Monday, December 4, 2017

New Chapter - Project GT

From bone stock AP1 to SCCA National Championship winning BSP car...that has been the story of Bumblestook to date since the day I got her almost seven and half years ago. It's been an incredible adventure. In between, she was built to compete in STR, rebuilt and reimaged as a track car where we enjoyed many track days screaming at 9000+ rpm back when she still had an F20C under the hood. She then underwent no fewer than three revisions of BSP builds in the past 4 years pursuing the goal of taking the top spot in BSP. So what's next? Where do we go from here? Do we continue to pour tons of time and money and go wild in Super Street Mod? What's left?

Starting Project GT - 12-5-2017
Well one thing's for sure, she's not getting sold. I've decided to retire her from nationally competitive autocross but her story is not done. The reason is simple. While it's been an incredible learning opportunity the past few years pursuing a dream and she's a dream to drive every second she's on course, it requires an immense amount of work to maintain a top tier nationally competitive Street Prepared car. Triple that effort when you live in NYC and can't just walk out into your garage to work on her or go to events. I've lost track of the number of times I've day dreamed while towing her to events about how nice it would be to be able to just back her off the trailer and drive around and enjoy her more than just a few times a year.

Parts starting to flood in - 12-5-2017
That day dreaming stops now. I've got a really fun build sheet and without class restrictions, I can finally do whatever I want. I won't divulge the details just yet but I'm calling this "Project GT" for Gran Tourismo. She's not going back to stock but she is going to be made street legal once again, retaining much of her performance but being softened just enough so I enjoy her more. Finally she's going to get that full respray to bring her back to her full glory. Something a championship winning car deserves. She'll probably still come out once in a while to play at local events and some time in the future we may return to do some track days but she will cease to become a trailer queen and I refuse to just put a cover on and keep her stored away and not driven like S2000s were meant to be driven.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Replacing the CMC, Adding Power and Dropping Weight

After the last event, I noticed on my way home that the transmission was starting to feel really notchy and then last week while driving Lupa around, I suddenly couldn't disengage the clutch to change gears. I noticed that the clutch fluid reservoir was really low and friends on the faceballs suggested it was likely a leaking clutch master cylinder.

New OEM Clutch Master Cylinder - 11-19-2017
Part numbers for refence - 11-19-2017

I ordered both a new clutch master and slave cylinder and today I went to SJF Performance to replace them. Removal of the old CMC immediately revealed the leak. Thankfully it was a slow leak and I was able to simply top off the reservoir in order to drive the car to the shop. The new CMC bolted in pretty easily minus the finicky nut that goes in the footwell near the ECU. You could just barely fit a deep socket in there to loosen it up.

Leaking CMC - 11-19-2017
Although there was no leak in the slave cylinder, I opted to replace both as a precaution. With both replaced, there was obviously a ton of air in the system that needed to be bled out. To speed this up, SJF used the cap of my old CMC to fabricate a way to pump in some compressed air to help push the fluid through. It only took a few minutes to fully bleed the system using this method. We also flushed the trans fluid since it's been a while since I last had it done. The clutch is now nice and firm and the shifts are once again buttery smooth as one would expect from an S2000. 

New OEM Clutch Slave Cylinder installed - 11-19-2017
With Rad moving ahead with his part out plan, I decided to fix the one issue that's been nagging me about Lupa since I build her for STR. Having driven both my car and Rad's, his car always had an obvious power advantage. This is mostly due to me having an exhaust setup that's more designed for a sporty feel and sound on the road than straight up maximum race performance. Rad's car had a Toda Torquie-Kun header (the same that I installed in Bumblestook earlier this year) ceramic coated by JetHot mated to a 70mm Berk high flow cat and a 70mm T1R 70R-EM stainless steel exhaust and a dyno tune by Karcepts on his Greddy EManage Ultimate EMU. I jumped on the opportunity and grabbed his Toda Header and his Greddy EMU. However, I instead opted to pick up a new 70mm Evasive Motorsports high flow cat and full titanium 70mm T1R 70R-EM exhaust from Clyde's never-realized STR build. 

Old PLM header top / New (to me) Toda header bottom -  11-19-2017
Berk HFC top / New EVS HFC bottom - 11-19-2017
T1R 70R-EM Titanium - 11-19-2017
This would ensure that the tune on Rad's Greddy EMU would give the same performance from what I felt on his car. The reason for getting the titanium exhaust was simple...weight. The T1R 70EM in Titanium weighs only 14lbs, a 20lb reduction over my 34lb titanium dual tip Mugen exhuast. 

