Go Back   Vorshlag Motorsports Forum > Vorshlag Motorsports Discussions > Vorshlag Project Cars

Thread Tools
Unread 12-06-2012, 07:38 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

(continued from above)

The busted windshield was replaced today by the guys at Titan Auto Glass, who have done several windshield R&Rs for us at Vorshlag. The old dash was very brittle and already cracked in a couple of places, but that the effort of swapping the windshield in/out tore it up badly. It is pretty well trashed now. Oh well - it is a ChumpCar.

Ryan did his normal, beautiful work on the exhaust. We still have the stock exhaust manifolds in place (required to or we take an AIV adjustment), and even the stock Y-pipe. From there it becomes a 3" stainless mandrel bent exhaust system with the big 3-chamber 409SS Flowmaster muffler. The giant 21" long Flowmaster case barely fits in the passenger floor "bump" where the factory catalyst normally resides.

The system routes back into the transmission tunnel and has a 3" turn-down right before the axle. The polyurethane exhaust hanger isolators hold the system to the custom brackets he fashioned to the chassis. A little extra clearance was gained by trimming the transmission crossmember slightly. The finished system is light (31.2 lbs), has excellent ground clearance, and has zero leaks. Yes, it is far nicer than a Chumpcar exhaust has any right to be, but it all had to be re-done and it wasn't much extra work to "Do It Right". The exhaust sound is very quiet, which will be appreciated in 2+ hour long endurance drives. We will get videos with the sound at ECR this weekend.

We couldn't hope to have the $45 set of brake pads and our $18 rotors last any amount of time on track without some cool air blasting on the rotors. We looked for the cheapest brake ducting we could find and this "Allstar Performance" black neoprene 275 degree hose (p/n 42150) seemed to fit the bill. A whopping $30 for 10 feet of hose, and we didn't even use it all. It is 1/3rd the cost of the "good stuff" in 3", and 1/5th the price of the good 4" hose we've used on other cars.

Ryan then used some scrap 3" exhaust tubing and made the mounts, which bolt on the end link and sway bar. If you look closely, you will see part of a J-hook normally found on a pegboard, which he added to string a hose clamp around to hold it to the sway bar. Perfect mod for Chump - pegboard hooks! The brake duct hose pops out unceremoniously at the fog light openings up front. Nothing fancy, nothing we'd do on a real race car, but fitting for a $500 crapcan.

Replacement Struts Arrive (two days late)

Today (Wednesday) the freagin' Monroe "SensaCrap" front struts finally arrived, so the guys got busy installing the now cut front springs onto the replacement struts. Well... we quickly realized one of the old deCarbon struts was MISSING, along with the removable, lower OEM spring perch that we needed to go onto the Monroe units. With no fewer than eight people looking for almost an hour, including two folks dumpster diving, we gave up the search. Paul was the last one playing with one of the struts Sunday, which we found was out of gas, and he thinks he threw it away. (facepalm) That was four days ago and the trash has been taken our multiple times since.

So now we needed one OEM lower spring perch, which we reluctantly stole off of a set of old 4th Gen Koni adjustable front struts I have had laying around for the past 15 years. See Amy, that is why I don't throw stuff away! The stems were stripped on those Koni struts already, but we had used them for mock-up and some other measurements in the past. The Koni's had to have the shafts cut off to get the perches apart, because they were corroded and fused together as well. The guys got to work and installed the cut springs, new struts, new strut top mounts, isolators, and the upper control arm assembly back in place. Once the top isolator and strut top nut were in place, I slathered the upper pocket and strut stem in moly grease. This way the water splashing up into this area won't corrode/fuse the top nut and sleeve to the strut shaft.

Before and After ride heights

With the assembled struts and cut springs (one coil removed) back in one piece, the front suspension went back together quickly and within half an hour the car was mobile and off the damned lift again! As you can see, the front ride height dropped quite a bit and negative camber went to -2.5.

The old Firestone tires that came free with the C4 Sawblade wheels were looking a bit too crusty, so I bartered with American Iron racer Mike Patterson from next door at AST/Moton and got some of his old Toyo RA1 take-off tires in 275/40/17. The RA1 is technically an "R compound", but from testing Hanchey and I did way back in 2005, these make identical grip numbers as fresh Falken RT-615 street tires did, at least back then on his 97 M3. So I was thinking that these old RA1s should behave about the same as a fresh 200 treadwear street tire (Falken, Dunlop, or whatever we go with). It will make for more accurate (and more fun!) testing this weekend than rolling around on very old and crusty street tires.

