May 28, 2011

Renegade's 1st Points Event!

First points event for Renegade Miata on this lovely Saturday! I've been looking forward to this event for awhile, as I always love the courses that Renegade Miata has to offer. Today's course was something that Brian came up with, featuring some elements from the ProSolo course that was in New Jersey. The first section was relatively fast, but the back section taught people to be patient and to pick their lines and acceleration points carefully.
The car handled beautifully on the course, and really behaved however you wanted it to. I got to play with various settings, particularly with the rear swaybar, however after the event, I noticed something awkward. It seems I've been running quite low tire pressures on the Hoosiers, and they're getting relatively close to being corded. I'll need more negative camber, higher tire pressures, and to flip the tires on the wheels. I'm honestly concerned, as I would like to run these Hoosiers until the end of the season, but that may not be an option.All of that aside, I managed to finish the day with a 1'16.3, taking first place in the "Other Mazda's" class. Brian managed to take a 1'15.4 in my car, so there was definitely more speed out there for me to find, but I was glad to see the car had that potential in it. The results are located here on the Renegade Miata website. Below are videos of my second fastest run, and Brian's fastest run. Until the next event, looks like I need to pay a visit to Kaizen Tuning to get that alignment and tires flipped...stay tuned.

May 23, 2011

ProSolo At The New Jersey New Meadowlands Stadium

I just got back from my first ProSolo up in New Jersey over at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The entire event was absolutely amazing, and I wish ProSolo events were held locally more often. The atmosphere, the people, the format of the race, everything. I have plenty of pictures and videos from the event, but they don't give it justice. I highly recommend experiencing this at least once, even if just as a spectator. Check out the following links for some great photos of the event, thanks to AutoX4U, Vlad and Steguis. Below are links to the days posted, and then a description of how ProSolo works.

On day 1, you get four runs (two runs each side) in the morning and four runs in the evening. Day 2 you only get four runs in the morning, giving you a total of twelve runs (or six each side) between the two days. Your final time is a total of your fastest run on both sides between the two days. You also get to see your reaction times and 60-ft times, but it does not contribute to your score.

After the morning runs on day 2 then has three challenges at the end of the day. The Gumout Super Challenge, where they take the winners of every class and have them compete against each other. Then they have the Ladies Challenge where they take the fastest female drivers and pit them against each other. Lastly, the Bonus challenge, where eight or sixteen people's names are pulled from a hat to race against each other.

Event Specifics
There are four Heats with two groups per heat. The groups consist of various car classes, going from slowest to fastest, and have to allocate for bump class. It also takes 5 entries to make a class. For example, Heat 3 had Group 5 and Group 6. Group 5 consisted of STU, R1 and R2, and Group 6 consisted of classes BSP and F125.

You have a grid area and then a staging area just before the course. When your heat is coming up to run, you line up in grid, side by side (paired up as they call it) to another car in your class. The grid is numbered and you are given that number at the start of the event, so you know where to grid. As you progress throughout the day, your grid number will change based on your position in your class, so be sure to frequently watch the board for your results and grid position. In grid you can water the tires, check pressures, anything you need to do. Once they are ready for your car class from your group, they bring your entire car class forward to the staging area. If you were in grid on the left, you would go to the left course first, and if you were on the right, then the right course. If you get out of line and lose your pair, your car is done running. You can only take a 10 minute mechanical BEFORE you start running, so if something breaks, you have to either keep running or forfeit the rest of your runs.

In the staging area, you CANNOT get out of your car. If you have a co-driver or a partner, they can check your tire pressures, adjust shocks, turn on/off your camera, but that is it...So it can be helpful to have a partner. As the cars move up in the line, you get your helmet scanned of your name, then move up to the timing lights (known as the "Christmas Tree"). As you're moving up, you have 20 seconds to do a quick burnout to warm up the tires if you want, and then line up with the staging lights.

As you'll see in the videos, you have two lights you need to light up as you are lining up within the 20 seconds. The lights are pre-stage and stage, and are lit up based on your line-up across the beam of lights from the small metal boxes to each side of the car. The first beam is your pre-stage, followed by your stage beam, and the last beam is your starting beam. You want to make sure that you just barely have the stage light lit on the Christmas Tree, as you only have 17 inches between the stage light and the starting light. They allow you to reverse the car if you need to in order to get lined up properly. If you have small accents in front of the car, beware. The pre-stage light can become unlit since it can see past the accent piece (like my RX-8 because of the rotor accent in the front, so I had to line up at a very slight angle).

