18 Gallons of Lemonade

Once we had stripped the car of the last remaining interior bits, we were ready to tackle another aspect of construction for our endurance racer, the fuel cell. From prior experience we knew that staying out on the track is of the utmost importance. Keeping this haphazard collection of nuts and bolts in one piece is one aspect of that equation, toting around enough gas to keep the engine supplied is another. We knew the stock fuel tank would be inadequate for our super sized requirements, so we super sized the fuel tank. We sourced an 18 gallon monstrosity from the discarded parts pile of a local touring car team and got to work.

We measured where the fuel cell would fit and not interfere with the rear suspension or try to occupy the same space as something that’s important, like a frame rail.

Continue reading 18 Gallons of Lemonade

September 2010 Cars & Cafe

I made my monthly sojourn to the AutoMotorPlex this weekend, in order to attend the Cars & Cafe for September. It was a great time, although it was a little chilly at 8am with fall fast approaching, but that was nothing a sweatshirt couldn’t handle. The turnout was great and I noticed many cars I had not seen before. I’ve come up with a theory after frequent attendance that about 3/4 of the cars that attend are regulars and only the remaining 1/4 are different each month. My theory was blown out of the water this month and it was a very nice treat as some serious machines I had not seen before were on display.

Continue reading September 2010 Cars & Cafe

Go slow to go fast

Our race team has encountered our first design question for our car.

The Chevette is an economy car, and as such was never meant to be driven at speed. The speedometer only goes up to 80 and the engineer was being extremely optimistic about that number. With economy, light weight, and light duty in mind this car sports some extremely small brakes. There are disks up front and rotors out back, there is no brake booster, and neither half of the car sports cooling features for the brakes. This is not the recipe for a race capable brake system, especially an endurance race system that will see high temperatures for extended periods of time.

The rules for the endurance race series we plan to enter are pretty generous towards brake modification as that is an extremely important aspect of safety and racing. This leaves us with plenty of options.

Continue reading Go slow to go fast

Doing the dirty deed

Our race team is continuing to make progress on the Chevette/T1000 endurance racecar.
We tackled one of the more undesirable tasks this weekend, gutting the interior. In this car’s case, the interior is pretty trashed after sitting for many years with the windows up. It’s basically turned the interior into a petri dish for mold, bacteria, and other nasty stuff. The best part about this job is that we will both be removing all of the disease-riddled interior and taking another step towards racecar status.

Click the link below to see how the transformation.

Continue reading Doing the dirty deed

Picking the perfect $500 racecar

After two 24 hour endurance races and over $750 in gas being used, our racing team has decided to re-asses our decision for what car to campaign. The Buick was a great car to run as an introduction to endurance racing, but it is just too heavy and sucks too much gas to be competitive against the RX7s and BMW 3-series cars that seem to dominate at most races. We needed to shed about a thousand pounds of weight and downsize the engine powering our car.

Continue reading Picking the perfect $500 racecar

Build your own $500 Buick racecar

The 24 Hours of LeMons series is utterly fascinating. The premise of racing $500 cars in an endurance race to win $1500 in nickels seems like it would hold zero appeal to anyone, yet many many people field teams to compete in these shows of automotive lunacy. This is the story of how I got started in this unlikely series.

My father and I started racing at our local asphalt circle track, progressing year by year though the classes. After ten years, countless hours, blood, and sweat we started winding down our racing commitment. We were approaching exhaustion in regards to racing and wanted to tone down our schedule. The prospect of devoting 22 weekends and nearly that many weekdays to another season of racing was less and less appealing. As this reality was setting in, I read about the 24 hours of LeMons series in Sport Compact Car magazine. It sounded like an automotive adventure and the schedule was pretty sporadic, so we could still fulfill our racing desires while keeping our annual time commitment low. This sounded like a good fit, so we built a car. We drew on our experience and built what we were comfortable with, a GMC G-Body car. They are the entry level cars at the circle track and closely model the LeMons rules, with minor changes we could adapt a car and go endurance racing. We called a racing buddy who ran a junkyard and located a police impound Buick Regal as a base to begin with.

Follow to the next page to see how this POS was transformed from a police impound project into an endurance racecar.

Continue reading Build your own $500 Buick racecar