More Control

I’ve been taking advantage of the unusually mild November weather to catch up on some maintenance issues on my cars. It started when I noticed a nasty screech sound from the MINI clutch on the way home from work one day. It had been a while since the MINI (now with over 135K miles/over 5K on the track) had been thoroughly checked out. Sure enough the clutch is slipping.

spec clutch

Once you know you have to drop the engine to replace the clutch, you start to think of all of the other things you might as well do while it’s all apart. I noticed steering wasn’t as precise as before (2nd set of control arm bushing shot); and I haven’t yet replaced the belt tensioner (3rd belt due to be replaced.) I started to source parts, and then realized I’d have to drive the Stealth to work while the MINI is in the shop. I ended up getting a Spec Stage II clutch and lightened aluminum flywheel along with some Powerflex bushings.

control arm

The Stealth E30 burned through a front wheel bearing on my last track day and also showed signs of control arm ball joint failure (I hate when that happens.) New bearings, new wheel studs, new control arms, new control arm bushings, and an alignment later, the Stealth is back on the road. I was able to do the control arm replacement and bushings, but the rest I had to take to York Auto.

I’m trying something a bit different with this set of control arm bushings. I used offset bushings from an E36 M3. The offset location ads a bit more track, camber and caster to the geometry. With the current setup of Bavauto springs and Bilstein shocks, I’m getting 2.5 degrees negative camber in the front (without adjustable camber plates) and 2.6 negative degrees in the back.

NCC BMW CCA HPDE Shenandoah, May 10

This past weekend was the Spring Driver’s School for the local BMW club. Friday and Saturday were warm and sunny. Sunday was mostly cloudy with light rain. It was a good lesson in car control, but not as much fun as pushing it in the dry. The best thing about the rain is that it equalizes the horsepower advantage of the M-cars. The video shows a lap of the skid pad at large-angle oversteer. This club really emphasizes car control on the skidpad. Being able to maintain a full lap in oversteer is one of my last obstacles to finally making it out of the instructor program.

SCCA Event 1 and CCC for 2010

Muddy BMW

It was a busy week here at GeorgeCo, with three events in five days. Saturday started it off with half a day with some of the BMW club instructors on the skidpad at Summit Point. About a dozen drivers, three at a time on the skidpad for four hours. Very helpful in finally mastering a full-lap with the tail out in oversteer. I also mastered the 360 degree spin. I spun so much that my radiator cap came undone.

MINI

Sunday was the first championship event for the SCCA. It was a fairly simple course on a very slicked repaved surface at FEDEX field. I drove the MINI which was probably the right choice for the surface. I had a bad tire bead on one of my racing tires so I tried slicks up front, street tires in the rear. Sort of a tire mullet. It really helped to get the car to rotate, but you couldn’t get the power down because the temperature was so cold.

Finally Wednesday was the Colonial Challenge Cup at Summit Point. This is a fun charity event with loads of track time. For the second year I instructed basic and intermediate students. I usually try to pick front-wheel drive or low horse-power cars, but this year I got a Corvette and an Audi S4 with a V8. Fun, but more power in the wrong hands is not always a good thing. The video has a couple of good recoveries in the wet, especially towards the end. Below is a screen capture of my finest moment: passing a Ford GT coming out of turn 10 onto the main straight, in the rain….

FordGT40FingerPass

Detailing Tip of the Week: Better Living Through Chemistry

If you have an ’80’s BMW, chances are you have some funky looking door trim. If you’re turned off by the price of OEM replacement parts, take heart: there is a better way. OK, not better, but certainly cheaper. And you can get it at your local Ace Hardware. Acetone.

funk out

Tape off your trim so you don’t dissolve your rattle-can paint job, put on some gloves to keep your skin attached to your hands, and grab a decent rag and wipe away years of oxidation and discoloration. It’s like magic and only slightly toxic.

tape off

The change is dramatic and immediate, but it only works on the door trim, not the bumper trim.

enjoy

SCCA Practice Event, 3.28.10

Today was the SCCA practice event at FEDEX Field. It is a non-championship event where drivers can knock off the rust and organizers can try to get their act together before the season starts. It was unusually cold today. Most of the cars in the super-sticky-tire Street Mod class were running street tires for a change, including the GeorgeCo Stealth BMW powered by Beano.

GeorgeCo at FEDEX

Yesterday we had a bit of a set-pack in the suspension department. When we went to adjust the rear sway-bar, we found the drop-link was a wee bit bent.

Bent

Nobody likes having their drop-link bent out of shape. After (quite) a bit of judicious pounding with a sledge hammer and re-cutting of threads, it was almost good as new. Not really, but good enough for autocross. We won’t run it on the track. Not sure why only one side bent. Don’t remember any wheel-eating DC potholes.

Miata hungry

There were some interesting cars there today. Of special note is Jeff’s E-30 with an E-36 M3 engine. More power. Ho, ho, ho, ho. Unfortunately, no grip in the cold, but if it ever hooks up, watch out.

E-36 M3 fits

Speaking of all fury, no grip — check out the Home Depot Spoiler on this C6 Z06 Corvette.

Home Depot