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drivendaily Reader
5/25/17 10:10 a.m.

I'm still pounding away at the Datsun project, but I wasn't going to miss the first hillclimb event just because that wasn't done. What should I race instead?

Miata is Always the Answer.

A friend of a friend was selling the car, and I arranged to have it delivered on Monday (5/15). I also ordered a miatacage.com cage, to be delivered Tuesday. As luck would have it, both showed up on Monday. Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

... until the car wouldn't start.

I ended up getting a friend who isn't colorblind to come give me a hand, and we rebuilt the ignition tumbler switch then fixed most of the wiring issues in the ignition.

na8 ignition rewiring

I finally had it all reassembled and running on Tuesday, and could start the hillclimb prep work. I tacked in the rear footings at home

miatacage rear footings

... and finished fitting and welding at MakeIt Labs, in Nashua NH. The Miatacage.com kit fit perfectly, and I was impressed with the quality of the instructions.

na8 roll bar at MakeIt

After that, it was just a matter of installing an extinguisher and air horn, and getting rid of the ridiculous wheel/tire combination that came with the car (left), replacing it with my old RA1's. These are the same size wheels, but one is insulting and the other is functional.

stretched vs sticky tires

On Friday (5/19), I left to go to Ascutney. There are plenty of things I could complain about: * The stock suspension rolls over like a dog that wants its belly rubbed * There are piles of rattles and noises all over the place * The 225-50R15 tires are both too wide and too tall for this car * I had to wrestle in order to stay in the driver's seat rather than the passenger's seat * I brought a black helmet, which turns into an ez-bake oven as soon as the sun rises ... The list goes on and on.

Overall though, it was a fantastic event. Conditions were perfect, the car ran flawlessly, and this was a great event to shake the rust off my driving. This was an un-caged car so there was no hope of being competitive, but I thoroughly enjoyed driving to the top in a spirited fashion. I should have some video footage of the event ready to go live this week, so stick around!

2017 Ascutney 1

The next event is Mt Okemo on June 16-18. The plan is to finish safety prep on this car, get the Race Support Vehicle ready to do it's job, and make as much progress on the Datsun as possible in the next month.

drivendaily Reader
5/28/17 7:23 p.m.

Today, I had a few friends over to prep the rest of the cage. The plan is to wrap up the main components of the cage tomorrow, and add the finishing touches to it over the next week.

NA8 cage

drivendaily Reader
5/29/17 11:12 p.m.

Today was busy.

tacked cage

On the drive home, I was lucky enough to learn that the gauge cluster is required to run the alternator at low RPM (I don't remember this being a problem on my 1.6). I also learned the solo pop-starts in a caged car hurt.

drivendaily Reader
5/30/17 8:00 p.m.

After work today, I managed to chop up my fenders and quarter panels (they're pretty ugly right now), and popped some riv-nuts on to hold these overfenders in place.

na8 overfenders

It's going to need some cleanup before the next race event, but they're fitted up where they should live from here on out. I just need to put the car up in the air, clean up my cuts, add a few more fasteners that I couldn't reach, and get the inner fenders out entirely.

84FSP Dork
5/31/17 8:14 a.m.

Looking racey!

drivendaily Reader
5/31/17 4:58 p.m.

This is just my daily driver, not the race car

I just brought my open trailer home for repairs, so it gets to live beside my race support vehicle (2000 e350 7.3liter turbodiesel dually box truck) for awhile. The CRX in the foreground is on the back burner for now, but might see some love this season.

Support Vehicles

drivendaily Reader
6/2/17 5:21 p.m.

The audio quality is pretty horrific, but we got footage from one of the runs at 2017 Ascutney 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9cf-RSojh8 (updated)

drivendaily Reader
6/3/17 7:02 p.m.

Most of my day was spent welding the cage tubing that Ian and I had tacked in last weekend. The makerspace really isn't set up for automotive welding, so it took a long 50a 220v extension cord, some heavy lifting, and a lot of uncomfortable positions ... but all the tubes that are in the car are in for keeps now.

