Targa Miata
August 8, 2006 - Eric found a pair of used Peltor rally helmets along with an intercom.
By a quirk of fate, they fit us perfectly. As an even bigger bonus, they have competed in the Targa before in a Miata. We're quite excited about this.
entry 14 - tags: safety, intercom
January 29, 2007 - The cage is almost ready to go in.
This was provided by Hard Dog Fabrication and is a fantastic piece of work. It drops right in to place and has all the fishmouthed joints finished for us. We'll go a little further than the usual Spec Miata installation and tie it to the windshield frame as well.
entry 25 - tags: safety, sponsors
January 29, 2007 - A hurdle to overcome.
The cage was designed to be installed on a car with the dashboard in place, it seems. I can install the structure underneath, but the plastic covering (which seems to weigh about a pound!) won't go in without more surgery. Since we want to paint the cage along with the body of the car, I do need to be able to pull and replace the dash somehow. There's a way, I just have to figure out the best way to do it.
entry 26 - tags: safety, weight loss
February 4, 2007 - Time to weld in the cage.
Mark Wingerter from Flyin' Miata came by the garage to handle the welding.
entry 35 - tags: safety
February 4, 2007 - In order for Mark to get full access to some of the tubes, I cut some holes in the body of the car.
It worked quite nicely, allowing him to reach all the way around this awkward joint. The Hard Dog bar is available as a bolt-together design that avoids this kind of problem, but I prefer the weld-in solution better for strength and weight.
entry 36 - tags: safety
February 4, 2007 - About 3 minutes worth of work was required to bolt in the bar once all the welding was done.
It's a lot easier to install a cage in a completely stripped car than a street Miata, that's for sure! The quality of the welding by Hard Dog Fabrication had us all in awe.
entry 37 - tags: safety
February 4, 2007 - Brandon Fitch of Flyin' Miata was also on hand to help out with the cage construction.
He's cutting out some gussets to allow us to tie the cage to the windshield frame for maximum stiffness. Plasma cutters are fun!
entry 38 - tags: safety, stiffness
February 4, 2007 - One of the gussets in place.
Before these were welded in, the windshield frame could be moved slightly independently of the cage. Now, there's no chance.
entry 39 - tags: safety, stiffness
March 16, 2007 - Our Corbeau seats are here.
They're the FX1 Pro, a nicely fitted fibreglass seat that fits in small cars. We also have a set of Corbeau harnesses for each occupant of the car.
entry 91 - tags: sponsors, seats, ergonomics, safety
March 20, 2007 - Along with seats, Corbeau supplied these 3" harnesses and pads.
While the pads might be overkill, I know how bruised my collarbones get after a track day. Perhaps this will help with comfort a bit.
entry 97 - tags: sponsors, safety
May 28, 2007 - The worst part of the cleaning - the gunk on the inside of the doors.
Miata owners know what I'm talking about here. It turns out that WD-40 does a real number on this stuff, diluting it slightly and defeating its tenacity. This is the result of a bit of WD-40 and rag work. The pressure washer took care of much of the rest, and the pre-paint clean should finish the job.
Those with sharp eyes will note that the doors that were gutted before were black and this one is not. It was pointed out to me that the particular Spec Miata cage we're using does not have a substitute for the factory door bars. Since I'd cut the door bars out of the other, I'd left Eric and myself without much in the way of side impact protection. That's not a smart thing to do, so a new set of doors was substituted and left whole.
entry 186 - tags: paint, safety
June 10, 2007 - I didn't just bolt on body panels this weekend.
I also finished the installation of the driver's seat, and that involved finding a way to bolt in the sub belt. Naturally, the anchor point has to go right in the middle of a longitudinal frame rail. This means I can't access the back side of it to put in a nut.
But check this out - Mazda put a nice little access panel in the floor for the frame rail! After cutting out a bit of seam sealer, the panel popped off. As an added bonus, I was able to feel that there were multiple layers at the base of the bulkhead so I had a very solid anchor point. A bit of "Automotive Goop" (a nice silicone glue) and the panel was back in place. This made me happy, as I was expecting to have to build some sort of odd bracketry.
