Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thunder Hill 09

Off to ThunderHill for the 2009 running of the ArseFreezeApolooza 24 Hours of Lemons

Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Team

Thanks to:
Dennis "Better late than never" Healy
Joe "Why am I still awake, and I'm not even driving" Thompson
Doug "I hate Volvo's" Updenkelder
Matt "Can I get a Liter of Cola?" Updenkelder

Not pictured:
Erik "I am too important for my own team" Torgeson
Michael "Yeah, peace out" Ericksen

I had a blast guys, congrats on 13th, and the ugliest car award.

ChumpCar aftermath

Man, what a great time! Overall, our team did very well with all things considered. We finished in 13th out of 39 cars and managed to keep our lap times very consistent. We had a couple snafoos

I will detail our failures, and what I attribute them to. Erik and I have invited a couple of the drivers from the PIR race over this weekend to get the car back together for the Thill race... while they may not be too excited about it, they have graciously offered to help.

1) Sometime throughout the night, we lost the C-clip that held the shift linkage in place. We lost 2nd and 4th midway through Erik's stint and attempted to fix it with zipties. When the first ziptie broke about 20 minutes later, we quadrupled the number of zipties and it seemed to be holding. As a precaution, we started wondering the pits for someone with an MR2. We found a donor car (someone's daily driver) to borrow the c-clip out of, and changed it out at the next driver change. We have a spare, so this shouldnt be an issue

2) We developed a pretty nasty oil leak with about 2 hours left in the race... we were losing about a qt an hour through a small hole in the oil pan. It's on the back of the pan and I'm pretty sure its right where I welded the baffle back together. I'm a welding nub, so im sure I weakened the metal enough that it finally gave way 23.5 hours into the race. We have 2 oil pans, so we will either have Dave fix this one.. or put a stock one back on.

3) Our tires were awesome! Not as grippy as the RT615's, but lasted the entire race! I'm pretty sure we could get 48 hours out of a set. They are predictable like the TOYO's, but half the cost. We had 4 mounted and balanced for about $225. We ran Dunlop DZ101's. For the money, I was very happy with them.

4) Dave, your race pads in the front are GONE... we went through the pad, went to metal and metal and finally threw the pad across the track at turn 10. This caused us to lose the piston out the back as well.. causing fluid to leak all over the inner wheel. Dennis pulled in the pits with the wheel literally on fire with 45 minutes to go. We put out the fire, got Dennis out of the car and made sure everything else was looking alright. We then pushed the car all the way back to pit-out and shoved Dennis back in the car... On the final lap, Dennis went out for one more lap with no brakes.. just to get the checkered flag. We finished!

Upon reflection, I still woudlnt have changed the pads during the break... i thought we had plenty of pad to finish the race, i was wrong.. but only by 30 minutes :)

At least we won a trophy, although it's not the best award to be known for. We pulled off the "ugliest car on the trailer BEFORE the race"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday down... Race day here we come!

Holy shit it's cold... and wet

Friday went off without any notable hitches. We ended up with 39 cars showing up (2 didn't show).


I've seen many shark themes... MANY.. and this one takes first place in my book for creativity. The whole front end of the car was custom molded!

What crap can race would be complete without a star wars theme?

What to do with that damn parts car that's gathering moss in your backyard? Make a BBQ out of it of course! Nice work guys!

And yes, that's a Fiat X/19

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off to the races!

It's 8am... and were headed to the track!

Expanded coverage of the race will be posted here! Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Test Drive! Wow it's loud...

Ignore the first 2 minutes.. this is the first time i've gotten our camera to work.. Turns out HDD cameras don't like being in cars. Scored 2 8 gig memory cards for my DCR-SR85. Success!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ChumpCar Portland: T-minus 10 days

The inaugural ChumpCar race at Portland International Raceway is now 10 days away... and are we ready? Yeah right...

