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.

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.

Continue reading $500 Racecar Roll Cage Construction

The REAL Soap Opera for Men…

It’s not wrestling. Who watches that as adults anyways?

It is and always will be Formula 1.
Formula 1 is the pinnacle of Motorsport. Billions of dollars are spent every year to go racing. Let me repeat that BILLIONS….. Prior to Toyota leaving the sport, it was estimated that the company spend upwards of $2 Billion to get a podium. Granted that was one team over a handful of years, but no matter how you slice it, it’s huge money.

The drama is of epic proportions and the racing can be incredibly exciting. The rules change year in and year out, and teams spend inordinate amounts of money to stay competitive. Speculation again: It was said that the cost to a team (McLaren in this case of speculation circa 2009), to shave one tenth of a second of the lap times of an existing car was in the realm of $10 million….I’ll let that sink in for a bit.

Yes, the money is almost unfathomable. The cars are getting faster and faster, despite the FIA’s best efforts to slow them down by changing the rules again and again. The teams can only modify about 50% of the body’s Aerodynamic properties in comparison to years past. The tires are thinner, giving less mechanical grip, and the engines are smaller and less powerful than before. They have even reduced the number of revs an engine can turn from last year, and yet the cars are just as fast, if not faster. These cars ran turbocharged engines making near 1500hp in qualifying trim some time ago, now they are naturally aspirated 2.4L V8’s that make about 1/2 of that power. And yet they still go faster. There are minimum weight requirements, ride height requirements, wheel design requirements, requirements for EVERYTHING to keep things on a level playing field and slow them down. But yet these cars still go faster and faster.

The developments don’t stop at the start of a season. They are just beginning. Off-Season testing is regulated and almost non-existent, to cut costs. So these teams with only a wind tunnel and a handful of days to test can build cars that rival previous generations where there was unlimited testing, and far fewer regulations.

The engineers are, quite literally, the best in the world. I firmly believe that if you took the engineers form one team and asked them to go to space, they’d give NASA a run for their money. They constantly find ways to design components, given the constraints of the rules, that boggle the mind. A few recent examples: Double diffuser (Brawn 2009), Ferrari’s wheels (2010), ‘Blown’ or ‘Stalled’ rear wing (McLaren 2010), etc.. Continue reading The REAL Soap Opera for Men…

Bracing For Impact – Part 1

Before I managed to stop my concerns of falling through the floor of the Chevette by patching the floor, we prepped the chassis for the roll cage. The car body didn’t have enough sheet metal to properly support a roll cage, so we added a subframe connector made out of two inch by three inch square tubing. This tubing would help tie the front and rear subframes together and spread the energy load from a possible crash throughout the chassis. This would maximize the ability of the rollcage to properly do its job and prevent the cage tubing from punching through the sheet metal.

Continue on to follow the fabrication progress.

Continue reading Bracing For Impact – Part 1