What's Left?

Once the Firebird was mobile again (and finally off that lift!), I took it for a quick spin around the building and it was smoking like a fiend. Don't know what that is - it never smoked like this before. Of course it has multiple oil leaks, but this was stuff dripping (or already on) right on the manifolds and exhaust system. It could be hand prints from the work we just did, but it seems like a lot. Need to get it in the air and investigate further. And we need some vinyl on this thing...

The front toe setting is all kinds of wonky, so that needs to be addressed. The driver's side airbag was removed (along with the airbag fuse), but we'll reinstall the old horn button tonight. Olof started on the mechanical gauge install, but we won't risk the extra hassles of grafting the three new sensors to the oil and coolant systems just yet, as the car has a functional water temp gauge and we will watch it like a hawk. That gets pushed until after ECR. The front ride height looks about right and the car doesn't look half bad on the Enkei wheels. Again, we will likely race on the C4 Sawblades exclusively, but it won't hurt to test on the blingy blue Enkei's.

Last night McCall and Paul came to the shop and knocked out some more work. The rear springs were removed and part of a coil was cut. They are now "just enough" shorter and the car is level. Then they checked all of the fluids, went over the last few things on the punch list, and called it "good enough". Today Ryan and Olof aligned the front (-2.0, zero toe) and checked over some other items. It is as ready as it can be, without spending any more money.

Friday night after we get back from driving Cadillacs at COTA, we will come to the shop and load this Firebird on McCall's trailer, then head out to ECR Saturday morning. We are also taking our 2013 GT (which I'm driving on AST 4200RR coilovers for the first time) and the 2011 GT (which Amy is driving), and Matt is taking his BRZ. Look for photos and video next week.

Reply With Quote
Unread 12-21-2012, 01:11 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Project Update for December 20, 2012: Well the maiden voyage for this future ChumpCar Firebird on December 8th at ECR's annual "Toy Run" event went better than expected. We had a few issues on the Firebird and found several other items that need attention, but overall it was a very positive test. Paul, Jason and I did 5 sessions in the car and nothing caught fire, nothing leaked, the $45 brake pads held up nicely, and nothing important broke on the car - which was a minor miracle.

Kickin' it at COTA

So this was a crazy weekend. The day before the Toy Run, most of the Vorshlag crew plus Paul and Jason were all at Circuit of the Americas driving Cadillac CTS-Vs on the F1 Track. Unbelievable experience, and being one of the first ~100 people to drive this new $400M track was pretty cool. We did that on Friday, then drove back from Austin to Dallas and loaded the Firebird onto Jason's open trailer for the ECR event on Saturday. The guys still at the shop had loaded our red 2011 Mustang into our enclosed trailer and had the black 2013 GT ready for track use, too.

Once we all got to the track, the Firebird was unloaded from the open trailer and adjustments to the harnesses were made, to fit the different seating positions of the three of us. Above, Tim Bergin is "lending a hand" to help Paul get the submarine belts adjusted, and NOT doing a prostate exam. Paul is telling me that I am number 1!

That same day I was driving my new 2013 Mustang GT and doing some suspension testing/verification (dropped 3 seconds from an AST coilover install), Amy drove our 2011 GT, and Matt drove his 2013 BRZ. We had a bit of a compound with all of our trucks, trailers and cars all plopped together in the paddock.

At the beginning of the day, Jason and Paul tried to get the eBay purchased throttle pedal installed, but after removing the old piece they realized it was very different (probably a V8 pedal assembly) and put it all back together. The "foot pedal" is missing and needs to be swapped over to the old arm, so we will work on that over the winter (we needed a very small punch to drive out a roll pin). Driving with just a stick was a little challenging, but not impossible. Made heel-toe downshifts a LOT slower than normal, but it could be done.

The driver's door mirror has always been loose, but the repair was missed on our Punch List, so I used some duct tape to get it to keep from wobbling. The stock rear view mirror needs to be replaced with a Wink or some other wiiiiide mirror, for better rearward visibility.

Our only "livery" was this Corner-Carvers forum logo that I slapped on midway through the day. The blue wheels look a bit blingy and won't be used for actual ChumpCar racing - the plain jane C4 sawblades look more appropriate. Still, we bought the blue Enkeis from a fellow ChumpCar racer at a screaming good price. Good practice wheels. The blue color seemed to be a crowd favorite, so we might paint the C4 wheels the same color and stick with that vinyl for the livery.

