Why Did Our Miata Blow Up at Daytona?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Apr 4, 2017 | Mazda

Our Miata left the track early during this weekend’s ChumpCar RVA Graphics endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. Tail between our legs, after not even 10 laps we crawled to the pits in a cloud of steam, oil and despair. What exactly happened? We’re not 100-percent sure.

Join us on Facebook Live this Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern as we’ll start tearing things apart. Did we simply blow a head gasket or was real damage done? Together let’s figure it out.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 1:08 p.m.

Really, this photo needs more smoke, steam and sadness.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
4/4/17 1:16 p.m.

The best way to discover problems in a motor is to run it wide open under full load for almost 100% of every lap. Or shift it into second instead of fourth when you panic brake too late diving into the infield :)

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
4/4/17 1:21 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote: Really, this photo needs more smoke, steam and sadness.

I got you.

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/4/17 1:24 p.m.

In reply to Huckleberry:

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/4/17 1:25 p.m.

So lessee: You crushed the last one into a ball. This one you grenaded. Maybe yellow just isn't your color.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 1:38 p.m.
Ed Higginbotham wrote:
David S. Wallens wrote: Really, this photo needs more smoke, steam and sadness.
I got you.

That's definitely sad.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 1:38 p.m.
FlightService wrote: In reply to Huckleberry:

And that's not supposed to do that, right?

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/4/17 1:58 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens:

that does deviate from the design intent, yes.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 2:00 p.m.
FlightService wrote: In reply to David S. Wallens: that does deviate from the design intent, yes.

That's what I thought.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
4/4/17 2:01 p.m.

Any chance you can postpone the start until 4PM? I have a better chance of getting home in time to join. No chance at 3PM.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/4/17 2:08 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:
FlightService wrote: In reply to Huckleberry:
And that's not supposed to do that, right?

The best part about that GIF is the sad little tear of oil that drips off the impeller at the end.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 2:25 p.m.
Ian F wrote: Any chance you can postpone the start until 4PM? I have a better chance of getting home in time to join. No chance at 3PM.

Sadly (well, for you) we have already announced the starting time. We've been mixing up the starting times--afternoon versus evening--in effort to accommodate everyone. You can always go back and watch them afterwards but, yeah, you'll miss out on the real-time interaction. If need be, I can totally write you a note.

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/4/17 3:02 p.m.

I'm surprised JG hasn't been blamed yet.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/17 3:03 p.m.

If JG is the one who's choosing the hose supplier, maybe he should be...

Recon1342
Recon1342 New Reader
4/4/17 3:05 p.m.

In reply to FlightService: Do you have a link to that wonderful gif of destruction?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 3:14 p.m.

Another reason to watch our Facebook Lives:

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.12.10 PM

JG now has a green screen.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/4/17 3:18 p.m.

And check it out, his bird has a cloaking device:

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 4.16.22 PM

No word on whether the donkey is so equipped.

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/4/17 3:34 p.m.
Recon1342 wrote: In reply to FlightService: Do you have a link to that wonderful gif of destruction?

http://i.imgur.com/2IMGmBP.gif

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
4/4/17 3:55 p.m.

JG probably has a rubber hose supplier, but not automotive.

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
4/4/17 11:27 p.m.

From the photos it appears the issue is you've been shopping for drivers at the big and tall store. The poor little car couldn't take it.

In the future I'd suggest places like Pimlico, Belmont Park and the like.

You're friend "ten stone" Tom

bigben
bigben New Reader
4/5/17 12:23 a.m.

So they say that "Miata" is the answer to every question. . . Well I'd say when your talking engines for a Miata the answer should only be two letters long. . . ummmm. . . LS, or maybe SR. There that should fix your blown engine problems.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/17 8:27 a.m.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/17 8:31 a.m.
bigben wrote: So they say that "Miata" is the answer to every question. . . Well I'd say when your talking engines for a Miata the answer should only be two letters long. . . ummmm. . . LS, or maybe SR. There that should fix your blown engine problems.

