95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
11/23/21 3:28 p.m.

We had our tenth(!) and final local event of the year a week ago at Panthera, so here's a quick wrap up.

Temperatures were between 40-50* all day, and with a decent breeze it was pretty chilly.  We ran on the main/big course, which is always a good thing for my car.  I decided to run on my gravel Maxxis tires (mediums) instead of my grass Maxsports (also medium, but much softer) because they're generally better suited for the hard packed surface, but their compound was probably not the best for the temperatures.  Almost everyone else in the class ran Maxsports.  Josh S. showed up to co-drive with Josh H. which was a welcome surprise since we had barely seen him all year as he has been busy working on getting the Duratec swap going in his E30.

Stephen and Chris traded off the fast runs to get the morning going, even though their Maxsports were almost completely bald.  I shudder to think how fast they're going to be when they get fresh ones on there.  Both Joshs hit one cone in each of their first runs so they fell back in the standings, but Josh S.'s raw times were stupid fast, so he was doing pretty well all things considered.  I was running decent but not spectacular, and I think at lunch I was in third behind Stephen and Chris.  Just as last event, Trevor in his E46 330 ZHP was running stupid fast but dirty.  On his last AM run he had a clean run which was the fastest time of the AM, almost two seconds faster than anyone else!  Trevor runs an unusual tire/wheel choice, 245/40/17 snow tires!  They were surely the best compound for the temps, and they probably had lots of grip being so wide on the hard surface.  I just wonder how long the tread will last, and if/when they will debead.

I started off the afternoon with the fast run but then fell off the pace a bit.  Chris hit 3 cones on his second run, dropping him way back in the standings, and Josh S. continued to drive fast and passed me on his second run, jumping into 2nd.  But on his third run he took out a cone wall and fell way back as well, leaving me in 2nd behind Stephen.  Matt Buckler laid down a scorcher in his 325 E30, and Trevor finished off the day with two more fast and clean runs, including the fastest run of the PM.  In a class this tight, it's hard to overcome cone penalties (although Josh S. sure came close!), and the top four finishers were all cone-free for the day.  Stephen finished in 1st, me in 2nd, Eric in 3rd, and Neil in 4th.  And with that acceptable finish I became the 2021 MR season champion!  Stephen was five points behind me in 2nd, and Eric and Neil were 12 points back and tied for 3rd.  After coming so close to the championship the last two years, it felt great to finally win it!

This was a pretty good year for me and the M3, even though it missed 3 events due to the burst coolant hose and the broken diff bolt.  I had two FTDs and hit 5 cones total.  I think Stephen also hit 5 cones all year and it looks like Neil only hit 2!  But I'm already nervous about competition in 2022.  I assume Stephen and Chris will find some fresh tires and that could make them damn-near unstoppable.  Trevor and his E46 are clearly a force to be reckoned with if he can just drive a little cleaner.  Josh S. has clearly not forgotten how to drive, and his Duratec E30 should be stupid fast.  I'm sure Mike will be back in another AW11 MR2, fast as ever.  And Eric, Neil, and Josh H. are always right there ready to win as well. 

I wish there was something I could do to make the M3 faster, but I'm coming up blank.  I wish I could run a non-competition tire like the Maxsports more often since they're so much lighter than the Maxxis, but they're only available in a 185, which just doesn't cut it on my car.  I don't love the way my car handles on course, as the front feels wallowly and doesn't like quick transitions, but I'm not sure what to do about that.  I'm sure some of it is just down to the weight of the car.  I've been running without my FSB as I like the way the car feels without it, so maybe I need to increase my spring rate up front to compensate for the lack of roll control?  I'm currently running a 12" 250lb spring, maybe I should move to a 300lb?  My rears are 400lb.

Brian brought his scales to the final event and lots of people weighted their cars, but if my results are anything to go by, they were far from accurate.  According to the scales, my car weighs 2,839 with 3/4 tank of gas and no driver.  This is about 300 pounds less than what I expected it to weigh, and the inaccuracy was confirmed when I got in the car but the scales only went up by 75 pounds.  In reality I weigh closer to 160, so something wasn't right with the scales.  If I do a little math, that must mean my car actually weighs 6,056 pounds!  I knew it was heavy!  After the event I sat down and tried to do some quick ricer math on the weight of my car, let me know if you see anything amiss.
 

