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All other things equal, better engine to learn with?

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  • All other things equal, better engine to learn with?

    I'm big on the whole "simple slow setup makes you learn better" deal, and that idea would lead to one thinking a near stock na ka would be a better choice to start off...but at the same time I see a number of people on here learning with near stock SR's, and to be honest, I've had the car for 5 years, I want a little more power, just to make it a bit more fun on the street.

    I've ridden in cars with bone stock SR's running like 7-10 psi on stock turbo, so *maybe* 200 rwhp, and loved it...I've lived with 110 rwhp for 5 years, I can live with 200 for a time while I'm learning too.

    The setup I look towards most is Casey's since I've been following his car for over 3 years now, and I don't know how much track time he had with KA before but I think he was in HPDE 2 when I first saw the car, and it had SR already at that point, and I think he's probably the biggest proponent of proper learning I can think of.

    So I guess I'm just wondering...for learning purposes, do I swap in a DOHC KA in a few months to replace my SOHC and live with that as long as I can take it, or do I get a stock SR next summer and move up the ladder with that and have fun the whole time doing so.

    PS in case it isn't obvious I'm HPDE 1. Oh, and eventual goal will be to run ST2 ish level, or thereabouts.
    '06 wrx - DD

    '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

  • #2
    A stockish SR won't be so much power you have to be super careful with throttle application, so I say go for it. What really holds people back in learning with big HP cars is that you're worried about looping the thing because you don't have great feel for the car, or the car control skills to keep it in check when it gets out there.

    I honestly think people that solely drive momentum cars have a harder time moving to a high HP car than the other way around.

    I would recommend a FMIC and an oil cooler to start with, and probably at least an exhaust to keep exhaust pressures down. You need to concentrate on keeping it cool so you can pound on it for lap after lap, and the stock radiator and SMIC aren't up the task of keeping the car cool.
    '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


    DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
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    • #3
      I've got an exhaust already, but for sure exhaust, fmic, and radiator, and the oil cooler even yeah...all the reliability stuff, almost none of the power stuff.

      The thing I've always been told is that in order to get your times down it's better to learn it with driving a slower car so you learn momentum, rather than just up the power. I think it'd be just a matter of leaving the power the same level and improving myself and watching times drop, but without touching the car.

      The point you made about learning with a momentum car and then moving up power wise I can see too for sure, I think a stock-ish SR would be a nice balance there too.
      '06 wrx - DD

      '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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      • #4
        At least put a T28 on the car, as the T25 will still get old pretty quick.

        A nice 50 lb/Z32 burn and injectors is pretty darn cheap to get your hands on, and will give you enough headroom to not have to worry quite a while to come, or you can jump straight to the 740cc/Z32 burn.
        Between rides...unless you count a WD21...

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        • #5
          I wouldn't run a T28 on the stock 370cc injectors, as the T25 pretty much maxes them out and the T28 can really flow more air than the T25 towards redline.

          A T25 and a few bolt-ons can do about 240-250 rwhp on the street and 200 rwhp on the track no problems at all. It will seem like a rocket ship compared to a SOHC KA and probably keep you entertained for at least a couple of years. Then a T28 + injectors + Z32 MAF + tune gets you 300 rwhp on the street and an easy and reliable 250-260 rwhp on the track.

          I don't think "a little" bit of power interferes with learning track skills at all. If anything it teaches you to judge your speed better and make adjustments as you pick up speed in corners and find yourself actually having to slow down for more and more corners that before you could just loaf right through. A SOHC KA can probably be flat out on most bigger tracks and only brake a few times. You don't learn anything about throttle modulation or having to be smooth in your application of throttle, not to mention experiencing the car change its attitude due to putting down the power and causing a weight shift etc.

          Yes, there is more going on with more power, but once you've got a decent base it's not hard to step up with something that's reasonably fast.
          '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


          DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
          http://www.nissanroadracing.com/showthread.php?t=5902

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Def View Post
            It will seem like a rocket ship compared to a SOHC KA and probably keep you entertained for at least a couple of years.
            That's they key.

            Short story: Leaving VIR this year, there's a 2 lane road that leads back to the main road we take to hotel and stuff...on that road buddy in front of me with T25 SR @ 12psi, I told him to take it easy so I could keep up. Well needless to say he left me in the dust, I was flat out the entire time, and I was alone in the car. He had 2 passengers and said he really wasn't pushing it, claiming he never got above maybe 1/2 to 2/3rd throttle and shifting early.

            (People who've been there, it was pointer/racetrack road leading back to Milton to take 57/62 up to 360 towards Danville).

            To put it simply, Riding even in that car or the one other SR car I've been in, both with T25s, both put a smile on my face and would be more than enough to keep me happy for a long time. Sure I'll upgrade, but I wouldn't feel like I had to before even getting the engine in the car.
            Last edited by nismofly; 11-29-2008, 03:40 PM.
            '06 wrx - DD

            '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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            • #7
              I will say the stock ECU tune sucks, running very lean in the midrange under boost, and the stock speed limiter is a downer.

              You'll probably find yourself wanting a tune at some point, I know I did(well, I learned to tune these cars myself).
              '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


              DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
              http://www.nissanroadracing.com/showthread.php?t=5902

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              • #8
                Yeah that will be one thing to address, I'll probably go back through and do a few more things next winter...that whole 5 month forced off-season does have its benefits.
                '06 wrx - DD

                '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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                • #9
                  Yea, I'd concentrate on making the thing robust and reliable when swapping it in. Bigger radiator, oil cooler, some gauges, baffled oil pan(seen a few SRs with spun bearings), and spend a bit more on making everything just work.

