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Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT + S197 Development Thread

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  • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

    continued from above

    2012 Lincoln National Tour

    Sunday rolled around and it was time for the Tour - and we were already dead tired from spending 3 days on site. I don't remember what weather we had on which day, because it was changing wildly from day to day, yet was ALWAYS WINDY. We saw 98°F heat, rain, cold, fog, even the threat of hail and tornadoes. There were several storm systems that grazed the event site and a few that dumped some of the wet stuff. We saw it all in Lincoln!

    The other thing we saw after so many racers made their 12+ runs at the 2 day ProSolo was tons of "OPR" - Other People's Rubber. And the tar that fills the seams in the concrete was coming up as well. It was nice when the ProSolo courses "rubbered in" on the 2nd day, as it helped you find the hard to see courses; there were many fewer DNFs on Day 2. The problem was at the following event - the Tour - which had two separate courses on the same surfaces as the Pro. The Tour courses were also a little "undermarked" in my opinion, with lots of places to get lost... especially when you went across or towards one of the rubber-covered Pro corners, like this:

    You'd be zipping along, see the rubber laid down from 2 days ago, and get lost. I watched all of my National Tour run videos and caught myself hesitate more than once when near one of these rubber-lined ProSolo corners. Oh well, we all had to drive the same courses, and many folks found their way better than others. On Day 1 of the Tour I ran first and Amy was 2nd driver, and she laid down a smokin' fast first run (good enough for 2nd in class)... but coned it away! My first run was pretty quick, and good enough for 2nd, but that didn't last long. Mark Madarash cleaned up his coned first run and quickly jumped into a big lead. I whittled away at my 1st and 2nd run 62.6's and found a 62.19 on my 3rd run. Amy's 2nd run was considerably slower than her first and had 2 cones. So she needed to dig deep on her 3rd run and get a clean one in. Her 62.2 first run raw time would still put her in the trophies if she could just clean it up. We were all parked directly into the wind with our hoods up, some already done and sitting in Impound, but the 2 driver cars were waiting their turn for 2nd drivers to make their last runs. Bunch of ESP drivers were gathered behind our Mustang (the big rear spoiler acts as a wind break and we can at least hear each other talk standing there). Winds were 25+ mph all day but we kept seeing short wind gusts that were taking hats off all day.

    We're about to get Amy helmeted up and in the car when... WHAM! We look over and see the hood of our car completely vertical. Oh no... the wind had gusted, got under the hood, and ripped loose the hood struts and sent it smashing into the windshield! Glass was EVERYWHERE inside, as it shattered both the inner and outer layers of safety glass.

    In an instant, without saying a word, the entire swarm of ESP drivers jumped into action. Madarash and another driver were rolling up duct tape and picking up small glass particles from the dash and seat. Another ESP racer went to find Amy a full-faced helmet to borrow. More hands helped me quickly assess the damage ("I see a broken hinge and two hood struts flopping under there - lets just TAPE IT CLOSED"). A grid worker jumps in and says "OK, I assume you want a ten minute mechanical!", then ran to tell the rest of the drivers in Impound/Grid to close hoods. We had the hood back down and taped it closed across the fender at the right rear corner, where the hinge was ripped in half. Mark and I were taping the lower 1/3rd of the windshield to keep it intact, both inside and out. Another driver was helping tape the outside and got cut his hand, so he backed away to stop the bleeding and another took his place.

    In something like 3 minutes we had the hood closed, the windshield taped up on both sides, Amy strapped in the car with a borrowed helmet, and ready to race - she didn't even miss the 2nd driver rotation. It was awesome! What a kickass group of racers... I can't thank everyone that helped enough. Man, its times like these I really appreciate what a great group of folks we race with - some of which I didn't even know.

    Amy's last run after that mayhem was slower, mostly from the big, borrowed helmet that was slipping down over her eyes. Oh well, she made it around safely and got a clean run, but her first run was still quicker with the cone. That put her way down in like 14th place out of 18, ouch. I started making calls to about a dozen local windshield repair places but being Memorial Day weekend I came up dry. Another ESP racer called a contact at a Ford dealer and he told us what the windshield places had told me - there isn't a windshield for this car in Nebraska, maybe they could get one by Wednesday. Well, looks like we'd be racing Monday (Day 2 of the Tour) with the busted windshield!

    Monday rolled around, I was down in 5th place, and Amy in 14th. We had picked up a roll of clear packing tape and covered all of the many vertical cracks that we had missed the day before. The duct tape was still in place on the lower 1/3rd of the windshield and across the back corner of the hood, which we didn't open until we got back to Texas (after asking in Impound if anyone wanted to see under there once again). My first run was quick, the 2nd fastest in class, and it moved me all the way up to 2nd place. Mark was already 1.7 seconds ahead for the day, but he and I (plus 3 more ESP drivers) never improved on our first runs.

    Madarash (above left) stayed well out in front of ESP but I eventually fell down to 3rd place out of 18 when Newcombe made a smokin' fast 3rd run - the only driver to get in the 64s other than Mark that day. Moving up from 5th with a busted windshield and heavy understeer, I was happy just to salvage a trophy out of this Tour. Amy fought the car all day and was fully 2 seconds off my pace - I think her height made it more difficult to see through the "portal" of visibility I found above the tape line and between the cracks. Still, she moved up 2 spots to 12th, but wasn't happy about that at all. She's always a lot closer to me when we co-drive and this weekend just didn't go her way.

    We learned a lot at these events: never underestimate Nebraska weather (pack for EVERYTHING), bring lots of tape, a non-square tire set-up can cause a push, and we still have a lot of work ahead if we want to narrow the gap to the Titan of ESP. One step forward, two steps back - the gap to Mark has doubled since the MW Tour, so we need to re-assess our changes and do more serious testing. Another set of tires is going on the car soon for a dedicated test day where we will try different spring rates and shock/bar/tire pressure settings. We also have too much lateral movement of the rear axle (rear fenders were digging into the top edges of tire tread), and the 77" wide rear track made the car harder to navigate through the many transitions and slaloms. I also felt the rebuilt/upgraded LSD starting to slip so we have got to step up to a better diff (T2R).

    Video of Terry's Day 2, Tour, Run #1
    You can see the view from the driver's seat

    Looking at the Tour results you might think we did well, nabbing 3rd place out of 18. We did not. I was fully 4 seconds back over 2 days, which is an eternity. Again, we learned a lot and now we know how much we need to make up.

    Upcoming Events

    We have adjusted our June race schedule to sneak in a private test day, and also to get one more weekend off. We were almost about to register for the Mid-America Ford Meet track day at Hallet but the other folks we were going with decided to cancel, so we did as well.

    The windshield is replaced, the hood is repairable, and only the hinge itself is torn. Easy fixes, considering. We're going to add a "hood tether" so that the hood can be raised (to cool engine between runs, impound, etc) unsupervised. I still don't want thehood prop, as its always in the way when you're working under the hood and we've almost lost the hood in high winds with that as well. The below left picture shows the tire rub we're still seeing with the 345/35/18, even spacing them out 1" wider than we had the 315s on the same 12" wheels. Way too much rub. So yea, I'm going back to 315s out back; not going to play around trying 335s, as the 315s at all four corners WORKED and the car could ROTATE. I might even go back to Kumhos and run a set head-to-head against the Hoosiers. The V710 seems a lot more tolerable of temperature than the A6, so far. We had to spray the crap out of the Hoosiers at the Tour.

    Also shown above is the 295/35/18 Nitto NT-05 tires we bought for the Optima FACEOFF at the Hot Rod Power Tour next weekend (plus a set in 275/40/18 we got for a customer's new D-Force 18x10 wheels). This was the best 200 treadwear tire we could find any real data on. Mounting these on another set of the new 18x10" Vorshlag/D-Force wheels which we will use for this 2 day event, then pull them off and sell the set (sort of have a buyer lined up).

    Someone from Speed TV called Friday to see if we were going to the event, and they are gonna be there filming. Friday at Quick Trip Park is the Speed Stop and Autocross, then Saturday at ECR for the Time Trial. Not really sure how this event is going to be run or scored - hopefully its not a 100% "subjective event" and its a real competition. Come out and watch to see some epic cars! There will be a huge variety of big dollar, magazine famous rides that will completely overshadow out little 2011 GT. Still, with both venues being very familiar to this driver and car, maybe we will get lucky and place well? Time will tell...

    More soon,
    Last edited by Fair!; 07-31-2015, 07:14 PM.
    Terry Fair -
    2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
    EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


    • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

      Project Update for June 13, 2012: I am still recovering from last weekend's Optima Faceoff at HOT ROD Power Tour series of competition events. Wow, what a crazy two days! So much to talk about, the TV coverage was insane, and we did really well - considering all of the things that went wrong with the car and set-up. I have spent the last two days just cropping pictures and editing videos. I am still trying to wrap my head around the results (official results won't be out for "at least a week"), the car/set-up issues we ran into (all of which were my own damned fault), and the event itself.

      More Event Prep

      Let's back up and show some of the last minute prep work done before this event - a lot of little things piled up in the days before the Optima event. I figured there would be a lot on the line (and even more than I had bargained for!), so we wanted to get the car set-up, reliable, and ready. We did a pretty good job, but made some key mistakes - again, mostly from my tire selection and poor set-up choices.

      The 295/35/18 Nitto NT-05 tires were mounted on the D-Force/Vorshlag 18x10" wheels, which were mounted on the car - and they looked great. To improve the front track width a bit for the track day, we went with 7mm spacers up front... it wasn't needed, but it "looked better" with them. I kinda knew there would be some TV coverage so vanity won out (and there was a LOT more TV crew than I had ever dreamed of). This 295 tire mounts on the 10" wheel beautifully and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a 295mm tire for these D-Force wheels now. We've tried a 315mm race tire on these wheels and it was way too much, but this 295 fit great. The height was a little short but it was workable. This set of mounted and balanced wheels and tires is for sale! $1800 + shipping and they are yours ($2650 retail, mounted and balanced). Used for two days, still have tons of tread.

      As you can see in the first pictures we also pulled off the big "93" numbers and "ESP/TTS" class letters from the side doors and front of the car, as Optima has their own decals and numbers for these events. Part of the repairs from the "windshield incident" required two new hood hinges, as we noticed when pulling the hood that both of them were torn to shreds (as seen above, right). We had the local Ford deliver those, painted them in red to match, and put the hood back on. Well, not before some PDR guy came by to look at the hood damage, who promptly man-handled the bent rear corners so badly that he cracked the paint. Never even tried to use the heat gun to get the paint warmed up. "uhhh... thanks?"

      Since we had planned on running both the rear wing (track) and rear spoiler (autocross + speed-stop) at this weekend of events we did some tweaks to both rear aero packages. For the wing base plate mounts that bolt directly to the trunk structure, Ryan made some new lower "shims" (above left) that better match the curves and contours of the trunk, which turned out nicely. For the rear spoiler, two additional "struts" were added to the outer edges, which mounted forward to existing holes in the trunk (to some wing base plate mounting holes). These two front struts joined the existing 4 rear struts to make for a much more rigid structure. Now you can really push on the ends of the spoiler and it doesn't deflect.

      Like we do before each track event or autocross (and for customers, now that Vorshlag is a NASA Approved HPDE tech shop), the car was given a good pre-track inspection. Ryan began by swapping over to the track pads (R4) and rotors and flushing the brakes with Motul RBF600 (which we now stock and sell). He noticed a bit of wear on all of the caliper and pad mounting hardware, which isn't a surprise considering how many times we've swapped rotors and pads (autocross set vs track set). The dust seals were FRIED and had burned to a crisp. So new caliper bolts, pad retaining pins, and dust seals were ordered. The dust seals had to come from Italy so those would have to wait, but the hardware was swapped along with the track set of rotors and pads before the event. These R4 track pads take a bit to get up to temp, so I had to be mindful of getting the brakes hot for the speed-stop and autocross events (this would bite me in the ass later).

      An odd safety item we needed for this Optima event was a fire bottle "mounted in the car with a metal bracket". We called a fire extinguisher supplier and had two Halon bottles (one for Mustang, one for the E30) with roll bar mounts ordered over a week before the event. Of course these didn't arrive in time (and still haven't, two weeks later), so Ryan had to fab something up the morning of the event. It's a cheesy little 2.5 pound "BC" type bottle mounted to a metal bracket with a quick release (hitch pin), but it met the letter of the rules. The mount was plenty strong, but a little hinky looking - still better than some other set-ups we saw.

      One car actually caught on fire at the track event as it was leaking transmission fluid onto exhaust all day, pouring smoke out while on track, and it finally was enough to burn. The track personnel couldn't get his fire bottle out quickly enough and they had to use one from the paddock. So there was a solid basis to this rule. We will chuck this 2.5 pound extinguisher (the bottle was on the harness bar upright) and mount the real 5 lb Halon bottle into the Mustang if/when it arrives.

      Well this portion has already gotten long... I will start another update tomorrow.
      Last edited by Fair!; 06-13-2012, 07:04 PM.
      Terry Fair -
      2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
      EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


      • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

        Project Update for June 15, 2012: With all of the pre-event prep and changes made to the Mustang (see my last thread update, above) to tackle an autocross, speed-stop, and track event all in one weekend we loaded the car into the trailer Friday morning and headed to QuikTrip Park for the Friday events during the Optima Challenge Faceoff. We saw lots of cool hot rods and muscle cars on the highways, as the week long Power Tour was wrapping up at the same location... across the street in the parking lot for the at the horse track called Lone Star Park.


        I was ready for autocrossing on the surface at LSP, as I had raced there many dozens of times and new how the site would bite. When we rolled up and saw what looked like thousands of cars parked all over the giant open asphalt lot at LSP, I was confused. I asked the guy at the gate: "Uhhhh... Where is the event!?!" "You see the small parking lot across the street? That's it." Oh damn. The lot used to park cars for the minor league baseball field (QuikTrip Park) and neighboring Verizon theater (which had some high school graduation going on) was our lot for the day. It was a much smaller, sealed asphalt surface, and I didn't know this site at all.

        Oh well, no home court advantage today (but I knew the ECR track better than any other track I've raced on - hopefully that would pay off tomorrow!). We wound our way through the barricades and finally found a spot to park the truck and trailer. While Amy unloaded the Mustang I went over to registration, which was already well underway. The organizers had several huge trailers set-up, including this massive multi-level rig Optima brought they called Optima Prime. It really was like some massive Transformer, with all of these swiveled and rotated and flipped out sections on this 53' trailer, and both air conditioned space and a shaded upper level observation deck. Very cool.

        K&N, Bowler Transmissions/Royal Purple, RideTech, Wilwood, and others also had their big display trailers set-up, there were bleachers for spectators to sit in, (hundreds of people came by to watch the events) and TV cameras EVERYWHERE - on man lifts/cranes, crews walking around with 2 SpeedTV hosts, mobile lipstick cameras they put in and on cars, and more. I was blown away by all of this pageantry and spectacle for an autocross - in 24 years of competing in this sport I had NEVER seen anything like it! After I shook my head, pinched myself and was positive this was real, I made it up to the registration platform inside the Optima trailer. I got checked in, signed all sorts of insurance and release forms (TV stuff), they handed me an event T-shirt + a gaggle of decals, and I went back and got the car "stickered up" and ready.

        Amy did her magic and put the huge Optima side decal boards, Optima numbers, and Optima windshield banner decals on perfectly (as usual we laid them up wet - you shoulda seen some of the other decal installations!) Drove the Mustang over to the pre-grid area where all of the entrants were lining up and started talking to some folks. Damn fine cars here, including the LG ZR1 and numerous magazine featured cars I had seen before or knew of. Wow, there was some serious hardware in the 40 car field! After snapping some pics of several of my dream cars, I began to walk the tight autocross course several times, and also talking to some friends I knew that were entered. There was a driver's meeting at the Optima Prime trailer, then we were split into 2 groups, and my group was lined up for the Speed Stop Event.

        Wilwood Disc Brakes Speed-Stop Event

        Now remember: we had just mounted these brand new Nitto tires, rolled the car onto and out of the trailer, and then driven it 100 feet to the grid area. So yea, the tires were covered in silicone mold release. Also, the R4 brake pads and dedicated rotors were swapped on, but not in the perfect order from the last time they were used, also with zero driving. Guess where I'm going here? The tires were not scrubbed in and the brakes were not bedded, so I had NO grip and NO brakes on my first 3 speed stop attempts! Blew right out of the stop box every time.

