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If you knew then what you know now...

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W2W Racing
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Under 3 Years
Lawton, OK
Whenever I take on a major project, I always ask myself "What did you learn from the last one?" I have built a track Mustang before, a 302 V8 swapped 97 V6 car, and I spent months researching the effort before I bought the car. Even after seeing friends SCCA and NASA cars see their completion, I still made mistakes and had to learn the hard way how to do things. There was no Watson Racing or Vorshlag back then, or maybe there was and they weren't mainstream yet, so a lot of the project was trial and error. I built my own SCCA legal roll cage, and almost trapped myself in it after welding in the X brace, and my brake package was a Frankenstein setup with Wilwood 6 piston fronts with 13" rotors, and the rears were 4 piston Wilwoods and after some master cylinder tuning the car stopped like nothing I'd ever driven.

Anyway, you guys who have got your cars to the track have probably got things you've learned and would or would not do again, and guys who are tackling their first track car project have probably done things one way and regretted it. If you were to start over with your car, what would you do differently?

I'll go first. The one thing I'm doing differently this time is buying a roll cage, not building it from scratch. The second thing I'm doing differently is taking the advice of championship winning drivers and builders instead of believing 100% of what I read on the internet.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
7,211
6,438
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Time Attack
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20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
Well you are in good shape here since you have Paul's Automotive Engineering, Capaldi Racing , Vorshlag , etc. who have won various National Championships and they are Sponsors. We also have the old lovable Blacksheep 1 who has been on too many National Championship Crews with Phoenix Performance than one could count.

So great advice can be gotten from solid winners and I know I am missing quite a few others also on TMO.
 
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sfo
If you were to start over with your car, what would you do differently?

I'll go first. The one thing I'm doing differently this time is buying a roll cage, not building it from scratch.

The second thing I'm doing differently is taking the advice of championship winning drivers and builders instead of believing 100% of what I read on the internet.

I love welding and designing cages and building the car. I rather do that than race them but I do like racing too especially new tracks where there is good flyfishing nearby and good food. I'm up to 30 around the country. I build my new 2019 S550 from a brand new car to have effortless racing for the next few years and buy crate motors right from Ford racing in the SCCA T classes. I feel like this big girl at 3600lb min weight is like racing an SUV compared to the C5/6 vette and cararra and caymans in my class. My old C5 vette racecar was nimble and felt like a sports car. Even 20 years of Ford innovation over the old vette can't overcome the physics of mass, high CG and that SUV feel. Will I ever be fast in this S550? I don't know but I am trying.
 
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no habla es wilwood for road courses.

Brembo/ Hawk-Pagid/ AP fluid

Also, I've done my own cages as well, but it might be easier to strip out the interior and have a pro shop do it for you, if you hit search, there is a large post on cages someplace on here.
 

PaddyPrix

If breakin' parts is cool, consider me Miles Davis
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San Diego
To be honest, I don't believe I've made too many mistakes, other than perhaps waiting so long to embark on this journey to begin with. I've been stalking the hell out of some of you with similar builds/cars, and trying my best to learn from your mistakes because I don't have endless amounts of money. All things considered, I've been rather fortunate with my salvage car, and sure, I'll joke about things breaking left and right, but for the most part, they've been relatively easy to replace and minor items like body panels and whatnot. I've done the all of the work myself, except for the 8-pt cage, and the clutch/trans, so if I were to do it again, I guess I'd go with a higher difficulty level and try my hand at welding things up.

Biggest regret so far was my braking system problems, where most of the internet was trying to say that you don't need the PP Brake Booster and Master Cylinder when swapping the PP 6 Piston Brembo Brake Calipers and Rotors into a non-PP car. The only person who really said you had to was Terry, and everybody else just ganged up and made it a shiznit show. Technically speaking, yes, they're correct, you don't need to, it will work "just fine," depending on what your definition of just fine is. About a year later, I've replaced every single part of the system but those two, and have come to realize that every single person who said he was wrong either A) doesn't track for more than 2 laps, B) can't better a Spec Miata laptime, or C) lying about both A + B.
 

ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
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3-5 Years
South Carolina
I'd have done a better job assessing what it is that I really want to do and my own personal limitations because after watching several inexperienced friends try to turn their street cars into racecars, they lost the fun factor of a fast street car and spent stupid money trying to build a competitive racecar. I'd have listened to the old timers who point out how everything is consumable and thus very expensive. Turns out I just want a fun street/track car.

I'd have paid someone else to do my interior and body work.

I'd have stuck to Ford Racing or Cortex parts because once I realized what I really wanted was a fun street/track car, I'd have spent half as much money on replacing parts some random forum (not this one) recommended based on zero knowledge and twice as much on track time.

Edited to add: attempt more humility (not my strong suit) and spend more time listening to the real experienced people like Bill and Rob. Number of posts/likes/whatever is not experience. Like the OP mentions at the end, listen to real drivers. HPDE is not racing and the difference between the two can mean a lot of fun at the track or big headaches everywhere else.
 
