Awesome awesome awesome.
Following your lead on mishi radiator
To share some extra info.
this is the MISHI vs pp1/shelby radiator.
And the plate nets btw the 2.
I test it on sonoma aug4th.
Project Update for August 30th, 2019: The last update got cut short since we were so far behind in updates due to the 3 month forum outage. There are six more track and test events that we have done in our 2018 Mustang GT we have done since that post, as well as some new parts we have been testing.
Going to try and cover as much ground as possible in this post. We also have a new S550 chassis entering the shop, which we are already building for the 2020 season...
Yes, its a front hit rolling chassis. I will explain why we bought it and what we are going to do. Let's get started!
NASA AT COTA, MAY 4-5, 2019
This annual NASA event at Circuit of the Americas is always fun, but this particular weekend was pretty far from the perfect outing I had hoped we would see this year.
First I was a little bummed as we had to move to TT2, where we are 300 pounds overweight, or 47 whp under the limit, however you want to look at it. Its a shame as we would have dominated TT3 class both days, even on street tires. Still doing our "street tires on Saturday / R compounds on Sunday" testing for NASA weekends. Just cannot get back to TT3 without cutting the car or swapping in a different engine (could this be hints for things to come?) It is what it is.
The drive down Friday afternoon was rough. Hellish drive in traffic and heavy rains all the way down. The Friday test-and-tune day was wet all day, a total a wash, so I'm glad we didn't enter that. We lost count of how many crashed cars, car-b-ques, and wreckers we saw on the "3 hour drive" from Dallas, that took 5.5 hours.
It stopped raining by 6 pm when we finally got there, we unloaded the car and put it inside our garage, while very dark clouds were rolling in. We got out of there just before the skies OPENED UP. It rained for so long and hard that evening that the tunnels flooded and people inside the track got stuck there for many hours. Was hoping the forecast would clean up for Saturday.
Saturday morning, and its been raining all night, so the track is still wet. TT goes out first at 8 am, totally wet. I tried to start towards the front of the field but of course I had issues trying to get the AiM Solo to talk to the SmartyCam and fought with it during the entire out lap (see below left). Never did come on, so I was "flying blind". I hate driving on track with no CLUE how the lap times look. I live and die by my predictive lap timer. It was also wet enough to put up a spray in a lot of places (below right).
That first session was a mess - I let several cars go by on the out lap while I fidgeted with the AiM, then fought to re-pass these same cars in the later wet laps. The Video is unwatchable, as the AiM Solo and AiM SmartyCam were not playing well together. I stayed out longer than normal trying to get a clear lap, just kept getting blocked by formula cars and TTU cars, lap after lap.
After a lap and a half of passing cars and then filling the mirrors of some Corvettes, a gaggle of TTU cars finally pointed me by (above left). That was bad enough, then I got stuck behind a Elan DP-2 prototype that was on a leisurely Sunday drive in the corners, and he had juuuust enough grunt on the straights to block me from passing (he later ran a 2:20 laps in the dry on Sunday). This went on for an entire lap and a half, super frustrating, and I finally just made a pass braking on the inside of T1 just enough to get past him, then built a gap and pulled away in the esses. On street tires, in a 3800 pound car, with no aero. By then the diff fluid temps were pegged at 250°F again. I had made most of a clean lap, but finally gave up in traffic frustration and came in.
Turns out I had the 3rd quickest time of the session at 2:38.114, even with crazy traffic. The SmartyCam video is nearly unwatchable, the audio is a train wreck, and the lap counter and most of the data overlays never worked. I'm already sick of the SmartyCam, but we will try it again another weekend.
Felt good gridding P3, but the wet conditions masked some setup issues. I went out in session 2 and it was dry, but the car handled something awful. Worst it has ever felt! Pushed like mad on corner entry, loose as hell on corner exit. I was pulling my hair out, driving sideways a lot, but at least the AiM was finally displaying my times - which were CRAP. Ran a 2:33.0, which is slow even with the "street tire handicap" (we've run 2:28s here on A7s last year at Nationals, in TT3, with less power). Fell down to P7 on the grid.
I came into the garage and started checking things like shock settings, tire pressures, wiggled this and that... Spent an hour chasing a whole lot of nothing. Noticed the windshield had picked up a HUGE crack from a rock, probably when following some traffic in the wet session. "Great".
I went out in session 3 and found a little time, but now I'm down to P12 on grid. Everyone else is finding huge amounts of time so I'm going backwards. The car has never handled this badly, never had this wicked of a front end push. Its just killing the front tires so I don't stay out more than a few laps. Come in and change shock settings, looking for anything.
Went out in session 4, hot as hell, last session of the day. Still a total mess to drive, and while I got marginally quicker at a 2:32.0, I fell down the grid again further to 17th overall. What in hell is going on??? The front tires took some visible damage on the outer shoulders by the end of the day, and I've fallen from 2nd in TT2 class down to 7th out of 9. SEVENTH. My worst class finish in 2 years of driving this car.
I spent an hour at the end of the day, car back up on jack stands, wheels off, checking everything I can see or torque on the suspension. All day my friend and fellow TT2 competitor Paul Costas kept telling me "string the car", meaning check the alignment. What I described to him sounded like an alignment issue, but we set this car up, so I had no reason to doubt it. I finally broke out the toe plates after we had swapped on the R7s for Sunday and promptly found the issue. Front toe was set 1/8" total toe in, instead of 1/8" toe out. So that 1/4" in toe error caused all of this hell. Wish I would have checked this earlier!! We always keep these $50 toe plates in the trailer - next time I will bring them into the garage with me! Stupid, stupid, stupid mistake.
The weather was perfect on Sunday morning, and I was hoping we would be a LOT quicker with the alignment fix and switch to Hoosiers. Now for most of the 200TW -> Hoosier R7 testing this year the switch to R compounds was worth no more than 1 second. Problem was I was gridded way down in 17th position, which would mean I had a lot of slower cars ahead of me IF the alignment tweak fixed the handling AND the R7 Hoosiers worked at least as well as the A7s did last year in TT3.
I went out and immediately knew we had fixed the handling problem, and the R7s were switching on quickly. The temps were perfect but I had to fight through traffic, and passed 7 cars ahead of me in this session. That means I never got a clear lap, but I knew this 2:27.385 lap would help me grid better next time - moving me up to P10 on grid. Already 1 second faster than my previous best here at COTA - handling 100% better!
Of course during the out lap of Sunday TT session 1 is when the SmartyCam filled up the 4GB SD card it comes with, which will hold less than 45 minutes of video (like I said last time - you need to buy a 128 GB SD card for a SmartyCam). So we had zero video or data logging for Sunday. The damn thing doesn't beep at you or warn you - it still turns on (if it has power) and the lap timer still works, just stores zero video or data. Frustrating.... ran my quickest lap ever at COTA and I have zero video of it.
Even with the temps rising, TT session 2 looked to be even better, due to the big move up the grid. Now I won't have as many cars to pass, so maybe I can find more time. I still had some traffic on that first hot lap and slowed to a 2:28.248, making a pass, but seeing clearer track ahead. Kept pushing and found a 2:27.266 on hot lap 2, still getting a bit stuck, but at least quicker than session 1 and new personal best. I kept getting around cars, seeing a clear stretch of track ahead... predictive timing was now flashing low 2:25 times, which could move me as high as P3 or P4 in class, which would be great.
As I cross Start/Finish on hot lap 2, I see this Super Unlimited class Lamborghini Huracan with giant aero bombing down the front straight, coming up on me from way back. He put it in 2:19 lap Saturday, so I don't know why he started behind me on grid on Sunday? Some of the W2W guys like to use TT as practice, and they don't care about grid position. The above right pic shows how close he was getting to me braking up the hill into T1, after hot lap 2. I was trying to figure out how to get this guy by me without ruining my 3rd hot lap, which was showing a 2:25.0 predictive at this point...
I'm exiting T1, powering through 3rd and shifting into 4th gear, now in the middle of T2 at about 90 mph - when the car takes a violent, instant snap spin, like I had run though oil. Turns out I did - and unbeknownst to me, it was from my own car. Meanwhile time had slowed down for me - I was heading backwards towards the outside wall at near triple digit speeds, but at least knew enough to keep the car lined up in the direction it wanted to go, in reverse. I'm looking in the rear view mirror, trying to keep the car straight, and applying the brakes. Gently... gently... - the ABS freaks out braking hard in reverse at high speeds - steering away from the walls, got it stopped, on the apron. Whew!
Turn off the engine by pushing the "push to start" button, gather my wits. Hmm, I'm parked backwards looking at the exit of T2, not in a great spot if anyone else hits "whatever fluid" caused my spin. I saw a spritz of what looked like coolant on my windshield, tinted just a hair yellow - was this coolant from my car? (we don't have any coolant in this car - just distilled water and MoCool additive)
I tentatively fire up the engine, thinking I can drive way off on the apron and get to a safe spot or maybe one of the "cut-thrus" between the track barriers, then get on the access road, pop the hood and assess the coolant leak. No idiot lights or beeping, so I start moving along slowly at about 30 mph on the wide apron off track left, then the "low oil pressure" idiot light comes on. CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! I frantically push the "push to start" button to turn off the engine and coast to stop. I stay buckled in but I'm frantically looking for fire, and wait for the flat bed. They black flagged the session early, due to my oil spill and another issue on the other side of the track that also required a flat bed.
After making the "tow of shame" back to the paddock, I went to the TT driver's meeting, apologized for the black flagged session. Everybody thought the worst - engine blew up, car crashed, etc. Had to calm people down, just an oil leak. First mechanical I've had in 5 years, and the first time in 33 years I've ever shut down a session. I was pissed, embarrassed, pissed some more - but I guess it was bound to happen eventually. We are meticulous about pre-track prep but must have missed something. There was hardly any oil spray in the engine bay, and we couldn't tell where the leak came from. Whatever it was we didn't have any spares to fix what broke, and the engine bay was quite drippy, so we pulled it into the trailer with the winch...
After we finished loading the car I still had an HPDE1 student to work with, then did some check rides. It was pretty crappy hanging around all day, hot as hell, with a non-running car in the trailer that had two more seconds left in it. Ugh.
At least our results moved up from 7th out of 9 on Saturday to 5th out of 9 in TT2 on Sunday, but I was not satisfied with the times from either day, for obvious reasons. This heavy street car has no business gunning for the front of TT2, with 8 out of 9 entrants running full aero and Hoosiers both days, but it still rankled me being mid-pack.
