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JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/20/21 10:15 p.m.

For those of you occasionally browsing the projects and builds subforum (and if you aren't, you;re missing out), you may have noticed that I've been bantering with Jack Higginbotham about the possibility of taking the nearly complete second ASA Stock Car and bringing it to the duck ranch here in F-L-A as an official GRM Project build. 

Well, we're rapidly nearing poop-or-cut-bait time, and before we made any decisions corporately and personally, I wanted to do some quick focus grouping in open discussion to determine whether I just have my mid-80s tubeframe race car beer goggles on, or if this is a reasonable and interesting project.

For those who don't know head over to Jack's Thread on his build for a better idea of what we're talking about. What's cool is he's already provided a really good road map for turning one of these things into a viable road race/time trial/autocross machine. Then add in our contact list, and I think some really interesting things could be learned here.

ASA Cars are actually kind of hot in a weird way among the tube frame crowd. There's a BUNCH of them out there, and there's apparently not much you can really do with them anymore in a circle track capacity. And they supposedly very easy to square up for road racing—the chassis are symmetrical, so you only need to move one front suspension corner so the wheelbases match. And SCCA regions, NASA clubs and even independent V8 based race series allow them to run in a variety of classes. At 3600lbs, consumables are cheap, and with 500hp they're fast. And all of the specific race bits like control arms and hubs and all the little fiddly bits are mass produced race car parts available from any "big box" race car place Like Speedway, Summit or Jegs. On paper, it seems like a fairly cost-conscious way to go very fast in a VERY COOL car that will be the hit of most paddocks. 

The pictures that Jack sent (I've only included a couple) showed racks and racks of parts. I'd estimate that there's 70-80% of a running car there with the package we'd theoretically be acquiring. I've already written up a proposed editorial plan which, of course, deeply intrigues me, but does knowing more about a car that never rolled off a mass production assembly line intrigue you as well? Part of what we see it as, beyond simple "Project car" progression, is a platform to discuss general concepts. The simplicity and adjustability lend themselves to topics like those. "Why are A-Arm suspensions good? How do you make them better?" Well, now we have an easily adjustable A-arm setup that can move in a bunch of different ways simply by adjusting bolts and shims, that's also fully visible as it articulates on the lift for demo purposes. We came up with a whole mess of general-knowledge topics like that that could make this a really cool teaching platform.

So, whaddya think? Would you read about this car, even if the first 4-6 months of its life was mostly me trying to keep the ducks from building nests in it?

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/21 10:37 p.m.

Are you looking for suggestions as to what american iron body to drape over it?

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/20/21 10:39 p.m.
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:

Are you looking for suggestions as to what american iron body to drape over it?

 

I mean, that was going to be step 2, once we decided if it was actually happening. But, yeah, I'm happy to skip ahead and discuss what body we should hang on it and why it should be a Buick Somerset T/A car.

twentyover
twentyover Dork
10/20/21 10:40 p.m.

DO. IT.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/21 10:44 p.m.

I'd read every word of a Buick Somerset TA build

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
10/20/21 10:46 p.m.

My most recent track acquisition is enormously similar. I highly recommend it.

 

SRI and circle track warehouse are good places to find parts. Not that I'm not a huge fan of Summit, but some specialty stuff is better bought used than new.

birdmayne
birdmayne GRM+ Memberand New Reader
10/20/21 10:47 p.m.

Oh heck ya. I'm in to read and follow 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/20/21 10:52 p.m.
Cactus said:

My most recent track acquisition is enormously similar. I highly recommend it.

 

SRI and circle track warehouse are good places to find parts. Not that I'm not a huge fan of Summit, but some specialty stuff is better bought used than new.

One of the big pluses we possibly see here as well is it introduces us to a lot of new freinds who we probably should know already, but have just never had the proper icebreaker. Like pretty much the entire population of Moorseveille, NC. 

pilotbraden
pilotbraden UberDork
10/20/21 11:05 p.m.

Yes absolutely. Remember, it is better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 12:57 a.m.

While the likelihood of me ever building one of these is nearly zero, my lack of familiarity is certainly part of that. 
 

So yes, absolutely yes, please build it!

STM317
STM317 UberDork
10/21/21 3:49 a.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:

Are you looking for suggestions as to what american iron body to drape over it?

