Project JDMvette begins

Our endurance racer is starting the transformation into a one of a kind, unique vehicle that no sensible person would ever dream of creating.

After the car’s maiden voyage on the race track at Iowa Speedway, we learned a couple things. The first was that the stock 1.6 liter four cylinder engine is able to withstand 24 hours of abuse at the hands of four sleep deprived amateur racers. The second thing we learned was that the stock 1.6 liter four cylinder is only marginally faster than walking at a brisk pace as witnessed in this in car video. Check your speaker volume before starting the video, there’s a bit of wind noise.

After our team had accomplished its goal of finishing a race at Iowa, we set our sights higher. The 1.6 motor had served admirably but it just didn’t have what it took to duke it out against the myriad BMWs we were facing. We needed a different solution. After racking our brains and searching for dirt cheap cars on craigslist we came upon an idea.

We figured buying an old beat up Mitsubishi Eclipse, tearing out the engine, and stuffing it into the Chevette engine bay seemed like a good way to go. Surprisingly it fits.

Over the next few weeks I plan on documenting the engine swap and our efforts at bringing Project JDMvette to life.

Ghetto Racing Body Kit

We made quite the addition to our Chevette endurance racer this week. I’m not sure you could call what we did an improvement, in fact I think most people would say that it’s probably not anything close to an improvement. We made our own body kit for the car.

Now since this is endurance racing with a $500 budget limit and the car is also a Chevette, we couldn’t just order a body kit made for our car. That meant getting creative. Getting creative in this type of situation usually means finding a part that has dimensions in the neighborhood of what you’re looking for and then cutting, hammering, melting, and mangling it to suit your needs. This body kit was no different. Our starting point was going to be the rear bumper left over from an old circle track car body. Why the rear bumper? That was the only part that wasn’t completely destroyed from the body and it also happened to be the part we got for free from the race team before they threw it in the dumpster.

Now that we had plans to give this rear bumper new life as a front air dam, some modifications were in order. These bumpers are actually two pieces of urethane that are riveted together, so our first step was to drill out those rivets. Once that was done, we used a jigsaw to cut the bumper in half lengthwise. After that, we flipped it upside down to get the ideal shape for test fitting on the car.

Once we were satisfied that it mostly fit, we riveted it on. We also snagged a few side skirts that the circle track team was tossing out and slapped those on the side while we were at it. In true ghetto body kit fashion, we left everything unpainted.

We figure this whole ensemble is good for at least 20 ponies to the wheels, thus almost doubling the power of the 1.6 liters of fury this car is packing. If we’re feeling brave we may slap some stickers on there to add a bit more top end power.

April 2011 Cars & Cafe

Now that winter has finally loosened its crushing grip enough to allow people to remember what spring is, one of my favorite events to attend has returned. Cars & Cafe is a monthly car gathering that happens on the first Saturday of the month that attracts every imaginable variety of automotive spectacle in the state of Minnesota. There is always something new to see every time I make the drive to the Automotorplex, and this time wasn’t any different. The notable cars ran the gamut from a 2011 Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale, to a 1932 Ford Roadster, to a Monster Miata, to a Volvo with a Chevy V8 swap. Cars that would satisfy every type of enthusiast braved the road grime left behind by the melting snow. Even a decent number of motorcycles showed up, although I’m not sure I would have made the same decision knowing the temperature was only in the mid 30’s. All in all, it was a great gathering considering the weather and gives promise to another year of great mornings at Cars & Cafe.

See For Yourself If Group B Cars Are Too Fast To Race

Dirt 3 released a new trailer this week, one that inspires nostalgia for a popular era of rally racing.

Dirt 3, developed and published by Codemasters, is the newest release in the Colin McRae series of rally racing games. Most of the marketing to date has showcased the gymkhana segments of the game, a style of motorsports that has gained favor with a younger, flat-brimmed hat wearing crowd.

This new trailer is geared towards a different crowd, one that remembers the era of rally racing that appeared in the documentary Too Fast To Race. That documentary showcased the awesome power of the Group B cars that assaulted every surface they appeared on. This trailer replicates that same brutality those cars demonstrated on the rally circuit.

I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one of these fabled machines when the game is released on May 24, 2011.

McLaren getting involved in NASCAR

McLaren announced this month that they are forming a partnership with NASCAR but it’s not what you think.

NASCAR announced that they are finally implementing the technology that every street car has had for decades, fuel injection. As reported by Fox Sports, McLaren will produce the engine control units for the fuel injection systems slated to be implemented for the 2012 season. This is a major rule change as NASCAR has used carburetors since the series was started in 1949. The cars used in the racing series have continued to distance themselves from the stock cars upon which they are based, the “stock” cars that travel to the racetracks these days share little more than the namesake of the cars sold in dealerships. The fuel delivery, engines, body panels, suspension, and basically everything else that makes up a racecar are vastly different than what the car manufacturers produce. There’s a good reason for that though, the demands put on these cars in racing conditions vary greatly from what you and I ask of our cars during the daily commute.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France stated, ““We’re on a steady march to more technology in the cars, which is historically unlike us in some respects, provided that it doesn’t burden the teams with additional costs that don’t translate to our fan base, and obviously that we can enforce whatever new technologies. The final thing is to make sure that it makes racing better. No question about it, fuel injection is something we’re going to evolve to here in the short run.”

Most teams aren’t concerned with history though, they want to win races. Throughout the history of NASCAR many teams haven’t exactly followed the rules to do so, so of course the NASCAR officials will need to be able to ensure a level playing field. Officials say they will only allow approved software in the engine control computers and that there will be special tools at each track to ensure teams don’t try and get creative with the new technology. Teams shouldn’t be too worried though, the added control that fuel injection affords should increase the power that their race engines produce. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition, confirmed that fuel injection on NASCAR engines will “make the same horsepower if not more.” He also elaborated on the overall impact on NASCAR, “This move gives us an additional opportunity to incorporate the best technology and efficiency to the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars while at the same time complementing the car’s high performance,” Pemberton said. “This is a positive step that will provide greater fuel efficiency and a greener footprint while maintaining the same great competition that we have seen on the race track.”

$500 Racecar Roll Cage Construction

Our intrepid race team completed one of the major requirements for building a $500 racecar this weekend, construction of the roll cage. It wasn’t an easy task but having the proper tools, reading the rules eleventy times, and making sure to measure at least once made the job a whole lot smoother.

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