This frustrating weekend added the oil leak as the icing on the cake. I was trying to stay positive, but with the SmartyCam and AiM issues, the heavy rain followed by major heat and humidity, then chasing the alignment goof on Saturday that cost me any chance of getting a good time on street tires here. Just writing this report 3 months later reminded me how terrible this event went - but I'm all about sharing the good and the bad. The NASA crew did a fine job, and I'm only mad at myself. We were coming back in June with SCCA TT so I would bring street tires and try again.
After unloading the car and pushing it into the shop, we got the car on the lift. There was plenty of oil evidence underneath but not much oil left in the 8 quart plastic oil pan. The oil residue led us quickly to the oil filter sandwich plate, which had cut an O-ring.
Why this happened took some investigation. See, this is a prototype oil cooler setup we made from parts originally built to fit the 2015-17 GT. We had to make new oil lines and route them in a new way to the front mounted heat exchanger.
There is a lot crap in the way down there, but the lines were too close to the Whiteline front swaybar. As the swaybar articulated it "pushed" on one of the oil lines. This rocking back-and-forth transferred to the sandwich plate and sawed through the O-ring. You can see the new oil line routing above, with a section of fire sleeve added over the portions near the sandwich plate. This helps keep them together and we added a P-clamp to one section to keep it away from the swaybar. Part of the joy of trying new things, using prototype part setups.
3 months later there have been no other incidents with the sandwich plate. We check this before each event, too. If its not "tight", if it can rock at all, it will get realigned and tweaked further. A new oil filter and 9 quarts of Motul 5W50 ester based oil was installed. Engine fired up, ran fine.
The Mustang was thoroughly washed, and pressure washed underhood and underneath. All traces of oil were removed - which was no small task.
The other thing that we needed to "fix" after this event were the front brake cooling hoses. These 4" high temp hoses do fine in the heat, they just get in the way of the 305 or 315mm tires we run, which like to smash them at full turning lock. Don't really see that on track but we do in the paddock and pits. We replace these two times a year, but we had a guest stopping by soon who had a new idea...
After seeing these 4" brake duct hoses smashed to bits and getting a bit frustrated, a certain engineer (Marco) stopped by reiterating some advice he gave me 2 years ago - get rid of the dang hoses. This time we will show some work we have been doing for the past few months - a solution to cool front brakes without giant ducted hoses.
Long term readers here will know that we have built, tested, and perfected a number of brake cooling solutions on the S550, at least for the 15" Performance Pack brake rotors that can even be cooled (the wacky inverted hat 14" rotors cannot). Our S550 brake cooling backing plates work great for the 15" PP brakes as well as the 380mm Powerbrake kit we are running now. We make inlet ducts for the 2018-19 front end and have more in the works.
The inlet duct at the front of the bumper cover provides high pressure air that pushes through high temp 4" diameter corrugated hoses into the brake backing plate. This air then goes around the bearing and is pumped through the vented rotor, cooling the brake rotor/pad/etc.
We used this on the 15" PP1 brakes (above left) and again with our Powerbrake 380mm brakes (above right) for the past year and a half - and they worked great. Vorshlag has sold a good number of these brake cooling kits to folks with S550s and have had no complaints. We will continue to make and sell these even after we introduce this new brake cooling design.
They worked extremely well with the 305mm street tire setup, which is about an 11.5" wide tire. When we went to the 315mm Hoosiers, things started to get complicated. This "315" is 12.5" wide even mounted to a little 11" wide wheel (they work better on a 12" wide wheel, but then the fender poke becomes enormous)
Not many people run this 315mm Hoosier, as it doesn't really fit under the fenders without compromises. The obvious problem is evidenced above. Once we started running that 12.5" wide Hoosier tire up front, pushing them inboard as tight to the strut as we can get, there is no room for the brake cooling hoses. This tire is just touching the frame at full steering lock - something that is hard to avoid when you autocross the car, or hell, even driving in the paddock at a race track. Maybe we should have added steering rack limiters, but I didn't want to give up that steering angle for autocross events.
This meant we have had to replace the front hoses about 3 times in that period, and at a certain point in their life cycle the hoses have some holes in them and don't work as well. Again, not everyone runs a 315mm Hoosier on 18x11" wheels on the front of their S550, so most folks won't see this issue.
Marco suggested a new type of cooling method after we switched to the PP1 front undertray and PP2 lip: brake cooling deflectors. The added "tunnels" in the front undertray provide a path he helped engineer into the S550 for brake cooling air. I was very skeptical, as we have used brake ducting hoses pumping into the back of the rotor for decades without fail.
This is a trick the OEMs often do on certain models, as they obviously cannot add brake cooling hoses from the factory due to the situations that we have run into at full lock on super wide tires. This is also known as the "scoop and flap" method, which was introduced by Porsche in the 1980s and copied by other OEMs later. The S550 was the first time this was used on a Mustang, and then only on the PP1 brake equipped cars (there is no sense in trying to "cool" the inverted hat rotors on other models). Strangely enough the GT350 has the tunnels but they removed the flaps or "deflectors" on the lower control arm before the car went to production.
Now that we had the tunnel to feed the deflector we could test this on track. Again - I was very skeptical, but we agreed to try it. We added the "bikini" heat shield in place of our brake backing plate. This is to shield the three ball joints (at the steering tie rod and two control arm mounts) from heat radiated by the nearby rotor (which can get to over 900°F even with forced brake cooling).
Removing the full dust shield and only using the "bikini" shield leaves the back of the hub area open for cooling. The brake cooling flap bolts to the control arm and deflects the air towards the hub and inside of the rotor. Then the vanes in the rotor pumps the air through the rotor ring and removes the heat.
For our first deflector iteration (version 1) we made an aluminum deflector about 40% larger in surface area than the plastic unit used on the PP1 cars. We placed it in what we thought would be the best part of the air stream from two different cold air sources (see below), thinking that the tunnels alone might not feed enough air to the brakes. We trimmed and fitted these until they cleared our 18x11" wheels, which is the smallest diameter anyone could hope to fit over the 15" PP1 brakes.
There are cut-outs to clear the tie rod, and it bolts to one of the control arms (the forward "TC rod"). Since we have aftermarket arms there are no holes to bolt to, so Brad used some U-bolts to clamp it to the round TC arm. At full lock the deflector would get no airflow, but that is a situation you never see on track - and our hoses were crushed flat at full lock anyway.
We have long been told by aerodynamic engineers that the corrugated brake cooling hose has terrible airflow, with a boundary layer that stalls out near the surface of the inner corrugations. So a 4" diameter corrugated hose flows about the same as a 2" diameter smooth bore hose. Problem is, smooth bore hoses cannot bend, and the old school hoses needed to articulate with the steering.
I was super skeptical so we made a temporary hose from the 4" oval deflector we had on the right front. We used some smooth bore 3" diameter hose necked down from the 4" oval inlet, and at the back of the fender liner added a small 3" aluminum mandrel bend, to point air at the deflector. On the other side we kept our proven 4" brake backing plate and inlet with a brand new 4" hose.
Then we scheduled a private test at MSR to see any side-to-side differences in rotor temps, after bombing into the hot pits after a number of hot laps with no cool down.
ADDING OIL PRESSURE GAUGE + RAM MOUNT
To prevent any future mistakes where I try to start an engine that has a massive oil leak again, I ordered another one of the low cost, electronic, full sweep stepper gauges from Glowshift to monitor Oil Pressure. There is no gauge on my Mustang for this - just the idiot light.
Our S197 Boss302 3-gauge pod we have added on top of the S550 dash already had 3 gauges we needed: engine oil, trans oil, and diff oil temp gauges. So the new 0-150 psi oil pressure gauge and add-on, programmable WARNING LIGHT were added to the left of the pod, as shown. Not going to win any car shows with this setup, but we are looking for function over form here.
Brad wired this in using the wiring that came with the kit + a set of Weatherpack connectors and pins. These aren't as fancy as the Deutch connectors we use on most race car builds, but this isn't a long term race car (we have an end game in sight).
Brad also added a 1" ball RAM mount base to the right of the pod. I wanted this so I can mount my AiM Solo -or- a wide angle video camera here using RAM arms, which removes at least one suction cup windshield mount from the windshield. The plastic panel we attach everything to is cheap and easily replaced, so why not drill more holes?? This entire gauge cluster + dash piece will likely migrate to the next S550 chassis.
The pressure sensor that came with the gauge kit was inserted into the 2nd 1/8" NPT port on the Mishimoto sandwich plate. These come with plugs but we are using both of them now with sensors for oil temp and oil pressure. This sandwich plate has a thermostatic bypass for the oil cooler as well. Brad wired in the gauges to the light circuit, so that they can work at night as well.
TRACK TEST, MSR-C 1.7 CCW, MAY 15, 2019
After we made our first version of the brake cooling deflector I wanted to do two track tests to verify the effectiveness. Remember - we had the traditional 4" backing plate + corrugated hose + 4" oval inlet on the LEFT FRONT wheel, and the new brake cooling "deflector" setup on the RIGHT FRONT wheel. The RF also had the smooth bore 3" hose from the 4" inlet as well as the "tunnel" from the PP1 undertray. Double airflow to the deflector, for test one.
We loaded up the car and I drove out to MSR Cresson on a Thursday "member day", where I drove in 2 sessions before lunch. I arrived by 7:45 am and the weather was nearly perfect.
The front tires had taken a real beating at COTA with all of that crazy toe in, so the shoulders looked pretty rough. Yet I matched my previous best street tire times here on this well worn set of tires - while doing the various brake cooling tests.
I always drive with a lot of left foot braking, shooting for threshold stops in TT wherever I can pull it off, and in these two tests session I was in full qualifying mode, pushing 10/10ths. Lots of rear tire slip, purposefully over-driving the car, trying to make the brakes as hot as I could. With the oil cooler we can make longer full-tilt sessions like this without issues (of course the diff temps were spiking after 5-6 laps again - more on that later).
Once again I was testing the SmartyCam wired into the AiM SOLO DL which was pulling data from the CAN system. But I don't trust it - I was so paranoid after the issues at COTA that I utilized a backup AiM Solo and a backup video camera (Sony HD on the windshield). I was not going to lose this video or data - the whole point of being here on this day was to test the brake cooling.
I went out in the first test and did 5 laps with the brake cooling inlet OPEN on the RF, so it was getting cooling air from both the 4" oval and the tunnel to the deflector. The LF corner was open for both test and used the normal 4" corrugated hose and backing plate.
