Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seats & Safety

I visited Ralph@ V2 Motorsport in Detroit last week and also stopped in and visited Roush Industries. I'm a big believer in safety in our cars and am constantly looking for best practices and learned some new tips from each visit.

Ralph supports two Exige 'S' cars that are being raced in SCCA T2. The cages and seat arrangement in these cars are truly amazing. I wanted to share some pictures of his cars. Seat back reinforcement is becoming the norm in serious racing. We had installed a ReVerie race seat in my Atom a couple of years ago that had it's seat back bolted into the chassis. It was seriously rigid! The cage in these Exiges featured extra gussets and had double door bars that extended out further from the stock sill. He has also installed interior head nets that are a smart solution and becoming required in many series.

As it turns out, these cars set track records at Waterford Hills Raceway this past weekend turning 1min 15sec times. Fast AND safe!

I toured Roush courtesy of my grade school friend, Dennis who happens to be the son of a Roush co-founder. Dennis has been working at Roush since we were teenagers. He was gracious enough to give me a great tour of their museum and race shop.

Roush is an impressive company with extensive capabilities. Many cars that you see on the road feature products that were in part developed by Roush. They have been active in Stock car racing for many years and had quite the collection of cars.

I had the pleasure of sitting inside a Fusion stock car. The seats in these cars are amazing. They feature bolstering and support unlike any other sportscar race series. They are awesomely safe. Climbing in and out through the window was a kick. I suspect more of the features displayed in these seats will trickle their way into other forms of racing. I'm sure we will incorporate some of them for sure. Look for some future cooperation as well between Sector111 & Roush.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Brake Pad Testing

Here at Sector111, we are always testing something that will make your car handle better, be faster, create more grip to the track or stop quicker. It is the last point that we concentrated on for our last test at Buttonwillow Raceway.

We took a Naturally-Aspirated Spec Elise that races in the Lotus Challenge Series and used it as our test car. This car started with Hawk HT-10 brake pads with stock Lotus rotors.

Our test drivers ranged from one pro racer/ driving instructor (a real expert at Buttonwillow having raced there since the opening of the track), one leading Lotus Challenge Series contender (our fast amateur driver), one mid level driver with very good knowledge of the Lotus cars and the braking characteristics, and one driver that is new to driving Lotus’s in particular on the track.

We were able to test two new sets of brake pad options. The first test of these new pad options was set up around the feel of how the brakes were on the track. The four criteria that we used for each driver was:

  • Initial Bite
  • Modulation
  • Pad Release
  • Resistance to Fade
Durability and wear characteristics will come later if they are able to pass this first test. Luckily the pads that were chosen for this test all passed and are scheduled to be used in our next stage of development.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spec Elise Build

After the Laguna Seca Lotus Challenge Series(LCS) race, one of our clients requested that we build him another Elise for wheel to wheel racing. He was currently running an uncaged Elise SC in LCS that he also drives on the street. He was having so much fun that building a car that was even safer seemed to be a prudent decision. Developing a car that would qualify for the Spec Class within LCS was his request to us in mid July. He also wanted to be able to run at the next LCS event in early Sept. Time was clearly too tight to start from scratch.

To expedite this build, we bought an Elise that was already track prepped but needed some tweaks to make it compliant with LCS rules. This car came from our friends at R3 Motorsports who used it as a school car and also for arrive and drive. It had a cage and fire suppression system already. We stripped the car down to assess it's condition. It had seen some serious track days but was in decent condition. The car had a salvage title so had some minor chassis damage that R3 corrected.

The parts that we changed included the suspension, steering arms, gPAN, brakes, RTVbrace, airbox, hubQR, Nardi F1 steering wheel and added a fifth point harness. Several of the ball joints were torn or worn out so we simply replaced them with some of our components like our Nitron S99 kit. We gave the car a full fluid flush, including our transELIXIR and alignment. We added a set of stellaCORSE wheels from the clients SC. Since the car is not street legal, we had to wait until a track event to test her out.

The car was originally Chrome Orange but the client and his business partner wanted a yellow car. They christened it 'Saffron'. The stripe scheme was our 'Blade' design that was
first developed on our Exige. I'm pleased to report that several client's have copied this design around the country. We chose red and white as these colors were in the client's race suit and helmet. After adding the stickers the car really looked sweet. The 'Toyo' & 'R888' were sprayed onto the tire sidewalls for that finishing touch.

Of course the proof is always in the pudding so we needed to run her to see if she was fast. Steve brought her to the Streets of Willow LCS event. Our client and his partner hired a pro to coach them. The coach is a Skip Barber instructor at Laguna Seca with experience in their Lotus school cars. He was very happy with the car. So much so that he did not want to give it back! He managed to run some fast laps in the 1:32sec range with a safe margin. Saffron ran without a hitch in 105degF track conditions. Ultimately the track race was cancelled as the corner workers were getting sick from the heat.
Our client and his partner were pleased with the car and raved about its performance. We managed to deliver a track ready Elise to them in 1.5months. So give us a call if you are interested in a track focused Lotus, we can build one to suit your specific needs.