Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post-Testing Update from the Solo Nationals

Well, Lane and I finally made it to Lincoln after two months of prepping his car and some serious bench racing. On Monday night, we decided to drive all the way to Lincoln so here has been our schedule:

1. Leave Monday at 4:30 PM from San Angelo and drive to Lincoln
2. Arrive at 6:15 AM at our hotel in Lincoln
3. Sleep 6 hours and get to track by 12:30 pm
4. Set up pit and run two test and tune sessions. Modify tire pressures trying to work on balance and get used to the car.
5. Install harness bar and 6-pt. harness after the test and tune sessions
6. Arrive at track early today for two one-hour test and tune sessions before lunch.
7. Evolution school test and tune from 12-2PM.
8. Two more test and tune sessions in the afternoon.
9. After the test and tunes, we walked the East Course twice and the West Course four times (we run here tomorrow)
10. Steak and beer....then some sleep soon

Needless to say, we are tired, but very pleased with our progress over the past two days. We went from never having driven the car to setting very competitive (and possibly the fastest ) A-stock times around the Solo Nationals test and tune course. I dropped in a 29.4s time this morning and we heard that the odds-on favorite in A-Stock ran a 29.5 around the test and tune track. We started out with low 30s times but picked up pace after front ARB, damping, and tire pressure changes. Now this may just be bench racing fuel, but it means we are in the ball park. Tomorrow we run on our first competition runs on the West Course and will finally see how all of our bench racing pans out....

Here are a few photos from the test and tunes:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Headed off to Lincoln for the 2011 Solo Nationals Today

Lane and I loaded up yesterday for the 2011 SCCA Solo Nationals in Lincoln, NE and leave today after work. We plan to get up to LAP for some test and tune action Tuesday afternoon, followed by more testing on Wednesday, and then our competition on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

The weather is looking good except for maybe some rain on Friday afternoon which could shake things up. I will keep updating my blog throughout the race week as Lane and I battle for tenths on the Lincoln concrete.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Shifter Kart versus A-Stock Corvette Comparo

My normal ride is a 2010 Spirit SP32 Stock Moto Shifter kart that I run on sprint kart tracks, but for the 2011 SCCA Solo Nationals I will be driving my friend's 2004 C5 Corvette in A-stock class. These are obviously very different vehicles so here is a look at the differences between these two types of racecars by the numbers:

2004 Chevrolet Corvette

(photo credit: Vu Banh)

Class: SCCA Solo A-Stock
Engine: 5.7L V8
Drivetrain: Front-engine, RWD. 6-speed H-pattern transmission to a rear differential
Suspension: Double control arm w/ ride-height adjustable leaf spring and w/Anti-roll bars
Steering: Hydraulic rack and pinion
Brakes: Front and Rear vented disc brakes (all four corners)
Wheels: 17x8.5 (front), 18x9.5 (rear)
Tires: 275/40ZR17 (front), 295/30ZR18 (rear)
Modifications from stock: Adjustable front ARB, Adjustable dampers, R-compound tires, 6-point harness, titanium cat-back exhaust
HP: 350 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 375 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Fuel: Premium Pump Gas
Weight (w/ 200 lb driver): 3375lbs
0-60 MPH (est.): 5.0s
Top Speed: 175MPH
Max. Lateral G's: 1.4 g's

2010 Spirit SP32 / Honda CR125 Shifter Kart

Class: SKUSA S2 Senior Stock Moto
Engine: 125cc Honda CR125 (2-stroke)
Drivetrain: Mid-engine, RWD. 6-speed sequential transmission chain-drive to a solid rear axle
Suspension: None
Steering: Pitman arm with adjustable Ackermann setting
Brakes: 2 front disc brakes, 1 rear disc brake
Wheels: 5in x 132mm (front), 5in x 212mm (rear)
Tires: 10x4.6-5 (front), 11x7.1-5 (rear)
Modifications from stock: Porch extension kit to move pedals farther from seat
HP: 40 @ 12,500 RPM
Torque: 25 @ 10,200 RPM
Fuel: VP MS98
Weight (w/ 200 lb driver): 405 lbs
0-60 MPH (est.): 3.5s
Top Speed: 125 MPH
Max. Lateral G's: 3.5 g's