        This also wasn't a straight forward "accelerate then brake" deal, due to the size of the lot. We had a decent little acceleration zone (I saw a peak of ~60 mph), then a pirouette cone lined in water barriers, then a super tight offset slalom (35' apart with significant offsets) into the 20x40' stop box. And there was water seeping up through the parking lot at the front of the stop box, which never stopped all day (from heavy rains the day before). Not complaining - we all had to drive the same thing - it just wasn't a straight "go and stop" kind of deal. You had to set-up for the turn-around and subsequent slalom to get a good time. The acceleration box from the standing start was also pretty bad until it rubbered-in, later in the day.

        Lined up for the Start-Stop event in front of another crowd of spectators

        Right before the Speed Stop event was to start they had pushed our group temporarily over into the autocross line for 1 run (while some cars were moved in the Speed-Stop area), which also felt like driving on greased ice. My first 3 Speed-Stop runs were pathetic, and I blew through the stop box each time, pressing like mad on the brake pedal. After those first 4 attempts to do anything was losing my mind. I noticed I had no fuel left, and I was drenched in sweat already - and had no water or ice in our cooler, and it was already hot (95°F day). I had to get out of here and get fuel, water, ice, scrub the tires and bed the brakes. I asked for a fuel break, was told where to exit, and I got out of that parking lot. About 1 mile away was a RaceTrac gas station, and in that mile of driving I broke more traffic laws than I can count. It must of looked like somebody was driving a car full of sting-crazy bees - I was swerving across three lanes, accelerating like mad, then panic stopping. But when I got back 10 minutes later the brakes were bedded and those tires were scrubbed in.

        Ride-Tech Street Challenge Autocross

        So with the silicone off the tires the the brake pad surfaces matching the rotors, I went back in line to wait for my group to start the autocross portion for the next hour. We had 4 straight hours of racing (with one 15 minute break where we went back to pre-grid), and each hour we'd rotate from S-S to Auto-x. My first auto-x run on the greased-up tires was a 35.6 sec run. My next run an hour later on the now-scrubbed tires was a 33.2. Then I had a string of 32s, then five runs in the 31s. I was getting faster and the announcer noticed...

        By the end of the day I had taken about 12 autocross runs and managed to run a 30.8 and a 30.5 second pass. We thought those might be in the top three but since they were not posting times we didn't know how close we were. The announcer was calling out times over the speakers, but these were pointed away from the grid and towards the crowd. By around 4 pm I had two buddies join us (McCall and Ed, the two nose-pickers shown below) that were helping with tire pressures, tire spraying (these NT-05s were boiling in short order), keeping me hydrated, and this let Amy go across the event site to the Optima trailer and listen for our times (which she would text to us after each run).

        With 40 cars moving through the line it made for a little wait between each run, and the camera crew used those periods to do on-camera interviews with drivers. I was interviewed 3 times during autocross & Speed-Stop events, and you can hear one of the interviews at the end of my autocross video, below.

        Click for in-car video of one of my 31 second autocross runs + an on-camera interview with Bill Goldberg

        Even though this was a super tight autocross (where I was at steering lock 6 times per run) and there were smaller cars there that could navigate the course better than this wide Mustang (EVO, three MR2s, etc), somehow we did all right and our little Mustang ended up with the fastest time at the end of the day! Whew... Of course we didn't know this until the end of Saturday, because they kept the results final secret - hey, it was part of the drama of TV, so I get it. The look on my face when they announced me as the autocross winner must have been pretty funny... because I was totally shocked!

        Click for in-car video of my Speed Stop Run #7, 14.4 seconds

        Unfortunately I never made a good showing at the Speed-Stop event all day. My run in the video above was my best on that course and it was a solid 0.9 second off the Todd Earlsey's Evo, who placed first in the event (and 2nd in the autocross - he had lots of good points already racked up going into day 2). They only announced the top 3 finishers after the Saturday awards ceremony so I didn't know where exactly I ended up, but now that the final results are up it looks like I ended up way down in 9th (this placing utterly killed my chance at the overall win). I took about 8 runs over 2 hours on that S-S course and never really got a good stop or turn-around in, with a massive front end push in the turn-around and the brakes just not working.

        The start box rubbered-in after a number of entrants made big smoky burn-outs and I could finally leave the line on these street tires at about 1800 rpm late in the day, but that was the only improvement I saw. The pedal was hard as a brick at the braking zone into the pirouette cone, and just as bad into the stop box. I had no power assist with the brakes; I was jamming that pedal down with all my strength with very little affect. We tried to diagnose the booster and vacuum lines on site but could not find a vacuum leak big enough to leak down the booster - it just didn't have any pedal assist after any high RPM sprint. Something was broken. We also had a major push that we couldn't dial out, even with a crazy alignment, tire pressure tweaks, and radical shock changes.

        Roshambo?! (Autocross Shoot-out)

        At the end of the day we had a special non-points event in store. By now it was 6:30 pm and time for the "autocross shoot-out", with the top 16 drivers doing a head-to-head "race to the line" sort of deal. They called it Roshambo, but many of you would know it as a "double-cross". They called the top 16 drivers' names, where I was the last one to be called, and they pulled me to the front of the line (didn't know at the time, but this was because I had won the autocross). When they described the event at the driver's meeting they were wrapping up extending the course between the formerly separate finish to the start lines, with a short and TIGHT section of course. I listened to the driver's meeting instructions... as I walked this new section of course 30 yards away. Three times. Nobody else that I could see walked it, and therefore didn't know how tight it was.

        Left: Lined up with eventual Roshambo winner Brian Finsh. Right: Lots of sparks from the rear brakes (see more here)

        This extra course knowledge paid off in my first round heads-up match, as I blazed through this newly added section of course to make the continuous lap and I won my first round by over a second. One thing that was unique was that any driver that hit a cone was eliminated - and if both drivers hit a cone they were BOTH out. So during the first round's 8 match-ups there were some cones, and a pair of drivers who both hit cones. That pair that coned out made for a "bye" run for me in round 2 - but I still had to make a clean cone-free run. It was a slow parade lap, of course. In the 3rd round I was lined up against the 1971 Camaro of Brian Finch. Now he had an unusual advantage - not only is he a series regular (and a great driver!) but he entered 2 cars in the event, and both cars were fast enough to get into Roshambo... so he had twice as many looks at the new course by the 3rd round (his 1970 Nova had been bumped out in his 1970 Camaro). When we ran heads up I got behind in the slalom and lost a lot of time, and was not surprised when he beat me back to the line. He ended up going onto the 4th and final round against Louis Gigliotti, and Brian won the Roshambo shootout. Didn't count for much more than bragging rights, but its a cool event - especially since there was only one class of cars racing.

        End of Autocross Day

        So after all of that I had to look back and ponder... this really was an AMAZING day of autocrossing. I can honestly say I have never seen anything remotely like this. Cheering crowds of spectators, pumped up announcers, and TV cameras everywhere. At an autocross. Insane!

        So by now its closing in on 8 pm and we still had some work to do. Hot, tired, sweaty, and tired. I went to try to find out if there were any printed results for the autocross, but they weren't telling so I had to stew all night after the Roshambo loss, not knowing how I did in the timed event. With Ed and McCall's help we swapped the spoiler for the wing to use on the drive over to ECR in the morning and at the track, and also to show some more parts we had designed and built. Loaded the car into the trailer and drove to Costas' to crash out for the night, after grabbing some dinner at Fuzzy's Taco, then watched some F1 practice. Long, hot, exhausting day - and we had another hot long day lined up for Saturday.

        Read about the ECR track event below...
        Last edited by Fair!; 04-02-2014, 03:42 PM.
        Terry Fair -
        2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
        EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


        • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

          Project Update for June 19, 2012 - Part 1 of 3?! Finally getting to the write-up covering Track portion of the Optima Faceoff event. This has become embarrassingly long. These write-ups take more time than you might imagine, and sometimes it grows beyond my expectations. There was a lot going on this weekend!

          When we left off above, the Friday Autocross, Roshambo, and Speed Stop events were wrapped up and we had loaded up and towed the rig to a nearby friend's house to crash for the night. We were supposed to meet back at the same parking lot at QT Park at 6:30 am the next morning for the drive over to ECR...

          Detroit Speed Road Rally

          The deal was they wanted everyone (that could) to drive from the QT Park area to ECR, which was a 70+ mile drive. This was to show entrants that were real "street cars", and successfully making this trip gained you 5 points in the competition. With the three main events worth up to 25 points each, and the one other "Design" competition worth another 5, every point mattered (we didn't learn the final point tallies or event break-down until a week after the event). And if there was ever a car that was easily capable of street driving, it was our emissions legal, stock-motored, daily driven Mustang GT.

          We rolled up to the Lone Star Park parking lot at 6:30 am to unload the trailer, but Optima Jim was quickly turning everyone around. Apparently there was a scheduling mix-up on the parking lots we were supposed to meet at? Jim was pointing the HOT ROD Power Tour Long Haul guys to one spot for their scheduled group picture and telling the Optima Faceoff drivers to meet at a nearby auto parts store parking lot for the group drive to ECR. We went to the same RaceTrac gas station that I had fueled up the day before, unloaded the Mustang, then drove it next door to the gathering spot for the group drive to the road race track for the day's events.

          Two other Dallas locals and I talked about the route from this parking lot in south Arlington up to ECR and came up with a perfect route - simple, fewest turns, no toll roads, and bypassed the interstate running right next to Texas Motor Speedway, which had an Indycar race scheduled that day (epic traffic!). We talked to the lead car driver Optima Jim, he liked the idea, so one of the locals in a C6 (Robert Wilson) led the entire group and I brought up the rear to catch any stragglers. The hour and a half long drive went off without incident, the group stayed together, nobody got lost, and the camera car was busy the whole time filming the 40+ cars. This group of stickered up muscle cars was quite a sight driving through Dallas that day, I assure you!

          Eagles Canyon Raceway - BFGoodrich Hot Lap Challenge

          This was the main event of the weekend and the one I was most worried about. Once we arrived at ECR I found that Amy, who had left 15 minutes before us, had already arrived and set-up our truck/trailer in the perfect spot: right next to the track in the paddock area. We quickly set-up the new roll-out shade, which then became a popular spot for many competitors to hide from the sun throughout the day. I had the front toe set at 5/16" total out for the autocross, to help this pig to turn, so I reset the toe at the track to 1/8" total out (which is what we normally run for track use). We reset the tire pressures to 35F, 30R, bumped up the compression and rebound a bit on the Motons, and re-checked camber (-4° up front). The oil was topped off and everything was checked; after the first session the front tires had gotten up to 47 psi, so we lowered them to 37F/32R hot.

          Left: Vorshlag trailer was an oasis of shade. Right: Picture of the Mustang from the ECR clubhouse deck

          There was a driver's meeting at 9 am and one of the race organizers approached me about talking about the track, after they went over flags and passing rules. There were six of us in attendance that had driven ECR before, but somebody told them that I had more laps here than the others. I guess... maybe I did? I ran TTU in the first NASA event at ECR in 2008 (setting the fastest TT time and a TTU record in the E36 Alpha car, which has long since been smashed), had run two LeMons endurance races there in 2011, and dozens of other events over the past 5 years at this 2.5 mile road course. So I got up there and spoke to the racers for 10 minutes about the layout, the various turns, pit in/out, runoff areas, places that can get you, where corner stations were, etc. Basically: ECR is a great track with a bunch of tight turns joined by a variety of 1000-2000' straights, and the fun feature of 70' elevation changes in some areas. It's hard on brakes, bumpy in areas (good shocks help), horsepower pays off on the straights, but there is no high speed cornering and you rarely see cars exceed 125 mph. I talked about lap times as well: 2:15 is what Spec Miata runs, and a 2:00 flat is FAST for street tires and R compounds alike (AI record is 2 flat).

          Left: ECR Track Map. Right: Running the Vorshlag E36 LS1 "Alpha" car at ECR in Oct, 2008

          After the driver's meeting I ended up talking to a dozen more folks about tires, the course, and the surface. People came by the trailer all day to discuss set-ups and I was glad to help. Our car was far from the ringer that day, as there was some SERIOUS hardware that I knew would be fast, and a few of the locals were worth watching out for: Louize Gigliotti in the LG-prepped ZR1 and Todd Earlsey in the Evo Dynamics prepared EVO were two. Todd regularly runs in NASA TT and Louis sees all sorts of track events in crazy cars all the time. I talked a bit with Dave Michaels, who was driving the Lingenfelter (LPE) prepared 5th gen Camaro, which sounded pretty gnarly as well. There were several 500-800 whp cars in attendance that could be spoilers, but I was hoping that ECR track experience would pay more dividends than brute horsepower.

          Well, it turns out that having both didn't hurt! The ZR1 had me worried because of his experience, skill, the fact that it started out as a $120K ZR1, the 345 Michelins I noticed it was riding on, and the fact that LG had prepped the heck out of this one (this is Lou's personal car). LGMotorsports knows Corvettes and this was no run-of-the mill ZR1, having a fully built motor, ported blower, custom splitter and wing, track-worthy suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, and lots of other modifications they have made to it for hill climb competitions (it recently dyno'd at 755 whp and 820 wtq). So yeah, our daily driven Mustang GT with a stock engine and some bolt-ons was a bit out-gunned on the horsepower front. I felt like our Mustang wasn't probably going to hang with these crazy muscle cars, 600 whp GTRs, Lambos, ZL1 Camaro, C6 Corvettes and ZR1s if they were driven halfway well.

          Left: Ed talking to race control, getting me sorted before going out on track. Right: A beautiful Cuda making laps, the ZR1 coming in.

          I was also a little iffy about my tire choice, as the Nitto NT-05s were prone to overheating in the little 30 second autocross runs the day before. How would these handle track sessions in Texas summer heat? The answer is... they didn't. I will go ahead and say something that a few HPDE gurus won't agree with: Nitto NT-05s suck. These tires are greatly inferior to Yokohama AD08s, Bridgestone RE-11s, Hankook RS3, and Dunlop Star Specs that I've tracked and/or autocrossed with on this same car. The problem is - all of those other tires are under 200 treadwear, except the Dunlop, which has a maximum size of 275/35/18. I wanted more tire for this car, because when I ran ECR in December 2011 in the Mustang (with quicker lap times) on 275/40/18 Bridgestone RE-11s it was very "rear traction limited". My hope was that these wider 295/35/18 Nitto NT-05s would better take the heat and abuse that the Mustang would dish out. Bad call on my part.

          After making a few slow parade laps behind a pace car I came in and waited in grid for the first real timed session of the day. This was about 10:30 am, which ended up being the coolest session of the day (where fastest laps were turned by many). After being told by the race director and camera crews to move to the front of the line, I ended up being the first car out (with I think Luis' ZR1, the LPE Camaro, and the Todd's EVO behind me). I mistakenly thought (from reading the Optima event regs) that we would only get 2 sessions all day and that each hot lap (3 laps per) would count cumulatively (like at a One Lap of America event). They had said that any off could DSQ you for the session, too (also sort of like OLOA). So this meant I had to make every lap count, right out of the box, and have zero mistakes. When every lap counts you drive differently, and I hoped my prior ECR experience and aggressive driving would pay off.

          So... the posted event regulations weren't actually how they ended up running the track portion. Instead it was all about getting one golden lap for the day, like any normal NASA Time Trial. That makes a lot more sense, and we finally confirmed this "just try to get one good lap" strategy by the 3rd session on track. Live and learn, and never trust the pre-published event regs (because to this point, few of them applied to this actual event). After seeing how much this series had grown in 2012, and how this was the first "big TV show" versions of the Optima Qualifier events, it wasn't a surprise that they would be tweaking the format as the weekend progressed. Its all good.

          Click for in-car video from my first of seven on-track sessions of the day - and my slowest

          So the in-car video from my first session is shown above. They lined me up first, with a group of 3 or 4 cars, with a scheduled 3 hot laps. They wanted to figure out spacing, camera panning, etc - eventually they had groups of 5 to 8 cars on track at once. I never saw anyone else in the first heat (except the EVO parked on an access road, after it blew off an inlet hose). I have to admit that it was a bit nerve racking having 2 bullet cameras added to your car (one pointing at me, one exterior) in addition to my own in-car video set-up, plus half a dozen manned and elevated camera stations around the track. The TV crew told us at the beginning of the day that they were trying to space us far enough apart on track so that each camera station could follow each car through the corners separately, for nearly 100% on-track video coverage for each driver. These camera stations were hard to miss, too - it was WEIRD having guys way up on cranes with mounted SpeedTV cameras tracking you through a corner around Eagles Canyon. I've never been filmed from multiple TV cameras like this and it made me a bit nervous at the beginning of the day.

