Targa Miata
June 30, 2011 - Nancy is the sister car for the Targa Miata at the race.
It's almost ready to run as-is, but it does need a bit of extra rally prep. The most obvious is the Terratrip rally computer.
Why does this car run a Terratrip while the Targa Miata runs a Coralba? Cost. Eric got a great deal on the Coralba five years ago, and it's a great computer. But this fully-featured Terratrip is far more affordable and has proven itself in club competition over the years. The one thing it's missing that would be nice to have is the "pilot speed" function, which tells the crew how many seconds they need to gain/lose in order to hit a specific average speed. Still, the average speed display will work well.
entry 866 - tags: Nancy
July 27, 2011 - Work is continuing on both team cars.
When we first looked at Nancy, the 2006 Grand Touring car, we thought there wouldn't be much to do. But there are a raft of details: mount the safety triangles, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, intercom, Terratrip and seats for example. Brandon, the crew chief for the team, has been combing through the regulations to make sure we have an easy time at scrutineering.
We also had to find a spare tire for the car. The 2006 and later Miatas come with a patch-and-inflate setup, which is fine for street cars but not so good for competition. You can buy an expensive spare tire setup from Mazda, or you can find one of the spares from a 1993-95 RX7. They're a sexy little alloy and are actually popular with the RX7 drag racing crowd as front wheels. A quick work with a bracket and it's ready to go.
On the Targa Miata, work continues. More details later!
entry 885 - tags: Nancy, spare
August 3, 2011 - Nancy in full livery.
Most of the sponsor stickers are on the back half of the car, where we can get more contrast and visibility with the solid black rear instead of trying to fit in the mixed white and purple. We will have to load the car up with an undisclosed number of event stickers as well, so we're leaving room. The one sticker on the front half of the car is the Heifer International logo. They're not a sponsor of the car, but Flyin' Miata is a sponsor of theirs.
Check out the new black C3M wheels wrapped in new Dunlop Star Spec tires in a 245/45-17. Thanks to Tire Rack for donating the wheels and Dunlop for supplying tires. Why a 245 when we've been running a 255 in the past? Because Grassroots Motorsports found that size to be measurably quicker in their testing on a car very much like ours.
Both cars will spend the next two days pounding around the track, showing off their abilities to Flyin' Miata fans. It'll also serve as a good shakedown for them. Neither car is completely in Targa spec yet, but they're close.
entry 900 - tags: Nancy, tires, wheels, sponsors
August 10, 2011 - The FM Summer Camp is the last big event before the race.
It's a chance for us to show both Targa cars off to the very people who made it possible for us to go to the race. In the process, the cars spent two days pounding around the track giving rides. This works as a nice shakedown too!
Nancy, the 2006, did quite well. The car currently has more grip than power, but is nicely adjustable in the corners if you carry some speed in. It's got a good tossable balance. The flat torque curve isn't super-exciting, but it does get the job done nicely.
The Targa car is under-tired on the 140 treadwear Toyo R1Rs. It is quite likely they were overheating with the frequent 6-minute sessions and very hot temperatures, as they did feel best on the initial lap. I played around with pressures to see if I could improve things, but overall the car was just not as well connected to the ground as I'd like. The biggest complaint is the turn-in softness, which was really brought into sharp focus when I jumped into the other V8 car with Nitto NT-01 R-compounds. So, given that I wasn't going to set any lap records, I spent the day provoking the car to see how it would behave under duress. I was putting wheels on berms, braking with the car unbalanced and generally trying to make it misbehave. And the car was being the usual excellent platform and just letting me do whatever I wanted.
The car has a bit too much oversteer. This is partly because I was fooling and using wheelspin to rotate the car, but also because the rear spring rates are currently too high at 450 lbs. I have a set of 400 lb springs on my desk at work, and they're going in the car today. That will let me run a rear sway bar, which gives me a few more options for tuning the car's handling. At the moment, I can choose between just a bit of oversteer and way too much oversteer!
The car wasn't perfect. It ended the first day running on 7 cylinders. It's done this before, and last time I fixed it by reseating the plug wire. This time, it simply looked like weak spark. I suspect the coils on the car are from the 2002 Firebird that donated the heads, so I picked up a new coil for the dead cylinder and dropped it in. Voila, problem solved.
Near the end of the second day, I felt a clunk from the front and my steering wheel changed position. One of the new alignment cams had shifted under hard cornering and braking. The change in camber had also changed the front toe, thus the cockeyed steering wheel. I should have seen this coming - the cam is in the new control arm, which is covered in nice slippery new powdercoat. That's easy to fix and to avoid in the future, and exactly the reason why I test like this. I tried a couple of times to eyeball it back into the appropriate position, but couldn't quite get it right. So I called it a day and parked the car.
Overall, a good weekend. As a shakedown, it worked very well. It's a shame the Targa Miata ended the day parked in the trailer early amidst rumors of breakages, but it was nothing serious so there's no harm done.
Now we're about 3 weeks away from departure, and I still have a big list of things that need to be done. It's time to get cracking.
entry 901 - tags: testing, suspension, Nancy, handling
August 18, 2011 - Brandon surveys his new race car.
In case you missed the announcement on the FM site, Bill broke his shoulder over the weekend and is unable to race. Brandon, trying to act sympathetic but secretly giggling like a little girl, has stepped into his place. Now he's working to get the 2006 ready for the race. The plan to run a set of Corbeau FX1 Pro seats has been set aside - Bill doesn't find the stock NC seats comfortable, but they fit Brandon just fine. He's also working on smaller things such as wiring in the Terratrip rally computer and generally sorting out where everything will go. Reading the rulebook over and over is a big part of preparation for the event, to make sure there are no surprises at scrutineering.
entry 913 - tags: nancy, brandon, accident
September 12, 2011 - Zach and his homework.
He's got a lot more of it to do, and the surprising change to Condition 2 for the second stage today really messed with his calculations. He's learning fast, but it's been a challenging and frustrating few days. This isn't quite what he expected! However, despite the learning curve, he and Brandon are currently penalty-free and tied for first with two other teams. It doesn't get any better than that.
Brandon reports that the pace is good - fast enough to be fun, but without the risk of a Miata/tree incident.
entry 961 - tags: 2011 race, day 1, Nancy, Zach, Brandon