Open Track/NASA LA, February 10/11, 2001 at Buttonwillow
"Let The Games Begin"
First Car Race of the 2001 Season
Waiting for the ground to dry at Buttonwillow Raceway
off the month of January, hoping the NASDAQ would recover. Things started
to look better for a while, but then it came back down.
On the electric cart that Larry is driving in the above picture, I forgot to tell you a story about that. Apparently right after he got the kart, he had it parked in front of his shop. This Asian customer was standing next to it, then the customer put their foot in the cockpit area of the kart to kinda of rest their leg a bit, you know, kinda like how people will put a foot on a step when they are sitting around talking to people. But the customer accidentally put their foot on the accelerator, so the kart immediately accelerated at 10 miles per hour into a car that was parked by the body shop near Larry's shop. Needless to say, 300 lbs of metal at 10 miles per hour into car isn't a pretty sight.....luckily they only had to go 10 feet to get an estimate on damages. That is why there is a red dot on the kart, kinda like a Japanese Zero fighter plane that crashes and burns. Larry was going to draw an Asian Happy Face on the side of the kart, with a bit "X" crossed through it, to make sure no more Asians get near the cart....
We decided that our racing schedule would focus around our KRC Supercup Series, meaning that we would definitely attend all of the KRC races, as we need to accumulate points for the season. There are eight races, and you count your best seven finishes. For our first car race, we decided to run with the Open Track/NASA LA folks. Ryan and John are the guys who coordinate the event, and they are frequent posters to www.corner-carvers.com, so we thought we would run with them and checkout their event. Also, it looks like Brian Provost is also starting up his own website, also, with a nice opening screen at http://www.brianprovost.com/.
John's newly built Mustang
At the last test day, my car was overheating a bit down the straights. Larry replaced the radiator, radiator cap, and virtually every hose in the system to try to get rid of the problem. We think we have the problem solved. Wayne's car went over to his mechanic. We didn't get his car back until two days before the event, but it appeared that nothing was done to it. There was a high chance of rain in the forecast, but we decided to go anyways, and at least see how our cars our running.
Right before the weekend, Wayne gets kicked off of that famous auction website again. This famous auction site has one of the world's great monopolies. Wayne can't call them to talk about why he got kicked off (he thinks it might be that he was advertising his company too much in the auctions). There is no complaint department or customer service department phone number. This is worse than your cable company. Sounds like a monopoly to me, where they do not feel a need to have a customer service department. He can only communicate via email with them, and they don't return his emails. So he just knows that he cannot log on and buy or sell any equipment, and he can't complain to anyone. He can't log in under a false name, as if they find out, they can ban him forever. After all, they are a true monopoly.....they can get away with stuff like that. At least with Microsoft if you have something that ain't working, within 10 minutes you can speak to a support engineer about the problem. These auction sites get away with murder....
But then again I feel that MSN is also getting away with
murder. Multiple times people have said that they sent me emails, and I
never responded, and worse, they never got any error messages back to them
saying the mail can't be delivered. But I never got the emails they sent
out. Multiple times I tried to send email out, but the messages bounced
back, some of them bounced back 8 times. I switch over to Hotmail, and I
can send to these people fine, so I know it is not me. So I called into MSN, talked to someone,
and told them they are screwing up my business, as sometimes I can't get mail,
and sometimes people can't send me mail. I tell them I believe that the
server that hosts my mail accounts is buggy, and I want them to transfer my
account to another server. They basically ignore me, and tell me they are
aware of the problem, and it will be fixed ASAP. The problem is that it is
fixed for a week or two, and then it starts up again. Bastards. So
if you emailed me and I didn't respond, it is probably because my MSN mail is
If there are any engineers out that that work in MSN support, and they would like to help me fix this problem (in other words, I will help ya trouble shoot the problem that the MSN servers are having), please contact me, as this is getting ridiculous when I can't send or receive mail. I know it is is not my machine, because Wayne has same problem with his machine at his shop, and my father-in-law has same problem and he is accessing MSN from Mexico. Three machines, three different operating systems (98, ME, Windows 2000), three different geographical locations, three different access methods (Dial up, DSL, and Cable). It is not an end user problem, it is an MSN email server problem. If you are an MSN engineer and can help me with this, and I will put a picture of you, and your car, or your spouse equivalent, or your dog or your cat right
==========NEW PULP RACING MONEY MAKING IDEA========
GET YOUR NEW HONDA
AT ROCK BOTTOM PRICES!