 

I'm happy to skip ahead and discuss what body we should hang on it and why it should be a Buick Somerset T/A car.

There is no other option really.

BangShift.com That's How To Make One Cool: This 1985 Buick Somerset  Ex-Trans Am Racer Is Up For Sale! - BangShift.com

Buick IMSA race car | Racing, Buick, Race cars

HMSA Spring Club Races 2014 - Photo Gallery, Report | Sports car racing,  Racing, Classic racing cars

krs006035 | Classic racing cars, Classic racing, Buick

WIDEBODY musclecars?... you love FAT BOOTY?....post em up! - Page 17

Patty Moise - Buick Somerset (IMSA Kelly AC race)

 

Wxdude10 - Mike
Wxdude10 - Mike Reader
10/21/21 5:00 a.m.
STM317 said:
JG Pasterjak said:
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:

Are you looking for suggestions as to what american iron body to drape over it?

 

I'm happy to skip ahead and discuss what body we should hang on it and why it should be a Buick Somerset T/A car.

There is no other option really.

BangShift.com That's How To Make One Cool: This 1985 Buick Somerset  Ex-Trans Am Racer Is Up For Sale! - BangShift.com

Buick IMSA race car | Racing, Buick, Race cars

HMSA Spring Club Races 2014 - Photo Gallery, Report | Sports car racing,  Racing, Classic racing cars

krs006035 | Classic racing cars, Classic racing, Buick

WIDEBODY musclecars?... you love FAT BOOTY?....post em up! - Page 17

Patty Moise - Buick Somerset (IMSA Kelly AC race)

 

This absolutely needs some Turbo Buick awesomeness if you go this route.  Anything else would be criminal. 
Go for it. This should be fun. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
10/21/21 6:20 a.m.

If you don't do it... how much does he want for the roller?

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 6:41 a.m.

I'm interested, but 3600 lb??  Is that real?   Seems high for a tube framed car like that.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
10/21/21 7:08 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

3600 would be minimum race weight.  There is likely some lead to bring it up to that, but look at the amount of steel in the cage.  They are sturdy as hell and safe as sitting in your living room recliner.  

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
10/21/21 7:12 a.m.

So what you're saying is there are a buttload of these go-fast cars out there that no longer fit an approved racing org, and people are going to be getting rid of them cheaply?

Can you get more Grassroots?

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
10/21/21 7:14 a.m.

I have always wanted to do exactly this, so yes, an editorial would be a delight. It would be even more delightful from you.

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 7:30 a.m.

So when do you buy Stampie's riviera and make the boxy early 80's version ? 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
10/21/21 7:53 a.m.

I'd certainly read everything on a project like this. I would also be interested in seeing how much it could be lightened, say by replacing those door bars with more conventional X-bars, eliminating the center windshield bar, etc. Those things are overbuilt, so there must be ways to get the weight down. A comparison with a TransAm or IMSA car of the same era would be of interest.

I've seen rolling chassis for modifieds go for a few hundred bucks, but they're so asymmetrical as to make it difficult to square them up. If ASA cars go for the same kind of money it would make an interesting build series, but keep a running total of the budget. How to build a TransAm lookalike for $10K, or something along those lines.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
10/21/21 8:09 a.m.

Absolutely interested.

 

Editorially, I think you can do a lot with it exploring the place of purpose built racing cars in the grassroots affordable fold. Comparing and contrasting expenses and limitations of, say, upgrading a newer corvette or something to a similar performance level. There is room for discussions of safety and crash repair costs as well discussion of the recent EPA concerns and what it might mean for engine tuning on something street born / certified and something that was born for purpose.  This also allows tie in of content from UTCC to the build for this analysis.  The other aspect is the evolvability of a platform. For instance- how long a car is competitively viable in Solo mod classes vs street/ST/SP classes I ran away from Street because it ends up being the car of the year club. 

The safety aspect, you may be able to find good experts for discussion of a tube chassis car like this vs slapping a cage into a production car in track crashes.  As well, it should be relatively simple to work through theoretical (hopefully not real!) comparisons of what it takes to repair when stuffed into a tire wall or similar. 

