So far the car has been running on V8R's '93 octane' tune. Since we only have 91 at the pump here in CA I have been mixing Torco octane booster to bring it up to ~95, or using 100 from the pump at the track. I've been looking forward to changing over to E85 for all the benefits that fuel provides; far better knock resistance, the car runs cooler, and it should make more power.
As cool as E85 is, the really cool thing is that instead of having to change injectors, do a permanent change over to E85 and a ground-up tune for that fuel, GM already did the hard work for us. Even though the Camaro never sold with a flex fuel feature, some of the other cars that the LFX came in did, and so the engine was designed from the beginning to run E85 and there is a full ethanol tune just laying dormant in the Camaro's ECU waiting to be turned on. That means smooth driveability and reliability pf a factory tune, AND with flex fuel the ECU is always monitoring the ethanol content of the fuel and adjusting the tune accordingly, so in a pinch if you can't find E85 you can pour regular fuel right in and the car with sort things out on its own.
To enable flex fuel, there is one missing puzzle piece; we need to add a flex fuel sensor in-line with the main fuel supply line. I took this opportunity to replace my stainless fuel line with a pair of fancier - and lighter weight - kevlar braided lines with crimped hose ends. These lines saved a half pound over the stainless line:
The flex fuel sensor is an OEM part number 13577394. You also need a wiring pigtail which can be found all over eBay.
Wire colors on the eBay pigtails may vary, so here are the factory colors at the sensor connector:
pin 1 (Pink/Black): +12v power pin 2 (Black): Ground to chassis pin 3 (White): Signal to ECU
1 and 2 are very straightforward. Remember to fuse the power wire. The signal wire is straightforward but takes a bit of time. This goes directly to the ECU at pin 38 of the X1 connector. Because the Camaro didn't had a flex sensor, that pin is vacant in the Camaro's wiring harness. So, you need a factory pin with a wire tail to add to the connector. If you modified your own engine harness and eliminated some wires, you may have a spare to use here, but I didn't. My overkill approach to this was to buy a second full engine wiring harness from a junk yard and from that I pulled one donor pin and wire from that harness' ECU connector to use on mine. Now I have a spare but incomplete harness I can scavenge anything from if I need it. If anyone else is doing this same thing and needs an ECU pin/wire to add flex fuel, just shoot me an email and I can pull one from my donor harness for you.
With sensor installed, all that's left is to turn on the flex fuel sensor in the ECU. This is done in HPTuners or similar tuning software. Since the software side isn't my area of expertise, I took the car to Church Automotive Testing in Los Angeles. They're familiar with tuning these high feature GM motors, and using their dyno would enable us to monitor everything to make sure it was working right before I get out to the race track.
For the dyno tuning, I added a pair of AEM UEGO wideband sensors - one for each bank of the exhaust. This allows us to precisely monitor the air/fuel ratio and make sure everything is running correctly.
As the final step of preparation, I drained the tank and then re-filled it with just 1 gallon of 100 octane; just enough to do a baseline run on before switching to E85. At the dyno, we began with the baseline run on the existing fuel and then poured 5 gallons of E85 in. Then the tuner switched on the flex fuel sensor in the software and ran the engine at low rpm waiting for the new fuel to work its way down the line until we began to see the ethanol content rising on the sensor's signal. Once there was a good 75% ethanol at the sensor he did a few more pulls which showed an immediate jump in power. He made a couple minor adjustments to fuel and timing which pulled a couple more hp out of it and improved the low-end torque. More timing beyond that didn't make any more power so we backed it down to the previous timing values and called it great. The good news there is that the E85 tune from GM was already 98% there to max power, we only made tiny refinements. If I was doing it again I'd be confident in just switching on the flex fuel sensor and pouring E85 in the tank. After verifying that the sensor is operating correctly and reading the ethanol, it's good to go drive - no need for dyno tuning or air/fuel ratio monitoring.