I also spent some time trimming the front fenders. They still rubbed on the front and rear, so I took the death wheel (angle grinder) to them a fair amount. In the fenders, I found three 12mm sockets.

trimmed wheelwells

The dashboard saw a bit of love today too. The stock unit isn't going to be able to go back in, so I'm working on a fiberglass mold to make a composite replacement. I roughed it in with some cardboard, and Mike started fleshing out the design with expanding foam. He didn't get very far though, so I think I'll revisit that tomorrow.

na8 dashboard

Finally, the cage is missing critical side intrusion protection. Our rules require at least three forms of side intrusion for a non-X (caged) car, and the stock rocker and door bar each count as one. We're required to have a sill bar, but the OEM seat mechanisms prohibit fitting one neatly in this car. My solution: Chop off all the ratcheting parts for the recliners and weld them in place. The seats still slide, I have space for the sill bar, and I have less pressure to put proper fixed-back seats in at the moment.

na8 sill bar fitment

The sill bars are nicely fitted, but I haven't started welding them in yet. I want to plan out my door bars a bit more, in case they affect the sill bar location. Right now, the plan is to combine NASCAR door bars with standard Rally X door bars. That is to say that both NASCAR upper and lower bars would touch along their entire parallel portion.

door bar mockup

I'm essentially copying David Dennis' design, but with a much narrower chassis.

David Dennis door bars

My X bars will extend into the doors, giving a little extra space for the occupants. Unfortunately, this means I need to replace the window regulators. Even if I retained the regulators, there's no way to use the manual rollers with door bars in place. Power windows give a few extra options, but I'm going to have to have snap-in windows on my daily driver. I'm very open to suggestions on how to design this.

drivendaily Reader
6/11/17 11:57 p.m.

This weekend, a friend was clearing out their garage while moving, and had to give away the last few things that they hadn't sold off. I wrapped up a few final projects on my box truck and made a trip down there. I came back with a bunch of tools, and (at least as exciting) storage!

new tools unloaded

I finally have a toolbox that can live in the race support box truck out of the deal too (this was the main selling point for me to head down).

box truck toolbox

After unloading it, everything was a disaster. I unloaded the truck and pretty much dumped everything wherever it could fit. I went out for dinner, then came back to tackle the first stage of cleanup.

disaster workshop

After cleanup, it's still an unusable shop ... but all the filing cabinets are empty. Once I label them and organize stuff into them, I should end up with most of the bay back in floor space!

less disaster workshop

drivendaily Reader
6/22/17 11:07 p.m.

We're racing Mt Washington next month!


Dashpot Reader
6/23/17 10:26 a.m.

If you're interested in keeping window function for the road it is possible to do "semi intruding" door bars. I had mine done like the pics below, kept full window function, most of the door cards and the bar padding bumped ~1" into the passenger compartment.

drivendaily Reader
6/26/17 1:13 a.m.

It looks like that'd only be compatible with power windows, though. Nothing on this car is powered.

drivendaily Reader
6/26/17 10:25 a.m.

Prep is well underway. I picked up a spare gearbox, cleaned it up, and replaced the front and rear seals, as well as rebuilding the spare clutched limited slip differential.

Mt Washington prep

I picked up some new 245-40R15 tires from Maxxis.

Mt Washington prep

I put the car into what I call "service mode"

Mt Washington prep

Air conditioning and power steering came out, dropping a lot of weight off the front of the car.

Mt Washington prep

Then it all came back together for a bit more fender trimming and basic aero mounting.

Mt Washington prep

4cylndrfury MegaDork
6/26/17 10:43 a.m.

Regarding windows, fab an extension up for the crank? keep it in the glove box or something, and insert thru the bars when you need to roll the window up/down?

cmcgregor Dork
6/26/17 10:50 a.m.
drivendaily wrote: It looks like that'd only be compatible with power windows, though. Nothing on this car is powered.