I drove five hot laps (with some mediocre 1:23-1:25 times in traffic) and came in to check temps... the ducted LF was 800°F and the RF was 700°F. Wait... WHAT? It was 100°F cooler on the deflector side than the ducted hose side. The car was really loose and the times were not great, but the brake temp thing had me scratching my head. I went to get fuel and covered up the inlet duct on the RF, so make the deflector only get air from the undertray tunnel. Surely this would make it lose some effectiveness. Put in fuel for 3/4 tank to try to put in some faster laps in the 2nd session. The rotors had cooled to about 230°F on both fronts (took video of that) after sitting for 10 minutes, waiting for the next session to start. So this time I was gong out on warm brakes, not ambient temp brakes like session 1.
This in-car video shows session 2 with 6 hot laps, where I was trying to push hard to get heat into the brakes. I nearly matched the best times ever on street tires for this car here with a 1:21.0 lap, even fuel starving in one section of left turns. I came into the pits after the 6th full hot lap, with no cool down lap, jumped out of the car, then took IR gun temps of the brake rotors. Best I can do without an expensive real time IR sensor rig on each corner.
The Left Front, which had our traditional 4" ducted brake cooling was 880°F. The right front, with the tunnel+3" hose feeding the Vorshlag S550 brake deflector was 780°F, once again 100°F cooler. I show the rear brake temps too, just to see what they were (they also get hot).
The SmartyCam video still has the factory default settings for the data overlay, and I've reset and checked and triple checked the programming of the SD card for the camera so many times I am losing faith. I probably need someone that knows the AiM software better to show me what I'm doing wrong - the software is just so terrible that I cannot make it work without some assistance. This is ridiculous, and we are WASTING data by using this "easier" SmartyCam slaved system. Once you tie the camera to the SOLO the data is gone.
More importantly - the scoop-and-flap brake cooling that Marco suggested worked better than our ducted cooling. No hoses to crush and replace, just too easy to install. And even with the cooling duct blocked off on the deflector side, it was still 100°F cooler. All of the airflow was from the tunnel in the PP1 undertray.
My skepticism about this brake cooling method was finally fading away, after seeing these two back to back tests first hand, but now I suspect other people won't believe me. That's fine, we will sell the ducted backing plate design. We continued to refine and test this new "scoop and flap" method for several more track events before sharing our findings here. We have revised and improved the deflector design two more times. We should have S550 options available shortly after this post is published.
REAR SHOCK OFFSET LOWER T-BAR
The stock rear suspension on the S550 uses a "divorced" spring and shock, with the spring located inboard on the control arm connected to a pocket on the chassis. Big diameter, necessary to make enough spring rate on this "poor motion ratio" location. It is done for packaging reasons, platform sharing, etc. It is really to have a "coilover shock" spring mounting location on the rear suspension of most cars.
For an S550 we like to move the spring outboard and mount it onto the shock, which allows us a lot of advantages: A) this way we can have ride height adjustability without a lot of extra hardware, B) we can use a variety of spring rates and lengths using 2.25" inner diameter coilover springs, and C) the springs are much lighter than the larger but super soft OEM bits. And, we don't suffer the usual compromises we see on other cars, like the S197 that loses tire room when converted to coilover.
The key take-away is that we need MORE SPRING RATE to turn these marshmallow Mustang suspensions into something that can avoid the brake dive, body roll, and heave. Real spring rates require "real" dampers... adjustable monotubes are the best solution there. This is where we come in.
Our very first coilover install for the S550 (March of 2015, above left) utilized an Eibach lowering spring in the stock divorced spring position. It was a while before MCS moved to a coilover rear, but in the meantime we ran the Whiteline/AST coilovers (above right) starting in early 2018. These utilized an inverted shock design with the spring at the bottom of the shock. This moved the spring very close to the rear axle's CV boot.
Then in September 2018 we tested the Ohlins R&T coilovers for a few months, which uses a coilover style spring but mounted in the stock divorced spring location. Unlike the Eibach lowering spring it was easier to find stiffer rates for this setup. This removes the spring from being close to the axle/CV boot.
The mounting in the actual control arm could be a challenge, as Ford changed the lower control arm casting from 2015 to sometime around 2018, as shown above.
I had to cut the top of the "protrusion" off of our 2018 arms, then do a bit of grinding to make the Ohlins 2.5" ID spring adapter fit.We show all of this in our S550 Ohlins coilover instruction gallery.
We moved to the MCS RR2 remote reservoir dampers and even more aggressive spring rates after the Ohlins R&T testing, but had some issues with shock lengths. Working with MCS on shock lengths (2" shorter bodies) as well as our new spherical upper shock mount with dual mounting heights (1.5" more stroke) gained us the bump travel we needed at a lowered ride height, and more.
That bump travel testing/shock mount design work consumed a lot of our bandwidth, but meanwhile Brad noticed some axle grease on one of the springs...
Packaging gets very tight back there when you run a coilover shock setup, with the spring getting precariously close to the CV boot on the rear axles. To gain the most room any coilover rear shock setup on the S550 needs to be inverted, with the spring down lower (below the barrel of the wheel) to clear a BIG wheel and tire package, like the 18x11" and 19x11" we like to run. Of course to be run inverted, a shock has to be a monotube - a twin tube damper cannot be run upside down like this.
As we have seen, every additional 1/8" of room we can get between the CV boot and the spring is crucial. Even though the 2.25" ID coilover spring was spaced away from the CV boot, after higher speed events like COTA - where we reach 150 mph on the back straight - we noticed that the CV boot "grows" enough to tough the spring. It gets a tiny crack then spits out the grease. Oh well, we bought a $52 CV boot kit from Ford.
Turns out this CV boot from Ford is so hard that it won't slip over the CV housing. Hours were wasted, heat guns and special tools and all sorts of tricks were tried.
We called a tech at a Ford dealer, familiar with the S550, and he said "Oh those never work - just buy a new axle!)"
It sounds crazy, but this is not a serviceable CV boot. And to remove the axle is not a fun job. In any case, this is an issue we chased for weeks.
We have changed both rear axles once and the need to be done again, as the CV boosts are cracked again. We have investigated and found that the Whiteline shocks used an offset lower T-bar mount (as well as a smaller diameter 50mm ID spring), which MCS now has as well.
Whiteline's unit as above left, MCS at right. Just know that if you bought some S550 MCS coilovers before mid 2019, you need to convert to the new offset T-bar - which kicks the bottom of the shock away from the spring. Its an easy change to make, and MCS has these for both the GT350/PP2 spacing and normal S550 mounting hole spacing. They have even slotted the holes to allow for additional shock offset adjustment.
I hope someday that a more pliable CV boot comes out for the S550, because I have a number of used axles with just a little crack in the boots.
And while this was a lot of writing and pictures to show what few of you might care about, we learned this the hard way (4 axle replacements!) and wanted to share this tech bit. THE CV BOOT GROWS!
SCCA TIME TRIAL, COTA, JUNE 29, 2019
I signed up for just one day of this 2 day SCCA Time Trial weekend at COTA, partly due to costs but more because I was super busy and couldn't afford a 2 day weekend + a Friday travel day away from the shop. The Texas Region SCCA TT group had never run an event here, and were only able to pull this together because the Club Racer attendance was low and they needed "numbers". I had a feeling this event might be our last chance to run this track in the red 2018 GT (I was right) and I wanted vindication for the problematic event we had in May with COTA. Just wanted to finally see a sub 2:30 lap time on street tires. Again, we've run 2:27s here on R7s, just not a strong time on streets.
Amy and I left Friday early afternoon, once again took us 5 hours to get there again (traffic on I-35 is horrible - this drive is always a beating), arriving at 7 pm. We quickly unhooked the trailer, went and had a good dinner with many of the SCCA TT folks at Javi's Tex Mex, then hit the hotel. Got to see folks we don't get to hang out with often, which was nice. That's when we saw the scheduled - which only showed 2 sessions per day for TT. While I was worried beforehand the SCCA Club Racers would get preferential treatment with respect to track time, and of course they did in a BIG way. It was also very, very hot (99F). They also told us that the track limits were super strict, which would change our lines drastically from any other group that runs here. All of the big curbs were in place.
There was a ridiculously early 6:30 am TT drivers meeting, then first car out was to be 8 am, with TT being the first group to take the track for the day. Really long meeting, and of the 33 cars entered, 3/4 of the people raised their hand when asked "who has never run at COTA". Yikes... this did not bode well. My heart just sunk.
Luckily they started me in P1 on the grid, knowing that I had run here 7 times before and could lead the group out, bunch them up well, before we would go green at T19 on the out lap. Kinda late to go green for what I'm used to, but it's their party, their rules. There is also limited passing with this group (only on straights with point-bys) so that could prove to be an issue. But leading the group out for this 3.41 mile circuit with only 33 cars, I should easily get 3-4 laps traffic free.
The morning TT session was the only time we would get a cool track surface, according to the forecast. The next session wasn't until after 2 pm, when it would be well into the 90's and with the sun beating down making the track surface "boiling". Again, these RE-71R tires have about 2 hard laps in them at COTA in the Texas Summer, so the first two laps in this first session were all that would matter.
I got to grid at 7:45 am, and they kept giving us repeated "5 minute" warnings with 33 engines running... waiting. Finally I took the initiative, turned off the engine, and peeling out of the car - as I was sweating profusely in my 3 layer suit in the car (I should have just turned the damned air con on.) The rest of the drivers followed suit and we all huddled in the limited shade near grid.
We finally got the go ahead, hopped in our cars, and went out on track at 8:26 am, with the sun beating down. Ambient temps showed to be 76°F when we headed out but the humidity was near 100%, so it was "unpleasant". Again, due to a forecast of high 90s later in the day and not having another session for SIX HOURS, this first session was the only one that would matter for good lap times.
I stacked up the the group while we made a brisk 50-60 mph average out lap, as instructed. It takes a while to get all of these cars out of grid but I had everyone bunched up nicely...
Except for one goofball - who had left grid to "go get gas", wondered back over after we had left, and didn't go out on track for 5+ minutes after we left. Why grid let him out on track so late is a question I asked the grid workers later, with an elevated emphasis... And why he drove SO SLOWLY on his very late to start out lap, I also asked directly, with elevated emphasis...
Finally got the out lap done, and at T19 I turned on the speed, setting up for a fast hot Lap 1. Huge gap opened up behind me, which was fine. But as you can see in the video above, by T6 I had caught the "late to leave grid" goofball, who was on a leisurely 40mph pace lap without a care in the world. And of course he wasn't paying any attention to his mirrors, and didn't see me until I was already having to shut down my lap and riding his bumper. Of course I am fuming about losing this first hot lap for no good reason. I finally got around him at T9, but I had lost so much time that I had to back off and "reset", manage tire temps and the gap behind, and get ready for Hot Lap 2. There were waving black flags for some reason on the back straight anyway, but nothing came of that.