Current items on the To-do list:

-Fix oil cooler (JB Weld?)
-Finish motor break-in
-Install radios
-Mount / balance spare tires on spare wheels (yes, we bought spare wheels for $125 on craigslist)
-Diagnose and fix water leak? (Erik fails at soldering)
-Mount lightbar
-Wire headlights
-Tape headlights
-Change oil
-Bleed brakes
-Finish windmill 2.0
-Install "boost gauge"
-Find another windshield wiper
-Replace wiper blades (because if we don't, its going to rain)

Monday, October 19, 2009


For anyone that actually follows my blog, and give a shit about what I post.... this is for you

Windmill 2.0 Teaser


Holy crap it runs... sorta...

Actually, it runs pretty well above 4k rpm. With the "aggressive" valve job performed by Erik (wait, let me clarify that neither of us had a CLUE what we were doing... when I say aggressive, I really mean Erik didn't know when to quit removing material), the car basically falls on it's face under 4k. I guess it's a good thing we run between 4k and 7k at race speeds.

We found 2 coolant leaks and diagnosed the wrong size o-rings... it turns out that removing the water pump takes about 10 minutes when you have giant holes in the side of your car.

Today, the car developed a pretty severe oil leak... it turns out our oil cooler was smacked when the motor was installed, so we have to go on a hunt to find a replacement. Our old one was a tranny cooler from an 87 Saab 9000 (anyone have one laying around?).

I hope no-one asks how we plan on "breaking in the motor"... because it might involve driving it up and down the road at full throttle. Break-in shmak-in

More progress

T-minus 1 weekend until the first ChumpCar event in our backyard!

Background: Remember our motor blew up at Buttonwillow? The block is toast. Fail. So we set out searching for a replacement motor, since our spare motor that we limped in on burned about a qt an hour. We found 2 4AGE's growing weeds at a dude's house in Clatskanie (read: BFE). For $300 we got 2 motors in "ran when pulled = who the hell knows" condition, and a spare transmission which I shortly thereafter needed a tetnis shot just to get the thing out of the truck. Who cares, this is crap-can racing!

2 ebay gasket sets later, we had 2 "rebuilt" motors. We had a die-grinder party with the two heads and made some low cost, high value performance upgrades! (port match, valve grind). Nothing professional, just sticking with the budget. A Makita cylinder hone, and a Makita valve lapping rounded out the remaining work on the two motors. Luckily, the internals were salvagable out of the two motors, so we didn't need to buy anything except the gasket sets. I wish I could tell you all this took place in a weekend, but with my travel schedule.. it took Erik and I about 3 weekends to do the poor-mans-rebuild.

Here we sit with 2 motors, 0 miles, and NO idea if they are going to work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Windmill 2.0

Alright, the windmill powered supercharger was certainly interesting. The fan spun which charged the battery via an alternator which powered an "electric supercharger" which shoved air in to our intake. Overall performance gain? maybe 1/2 hp at idle, and it probably restricted our intake at WOT. Awesome? Yes! Effective? Not even close.

Enter Windmill 2.0

Details of this new engineering marvel have yet to be released (aka we're probably not sure what it's for yet). But I'll tell you one thing... It's twice as mean and twice as dangerous. I'm pretty sure this one would take off a finger at full speed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ButtonWillow aftermath

Wow... It's been umm... 5 months since buttonwillow? And I haven't TOUCHED the blog.... why?

Because Buttonwillow sucked.. big fat hillbilly ass...

Let me start by saying that Buttonwillow, CA is a LOT further in reality than it seems on google maps. Hell, it's only 300 more miles than Thunder hill... Holy crap the commute sucked! Since the weather forecast was set for a blistering 102 degrees on both race days, Free Range Racing came prepared! Thanks to Erik's grandparents, we were able to procure a 34' 5th wheel to take down to the race. AC? check! Water? check! Beds? check! would we have time to use any of those things? Nope..

It all started Friday afternoon during practice. Erik, Dave and I all had pretty good sessions on the track for warm-up but when I pulled in... we noticed a slight "ticking" coming from the top end of the motor. Assuming it was just valve noise, we send Christopher out on to the track. 20 minutes later... BOOM. Shit... really... shit...

