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FD Dilemma

Old 11-16-04, 09:33 AM
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Unhappy FD Dilemma

I have a dilemma to which I hope a few folks here can offer
suggestions. This is a bit long-winded, for which I apologize.

I currently drive a 93 R1 which I enjoy taking to the track for
DE events, and have done so for two seasons. In the future I
foresee that I would like to club race to add some competition to
the experience.

This presents the first part of the dilemma. Is there a place
for an FD in SCCA club racing, other than highly modified classes?
Sorry - I've ordered my GCR to help answer some of these questions
and get more specifics on classes, so bear with me for now. My
impression is that the FD is not the car with which to embark on
this, in that it is expensive to maintain and difficult to classify.

The advice I fully expect to hear is that I should drive DE events
for several more seasons before even thinking about club racing. I
couldn't agree more.

Except...

I have two issues with my car that are keeping me from fully getting
my money's worth and enjoyment from my DE weekends. 1) In the
summer months the car runs hot after half a session and I am forced
to ease up - most every session when it is above 80 degrees. 2) With
R-compound tires I am warping the stock-sized brake rotors after one
or two sessions. Not only does this get expensive, but extremely
frustrating to only have one morning of good brakes, after which,
again, I am forced to ease up due to the violent shaking and poor
braking from the warped rotors. These two issues are frustrating
the hell out of me!!

Why do I mention this? Because I could replace my stock ic and Koyo
rad with a v-mount. I could get a big brake setup with some beefier
rotors. Problem solved. But it will cost me $6000 to get there.

So here's the dilemma. Do I sink another big chunk of money into my
FD when its future as a club racer is basically nil? (It also has 80k
miles on original motor and turbos). As we all know, the $6000 for
track upgrades will net me perhaps $1000 on resale, if that - so the
investment cannot practically be recovered.

Options? I'm looking at spec Miata's. The price is right, the future
is bright for competition - but... it has to be such a downer to go
from my FD to a Miata. And no, I could not keep them both. My pride
and joy for a Miata? I don't know if I could do it.

About the only car I would willingly trade my FD would be a Porsche
944. PCA is active in the area and the 944 is a great car.

Theoretically a spec RX7 is an option, and I would love to have a
rotary to maintain, but in this part of the country competition is nil
for all but the most popular classes (aka spec Miata).

Thanks for reading. If you have any sage advice I would appreciate it.
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Old 11-16-04, 07:30 PM
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You can run an FD in SCCA Solo I and II (autocross and time trials/hillclimbs), but I don't know of any class you can run in club racing because of the forced induction. There may some allowance in some regional-only groups like SPO or SPU, but I'm not intimately familiar with them. The GCR should tell you, but I understand the difficulty in figuring it out. It might be quicker to find your regional Steward and ask - the name and email should be accessible via the SCCA website -> SCCA region website.

FWIW, racing is expensive, but Spec Miata is a great way to go. I've raced SM in the SE Div of SCCA (and occasionally in NASA-VA) now for 2 years - always at least 30 cars in the class - lots of competition, and great racing.
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Old 11-16-04, 09:27 PM
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You could buy my ITA car.

Kansas has a strong SCCA group. Car is in the paint shop now will have pics soon. I have a FD as well and I can tell you unless you have a real track FD a first or second gen is the way to go. My first gen has been very inexpensive to run.

Edit: let me add to macdaddys comments: Spec Miatas are the devil. Race something different. I'll say it again. I hate Miata's. Man that felt good.

Last edited by cpa7man; 11-16-04 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 11-16-04, 10:25 PM
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If you decide to keep the FD, ITE is the lowest prep level possible.
Instead of a big brake kit, try some good ducting and maybe a water mist setup.
Alternatively, go easier on the brakes nad fater through the corners

edit: I've been thinking of SM, but not sure I want to deal with the maintenance & $$$ a front runner requires.

Marcus

Last edited by NasaPro7; 11-16-04 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 11-17-04, 09:30 AM
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Focus on one issue at a time.

Running hot: do all the common things listed in previous postings on the forum.
Upgraded radiator is a must. Make sure undertray is installed and close off all openings around the radiator to force as much air as possible through it. Might want to try a coolant flush as you mention that the engine is original. You have dual oil coolers but you could consider upgrading. Make sure the ducting to the oil coolers is intact. Consider replacing the thermostat with a drilled stock thermostat. Run with heat on in the car. There's probably more.

Brakes: I used the stock system for years using Hawk Blues. Never warped a rotor. Symptoms of overheated brakes are, hard pedal reduced braking performance is a sign of overheated pads, soft pedal and reduced braking is sign of overheated caliper/brake fluid. Are you sure you're not just getting pad material built up on the rotor face making it seem that the rotor is warped? Good ducting helps keep the temps down as well as using less brake on the track. Proper cool down after each session is very important to prevent cracking.