From here, the 20 seconds finishes counting down, (unless it is a manual start, where the starter will point to each driver lined up to confirm the driver is ready to race) the lights will begin to go. 3 yellows, and then a green. If you pass the starting beam before the green light is lit, you get a red light and your run does not count. The best reaction time you can get when launching is half a second (.500) as that is exactly the time between the lights illuminating. Some people like to be conservative when launching so they do not lose a run by getting a red light. Most people tend to launch right as they see the third yellow light, that way after a small wheel spin, their car will accelerate forward just as the green light comes on.

Once you go on the course and complete your run, you come off the course and go behind the staging area to crisscross over to the other side of the course. Again, you CANNOT get out of the car when you are in the staging area. Once you are done with your four runs, you pull away from the staging area to the dual driver grid area so that you can have your five minutes to switch drivers. Once he is done, or if you raced alone, you bring your car over to impound. Here, everyone opens their trunk and hood so everyone can make sure that all cars are class legal, and then wait for the class results. If there are no protests and everyone is okay with the results, you then can leave impound and head back to the paddocks.

May 22, 2011

New Meadowlands ProSolo - Day 2

B Street Prepared Evolutions are what I've been aiming to chase for awhile now with this build, and though I still believe the car has the potential to catch them, even within a second of their time, I just am still not driving to that limit. I did much better in my last four runs, but still not good enough to move up in position, taking 9th out of 10th at the end of the day. Brian secured 8th as he got a little bit faster as well as he became increasingly more and more comfortable with the car.
My fastest time on the left course today was a 31.975 and a 31.522 on the right. Big difference compared to yesterday, but again, not enough. Brian took home a 31.342 on the left, and a 31.594 on the right. Others were surprised that the car was even close to the times of the Evolutions, but unfortunately I wasn't able to overcome my road block.
Photo by Steve Steguis - Steguis Photography
All in all, I had a blast for the three days I was here in New Jersey. I learned more as a driver, was pleased about the feedback of my car, and enjoyed the ProSolo racing format. Congratulations to many people from the NER crew who got to take home a trophy with them, especially since this was a first ProSolo for many of them.
Photo by Steve Steguis - Steguis Photography
The next time I have some free time and spare money, you better believe I will be attending a ProSolo. The adrenaline rush and excitement is just unlike any other form of autocross. Seeing that my car had the ability in her, but not in myself, only motivates me to become a faster driver and learn to adapt to different venues quicker. By my next ProSolo I will have the final touches completed on my car and my skills will be polished enough to hopefully take home a trophy. Until then, time to head back home where I await my next race at Devens for this coming Saturday. Below are a few more launch videos, as well as Brian and I's fastest runs on the left, then the right course.

May 21, 2011

New Meadowlands ProSolo - Day 1

Day 1 of the ProSolo and what a Beautiful day out! It's about 80 degrees, with some hot pavement on the lot to work with, so plenty of grip. I managed to keep my very fast reaction times luckily, getting a .507 for my first run as well.
It seemed that launching in the damp was about the same as launching in the dry, slipping the clutch and giving it gas right at the third light was the key while making sure the RPM's were between 4-5. The two courses were a lot of fun with a nice mix of transitions, a hard sweeper, then the end was all mostly late apex turns.
Photo by Steve Steguis - Steguis Photography
Brian finished the day with 7th place while I took 8th right behind him. My best results for the day was a .507 reaction time on the left, .560 on the right, a 2.273 60-ft time, and a 33.410 on the left with a 32.254 on the right course. Brian bagged a .607 best reaction time on the left and a .556 on the right, with a 2.181 60-ft time, and a best time of 32.548 on the left, and a 32.021 on the right.
Brian was progressively getting faster where as I seemed to be getting worse and worse. I'm not sure if it was the pressure or something else, but my afternoon runs were so bad, they may as well have just been red lights. Hopefully tomorrow I'll pull myself out of this slump and get back on track! Below is a video of one of my launches, as well as my two fastest runs for the day, and Brian's two fastest runs for the day.

