Wednesday, July 28, 2021

I've Got A Hole In My Head

Hole in the head, lower right corner

Right about now, especially if you know me, you're probably thinking "Yeah right you've got a hole in your head!" Maybe I should specify that I "had" a hole in my helmet. "Well of course you have a hole in your helmet dude, that's how you put it ON!" Look smarty-pants blog reader, I KNOW about the hole to put on your helmet, I'm talking about this other one...never mind. 

Don't you just love these kinds of conversations with your friends, family, co-workers when you can just make fun of each other and laugh at their expense? I do! In this case, I upgraded my current helmet with the anchors for the head-neck restraint from my old helmet. This is very easy to do, as long as your helmet is pre-rigged with the screw in hole and you have the right hardware. That makes this post World's Easiest Helmet Upgrade!

I'm preparing for a weekend at Watkins Glen with the Porsche Club of America (a great organization, you can quote me on that), and while I don't have a real race car with a cage and a full blown driver harness and fancy racing seat, I'm taking my head/neck restraint on this trip just in case I ride along with my instructor or someone that does have a safety harness, just for that little thing we all call "safety." It's a big deal! So, on to this simple procedure, from old black helmet to new white helmet. 

1-Pry off the white hole cover, lower right

2-Place the base over the pre-threaded hole

3-Insert bolt

4-Insert screw in Allen head bolt

5-Tighten with #4 Allen wrench, say a bazillion Torque Foot-Pounds or so. 
OK, I exaggerated. Only a thousand Foot-Pounds should do it. 

Ready for Head and Neck Restraint
(Oh, and remember to do the other side too!)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Track You've Never Heard About: Transportation Research Center Inc.

The world of cars is big business, and big business means big money. With that in mind, I can understand that the long time automotive centers of the galaxy in Detroit, Germany, England, Italy, Japan, etc. are all well known. Racing wise, another set of names is equally as famous, and includes places like Indianapolis, Bonneville Salt Flats, Daytona, the Nurburgring in Germany, Monaco, and LeMans France. Beyond all of those well known car spots are some other important locations; the test tracks where many famous automobiles are developed. 

The Ferrari company has it's own test track right next to their factory, and most major manufacturers likely have their own also. Heck, there are other test tracks that NMS has driven for autocross events too, since they are available for rent, like the Michelin Proving Grounds in South Carolina, and the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (oddly enough in North Carolina, go figure!)

A few years ago when I was applying for all kids of post-military dream jobs, one was as a long term test driver with a certain automotive company in Detroit Michigan. It seems they needed people that could drive cars (YES, I can do that!) and re-fuel them (AGAIN, YES, I can do that) and basically drive cars on their test track for 8 hours a day (Oh YES I can do that too!) However they never offered me a job, so I can only continue to dream about some day getting paid to driver. Right about here the words "don't quit your day job" always come to mind.   

Anyways, one such test track I'd never heard about surprised me because it's in my home state of Ohio. Now, I haven't lived there in a long time, so I guess things change, and there's always more to learn! Not super far from the Honda manufacturing plant near Marysville Ohio is the Transportation Research Center of Ohio. Again, oddly enough this is located in Ohio!. TRCPG

Shoot, instead of me describing this place, here's how they describe themselves:

    "What does it take to be the largest independent vehicle testing facility and proving                 grounds in the U.S.? Hardworking industry experts; a well-developed infrastructure              with an extensive variety of road surfaces; on-site development of leading-edge and              emerging technologies; 30-plus years of engineering expertise and industry knowledge;        a long time partnership with a major research university; strong global connections and        an eye constantly focused on the client’s needs.

    It also takes a secure location – operating 24/7 – with approximately 4,500 acres of road      courses, wooded trails, a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) High-speed Oval Test Track, 50-acre (20-          hectare) Vehicle Dynamics Area, or “black lake,” and the right mix of testing areas and        facilities to make the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) in East Liberty, Ohio,        the best place to test and validate nearly any vehicle imaginable, any time of year."

I don't know about you, but a place with a 7.5 mile track and a 50 acre paved testing area sounds like car heaven to me!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Rare Air: Air Cooled Porsches at the Saratoga Automobile Museum

Over the 4th of July weekend we headed north in the mighty Toyota Camry, and visited the Saratoga Springs Automobile Museum. Here's a look at a special exhibit of air cooled Porsches, all owned by one collector, Steve Harris. These 16 cars cover the Porsche spectrum and made the trip well worth the time! With some nice 911 models, and even earlier 356 models, you can see that they all share a similar rear-mounted air cooled engine. The exhibit continues for several months, and you can read all about it at the museum website: SARATOGA AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM LINK

Sunday, July 11, 2021

NMS Fleet Now Goes All the Way to Z

This week I got to help Alicia buy a car she has wanted a long time, but until now hasn't been possible. After searching for several months, we finally found her very own Nissan 350z! We're looking forward to building it and taking it to autocross and track events together. 

We narrowed down the search to the last two years of the 350z (2003-2008), which have the more robust 3.5l engine and make about 20 more horsepower than the earlier 3.5l engines. We also wanted a manual transmission for better longevity with track or autocross use. Since this isn't going to be another Lemons car, it needed to be in pretty good condition inside and out...oh and still fit in the budget! 

The winner came to us from its previous owner in Greenville, SC. It previously lived primarily in Georgia, so its free from that pesky northern rust. Its a 2008, Touring trim, with only 105,000 miles. Our friend, Nick at ProAuto in Columbia helped me give the car a full inspection on the lift and us enough confidence to buy it. Its not free from issues, but considering its age and mileage (and price) its pretty good! Unlike many of the cars we looked at it still has a clean title too! 

