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Blue Bayou endurance 240SX - Flipping the VQ30DE to RWD

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  • Blue Bayou endurance 240SX - Flipping the VQ30DE to RWD

    Blue Bayou Racing

    Subscribe to our Youtube Channel! Blue Bayou Racing

    Follow our Facebook Page to see the latest with the car!

    In this saga we start with Hawaii 2-4-Oh (KA24DE hatch):

    And continue until today's version of Blue Bayou (VQ30DE, race suspension, aero, big brakes, fuel cell):


    Have you ever wanted to get sucked into a hobby that requires a large portion of your time and money, then delivers all of its rewards in a just few bursts per year? With endurance racing that's what I got myself into. You can read here about all of our success and failures, as well as some tips and tricks we learned over the years with endurance racing. It is an absolute blast to do and I highly encourage you to check it out!

    I've been meaning to write a build thread for years.. and have just never gotten it together. Now that I have a ton of material, I guess it's time to make up for it. We started with a KA hatch, then KA coupe, then swapped to VQ30, then race suspension, aero, brakes, etc... We've always been a bit behind the curve in horsepower compared to our competition, but we've still managed to be quite successful over the years with such a great-handling platform.

    How it all started for me:

    As a kid I always thought Lamborghini's and Ferrari's looked cool, but was never interested in how they worked or how fast they were. But as soon as I got my driver's license, suddenly I was interested, and started learning everything I could about cars. My very first car was a 1985 Nissan 200SX, a rear-drive four-cylinder. This was a true 80's car, with a digital dash and voice prompts ("Fuel level is low.."), like the picture below.. complete with the bar-graph tach.

    The 240SX was the next obvious car to become interested in, as it was like my first car only better in every way. My 200SX was angular in every way, yet the 240SX was smooth and new looking. I got my first 240SX in 2002 while I was going to college, a car that I still have. This car eventually developed rod knock, which turned into putting in the 2.0 turbo engine, paint/etc, bigger turbos, blowing that up, and eventually an LS1 that is still in the car (used primarily for drifting).

    By this point, I had done various autox and track day events, as well as gotten into drifting. I had always been curious about racing, but in the Northwest ITE was the closest my car would fit into SCCA at the time and that would be way outside of my budget.

    Building a Race Car:

    In 2009, ChumpCar held their first race at Portland International Raceway and this got the ball rolling. A friend, my dad and I kicked around the idea of building a race car, and since we all owned 240SX's that was the logical choice. Rear-drive, cheap, and we already had plenty of spares and leftovers. In 2011 my dad agreed to let us use his stock daily driver. We got a roll cage donated by building the car at the PIR swap meet in the ChumpCar booth (Thanks to Russ at Racetech!) The downside was this meant leaving the car alone until about a week before the race, then trying to go from street car to working race car in a matter of days. Below is some of the last minute prep in the garage the day of tech. We chose the name "Hawaii 2-4-Oh", and everything was absolutely down to the wire including installing our fire extinguisher in the line at tech.

    TECH TIP #1: Figure everything will take at least twice as long as you expect! When building a car there are always unexpected twists and turns that pop up.

    Maiden Voyage (4/9/11) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

    We had various failures in our first race, as to be expected in a car that had never been on the track and just barely slapped together. Our car ran too hot, our brand new fuel pressure gauge just started leaking right out of the gauge face, I thought the car caught on fire when our brakes started smoking, and my dad pit when he couldn't see out of a fogged visor thinking he couldn't open it. This was my dad's first ever time on a race track, and he entered a race track that was hot! Very intense, not the best way to do it! We finished 28th of 56 teams and had the 17th fastest lap time (1:39.9). Not too bad for a first outing!

    TECH TIP #2: The race track is unforgiving; if a part can fail, it will on track. Replace ALL hoses and belts, and anything rubber that you are able to. It's really sad to see someone spend hours putting a junkyard engine in a car, only to have a hose under the intake manifold end their race.

    Mysterious Failure (4/10/11) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

    For the second race it was sopping wet, a pretty typical condition for Portland. Nathan Feigion was in the car and you can see where the drifting experience really pays off. Unfortunately while he is driving the car suddenly loses power, and we spent hours trying to diagnose the issue. The car didn't want to rev over 4000rpm unless you gave it easy throttle, which led us down the path of fuel filter/fuel pump/exhaust restriction/etc. In the end it turned out to be a failed ECU, which we didn't have a spare of. After borrowing a spare from Paul Newman's Revenge (thanks guys!), we were back on track. We finished 41st out of 52 cars at this event. We had a blast and all loved it! My dad had rented his race gear, figuring he would just do this first weekend and we would rent out spare seats. However after the weekend, he decided he wanted to race with us every time.

    TECH TIP #3: Bring spares of everything you can fit! It's like the Umbrella Effect, if you bring it then you probably won't need it.

    The Long One (10/29/2011) - 12 hours - Portland International Raceway:

    This time we had a chance to get the car prepped for the event, which was good as this would be our longest race at 12 hours. We had a laundry list of things to do, building a new exhaust/lexan windows/gutting weight/etc. We were using an open trailer, so the door windows actually got reinstalled after the race to keep the interior from getting too soaked. We had installed a new light setup, HID bulbs in Hella projectors. This actually worked surprisingly well. One thing we tried was hanging a tinted piece of lexan of over our wink mirror, but this was a flop. Headlights would show up in multiple mirrors plus the tinted plastic, so even with one car behind you might see 6+ white dots in the mirror. This was enough for me to decide to get rid of the wink mirror and move to a convex mirror. We were running factory brakes with Axxis Ultimate brake pads, and we found their limit. We ended up having to swap pads during the race, pulling it off in 12 minutes. It's not fun changing brakes when they are this hot! We still managed our best finish yet at 14th place, and dropped our fastest lap from a 1:39.9 to a 1:37.4!

    TECH TIP #4: For night races, put a piece of masking tape (or two) across the top of your visor. You can block the rearview mirror when needed, but easily look up and check the mirror.

    Our custom headlights:

    The brake pads..

    This is the custom rear lexan we put in, this definitely helped reduce drag on the car!

    Here's a pumpkin that I carved for a contest at this race.. Frankenstein in a crash helmet:

    Left to right: Ken, Nathan, Nate, Dave

    Video overview:

    The Soaker (10/30/2011) - 6 hours - Portland International Raceway:

    My dad (Dave) started the race, and struggled in the wet conditions. It was sopping wet all day, so drifting experience really helped here. We had a reasonably clean race and managed to bring it home with a 7th place, our best finish yet!

    Video overview:

    Lots more to come!
    Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
    Blue Bayou Facebook page

  • #2
    The Dream (2/1/2012) - 7 hours - Laguna Seca:

    Like many, ever since I was a kid playing Gran Turismo I was a fan of Laguna Seca. I still remember the computer trying to drive the Shelby Cobra would crash every lap in the Corkscrew. I had driven the track so many times in games, I felt like I really knew the track, but there were a few things that struck me when we arrived. I hadn't realized how much elevation really changed going down into the first corner, and the enormity of the Corkscrew itself. The very first time driving over the Corkscrew it was really just, "Ok, from what I know I should be pointing here... woooo!!" The games really did help me dial in my laps much quicker.