Rad's Greddy EMU with dyno tune (left) /
My old Greddy EMU with Karcepts reflash (right)
The install was of course very straight forward although the Innovative 75A motor mounts on the car blocked the Toda header from just slotting in unlike the old PLM header. SJF had to remove the passenger side mount in order to get it in. After swapping the EMUs and recalibrating the TPS voltages, we were able to fire her up. I took her for a test drive and the low end power is very impressive. It's exactly the missing mid/lower power I felt Lupa was missing all this time and the exhaust sounds pretty good too though quite a bit deeper and louder than my Mugen exhaust.

T1R exhaust installed - 11-19-2017
EVS 70mm HFC installed - 11-19-2017
Toda Torquie-Kun header installed - 11-19-2017
I'm super glad that the clutch and transmission feels great again and the new power mods are going to be a big help next year. The only thing left for next season is switching up the tires to BFG Rival-S 1.5 instead RE-71R. For now she's back to riding on stock wheels with Continental DWS for the winter.

Side note: I also replaced the nasty 2-year old air cabin filter with a new one from Rad's S2000 parts stash.

New air cabin filter - 11-16-2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

NNJR SCCA Season Closer

It's been a good season. Despite probably being the season with the least number of events I've attended in 10 years, I had a blast at every event and it's been a successful season overall. It's the end of October and we're still out there in the sun with the top down burning rubber and it's great! Realized last week that Lupa was feeling extra loose because the last event I attended was at Bader field and I had the rear bar cranked up. We put the rear bar back to full soft and ran slightly lower pressures (27f/25r) and it's much easier to get aggressive with the throttle again.

Rad getting ready to run - NNJR SCCA
Meadowlands, NJ - 10/28/2017
Rad codrove with me again. His car is quickly getting parted out so it probably won't be soon before the car is sold. I did happen to get this sweet seat protector from Rad that he got from Clyde. Not sure if I'm keeping it on but it should protect the seat from wear and tear.

Recaro Seat Protector - 10/26/2017

It was a special finale event today. Basically two events in one. We ran clockwise in the morning and counter clockwise in the afternoon. Fun flowing course and I'm slowly regaining some confidence in the lower grip levels. Looking forward to next season.

Steguis - NNJR SCCA - 10-28-2017

Rad - NNJR SCCA - 10-28-2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Late Season Fun

It's pretty rare to have amazing "shorts" weather at the end of October so needless to say the NNJR SCCA event we had today was another record breaker in terms of attendance. With the days getting shorter, taking the extra trek to bring out Bumblestook isn't happening so it was time to have fun with Lupa and work on the driver instead.

NNJR SCCA Event #10 - Meadowlands, NJ - 10/21/2017

I finally got to put on the new number plates Kamil made for Lupa. I think it's much easier to read the numbers now than the previous red on black. I had Rad codrive since his STR S2000 is now parked getting ready to be parted out and sold so he can get an FRS/BRZ for SSC next year. Unlike all previous events I promised myself I would not touch any knobs or change any settings. We set the tire pressures at 28f/26r and just ran the car trying to go faster with each run. Overall she was very well balanced but it's definitely rough for me readjusting to lower grip. I spun her twice in 5 runs from overly abrupt input. I think driving Lupa more will really help me focus on smoother and earlier inputs. My driving has definitely gotten worse in recent years and street tire S2000s sure punish you hard when you drive like a jackass.

NNJR SCCA Autox - 10-21-2017

The course was fast and fun and required a set of balls that I probably left somewhere in NYC. Either way, I had loads of fun and got to enjoy the drive to and from the event which isn't really something I can say when I'm trailer to events. Looking forward to our final event next weekend. Hopefully we catch a break and get one last good weather day for our final autocross fling for the season.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pre-Winter Prep

It's been 4 weeks since Bumblestook's final event of the season. At the end of that event I noticed I was leaking brake fluid out of the stainless braided brake line on the driver side front. My initial inspection at the time indicated it might be a crack somewhere in the line but I really just wanted to go home so I didn't jack the car up and pull the wheel off to take a closer look Just to be safe, I ordered brand new lines all around and went to SJF Performance today to give the car a good look before packing her away for the winter.

Faulty brake line - 10/15/2017
It turns out the line itself wasn't bad at all and the nut simply vibrated loose (ah the joys of Street Prepared). We opted to just tighten the nut for now and not replace all the brake lines as there didn't seem to be a good reason to do this right now. I'll just have to add this to the list of things we check periodically. For my own reference though, these are the parts and part numbers for the new brake lines.

Wilwood 220-10841 brake lines for the front calipers
Techna-Fit Honda S2000 Rear Brake Lines - HN-20000R
The usual ATE DOT4 Brake fluid
With the brakes sorted, the only thing left was to drain out the remaining E85 in the car which turned out to be around 3 gallons. I left enough fuel in to drive Bumblestook back onto the trailer and filled her up with pump 93 on the way back to storage. Lastly, mostly because I don't have a lot of space, I decided to mount the Hoosiers TomO won at Nationals for Bumblestook on my other set of CCWs.