Originally Posted by zullo
I have a dilemma to which I hope a few folks here can offer
suggestions. This is a bit long-winded, for which I apologize.

Except...

I have two issues with my car that are keeping me from fully getting
my money's worth and enjoyment from my DE weekends. 1) In the
summer months the car runs hot after half a session and I am forced
to ease up - most every session when it is above 80 degrees. 2) With
R-compound tires I am warping the stock-sized brake rotors after one
or two sessions. Not only does this get expensive, but extremely
frustrating to only have one morning of good brakes, after which,
again, I am forced to ease up due to the violent shaking and poor
braking from the warped rotors. These two issues are frustrating
the hell out of me!!


Thanks for reading. If you have any sage advice I would appreciate it.
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Old 11-17-04, 05:54 PM
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I was in the same boat

Zullo,

Every region seems to differ somewhat from whats in the GCR, so you certainly want to ask around with regard to what's legal in your region. Up here in the Pacific NW Region, FDs are allowed to run in SPO/SPU and ITE- even modified. I use the car for SOLO I (ITE), and was seriously considering wheel-to wheel stuff until I bought a Spec Miata.

I started with a stock FD, but got hooked on the "go-fast crack pipe" early on. Now with over $23K in mods, I don't want to risk folding up the car for mere fun- hence the Spec Miata. I still do Solo I, but that's as much risk as I want to take with the car. Running the SM on the track is a different experience compared to a 3rd Gen- it's fun, but not quite as exhilarating. However, after nearly a year in SM my driving has improved substantially and this has actually helped me explore the limits of the 7 better.

Incidentally, I did "fold up" the Miata during qualifying in August. Rolled the car at about 80-90 MPH (hit oil during a downpour). It's fixable, but I'm certainly glad it wasn't the FD!

If you want to run the 7, you need to do what others have mentioned to keep your coolant temps in check. You don't need a V-mount! Seal off the radiator, enlarge the opening and install a larger unit. I'd ditch the plastic AST for a nice AL piece too. You may not have to drill the T-stat with those mods, but be prepared to do that. Dual oil coolers are a wise idea, but I highly recommend CWRs dual Mocal kit.

With a stock motor FD, you can get by with stock brakes on Hawk pads or similar (unless your running on tracks that are notoriously hard on brakes like Road Atlanta), but I'd recommend ducting to the fronts like the kit N-Tech sells. Some argue that the Brembo replacement (stock sized) rotors stand up to the heat better than the stock discs and I've use these to good effect as well. NasaPro7 hit the nail on the head- you may find that you get more track mileage on your brakes as you carry more speed through the turns.

The 944 is a great car as well. May folks run these around here and they can be had very inexpensively (fully built and sorted). They're faster than the SMs, but not as much as one might think.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have left the FD stock or slightly modified for the street and purchased a Spec Miata, 944 or Spec 7. You'll never get your money out building you own race car if that's an issue, so I recommend buying a fully built car rather than converting you own. Let someone else take the depreciation.

Let us know what you do.

Regards,

Gene
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Old 11-17-04, 05:56 PM
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One more thing. For the FD, run distilled water with little coolant and water wetter. Frech brake fluid is important too. I recommend Motul.

Gene
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Old 11-18-04, 12:14 AM
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Gene, good stuff - thanks very much. It appears one significant difference between you and me is that you have been able to keep both your FD and your SM. I would have to give up one for the other. Simply would be exceeding time, space, financial and spousal resources for me to maintain both.

Good suggestions for keeping the FD on the track, but unfortunately I have tried most already. I have received some suggestions to check on brake adjustments and for cooldown techniques that might get me by with my brakes next season. Engine cooling is more problematic. I need a bigger IC, but as you know they usually come at a price in radiator efficiency (particularly FMICs). And given thay my large Koyo is already apparently maxed, I worry... thus the attraction of v-mounts. Maybe I will just run Evans and not worry about it... (famous last words?)

My car is also at an "awkward age" right now if I were to try to sell her. No longer
bone stock for that market segment, and not single turbo 500 hp hyper-modified for that crowd either. Sigh. No easy answers.
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Old 11-18-04, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by zullo
Gene, good stuff - thanks very much. It appears one significant difference between you and me is that you have been able to keep both your FD and your SM. I would have to give up one for the other. Simply would be exceeding time, space, financial and spousal resources for me to maintain both.

Good suggestions for keeping the FD on the track, but unfortunately I have tried most already. I have received some suggestions to check on brake adjustments and for cooldown techniques that might get me by with my brakes next season. Engine cooling is more problematic. I need a bigger IC, but as you know they usually come at a price in radiator efficiency (particularly FMICs). And given thay my large Koyo is already apparently maxed, I worry... thus the attraction of v-mounts. Maybe I will just run Evans and not worry about it... (famous last words?)