    We upgraded to an enclosed trailer for this event which was a big plus! Much better for packing spares and keeping things clean and dry. We put some KYB GR2s on the car, which helped to tame some of the floppiness of the previous shocks. We also slotted the shocks to give some extra camber.

    The Disaster (3/31/2013) - 10 hours - Portland International Raceway:

    We started this race in the rain in 26th place. Nathan Feigion ran an excellent first stint and got us up to 5th place! I get in the car and we are fighting back and forth for 1st place in the rain with the front-wheel drive cars. This is the best we have ever ran and it is looking great for a podium! It's still wet when I pit in 2nd place to turn the car over to Dave. A dry line has developed, but is still quite wet off of that dry line. While coming down the straight at PIR, a car pops out to try to outbrake a bunch of cars. However those cars are on the dry line, so it is a very overly optimistic move. Dave never sees it coming, and gets slammed in the front end while going into the chicane. The right front strut tower is moved over a foot, our day is done.

    Crash at 7:00 in this video:

    Now we need to decide what we do about the car..
    Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
    Blue Bayou Facebook page


    • #3
      Building Blue Bayou:

      We had a few issues with our first hastily-built car we wanted to address:

      -Roll cage had X-bars in the doors, difficult to climb in/out
      -Roll cage was too close to my head. We tried cutting the floor out and lowering the seat, but it was not enough.
      -Lots of weight left on the table. With ChumpCar rules we could cut/weld just about anything, but adding horsepower was not in the cards.

      With these items and a smashed chassis, we decided to look to the spare 240SX coupe chassis for my drift car. This already had a roll cage in it, but the design was not great. It also had the rear fenders cut out for massive tires, but we would be running factory tires. We rolled the drift chassis into the shop and got to work. We had never built a roll cage before, but had done enough reading to be confident if we took our time we could make something safe we would be happy with.

      We bought a tubing bender and a pile of tubing. We also bought a plasma cutter, which I cannot recommend highly enough! It seems a lot of people think plasma cutters are only for bigger shops, but I think this tool should be right in line behind a welder. Every single time I use this thing I am so happy that we bought it. It is SOOO fast, easy to use, and compact. It also does not leave a sharp edge, which makes it perfect for chopping out sheet metal in a race car.

      TECH TIP #5: Buy a plasma cutter, you will thank me! They aren't that expensive any more, and save so much time!

      In a dual-purpose move, we chopped out the A-pillar and ran the roll cage up in this area. This drops weight from the factory structure up top as well as getting the roll cage further from my head. With the old car, I was constantly bumping the cage, with the new one I have plenty of room. Here you can see how the A-pillar bar was ran.

      Since our strut tower moved so far when we got hit.. we also wanted to help support the strut towers, so we ran the cage up to them as well.

      We made use of the old roll cage pad to make a little bit of footwell anti-intrusion, and moved to more of a Nascar-style door bars tied into the sill.

      Here you can see we put the bars as far out as possible (touching the door skin) in order to make the car easier to get in and out of. We also tried to tie the cage as much as possible into the sheetmetal to stiffen the chassis.

      Roll cage finished and painted:

      We got some quarterpanels from the local junkyard and welded those in.

      I never liked how unfinished our car looked with no dash, so I put a modified factory dash in.

      I also redid the entire wiring harness, simplifying and shortening the factory harness down. This was so much more work than I had expected. Hours with the factory manual, removing circuits one at a time, then consolidating relays, shortening wires, re-purposing fuses, consolidating fuse boxes.. over 40 hours just in wiring. While I did save weight and money, it just wasn't worth it.

      TECH TIP #6: Either do basic simplification of factory wiring, or rewire from scratch. Completely re-engineering the factory harness is not worth the time!

      To help with our cooling situation, I made a vent in the factory hood.

      We set up a makeshift paint booth, and I tried spraying a car for the first time ever. With a race car, less pressure if I screw it up.

      While it's far from perfect, I was pretty happy with how it came out. The biggest issue was I put three coats of paint on the rear quarterpanels and only two on the rest of the car and it was super obvious next to the door.

      I cut the lexan rear window with a skill saw, masked the back side, and spray painted the edge with black to give a little more factory look.

      I was super happy with how they came out!

      I borrowed our new team name based on the Mitsubishi paint named "Blue Bayou", this was my original sketch of the logo:

      We are not from the South, and I know nothing about any real bayous, it's just a play on "Blew by you". I thought this was obvious enough, but I've had a variety of people come up to us saying that they hadn't realized this for a long time. There was even a Reddit thread about it that blew up:

      Here she is all done up and pretty!

      This is a time lapse video I put together of this build:

      Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
      Blue Bayou Facebook page


      • #4
        It shows potential! (4/13/2013) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

        This was the first race with our new chassis. We had done a lot of work to strip weight out of the car, and had shed around 100 lbs between the old and new chassis. The entire drivetrain/suspension was just transferred over, so that portion was exactly the same. With the lighter/stiffer chassis, this thing is good. Surprisingly good! Nathan Feigion starts the race in 23rd place and starts working his way through traffic. By the time he is done with his stint, he is in 2nd place and has ran a team-best 1:35.0!

        I get in the car and make it up into 1st place with a fastest lap of 1:34.7, a whopping 2.7 seconds faster than our previous fastest! The car feels great as I slowly put a full lap up on second place. We have never before been in the lead of a race, much less have a lap up on 2nd! By the end of my stint I have been in 1st for 43 laps, and it's time to pull in for a driver change. We have a great pit stop, put my dad in the car, and send him out.

        Immediately we get back on the radio that the engine is running on three cylinders. What? No... that can't be right.. it has been working so perfectly! We did check the oil during the pitstop, and the dipstick is right next to the distributor.. Did a plug wire get pulled out? We call my dad into the pits and start checking the easy stuff. Plug wires all look good, everything seems seated good. Fuel injectors are plugged in well, nothing obvious.. but we do figure out that it's cylinder #3 not firing. Let's send him out and come up with a plan. We don't have a spare cap or wires with us, so Ken drives to grab some while Dave circulates PIR, running 1:43-1:50s.. we are down to 5th and sliding. Ken gets back with our parts and we try swapping #3 plug wire and spark plug. No help... send him back out again while we regroup. We are now down to 10th. We suspect we have a failed fuel injector. We have a spare fuel rail with injectors in it, so we decide to swap the entire setup out. 20 minutes later, we are back on four cylinders! However we are also in 21st place.

        Ken gets in the car and he starts moving through traffic again. We finish the race in 16th. We are happy we triumphed over our fuel injector issue, but we know we have the capability of running up front. We finished with the third fastest lap behind two modified V8 cars. We start the ritual of swapping out brake pads and check things over for the next day, then get some rest.