The 275/40/17 Toyo RA1 tires we got from AI racer Mike Patterson were "vintage". The first few laps Paul took on them during the first session were pretty hairy, but once he scrubbed off the old dead rubber they woke up again. I got one short session in the Firebird and Jason and Paul took two sessions each. When I made my three hot laps (my lone session in the car got "extremely shortened", for scheduling reasons) the grip level felt fine, with a few disclaimers.

Lateral Grip showed to be 1.1g on the AIM Solo. Braking wasn't up to snuff, as hard braking produced ample axle hop. Acceleration up hill and off camber caused axle hop. Pretty much anything extreme caused axle hop. This is something we will address, as it was painfully clear that the rear shocks were completely blown - just like the fronts were when we got it. These Swamp People are tough on dampers! We dealt with the rear shock issue by early braking a bit and easing into the throttle in the two uphill corners (T5 and T10) that were giving the car fits.

The only real problem that cropped up was an ignition miss, which seemed to worsen throughout the day, with rising underhood heat. This miss was non-existent in the first session, just started to rear its head in the second session (light miss at low RPM), and by the fifth session the misfire was worse than ever. It was bad enough that we had to short-shift at 4000 rpm to avoid it getting violent. Hours later, after eating dinner and towing the car across town to unload at my house, it fired up and ran smooth again. So we think this is HEAT related and the likely culprits are the ignition coils.

The Buick 3.8L V6 engine that the 1996-2002 F-bodies come with have three coil packs mounted right on top of the engine (and no distributor), very near an exhaust header. We think the heat soaking from the engine was putting one or more of the coils into "the danger zone". It felt like it was missing on two cylinders, which makes the most sense. The plug wires and spark plugs were new OEM replacement pieces, correctly installed, and we rechecked them at the event.

Luckily this Buick V6 engine is very common among GM platforms and the coils are CHEAP to replace. These same coils were apparently used from 1986 until 2005 on millions of Buick 3.8L V6 powered GM cars, which were produced in the millions. This means replacement coils start as low as $14.56 each! Gotta love domestics for costs. One online seller has eight different brands and prices to choose from, all the way up to $41 for the big dollar AC/Delco brand. So we will get a new coil pack and start swapping it out on a warm motor until the miss goes away. We talked about relocating the coils away from atop the engine, where they get heat soaked, but that would likely require longer spark plug wires... so we will table that plan for now.

The cornering felt fine, once you got around the axle hop. We could keep up and even catch many cars in its current form. It would even keep up with Miatas on the straights, two cylinders down. It has potential.

ECR Toy Run Picture Gallery: http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-E...un-ECR-120812/

Our $30 brake ducting mod also worked like a CHARM, and even with the cheap brake pads up front we never experienced any brake fade. We weren't super hard on the brakes, due to the potential axle hop, but we saw some .8-.9g stops so they were doing some work. Also, these were only 20 minute sessions with cool temperatures, but many of them were taken back-to-back with driver and session "color" changes (we ran this car in Blue, Yellow and Red run groups).

Cheap, OEM replacement rear shocks are now on the short list of future mods. You can jounce the rear and get 5+ cycles, so yeah, we kinda knew they were bad - maybe we were just trying to be too frugal. We need to do at least one more shake-down HPDE test event with the new coils, working rear shocks, and a couple of other tweaks before we get too excited about the performance. We had an AIM Solo in the car for most of the day and saw lap times in the 2:25-2:30 range. That's kinda... slow. We were hoping for 2:15s, but with three year old crusty Toyos, no rear shocks, and an engine missing two cylinders, that was about right. With fresh 200 treadwear tires, no axle hop, and the engine firing on all six we think it will be there, or close enough.

At the end of the ECR event, Paul, Jason and I we were all fairly positive and upbeat about the Firebird. Our friend Ed is a 4th gen aficionado, but doesn't care too much for CrapCan racing or the SCCA either, so he had fun poking jabs at our expense during the day (he was still a big help with the BRZ and both Mustangs). One thing he did was come up with was a fitting name for the car... "F-Tird.... and the F is silent". It did run pretty much turd-like, so we'll see if this sticks.