The same guy proceeded on his 40 mph pace for "his" whole out lap, which was smack dab in the middle of everyone else's hot lap 1 - making the entire field behind me pass him, one at a time. Complete and total newbie move. So lap 1 all got to be the "train" passing the moving apex, that you always try to avoid in Time Trial. Everyone was super pissed at this guy, who just simply could not get his brain in gear (he ended up with a 2:55 best lap time of the weekend - about 15 seconds slower than Spec Miata).
So on this aborted first Hot lap I reset, left a huge gap behind, and drove tamely until T19, then went green again looking for a good Hot Lap 2. I come around T20, good blast down the front straight, then I start seeing black flags and then waving yellows from T4 on. Turns out another competitor had spun coming out of the slowest turn of the track (T12) on the first hot lap. Backed it into a wall. Top speed through this turn is literally 45 mph, folks. (facepalm) Since he didn't have tow hooks installed (they were in his trunk!) the track crew had to spend half an hour extracting him from the wall and towing him back on a roll back truck, so the session was shut down midway through the second lap. And that was that. My only chance of the day to get a clear track with favorable conditions was up in smoke. Bonus: the timers never even worked, so nobody got any times whatsoever.
After hanging around for SIX HOURS I finally went out again in the 2nd TT session at 2:30 pm, but by then it was 92°F degrees outside and the track surface was boiling. And for for some reason they had shuffled the grid, and dropped me down to P2, even though there were no times were in the first TT session. I had some quick guys all around me, but they weren't the typical "my fastest lap is on lap 1" hard core TT folks, you know? I feared early traffic, and my fears were well founded.
On the out lap I built a 200 yard gap ahead to the Corvette (Relle, super nice guy, and pretty quick), then I went green at T19, but he he waited until T20 to go, and I got uncomfortably close to him right before the Start/Finish on the first lap. Luckily he has a lot more power and pulled out a bit on the front straight (C6 Z06), but then I caught him in the esses on lap 1 (below).
I had to back off then for a bit, but since we both had a few fast cars behind us, I kept pushing his mirrors. That forced a mistake, he drove wide out of T11 and pointed me by, but by then I had lost all momentum in that turn (was 8 mph down in the braking zone into T12) and that lap was a throw away (2:34.4).
By the very next lap now I had my mirrors full of cars, including the C6Z that had let me by (above). I drove raggedly putting in an even slower 2:35.3 lap, which was all my fault. As we started lap 3, just after the S/F line, I backed off and pointed Relle (C6Z) back by, then Dusty (fast 2nd GEN Camaro), and tried to take a cool down lap and build a gap. I also let Scottish Joe (C7GS) Cody (6th gen 1LE) go by on the back straight.
Finally on hot lap 5 I had a decent gap ahead and behind, but all of the fluid temps were climbing, and these tires were still boiling. I gave it a shot anyway and put in a lousy 2:32.842 best lap - nearly a second down on my times here in May (with the massive push / alignment snafu). The track surface temp was just too hot at 130°F.
After this session I was completely spent from the heat, and we had to hydrate up before we could load up the trailer. It was 99°F when we left at 3:30 pm, but we had no interest in sticking around for several hours more for "maybe" a third TT session (they got one at 5:30 pm, but the track surface was so hot nobody in TT went faster). Glad we didn't sign up or stick around for Sunday, either, as they had a soaking wet downpour in session 1 and then it got hot again for their next session 6 hours later.
We sponsored beers for the TT "after party" Saturday night, but it wasn't until 6:30 pm and we were most of the way home by then. The results for Saturday are above, but overall I was more upset that I couldn't manage a decent first sessison lap than my "3rd place" in their autocross based classing.
Looking back on it, this probably wasn't the best event to try to get lap time test data from. We did test both the new diff cooler and brake cooling flaps. The brakes worked great, but with the narrow range 0-250°F Diff Temp gauge (the one on the far right above), it was still getting pegged in the later laps of the second hot session. We have to put a wider range gauge (0-300F) there, then test it again without the pump on + with the pump/cooler on + with the pump & fan turned on (I will show that stuff next time).
I will think twice before entering another SCCA TT event when they are sharing the weekend with the SCCA Club Race group (all of whom got 5 sessions on track per day). Both times we have done that the TT group ended up with very truncated session and/or many fewer sessions than normal. Not the best deal for the TT entrants. Normally this group puts on great events when they don't try to "cross the streams" with Club Racers at the same time.
Are you tired of hearing me make excuses about driving a 3800 pound street car against other race cars in NASA TT? Well I sure the hell am. Can't cut the car, can't flare the car, no more power potential in the Coyote, yadd-yadd-yadda. So instead of just complaining for another season, we are doing something about it...
After some internal debate about our "next big build" it was decided that a lightweight, caged, aero equipped, flared and basically "full re**rd" S550 makes more sense to develop. Rather than ruining a clean "full bolt on" 2018 GT, that still has a lot of value as a street car, we can get more serious about pushing this a dedicated chassis. So I put a call out a couple of months ago for a 2015-up S550 Mustang rolling chassis, and after looking locally and trolling salvage auctions for months, it was a bust.
Then Steve Poe of Poe Motorsports put me in touch with The Parts Farm in Lyons, Georgia. These guys buy wrecked V8 pony cars to salvage the drivetrains and other parts. I told them what I needed and they sent me a dozens of pics of the 2015 Mustang GT above, they had already stripped of the 5.0L engine/trans/wiring and a few other parts. This car was otherwise very rebuildable for a race car. The $2500 price was the best deal I had seen in months of looking at even less suitable candidates (some people wanted $10-15K for a wrecked V6 Mustang!)
A long time friend of mine, Paul M, volunteered to co-drive with me for the 2000 mile round trip from Dallas to east Georgia and back. We left int he F350 and enclosed trailer at 5:30 am one Friday morning, drove all night and arrived at the farm-turned-salvage yard at 9:45 am Saturday morning. The folks there were super helpful and already had the car ready to load. We pushed it near the trailer ramp, winched it inside, paid for the car, and we were back on the road 45 minutes later. It was a grueling 34 hour round trip, but we had full day Sunday to catch up.
Yes, this is a wrecked car, but it's a $2500 complete chassis that is 100% paid for (and I've already sold $1100 worth of parts off this that we won't need). The main frame rails and upper horns are straight, the doors close perfectly, and it has zero rust or other issues. We got an initial weight at 2349 pounds (no engine/trans/front brakes) and already removed a lot of fluff (its under 2100 now) with more to go.
The bank owns most of my 3626 pound 2018 GT, and doing competition track events in a car you are making payments on is less than optimum - that's what we tell our clients. I'm just going to finally follow our own advice. Our crew already has this '15 new 1537 pounds lighter than the 2018 GT, missing the drivetrain and some other bits. At 2089 pounds there is still carpet, a full dash, center console and both 84.2 pound doors in place! We think a sub 3000 pound caged S550 race car is possible...
We have a lot of plans for this one, and of course many of the parts from the suspension, brakes, wheels, seats, and bodywork from the 2018 GT will be moved over to this chassis. What will power it? Well I need to think on this one?? I will show all of the progress of this 2015 GT in this same thread, next time. #LS550
I skipped an event we did in the 2018 GT in here, since this post was running long. Optima @ NCM in early June, which is 3 days of stuff I will cover next time. So much went on that weekend that it needs a new post to cover it. I will also cover the development and install of the diff cooler we installed before the SCCA @ COTA TT event.
Next time we will show the "Ricco Swappe" parts migration from the 2018 GT to the 2015 GT chassis, and I'll even link to the 2010 Mustang GT Gen2 Coyote swap we are doing (we aren't TOTAL monsters). We will also cover the last events in the 2018 GT we haven't yet - another SCCA TT event at MSR 1.3 in August and an August NASA "TT event" at TMS (which went all sorts of sideways). August track events in Texas are VERY hot, by the way.
That's enough for this time, hope it wasn't a boring read!
Project Update for November 26th, 2019: Here we are once again playing "catch-up" on forum updates. We had that 3 month Vorshlag forum outage, plus I was out for a number of weeks due to an illness, and the shop was as busy as ever the whole time. After a couple of cars left it made room for a new customer '67 Mustang track build recently.
In this update we will cover 2 of the next 3 track events that we completed in our 2018 Mustang GT: the Optima event at NCM, NASA Time Trial at TMS, and we will show the August SCCA Time Trial at COTA next time. We changed a bunch of parts on our 2018 Mustang GT, got it cleaned up (see above) and it is now for sale.
At one of these TT events, a friend's white S550 2015 Mustang GT got smashed up, so we jumped in to help complete the repairs, and amazingly got it back on track in 3.5 weeks - just in time for him to take it to SCCA TT Nationals. Our black 2015 GT build (#Trigger) went to the body shop for measurements and had a few things "borrowed" to fix the smashed up white 2015 GT, shown below left.
Once this 2015 chassis came back with a clean measurement test, we began the LS engine swap and moved much of the 2018 GT's raciest bits over. This is now rolling on MCS RR2s, SPL arms, 19x11s, and much more. First we will talk about our S550 brake cooling upgrade that has been hugely successful in the last month since it went into production.
FRONT BRAKE DEFLECTORS
Since my last post, our S550 front brake deflectors are in production and selling like hotcakes. We now make this for 7 different varieties of S550 front brake / control arm setups, including the 4-hole with U-bolts (shown above) and a 3-hole version (see below).
This pair of images above show our final S550 brake deflector version next to the OEM Performance Pack plastic flap. The PP cars have a front control arm with 3 threaded holes that this will replace. The same version also fits the GT350/R with the same style 3-hole control arm, and we make a 4-hole version that fits the cars with a control arm that has no holes, like the base GT, V6 and Ecoboost as well as aftermarket arms like the SPL Parts arms - all of which are shown below in different sections.
We make these deflectors in-house, and cut out a batch of these every few days, so if you order it should ship pretty quickly. We have started including some M6-1.0 bolt hardware for all kits because we have seen that the OEM hardware tends to break when removed. Be prepared to drill out the old stuff and re-tap. Likewise the GT350/R arms have the 3 holes in the arms but they aren't tapped - an M16-1.0 tap takes care of that. For the non-PP / non-Shelby Mustangs and aftermarket control arms we include the U-bolt kit, which allows you to attach the deflector to the arm that way.
We will also continue building and selling our traditional S550 (4") and S197 (3" and 4") ducted hose front brake cooling packages, for those who don't have undertray tunnels or a way to add them, or don't trust our brake deflector test data (or Marco's more extensive Ford test data). Hey, you want to spend 3 times as much to use the old school brake ducting with hoses, we'll sell them to you. We should have our S197 brake cooling deflector solution in a few weeks as well as a few other Mustang models we are working on with Marco Garcia.