        TECH TIP #7: If the rules don't have a minimum weight, take advantage of that! With ChumpCar rules we had very limited modifications we could do to the engine, but cutting out weight was open. Losing 100 lbs (a lot of it high in the chassis) and gaining the stiffness was worth over 2 seconds for us! (I'm sure we had some driver improvement as well..)

        The First Trip to the Podium (4/14/2013) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

        We send Ken out in wet conditions, and he starts in 25th place (random starts in ChumpCar). PIR is notoriously tricky in the wet. Old racing surfaces with a lot of rubber worn in, flocks of geese that like to deposit poop that is more slippery than baby oil, and the track is absolutely flat. Zero elevation change. A fellow Nissan team with a Z31 300ZX (Red Square Racing) goes hard into the wall right in front of us. It is treacherous out there, but Ken keeps moving through traffic and in one piece. By the end of his stint the track starts drying out.

        Dave gets in the car and heads out on a mostly dry track. Things are looking up as Dave gets into 6th place until.. it starts raining more. With the least amount of experience on track, Dave is struggling in the treacherously slippery conditions of PIR. The front-wheel drive cars are now walking away from us and we drop down to 9th place. The track starts drying out again as Dave pits to turn the car over to me.

        I have a lot of ground to make up, but the sun is out, the track is dry and I can really push. We are six laps away from a podium finish, but I start the work of unlapping ourselves. We have good cornering speed, but quite a few cars can outpull us on the straights. I run a 1:34.8 as my fastest lap, and turn the car over to Nathan for the last stint two laps away from the podium.

        Nathan also has dry track and starts laying down some great laps. With 44 minutes left in the race, Nathan passes the 4th place car to put us on the same lap. At 27 minutes to go, he passes the same car again for 3rd place! Our team is ecstatic, this is our first trophy! The welded together scraps making an alien from the movie 'District 9' is unique and so awesome looking! it's so cool... we want another one!

        Left to right: Nathan, Nate (me), Dave, Ken

        You can see in the picture below that Nathan just beat my lap time at 1:34.7, starting a friendly intra-team competition for fastest lap.

        TECH TIP #8: After a race weekend, go out for pizza (or whatever favorite food)! If the race went great, you are celebrating. If it didn't go well, you are drowning your sorrows. Either way everybody wins!

        Video from the race:

        Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
        Blue Bayou Facebook page


        • #5
          Learning a New Track (8/24/2013) - 10 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

          This was our first time racing at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA. The track just opened 2012, but I missed last year's race because I was in Europe for work. On Friday we did a practice day, but it didn't work out very well with the track being crowded and slow. At tech we get our first glimpse of the awesome trophies. The 1st place trophy is a massive Predator, definitely the coolest one I have seen yet. Knowing that other teams were racing here last year and we are newbs, we know chances are extremely slim of a trophy at this track.

          At the beginning of the 10 hour race, our pitmates Son of Andre (#16 V8 Mustang) are putting in such fast laps they are lapping the field easily. We can see that unless they have major mechanical issues there is no hope of catching them. We set our sights on a top three finish and start pushing. Dave is out first, and he is doing a great job of whittling a 2:20 down to 2:10. He brings us from 28th up to 14th place. When he pits, we are already four laps behind Son of Andre as their fastest lap is a 2:01. While in the pits, there is a red flag. Car #128 had rolled and is pulled off the track (this is key later).

          Nathan Feigion goes out next, and starts putting in some fast laps. He gets us up to third place before pitting.

          I go out next, and get to second place, two laps ahead 3rd place. Around 2pm, there is a car off course in turn 8 and they are stuck, really stuck. There is a local yellow flag, but no safety vehicle yet. We circle around again, and turn 8 is still yellow, now with a Safety Truck. I slow for the yellow behind a pack of cars, when I hear tire squeel and BANG! I am suddenly rotating 90 and come to a stop with the engine stalled. I look in the mirror, and with the massive impact I expect to be staring at the bottom of my trunk. Amazingly, all I can see from the inside is that the taillight internals popped out of the clips on one side. (I have a camera pointing exactly this direction in the video)

          I restart the engine, and start to straighten on course when the red flag comes out. The corner worker tells me I have a gashed tire that is completely flat, and they will need to flat tow me. However they only have one truck that can flat tow, and since I can limp they have me follow the flat tow of #60 (the car that hit us) to the pits. The driver came by our pits to apologize, no hard feelings. We have to wait until the red flag is over, then we swap out the tire. The fuel tank has a softball sized dent, but no leaks. The tire has a 1? chunk missing from the sidewall, but the wheel is not bent. Sheet metal is smashed in that corner, but the suspension looks straight. We can't believe how lucky we are that we have no leaks and a driving car. #60's front suspension is demolished, it will be many hours before they have their car together.

          I get back out on course with the new tire. Our lead on 3rd place has evaporated, but we are still in 2nd. We had made sure to set the tire pressure correctly before putting it on the car. Unfortunately there are two tires.. and the wrong tire was grabbed. So for the next twenty laps I deal with a car that wants to oversteer at the thought of trailbraking and I am pushing hard trying to get a gap on 2nd. When I pit I am told the tire has nearly 45 psi!

          TECH TIP #8: Set the tire pressure on all your spare tires!

          Ken Feigion goes out next, and he is having an epic battle with Socket Monkeys (#39 Civic). Every lap when he passes the pits, Socket Monkeys is in direct tow behind him. This continues for around ten laps with Socket Monkeys not able to get by and Ken not able to create a gap.

          It is towards the end of Ken's stint, and we see Son of Andre in the pits early with cooling issues. They are venting steam and refilling with water as their four lap lead dwindles. We get on the same lap at one point. We look at the clock and see that there are two hours and 15 minutes left in the race. Son of Andre will have to pit again, but will they need fuel? This is going to be a race!

          Nathan Feigion had our fastest times, so we send him out for the last stint. He is battling hard with Martini Racers (#10 VW Golf) in traffic and they are excellent at sneaking through traffic. It is back and forth for a good portion of the session, when Son of Andre comes into the pits for their last driver change. They have a two lap lead, but they need fuel. This is going to be close! If we can pass them in the pits, we might be able to stay ahead in traffic. If they get out in front of us, the car is too fast for us to pass.

          We radio Nathan when Son of Andre is about to leave the pits, and he is just entering the straight. We are all on pins and needles watching, and the Mustang exits the pits just ahead of us. We are disappointed, but hope that with a fresh driver getting warmed up Nathan might be able to put some pressure on. This seems to work, as the Mustang is not up to their typical lap times and making some mistakes. Soon we are watching the downhill section, and we see our car exit first! Martini Racers are also pressuring from behind, and Nathan begins to slowly stretch a lead.

          Car #128, that had rolled earlier, is allowed out to make some parade laps just to take the checkered flag. Nathan had already lapped the car once when we got a scare on the last lap. We hear that we were called in for passing #128 during a yellow. After some discussion with the officials they luckily decided to cancel the black flag as it was a car that shouldn't have really been out there running. This is a really close call for us, but this allows us to take the checkered flag in 1st place!

