Sunday, September 20, 2015

Testing at NYR SCCA Autocross

After yesterday's alignment it was time to get some testing done. With no other events within a reasonable distance, I decided to make the NYR SCCA event at Nassau Coliseum. While I don't have anything against the NYR courses, the Coliseum doesn't provide a good surface to actually do any kind of tuning that would work anywhere else except maybe FedEx field in DC but if anything I'd get some data points running on a low grip bumpy surface.

NYR SCCA Autocross - 9-20-2015
Right out of the bat, the bumpiness of the lot was giving me problems with Lupa skipping all over the place making it hard to time the turn in and brake points. I remembered that I had done some funky shock settings last event to compensate for the weird alignment so I dialed the front compression down 1 and front rebound down 3. This greatly improved the front end response but she was still neutral with a slight leaning towards being pushy at the limit.

NYR SCCA Autox - 9-20-2015
Photo by: Rev Match Racing
For the afternoon runs, I opted to raise the rear bar up another notch to 4/7 and this worked magic. Finally she was giving me that telltale jiggly butt behavior you expect from a S2000. It was a bit too much though since it was a tiny bit too loose under power. To fix this I dropped the rear pressures down a 1psi and finally we hit the perfect balance of twitchiness and stability. With the times fairly stable, I started dropping pressures equally on all corners and dropped a good 0.8 seconds simply by dropping the pressures around 1psi. I ran out of runs to do more pressure testing but I'll be doing that in NJ instead where I can keep more variables constant. For my own notes, I ended up running at 30/29psi. I don't think I had a single clean run but it's all good. The important thing is that Lupa is feeling better and better to drive. The transitions, especially slaloms, are much better than last event and I can actually use the power to get that rear rotated now. Looking forward to the next NNJR event to give her a go on some higher speed, higher grip corners.

Not sure if autocross or rallycross lol
NNJR SCCA Autocross - 9/20/2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Go Fast Alignment

We're fresh back from Nationals and with the lull of general frantic scheduling of work on cars, I wanted to take advantage and have Steve at SJF Performance implement the changes I jotted down after the first event with Lupa. (As a side note, HUUUUUUGE congratulations to SJF for the awesome 1-2 victory in the new CAM-C class in that beastly F-body)

Lupa's 2nd alignment for 2015 - 9/19/2015 - SJF Performance
I could already tell that my alignment had shifted after the first alignment after we did the transmission swap but the question would be by how much? Unfortunately it didn't look good. We could only get -2.8 max camber from the front driver side but could get a whopping -4.2 camber from the passenger side. Clearly the front subframe needed to be shifted in order to get the specs I wanted. This proved to be a bit tricky but with some help from Pete and a crowbar, we were able to get -3.0 camber on the left side which Steve then matched on the right. We probably really need to actually do this correctly one day so it's even left and right but it'll do for now since we hit the target settings. Caster was set to 5.5 degrees.

Trying to get frame alignment holes lined up - 9/19/2015
Crowbar + wood + BFH - Working that front subframe - 9/19/2015
I had initially wanted to reduce my rear camber down to -2.2 but it seems that with the current ride height, the minimum rear camber was -2.4 if we wanted to get the rear toe the way I want. This was an ok compromise since the rear toe is super important on the S2000. Get this wrong and you might as well pack your bag. Too little and you got yourself a jigglybutt monster, too much and you're basically driving a FWD car with massive push. I was thinking of doing 1/8" (0.12) total toe in but with the slight increase in rear camber from what I actually wanted, I opted to dial this down to 1/16" (0.06) total toe in. I definitely would not recommend going down this much without the correct spring and sway bar combination or things might get a little too exciting on the street. The final alignment specs and other fancy tidbits are shown below.

2nd Alignment Specs - SJF Performance
Wheelbase 0.1" off due to front subframe alignment
SJF Performance
While the car was on the lift anyway, I figured I'd take the opportunity to adjust the sway bar settings and endlink lengths since it's much easier than doing it on site (even though it's still relatively easy to do with the Karcepts bars). The front bar has now been cranked up to full stiff (6/6) up from 5/6. The rear bar I dialed up to 3/7 from 1/7.

Adjusting rear sway bar to 3/7
Adjusting front sway bar to full stiff
Lastly, I have enough miles on the diff now that it's finally broken in so it's important to get a fresh fluid flush to make sure she's in tip top shape.

Fluid flush on the ATS Spec III diff
So there we have it. All the changes from last event put into place I'm going to try and run higher pressures again with the reduced camber. It should make her faster in the transitions and be closer to the optimal pressures for this tire. It should make her easier to use power and the diff to get the rear rotated around tighter spots too. Luckily, tomorrow there's a NYR SCCA event at Nassau Coliseum so I can give her a quick spin to see how I like the new settings. Nassau Coliseum is definitely not a lot you want to be tuning your suspension on so I probably won't be making massive changes but I do expect tighter corners than NJ events so that will help me pinpoint any slow speed corner weaknesses.

