Sunday, January 28, 2018

Coronet Prep for Race #2

It seems like we spent a whole year getting the car ready for our first race.  This time around, we've only spent about 2 or 3 total days getting the car ready.  Our final prep day was this Saturday and we're all extremely excited to get this race going!
The Coronet awaits it's turn on the alignment rack.

Step 1 was getting the car to our local Firestone for a fresh alignment, to make sure all the wheels are pointed in the right directions.  We didn't see any other racecars there. Weird.
All five fuel jugs are now modified for extremely quick filling.

Step 2 was updating the remainder of the fuel cans to shave about one minute per 5 gallon can of filling.  This is going to shave our pit stop time WAY down. I'm very happy with my modifications here.
Landon turns the smooth opening on the water pump into a threaded opening so we can plug it with a bolt. 

Step 3 was to improve our engine cooling.  John did an awesome job fixing up the radiator, so the car is staying cool while at speed, but when running slower or at idle, the temperatures were creeping up leading us to suspect that the water pump wasn't keeping up.

New water pump in place, you can see the bolt just to the left of the rubber hose. A corresponding plug bolt (gold colored) can be seen partially threaded into the intake manifold, just below the fuel filter.  Previously a blue hose connected the two.
We replaced the one that came with the car with a heavy duty pump.  To improve things further, the team threaded one of the not-needed outlets of the pump and inserted a bolt to block off that port.  This should force extra water pressure through the radiator, and increase cooling. In addition, we added some extra ducting and taped off a few areas to improve air flow.
John helps feed the copper piping through the firewall so Jason can connect it to the gauge while Landon finishes up the water pump.

The day wrapped up with replacing the old, brittle plastic oil pressure gauge line with a new copper line.  This will prevent the possibility of the plastic line cracking during the race and pumping oil out onto the track.

Follow our progress through the race at our Facebook page.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Roebling Road in January

90mph, pedal to the metal, turning right into the sun. Weeee!

It took all week, but the car finally came together Friday afternoon, just in time to get down to Savannah, GA for a weekend with NASA. In the last week, the car has been upgraded with a coil-over spring kit, slightly lowered, fresh brakes installed, a new air intake swapped in, and my full suite of safety gear is installed inside the car.

Roebling Road is a deceptively simple, 9 turn track that's just over 2 miles long.  I was there back at the end of 2016 with SCCA and remember being frustrated with how difficult it was to carry lots of speed through the almost constantly sweeping turns.  Thanks to some generous gift certificates for Christmas, I knew I wanted to take another shot at pushing the Miata around this challenging circuit before the next Lemons race.
Left to right: Kyle's 01 Miata #85, Ian's NA Miata #69, and NMS #86
Kyle, Ian, and I set up camp near start/finish and took turns running in different High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) events.  I started the weekend at level 2, which allows me to drive on track without an instructor but limits me to passing only on designated straights.  Ian is in level 3, which adds the option to pass anywhere on track as long as you point the passing car to the side you want them to pass.  Kyle bumped up to a certified instructor this weekend and was having fun in the top level 4, which allows open passing anywhere on track and point-bys are not required.
Had some down time waiting in grid.

At the end of the weekend I got signed off to bump up to level 3, so I'll enjoy more flexibility to get around slower cars when we all head to Road Atlanta in March. NASA's HPDE structure is a great system and really helps get drivers comfortable with driving on track and provides a great ladder toward more competitive track driving or racing.
New seats and harnesses installed.
Although not fully required, I wanted to bump up my level of safety on track as I start to push harder. The car now meets most of the key safety requirements for all major road racing sanctioning bodies.
Not the best GPS on the phone, but the Track Addict app has me down for a hot lap of 1:30.4, averaging 92mph over the 2 mile track.

Although I know the car will go faster, I was finally able to start convincing my right foot to keep pushing down the gas pedal even when it feels like the car will fly off the track at any moment and push through some of the fear. The toughest part of Roebling for me was the very tricky Turn 9, the last turn before the front straight. Carrying over 90mph through a corner and welding the gas pedal to the floor is a pretty amazing experience.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Salute to Dan Gurney

The NMS team would like to salute one of the pioneers of American racing who unfortunately passed away last week, Dan Gurney. If you're not familiar with him, we suggest you do some on line research, because we can't do justice to the many things that he achieved during his lifetime. More than the accomplishments, I think Dan was influential because he did things his own way, and not only won races, but make a mark on the sport both in and out of the cockpit. 

Just a short list of Dan Gurney's highlights would include:

-wins in Formula 1, NASCAR, LeMans, sports cars
-winning Formula 1 races in his own team's car that he helped design
-Dan Gurney started the tradition of spraying champagne on the podium after a race
-He invented various designs that are found on race cars today, such as the Gurney Flap
-His post racing career included technological designs used on the Space X program today
-the first driver to wear a helmet (Bell brand) in F1
-the first driver to win a Formula 1 race in a Porsche factory team car

You can find a lot of info at his All American Racers website: All American Racers

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter Upgrades

Happy New Year from South Carolina! This year the Miata will jump out of stock class with an eye toward more track driving. This long weekend I'm getting a jump on the safety equipment, suspension, and possibly some power upgrades. 
Taking advantage of the sunny day, the seat install stayed outside.

