2014 Season Grinds To A Start

The MRolla is "ready" for the first race of 2014. Engine compression is even and at tolerable levels. Alignment and brakes have been fussed over. New safety requirements have been met. Niceties have been added.
The new improved cockpit.

The original MRolla cockpit.
When we built our second twin-engine lemon, we applied much of what we had learned worked and didn't work in the MRolla. One result was a much nicer cockpit in the FX32. We went back to work on the MRolla updating the instrument layout, improving shifter and extinguisher mounting, and replacing the welded passenger door with a functional door.

Our door bars did not meet a new safety specification. We added a third driver's door bar and a second passenger door bar.
Lower door bar added.

One of my favorite aspects of racing shitty cars is you can paint them however you want and as often as you want. The aesthetic of the previous theme's brown had dwindled before the latex interior house paint had dried. In a marathon of OCD fueled grinding, we stripped the car down to exposed layers of paint and bare metal, then clear coated it. The result is almost not horrible.

Archaeological.
We cut the number from the old door and tack welded it to the new.
A new rear window to meet new safety specs.
Most of the latex paint just pulled away from the AE92 hood's factory finish.
We added a new rear window, now a safety requirement to protect the driver from potential rear engine bay fires.

Also we welded on some feisty new tow hooks.

A the end of the last race the only issue we had was the rear end gauge cluster was dead. This turned out to be a blown fuse. The car was otherwise about race ready. Along with mild to unseasonably pleasant weather, this was a relatively low-pressure and enjoyable race prep.

The DOT.MATRIX Rolls.

Now performing daily driver duties.

This winter I wrecked my truck. Since my nice MR2 had been winterized and my previous hatchback had been made into another twin engine race car, it was time to get an engine into the hull that had been decorating my yard for some months.
The exiting engine did sound like a cinder block in a dryer.
The MR2 will get a nicer engine later.
Swap results were fairly clean.
Utilizing the straightest body parts from three cars.

Running and registered for the holidays.

I had enough parts to put together a respectable interior.
After years of searching I was able to acquire a JDM style leather wheel.
With a full set of studded tires the little beastie is unstoppable. Now the regular dog-hike-mobile.

As it sits today with the Enkei RPF1 wheels.

This Happened

The 9-2013 24 Hours Of Lemons at Thunderhill was a rough race for our stable. First the Snowspeeder did this:



And here is is from the other car's view:



And finally from another car back:




Even more spectacular, but not subject to so many well positioned cameras, yours truly rolled the FX32. Here's a glimpse caught from several cars back:



You can see a bit better if you view this on the Vimeo page, but even there it's hard to see what is going on. The FX is 4-5 cars ahead moving to the outside of turn 2. Obscured from this camera, I go off track on the right causing the small visible puff of dust. Still obscured I hit the concrete rumble strip and loose control, moving across the track to the left where you can barely see the FX tumbling in the big cloud of dust. The car stalled on the right side of the track was not involved in any way, and it was just lucky my out-of-control path did not collide with it.

Later, we'll post a full update on the race, which actually turned out to be a pretty fun one.

Big Lapse Of Judgement

Yeah? Well. Watch THIS:



Learning from the mistakes and lack of footage from the MRolla project, we were pretty diligent setting up the tripod every day we were at the shop working on the FX32.

Footage was shot one frame every 30 seconds, for a total of 20,684 stills, representing over 172 hours at the shop. There were maybe 5 hours we were unable to shoot over the course of the project. I rendered it in 800x600, and to get the length down while using ALL of the still images, it is 60 fps. It was the first time I'd ever used Adobe Premier Pro, so there was a little time lost to the learning curve, but I really enjoyed putting it together, and I'm just a bit proud of the results.

Yes, you do recognize the music. English Beat's "March Of The Swivel Heads", an instrumental remix of "Rotating Heads", is the song at the end of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". I did do a bit of editing and extending to sync the song's and video's features.

I'm glad this video project is done, but if someone had some good in-car or bumper-cam footage of the FX32 on track, or especially any footage of the crash with Metro-Gnome at the final turn of the race, I would love to include such footage.