So what did we gain? From baseline to final run on E85, +18 whp and +20 ft-lbs at the wheels. And E85 costs ~$2.20 per gallon compared to $9/gal for 100. Works for me.
This past weekend we went out to Streets of Willow Raceway to support our sponsored Roadster Cup series. I took the HyperMiata for demo laps and to get some test/tune time in, but hanging in the background was another carrot; the Miata lap record for the track might be within reach.
Conditions weren’t perfect, with 30+ mph winds getting worse through the day but I managed a 1:19.488, which just happens to be an EXACT match to the standing record. A return to Streets may be in our near future, there is some unfinished business here.
The extra power from the recent flex fuel conversion felt great ripping up the back straight. The winter changes to suspension need dialing in but are already showing a lot of promise. Transmission shifts much better thanks to the shifter fix, but clutch is improved but still not quite right. Still, shifts are quicker than before. Overall a very successful test/tune day.
The sound and fun of this car is not getting old at all. In the moment I'm focused on the driving and feeling what the car is doing and how to improve it, etc. but then there are times after a session I replay things in my head and just can't get enough of much the car rips.
Carguy123 wrote:A quick question on your oil pan. After the modifications did your oil pan still hang down below the bell housing?
Have you or anyone found a ready made road race oil pan? Everyone laughs at me when I call around and ask for one for this engine.
I'm using the V8Roadsters oil pan. It's a shortened factory pan and the bottom sits 9/16" below the lowest point of the bellhousing. Working great, haven't had any issues with oil pressure under pretty high G's on the track.
We left off with heading out for the first test day of the year at Streets of Willow CCW. This was a Roadster Cup event so the plan was to have equal parts fun hanging out with friends in that series and doing demo laps in their run group and also to work on initial setup and testing of the changes made during the winter.
On the testing side, I did one shake-down session Saturday afternoon. The car felt stronger than ever on the E85. However, it was showing some issues in the chassis and handling; brakes were touchy and quick to lock up, the car wouldn't rotate the way I wanted, and it was skipping over bumps (particularly problematic on such a bumpy track). This resulted in quickly flat spotting the set of tires I was on, and here is where my first BIG "thank you" comes along because Saturday night I left the racetrack and drove to Northridge where Moti met me and generously loaned me the wheels and tires right off Creampuff so I could have something to run the car on on Sunday.
Sunday was more of the same struggles. I had to drive very patiently, give myself extra braking distance, reduce corner entry speed until the car would be willing to turn, etc. Tip-toeing around these issues resulted in a best time of 1:19.488, an exact match to the thousandth with the standard Miata lap record.
I left the event feeling like I have some unfinished business with this track. I didn't even post an update here because I put the car on the rack and immediately started crawling around on it to figure out what was wrong. My second big "thank you" goes to 949Racing/Supermiata who provided a ton of input to help pinpoint the issues and then work through them.
We uncovered several surprises. The largest one was that the new V8R tubular front lower control arms interfered significantly with the downpipes during suspension compression. Easy to see why the car was skipping over bumps and the shocks couldn't do their job - the suspension was going effectively solid. Not the fault of the arms, obviously I'm the one who put downpipes in the wheel wells, and I had factory arms when I made them. One item or the other had to be altered, and for several reasons I decided it was the arms that had to be reworked. The arms were cut, reshaped, reinforced with extra gusseting, and then capped. With the revisions, the suspension could finally do its thing:
Along with the major interference of the front lower arms, once that item was sorted I launched into a week of examining the suspension and wheel/tire travel. Even though my previous shocks had the same total stroke as these, the XIDAs use more of that stoke for bump travel. As a result, I found several other areas that had more minor interference issues at close to full compression, and we dealt with each item as I found it until suspension range of motion was maximized.
Finally, I've been chasing a pad knockback issue caused by significant flexing in the front uprights. Stoptech has been superb in their ongoing support, and to establish whether a floating rotor can solve this issue I've switched to Stoptech's 11" floating rotors in front.