Saturday I got to work fabricating mounts for the new seats.  A few weekends ago, Jason helped me figure out exactly how to custom fabricate mounts for the seats so that this weekend I could get right to work. Both seats are now positioned and I also managed to determine the mounting locations and hardware needed for the new six-point harnesses. Nothing like drilling holes in your car!
Starting with 3" flat stock, I bent it to fit the Miata and drilled holes to mount to the car and the seat to the bracket.

A few pieces of specialty hardware are needed, so the seat and harness project will hit the pause button for a few days while I place some orders online. Once the new seats and harnesses are in, I'll have a much safer seat setup than what came stock. Hopefully this project will wrap up in a few days.
Two new seats in the car, still need harnesses, additional hardware, and fabric covers.

The temperatures continued to drop into Sunday morning, so I cleared out the garage and got the car inside and fired up the halogen lights.  The goal is to replace the 20 year old factory rubber suspension bushings with polyurethane and add lower, stiffer springs in time for the track time with NASA next weekend in Savannah. 
Those halogens really crank out the heat, which comes in handy in the winter!

Part-way into the suspension work, I've got the front passenger side fully disassembled and have started installing fresh ball joints.  Now Sunday night, I'll take a break and get back to it early Monday morning. If all goes well, I'm hoping the get all of the suspension work done Monday.
The workbench, littered with control arms in progress.

If time allows, I've got a brand new header ready to go in the car and I'll do a close evaluation of the brake system before going on the track, so new fluid and possibly fresh pads will be in order. 
Old ball joint on the left (20 year old factory original), brand new on the right. These lower ball joints easily bolt in. The uppers require all-new control arms with them built-in. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Hey Helmet Heroes!

Yeah, I'm talkin' to you, the I-love-to-design-racer-helmets-person! Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas of the Mercedes team wants to see YOUR designs for HIS helmet. If he likes yours, he'll race with it this year, and you're likely to win some very cool stuff for helping him out. In case you aren't familiar with the Finnish driver in the number 77 car (just like the NMS FIAT), Bottas finished (see what I did there, Finland, Finnish, Finished?) in 3rd in last year's championship, so given a few breaks that go his way, your design for his helmet could end up being worn by the 2018 WORLD CHAMPION!

Current world champion Lewis Hamilton has done this in the past, so maybe this helmet design idea makes the car go faster! For all the info on how to design Valtteri's helmet for 2018, (since you have to enter by January 12th), check out the link at the Mercedes website:      Helmet Design 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Indycar 2018 Schedule

While we're sitting here at NMS-North with about a foot of snow on the ground outside, let's just take a minute to look ahead to later in 2018, when the Earth warms up and the race cars come out! Specifically, here's to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule which was just released this week!

You can read all about the entire series and all things IndyCar at the official website: INDYCAR

March 11          Streets of St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia!)  ABC
April 7               ISM Raceway, Phoenix
April 15            Streets of Long Beach (California, not New York!)
April 22            Barber Motorsports Park
May 12             Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 19             Indy 500 Qualifying Day 1
May 20             Indy 500 Qualifying Day 2
May 27             Indy 500 Race
June 2              The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (Detroit) Race 1
June 3              The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (Detroit) Race 2
June 9              Texas Motor Speedway
June 24             Road America
July 8               Iowa Speedway
July 15             Streets of Toronto
July 29             Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
August 19        Pocono Raceway
August 25        Gateway Motorsports Park
September 2     Portland International Speedway
September 16   Sonoma Raceway

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Comrades! Team Coronautski's New Year!

Coronautski Drivers

Interest in the Team Coronautski Dodge Coronet continues into 2018, as the Roadkill website has included the purple monster in their list of Greatest New Lemons Cars of 2017! While the article incorrectly states that the car has a new motor and a ton of Bondo, the truth is that this car is still getting around with its original engine, and plenty of rusty holes that are somewhat camouflaged by the awesome purple paint job.  Top Lemons of 2017

Maybe it doesn't roll off the tongue, but the name of Team Coronautski cracks me up since it's a Russian-ized version of the Dodge Coronet name, and of course just having a funny name isn't enough for these guys, since they've added more goofy Russian-ized graphics and logos like their names (above) and changed the Dodge Super Bee logo from the 70s into a Russian KGB "Super KGB" (below.)

Wait, that's no normal Super Bee!

My other favorite part of the car paint/graphic design is their fake "sponsor logos" like you see next, which is only funnier if you're familiar with real race cars with tons of decals, much less the brands of Edelbrock, Monroe, and GoPro and etc. 
Sponsors? Sure, they've got sponsors!

More importantly, Team Coronautski will return to the Lemons racing circuit in two months, when they take on another weekend of racing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on February 3rd and 4th.  Lemons at Barber

Team Coronautski