          For a ChumpCar podium we had to bring the car to impound, but we were not prepared for a podium and had to borrow two jack stands from Paul Newman's Revenge (thanks!) Then when those jack stands were too tall for our jack, we also had to borrow a jack from 2nd place Martini Racers, who are always great competitors and great guys (thanks!)

          The car is mostly straight... except for this corner. You can really see in this picture how bad the paint doesn't match having three coats on the quarter and two on the door..

          This is the massive and awesome Predator trophy, I love this thing!

          Look at the awesome details here, how many hours does this take to build?? Way better than a generic chrome trophy..

          We were also voted "Corner Worker's Choice" for the small trophy to the right, as they were entertained by drifter Nathan's "Amazing Saves" into turn 2.

          The highlight video:

          Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
          Blue Bayou Facebook page


          • #6
            After the Ridge race we had some damage to try clean up. We picked up a Porta Power and try to straighten the sheet metal a bit. We did some pulling with a bracket on the outside, some hammering from the inside, and some Porta Power work. We also swapped the fuel tank as it had a softball sized dent.

            We got the corner a lot straighter, as well as installed a new fire system.

            With the corner mostly where it belonged, I took the car for a short trip to the gas station.

            I couldn't resist getting a picture from the unmolested side as well!

            Penalty Laps Are Painful (8/25/2013) - 6 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

            With ChumpCar, we had an MOV (Margin of Victory) penalty coming to us. Even though we had only finished 15 seconds ahead of 2nd place, we were given 2 penalty laps. Given that we barely made it up front by the skin of our teeth, a 2 lap penalty was a massive uphill battle for us. We start the race in 27th and make it as high as 4th place. In the end we are technically in 5th, but dropped to 7th based on our penalty laps. Our fastest lap was a 2:05.9 compared to Son of Andre's 2:00.5, so we are definitely not up to their pace.

            Another New Track (3/22/2014) - 7 hours - Pacific Raceways:

            At Pacific Raceways event Nathan and Ken Feigion decided to not drive, so it is my dad and myself driving with Nathan . This is a track I have done one track day years before but my dad has never been here. I put my dad in the car first so he has a chance to do some yellow flag laps and scout out the course a little. In our random draw for a start, we start in 5th place, what a great way to start the day! On lap 5, my dad radios in that he has lost a tire. Ugh, terrible.. these are brand new Direzza II Star Specs that were working quite well. We throw on a spare in the pits and drop all the way to 36th place. Well this just soured our race.

            Pacific Raceways is infamous for the amount of race cars that it eats on the back side. It is one hungry track.. while my dad is driving he comes to 5a looking at the bottom side of a car on the side of the track. Never a good situation!

            I get into the car in 26th place and start to get used to the track. This is a busy track. Normally there is a nice long straight to relax, check gauges, and reset. At Pacific Raceways the straight has a kink where you cross over to the end of the drag strip. That means you are lining up between cement barriers to get onto the straight, where you then move over to the left to prepare for a very fast turn 1. There is also some good elevation change dropping down a very tight 3a and 3b before you make it to the dangerous 5a and 5b corners with Grand Theft Auto style ramp curbing and a steep dropoff to the right.

            For the next session my dad gets back into the car in 15th place. This time there's another car off this time in 5b, stuck partway up the hill. My dad finds that this track can be tricky to find safe places to pass, and without a lot of power the uphill sections and straight are difficult to make it past people.

            I get in the car in 11th place, and this time I'm already warmed up so I start trying to see if I can improve on my lap time. I am pushing hard, but maybe just pushing too hard. I only get to within 0.5 seconds of my previous fastest. I get up to 8th place by the time the checkered flag is waved. Not bad for a first time and having a punctured tire! During the race we had tried to get the tire repaired, and found that it was a 2" long piece of a wheel weight that had gone all the way into the tire, and just doing a partial lap was enough to completely destroy the tire inside. So unfortunately with the tire looking brand new on the outside, it was now garbage.

            It Was Fun While It Lasted (3/23/2014) - 7 hours - Pacific Raceways:

            My dad starts the second race of the weekend in 33rd place. Not quite the luck of the draw from the first day, but hopefully no flat tires today. The Flying Lumberjacks go off in 5a and nearly go down the steep dropoff! While they did not go down the steep area, this off does end their race.

            I get into the car in 26th place and soon after I get into an epic battle with Kyle in the General Leif Volvo. He carries more speed than I do into turn 2, but I am able to pass him back later in the lap. He then proceeds to pass me in turn 2 again, and this continues for many laps. We were giving each other room, fighting hard but fair. What an absolute blast, this is what it's all about!

            General Leif pits, and I begin to focus on trying to beat my 1:43.8 from the first day. While in 11th I pass The Gray Cloud RX-7 and am now looking at the gap in the cement barriers to transition to the main straight. I shift into 5th, and something doesn't feel right. The car doesn't pull very hard in 5th normally, but this feels weak. Suddenly I realize that I have not been checking my gauges on the straight. I look down at the coolant gauge, and the engine is hot. Way too hot. I see around 260*F on the gauge and immediately know our day is done. I missed it, and I killed this engine. I limp back to the pits, and the car cuts out as I roll back to the pits.

            We later found that the radiator had failed, and reviewing video showed that the engine had been hot for 20 minutes while I did not check the gauges. I was looking at lap times while trying to push as well as keeping an eye on the cement barriers, and our poor KA24DE paid for it.

            TECH TIP #9: Check your gauges EVERY lap on the straight. It is also very helpful to put big warning lights in the car the light up when the engine gets into the danger zone.

            Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
            Blue Bayou Facebook page


            • #7
              In our story we are now into 2014, and I had swapped out the 2.0 turbo in my purple drift car and put in an LS1. So we now take a little interlude for some drifting and drag racing.

              We got a chance to drift at the Ridge as a demo (Nathan Feigion in the blue hatchback, me in the purple coupe).

              NASA (National Auto Sport Association) finally came to the Northwest and we were able to run at Portland International with them. Very well ran events, I am a big fan!

              Generally when I make a big power change I like to go drag racing once just to see what the car can do.. then I'm bored with drag racing again. These were my first couple runs, and you can see I'm used to watching for a finish line (not cones) and I stay in it too long. This gives a decent feel for what the car is like to lay into it and how quick it goes through gears, it's fun!

              Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
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              • #8
                Since I blew up the engine.. we picked up a new radiator and a used KA24DE to get the car drivable again.

                And Then There Were Two (8/1/2014) - 5 hours - Portland International Raceway:

                Nathan Feigion decided to take a little break from racing, so for this race it was just my Dad and myself. I started the race and got a good random start of 11th. It was a Friday, and even warmer than usual for the normally mild Portland track with an afternoon race start. We hit a high of 90 degrees, and that makes the inside of our blue tin box a sweltering sauna! By lap 8 I make it up to 1st place. I had been holding onto 1st place during my whole stint until an hour and 45 minutes later, the car starts bucking and is out of fuel. I make it back to the pits, sweating through my suit and fully exhausted. We are down a driver and not prepared for our pit stop, so it's 8 minutes when we need it to be 5 minutes. This does not help our day at all.

