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Unread 01-09-2015, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag Budget TT Build: Project DANGER ZONE

continued from above

By this point we had switched our focus from the larger Kirkey aluminum seat we had in stock, to a PORNO RED! Cobra Suzuka Kevlar FIA seat we "horse traded" with a friend for. My buddy Jason McCall had ordered this seat from us last year for his 1989 Corvette but it wasn't fitting with the electric seat adjuster he wanted to use (for better fit with his shorter co-driver - his wife). It is brand new and still good through 2019 on the FIA certification.

This seat happened at the 11th hour - the day Olof needed to start on the seat mounting and to lay out the harness bar. It turns out our aluminum seat fits better in his full interior C4 and his composite Cobra seat fits better in my gutted C4 with no slider. So we made a seat swaperoo!

Once more access holes were cut in the rear fiberglass (shown below left) the rear downbars could be cut, notched and built. These will land on 1/8" thick pads on top of the frame, as shown. Two thickness of pad, actually...

One of the compromises made from our reduced timeline was that the cage became a weld-in 4-point roll bar, and then when we looked at the next step, it became a bolt-in roll bar. Now before you hurl insults, you have to realize that this is going to be a VERY beefy design that can still become a proper weld-in roll cage shortly after the first race. Weld-on "nut plates" (see above right) were created and access holes for the nuts were cut in the frame. This is because the frame is fully boxed and we couldn't bolt into the frame otherwise. These plates have nuts welded to the back side and will be seam welded to the frame, then a matching "footer" plate from the 4 main tubes will land onto these and bolt in place.

All this bolt-in nonsense was done for future access. After our first TT event we have a month off before the SCCA Club Trials event at TWS. During this break we can take the time to turn the 4-point roll bar into a fully welded in 6-point roll cage. The front cage section and door bars take the most time to fit, and we ran out of time. But to do the final welding on the door bars and A-pillar tubes, the cage has to be rotated forward and down, and this bolt-in rear layout will allow for this rear section to be moved for that access. Once the final welding is done up front the four "footers" of the roll bar portion will be welded to the frame plates, and the bolts can be removed. Make sense?

Yes, that's a little crazy, but our 2 week timeline was just too tight to fully cage the car AND do all of the other performance, safety and maintenance work needed. Next up in the roll bar design is the main harness bar (which the shoulder harness straps will wrap around), then the main hoop diagonal. This is a horizontal bar that is kicked back from the main hoop about 5 inches, to allow for the shoulder harness adjusters to loop around the bar.

The diagonal bar was cut and being tack welded in right before I made this post on Friday Jan 9th. One more tube is needed for the roll bar (a short tube connecting the harness bar and diagonal) and then it will come out for TIG welding. All of the pictures shown were just tack welds, which were done with the MIG. I'll show the rest of the roll bar and all of the other work happening next week in my follow-up "initial race prep" post. Gotta wrap it up!

Seat Mounting

Mounting a racing seat into a car is NEVER a fun job - installing a real racing seat is always a LOT more work than you might think. Ask any race car fabricator and they will tell you that this type of job sucks. We've installed a lot of racing seats over the years and it is never an easy "bolt-in". Any off-the-shelf seat bracket we've ever seen usually needs massive modification, and some of them raise the seat height by 2-5 inches. They only seem to work for little tiny short European children. Its a dirty little secret in motorsports - bolt-in seat brackets for fixed-back seats almost never fit.

And this only gets worse with drivers over 6 feet tall with racing helmets adding another 2-3" to their torso height. At 6'3", I'm not a good fit in many OEM seats much less with a racing helmet added. Here at Vorshlag there are 5 people that are 6'2" tall or taller, so we're all used to these seat mounting headaches. The Corvettes from C4-C7 are all pretty cramped inside as well, and we've had to really fight to make racing seats fit in these cars.

In the most difficult situations (cramped cabin + tall driver) it is not uncommon to spend 6-8 hours fabricating mounts for one seat. Adding in a slider makes this take even longer, but we were out of room here and just mounted the seats directly to the floor (my co-driver Matteucci is almost the same height, luckily).

Olof took most of a day to test fit the seat (with me sitting in it in a helmet), mock-up the angles and height, reinforce the floor, then modify the OMP side brackets (see image in this section) to get the seat bolted in where I had enough head room to the targa roof with a helmet on. It was tricky and he lowered the "lowest" mounting holes in the OMP brackets by about 5 inches. The original OMP seat mounting holes are crazy tall - doesn't matter what brand of brackets, this always happens.