I've also learned that it's hard to take detail pictures of a blinding white car. Sorry about the over-exposed shot here.
entry 201 - tags: seats, safety
October 1, 2007 - Hard Dog Fabrication sent along this trick dual-durometer rollbar padding.
The problem is that rollbars are hard. The SFI-compliant padding at right is hard enough to protect a helmeted head from the bar, but it's not soft enough to protect an unhelmeted head very well. Since I want to be able to drive the Targa Miata without a helmet, this isn't ideal. The solution is a softer outer shell, with a firmer SFI padding inside. It's obviously quite a bit thicker overall than just an SFI pad so I can't use it in a couple of locations, but it'll fit nicely around my head.
entry 321 - tags: sponsors, safety
December 26, 2007 - I didn't just work on the header today - although I certainly did spend most of my time on it!
This fire extinguisher got mounted in place. Okay, it's not a big job. But it's an important thing to have on board!
entry 361 - tags: safety
January 8, 2008 - A big box of pipes arrived yesterday.
Janel didn't seem to understand my excitement. Oh well. Now I just need to get up the nerve to start cutting and tacking tubes. It's a big step, but I know from last time that a solid day's work should show good progress. Last time I didn't have the cool design tools I do now...but I also had a much simpler header to build.
In other news, the shocks are revalved and should be heading back this way shortly. Not that I can drive it right now, the diff is gone and of course the engine bay is full of blue snakes.
I've also been talking to the new technical director for the Targa. As you may remember, the cage I'm using is an SCCA Spec Miata cage. I was given the okay to use this, but it doesn't meet the Targa rulebook. Well, apparently it does meet the approval of the new tech inspector with the exception of door bars. They're putting an emphasis on door bars for 2008. I'm going to have to find space to stick another one in there on top of the one I have now. I think I know how I'll fit it in place. Hopefully I won't have to disassemble the car too far to weld it.
entry 364 - tags: header, suspension, safety
January 31, 2008 - More header work.
Someday I'll have to move on to something else. But I spent some quality time with the belt sander ensuring the flange is nice and flat. Then I laid a gasket over the flange and did a little porting. In a few spots I needed a bit more material so I added it in with the welder. Now, more sanding then more grinding.
Once that's done, it's time to build the lower half and move on to something else!
In other news, I did install the navigator light provided by Rallylights.com and it will be wired in shortly. I'm also trying to figure out how to put in another door bar on each door. It's not going to make the cockpit any roomier, that's for sure.
entry 393 - tags: header, safety, ergonomics
February 21, 2008 - I tried to locate a Peltor helmet for Janel to match my own.
She wears a size small, and for some reason the small Peltors go for ridiculous sums on eBay when compared to the larger helmets. After trying to win various helmets all over the world, I gave up. She has a G-Force full-face helmet that she uses for track days and finds it very comfortable. We felt an open-face would be better for the race. A quick call to Discovery Parts and this new one was dispatched.
The intercom is a Peltor open-face kit. We stuck with Peltor instead of using something like Terratrip for this because we wanted the best fidelity possible and I felt that sticking with a single brand was best. Besides, this is one Peltor part that's relatively inexpensive.
And yes, Janel has personalised it already with a pink cat.
entry 411 - tags: safety, intercom
March 16, 2008 - I was going to spend the weekend working on the car's suspension.
I have the new springs. However, AFCO wanted to take a look at the shocks so they're off getting checked out. This also prevents me from doing any more testing on the wideband.
Instead, I installed the first aid kit. This was provided to us by Susquehanna Motorsports, aka rallylights.com. It's mounted in the trunk, and I made this strap to hold it in place securely. There's also a piece of aluminum angle iron riveted in front to hold it in place. It's not going anywhere, but it's quick and easy to access. Perfect.
entry 437 - tags: safety, sponsors
June 1, 2008 - We have to carry three safety triangles with us in the car.