                Dave heads out of the pits in 6th place. A Mustang is cruising up the front straight on the right side.. which is the wrong side. Getting to the corner, they lock up the rear brakes and completely loop it, hitting Blue Bayou with their rear bumper on the passenger door. Well.. that's one more area that's not so straight.. Luckily this doesn't affect the drivability of the car at all and Dave continues. Dave makes it back to 1st place by the end of his stint and hands over the car with an hour and 45 minutes remaining. Normally the car should go for that long on gas.. but it will be tight. We do better on our next pit stop, nearly getting it under 5 minutes.

                I head out onto the track in 4th, with the sun just dipping below the horizon. I had taped up the top side of my visor to help with glare. I find that my radio connection was missed, and I don't have a way of communicating with the pits. I try unsuccessfully to find the end of the cable and get it plugged in, then give up on it and get to the job at hand.

                TECH TIP #10: Remember to plug in your radio, it's helpful.

                With 15 minutes to go in the race, I back in 2nd place. The #557 Mustang of Dog & Pony Show is in first, and are just ahead of me. Their car has more power and our car handles better. I can get really close in certain turns, but the straights are an issue. I know that time is running out, and I need to make the pass. I get a run on them leaving turn 7, outbrake them into turn 10 and finish the race! Unfortunately when I get back to the pits, I find out that I was just unlapping myself.. and we finished in 2nd. Considering the mistakes we had, this was still a great result! For ChumpCar being on the podium means going to impound, then once impound is done we can start on replacing all the brake pads as our Hawk Blues on stock brakes eat themselves alive. It is a light setup and brakes just fine, but it gets old having to swap brakes/bleed late into the evening every race.

                Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
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                • #9
                  That Time It Really Wanted to Overheat (8/2/2014) - 7 hours - Portland International Raceway:

                  For the second day of the weekend it was a 7 hour race. Having just placed 2nd to the Dog & Pony Show Mustang the previous day, our sights were set on trying to beat that car. Dave starts the race in 14th place while our newfound rivals Dog & Pony Show start up in 2nd! Dave quickly moves up through the field getting to 7th place by lap 5. My dad is still not that experienced on track (these races are his only track experience), but he gets down to a 1:36.4! By the time we are ready for our first pitstop, we pit after Dog & Pony Show and are leading the race for six laps. We add oil to the engine during the pitstop, which is normal for us as all of our KA24DE engines have burned oil.

                  We drop to 5th during the pitstop and I head out on track. I make it up to 2nd behind Dog & Pony Show, then inherit first when they pull into the pits on lap 109. Things are looking good, but we still seem to be just a step behind the Mustang. I run a personal best 1:34.0 and turn the car over on lap 127 in 1st place.

                  Dave heads out late in the afternoon. We had planned our driver swaps so that I would end up in the car last when it was dark. Dave makes it through his stint setting another 1:36.4, but he stays in 2nd for his whole stint.

                  I throw some tape on my visor again to help with glare at night, and get ready to go out. As I am waiting at the end of the pit lane, Dog & Pony Show pulls up right next to me. Man this is going to be close! I get to leave the pits first, but the Mustang catches me on the next straight and passes me. Knowing that this is the team holding us between our second victory, I slot in right behind them and start applying pressure. I can get right on his bumper in turns 4,5,6 but he runs away on each straight stretch. I have my lights on and keep poking out to the side to distract him, but it's just not working. I keep putting pressure lap, after lap, after lap... 10 laps go by with me putting as much pressure as I can, and this Mustang has not put a wheel wrong once! Who is this guy??

                  I finally am able to get on the inside of him going right into turn 4, but he's not intimidated. We stick side-by-side through 4, then again to the right through 5, still side-by-side in 6 but I am gaining ground. By the time we get to turn 7 I have the inside line and I am able to pull ahead! I take the same defensive line that he has been driving into 10 and keep him behind me... but at this point I realize the engine is getting hot. I radio to my crew chief (Trish, my wife) and she asks if it's maybe just a false reading. Unfortunately no, as I have two temperature readings that both say it's hot, as well as water pressure sensors reading very low pressure. I keep racing, hoping some miracle will happen and the car will cool down..

                  The engine hits 214 degrees, and I could keep running hard and risk blowing the engine, or I can take it easy and potentially salvage a 2nd or 3rd place finish. There's just too much time left in the race, and so I start backing out of it to see if I can get it to cool down at all. As I slow down and the Mustang disappears into the distance, I have the defrost and fan blasting trying to take it easy. Even this isn't working... so the next lap I slow down even more. Eventually I am cruising half-throttle as the water pressure bobs around from zero to six psi as the water sloshes around. After a few laps of this and me thinking the engine will never cool down, I suddenly get my miracle. The engine drops down to 180 degrees and I start building water pressure again!

                  I try running a hard lap, and the temperature is actually staying OK! There is 30 minutes left in the race now. In the pits they do some math, and tell me that since my fastest laps are about 1.5 seconds faster than the Mustang, in theory there is just enough time to catch the Mustang by the end of the race. Well that's all well and good.. but the last time it took me well over 10 laps to pass him while on his bumper! But.. I have to at least try. I need to run my fastest laps and not get slowed by a single lapped car and hope that he gets caught up on some lapped cars.

                  It's getting dark, and I get my head down and start knocking out laps. There's lots of calculating as I come up to cars trying to figure out the best line to pass them without slowing down. I keep getting closer, until I can finally see the Mustang! As I come onto the front straight, Trish tells me that this is the last lap. It's do or die! I see traffic ahead that we will both be catching, this could work out! As I come into the chicane, he is coming up behind a yellow Taurus, and I try to pinch the first part of the chicane to get a little run on the exit. As I am coming up alongside him, HE MISHIFTS! This is exactly the opportunity I needed, and I make it by. I'm in 1st place on the last lap! Unfortunately there are also two straight stretches between me and the finish line, and he is faster on the straight. I need to get a gap! I make it around the Taurus, and then after nearly blowing it with a slight lockup into 7, I also make it past a BMW on the back straight. I make it onto the front straight with enough of a gap and the most incredible feeling I have ever had in a race car! Math said it was barely theoretically possible, and we did it! To give you some context here, I am definitely an introvert and normally a bit reserved with my emotions. But when I pulled next to that Mustang in impound the first thing I did was go over and give the guy a big hug!

                  Now remember I was wondering who he was? He is Steve Mahre, silver medalist at the 1984 Winter Olympics for skiing. His twin brother Phil won gold at the same Olympics and they have both been racing since the 80's (Koni Challenge, SCCA, etc). Now I know why my amateur racing was not able to intimidate at all! They are both awesome guys, always very helpful and friendly while racing hard but fair on the track!

                  Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
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                  • #10
                    We only had a few weeks to get ready for the next race, and knew we had some overheating issues. I had added water pressure sensors to our datalogger, and in reviewing our datalogs I found where the car was venting pressure during a pitstop. I chalked this up to a bad radiator cap, since during the race we had seen the pressure disappear, then build back up again after the engine had cooled down. We replaced the water pump, thermostat, and radiator cap.

