Liam's race car project

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Liam22
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Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:01 pm

I've been meaning to post something up about this project for a while but have been far too busy working on the car. The first few posts will be somewhat retrospective.

I started circuit racing in 2004 after getting heavily into track days with my Lotus Elise. For the last 10 years I've raced a BMW E30 320i in the Production BMW Championship. I've done quite well - won the championship twice and finished 2nd or 3rd every other year.

But time for a change...

I had a huge itch to build another race car (before I get too old for such things) and started thinking about a replacement for the BMW. The RX8 stood out a mile as a car that would make a good platform for a race car and the value for money was just too good to miss:
  • Good headline power
  • Good weight distribution
  • Not too heavy
  • Proper wishbone+coilover suspension
  • Slippy diff
  • Less than 10 years old
  • Lots made (so spares readily available)
  • Plenty of go-faster or track oriented parts
So I did some more research on the RX8, put the BMW up for sale and started looking seriously for the right car. Plan A was to buy one that needed an engine rebuild so that I'd start out with a known quantity and with reliability.

I should point out that I'm not out to build a highly tuned monster. My pockets aren't that deep. My plan is to race the RX8 in the 750 Motor Club Roadsports series. Class B is for cars up to 200bhp/ton (power at the wheels) which would seem to suit the RX8 perfectly. A healthy engine with a race exhaust in a car weighing 1200kg should be at the upper end of the class, without risking going over the edge into class A (260hbp/ton).

The philosophy behind the build is to keep a production-spec engine and take as much weight out of the car as possible. I do all my own work, except welding and painting, so deviating very far from OEM parts and solutions is beyond me. I also have a day job and a family, so I am time poor :-)

My vague timetable is to do most of the build in the spring, testing and setup in the summer, in time for at least one race before the end of the season. Then tinker next winter in time for a full season in 2015. But first I need to sell the BMW, and for enough to cover pretty much all of the build cost.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:37 pm

21-Feb-2014

The BMW sold quickly, and for the asking price. The only snag was that I had to deliver it.
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Goodbye BMW
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Between me and the new owner was a Velocity Red RX8. It had been advertised on eBay with a misfire and nobody made a bid (starting £1000). Knowing that I'd be passing with a trailer and a pocket full of cash, I made arrangements to see it. I figured I'd be changing leads, plugs, coils and an engine rebuild so it might be worth a punt.

The car looks pretty clean from the outside. One or two parking dings and badly corroded alloys, but generally in good nick. It's a 2006 car (06 plate) with 54k miles on the clock. I had only really been looking at 2004 cars so to get a newer model for a grand is ver tempting.

The seller seems genuine and says that his mechanic got the car running without a misfire but that now it's back. Eventually it splutters into life but there's a strong smell of unburnt petrol and it's not running very well at all. He's happy for me to give it a quick test drive so off I go.

I should point out that until this point I have never even sat in a RX8, let alone driven one. This has been a paper exercise until now!

The engine is in limp mode and won't pull at all. Keen to know how it feels in the corners I nurse it along. I drop it into neutral to see if it will rev freely to the redline when not under load. Beep! I'd read about the beep and was very pleased to hear it. Gives me confidence that it's not a mechanical problem with the engine. As I turn into the first corner I realise immediately that this car has a natural balance and excellent weight distribution. I know enough. I'll buy it.

But as I look for a place to turn around the engine dies on me! It won't restart and I'm pretty sure it's out of petrol. The seller comes and picks me up but has no towing eye for his other car.

We do a deal for £900 and I'll trailer it away from the side of the road...

At this point I'm hoping that it fits on my trailer [-o<

It fits (just!) but it feels bloody heavy. The BMW was about 1060kg in race trim and the Mazda feels half the weight again. I worry about how much weight I'll be able to remove on the long drive home.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Wooly » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:53 pm

Excellent start and a good read so far! I've been itching to see what progress you've made so far since reading all of your previous posts! Keeping a look out for this project the whole way :)
- Tom

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:51 pm

22-Feb-2014

Day 2. Time to take a closer look. Let's get this thing in the air and have a good sniff about!

No locking wheelnut key. Arse! I am such a dunce at buying cars. I call the seller just in case but he doesn't have a clue. I'll have to do it the old fashioned way. After spending 20 minutes figuring out how to get the first one off, the next 3 come off in 10. Clue: involves a big hammer.
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So with the car in the air and the wheels off I get a better view of the car's condition.
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It's bloody rusty! Looks like the car's been sitting for about a year. That wouldn't be so bad, but it's been sitting with last winter's road salt still on it. On the front aluminium wishbones you can see the white spots of salt but the rear is a right mess. Mostly it's just surface rust but it sure ain't pretty.
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This will take some cleaning up when the time comes to overhaul the brakes and suspension.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by AdamGaltress » Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:45 am

Enjoying the read, good luck cleaning that up!
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by JoeLanger » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:08 am

and that's why children wheel lock nuts are bad. I feel your pain mate!

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:42 pm

Early March 2014

Time to look into this misfire.

