August 16, 2009

Renegade Miata's 5th Event & Thoughts

Long day at Autocross today. It was a great course with a lot of areas you can pick up a lot of speed on. I managed to score a 1'18.9 clean with the top time in the Other Mazdas class being 1'15. Not bad, though I could do some improvement on specific parts I suppose. I did however learn from Brian Lavesque. Big ups to him for teaching me proper tire pressure and that, surprisingly, I was running VERY high tire pressures.

I went over my pressures with him and he co-drove with me in the morning to test out some pressures. From 37 all around, we found out that 29 in the front and 32 - 33 in the rear was a much better setup. The car felt completely different, and bit very well into the turns with just the right rotation I needed for the rear. I'll be taking a different approach for now on for tire pressures and using them on the course.

Sadly, at the end of the event, not only did I have to deal with exhaust buzzing (which we've narrowed down to my header, and the buzzing is resonating throughout the midpipe) but I began to get a very loud, heatshield like rattle. I was getting it at idle a bit, and then at acceleration, the car sounds like the heatshield is under gun fire. It's very loud, terrible sounding, and I noticed out of no where a loss in power. It was the same feeling I've felt before when my catalytic converter had gotten clogged. I also pulled a check engine light for "catalytic converter below accepted performance threshold". Now I know I'm catless, so that CEL would come up at some point, but right when I start getting the rattling and then loss of power? I don't know.

At this point I'm in a bit of a slump. The rattling COULD be this here. Especially since I switched back to stock catback which is a much bigger exhaust, but it could be something totally different. And after finding out that pulling the screens from my intake is a bad idea (the screens apparently smooth the airflow over the maf), I'm not exactly running like I should be.

And this is the slump. What do I do? How should I do it? I've thought about replacing the intake with a Mazdaspeed version as I've read dyno charts that the Mazdaspeed offers better midrange and a bit more torque, where as the modified intake deal offers more horsepower. I could try and find a used intake as well, thats not an issue. I have a feeling I may get better response once I fix my intake. As for the exhaust, it's a completely different ball game.

I spoke with Bill of Small Fortune Racing and he suggested the use of heat wrap around my headers to potentially kill the buzz. The buzz could be due to thin walls of the header, or length of the runners, or both. The wrap may dull that out since it will be wrapped around the runners and added some "weight" to them essentially, sort of like a sound deadening material. If that doesn't work, I need to get a new header before the buzzing drives me nuts. Now as I've explained before, it's not a light buzz or something easily ignorable... It really sounds like a 2 stroke chain saw, and it's terrible. The midpipe is taking the buzz and due to the design (we're guessing, judging by what we saw and how it is made in there) it looks like it's being taken and amplified, while the rest of the noises are being dulled and silenced. As for the rattle, the slight power loss and check engine light? No idea. I suspect I'm going to do some sort of big change though to solve this problem, but in the meantime, I'm open to anyone's thoughts and comments on this.

Results on this event and results so far for the season are here. Looks like I moved from 2nd to 4th for the year. I guess I'll try and aim for 3rd, but no promises.

August 10, 2009

Reverse Engineering?

Wasn’t feeling so hot so I decided to take it easy today and take today off. Once I was up to par, I took a trip up to Josh’s house as I had a good idea about my exhaust. For now, so I can keep my new found power with this midpipe but stay quiet, I decided to swap back on a stock catback and keep the midpipe on. The results were excellent as the car is very quiet and I can actually hear my engine! We are still hearing a sort of buzzing so we are investigating what it could be. I believe it is the header, but we’re all not 100% yet. Until I get that solved and decide what I will be doing for my catback, I will be running with this setup for now. Big thanks to Josh for the help.Also decided to debadge the car since we were there. Not sure 100% how I am going to fill the holes, probably how I filled the holes on the rocker panels just with a smaller plug, but we’ll see for now. Check out the video below of the car sound now, you’ll notice how much more quiet it is, but you’ll hear that slight buzz.

August 9, 2009

SCCA Northeast Divisionals - Day 2

Ready to rock today! I realized I didn’t mention much about the course last night, but then again I don’t remember too much as my head was really everywhere but on the course. Today the course was setup going backwards, with a few turns changed. The beginning and middle sections of the course were VERY fast in which if I was a better driver, I know I could have easily hit 3rd if need be. At the end it was tricky, as it looked fast but it was actually a slow and steady section.
After all the racing, running around on grid and getting some work action in, we looked at our final scores. I came in 6th on Saturday, right behind everyone with R comps except for one, and on Sunday, I came in 7th place, right behind two really good drivers on R comps. We sort of had a small battle between us in SM class, as it was the slower drivers (as John put it) and then the really fast guys, spreading a huge gap between us. I’m proud that I was the top driver in SM on street tires (which was only me and one other person, but hey!), but I would’ve liked to see a bit more progress against some of the other R comp drivers. Next year I’ll step it up a notch in skill though, and not sound!Big thanks again to everyone for the help and the good times. I’m really glad I turned around and signed up for this event as it was really fun, very educational, and worth the money. Really worth it all. Now to do something about my loud exhaust…