          While many cars had problems, our little Mustang kept pounding out lap after lap

          So how was the Mustang on the NT-05s? It was terrible, the tires overheated quickly, and they made a LOT of noise. I was told by many folks they could hear me from a mile away, just due to the howling of the tires. In my first session where I went 10/10ths on every lap I only managed a best of 2:05.9. I could get a half of a lap of hard driving before the rears would start to boil and I had to back-pedal coming out of 3rd gear corners. I had to watch out for overheating on my out lap. 2nd gear was completely unusable on the exit of Turn 11, so I left it in 3rd and skated around delicately. The car had a MASSIVE push all day (even after lots of set-up changes), especially after the right front got hot, so the car would just push push PUSH worse if I didn't take a cool-down lap.

          Continue below for part 2 of 3...
          Last edited by Fair!; 06-20-2012, 03:41 PM.
          Terry Fair -
          2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
          EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


          • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

            Part 2 of 3....

            The same steering feedback shudder we've been fighting for a year was still present (new steering racks are still on national backorder until the end of June), and the brakes sucked. It took me the first two track sessions before I figured out that the booster just wasn't working at speed, and I had to brute force the brake pedal to get it to stop. It made heel-toe downshifts tricky, and I did a lot of left foot braking to be able to press hard enough (and would swap feet mid-braking zone). By my 3rd session I could finally get into threshold braking on all corners. After I figured out the work-around for the busted brake booster, and once I finally listened to JasonM, Ed, Mike and Amy (thanks for coming out to help guys! It was huge) about taking one hot lap followed by one cool down lap, I started dropping time. 2:04s were followed by a lone 2:03.9. Here are some abbreviated results, but all are linked here.

            Name..........Fastest Time.. (Car)
            Louis Gigliotti.........1:59.772 (LG ZR1)
            Dave Michaels.....2:01.904 (LPE 5th gen Camaro)
            Terry Fair...............2:03.967 (Vorshlag S197 Mustang)
            Todd Earlsey........2:05.756 (Evo-D EVO-9)
            Brian Finch...........2:06.052 (Royal Purple 71 Camaro)

            So my 2:03.9 lap ended up being the 3rd fastest time overall, which was a bit of a surprise. That is slower than I've run in the same car on narrower tires here before, but it was the best I could muster that day. Maybe it was the conditions, the heat, the NT-05s, and a bunch of broken parts (steering rack + booster), but I still wasn't happy with the laps in the Mustang. I also regretted the 550 #/in front 275#/in rear springs, which have done nothing but make the car push since we put them on (when we added the Moton Club Sports). Those have since come off and we've gone back with the previous set-up of 450F/175R. It always rotated better, put power down better, and didn't have this awful push. (I'll retest this set-up this weekend at ECR).

            During the last few later afternoon sessions the heat was rising and the times were too - nobody was going fast. I knew I wasn't going to find much if any more time and the rear tires were cooked. I had been talking to Ed during my sessions, who was relaying to me the announced times lap by lap. The Ford "Sync" system linked to my iPhone via Bluetooth works VERY well, and we had some of the best 2-way on track comms I've ever seen at ECR. Ed would call me before I went out on course, I'd answer, and just cranked up the radio speakers. With a full face helmet he could hear me talking back to him, too. He spotted traffic for me, told me lap times, and most importantly - calmed me down when I was over-driving the car. That's when we managed the 2:03 lap time - with a strategy of cool down laps then hot laps.

            They allowed competitors to run on track almost as often as they liked, and each time they announced "we have an empty grid" I would scramble up there, if I wasn't already in line. So after six track sessions (?!) I was pretty burned out and had spent very little time out of the car and out of my driver's suit. The crew that was there was keeping me hydrated between sessions, and the camera guys were constantly adding and removing cameras to the car between sessions. The handful of minutes I stepped out of the car I was peeling off the driving suit and damn near passed out in our trailer - out of the sun. I still ended up doing another 3 or 4 on-camera interviews, as the crew figured out that I was running top 3 times, and since we did well enough in the autocross to possibly be an "overall" contender. Goldberg was super nice and really liked the car, and kept encouraging us to keep pushing it out on track. So I kept going out, over and over, pouring more and more fuel into the tank.

            I inadvertently left my Sony HD video camera on after my 2nd track session (stupid!) and killed both the battery and filled up the SD card after, so I didn't get much in-car video of my own. This week I purchased a mega-over-sized battery and two more SD cards, plus a wired remote from Sony so I can control and see when the damn thing is recording.

            Some of the many TV cameras set-up at the ECR portion of the Optima Faceoff

            My last two sessions the lap times simply weren't there. Ran some 2:04s, lots of 2:05s, but it was just too damned hot by that point. There was a camera crew by the pit wall and a crowd was gathering, including the TV host Goldberg... and with the rear tires overheated, I started hooning. A lot. They were loving it, waving for more, so I kept stepping the tail out in turn 11 more and more... and then into 3, and then into 7, and basically in front of each big camera station on course. OMFG I was hooning my ass off - cameras make me stupid. I also had Ed on the phone telling me that the announcer and the crowd were eating it up, and they were betting how much I'd hang it out each lap, so I gave them more and more, and started kicking the car all the way through 11 sideways. I have to admit - that was fun.

            Now I still don't condone the "sport" of drifting, but if "driving a little loose" gets me on TV, I'm gonna do it. It's not hard - we used to mess around after autocrosses back in college (TAMSCC!) and set-up these impromptu drift sessions. A group of us that drove V8 RWD cars at the time used this to practice car control, and we all got pretty good at it. This was long before the Drifting "sport" became a fad, before the e-brakes and the banged up cars, and decades before Ken Block and funny shoes. We were just a bunch of autocrossers... "practicing". So if this event makes it into a TV show, I suspect... some of this clowning might get shown. The camera guys kept telling me "this is great stuff!", and the car wasn't getting any faster, so who knows?

            Lingenfelter Performance and Design Challenge

            One more "competition" for the weekend was a "performance and design" subjective thing. Again, I thought this was for a full 25 points, but it ended up only being a 5 point deal so it didn't alter the results too much. Compared to the crazy hardware that is typical at these events, our car is pretty plain and I figured we'd do poorly in this part of the challenge.

            Left: The winner of the Design Challenge, Rodney Moore. Right: The Design Challenge judges talking to me about the Mustang (it got 5th place)

            The top guys from Lingenfelter, Optima and Wilwood came by and checked out the car and asked several questions. The point of this judgement was visual improvements, of which we have done very little. I told them, hey, this is our suspension test mule so it's not about looks... but we've made this rear wing set-up, the rear spoiler used on Friday, added this LS splitter, these "Vorshlag" wheels are ours, and most importantly these are our camber plates and other suspension bits. I guess it helped and the Mustang scored the last point in 5th position.

            Top Ten Track Shoot-out

            This was another non-points event they held, run after the day's "BFG Hot Lap Challenge" track time was done. The ten fastest cars were called up to the grid, lined from fastest to slowest, and they wanted us to make a 5 lap sprint to the checkered flag. The announcer said it was all about getting to the flag first, and I tried to ask someone on pit road if this was indeed the case. Ed was talking to me on the phone during the whole session again, and passing along lap times, announcer's and crowd's feedback, etc. As far as we knew it was about working your way up through the pack and getting to the finish line first. They lined up Lewis' ZR1 in front, then the LPE Camaro was supposed to be 2nd (but it caught on fire late in the day, then was pouring transmission fluid onto the exhaust by now and wasn't allowed to run) so they moved me up from 3rd place. The rest of the field was behind me, but all I had eyes for was the ZR1 Corvette. They sent us out 15 seconds apart, and we were supposed to NOT pass on the out lap (yellow flag out lap were the rules for the day), but after the green flag dropped it was on.

            I tore ass through pit-out and was catching the ZR1 by turn 3. I knew how each of the top 10 cars were performing from running so many sessions that day - everyone was running hot, taking cool down laps, or only making 1-2 lap sessions. I felt like I could push the Mustang 10/10ths on a 5 lap sprint without slowing down more than a second from my fastest time all day. Driving Flat Out for each lap wouldn't make for the fastest peak time, but it could allow me to pass faster cars. And the only one faster left was the ZR1. So on the out lap I hauled ass, caught up to Loise's Corvette, and painted his mirrors red with Mustang. I wasn't going to pass him on the warm up lap, but I was letting him know I was back here. "Hi, Louis!" He saw me swerving back and forth, as I was baiting him to push it hard on the out lap. That boosted ZR1 had about 1 fast lap in it, but the Mustang could lay down 5 heaters...

            He fell for it by turn 5, put the hammer down, and we were in a sprint race on the out lap! Come on, heat soak that intercooler! By the time we were at the green flag I think there was 8 or so car lengths between us and he was hanging it out trying to gap me. I pushed as hard as I could on the first timed lap and ran a 2:04 to Lewiz's 2:00. On lap 2 the ZR1 was cooking, the intercooler was heat-soaked, and I got a hasty point by into turn 3, which I took with a smile! Ed was hooting and hollering, saying that the announcer and the crowd was going nuts! "Pass him! Pass him!" I got around the ZR1 and opened up a huge gap. The ZR1 slowed to a 2:38 on lap two. Now that I was in the lead I drove like a man possessed, pushing to the limit, and the tires quickly overheated.

            Left: the field got bunched up like this after a couple of laps, a good half lap behind me. Right: Pulling in first felt good!

            I didn't care - these tires sucked and I'd NEVER be driving on them again, so I was eager to sacrifice the set. Ed told me that my gap was big and nobody was catching up, the crowd was going nuts, so I started pushing too hard... and hooning a little. Then started hooning a LOT. The crowd on pit wall was waving and shooting video, and I think I was waving back while going sideways. By the 5th and final lap I had a big gap on the field and was catching the last car, and still yawing through any turn that had a camera. I took the checker, then a much needed cool-down lap. Damn, I wish my camera was working during that session... that was THE most fun I've had behind the wheel in my life. Pushing the car, passing the ZR1, hooning for the crowds and cameras, and Ed egging me on via bluetooth. That was a smile that took hours to wear off!

            Goldberg giving me the thumbs up after I made it to the checkered flag first. Parc ferme, P1!

            I pulled into pit road and Goldberg was telling the TV crew, "I want Terry's Mustang RIGHT HERE, in front!" (Amy was standing next to him). I pulled up to where they wanted me, climbed out, and was drenched in sweat. I thought I had won the "top ten shootout", but they decided to award the win to the fastest lap driven, which was the ZR1. Again, by now we were all used to the "fluid nature" of the event structure (there was some interesting radio chatter, arguing one way or the other, even after the checkered flag was thrown). Fair enough. The camera crew went to interview sponsors, the LG crew, and others. Of all of the events during the weekend, this was where I felt I did the best. I knew who got through 5 laps fastest and had a huge blast doing it.

            Left: LG crew being interviewed after winning the top ten shootout. Right: Me, Lou, and Louis talking after the top ten laps.

            After we were done with the cameras, Loueis made a crack about the out lap "All I could see in my mirrors was red, you ass!" We all had a good laugh waiting for the cars to cool down and the final camera work to wrap up. I've known the guys at LG for over a decade and Louis is a friend of mine, so all of my wise cracks (like misspelling his name!) are in good humor. They brought one damned fast car to this event and clearly had the fastest lap time all day, and in the top ten shootout, and I begrudge them nothing. I've owned and raced multiple Corvettes myself and wish dearly that I could own one (I don't race Corvettes for business reasons, but that is all), especially a ZR1 as badass as theirs!

            please see part 3 of 3 below...
            Last edited by Fair!; 06-21-2012, 11:42 AM.
            Terry Fair -
            2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
            EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


            • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

              part 3 of 3...

              Overall Placement

              Once that little pit row gathering ended, I took the car back to the trailer and peeled out of my driving suit, then started guzzling water (Amy and I were laid up all day Sunday with the after-effects of dehydration). The guys took care of the car and got everything shut down. Our whole crew piled into a truck and drove up the hill to the awards presentation at Optima Prime. It was 6pm on Saturday and we still had no idea how our car had placed. I still had no clue that we had won the autocross, nor did I know I placed so poorly in the Speed Stop. I knew fairly well that we were 3rd fastest in the track portion, but that was the only thing concrete. The big questions was: who was the overall winner, and who would get the invite(s) to the BIG Optima Shootout in November? (held right after the SEMA show) That once-a-year street car shootout has been televised on Speed for a while and that was the goal: get an invite. They had warned us that the invitees were more about the "spirit of the event" and not necessarily the fastest cars, but we held out hope.

              Left: one of my on-camera interviews with Goldberg, "I don't know what to do with my hands..." Right: After the Top Ten Shootout

              They rattled off the top 3 finishers in each category, with the Speed Stop winner (Todd's EVO), Track day winner (Louis' ZR1), the design competition winner (Rodney Moore's beautiful 1970 440-six pack Cuda), then they rattled off the autocross winners... I wasn't third, I wasn't second, then they rattled off "with a time of 30.5".. hey, didn't I run that time? "Terry Fair". Whu.. hey, that is me?! I was completely FLOORED, as I thought all along I had done no better than 3rd place in the cone carving. On stage they asked me, "How did you get through that tight course so fast?" I said something like "I tried to make the car as narrow as I could!" Did I mention that cameras make me stupid? I probably looked like Ricky Bobby in this clip for every TV interview I did. "I felt like I was in a space ship..."

              After they did the complicated math for the 5 scored categories, the overall placings were: Todd's EVO in first, L3w1z' ZR1 in second, and my Mustang + Brian Finch's Camaro tied for third. The two invitees to the "big show" in November ended up being two excited entrants with interesting stories (both of whom did the "Long Haul" for HOT ROD's Power Tour) that weren't too terribly close to the top of the time sheets in any given event. Again, "spirit of the event" and all. Heck, after finding out that I placed 1st in the autocross and 3rd overall I was so relieved that I didn't care about not getting an Optima Ultimate Street Car Shootout invitation. Not much, anyway.

              The Optima Qualifier Events - Should You Enter?

              It's hard to describe how insanely fun and different this event was. The same mega-trailers that were at QuikTrip Park were relocated to the top of the hill at ECR in the early hours of the morning, again - I had never seen an autocross or track event of this magnitude, with this level of sponsorship support and camera coverage, especially at our little club track! The various crews of Optima series folks outdid themselves on Saturday with big man lifts and cranes out on course with manned TV cameras covering 90% of the 2.5 mile road course. They had AMB transponders; portable lipstick cameras on several cars in each session; multiple radio channels for TV crew, race control and corner workers; and the SCCA corner workers did an excellent job flagging, as usual. Lunch was delicious catered Bar-B-Q, free to all entrants, and the TV hosts + Optima folks + race control crew were all super friendly and professional all weekend.

              Left: Our crew getting the car ready between sessions. Right: The plague of grasshoppers did a number on the cars!

              This Optima series is run like nothing I have ever seen in the SCCA, NASA, or any HPDE group. Even pro level road racing series don't have crews that work like this. Amazing, slick, punctual, professional and well worth every penny of my meager entry fee. I got so much track time, tons of autocross and speed stop runs, a cool T-shirt, free food, an unforgettable experience, and we might even see the little red Mustang on TV if we're lucky. Not bad for 230 bucks! After reading this, if you thought this sounds like fun, and you have an Optima Qualifier event near you - by all means, do it! Sure, running on 200 treadwear street tires can be a buzz kill, but everyone is on the same type of tires (here's a hint: use the Michelin PSS!). Yes, there are some tuner shops' crazy cars and a few semi-professional drivers that are regulars in the series - but as you can see, three local NASA regulars did pretty well in the overall results at this one.

              Just be prepared for a little more emphasis on the TV show aspects than the straight forward competition events you may be used to, but it was still very competitive. Not knowing the standings from each event in real time was frustrating, but all part of the show! Go in with the right mind-set and you will have a blast. And who knows - you just might end up on TV (they will be filming at several Optima Qualifiers and making a series of shows leading up to the November shootout; I'll post up when we know when/if this event's show goes to air).

              What's Next?