Thing is that neither of these failures (from what I've been told) are problems with the engine. First was a lack of oil due to a busted (aftermarket) hose. Second was a lack of coolant due to a busted (aftermarket) hose. No engine would deal well with either of those.

The astounding thing is that the turbo is still together. If you'd seen what that turbo looked like when they installed it, you'd probably fall off your chair laughing. It was scrap.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
4/5/17 8:42 a.m.

Yep, Keith is correct on all counts. And calling that turbo scrap is generous–it wouldn't even pass as clean metal!

Shoutout to Flyin' Miata, by the way, for sending us what we needed to rig up a proper low oil pressure warning system. If only they made something similar for coolant....

rslifkin
rslifkin Dork
4/5/17 9:00 a.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: Shoutout to Flyin' Miata, by the way, for sending us what we needed to rig up a proper low oil pressure warning system. If only they made something similar for coolant....

If you're concerned about warning of a coolant failure, you want 3 sensors feeding a big warning light or something. First sensor should be a temp switch that triggers once you're above what you'd consider "max safe temperature" for the engine in question.

The other input to the light involves a pair of sensors. One is a temperature switch that triggers at 180 or something that's a bit below thermostat temp for the engine. Run it in series with a pressure switch set for something like 7 psi. That way, you get a warning if you ever lose cooling system pressure when the engine is warmed up (this should only ever happen if a hose fails or something similar).

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
4/5/17 9:04 a.m.

Yep, that's already our plan. Probably combined with a big tablet dash that will flash red and throw things at the driver.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
4/5/17 9:11 a.m.

Just pretend not everyone is one of the cool kids. What's Facebook live? Do you just go to the GRM facebook page and something will appear at 3:00??

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/17 9:37 a.m.

I've heard about monitoring cooling system pressure, it seems like a pretty good idea. I might try it next time I'm doing a track build.

rslifkin
rslifkin Dork
4/5/17 9:42 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: I've heard about monitoring cooling system pressure, it seems like a pretty good idea. I might try it next time I'm doing a track build.

The key is just to make sure the warning point is far enough below cap release pressure. Some variation is normal (especially if the temps climb a bit and then drop back down), but if the pressure goes away, it's a good indication that something is wrong and the system has a leak.

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
4/5/17 9:54 a.m.

Maybe a blow off port like the Nascars have but mounted in front of the driver.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/5/17 10:18 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Just pretend not everyone is one of the cool kids. What's Facebook live? Do you just go to the GRM facebook page and something will appear at 3:00??

Yep, pretty much. Go to the GRM Facebook page at 3:00 Eastern and you'll see it. You will probably have to click a window to launch the broadcast. The Facebook Live broadcasts are simulcast to our message board, too.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/5/17 10:45 a.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Just pretend not everyone is one of the cool kids. What's Facebook live? Do you just go to the GRM facebook page and something will appear at 3:00??
Yep, pretty much. Go to the GRM Facebook page at 3:00 Eastern and you'll see it. You will probably have to click a window to launch the broadcast. The Facebook Live broadcasts are simulcast to our message board, too.

Yeah. This. If you watch here, though, you can't comment. We appreciate the hits on our site, but we also like the interaction. Fine with us either way. We try and monitor message board questions, but it's tough to keep up with a constant stream coming in from FB.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
4/5/17 2:06 p.m.

And we're live!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/5/17 2:34 p.m.

Yep, go to this thread's first page to see the simulcast.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
4/5/17 2:42 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: Yep, that's already our plan. Probably combined with a big tablet dash that will flash red and throw things at the driver.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
4/5/17 2:43 p.m.

Agh, had to drop off due to work of all things!!! I asked a Q on the teams view of LeMons Vs Chump but couldn't wait to here if there was a reply.

appliance_racer
appliance_racer Reader
4/5/17 4:49 p.m.

I was at Daytona. Saw you guys go by one time. Told the wife who loves photography to take some good pics of the yellow miata and pointed out the GRM car. I didn't know about all the misfortune going on. Got home the wife downloaded all her pics and they were full of yellow miata.....that other yellow miata. I asked her about it and she told me "you said yellow miata and that was the only damn yellow miata i saw". So I jumped on the forum and saw the sad headlines. So not only has the GRM miata let you guys down it got me in trouble! (not really)

Oh and the wife is demanding a better performance at the challenge or else! Or else what? I dont know but you have your marching orders gentlemen.