I don't have good pictures of the seat mounting from underneath, with the car in the air, but we have beefed up all of the seat mounting points to the chassis. The rear studs were removed and an 1/8" thick doubler runs across the entire width under the steel floor pan section. The front studs were also reinforced. We are adding clip-in harnesses so eyelets with reinforcement plates will go in for lap belt anchors as well as a solid mount for the anti-sub belt under the seat. Will show all of this next time.

Tires Are Everything

Its time to talk about the single most important aspect of this TTC build - the wheels and the TIRES.

Tires are the most important aspect of a road race car. Let me repeat that for emphasis: Tires Are The Most Important Thing In Racing. The four tire contact patches are the only things connecting your car to the race track. Through these four little patches all of your forward accelerations, braking and cornering loads are generated. All of the work we do on the suspension is just to make sure the tires are happy - to make them stay flat, to always keep them in contact with the road, and to make sure loads are distributed as evenly to all 4 patches as possible.

So with this car being based in TTC class with a 7 point penalty, that leaves us with only 12 points to work with (19 class points - 7 penalty). And while that gives us some options for lots of different mods (upgrading power, brakes, suspension, lightening the weight, aero and tires), we're going to burn almost all of our points on the tires. This is a very critical decision, so let me explain what we're doing. This decision was made after hours of internal debate, hundreds of permutations of width + compound (+ other non-tire mods), but mostly comes from years of racing experience and knowledge: Knowing that the tires are almost all that matter.

TIRE WIDTH - As I pointed out in a previous post, everything you modify in the TT letter classes is either listed as a No Points Modification (which we are using every one we can!) or is assigned a number of points. It is all clearly stated in the TT rules. Tire width changes are "expensive", and the points in sizes increases above the "base class size" (TTC = 255mm) are shown below.
  • Equal to or greater than: 10mm +1, 20mm +4, 30mm +7, 40mm +10, 50mm +13, 60mm +16, 70mm +19, 80mm +22, 90mm +25, 100mm +28, 110mm +31, 120mm +34, etc.
  • Equal to or less than: -10mm -1, -20mm -4, -30mm -7, -40mm -10,

Big Wheels Keep On Turning!

As you can see you can get points BACK by going to a SMALLER tire as well. There is no other way in TT-Letter classes to gain points back, so this a big deal - and something we are going to do. Many will be surprised by this, as I've preached "BIGGER IS BETTER" for so many years. And while that is still true, we just don't have the points to go bigger, and feel that burning the points ALL on the compound makes more sense. Here's a comment from a corner-carvers reader and my reply:

Originally Posted by Nick C View Post
Will the rules let you put 335's on? 17x12" rims are a bolt on affair.

Yes, it would is technically "legal" to run 335mm tires on a C4, but unfortunately the points just aren't there to do this and stay in TTC class. We're going to be running much narrower tires than that, but with what we feel is the right compound.

These pictures are of Jason McCall's 1989 Corvette that is prepped for SCCA BSP class (and was the National Championship winning car in 2005). It runs 17x11" CCW wheels in front and 17x12" wheels out back with Hoosier A6s in 315mm up front and 335mm out back. The fit is pretty tight - it has custom flared front "fenders" (the hood) and has the little 1996 Grand Sport "export" flares out back to make these fit - and we can legally add flares for zero points.

I've driven and ridden in this car and it is a GRIP MACHINE, just a big go-kart. Very fun, and the wide, sticky autocross compound tires he runs are why its so fast. And while I'd love to do this on our C4, the points for the compound (Hoosier A6 = +17 points and A7 = +22 points!) plus the increase in tire width (255->335 = +80mm = +22 points) would cost a whopping +44 points for just this tire upgrade. Using all of the points we have in TTC (19 - 7 = 12) and then even moving up to TTB (+20 more) we're still short by 12 points for a 335mm A7, so that tire choice would be a move straight to TT3. This is why we cannot use the tires we'd LIKE to use (I'd slap 335mm Hoosier A7 tires on this in an instant if the points allowed it!) but the compromise we have chosen will still work well enough - we suspect. Remember: Everything in racing is a compromise... and everything depends on everything else.