I had done enough research to know that before trying to diagnose/fix the misfire I should replace the ignition system. So I jumped on the Rotary Revs coils/plugs/leads group buy (club membership paying for itself already).

I followed the DIY guide on here to fit the coils. All pretty straightforward but it's damn tight down there! However, when removing the convoluted hose to the throttle body I found that one of the vacuum hose connectors (small 90° bend) was cracked open. Traces of superglue shows that it wasn't just me being clumsy.

But with the coils fitted I really wanted to know if the engine would run. Having extracted both pieces of the broken pipe I converted the longest bit into a short straight bit and bodged it back together. At this point it's gone 11pm and my wife will kill me if I start revving up an engine.

I sleep like an excited child before Christmas (not very well)!

Next morning I spring into action. I do the ECU reset thing, turn the key and hope for the best. Whirrr, whirr, vroom! :-) She's a runner!!!

Chuffed to bits I have to go for a drive. Blimey, it feels good. The engine pulls strongly right up to the beep but with a slight hesitation around 6000rpm. No other bad habits to speak of. Back home it's crunch time as I prepare for a hot restart... so I switch off, give it a minute and turn the key once more. Whirr, whirr, vroom! :-) We have compression!!!

My £900 punt is looking pretty good at this point =D>

My local Mazda dealer has a vacuum hose connector on the shelf so I pick one up that same lunchtime (£8). This cures the 6000rpm hesitation.

My plans for an engine rebuild quickly evaporate as I realise that this engine is probably good enough to get me out on track sooner than I expected. I'll get it onto a rolling road in due course where we'll find out just how healthy it is.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by VelocityVinnie » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:48 pm

You sure the hesitation is not down to a CAT issue?? as this would cause flat spots at higher RPM.

If you are using this for track, then i would get a DeCAT on there to free up some gases, and rule out future CAT issues.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Will66 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:10 am

You've got to run a catalytic converter for racing on cars built after 1999. Although it's likely that a flat power delivery at high revs is either a catalytic converter or the APV not opening.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by tractorboy » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:42 pm

I think the hesitation was cured by the vac pipe repair.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Ranjan » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:23 am

Liam22,

I am going to enter the Roadsport series aswell BUT I thought it was restricted to 2-door cars; the RX8 is 4-door........

Regards

Ranjan.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Will66 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:10 am

At one stage the RX8 had its own class in the Roadsports championship.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:51 am

Ranjan wrote:I am going to enter the Roadsport series aswell BUT I thought it was restricted to 2-door cars; the RX8 is 4-door........
Hi Ranjan,

I sent emails to confirm eligibility before I bought the car. The RX8 is also listed in the Roadsports 2014 regulations (but not on the website) as being acceptable.

I'll also be running it in the MSVR/Project 8 Racing Saloons series. That's for 4-door saloon cars so I have the best of both worlds :wink:
I have helped to run the Racing Saloons series for the last few years so it's a familiar place to be, and shorter races while I'm still working on car setup.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:15 pm

08-Mar-2014

Since the engine is healthy, I had been toying with the idea of putting the car through an MoT and getting to know it by using it as a daily driver for a little while. However, once I added up the cost of the test, 2 new tyres, insurance and road tax (top rate, ouch!) I decided not to bother.

So let's get her stripped and get the race prep underway!

This is probably the most rewarding part of the build as you can make a lot of progress in a short amount of time. After an hour or so, the majority of the interior is gone and I'm loving the suicide doors. They make access so easy - allowing removal of the rooflining simply by dropping it down, rotating 90° and then straight out.

Despite the rusty suspension, the bodyshell itself looks like new. No signs of rust, not even around the bootlid brake light. The only thing which is not as it should be is some discolouration under the drivers seat where it would appear that the cat has overheated at some point.
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I try to weigh everything that comes out so that I can see where I am compared to my 1200kg target.
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At this point, with the basic interior removed the weight reduction stands at 137kg. Great start!

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:29 pm

15-Mar-2014

This is where the hard work begins. I get the dashboard out and set about removing the adhesive soundproofing that's stuck to the floorpan and boot area.

The only way I know how to do this is with a heatgun and petrol - but not at the same time!
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This is fairly slow going, and the undulations in the floorpan don't help.
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It doesn't look like much, but it's 8.5kg altogether. This sort of weight saving is hard to find so I'll happily put the effort in to get it out.

A generous application of petrol (about £2 worth) cleans up the glue residue very easily. Starting to look more like a race car shell now.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Flameshades » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:32 pm

looking good, we used to strip the sound proofing on the coldest days, with a C02 fire extinguisher and a hammer......worked really well, got over 10kgs out of my S13 removing that rubbish!
car sounded like a bag of nails after that though as it was still a "road car" :D

keep it up! is any of it going back in?

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:18 am

I've since learnt that there is a dry ice method of removing the soundproofing. Half way down this page for pics:
http://my.is/forums/f219/club-racer-pro ... es-439172/

Only the dash is going back in. I don't strictly need it for Roadsports but I don't have the budget to replace the clocks, and the dash itself is very light. Also, many production-spec championships require the original dash to be retained so that gives me more places to race and will help with resale when the time comes.

