Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dry Sump for the 2ZZGE

Oil starvation is one of the track related issues that must be managed in the 2ZZGE (or any engine) because of the g forces that can be generated by a Lotus. Achieving 1.2+gs is quite common with R-compound shod Lotus. For most racers and trackday folks, our gPAN remains an excellent solution with great results. The gPAN has proven itself in HPDE, SCCA and LCS racing around the US as well as Japan and Europe. But there are a few Lotus that are pulling even higher g-loads thanks to bigger aero loads and stickier rubber. These folks can benefit from a dry sump(Wikipedia explanation:HERE). More and more clients around the world are racing their Lotus and need better oil control to protect their engines and insure they finish their race!
Four years ago I called one of the best manufacturers of dry sump pumps and pans - Dailey Engineering to develop a solution for us. Bill Dailey is a world recognized engineer in this field and (lucky for us) is located right here in town. Bill and I scrutinized our Exige and quickly concluded that it would be very difficult to incorporate a dry sump into a street friendly Lotus because of the oil tank requirements. At the time, not enough Lotus were race-only, so we decided to put the project on hold. Last year we decided to reapproach the project with the intent of focusing on a race only system. Nitron had begun working on a solution that we considered, but we then abandoned it because of certain constraints. Late last year, I called Bill Dailey again for his help and recruited a much smarter engineer than I (Ryan from Secant ) to develop our kit. Ryan's powertrain expertise and contacts in the OE world proved to be invaluable for this effort.

One of the biggest challenges to sorting this system remained the oil tank. The tank must have plenty of capacity and be designed in a manner that the oil feed does not starve during high g-load conditions. The available space in the Lotus is extremely tight so this became a huge undertaking. Ryan landed on a tank concept that is quite novel and would fulfill these needs. We are locating this tank in the engine bay right behind the passenger seat. Several other locations were considered but none filled the needs as well as the spot we landed on.

Bill worked within the space available and redesigned a 2ZZGE pan/pump (see top image) that he had previously designed for a drag application. We met several times to discuss the system, take measurements from our mock-up engine and sort out details. More phone calls, emails and visits followed. We fabbed up some brackets and tanks to confirm some ideas. Naturally a couple of important mtgs were also held at our favorite Thursday evening watering hole to debate certain issues with the system.

We are dry fitting our dry sump system this week in our car. The orientation of the fittings and lines and other details is critical to sorting a complete solution. Clearly, the devil-in-in-the-details! The Blue Car will be the test mule for this system. We will run the car on track this week and confirm the AiM based data logging system along with our new Fuel cell, oil cooler lines, Dogbox from Jubu, and possibly our new race wheels.

One of the benefits of a dry sump system is a slight gain in power. To insure we measure this difference, we want to base line the car without the kit first. We should have the system in the car and running in late May or early June.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"The Blue Car" Build is Underway: Safety, Reliability & Performance.

Our Blue Elise came to us a few weeks ago in perfect running order. This car is special because it is actually one of the first US-spec Toyota-powered examples ever made. The build date was in 2003 and was classified as an engineering prototype car. This was one of the cars Lotus brought to the LA Auto Show for North American debut of the Elise.

Technically this car can not be driven on the street so we decided to make it into a race car. She came into our shop as a complete car but we changed that real quick. There was no time to waste as this car will serve as our track-only developmental test bed for some seriously tasty bits we're working on. Safety, reliability and performance are our key goals with product development. We plan to extend our knowledge and product offering through testing with this car.

To have the car ready for our May, 6th track day, we have a laundry list of various safety and performance bits that need to be installed. Here's some of what "Phase 1" includes:

  • Roll cage

  • Katana265

  • Jubu Dog-box transmission*

  • Sector111 Upgraded oil-cooler lines*

  • Silicone engine pipes*

  • FuelSafe Fuel cell

  • Safecraft Fire surpression

  • Schroth Harnesses & safety netting

  • AiM MXL Pro Dash + array of data sensors

  • Nitron 46mm Race Pro Triples

  • 308BBK + front OE caliper relocation

  • MONOballs

  • titanQR

  • SSC Shift Cable

  • ProAlloy proRAD + fan relocation kit

  • hubGTC - tilt-up steering kit

  • CF Big-Bottom Seat & ReVerie XC seat

  • Mulsanne C passenger seat

  • subSTIFFY

  • transCOOLER

  • RTVbrace

  • Nitron S99 Toe Pin Kit

  • gPAN

  • RACEmounts

  • raceVIEW Mirrors

  • ReVerie Canards

  • ReVerie Arch Louvers

  • RACEunderAERO

  • RACEsills

  • and, believe it or not, MORE!
*new parts to be tested

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Skip Barber Formula School @ Laguna Seca

Driving on the race track takes skill, focus and determination. One of the best ways to reduce your lap times and insure you are employing smart/safe technique is to attend a driving school. Almost every track around the country offer some sort of school that is sure to make you a better driver. I recently attended one of the best schools at one of the best tracks in the country. The Skip Barber school offers several different programs from 1 day sessions to 3 day race schools in a variety of cars - from Mazda 3 to Formula Skip Barber. Lotus Evoras are also in the mix. They run schools at several tracks around the country. I chose the 3 day Race school with the Formula cars. This was the first such school I have attended - I really should have gone to this many, many year ago!

The 3 Day school alternates between class room instruction and track time. We started with class room instruction and then quickly progressed into the car. Our first driving exercise was in Turn 2. The instructors set up cones then had us enter into the corner with the aim of spinning the car - or controlling the car at the limit of grip. We then headed back to the classroom before returning to the track for some lead and follow to learn the line at Laguna. On the last day we also practised race starts and formation. All track time was conducted with safety as the formost objective. Passing was only allowed on certain straights with point bys.

The Formula Skip Barber cars feature a 2.0ltr engine with 5spd sequential gearbox. This was my first time using a sequential box and it was plenty of fun. Clutchless upshifts required a simple lift of the throttle and you were snatching the next gear. That was a hoot. The downshifts still need the clutch and a blip of the throttle for rev matching. This would be another exercise we would practise during the second day. Slipping into a Formula car takes some patience as it is a tight and confined space. Your legs and feet are in front of you at an angle that is far different than what most of us are used to. The brakes lack ABS or a servo assist so you modulate brake with pressure NOT travel.

My instructors were excellent, especially head instructor, Lonnie Pechnik. He's been teaching for ten years with Skip Barber and it shows with his informed approach to students with broad skill differences. He mixed humor with technical discussions to keep us engaged in a manner that was nicely balanced. Rene Villineuve and Ricky Schmidt were also our instructors during this school. Both of these guys were also excellent and provided us classroom instruction and track side critiques. Each instructor observed us at various corners throughout the weekend and would provide us with feedback after each session. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the mechanics. These guys were a helpful and cool crew. The cars ran without hick ups and they also made speedy wheel/tire changes when they were flat spotted - I won't mention how I know this.

My class was small so we received a ton of feedback/attention and plenty of track time. I was tired and sore by the end of Day 3! Prepare yourself for 1.2g+ with these sweet lil Formula cars. I highly recommend Skip Barber and will be pushing attendance to everyone I know involved in this sport/hobby. I want to thank Andrew Shoen, an instructor at Skip Barber, for encouraging me to attend. Thx Andrew! Needless to say, I've already signed up for the Advanced Race I just need to find the time!