With things sorted out much better at this point, I went to West End to get re-aligned and properly corner balanced. They got the cross weights exact to the pound.
The Streets of Willow test was invaluable in that it uncovered some big issues to address, but because the suspension wasn’t working right there was zero progress on learning and setting up the new pieces in the system. The second test at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway would be the first opportunity for this.
This turned out to be an excellent two days out in the desert. I had a chance to begin tweaking shock settings, the brakes were rock solid with the knockback gone, and I got a ton of laps in. Very refreshing after the last test to have the car feeling right now.
My best from December at this track was a 1:51.4. Returning this time on test tires I wasn’t expecting to be much faster, just focus on setup. However, to my pleasant surprise I set a new best of 1:49.777. I was really stoked to see a sub-1:50 on the AIM at the time, but it was only later when I started looking around at other lap times that I realized there was more significance to it. This is a new track record for a modified production car!
With the car running well at Chuckwalla, I've entered GTA's ProAm Round 1 at Buttonwillow coming up this Saturday. Made a couple little tweaks and repairs on the car this past weekend and tires are on the way. Limited class overall looks like a fun group, time to party:
Fantastic build thread!!! Update on the clutch situation? I’m starting my lfx swap for my autocross car and am trying to decide what to do for a clutch setup. Shandelle actually suggested I use the stock flywheel and clutch setup. I’d certainly like to eliminate the rotation mass, but this journey is one of getting back to actually having fun racing, instead of constantly chasing problems.
guttedmiata wrote:Fantastic build thread!!! Update on the clutch situation? I’m starting my lfx swap for my autocross car and am trying to decide what to do for a clutch setup. Shandelle actually suggested I use the stock flywheel and clutch setup. I’d certainly like to eliminate the rotation mass, but this journey is one of getting back to actually having fun racing, instead of constantly chasing problems.
I'm still fighting the clutch issues. I just ordered a factory clutch/flywheel after a missed down-shift cost me a good lap last weekend. I've been very resistant to adding the 20 lbs back in with the factory parts but have finally decided that the benefits of having a clutch that just works right is far more valuable than those 20 lbs for now.
Late update, it's the busy season here at GWR so as soon as I got back from Buttonwillow I dove back in to work straight away.
The day went exactly how you want every race to go: used my setup notes from previous times here to best-guess the morning setup and that got it 90% there right out of the gate. Minor adjustments in a few areas after first session and the car was strong. Increased the gap from the rest of the field through the day and finished 5 seconds up from 2nd place. New PB of 1:47.5 (1 sec improvement on my time from SLB).
Not only 1st place in class, also fastest overall in Limited across drivetrain categories. Really can't ask for more than that! Here are some tasty pics and vid from the weekend!
I've been accepted to the Ultimate Track Car Challenge @ Virginia International Raceway May 18/19!
UTCC is a no holds barred, no rules time attack competition held at VIR every year. It's put together by Grassroots Motorsports. Coincides with NASA's Hyperfest which is a motorsports festival with live music shows late into the night, vendor rows, drifting, w2w racing and lots of other stuff going on. It's probably the single largest amateur motorsports event in North America. Tens of thousands of people will filter through the gates during the 4 day event.
I'm joining the guys at 949Racing / Supermiata to make the journey to Virginia and see if we can raise some eyebrows of those who never thought a Miata could play in the deep end. They're taking Bullet, the car they ran at SLB 2017 but now with the knob turned wayyy up on the boost and making north of 400whp. That will be a monster. Mine will be the car with less power but more refined aero and probably more total downforce. VIR has some suuuper long straights so I expect more power will make the faster car there, but in the Miatas vs the World conquest, I think between the two cars we'll be able to accomplish a lot.