I'm a bit disappointed with the quality of the Youtube stream. I think once it gets enough traffic Youtube enables HQ, but I'm not sure how that works. Youtube will allow you to download the full quality MP4 file.

Sears Point 2013 Snowspeeder Pilots Association









The Team:

Ezra:  Hanger on, Photographer, Gopro changer, General Awesomeness contributer

Julian: Pit manager, Mom, Cook

Bow:  Chief mechanic, Driver

Randal: Guy with big-ass truck full of tools, Team hotshoe, Fabricator, Do-it-all guy.

Joe: Driver, Team "manager" (ha!)



Day 1




Randal in.  Circulating pre-race, he reports new brakes feel spongy.  He is positive they need bleeding.  Bow and I bled the brakes about 3 times before the race.  We decide to wait and see. Perhaps the new pads and disks need to run in a bit.


Black flagged in because our transponder isn't work.  Randal pull the car up to HQ and we do a quick transponder swap before the green.


Green flag.






Brakes don't improve.  Much hand wringing.  Do we bring him in to change out a caliper which will cost 10-20 minutes or run the car with bad brakes and corresponding slow lap times?  When the transponder fails to signal a lap the decision is made for us.  HQ says the way we mounted the transponder is causing interference and we need to remount it.


2 laps have gone uncounted.


We stage the pit for a fast change of the caliper and to remount the transponder.  Everyone has a job.  
PXX


Pit in, swap caliper and remount transponder.  approx 8 minutes. Sent Randal back out without adding fuel.  Later, after using addition and subtraction, we realized that we may have cut out a pit stop had put fuel on him also
PXX

Randal finished his stint clean. Best time: 2:17.3  /P63

Joe (me) in next, perfect stint, clean no flags: Best time: 2:17.9 /P38
Bow, perfect stint no flags. Best time: 2:19.9 /P23
Randal in to close out the day. Best time: 2:16.7  /P19

Perfect, fast pitstops.
Lots and lots and lots of super clean driving.

Aside from 2 uncounted laps and 8 minutes swapping caliper, this the most Perfect Race* day we have experienced in our ~15 races.  (a Perfect Race* is one in which there are no black flags or mechanical break downs.)





About noon Julian fired up his high tech Treager pellet grill and started smoking ribs.  


I wandered down to HQ to petition for the return of our lost laps due to transponder issues.  I was told in essence: "Tough shit, we told you how to mount the transponder you didn't do it right."


A bit after the session for the day ended, Julian wants to bring a rack of ribs down to the organizers in HQ.  I advise him do revisit the issue of our lost laps with them as he delivers the ribs.  His jist of his report is this:



Jay Lamm: I don't really like ribs, but those sure look good and no I can't help you with the uncounted laps but why don't you talk this lady, she is the head of timing and scoring.


Head of timing and scoring:  Tough shit on the laps, but I LOVE ribs and those are great.  


Julian: The ribs are good aren't they?


Head of timing and scoring: Yes they ARE good but tough shit on the laps... how many laps are you looking for anyway.


Julian: Well you can see here in the data that this lap here and here weren't counted.... how are the ribs?.. and then we had to come to fix the transponder.  Do you like the ribs?


Head of timing and scoring: So you aren't looking for laps that you weren't actually out on the track for are you? 


Julian: of course not!


Head of timing and scoring:  Really I can't help with the lap issue.


Julian: ok thats fine but, how are the ribs?


Head of timing and scoring:  The ribs are great!  Tough shit.


Julian:  Do you like the ribs?


Head of timing and scoring:  I love the ribs!  TOUGH SHIT!


Julian: The ribs are good aren't they?


Head of timing and scoring:  Ok I'll give you 3 laps but you can't say anything to anyone about it.


Julian made some 3 lap ribs.






The next morning we found our p19 finish had been replaced by a p12 start.


Joe opens (me) 2hrs 2 mins of clean driving.  /P9!