The next step is helping Alicia practice with her manual transmission and get a bit more comfortable. We may find an autocross or track event in the fall when South Carolina cools off. No modifications other than new tires and a 100k mile tune-up are planned. It debuted at Columbia Cars and Coffee this Saturday and I'm really enjoying driving her around in it while I can. 

July Autocross Report

How do you like the new number panel?

The date of July 11th sounds like a normal day, but when you write it as 7-11 it takes on a different flavor, like an ice cold Slurpee from your favorite convenience store! Anyway, July 11th was the latest Metro NY Region autocross, and after competing a few years in autocross in hot locations like South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, guess how the weather was in New York? Yes, it was cloudy and mid 70s! Awesome for a summer day spent out on the asphalt, that's for sure! Enough about the weather, let's cut to the chase and see how we did. 

Lots of cones!

The NMS #77 Cayman finished as 7th fastest Porsche on PAX time, so I'm happy to be staying in the top 10 for the year. The final event isn't until November, but so far we're right on target in 6th overall. We had a smaller turnout today, only 15 Porsches, and 21 other brands. On a positive note, with fewer drivers we had time for more driving, as in 6 runs in the morning and 7 more in the afternoon. 13 runs is a great number, so I feel pretty happy. Oh, I wish I'd gone faster, and hit fewer cones, and I wish I didn't go too fast right at the finish line and have to stop to avoid missing a cone too. But, it's all good experience, and with nice weather it was a fun day. 

FIAT Abarth 124 Spider

Here's a video of my fastest run, which was also good enough for 1st in my small class of only 2 cars. The video is still shaky even though I was using a new phone mount on the dash of the car, but you should be able to get the general feel for the layout of the course and see a variety of turns and speeds. 

That's the highlights, without breaking it down on how each of my 13 runs went, how many bottles of water I drank, or how each of the 13 runs I broke down into 5 sector times, and other fun stats like top speed, how long each run I was coasting or on the brakes. Dang, that sounds like another blog post in the future!

1st Place out of 2 in my class

Saturday, July 10, 2021

World's Easiest Car Repair, With Bonus German Language Content!

 I like trying to have fun with the blog here, because as they say in a certain world famous marching band "If you're not having fun it's your own dang fault!" Yes, they really say that. At least I did when I was there! 

The fun part comes in with a new-to-me German word (most of them are new to me) "Radzierdeckel" or wheel center cap. The set of 17 inch wheels for my German auto (that was built in Finland of course) was missing one of the four center wheel caps, so I bit the bullet and spent money to get a gen-you-wine Porsche one to complete the set. Here's the new one below. If you look closely, you will see two very small holes in the dark bands of the crest. They make it easier to remove the center cap once it is installed: 


Now for the "world's easiest car repair" part, let's look at the car and figure out where this new part might fit: 


I'm guessing in that empty circular round opening in the middle of this wheel above. Let's see if we can perform this "repair" and make the new part fit. Here's a list of tools needed: 

(nothing, nada, doo-doo, zippo, empty set, zero)

See, wasn't that fun! A list of tools that is NOT a list of tools, because you don't need any tools! Oh I bet you're laughing now. Here's the view of the center cap being inserted, you can see the prongs on the back that pop this disc of goodness right into place. No glue, no string, no bolts, no  welding needed!


Whew, that was a lot of work! If I was a trained technician I'd probably have to look in the service book to see how many hours of labor to charge for that one. Since we're on the Internet, I'm going to say this one's on me, no charge! Here's the finished project!


Hey, let's get crazy here, and zoom in and check it out! Much better and improved over NOT having a center wheel cap...I mean, Radzeirdeckel!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Saratoga Automotive Museum

Saratoga Automobile Museum, Saratoga NY

Over the 4th of July weekend we headed north to visit the Saratoga Automotive Museum. First of all, it's a museum. Secondly, it's a museum in Saratoga. Also, they have automobiles on exhibit in the museum in Saratoga, and here's a look at some of them! The museum is housed in what was the Bottling Plant for the mineral water for the Saratoga Spa. The theme of one exhibit was cars and auto racing in NY titled East of Detroit. Later this week I'll  feature the cars from one collector in another special exhibit that is now open. 

Helmet below is from Mario Andretti. If you don't know who he is...ah just kidding, everyone knows Mario! His advice to racecar drivers remains true: "If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough!"

Racecar from #43 Richard Petty

Another racecar! Surprise!

1979 McLaren M24B Indy Car, Ford/McLaren engine

1974 McLaren M16 Indy Car, David Hobbs driver. I got to meet David a few years ago at an auto event at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia, so I can recommend his book. This particular car with Hobbs at the wheel placed 5th at Indy in 74, and competed for 5 years in Indy Car racing!

2009-2011 Lola B09/86 #16. With a 500 horsepower Mazda 4 cylinder, this car won four races and 2 championships in the American Lemans Series. 

1935 Maserati V8RI Racer. This car raced in Grand Prix events in Europe in 1935, the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway (Long Island) in the US in 36-37, and at the Indy 500 38-39, and at Watkins Glen International in NY from 1948-1955. It won the Pau Grand Prix in France in 1936. 

1950 Allard J2. 

1936 Ford Phaeton. If you zoom in on those hubcaps you can see the V8 logo. 

The next two photos are of the 1928 Franklin Airman Series 12 Sport Sedan that was owned by Charles Lindbergh. I've only seen a few Franklins, but they were doing a pretty good business, with their cars built in Syracuse NY. The Franklins were air cooled, and they donated this car to Lindbergh. In 1933 Lindbergh heard that Henry Ford was looking for a Franklin for his museum in Detroit, and Lindbergh donated this car.