Christopher managed to get back in to the pits, but the damage had already been done. What was the problem? No idea... It just didnt want to run anymore. We assumed the worse and started pulling the head about about 4pm Friday evening. 2 hours later, we had a visably blown motor. 18 hours until green flag.

Now the remaining 18 hours is a complete blur... Dave got way too drunk and passed out, Christopher braved the late night to keep Erik and I company, and to assist with the parts car motor pulling. I pulled the blown motor out of the car with help from the drunk passer-bys. I'd love to fill in all the lovely details about how much it sucked... but it's such a blur that I don't really care to recall it. We went to bed at 3am and were up by 6am back under the car.

Green flag! We're still in the pits.... at this point we knew the motor ran and we knew the timing was at least good enough to limp us through. 10am green flag, and we were out on the racetrack by about 11:30am. Hour and a half down... shit. Less than 10 laps later, Christopher came back in with a cooling issue. These MR2's are notorious for getting bubbles in the collant, so we assumed it would take a few laps to iron out the bugs. By 12:30pm, we were running strong(ish) and limping through on the unknown parts car motor. 83rd place. Awesome

By the end of Saturday, we worked out way back up to the 50's and managed to keep the car on the track for the rest of the day. At each driver change, we were putting in about a qt of oil in the car so we obviously had a HUGE leak somewhere.. Where? who cares... At the end of day 1, it was time for celebration.. not wrenching. Erik and I wondered around the pits, heckling anyone we came in contact with. Poor Metro-Gnomes.... sorry for pissing you off that night :)

Sunday came and went, Christpher had a couple black flags that landed us in the penelty box but overall we did pretty well. At the end of the race I think we were 36th. Considering we sat out about 2 hours in the beginning and were in every 10 laps for at least anohter 2 hours, we were happy. OK, maybe happy is not the right word... Content? Neutral? Pissed? Livid? OMGIWANTTOKILLSOMEONE? yeah, that one

It was fun, it was long, it sucked ass

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ChumpCar has pulled it off!

OK So there is a new <$500 car series that is currently being established, and their first stop is freaking PIR! (Remember, PIR is about 3 miles from my house). We have been PLEADING to have a lemons event there, but I guess the track is too fast. Not for the ChumpCar guys!

Kudos to you ChumpCar, and we will see you in October!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Welcome Christopher!

So Jeff has decided to step down for Buttonwillow... something about the 112 degree weather wasn't enticing... old men /shrug (no, he wasn't thrown off for black flags.. as much as Erik probably wanted him to be)

Enter our stand-in
"Racecraft" Bender - Driving Gladiator

Final Day

It's amazing what a difference it makes when you DO NOT get black flags!

For most of the second day, we remained black flag less..

Due to a drastic decrease in tire tread.. the car was a pain in the a$$ to handle. Our multiple race TOYO's were on their last leg, and we wondered if they would even get us through the afternoon.

Erik started out, flawless

Dave hopped in, flawless

I got in, flawless

Jeff got in.... well, you can see where this is headed. 30 minutes in to the "final" stint of the weekend, Jeff pulled ANOTHER black flag for contact.

First words out of Jeff's mouth "Someone hit me! Someone always hits me!"

We figure it has something to do with the fact that he loves to dive in, late brake and steal the apex away from the cars in line. While this in fact is an effective (although dick-ish) way to pass.. this is NOT how you win an endurance race.

This time the judges were all-to-familiar with Jeff and his antics.

"We want chocolate!" barked a man in black robes

So legs were caution taped, direction were given... and Jeff and Driver X set off together to fetch chocolate.

30 minutes, 4 chocolate cookies, and a Hershey bar later.. Erik was in the car to finish off the day!

Checkered flag... WE FINISHED! Tires SHOT, dehydrated, tired, hot, sore.... who cares. We did it!

At the awards ceremony we were keeping our fingers crossed for the banned / dangerous technology trophy.. as I had painstakingly prep'd the 9th grade science project poster board the night before I left.

Quote from Jay "We've had a lot of motorized wings in Lemons, but we have NEVER seen a windmill powered supercharger"


Peep the trophy on the trunk lid!