Big thanks to everyone for all the pictures. Tons of pictures linked below with plenty of awesome cars in them! Results are also linked below!
Final Results
Final Raw Time
Final Pax Time
Keith's Pictures
Drew's Pictures
Ed's Pictures 1
Ed's Pictures 2

August 8, 2009

SCCA Northeast Divisionals - Day 1

Talk about one big mess up on my part. I think my stress hit the roof after everything that happened today, and sadly it took my concentration away from the course. I was expecting an email explanation of the SCCA schedule and so I missed out that early registration was on Friday night. So as soon as I got there, I had to run to registration, get my wrist band and register, run back, unload my car, run back and get these SCCA specific stickers, run back and put them on, get my car to tech, get it back, and THEN walk the course with the little time I have left. I was determined though and kept my chin up, until I found out that there was still no break for me as I was also in the 1st heat.

Got my car to the assigned grid location, checked my tire pressures until I noticed that we left the masking tape designating the tire sides on the car from the previous night. Whoops! Once I did my first run, another issue happened! My car was too loud to pass sound test of 90 DB at 75ft away. Now before this was never an issue due to having my cat but since it was removed, my car got louder ( I didn’t expect that much louder).

I was about to disqualify myself as I knew there was nothing I could do. I know everyone here as sort of a second family and I was going to ignore the rules and give it another go. As I was about to leave, people from another region came running over to see what was going on and immediately offered to help. Man by the name of Alex Shchipkov came with a elbow pipe and we shoved that into the end of my exhaust. Low and behold, that helped me passed the sound test and I got my runs in for the day.

Big ups to John, his wife Angela, Alex and his (wife or girlfriend?) Olga, Rob and Brian for all the help getting me setup, making sure I was good and could get my runs in. I can’t thank you guys enough. Free beer and dinner on me if any of you are ever in the area!
At the end of the heat (4 runs a day), because this is a special event that has to be run like nationals, I had to get my car weighed after my 4 runs. With a ¼ tank of gas, my car weighed in at 2879. Man I need to go on a diet! Once we were done the scales, we had to get back to grid and await to be “released” by looking at our times, cone counts and see how we did for the day.

Once we were done that, we got a nice long break. At night once we were all finished our runs we got to get a decent BBQ dinner from Redbones to top off the day. It was nice to sit down with everyone, sit back and relax and just shoot the crap for a while. After all that, I packed up and got ready to head home for the night in which I should be ready to rock tomorrow. This time I should be able to clear my head and focus on my game.
Big ups to Dave for the pictures in my blog today.

August 7, 2009

Getting Ready For The Battle!

Getting a late start on preparing the car today for Divisionals. I wanted to reseal the front of the radiator with the foam, as well as some extra onto the sides to ensure it is sealed properly. I also wanted to rotate the wheels, and get my brand new BHR Midpipe on.

Took us all awhile but we managed to get everything going. I want to take my time to review the BHR midpipe, so expect a review after some events in due time as something of this quality isn’t really defined in one night. Big ups to Oleg, Shane and Jeremy for the help.

August 5, 2009

Cooling Issues - Resolved!

Looks like we lucked out as it just merely took some detective work on our end. Over time, I noticed that my coolant temperatures were a lot higher than other RX8 owners that had my setup. I was seeing, at 81 degrees out on a overcast day

208 idle
203 cruising street
197 cruising highway
215 redlining

We had found out that both low and high fans were set to turn on at 207, would would make sense why my idle was so high, as well as other tempuratures. From there, we tuned the tempuratures down to mimic the Racing Beat ecu tune. The fans now are set so that the low turns on at 184 and the high turns on at 193. The results were, on similar day and temp outside as above

185 idle
180-183 cruising street
180 cruising highway
201 redlining for a lot longer then above.

Instead of the temps spiking, it would slowly increase..the redline was going for quite some time to even see 201. I also purchased a new radiator cap that raises the pressure from .9 to 1.3 from Cusco (we originally thought it could've been a bad cap, but really it was the fans). So for now, this setting should work out great, especially for Divisionals coming up. Stay tuned for me getting the car ready on friday! Enjoy the picture of my newly finished rear seat/trunk delete picture from Josh.