Fresh tires mounted for next year
She's now tucked away for the winter. I'm not really clear when I'll run her next year but she'll likely be on a reduced racing schedule as I focus on improving my driving and running Lupa, my STR S2000 more instead.

All ready to be put into hibernation - 10/15/2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

FTD and Top PAX - The Beehive 2017

I started this tradition in 2013 where I'd run Bumblestook with 4 drivers (myself included) on her final event of the season for what's basically a fun event with friends. This year was no different and with a tank full of ethanol from Nationals, I wanted to burn it all off in the most fun way possible. This year, the "beehive" as I call it would consist of James, Rad, Hez and myself. We got really lucky today with awesome weather and a course that seemed almost designed for the car. Every corner flowed nicely and was smack in the middle of Bumblestook's power band. To top it off we got 7 runs each for a total of 28 runs. We burned through most of the fuel, got rid of all the OPR from Lincoln and went through 8 gallons of water trying to keep the tires cool.

James getting ready to run - NNJR SCCA - 9/16/2017
This was the first time James was going to drive Bumblestook and although initially intimidated he soon got comfortable and put in some awesome runs good enough for 2nd RAW and 2nd PAX overall. Rad was a dirty boy. He only had one clean run (his first). He's always driven very close to cones to cut distance in his STR S2000 which is normally a good thing but unfortunately, Bumblestook's wider body was giving him trouble. He was just a bit too close.

Hez getting ready to run - NNJR SCCA - 9/16/2017
For Hez though, this was like putting on an old glove and he was fast right out of the gate. He easily took top PAX and FTD after a few runs and only extended the lead with each run. I was a bit inconsistent today but somehow pulled a not-so-crappy run to end up with 3rd RAW time and got bumped out of 3rd in PAX by Evan in the SSR Z06 on his last run so ended up 4th in PAX overall. I'd say finishing off the season with Bumblestook taking top 3 fastest times and 3 of the top 5 PAX times out of 126 drivers isn't too bad. Of course we got a bit of help with none of the SM or SSM cars showed up today. Today was more about sharing the joy of driving Bumblestook and having fun with friends and we all had boat loads of fun.

The Beehive 2017 - NNJR SCCA - 9/16/2017

She wouldn't be a Street Prepared car without some kind of failure this year though. As I was loading her on the trailer we noticed it was leaking some fluid. When the car is running there seems to be a bit of fluid coming out from the front driver side stainless braided brake lines. I've had that line there since Bumblestook was a track car so maybe it just failed. The odd thing is that it's not leaking when the car isn't running and didn't leak when I got to my storage and drove it off the trailer. The brakes are still fully functioning. I guess we'll have to take a close look at this in the off-season and probably pre-emptively replace all the lines just in case. This is a safety issue and I don't take chances with safety. I'm just glad it didn't happen at Nationals. I guess this is Bumblestook's way of telling me she's ready for winter hibernation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Finishing Unfinished Business

Before I start, I want to thank and congratulate Tom O'Gorman for putting in spectacular drives in Bumblestook to take the 2017 SCCA Solo National Championship in BSP. Not only did he take the win in BSP, but the resulting time was good for top PAX  for the Thursday/Friday run groups and 2nd overall PAX (by only 0.05 seconds to Billy Davis in CSP) out of over 1300 drivers. It took 5 years of development and an alien driver but I finally reached my personal goal to put Bumblestook on the top step of the podium for BSP.

SCCA Solo National Championships 2017 - 9-5-2017
Looking at a slice of time and a victory is insufficient to see how much work it took to get here and I couldn't have done it without all the incredible people that worked with me throughout the years. I wanted this build and setup to be done on my terms based on my own experimentation and learning along the way even if it took me longer to get there. There was nothing cookie cutter about it and I am grateful to have worked with people who let me try things even when I frequently went off the beaten path in pursuit of knowledge. This victory is validation that the time and effort you all put in was worth it and what we created is truly a case where the sum is much greater than its parts.

Congratulating Tom on his Championship winning run
SCCA Solo Nationals 2017 - 9/8/2017
Photo by: SoloMatters
I want to thank Jeff DeVos (retired S2K specialist) who did a lot of the early wrenching on the car and putting up with so many iterations of my build. Jeff Evans from Evans Tuning for all his fabrication and tuning skills to get the ITBs to work and give me the most usable and reliable power band we could extract from the F22C within the absolute limits of the rules. If anyone knows how to extract the most power from a Honda, Evans is definitely your man. Evans Tuning was her 2nd home during her early years of development. Steve Farkas from SJF Performance would be her 2nd home in the later years. Not only did he help me fix the remaining reliability issues with the car, continue to maintain her and perform countless alignments to perfection as I fine tuned her setup, he's been a great friend who's gone through extra lengths to make time for me anytime I've needed it. Brian Karwan from Karcepts for putting my diffs together that haven't failed despite insane 8800rpm prosolo launches and his incredible sway bars that were crucial to getting the perfect balance for the car this year. Anze suspension for rebuilding my old school Moton tripples and working with me to get the valving dialed in. There's always room for improvement but I think her pace is very close to target. Joefis racing for the spoiler work. Hoosier Racing Tire for making the most awesome DOT R-Compound racing tires ever made. I also want to thank Hezron Laluces for being a great friend and amazing codriver in 2015-2016. He's a natural, fast and consistent and his driving skills helped me focus on car setup while he continued to demonstrate our increased pace as development progressed. Finally, I want to thank my wife for understanding how important racing is to my life and continuing to support my efforts.