Nice work team Free Range... now time to prep for Buttonwillow in 2 months!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 1

So Friday night we did a half-day test at RFR and all of us were 100% glad we did. With all the blind rises and odd-ball apex's... it was well worth the 200 bucks for all of us to get a chance to drive it.

Around 5pm or so, we wondered over to tech with our KERS reader board (ala 8th grade science project). The KERS system had held up for about 4 hours of 80% driving on the track... would it hold the whole race??? yeah right...

Flew through tech and BS with flying colors... especially since we hadn't dont anything to the car except add the KERS.. which did absolutly nothing to the power of the car... but it worked! :)

Had a couple beers with the Sharks, and shot the breeze with a couple of the e30 teams as we wondered around the pits looking for signs of life. The wind of howling, it was cold... and I'm sure John C. was enjoying his heated motorhome... bastard... At least there was a nice sunset

Saturday morning came, and once again we had communication issues. The CB radios we bought were working "ok", but the ebay chinese headsets were NOT. Solution? Rip out the headsets and yell REALLY loud at the radio zip tied to the shifter linkage. ghetto? yeah... Effective? no... it's lemons.. close enough

First driver out was me (Matt). The theory was, enough teams did NOT see the track on Friday.. so we were going to push for the first few laps to see if we could climb our way to the top. Again, yeah right.. I was in the car for about an hour and a half.. and about 70% of it was under yellow. Turns out the "slide" corner was a bit too much for some of the teams. Good thing Dave popped a spare tire on it Friday.. so we all knew to watch out.

Mid-way through the first day and we were sitting pretty good... until the second driver (Jeff) got our first black flag. Thanks to a bribe the day before, we were let go with a slap on the wrist and a driver change. Erik's turn!

Flawless for about an hour and a half and it was Dave's turn in the car. Another flawless session got us back in to the top 20's. My session went black-flag free and I think we moved up in the teens. That is until Jeff stepped in the car again... 8 laps later he was following the orange vw van around the pits for passing under yellow. 20 minutes later and a new driver.. we were off to finish the first day.

2 black flags, 30 minutes penalty time, 28th place.... better than last year

Saturday, May 23, 2009

We have arrived! barely

What 24 hours of lemons story would be complete without the "we broke down on the side of the road" element?

Certainly not any of our stories anyways...

Our truck is a 1999 Ford F250 with the 7.3 turbo diesel.. bulletproof right?? Well... in our case, the bullet came in the form of a pop'd intercooler hose. I got a txt from Erik at about 11:45pm on Thursday night "umm, our turbo just went pop".

WTF does that mean? Pop goes the Turbo? Erik and Dave managed to coast the truck without boost the remaining 7 miles to Reno and parked the truck in a hotel parking lot. The next morning, we all met up to assess damages. Minimal. Awesome.

10 minutes, 6 "sh*t"s, 4 "f*ck"s and a few "god damnit"s and we were back on the road. It turns out they designed that particular hose to be REALLY easy to get to with the battery out... but they did NOT design the battery to be taken out in less than 10 minutes.

So yeah, we hit the track at about 11am to find a clusterf*ck of teams saving endless spots. When life gives you Lemons, Bribe the judges! A few kind words and a cuban cigar later.. we had a great spot front and center :)

Car ran great, track is a travesty and were a little worried about our tires lasting the whole race but overall it was a productive day. Did I mention the Thunderstorms yet?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And we're off

And we know how to roll in style!

See you all in Reno!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Test and Tune

So with all the bugs shaken out (ok most..), we drug the car down to our local track (Portland International Raceway) to give it a running before we leave for Reno. Dave is a Sr. Instructor for the Porsche club, so we only had to pay for one of our members, and we got twice the track time :)

I decided to take the bait, and strap up for the track-day. This being my first "official" track day, and my first time on PIR at speed... I was excited to get out on the track.

We started out in Dave's 450hp supercharged NSX beast... I learned lines at PIR, and focused on technique.

