Thursday, August 31, 2017

National Drive Electric Week September 9-17

Nissan Leaf, top selling electric in the US

National Drive Electric Week has been around for several years now, so this year's version is taking place 9-17 September. Now, if you're very observant, or even if you aren't, you'll notice right off that 9-17 days is a bit more than a full official 7 day week. Good for  you! I don't have any idea why either, but it does manage to cover two full weekends that way, so let's go with a 9 day week from now on! Of course, I'd vote on working 5 days like a normal week now, and then we'd ALL GET A FOUR DAY WEEKEND EVERY WEEK! Write your Senators and Congressional Representatives NOW!
Brian drives the BMW i3, our favorite electric

Back on topic, you can go to the website and find an event near YOU at this link: DRIVE ELECTRIC
Mitsubishi electric

NMS-North is planning to attend the event in Richmond Virginia on September 9th, since we'll be down in South Carolina at the Lemons Race on the 17th when there is an event back home at Virginia Beach. Whether or not electric vehicles will replace gas, or if hydrogen fuel cells will catch on, or if we'll all be driving fusion powered Deloreans, who knows? We attended and blogged about a Drive Electric Week event way back in 2014  READ IT and had fun checking out the technology, looking at the recharging stations and test driving cars like the BMW i3 and Chevy Volt, so we highly recommend you find an event near you and check it out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why Walking Helps Your Driving

You probably don't really have to walk to be a good driver, but it helps. For driving on a track or an autocross course, it helps to know the layout before you drive it, so put on your walking shoes and take a hike. Even the professional drivers in Formula 1 do a track walk before their race weekends, and even if they already know the track, they walk it to look for where to place the car, where to park if they break down, to inspect the road surface, etc. Even in autocross it's a good idea to have an escape plan just in case your brakes fail! I think our teacher taught us this in driver's education class long ago, that driving down a highway you should always be aware of not only what's ON the road, but what is OFF the road in case you are forced off the pavement to avoid an accident. Back in Ohio that usually meant which corn field would you drive into if suddenly the road was blocked, but luckily I never had to do that.

If that walking was too boring, here's my fastest run DRIVING this course:

I've seen various methods of walking the course, so I'd suggest you do it by yourself or with an experienced driver. Most clubs will offer a Novice course walk, and if you're new to autocross this is a great way to hear from the club's expert on how to drive the course. On the video above, I just held the camera in front of me and walked it in an amazingly slow 8 minutes, which turned into about 42 seconds during the event. You'll hear a few conversations of other drivers as they walk past the camera, and since this figure 8 course runs part of the course in both directions, there are people walking both ways all over the place. It might look confusing if all you see are a bunch of cones all over the place, but once you walk it or drive in an autocross event, it's a lot easier.

So what NOT to do on your course walk is to go with a friend and just start talking and telling stories about great pizza or your latest modification to your car. The course walk should enable you to learn the course, and then start figuring out the fastest way to drive it.

Some clubs will provide a map of the course also, so that might be helpful if you're worried about getting lost. We had a map of this course posted on line the day before the event, so that's a little helpful to get the general layout in your head, but it is way more helpful to walk it in person the day of the event. Sometimes I've walked a course and found a spot that wasn't clear which way to go, so if that happens, I just ask someone from the club that knows. Most of the time there will then be some extra pointer cones or chalk marking on the course to clarify. The one exception to there only being one correct way on course is when a slalom of cones in a straight row is "optional", meaning you can start on the left OR the right of the first slalom cone, and then as long as you alternate thru the rest of them you're OK. I like the optional slaloms, because you can look at the entry and exit of the entire sequence and figure out which way is faster. If' it's a toss-up, then drive it both ways in competition and see how it goes!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Final August Coronet Update

The month of August is quickly coming to a close and so is the to-do list for the Coronet. After this weekend's progress the team takes a weekend off to relax and then we'll pick back up with final car prep and pit stop practice the weekend before the race.

Thanks to the last team, we have some killer graphics that we've tweaked for the new purple theme. 

Putting some Sharpie skills to work, we finally labeled the kill switch so there's no confusion about how to quickly cut power to the whole car in an emergency.
Kill switch, safely set in the OFF position.

At the same time we decided the acrylic panel we cut to fill the hole in the trunk was way too brittle and we sourced some scrap aluminum to rivet in using my previous template.
Free scrounged scrap aluminum from an old BBQ cooker!

With the panel in, we're hoping any air in the cockpit will now be ducted over the trunk lid and help overall aerodynamic performance of the car.
Next time you see it, we'll have it covered in stickers!