Honda Cars of Mesa in AZ. Great prices! Ask for Mark 480-733-5166.
Okay folks, as you know, NASDAQ is down, and I need to make some cash. In order for me to make cash, you have to make more cash then me. So here is my idea that I put forth to all you Californians, especially you guys in Southern California. Here is my premise:
Californians buy lots of Honda Cars.
In most cases, the demand for certain
Honda Cars outstrips the supply of these Honda Cars in California.
Which means, Honda Dealers in
California charge more for cars. Because they can.
Buying a car is usually an unpleasant
experience for most people. Sales people are a pain in the ass, and
you may feel that you are pressured to buy a car. You have to drive
around to a bunch of dealerships to get price quotes, see what is in stock,
etc. It sucks.
Searching for a good deal is a pain in the ass, even if you are using a website like Carpoint. They don't have this Internet thing quite figured out for buying a big ticket items like a car. I know, I tried to buy my S2000 via the Internet, and it didn't work out.
But, in other states like Arizona, there maybe more Honda Cars available to dealers than then can sell. So demand is low. We also know the following:
No Honda/Acura Dealer in California
wants to sponsor me.
Honda Cars of Mesa in Arizona is
willing to help me out with some of my track fees.
Cars are cheaper in Arizona, than California. Can you see where this is going?
So here is my plan for all you people in California that are thinking of buying a new Honda:
Get a quote from your local Honda
dealer here in SoCal for the car you want. Inevitably, it will be
expensive, just like Ice is expensive at the Equator, and Hot Coffee is
expensive at the North Pole.
Call Honda Cars of Mesa. Tell
them you want the "Pulp Racing Special Pricing" on the Honda car
you wish to buy. Honda Cars of Mesa will then give you a smoking deal
on a car that could potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of
dollars on a new car. For example, my S2000 was about $5000 cheaper
from Honda Cars of Mesa than the local So Cal dealers. Another guy
bought a Honda Insight, and it was $2500 cheaper than the local Socal
Dealers. We are not talking about trivial savings, this is big bucks!
Get a price quote from them. If
it is cheaper, and you want to buy it, then they can fedex all the papers to
you. Since you are buying out of state, you can't physically go to AZ
and buy the car, but they can ship it to for about $250 or so, and it will
arrive at your doorstep. Or you can arrange to have them meet you at
the California Border with the car. You never have to go to the dealer
and sit there for several hours haggling, signing papers, etc. Screw
that, get all this stuff done at your leisure.
Since you are from California, I get a small
kickback from Honda Cars of Mesa to help finance my entry fees for every Honda car that they
sell into California. Kinda like a marketing cost to them. You can then email me, and tell me you got
the "Pulp Racing Special Pricing" on your new Honda and you took
delivery of your car from Honda Cars of Mesa, and I, in return, will send
you a free Pulp Racing Shirt. You Win, I Win, Dealer Wins. You can
even argue that you won the most out of everyone, as you saved the most
money. Call Mark Geiger at 480-733-5166, or email him at email@example.com
You will probably spend $100 or so in
Notary fees for the documents that Honda Cars of Mesa will Fedex to you.
You will still have to pay California
Tax and Registration on this new car from AZ, there is no legal way of
getting around that. But at least you save big bucks on the purchase
price. And you will probably have to stand in line at the DMV.
You might have to get a $35 smog
check, since the car was bought out of state.
This isn't instant
gratification. You can't tell you want to buy today, and get the car
tomorrow. It will probably take 7-10 days to get the paperwork done
and take delivery. But you get it cheaper, and with less hassle and
But, if you take all the caveats into
consideration, but you can save from $2000-$5000 off the price of your new
Honda, doesn't it make sense? If you can save a couple of thousand of bucks,
you can go out and start buying some go-fast parts for you new Honda with
that extra cash....
