Racing Blip: 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

By | June 13, 2014

No. 8 Toyota LMP1 will lead the start of 2014′s 24 Hours of Le Mans

While the rest of the world seems to be fascinated with the little thing in Brazil, called the “World Cup”, the racing world has the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

This is THE endurance race of the season. In fact, this is the 82nd running of this famed race. Teams from all of the world, including some incredible prototype machines from the likes of Audi, Toyota, and a very welcomed addition - Porsche. All come to Le Mans to show off just how well built, how fast, how much better their car is over the other.

For those not familiar with prototype machines, these are purpose built race cars designed for endurance racing. It is also a test bed of new and emerging technologies for various car companies. In other words, do want to know what is going to be in your car in a few years? Look at the cars in endurance racing. In particular, the LMP1 class machines.

This year, you have engines ranging from 3 cylinders to 8 cylinders. Various hybrid systems. Gas engines. Diesel engines. Turbo’d engines. Two wheel drive cars and all wheel drive cars. Cars with radar systems. Cars with no rear-view mirrors. Cars with no side mirrors. Yup, little cameras have replaced them.

Audi, Aston Martin, Corvette, Toyota, Nissan, Morgan, Zytek, Porsche, Ferrari, and other manufactures will be represented.

And like most endurance racing series, this is multi-class racing. From the no-holds-barred LMP1 Prototype class, the cost capped LMP2 class, to GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes. Both the GT classes represent cars that you and I would recognize on the street, but in racing form.

What to watch for?

The fight in LMP1. Audi has dominated Le Mans the last decade plus. Toyota has offered up some stiff competition to Audi in the opening rounds of this years World Endurance Championship. Porsche is the new/old kid on the block. Audi wants to defend it’s dominance, Toyota wants to knock Audi off, and Porsche wants to prove to the world that is still the king of Le Mans!

So, how do you watch is 24 hours race of races?

There are SOO many ways (and remember, it starts on Saturday, June 14th, at 9am Eastern).

For those in the USofA that want to watch a broadcast, the Fox Sports family of channels is your ticket (all times Eastern):

08:30AM – 04:00PM Fox Sports 1
04:00PM – 05:00PM Fox Sports 2
05:00PM – 06:30AM Fox Sports Go app
06:30PM – 01:00AM Fox Sports 2
01:00AM – 07:30AM Fox Sports 1
07:30AM – 09:30AM Fox Sports 2

For those of us that think streaming is the future:

 

Here are some other useful sites:

 

 

[Photo | Sébastien BASSANI (ACO]

 

 

The Cold Air Intake: World’s Most Popular Drop In Mod Finally Busted?

By | June 9, 2014

Cold Air Intakes Don't Work

Image credit: AllFordMustangs.com

Back when I first graduated from college, I bought a 2001 MX-5 to celebrate my leaving of classrooms behind forever. It was a wonderful car and lived up to every bit of hype that has since made the Miata the so-called “answer to everything”. But just like every other Miata that came before it, the power of the car left quite a lot to be desired.

So off to the forums I went to find the best recommendations for easy mods to give my car that extra bit of oomph I so desperately wanted.* One of the first and most repeated recommendations was a cold air intake (CAI) to replace the stock air box and filter. CAIs are of course available from almost every aftermarket parts manufacturer, some reasonably priced and some that would break the bank.

The concept is simple: taking your stock airbox and traditional air filter out of the car and replacing it with a higher flow cone (or pod) filter that is positioned every so slightly closer to the outskirts of your engine bay will promote a more consistent draw of colder air into the engine. Cold air of course is more dense than warmer air, bringing in more oxygen molecules to the combustion process in the engine and resulting in a more powerful explosion of compressed fuel and air.

Sounds great, right? After all, handfuls of forum dwellers claimed that CAIs added 15+ hp to their Miatas. But 15 more ponies was nearly a 10% increase power… I was skeptical. If this easy upgrade to the car had such a positive impact, why didn’t the manufacturer do it in the first place? Was the power gain actually real or just a desired mental outcome? Where was the proof?