OPTIMA AT NCM, JUNE 1-2, 2019
I skipped covering the June Optima @ NCM event last time, which was 3 days of cool car fun I need to go back and cover. A lot of stuff went down that weekend that it needs to be covered - there was a lot of good, a bit of frustration, followed by my mediocre GT class finish (5th out of 31) after some good timed competition battles (I finished 1st, 2nd, and 5th in the timed competitions). This event had the normal 3 competition elements: Autocross, Speed Stop and road course Time Trial. The Road Rally was no problem, but our car was judged poorly in the Design and Engineering subjective score.
First of all - wow! What an amazing facility! NCM has a huge paved paddock that allowed for a rather large area to run the Autocross (Saturday) and Speed Stop (Sunday) segments. The road course was massive, had a LOT of elevation change, and is surrounded by walls - which made it somewhat intimidating. Learning this track will bit more time for me. Apparently 4 sessions was not enough seat time for me to get a good lap in. The "National Corvette Museum" is right across the highway from NCM Motorsports park after which this place is named, and we went through the tour there.
We had the car loaded in the trailer with a fresh set of RE-71R tires mounted, left Dallas on Friday morning at 1:15 am, drove 11 hours straight, and got to Bowling Green at 12:30 in the afternoon. There were 31 cars in GT class with us, second only to 37 in GTV (vintage) for numbers. Yikes!
We unloaded the car, installed all of the required decals, went thru tech, did the fire drill, reloaded the car into trailer, and were done at 4:30 pm. We went across the highway (which literally takes 10 minutes) to the National Corvette Museum. Toured the displays, saw the "sinkhole" and carnage they pulled out, and made fun of Corvette themed clothing in the Museum Store. Of course we bought some stuff!
Arrived on site at 6:30 am with a thick fog from massive humidity. We unloaded the car again (it rained hard Friday night), and started checking pressures and setting up cameras. Walked the autocross course six times that morning. The Autocross, Design and Engineering (D&E) and the Road Rally were scheduled for this day. Lots to do.
We had 4 autocross runs in the morning, then 4 in the afternoon, with a threat of "maybe some more" if there was time. It was hot and very humid, temps were in the high 80's but with this brutal humidity, it was fairly miserable. Luckily we only had to wear our helmet for the autocross, so I was driving in shorts and a T-shirt, trying to stay hydrated and out of the sun.
I took my first autocross run and the car felt GREAT - gearing was perfect, tires were hooked up, and right off the bat I was the only GT class car in the 29 second range - way ahead of the class. I knocked some time down but ran similar times for 3 runs in a row. Jonathon Blevins had snuck ahead of me in his '08 GT500, which he built just for this series (837 whp supercharged engine). I tried to go to D&E in the morning but it was super crowded. It was hot hot hot, no shade in the paddock, so we hung out in our trailer when waiting to drive.
I walked the course two more times during lunch. It was a momentum course, setup more for Miatas than Detroit iron, so it was a bit frustrating to drive. Speed maintenance type deal, nowhere to use throttle or brakes, and zero slaloms. It was a just a big long: offset, offset, turn, offset, offset, turn, finish. Did our 2nd set of 4 runs right after lunch.
Ran a little quicker on my 5th run, then my 6th was my quickest of the day with a 29.1135 sec time. No better on run 7 or 8 - was really hoping for 28s, which is what most of the fastest cars in other classes were running. I was still in the lead and once everyone in GT had run their 8 runs. I thought this might be the one event we win in GT class, as I tend to do better at Optima in the autocross than any other timed competition.
Then we got in the line for D&E again, and waited... waited... waited... Then we noticed cars were making more autocross runs. Wasn't announced well, but when pressed the organizers admitted that yes, all cars were going to run two more runs. Crap. We had 3 cars ahead of us in the D&E line, but we were going to miss our chance at the additional "bonus" autocross runs, so we hopped out and rushed to grid.
I ran two nearly identical times, 29.2 and 29.5, no help. Blevins improved to a 29.0 on his 10th and final run, bumping me to 2nd. Then my 29.1 run disappeared from the results, so I had to go take my time slips and a screen shot from live timing system to the Timing and Scoring trailer, they sent me to the Optima trailer, then the next day they finally found this time. Didn't show up on the autocross results until Sunday, but I was finally shown in 2nd almost a tenth of a second off the lead. Falling back to a 29.2 time have changed the class order, but it would effect points - as they give points for placements based on ALL cars at the event in a particular segment.
Frustrating to lose an autocross on run # 10, but hey, its Optima - they try to give people as many runs as they can, so it can lead to time drops throughout the day. We're about 400 pounds heavier then the purpose built Blevins car (which is near the 3200 pound GT class minimum), but I still should have driven better. The 4.09 gearing worked really well for us, ideal for 2nd gear, and I hoped that could translate to a good performance in the Speed Stop on Sunday.
We finally got through the D&E judging, the 4 minute presentation went well, but we wouldn't know our score until the next day. Bunch of stock Shelbys and Mustangs in GT class - surely we will outscore most of those? We've changed major parts on every system of this car, and have done quite a lot since we did our last Optima event in 2018 at NOLA. Felt good about it.
But on Sunday we saw the D&E results - and our car did terrible. Ranked 63rd out of 67 cars that were judged! Something on this car pissed off the judges, not sure what. There were multiple BONE STOCK Mustang GTs and Shelbys and Camaros that outscored us by 30 places or more. This poor placement really chapped my ass. A car with a LOT of modifications, prototype parts, and bespoke equipment gets outscored by 30 places by a showroom stock Mustangs? Come on...
"ItS yOuR pReSeNtAtIoN!" some said. Look, I'm not a noob when it comes to public speaking or giving presentations - this was just some weird scoring guidelines. Whatever - the car show portion is the one I hate the most in Optima, and since I'm a bit vocal about it, I guess this is my punishment. We probably need to bring stuffed animals, mini models of our car (yes - they were there), underglow LEDs, big speakers, chrome doo-dads and tacky wraps.
Some of the excuses I heard were missing carpet in the back seat - which was done to make room for the 4-point roll bar. If that is the case, they are literally discouraging safety upgrades to justify the car show crowd. When somebody rolls a car and they get injured due to their car show emphasis, I'm not gonna say "I told ya so", but I am going to think it.
At the end of the day we went on the Road Rally, which was to the Holley Performance headquarters across town and back. We stopped for fuel on the way, got back in plenty of time. We went over to the clubhouse where everyone is eating the sponsored dinner - sandwiches and potato salad - but they ran out of sandwiches a half hour before we got there. How do you run out of food when you know how many people are entered? No biggie, we had another good meal in town. We were pretty tired and over heated, so we crashed out at the hotel early.
We have the Speed Stop and Road Course Time Trial competitions left, but by now I had seen the D&E score knew I was out of the running. I've never won the Speed Stop in the many Optima events I've entered (won Optima autocross events a few times), so I didn't have much hope here. I was more hopeful for the road course, but not having run here before was a huge variable. How quickly can I learn a 23 turn course??
This looked complicated and daunting. I had some track notes, and got some tips from locals who worked at this track, and later from Danny Popp. We were supposed get 3 or 4 sessions, but at only 15 minutes each on the 3.2 mile course that meant you get an out lap (no passing), about 3 hot laps, and a cool down. Best case scenario I'd get 12 laps at speed that day. And with the temps being much cooler in the morning and sweltering in the afternoon, the first track session mattered most. Really the first hot lap in the first session was the best chance at a quick time - on a track I'd never driven. All told I got 10 laps that day at speed. We did 2 slow orientation laps early on in a parade fashion, which was only marginally helpful when there were cars blocking every corner.
I did the first 4 right and 4 left side runs on the Speed Stop in the morning, which put me in the lead for GT class. The 4.09 gearing was PERFECTION on this course - 2nd gear was using all of the RPM range and the brakes were WORKING WELL. I had some good drives, sliding the car just ever so slightly, and braking DEEP into the stop box. My left side time was solid - was the only GT car in the 8 second range. I was stoked, because Speed Stop isn't ever my best event. Time for road course...
One of the locals who helped me, Brian Sowders, put a 2:18 in at the very end of the day in his Shelby GT350. He works at the track and knows it well, but since he had no roll bar or belts he had to run in Intermediate run group - and on this day that meant he was one of the faster cars leading the pack, in a smaller run group, so not much traffic. I ran one of the two Expert classed, since I do have a roll bar, 6-point belts, HANS, fire bottle, and halo seat. What did that get me? Stuck in traffic on track all freagin day. The lap below was in the last session after I figured out a trick to break away from the pack.
First TT Session: I finally got on track for real laps in our first session at 10:30 am. Ran a 2:26.163 on my first ever lap here, in traffic. I was stuck in a train of slower cars for two more laps (2:38 and 2:29) and was very held up. There was gaggle of Corvettes that WOULD NOT let cars pass.
I was "that guy" in the Mustang, flashing lights, swerving, waving, just desperate for a point by. Even after wild hand gestures out the window and honking the horn, nothing. These folks would not acknowledge cars behind or lift for a pass. Just PARKED in the corners, and blocked any attempts at passes. I'm still learning the course but couldn't see a damn thing - just the back of Corvettes. Rolling chicanes.
Second TT Session: For the next sessions they would grid you by best times from all previous sessions - so guess who I am stuck behind for the session? The same "I can't see you" Corvettes with +300 more hp but -30 mph minimum corning speeds. It was a train of cars. I finally gave up after 2 laps and let ALL the cars stuck behind me in the megatrain go by. With only 12 cars on a 3.2 mile track it was better to hold back for a half of a lap and get two hot laps in. Unfortunately I had overheated the RE-71R tires in the first hot lap and only ran a 2:23.163 - and found 3 seconds. Still building up my courage, trying to ignore the sea of Armco that surrounded every section of this track, and the concrete wall along the main pit straight.
Third TT Session: There were still 5 or 6 turns I was struggling with, not stringing together. I just could not differentiate some turns, and kept putting 2 off in T10 and T12. Had not gotten my bearings. For the 3rd session I taped the track map to my dash just to help figure out which turns were which. Of course I got flustered and went out with the ASC (traction control) turned on, which I figured out halfway through the out lap. DAMN!
Now all the gains I had made on gridplacement were lost - I had to back off, point everyone by, then turn traction control off (you have to press a button and hold the brakes for 5 seconds straight), then try to build a gap ahead, and then go. I lost time doing this and only had 2 hot laps: but I ran a new best of 2:22.482 followed by a 2:21.692 before the tires got super hot. This was a stupid mistake, not turning ASC off in grid. Nobody to blame but me!