Stock 3200

No sunroof -30 = 3170

No spare and jack -50 = 3120

Recaro seats -40 = 3080

X-brace +10 = 3090

Skid plates and U brace +30 = 3120

328 front brakes -10 = 3110

FSTB and RSTB +10 = 3120

So, yeah, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,100 pounds.  But since I refuse to compromise on the daily driver-ability of the car, that's where it's going to stay.

Here's yet another boring video of me racing, it was my best run in the AM.  I forgot to turn on the mic in the PM, and nobody wants to watch a silent racing video.


 

rallyxPOS13
rallyxPOS13 New Reader
11/23/21 9:06 p.m.

+1 to the lurker readers here!

 

Yeah the scales were a bit off when I looked at the difference between the empty weight and the second one with my fatass in the car. I weigh about 240lbs + a bunch of layers of clothes, but it only came in at a 226lb delta... ~15% error.  
 

I remembered back to a long time ago when I worked an internship at an alignment rack/wheel balancer manufacturer, and one of my tasks was characterizing errors on similar scales.  The load cell error was very dependent on a smooth, level surface, and the same surface as the tare.  So as they were moving the scales around a bunch on asphalt, I'd imagine quite a bit of difference per weigh.  Also the individual load cell errors aren't linear, so I don't think my 15% error in driver mass can directly be applied to the whole car.

 

It was neat as a comparison of all the different cars there, but I'd take all the numbers +/-300lbs

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/23/21 9:23 p.m.

Touch base with Brian B.  He has good scales, which is where I weighed my car (2820 or so at the time, probably more like 2850 now with the fire system). 

Also, I know my place in the world has gone far downward when I don't even get a mention in your wrap threads this year other than to say I was there to provide a car for Josh S. lol....

Maybe next year, lol. 

Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter)
Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/24/21 8:47 a.m.
95maxrider said:

  Just as last event, Trevor in his E46 330 ZHP was running stupid fast but dirty.  On his last AM run he had a clean run which was the fastest time of the AM, almost two seconds faster than anyone else!  Trevor runs an unusual tire/wheel choice, 245/40/17 snow tires!  They were surely the best compound for the temps, and they probably had lots of grip being so wide on the hard surface.  I just wonder how long the tread will last, and if/when they will debead.

Usually my runs are just dirty, so throwing a fast in there is a big upgrade. I'm used to being so far off on times that I focus more on sideways  hoonery than clean runs, but this car has been proving fast enough that I may have to start taking cones serious. 

Tire/wheel choice is born from lazyness & frugality. The 330 brakes require a 17"+ wheel, and the current blizzak setup was available cheapish used. They were probably 50% when I got them, now after 3 events, one pair is pretty chewed (I ran the last two with them on rear, should have rotated, again, lazy). The last even didn't seem to show much if any additional wear, they were much happier in the colder weather. Surprisingly, no de-beads yet, I've just set them at 40 psi and they've been happy. I wasn't nice to them either, the first run I had some understeer w/ way too much lock on, hit a big rut on the outside front, which shot me off course, cracked the bumper, and earned me a 10-sec gate penalty. It must be the low/wide setup that makes up for squishy sidewalls, the tradeoff is they aren't exactly forgiving on ruts or rocks when combined with the factory suspension.

I'm sure in looser/slicker conditions the weight of the car & wide wheels will prove a significant disadvantage. At that point I'll probably default back to drifto mode & pick up a bunch more cones. 

The MR rally-x scene locally is awesome. I love that so many of the build threads on here are local and I get to see the cars when out at an event. As a lurker who never can follow through with attempted build threads, I appreciate the effort you put into your write ups.

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
11/24/21 10:47 a.m.

To all the lurkers, I say hello, and thanks for reading along!  I know this thread is getting kind of repetitive since very little work is being done to the car, but I'll take that over me breaking more things.