To me, it seemed that moving an air intake a few inches to the side and taking it out of a sectioned off airbox would only give it access to warmer ambient air in the engine bay, which would have the opposite effect of cold air.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. Lots of debate surrounded the claims as to the effectiveness of the CAI, and despite some modders showing their before and after dyno results, I still wanted more proof. Luckily the veteran modders and pro mechanics behind the “Mighty Car Mods” YouTube channel had the same question on their minds and decided to settle things once and for all with several dyno runs of an R34 Skyline featuring different airbox setups. The video is below, which is very well done, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, scroll down to see the results.

In the end, each set up of a CAI resulted in less power than the simple stock airbox with the stock filter. Only when the CAI was literally placed outside of the engine was there a very small gain in power. It’s hard to argue with the dyno numbers, which offer definitive proof that the perceived power gains and my 15 extra horsepower for my Miata were too good to be true.

In short, if you want a better noise when you put your foot down and a better looking engine bay, get a CAI. But if you want phenomenal power gains with a bolt-on mod, however, it’s best to leave the CAI option out of the picture.

*Years later, my opinion is that no bolt-on mod is really that effective. There is no replacement for displacement or adding a forced induction.

Park City Welcomes goldRush Rally 6

By | June 6, 2014

goldRush Rally 6Back in 1971, race car driver Brock Yates and Car and Driver editor Steve Smith attempted to travel from New York to Los Angeles in the quickest time possible in a 1971 Dodge Custom Sportsman van.  They made the trip in just over 40 hours.  The trip spawned a new, unsanctioned road rally, the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.  The event ran five times with the fastest run done in just under 36 hrs in a Ferrari Dino with an average speed of 83 mph.  That may not sound very fast, but back when the speed limits were only 55 mph thats cooking!  The race inspired Hollywood and The Gumball Rally and Cannonball Run series films hit the big screen.  The Gumball Rally stayed true to the original concept while the Cannonball Run films took things a little less serious and a lot more humorous.

In the early 2000s road rallies like these regained popularity in the form the Gumball 3000 which hosts these rallies annually.  Others include Bull Run and goldRush Rally.  While the events today are more for rich party goers than trying to get there the fastest, speed is still a large part of the game.  The events start in one city then they stop at several checkpoints over a weeks time.  Some try to get to each check point as quickly as possible while others take it a little more leisurely and enjoy the beauty along the way.  It was on a rally like this where a Koenigsegg CCX allegedly got the highest ever speeding ticket by doing a reports 252 mph in a 75 mph zone somewhere in the middle of Texas.  I keep wondering why he stopped?

We caught up with the goldRush Rally this year which started in Las Vegas with a finishing destination in New York City; checkpoints included Park City, UT, Denver, CO, Chicago, Cleveland, OH, and Washington, D.C.  Entry fees cover the trip’s expenses as well as go to charities.  There were approximately 70 cars along for the journey.  There were a variety of cars ranging from a Fiat 500 Abarth to a 10 day old McLaren P1.  The driver of the P1 reportedly clocked 210 mph somewhere along I15.  Seven cars proudly displayed speeding tickets.  Other notable cars included a Liberty Walk Ferrari 458 driven by the founder of Liberty Walk, Wataru Kato, the Bugatti Veyron Supersports Pur Sang, the Batventador, and an original Lamborghini Miura.  Most of the cars had a vinyl wrap to protect their paint and display the sponsors of the rally as well as their favorite charities.  So scroll through the gallery below to just a taste of what cars goldRush Rally 6 brought through town.

Photos: The Author

A 240Z Still Young

By | June 1, 2014

IMG_2201Two weeks ago I flew from Boise, Idaho to Sacramento, California to pick up a 1971 Datsun 240Z that I purchased on Ebay a couple of weeks earlier.  You assume a certain amount of risk when buying a car off of Ebay, especially one that’s 43 years old and as rust prone as the old Z’s are.

I’ve had my share of blunders when it comes to buying cars.  I learn best from the school of hard knocks.  The weeks leading up to my trip to get the Z were tormenting.  Half of me couldn’t wait to get my first Z home and the other half was terrified that I’d get there and find that it was full of hidden issues.  Thankfully it was not.

240Z EmblemWith a build date of 11/70, my 71′ 240Z is a true series one.  The differences between series one (1969-early 1971) and series two (late 1971-1973) 240Z’s are minimal and hard to notice from an untrained eye, but to a purist it could be the difference of several thousand dollars.