NOTE: This deal isn't finalized yet....I am waiting for Honda Cars of Mesa's final approval. But I wanted to get these stories up ASAP
==========END OF PULP RACING MONEY MAKING IDEA========
Open Track/NASA had about four run groups, with two of those groups being race groups. They are heavily promoting their "American Iron" series of races for the Mustang/Camaro group of cars. One of the race groups were devoted to this series, with the other race group comprised of Spec RX-7 race cars, RSR race cars, and Super Unlimited, which is the category that Wayne and I fall in. Due to the threat of rain, there were not as many Super Unlimited cars in our run group as we hoped for, but at least we could beat up on each other in this group.
More American Iron cars in the pits
We decided to go up a day early for the open test day on the Friday before the race weekend. This would give us some additional time to make sure we have the cars running strong and fast. We are trying to diagnose why my car is still overheating. Wayne complains that it is because Larry secretly raised the boost on my Comptech Supercharger so it is putting out more than 9 lbs of boost. We keep telling Wayne that this isn't true, but he is convinced that Larry is up to something.
This ASC car was whupping on everyone at the track
Anyways, we get to Buttonwillow on Friday around at noon. We figure we can test for a couple of hours, and then go from there. We walk into the registration building to sign in, and Larry is looking at the brochures and flyers in the reception area. Larry starts cracking up, and he points to the flyer that advertises the Buttonwillow driving school. You would at least think they would waive the $10 entry fee into the track for us because of the flyer....
The flyer that Buttonwillow uses for their performance driving clinic
(Click here for bigger)
There are rain clouds all around us, but blue sky right above us. Wayne and I are out on the track with about 10 other people that are testing out their cars. We are running track configuration #13 counter clockwise, which we haven't run in about 3 or 4 years. We start the testing.
Convertible Mustang getting weights checked
My car is still overheating. Larry pulls off a bunch of hoses to recheck that they are fine. Larry is asking me how the fuel/air meters are working, and I tell him that when I am under full boost coming into a turn, I am not watching the damn gauges, I am making sure that I don't go flying off the track. I tell Larry to get into the car as a passenger, and he hesitates, as he didn't have a good experience in the car at Sears Point. I tell him that we will just go a couple of laps. He gets in the car, and he sees first hand how the car starts to overheat a little, and how the air/fuel gauges and the boost gauges are working. We rip through the chicane, hit about 110 down the front straight, go flying over the two hills on the track. After two laps, Larry signals me to go back to the pits. We cruise into the pits, and struggle to get Larry's helmet off and five point harness belts off, and he then runs to the trash can and barfs in it. Heh heh heh....
Ryan's car, and he was running some fast laps.
Dammit, some faster than me! (but then again, remember, my car was sputtering)
Okay, so Larry keeps dicking around with the heating problem, and now the engine is stumbling a little at 6800 RPMs. Larry says it could be that one of the O2 sensors is going bad. Wayne loses the center cap to one of his rims that holds the grease, so we call Brent and tell him that on his way up to Buttonwillow, we need him to bring a center cap, and two O2 Sensors for the weekend. After being on the track for a couple of run groups, Wayne and I feel that we know the track good enough for the races tomorrow. The test day helped us out a lot, otherwise, we would be encountering all these problems on a race day. We pack it up, and head into lovely Buttonwillow for the night. Buttonwillow is your typical truck stop, meaning that there is nothing to do in town. We crash early, so we can wake up early in the morning.
The new Pennyweb/Real Ride Machine. Checkout scoops and wing.
Saturday, February 10, 2001
It is a little damp outside, but we think we will get lucky and miss the full brunt of the storm. We didn't bring any rain tires with us, so we need it to be fairly dry. Larry and Mark put the O2 sensors in, and I go out for the first practice session. The car is still overheating down the front straight, but it cools through the chicane. Larry is thinking that maybe it is a bad fan switch. I tell Larry that the car is still sputtering at 6800 RPMs, so Larry and Mark take the car over to the skid pad that is on the far side of the track. Larry starts adjusting the fuel pressure, as Mark takes the car around in circles at the redline in 1st gear. It is still sputtering with the new O2 sensors, and Larry can't boost the fuel pressure up any more, so Larry then throws in a used fuel regulator that he brought in his bad of tricks. Apparently the fuel regulator was dying. Fuel pressure goes up, and we are now back on the track for qualifying. Before going out on the track, I tell everyone in our pit area that I am going to take the pole in qualifying. I let the field get pretty spread out so there is lots of room in front of me, and then I start cranking out some laps. I run a 2:04.552, which is good enough for pole by 7/10ths of a second over.....you guessed it, Wayne. I figure if the car wasn't sputtering and overheating, I could have gotten it down to a 2:02 without too much of a problem......