More Work Planned, Getting Settled In

Last weekend I had this Firebird and four other cars hammed into my home garage, which is really only made for four total. It was automotive Tetris getting them all in there, even with a lift. The garage floor was also covered in Firebird "fluids" from recent work we did there, and it was just a big nasty mess. The guys at the Vorshlag had also dumped off all of the ChumpCar parts stored at the shop (loaded my truck bed FULL, two trips), as we're going to do the next few rounds of Firebird work at my house. We needed the room at the shop for inventory and for two customer LS1 swaps we're in the middle of, so I dumped all of this crap in the middle of my garage.

I had to get this place cleaned up and reorganized before our NYE party, so I spent Sunday moving all of the cars out, going through boxes of parts (aka: junk) and tossing useless bits into the garbage, and stacking tires and wheels on my home tire rack. I cleaned up the mess on the floor from this car, put spares up on shelves, and got the Firebird up on the lift. I also found a steering wheel we had found for the (now burned up) GRM E30 build, which should work fine on the F-Tird after we find a quick-release hub/adapter. I want to get rid of the big factory steering wheel and cheesy GM tilt column feature, as it is worn and wobbly already. A removable steering wheel will help us get out of the car more easily too.

The incorrect throttle pedal assembly is now ready for disassembly and we'll add that to the new punch list. We need to do a little more fender massaging, as we saw a tiny bit of rub with the 275s at the track. The el cheapo AutoGage gauges need to be installed, as well as 100 other little things that need to happen before we bring it back to Vorshlag for the roll cage installation. Remove the air conditioning, gut the doors and remove the side window glass, and of course lots of "adding lightness". Jason has a bee in his bonnet to yank the drivetrain and replace all of the gaskets, but Paul and I have vetoed this unneeded work, as the car seemed to be leak free at the track - shockingly.

This weekend we have another work day planned and I will post up again after we have the next chunk of work done. Here's the upcoming Texas CrapCan endurance events for 2013.


2013 ChumpCar World Series - TEXAS EVENTS
  • March 16-17, Hallet Motor Circuit, D-7 (well, it is close to Dallas)
  • June 22-23, TWS, D-7
  • Sept 14-15, TMS, D-7
  • Dec 14, Texas "Special Track TBA", D-7
So no Eagles Canyon or Harris Hill events for Chump in 2013. That really sucks - ECR is the track I know best. The "special track" for December... could be Harris Hill, TWS, or who knows - maybe COTA, heh.


2013 24 Hours de LeMons - TEXAS EVENTS
  • May 4-5, Eagles Canyon Raceway
  • Sept 28-29, MSR-Houston
Our interest in running with this group is nearly zero, however.

If we want to make the Hallet race, then we better get our sh!t together. Only three months away...
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-26-2013, 06:57 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Project Update for February 26, 2013: Since my last update, several short work days were put in on the ChumpCar at my house over the past two months. Let's get caught up.

Aero Picture Examples

While I was looking for a picture from the 2008 GRM "Ultimate Track Car" event, I stumbled upon some good pictures for aero ideas on the F-Tird. With over 50K pictures uploaded, it is easy to forget some cars and pictures I've taken. I posted them in this Corner-Carvers thread about Heat Extractor Hoods, too:

This car was built with a lot of driver set-back (hence the floor mounted pedal cluster and extra long steering column shaft), which we will not even attempt to do. Too complicated to pull off on a "$500" car and driver changes would be much more difficult. Check out the front structure though - it allows for a forward radiator location. This car was unfinished and didn't have the ducted hood or the airdam, but you get the idea. The splitter was made of wood and what looked like aluminum tubing - likely what we'd use on the ChumpCar.

The AI car above is a more complete '98-02 Firebird with similar front aero, minus the ducted hood. We saw this car at the January 19-20th NASA MSR-Houston event.

Of course any major front aero mods are down the road, but I think it will really help cooling on our car as well as give us a little more front end grip. Don't know if we can pull it off under ChumpCar budgets and scrutiny, but it is on the wish list. And I wanted to point out now that every picture in this post can be clicked for an Extra Large resolution version. I make them "small" sized to fit within the confines of some forum layouts, but I hate not sharing them in larger sizes. I'll try to do this more often - just takes more time to write the posts to work that way. Oh, the links and many other features I use almost never works on my posts to SCCAForums - their forum software is just borked. Trying to work with them on the move to a new forum software.