No problem, so I picked some up at NAPA. Holy cow, they're heavy! That black base is full of sand or lead or depleted uranium or something, designed to keep the triangle upright in a hurricane. I'm going to do some small modifications here to make them a little more svelte.
entry 461 - tags: safety
June 17, 2008 - I've been trying to figure out how to mount a rear tow hook to the car.
I cleverly took the frame extensions that hold the tie-down hooks off over a year ago, and this made things a little more difficult for me. I can't just bolt on a normal tow loop.
The MX-5 Cup racers use a loop made out of webbing, so I figured I'd give that a try. It took some searching, but I finally found one at I/O Port. It's light and with a bit of creativity I can mount it to the chassis nicely.
entry 479 - tags: safety
June 17, 2008 - To mount the tow strap, I welded a triangular plate to the frame arm.
There's a Grade 8 bolt passed through the plate and welded in as well. A 2.5" hole in the bumper cover and voila! a tow strap. I think it should work pretty nicely, actually, and it added less weight to the car than a bolt-on tow loop.
Okay, there's one more item off the checklist...
entry 480 - tags: safety
June 19, 2008 - I got myself a new set of safety triangles.
The last set I picked up were unbelievably heavy - and they proved to be remarkably pervasive when I was looking for others. In Europe, there are many options for safety triangles. In the US, there appears to be one model that rules the marketplace. After a lot of hunting, I found a website with exactly what I wanted, and placed an order.
Only to discover that their website wasn't really up. They emailed me to let me know that the store would be open in a few months. Then called me a few hours later saying they could actually ship the stuff in a week, then I got a tracking number about a day later. Talk about lowering expectations!
They showed up today, and they're significantly lighter than the previous ones. The new ones (set up on the left) even have more reflective area than the old ones, and the set of three weighs less than a single one of the old. So that's all good then.
I've been looking for places to stash them in the car. I have some ideas. Right now, one is attached under the dash with Velcro for rapid deployment.
entry 481 - tags: safety
June 22, 2008 - One of the rules - a fairly common one for racing - says that the fuel tank needs to be isolated from the cockpit by a sheet metal barrier.
The tank's under that bulge in the middle, and it is isolated. But I've had people point to that bulge in the past and state it is a safety hazard. In order to avoid any potential unpleasantness at scrutineering , I decided to close this area up a bit.
In this picture, you can see the fuel tank cover (not the tank itself) and half of the factory shielding behind the driver's seat. I had to cut it in half in order to be able to install and remove it without pulling the fixed seats! You can also see how much of the rear deck I chopped out during the install of the roll bar.
entry 482 - tags: safety
June 22, 2008 - Showing off my mad fabrication skills, I made a plate to cover the removed steel from the rear deck.
I used a cardboard template (underneath the box'o'rivets), cut out the plate and riveted it into place. To add a little bit of provenance, I made the plate out of an old piece of the Seven.
entry 483 - tags: safety
June 22, 2008 - And voila, the finished rear deck.
The black piece is the stock sheetmetal, painted because it was really nasty looking. As usual for the Targa Miata, it was rescued from a salvage car. The Unbottles are strapped down and all the openings are closed up in the deck.
entry 485 - tags: safety, ergonomics
June 22, 2008 - I needed a place to stash the safety triangles where they're both out of the way and easily accessible.
I was thinking of putting them on the rear shelf, but finally decided to put them under Janel's legs. The velcro is riveted to the floor and they're nice and secure, but immediately accessible.
Those who have been paying attention will remember that I mounted the fire extinguisher in this same place. It's now been moved over in front of my seat. Why? Because the driver's side is a bit narrower than the passenger's side, and there wasn't enough room for the triangles on my side.
entry 486 - tags: safety, ergonomics
July 11, 2008 - Time to add the extra door bars.
When I originally built the car for the 2007 race, the scrutineers would accept a basic SCCA Spec Miata cage. But after a couple of high-profile accidents last year, they decided an extra door bar would be required on my car for 2008. Fair enough, I'm not going to argue. This is why I've been hounding the organizers with all sorts of questions, to avoid awkward problems in Newfoundland.