Josh- I acknowledged you're always a threat to win, which is about as much attention as I devoted to my own driving at the event.  At this point all the other/better drivers are more interesting to read and write about than my own driving.  And, not that it needs to be said again, but I still believe you have the best and most well-rounded car in MR.  I was blown away by how good it felt when you let me co-drive at that event.

Trevor- Glad to see you're in here too!  Got any videos of your runs?  Refresh my memory, what mods are on that thing?  Yeah, you're really going to struggle when things get wet or loose with that setup, but it definitely has potential in the right circumstances.

Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter)
Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/24/21 1:58 p.m.

Unfortunately no vids. I had someone ride with me on one run, but her go-pro (chin mounted) was angled too low so it's mostly a video of the dash. Maybe one day i'll pick up a go-pro. 

the car:

2004 330i ZHP

catless headers & CF trunk (courtesy of the PO, not a fan of catless, i'll remedy it at some point)

3:38 rear diff from an auto 330i w/ an m-factory helical LSD

poly FCAB bushings, poly motor/trans/diff bushings

solid delrin subframe bushings (w/ subframe mounts reinforced)

spherical RTAB bushings (from a camry)

 

Most of those were replacing very worn factory components. While i was in there I put on fresh bilstein B6 (HD's) shocks/struts and factory sport springs. I spent a few months last summer un-doing the PO's crapy mods and covering all the basic BMW maintenance items (cooling, guibo, center support bearing, trim pieces, etc.). If I were to do it again i'd probably stick w/ rubber for most of the mounts & bushings, but it's intended to be a track/rallycross car so I thought i'd try it out. Next year I'll be adding some track days as well, so it's destined to remain a compromise for both. 

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
11/24/21 5:09 p.m.
Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter) said:

Unfortunately no vids. I had someone ride with me on one run, but her go-pro (chin mounted) was angled too low so it's mostly a video of the dash. Maybe one day i'll pick up a go-pro. 

the car:

2004 330i ZHP

catless headers & CF trunk (courtesy of the PO, not a fan of catless, i'll remedy it at some point)

3:38 rear diff from an auto 330i w/ an m-factory helical LSD

poly FCAB bushings, poly motor/trans/diff bushings

solid delrin subframe bushings (w/ subframe mounts reinforced)

spherical RTAB bushings (from a camry)

 

Most of those were replacing very worn factory components. While i was in there I put on fresh bilstein B6 (HD's) shocks/struts and factory sport springs. I spent a few months last summer un-doing the PO's crapy mods and covering all the basic BMW maintenance items (cooling, guibo, center support bearing, trim pieces, etc.). If I were to do it again i'd probably stick w/ rubber for most of the mounts & bushings, but it's intended to be a track/rallycross car so I thought i'd try it out. Next year I'll be adding some track days as well, so it's destined to remain a compromise for both. 

Yeah, I purposefully went with HD rubber engine and trans mounts.  There just didn't seem to be much to gain from going poly in those locations, and I'm glad I did.  I also have spherical RTAB bushings, but I just bought the BW ones.  How did you come up with Camry ones?

Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter)
Fupdiggity (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/26/21 5:57 p.m.

Yup, HD rubber is the way to go.

I stumbled upon a few writeups when researching different RTAB bushing options, I'm amazed what some people are able to figure out sometimes. It's basically a $25 camry sealed spherical, you hit it with a little sand paper to take the edge off, and it presses in pretty easy. The bolt diameter is an M14 (vs the stock M12), so I got some brass bushings to fill the gap, although you could just drill out the RTAB mounts & use a larger bolt.

here's the thread for reference:

http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showthread.php?21496-sealed-spherical-RTAB-from-a-camry-!

 

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
12/20/21 6:50 p.m.

So I did something unexpected a little while ago.  Normally I would spend months and months agonizing over every little thing, trying to decide if this or that was the right decision.  Do I really need this?  Should I get something else?  Is this the right one?  Do I need to sell that?  But I was browsing Autotrader one day, and stumbled across something that looked like a great deal, and I made the completely unnecessary decision to buy something that had been on my list of cars to own at some point.  Did I need it?  Nope.  Did I know what I was going to do with it?  Nope.  But I knew these cars and the market well enough to know it was a pretty good deal, so I made a rash decision and just bought it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you my newest (and also oldest) car...........