                    I also found myself completely exhausted and soaked with sweat getting out of the car in the last unexpectedly hot race (for the NW), so I went after building a cool suit cooler. Following some other directions online, I put together a cheap cooler using an Engel cooler, bilge pump, and a bilge timer.

                    Here it is attached in the car:

                    And here I am quite proud of my new Cool Shirt:

                    Until I realized the shirt was designed for the metal fittings, and I had the plastic fittings and it didn't clip in..

                    This groove was too narrow:

                    Mr. Generic Dremel to the rescue..

                    After being trimmed a bit, the fitting worked perfectly.

                    With that cleaned up we were ready for our race at the Ridge! Well, at least we thought we were.. I meant to get a warning light for the temperature gauge, but that didn't happen in time.
                    Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
                    Blue Bayou Facebook page


                    • #11
                      Rain at the Ridge (8/30/2014) - 4.5 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

                      I head out in the car during the yellow flag, but immediately find that the defrost is not working. I dive in the pits, and luckily my dad is able to quickly find a loose connection and my defrost is going again. There is massive spray everywhere and visibility is terrible, but the Ridge has relatively new pavement, and is much better than PIR to drive in the rain. I start in 36th place and start making my way forward in the field. The high horsepower cars are really struggling to put power down, so we really have just enough power for these conditions. I make it up to 11th place, then pit for my dad's turn with a best lap of 2:23.

                      My dad is out there and gets tagged in the back at the bottom of the hill. He manages to steer out of it without too much issue and continues on. By the time he pits, it's still wet and he has gotten us up to 6th place.

                      Since it's just the two of us at this race, I get back in the car and there is something wrong with the power. The car really seems to struggle to accelerate on the top end and is just not its usual self. I think it may be something with the knock sensor and the ecu pulling timing. The best lap I can muster is 5 seconds slower than my first sesssion! Luckily with all the rain this is less of a hit than it would normally be, so we manage to pull home a 4th place finish.

                      Drying up.. (8/30/2014) - 4.5 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

                      The ECU was showing a knock sensor code, so I dummy out the knock sensor with a resistor in hopes of fixing the power. I set out in the car for our second race, and it's starting to dry up. With the track drying up, I am reminded that the Ridge is definitely a "horsepower track". There are many long acceleration zones, and the 1/2 mile long front straight is preceded by a very slow corner.. so it's really a drag race.

                      The car is still down on power and I am getting killed on the straight stretch. I manage a 2:17, but this is not going to cut it with the leaders having ran a 2:04. I'm in 8th but since we have a few more races coming up, I decide to pull in the pits and we do a quick swap of the ECU. Success! We are back down to 36th place but the car now pulls like it used to, and I immediately knock 6 seconds off my lap time getting down to a 2:11. This is still not enough to win a race, but with our 7 minute pit stop to swap the ECU we are out of the running for a podium anyway. At least the car is working, we still have more races. The car works great for the rest of my stint. Temps are holding perfectly and power is OK. I'm still left wishing for power every time I'm near one of the V8 Mustangs, or the BMWs, or V6 anything..

                      I pull into the pits, we top off with oil (like we do on every pit stop), and my dad gets in. The track now dries up completely, and we are getting dusted by every car with more power than us. Which is most cars. When my dad pulls into the pits, he says that the power just doesn't quite seem as good as it used to, and that it doesn't pull past 5500 as hard as it used to. While I am exiting the pits, multiple tents get blasted over the pit wall and into the hot pits! The wind is really gusting, although it is dry out.

                      A few laps into my driving stint, I see the temperature start climbing. I radio in that I'm getting to 200F, where the temperature had been sitting rock solid at 180F. Just a few corners later the temperature starts to rocket up and I cruise it into the cold pits for the car to cool down. We discuss thermostat and other possibilites, then I loop around the pits slowly and the temps drop. I decide to take it back out on the track to see what happens. Just like at Portland.. I start pushing on the car again and temps are still right at 180F.. how strange, and frustrating. That pit stop dropped me from 20th to 29th. I get back to 25th with a fastest lap of a 2:08 before the car decides to randomly overheat and I pull into the pits to end our race for the day.

                      We swap in a known good fuel rail (complete with good injectors) as it seems like our fuel mileage is a little too good.
                      Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
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                      • #12
                        Please don't overheat.. (8/31/2014) - 9 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

                        My dad heads out on course for the first stint and sets a 2:07 lap time! He says the car is working good and feels great. My dad is still out on course and after about an hour we radio my dad to ask him how much fuel he has left and he says he has 3/4 tank. What?? That cannot be right.. fuel gauge must have quit working.. The temps are holding rock solid and the car is working good. My dad pulls into the pits in 9th place on lap 44. We can't even get two fuel jugs into the car... how is this fuel mileage possible?

                        I head out in the car and within two laps.. the car has decided it's time to overheat. I pull into the cold pits and let the engine start cooling down. At this point we have realized that our issues are serious enough that the easy fixes have not helped, and we likely have an issue with the headgasket. That's not something we are going to fix in the pits at a race track (I know many of you have done that, but we are not prepared and motivated enough to do that). We figure we will run as hard as we can while we can, then if it overheats, let it cool down, and try for more later.

                        This was really a turning point for our weekend. We had started getting really focused on trying to get onto the podium, and to some degree seemed like fun was equal to doing well in the race. Having problems meant frustration. However once we knew there was no hope for a podium and we would just learn and have some fun runs here and there it changed everything. We were now hanging out with family and friends at a race track, with a car that would at least last for a few laps, so if one of us felt like going out, we could. If we felt like hanging out in the pits, we could.

                        We pulled the spark plugs, and they are WHITE! This confirms that we were running super lean with the other fuel rail, so that comes right back out and the original one goes in. This is super strange, as this was a known working spare..

                        I head out on track.. and the car overheats on me within a few laps and I pull in. More time to hang out with family and friends! I start chatting with Paul Newman's Revenge, who also drive a 240SX, and they are wondering if I would drive their car to see how it feels compared to our car. Their car has a full 300ZX brake system with custom dual master cylinder and significantly stiffer springs than our factory cut springs. Hey, this is cool, normally I would be too focused on our own race to jump in other people's cars.

                        I get in their car during the next pit stop, but I sit for an extra long stop as their rear pads were worn out and they had to swap them. What they forgot to mention, is that they had Autozone pads in the back before, and were now switching to Hawk Blues. The bias adjuster doesn't work anymore, because the system requires so much leg pressure to work that the balance bar is bent. The Kirkey seat feels like it is straight up, and is definitely an awkward position for me.


                        I head out of the pits, and immediately notice the clutch pedal has a lot of movement side-to-side. As I shift from 1st to 2nd, I accidentally slip the clutch a bit. Oof, I never have this issue in our car, the engagement point seems way too high. Luckily it's yellow when I head out onto the track, but when I step on the brake pedal it just feels like a rock.. and I'm not really slowing down. I start standing on the pedal for all I am worth.. and the car starts slowing down some. Ouch, this is going to be a lot of getting used to! I start to get a little bit of a feel for it, and start pushing the car a little harder, then putting the 150+ lbs of leg force into the pedal for the braking zones. Their engine feels pretty strong (same KA24DE but with a bigger exhaust), but the shocks are terrible. The springs are extremely stiff but paired with stock shocks, so it's as if they don't exist. The car skips and hops in corners that our car has no issue with at all.