Tom's Championship Winning East Course Run - 9/7/2017

Tom's Championship Winning West Course Run - 9/8/2017

The Back Story

I went to my first SCCA National Championship in 2012 codriving Jon Caserta and Tory Benya's STR S2000. Bumblestook was a track car at the time and obviously not competitive in any class so I flew out and drove their car to see what this was all about. While walking around paddock I came across Jason Uyeda's BSP S2000. He would eventually win BSP that year and make cover of Sportscar magazine shortly after. I looked into BSP more and realized it was the perfect class for an S2000 enthusiast. You could run super sticky race rubber and combine all the best parts of every S2000 to make the "perfect S2000" and I got inspired. 

Jason Uyeda's BSP S2000 - Sept 2012
I came home and the first thing I did was remove the wing from my car and created a Facebook album called AP1.2.CR BSP Build with the description "It's going to be a freaking awesome AP1/AP2/CR hybrid". My goal was to take the strengths of each generation S2000 and combine them into one car. Of course the challenge here is that I really didn't really know much about suspension tuning. I had been autocrossing on and off for 7 years at that point but up until then I wasn't exactly the first person you'd talk to about setting up a fast autocross car, let alone a nationally competitive one. I knew it would be a steep learning curve and there weren't much (if any) resources at the time on how to set up a BSP S2000 so I'd have to learn and figure it out on own along the way. This blog already has all the details of the build so I won't go into it that here but 2013 would be he first year of development of Bumblestook in BSP trim. 

I granaded my diff in 2013 just before the NJ ProSolo and replaced it with the ATS Spec III diff that Karcepts was able to quickly get for me. I went to nationals that year with Bumblestook for the first time with Dan Stainback as my codriver and he was able to get into the trophies but it was clear that trying to keep Bumblestook as both an autocross and track car wasn't going to work. Robert Thorne won in his S2000 CR (a.k.a TheBigBadWolf) in BSP and Bumblestook was way off pace. 

In 2014, I fully committed to making Bumblestook a nationally competitive autocross car. She spent the winter at Evans Tuning as we prepped her to the limits of the rules and tried to extract as much power as we could with an ITB setup. Despite a lack of testing, I won my first ProSolo that year in DC. I continued to power through that year not winning anything else and went into Nationals only to finally accept that the AP2 transmission gearing wasn't going to work. Chris Mayfield won BSP that year in Thorne's S2000 and the Mazdaspeed Miatas were starting to get better prepped and the once overdog S2000 only had a 0.3s lead over the MSMs. We needed more top speed to handle a nationals style course and I had ideas on how to make her faster the following year including swapping in an AP1 transmissions for taller gearing. However, two years of basically non-stop working on prepping the car and throwing all my resources at it had taken its toll and I was on the border of quitting racing altogether.

After taking a winter off from any car related activities, I realized how much I really enjoyed and missed racing and I was motivated to try again in 2015 and made more changes to the car. Thorne's CR had left BSP and moved onto SSM and from the looks of things, Bumblestook would be the only S2000 to try and defend the title. I picked up Hez as my codriver mid-season. Once he figured out the car, he was instantly fast and we went to Nationals (his first). We got destroyed by the MSMs that year with Steve Oblenes winning BSP in Anthony Porta's MSM. Hez was just out of trophies but personally I felt I had dropped the ball and failed to continue in the line of S2000s that had successfully won the class. 

In 2016, determined to retake the win in BSP for the S2000, Hez and I did a full season of codriving. I made further improvements and setup changes and Hez was killing it at our local events frequently taking FTD and top PAX and securing the NNJR SCCA driver of the year. We finished 1-2 at both Toledo and DC ProSolos and were coming into Nationals feeling good. Unfortunately, we snapped the axle at the ProSolo finale and the 14 year old steering rack bushings were shot. Bumblestook's normal steering responsiveness wasn't there. Anthony Porta took a decisive win in BSP in his MSM. Hez was able to get Bumblestook into trophies but the MSMs had gotten even faster. They were a solid 2 seconds faster than the rest of the class. It was game over. The MSM was now clearly the top dog in BSP. Disappointed in the loss, I knew I had to at least try one more time. I had unfinished business and I couldn't walk away without feeling like I did absolutely everything I could. 