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A single-owner, garage kept, bone-stock, rust free (!) 1995 1.8L Miata!




Now, I know this will generate some speculation and questions, so let me try to head them off.

Q: Will this replace the M3 as your rallycross car?

A:  No, I think it's too nice for that.  And I've sunk way too much time and money into the M3 to just get rid of it.  Plus, it makes fun noises.

Q:  Are you sure?  I mean you did just get thoroughly destroyed by a few Miatas at Nationals.  You expect me to believe that had nothing to do with your purchase?

A:  I know how this looks.  But I've wanted a Miata for a long time, and they're only going up in value.  Before I make any sort of decision about replacing the M3, I want to get a feel for these things and see how much I like them.  This thing feels like a toy compared to the bank vault the M3 is.

Q:  So you are considering replacing the M3?

A:  Look, I'm not an idiot.  I know that a properly set-up Miata would probably be faster than the M3 in a lot of venues.  But I'm not sure I want to build a car just on the off chance Nationals are ever held East of the Mississippi again.  The M3 does fine at local events.

Q:  Fine.  So what are the plans for the thing?

A:  It's bone stock, and aside from some maintenance items needs pretty much nothing.  Both of my other cars are (way too) modified, I think it might be nice to just have a basic-ass car that needs nothing but gas and oil.  I'll probably just tidy things up and drive it.

Q:  Is that it?

A:  Get off my lawn.

bluej (Forum Supporter)
bluej (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
12/20/21 11:05 p.m.

Well then.. surprise

What's with the wheels? Are those hubcaps w/ fake 5 lugs??

 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/20/21 11:43 p.m.

wuut.

Also, sweet hubcaps :)

Also, very unexpected indeed. Thank goodness one of my friends finally has a sportscar that's slower than my Porsche lol :D

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
12/21/21 7:28 a.m.

Yeah, hubcaps with a fake bolt pattern.  I didn't even know these things came with steelies.  I guess they could be aftermarket, but that didn't really seem like the PO's style to change anything.

I have owned 5 cars in my life, and all have been 4 door sedans.  It was time to try a real sports cars instead of a '4DSC'.  Yes, with 128 HP it's hilariously slow.  But redlining every gear and barely going the speed limit certainly has its perks!  And it goes around corners like nothing I've driven before.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
12/21/21 7:42 a.m.

ugh I feel bad that I missed this!

Nice meeting you at Nationals.  Sorry I took 4th from you at the last minute but I was in a real hurry to get to the finish smiley

I took a bunch of pictures and then got fed up trying to edit video, so I forgot to do a writeup of my own.  Thanks for letting me re-live vicariously through yours!

Tires mean EVERYTHING.  And I had some really, really bad tires.  I did Saturday AM with Black Rocket BR33 gravels on the front and Black Rocket ice tires on the rear, which were hard as granite but had less grip.  Stupid.  Saturday PM I switched to my tried and true, carefully shepherded Dunlop mud tires on the rear, which were much better, but now the driver was too conservative after the bad experience in the morning on the junk ice tires.  Sunday I went back to my "normal" setup, the BR33s rotated to the back, and 185/60R15 Arctic Claw snow tires on the front, which seem to work as well as rally tires on the steer axle and do not have interference issues with my inner fenders in grippy or rough courses.  The next problem was that the driver kept forgetting where his corner-out points were.  The last run was a flier because I had two opportunities to see the course again, at lower speed with with no pressure and wiser eyes.

Yes it's a Ford 9" smiley 

moxnix
moxnix Dork
12/21/21 7:57 a.m.

With the steel wheels and the non power mirrors I would say that looks like a base model so it will not have the LSD.   Before you start to rallycross it I would see if you can find a stock 4.10 LSD for it.

I don't think mazda had any stock hubcaps that looked like that but I don't know their hubcap options real well.    If you are looking for any 16" NB wheels let me know because I have a few sets laying around that would be pretty cheap.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
12/21/21 8:24 a.m.

