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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:30 pm 
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David, you are absolutely correct. Even the best are often times hit or miss at the runoffs. But my point was that the Top Ten all have very commendable programs and driving talent. Joe is an example of the best of everything; talent, experience, engineering, development, and fine tuning over decades and it still comes down to being as close to perfect as possible on one given day to win. On a side note, a person can learn a lot by sitting in a lawn chair and watching Joe and his crew work on their cars over the course of a weekend!
Given enough time and money you could probably get any car in the classification to the top ten, getting the win is a whole 'nother story!

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:59 pm 
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What he said. Before being Mazda Jon I was called Suzuki Jon. Built from the ground up, not one but two Suzuki Swift GTI's for GP and then GTL. My group of friends at the time made it reasonable getting the car built, cage engine etc, but it was a lot of development on my own. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun, won my first National at Phoenix and many more after that including the Sprints. I would never do that again with a prod car. When I built my GTL car I bought a known chassis and went from there. I'm a fabricator, so bolting all the right pieces in is what I like. Engine, trans (now a sequential) and rearend (now a quick change) are all done by someone else.

Jon

PaulFJensen wrote:
planet6racing wrote:
First: In reviewing this thread, I realized I have forgotten something:

Mr. Dewhurst - I apologize for not fully reading your post and assuming you were suggesting cheating. You were not - I simply skimmed the first part and jumped straight to your suggestion of using an alternate part for dyno testing. I apologize.

As for what I want to be when I grow up (something I still don't have an answer to in real life)...

Starting this year, I was happy to slowly develop the car and be back to mid pack, rationalizing that the amount of money required to get up front was too much and that I was not willing to spend it. Then, a couple of things happened. One, I (loosely) kept track of how much I spent this year and how far that advanced development. Comparing this to some of the classifieds posted through the year, I started to ask myself what I was doing. The second thing is my wife (best wife ever!) asked why I was happy running where I was an not moving toward the front. I gave a lame answer (do we want to spend that much money?) but that has been sticking with me ever since.

Oh, and then there was the Runoffs. Just trying to figure out how I could be in the top 33 so I could be on the pylon. That was a bit depressing as well.

I know I need to make a decision on where to go. I just want to insure it is an informed decision. The throttle body size examination was just the start of answering the question "Can we really make this car race at the front given a reasonable budget (recognizing it is fully R&D)?"