              Man, its been a week and a half since this event and I'm still smarting from the poor placings in the Speed Stop and Track portions. I will look back, remember all of the things wrong with the car, and just shake my head. There was nothing we can do about the steering rack for the past few months (short of pulling one from a wrecked 2011+ car), but the brake booster issues, crappy tires, spring rate/set-up problems, and unscrubbed tires and brake pads were all bone-head mistakes that could have been avoided. I didn't take this event serious enough to do any testing on the NT-05s, where we could have made some adjustments. Knowing how much TV coverage this event got I wish I could go back and do some things differently. Hindsight is 20:20...

              It's hard to follow that crazy event with a lowly track day or autocross, but that's what we've got planned. Luckily we had two weeks and a weekend off of any sort of racing, to recover. Ryan has already rebuilt the Mustang's front calipers (dust seals, hardware, new brake line, new fluid, etc), swapped out to the softer springs, and fixed a number of little things that plagued the Mustang over the Optima weekend - I'll cover this in my next thread update. The Mustang has a few more track events to attend this year before we move it to a more dedicated ESP-autocross-only preparation plan for the remainder of 2012. We're taking it back to ECR again for an HPDE "fun track day" Saturday, June 23rd. For details on how to sign up, click here ($150, unstructured track day - join us!). We'll run the 315 Kumho V710s, the "old" (softer) spring set-up on the Motons, and I will play with rear aero Angle Of Attack (AOA) at this event (we started to tweak this at the end of the Optima event).

              Hopefully with these fixes and real R compounds the Mustang can crack the 2 minute mark (I ran 1:57s back in 2008 with a junkyard 5.7L in the E36, having zero track experience at ECR). The American Iron track record is 2:00 flat, so beating that is the goal. Amy is bringing our E46 330 "TTD" car (shown above) for some laps on fresh 285/30/18 Hoosier R6s to try to outrun our existing TTD track record, which was a 2:12.9 (set by Paul Costas in our BMW 330, 2 years ago, on crapped-out Yokohamas). This car has been getting worked on lately, and is now streetable again (new high flow cat). Sunday I will swap out the rear wing for the spoiler and Amy and I will run the Mustang at an SCCA autocross at Texas Motor Speedway, testing the spring set-up changes on a known site and the known-good Kumhos. After that we have a 2 week break we will try to use to design and build some new rear suspension bits.

              We've also started to finally attack another in-house project car, specifically with the goal to be able to enter these "wide open" street car type track events, like the Optima Challenge, TX2K, OLOA, UTCC, and more. This is using our white E46 BMW 330Ci chassis, a big nasty LS motor, with goals of light weight, lots of tire, and some custom aero. Check our BMW E46 330 LS1 "Alpha" build thread soon for more details. We couldn't ever really find a good racing class to build this E46 LS1 swap mule for - everything we came up with had some goofy limitation or classing restriction. Building the E46 Alpha for these unlimited street car events let's us show some more of our race prep services, tests our production E46 LSx swap parts, and yet keeping it streetable (working windows, wipers, lights, defrost, ABS) helps us relate to more of our customer's needs. It also lets us enter a variety of street car competition events with it. We've begun tearing into this car this week for a full-on "track terror / still streetable / no rules" build. Because if I do another Optima event, I'm not going to take a knife to a gun fight again!

              Last edited by Fair!; 07-31-2015, 07:25 PM.
              Terry Fair -
              2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
              EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


              • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                Project Update for June 26, 2012: Part 1 of 2... In my last series of updates after the Optima Faceoff event, I listed a lot of little things that we realized were broken or set-up poorly on the car. In the two weeks after that we attacked each of these items, except one: the whacked-out electronic steering rack. This is STILL on National backorder. Good grief, Ford.

                Some Repairs & a Quick Inspection

                One obvious area that needed to be addressed, and is a common failure point on any heavily tracked car, is the brake caliper dust seals. Caliper "dust seals" don't exist on real "race calipers", but are always found surrounding the outer edges of caliper pistons on production street cars. And when you get the brakes to the 800-1200°F temps we have seen, these seals eventually catch fire and/or melt. It's not the end of the world - they just keep debris out of the caliper bores. Still, when damaged they can allow brake dust to migrate down the bores and past the piston's fluid seals, which can then get into the fluid. Our car gets a brake re-bleed every few weeks and a complete flush every couple of months, so it's not a huge concern. However, it is something you should always look at when changing pads, if you have factory calipers with dust seals.

                Ryan noticed the front seals looked rough a few weeks earlier, so we ordered new parts from Ford / Brembo. The dust seals had to come from Italy, but finally got here and weren't that expensive. He pulled the front calipers off and placed a thin block of wood between the opposing pistons (the front Brembo calipers have 4 pistons - two inner and two outer) and applied air pressure to the brake line inlet... POP! This pushes the pistons out enough to remove them, two at a time (keep your fingers out of the way!) Once the pistons were removed, he peeled away the burned remnants of the dust seals and inspected the caliper pistons and bores, which looked fine. All of square seals that keep the fluid pressure in (at the bottom of the pistons) looked good too. Everything was cleaned with brake parts cleaner and blown out with air. Make sure it is all CLEAN. New dust seals were wrapped around each piston and back in they went, slathered and assembled with plenty of fresh Motul brake fluid. It's a messy job that has to be done on the bench, so PROTECT YOUR EYES from spraying brake fluid, of course.

                Our stock motor has been buzzed to 7500-7800 rpm literally hundreds of times now, and this previous Optima event was no different (1st gear autocross, track event, etc). Just as a precaution I asked Ryan to pull a valve cover off for a quick top end inspection. With a new valve cover seal ordered from Ford and in our hands (cheap), Ryan pulled one side apart for a look-see. Everything in the valve train looked perfect: no obviously broken springs, errant metal or unusual wear. Those cam-phasers make for a complicated piece of engineering! It all looked perfect so I guess our religious changes of Mobil1 synthetic oil has paid off for the past 11,000 hard miles of use this Coyote 5.0 has seen. Good to know...

                Some suspension set-up changes were made as well - we removed the 550#/in front and 250#/in rear springs in favor of the previous AST4100 set-up that used 450#/in front and 175#/in rear springs. It rides SO much better on the street with these rates (even with Moton Club Sports) and it always rotated better with those, too. I was hopeful that these springs would make for some improvements in the "death push" we saw at ECR with those Nittos two weeks ago. For the next few weeks of street driving the 295 Nittos were pulled in favor of the set of identical 18x10s with 275 Bridgestones, the winged trunk was swapped back for the stock one, but the race pads (Porterfield R4) and rotors stayed on. Amy drove it and commented on the improved ride quality for her daily commute, so the softer springs were better there too.

                Two days before the event last week, our 2001 BMW 330Ci went up on the lift for our usual pre-track inspection. It was also given a fresh two gallons (the normal seven quarts + one extra quart) of Mobil1 oil and WIX filter, an alignment check, basic nut-and-bolt torquing and paint pen mark-ups (so during later inspections any bolt rotation can be seen), a good washing, a brake bleed, and some small repairs.

                The BMW was ready Thursday afternoon, so on Friday morning the Mustang went up on the lift to have the same inspection work and oil change done. The Hoosier A6s were already removed and the used 315/35/18 Kumho V710 tires were remounted and balanced back on the 18x11F/18x12R wheels again. The big wing and trunk went back on, a fresh nine quarts (we run an extra quart for racing) of Mobil1 10W40 went in (along with a WIX filter), and the alignment was re-checked. Once everything looked good it was loaded into the trailer for the ECR open track day along with eight extra wheels and tires (one set for each car).

                Five Star Ford Track Day at ECR

                This was the first track day event put on by a local Ford dealership, Five Star Ford in Plano, TX. They sell a lot of Mustangs and wanted to host a "customer appreciation event", and invited all sorts of modern Ford muscle (and anyone else that wanted to join them!) for a fun track day on June 23rd. There were lots of 2011-2013 Mustang GTs, 2012-2013 Boss 302s, and a bunch of other SN95/Fox/S197 cars. There was a large range of car prep and driver skill levels at the event, from "noob street driver" to "gutted race car on huge Hoosier slicks". Great variety of non-Fords as well with a Ferrari, some BMWs, a couple of Lotuses (Lotii?), a gnarly sounding C6 Corvette (Robert Baily, who ran in the Optima Challenge with me), and more.

                Our Mustang's preparation level was kind of in the middle of that array - an air conditioned full interior, emissions legal exhaust, stock-engined (with cold air and headers), daily driven street car running pump gas... but it was equipped with Moton doubles, race seats, lots of negative camber, a wing on the back, and 315mm Kumho V710s. It was not the most powerful or insanely prepped car of the event, but we did all right in it. For wild and crazy, Costas' GT-1 Camaro took care of that, where he once again brought a missile launcher to a gun fight. He should just write "BFG" on the side (old school Quake gamers will know what gun that refers to). Can't blame him - if I had a similar car I'd bring it, too. He still had less $$ in his track toy than many folks in attendance, which is often the case.

                Our 36' trailer had ample shade, and we shared chairs, drinks, tools, and some spare parts with a number of event attendees. Met some nice folks!

                We rolled up at 7:05 am and the paddock was already packed. Lots of new folks who had never done track days, that actually followed the instructions and showed up on time! Give 'em a few years and they'll be an hour late or more. We found a good spot up top to park the truck & trailer, right next to the tech inspection shed. We unloaded the Mustang, set-up the sun shade awning/tables/chairs, and then got to work. Amy and I brought our Mustang and our TTD prepped 2001 BMW E46 330 coupe, so we had to change tires on the BMW since it was driven and not trailered to the event. This car hasn't seen real track action in two years, other than one short session here at ECR last December, right after the new motor went in. We dismounted the 18x10's with Yokohama AD08s and mounted the 18x10s with Hoosiers, after the Mustang was unloaded.

                Costas had driven this BMW at a NASA TT event in 2010 here at ECR and set the track record for TTD at 2:12.9, which is still intact, but did it at the time on some shredded 265/35/18 Yokohama A048s. Our goal this day was to see if we could beat that time on a better prepped version of the same car (it's now at the limit for TTD preparation for points). This Bimmer now has a fresh M54 motor, fresh 285/30/18 Hoosier R6s, but the race seats have been removed and an emissions legal exhaust has been added (3" high flow cat), so who knows? Amy and I planned on swapping sessions between both cars, but with only one video camera and one lap timer (the dreaded G-Tech RR) we would have to do some gear swapping.

                The driver's meeting was at 7:30 and immediately after they wanted the Advanced group to go on track - which Amy and I were both signed up for. Amy managed to get several laps in the BMW, but I was still mounting the video camera, wiring up the new Sony remote to that (which worked great! Now I can turn the camera on/off, record, zoom, and even snap pictures from this small remote that can be clipped to the E-brake handle - all while strapped into the race seat). I got out for one lap before the checkered flag, so I didn't bother to record that session.

                The ECR crew was running everyone in about 20 minute sessions, split between the Advanced, Intermediate and Beginners groups. A few weeks ago the pre-registered car count was pretty low, under 22 cars, so I started hustling up some attendance online, along with several others that were going. We saw some SCCA autocross regulars that heard about the event from my Facebook postings and e-mail bombardments, many of which had never done a track day before. After today they were now hooked! With about 30 entrants in the beginner class it was nice to see a lot of new folks trying out an HPDE track event for the first time. Fresh blood - This is what its all about! Now they know first hand how much they need camber plates and better suspension parts...

                Lots and lots... and lots of Mustangs. I think the final car count was 48, which was excellent considering that this was only one day past the Summer Solstice (longest day of the year, and we saw 101°F temps!) and the first event put on by Five Star Ford. Excellent event, catered food, relaxed atmosphere, instructors, perfect SCCA corner workers, and the usual great ECR track crew.

                Costas (black GT-1 Camaro) had the field covered with his hardware and talent, bringing the lightest, most powerful, tube-framed race car with the largest tires. If you got it, bring it! His videos showed a best lap of 1:51, which is mind-bogglingly-fast, and betters the NASA TTR record by a good 4 seconds. He'd be foolish not to bring this car to the October NASA event to potentially get his name in the record books again. His buddy Mike brought his Gold/Orange GT-1 Camaro for some fun laps, but it's not nearly as wild and wooly as the black one. He's still having a lot of fun tracking it each time I see him out there.

                ...Part 2 continued below...
                Last edited by Fair!; 08-03-2015, 03:30 PM.
                Terry Fair -
                2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                  Part 2 of 2, continued from above...

                  Brian Hanchey of AST/Moton USA brought out his new track toy, a 2005 GT with some go fast goodies and suspension. This was his first track event or any real outing in the car, so he and Moton-USA VP (and AI Camaro racer) Mike Patterson wanted to get some shake down laps in after it received a new motor and some other ex-World Challenge bits (big Brembos, engine stuff, Torson T2R). He arrived on some heavy 18x9.5" wheels and 255mm BFGoodrich 300 treadwear tires that came with the car, but I thought those skinny tires were holding the performance back a good bit. I had brought the 295/35/18 Nitto NT-05s on the D-Force 18x10s to show off and possibly sell, so we mounted them on his Mustang for one session. These were better enough to drop his best lap time by about 2.9 seconds - NT05s still are not my favorite track "street tires", but they are a damn sight better than 255 BFG Comp TAs! Once again we realized that tires matter.

                  He got a lot of good laps in, blowing out the old track cobwebs and getting some good data logged on the car and set-up. He had to deal with some needless overheating issues at the event, but after checking data today he saw that it had a theoretical 2:06 lap (with merged sectors from other laps; this sector analyzing is done all the time) - which isn't too shabby for 200 treadwear street tires! Throw on some big fat R compounds and it is knocking on the golden 2 minute barrier. We've turned a few wrenches on this car (made custom race seat slider brackets + some exhaust mods), but most of the drivetrain work was done by a GRAND AM race team. The motor and exhaust sound MEAN on this car and once this hotted-up motor is dyno-tuned and running on real tires, this unassuming black GT will be a track terror. Brian really convinced me to quit screwing around and BUY the damned Torsen T2R, which he raved about in this car.

                  Vorshlag BMW and Mustang - On Track Impressions

                  So the track day event ran super smoothly, but how about some lap times in our cars? Amy went out in the BMW for 3 sessions, where I timed her from pit wall during part of one session (I came in early - after the steering rack's "death shudder" started), but we were mostly out on track together at the same time - hence very few on-track pictures of any of our cars or others' in the Advance group. It wasn't until days later that I had the in-car videos rolling to know the lap times in the Mustang, but we never got times in the BMW.

                  She and I both ran the BMW on track at the same time as Hanchey's Mustang, who was running a new AIM Solo GPS lap timer ($399, or $699 with optional wired OBD-II data option). That little timer unit is nice, and I want one. The OBD-II data stream was quite impressive. The Solo has a great mount, easy to read display, on-board battery, predictive lap timing, it already had ECR in its memory, etc. If you are on the fence about what lap timer to get - just go to Bimmerworld (or your favorite AIM dealer) and get an AIM Solo and be done with it.

                  The BMW felt damn near perfect - brakes were awesome (just some HP+ pads on the stock rotors + good lines), handling was flat and grippy (AST 4200s + 285mm Hoosiers + Powerflex bushings throughout), and the power was surprisingly peppy and easy to put down (OS Giken diff FTW). This lower mileage M54 is a lot better than the original lump we raced with in DSP in 2009. Old blue was pretty darned quick and we both passed most of the cars in attendance while driving it. We can tell from looking at Hanchey's laps during the same session when he was running behind us that the BMW ran at least a 2:09 laps, and more likely 2:08s. This is little better than speculation, but I did manage to get a 2:10 lap timed on one of Amy's many laps. So it easily beat it's old TTD record, now that it is on big Hoosiers. Tires matter.

                  Here is Amy's best lap in the Mustang (2:03.2), with some footage of me in the BMW. Click for 720P video

                  Here's Amy making laps in the Mustang. If you watch her in-car video above you will see me in the BMW, briefly, coming back on track. Yea, I uhh.... had an "off" in the BMW, but nothing got hurt, other than my pride. You see, I was dicing it up on track with Hanchey's Mustang for a couple of hot laps, was screwing around and got the rear tires REALLY hot drifting through Turn 4-5 (on accident!), then took Turn 6 as fast as before... but the rear tires had zero grip. Back end stepped out a little, which I counter-steered, added a little throttle. Didn't help. I added full lock and full throttle. Nope, still coming around. Felt like it was in slow motion, the whole time I'm thinking "What the hell, I don't EVER go off of tracks sideways!". Went for a ride, going off on the inside of the exit of Turn 6. Weirdest off I've ever had. No harm other than some grass packed in the tire bead (since fixed), no foul - except Amy drove by right after I got back on track, so she totally busted me.