In reply to moxnix :

Miatas with steel wheels did not have hubcaps, they had center caps and chrome trim rings.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/21/21 9:39 a.m.
95maxrider said:

Yeah, hubcaps with a fake bolt pattern.  I didn't even know these things came with steelies.  I guess they could be aftermarket, but that didn't really seem like the PO's style to change anything.

I have owned 5 cars in my life, and all have been 4 door sedans.  It was time to try a real sports cars instead of a '4DSC'.  Yes, with 128 HP it's hilariously slow.  But redlining every gear and barely going the speed limit certainly has its perks!  And it goes around corners like nothing I've driven before.

Yep all those same reasons are why I love driving the 924S. It won't beat any minivans in a drag race but it's awesome in the twisty stuff.

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
12/21/21 10:23 a.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

ugh I feel bad that I missed this!

Nice meeting you at Nationals.  Sorry I took 4th from you at the last minute but I was in a real hurry to get to the finish smiley

I took a bunch of pictures and then got fed up trying to edit video, so I forgot to do a writeup of my own.  Thanks for letting me re-live vicariously through yours!

Tires mean EVERYTHING.  And I had some really, really bad tires.  I did Saturday AM with Black Rocket BR33 gravels on the front and Black Rocket ice tires on the rear, which were hard as granite but had less grip.  Stupid.  Saturday PM I switched to my tried and true, carefully shepherded Dunlop mud tires on the rear, which were much better, but now the driver was too conservative after the bad experience in the morning on the junk ice tires.  Sunday I went back to my "normal" setup, the BR33s rotated to the back, and 185/60R15 Arctic Claw snow tires on the front, which seem to work as well as rally tires on the steer axle and do not have interference issues with my inner fenders in grippy or rough courses.  The next problem was that the driver kept forgetting where his corner-out points were.  The last run was a flier because I had two opportunities to see the course again, at lower speed with with no pressure and wiser eyes.

Yes it's a Ford 9" smiley 

Hey man you deserved it, you drove the piss out of that thing on your last run!  I'm glad you enjoyed the write-up, I figured the event/our class deserved some documentation.

Yeah tires were much more important there than they are for our local events.  Hard packed clay seems to be much more agnostic when it comes to tire selection.  It sounds like my Maxsports were probably a better match than your tires for the conditions, but they certainly didn't have any sharp tread blocks left.

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
12/21/21 10:28 a.m.
moxnix said:

With the steel wheels and the non power mirrors I would say that looks like a base model so it will not have the LSD.   Before you start to rallycross it I would see if you can find a stock 4.10 LSD for it.

I don't think mazda had any stock hubcaps that looked like that but I don't know their hubcap options real well.    If you are looking for any 16" NB wheels let me know because I have a few sets laying around that would be pretty cheap.

Yup, definitely a base model.  But it does have PS and AC!  These are definitely not original hub caps, that's for sure.  Do your 16" wheels have usable tires on them, or are they bare?  Ideally I would put some 94-97 14s on the car to keep it looking original.

No need for an LSD, I won't be racing this car.

moxnix
moxnix Dork
12/21/21 10:36 a.m.

Bare.  I would not trust any of the tires to do more than hold the car up.

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
12/21/21 10:44 a.m.
moxnix said:

Bare.  I would not trust any of the tires to do more than hold the car up.

Gotcha.  Got any steering racks lying around?  Mine is leaking and needs to be rebuilt.

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
1/21/22 4:04 p.m.

Long time no update, time for something small and stupid.  I can't do anything interesting since my I30 is squatting in the garage and won't leave until I decide to get it painted, so in the meantime I have to do what I can do the other cars while they sit in the frigid driveway.  So I decided it was time to modernize my stereo a bit in the M3 and install a new head unit that can do Bluetooth and USB sticks.   The current one was originally used in my I30 for a decade or so, and apparently was from 2006.  If I wanted to listen to music on my phone or music player I had to plug into the long aux cable that had to be run from behind the HU through a hole ahead of my shifter, like so:



Not very classy.

Not to mention the old HU didn't exactly match with the factory orange interior lights:



Thankfully the new one has infinitely adjustable colors, and one of the presets is close enough for now.