Nothing else to go back in. It'll be a pure racer so just the one FIA seat and a nice Momo steering wheel.

At this point the heater blower is removed but the aircon core and heater matrix are still in (centre of dash). HVAC removal in the next post! :)

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Will66 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:27 am

A lot of tin-top race series demand you have some method of de-misting the screen, are you going to fit a heated screen or keep a blower in there?
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:25 pm

Neither of my target series require a screen demisting solution.

Ultimately I'll have an electrically heated screen. Initially I will be running a hose from the cold air inlet above the blower unit and feeding that to the screen vent inside the dash. If that proves to be inadequate then I'll fit a small inline blower.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Will66 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:28 pm

Nice. It's something I'm looking into for mine.
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by HwAoRrDk » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:54 pm

Erm, why is your fuel filler release on the passenger side?!? :scratch:

By the way, if you're planning on keeping the routing of the wiring harness in the stock locations along the sills through those white plastic conduits, I'd advise re-installing the sill covers (which don't weight much), as those white things will not want to stay put on their own. They're very easy to kick out of place when entering/exiting the car - something I did too many times whilst using my own car for a couple of weeks sans carpet! :evil:
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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:16 pm

I re-routed the fuel filler release so that it's not in the way when I've been putting the drivers seat in and out. There are matching threaded holes on the other side for LHD cars

The fuel filler release and much of the wiring loom will be removed for the roll cage welding. Haven't decided where I'll finally position the fuel filler release.

Yeah, those plastic conduits aren't well secured! I've kicked them out of position many times while crawling about inside the car! But I'm also planning on reducing some of the wiring loom. All the airbag wiring, audio stuff, interior lighting etc, etc. So I'll be splitting the loom apart, re-wrapping and placing inside convoluted tubing. This will be attached as best fits around the roll cage.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:17 pm

06-Apr-2014

The last item of the interior to remove is the aircon core/heater matrix unit. I plan to remove the entire HVAC system in one go, so that means removing the front bumper to access the aircon radiator.

I followed the Racing Beat REVI installation guide to remove the bumper which was much more straightforward than I imagined. After discharging the refrigerant and dumping the coolant from the radiator I was able to disconnect all the pipes going to the cabin heater unit. I looped the heater matrix in/out pipes by just using one of the rubber pipes (no cutting necessary). The hole in the bulkhead will provide a convenient place to route battery cables and fire extinguisher pipes in the later stages of race prep.

With the aircon radiator removed the main coolant radiator is exposed to the airflow and is in great condition, having been protected by the aircon rad all its life :)
The oil cooler pipes are also im good condition. Much better than I feared after reading of the many failure stories.
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The HVAC components (rad, pipes, blower, heater core) weighs in at 10kg. The aircon compressor another 5kg.

Next up, to flush the cooling system. I have some Holts 2-stage rad flush on the shelf so I get quite accustomed to flushing and refilling the cooling system before refilling with fresh Ethylene Glycol and distilled water from my workshop dehumidifier. The good news is that there's no major signs of corrosion within the cooling system.

After having run the engine for a good while, I also take the opportunity to change the oil while it's hot. I will get very few opportunities to run the engine up to temperature. I'm able to unscrew the oil filter by hand which also bodes well for the car's previous service history (I have absolutely no documentation).

Having removed the front bumper and observed the state of the oil coolers I make a list of things I want to do before the bumper goes back on again.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Ranjan » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:34 am

Liam22 wrote:
Ranjan wrote:I am going to enter the Roadsport series aswell BUT I thought it was restricted to 2-door cars; the RX8 is 4-door........
Hi Ranjan,

I sent emails to confirm eligibility before I bought the car. The RX8 is also listed in the Roadsports 2014 regulations (but not on the website) as being acceptable.

I'll also be running it in the MSVR/Project 8 Racing Saloons series. That's for 4-door saloon cars so I have the best of both worlds :wink:
I have helped to run the Racing Saloons series for the last few years so it's a familiar place to be, and shorter races while I'm still working on car setup.
Liam,

Thanks for that info, might just try and use the RX8 instead now.

Ranjan.

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Re: Liam's race car project

Post by Liam22 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:11 pm

14-Apr-2014

With the bumper sitting in the workshop there are a few things I want to get done before it goes back on. I'll be annoyed if I have to remove it again.
  • Remove headlamp washers
  • Fit Lockwood grille set
  • Replace fog lamps with brake cooling ducts
  • Fit tow strap (race type towing eye)
  • Replace bonnet release with aerocatch bonnet pins
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Grilles and washer jets are straightforward and the fog lamps come out OK. I leave the rubber surrounds in place as somewhere to attach the ducting to. However, this means that I have to buy the smallest diameter inlet available, narrowing to a 51mm hose.
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I'll make a hole in the wheelarch liner when I'm ready to put the bumper back on.

Next up is the tow strap. I umm & ahh about where to mount it. Seems sensible to use the tie down points as they're designed for the job but how to attach? I don't have any bolts the same size as the towing eye thread so I scratch around to find one that will fit in from behind. An old BMW 320 gearbox bellhousing bolt does the trick.
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