Bill, let me pipe in an address some of your comments and tell a little story. Nine years ago I found myself without a car to drive, I had an old GT5 car that I was going to build into a GTL Car but the build process just seemed too daunting at the time. I came across a deal from an old time racer that was getting out of the sport. He had a half built FP Miata that he had been trying to sell for a year with no luck. Finally out of desperation he posted an comment on our local forum that said if someone would just buy his tow rig he'd throw in the Miata and trailer. He didn't even say what the tow rig was...poorly written ad! Turns out it was a three year old Cadillac Escalade ESV with tow package. His asking price for the Caddy was $3k back of book and I figured how can I go wrong and snagged it up. The Miata came with the full fiberglass body kit partially fit to car, a Spec Miata motor, stock tranny, Mazdacomp Spec Miata 4.30 rear end, Spec Miata suspension and an eBay header. I had a month to go before the beginning of the season so I threw the car together and ran it. Running basically a spec Miata with the windshield cut off on slicks I won the Division Championship that year and went to the runoffs and like you did this year ran at the back substantially off the pace. That was the first year the runoffs were at Road America so having an old tired Spec Miata motor was definitely like bringing a knife to a gun fight. But did I have fun? Absolutely!!! Especially if you calculate Fun per Dollar spent that season. With Mazda contingency, Hoosier tires, and the old tow fund money I actually took in more than my entry fees and fuel cost!!! (In a car that I got for free!) I ran the Ghetto Cruiser(that's her name) in that basic configuration for a number of years and continued to have a blast. I made small upgrades as parts broke, and after four years I decided to build a new motor for the last year at Road America. I bought all the right parts and got it together just in time to get on the dyno the day before leaving. It had made a funny noise on initial start up but it soon went away so we pressed on with tuning; you know, it was that "Runoffs or Bust" mentality. The car made what I thought was decent power(152hp) with stock flywheel, tranny and rear end, and running a megasquirt PNP with stock harness. So the second lap in Qualifying I let her rip and going down to Canada Corner Blammo!!! Guys behind me said it was a NASCAR style blow up :doh: Lesson Learned!!! I'm not an engine builder, at least I should have learned that lesson!!! Turns out that little noise I heard on initial startup was the exhaust valves touching the pistons and "Self Clearancing" themselves!!! The slightly bent valves lasted just long enough to ruin my runoffs. I did put a borrowed back up motor from my teammate in and ran around at the back just for the tow fund money. So the first "Real Money" that I spent on the car resulted in Disaster! I then had to pay a real engine builder to build a new motor for me. So in the space of four months that year I built two motors and spent more than what I could have bought a really competitive car for out of the classifieds!!! So going into the next year with a fresh "Pro Built" motor I was only a little bit faster. Good enough for a 9th at Laguna Seca Runoffs so I considered the season a success. I was still running the old Spec Miata suspension that came on the car, stock flywheel and stock rear end. Continued on the next year with same package and was running 8th at Daytona on Kent Prather's tail lap after lap until he finally made a mistake going into one and I got by with two laps to go for 7th----Then ran out of gas...long story! The next year running at the June Sprints(third year on motor) another Blammo! this one was not as bad, only one valve broke and immediately embedded itself in the piston, should have saved that piston cause it looked so cool. I had Jesse build me a new head and with all of my previous experience at building motors I figured I'd give it another try and proceeded to build another motor myself!!! Since the runoffs were at Mid-Ohio and Jesse's shop was on the way I decided to let him break in the motor and tune it. All was good until just after the first full pull, heard funny noise as revs were coming down. shut her down and saved the motor. Turned out that a small mis-measurement on my part resulted in a bearing starting to let go. So I became crew support and spectator at the Mid-O Runoffs. Tired of "Lesson Learning" I packed up the damaged motor and sent it to Jesse for a full rebuild. The results of both of my engine building experiences resulted in Spending Double to get the job done!!! Now I've spent more than what a top flight car could have been bought for and I still have a car with Spec Miata suspension and stock rear end ratio, I had upgraded to an alternate EMCO Syncho gear set in my stock tranny case, but am still running the stock flywheel with Spec Miata clutch. So I began last year with a fresh Jesse bullet under the hood and my old tired suspension and running gear. Podium'd every event including the Sprints heading toward Indy. Made the decision it was time for more upgrades and pulled the trigger on Jesse's Afco shock package and built a new torsion 4.88 rear end for the runoffs. Spent just a weekend trying to dial in the new set up before Indy and was starting to get a feel for adjusting shocks(never done it my entire racing career on Spec Miata Suspension)
Got to Indy with a car that drove and felt different from what I had driven for the past nine years, not bad, not great but different. Qualified 17th and would have had a good race but sustained damage on the second lap with the spinning car of McAllister in One. Drove back from the back with a wounded car to finish 18th.