We all took turns sitting in the driver seat to determine exactly what positions we will need it in for the race.  We all agreed on two positions for the seat and that in both, the shifter knob was just a little too far away.
Shifter now just a fist-width from the steering wheel for quick shifts.

A few minutes with a vice and a blow torch easily put another bend in the shifter rod to bend it to where it now sits just a few inches from the steering wheel and a little closer to the driver to put it right in reach of everyone.
Luke tests the setup with the belts, HANS, and helmet.

New pit crew member, Rob, was on hand to get familiar with the car and team and lead the effort to get a new head light bulb on the driver side, made short work of thoroughly cleaning out the interior which had gotten pretty bad after all the fabrication work, and generally helped out on all our projects today.
Fueling with friends. Special appearance by the NMS Miata.

The car made a street-legal trip down to the gas station for a quick fill up and another test of the new fuel jugs.   Unfortunately we found that the car was still pulling hard to the left, which we now suspect is down to a caster adjustment.  The other bad news hit when we test fit the new used wheels we bought.  Only one of the four actually matched the bolt pattern on the car.  Total bummer.  We'll look to sell those off by advertising the correct bolt pattern and probably pick up a different set of backup wheels in the next two weeks.

Onward and upward!  We're 98% there!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mid-Week Coronet Progress

Keeping the fast-paced progress on the car, John and I got back to it after work tonight.
The small knob to adjust the mirror mounted to the switch panel, right in reach of the driver's right hand.

I started off by rigging up some high-quality zip tie engineering for the passenger side mirror adjuster.  Kyle found us some really cool, rare (now) side mirrors with manual adjusters so we can more easily adjust our view from the driver seat.
Scales set up for the Coronet at CEC Racing.

Up next we spent some time making some minor adjustments to the suspension to balance out the weight balance in the car. We're far from perfectly balanced, but for a budget race car that's over 40 years old it's pretty decent.
Setting up the alignment.

We wrapped up with some more alignment work.  By using string wrapped around all four wheels, we can measure small differences and make adjustments.  Last time we tried to adjust the alignment it was at the dimly lit racetrack at night, so we're expecting this new setup to hold together a little better for the race.

This weekend we finish the checklist and fine tune some of our setup from tonight.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August Autocross Report Volume II

Paul Knowles finishes another run in the Porsche Cayman

The day before the big eclipse, it was a hot day at Pungo for the August TSCC autocross. My favorite part of autocross is hanging out with friends, car people, and trying to drive faster. For this event, my friend Richard Viglucci came out to watch some autocross and ride along in the FIAT. We've done a little work on his 2010 Camaro in the past, so as you can see he has great taste in RED CARS that pretty much match the RED FIAT! 

Richard Viglucci, 2010 Camaro

A nice cool total eclipse of the sun in Virginia would have been nice while out in the sun Sunday, but I guess you can't have everything you want in life. It also would have been nice if my GoPro camera started on Sunday so that I could share some video with you, but that didn't happen either. Our technical engineer back at NMS-North HQ has determined that the fault was due to what they call "Operator Error", "Lack of recharging", and a bunch of mumbo-jumbo like that, all pointed in my direction. Maybe I should read the owner's manual. Or get a new engineer. 
TSCC President Brendan Long leads the driver's meeting

It goes without saying, but I'll have to say it again: MAN IT WAS HOT AT AUTOCROSS!

NMS and Richard at the Driver's Meeting Volume II

On a positive note, it was another fun day spent outdoors, with a few clouds but not enough! I am proud to again claim FASTEST ITALIAN again, and of course SLOWEST ITALIAN car of the day too!

Fastest British Car of the Day: Jaguar X Type

In the jam-packed H Street class, congrats to Jeff Yatsko for taking first, and Tony Mester for finishing 2nd in our class. The FIAT came home way behind these two guys in their Kia Forte, so way to go! Unlike most events with few HS drivers, we had 4 HS drivers in the regular class, and 7 more HS drivers in Novice class!

Factory Five 818: Built with Subaru power

My five runs were all fun, although I self-destructed on two of them by hitting a cone which cost me my fastest run of the day, and then on my final run my brain disengaged and I shifted in the wrong place to destroy my time. Despite feeling like I left plenty of time out on the course, I finished in 20th PAX overall out of the 69 drivers, so maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. That faster by 0.4 seconds run with the cone penalty would have been nice though! To show how competitive the times are, that 0.4 seconds would have bumped me up three places higher on Sunday overall. Of course every driver could say the same, so I won't cry too much about my own mistake in a coulda-woulda-shoulda.