The plan after GTA Round 1 was to make a few big aero updates to the car with the relatively large gap I had before Round 3 in June. I was just starting to dive into that when I got word about UTCC. Suddenly the timeframe was cut in half, the car needs to be ready to head across the country by May 13! I axed a few things off the list that I knew I couldn't get to, and spent every day since then in the shop after work to bring as much of the updates to fruition in time. The largest change is an entirely new front end aero setup, but I also had to make several changes to be NASA compliant (like moving the lithium battery from the passenger area to the trunk), and move to a new even larger rear wing. I'll have pics at some point.
Format for UTCC this year is interesting. Friday is as it has always been, essentially a time attack format where fastest lap time of the day from multiple sessions counts. However, new for 2018, the fastest 20 cars plus 3 staff picks go to a Knockout round on Saturday:
The field of 23 cars will be released from the false grid onto a green track. After two laps, the three cars with the slowest best lap times will be black flagged and will immediately return to the pits. With each successive lap the three slowest cars for THAT lap will be removed. That means each lap is unique and only serves to eliminate the three slowest cars on that lap. This process continues with each lap until the field has been trimmed to the fastest five. The top five will receive a white flag at the start/finish line indicating they are on their final lap. The fastest time for that final lap is the winner.
After the Knockout Finals are complete, we’ll pull the top five cars over to the podium by the tech shed in the paddock and announce first, second and third place and hand out awards.
The key to this competition is consistency, since the times reset with every round. And per the NASA time trials rules, if a driver places more than two wheels off course during an incident, or has both front or both rear wheels off course at the same time, they are automatically eliminated.
It's been a lot of long hours to get the new front finished in time for UTCC (original deadline for next event was June). Tested Friday at WSIR with the 949 guys. Mega grip, doing 1:27's while just cruising and doing systems check on cycled RC1s.
Lots of scraping, ride height was a little too low. Lost a CV joint boot on the right axle which ended the day, but I had found the weak points that needed correction so it was job done. Sat/Sun were long days. Built struts to support the rear endplates (GT1000 is an animal, serious suction under that wing, Emilio and I were both bending the endplates through T8 and down the front straight). Resized the front endplates, made new titanium wear strips for the front endplates with rounded edges to reduce the shock when they scrape, added an additional mounting point in the splitter with corresponding mount in the frame (good problem to have, tons of downforce), pulled the axle and replaced the boot, raised the car a half inch front and rear to improve clearance. Got it buttoned up last night and the car's with 949 now.
Three days to catch up on sleep. I'm not stoked about the weather forecast, there's definitely going to be rain at some point this weekend, but we have a tire strategy in place.
Whew! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Some of you guys have probably already seen posts about the event elsewhere but I want to be sure to keep the build thread up to date.
The final couple weeks prepping for UTCC were full of a lot of long days. Moti of Blackbird Fabworx and I had just finished up the new front aero config and it would be debuting at UTCC. For the new splitter I had to make all new mountings, ducting and airdam. I also moved to a new GT1000 wing at the rear to balance. Just a couple days before the car needed to be loaded up for the journey I got out to Willow Springs International Raceway for a shakedown.
First impressions were great. Mega grip, doing 1:27's while just cruising and doing systems check on used RC1 tires. Front aero was doing a lot of scraping, ride height was a little too low. Lost a CV joint boot on the right axle which ended the day, but I had found the weak points that needed correction so it was job done.
Sat/Sun were long days. Built struts to support the rear endplates (GT1000 is an animal, serious suction under that wing, Emilio and I were both bending the endplates through T8 and down the front straight). Resized the front endplates, made new titanium wear strips for the front endplates with rounded edges to reduce the shock when they scrape, added an additional mounting point in the splitter with corresponding mount in the frame (good problem to have, tons of downforce), pulled the axle and replaced the boot, raised the car a half inch front and rear to improve clearance. Got it buttoned up and then loaded with the 949 guys. Sonny and Manny began the tow across the country. I had 3 days to catch up on sleep.