Later in the afternoon, the NSX got meatball'd for being too loud after 5pm, so it was time to bring out the Lemons car! 4 sessions of 25 min each, and everything was flawless! Although we didnt have the KERS system installed... I guess the guys in the GT3's didn't feel that a 40lb alternator suspended by 2 brake cables and leftover aluminum from an old furnace. What could possible have gone wrong?

Mind you, this was the same Porsche club that kicked us off the track last month for almost losing the hood at 90mph down the front straight.


Friday, May 15, 2009

I fail at forum BS. Totally fail. That is all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

List of failures in the last couple weeks of car prep:

  1. Apparently weld slag got all over my bubble blower, so the tray that hold the bubbles is no polka dotted with tiny holes. I think I used about half a tube of silicon to get it "sealed"
  2. The small hole we had in our portable gas tank is now about 2" long... Anyone know how to weld polyethylene?
  3. Did I mention the hood flew off at a Porsche Club track day? Methinks we wont be invited back to that one.. at least the hood is umm... "fixed" now
  4. Our crystal sucks... like BIG time... it totally misses the entire look I was going for.... what did I expect for gathering the supplies at the Dollar Tree?
  5. Our new communication system has different plugs than the last one we tried... therefor all the headsets we had last time will no longer work. I know! Ill get an adapter! to ebay! Direct quote from the place i bought it from after I complained "Please send it back to Fire Fox, and Put in your name, address, and telephone and when it arrives at the warehouse they will send out a new one immediately. Sorry for the problem.
  6. We still don't have a helmet for the race... seriously, does it take 3 weeks to ship a stupid square box?
  7. Our track data acquisition unit is missing a transmitter... it's just money right?
  8. We were so happy to have the windmill mounted, we sort of forgot it has to be removed for the drive down... It's really not designed to be "removable"
  9. We still have no way to power the video camera. I zip tied a power inverter in the cockpit and hooked it to the battery, but who knows if our alternator will be able to keep up with it. Turns out they don't make 12v power sources for my DCR-SR8... anyone smarter than me have a better idea? Erik, I know your opinion and I don't like it. Next?
  10. Ohh yeah, the car leaks oil out of the drain plug... sigh

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our run at banned technology

KERS: A regenerative brake mechanism that reduces vehicle speed by converting some of its kinetic energy into another useful form of energy. ...

Motorauthority writes: "Following the problems encountered by teams in the development of KERS systems for 2009, it is now suggested the voluntary debut of the technology might need to be delayed."

Free Range Racing is READY NOW!

Ok... we do realize that KERS isn't BANNED from F1, but it is currently not being developed and adopted by some teams... and technically it is banned in most other forms of racing.

KERS essentially takes the energy dissipated during braking and stores it for later use (VERY high level description). We have taken a slightly different approach for the 24 Hours of Lemons 2009 season due mostly to the ENORMOUS costs associated with harnessing braking forces.

Free Range Racing is all about renewable resources! Since our car will be hurdling down the track at a top speed of about 100 (Thill 2008 when the second chicane was wide enough)... we figured we may as well utilize all that air we displace. What better way to convert air to energy than with a multimillion dollar windmill? Well we here at Free Range Racing think that an alternator painted white and plastic fins bolted to the old pully is a MUCH better plan. luckily Dave happened to have some bicycle brake cables sitting around to act as our guy wires. Currently tested at 70mph and about 12 amps @ 14 volts.... we have officially generated power!

Now what to do with our newly trapped energy? The F1 guys use a "hybrid system consisting of a combination of electric motor and generator, the requisite power electrics and an energy storage module". This sounds too complicated for lemons... I dont even know what that means.

We have power... we need horsepower... to ebay I go. Electric Supercharger?? Wow, people are really that stupid? It's PLASTIC!! Wait... this is Lemons... you mean I can install something that runs on electricity, can break in to millions of tiny pieces and essentially ruin my motor in a matter of seconds?? PERFECT!

Enter our electric supercharger (aka 2003 Mercruiser bilge pump, rated at 250 CFM). A few ABS fittings, a few POUNDS of epoxy, a cheap cone filter and a spare piece of tubing laying around... We have an electric powerhouse!