After conferring via email on the design, I made a visit to our local Porsche guru. He works out of a small shop that is completely stuffed with everything you need to make your own highly-competitive race car, quite possibly to the point of machining your own engine block out of a chunk of aluminum. He's also run in both the Carrera Panamerica and the Italian Mille Miglia, so he's a kindred spirit of sorts.
After about 90 minutes of drilling, grinding, testing and the like, here's what I brought home.
entry 491 - tags: safety
July 11, 2008 - After a bit more fitting, more grinding and a bunch of welding, the bars are in.
It actually took quite a bit more fitting. I thought we had the fit closer when we were at the Porsche shop, but it would seem not. Once fitted, I stuffed a huge canvas tarpaulin inside the car to catch sparks and welded them in. It was a bit awkward in many places and there's no way this cage is coming out without being cut apart, but it wasn't exactly removable before. It's not my prettiest welding, but it'll certainly do the job. I sent this picture off to the Targa tech inspector and he gave it the thumbs up.
Now I just have to paint them. I'll also repair the paint damage to the nose that took place during the off during testing last summer. Hopefully that will take place this weekend.
This is the last big step in preparation. There are still a number of small details to sort out and a lot of rule book reading to ensure I'm good, but the car is now fundamentally ready.
entry 492 - tags: safety
August 29, 2008 - Janel and I took a First Aid course yesterday.
Both of us have had fairly extensive training in the past - I used to be a swimming instructor, her job in the construction industry opens up the option for all sorts of gruesome problems - so it wasn't a difficult thing. Still, it's good to shake the dust off those skills again.
While going through the regulations one last time to avoid problems at scrutineering, I discovered that our first aid kit (supplied by the good folks at Rallylights.com) needed to be in the cockpit instead of in the trunk where I'd mounted it earlier. Finding room for the big white box was a bit tricky, so I stuffed everything in a small tool bag. This is strapped up under the dashboard where it can be in Janel's hands in seconds, but it's out of the way. It's also less than half the weight it used to be!
entry 521 - tags: skills, preparation, safety
February 8, 2009 - During the race, we discovered a need for a bit of comfort padding on the rollbar.
I put something together using memory foam and tape. The foam doesn't like being bent like this and it's been coming apart. So I took the opportunity today to clean things up a bit and put a bit of pipe insulation in its place.
I know, I know. Pipe insulation isn't roll bar padding. This stuff isn't meant to be for major impact protection, just to keep me from getting a sore knee when I brace myself against the bar.
Of course, as soon as I was done, I discovered there was some soft roll bar padding in the Camaro donor car for the MG. So I'll probably redo this. Although really, the non-SFI padding basically is pipe insulation.
entry 650 - tags: safety, comfort
March 28, 2011 - The original harnesses for the Targa car had expired and had to be replaced.
Corbeau will either re-web them with new straps or, for another $9, send you a new set with new hardware. The new ones are marked with an April 2011 date, that's as fresh as harnesses get! Corbeau is based right near us, it must have been the fast shipping.
entry 800 - tags: safety
May 31, 2011 - It's amazing how many small jobs eat up time.
I have a new set of Corbeau harnesses for the car, as the old ones were expired. So I need to set them up for length. It's not a big piece of work, but an hour or so of fiddling around was an hour I couldn't spend on something else.
entry 848 - tags: safety
July 6, 2011 - More useless equipment.
Well, hopefully useless. If all goes according to plan, these will never do us any good. But given the performance of the car, it's better safe than sorry.
For those who don't recognize them, they're HANS devices for Janel and I. If the worst happens, they'll help keep our heads attached to our necks. Not cheap insurance, but better than the alternative.
entry 867 - tags: safety
July 9, 2011 - Since neither my helmet nor Janel's came with HANS anchors, I had to install them myself.
It's not a terribly difficult job. As you can see, Janel busied herself with personalizing her HANS device as I drilled into her helmet. Well, we have to be able to tell them apart, don't we?
entry 869 - tags: HANS, safety