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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
http://www.gunn.com/myfirstlemonsrace

Despite the misgivings of some folks here, the good news is that our 95 Ford Thunderbird 3.8L NA automatic ran flag-to-flag at Infineon raceway this past weekend and placed way better than I could have ever expected from our 6 person all noob team: 66th out of 164 cars (almost in the top third) by clocking in 271 laps and 617+ mi. We then slapped the lights back on the car and drove home. Our race was almost flawless; the good news is the guy that punted us in the butt on a yellow has offered to help me straighten the car so I can't be that upset with him.

Dangerous Homemade Tech
Three homebrewed systems that helped our car were the System monitor and the radiator mister.
- I gutted a Sega Dreamcast case and installed a monitoring system that constantly monitored the ATF temp, coolant temp, and oil pressure. Whenever something went out of spec, it would honk a car horn mounted in the driver's cabin. This would tell the other drivers to back off lest they find themselves being chased around the pits by me and a 1/2" cheater bar.
- I hooked up the existing windshield washer pump to a mister mounted in front of the radiator. If you heard a honk, you'd hit the rewired cruise control button on the steering wheel and it would spray a fine mist on the radiator/AC condenser turned ATF cooler. If the temps were above 210, you could see them drop quite quickly.
- While it did add weight and was aimed slightly wrong to generate downforce, my birch plywood front diffuser offered two distinct advantages: it prevented air from spilling out before the radiator since i sold off the underbody diffuser and it protected the undercarriage a bit when one of my drivers took two wheels off the WRONG side of a berm due to traffic. No complaints on this one.
- My fourth "brilliant" idea, a variable wing controlled by another microcontroller and miata headlamp motors, worked brilliantly in front of the judges but my actuating (not control) mechanism needed tweaking. We eventually dropped them (and the entire trunklid) to save weight).

While our car could outbrake and out handle most of the competition (thanks to our new shocks, scrounged cut-SC / eibach springs, SC sway, PBR swap, ATE super blue fluid, Classic tube SS lines, and $200 Porterfield R4-e pads), the car was the 10th slowest on the track. We were like a mobile chicane -- even a minivan walked us once you hit a straight.

I do have a few questions about the performance of our 3.8L but I will post them in a separate tech thread.

Thanks again for buying all our take-offs and offering all kinds of advice. We now need to decide how to proceed if we race again (our car isn't crappy enough to win the Index of Effluency -- yet -- and I'm not sure if we can make it fast enough to compete out here with all the cheater E30s). I definitely see room for improvement with our pitcrew though (we came in far too often to swap drivers).

Regards,
-g

 

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OK, first things I notice, get rid of all the glass in your car except the windshield. Gut the doors and remove the reinforcement beams. Remove the header panel and hood latch setup and just go with a couple hood pins to hold the hood down. One thing that helped us a huge amount was suspension bracing. Nothing has to be pretty, it just has to work. We used some roll bar tubing to make the brace between the rear LCAs under the diff, as well as a rear shock tower brace (just welded the roll bar tubing in, and now we are going to tie it into the cage as well). For the front subframe, so square tubing from home depot will work to hold everything from moving. We just welded it directly in because if we have to remove the front subframe for anything, we can just sawzall them out, and it left one less place for it to flex. For the chin spoiler, we made ours out of the flat top section of another bumper cover, much lighter than a wooden one. Spend some time inside the car cutting out anything that isn't structural. Between that and sorting out your transmission issues, you should do better next time. If after all that, you find yourself still looking for power, get a mustang splitport 3.8, and you should be alright.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Mike:
We left the glass in the car b/c I need the option of storing it outside since the team member who was storing it in his garage is getting all kinds of grief from his wife. I offered him a hammer after day 1 if he could guarantee to me that we could store the car in his garage. He backed down.
This is also why the doors are still on the car and not just skins.

Your additional bracing mods are worth reviewing.

http://www.gunn.com/tbirddamage
Q: Would you take a look at the last 3 pics to see if I have a good idea as to what i can cut off the car?

