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MINI Scoop Grille DIY

Here’s another easy DIY brought to you by Home Depot Racing. If you notice that you’re picking up a lot of debris (klag, cigarette butts, rocks, etc.) then you might want to consider adding a grille between the scoop and the air duct plate that attaches to the underside of the bonnet. That’s the easy way: Just remove your scoop, trace the opening on cardboard, cut the grille to be just a bit larger, and then trap it between the back of the scoop and the forward edge of the air duct. But if you’ve removed the air duct, then it’s just a bit more complicated. But I’m ahead of myself. Start at the beginning.
Make template
Go to Home Depot, and get some Gutter Guard material, and a set of heavy-duty wire cutters or tin snips. You’ll also need some cardboard to make a template and some masking tape to transfer the template to the gutter guard material. If you still have the stock air duct on the underside of you bonnet, follow the instructions above. If you have removed the air duct, you’ll need a different method to attach the grille. For this you’ll need some stainless steel fine wire, an electric drill, and a small drill bit.
tie it off
For this method, you want to cut the grille from the raw stock to be about 1/4 of an inch larger than the cardboard cutout you made so you can bend the material around the back edges of the scoop and have enough material to catch with the wire. Drill 8-10 holes at various locations on the scoop about 1/8 of an inch from the back edge. Cut a 4 inch piece of stainless steel wire for each hole. Carefully feed the wire through each hole and loop through the grille, twisting until tight. Bend the excess wire out of the way.
finished grille
You can still see the stainless steel wire twists from the front. I though about painting them flat black, but they really aren’t that noticeable, and besides, if I can see them, then they’re still there.

MINI Brake Duct DIY

For the most part, stock MINI brakes and even the beefier JCW calipers do a decent job of dissipating heat at the track. I generally advise students to run a higher temperature brake fluid and to get some better brake pads like Hawk HP Plus and they should be good for most 20-25 minute HPDE sessions. But for those days when you want to run longer or the ambient temperature is already approaching 100 degrees, you may need some additional cooling. That’s when this DIY will pay off.

The basic idea is pretty simple: The air in front of the bumper is a high pressure area. The area behind the wheel in the wheel well is a low pressure area. Create a path between the two and air will flow through and aid cooling. It won’t be as dramatic as dedicated ducting pointed directly at the hub, but it also isn’t as troublesome for the 99 percent of the time that your aren’t at the track. Expect to spend $10 to $75 and a couple of hours of your time. You’ll need a three inch hole saw, some zip-ties, and some tubing. You’ll loose the use of your foglights (if you have them) but you can put them back in the winter.

Guard on duct

You might have luck just holding the tubing behind the bumper cover with compression, but I ended up fashioning a make-shift duct out of an old set of fog light covers (MINI part numbers 51711481435 and 51711481436) which are about $19 each. Just cut the center out and add a screen to keep out debris. Attach about a foot of tubing to the other end and pick where you want to cut the wheel liner.

Tubing inside wheel well

If you’re trying to stay really low tech, use dryer vent tubing and gutter guard, otherwise invest in a three foot section of silicon brake duct tubing and some wire mesh (I’ve tried both, silicon tubing is easier to work with.)


Attach the tubing to the wheel liner with zip ties. Wire mesh comes in handy here too. when you’re all finished, you can hardly tell anything has changed. Good for a 50 degree drop in caliper temps at Summit Point in August.

All Done

NCC BMW CCA HPDE Summit Point, August 2011

After a bit of a summer break, GeorgeCo was back at the track with the National Capital Chapter of BMW Car Club of America to instruct for 3 days at the Summit Point Main Circuit August 5-7, 2011. We ran the GeorgeCo E30 Powered by Beano on Friday and the GeorgeCo Blue MINI on Saturday and Sunday. I had two students this time out. My A Group Student was in an E36 M3 and my B Group Student was in an E30 much like mine. Both accomplished GeorgeCo’s Objectives for any Drivers’ School: 1–Have fun. 2–Learn Something. 3–Return home with your ego and your car undamaged.