Series one Z’s were made of thinner sheet metal and lacked an extra crash support bracket in the doors, making them 250 ibs lighter than the series two’s.  Series one Z’s also had the more desirable dual Hitachi SU carburetors and came with the E31 cylinder head that had higher compression.  Visual differences are in the badges where the series one Z has the 240Z emblem written out on the rear three quarters of the car while the series two just has a vented Z emblem.  The series one ventilates the cabin through two vents on the rear hatch.

Originally Sunbird Orange, my 71′ was purchased new in Phoenix Arizona where it spent the next 30 plus years in the care of the original owners.  Once they couldn’t drive it anymore they sold it to their son who brought it to Sacramento.  He realized he wasn’t ever going to drive it so he put it up on blocks in his garage and there it sat until earlier this year.

IMG_2175I arrived in Sacramento on a Friday evening to find the car as described.  Now blue with silver accents, the Z is a little more sun faded than it looked in the pictures but the common rust areas are impeccable.  The car has fresh tires on the factory mag wheels, new brakes & lines, and a full tune up.  The L24 is quiet and strong and I easily managed 70 to 80 miles per hour over the 600 miles home.  The suspension could use refreshing but otherwise she drives like a dream.  The Z made short work of the Sierra Nevada mountains, never got hot, and drove much better than I expected a 43-year-old car to do.  At roughly 2,200 ibs, the 151 horsepower six made no qualms of getting the Z to scoot.  Quick enough at least to attract attention.

IMG_2210With the original numbers matching engine and cylinder head and only 77,000 miles on the odometer, my series one will be a car to hold on to.  Early Japanese cars are quickly becoming valuable collectibles as younger generation collectors start getting into the game.  A 240Z was lucky to bring $5,000 a decade ago.  Now?  I’ve seen them go for well over $20,000 in pristine condition.  240Z’s are especially good candidates because not only are they coming into their own with a certain generation but they were a big deal back when they were new.  They looked great, they drove great, and they were cheap.

Plenty of people like to hack up the old Z’s and stuff V8′s or RB skyline motors into them.  I’ll admit I’m a fan of a GT-R powered 240Z but the cars are so reliable and fun to drive right out of the gate that I plan to keep mine as original as possible.  As time and funds permit, my Z will be going back to the original Orange or at least something very close and I’ll probably refinish the mags but keep them on the car.  Perhaps lowering springs and an upgraded exhaust will be among the few modifications.

IMG_2213Project Pony Up is getting underway and we’re excited to see the outcome of Chance Hales Mustang.  Stay tuned for future Z updates as well.

 

 

 

Racing Blip: 2014 Chevrolet Sports Car Classic

By | May 30, 2014

No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP

No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP

Welcome to Detroit – THE motor city. And just on the outskirts of town, is beautiful Belle Isle. This is the 5th stop for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. This race is similar to Long Beach Grand Prix, in the fact that only two out of the four classes are running this weekend. This time, P and GTD classes are running (Long Beach had P and GTLM classes). Sorry PC! But you get all the lime light at The Grand Prix of Kansas.

If you’re thinking this is kind of odd. I can see GTLM being left behind, as most of those teams left of France and the 24 Hours of Le Mans right after Laguna Seca. I’d guess the exclusion of PC at Belle Isle has to do with the fact that TUSC is not headlining this weekend and there isn’t enough room for all IndyCar, Pirelli World Challenge and Stadium Super Truck Series cars/trucks racing there this weekend as well.

Tomorrow’s race on the 2.34 mile street track is a rather abbreviated 100 minutes. Basically a sprint race for these teams, which typically have races no shorter then 2 hours and 45 minutes, with some races running up to 24 hours.

What to look for:

As this is a street track, it’s going to be rough and tumble like Long Beach typically is. The track itself is bumpy. And in years past, has had chunks of pavement come up DURING the race! I’m sure lessons were learned and we shouldn’t see that happen this year.

In Prototype class, Balance of Performance (BoP) seems to be getting better. The DP cars still looked too fast compared to the P2 cars. But the racing is getting closer. At the end of qualifying, the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing, with Richard Wesbrook took the pole in the Corvette DP machine. I imagine the P2 cars from ESM and Oak Racing will give the other DP cars a good challenge.