I have a set of power window regulators that I was going to put into my car, but realistically it's not going to happen before I move. I'm close by, if you're interested I'd let them go for cheap. Should be plug and play.

Car is looking really good otherwise!

drivendaily Reader
6/26/17 1:04 p.m.

For now, I'm just going to commit to having inconvenient fixed windows for Mt Washington. There are too many other things to sort out. Later, I may end up just making a 3/8 drive socket specifically for these manual regulators ... or some kind of clip-in or rally-style sliding windows.

drivendaily Reader
7/2/17 9:58 p.m.

Today, I rebuilt the torsen limited slip.

torsen limited slip

For now, it lives next to the clutched limited slip, waiting for me to choose which will be installed for Mt Washington next weekend.

limited slip selection

We also installed the new VMAXX suspension. This is a pretty fantastic budget setup (right at the $1k mark), and is still pretty compliant. Track setups would be far too stiff for any of the hills we run, so I wanted to find something that was high quality while still being compliant and adjustable. After a rough base tune, we have the car level again. Hopefully we'll have some time to fine-tune before Mt Washingont.

Suspension build

Suspension installed

Finally, and most importantly, we beat the piss out of the transmission tunnel. Then we cut a huge chunk out of it. Then we could fit the widest seat I've ever seen in my life ... into one of the smallest cabins available in a production car. It took most of yesterday and today to get it all aligned, get the seat facing forward, get the seat level, and make sure I could sit in the car without my head hitting the cage while also being able to close the door. Seat installation sucks.

Seat cutout

drivendaily Reader
7/11/17 10:56 a.m.

Well, we ended up missing Mt Washington. As the deadline for the rookie orientation run drew near, we had a hard time getting the car street-legal to bring up to the hill. There were too many little things standing in our way, and not enough time/hands to finish prep, and I had to drop off the roster. We'll have another shot at 2020, and the hope is that we'll have the Datsun available for that.

For now, prep continues for Mt Burke at the end of this month.

drivendaily Reader
7/19/17 2:35 p.m.

We missed Mt Washington, and I've made a short video about it.

drivendaily Reader
8/30/17 7:59 p.m.

It's been pretty busy, but the Miata is nearly finished. We just took the e350 out for its debut as a support vehicle, and it was nothing short of brilliant. Having all the tools and camp requirements in one place is extremely helpful, along with having plenty of light to work with at night time.

The only major issue I had was a broken positive battery terminal strap. The whole thing essentially fell apart all in chunks, and after the familiarization run on time trials day, the car wouldn't start.

Broken battery terminal

We had some motorbikes racing this event, so I headed over to them where I got to meet an impressive little lady named Kathy (who is also a stunt plane pilot, as it turns out) set me up with some safety wire to temporarily fix it. It worked like a charm.

Safety wire battery terminal

I'm putting together a full event recap, but in the meantime here's one of my runs from Sunday.

2017 Burke 2 RACE footage

drivendaily Reader
9/9/17 1:23 p.m.
Excellent, we can embed videos on GRM now! Here's our recap of 2017 Burke 2!
drivendaily Reader
9/18/17 4:18 p.m.

2017 Ascutney 2 was a real roller coaster of an event. The car was in great shape, but we didn't have time to get the limited slip installed. It's assembled, but I set backlash hastily and don't trust my measurements 100%.

Again, the box truck was amazing to have. I had purchased a Coolster 125cc pit bike for $500, and brought that along. It was amazing to have, especially since my campsite was on the other side of the campground from staging. It's getting more and more organized, and has completely changed how I approach events.

On the first run of Saturday, half the hill had a thick layer of fog limiting visibility to around 100 feet ... and I matched my personal best for this hill. Throughout the day, I kept knocking time off and hit the breakout time of 3:20. Breakout time is a safety measure; If you're faster than 3:20 twice in one event on this hill, you're required to bring a fire suit, head/neck protector, cage, harnesses, etc. It was my first time going faster than that, and there was definitely a lot left in the car. By the end of the day, I was sitting at 3:18 ... 6 seconds faster than my personal best.