I'm also curious to hear if you trimmed all the bracing underneath the hood as well (I saw a volvo with a floppy but still usable roof.

Thanks,
-g
 

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First and second are OK to cut. The package shelf is structural, but it can be cut out if you weld in a rear shock tower brace and tie it into the cage first. As far as storing the car outside, just get a car cover for it, and make sure the floor and cage are painted so they don't rust up, and leave it outside.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Apparently, you don't have to worry about bum nests in NJ....

What about the stuff underneath the hood? OK to cut?
-g
 

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Yes that should be OK. Our hood was pretty floppy not cause of cutting bracing, but we had to cut about 50% of the actual hood out to clear the intake and engine accessories on the explorer motor. Like I said, just make sure to use hood pins though. Get rid of the whole latch assembly and just run the pins.

Bum nests? Not sure what that is exactly, but no, I haven't had to worry about it. Maybe replace the windows with some chicken wire or something? That glass is a lot of weight, especially the rear window. The side windows unbolt from inside, so you could remove those and store them right before a race, and then when you are done racing, just reinstall them with a few of the nuts.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes that should be OK. Our hood was pretty floppy not cause of cutting bracing, but we had to cut about 50% of the actual hood out to clear the intake and engine accessories on the explorer motor. Like I said, just make sure to use hood pins though. Get rid of the whole latch assembly and just run the pins.

Bum nests? Not sure what that is exactly, but no, I haven't had to worry about it. Maybe replace the windows with some chicken wire or something? That glass is a lot of weight, especially the rear window. The side windows unbolt from inside, so you could remove those and store them right before a race, and then when you are done racing, just reinstall them with a few of the nuts.
Q: What's a bum nest?
A: Here in SF, our liberal govt has seen fit to spend something like 41% of our discretionary budget on social services; the net result is that this town is a magnet for bums and other near do wells that would rather live off of the public largess (read: me and every other taxpayer) than make something of themselves.
http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/
(page 2, number was from 2009 but I assure you it hasn't gone down).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huR-DcVh8AY
(It only takes 2 weeks to declare "residency" in SF).

The net result are bums and other folks who would think nothing of setting up camp inside your car. Back in my old neighborhood, Lower Haight (right down the street from the infamous Haight-Ashbury), I was seriously considering setting up a "bum blind" (like a deer blind but for a different animal) to find out exactly who was pooping on my front porch after the third time. Seriously. Growing up in Austin, I thought I was bleeding heart liberal until I moved out here and found this town run by freaking communists :)

Why do I live here? The food, culture, weather, and things-to-do-nearby are fantastic -- if you can afford it. You do have to take certain precautions though -- like not leaving out inviting racecars which could be turned into possible bum nests.

Sorry about the rant :)
-g
 

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What?! You're telling me that a 3.8L tbird can be driven hard?! My world is shattered! Up is down, down is up, dogs and cats are friends!!! :D

Way to go, man. Were you the only MN-12 team?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I believe so. I did see a few other MN12s but they were just cars. A teammate pointed one out and said we should go over and say "hi"; after all, they were the owner of a potential parts car :)
-g
 

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That one hill at Infineon must of been a pain for the 3.8 to get up, but this looks pretty fun. I might have to build myself one.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That one hill at Infineon must of been a pain for the 3.8 to get up, but this looks pretty fun. I might have to build myself one.
Yes it was -- but we had a LOT of time to think about things as the flock of cars passed us on both sides.

To inform you that there are a bunch of faster cars behind you, the corner workers flash a blue flag with a yellow stripe on it. This got old after the third lap or so (likely for both my team AND the workers).

The only side benefit was that one of my friends said she could tell when our tbird was coming around bend b/c she'd see the blue flag come out.

-g
 

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Awesome, always wanted to do something like this. If you ever need help for your team I wouldn't hesitate. Are you coming to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill on December 3rd/4th? I would love to go help out, especially since Thunderhill is 30 minutes away. :D
 

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