                  Left: Amy's "look of displeasure" is obvious! Right: My driving talent on full display. I was merely "exploring an alternative line"...

                  Amy said she had a blast driving both cars, but really liked tracking the Mustang better. It's just always going to be so much quicker on any sort of road course, with nearly double the horsepower. With the same drivers, and on similar tires (R6 vs V710), suspension (AST 4200 doubles vs Moton Club Sport doubles), and preparation level (both cars have cold air/tune/header/custom exhaust) the Mustang was a solid 10 seconds a lap faster than the BMW. It is hard to ignore that. I enjoyed the hell out of the BMW, right until I drove it off track like an asshat. Embarrassing, but I share it all here on this thread. Great stress test for these well used and abused D-Force 18x10s... not a scratch. This set is 5 years old and has been used on 3 cars, including our E36 Alpha car, my M3, and this 330. Zero defects.

                  In-car video of Terry in the Mustang for three hot laps, 2nd session of the day. Best lap of 1:58.2. Click for 720P video

                  OK, now that I've taken my licks, let's get to my good laps in the Mustang. This video above is from my first "full" session on the track that day (remember, I only got one "installation lap" in the first Advance session of the morning's session #1). The cooler temps we saw earlier in the day once again made for the best laps, but at least this time I put in a better drive early rather than late, unlike two weeks ago at the Optima event. Still, this was only my 3rd time tracking this car on R's, and the first time there weren't HUGE problems (cording/bloated front tires at MSR-H, diff fluid pouring on the rear tires at TWS). I still found some driving improvements in the later sessions, like using 2nd gear exiting corner 11, but the rising ambient and track heat negated any lap time improvements. Hanchey rode through with me in session #5 for two hot laps and he enjoyed it, but we only managed to run laps of 2:01.2 and 2:00.4 times.

                  The steering rack's death shudder reappeared this time, like at TWS, but unlike two weeks ago at this same track when I was running street tires. So the issue gets worse on sticky R compounds, as we've proven time and again. Driven hard enough for enough laps it would eventually go crazy and get into a violent shudder, plus sometimes trigger an engine fault as well, like it did in my video above after three hard laps. Shutting the engine off and back on would clear the engine fault/limp mode, but not the steering shudder. Only dipping below 45 mph would temporarily stop it, but it came back as soon as you crossed back above 45. When this happened badly enough (only to me, not Amy) I would just come in, shut it off, and pop the hood and let everything cool down and "reset". Even on normal laps it was still shaking pretty good - we've just gotten used to it. New replacement steering racks should be available from Ford and Ford Motorsport "soon" - after months of "it's still on back-order" (I have heard that Ford continues to find bad *brand new* electronic steering racks in the 2013 production lines, which is why there has been none to spare for Ford Motorsport or repairs. The word is they've fixed the QC issues at the Mexico plant that makes these units).

                  The Mustang's brakes worked flawlessly this time out, so that was a big plus! During the two weeks since Optima we replaced the original vacuum check-valve at the brake booster, which wasn't expensive. We weren't sure if the power assist would work until we revved the piss out of it on track. Well, once on track it was obvious - that fixed it! No telling how long this valve has been bad or "going bad", and leaking down vacuum, but hopefully this is the end of our "brick-like brake pedal" after long acceleration runs on track and in autocrosses. Keep this in mind if you run into similar a lack of brake assist.

                  Our change back to 450F/175R spring rates was huge on track, just like it improved the street ride. The bad front end push we saw at Optima went away; now the car could turn-in easily and accelerate better, so this spring rate set-up stays until we find some reason to try the stiffer rates again. We had some serious rear tire rub in the rear with the 315s on the 18x12s... first from the tire to the fender lip with too much rear wheel spacer, then from the tire rubbing inboard on the stock rear swaybar with less spacer (I pulled 7mm of spacer off after the 3rd track session). The permanent fix here is to run less spacer and remove the stock rear swaybar - by making our own rear swaybar of an all new arrangement. The stock bar routing (and all aftermarket bars follow this) will always limit inboard wheel/tire room on this chassis. More on this in a future post!

                  Overall, I was very pleased with the performance of the Mustang this weekend, especially compared to the dismal performance on street tires just two weeks ago. The brake booster repair, the spring rate change, and the move to wider Kumho tires transformed the car - to the tune of 5.7 seconds faster per lap. Running my 1:58.2 lap in a heavy street car like this is pretty darned quick, considering the NASA TTS track record is 1:58.4, American Iron record is 2:00, and the CMC record is 2:04.2 - and those are set in October, when it's not 100 degrees, in real race cars.

                  I'm going to go ahead and say this, because it was obvious to anyone that watched laps at this event: our mildly tweaked Mustang GT was faster than anything else in attendance, other than Costas' 2200 pound, tube-framed GT-1 monster. Faster than the 2013 GT500, faster than the many Boss 302's, faster than the gutted race cars on Hoosiers (there were a surprising number on Hoosiers or Continental slicks), supercharged Lotus 7 on slicks, and on and on. Even with a girl driving. I don't get to say that often, as there's usually a bunch of prepped race cars at some events that can always beat a real street car like this. Having the fastest Mustang at a Mustang event was pretty cool - because we're not a "Mustang shop" per se, and don't have a big power set-up on this car. It's just a bone stock 5.0 motor with two bolt-ons.

                  On Monday the wing was removed, the street tires went back on, and Amy drove it to work with the AC blowing - like she does every week

                  So hopefully that statement doesn't offend anyone that was there, but... damn the red car was moving! Felt good to run a sub-2 minute lap at ECR again after all these years running in relatively slow cars at ECR since 2008. Major adrenaline rush, big grin for days, pulse pounding good time! And all of you reading this know exactly what we've got on this car - it is not crazy, the opposite of exotic, and we hide nothing. These 2011+ Mustangs really can get you to work and back and still haul ass on track, with the right mix of parts. Anyone could go buy a 2011-2013 Mustang GT (spend $20-30K), copy the parts we've used, and go just as fast or faster. It's easy. Call us - operators are standing by! ha! It really just boils down to running big enough and sticky enough tires (people that say 315s are too big for road course use on a 3500 pound car are misinformed), the right wheels to make those fit, the proper suspension parts (which we're still improving), a little brake cooling + good pads, and a few motor bolt-ons and a tune.

                  One thing to mention: both cars were easy to drive fast. We've got the brakes working very well on both and this is a brake intensive track. The handling and damping on both is exceptional, and this is a bumpy/shock intensive track. True, Amy and I both have many laps at this track (I probably have 20-25 hours on track at ECR) so that helps, but neither of us is some driving savant (look no further than my BMW mega-off at this event for proof of that). Sure, my times are a little quicker than Amy in the higher powered Mustang, but I have a lot more seat time in this car and just ran this car it at this same track two weeks ago; she has never run the Mustang at ECR. Racing these cars was relatively easy, and if it weren't for the lingering steering shudder (that only seems to affect our car this badly) it would have been a completely stress free drive. I missed having a good race seat to keep me planted in place in the BMW, and I let the Hoosier's tendencies to overheat in 100°F conditions sneak up and bite me, but otherwise it was a breeze. I will also note that driving the Mustang on R compounds at a 1:58.2 pace was much easier than sliding around on street tires doing no better than 2:03.9! There was a complete absence of hooning in the Mustang this time around. Hooning is hard work...

                  What's Next?

                  We've cancelled all previously planned track and autocross outings for the month of July, for a few reasons. One, because it iss freagin' HOT in Texas from now until August; many of our local racing clubs stop having events from June-August. Today it was 108°F in Dallas and it will be in the triple digits all week. Those are miserable conditions to race in. We could see 30-60 days of over 100, easily. Amy and I got a touch of heat exhaustion at the Optima weekend, and got another round at this past weekend's ECR events, so we need time to recover. We spent last Sunday in pain, trying to get fluids and electrolytes back into our systems. Once you get heat exhaustion it is too easy to "re-get it", so we need a break.

                  Also, there are some lingering repairs we might finally be able to fix on the Mustang - like the stupid freagin' steering rack! Just heard that these are scheduled to be back in stock June 29th - so we've got one on pre-order (along with a T2R!). Upon inspection on Monday, it appears that the rear brake caliper piston dust seals are now fried, too, but the fronts still look fine. We'll get some new rear seals coming and swap those. Considering how many autocross and track hours of abuse this car has seen in... coming up on two years, this is a pretty good lifespan for dust seals.

                  Tire rub sucks! I am damned tired of this condition making the handling intermittent and weird. We are finally going to remedy this.

                  Lastly, we have a list of new parts to design, build and develop for the S197 Mustang. Going to too many races lately has delayed this considerably. The stock-style rear swaybar flat will not work with a 315mm tire under stock fenders, and it has to be replaced. I refuse to go to smaller rear tires just because Ford routes the swaybar in an inefficient manner. If we can keep the car off of a race track for a few weeks we can build the custom, splined-tubular steel rear swaybar set-up we've been meaning to make for the last year (we now have pieces coming to make this). This will allow the 315mm rear tire to finally fit inside the fenders under heavy lateral loading (it has 1" of clearance now to the bar, but under load the tire is still hitting the rear swaybar). I cannot remember an event yet where the rear tires haven't been rubbing on something - that has to stop. We're trying to make a very tunable rear bar that can work for both semi-serious track/street cars as well as dedicated track cars, so there are some modular bits to work out. We also really want to make a better Watts link than we've seen offered - something that is beyond the "Bolt on Billy" crowd. No bling, less weight, just a new design that has better lateral location and tunable roll center without the need to be 100% "bolt-on".

                  It might be a month before I update this thread again. We have a LOT going on at Vorshlag HQ, including three job openings, and four other major project cars that have been getting worked on in the past month - and another LS1 swap chassis we're adding to the already large array of BMW chassis we've tackled. The E36 LS1 swap kits are selling like mad, with three kits sold in the past three days - and people still don't know about half the sub-system kits we've added in the past quarter (which aren't even on the website yet), not to mention the ones we're about to release.

                  In any case, I better wrap this up. Once again, thanks for reading!

                  Last edited by Fair!; 06-27-2012, 02:21 PM.
                  Terry Fair -
                  2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                  EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                  • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                    Project Update for August 30, 2012: I haven't updated this thread in two months, but we have been busy as ever here at Vorshlag in that timeframe, and a lot of work was done to the Mustang. After the two weekends of race events in the Mustang in June (Optima @ ECR + Ford Dealer @ ECR event) we took a break from racing that car and concentrated on other projects we had going on at the shop. We thrashed around the clock for 4 weeks, tested, and then went to Colorado to support Brianne Corn's Pike's Peak Subaru STi at the 90th running of the PPIHC event. That month is a blur. We also started build projects on a 2013 Subaru BRZ, dove headfirst into a new 1999 Miata LS1 swap, made some strides in our BMW E46 LS1 project, and prepped and sold our $2011 GRM Challenge winning E30 V8. We took on another turn-key E36 M3 LS1 swap, bought another car or two, and have been refocusing our service shop on the things we are really good at.

                    In my last post I was saying that we might not update this Mustang thread for a while because we needed to develop some parts to allow the big rear tires to fit. No, not the monster 345/45/18 Hoosiers, just the relatively tame 315/35/18 Kumhos on our Forgestar 18x12" rear wheels. These wheels should fit within the confines of the stock rear fender contour and inboard wheel constraints (if lateral axle displacement can be kept in check), but the stock style rear swaybar mounting location is sticking right in the way (see lower left picture), and this is where we are seeing the rear tires rubbing time and again. Whoever thought this was a good routing was not a "car guy", who would immediately see this is the inner wheel width limit.

                    We have to add spacers to push the wheel outboard and then they can rub on the fender lips and/or cut into the tread. We've been fighting this all year. Why try so hard to make 315s fit inside the fenders of this car? Well because we have tried tires with these widths - 255, 265, 275, 285, 305, 315 and 345mm - and the car goes faster/is easier to drive/has more rear traction with each step up in tire width. We've determined the 345 tire was a bad call (too wide and too tall - yes, as many of you told us before I raced on them), but the 315 is still a great size to use both front and rear. I prefer the 315/35/18's tire height but Hoosier only makes a 315/30/18 in 18" diameter so that's what I went with for the Solo Nationals.

                    Mustang racing on 315mm Kumhos with 18x11 front, 18x12 rear wheels, rub free. 75 hp worth of graphics are missing?!

                    We also needed some unique suspension parts other than just camber plates and shocks (that we cannot get) to sell for the S197 market - Vorshlag is a business, after all. There are hundreds of shops selling the same old Mustang doo-dads and bolt-on bits, so we wanted to look for something new, unique and different - either that we designed and built ourselves or someone new in the S197 market could come up with. To make room for the rear wheels we had purchased components to use in the design and fabrication of a splined/NASCAR style rear swaybar, to move it away from the rear tires + to give us a cool new product that would have lots of adjustment and probably be lighter, too. As the splined bar, mounts and other parts are arriving I saw this S197 Mustang rear suspension photo on the Whiteline Flatout Facebook page...

                    Whiteline S197 prototype Panhard and rear swaybar

                    Hmm, there are a lot of new parts in that pictures. Whiteline UCA + mount, LCA arms + relocation brackets, Panhard bar and reinforcement, a new rear swabar, and big fat end links. I was staring at this picture for a second, not sure of what it was that caught my eye...then BOOM! The light bulb goes off: I yelled "They've routed the rear swaybar backwards from the stock bar! That clears up tons of inboard wheel room!!" Instead of hanging from the chassis via two stand-offs and attaching to the axle way out by the wheel, the Whiteline swaybar bolts right to the axle housing and has end links that grab the chassis. This routing now removes potential tire rub at the swaybar!

                    Matt heard me shouting in my office and ran over to take a look and to double-check my logic. Vorshlag was already on Whiteline's mailing list from several talks we had at SEMA and PRI, and we were talking all year about doing the buy-in to become a stocking Whiteline dealer. They make bushings, control arms, reinforcement brackets, swaybars and end links for lots of cars, and are the go-to brand for Subarus and EVOs, which are two car models we sell heavily to. But when I saw that their new S197 parts were finally coming out I did more digging. Then I saw their brand new Watts Link, which was unique from all other designs made for this S197 chassis, and I got on the phone, fast. This was another solution that we had a need for...

                    Long story short, about two weeks ago we got our hands on the latest yet still pre-production S197 Whiteline Watts Link kit, their front and rear adjustable swaybars, and their rear upper control arm (UCA) and chassis bracket. We also picked up their new production S197 Panhard bar kit + reinforcement bracket, just for pictures and to keep in inventory. After that round of parts shipped they heard we were running this car at a Global Time Attack race at Texas Motor Speedway at the end of this month, so they sent us their rear lower control arms and relocation brackets to test for that race. These bits aren't SCCA ESP legal (well... we found a way to make them legal, but are not pursuing it just yet), so they are not going on before the SCCA Solo Nationals next week. At the GTA event this car will get the LCA bracket + arms, a lower rear ride height (finally!), and then we will have a 100% "Whiteline equipped" S197 (we will then shoot some on-track video at GTA which they can use in their SEMA booth). Look for that update late in September.

                    Left: The rear swaybar (shown above) is solid and 27.5 mm dia. and routes very differently than any other. Right: Whiteline Endlinks are beefy!

                    The Whiteline parts look incredible, with materials, bushings, finishes and design aspects I'm not really used to seeing in the "Mustang Market". Why is that? Well my theory is that I think there are actually only a couple of real innovators in the Mustang aftermarket world, and then everyone else copies these one or two companies' products, and pretty soon it all looks the same. Then many times production goes overseas and it becomes a "race to the bottom" on price. I have also seen many older aftermarket designs from previous generation Mustangs (Fox/SN95) get re-hashed for the newer Mustangs (S197), too. Whiteline came in to this new (for them) market with fresh ideas from their other car markets, introduced an all-new Watts Link layout and design, and completely new swaybar routing. They have innovated instead of copied or rehashed, and fixed issues for me that I don't even know they intended to (more rear wheel room!). Again, this is my theory and I mean no offense to companies in the existing Mustang market. If you are at one of those Mustang companies and are reading this, I was referring to you guys as the only "real" Mustang innovators, OK?