GeorgeCo MINI at the Track

The MINI is sporting a couple of new mods designed to improve brake cooling and reduce flex under braking. For the brake cooling we took a trip to the local Ace Hardware to get some ducting. Having previously removed the fog lights from the bumper cover and cut a hole in the wheel liners, we connected the two with some ducting to improve air-flow behind the wheels. At the Shenandoah in similar weather in June we saw brake caliper temps in excess of 650 degrees. This weekend, temps stayed below 600. Tough to say if it was from the improved ducting or just the differences in the two tracks, but $15 for a little insurance is well worth it. To firm up the chassis you will notice the red convertible chassis braces in the photo above. Not seen is the lower stress brace that reinforces the link between the sub-frame and frame. This was on sale a few months back so we snapped one up. Install is dead easy and can be done in about 10 minutes.

GeorgeCo BMW is for Sale

We got a break in the harsh summer weather we’ve been having here in the Mid-Atlantic and took full advantage of it with 3 glorious days at the track. We had a bit of rain on Saturday afternoon which spiced things up a bit as seen in this first video.

But once we came to grips with the lack of traction on the transitions to the patches, lap times dropped down to within a couple of seconds of our times in the dry. After the rain, the track never had the same level of grip as it did on Friday, but it did give us a chance to try out a new camera angle with the GeorgeCo RePlayXD camera.

We’re also still perfecting the Helmet-cam, but this video gives you bit of an idea of what is meant by keeping your eyes ahead of your hands. Watch for the head to turn before the turn-in point in the corners.

More Home Depot Racing Parts

I have always hated exterior bits that serve no real purpose. Faux brake vents; solid grilles — that sort of thing. The stock MCS rear bumper has two fake grilles that have always driven me nuts. With the way the bumper cover is designed, the rear valance hangs down in the airflow coming under the car. It always looked like you could just open up the grilles and let the air flow through the bumper. But things are never as easy as they seem.

The first thing you notice when looking at the rear of the car is that there is a lot of heat shielding. With the stock “2-ball” design, this made sense, but once you’ve converted to a single sided exhaust, you really do not need all of that shielding or the exhaust hanger on the unused side. Once I painted the new bumper, I thought I’d try to experiment with airflow through the bumper. I started by modifying the heat shielding on the exhaust side to flow better toward the outlet. On the driver’s side, I trimmed the heat shielding back and channeled the airflow directly toward the vent. I’ve been running without vents at all for a couple of months. From most angles, you really can’t tell anything is missing, but when you are directly behind the car, it just looks wrong.

I tried looking through the usual online catalogs for a low cost, free venting solution, but all seemed outrageously priced to me. Enter Home Depot. Since I had an extra set of vent grilles, I decided to break out the jig saw and dremmel and see what I could come up with. After a couple of experiments, here’s what I produced. It’s not going to win me any concourse competitions, but from 5 feet, they look pretty good. They are made from the same gutter-guard material as my front grille, so it provides a certain low-budget symmetry I should think.

Rear Grilles

MINI Scoop Grille DIY

I found that the intercooler hood scoop tended to scoop up leaves, bugs, and cigarette butts. Maybe it was just because I was doing a lot of driving in NJ (sorry). I saw a MINI catalog featuring a grille and thought I might try to make one myself. Putting a screen to keep the junk off of your intercooler will sacrifice a certain amount of air-flow and I suppose there is some risk of having snow and muck block it as well, but if it’s that cold out, I don’t think it will matter. I much rather have to stop to unclog the scoop than pay for a new intercooler. (And as I would later find out at the track, it helps keep the rubber klag out as well.)

Remove your air scoop by removing the two screws and two bolts that hold it on. Take care not to let the trim piece fall from the hood. There is a gap between the scoop and the trim piece that seems to have been built for this purpose. Trim a piece of cardboard to get the right shape then cut out a grille from a piece of $2 Gutter Guard from the Home Center. Paint the edges with flat black paint to prevent rust. If that’s too complicated for you, send me $5 and I’ll mail you one. Motor on.