The Road to Mid-Ohio
I could start this story anywhere, but we as might as well start it 10 days prior to Gridlife Round 1 at Mid-Ohio.
Like many people say- March madness to a racer is doing 6 months of work over the duration of 1 month for a race you knew about for the past year. I could not agree more, but I didn't even get the month... I had 10 days to finish the car so I could drive it and do some testing. Ten days before the event the car sat in my driveway torn down to the frame with only hubs, axles and a transmission. The necessary parts needed to get it running were:
Brake Calipers/ Caliper Brackets/ Pads/ Brake Fluid
Steering Column Fabrication
Steering Column mounts
Working Aero that wouldn't rip off the car
To get the car finished it needed to be over at the shop, which would require steering, body panels and brakes mounted. After several late nights fabricating a receiver bearing into the firewall the steering column could be installed. With the steering column was finished and brakes were half functional so it was time to load it up and move it to the shop. Once the car was at the shop, (T-10 days to race) the real work could begin- getting an engine. Due to machine shop delays, my primary sleeved engine would not be finished in time for Mid-Ohio. I elected to build off of a spare block I had in my garage. While clearancing the mains I noticed fluctuation of nearly 3 thousandths of an inch. The block would need to be line honed, it was then dropped off at the Performance Clinic in Dayton with an estimated completion of mid May. At this point I had little to no choice but to miss the first event. After talking with the team about it, they joked, "You can pull the engine out of your daily". I don't think they expected that to sink in as much as it did. My daily driver is a 2005 Subaru Sti which runs the same engine as the race car. I decided that yes, I would tear down my daily driver in an effort to make the first event. So out came the engine! With some fabrication on the oil pan, I was able to make the front mount turbo setup work with a wet sump system. It was an easy decision to go with fabricating the wet sump to work instead of putting on the dry sump due to the fact that the engine is under-built for the turbo setup that is feeding it. The engine is somewhat doomed to fail due to bored out stock cylinder walls being hammered with air from the Borg Warner EFR 9180 its just too much turbo for that engine but in a points based racing series, setting any time good or bad puts you on the board which is better than missing the event all together so it was worth the risk. After the oil pan was finished the engine dropped in without issue. (T-8 days to race)
With the engine in, the main focus then became wiring. For the 2017 season the Slumdog received some new goodies and others were removed. Up until this season, the factory chassis wiring harness was in the car. Having switched to unlimited class, there was no longer a need for many of the functions of the harness, so it was chopped out, literally chopped with shears. The shears were used intentionally to prevent any reuse of that harness. It had been abused and hacked on for too many years to trust it any longer. Once it was out, it was replaced with an ARC control panel. 3 Days in (T-7 days to race) the wiring begun which went incredibly smooth... until we tried to test fire it. (T-5 days to race) The engine turned over but there was no spark or fuel. We began to comb through each and every wire to figure out what was wrong. Our laptops linked up, we could record data and send signals manually- nothing added up. For the next 3 days we looked over the wiring only to find pin d16 (the ignition wire) connected to nothing. The ignition wire gets a switched 12 volt signal from the ignition key or button and tells the ecu its ok to send fuel and spark. After wiring d16 to a switched 12v source it fired right up.
With the engine running and the brakes finished and bled, the steering column fabricated and the cooling system full of coolant we thought we were good to go. Then it all went to hell. (T-2 days to race) After engaging the age old clutch that was in my 05 it broke...(refer to ACT Monoloc Technology article for details on how these old style clutches break) What perfect timing right??? Luckily, having ACT as a 2017 sponsor we had a clutch on hand and were able to pull the engine and put a new clutch in. While having the engine out I wanted to confirm torque on timing pulleys and clearance on belt guides. While confirming torque the threads of the timing belt tensioner failed. A new timing belt tensioner boss was pulled off a scrap engine and installed. The engine was reinstalled. (T-1 day till race)The final piece of the puzzle was intercooler pipe. Though the setup looks similar to last years, the aero mounts and oiling system blocked the normal routing to the old intercooler pipe. With the spare stock of piping a working setup was made and the inter-cooler was linked up to the throttle body. With no testing whatsoever, the car was driven out of the garage and into the trailer. Off to Mid-Ohio.......
After pulling the car out of the trailer at Mid-Ohio it was apparent there was an issue. The car was running lean. Looking into the data logs it could be seen fuel pressure was dropping under load. We either had a dying fuel pump, or clogged fuel filter. To begin, we started swapping fuel pumps out to see if we could get one to work. None of them fixed the issue. Next the fuel filter was torn out of the car and gutted to eliminate any possibility of flow resistance. We finally got pressure at 9am on Saturday while qualifiers were running!! We only had one problem- the car wasn't tuned. During the first qualifier the Slumdog made a lap. it was the slowest lap out of all the cars of the weekend at 2 minutes and 11 seconds, behind a spec Honda Fit however it made a lap and was no longer going to be a DNF which was more than was expected going in to the race that morning. The tune was adjusted so the car could go into boost a bit and during session to ran 1 minute and 58 seconds. Every session we continued to dial the tune in and cut more time next to 1 minute 48 seconds, then 1:43, then 1:38.9 and finally 1:38.3!!! Good enough for a 2nd place podium! Much of the car could still be optimized including the driving, but there was no better outcome than what had happened. The car performed well beyond the expectations and made for an exciting and eventful weekend!
Video can be found in our youtube video here
Mechanical Advantage would like to thank all of our sponsors for the help, advice and support to help us get to this event!
Advanced Clutch Technology
AEM Performance Electronics
The Boost Creep