Saturday, July 11, 2015


The worst thing in racing is to be the only person racing. Without competition, it's just not much fun to win. This year, I don't lack for competition. Practically everyone in the class (who has showed up for more than one day) has a season championship. I'm pretty much the only one without a local jacket, and just recently, Johnathan Leith (Leafy) made me the only regular driver in the class to not have a trophy at a national event outside NER. (Congratulations to him!!). There's a danger that come September he'll also make me the only regular competitor to not have a trophy at nationals.

I have a wealth of good competitors this year which is excellent. So far this season, I've been pretty lazy about updates here and I finally took some time to update my standings page. Not surprisingly, with the improved competition, my results are not as good at this point in the year as last year. That said, my times simply haven't been as good as last year either. I ended my streak of hot season starts, and this time I had pretty crappy days for my first few events.

Things are beginning to look up however, I fell short at our national tour, but I was in the hunt until the middle run of the second day, and in fun runs at the last Renegade Miata event I posted my first ever FTD (fastest time of the day). There is one really fast person (Grant Reeve) who didn't show up to that normally does, but I've had that opportunity at least half a dozen times in the last few years and not been able to take advantage. Next goal is to do it when Grant is there, and BEFORE fun runs :).

The other likely significant thing about the last event was that it was the 3rd weekend in a row, and 4th day Autocrossing in 14 day span. Seat time helps! So tomorrow, I'll be at the Evolution Performance Driving school challenge school to work on the seat time and get feedback from their excellent instructors. Lets hope that helps me take it up a notch. With this crowd I'll need it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Like LSD man...

Ok sorry for the goofy title, I couldn't resist. So after doing all the work of pulling out the transmission, it became very clear that I want to minimize the number of times I do this. It's sort of fun in a way, but it really does take a lot of time and effort. So besides replacing the tattered, clutch that was probably a hairs breadth from grendading like this one:

The flywheel, and the Limited Slip Differential (LSD) were also installed. Basically, as a consultant, my time can be converted to money fairly readily and long term it's cheaper to do it all at once.

The flywheel is the Fidanza Aluminum flywheel, which shaves 6.8lbs off (about 45%) the stock. The clutch plate itself is only an ounce or two lighter, but it has less mass near the edges, and the clutch plate cover and pressure plate is a pound less, so the total weight savings should be about 8lbs of rotational weight. 

The LSD will offset that somewhat, adding back a couple pounds or so, but the diameter of the added rotational parts will be small, so perhaps 5-6 lbs off the car, and even more reduction in rotational inertia. PLUS power will now be available in the corners!

Only one problem... with great power comes great responsibility. It turns out that a lot of the time I've not been very gentle with the throttle. The LSD exposes this flaw in my driving in 2 ways. First, if lateral grip is not at maximum, but the car is turning, when the LSD locks up, this results in power only on the outside wheel (since the axel has become solid the inside wheel with less weight and traveling a different radius must slip). That tends to torque steer the car into the turn. This is potentially useful, but also throws you off if you are not used to it. Second, if you are at the limit of lateral grip, adding power now causes the OUTSIDE rear wheel to slip... and that will tend to make the car want to spin.

So while the LSD unlocks a new level of potential speed, the open diff will tend to save you from yourself, and is slightly easier to drive. My first event on the new LSD was quite disappointing because I was discovering that my throttle work needed work. After about 5 events, now I'm getting used to it and learning to ease onto the throttle and not be on/off the throttle as violently, and may just be beginning to reap the benefits of the additional speed in the corners.

Other notes on the changes I made... the lighter flywheel seems to make it slightly harder to get the car to actually turn over, which puts my present battery solution right on the very hairy edge... I probably need to think about setting up a cold weather jump system to ease the wear and tear on my starter when I have to leave for a race in the early AM. Mostly I just need an easy way to get jumper pack clamps on the battery.... without risking a short. The present space is pretty tight.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Waiting for the thaw...

Such a winter... 3-4 ft snow in the yard at max. Many all time snowfall records broken, season record in jeopardy. Even more amazing, it went from almost zero to nearly a season record in under a month. Not much was happening in early winter, so I didn't bother trying to manufacture a post. Then later, I was preoccupied with climbing on my roof to hack off the ice that was almost a foot thick in places...

With winter wrapping up and warm weather on the horizon, of course the car is somewhat disassembled... So I don't have time to write anything interesting now either, but I can offer you some pictures of lotus guts...

So obviously, the clutch is getting replaced.... other mods TBD, time/$ permitting...