                    The Whiteline Watts kit is a 100% bolt-on affair, but it is still lightweight. Instead of being a giant stepladder bolted to the car, it is a slick, simple, beefy Watts unit that attaches in all the right places and uses the right materials. Because it is made with their well developed poly bushings it is SILENT in use, and it fit around our custom dual 3" exhaust with plenty of clearance. Will this bolt-on design hold up to the lateral forces of 315mm R compound tires? I was a bit skeptical, but these parts made it through roughly a year of autocross events (12 events x 4 runs) in a single day on 315 Rs, so I've got some confidence in their stuff now.

                    The front swaybar was a pretty straight forward upgrade, and we went with this new "4 hole" adjustable solid 33.5mm diameter Whiteline bar over the old "3 hole" adjustable hollow 35.5mm Eibach swaybar (the stock 2011 front bar was also 35.5mm hollow non-adjustable, at 12.7 lbs). Sure, there was a bit of a weight hit with the WL front bar, but I'm sure they had a reason for going with the solid bar, so we went with it. It doesn't have a dip in the middle like the other two, looking at the picture below.

                    Removing Suspension Noises

                    I haven't really spoken up about this but the last few months of street driving in the Mustang have sucked. After extensive testing, removing parts one at a time and replacing them with stock, we have finally isolated the noises to two components: the Spohn panhard and UCA parts + the UPR chassis mount we had on the Mustang have been making a lot of noise, starting just a couple of months after they were installed. Every bump was a rattle or bang, and it was not at all what I would consider streetable. It didn't happen right away, which was the mystery - they started off dead silent. We have re-tightened the UCA mount 5 or 6 times, which would quiet things down for a day or two, only to return and worsen with each iteration. The "Del-Sphere" joints that were supposed to be quiet were the opposite of that, at least on our car. The holes in the chassis mount did not match the holes in the Del-Sphere joints or bolt size, either, but even making custom bushings to fix that mismatch won't help. It seems to be in the joints.

                    In early August I had asked Ryan to pull the Spohn UCA to see if the noises would subside. The stock UCA with rubber bushing and the factory upper mounting bracket went back on and 50% of the noises went away. We still had the Del-Sphere equipped Panhard rod on - only wanting to change one variable at the time. My wife's daily commute in the Mustang is driven on super smooth concrete roads, but it was still banging and clanking over the tiniest ripple or seam, just not as loudly as before. When the Whiteline Watts link kit arrived (the Watts was delayed a bit but we kept hounding them and got an early release part - the first one outside of their own test car!) the Mustang got into our shop for that install + their rear swaybar.

                    Viola! With the last of the Del-Sphere joints removed ALL of the rear suspension noises were now gone. She street drove it like this last week and was very happy. Then one day this week the stock UCA with rubber bushing and the stock chassis bracket came back off and the Whiteline rear adjustable UCA + bracket and front swaybar went on. Again, it was 100% silent over bumps and articulation, which is exactly what you want on a street driven car.

                    So how do these parts work? So far the only thing I can say is "perfectly". We've pounded street miles on them for a week and then used all of it on the car at an autocross test yesterday with 38 laps of abuse. The new Watts Link kit came with a beautiful cast aluminum rear diff cover, which was a unique part to Whiteline kit. The bracket that holds Watts link "football" bolts to this new rear cover (which also has holes plumbed for a differential cooler), and the football mount can be adjusted up/down with 2 settings for rear roll center adjustment. Some kits have more settings, but I liked the compact nature of their kit.

                    With the new routing of the Whiteline rear swaybar installed the 18x12" Forgestar wheels can finally tuck inboard another 1/2" on each side and now we have no more tire rubbing swaybar. Woot! The swaybar is a big win in my book, because it lets us run bigger wheels. And this big car needs all the rubber on the road it can get.

                    Next up - Testing!
                    Last edited by Fair!; 02-04-2013, 05:44 PM.
                    Terry Fair -
                    2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                    EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                    • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                      Project Update for August 31, 2012: Before someone asks why we went to a Watts, hopefully I can explain this. I'll back up a bit and talk about the Fox and SN95 Mustang suspensions, the stock S197 suspensions, and then the differences between a Panhard rod and Watts link. Then I will cover the dedicated test day we did in the Mustang yesterday, to get the brand new Whiteline Watts link and bars dialed in, and then our last minute preparations and trailer loading for the 2012 Solo Nationals next week.

                      Why is a Watts Better?

                      There are several ways to laterally locate a solid rear axle assembly relative to the chassis in a RWD car like the S197 Mustang. The earlier Fox and SN95 generation Mustangs with solid axles used an opposing 4 link rear suspension that had the upper two control arms canted in at a severe angle, which made their intersecting arcs of travel automatically bind. The upper arms sort of worked to locate the axle, at least with a 4 to 5" window of lateral displacement (with R compounds we would commonly see that much movement!). If you put poly bushings in all control arm locations it would instantly bind up the rear suspension and eventually rip the mounts out of the car. Entire companies existed for a time replacing this car's terrible rear suspension with 3 links, Torque arms, Watts links and Panhard rod solutions. The IRS that came in the 1999 model year Mustang Cobra was a Big Hot Mess adapted from an earlier MN12 chassis (Thunderbird/Lincoln MarkVIII), with new toe links. It never really worked all that well, added weight tot he car (like IRS often does), and had pretty bad axle hop during straight line acceleration. And yes, a solid axle rear suspension is actually lighter than most IRS systems, but just more unsprung weight.

                      Left: The Fox and SN95 solid axle Mustangs has this opposed 4 link. Right: 1999 Cobra introduced this parts-bin IRS

                      Things changed for the better on the 20056 Mustang "S197" chassis. The two most common laterally locating solutions for solid axles in use today are a Watts linkage and Panhard rod. Both of these do essentially the same thing, but in different ways and with different levels of complexity and costs. They provide a linkage which connects the axle to the frame and gives positive lateral locations, while still allowing fluid up-down movement of the axle. The locating device must be free to move in other directions so it does not interfere with the intended motions of the axle. When Ford began the S197 chassis design they used a Panhard rod and a 3-link, with 2 lower control arms and a single upper arm that are pointing directly fore-aft. Much improved, but not perfect. The rear suspension in the Crown Vic of the day was actually more advanced, as it had a 3-link and a Watts.

                      The S197 Mustang had an all-new rear suspension design for 2005, with a 3 link and a Panhard rod

                      A Panhard rod is commonly used by factories that still build solid axle RWD cars because it is simple and cheap. A Panhard rod normally runs across the entire width of the car, with one end pivoted on the axle housing and the other end is pivoted on the frame. Ideally the Panhard rod should be horizontal with the car at the resting ride height position. A Panhard rod does not provide true vertical motion at the end attached to the axle because it arcs about the end pivoted on the frame and there is a slight sideways motion of the axle through suspension travel - this is the big limitation. If the bar is long, if it is horizontal at normal ride height, and if the axle vertical motion is small, then the sideways motion is minimized and not too important, which is the case for most racing cars.

                      On a road car with soft suspension and a fairly large amount of wheel travel, a Panhard rod has downsides. The lateral axle movement allowed by the rod gives a rear-axle steering effect when the wheels rise and fall over larger bump travel. The bar can flex, the rubber pivot bushings can deflect, and when the static ride height is lowered the axle will displace laterally at rest (our car's axle was moved 3/4" to one side) - this is why all lowered cars need an adjustable length Panhard rod, to re-center the axle. Aftermarket Panhard rods usually replace the rubber pivot bushings with Polyurethane, Metal rod ends or some sort of plastic rod ends. Metal rod ends have lots of noise and accelerated wear, and as we have seen the Delrin sphericals seem to suffer the same fate: noise and wear.

                      Left: The black "football" shaped part pivots at the axle cover. Right: The chassis "tower" that the left side Watts link mounts to.

                      A lateral locating device without these problems is the Watts linkage, which is much more common to see on a race car with a solid axle RWD set-up. This design is more complex (2x as many arms and a complicated pivoting axle bracket called a "football") and takes up more space than a Panhard rod, so it is not always the best factory solution - more cost, more difficult to package. The geometry is inherently better, though, and it should be considered on any competition vehicle if at all possible. A Watts linkage consists of the two parallel lateral links plus a vertical link connecting them. If the horizontal links are parallel and equal length they will have the same amount of lateral motion as the ends attached to the vertical link. Because each lateral motion is in a different direction, this rotates the vertical link (football) through some angle, but the center of the vertical link is not affected. This center point travels in a true vertical path, and that is where the axle is attached - thus the axle goes strictly up and down, without the lateral displacement associated with the arc of a Panhard rod.

                      A Watts linkage can consist of tubing for the lateral links, using spherical rod ends for pivots or polyurethane bushings. On a true race car you use rod ends but for a quieter, street-worthy set-up polyurethane is much preferred. The vertical links should be designed to carry bending loads and the center football pivot is usually a rigid bearing on a post so it can rotate but not pivot laterally, often connected to the rear axle differential cover (many Watts kits come with a new cast aluminum diff cover that has rigid holes cast into it for a bracket to mount the football). The attachment between the Watts linkage and the axle is difficult and it must be designed strong enough to carry the side loads in cornering. I've seen some that clamp onto the cover bolts, but the styles that have an all-new rigid cover are preferred.

                      The improvement a proper Watts Link makes over the Panhard design is the rear roll center is fixed at the football, and does not move up and down with ride height changes due to braking, acceleration, and road undulation. This creates more consistent tire loading, more predictable handling, and especially improved transitional response. So in short, you definitely want a Watts Link system if you are competing in any form of motorsports that involves changing lateral loads, like autocrossing or road course racing. The more changes in direction (slaloms or esses), the more a Watts link is desired.

                      August 30th Private Autocross Test Event

                      We had not autocrossed the Mustang since the late May "Spring Nationals" at Lincoln, so yesterday we did twelve autocrosses worth of runs at a private test event. With the 315/35/18 Kumho V710s still mounted on the Forgestar 18x11/12 wheels from the late June track day event, and located farther inboard by 1/2" from before, we loaded the Mustang onto the trailer and crammed in all of our gear. We brought more tools and equipment than we ever have, with a generator and air compressor, air tools, multiple floor jacks, extra springs, and all of our normal gear + our Farmtech timing system. We were loaded for war!

                      Like on our August 2nd Test in Brianne's Pikes Peak Subaru where I got to drive that beast around an improvised road course at 130+ mph, we rented the "Mineral Ring" once again. Getting this 62 acre paved site on a week day is a breeze if you know the right person to call, so we headed out yesterday with the Mustang and our gear. Its 2+ hours each way from our shop to this facility in Mineral Wells, TX, and it always ends up being a battle to miss traffic across Dallas and Ft. Worth along the route. We hit 8 am traffic leaving and 5 pm traffic coming back, but we got a lot accomplished in about 10 hours.

                      Once we arrived we set up the old "Hollis Test Course" that was painted on the site for the past 6 years or so. Laid out about 50 cones, set-up the timers, and unloaded the Mustang. Conditions for August in Texas were as perfect as they get: sunny and clear with 88°F tempts and a nice 10-15 mph breeze all day. It crept up to 98°F by 2 pm but it was still pretty comfortable, considering it wasn't 110°F with a dead calm.

                      We started with a quick alignment check, setting front camber to -3.6° and toe to +1/8" out. Ride heights were already set fairly high, as we cannot lower the car as much as we like without knocking the rear geometry all to crap (those $100 relocation brackets work wonders, if only Street Prepared would allow them). Tire pressures were set at 35 psi front, 32 psi rear and the Moton ClubSport 2-way shocks were set at the middle rebound and compression settings front and rear. The Whiteline swaybars were set in their middle settings front and rear as well. Blue tape was placed on sections where we thought the tires could rub, the video camera was installed, and the new AIM Solo timing display was set-up for this course. Then I started taking laps....

                      Some early and some late test laps in the Mustang - click for video

                      This is a course I have driven hundreds of times so it usually doesn't take long before I am familiar with the course layout and my times stabilize within a tenth. Then we can make adjustments and check times - I let the clocks by the guide and not my "impressions". The AIM Solo was within hundredths of the Farmtek timers so I could see my laps real time. I took 2 hot laps at a time going clockwise on a course with a single start-stop line. In the video above you can hear me keeping notes, but Jason kept a full log of adjustments and lap times throughout the 3 hours of test driving I did. Ryan was busy all day making set-up changes to the bars, shocks, alignment and tire pressures. Plus we had one unexpected delay - a flat tire.

                      A flat out at the Mineral Ring it shouldn't be much of a surprise, as we got a flat in Brianne's Subaru at the same site a month ago (which shut down our testing early that day), but this time we were prepared. Theoretically we are always learning from our past mistakes, right? So I had just gone out for a two lap blast but after the 2nd slalom cone I new something was "off". The car wouldn't turn right the the left front tire was howling under load - I waived off the lap quickly and got back to the trailer for a look. Yep, there was a pin hole in the left front and it was deflating fast. With a plug in the tire, the generator fired up and the compressor buzzing along, the tire was fixed, aired up, and I was back on course in about 3 minutes.

                      Over 3 hours of testing I made a total of 38 laps, and finished with blisters on my hands and a shoulder injury that was howling from some violent corrections I had to make using some of the wackier settings we tried, but we made it through the full sweep of component adjustments we wanted to attack. The new bars worked great and had more adjustments than many others out there with 4 holes per side. The rear tires were no longer rubbing and tucked inboard for a 1" narrower track than before. The Mustang was handling better than ever, especially in slaloms, where I could violently throw it back and forth. The pictures show that the lateral axle movement is much reduced from before (when we had a Panhard rod), and it was easier to drive. We had fixed some other long standing issue, too, but I forget what that was at the moment? It will come back to me.

                      After 3 hours in the car I was pretty hot, sweaty, sore and tired; so were Jason and Ryan, who did most of the heavy lifting with the test adjustments. My driving was starting to get sloppy by about lap 30, where I could only do 1 clean lap out of 2. The temps were climbing towards 100°F so we called it a day. After we loaded back up, grabbed a late lunch, we headed back to the shop in Plano and made it back by 5:45 pm. We have a lot of new cut vinyl graphics and decals to install today that Jason has been working on for the past few days. The graphic design is all Amy's doing, and not at all my thing. If you see the car and have any comments, direct them to her! We are mounting up a sticker set of 315/30/18 Hoosier A6 tires, and I hope this is the right tire choice. I know that 335's would rub the fenders almost as badly as the 345s did, so I am staying safe with the 315s all around. It will likely always pushed with a non-square set-up anyway (it sure did with 315/345s!).

                      So now its Friday and we have to leave for the 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals on Sunday night to make it the 12 hours north to Nebraska by mid-day Monday. Might sneak out to Cars&Coffee Dallas on Saturday morning, as the Pikes PEak car will be on display. Amy and I are going to this Women of Solo Luncheon that Vorshlag sponsored on Monday, celebrating 50 years of Women in Solo. Then she and I race Tuesday and Wednesday, drive back Thursday and are back to work on Friday.

                      This is how the Mustang currently sits, ready for a fresh set of graphics and tires over the next few hours....

                      SportsCar magazine picked Amy to win ESP-L, and I hope they are right. In the past when she had a halfway decent car she has pulled off Nationals wins (2 times), and almost pulled it off in a super-heavy EVO X with a transmission going berserk in STU-L in 2009 (losing by .07 sec). This is the best prepared car we've ever taken to the Solo Nats, so who knows? We still don't have proper rain tires, as they just were not in the budget. We will bring some STX wheels and full tread street tires along for a Hail Mary if it rains, but it is a big gamble - I will just hope that it doesn't rain, and know that if it does it is our fault for not spending the $$$ on Hoosier H2Wets. The ESP open class is packed with well prepped cars and lots of talent, so I will just put in my best effort and see how I do.

                      I will give a post-event update on this thread, of course. You can "like" our "Vorshlag" Facebook page for live updates from Lincoln, and of course SoloLive will have results for the 1200 competitors all week.

                      Last edited by Fair!; 07-30-2018, 09:30 AM.
                      Terry Fair -
                      2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                      EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                      • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                        If i recall the original rear stabar mounting had crash issues to contend with and it was only 12mm diameter, yes 12mm.. since 2004 every iteration of the rear stabar has grown and grown up to the laguna 26mm and now 27mm prototypes. And they were stuck with the legacy mounting due to the crash and fire issues they could not change to the rear facing design.