Open Track/NASA has a transponder system, and they print results after each run group
So we move to the race. Looks like within our group, there
are three different groupings of cars, so there will be three different green
flags for our race. From a rolling start, the RSR cars get the green
first, then the Spec RX-7 drivers go next, and then the Super Unlimited class
goes next, with about 30 seconds between each group. Wayne is gridded next
to me, so I decide to go with a real slow 1st gear start, figuring that if I
keep him out of the turbo RPM range on the start, I can make sure I beat him to
the first corner. The green flag drops, and I beat him to the first corner, and then block the rest
of the way for about 3 laps. Again, my car starts sputtering at 6800 RPMs
and overheating on the straights, and Wayne ends up passing me on the
straight. I keep him in sight by short shifting, and we start passing the
spec RX-7's and the slower RSR cars. I stay behind Wayne, waiting
for him to make a mistake, but he seems to be driving pretty good. After
about 11 of the 15 laps, I see Wayne's car pull over to the side of the
road. See ya Wayne! There is no one else in my class that is
close, so I cruise the car home to a 1st place victory in my first race of the
Now of course people could say that my car was vastly overpowered against the competition in my race, and my race "Win" was a gimme. But when Mike Tyson knocked out Peter McNeeley in the first round for a win, it is counted as a "Win" just like when he won his first heavy weight title fight. I figure I am 1-for-1 for the New Year. So what if it appears that Don King is arranging the competition that I race against......
The American Iron cars lined up to get weights checked, to make sure no cheating
Wayne's car gets towed off the track. Back in our pit area, we try to figure out what the big clunking noise is coming from the tranny. Wayne's engine will fire up, but once he puts it into gear and start moving, it sounds like he has rocks in his transmission. Larry checks it out, and says, "Wayne, you are done for the weekend". Larry still thinks that I may need a new fan switch to fix the overheating problem, and we need a totally new fuel regulator to fix the sputtering problem. So we figure that I might as well run the trophy race at the end of the day, which seems kinda like a extra race for anyone in either race group to participate in for some fun. There is no real mention of gridding procedure, so I get to the hot pit area late, and I am gridded almost at the end of the field of 25+ cars. The race is only going to be about 7-9 laps, so we figure we will use it for diagnostic purposes. Larry wanted me to position the video camera directly on the air/fuel meters so he can see what the meters read when the car is sputtering. Unfortunately, that was the dumbest mistake I made in a long time, as the camera is pointing down into the center console, instead of out the front windshield. So I am at the end of this big field of cars in a rolling two by two start, and the green flag drops. I blow by about six cars down the front straight, and going into turn 1, the group of cars in front of me is going into it FIVE wide, with cars on either side of the track dropping a couple of wheels off into the dirt. My car has a lot more power than the rest of the cars on the track, so over the next 7 laps, I must have sliced and diced my way by 25+ cars, including Mustangs, RSRs, Camaros, RX7s, etc. It would have been some great footage.
But it is always like that, meaning that whenever you do not have the video camera running, some great footage comes up. When I went off the track at Laguna Seca in turn 9 at 90+ mph due to an Alfa dumping oil, the camera wasn't running. When I "nicked" my wheel at the Hill Climb in June, it was the ONLY run that I did not have the camera running. Oh well..
Buttonwillow's new control tower. Still no restaurant yet...
Anyways, I don't think there were formal awards or anything for the trophy race, it was just for fun, and it was a blast. Since Wayne's car was dead, and we need to figure out some stuff on my car still, and we don't have a new fan switch or a new fuel regulator with us, we decided to bail from the track a day early, and went home on Saturday night. At least we got one good test day in, and one fun day of racing in.
Larry spends the next week reviewing the video tape of the meters and picking up parts like a new fan switch and a new fuel regulator with new springs in it, etc. We should be ready for our next race, which will probably be with TCRA in late April at Willow Springs. If the damn NASDAQ would rise from the dead, we could be doing more events....