Air Conditioning & Side Glass Removal

In early January we met and worked on removing the side glass from the doors and yanking the air conditioning components under the hood. Over the holidays my wife bought me a toolbox for the house garage (dedicated set of tools for the Vorshlag shop, the Vorshlag trailer and now the house) and I picked up a number of hand and air tools for use on the ChumpCar and anything else I might need to wrench on at home.

We needed the side glass out of this Firebird for cage installation as well as safety requirements for ChumpCar (only glass allowed is an OEM style windshield). The side windows were a bit tricky to remove and required drilling some rivets, removing all sorts of tracks and rollers, but eventually they came out. We removed the window crank mechanisms as well.

While the windows were coming out, we found out why the driver's side mirror was flopping around (we had to tape it in place at the ECR test event). Some joker had removed most of the hardware for the metal bracket that bolts to the door structure and the mirror. I put it back together and the mirror is secure once again. If anyone with a 4th Gen needs side glass or a manual regulator, let me know. Of course I won't ship this stuff, but I will bring it to the shop and you can come pick it up for free.

The A/C removal was pretty labor intensive. The front mounted condenser and lines came out easily enough, but the compressor was a bitch.

With the condenser, drier, and main lines out of the way, Paul and I attacked the compressor. That thing fought us for over an hour and a half... tried taking the bracket off, but the compressor would get stuck in the way. We finally put it all back together and got the compressor out of the way first, then the bracket. A $9 "A/C delete" bracket and pulley went back in place of the compressor and the original serpentine belt was re-used and everything has lots of belt wrap. Altogether... "some pounds" were removed (I don't have an accurate scale at my house).

Gas Pedal and Door Gutting

McCall spent an hour laying with his head under the dash and managed to get the foot pedal from the throttle pedal assembly swapped from this random GM unit that didn't fit this chassis (he tried to install it at ECR) swapped over onto the 4th Gen V6 pedal arm. Now it works. I don't know what he did... "magic".

Removing the "guts" from the massive 4th Gen doors proved easier than I had thought. After trying an electric Sawsall, a little reciprocating air saw, then an electric jig saw - the jig saw proved to be the right tool to remove the fiberglass composite door structures. and it ate that stuff up quickly.

I figured it would be hours of work removing the structure, but it was minutes. This cutting made some VERY nasty dust, so if you do this work use safety glasses and a respirator! We rolled the car outside on a windy day and tied a T-shirt around my face, which was unsafe but what we had. Then vacuumed white fiberglass dust out of the WHOLE interior. The real work came in removing the reinforcement beam that is bolted inside the door. I thought this would take seconds but it took nearly an hour.

After spending an inordinate amount of time unbolting the bar from the steel brackets at both the front and back of each side door (see below), and that took a LONG time (the access for a ratchet/socket is TERRIBLE), the now unbolted, heavy tubular bar... was stuck. Really stuck. We got so frustrated Paul starting cutting the bar in half. About 3/4 of the way thru the cut, the damn bar just fall out of the door.

It was the weirdest thing. So on the second door beam we spent a little more time wiggling it this way and that, then grabbed a hammer, and popped it out of the brackets. This door beam is very thick walled and HEAVY. this beam is being replaced with a proper roll cage, so it was redundant.

If the door skin wasn't on it would be a lot easier, but that is plastic and bonded onto the fiberglass door structure. The only metal in the door is the beam (removed) and the front and rear plates that are shown above. The hinges bolt to the front plate and the latches bolt to the rear plate, so they are staying in place. There are little stubs of brackets that held the beam in there, but cutting those out would take a long time for very small returns (1 or maybe 2 pounds total).

I used a 3" sanding disc on a 90 air die grinder to dress the cut edges of the fiberglass and made it nice, straight and smooth. And made a whole new mess of fiberglass dust. That we once again vacuumed out of the ENTIRE car. Good grief what a mess. I cut around the formed inset edge of the door and left some structure in the front corner to hold the metal bracket that the sideview mirrors bolt to. Otherwise it all came out.

Forgot to mention the inside door handle - that had to come out, naturally. It was held in place with a slide in bracket and one rivet, which I drilled the head off of. Then before I cut the door structure away I lined up the two oddly shaped holes the door handle pull slid into and marked it on the "upper structure" of the door that I left in place. I will go back and cut out these marked holes and slide the handle in there, then thru-bolt it in place (with a sheet metal backing) and re-hook the door latch pull rod and see if it works. I left the upper structure in the door, as it was multi-layer "trussed" fiberglass. It is lightweight and gives the door plenty of structure, for easy opening and closing. Even with all of the parts and beams removed, cut out and unbolted, the door opens and closes better than ever now.

