Mario, Ryan and I spent Friday at Willow Springs raceway conducting our initial shakedown testing of The Blue Car. We had installed several new serious bits on her. The key items we wanted to test were the Jubu Dogbox transmission, our new Oil Cooler lines, FuelSafe Fuelcell, proRAD with relocated Fans, Silicone hoses, Brake caliper relocation and an extensive AiM data system. Performance, Safety and Reliability are our key goals with this car. We believe a car that runs properly and is not broken is a car that delivers the most smiles.
Since the car had been stripped down with all the major mechanical systems removed and then reinstalled, we wanted to do this testing before running her at any serious event. We completed most of the major work on Wed and started her up that afternoon. After fixing a couple of leaks, we let her sit until Thurs.
On Thursday we took her to the dyno to run through all the gears of the new Jubu Dogbox. We figured this would be the best way to see if any other issues may pop up before we got to the track. Sure enough, a couple of items surfaced which we sorted.
This gave us the confidence to head to Willow so we loaded up the trailer and drove up early Friday morn. Overall we had good results and the car ran well with only the brakes being the lone issue that we need to rethink. My comments for each item is listed below:
AiM System: We've run a removable AiM Race system in our previous cars for data logging. We decided to step up to an MXL Pro dash this time and wire in even more sensors to log more critical data. The following data is now being monitored with our AiM system: Oil temp & Pressure, Fuel Pressure, Water Temp, Exhaust Gas Temp, Air Fuel Ratio, Trans Fluid temp In & Out, and more. We logged this data during our test session at the dyno and more importantly at the track. The dash allowed us to program warning lights for several critical areas like Oil & Fuel Pressure. With all the new items we were testing, this became a nice feature to have. The shift lights are another sweet feature that I appreciated.
Jubu Dogbox: The stock trans on our cars is a weak link in track driven cars -especially those with 250+hp. We've been running the Jubu gears for some time with good luck so decided that the Dogbox was worth testing as it does away with the weak syncros of the stock box. Our engine builder, Bruce Nogrady was given the gear stack and he assembled it along with our OS Giken LSD into a stock trans housing. This means it bolts right up to the engine and also uses the stock shifter mechanism. Care must be taken in the assembly of the Dogbox as it is not a job for the average trans shop. We used the OS Giken TR1A clutch/flywheel as the system requires a strong clutch.
Trans fluid temps were monitored but we had no issues. In fact the temps were a bit on the cool side so we pulled the fuse for the transCOOLER pump. A Dogbox can run much cooler than a traditional gearbox and our data hinted this was the case. More testing will be required to determine this with any certainty.
The straight gears found in this kit are strong but are loud. This is a track
solution for all but the absolutely mental. Upshifts can be executed without the clutch. Downshifts need proper rev matching. It was an easy and quick adjustment for me. I've driven manual car since I was 16 and this was my first time with a Dogbox but it was fairly intuitive. Getting into gear when stopped can require a couple of attempts - you also need to shift with some authority and can't be too gentle. Driving this gearbox was simply a blast. The speed of upshifts was startling! Jubu have run this kit all of last year and had great success. I will anticipate that this will be a great upgrade for many track enthusiasts - with deep pockets as it is expensive!
Oil Cooler Lines: The stock oil cooler lines are failing on cars so we decided to sort a fix. Ryan found the correct BSP fittings that attach directly to the factory oil coolers. The innovation in our kit revolves around the weight savings we've found by using lightweight line and a new clamping method. We wanted to run the car on track at elevated oil temps and pressures to see how they would hold up. Our AiM system logged oil pressure between 50-60psi on track with oil temps in 180-200degF range. We suffered no leaks or issues so feel confident to run the car even harder. Additionally we are sending out our fittings/clamp/lines to an independent test lab that conducts testing for the auto industry. I think our kit holds plenty of promise.
FuelSafe Fuelcell: We decided to develop an FIA-spec fuelcell for clients looking for a bag based fuel tank solution. More and more clients are taking street based Lotus and converting them to track only race cars. We still feel our V2 Fuel Tank remains the best solution for those clients who drive their cars on the street as it retains all the factory safety & emissions components. We began working with FuelSafe and after a couple of months of development we landed on a solution that has more capacity than stock AND uses the factory filler system safely. Having proper roll-over protection with the factory filler system is not an easy proposition but we've done it with this tank.
We installed the larger Denso fuel pump that plugs directly into the factory housing since this car features the KATANA265. The factory fuel housing drops in with ease. It requires no modification so is a neat, safe and reliable solution. We measured fuel pressures of 45-55 psi even through fast, 1+g turns like turns 8 & 9. We were very happy with the results.
Front Brake Caliper Relocation: We tested the OE front caliper onto the rear rotor along with our 308BBK. We'd run this on the street and in the canyons with good success. We knew this bias change was dramatic so felt we needed to test it on track as well. Willow Springs is not a hard braking track but there are a couple of corners that require some good braking. Additionally I overslowed the car many times to test the brakes and found that the car's handling became slightly darty and pulled. We started with the same race pads on all four corners and then tried different compounds. None that we tried, worked to my satisfaction. We need to go back to the drawing board on this effort to make it commercially viable.
Silicone Hoses: Our partner Dr. Bruce Lee, in Singapore, commissioned silicone hoses for our cars. We became the lucky guinea pigs to test them out. Since we yanked out the heater core from our car, his system (lacks heater lines) was perfect. Though the stock hoses are not a problem yet, we know that as cars age, it will be a good upgrade. This kit worked fine with no problems.
proRAD with Top Mounted Fans: Water temps are a problem in the hot climate in the southwest. Especially track driven cars that are cranking up power over stock. We found this out, first hand, a couple of years ago and blogged about it briefly here. Our goal, by the end of this summer, will be to offer a well tested solution for clients who need added water cooling capacity. Temps at the track were in the 70sdegF so we did not experience difficult conditions. We'll get a better test later this Spring.
Other: EGTs on the car remained in a very safe zone - between 1000-1400degF. We tested an even quieter Larini8" exhaust. Frankly with the Dogbox whine, it was hard to hear this exhaust. But from the outside, it sounds superb with the Larini header , straight pipe and HKS Intake. This combination sounds fantastic to my jaded ears. Our new cage was a welcome addition as well. We've not added door bars so ingress/egress issues were improved - dare I say even over stock since you can grab the bars for assistance?! The Magnetic Blue paint is striking in the sun and will be enhanced further with a distinctive paint scheme that we are now scheming....We are now ready to push the car very hard with our test driver to see if these bits can hold up to 10/10s driving at the hands of a professional. Stay tuned....