On the GTD side of things, I have to say, this racing is starting to get exciting! Everything from 12 to 6 cylinders. Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, SRT Viper, to Porsche will be battling it out tomorrow. In fact, 5 different cars where in the top 5, with less then a second separating the top 10. Spencer Pumpelly drove the No. 45 Flying Lizards Motorsports Audi R8 LMS to the pole this evening.

How to watch:

Head on over to IMSA’s race central for the details on both linear broadcast and live streaming. The race starts at 1:30PM ET on Saturday, May 31st.

[photo | mike gillilan]

1967 Mustang: Project Pony Up

By | May 27, 2014

1967 Ford MustangPerhaps it is no secret that I love Mustangs.  I own two of them.  With the exception of perhaps the Corvette, the Mustang is America’s car.  The Mustang is the fastest selling car of all-time selling over a million in less than 18 months when they were launched- a record that will quite possibly never be broken.  The Mustang recently celebrated its 50th birthday and is one of very few cars to have lasted that long without any breaks in production.  It is the only muscle car to have survived the 70s.  We’ve decided to do our own celebration.  It won’t be a party, a cruise on our favorite back road, or time spent at the local track.  Instead, it will be a project build.

The Mustang you see above is in fact mine.  It is a 1967 Coupe.  It was originally painted “Springtime Yellow,” or “Piss Yellow” as my mother called it.  It had a 302cid V8, 3 spd automatic, and was in rough shape when my father bought it on September 11, 2001.  A day that will never be forgotten for several reasons.  It was bought as an incentive for me to do well in high school and was a father-son project.  We spent hours replacing the old worn out parts with newer, better parts trying to make it perform better as well as be safer to drive.  The suspension was replaced with Total Control Products Grab-a-Trak kit, the front drum brake were swapped out for discs, and the 8″ rear axle was rebuilt.  We later added a 4 barrel carburetor and long tube headers and header back dual exhaust.  The faded Spingtime Yellow had to go too so the car was spray painted with primer.

1967 Ford Mustang

After many years of working on it off and on the car finally made it back on the road last spring.  It was reasonably quick, fun to drive, and would get looks from everyone.  Then one day while the motor started running rough and we found that on of the cylinders lost compression.  This was likely due to a failed piston ring (that is our best guess anyway.  Since replacing piston rings requires tearing down the motor we decided we might as well rebuild it.  The plan was to build up the motor to have 300-400hp, and make it trackable.  One of the things on the list was rebuilding the motor and swapping out the old C4 3 spd auto for a late model 5 spd manual.  But then one day a friend and former coworker called me up and told me about a deal so good I had to check it out.

1991 Ford Mustang GTMy friend told me about a Mustang his neighbor would be selling.  The car had a crate motor in it from Edelbrock, the same 5 spd manual transmission I was planning to use and was a whopping deal.  I went and test drove the car, a 1991 GT and my was it quick!  Much quicker than the 67 ever was when the engine was running strong.  I bought the car (pictured above) for $1000.  The car isn’t in as good shape as it seems but the engine and transmission are in great condition with the exception of an oil leak.  The paint is peeling, there is rust and the interior is completely trashed but the car drives great.  The new plan is to pull the drivetrain out of the 91 and install it into the 67.

1991 Ford MustangThe fox body Mustang has a 5.0L fuel injected V8.  The parts on the car include Edelbrock RPM aluminum 170cc heads, an e303 cam, and Edelbrock RPM upper and lower intakes combining for a theoretical 325hp.  With very little modification the engine will drop right in.  It uses the same motor mounts as the 302.  In fact, the 302 and the 5.0 are the exact same engine block so they share the same architecture.  This is where Project Pony Up begins.

In the coming weeks, perhaps months, we will be following and showing you how to do this same engine swap.  Included in the project will also be how to swap out the old 3 spd slushbox for the newer T5 5 spd manual.  Lastly, we will swap out the old 8″ rear axle for the 8.8″ rear axle from the late model Mustang.  Once the project is done the 67 will be faster, more fun to drive, more reliable, and should see a bump in fuel economy.  I say should because with a car like this it is very hard discipline your right foot!  So, follow along and if you have a similar project you are working on let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.