Targa Miata
August 10, 2011 - One of the ways I'll be dealing with the rough roads was picked up from the Stillen team in 2009.
I'm using UHMW (ultra high molecular weight) plastic pieces as sliders. If the car does ground out, it'll take the brunt of the hit instead of abrading metal. Here, I've put a piece in the middle of a stock cross brace that I'll later weld to the rear subframe bracing. It'll not only protect the exhaust and differential, but will stiffen the rear control arm mounting points. Everybody wins!
entry 905 - tags: UHMW, skid plates, undercar protection
September 30, 2011 - Back home and up on the lift, it's time to check out how the car fared.
Well, score one for skid protection. My UHMW sliders got a good workout protecting my catalytic converters, which is exactly what they were built to do. I think that small skidmark on the cat was already there. The front skid plate didn't take too many impacts, but there were a couple. One of them might have done damage to the v-band connecting the header to the exhaust system had the plate not been there.
Other teams - notably the army mechanics who were working on the Soldier On car - were quite impressed with the undercar protection. It worked.
entry 1005 - tags: protection, skid plates
September 30, 2011 - Overall, the car is in excellent shape.
The rear subframe brace took the worst beating, which wasn't a surprise. Ground clearance back there is at a bit of a premium and my experience in 2008 was that the back was the most likely place to hit. The skid plate/brace did exactly what it was supposed to do and protected the important bits.
Elsewhere, there's very little sign that the car just finished such an ordeal. In fact, all we need to do is bang the rear skid plate into shape and we could run another week. Even the tires would be good for a few more days of racing. We replaced a coil that had heatsoak problems due to my heat shielding, had a video camera die (and lost a GoPro off the roof at speed) and of course lost the main relay. But overall, the car proved itself to be a strong and reliable tool with a huge turn of speed. By contrast, I was speaking to one of the MINI drivers after the event and he had a big list of problems to fix. For example, both of his front upper strut mounts were damaged and he'd replaced them once or twice already during the race. We had no similar concerns.
I've also been thinking about The Relay. At the time it happened, I felt that I should have been able to fix it on the side of the road and rejoin the race without the DNF for one stage. However, it wouldn't have made any difference in the end. By the time we'd extricated ourselves from the car, set up the triangles and OK sign, instantly diagnosed the problem, reloaded ourselves and rejoined the stage, we would have lost too much time to catch the Challenger and the M3 that finished ahead of us.
entry 1006 - tags: impact protection, skid plate, post-race