                  On that note, the FMIC is worth it because the stock SMIC cold pipe is plastic, and the damn thing collapsed on me on track. I guess that shows how hot my IATs were, as the thing just got soft and folded in on itself(using the stock worm drive clamp, nothing fancy).

                  Hmmm.. other things that have happened to me on track - had a friend lead foot my throttle cable right off the bracket(FReddy mani, bracket I made myself, but I couldn't force the thing off by hand pre-track check), intercooler pipe come loose(coldpipe), oil drain work itself back a bit and dump oil on the downpipe(freak occurance, clamp was still tight, nothing really bad there).

                  Just lots of little crap, but overall MAF based turbo cars don't like I/C pipes coming loose! My pretrack routine is now checking all worm drive clamps - no problems since. Just something to keep in mind.

                  Not trying to say my car has been unreliable, because it hasn't, just lots of little things that probably would have never happened had I known what I know now.


                  I say go for it, I really think the SR changed the character of the car for the better. Definitely smoother and likes to rev.
                  '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


                  DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
                  http://www.nissanroadracing.com/showthread.php?t=5902

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                  • #10
                    Overall though fun enough and importantly reliable enough that it can be driven to the track. Exactly what I'm looking for, at least until I buy a truck and trailer, but I'd really like to put that off as long as possible.
                    '06 wrx - DD

                    '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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                    • #11
                      Ok i just read through this and there is some good guidance and some things you need to consider on top of just tracking. Dont pick what engine you want or what turbo you want just based on power and speed when other things should come first. I put my SR in from the begining and i really havnt changed my power/boost settings much since then 4 years ago, but i have made changes to the power band to benefit me. So i have spent more time driving and learnign than i have adjusting to power or just relying on power.

                      I first off suggest looking at your budget and suppose you do an SR swap and only can afford to do 3 track events after that, would it be more fun doing 3 events with an SR next year or 6-7 events with a KA and maybe a little suspension work? I always push people to do more seat time than anything, or now seat time and a little safety at least.

                      I know you are HPDE1, so this is the best time to concentrate on line, braking, corner speed, and smoothness. Less worrying about speed, its harder for an instructor to help someone in a fast car if the student doesnt know know to do a few of those things already. I dont know how you drive or if you are a quick learner or maybe a driving prodigy, so i am trying not to make any assumptions and i dont mean anything mean by it, please take no offense.

                      Some guys are pushing injectors, T28 a tune, etc.....if you do a swap keep it very simple with everything stock with oil cooler and AL rad for reliability. This will help keep costs down and leave more funds for tracking. I do suggest keeping the factory clutch fan and shroud it doesnt really rob you of any power, itll show maybe 1hp on a dyno, otherwise just keep that setup its very efficient and you never have to worry about electrical failures.

                      I know how i went about things and how friends and my students have done modding and track events, my method worked for me but i also try to get other instructors to ride with me as often as possible, i am very eager to learn. I have students who strive to be solo and they usually stop learning once they stay solo. The more seat tim eyou get the more tiem you get with an instructor the faster you get no matter what engine you use.
                      NASA HPDE Instructor

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                      • #12
                        The thing about the tune is that the stock SR ECU will give massive knock on the track with 93 octane with the SMIC. Even with a front mount it'll knock a bit on a hot day.

                        Plus the speed limiter is kind of dangerous as you pick up speed, because it is not subtle, and it shoots 4' flames out the back which some people think is cool, and some people get itchy with a black flag.


                        I definitely agree with you that seat time trumps any mod(well, except maybe track pads!), but I've definitely looked back and kicked myself for having to "redo" so many things to make them "good." Then again it's been fun progressing from a bone stock SR with crappy suspension to something that's a bit faster and easier to drive, and hindsight is 20/20 so it's hard to say I would have done it the same trying to cram more into say the swap or the other times.
                        '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


                        DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
                        http://www.nissanroadracing.com/showthread.php?t=5902

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                        • #13
                          Car has coilovers and will have full multilink and upgraded brakes, along with hlsd, all installed within a few months, so that's not really my concern.

                          Originally posted by Def View Post
                          I've definitely looked back and kicked myself for having to "redo" so many things to make them "good."
                          That's a big thing I'm trying to avoid...in order for the car to remain a reliable dd and survive track time, if I were to stay KA I'd still probably get a dohc ka, freshen it up, toss in an aluminum radiator, and a new clutch...by the time it's all said and done I'd be limiting my track time just as much as I would getting an SR. Basically if I didn't get the SR I probably wouldn't be attending any more track days than I would if I did, so that's really not a concern either.
                          '06 wrx - DD

                          '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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                          • #14
                            Or you can be in a situation where you have the money but don't have the time to make it to the track...

                            Don't mind me, I'm just bitter due to studying all day for a project management final tomorrow night...
                            '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!


                            DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!
                            http://www.nissanroadracing.com/showthread.php?t=5902

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                            • #15
                              That's one thing I was considering with that statement for sure though, when I graduate in May I basically have to wait for a job, so while that's happening I'll be back working part-time doing all kinds of odd hours, so I can't guarantee myself anything next summer track time wise from that standpoint. Another thing is that on top of the cost of those things, from a simple desire to drive it on the street standpoint, the KA stuff would happen when I got around to it, but the SR would be something that I'd get in the car as fast as I could get everything together.

                              I've driven cars with more power than I'm even looking for and I think I'll still be able to learn other basics, I'll do what I have to do from that standpoint, as long as an SR won't physically prevent me from learning basic things, which goes back to the reason I started this thread, and still really the only reason I don't think I'd get one.
                              Last edited by nismofly; 11-30-2008, 03:44 PM.
                              '06 wrx - DD

                              '89 s13 hatch - jackstand racing national champion

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