                        • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                          Project Update for September 8, 2012: We are back from the 2012 SCCA Solo National Championship and we have two new trophies with us. Amy took 1st place in ESP-Ladies and I managed 4th place in ESP open. I'm very happy with that result, especially after seeing how serious the competition was in the 33 car ESP class. Sadly, our daily driven car didn't look too serious among this crowd, but I kind of expected that.

                          New Graphics and Switch to Hoosier Tires

                          I really liked the 315mm Kumho V710 tires we have been running in ESP and for some track use, both because of the taller height (315/35/1 and better wear they give over the shorter lifespan Hoosier. The V710s fared pretty well at the Mineral Wells ProSolo in April, then we ran them at TWS with NASA, an ECR track day, and at some autocrosses. These tires still looked pretty good after all of this abuse, but our test event the week before Nationals tore the crap out of the front tires.

                          At the May Lincoln Pro and Tour events, we ran the gigantic 345/35/18 A6 Hoosiers in the rear and the 315/30/18 A6 Hoosiers up front. The rear tires rubbed everywhere (inside and out) and the fronts were almost completely destroyed after those two events (we brought these fronts to Nationals as "emergency spares"). The car pushed badly with the big front-to-rear grip imbalance as well. So whatever we chose for Nationals would be a "square" set-up with 315s mounted all the way around. We were more comfortable with this after the switch to the Whiteline rear sway bar, which gave us better rear tire clearance.

                          I thought about sticking with the Kumho V710 tire, but looking at event results proved that it really is no longer competitive against the latest gumball "DOT" Rs (Hoosier or Goodyear), so we begrudgingly made the jump to 315/30/18 A6 Hoosiers. It was the lessor of two evils: I know the A6 is very fast, but wears poorly. I also know the Goodyears wear terribly, but I was not convinced it could be as quick after seeing them at the April Mineral Wells ProSolo and the May Lincoln events. This Solo Nationals would answer that, as the Goodyears won in AStock and placed 3rd in ESP.

                          Amy has been bugging for some damned stripes on the car for the past two years. She fell in love with the dual stripes she saw on some early Mustang Challenge entries and worked with JasonM here at Vorshlag. They came up with what you see below.

                          I thought this new graphic layout "was a bit loud", but surprisingly we had dozens of people come up to us and complement the new graphics at Nationals. I'll give the credit for this design to Amy and Jason, as I was against this new look from the start. It's starting to grow on me and I like the car without any graphics better, but we have to sell parts and this kind of look helps people know who we are. After street driving the car these few days after Nationals, the new look definitely attracts more attention from random people on the street than driving naked in a convertible. I don't know if that is good or bad, heh.

                          Once the graphics were finished being applied (wet) on Friday (Aug 31st), we left them to dry overnight and I came up to the shop on Saturday to finish up. I peeled the backing off and it looked... pretty good. I loaded the car in the trailer and got everything strapped down, then took the truck and trailer home to wait. After watching the crazy Belgium F1 race Sunday morning and getting packed for the week in Lincoln, we pulled out of Dallas at about 4:45 pm. We drove 10 hours north to Lincoln, arriving a little before 3 am on Monday. The 10 hour tow was completely uneventful, just like I like it. We made food on the way, never stopped for more than 10 minutes to refuel, and made great time.

                          Left: Setting up our trailer in paddock. Right: I had to move the crapper, which was sitting dead center in our paddock spot

                          Once we got to the event site we parked in our paddock spot, slept for a few of hours, then set-up the trailer and unloaded at about 6:45 am. Grabbed the event decals we needed, applied those, and took the car through Tech. We then bought somebody's Test course entry ($45 for four 30 second runs = ouch) for 1 pm and headed over to the Test Course.

                          Monday - Nationals Practice

                          It is always a good idea to take at least a couple of practice runs on the same surface as the courses before a National Championship event, to get the car adjusted for the new surface and conditions. We had also switched tires from Kumho to Hoosier, so a few runs could hopefully help us see any potential problems. Amy had never driven the Mustang on this "new Whiteline set-up", with the new Whiteline Watts link, UCA + mount, and front and rear sway bars. We happened to end up in the grid at the same time as Tim Bergstrom, a Vorshlag customer on AST shocks and Vorshlag camber plates who has a yellow 2007 GT (see above). He was running in ESP (with co-driver Britt Dollmeyer who eventually finished 2nd in ESP), and also in grid were two other ESP racers in a Boss 302, as well as Amy's lone ESP-L competitor. So at least we could see how she fared against some ESP competition - always a bonus!

                          Click above to see the video from Amy's third run on the Test Course (30.5) - you can still see the Hoosier stickers on the tires in this picture.

                          Amy took three runs and I rode through with her twice to try and push her a bit. She was quick, running both 30.5 to 30.6 sec runs, which was exactly what the yellow GT was running and a bit quicker than the Boss302 and some others we saw in ESP cars. She felt good after three runs and let me take her fourth run, so I strapped in and pulled to the line, as the rain started to fall. Oh great! It wasn't that bad, but raining enough that I had to run the wipers a bit. The car felt GREAT and the timers showed a 29.7 second run, which was quicker than anyone in ESP was running that we could see. The run felt good. Dave Ogburn (ESP racer who finished 3rd, on Goodyears, in Sam Strano's old ESP Camaro) later told me he was running mid 30 second practice runs also, so I was running what I needed to in practice.

                          Click above to see the video from Terry's first and only run on the Test Course (29.7).

                          But looking back, I've "won a lot of Nationals" by looking at times from the Nationals practice courses, yet sadly these have never translated into actual Nationals wins, hehe.

                          Women of Solo Luncheon

                          After the practice event we parked at our paddock spot and got ready for the Women of Solo Luncheon, for which Vorshlag was the title sponsor. I couldn't go (women only), but Amy was there and Brianne Corn went as well. They had over 130 attendees at this two hour gathering, talking about the various contributors to women racing in SCCA Solo for the past 40 years.

                          Left: Women of Solo Luncheon. Right: One week in Lincoln + copious amounts of beer + lots of boring rental golf carts = StreetModGolfCart!

                          Sadly it was decided that 2012 would be the first year at Nationals (in 40 years of running) where a minimum of three entries are needed to crown a "National Champion" for any class. This affected several Ladies classes that had only two entries, including Amy's win in ESP-Ladies. Mark my words: this three car minimum will be the end of Ladies classes. It definitely will be the end of Amy running in Ladies class, as we have decided to avoid this nonsense for 2013. We actually tried to move her into ESP open class on race day, but at 7:30 am Tuesday morning (when we finally found the new "three car minimum" note, buried in the event's supplemental rules) she was told "it was too late" to switch classes... even though late registration was still open until 8:30 am. Was it just lazy registration people or a legitimate restriction? Who knows. It doesn't matter - we should have known about this change to the minimum entrant rule beforehand.

                          SCCA Town Hall Meeting + Welcome Party

                          After the Women's luncheon, we both walked the West course a bunch of times and attended the SCCA Town Hall Meeting. This meeting, traditionally held on the Monday of Solo Nationals week, is where actual members get to talk face-to-face with SEB (Solo Events Board) and various category and class Advisory Committee members. I always go to this meeting if I am at the Solo Nationals to listen, to learn, and to ask questions (and since I write dozens of letters a year to the SEB, "they know me"... if not in a good way). The SEB opened with introductions for the five members in attendance. Then they began a lot of talk about the new 180 minimum treadwear rule for Road Tire class, as well as the plan to replace all Stock classes with RT classes in the future. I think it is a great idea - Hoosier A6 tire costs and the radical differences in performance from "real" street tires to R compounds make Stock class an expensive place to race, and not at all the "entry level class" this category was intended to be.

                          The SEB members had argued around 140, 180 and 200 treadwear minimums, but 180 was chosen for: more tire choices and a "progressive level of grip" from RT -> ST -> SP. After hearing their arguments, I agreed with their thinking and do hope the RT class continues to grow and eventually replaces the R compounds in Stock class altogether. I'm sure this will anger about three dozen people within the Stock class Solo community, but make hundreds of people happier.

                          Annnnd then on Thursday there was another open meeting about "the future of Road Tire", where I heard that Howard Duncan back-tracked everything the SEB had stated about the intention of RT classes (such as this was always a test with the goal to eventually replace Stock classes, Stock class moving away from R compounds in a few years, etc). So yeah, they caved to pressure from the loudest minority within Stock class. Hopefully this was just hot air and the SEB sticks by their guns.

                          The other big topic at the Town Hall meeting was the lack of ST classing for the new FT86 Subaru/Toyota chassis, but the unusual fact that it was classed in C Stock. The SEB said it will be classed right after Nationals - I and strongly suspect it will be placed in STR, and they basically confirmed that without actually confirming that. And were quick to say that it could then be moved to STX or elsewhere within 12 months or something. Personally I think this was a cop-out, and put in my two cents about this subject in our BRZ Project thread and privately to SEB and STAC members. Next, the theme of the meeting shifted to "we have too many classes" in Solo, where I again agree. That open "question and answer" portion gobbled up an hour so they broke up into groups, and Amy and I sat in and chatted with the SPAC (Street Prepared Advisory Committee).

                          I learned a lot about what the SPAC is thinking, with some members asking for more allowances and some asking for "SP-Light", with no fender cutting and emissions rules of ST. Another nugget was the fact that the RX8 is going to be moved to DSP "very soon". Interesting stuff. I have begun a big letter about my thoughts on the age old problems in SP (some extremely dated rules) and the weird overlap between ST, SP, SM and XP. I will talk more on this in a future post.

                          After the Town Hall meeting and some more course walks, we went off site to the Solo Welcome Party, where the food was once again awful. Your choice was a single soggy Sam's Club burger patty or a single dried-and-burnt hot dog, plus some beans and a cookie. And I knew better than to go there expecting decent food, as it's always sponsored, so it ends up being cheap food whenever it's a free welcome party like this. I don't mean to be a hater - Vorshlag has sponsored a number of these welcome parties at SCCA Tours and Pros, it can get expensive, and we haven't done a whole lot better. So I can't complain, but I can warn people . On the way out we saw some fellow Texas Region racers and convinced them to skip this free-food-fest, and we all had some great local beers and better food in the Haymarket area in downtown Lincoln. This is where we usually end up when eating in Lincoln, as there is a great variety of restaurants there.

                          Tuesday ESP Competition - West Course


                          Vorshlag Picture and Video Gallery:

                          Click above for a larger version of the West Course map.

                          After working a hot and lengthy two hour and ten minute heat one (blame all goes to the "special needs" and slow response in grid from the junior karts), it was time for heat three where ESP ran. We lined up with 33 cars in our class, the largest Street Prepared class at the event. My first run started right about 1:15 pm where it was warm at 79°F, and it only got hotter as the day progressed. The west course was set-up nicely by Karen Babb, with big sweepers and some faster sections, and frankly I thought this one would play to the strengths of the Mustang - some room to stretch the legs of this Coyote 5.0 motor. I also feared a shift to 3rd for many competitors. I was dead wrong on all counts...

                          Click above to see the video from Terry's first run on the West Course (59.803). The front looks like positive camber?!

                          Well that run was a bit of a mess. The course was easy to see and flowed well, but the large number of 90°, 180°, and 270° sweepers were not what the 3540 pound Mustang excelled at when compared to the many 3100-3300 pound competitors - almost all of whom were on the same 315/30/18 Hoosier tires. I didn't get lost or hit anything, but the course just "drove a lot slower than it walked" and I wasn't anywhere near topping out 2nd gear like I thought. I also made some errors in judgement about braking and under-drove the course a bit.

                          I was way off on the slalom timing, especially the final few before the finish. Some of my friends were watching the run and said it looked like I was coasting around the showcase turn (big 270° left-hander in front of the crowd) and that I was leaving two feet to the cones at the big offset gates in "double-down". The course had a LOT of left turns and the right side tires got HOT! I was kind of glad I didn't have a second driver. The car's orientation when parked in grid also kept the right side tires in the burning sun, so we sprayed those two tires after every run. My time of 59.803 was a solid second behind class leader Mark Madarash, but I was still in 4th place after the first runs were completed. I decided to push it harder in my second run by tightening up on the cones, focusing on getting on the throttle earlier, and try to stay ahead on the slalom cones.

                          Click above to see the video from Terry's second run on the West Course (59.727).

                          Well my second run was sloppier than my first, now over-driven instead of under-driven. I was much more aggressive on throttle which made for some pushy corners, but I still managed to pick up a tenth of a second (59.727). It was quickly getting hotter and I was the only driver in the top 5 to improve on the second set of runs, with 2nd and 3rd place slowing down considerably and Madarash almost matching his first run. This gave me hope that maybe I could move up if everyone else stayed about the same. I usually run quickest on my 3rd run, so I had some hope. With so many mistakes on that second run, I knew there was more time in the car. I had the car crossed up hard in two places on course that I knew were costing me time. I was going to go for a hero run on my last shot at the course.

                          While I was standing outside the car trying to think, the AWD turbo Eclipse that was in our class was idling 15 feet away. With the wind blowing towards me, it was choking me with clouds of oil smoke. This car was a big hot mess, leaking oil from everywhere, covered in duct tape, and always trailing blue smoke. It actually won the ESP class at the ProSolo, launching incredibly well and eeking out the win over Mark Madarash. At the Solo Nationals, the two drivers only managed 13th and 27th spots. After its second runs on the West Course, it caught on fire.

                          I was looking right at this smoking mess, using my mind powers to try and will it to turn off, when I noticed some dancing lights under the car. The driver was leaning on the left side door, about to get burned. It took me a second but I realized it was on fire, so I yelled "Hey, your car is on fire!" He looked at me funny.... "Yes! YOUR. CAR. IS. ON. FIRE! WE NEED SOME FIRE BOTTLES HERE, RIGHT NOW!" Flames are now licking up the door and it's really blazing. Two people showed up with extinguishers within 10 seconds and used them both to put the flames out, which kept re-catching. I crawled under while they were hitting it with extinguisher and noticed fuel pouring out of the tank onto the exhaust. "Shut the car off!" It finally went out, but it was dumping fuel on the grid, so we pushed it back 40 feet, away from the other cars. Then they ran over my foot and set the parking brake - "Get it off my foot! Get it off my foot!" Once my foot was free I limped back to my car and got belted up - because grid worker was ready for me to drive. Oh boy...

                          continued below
                          Last edited by Fair!; 08-03-2015, 03:33 PM.
                          Terry Fair -
                          2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                          EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                          • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                            continued from above

                            Click above to see the video from Terry's third and final run on the West Course (60.146+1).

                            Well my hero run was anything but that. It looked okay until I got to the section called "Flop, turn and river", where I got behind and pushed wide. Then I murdered the "wallom" section called "Five cone draw", double-turning into each offset. I could also smell tire smoke and something burning, which meant the rear tire rub was back. This really drove me nuts and I let it throw me off in the last slalom, "Six the easy way". Hey, I don't make these names up, just referencing the map. The run was junk and I knew it, even before I heard the time. The run was a solid 4 tenths slower and I hit a cone in the final slalom.

                            My runs on West course felt like my worst driving in a single day at Nationals in quite a while. I just could not seem to put a complete run together on what I felt was the simpler of the two courses. Mark got a tiny bit quicker on his third run, but the big mover was Tim Bergstrom, who dropped almost a full second on his last run and bumped me down to 5th place for the day. Now I desperately hoped the East course was going to help with my placing. It looked like a gigantic cluster-f*ck of a course, hard to see with weird cone markings, and I noticed corner workers picking up lots of cones all day. For whatever reason I seem to do better when the courses are uglier, so who knows?

                            After my runs I went into "helper" mode and got the car re-gridded for Amy's ESP-L runs in 5th heat. We hung out in the idling Dodge with the A/C blasting on Max because it was creeping up to 100°F outside and we were feeling the heat. With both of us working in a very long first heat, thrashing to get the car ready in the second heat, and running in the third heat with Amy assisting - we had forgotten to eat and had not been drinking enough water. After the heat and humidity of the long afternoon, we both felt like crap and were moving into the early stages of heat exhaustion. The tire rub issue? I was so over-heated I didn't even remember to fix this, other than a brief mention to Amy after my last run. We both sat in the truck for a solid hour trying to cool off, then Amy had to run...

                            Tuesday ESP-L Competition - West Course

                            Right before Amy got in the car to make her run, the skies opened up and it rained hard for about three minutes, it even dumped some hail. Only one driver made a full run in the hail and rain mess - Brianne Corn, the defending B Mod champion driving in an open car. The other driver's behind her got flagged off and had re-runs, because the hail was setting off the timers. Just look at this mess!