A couple of days after Wayne's tranny blows up, he has Larry diagnose to see what the heck is broken. Wayne is hoping that it is something simple, like a U-Joint. Larry checks the tranny fluid, and there are metal shards everywhere. Larry pulls the tranny and takes it apart, and it looks like Wayne's ring and pinion blew up, as the teeth were severely damaged. Wayne then calls Rick, who is the guy who originally built this exceptionally prepared race car, for some advice. Rick tells Wayne that the tranny in the car is a 924 tranny, with a Quaiffe differential. Rick also says that he knows someone who rolled their 924, and he can get his hands on a tranny for cheap. Rick offers to drive down from Ventura (2 hours away), pick up the tranny, rebuild it, and then re-deliver the tranny for the incredibly low price of $900. Wayne takes him up on the offer, and wants to know why Rick seems to be going out of his way to help get the 944 Turbo up and running. Rick says, "I can help ya build it for cheap, but I need you to do one thing. You HAVE to beat Doug and that NSX with this car. I read the NSX-Files, and I want to see you kick his ass on the track!". So it looks like Wayne found another Go-Fast Crack Dealer to help him with his habit.....
Wayne pointing to his new tranny, Rick pointing at Wayne to go faster
Back over at NSX Modified, Larry has finished a couple of project cars and is getting more kudos from the press. Randy N's car made it in this months issue of Turbo Magazine. Maverick (one of those crazy guys that competes in Ultimate Fighting and cage fighting matches) brought his NSX over with a big ass Garrett, ball bearing ceramic single turbo that he picked up somewhere. Larry figured out how to make it work, and has 14 lbs of boost max, so Maverick is running around town terrorizing people with his NSX, as this car is generating a ton of power. (I'll put up a picture of this turbo later) This other guy Paul who flys back and forth from England, dropped his car off with Larry. Paul has a full Comptech setup, and a Tein suspension kit. Paul wasn't too happy with the car initially, so he brought it to Larry on some advice he got from other people. Larry dialed in the car, the supercharger, the suspension, installed gauges, etc, and now Paul is pretty damn happy with the power he is generating. When Paul is in town, he buzzes around town in what feels like an extremely fast NSX, and when he gets ready to leave town, he drops the car off with Larry and tells him to keep making it Go-Faster. "What's next Larry, what do you have up your sleeves?" He is definitely on the Go-Fast Crack Pipe. Next project car for Larry is a guy with a big Vortec supercharger on his NSX.
Larry is now also a distributor for Jun flywheels and products, has sold three new top secret GT Stormer NSX Body kits that a friend built from scratch, and building some race only light weight exhaust systems. His clutch is doing pretty good, John S. has one in his car, and is pretty happy with it. Alex blew up his clutch at the Arizona NSX event, so he replaced his with one of Larry's new clutches, and he likes the feel of it. $850 + Tax + Shipping ($950 if you want the Kevlar stuff) + your old core (or $200 if no core) + installation.
Okay, so let's talk about the S2000. I took delivery of the car on February 1st. My initial plan was to sell the Ferrari, downsize and drive the S2000. But the F355 is so damn awesome, I couldn't bear to part with it. Instead, I am going to be like normal Ferrari owners, and only drive it one day a week, especially since it is out of warranty, and I will drive the S2000 every day. Based on the fact that the F355 went to the repair shop every six weeks as a daily driver, if I drive it once a week, then maybe it will break once every 42 weeks instead. And I still think that the good stocks in the NASDAQ will rise up from the dead....otherwise, I will have to say buh-bye to the Prancing Horse permanently.
The new daily driver
|Here are my initial impressions of the S2000 after one thousand miles. The steering wheel is awesome. The wheel fits perfectly in your hands, and it is the perfect size. I wish I could put this wheel on the NSX and the F355. Headlights are awesome. Handling is very good, car sticks great, and turn in is very quick. It is a great car for buzzing around town, and it a lot of fun to drive.