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
4/5/17 7:41 p.m.

@iceracer I have my radiator overflow bottle mounted close to the leading edge of the hood so that when it starts to push water put it ends up on the windshield. I also fill the overflow 2/3 full as an early warning system. Last year my car popped the fan belt and before it really overheated it sprinkled water drops on the windshield. Note I live in the desert where we run in the rain once every 10 years.

Big red blinking lights are a good thing. Many years ago a friend who had run off road races said they started out with every gauge imaginable but eventually just put a big red light on the dash that went off for low oil pressure or high water temps. Other than the light the had a tach, oil pressure and water temp.

icaneat50eggs
icaneat50eggs Dork
4/5/17 8:08 p.m.

So what was the diagnosis?

RevRico
RevRico SuperDork
4/5/17 8:11 p.m.

I really like that low oil light/siren system you have.

frenchyd
frenchyd Reader
4/6/17 3:30 a.m.
rslifkin wrote:
Tom Suddard wrote: Shoutout to Flyin' Miata, by the way, for sending us what we needed to rig up a proper low oil pressure warning system. If only they made something similar for coolant....
If you're concerned about warning of a coolant failure, you want 3 sensors feeding a big warning light or something. First sensor should be a temp switch that triggers once you're above what you'd consider "max safe temperature" for the engine in question. The other input to the light involves a pair of sensors. One is a temperature switch that triggers at 180 or something that's a bit below thermostat temp for the engine. Run it in series with a pressure switch set for something like 7 psi. That way, you get a warning if you ever lose cooling system pressure when the engine is warmed up (this should only ever happen if a hose fails or something similar).

Too technical KISS remember? What I do on all my race cars is to eliminate as much of the rubber part of the hose as possible On cheapy race cars I take pieces of header kits (on nicer ones I'll use pre-bent aluminum tubing ) and weld up a hose that snakes around from the radiator to the water pump.. I connect it by short lengths of silicone hose double clamped. (if you have a motor that really moves around a lot use the flex piece on one or both ends)

If I really worried that the driver might not notice a lack of coolant it would be simple to put a tube in a loop up to the cowl in front of the driver A clear plastic tube would have water visible (OK you'd have to put something in the water to color it) and lack of water would remind the driver to check temps.. Low temp means stop no water to register!!!

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/6/17 5:11 a.m.
rslifkin wrote:
Tom Suddard wrote: Shoutout to Flyin' Miata, by the way, for sending us what we needed to rig up a proper low oil pressure warning system. If only they made something similar for coolant....
If you're concerned about warning of a coolant failure, you want 3 sensors feeding a big warning light or something. First sensor should be a temp switch that triggers once you're above what you'd consider "max safe temperature" for the engine in question. The other input to the light involves a pair of sensors. One is a temperature switch that triggers at 180 or something that's a bit below thermostat temp for the engine. Run it in series with a pressure switch set for something like 7 psi. That way, you get a warning if you ever lose cooling system pressure when the engine is warmed up (this should only ever happen if a hose fails or something similar).

Instead of coolant temp, cylinder head temp should be monitored.

Coolant temp does not work at all when there's no coolant.

This is why every modern aluminum headed Ford truck has cylinder head temp instead of coolant temp.

(the side reason- it was known that iron block/head engines can limp home w/o coolant, but aluminum would warp. So to get home, we had to devise a system that could detect coolant loss, and then allow the car to limp in a way to move without coolant. It does work- during development, a truck was driven from Dearborn to Toledo and back with no coolant. It wasn't fast, or pretty, but it worked)

So if you can find a good chunk of head that's a good indicator of temp, and then make sure you have good contact between the sensor and the metal, that should do the trick.

rslifkin
rslifkin Dork
4/6/17 7:47 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver:

That's a good point. When I was thinking through that, I was figuring that a loss of coolant would trigger the pressure sensor. Short of a case where the engine is already very screwed (like a head gasket that's beyond gone), I can't think of a way you'd lose a bunch of coolant without de-pressurizing the system.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/6/17 8:47 a.m.
frenchyd wrote: If I really worried that the driver might not notice a lack of coolant it would be simple to put a tube in a loop up to the cowl in front of the driver A clear plastic tube would have water visible (OK you'd have to put something in the water to color it) and lack of water would remind the driver to check temps.. Low temp means stop no water to register!!!