For 2017, gloves had to come off. I made the final changes to the car to try and find as much as pace as I could. The car was checked and double checked. Anything that might have a chance of failing or aging, was replaced. The mild winter had allowed us to make lots of progress and the car was ready for testing as early as the end of January. Unfortunately, this year had other plans for me. Various issues had caused me to miss all our early season events and Bumblestook didn't get to see daylight until the end of May where I was only marginally able to scrub off OPR from the previous year. We went to Toledo for the ProSolo. That was only the 2nd event in the car for 2017. She was undrivable and horribly pushy and I had to make some quick changes to try and figure out her new concrete setup. Thankfully I was able to squeeze out the lead and take the win..only my 2nd ProSolo win in the car. I changed the header and visited Evans Tuning to retune to try and get more midrange torque but it wasn't until July before I was able to take her out again bringing on Dave Corsaro to drive with me to help provide some feedback on car setup. Unfortunately, my bad luck would continue and rain would prevent us from getting any useful testing. We had one dry run which was good enough to determine a front bar adjustment was needed. Finally a few weeks ago, we got our first (and only) real dry weather test. I think I had figured out a new setup (at least on paper) and put Hez back in the car as a proper reference and I knew then I had figured it out and the car was properly fast. 

Despite all this, I knew that we were still going to be underdogs. The MSM was still the faster car. They're lighter, make as much power and more torque than an S2000 in BSP trim and I suspect are easier to drive at the limit. If I wanted to get Bumblestook to the top of the podium I'd need to put in a proven fast driver in my car on top of making sure the car had optimal pace. I had reached out to Tom O'Gorman a few months earlier presenting him with the challenge/opportunity to try and dethrone the MSMs in the most prepped BSP S2000 in the country. Things eventually worked out and the codrive was secured and I had to focus on making sure Bumblestook wouldn't fail him. 

He took a run on the test course for the first time and mentioned that she was a tiny bit too loose going through sweepers. I lowered the rear pressure a bit and sent him back out for a second run. At this point, Bumblestook was feeling on point and on his third run he put down a scorcher run of a 33.0s on the test course, a raw time that was already faster than many of the cars on the course that should be faster. I ran the car again in the afternoon only enough to scrub in the fresh competition tires and shut her down. All the testing was complete. It made no sense to risk the car any further until competition days so I cancelled the rest of my planned testing for the following day. 

Day 1 of competition was a nail biter. Tom had secured a lead by the 2nd run but on his final run, Chris Edens had crossed the line to take the lead. A few seconds later, Tom crossed the line and narrowly took the lead back by 0.024 seconds. Tom told me later that that run should've been faster but he made a small bobble in the final run up to the finish. I checked the data. Sure enough, his pace was 0.7 seconds faster up until that bobble (going into the final chicane). Bumblestook was a bit too loose for this course and had I known earlier, I might have tried to soften up the rear bar a bit  to bring some of that stability back. 

Day 2 we were on the west course (corn side) which had lower average speed than the east course. Bumblestook's balance here was much better and Tom put in an early lead and backed it up with an even faster 2nd run. On his last run, Chris Edens in his MSM would get close to Tom's 2nd run time but at this point Tom had already won. Tom was on course and didn't know this so he was still going at full speed and finished an incredible run to take the win by 0.66 seconds. He ended up top PAX for the Thu/Fri run groups and just 0.05 seconds shy of top PAX overall out of 1300+ drivers (which he clearly had the pace for if it wasn't for the day 1 bobble). 

Tom O'Gorman takes the BSP win - 9/8/17
SCCA Solo National Championship 2017
Photo by: Solomatters
Overall I'm ecstatic that we finally completed the unfinished business and took the BSP win back to the Honda S2000. Realistically and based on Tom's feedback I suspect that the MSM is still the overdog in the class and while I provided Tom with the best S2000 we could get him in the form of Bumblestook, his raw driving talent is what gave the ultimate edge to secure the win. Yes, there's probably some additional suspension tuning to make her easier to drive and possibly marginally faster but that's probably true for all cars. I don't know where I'm going from here in 2018 but I feel like a big monkey is finally off my back and I'm super happy for Tom's win (his 3rd national championship in 3 different classes) and I'm extremely proud of Bumblestook. On her final test, with all eyes on her on the center stage, she stayed together and gave everything to let Tom get the job done.