We had a quick lunch then back to Speed Stop. I'm soaking wet from sweat at this point, salt rings on my T-shirt, exhausted. I cannot overstate how hot and humid this place was - its June in Kentucky, and all sessions on track are in a full fire suit, so it's not hard to understand. Amy's trying to keep me hydrated, using an umbrella to keep me shaded while in the long lines for Speed Stop (below left). The AiM was not talking to the SmartyCam and I had to use a second camera. I'm done with this SmartyCam - it is too unreliable. Even when it works it has pretty poor video resolution.
Didn't find any time in my afternoon Speed Stop times, track surface was boiling and the tires felt greasy. All I was doing was sliding around. Blevins found some time, moving him up to 3rd place overall. Luckily there were no "bonus" laps and I won the GT class for Speed Stop (see below). I felt pretty good about the driving bits - had a 1st in Speed Stop and a 2nd in Autocross, and was still finding major time on the road course for TT.
Forth TT Session: The quick guys in GT class were in the 2:18 to 2:19 range, and I'm in the 2:21s, but still dropping seconds in each session as I learned this layout and find clear track. It was so hot many drivers had already packed up and left before this last session, but I didn't want to leave a single session undriven as I figured out this course. I had hoped for a 2:19 lap, and it was in the car, according to the AiM Solo.
I went out in the 4th and final session and put myself at the BACK of the grid, after letting local racer Marty in his boosted 5th gen Camaro know what I was doing. Letting everyone go by worked in session 3, but I lost track time setting up the "gap ahead". Marty wanted to follow me, as he was also struggling trying to learn this track - so now it was the blind leading the blind. At least we wouldn't be stuck in a train. Sitting in grid, the air coming off the pavement at the IAT sensor was 115°F - I was miserable in my fire suit, so I turned the air con on and tried to cool down, which helped a little.
They wave everybody out of grid but we sat there, let the entire 12 car grid go for about 45 seconds, then we went. This built a huge gap to the slower cars in front. Marty stuck with me a bit and we had some clear track. He had been running 2:26s all day but with a rabbit to chase he dropped down to a 2:22.5! Track surface was well over 130°F, and these "200 treadwear" tires do not like that.
My first lap was all that mattered and I found a 2:20.690, my best of the day. Not the 2:19 I wanted so I start into lap 2 and blew Corner 2, backed off to wave Marty by, then I tried to set a gap ahead again while still running a 2:22 lap. I was hoping to get one more lap in, and the flagger was reaching for the checker but didn't pull it when I went past start finish. I started my 3rd hot lap and predictive timing was showing a low 2:19... but I blew turn 10, put 2 off of T12, and then took it easy coming by the finish.
We went to the results meeting not knowing how we placed. The D&E scoring really tanked us, but I had hoped for a top 3. Nope! No idea where we finished until days later, when we finally saw the results for the individual classes and events. I was shown to be 5th in GT class (see overall results below) and 24th overall for the Time Trial. Obviously this was a disappointment but I had nobody to blame but myself. Many of the drivers at this event had run NCM before (or were locals), and some even flew in earlier in the year to take laps in the Corvettes you can drive in their "Corvette Experience" events. In hindsight that would have been smart, as would gridding earlier for that first session and not getting stuck behind the "rolling chicane" drivers. And putting carpet in the back seat area for the D&E.
So I biznitch about Optima's D&E car show games a lot, but Jonathon Blevins showed how to get the class win this time. He has been running this series in his 2008 GT500 for a few years and this was their debut event for 2019 after a major overhaul and massive rework of this car, including many smart D&E tricks.
As you can see they cut out a lot of the front structure and added some roll cage tubing underhood, swapped struts for a double A-arm suspension, and of course the giant blower. They claim 837 whp, and it was pretty quick on track for a few laps - but with today's 200TW tires and the high track temps we saw here, none of us had much more than that in our cars that day.
The interior is filled with some interesting gear, with an AiM dash integrated into the factory surround, buttons on the steering wheel, and a roll cage that has the upper door bars hidden above the headliner. The judges eat that kind of stuff up. The fit and finish was top notch and he deserved the D&E class win.
Apparently leaving the stock trunk carpet out really hurt my D&E score, but if you have a giant fuel cell that makes up for it. He also drove well in the timed events and got a 1st (autocross), 2nd (Time Trial), 3rd (Speed Stop), and 1st (D&E). That's how you get a class win and an invite to the OUSCI event at the end of the year (where he also won GT class and placed 6th overall - impressive). Do well in all of the events, timed and judged. Congrats to him!
The D&E does skew the finish results quite heavily. If you ignore the D&E scores, Blevins would have still won the class, but I would have been 2nd instead of 5th, down by 6 points instead of 67. I actually tied for 4th but they let D&E be the tie breaker - it means that much to this series. So if you want to win not only do you need to drive fast you ALSO should prioritize the shiny bits. Also have a good story for the 4 minute D&E presentation - a number of competitors made up that their car had unobtanium this or that, and the judges took their word for it. Outright lying about mods you don't have is encouraged in this event.
NASA "TT" at TMS, AUGUST 18-19, 2019
Why, oh why, does anyone in Texas try to hold a Time Trial event in August? Well two local groups did this year - NASA and SCCA - and we foolishly went to both. I knew the "end was near" for our time in the 2018 Mustang, and we wanted to test some versions of the diff cooler we were working on. Unlike many NASA weekends we decided to arrive on Saturday morning instead of the night before to setup and unload. This event was a "home track" that we can get to in 45 minutes, so why get there the day before? Well this was a mistake - it made for a rushed morning, unload, and I was a couple of minutes late to the TT meeting at 8 am. There was a bit of troubling news at the TT meeting, but I will cover that below.
This was an unusual event - the first time NASA Texas had run at Texas Motor Speedway - and the various sub-groups ran completely different courses. HPDE and TT ran the short 1.1 mile infield road course shown above. The W2W groups ran the huge tri-oval + the infield course (they joined and left the infield course where "pit out" and "pit in" are shown above. The full course looked a LOT more fun, but when it was announced that TT would be running the short infield course I was relieved. Why? The infield course is (supposedly) safer, speeds are much lower, and I had run this 1,1 mile course 3 times previously with wins at each event (GTA, Optima, and a W2W event).
But it was August. In Texas. So it was hot AF! I had dragged Erik from HPR out to the event with me and rented a garage, to keep out of the sun and heat. It was still hot inside the garages but it was almost tolerable with shade. We just didn't venture out much, and I spent some time in the air conditioned driver's center to keep cool. I didn't watch a single lap of any W2W race, and was smart enough to not sign up for instructing, so I didn't need to be in a car except for my lone TT session.
The garages at TMS are super nice and you really MUST rent one if you run an event here. These are the same garages that NASCAR use when they run this track in their series.
Spacious, bathrooms on the ends, roll up doors and power. Plenty of room to spread out your stuff, chairs, cooler, etc.
After we got unloaded I picked up our 2nd place trophy for the 2018 season at the driver's meeting - forgot we had placed that high last year. Really wished we had stayed in TT3 for all of 2019, as we were so out-gunned (and hundreds of pounds overweight) for TT2. Bad planning on my part, for sure.
OUR ONE SESSION OF THE WEEKEND
Saturday morning warm-up was our ONE session of the weekend - I will explain. As we were warned in the TT meeting, the infield road course timing loop was broken. Hadn't been used in years, and it was only tested on Friday. NASA was flying in another loop for use on this course, supposed to arrive around lunch time. The W2W folks had the regular timing loop on the NASCAR tri-oval start/finish to use, so they were fine. And HPDE doesn't get timed, so they were gonna be OK too.
This is a VERY short course and the 24 cars in Time Trial were to be split into two sub-groups of 12 cars each. This was something we campaigned for earlier in the year, as we had run here before and knew the difficulties with running more than 8 or 10 cars at a time on such limited track mileage. But, to our dismay, ALL of the TT cars were lumped into a single group for the first "Practice" session, which wasn't going to have times due to the loop being down. The new timing loop was to arrive "after lunch" so we would have a one or two practice sessions before anyone got times. I had planned to do 3 tests of our diff cooler: 1) no cooler at all, 2) diff pump only, and 3) diff pump and cooler. This testing was what I cared about more than "winning" TT2.
It was already 86°F and humid when we went out on track at 8:43 am, after we sat on grid for delays picking up wrecked W2W cars in the previous group. I started grid in P2 behind Casey's TT2 C7 Corvette. He and I used to be closer in pace but his car prep evolved quite a bit over the previous months and this was his debut with a fully stripped and caged C7 ready for W2W, on Hoosiers/aero/etc. I was running Day 1 on the 200TW tires then switching to R7s for Day 2, per my normal plan for the season. I knew from previous events that Hoosiers and Aero were a big help here, so I gladly let him go first.
We took the apron around and joined the 1.1 mile road course as a group. I had a feeling Casey would be quick, and he was with some 38.6 sec laps on his AiM - just walking away from me. I ran a bunch of 40.5 to 40.6 sec laps, and I got 4 or 5 laps in before we caught the back of the field - which was remarkable, for having 24 cars in about a 1 mile stretch. Then I peeled off and came into the paddock. I've gone quicker here in the TT3 2011 GT (39.2 sec), but that was on Hoosiers with aero 6 years previous.
Normally I don't show it when "bad things happen", and I want everyone reading this to know that any car-to-car contact in Time Trial is super rare. Since coming to NASA TT events starting in 2006 I have witnessed car-to-car incidents only 3 times in probably 100+ TT events. It happens in HPDE more than TT, honestly. But not talking about this incident would be dishonest, because we knew both drivers and helped repair one of the cars. This happened in the lone TT session after I came in, and I missed all of the action. All was not going smoothly in the middle of the pack, where a massive log jam was brewing. Erik from HPR and Jason from Vorshlag saw it all go down from the viewing stands, who gave me their eye witness accounts. I also talked to both of the drivers afterwards.
The lead car (I'm not getting into all of the who or what on that) went a bit fast through T7 and spun off track left at T8, heading towards a concrete wall along that side of the course. I have seen many cars impact that wall and it always ends up with a totaled chassis. This driver tried to avoid the wall (smart) but after pointing the car away from that near certain impact, he came back across track and tagged the car behind - Matt's white 2015 Mustang GT, shown above. I will cover the repairs to this car below, but long story short: both cars were damaged but both drivers were fine. Both cars had more than minimum safety gear and the seats, harnesses, HANS and roll bars did their jobs well. SMART.
I know both drivers well and neither was overly upset at the other - it was just the result of very close confines plus a spin that got a little out of hand. Matt said he thought the car ahead was going wide to let him pass as it went into T8, so he accelerated to pass on the ritht, then noticed the car coming back across track. He then dove way off track right, to try to avoid - they didn't make contact until 10-20 feet off the track, in the grass. It was the right move to make, given what he could see, just some bad luck.