Some good news though is that I ended up not needing any of the new aligment bolts, washers and nuts I ordered for her so now I have a spare set (to my other spare lol). No seized nuts! We can all celebrate that. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

SCCA Solo National Championship 2015

After all the late season testing of Bumblestook's new drivetrain setup and picking up Hezron as my codriver, it was time for the big show, the SCCA Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was my fourth trip in a row to Nationals and Hezron’s first. We loaded up the car and left early Saturday morning without too much trouble with our target layover in Indiana, 540 miles away.

Hez and I ready to roll out - 9/5/2015
While I had the trailer recently serviced to minimize the chances that we would encounter any mechanical issues, Murphy’s law kicked in and we found ourselves with intermittent “overload” conditions being reported by the Tekonsha RF brake controller effectively making the trailer brakes useless. I knew the mechanical stuff was sorted so this was definitely an electrical problem somewhere. I was at least happy to find out that the incredible Egg (Touareg) was still very capable of slowing down the loaded trailer by itself. In fact, we may not have even noticed the trailer brake issue if we hadn’t looked at the controller display. We stopped by a trailer supply store in Ohio and started looking at the wiring. At first glance, the 7-way pollack connector going from the trailer to the brake controller looked to be in bad shape so we replaced that in the parking lot.

Replacing the bad Pollack connector on the trailer - 9/5/2015
This helped but we were still facing intermittent overload conditions albeit this time far less frequently. Since it seemed like we still had good control over the trailer, we decided to forge ahead and just deal with the wiring in Lincoln. 8 miles out from our arriving in Lincoln, we hit a torrential downpour with some mixed hail. We had to slow down quite a bit but eventually still made it on site before sunset so we could unload Bumblestook and get some rest.

Checking in at Lincoln Airfield - 9/6/2015
Unloaded at Lincoln, NE - 9/6/2015
The next day we went to pick up our rental golf kart to get around the site easier. I don't know why I didn't do this in previous years. It was well worth the extra expense. We then cranked up the rear sway bar to full stiff, the only change I make to set up the balance for Bumblestook from asphalt to concrete. This is an easy enough procedure on the Ankeny rear blade sway bar. No need to jack the car up either. We just have to loosen the 14mm bolt, rotate the bar ends and crank it back down again.

Pit vehicle secured - 9/7/2015
Stiffening rear sway bar - 9/7/2015
Then it was off to get tech inspection out of the way before heading over to the practice course to let Hez acclimate to the increased grip. He was definitely not expecting this much of a difference and had to adjust the timing of steering inputs as Bumblestook turns in ridiculously fast on concrete.

Ready to run the practice course - 9/7/2015
We were happy with the balance of the car and put on the competition tires for the next day. Day 1 of competition rolled in and it was show time. We were racing on the ultra fast east course on day 1 which feature some very high speed sections that would test whether or not we had sufficient gearing to wind her up all the way. The AP1 transmission was perfect for this course as we found ourselves hitting the limiter just at the right spots. We ended day 1 with Hez sitting in 3rd spot, just half a second out from 1st and me sitting in 7th spot, 0.7 seconds behind Hez. Hez would be coming into day 2 would a real shot at maybe even taking a win and I had a fair shot at clawing my way back into the trophies.

BSP Grid - Day 1 - Lincoln, NE - 9/8/2015
In between our work assignment and racing on Day 1, I had opted to keep myself distracted by redoing some of the wiring on the trailer. I had a suspicion that the wiring going to the emergency brake disconnect switch was at fault so I cut the wiring and reconnected them and I'm happy to report that the brake controller worked perfectly on our way home without a single instance of overloading.

Rewiring the trailer - 9/8/2015
Day 2 featured a much more convoluted, cone-filled course with lots of awkward turns that never seemed to flow right. The gearing would be to our advantage but both Hez and I struggled to string the corners together smoothly and found ourselves in cone trouble our first 2 runs. Hez backed it off some to get a clean run and unfortunately ended up in 6th, just 0.095 seconds out from the last trophy spot whereas I just couldn't put in a good run and ended up all the way down in 10th.

BSP Grid - Day 2 - Lincoln, NE - 9/9/2015
I believe Bumblestook had the pace but we simply couldn't pilot her to get the results we wanted. The good news is that there's not a single thing I want to change on her for next season but it was clear to both Hez and I that we'd need to undergo some serious driver training next year. I think running in NJ only most of the time limited our exposure to certain course elements. We were used to very nice flowing courses and when faced with the weirdness (to put it nicely) of the west course, our normal driving strategy just wasn't going to work. We'll be back next year better prepared using both Lupa and Bumblestook to improve our driving. In the end though, we both had a great time with a fun filled road trip each way with memories to last a life time and in the end that's really why we do this stuff. The racing is fun and intense but hanging out with 1200 other autocrossers from around the country for a week in beautiful Nebraska is really why we keep coming back for more.

It was fun Nebraska. See you next year - 9/10/2015

SCCA Solo National Championship - 9/8-9/9/2015
Lincoln, Nebraska