Bumblestook is my race car. 
There is nothing like it and this one is mine. 
My race car is my best friend. It is my life. 
I must master my race car as I must master my life. 
My race car, without me, is useless. 
Without my race car, I am useless. 
I must drive my race car hard.
I must negotiate corners faster than my competition trying to beat me. 
I must reach the finish before they finish. I will!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pre-check before Nationals

Yesterday I took Bumblestook to SJF Performance to double check the alignment and nut and bolt the car in preparation for Nationals. The rear toe slipped a bit since the last event and the front subframe bolts had loosened slightly so the alignment was reset and all the bolts double checked. We also raised the rear bar from full soft to 5/7, my baseline concrete setup.

Bumblestook ready for Nationals - SJF Performance - 8-26-2017

The trailer has been at SJF this week to replace the old / cracked breakaway box from the trailer with a brand new Tekonsha unit and also solder and heatshrink wrap the remaining wires that were still using taps. I've been getting brake controller shorts for that past year intermittently and these were obvious potential sources. In the end though it wasn't any of this that caused the problem. Turns out one of the brake wires going through the axle shaft was frayed. Luckily it was easily visible when you pulled the wire so I wrapped it with electrical tape for now and that seems to have cured the problem.

New Tekonsha Breakaway System - 8-26-2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Final Testing before Nationals

We got the most perfect weather and course to finally do a true dry/hot weather test of Bumblestook in her natural element. It was time for the bumblejockey, Hez, to get back in the codriver spot. There really isn't any other driver (besides myself of course) that has had as much seat time in Bumblestook as Hez has and putting him in the car would give me the best measure of her relative pace from last year.

Waiting patiently to be let loose - NNJR SCCA
Meadowlands, NJ - 8-19-2017
We softened the front sway bar one notch based on the feedback from Dave at the last event. We set our usual pressures and as soon as I took my first run I knew she was back. Even on cold tires, her balance was perfect. It did all the quick transitioning S2000s are known for with none of the bad behavior. The rear would slide out a little then catch, the front would turn in super quick and go wherever you wanted with even the slightest change of steering angle. She felt the best she's felt ever and the results showed it.

Top PAX results - NNJR SCCA - 8-19-17

After getting the tire temps settled, Hez put in a blazing fast run to sit in 2nd in PAX, only 0.015 seconds behind GJ in Lipman's very well prepped and tested SSR GT3 and I ended up 6th out of 134 drivers.

RAW time results - NNJR SCCA - 8-19-2017
The RAW times were there as well. Hez's fast run was only a tenth of a second away from the SM/SSM times of Dan Stainback's STI and Jake Namer's RX7. This is pretty astonishing considering that today's course was in many ways a power course with nice sweepers and flowing transitions. The most interesting thing is if you watch our video, you can see we're still leaving a bunch of space to the cones which means she had a lot more pace out there. This was only her 4th event this year and boy is she showing she's eager to go back to Lincoln and take another shot at the championship.

NNJR SCCA/PCA Joint Event - Meadowlands, NJ 8-19-2017

Oh and for those curious, the new yellow bikini top to keep the interior cool when the hardtop is off is a made to order piece from Covercraft. It's a Covercraft Weathershield HP Convertible interior cover, model number IC3040PY (The last letter is the color I think so if you want another color, just look for the IC3040). It's really designed for the S2000 CR which has no soft top but obviously would still fit all S2000s although I'm not sure why you'd buy one if you already have a soft top that goes up in 10 seconds.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What Happens in Atlantic City...

It's been probably 10 years since I last ran with the South Jersey SCCA. I think the last event I did with the club was back at an event at Atco raceway in 2006! I've got nothing against the club but the events are usually a bit too far for me. With perfect weather in the forecast and so few events more local to me, I figured it would be worth a trip down to Bader Field in Atlantic City to get some valuable seat time anyway.

SJR SCCA - Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ - 7-30-2017
This was my first event at this site and it was quite nice. There was ample paddock space and being right across the water from downtown Atlantic City was both strange and interesting. The venue, being a former airfield, had very abrasive surface with decent grip once the sand had been cleared off by the 1st heat drivers. I'd compare the grip level to Poconos Raceway but it is pretty brutal on tires so I'm glad to do this event on street tires and not more expensive Hoosiers. There's a fair bit of runoff if you spin but you will end up in the grass and travel a pretty far distance if you do. This scared me a bit despite the grass being dry since at least on the fast section, the other side of the grass was the Atlantic Ocean so I wasn't about to test the limits of my car and my skill over there.

Being used to the highly efficient northeast clubs of NNJR, Philly, DC and NER, the more lax feel of SJR takes a bit of getting used to. Things take a bit longer than usual; first car off wasn't until around 10:20am, we had lots of timing issues resulting in extremely long heats (3 hours...yep) and so many reruns but overall I still enjoyed driving there. Adopting a 3 heat system would help immensely but being that the course is what you expect from a runway venue featuring lots of slaloms and transitions, you need a lot of workers to cover the cones so that may not be feasible unless a lot more people show up. The half-height cones don't help either.