Bow gets in the car next.  Drives around the trans for about 45 minutes and is black flagged for passing a race car, passing a disabled race are under yellow.  He privately insists that course marshals are confused but to the judges he is adequately penitent.  Back on the track he goes.


15 minutes later he black flagged again for contact with another car.  He comes in explaining on the radio that he was hit but to the judges again claims responsibility.  / P15  This is kind of a Karmic smack down for Bow.  Usually its Randal and I pushing too hard and black flagging as a result.  Bow has pointed that out to both us often in the weeks leading up to the race.


We do some addition and some subtraction and put gas in the car, add Randal and send it out.


Randal does his usual bang up job.  Clean.  Quick.  Brings the car back to the pit in P11 after  1h 54 min.


I get in to close.  While pitting we slide back to p15.  I stick to our play book.  Clean. Quick not fast.  Lap after lap.  Work our way up to P12.  The rest of the field seems to be done pitting and done breaking down.  13 minutes from the end of the race I get a call from Randal on the radio:  Joe, the P13 car is a brown BMW #144 TWO CARS BEHIND YOU, don't let him pass.  Play book, meet window.


I see the BMW moving up behind me to my right.  Move right to block on the front straight.  GAME ON.  I reach back to an old play book titled:  101 Dick Moves For the Race Track. Published Oct 2007 Altamont Press.  I proceed to execute every single move in the book twice and a make up a few new ones.  His car is faster.  I am less polite.  We swap positions 3...4.. maybe 5 times in 3-4 laps.   









He eventually gets some distance on me.   Starting on the last lap he about 100 yards ahead.  We work our way through huge clumps of traffic.  I'm gaining on him with each traffic jam.  Going into the last corner before the finish line he is on the outside in middle of a pack.  I run up the inside of the entire pack ignoring the brake pedal as long as possible moment, pivot around the tires marking the apex.  He is till trying extricate himself from knot of traffic.  We run for the finish line.  I win our little battle for 12th.  He crossed .xx seconds behind.  With possible exception of my first stint in my first race, it was most fun stint I've ever had.

After the race we are all high on adrenalin.  We track down team 144.  The great us with handshakes beer and high fives.  I had been a bit nervous that they would greet us with tire irons.  They had be having the same fun with battle that we had.


It was an epic race.  Aside from the ribs I've only reported on the driving end of it, which leaves vast swaths of effort and success unreported.  Bows rewire of the entire car, Randals mad genius splitter fab,  Julians' pit time cleaving management,  Ezera's media skillz... and more.  I need to write it down but I also need to get to this published so it will have to wait for another day.  Thank you to everyone on the team.  The team has never been better or more competitive and its all your fault!







Coverage

Rear engine is now mounted.
The new build is moving along nicely. The project is getting some coverage and discussion around the web.

I've been updating some build threads on various enthusiast forums where some Q/A is happening:

AE82.net, A favorite little community specific to this generation of Corolla.
MR2OC, The most authoritative MR2 community on the web.
The 24 Hours Or Lemons forums.

Scott Ith, our new and hopefully regular teammate writes for Hooniverse and is a prolific automotive blogger. Here are articles he's done so far:


At Hooniverse:
Teaser
Build Update
Build Update 2
Build Update 3


At Scott's "Need That Car" blog:

Teaser

FX32 (Working Title)

Photo: murileemartin.com

Source MR2
Due to a permanent case of temporary insanity, we decided to build a sibling for the twin engine MRolla by cramming the rear end of a Toyota MR2 (AW11) under the hatch of a Corolla FX16 (AE82). Cutting commenced January 2013 and it's first race was March 2013.


Races:


  1. 24HL Sears Point 3-2013, finished 40 of 174.
  2. 24HL High Plains Raceway 6-2013, finished 10 of 56. Winner Class B.
  3. 24HL Thunderhill 9-2013, DNF. Rolled on lap 141. Winner (Team): Judges Choice.



Links:
All FX32 blog entries.
FX32 build photo album.

Complete build time-lapse video: )