What is point of this story? well there are a couple. #1 Racing on a small budget in the back can be just as fun as racing in the middle or up front. #2 R&D development is very expensive especially if you are not extremely talented. #3 buying a sorted, developed car is ALWAYS the least expensive way to potentially run up front. When you look at the top ten in FP this year, Prill, Perona, Henry, Mathis, Ruck, Hingston, Morton, Linn, Bednarz, and Kannard. they all have a couple things in common. YEARS of experience and LOTS of money spent. All ten have Top Flight cars with all aspects of the drivetrain, suspension, aero, brakes optimized and all are very capable drivers. So even buying one of these top flight cars is no guarantee that you can run up front right away, or ever.
I understand the idea of building what you've got mentality but it could be a long and hard road. It's up to you to decide if that is kind of journey that you will enjoy. I have definitely not enjoyed the lesson learning experiences as much as I enjoyed running a less competitive car on the cheap. I still enjoy the racing and have set a goal to run within the top ten next year at Sonoma. I've sharpened the knife that I bring to the gunfight but I'm still the under dog and that's OK, I kind of like it that way.
I would have to spend another $20-$25 K on my car to have everything that the front running guys have (Dogbox tranny, button clutch and flywheel, new cams and header design, stand alone EMS and ignition system, data acquisition, upgraded diff. and super light wheels). So even after nine years I would still have to spend that much to have "Everything" on my old car. Yes, you can go out and buy a top flight car for that. and that is what the "SMART" folks do. If you like the front drive cars, I think Mark Carpenter's Runoffs championship winning Integra is still available for about that much; he had it listed for years! What ever direction you chose to go in just make sure you have fun doing it, that's what we're all here for. This class is not made up of a bunch of kids looking to go pro racing, we're what the club was built on, guys that like sports cars! Guys who like working on them and racing them with our friends. The diversity of the cars is what makes the class cool and the races interesting. We all look forward to seeing you on the grid next year in whatever car you chose to campaign.

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AKA Suzuki Jon
2009 Mazda MX-5 12A GTL #04
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:48 pm 
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Paul is 100% spot on, even though he just disappointed me. lol

Charlie


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:12 pm 
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Wait, the manufacturers give you money to show up and race their cars at the Runoffs? And, they provide tents and technical support along with discounts on parts, too?

Since this was my first runoffs, I had no idea the support that was offered by the manufacturers, especially Honda and Mazda. That was eye opening as well. I was thinking of getting together with the other people and creating the "Tent of Misfit Cars" so that we could all at least support each other and collectively come close to having 1/2 the resources of the manufacturers tent...

So, a bit more about my mindset and the Saturn. I started this project ~17 years ago, having watched several people campaign the cars in both SSC and ITA and doing well. I am an Engineer and was in research and development at the time, young, single, and not willing to listen to everyone who said "Buy, don't build!" Additionally, at the time, SM was just starting to take off and I wanted to be "different." I did not fully process that different = even more poor when it comes to racing. Developing the car has been fun, learning how the changes impact the performance of the car. I've learned valuable lessons like "when you flipped the transmission over and thought you heard a loose bolt, it is not a good idea to put it in anyway and go racing" as well as the same lessons as Paul with respect to building engines.

Since that time I have moved out of R&D and into a manufacturing facility where results are what matter. The desire for continuous improvement is there, but I want to see it at a much faster pace now. I've gotten a few data trace comparisons from Indy that show (in my opinion anyway) that I am doing the right things and am very close in corner exit speed, but just see the speed trace differential showing that the power just isn't there. Do I have room to improve? Oh yes! Seat time will be very important over the next years to see more improvement...

I guess I am having a mid-racing-life crisis and looking for that shiny new plaything to bring me joy. Or, at least the ability to see the starter wave the green flag at Road America to start the race (vs. looking at the corner station at 14 to see no double yellows and trying to get power up that hill).

Oh, and I still haven't learned my lesson - there are (3) 1990-1993 Miatas within 4 hours of me for <$2000... :lol:

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Bill H
92 Saturn SL2 - SCCA F-Production


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:37 pm 
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As a last ditch effort to get you to see the light. I built a pair a FP Miata's a while back. Both have finished well in runoffs competition. The first time I took the one I built for myself out to an event, I finished within a few tenths of the FP lap record at Limerock Park. Having never adjusted the brake bias or shocks. And down on HP with having put the diff together incorrectly so it acted like an open diff. Getting massive wheelspin in several spots on track. My favorite being the downhill at 100 mph lighting up the unloaded rear tire. You can try to reinvent the wheel or you can build a known quantity. Only someone that enjoys banging his head on a wall tries reinventing the wheel. If you change your mind I will gladly tell you how I built my cars.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:43 pm 
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Or if you want people to not question your manhood, I am sure we can help you build a Honda product. :lol: BTW, Honda contingency is crappy compared to Mazda and Nissan.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:03 am 
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planet6racing wrote:
Oh, and I still haven't learned my lesson - there are (3) 1990-1993 Miatas within 4 hours of me for <$2000... :lol:


Were both from the Milwaukee metro area.