Video Comparison:

Corvette AutoX video from last years solo nationals (random video I found on YT):

Shifter kart (video from my last race):

Clearly from the numbers, photos, and videos, it is clear that these vehicle are the opposite of similar. However, both vehicles are fun in their own way and will both put a smile on your face....unless you are driving the Corvette and get smoked by a 400lb "toy."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Updated SWRC Points After Rounds 7 & 8

Moved past Chris Jennings for 4th overall after he missed the last round in Katy. There are two more races left to decide the 10-race championship. I will need a strong showing at the Dallas Karting Complex to move into 3rd place but should be able to hold 4th barring a mishap.

A-Stock Corvette Starting to Look Like a Racecar

Decals are on the car and the A-Stock Corvette is starting to look a littl. Lane got the car cleaned up last weekend and we finished up the decals this week in between suspension work and packing spares/tools for the Solo Nationals. We had some issues with the aftermarket dampers and bushings we purchased, but those issues have been sorted and we should have the car back on ground and running tonight. The main items left are a sounds check, corner weighting, and alignment which will get taken care of next week.

There are now 17 cars registered for A-Stock so the class has grown stronger than expected for this year. We leave in less than two weeks to make the trip to Lincoln!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hot and Humid for SWRC Rounds 7 & 8 Races in Katy, TX

Getting Ready before Saturday's Feature Race

After getting into Katy at around midnight Thursday night, Ali and I pulled into the paddock Friday morning when the gate opened to unload my kart and equipment into 3G Kart Racing's nice tent setup. I ran out of fuel line in the shop so I had to properly install SRS Engine's new Hybrid Float Carb System to get it ready for testing in practice. After about an hour, I had the kart ready to go for the 10-minute controlled practice sessions. I was running on my races tires from the last SWRC race in Katy, and they were shot. My times were about 0.5s slower than my fastest lap from the previous race, but I was still able to tune the new carb and get it jetted properly for the hot and humid conditions in Katy. In my 2nd to last session, I bolted on some fresh sneakers and went out for some mock qualifying laps. The kart was tight and I was getting some front hopping occasionally mid-corner to exit so I adjusted the front camber, caster, and toe setting for Saturday's practice sessions.

Saturday morning, I ran on my practice tires from the day before and set my personal best lap time in the 2nd session at a 39.8. This was a 0.4s improvement over my previous best from the last SWRC round. The new fuel system along with better jetting allowed me to get a better pull out of the hairpins. I also improved my driving in several different areas around the track. Gulf Coast Kartway is a really fun 0.7 mile track with a good mix of technical corners that you have to link together properly for a quick lap time. We had 13 karts on the grid in the Stock Moto Shifter class and I lined up 10th for the Saturday Heat Race. I moved up to 9th in the Heat Race which sets the grid for the 16-lap feature race. In the near 100 degree and humid conditions, 16 laps can be quite tiring, but my stamina is improving with every race in the shifter. After a good start in the feature, I came across the line in 7th place after 16 laps. It was a very competitive field of racers mainly comprised of fast local drivers and 6 SKUSA Pro Tour drivers. Being only my first full season of shifter kart racing, I have quite the learning curve to catch the fastest Pro Tour drivers.

For Sunday, the conditions were similar and by the SWRC rules, we race on the same tires from Saturdays races. This adds a different element to the full weekend of racing as tire management is critical to performing well on Sunday. I improved my qualifying pace from the day before even on the used tires while the rest of the field slowed down around 0.5s so I closed the overall pace gap to the leaders. This tells me that I did not get enough pace out of new tires on Saturday which is something I will work on for the next SWRC race. I raced better in the Heat race on Sunday and moved up a spot at the start. Coming into Turn 2, I got into the back of Michael Jones' rear bumper which lifted my front tires off the ground and sent me off-track. This shuffled me to the back of the pack, but I was able to salvage a 7th place finish after passing 1 driver and then having several guys retire for mechanical issues. For the Sunday Feature race, I lined up 7th and had a rocket start moving up the inside line into 5th place by Turn 1. Coming out of Turn 3 on the opening lap, one driver flew into the grass and I was able to slot into 4th place. I held onto 4th place for a few laps, but dropped back a few positions as some of the faster drivers who got poor starts moved up through the field. I finished in 7th place again. I will work hard to improve my qualifying and race pace for next SWRC race so I can move closer to the championship leaders and fight for podium finishes.