Paul and I also removed the weather stripping and associated brackets from the side doors, then vacuumed up all of the dust once again. Then I cleaned up all of the mold and gunk under those things, and it looks tidy now.

We started removing a bunch of unnecessary brackets from the interior but ran out of time. A Blair spot weld cutter and a gentle touch with the drill took the spot welds out of the first bracket and it popped right out. The key is getting the right "feel" for when you cut through the outer layer (the bracket) and not cutting through the under layer (the floorpan); I only missed that once, on my very first spot weld. A lighter cordless drill would have helped. About 7 more brackets and we be done enough to get the cage installed.

Coil Pack Replacement & Cage Planning

At the ECR event we had what felt like a dying coil or coils, and while we started the day on 6 cylinders we ended it on what felt like 4. We already had brand new plug wires and spark plugs, and none of them were loose or arcing when we checked at the track, so it had to be the coils, right? Ignition based missed that worsened with heat. After we towed the car back to my place and it had cooled down for an hour, it fired right up and ran on all 6.

Like I said in my last post, new coils were a whopping $14.XX each, so we got 3. During one of the work days over the past 2 months we yanked the coilpack out and unbolted one coil, came right off. Now that the replacements came in we went to pull the other 2 and... no luck. One bolt snapped off into the aluminum heat sink base and the head of another rounded off. Little bitty 5.5mm hex heads with the bottom of the bolts exposed to engine heat and rain. Yuck.

We brought the coilpack back to the Vorshlag shop and I'll drill out the busted bolt and cut the head off the other then get it back in the car. But... we might relocate this away from the OEM location, right above the left exhaust manifold, and move it to a better spot. It will be 10-12 wires to extend, and likely custom length plug wires, but I think it will be worth it.

Left: A Mustang cage with fairly low NASCAR door bars. Right: Our car with some tape mock-ups (all wrong)

During the same day we cut the door structures out I also played with some masking tape and lined up some door bar locations. There is not a lot of room vertically and placing the FIA bar up front is going to be a compromise. We are using 2 horizintal "NASCAR" bars that will go all the way into the doors and touch the outer skins, for lots of lateral room.

Left: BlaineFab door bars on a CMC Firebird. Right: Mike Patterson's AI Camaro.

The door bars we make will be some combination of the above four examples: two main horizontal NASCAR bars, some rear triangulation to the main hoop and side roof bars, and additional front "roof crush" strength added with an "FIA bar" - but all of this with enough room to get all of our drivers in and out of the door opening quickly. Since this is a 4th Gen F-body, we ordered the hard parts from the 4th Gen cage master, Alan Blaine. The main hoop and down bars are coming from http://blainefab.com/ soon - he sells these in 1.75 x .120 wall DOM for $550, so if you want a pre-cut cage kit for your 4th Gen, give him a shout. Our cage will look as much like these from him that we can make them.

Wrapped Up Until Cage Install

Feels good to get to this point - the car is finally ready for the cage. Once the main hoop and side down bars arrive, we'll put the coil pack back in, fire it up, load it onto a trailer, and bring the car back to Vorshlag. Once here, our fabricator Ryan will cut the dash bars and rear down bars, as well as the door bars. We will tack-up most of the cage and then put our drivers in the car and see where we can put the FIA and door bars to fit everyone. We need to get rid of the rear hatch glass for safety reasons, but we have some ideas for a cheap replacement.

More soon,
Reply With Quote
Unread 12-21-2013, 05:27 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Project Update for Dec 21, 2013: Today, the Winter Solstice and shortest day of the year, I am writing my shortest project update of late - this time on the joint Chumpcar Firebird build started about a year and a half ago. You may have noticed the large gap (10 months) since my last update on this project. Well, that's because I stepped away from this train wreck about 8 or 9 months ago, heh! I tried to get out of the 3-man partnership of McCall, Magyar and myself many times since then, but they won't buy me out, so I guess I'm stuck in this mess. The car was moved out of my garage about 8 months ago, which was nice, and I have not lifted a finger since to work on it. I will explain below, as well as share some pictures of the cage work progress (that these two guys haven't seen yet) that happened in the past week, done at another shop.