P.S. For those out there thinking there is NO way this is going to work. You're ABSOLUTLY right! But why not?

OK so to review, we have a windmill generating about 12 amps at full speed and a supercharger that takes about 12 amps to run... that doesnt give us enough power to keep the thing running through the whole race.. How do we get a few more amps out of this equation?

SOLAR! Luckily Harbor Freight has a POS solar panel that's rated at about 14 watts @ 12 volts. 14 / 12 = 1.16 amps. Meh, good enough. On it goes!

This is a picture of all of our "crap" attached to the back of the car.

Of course our beloved spotted owl mascot is making the 24 hour trip around the track with some additional material added to the wings (he was in pretty sorry shape after the first race).

The $20 question on your mind right now is probably "will all this crap stay on the car?".. the answer is umm.. probably?

See you all in Reno!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Throttle body and such and so forth

I'm officially claiming -Erik is done working on the race car-.

Yesterday I pulled the throttle body apart and figured out why our idle was so radically erratic. Then, strangest of strange, I fixed it. No our car idles at 800 smooth RPM.

We also took the car up the road to see if the windmill was going to implode. I was pushing as hard as I could on our ice-skate parts car tires and got up to 70. Dave followed lazily in his NSX and said it looked totally stable, even with me sliding around and braking/accelerating hard. So, win.

On the lose side, those tires we were counting on as spares are total, total garbage. So, more $$$ output.

But as I said at the beginning, everything on -ERIK'S- list is crossed off, so I"m done. Now if the rest of the team.....

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Paint

Erik's been busy.. sadly, I haven't done sh*t

New paint job... our last attempt at "flower power" meant cutting the wives loose with cans of pastel Krylon. While we scored many (much needed) points with them, we were a bit embarrassed to show up to the track. Who would have thought they would have taken "flower power" literally?

Our new application promised a more "menacing" look.... I'm not sure if this qualifies, but it's better than pastel in my book.

Also installed the windmill... Solar panel and supercharger are next

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reno Prep

So our entire team (ok, not really Erik) has had a case of the 'I don't really want to work on the car' for the last few weeks. We have a laundry list of item to address, but NONE of them correspond to actually making the car run. The car runs great! We've been out to a few local auto-x events and even managed to get kicked out of a Porsche track day at PIR. Apparently they look down on hoods that fly off at 100mph on the front straight.. who would have thought?

We are heavily focusing on how to make our car stand out... REALLY stand out. Sure we had an owl flying over our car, and had random bits of bamboo pasted to the car... but that's not REALLY what lemons is about. Our goal for the first race was to build a great car, with a mediacore theme. After returning from the madness, we were able to reflect back on our horrible driving, and horrible attempt at recognition. We did a lot of things well, but nothing we did was exceptional.

Enter Reno: We have some BIG plans for the car this year, and all of them revolve around the theme, and making our car stand out. Although, we are still reluctant to screw 200lbs of plywood in the shape of a train on the top of our car, but that's because we are too competitive in nature to completely forego our chance of winning.

  • New paint job
  • Lemon's approved KERS system
  • More 'environmentally friendly' power generation... who needs an alternator?
  • Improved bubble output
  • Crystal relocation to maximize glowing effect
  • Re-vamped Owl in a new-ish location
KERS teaser

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reno or Bust!

Were in!

Hi, Team Captain:

Good news--I think. Your team has officially been ACCEPTED for LeMons Goin' for Broken, at Reno-Fernley Raceway on 23-24 May 2009. We got tons of crappy entries for this race; yours was just enough crappier to be selected. Nice work.

Current list of things to do before the race:

  • Procure new SA2005 full-face helmets
  • Re-wire the bubble blower and crystal (with wire that is actually flexable... no more solid copper BS)
  • Check the oil
  • Re-paint it
  • Re-weld the owl bar
  • Fix the hood (it flew off during a track-day)
  • Re-install fire extinguisher and remove passenger seat
  • Install super-secret charging system!