My car is also at an "awkward age" right now if I were to try to sell her. No longer
bone stock for that market segment, and not single turbo 500 hp hyper-modified for that crowd either. Sigh. No easy answers.
Sorry, I guess I didn't pick up on that (keeping one car), though after re-reading your initial post it was clear.

That's a very tough choice indeed. I'd be hard pressed to get rid of my FD if I had to make that decision. Given that, I'd suggest you sort out the cooling and brake issues and keep the engine mods to a minimum. That is, DP, cat-back, IC, computer and intake (at most) is all you should need for a very fast car. I've seen a similarly equipped FD run a 1:40.xx at Laguna!

Again, I strongly suggest a good SMIC like M2s/ASP. Most track guys that have very reliable and fast FDs (including sevral with well over 400 RWHP) use SMICs with very good results iand are able to keep their coolant temps in check. I ran the **** out of mine with about 300 RWHP for three years on the the track (including the summers in the Southeastern US) and coolant temps have never been a problem. The only real disadvantage of a SMIC is heat soak around own, but this is rather minor and can be remedied (another discussion). Proper radiator ducting really make a HUGE difference. I cannot stress this enough. I've also enlarged the opening of the stock rad inlet (see the pic on N-Tech's site- http://www.ntechengineering.com/images/sergio50.jpg) and, when combined with the '99 spec lower lip, lowered my coolant temps by 8-10 degrees.

Try the brake ducts. You'll be impressed. I managed to pick up a custom set of inlet ducts which mate up to the '99 spec lip and use 3" silicone brake ducting hose to N-Techs brake backing plates. However, you can easily fab these yourself. This made a huge difference! So much so, that I actually have to block the ducts when doing my final timed laps in SOLO 1 (in SOLO1, we only get one warm-up, 3 hot laps and a cool down for trhe final sessions).

Good luck,

Gene
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Old 12-03-04, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gfelber
Let us know what you do.
I think I will try for at least one more season out of my car before doing anything I'd regret later.

Cooling: I have the car currently dismantled. I plan to drill the thermostat, remove the a/c condensor, duct the radiator "air-tight", perform the "shark mod", and get a large SMIC. Perhaps even run Evans.

Brakes: I've found that the pads drag the rotors in front (more than just a little bit) and suspect that may be causing uneven cooling and contributing to warping. So I need to figure out what I need to do to fix that. I plan to rebuild the calipers to ensure they're not sticking and I will also get some N-Tech backing plates and run a 3" duct to them. Then I can start working on my braking technique

So other than the SMIC nothing there should break the bank this winter. I will try and patch 'er up and run another year. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 12-04-04, 08:47 AM
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If you have any trouble when rebuilding the calipers, give me a shout. I ended up getting a few tools to help remove the pistons without damaging them:

https://www.rx7club.com/suspension-wheels-tires-brakes-20/brake-caliper-piston-removal-333883/

Your welcome to come by and get them if you need them.
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Old 12-05-04, 10:24 AM
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I stumbled along the same path for a while, building a killer track 7 that I love, but now can afford to race. If you look in Sports Car mag. the SCCA publication, you will find reasonable used race cars. I wound up with a specracer that has been a joy to race and reasonable to maintain. After 2 seasons, I hope to be upgrading to a Radical Prosports1300. Much faster, a little more on engine rebuilds, but only a few classes have faster cars, GT1 and Formula Atlantic.
Once the racing bug bites, it hard to give it up.
Good Luck.
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Old 12-05-04, 03:11 PM
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this hits close to home for me as well. For now I'm keeping my FD and doing HPDE events while I race my go kart.

I expect to move to Cali in a few years where race tracks are easier to get to than here in NY whereupon I'll be doing some "big" car racing (compared to karts ).

I'll probably hit the local tracks to see what kind of cars are competitive and what run groups there are and what the competition is like and make my decision from there. I love driving the Miata on track as its a little underpowered so you can drive it hard w/o getting into the kind of trouble that a high HP car would get you into. A slower car is also easier to learn to race in. Actually I like the Miata on the street too as you can drive it harder than the FD w/o running out of street and breaking as many laws

There was a thread recently from a guy who broke down his racing budget for running Spec 7 or was it IT7 and that was informative. Search for it in this forum.

If you are indeed serious and understand the costs involved, I'd probably sell the 7 and buy a Miata or FB/FC or e30 BMW sooner rather than later. This way you can start getting used to driving THAT car on track and learning how to race. It is a lot different than HPDE stuff. Grassroots Motorsports just had a good article on the whole build vs. buy a race car that was informative.

I'm not a big fan of racing a Porsche due to the cost of parts, but its your $$ and they do have some good competition and are pretty well run organization. I prefer a lower entry point/purchase price for a race car so that you can spend more on racing and fixing whatever is bound to break.
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