See, for a long time I was frustrated with the progress and pace of work on this build. When the all volunteer group worked on the GRM Challenge E30 LSx swap in my home garage back in 2009-10, we attacked this project one night every week and often again on weekends I wasn't racing something else. It still took the better part of a year to complete - with about 14 people working on it - and another year of tuning and finish work, to turn that heap of crap into a GRM winner. These two guys worked on that same build and showed up on our weekly work nights more often than not, so I was hoping we could maintain that work pace.

Magyar (at left) and McCall (at right) were part of the hard working hustle that made the $2011 GRM Challenge winner happen!

Things changed a lot since the GRM Challenge days. McCall now has 2 kids and Magyar has his own new distractions (too many non-car hobbies being one of them), and work on the Chumpcar just wasn't happening. After too many failed attempts at weekly (then monthly) work nights, being held at the same garage (less than 6 miles from each of their homes), and more than a few nights that were set-up then became total no-shows, I threw my hands up and said, "Come get this PoS!" They didn't believe me at first but after a while they finally came and got it, and that precious garage space was mine once again. This $500 crapcan was just gathering cob webs in my garage for months while one of my own street cars was being parked outside in the elements. Funk that.

My 1000 sq ft garage was jam packed, and some of my nicer street cars were stuck outside - to make room for a car never worked on

Even when the car left I still had a garage full of parts gathered for this Chumpcar project, most of which I stealthily delivered into one of the two remaining team members' garage one night when he was out of town (reverse theft!). I still have two sets of wheels/tires, a hood, and several boxes of spare parts and a new set of gauges. I will probably deliver these soon, too.

Cage Progress

This story isn't new - this same thing happens often on "joint car builds" - one person feels like they are shouldering all of the load and eventually they get fed up. It happens a lot, even among friends that have known each other for 20+ years, like the three of us have. It was putting a strain on our friendships so I bowed out, and none too gracefully, heh.

Well, that's how I felt anyway. At the time I had too many other car projects (at Vorshlag) needing my time, attention and money, so I stepped back and let them take over for a bit. I still own a third of this thing, so I'm now a "silent partner" of a sorts. I might even get to drive this car again someday, if by some miracle they get it running and race prepped before gasoline supplies run out on this planet.

Left: Magyar's Subaru project is 5 years in, but virtually untouched in the last 2. Right: McCall's Z3 LS1 took 5 years to finish, with lots of outside help

Since these two guys can't seem to finish their own car projects in under a decade, they did the smartest thing possible - took the Firebird to a fabricator's shop and dumped it there (oh I'm going to get some grief for that one!). Kurt from Janco Fabrications was the unlucky recipient of this 1999 Firebird, and recently he took the nicely bent Blainefab 4th gen cage kit and started the roll cage installation and other fab work. McCall and Magyar have managed to put in a couple of nights of work on the car in the past 8 months or so. They have: removed the dash, then cut a hole in the front bumper to make it a "mouth breather", and.... that's it. Someday they will need to go back and duct that front bumper hole to the radiator.

Kurt's cage fab work is well known, and we have had him bend up a few main hoops and halos on cages we complete here at Vorshlag, as have several other prominent shops here in town. He is very experienced and he is fast. The Blainefab 4th gen cage kit was a nice short cut, as it includes the main bent tubes. Kurt has started to add the diagonals and other bits. He also prepped the chassis for the floor plates/load spreaders. Scraped body seam sealer and removed paint then welded in these steel plates for the main tubes to land on. Since Kurt's personal race car is a 4th gen Firebird (SCCA Solo CP car) he is very familiar with this chassis, and the various cage building rules and specs.

The fit of the tubing joints looks great (he has tweaked things here and there, as needed) and the bulk of the roll cage will likely be done in a week or two. After that it still needs a lot of work - fire system (a bottle is no longer adequate due to rules changes, see rule 3.9.1), lots of wiring work (plus a main kill switch), the seat will need to go back in, it needs something to cover up the rear hatch glass that is removed, and the front of the car needs that radiator duct work completed. After that it needs to go back on track for another test before they are ready to go wheel to wheel endurance racing.