                            "Oh HAIL no!" ...Brianne Corn driving in adverse conditions

                            I am writing a letter about that because she was getting pelted by hail in an open car. I get that we "run in all weather" like rain, but they will stop the course when during lightning, high winds, or weather so bad that it stops the timers. I think hail should be an instant "lets hold off for a minute" break in an autocross. That's not asking too much, is it?

                            So Amy was feeling the pressure when the fifth heat finally rolled around and she was once again the very last car in the grid (just like at the Spring Nationals here in Lincoln).

                            Not many competitors in ESP-Ladies - you're looking at the entire class.

                            Amy has had very little seat time in this new set-up - Remember, we made major changes to the car just one week earlier and she was unable to join us during the private test we held. I made 38 runs at the Mineral Wells test and one more at the Nationals practice. She made three runs at the Nationals practice and was almost 3/4 of a second off my pace.

                            Click above to see the video from Amy's first run on the West Course (60.301).

                            Amy's first run looked pretty good. She came out of the box swinging and was six tenths off of my best time for the West course. Her second run was a hair slower with an almost identical time to her first run (60.301 then 60.381). She was overshooting some braking zones and she knew it, so on her third run she tried to dial those back a bit and nail a quicker time.

                            Click above to see the video from Amy's third run on the West Course (60.044).

                            Her third run (60.044) looked pretty darn good and she dropped three tenths, finishing up only three tenths off of my best time. This was probably one of her best drives all year. She was disappointed that it wasn't in the 59 second range, but a 60.044 run was quite respectable even in the ESP open class (would have been in the trophies for day one). Especially so considering the higher ambient temperature in the fifth heat compared to when ESP open ran (third heat) and her almost complete lack of experience with this new suspension set-up.

                            It was a long day. The East course had been wrapped up for a while before Amy's first run on the West course began, which the video camera shows was at 5:27 pm. It was 5:54 pm on her second run, 6:22 pm when she made her third, and 6:45 pm before they were released from grid. To say that West course was running late was an understatement! We were taking our first walk of the East course after sunset - what a long ass day.

                            Changes After Day One

                            One delay that kept us from walking the East course before dark was about 30 minutes we spent back at our paddock spot doing some repairs. Amy and I had both noticed the smell of tire rub on our Day One runs. I took a peek after one of my runs and yep, the tire was rubbing in the rear once more. We brought the 18x12" wheels inboard quite a bit after the switch to the Whiteline Watts link and re-routed rear sway bar.

                            As you can see in the pictures above, the Hoosiers were rubbing through the rubberized insulation/liner at the rear and were getting into the painted part of the chassis as well. Even saw some rubber deposited on the FRPP upper shock mounts. This wasn't a problem with the same spacer/wheel set-up at our Mineral Wells test a week earlier, but the added grip of the fresh Hoosier A6s and the grippier concrete of Lincoln over the asphalt at Mineral Wells must have been enough to allow a tad more axle displacement under load. The West course featured a LOT of looooong sweepers, too. The tires themselves only showed some wear at the extended "rim protector" part of the bead - it was barely scuffed.

                            In order to fix this, we pulled off the pair of thin spacers and put on some that were an 1/8" wider. A minimal change to the track width and feel of the car, but it was apparently enough as we didn't have any more tire rub on Day Two.

                            Also, while the car was in the air we verified the rebound settings on the Moton Club Sports, which have to be adjusted with this little tool with the tires off. Then we used our RocksOff tire scraper to get the pebbles off the sticky A6 rubber. We didn't have a problem with "OPR" pickup, other than a few strands I could peel off with my hands. I guess the ESP car was heavy enough to scrub off the fronts and powerful enough to keep the rears clear of rubber pickup. I saw lots of stock class guys madly scraping their tires between runs with cordless cutting tools and at night with torches and scrapers.

                            continued below
                            Last edited by Fair!; 08-03-2015, 03:34 PM.
                            Terry Fair -
                            2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                            EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                            • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                              continued from above

                              Wednesday ESP Competition - East Course

                              Click image above for a larger version of the Roger Johnson designed East Course.

                              After a late night walking the East course and an awesome meal at a place called "Toast", we hit the ground running at 6:30 am Wednesday morning. We walked the course at dawn, then unloaded the car to get it ready. We worked the East course in the first heat at a real cluster-f*ck corner where we shagged upwards of 40 cones. This "ring of fire" section was a real visual mess and lots of people took out 1-4 cones at a time in this section. I'm not knocking the course - it did exactly what Roger intended... caught people out and "separated the men from the boys".

                              Once we got to grid in the third heat, it wasn't quite as hot and I was hoping some ESP drivers would fall for the many visual traps on Roger's course - and that I would not. Being in 5th place was not where I wanted to start the day, but I was hopeful that I could move up one or two places if I nailed this course.

                              Left: Wednesday's 33 car ESP Grid. Right: Mark's racing secret Activia yogurt is kicking in!

                              The plan was to go out and try to lay down a FAST first run, which I did... and promptly murdered the very last cone on course, in the very section where I worked the course!!!

                              Click above to see the video from Terry's first run on the East Course (69.034 +1).

                              Grr, I was so pissed at myself. The run time was great and it would have moved me right up into 2nd place according to the announcer, but then he heard the cone call. That "simple constant radius turn" in the "ring of fire" section of the East course was the hardest corner of the event, bar none. There were all sorts of visual tricks, the camber of the surface changed as you went around the corner, and you came into it all kinds of crossed up. I worked on this section all day, and after getting it mostly right on my first run I promptly got LOST in this section on my second run. FFS...

                              Click above to see the video from Terry's second run (69.802).

                              Actually I got lost in two places on that run, after getting through fairly quickly and easily on my first attempt. I let my "coned" first run mess with my head. On my second run, getting lost slowed me down eight tenths and moved me all the way down to 10th place in class. The car felt fine, but I just lost my way and really psyched myself out. After being in 4th place almost the entire first day, I was mired down in 10th place going into my last run of Nationals?! Oh man, was I sweating. It was "hero run time"...

                              Click above to see the video from Terry's third run (68.735).

                              I nailed my last run - Hot diggidy DAMN! I knew the run was good before I heard the time or placing, and I got out of the car shaking. Man that felt good! It was really only about 3 tenths quicker than my first run, but it didn't have the cone penalty. This run moved me from 10th place (outside of the trophies) into a solid 4th place overall, only .058 behind 3rd place. After watching some second drivers improve but not bump me lower, I stayed in 4th place. Dave Ogburn pulled off a quick last run and increased his lead over me to 4 tenths in 3rd place.

                              I was so glad to be done and to have moved into the trophies. I normally wouldn't be so happy with a 4th place finish, but after seeing the car builds and drivers in the top 10, I think I was pretty lucky to have done this well in an emissions-legal street car with A/C, navigation, big stereo, untouched fenders, and all that. And for as heavy as our car ended up being (more on that below). Here is a small sampling of the ESP competitors.

                              Left: Eight time ESP National Champion Mark Madarash's '88 Firebird (on ASTs). Right: Second place finisher Britt Dollmeyer in Tim Bergstrom's '06 Mustang GT (on ASTs).

                              Left: Dave Ogburn's third place '01 Camaro on Goodyears. Right: Opie Viets' 3rd Gen '84 Camaro.

                              Left: Fifth place finisher David Feighner's '95 Cobra R. Right: David Gushwa's Mustang Boss 302.

                              Left: Twelfth place finisher Mark Foley's '99 Firebird. Right: Dave Heinrich's Mustang Boss 302 finished in the trophies in seventh place.

                              Left: Tye "Colossus" Jackson's '01 Camaro. Right: Sixth place Jonathan Newcombe trophied driving James Darden's '97 LT4 Z28.

                              Darden actually tied Brad Owen for the 9th and final trophy spot, down to the .001 second, so they looked at their next fastest times to break the tie, which supposedly went to Owen (but the official results show Darden in 9th?). They brought this up at the awards banquet and gave a free set of BFG tires in the size and model of his choice to Darden, to ease the pain. Pretty cool condolence prize!

                              During the ESP Impound, we all talked and joked around and nobody even hinted at being upset or protesting anyone or anything like that. The ESP group here at Nationals, many of whom I met at the Mineral Welss ProSolo or the Lincoln Pro/Tour in May, really is one of the nicest, most helpful, greatest group of racers I've run with in my 24 years running in SCCA Solo. We had 33 fierce competitors, but as we saw when the hood smashed into our windshield at the May event (against much of the same group) and again when the Talon caught fire, they are all quick to jump in and lend a hand to any fellow ESP competitor in need. Good stuff - thanks for being so welcoming to this ESP noobie this year, guys!

                              Wednesday ESP-L Competition - East Course

                              Texas Region racer and friend Wayne Atkins had pointed out that after my second East course run the left spoiler upright was coming loose. I didn't have tools in grid to fix it and they convinced me to stop worrying about it... it eventually came completely loose on my third run, for an unintended "DRS" spoiler effect (F1's "drag reduction system"). Before the fifth heat I motored back to the trailer, grabbed some tools, and came back to re-assemble the uprights. I can't blame anyone else, as I was the one that bolted it together last time. Doh!

                              When the fifth heat finally rolled around we had Amy gridded up and the spoiler was back into the "fixed" configuration. She had a healthy 3+ second lead coming from Day One, so I wanted her to concentrate and try to get as close to my times as she could. Her first run was a mess, with a clean but off pace 72.333 run. She admitted to getting lost in several places and having trouble seeing past Roger's course's visual tricks. I had her look at the map and sit in the truck until her second run.

                              Click above to see the video from Amy's second run (71.007).

                              This run was an improvement thanks to finding her marks better, but she still under-braked into one section, which pushed her off line going into another section and messed up her rhythm. It was a clean run, but still 2.3 seconds off my last run. I tried to get her psyched up for a final "all out" run to drop more time, but she slowed down nine tenths and hit a cone (70.901 +1), but still managed to win.

                              Looking at her times compared to ESP open, she would have still placed 15th which was better than mid-pack. Her times on the West course were a lot more competitive, but these "visually challenging" courses seem to catch her out. It's something we need to work on for next year if she is going to run in ESP open.

                              Wednesday Awards Banquet

                              As usual the fifth heat on our side finished hours after fifth heat on the opposite course. After impound we still had to load the car into the trailer before heading to the Awards Banquet, which started at 5:30 pm. Once the car was in the trailer (in record time) it was after 5:30 pm, so we just drove straight there and skipped going to the hotel to shower and change, unlike most attendees. Of course we got there way early and none of the award stuff started until about 7 pm, so we should have stopped and cleaned up.

                              We sat with our fellow Texas Region racers and waited for the trophy presentation. And waited. And waited. Lots of non-competition awards and presentations, delays, and the banquet stretched on for a total of four hours, ending at 9:30 pm. During the ESP awards, which were very late into the banquet, people had started wandering off and looking at professional photographer's pictures and such. Then they forgot to announce to our group beforehand to "get on deck" and the first half of the trophy recipients never heard their names and didn't walk across the stage, including myself. I walked up and grabbed my plastic 4th place trophy that I don't want to think about how much money went into earning.

                              We figured out who was on stage and calculated when ESP-L would be called so Amy was there to get her "Class Winner" trophy, but she won't get another National Championship jacket or name in the rule book. Yay, this is the new "three car minimum" requirement in action, and the beginning of the end of Ladies classes.

                              After that marathon banquet we crashed out at the hotel, got up late, and hooked up the trailer. Then we blasted back to Texas on Thursday, getting home by 9 pm and ready for work on Friday. We would have loved to have stayed all week, but we both needed to work the next day. On the drive home we both bench raced some ideas and I calculated what I thought we would need to do if we wanted to be more competitive in ESP in 2013. Being 1.6 seconds back from the class winner was a huge gap to make up, and more than I think I can get with just chassis tuning and driving improvements. I had a feeling we were one of the heaviest cars in the top 10, but I had no idea how much so until we got back.

                              Mustang on the Scales & the Big Surprise

                              I didn't weigh the car at Nationals because we were pretty busy both days of competition and I hate being "that guy" that wants to weigh his car on the SCCA scales needed for Impound weight verification. I have scales at our shop and we had weighed it numerous times in the past, so I "knew what it weighed". Just for grins I had the guys throw it on the scales right out of the trailer, at the exact fuel load and race weight we ran at Nationals. Then I looked at the readout and did a double-take...

                              3540 pounds!?! WTF! I went to my computer and found all of the weights we had taken of this car, all the way back to when it was brand new (3563 lbs). Holy crap - the car had gained 72 pounds since our last weighing at the Mineral Wells ProSolo earlier this year (3467 lbs), and now it was within 20 pounds of bone stock! The lowest it ever weighed was 3442 lbs, back in December 2011 when we ran it in STU form on 18x10's and 275mm Bridgestone tires.

                              Wow, this was an eye opener. We weigh it often, but let this 72 pounds kind of creep into the car without notice. I knew that Mark's winning '88 Firebird was about 3100 lbs and Tim's 2nd place '07 GT was 3260 lbs. This 3540 pound weight was way high. Now we know what to concentrate on - WEIGHT! We have since weighed some cars, pulled some parts and scaled them, and have a pretty good idea where all of the lard is. I will expand on this GREATLY in future posts.

                              Photo Credits and Car Impressions

                              About 95% of the pictures in our 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals Photo Gallery were taken by me or Amy, with our Nikon D90, and a few with our iPhones. I also got a few from C Prepared racer Jeff Stroh, two from, and a few from Tom Reynolds. Thanks to all of you! I need these pictures to help me remember what happened & to better explain this crazy sport and these events. I can't say autocrossing is the most exciting sport to observe, but it is competitive and very intense. The pictures also help me see what our car is doing, what other's are doing, and they point to areas we can hopefully improve. Like this one Stroh took:

                              The Lean Machine

                              One thing that I noticed (and many other people pointed out!) looking at the pictures of our car vs the other top ESP drivers' cars is that our Mustang has a lot more LEAN, which also kind of crept up on us. The updates we made with the Whiteline bars, UCA and especially their Watts Link Kit added a lot of lateral stability and more grip, and the switch to Hoosiers from Kumho added grip, as did the concrete surface over our test site.

                              So yes, we are going to raise the spring rates from the current soft set-up (450F/175R) to a firmer set of rates (550F/250R). The soft set-up worked great for both road course and autocross events when we were dealing with other issues like lower grip tires (street tires all the way up to the V710s), the steering shudder (yes, which is gone), and a clunky Panhard rod set-up. These new springs are going on the car next week.

                              We also noticed that our car was sitting higher in the rear than most S197s, so we will test a lower rear ride height separately. Once we have the stiffer springs on it will be tested at the current ride height, then lowered and tested again. After watching the videos, the car seems to have a good bit of steady state push which we need to work on too. So we have a lot of work to do for next year.

                              What's Next?

                              In the short term we have a Global Time Attack event we will run in this Mustang on September 22nd at Texas Motor Speedway. We just ordered some fresh V710s that we will use for that event. The spoiler is staying on because my big APR GTC300 wing is still on Brianne's Pikes Peak car, which we will hopefully bring to the GTA event as well. The very next day we are autocrossing the Mustang with the Texas Region SCCA at a new concrete site in Crandall, TX, which is closer to the shop than any other Dallas/Ft. Worth autocross site. This concrete parking lot could become my new favorite site to autocross in Dallas, and I am asking them about renting it for private test events as well.

                              There's also a NASA Texas race weekend at Eagles Canyon Raceway on October 6-7th, where I will run the Mustang one day and the E46 330Ci the next, if everything lines up perfectly. After that... well, we have some surprises in store. We will be concentrating on a much more purpose-built ESP autocross-only Mustang for the 2013 season. Less weight, more tire, more power. Don't know a lot yet, but we have made budgets, parts lists, and extensive plans, but that's all I know for sure right now: more tire, less weight, more power. I'm not going to improve my driving enough to beat these guys, so I have to get more serious about the car!

                              Thanks for reading my epic 2012 Nationals post. I will post again after the GTA event and autocross in two weeks.

                              Last edited by Fair!; 08-03-2015, 03:35 PM.
                              Terry Fair -
                              2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                              EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                              • Re: Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build

                                Any updates with the M-3200-EPAS? Looks like it might finally be available (saw some on ebay). This stupid steering shudder makes it extremely unnerving to drive spiritedly on public roads.