Lupa takes the STR win - 7-30-2017
My first run was strange. Despite fixing the alignment at SJF a few weeks ago, she was still feeling really loose. The rear would spring up too quickly during transitions. I increased rear rebound and that made a world of difference and now she would properly slide, squat then pull out of the corner. The front felt unpredictable though in a way that I couldn't describe. I decided to check the front rebound and was surprised that the left side was at the correct setting (nearly full stiff) but the right side was set to full soft. This explained the imbalance. I don't know how this happened. It's been a long time since I changed the settings. I don't know if someone turned the knob while my hood was up at some previous event as a joke but I'll definitely need to double check the settings going forward. I made them both equal again and finally Lupa was feeling like she should. I was able to push a bit harder and trust that the front would bite. I put down a good enough clean run to get the STR win and beating Hez for the first time (he ran his own car) but that's really just because he kept hitting cones and I was in a better prepped car so I definitely didn't outdrive him.

James was the real winner here taking FTD and top PAX in his STX BRZ so big kudos to him. While I did lose some time from backing off a bit in the sketchier parts of the course, most of the time lost was definitely from not taking smooth arcs and pinching myself too much in key corners. I'll need to work on this before Nats so I don't bleed off too much speed in these critical areas. This course really helped highlight that issue so that was a big lesson learned!

SJR SCCA Autox - 7-30-2017

The drive home was an insane 5 hours including a short stop for dinner thanks to summer beach traffic so I was exhausted but 5 hours enjoying some top down awesomeness in an S2000 and listening to music isn't too horrible in my book. It could definitely have been worse. I'm taking a pause with the next event not coming up for me for me until 3 weeks from now where I'll be doing some final testing of Bumblestook before heading out to Nationals. Really happy with how Lupa is feeling in general though. Hopefully I won't have to fiddle with the knobs much more at future events and I can just focus on improving my driving once more.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Testing with Dave at NNJR SCCA

Nationals is only 6 weeks from now and this is the first time this season I've been able to take Bumblestook out for some home region testing with the NNJR SCCA at the Meadowlands. I asked Dave Corsaro  to codrive with me for this event so he could help me quickly dial the car in. Although we had the threat of rain, first heat ran mostly without a hitch in the dry but then the skies suddenly opened up just before our heat.

NNJR SCCA - Meadowlands, NJ - 7-23-2017
Our first two runs were done completely in the wet and it was a pure exercise of car control as Bumblestook wanted to drift more than she wanted to go straight. The course started drying up by my third run but just as Dave was about to go for his first dry-ish lap, the skies opened up again, wetting the dried parts of the course once more. Thankfully though we got a break and it finally did stop raining and a combination of winds and hot conditions allowed us to take our final 2 runs in the dry. 

Dave about to go out for his first lap in wet conditions- 7-23-2017
Dave identified a slight push in the car in our 5th runs and wanted some more front bite so we took out some front compression. I took my final run and the car felt much better. I dropped a good chunk of time and the course was now completely dry (well at least the racing line was). Dave finally got to drive Bumblestook at full speed for the first time and set a good raw time but nicked a cone in the slalom. Unfortunately that was the extent of our testing. The pace was definitely there to compete for the top spots but we ran out of runs. I may try to raise the rear bar a bit at the next event to get just slightly more rotation. It's tricky to tell based on today's data as the conditions were constantly changing. Overall though, I think it was a successful day. Her power delivery with the new tune was smooth, the new alignment seems to be balancing the car well and the handling is ballpark where we need it to be so it's just minor adjustments from here on out. 

NNJR SCCA - 7-23-2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Extracting Power

Bumblestook was already making good power but it was more towards the top end. In autocross you spend a lot more time in the midrange so the focus has always been to make a fatter, more usable torque curve from around 4000-7000rpm which is why I decided to swap from the PLM header to the Toda Torquie-Kun. In order to make sure Bumblestook would run optimally, I didn't want to take her out without first getting her on the dyno for a retune so I took her over to Evans Tuning today so Jeff could make sure she was running right.

Jeff Evans tuning Bumblestook - Evans Tuning - 7/15/2017
The tank was still full of E85 from Toledo which was ideal. We did a baseline run without making any changes to the old tune and it showed a massive 20+ ft-lb torque drop midrange. This would've been very noticeable (big time bog) if I had tried to run her without retuning. Turns out the VTEC crossover was too low for the way the Toda header flowed so he raised it a little and after a several pulls and adjustments to the fuel map Jeff was able to extract about 10 more ft-lbs of torque and 10-hp in the midrange over the old tune/setup.