While I was in there I did a permanent mounting of the seat heater button.  The original location seen above didn't work for very long since it required me to trim too much material off the body of the switch, which apparently weakened/ruined it.  So the replacement switch couldn't be mounted in the same factory location and I decided to just drill a hole and be done with it.  I also removed all the unless other switches/lights/buttons from ahead of the shifter (alarm indicator, TC button, PS seat heater) and filled in the holes with blanks, which gives the center console a much cleaner look that I'm quite pleased with.



And I was pleasantly surprised with the sound from the new HU.  Like the old, it's got 4V pre-outs to the amps, but there's a lot more adjustability in tuning it, and the bass boost button actually does a pretty decent job without muddying things up too bad.  Hooray!

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/21/22 7:35 p.m.

That's all well and nice, but what I really think you need is a really solid box with quad 15's (big/heavy magnets) and several really heavy amps. Also all 0 gauge wiring. Seems the obvious choice ;)

 

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
1/21/22 9:22 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

That's all well and nice, but what I really think you need is a really solid box with quad 15's (big/heavy magnets) and several really heavy amps. Also all 0 gauge wiring. Seems the obvious choice ;)

 

What do you think this is in preparation for?? wink

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
4/26/22 11:27 a.m.

There's nothing like an upcoming race to push me to post up a review of the previous race!  But before a review of the first race of the season, I should probably go over the things I did to get the car ready for the season.

We left off with me discovering one of my rear shocks was blown, and the other was leaking a lot of fluid.  Time was running out before the race so I ordered and installed a set of Bilstein B6 rear shocks for a 328, since only the shortened B8s are available for the M3.  I decided to install some larger OEM bumpstops and new rubber bushings for the Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts.



While I had things apart I also installed new upper and lower springs pads since mine were chewed up.  I replaced my 5mm pads with 10mm pads to raise up the rear of the car just a bit.  I also wanted to see if I could adjust my rear spring perches, but after soaking in Evaporust for a few days, then many days of PB Blaster, they still wouldn't budge, so I gave up.



Same story in the front.  I bought a few different coilover wrenches and was able to get the lower perch loose, but no amount of penetrating oil and whacking with a big hammer could loosen the top perch.  Damn galvanic corrosion!



No matter.  Taking the advise of my buddy Chris, I decided it might be wise to service my front struts while I was installing the new springs.  Turns out this was a good idea, since they had a good amount of water and dirt in them.



I then had to get creative with the edging from a poster to scrape out all of the old grease from the housing.  This one wasn't so bad, the other one was much dirtier.



With new grease smeared all over the place, I reassembled with the new 300 lb springs, replacing the old 250 lb springs.  Big thanks to Chris for walking me through the process!

Then it was on to the diff.  I have been running a stock 3.15 LSD since last fall when my 3.38 started to fail, but I got it rebuilt locally by Mark at Danville Diffs with new bearings, seals, and 3 clutch packs.  I took the opportunity to upgrade the diff cover to the HD Dorman unit.  It certainly looks quite a bit beefier than the stock piece.



Keep in mind this reassembly is all happening the day before the first race.  By the time I had it all ready it was 6 PM and I went for a test drive.  Unfortunately, I was greeted by the awful sounds of my 3.38 diff whining and crunching.  Apparently my bearings weren't bad, but the ring and pinion sure were!  I was in no mood to reinstall the old 3.15, so I said f*ck it, I'm gonna send it as-is and hope it makes it through the race.  It whined so loud that I had to drive to and from the race with headphones on....

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
4/26/22 5:49 p.m.

Alright, so on to a late review of the first event of the season.  It seems like we got booted from Summit Point, so all events for 2022 are going to be at Panthera.  In some ways this is good, as PTC is much more fun than SP, but it's also two hours away instead of one, so it makes for a longer day.  Plus, if/when things break you're much farther from civilization.  And as someone who actually drives their car to events, this can present challenges.....