Overall, I was pleased with my weekend of racing as I had no mechanical issues, I was able to tune the engine and chassis to help improve my pace, and I was lapping faster by several tenths every session compared to my last race in Katy. Thanks to 3G Kart Racing and SRS Engines for their help in getting my shifter kart faster and faster every race. The next SWRC round is at the Dallas Karting Complex in early October. This is a brand new track so it will be a steep learning curve for every driver in the field to tune the chassis and gearing for the new track.

Here is some onboard video and more pictures from the race weekend:

Coming into Turn 2 in one of the Heat Races with Michael Jones Right Behind

Apex of Turn 5 During Qualifying

Foot to the floor, 2.5g's in Turn 6 during Qualifying

Photo Credits: Ali Rutherford...thanks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kart Prep for SWRC Race in Katy, TX this Weekend

The 7th and 8th rounds of the Southwest Regional Cup are this weekend in Katy, TX. is saying around 100 degrees and Sunny for each day. Ali and I drive to Katy tomorrow night and I'll hit the track first thing Friday morning for practice. I'm going to try and get most of my runs in on Friday morning before it gets too hot....I need to save something for Sunday afternoon.

For this race, I made a couple changes to the kart: 1. Top end rebuild 2. New carb and fuel system from SRS Engines 3. Lightened bodywork mounts (steel -> aluminum). Hopefully, these changes plus some experience at the Katy track will help me pick up some time around the 0.7mi course.

Old Piston with the cylinder off

Shiny New Piston with the Cylinder Back On

Friday, August 5, 2011

A-Stock Corvette Solo Nats Prep Update

Lane and I are still spending a few nights a week in his garage prepping his car for the 2011 SCCA Solo Nationals. After waiting for some OE flex brake lines in the mail, we finally got the brakes finished and bled Wednesday night. On Thursday, we indexed and installed new spark plugs, installed some hot plug wires, and then put the OE ignition coils back on the car. We quickly put the wheels back on, got it on the ground and took it for a test drive.

This is the first time we've driven the car since we put it up in the air to start the suspension mods. To start with we followed the Hawk method to bed our new brake pads/rotors in the local abandoned K-Mart parking lot. Luckily, no cops were around the we were able to continue with the test drive. Despite some clunking from the new rod-end ARB end links, the suspension felt very tight and controlled and the car had a nice stance overall compared to other stock C5 Vettes I've driven. The engine ran well and felt very smooth.

We are installing the cat-back exhaust tonight and then we will be close to race ready!

Pimp Parking Garage in Austin, TX

I spent last weekend with Ali and some college friends at the Hilton in Austin, TX and I spotted this nice collection in a private section of the parking garage. Looks like they have some wealthy residents....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photos from A-Stock Corvette Prep

Last week, we spend a few nights in Lane's garage prepping his Corvette for Nationals. After finishing up the suspension work the previous week (damper install, Front ARB, inspection, torque check), we moved to the brakes and installed some new flex lines, more aggressive pads, and new OE rotors. Lane worked over the weekend and we are close to getting the car back on the ground. After installing a cat-back exhaust and putting on a base autocross setup, we will be ready for the big show in early September.

Here are some photos from Lane's not-so-well-lit garage:

New Go-Fast-Parts Arrived in the Mail

I ordered new fuel system parts for my Stock Moto Shifter kart. I've been wanting to upgrade from the Keihn PWK carburetor that I am running now to the PWM for a while now. They are both 38mm carbs, but engine builders and top drivers claim the PWM provides better throttle response on corner exit. While I was ordering the new carb, I decided to go ahead and try the SRS Engines new Hybrid-Float carb system. This new fuel method from SRS uses an extra float in addition to twin fuel pumps to keep the fuel level constant under high G loading that you see in shifter karts. Supposed to be good for 0.3s on the bigger tracks and it makes more power on the dyno...we shall see. I'll never turn down more power especially for a reasonable price!

Here is the technical release from SRS