The weather forecast wasn’t looking good for UTCC on Friday, but guys from that area said it can change rapidly. We made sure we had a rain tire strategy and packed jackets and rain-X. Well, everyone but John, who only wears shorts and T shirts...
Thursday came, CA to VA.
Prepping Friday morning, very wet.
Morning conditions were abysmal, needed to pack snorkels. Went out anyways on the rain tires and did some easy laps. Some epic pics were the up-side:
The weather was shifting constantly. We would watch the weather till the last minute, pick tires, go out and then the weather would change as soon as you hit the track. Rain tires can’t be run on a dry line because you’ll literally burn them to nothing in less than a lap, and slicks simply don’t work in the rain. UTCC drivers were split into an A and B group, with both Emilio in the Supermiata and myself in group B. During group A’s first timed session, the track dried up and there was a nearly completely dry line all the way around the track. That session got delayed a couple times due to cars going off, etc. and went super long which pushed our group B session later and later. Not knowing what the conditions were on-track, we both went out on rain tires.
On the out-lap we discovered what group A had been enjoying: a perfectly dry line. We both quickly worked our way around the track careful to not overheat the rain tires and then pulled right back in to the pits to swap to slicks. The team swapped Emilio’s wheels first, he went back out, and then they jumped to my car. As the jack released and let me back on to the ground, the first rain drops began to fall again. By the time I got to the track entry, it was pouring. I went out, determined to try to get a lap in just to have something in the books. It was standing water everywhere and the slicks felt like there was nothing connected to the steering wheel. I had an off in T4, and on wet grass the only thing to stop you is the tire wall.
I was OK, but this was a really low moment for me, sitting in the car unable to see how badly it was damaged and knowing there was no way for any of that new aero to have survived. So many hours in the car, so much work from everyone to get it all the way across the country, and I get a couple soaking wet laps and the weekend is over. The tow truck brought me back to the pits, damaging the hood during the tow just to help rub things in.
Back in the pits it was as I feared: the splitter was destroyed along with damage to the ducting, hood, fender, door, barge board, the rear wing and the steering. The 949 guys shared their condolences but immediately sprang into “how can we get this thing back on the track?” mode. I was still reeling from the anger and frustration of so many hours lost and so many more suddenly piled up ahead of me to repair it, but Emilio had some sage words of advice: “When you’re home and you look back on today a month from now, you’ll wish you had tried to repair it if you don’t.” I sat down for a little while to think things through, and anger turned to determination. This is not how this weekend was going to end.
We came up with a game plan to graft 949’s small backup splitter on to the car, build new splitter mounts, hammer the fender into rough shape, leave the rest of the body damage as it was and tape up the rest, and just run what was left of the wing (which was just the primary element). Everyone jumped in and helped. At some point, someone dropped by our pits to make sure I was OK for those following along on MiataTurbo.net which I really appreciated and snapped this pic. Not sure why I was smiling, likely just delusional:
She wasn’t pretty, but it would do:
Sonny did an on-the-fly toe fix to get the wheels pointed roughly straight. Then we discovered the power steering rack had cracked and lost fluid. That required some more Macgyvering; with no way to seal the rack, we scavenged a couple lines from the steering cooler to create a loop from the pump outlet back to the reservoir so the pump could run and cycle its fluid and not burn itself up. We left the steering rack just open-air depowered with tape over the open ports. It might not feel great, but I could steer.
To be sure we had enough work to do, Bullet went into the wall the session after me. Emilio somehow got it back to the pits without a tow, so about the time we got Hyper patched up it was time to jump on Bullet as get that one back into shape.
Sonny made this montage from me going back out for the final session of the day. It felt as big as any win to just be driving the car back out onto the track.
I was just happy to be moving:
The conditions were even worse than the morning. They black flagged the session and shut the track down for the day due to the rain flooding a portion of the track. Back in the pits though, it was high fives all around.