RPMS, nothing happens. The car has no power. From 6500 to 9000 RPMs,
the car feels pretty fast. You have to drive it like you want to blow the
engine up in order to make it go fast. But I am good at that, I have a lot
of practice in blowing up engines. The car will chirp the tires when
making the 1-2 shift at the redline. It is a "frenetic" car,
meaning that with the top down, taking it to the redline on every shift, ripping
around corners, etc., takes a little bit of work, and a lot of stuff is going
on. When going around a turn on city streets, since the power
bandwidth is way up high, 2nd gear has no power when you make a 90 degree right
hand turn or a left hand turn. So.....this means that for most slow speed,
30-35 mph turns in the city, you have to hit the clutch, blip the throttle,
shift into 1st gear, and carry speed around the turn, take it to 9000 RPMS, then
shift into 2nd. So you have to shift into first at 30-35 mph in order to
properly go around a slow speed turn. But enthusiast cars are supposed to be like this. All the
frenetic action is what gives you the "adrenaline buzz" when you step
out of the car.
Stereo is adequate, and controls for stereo, CD, volume, and heater/AC are also in the perfect position for the driver. You don't have to take your eyes off the road when adjusting the volume or the fan. Honda ergonomics are excellent. I get in the F355 after driving the S2000 and I have to ask myself, "Hey, why is this less comfortable than that little Honda buzz bomb?"
There are some downsides to the car. With the convertible top up, it is a little claustrophobic in the car, but the only time I ever have the top up is when it is raining outside. The manual boot cover thingy that you are supposed to put on when you lower the top is a pain in the ass to work with, so now I just never use the boot cover thingy any more. The car does seem a little twitchy at times in a straight line on the freeway, but I am not sure if that is because of the steering wheel response or the short wheelbase of the car. I only get about 85 miles on half a tank of gas, so it seems like I am constantly going to the gas station. (I guess you need a lot of fuel at 9000 RPMS...).
This car would be great fun at an autocross or a race track. After having the car for two days, I started searching the Internet for a removable roll cage for the car. (hummm....if NSX is broken, maybe race the S2000 wheel-to-wheel?) Or at least a nice roll bar that would allow me to take this car to a time trial event. The stock roll hoops on the car would probably not satisfy safety requirements for a track event, as if you had your helmet on, your head would be higher than the stock roll hoop. After checking the S2000 bulletin boards, I give up on the removable roll cage idea, as most of the roll cages out there look to be permanent installations, and would look kind of geeky around the street, but I got some good leads on a roll bar from Nick. After he gets his installed and he is happy with his, then I think I will order the same one.
Tiny 2 liter engine puts out 240 HP. (Oil bottle is there for size comparison)
I noticed at the last TCRA event at Laguna Seca in January (which we didn't attend due to the NASDAQ crashing) Paul Mumford, who is very fast in the race group with his Viper, and kicked our ass a couple of times, took his stock S2000 down for this event and ran it in the time trial group. He ran a 1:47.66, which is pretty damn fast. Just imagine if you throw the Comptech supercharger on the S2000, you can probably drop this car into the 1:44 range at Laguna, which is a pretty awesome lap time, especially considering a 1:44 would put you in the middle of the pack for the Speedvision Touring Car qualifying last year.
A lot of people have asked me, "Why an S2000? Why don't get you get something with more power?". In my opinion, for buzzing around the city street, it is much more fun and challenging to me to have a car that you can outbrake everyone going into a traffic light, meaning that I trying to hit the brakes about 100 feet after everyone else starts slowing down for a traffic light, and trying to make sure I brake in a manner that doesn't lock up the ABS. So if the spec says the S2000 can go from 60-0 in 113 feet, I want to do that at every stop light. I especially enjoy it when I am coming up to the light with someone in a car next to you who tries to play chicken as to who can hit the brakes later than the other person, as a car like the S2000 will toast them. Some of the car mags have the S2000 out braking a stock NSX and a stock F355. Other people seem to like having a car that will do burnouts for 50 feet after a green light, but all that buys you is traffic tickets for exhibition of speed. I haven't seen anyone get a ticket for exhibition of stopping......
Also, I like a car that I can throw into corners, and when a particularly obnoxious guy with big horsepower is behind me, I can leave them in the dust on freeway onramps/off ramps. After all, you can probably teach a monkey to hit the accelerator and go fast in a straight line, but it take a true driver to brake at the threshold of ABS or pull .95g on a freeway off ramp.
So which are you? A monkey that goes fast in a straight line, or are you a true driver? That what we road racers want to know..... <grin>
Good steering wheel, red push button starter, short shifter, and V1 Radar Detector