                        My dad had decided to jump in Blue Bayou and try to chase me down. As he was closing down on me, I see our old rival Son of Andre come on track and I decide to see how well I can hang with them. Despite the bouncy suspension and brakes that require way too much leg force I am hanging on behind Son of Andre, and my dad is catching me from behind. I head into the sharp left-hander turn 13, and brake hard. As I crest the hill I am trail braking and there is a slight bump and the back end snaps out. I had been drifting at this track in my personal car a few months prior, no big deal, just spin the wheel to catch the slide... except with no shocks and rock hard springs... the back end just won't grip up. I am at full lock and end up in the world's slowest rotation going nose first into the gravel off to the left. And I'm stuck. I have never been stuck on the side of the track before during a race, and now I did it in someone else's car. How embarrassing! The only small consolation was.. most people don't know it was me. After getting pulled out of the gravel I pull into the pits ashamed and give my report on how the car felt. Thanks for the opportunity to drive it though!

                        Tech Tip #11: If a car works OK from the factory, make small tweaks, don't start from scratch! Our 240SX with lengthened control arms (for more camber) and cut springs is SO much easier to drive than the one with custom steering column, custom race car brakes, custom suspension setup, etc.

                        We end up 38th in this forgettable race.

                        Ok, we know you are going to overheat.. (9/1/2014) - 4 hours - Ridge Motorsports Park:

                        I head out first and run a bunch of 2:04s, setting our fastest lap at the Ridge! I get up into 6th place before on lap 17 the car decides it's time for me to hang out with friends in the pits. We have a blast catching up with other teams and treating the day more like a track day. We finish a forgettable 28th place but have lots of fun in the process.

                        Tech Tip #13: Don't take things so seriously that you forget to have fun regardless of the outcome!

                        Now for our fuel issue.. this was a bit of a head scratcher. We ordered new fuel injectors.. and those also came up as super lean. We finally figured out that the injectors that came with our mystery engine were actually bigger than factory injectors, and our fuel pump was starting to fail. Since the fuel pump had started failing at the same time the bigger injectors went in... it actually balanced out and we won a race with that setup! With a new fuel pump and new injectors, everything was good. We also bought an Air/Fuel ratio gauge so we could catch these kinds of issues in the future.

                        We also found corrosion on the ECU pins for the knock sensor and believe that is why it was triggering for phantom knock even with the dummy resistor. I believe our ECU was mounted too low in the car and water was able to splash up there.

                        Video overview of the weekend:

                        Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
                        Blue Bayou Facebook page


                        • #13
                          With an overheating engine, it was time to go through the head and put in a new headgasket. With the head off I put a little work into porting:

                          We were also getting much too familiar with changing brake pads after every single race. We were using Hawk Blues and stock brakes with ducting, but we needed more mass. However going with bigger brakes, meant bigger wheels, bigger tires, which would all keep adding more weight to the car. Not to mention when we had spares of everything, it's an expensive changeover. So we keep changing brakes...

                          We had an S14 subframe (95-98), but with ChumpCar rules we would have to take points for installing it. Cutting/welding the S13 subframe to match the geometry however was free. The S14 subframe has less antisquat, which gives a little better grip under power. Here you can see my very scientific measuring..

                          Here you can see how raised the front of the control arm is on the S13:

                          Compared to the mostly flat LCA on the S14:

                          This was my solution:

                          When putting the engine together we tried to use an S14 front cover.. and discovered that it causes an oil leak..

                          We had some room in points, so we put on a header that had come with an engine:

                          Then fit the factory heatshield over it:

                          We had seat sliders, but they were stiff to adjust and we never moved them. So in order to drop the seat a little more, I made some custom seat mounts:

                          We also used an Airbake cookie sheet where the exhaust goes near our heel. This worked fantastically! I kept melting the glue on the heel of my shoe previously.. and it would get quite toasty and uncomfortable.

                          We also installed some more lights for our next race which would have some night running:

                          With the engine together and running and car cleaned up, we were ready for the next race!

                          Blue Bayou Youtube Channel
                          Blue Bayou Facebook page


                          • #14
                            Ugly Rain (10/24/2014) - 5 hours - Portland International Raceway:

                            With a typical Northwest weather day facing us, we put our wet weather good luck charm on our antenna:

                            We also got a sneak peak at the trophies for the weekend, and there is an AT-AT, I want it!

                            Dave starts in the car on a mostly dry track in 44th place. He still has a bad habit of holding the steering wheel at the top, but is getting much better overall. He runs a 1:35.9 and is in 14th place, but if it wasn't for the penalty laps (for winning a previous race) we would be in 2nd!

                            Nathan Feigion takes the second stint and it has started to rain. His drifting experience really shines here as the car sliding a bit here and there does not spook him and get him to slow way down like some of the other racers. Portland gets extremely slick in the rain, but from geese laying their unpredictable marks on the track and rubber worn into the groove. Coupled with no elevation change on the track, it just gets really slippery. As Nathan's stint goes on the traction gets worse and worse, but he gets up into 8th place.

                            I get in the car next, and while the amount of hydroplaning is definitely very disconcerting, I also have experience drifting on this track with my V8 car. There is a fine line between brave and stupid, and I try to keep from toeing too far over the stupid line and let the front-wheel drive cars go when I am hydroplaning too much and try to keep it on the track. At one point I am coming up to the chicane, a very slow right-hander. I am on the brakes and slowing to turn in a little late when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I catch a yellow CRX that is flying into the braking zone. I turn the wheel to the left, and the CRX goes flying past my nose, missing by inches! Whew, this is nearly the same as what took out our Hawaii 2-4-Oh car!

                            Towards the end of the race I am in 4th, right behind 3rd (Celica Supra) and 2nd (Jetta?). 1st place is our full two laps of penalty ahead of us. With thoughts of an AT-AT on my mind.. I push forward trying to get by the two cars to try snag 2nd place. After the VW blows the braking zone into the chicane, I'm now just behind the Celica Supra which I manage to be patient enough to get by when he also outbrakes himself into the chicane on a later lap. Both cars are just behind me, but as they battle it out behind me they collide allowing me to take home 2nd place. I got my AT-AT! Still one of my favorite trophies ever, as it is the only 'mechanical' one. With the MOV penalty laps, it would have been *really* close with 1st place.

                            Rain, With A Healthy Dose of Wind (10/25/2014) - 13 hours - Portland International Raceway:

                            The next day we have our longest race yet ahead of us, 13 hours long. Nathan Feigion starts this one off on a wet track in 43rd place. It is slippery, but starting to dry some. Nathan is putting his drifting skills on display as he slip-slides his way to the front of the pack, although with a longer race we now had 3 "Margin of Victory" penalty laps.