Sunday was a different story. I missed the familiarization run because the tire machine was apparently manned by some primitive mongoloid when I had them installed. They actually tore into the bead seating section while mounting one of the tires, and I ended up with a flat.

We managed to work around it with a lot of bead sealer and a re-seat, but the next run I took presented a bad stumble on hard acceleration (when hillclimbing a Miata, everything is hard acceleration). I pulled off at one of the checkpoints, made my way back to the bottom of the hill, and started diagnosis. It's a really good thing that some friends were nice enough to come along to the event with me and help out. We swapped the plugs and fuel filter, tried cleaning the injectors, and tested the fuel pump, but at the end of the day the engine was still running too lean and hot to take a run. To add fuel to the fire, the cxracing manifold I had installed and built an exhaust around started to come apart at the seams.

Their customer support has been atrocious, and I've been going back and forth with them trying to explain that they sold me an "equal length" header where the front runner is a foot longer than the other runners ... and now this?

Moving right along, this was the first event that I couldn't drive the car home from. I really need to finish my tow rig setup, but first I need to diagnose this lean condition that caused me to miss all the race runs of the weekend, and knock me out of the running for class champion.

The0retical SuperDork
9/18/17 4:34 p.m.

The equal length header with one runner being a foot longer than the others made me laugh. Sounds about right from what I've heard about that company, though they're pushing their marketing pretty hard to change that image.

Interesting thread either way.

drivendaily Reader
9/19/17 9:08 a.m.

This wasn't how I'd like to end an event, but this was one of the quicker runs from practice day. I certainly wasn't committing to corners like I would on race day, but it was still a pretty good clip.

drivendaily Reader
9/26/17 6:53 p.m.

If anyone's interested in the cxracing saga of trying to get some customer support, I documented it in another thread. My phone also died on me at Ascutney 2, so I haven't really been taking photos of any of my progress. It looks like I had (at least) two problems.

The first problem was that one injector was stuck entirely open. I ran the whole set through my ultrasonic cleaner for a half hour, but couldn't get it to close. My theory is that that injector was herping and derping and spraying fuel all over cyl2, then the o2 sensor saw all that unburned fuel and the ecu started screaming, "CALM DOWN YOU INJECTORS!" The other injectors did as they were told, and punched out early that day. The fourth injector stayed late, worked overtime, and took on a second shift after that ... and completely flooded cyl2 while the other cylinders burned hot. I tried fitting a set of CBR injectors in it (slightly too short) and a set of turboII RX7 injectors that I had lying around (too long) but couldn't find goldilocks.

So ... I made my way down to a shop in Derry called Expoline. I always like going there, they (literally) stack Miatas in the back, always have a few torn down, and have been collecting Porsche's for awhile now. They know what parts are actually worth, and I don't mind paying a slight premium over random eBay sellers to go say hi to them. https://www.facebook.com/expolineauto/ I picked up a set of used injectors off them, tossed those in the ultrasonic cleaner, and installed them. I wasn't getting lean cylinders any more, but there was definitely still a misfire.

Tomorrow, I should have a new set of coils and plug wires coming in. I'm sort of throwing parts at the problem before properly diagnosing it here, but with maintenance items that haven't been touched in a long time I can justify replacements either way.

If this doesn't solve the stumbling, it's very possible that I have a ground problem and/or the timing belt skipped a tooth. I won't be mad if I have to replace the timing belt and water pump, the replacements have been sitting on a shelf in the garage for awhile. I just don't like replacing them, so I'm doing all the other stuff first.

Hopefully I'll have photos/videos soon, since LG support has been worlds better than CXRacing support (I'm a year out of warranty and they're even paying for shipping to fix it for free).

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