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Very interesting thread.

For those of you who have "gone too far" with a street car, I'd like to posit one more question. Where would you have "stopped" to leave it enjoyable on the street? A cage is an obvious one, as climbing over door bars with a morning coffee is annoying. But short of that, what say you?
 

ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
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HPDE
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3-5 Years
South Carolina
Where I have seen it go too far for some friends of mine is with aero and the cage, as you say. Everything else is pretty tolerable and even reversible, but once they started to add crazy aero (thinking wings and splitters here) they just stopped having fun with it. They never drove it on the street after that and were too busy trying to chase down gremlins and consumables.
 

Dave_W

Cones - not just for ice cream
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Autocross
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20+ Years
Connecticut
Not in the camp yet, but spring rates and miles-between-rebuilds on high-dollar shocks can be a detriment to streetability.

To the original question - I should have bought a better Triumph Spitfire in the 80's that didn't need body work, so I didn't need to buy a parts car that ended up having better body panels than the first one (after I had stripped the first one down to metal), and a GT6+ for more parts, and eventually give up entirely on the Triumphs and buy 2 Miatas (all the fun of a Little British Car, but with reliability).

TLDR; replacing mechanical stuff is easy, replacing rusty bodywork is a nightmare.

Actually, maybe what I should have done is move to the southwest/Cali as soon as I could, so I didn't have to deal with New England rust.
 
5,153
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You can definitely get too crazy, I built a 69 Camaro with a 454, tunnel ram, glide, narrowed Dana 60 with 5.38 gears for the street. It made the cover of Popular Hot Rodding magazine, but it was terrible on the street.
This is why I advise folks to go with Ford Racing suspension packages, they're simple, they work, they are very streetable, and let's face it, a Boss 302LS is about all the car most of us can handle anyway.
The bottom line is, are you having fun?
One sure way to ruin that is to modify your car to the max, and have to work on it all the time.
One last analogy, and I'll stop my rant. I used to race an MG Midget, single axle trailer, ATV, pop up 2 man tent, my tires were BFG Spec Racer take offs. I turned every nut, bolt and screw on that car, built it in my garage, it was fun. It never ran up front ( unless it rained which equalized the HP) . Another MG guy with the 35ft trailer, crew cab dualie, who was always very competitive, came up to me while I was cooking burgers on the grill. He tells me " Man I wish I was you, we're doing an engine change and you are over here hanging out and cooking on the grill".
That tells you all you need to know. We're not pro level, we cant afford pro level even if we have the talent, if you're over 30, it's too late for you anyway, so just dial it back a bit and enjoy life.
 
5,762
6,899
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W2W Racing
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20+ Years
Pleasanton: 1/2 way between Sonoma and Laguna Seca
Very interesting thread.

For those of you who have "gone too far" with a street car, I'd like to posit one more question. Where would you have "stopped" to leave it enjoyable on the street? A cage is an obvious one, as climbing over door bars with a morning coffee is annoying. But short of that, what say you?
I would have left mine a super fast street/drag/show car and purchased a donor to build as a full race car instead of transforming my show car piece by piece into a track car until it was no longer street legal and eventually became an SCCA legal race car. It would have been cheaper, more satisfying and I'd have a race car with fewer compromises in the final product.

50782988_10157018059923535_6244764920898912256_n.jpg
 
Great thread.

Still running my stock 01 Bullitt all over the country to different tracks and loving every minute of it. 32 year old HPDE driver just trying to have fun.

Have seen my buddies dump 20 grand into their 40 grand street car and only turn in lap times as fast as, or 2 seconds faster, than me. Sad to see them not having as much fun anymore and only considering more mods to get a better lap time.

Over 35 hpde weekends and I still have not run a lap time at my home track. I go out there to have fun and earn passes on much "faster" cars.

As far as what I want to do different, I need look in to a HANS device or something for safety in 2021.
 

racer47

Still winning after 30+ years
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Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
SE WI
While I can appreciate the zen of just having fun with your car, I can't do it. If there isn't timing and scoring, I'm not interested. I've raced since I was a kid in mx. My fun is winning and/or beating cars that you should not beat.

I'm not up for the constant work of real racing anymore but I've found an awesome niche in high speed autox. I won 6 out of 6 in 2020, 4 of 6 in 2019 and 2 in 2018 when I first got serious again. Prior to that I had run a few times in the 3rd-5th range and just kept thinking, "I can beat these guys, they're not that fast".

And this is all with a real street car, full interior, a/c, no cage, no race seat, spring rates are street tolerable and no real aero (but I do have wing envy). While other cars are rolling in on trailers, I drive mine, towing my stupid little tire trailer and kick their ass. Thats my fun.

But if I had to do it all over again, I would do everything different, everything, girlfriends, jobs, race classes, etc. Not because anything is wrong now but just as an experiment to see what would happen.trophies.jpg
Pic from last July. I've added a few more since.
 
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