                            Dave gets in the car on a mostly dry track, which still has the treacherous damp areas at the edges and wet soggy grass all around it. While he is nervous over the radio, he keeps it together and brings the car back in one piece.

                            Nathan Feigion gets in the car next, and the rain is back. While he is out there, some severe wind picks up, and starts destroying pop-up tents! We manage to get multiple ratchet straps across ours to keep it from folding and falling apart, but some tents decide to jump the wall and make a run through the hot pits while others just decide to fold in half and give up life where they are. Again Nathan slithers through traffic and keeps us in great position.

                            I get in the car next, and it has started to dry out. Nathan Feigion gets his chance to drive the Paul Newman's Revenge 240SX. He has very similar feedback to them as I gave, much too stiff without enough damping and way too much pedal force for the brakes. The wind is still really kicking around, which in most cases is not affecting the race much. However at one point I get to the back straight where I see some leaves swirling around in a little dust devil. As the car hits it, I get tossed around a bit and have to correct. Definitely not what I expected to see out on track!

                            Dave goes out next for a dusk drive, which is one of the most difficult times. He forgot to put masking tape on his visor, so he didn't have the option of using that to block the mirror. Having lights shining in your mirror and constantly changing lighting conditions is always difficult.

                            I go out next and it is now fully dark. I have my masking tape on my visor, so I am able to help block out the really aggravating bright lights in the mirror. Compared to the last time we drove at night though, we have now switched to a convex mirror instead of the multi-panel 'wink' mirror. This makes it much better! Now two white dots means there is a car, rather than making many different reflections in the wink mirror.

                            Dave goes out for our last stint, and while we complete 395 laps compared to the winner's 393, we finish the race in 3rd place due to the 3 MOV laps. We were behind the #10 Martini Racers VW Golf and Dog and Pony Show Mahre Brothers, both fantastic competitors and great people to hang out with. Luckily it rained most of the day, so that is the only reason our brakes made it that far! We swapped the brakes in the evening again and get ready for a third race of the weekend.

                            Still Burning Oil (10/26/2014) - 6 hours - Portland International Raceway:

                            I get the honor of starting our last race of the weekend in 9th place. This race our MOV penalty has finally dropped off, so no penalty laps! It is wet and quite slippery out (even more so when some fuel is spilled on the track), and I am struggling to keep up with the front-wheel drive cars on the slick track. The back straight is nearly a game of chicken as there is a partially dry line on the right, and a wide sweeping off camber turn (back straight is really a misnomer). I turn over the car at the end of my stint at 8th place. I haven't lost anything, but didn't make up a lot of ground.

                            Dave goes out next, fairly quickly having to dive off track to avoid a spinning Miata. It's still slick out there, but just barely raining. PIR is like driving on an ice rink in places with our car able to easily spin the tires in 3rd and 4th gear. During Dave's stint he is braking for the chicane, and locks up the brakes. He manages to avoid a car and use the runoff into the chicane, but it's a close one! The sun is out and Dave pits the car in 5th place, having made up three places!

                            The rain starts to fall again as Nathan Feigion hits the track. Later Nathan tells me that he "had a moment" in the car on the back stretch. I say, "Oh yeah, me too" but don't think too much of it. His moment was quite a bit different than mine.. While going into turn 8 he shifts into 4th gear and the back end starts moving to the right. No big deal, Nathan countersteers with it to the right and gets it under control. The next turn, turn 9, is known as the back straight, but as I said earlier, it's not a straight. It's a long sweeping right hander with a cement wall on the right, and then grass and cement wall on the left. If you touch the wall on the right, you are bouncing off of there and then through the grass and hitting the outside wall. I've seen it multiple times, often times it totals the car. This is where Nathan has his "moment". At close to 100mph he is steering right, on the drying line next to the wall, and the back end starts moving out on him. He keeps his foot in it, just calmly countersteering, now starting to look at the wall towards his right. As the back tires get into the more wet pavement the car continues to rotate and he has to give it another big helping of countersteer, now looking right at the wall. Easing out of the gas he manages to get it back in line without it tank-slapping into the wall, which is now just inches off the right side of the car as he continues down the back straight. He shifts into 5th, shakes his head a bit, and continues on.

                            Nathan takes the car home into 3rd place, with the Mahre Brother's Dog and Pony show in 1st place. On this engine even though the head was nicely rebuilt, we are still burning oil and having to add oil at every pit stop. Our next race is at Laguna Seca, so we decide to build an entirely new engine and bring our current one as a spare. It's three days of racing in California, and we don't want a possibility of not being able to race all three days.

                            At the end of the day our lucky duck helped us to bring home three different trophies.

                            The now all-too-familiar for us impound. Look at those tiny brakes! Also look how filthy the car was.. those are silver wheels. During impound we have to jack the car up and let people look at the car for 30 minutes. Most people were pretty uninterested or baffled when they looked at our little 4-cylinder engine and super tiny stock brakes. After impound we would then put the wheels back on, bring it back to the pits, jack it up and then swap the brake pads out, bleed the brakes, and then typically leave when it's dark and we longing for a nice warm bed.

                            Now off to go build a new engine and a way to store it..
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                            • #15
                              Every engine we have had so far has burned oil. Enough oil that we are checking the oil at every pit stop, adding a bit, and heading out again. We are jealous of other cars that roll into the pits and don't even pop the hood. Since this engine burns oil after a fresh head, we know that it's bottom end, so we yank it out and keep it as a spare.

                              Another thing I want to work on is getting more real-time feedback from our data in the car. It is very useful to look at the data later and see why one driver is faster than another, but sometimes I want to know if it's faster to take an earlier apex, but I won't know until I get on a laptop later. I have a Race Technology DL1 with the small display, but trying to read numbers on that in a corner is nearly impossible. I decide to see if I can make something that will be easier to see.

                              This is my first proof of concept, just learning to drive some LEDs and an LCD display. Initially this is just based off of a potentiometer for input.

                              The next evolution is to get it talking to the Race Technology through serial. For this first test I was using horizontal acceleration as the output since it's easy to see it change just by tipping the DL1.

                              The further I tilt the DL1, the more the LEDs show.

                              Next I got some multi-colored LEDs, a dimmable LED driver, a smaller Arduino, and fit it into an old stereo faceplate carrying case.

                              The LEDs are Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue as they go across. I also added water temp, water pressure, and oil pressure warning lights.

                              With that project out of the way, we also wired up the car with wireless video. We chose to go with the setups used for RC airplanes mainly due to how expensive it was to use cell phone data for race car video. Being able to see what the car was doing live on the track seemed like it would be really handy with a monitor in the pits. This led to an interesting looking little blue antenna on the car.

                              This transmitted back to our pit station exactly what the GoPro was seeing.

                              We got our freshly rebuilt engine into the race car:

                              So we then moved to making our transport setup for our spare engine. With a little hacking, chopping, and welding, we had a car that would roll into our race trailer.

                              We added the shelves to help make use of space:

                              At home in the trailer:

                              Good use of space and neatly packed with our spares for Laguna Seca:

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