Tony Mester ready for another run in the Kia Forte
Now that we've completed our August event, I need to get the NMS FIAT into at least one more TSCC event this year to meet the minimum 6 events required to compete for overall placing. So far it looks like September will work out OK, so right now I'm planning to be in South Carolina to see Brian in the Lemons race on the weekend of 16-17, with the next TSCC autocross on the 24th. Driving is fun! You can find out what else we're up to on our Driving Schedule page.

Most Italian Car of the Day!

As an extra safety message from my friend David Smallridge, be careful out in the sun, use sunscreen, wear a hat, and always be on the lookout for any odd changes in your skin that just might be cancerous. David shared his story of surgery recently to take care of a bit of melanoma, so I'm glad that he is doing great right now. He keeps getting faster in the BMW too.

Factory Five Roadster
You can check out more information on autocross at the club website and find all the event results: TSCC

To find some autocross action near you, go to the SCCA or NASA links on our website.

The Factory Five website is at: FACTORY FIVE

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lemons: 4 Weeks to Go!

With only 4 weekends left until the first Lemons race, Landon and I cranked away at a bunch of key items left on our task list.

THE Coronautski

The first one I tackled was building a panel to seal off the gaping hole where the back seats used to be. Step one was to make a cardboard template.
Trunk panel template in cardboard on top of the sheet of acrylic.

Up next I transferred the pattern to the sheet of acrylic that we original bought for the windshield before deciding it was too thin and the wrong material to be used safely. This should let all the air entering the cockpit to exit over the trunk lid and not get trapped in the car.

The acrylic cut out and placed in the car. 

My second project was to build a pit board.  We wired up our radio harness today so we can use headsets in our helmets to keep clear communication back to the team in paddock, but even F1 teams make sure to have a physical board they can write messages on to communicate to the drivers if the radios fail.  I kept this one simple and took an existing white board, attached it to a slightly larger thin piece of wood, cut out a handle and gave it some color to help grab a driver's attention.
The Team Coronautski pit board. 

Landon did a ton of work to adjust the custom clutch setup and got it working better than ever. After that he moved on to beefing up the driver seat's back support.  He added a number of holes so we can adjust distance to the wheel for different drivers.
Modified and upgraded seat brace brackets.

Another upgrade was welding up a few of the brackets to increase strength.  I hit everything with a fresh coat of paint and it's looking brand new. Next week when the paint dries we'll install everything.
Adding holes for adjustments on the seat brace. 

Next week Luke, John, Kyle and I will finish off our task list to have the car race-ready.  After that we'll all get back together the weekend before the race to do pit stop drills and pack the car into the trailer.
Driver view. The keen eye will spot a push to talk radio button now on the steering wheel.

Everything is really coming together!
Gotta love the purple!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Khedive Shriners Car Show

I'm not a professional photo guy, but this angled shot of a Cadillac Fleetwood fins and tail-lights turned out pretty cool! 'MERICA!

After changing the oil in the FIAT at home this morning in a lame attempt to beat the heat, we headed out for a local car show. A local Shriners group sponsors this every year, and there was a HUGE turn out. Since I don't know much about the Shriners other than seeing them in parades in their little cars and fezzes, I did some Google research and found out that they do a lot of good things for charities, and run hospitals for kids across the country. Good for them!
Car show trophies

Without going into all the details, which I don't know anyway, I'll just put some of the highlights here of cool cars we saw today. Mostly American classics, a few European cars, and just lots of car fans enjoying this free car show.

1970 Dodge Super Bee

1970 Dodge Super Bee

1970 Dodge Super Bee rear badge

Above, this 1970 Dodge Super Bee had some faded paint, but I'm guessing it started out as Plum Crazy. Brian and the Lemons Team have painted their Dodge Coronet a similar shade of purple, so I'm always interested in seeing how this color looks.

Next, some detailed looks at a cool Studebaker. These are cool because of course they don't make 'em anymore, so seeing the logo and badges is always a new experience for me.



Studebaker in the dial, taken thru the windows

Low rider blending into the grass!

Seen any Pacemakers lately?


Corvair rear engine

El Camino SS, Custom bed to fit huge rear tires

El Camino SS with flames
Auburn Boat Tail

Auburn Supercharged

Another Corvair

Spotted another Commando

Hot Rod crazy shifter

Friendly parking crew!

Another Super Bee, this one flying backwards

Nash, cool logo and hood ornament

1970 Jeepster Commando

1934 Plymouth

Plymouth hood ornament
More Plum Crazy Goodness Challenger style

Mustang On Fire
 Maybe my favorite because it was unique and original was this 60s (I think) Volvo.

Volvo 122 S