Simple - as long as it's not the high point in the system. If it is, it'll collect any bubbles (and there will be bubbles) and you'll get a false reading of low coolant.

Shaun
Shaun GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/6/17 12:17 p.m.

The lead photo highlights largest technological contribution to the greater good made by NASCAR in the last 20 years- the painting of seats different colors so that as a camera pans over a cup race it looks like somebody is there.

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
4/6/17 12:41 p.m.

In reply to Shaun: Completely off topic.

There other hate Nascar pages.

stafford1500
stafford1500 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/6/17 12:44 p.m.

Way back in 2005 I had the opportunity to watch an engine melt down at the end of a race (Daytona Prototype at Homestead). Some debris punctured the radiator with a handful of laps left. The pressure and temperature dropped and then the pressure came back up with low temp as the remaining water flashed off to steam, effectively pressurizing what was left of the cooling system. The temp stayed in the operational range since there was no coolant in contact with the sensor, but the pressure remained relatively normal after the first dip when the leak started.
I knew what was happening since I could see all the data on telemetry, and got the clearance to keep running since we were leading with only a few laps to go. Did not win and the motor was scrapped due to out of tolerance everything.

Moral of the story is: Once the engine is up to stabilized racing temps, a leak may not show up in temps and pressures as long as the leak is reasonably small.

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/6/17 1:33 p.m.
iceracer wrote: In reply to Shaun: Completely off topic. There other hate Nascar pages.

I think he was trying to point out how NASCAR is no longer useful in the development of the modern automobile being so far behind the times and rule restrictive away from what is being built as opposed to other forms of motorsports that develop tech we use in the cars we buy. With a sarcastic comment toward NASCAR's dwindling fan base.

Or he could just be knocking NASCAR, what do I know? I am just post-whoring on this one.

FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/6/17 1:35 p.m.

So head gasket or head? I watched the end of the video that said there was a 3 cylinder engine with a single cylinder water pump but no clear path from the gasket.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
4/8/17 7:18 p.m.

In reply to stafford1500:

That's really interesting, thanks for the real world anecdote. A friend and I were joking a long while back about packing a bazillion gauges in a Lemons car just for the intimidation factor, and one of the ideas was a coolant pressure gauge, and we realized it could actually be useful.

Auto-Union had aluminum frames pressurized with nitrogen, and they plumbed a gauge in the frame so that the driver could see if the frame cracked during a race.

Bill Strong
Bill Strong New Reader
4/9/17 8:01 a.m.

I was upset that I did not get to talk to you guys. I was busy getting all the cameras setup for the live ChumpCast Live! Show. The car looked awesome though when I was up in the tower. Hopefully we can see you guys at Sebring.

ncjay
ncjay SuperDork
4/9/17 11:08 a.m.

I started using a water pressure gauge a few years ago when I watched someone else's radiator hose come off and they didn't realize it until it was too late. It is very helpful in catching problems before they become a crisis.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/9/17 7:57 p.m.
FlightService wrote:
iceracer wrote: In reply to Shaun: Completely off topic. There other hate Nascar pages.
I think he was trying to point out how NASCAR is no longer useful in the development of the modern automobile being so far behind the times and rule restrictive away from what is being built as opposed to other forms of motorsports that develop tech we use in the cars we buy. With a sarcastic comment toward NASCAR's dwindling fan base. Or he could just be knocking NASCAR, what do I know? I am just post-whoring on this one.

Having been at both the Daytona 24 and the Daytona 500 this year - those seats aren't there to make the NASCAR crowd look bigger It's everyone else...

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