2014 Chumpcar rules: http://www.chumpcar.com/rules.php

Chumpcar changed a number of rules for 2014 and they have essentially done away with the "Average Internet Value" or AIV assessment. This does away with doing research and bringing examples of ads on Craigslist or other classifieds to justify the value of your car. Every model eligible for Chump racing now has a Market Performance Values (MVP) now, set by Chumpcar, and this Firebird is valued at $350. Also, every possible race car mod has an assessed Fixed Market Value (see rule, with things like: Non-OE replacement shock absorber or strut is $25/corner, Exhaust Header is $50 per engine set, etc. Combined, this makes for your car's TOTAL COMPETITION VALUE (TCV). Looks like that leaves this team with $150 of value to play with on mods and not face any penalties, but I'm not sure where they will spend that.

Last I heard, the Two Ms said they were going to have the car ready for a 2014 Chumpcar event in March at Hallett, but I wouldn't bet on that. I've learned to be extremely pessimistic when it comes to project cars undertaken by these two! They are both coming to Christmas party at my house later tonight and I'm sure I will get an ear full for saying all of this, but its all done out of love. Tough love! If it gets them fired up and motivated to finish this car, then I will consider my prodding in this post to be a victory.

If I happen to stop by and see progress on this Chump project at Kurt's shop I will post pics again (I store my trailer out there and see this car more often than these two knuckleheads do). And if it runs... on track... at a crapcan endurance race?! Well, I might just have a heart attack. But I will post up about that, too.


Last edited by Fair!; 12-26-2013 at 06:07 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 12-21-2013, 06:27 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Quick Follow up, Dec 21, 2013: Well my post got some testy replies from the Two Ms, as expected. They were properly indignant and a little butthurt, and then they shocked and amazed me with pictures of work they did this very day! Here it is...

Front Aero Work

In the above picture you will notice the ducting work that they have made (with Kurt's supervision or help?) to the new front radiator inlet opening made into the front bumper cover. Modifications had to be made to the bumper support behind the cover as well. This will effectively push a lot of air into the radiator opening, and the plastic sheeting used (literally some scrap they found) will seal the incoming air to the front of the stock radiator. The "bottom feed" ducting was removed and sealed off.

Here you will notice the plastic panels cut and affixed in place to cover the large openings left when the pop-up headlight doors and assemblies were removed. These were stolen from a previous owner, but would have been removed in any case - they are heavy and when up cause a lot of aero drag. Covering these holes was important part of cleaning up the front of the car's aero profile. Nicely done...

The missing piece of the front breather puzzle is the hole in the hood, to duct air from the engine bay out the top. We planned all of this out long ago (see above image) and they are slowly but surely getting it knocked out. This is an important piece of the endurance car cooling solution, especially when you are stuck with the OEM radiator that Chumpcar requires (or you take a TCV penalty).

Not only can this add cooling, but also some front downfroce. If they have any TCV left I hope they spend it on some plywood and make a big nasty front splitter. Like we found on our TT3 prepped 2011 Mustang above, ducting the hood makes a front splitter much more effective at producing downforce, and on a sedan shape you can never have too much front downforce (on our red Mustang we needed more rear wing to balance out the 10" long splitter - if we keep this car it might get the longer chord rear wing it really needs).

Good to see some progress from these two, and I'm sure I will hear more tonight at the party. I better start drinking now...
Reply With Quote
Unread 01-18-2018, 08:39 AM
smitty2919 smitty2919 is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 1
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Has there been any more development on a ducted hood setup for this car?

I'm looking into doing the same thing as you did with your S197 track car. I may stand the radiator vertical or tilt it forward to gain more exhaust ducting room to the hood.
Reply With Quote
Unread 01-18-2018, 12:18 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is online now
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag ChumpCar '98 Firebird V6 Project

Originally Posted by smitty2919 View Post
Has there been any more development on a ducted hood setup for this car?

I'm looking into doing the same thing as you did with your S197 track car. I may stand the radiator vertical or tilt it forward to gain more exhaust ducting room to the hood.
Again, I stepped away from this build five years ago.


The gallery above has all of the pics I have taken or gathered of this 99 Firebird, which has since been finished and raced a handful of times over the past 5 years.

The used a Minardi livery and call this the Pontini Race Team.

The aero changes have been fairly limited, including the change from the "bottom feed" radiator layout to a "mouth breather".

This image above shows some hood vents they added, but that is the extent of the aero changes on this car at this time.

The vents are visible above. They have plans to do a lot more - maybe Jason or Paul or Adam will chime in?
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:32 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.