With such terrible conditions ruining most of the day and only half the UTCC field getting a chance at a decent lap, GRM pulled some strings to give everyone a single session on Saturday. We crossed our fingers with the hopes of getting a shot at a dry track, but the rain gods weren’t going to let that fly. When the session came on Saturday, a massive cloud rolled in and dumped on the track just 15 minutes before the session, and left about 30 minutes after the session ended. No chance.
Unfortunately, this means the UTCC results for this year are pretty much meaningless; the top half of the results are group A who got nearly dry conditions for one session, group B never got a shot.
With Saturday’s UTCC session pointless, we all turned our attention to supporting Bullet which was being driven by Sonny in STU and TTU against a bunch of exotic hardware.
The forecast for Sunday looked clear and I realized I might be able to get a chance at some dry laps. Sunday morning I spoke with the NASA staff and lucked into getting a spot in HPDE3. YES I was going to finally get to drive VIR a bit.
First session was full of traffic and got cut short by the splitter scraping on the ground. We got to work reinforcing and adding mounts. More Macguyvering, and a couple endplates gave their lives to further support the damaged splitter.
Second session out, the splitter was holding and I was just loving the chance to begin to feel the rhythm of VIR’s complexes at some speed. There was zero aero grip compared to what the car usually has and the steering was a little wonky, but the car still felt decently quick and I was going to enjoy this. Still had traffic on every lap but began to get the feel of things and find a little speed. Here are a 2:03 and 2:04 among traffic:
Third session, finally a bit of clear track ahead of me. 1:58.9 Second fastest Miata to ever lap VIR, behind only Bullet which Sonny did a 1:57.x in on Saturday. I’ll take that. Bruised and battered, but still fighting:
In the craze of the weekend I had forgotten to charge the GoPro so I didn’t get that lap on video. C’est la vie.
The team after three days of busting our butts in the rain. Low on sleep, a little loopy, and thoroughly satisfied:
Looking at TT results for Sunday: https://racehero.io/events/nasa-ma-vir- ... 18/results If I had ran NASA TT my 1:58.9 would have taken 3rd overall for the entire day, behind only two TTU cars (Dan Raver in the LS7 Superlight and Sonny in Bullet). Faster than every entry in TT1, TT2, etc.
It wasn’t the way any of us envisioned the weekend going, but I was still all smiles just to have had a dry day at VIR and a respectable lap time to hang my hat on until we have a chance to return.
The car had to make the week-long trip back across the country, and it was still held together by duct tape. By the end of Sunday, I didn’t want to even think about all the work that lay ahead to repair the car. Before we left for VIR I had signed up for Global Time Attack’s ProAm round 2 on June 3. There’s no way I was going to make that event.
I flew home and had a few days to myself before the car returned to think things over. One day in, I had already decided I was going to run at GTA. When the car returned I had four days with it before I needed to be on the road to Willow Springs International Raceway. I did a full inspection on the car, separated the list of repairs by priority and focused on just what it absolutely needed. The 2017 front and rear aero package came out of the office and went back on, and I rebuilt a few items that were needed to make that possible.
It was a hectic few days, but by Friday it was ready to rock.
Willow Springs International Raceway, GTA ProAm Round 2. Just days from arriving back in CA with a broken car.
Session 1 was already hot out in the desert. I took an early lead with a 1:26.8. With most of the Unlimited class cars on the East coast for the recent Pro event we realized that I was in the race for the top time of the day, with a Limited AWD GTR nipping at my heels a few thousands behind, and the rest of the Limited class a bit further behind.
By mid-day it was 104°F ambient / 138°F surface temps. Way too hot for the tires, they were greasy even on the out lap, which made for a wild ride at full pace. It’s been a while since I’ve driven WSIR so despite the heat I found a few more tenths with a 1:26.5. The GTR went slower, and I took the overall top time of day in addition to my class win.