I am off the deeper end of the technical spectrum than the typical reader. I also subscribe to Racecar Engineering, have a degree in engineering, did FSAE, work in the automotive field, and have a formula car. The well of what you can examine with one of these is virtually endless from the basics you cite to deeper discussions of suspension setup/geometry for different tire types, what ackermann does for you (just be sure to cover both high and low speed cases if you go there!), and things like that.   Hell, I would LOVE an in depth analysis of what changing the roll axis inclination does for handling for instance.  Just saying - its useful for the more versed reader who may have been a subscriber for more than a decade. 

 

To me there is a point in someones racing habit, usually not the first or second car, where they want MORE and FASTER and arent afraid of a truck and trailer.  This type of thing is HUGELY viable in that area vs something like an Exocet. 

ClemSparks
ClemSparks UltimaDork
10/21/21 8:23 a.m.

Enablement mode, engage!

I don't know much about ASA equipment (or anything ASA) but I know that back in 1999/2000 when I was crewing in TransAm series, there were a few "round tube" cars out there that were originally conceived as circle track cars (and the term ASA was thrown around a lot when referring to these). 

I would love to see this as a project. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 8:34 a.m.

I would be in but with two qualifiers

1. You don't turn every article  into "We wanted to fix this so we took it to this shop and they installed these pars and they are excellent. IE we got free parts and in return we publish that they are good. That is getting old.   The Pinical of this was Tom's crazy expensive catch can. I would have more impressed if reasurch was done on what makes a catch can good and how to weld one up.  If you then decide to put one in that is pre built that is ok but that catch can thing was just I got this part for free and put it in my car and you should to. We learned nothing except Tom got a free part that in return he promoted. That type of article  teaches us nothing other than you get lots of free stuff to put on GRM cars.  Sorry but that is not the world that your audience lives in.  Don't let this build turn in to this. 
 

2.  You do the work and be public about the failures as well as the successes. Explain why and how you did something.  What research  you did and why you did something.  People learn from both success and failures. People don't learn from doing things as I layed out in qualifier #1 above. 
 

Other than that DO IT. I squared up a featherlight Pro four many years ago and it was a ride like no other I have ever driven. It sounds like a similar build in that we just squared up the 9 inch rear by swapping a axle and axle tube. Squared up the shocks and pulled all the shims out of one side of the front and put a corner on that matched the other side.  There was some fiddling with the steering rack to square up the geometry.  There were lots of other little things with driver ergonomics as well as weight distribution that you will have to adjust. 
 

Basically if you are starting with a square tube frame it is a really easy and fun build. 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 8:43 a.m.

This sort of thing has been on my radar for a long time. 
 

About a dozen years ago, I was pitted next to a kid at a Lime Rock track day who had some form of retired circle track race truck. It looked to be about 7/8 scale or maybe minitruck sized. I think he actually worked at the track or a nearby race shop. He was clearly the oddball on the grid, but after seeing how fast he was going, and hearing him talk about how cheap everything was and how easy it was to set up, I was really intrigued. 
 

Ideally, I like my stuff to have windows so I can keep the dust, mice and rain out when it's outside or in the trailer, but I could probably get over that. 
 

So... yes, definitely interested. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/21/21 8:45 a.m.

This sort of build is 100% on my list of want-to-do-someday so, yes, I'm definitely tuned in.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/21/21 8:46 a.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

In reply to alfadriver :

3600 would be minimum race weight.  There is likely some lead to bring it up to that, but look at the amount of steel in the cage.  They are sturdy as hell and safe as sitting in your living room recliner.  

It will be interesting to see what classes it would fit into, to see if it can me made lighter.  Especially if the idea is to make an autocross and track car.

A few challenges ago, the Hongs had a Cadillac that was just about 3000lb, and at that weight and configuration, it was perfect for CP.  Not sure how a tube frame changes that.

On a different tangent, it would be interesting to see the process of changing a circle track suspension to a road/autocross type.  For instance, the rear stick axle would change needs based on what your goals are- I've seen a few RC Engineering articles asking specific questions about circle tracks, and the answers are different to other tracks.   That on a grassroots level would be fascinating- maybe even use some basic and available suspension software to show front and rear changes and it's modeled effects.  And that's more useful for a car like this vs. a production car where changing stuff is really complicated (should you do it, where do you do it, how......).

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