Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Doing what boys do best

With our incredible two-for-one MR2's purchase (not incredible), we had two candidates for the build. The 85 was rougher, but I didn't think that would matter since we were cutting most of the body off anyway. The 87 was better built from the factory, but heavier. In the end, the decision was made by laziness - the 87 has a title, therefore can be scrapped out at will for cash. The 85 did not. The 85 would be the new race car!

Being as this was going to be a 'real' race car build, two things had been clear from the start: everything was going to be light as possible, and everything was going to be torn down to its most bare state, inspected, fixed, lightened, race-prepped, and generally made amazing. It was time to do what boys do best: tear something totally apart with no real plan on how it's going to go back together.

This car looked like it had been left in a murky pond for about a decade

After about 12 hours of work, I had every bolt, every bracket, every piece that could be taken off, taken off.

Once the car was torn down, one thing was clear: it was trashed. The back corner had been hit very, very hard and then poorly repaired, and the damage extended far beyond what we would be removing for the wide-body. The mud was packed into the frame rails and every nook and cranny of the car - it really HAD been left in standing water for a long time. On top of it, the suspension mounting points turned out to be unique to '85, so swapping in better parts would be complicated.

I did what every dedicated auto lover would do. I cut off the one useful quarter panel, and went portland.craigslist.org: free scrap car. Attempt #1 gone in about 12 minutes.

I was able to salvage about 200lb of scrap off the car, the doors and fenders, and sell some interior pieces for $100. All in all, not worth it.

Lather, rinse, repeat. On to car #2 *sigh. Another 12 hours of work and the 87 was stripped down to nothing and ready to begin the build. Other than light crash damage on the passenger front horn, no surprises this time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pick Three

We were the guys dating the too-beautiful but entirely bitchy woman. The ride was amazing, but in the end we always were let down. In four years of racing Free Range has never been on the podium. We've never been top ten. We really liked going racing, being around the amazing people, and driving as fast as we could, but we were losers.
Oh yeah, there was that one thing we very rightfully won!

Free Range 1 was reliable and fast-ish when we were not. Once we were reliable and fast-ish the car was hopeless. The car was doomed, as we built it when we knew nothing about racing. We made many mistakes and very poor choices.

Free Range 2 is yet another first-gen MR2, but this car will be entirely different. Four years of learning MR2's, being intimately involved in racing, and day-dreaming about what-if's have given me inspiration for an amazing car.

All I intend to do is break one of the elemental rules of automobiles.

What is the most famous saying about cars?

Well, OK. What' the SECOND most famous saying about cars:

- Fast
- Cheap
- Reliable

Pick Two.

I intend to pick three. That is my big secret. That is what will set this build apart from others!

I know, I know, this is not a new thing I'm attempting. It's not a secret. I won't be the first - Eyesore Racing made a legacy from it, as have countless others. HOWEVER, we have not, and now we will. Maybe.

I have three simple, well thought out steps for accomplishing this. Three things we flat-out didn't do the first time. It's simple. Easy. Really:

1. Add Lightness.
It's basic, it's free. Everyone tries to do it to some extent. I'm taking it to the next level, evaluating each and every part to see if it can be lightened, re-made better, or eliminated all together. My goal: 1500 lb car, dry.

2. Create Fast Reliability. Nothing sketchy, nothing on the edge. We will be making upwards of 220hp using a bone-stock motor, stock ecu, stock everything. We'll have bigger bearings and 5-lug hubs, using stock pieces. How? Using the Most-Boring-Car-Ever's stupidly over-powered drivetrain. Yes, Mediocrity to the rescue.
3. Build Carefully.
95% of teams buy a running pile-of-car, slap a cage in it, and go racing. This is the advice we've all been given. Not coincidentally, 95% of cars experience tragic and repeated failures that stop them from doing well or enjoying their weekend. This car will be taken down, bolt by bolt, to the bare chassis, every component checked for quality, then re-assembled correctly. Again, free. All it takes it time.

So about that last bit. Time. That's where we stand now, needing time. We have two cars to pick from, a pile of used-up parts from the race car, and a heap of spares we've gathered. That's four + cars worth of pieces to turn into one car. It's time to strip out the going-to-be race car and get working!