So with my super annoying diff whining and grumbling the whole way there (which of course gets louder the faster you go, and I'm doing 80 for most of the drive) my headphones came in handy and saved me from going insane.  While installing tires at the venue I decided to inspect the diff real quick and noticed it was leaking some fluid from both the DS axle seal and the front seal.  WTF?  It never leaked before, and now it's leaking after being fully rebuilt??  Fantastic.  I hoped the leaks would be slow, as I didn't bring any extra fluid.

The day starts out well with Eric taking a commanding lead on the first run, with me in second.  That's pretty much how things stayed all morning until my last AM run when I made a mistake that cost me dearly.  I hadn't been pleased at how slowly I was taking the first corner, so I tried to go a little faster.  This was stupid, and led me to go wide, then lock up the brakes as I was facing a wall with 4 cones, which was right in front of a mud pit.  Rather than take the 8 second penalty and deal with the mud, I made the (foolish?) decision to back up and go around the cone wall.  That's how allergic I am to hitting cones.  In the end, the run was 7 seconds slower than it should have been, so maybe it wasn't the worst idea in the world.  Eric dominated the morning, laying down the fastest time on five of the six (or was it seven?) runs.  My mistake dropped me down into 4th, with Stephen and Josh now ahead of me.  I got faster in the afternoon, laying down four fast runs and got myself back into second.  But then I started getting slower.  My diff got even louder, and I don't know if that got in my head and made me slow down, or if something else was going on, but I was slipping and my lead over Stephen was getting smaller.  In the end I just barely held onto 2nd, some 7 seconds back from Eric in first.  I was just happy it was over and my car was still in one piece.  I also noticed at some point that there was a new noise coming from the engine bay, like a pulley was going bad or something, but I ignored it.
 



Oh, and Tyler Powers @overheatingslacker got some pics of me in action!







I popped my headphones in for the drive home and hoped I still had enough fluid in my diff.  It had been leaking all day, but it was impossible to know how much since I didn't have the special 14mm hex tool to open the fill plug.  About halfway home my battery light started to flicker intermittently.  The more I drove, the more it stayed on, and I could see my system voltage was dropping down into the 12s on my gauge.  But it would recover and stay around 14, then drop back down.  I turned everything off in the car that I could, and hoped I could limp it home.  I was torn between trying to drive faster to keep the revs up to help the alternator change, and going slow for the sake of the diff.  In the end I made it home, frazzled and exhausted.  I should also mention that the day before the race I checked the battery in the car and it had almost gone flat, so I trickle charged it back up.  But when I unplugged the charger, I could hear an strange whine coming from the battery.  With the battery being 4 years old, I figured I would replace it as a preventative measure.  It's possible the battery was so bad it was messing with the alternator, but I didn't want to take any chances so I ordered a new alternator to go with the new battery.

While I was waiting for parts to arrive I decided I would do the "Big 3" wiring upgrade.  Well, really "Big 2" since the battery is in the trunk and I'm not running a new wire all the way back there from the alternator.  I pulled the engine->chassis ground and the battery->chassis ground and got to work with some 1/0 wire I had lying around.  If I had to guess, I would say that the factory wiring was either 4 or 6 gauge.  I got curious to see what it looked like so I cut it open and was unpleasantly surprised to see all the wires coated in something dark:



Yeah, there's no way current was moving along those wires the way it should.  It didn't look like normal corrosion to me, does anyone know what this is?  This was from the engine/chassis cable, which is near the exhaust manifolds.  Could it be heat damage?  To be safe, I ordered some spark plug wire insulation stuff to try and protect my new cable.  I got busy with my super crimper and made my new cables.



I then started working on replacing the alternator, and discovered the one in the car sounded like a bags of rocks when I spun the shaft, so I'm guessing it was the culprit for the noise I was hearing at the race.  Unfortunately the reman unit I got had messed up threads on the shaft, so I'm waiting on a replacement to arrive.

I got around to replacing the air vent in the trunk, which has been letting copious amounts of water and dust into the trunk.  The replacement is looking much more promising!



And with that, I'm finally caught up!  My 3.38 diff is trash, so Mark located a 3.23 and is getting it ready for me.  It should get here by the weekend, so I'll slap it in and cross my finger that this one doesn't suck.

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