and I feel a bit of a bog when I shift into 5th gear. Huh.. that's weird, I've never noticed that. I continue on, everything is fine. Then same spot on the track, shift into a higher gear.. bog.. I radio into the pits that I'm losing power. Our fuel man Kyle asks if I'm running out of gas.. and I realize that he's absolutely right. Somehow with the same fuel tank we used to first notice fuel starving in cornering, but now it first cropped up on the straight in a tall gear. I immediately pit on lap 71 in 3rd place, having ran a 1:29.2 our new team record! It seems the first stint in the day is a bit faster.. While it was a couple laps before we were planning, it should still work out but we *just* have enough fuel for two hours. 

Kyle tops off our tank as full as he can get it, and Dave gets in the car next. He immediately notices the electric power steering is not active. I had turned down the power steering as low as I could get away with it not shutting off, so we advise him to turn it down and back up, and the steering kicks in again. During Dave's stint there is a wreck that requires a 15 minute cleanup, so no worries on fuel for Dave. During the red flag I track down the gray BMW I bumped to apologize. They are very gracious about it and offer to have me sign my dent as they have done for the others but I don't have a pen. After the cars get going again, Dave runs 3rd place for most of his stint, with Socket Monkeys slipping by him right towards the end of his stint. Dave pits in 4th place on lap 133 with a fastest lap of 1:30.5! That matches my fastest time from the first day so for having 1/10th of the track experience, Dave is really doing well!

I get in the car again to leave Nathan as the Closer of the race. #67 Preying Mantis is leading the race with #177 Finally Racing in 2nd, and I am in 3rd place. As I go to pass the #54 BMW, I am going around the outside and they make a sudden move to the outside. Oh no! Please no contact again.. I dive off the track to avoid getting bumped. Whew, no touching. I bump my way back onto track and continue on. The next lap around.. I've learned my lesson, stay off the outside of that corner around that car.. and I pass on the inside. On lap 175 the #67 BMW retires with a clutch issue. Unfortunate for them, but that means we are now up to 2nd place! On lap 205 I pull in the pits in 2nd with a fastest lap of 1:30.2, with just #177 Finally Racing ahead of us.

Our Closer, Nathan, gets in the car for the last stint. As I'm helping to strap Nathan in the car, I can see the plug on his helmet is empty. I ask him about his earbuds, and he forgot to put them in. Well, too late for that now, we can't have a slow pit stop! Nathan will now be without communication for the last stint, hopefully he doesn't need anything.. Nathan pushes through his stint, which is very clean with almost no yellows. The downside of no yellows, is that our car may not make it on fuel. On lap 229, the #177 Finally Racing BMW retires from the race with a problem. This puts us in 1st place! Unfortunately I can't tell Nathan this piece of information, so he still thinks he's chasing 1st place. Since Nathan still has a microphone in the helmet, he is able to report that he is running low on fuel. I grab the white board to try tell him that the 2nd place car is a full lap behind and he can conserve fuel.

The message gets across, and we finish the race in 1st! that means 10 podium finishes in a row at PIR! This track definitely suits our car.

Video Overview:

 

Nate K
Nate K New Reader
5/6/21 1:00 a.m.

After the race it's interesting to see the dust patterns on the end plates. Definitely a concentration of dirt under the wing here.

While the splitter survived.. uh, oops that was definitely me bombing over some curbs..

There wasn't a ton of work to do before out next race as the car was working well. One thing though was that our front sway bar seemed just a touch too stiff and the end links were twisted in a way that might end up making them bind. I drilled some holes further inboard on the lower control arm, which allowed the brackets to be lined up as well as reducing some effective stiffness of the bar.

We also swapped out the wheel bearing and I picked up a spare set of hubs to have backups.

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

Along Came the Rain (10/27/2018) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

Nathan Feigion moved down to California, so we were now a father and son team. Being an October race in Oregon, this means one thing. We are going to get sopping wet. We had put on some Dunlop Direzza ZIII tires, as we have had good luck with the ZI and ZII in the rain.

Dave starts the race, and while there was some morning moisture on the ground, it's actually fairly dry. Dave starts in 4th place, but there are a pile of quick cars out there that he's in the thick of. He drops back to 6th, as the #94 PROMotion BMW is screaming from 14th all the way up to 1st place. Unfortunately as soon as they hit 1st place, they also hit a wall. Speculation around the pits is that a suspension arm broke on the front straight at 120+ mph, pitching the car sideways and into a cement barrier.  Luckily the driver is OK, but the car is absolutely toast.

Here if you look down the wall you can see the kink where the car knocked the cement barriers back, and the smashed car in the distance.

This is what was towed back to the pits:

A sobering reminder of how quickly racing can all go wrong! After about an hour of cleanup and fixing the wall, Dave hit the track again now in 5th. Dave is starting to find a groove and starts putting pressure on the Son of Andre #16 Mustang, our old rivals that we managed to squeak past for our very first win. Dave pits on lap 49 after running a fastest lap of 1:31.2.

I hop in the car and after our pit stop we are down to 14th place. With cool weather and an overcast track, I start pushing the car. I have to fight my way around Son of Andre again, and while they have significantly more straightline speed, now with our aero I'm able to drive around them in the corners, and eventually make enough gap that they can't pass me back on the straight. Eventually I make it up to the Race Invaders #13 Miata (with aero and Ecotec) but I am a lap down. Our cars are extremely similar speeds, but they have just a tiny edge in straightline speed over us. If I can stick in their draft I'm able to stay with them on the straight. I finally make it by them, only to be hung up by another car a few corners later and they sneak through again. I chase them down again, get my lap back, and keep pushing. Towards the end of my stint, it starts raining. Portland gets extremely slick in the rain due to the amount of rubber worn into the normal racing line. This means you have to try to stay off the line, then prepare to cross it with as little lateral G's as you can manage, then cross again dancing back and forth. While you are on the line it's like being on ice. On lap 112 I pull in the pits, having ran a 1:29.7 while it was still dry out. By the time I pulled in, I was running 1:54-1:58s.

Dave gets in the car for the third stint, and the car won't start. It seems the battery just doesn't have enough juice to do it. We are running a very old Odyssey battery, and apparently we've been leaking out some electrons onto the track. Our fuel man Kyle and I give him a push start, and he's off again. Dave has struggled in the past racing in the rain. While in the dry he is able to get within a couple seconds of our lap times, in the wet he's definitely a bit off pace. And it is now getting properly soaking wet out there. Dave pulls a short stint, turning the car over to me on lap 134 in 2nd place behind Race Invaders.

Race Invaders has a couple laps advantage over us, but we also have a couple laps over 3rd and 4th place. I preserve our placing during my stint while slip sliding around and we finish the race in 2nd place! Towards the end of my stint I had radioed back to the pits asking for more air pressure, hoping to reduce the amount of hydroplaning I was having to deal with for the sprint race.

Video Overview:

 

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