The session was black flagged. When I heard what had happened I ran over to Matt's paddock area with a floor jack, as the car was being dropped off the flat bed wrecker. He was fine, but his Mustang was a mess. It had popped air bags, the LF wheel was crunched into the body, and the LR corner was banged up. Did not roll. Matt had planned on being at SCCA TT Nationals just 5 weeks from that day, so we had to act quickly to try to make that happen. Jason and I did a quick triage, took some pics, then rolled into action. I sent pictures to our paint an body guru, Shiloh at Heritage Collision - who has fixed a number of SCCA and NASA race cars after incidents, and paints all of our project cars. He felt like it could be fixed, so the work was scheduled. Not going to be an insurance job.
We had Matt call a flat bed wrecker, then I had Amy meet that at the shop, to show where to drop the car. We had some OEM parts from our recently acquired 2015 Mustang we could donate. Matt was a bit in shock but we took care of everything else and the car was at Vorshlag about 60 minutes later. We helped Matt pack up his stuff, then he and Brian Matteucci headed back home to Houston while we waited to see what was going to happen the rest of the day.
There was about a half hour delay, then the W2W race group got going again. The HPDE group ran again sometime around lunch, while the rest of us took a long lunch break at an air conditioned restaurant. During a long lunch break the track shut down and workers tried to get the new overnighted AiM timing loop installed - to no avail. After lunch we knew that there would be no more sessions for Saturday. I missed an incident in HPDE where a car spun off track and almost hit one of the NASCAR lights, which shut down HPDE and TT both. So no more opportunities to collect data. When we left at 2:45 pm it was 103°F - a miserable, hot, nasty day.
After more timing loop attempts overnight, that near miss of their precious light standing out in the dirt in the infield was enough to spook the TMS folks and they called off the HPDE and TT cars for the rest of the weekend. My only regret was not trusting my gut Saturday afternoon and loading up the car and taking the trailer then. So Amy and I had to drive out to TMS Sunday, load the car, hook up the trailer. We stopped by an SCCA autocross happening in the outer parking lot that day, got super sweaty and hot, then headed home. That blew a whole day in triple digit temps again.
Other than crashing, this outcome made for the least fun TT weekend you can think of. Nobody in TT got any times, so nobody got class points or trophies - and we made a lot of our "street tire" sub-class trophies. Still, the W2W groups raved about the longer Tri-oval + infield track layout they got to run. Casey in the TT2 C7 Corvette was able to take his new cage, fire system, and log book updates and entered W2W. There he practiced, qualified and raced in ST2 with a Rookie status this weekend. Not only did he set the ST2 track record he won his first race!
NASA has put this event back on the schedule for 2020, thankfully NOT in August. We will be there May 1-3, 2020, with the same split courses for HPDE TT on the infield and W2W on the full Tri-oval + road course. If at first you don't succeed - try, try again!
We talked about the repair work to Matt's car online back in August (after he gave us permission), and it was a bit of a thrash on our end + the work needed at Heritage to get this car back up and running in less than 4 weeks. Why not share the work in chronological order here? There were just 5 weeks to repair this car and make it track ready again before the SCCA TT Nationals. Some asked why we stopped everything at our shop to attack the work on this car? Let me explain.
It turns out this caris kind of special to us, for multiple reasons. It was formerly owned by Brian Matteucci, who is an old friend of mine from college, and who's company (Motor-Force Engineering) we bought in 2006. We had Brian use this 2015 GT for our first S550 camber-caster plate for the OEM style spring. And later his 6th gen 1LE for our first 6th gen camber plate as well. Then he sold this car to Matt Givens, his endurance racing team partner - who we got to know at several events. Super nice guy, and a quick driver. He still rocks the Vorshlag banners on his car, too.
Matt bought the car from Brian a couple of years ago and has upgraded to MCS TT2 coilovers that he got from us, added a 4-point roll bar, Sparco racing seats, long tube headers + CAI, and more. Last year he ran the car at the NOLA round of Optima, and did well. In 2019 he began running the car in National SCCA TT events across the country and cleaned up there, setting FTD at more than one event.
In this car Matt had been was racking up the TT wins in the SCCA's unique classing structure by going to events on the road, and we really wanted to see him take this car to the 2019 TT Nationals at NCM. We had originally talked about going to that event in our 2018 GT, and the June Optima event was a sighting trip for this TT Nationals for us. After starting our 2015 Mustang project we decided to skip TT Nationals and instead support Matt.
So it's Monday morning after the TMS incident and Matt's car is parked in front of our shop. It was slid off the roll back there and won't roll because the wheel is crammed into the strut, and the LF control arm is broken. Brad installed the LF arm off of our 2015 GT, swapped on one of my spare 19x11s, and it was driven into the shop. First step of many!
We noted a jacked up front alignment - once on the lift we could see that the steering rack was partially broken and the tie rod was very bent. The transmission crossmember was also shattered. The 650 pound engine + transmission sits on sloppy hydraulic mounts, and when the car was hit from the side, the drivetrain moved as a big undamped mass, which shock-loaded the 2 pound cast aluminum transmission crossmember. Boom!
The LF wheel took the brunt of the car-to-car impact, which drove it into the strut, which bent the strut housing and shaft. The fender was shredded - the fronts are aluminum and very flimsy. We stole the LF fender off my black 2015, to save time and money. Took our driver's door, too.
Luckily we had a set of S550 MCS TT2 coilovers in stock (only set in the country we could get our hands on that day), so we stole the front strut from this kit to replace the badly bent unit on his car. We inspected the camber plate and surprisingly it was perfect, so that and the spring were swapped over.
The steering rack from my 2015 looked good so it replaced his broken rack (left side mount had broken off) plus the new suspension bits went in quickly. One of the inner fender reinforcements was missing from this white car - the big black panel shown above. This is a foot intrusion panel that bolts the frame to the inner fender structure. That being in place would have mitigated some of the damage, and Shiloh wanted this piece to be able to pull some of the seam back in place and align it - so that came from my 2015 GT as well.
We worked on the car for only 3 days (Aug 19th-21st) but had the car to Shiloh rolling and driving - with a replacement door and fender - on Day 4. After I dropped it off his team got to work located the parts needed to replace the busted headlight, bumper cover, and do the bodywork and paint repairs.
It was at Shiloh's for about 3 weeks where they bodyworked the rear fender and bumper cover (secondary impact), pulled the front inner fender structure back into place, then installed the LF fender and door from my black 2015.
They primed, painted, and cleared the left side of the car + bumper cover. It looks great but they noticed an issue with the left side wheelbase - the front wheel was pushed rearward and didn't line up with the fender arch.
It got back to Vorshlag for some work Sept 17-th to 20th, where we attacked some remaining items. The car had a somewhat janky seat bracket that bent badly and pulled the floorpan up from the impact. We replaced that with a Vorshlag CNC cut, steel ribbed seat bracket that was MUCH more rigid. During the install of this is when we figured out that the floor was damaged - because it didn't line up.
Bit of a head scratcher, but Shiloh noted that this happens a lot on cars that get hit - the weight of a driver and/or passenger will push the floorpan out of shape as the seat deforms in the crash. We looked and my 2015 passenger floor is buckled the exact same way! After pulling carpet and some other things out of the way it took about 20 minutes with some sections of 2x6" wood and hammers to persuade the floorpan back into shape. The frame was perfect, just part of the floor distorted. Once that was pushed back our seat bracket lined up perfectly and went in.
We briefly installed the 3-bolt S550 brake deflector (above right), for pictures. We had planned to replace the janky ducted backing plates that had some of the worst corrugated hoses (above left) we had ever seen - routed up and over the arms like we see some do. Not his fault, this is how this product is sold.
We had the car in the air and could not see why the wheel was offset to the rear. Maybe the front subframe was bent? That's a big expensive part ($900) and takes a lot of time to install. The SCCA TT Nationals was only days away. We punted and got some adjustable front control arms with spherical ends from our buddies down at SPL Parts in Austin, which arrived the next day. As Brad was installing these he pulled the factory TC rod, the second lower control arm that looked perfect... and wow. We uncovered the mystery.
the spindle was badly distorted at the mounting hole for the TC rod, as was the ball joint end there and the bolt at the subframe end. So it didn't need a subframe, just a new spindle and arm. We rushed our local Ford dealer and they got a spindle quickly for only $220. Something to look closer at in a car that has had an impact - we will inspect these more closely next time.
Matt was OK with the upgrade and we put the SPL arms on - he had sphericals on one end of the TC rod already, so this wasn't going to be a change in "NVH" for him. The SPL arms are very adjustable and allow for more camber, caster, and slight wheelbase changes. New Whiteline swaybar end links replaced some lower end bits he had in there, so now the suspension was refreshed and it was time for a gross alignment.
The long tube headers and mid-pipe exhaust was out of kilter with the rear bits, so we adjusted that. Installed our 4-bolt brake deflectors to mount to the SPL arms, then fixed the PP1 undertray panels, which had ripped out a few holes.
Brad really crushed it on this job, and when he was done he detailed this car inside, out and under the hood. Matt ended up buying 5 wheels from us that we had in stock, so he now has 3 sets for wets and drys. He picked up the car on the weekend, took it down to MSR Houston for an alignment and track test, then was on the road the next Tuesday headed to NCM. Amazed at the work that Shiloh and his crew did also. Great team work!
Working on this car, then observing some things on my 2015 Mustang GT chassis - which I took to Shiloh for a cross check when I picked up the white car - taught us a number of things. Shiloh pointed out where these cars are super rigid and hard and where they are meant to deform. We took what we learned an put it into this video, linked above. If you have an S550 and do track things, might be helpful to watch this 15 minute video on our YouTube page.
PREPPING 2018 GT FOR SALE
At the time of this writing our 2018 Mustang GT is for sale, as shown below. If this classified ad is still showing "for sale", then it is still for sale. When you go there and it shows "SOLD" then its sold. That should hopefully cut down on 300+ questions over the next 12 months. I hope. #IsItStillForSale
I made a promise when we bought this 2018 Mustang GT in February of 2018 to NOT do any mods that couldn't be un-done. Why? Our 2011 GT had flared fenders and some other mods we could not "un-do" and that made it tough to sell quickly. I stuck to that promise on this car, but we did leave several of the track worthy parts in this car when we put it up for sale.
In early September we decided to scrub further 2019 season events in this car and spent a couple of weeks, between customer jobs, putting the car back as close to stock as made sense. The carbon hood and hood pins came off, the 4-point roll bar came out, the race seats were replaced with the stock bits that have been bagged in storage.