Dyno Tune - Evans Tuning - 7/15/2017
It's important to note that comparing dynos over different days and conditions even of the same car isn't really worth doing so the increase is a data point but take it with a grain of salt. I think the important thing to note is that the power did indeed shift more towards the midrange (there's actually a noticeable bump in the graph that wasn't there in the old tune) at the cost of a slight loss of power at the top end. I think that's more than a fair trade off. I will note however that the previous tune was done during the winter and we're retuning in the middle of the summer so in theory the old tune should've produced better numbers to begin with so the fact that we're seeing gains while tuning at much warmer and humid conditions is very promising. We'll be testing her out next Sunday to see how all the changes work out.

Mounting fresh tires - SJF performance - 7/15/2017
I also stopped by SJF Performance so Steve could finally mount the fresh set of tires we'll be using for Nationals on my 2nd set of CCWs. Hopefully I'll be able to scrub these in some time in August before we head out for Lincoln.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fixing alignment

I finally got a chance to go to SJF Performance after installing my Alcantara wrapped OEM steering wheel last month. Despite several attempts I never was able to get the wheel perfectly centered so I wanted an alignment to re-center it. I also wanted to see if something had slipped in the alignment causing the strange oversteering issues at the last event.

Up on the alignment rack - SJF Performance- 6/25/2017
Turns out that the rear toe seems to have slipped and I had a bit of toe out in the driver side rear. The camber hadn't changed much though which is good. I suspect I can thank NYC streets for the slippage. SJF quickly put it back to what I wanted but this time I opted to try a bit of toe out up front to help with turn in. Nothing big, but something similar to what we did with Bumblestook earlier in the week.

Alignment complete - SJF Performance - 6/25/2017
The new alignment numbers are:

-3.3 camber
5.5 caster
0.02in total toe out

-2.3 camber
0.12in total toe in (1/8")

I then took her for a nice drive through some twisty roads in Northern NJ and she felt amazing again. Hopefully I'll get to take her to an autox soon despite our limited schedule.

Sunrise Mountain Overlook - 6/25/2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Toda Power and Licking Wounds

The Toledo ProSolo is always rough on cars. Combine incredible grip with intense heat and you've got yourself a potential recipe for disaster but thankfully Bumblestook held together to take the win last week. However it was not without issue. I had trailer wiring issues and had no trailer brakes most of the way there and back and Bumblestook's handling felt a bit inconsistent so it was time to get her back on the lift to give her a good post big event maintenance at SJF Performance.

Toda header installed - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
First though, her win gave Bumblestook dibs on the new Jet Hot ceramic coated Toda Torquie-Kun Header. While I purchased this header for Lupa, it made more sense to put her in Bumblestook where I can hopefully use it to get even more usable midrange torque as well as keep the engine bay a bit cooler.

New header gaskets - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
New header gaskets - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
Installation was pretty smooth. The runners go out a bit further than the PLM header so we had to insert the header from the engine bay but fitment was excellent. Of course, new gaskets were put in for a proper seal.

Toda header installed - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
SJF then flushed the diff fluid. The Toledo ProSolo was only the second event on the new ATS Spec III Type DD diff so it's just basically broken in but the diff fluid coming out was extra dirty. Hopefully it's just break-in carbon from the clutch plates but the diff itself seems to be having well and I'm not hearing of feeling anything unusual so I'm not too concerned. Once all that was sorted, she was put onto the alignment rack. The alignment had definitely shifted quite a bit and after talking to SJF, we decided to try a pretty different and perhaps more aggressive alignment this time around just to see how it would change things. We went with much more camber up front and a hair of toe out for slightly faster turn in. In the rear, we reduced the camber a smidge but still kept the 1/16" total toe in for stability.

Got Camber?  - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
The new alignments specs are:

-3.7 camber
5.4 caster
0.04in total toe out

-2.3 camber
0.06in total toe in

When we went to reset my sway bars back to meadowlands settings SJF noticed that the nut on my front sway bar was missing. The bar was definitely connected on Saturday in Toledo so somehow between Saturday and Sunday of the event the nut vibrated loose. The funny thing is I was struggling with understeer up until then so it's almost like Bumblestook just fixed herself for me by disconnecting her own sway bar haha. We reconnected it and dialed the front bar down from 5/6 to 3/6 and set the rear bar back to full soft from 5/7.

Added exhaust hanger - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
I'm not sure if it's the new header or the fact that some stuff shifted but the exhaust tip was touching the rear bumper. To move it back into position, SJF welded an additional hanger onto the exhaust to pull it back towards the driver side so now there's no more play left and right. That was it for all the Bumblestook upgrades and fixes. The final thing to fix was the wiring/overload issues with the trailer. I suspected the issue was related to the trailer connector so that was replaced with a beefier heavy duty one and so far the trailer seems to be operating correctly again.

Trailer plug replaced - SJF Performance - 6/20/2017
We don't have any events until the end of July so Bumblestook will be off to Evans Tuning next month to get a quick retune for the new header to make sure she's 100% when we go to Nationals.