Many of you that have experience with the C4 Corvette know that most of the later C4s came with a 275/40/17 tire on 17x9.5" wheels at all four corners, as did our 1992 Base Trim Model Corvette. But the TTC class "base tire" is 255mm, no matter what the OEMs put on the car. Wheel width is unrestricted, other than a track width change limit of +4 inches. Beyond that you take points. Our car has 285/40/17 old and crusty street tires on it right now, which would cost us (+30mm over 255) +7 points to use, but they are a joke. So hard they can spin freely through the first 3 gears. I won't be caught dead on a road course with old street tires, not even brand new 120-200 treadwear street tires (which are worth +2 points), unless the rules require that for everyone.

After racing our TT3 car in various "street tire" events/series last year, and at some tracks we also ran with R-compound Hoosier A6s in other series, I know the true lap time value of sticky R-compound tires. Going from a 335mm BFGoodrich Rival to a 345mm Hoosier A6 is worth a MASSIVE amount of time. On a typical 2 minute road course that difference is 5-7+ seconds per lap with the Hoosier over a 200 treadwear tire, and the Hoosier is MUCH easier to drive. So we're gonna stick with what we KNOW works and that has a great NASA TT contingency program: Hoosier.

TIRE COMPOUND - The compound of the tire is as important than width in Time Trial. Maybe even more important. Why? Because every TT lap is essentially run at a Qualifying lap pace, where you need to be pushing 10/10ths. To win you just need to set ONE fast lap per day (each day is a new competition), and waiting around for 3-4 laps for your "tires to warm up" will only get you mired up in traffic, as the front of the field catches the back end. There are a LOT of tire compounds listed and points assigned for each. The only "free" tire compound in TT-letter are those over 200 UTQG treadwear numbers. The tire models are grouped together with compound and performance parity, and the points given look to be pretty fair. There were massive adjustments made to these points for 2015, which was long overdue.
  • DOT-approved R-compound tires: BFG R1S, Goodyear Eagle RS AC (autocross), Hankook Z214 (C90 & C91 compound only), Hoosier A7, Hoosier Wet DOT (if used in dry conditions—see section 5.6) +22
  • DOT-approved R-compound tires: Hoosier A6 +17
  • DOT-approved R-compound tires and those with a UTQG treadwear rating of 40 or less not listed otherwise in these rules: BFG R1, Goodyear Eagle RS, Hankook Z214 (C71, C70, C51, C50), Hoosier R6 & R7 & SM7, Kumho V710 (note: Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge EC-Dry tires OK (225, 245, 275) +10
  • DOT-approved R-compound tires: Toyo Proxes RR, Hankook TD +7
  • DOT-approved R-compound tires and those with a UTQG treadwear rating of 50 to 130: Maxxis RC-1 (ex. Kumho V700, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, Nitto NT01, Pirelli PZero Corsa, Toyo R888, Toyo RA-1, Yokahama A048, etc.) +6
  • (non-R-compound) tires with a UTQG treadwear rating of 120-200 (examples: BFG g-Force Rival, Bridgestone Potenza RE070, Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec, Hankook R-S3, Kumho Ecsta XS, Toyo R1R, Yokohama Advan A046 & Neova AD08,) +2
  • Non-DOT-approved racing slicks +30

That is a dizzying array of compound choices and, when combined with the size choices, it makes for a lot of possibilities. But we've run the numbers using these compounds + various widths and have settled upon: 245/40/17 Hoosier R7. Not the softest tire but damned close. Not the widest tire but "wide enough" (and it gives us a point back). The tire choices are still very limited in the brand new Hoosier A7/R7 compounds, but this seems to fit the bill. The spec's on this particular 245mm tire look pretty dang good, and I'm hearing good things about the R7 compound in tests. Our first event will teach us a lot... either we guessed right or made a big mistake!

These wheels are stupid light! We will weigh the wheels alone once the old 275 Hoosiers that came on them are dismounted

WHEELS - We will run these Hoosiers initially on some 17x9.5" SSR wheels, which are both light and strong. Very light, in fact... around 15 pounds. Getting a set of these Corvette sized SSRs is like finding a wild unicorn - very rare and no longer made. SSR went out of business after the 2008 recession but it seems that they have reformed and are back - but not making a lot of the "big" sizes that fit Corvettes any longer. This set came from our shop manager Brad's former Super Stock 1994 Corvette, and he has two identical sets in perfect shape. I have dibs one set but the other is available. The Hoosier A6s on these wheels are DOT stamped from 2008! These wheels are perfect and have been sitting in his attic for almost 7 years.

What's Next

I could go on. And on. But I have probably bored you enough! Our crew is still busy at work finishing the prep on the Corvette for the first race and I'll try to do a quick update next week, right before we head down to MSR Houston Jan 16th. There's still a lot to do and not much time left...

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