De-stickering the car took several hours, and some of the cheaper vinyl was tough to get off without some heat. With some help from Amy the decals were taken off, then Brad got the adhesive goo removed and waxed and buffed the finish to a shine. I picked at a few decals but broke my thumbnails all to crap. There is no "easy" way to get cheap vinyl off after it has been baked on.
ProTip: Some of the black trim bits had some wax residue near the painted finish areas, which was baked into the finish and wouldn't come off. Crusty white looking stuff. Brad found this "Back-to-Black" black trim cleaner from Mothers and it worked like a charm.
The long tube headers and custom exhaust was a tough call - we could have burned 8-10 hours swapping this stuff back to stock, but how much are used stainless headers worth? And then we'd have to pull the CAI, load the stock tune, etc. The car sounds SO good and works so well with these long tubes and the exhaust we built with the over-sized Magnaflows that we decided to keep it all on their, plus the CAI and include the SCT tuner with the car.
The engine bay was cleaned up after the strut tower brace we added was removed. The Powerbrake fronts were swapped out for PP1 6-piston Brembos and 15" rotors that were used briefly during the progression of our brake development. The MCS RR2 coilovers were swapped for the AST/Whiteline set that we used for much of 2018. These AST5100 based inverted monotubes ride great, are super strong, have rebound damping adjustment and include our camber/caster plates.
The spare tire and trunk carpets were reinstalled (look at the D&E magic!), and the triple gauge panel was left in place. We could have pulled this entirely but the labor involved in adding the wiring and sensors for these is worth more than the parts cost, so we pulled the 4th gauge (diff temp) and left the other three in place. Oil temp, oil pressure and water temp gauges remain in the Boss 302 3 gauge cluster. We pulled the diff cooler and replaced the aluminum 4.09 geared housing with the original 3.55 geared steel case limited slip unit that came on this car.
Last but not least we couldn't let the car leave with this many track ready parts without some sort of brake cooling. This Vorshlag 4-bolt deflector mounts to the OEM TC rod with the U-bolts included in that kit, as shown above. All of the original swaybars and control arms were installed, and the SPL spherical arms will go on the 2015. Comes with the 19x11" Momos and our freshest set of 305/30/19 RE-71R tires so you could drive it to work or rip around a race track equally well.
Brad took a LOT of nice pictures of the 2018 GT in its "for sale" condition. Super low miles, "only driven on the weekends", and of course you can see a lot more here in the classified ad.
PROGRESS ON 2015 MUSTANG GT RACE CAR #TRIGGER
Now for the fun part of this post - showing the work we have done to #Trigger, our black 2015 GT chassis. This is the car that will continue with what we have learned on the 2018 GT, but will be lighter and is getting MOAR POWER. We will continue to show the build-up in this same thread, and hopefully pick up where we left off in the 2018. The initial LS engine (a very cost effective engine) should make roughly the same power as the Gen III Coyote, which will let us test things with a LOT of the same variables from the red car: power, tires, suspension, seats, and brakes.
We have been accumulating a lot of "missing" parts while removing other parts from this chassis to lose weight. Have not cut anything out of the car yet, but we will in Phase 2. This T56 Magnum XL was mated to our LS mockup longblock in this round.
We have weighed a bunch of bits and pieces as they came off the car, like the full weight 84 pound doors with glass. The stock power cloth seats are 50 pounds each, things like that. We will show all sorts of weights as parts get removed or added to this car.
The dash, carpet, door panels and center console are still in this chassis for all car weights shown. Why? The el strippo interior might happen later on Phase 2 of the build, but I want a little bit more of a complete looking interior for now. I found some of the missing dash panel inserts and gauge binnacle, which will go in to the final Phase 1 build (above right). The Sparco race seats, 4-point roll bar, and 6-point Schroth belts will be going in, sure, but the half-stripped dash was looking too "trailer park trash" for me.
Been leaning heavily on eBay for the only thing that site is good for - finding used car parts at a good price. I rarely buy anything new on eBay, but the complete pedal box (above left) and steering rack (above right) have replaced missing parts or items we stole from this car for Matt's white GT.
We pulled the aluminum 2-point strut tower brace that we had added to our 2018 GT (it wasn't an option on the base model) and have since added several more factory pieces to that make this tie into the firewall and cowl. I will show all of those pieces and weights in a later post, when we install them. We put the 2-point brace in place to show the room down to the LS3 intake manifold during some LS engine mock-ups. The LS engine is just so little!
Those that question the reasons behind an LS swap just need to look at the image above. I shot both pics myself, from the same height/angle, and cropped the images to show the same width of each chassis. Both S197 and S550 engine bays have the same distance between the strut towers (roughly 36"). The Coyote in the S197 (left) is a pretty snug fit, but the LS (right) in the S550 has room for days around, above, and in front of it.
We are still setting the exact fore-aft placement of the engines + trans, but this image above is pretty close to perfect. This puts the T56 Magnum XL shifter inside the stock shifter hole and 85% of the engine behind the front axle centerline. With a custom "one off" kind of cut and slash install, sure, we could cut the firewall and tunnel. This would let us move the engine back even more, maybe even use a shorter T56 Magnum or Magnum S... but that would defeat the purpose of this build: to make an LS swap kit that was really 100% bolt in. To sell LS swap parts people might buy (we have had a massive response to news of this swap).
The "Phase 1" engine is a mild 383" aluminum LS that will use a wet sump oil pan and an Accusump, so we are testing the swap with a variety of LS oil pans for the swap to be built around. The 4th gen Camaro LS pan fits easily, as does this steel, baffled pickup, 7 qt Summit oil pan. I will show more of this pan later.
The transmission crossmember design is nearly done - just checking the driveline angles before we finalize the fabrication of that. We want to test fit a 4L80E automatic as well, possibly make a transmission crossmember that fits this one (for drag racers and street cars). Once the trans crossmember is done then we can set side-to-side placement.
Exhaust header room looks good but the height of the motor mounts and placement of the steering shaft might require a custom long tube header again. We have 5 different production LS header designs we will test in the coming weeks to try to find one side or maybe both sides that fit. If not - we will make a production style long tube.
During driveline angle tests I noticed something odd, and it turns out the rear subframe wasn't even fully bolted in, and one hole was cross threaded. So the subframe came out to be able to re-tap that hole, which went cleanly. Normally I am not a big fan of doo-dad mods like "subframe/diff bushings", as their value is dubious at best... I never felt like the rear bits were flopping around on our 2018 GT. But this car is "going to eleven", plus it had some really worn, aged, cracked bushings back there.
While the subframe was out we decided that the diff mount and subframe bushings (8 in total) needed an upgrade. So we ordered the Whiteline bushings to swap into their places. The extraction of these 8 mounts is a REAL CHORE if you don't break out a SawsAll, which can easily cause damage to the somewhat thin metal on the steel subframe assembly. We made some custom tools and tried a number of tricks getting the old bushings out - which I will show in more detail next time.
After the many hours of work removing the old ones, the new bushings went into the subframe in less than 20 minutes. An all new SPL Parts lower adjustable toe link went in, replacing the stock bits here (see above right). This toe link is a brand new design from SPL and was not installed on our 2018 GT.
SPL Parts were also swapped into this spherical/adjustable vertical link shown above, which replaced the stock rubber bushed piece. We transferred this part right over from the 2018 GT.
The 4.09 geared, Auburn Pro diff equipped, aluminum super 8.8" was swapped into the subframe while it was down. We will move the diff cooler / fan / pump over to this car as well. The adjustable Whiteline rear swaybar was transferred over from our 2018 GT, and some GT350 axles are on order (cheaper from Ford Racing than the dealership) as well as new rear hubs with ARP studs, which we left on the 2018 GT. More details on that next time.
Jason and I searched the online used parts interchange and found one shop in the Dallas area who was organized enough to list fenders, hoods, headlights and bumper covers for many cars at reasonable prices. We bought this white 2018 front nose for 1/6th the cost of the stock pieces, and it came with some structural and grill bits that were going to cost extra from Ford. I want to re-use the 2018 style Anderson carbon hood - and the '18 front end is supposed to have less drag - which is why we picked up a 2018 nose. I have upper and lower GT grills arriving any day but we're still searching for headlights (horrendously expensive for any S550) and park lights to wrap up the front. We had none of these parts on the 2015 to start with, so going to 2018 look front bits was no extra cost.
We had already sold one of the 2015 front fenders to Matt, so it wasn't a stretch to get two 2018 style front fenders. One is really perfect and the other is OK, but its the best we could get at the same yard we got the nose from. Paid even a smaller a fraction of the cost of new, and both came with bits that aren't included with new fenders.
I asked Evan to use our strut tower cutting fixture and open up the tiny tower holes to a 3.0" opening. We used a 2-3/4" hole saw on the 2018 GT but this 3" is as far as you can go and still keep the entire vertical "wall" and the curved portion of the factory tower. Some of our customers have already tested this size opening without issue.
Time for the good stuff! The MCS Remote Double "RR2" model coilovers went from our 2018 GT straight to the 2015 chassis, as did the Powerbrake front brake kit.
Last Friday, November 22nd, this round of installation was wrapped up. Brad slapped on the 19x11" Forgestar / RE-71R set of wheels and tires, which really made the car look a lot better. It was set on the ground at the end of the day and it made me smile. All of the work above happened in October and November, when we had an hour or two to spare between tasks on customer cars. Hoped we would be at this point back in September, but we were slammed.
I came in last Saturday and scaled the car with the parts shown above. Its missing 70 pounds of crank/rods/pistons, the radiator, battery, front bumper beam (we will make a tubular one) and bumper cover, left side door, and two seats. We also don't have a fuel tank, driveshaft, clutch, or rear axles in the car. But the rest is pretty much there. The LS is no lighter than the Coyote, as they are nearly identical in weight. But 2327 pounds? I was more than happy to see a number that low.
This is less than the 2349 pounds the car weighed when it rolled in - when it had no motor or trans, no front brakes, and skinny 8" wheels. Jason and I added up about 400 pounds of parts that needs to go back into this to be a running/driving track car. Maybe 500 if we are super conservative. That's still less than 3000 pounds, so we are hopeful!
This post ran long and I skipped one more August event, SCCA TT at MSR 1.3. I will cover that event next time and finally show more more of our diff cooler iterations. Hopefully we will have the tubular front bumper beam made for #Trigger by then, the nose mounted, and a rolled radiator in place.
I can also show the many steps that Brad and Even went through to get the rear subframe bushings out, using special tools that Myles designed and built. We might make a run of these tools, for those patient enough not to just use a saw to cut the mounts out.