Bill, be so very careful doing one of these ^ cars, the black hole could be deeper than your current hole.
Advanced Auto Sports mid summer completed a new 1.6 build which tested approx. equal on same day/same driver to one of their 99 plus 1.8 cars same day/same driver at the Farm. Pointy end shoe had similar times to other pointy end shoes same day with 99 plus cars. For sale $30,000.00.
Ya, I know this is the Production site. For all practical purposes the SM is a legal F prod car. So Bill being a prod guy could take a 90-93 if he chose and work his way as family allowed to become potentially a contender under TODAYS rule set. If Bill cared to he could use my car for a test day (maybe longer) to see what the Farm is like in a quality 2020 pound rear wheel drive 1990 Miata. With my body weight at 220 and drivers gear including cool suite I couldn't make minimum weight at 2275 pounds in many of these older built 1990-1993 SM's. Bill, before you pull any pins on procuring one of these $2,000.00 Miatas we need to do breakfast and talk.

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David Dewhurst
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:49 pm 
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David Dewhurst wrote:
Bill, before you pull any pins on procuring one of these $2,000.00 Miatas we need to do breakfast and talk.


You had me at Breakfast!

PM sent.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:34 pm 
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Just my 2 cents - I jumped from american sedan to d-sports then a 8 year break. when i came back, bought a tested and national championship winning miata (mazda has a great support and contingency program) and did extremely well with it for 3 years. Just sold it. As good as the car was, i wanted to build one myself. so 2 years of tinkering, questions, favors, and lots of money, i just fired it off today and getting to the dyno tuesday to try and make sebring in 2 weeks. Cost me 2-3x what i spent on my old car (that i could have converted rather easy to FP or EP - was GTL trim). I did not skimp on parts for the build as i wanted a front runner out of the box - Jesse built a full bore FP engine, top cagework from barry trivette, pbs dog box, and the rest we did in house (helps that i have a shop) with data, video, all the bells and whistles. I personally would do it again but money wise would find a front runner (if thats where you want to be) and buy a proven one then personalize it your way. Until other manufacturers step up money-wise (and can have a car as easy to go fast in and dynamic to fit multiple classes, Mazda is the way to go in my opinion :D


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:13 am 
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planet6racing wrote:
"Can we really make this car race at the front given a reasonable budget (recognizing it is fully R&D)?"
After re-reading this thread I realized a couple of things: 1) You really are talking about running up front. And 2) That you have been developing this car or at least running it for 17 years.

I think you have heard enough that the answer to your question is a very resounding NO! You definitely can not make a Saturn or any previously undeveloped car run up front with a reasonable budget. It will cost a fortune, take a long time, and inevitably end in heartache as you realize it never was possible. The only exception being if the car was some overdog that no one else discovered.

Now, after 17 years you are trying to assess whether the car has merit to take it to the next level? And you are still trying to decide whether you can drive? When do you think you will learn? I have been racing a long time, but I don't really think that I am much faster than when I started. Smarter for sure, but not much faster. If you don't have "IT" by 17 years, you probably aren't going to ever have it.

So, I completely change my advice to you. Initially I was trying make it clear that the best thing to do would be to cut your losses, sell the Saturn and buy a competitive mainstream car as others have suggested. My advice now is to enjoy the engineering aspect of your project. Take pride in the fact that everything on the car has been thought up and developed by you. Keep your budget, make your wife happy, and go out and have fun running the Saturn wherever you end up. You will be accomplishing something that very few people can lay claim to - doing it all yourself.

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