May 20, 2011

The Road To New Jersey

Dave, Ben and I drove down to New Jersey early in the morning, arriving to New Jersey at roughly 10:30am. After grabbing some breakfast at a local diner, we went to the stadium to pick a spot to paddock with the rest of the NER crew. The rain definitely put a damper on things a bit, but that didn’t stop anyone from setting up and doing some practice launches later in the afternoon. I have never done a drag race event, let alone aggressively launch my car, so I really did not know what to expect. Thanks to the Evolution School Intro class I took, I got to take a few practice launches after learning the format of the entire event. I surprisingly had a much faster reaction time than I expected...And probably more than everyone else expected as well. I was getting a reaction time of low 0.5's during my practice launches, with the venue being fairly damp.
I figure that if the most power is produced above 4,000RPM, especially around 5-6, then I would slip the clutch right between 4-5, that way when it would catch, I would be at just about 6,000RPM. After finishing my practice launches, I had spoken with the Kuehls. Brian unfortunately injured his shoulder very badly, so he could not drive his CRX with his father, Don. He had asked if I minded that Ben and him switch places, so that Brian would then be co-driving with me. Ben and I preferred if Ben stayed with my car so we could push it to the limits and see the full potential of the RX-8, but we did not want to leave Brian hanging, so we accepted. Needless to say, Brian is still a fast driver himself, regardless that he's used to racing a front wheel drive car.

May 19, 2011

Preparing For New Jersey

This week has been pretty flat-out in terms of getting prepared for my first ever ProSolo race. I got the flywheel and clutch installed, managed to find time to break them in, and then started playing with some vinyl layouts with Jeff. I'll be taking a picture tomorrow when I'm in New Jersey with the car fully setup and ready to roll, but the pictures you see will give you a good idea of what's to come. Big thanks to Alex at Driven Perfection for the amazing vinyl work and a huge thanks again for all the help everyone. I can only hope for the best.

If you're interested in following the live results update and radio feed, check out . Be sure to keep an eye out in B Street Prepared for # 42 Marc Monnar and # 142 Brian Kuehl. (For those wondering, due to an injury, Brian is unable to drive his CRX and would be better suited driving a car with power-steering, so Ben and Brian swapped places.)

May 3, 2011

SpeedSource Pulleys Review

The "Competetion Pulley Set" from Mazdaspeed is really THE best pulleys you can get for the RX-8. They are actually produced by SpeedSource and are widely used by pretty much any roadrace prepped RX-8. The kit is made to not use your air conditioner, allowing you to remove the system and save some weight there.

The eccentric shaft pulley is substantially smaller than stock, as well as much lighter. The alternator pulley however, though lighter, is much bigger than stock. For race cars, this is not an issue considering they're frequently up in high RPMs. For street cars, this can be a serious issue as that means the battery is not getting as charged as it needs to be. I've run into an issue once or twice where I started losing power steering and then ABS while sitting idle in grid, while using the lights, defrost, radio, and windshield wipers. The problem never came back when I kept my revs around 1,500 RPM while sitting idle however.

The power increase is definitely VERY noticeable and I've heard wind that it is supposed to be a 10HP gain..If that is true or not, I wouldn't doubt it given the fact that we're talking about SpeedSource here, but I for one don't have any comparisons. I guess for those that are looking for pulleys, this is definitely worth the price tag if you're building a race car and not a street car that you like to have fun with, given that it doesn't charge the battery unless you're frequently in higher RPMs.

May 1, 2011

SCCA NER's Speedway Slalom

Today was the second points event with SCCA NER over in New Hampshire Motor Speedway! I really do enjoy coming to the events that are hosted here because it's a nice change of pace from the usual Devens Airbase. You get to hear all of the road racers running along the road course, have lunch at the in-field, sit in the stands to watch the cars after you have prepped, etc. I was able to adjust fairly quickly as the course was very similar to the two we had run last year; sweeping turn after sweeping turn.For this event, I was MORE than ready to compete, as I had been working hard with the help of Jeff and Shane to make sure I got Serenity up to par. Since last event, I received the Black Halo Racing ignition system, a loaner midpipe (the exhaust system is not complete just yet), and brand new 255/35 Hoosier R compound tires. Only a select few pieces are left to finish this puzzle, such as the full exhaust, my flywheel/clutch, and a final tune. Considering I'm not done yet, I'm quite pleased with Serenity's performance so far.
Shane was able to take out Ruby today and have some fun with her, but it looks like she still needs a few final things before she's ready to start shaking up Street Touring S. As for my results, I came in 1st place in BSP! As if that wasn't enough good news though, I also made 10th place in PAX, which isn't an easy feat! All three results can be found here. A few minor adjustments and I think we'll be good to go for the upcoming race in New Jersey. Below are videos of my fastest run in the morning, fastest run in the afternoon, and then Shane's fastest run. I may have done well at the Speedway, but now it's time to step it up back home at Devens. Stay tuned.