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Vorshlag 2018 Mustang GT + S550 Development Thread

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My testing goals for this day were 3 fold: 1) Test out the new Ohlins R&T coilovers at MSR-C on their 1.7 mile CCW course. 2) Test both the Hoosier A7  and RE-71R street tires, back-to-back. 3) Get some data with oil/trans/diff temps with the newly added Mishimoto oil cooler.

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Both sets of tires were pretty "tired" but the data was still valuable, and  it would be back-to-back on the same day. I haven't done a street tire vs R-compound tire test like this in a LONG time. The first session  would be on the RE-71R 200TW tires, which had 8 weekends of abuse on them now.

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Remember, one of the Hoosier A7 tires was already showing a stripe of cord on the outside edge, so this is far from a perfect test. I moved that wheel to the left front, which is the less stressed front tire on this track. Hoping I get a  clear lap in the first or second hot lap, so that the tires don't overheat and "fall off".

That's not how it worked out, of course. There were some rolling trains of  cars, plus I got stuck behind a few slow pokes, but that's what happens on a nice member Saturday in late November.

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I had several buddies out there, including Brian in his GT350, Jerry's  last drive in his C6 Z06 (he just got a C7 Z06), and Kevin had his new C7 ZR1 on Michelin slicks.

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As you will see in

, some knucklehead pulled right out of the pit lane onto the track, right in front of me on my first flying hot lap. That was the best shot at a good lap time on these tires. Gone. I also got blocked again on laps 2, 3, 5 and 6 (two of those shown above), and had a hair raising 3 wide pass on Lap 3 (the 86 driver talked to me after - he knew I was passing but the NSX pulled over on him!) I had to stick with hot lap 4, my only lap clear of traffic. Lap 4 on an A7 is usually not at all what you look for...



Lap times on Hoosier A7s (not showing the out lap or cool down laps)
Lap 1: 1:24.921 (traffic)
Lap 2: 1:29.021 (traffic)
Lap 3: 1:22.441 (traffic)
Lap 4: 1:21.138
Lap 5: 1:21.507 (traffic)
Lap 6: 1:22.308 (traffic)

The AiM Solo was showing predictive times as quick as a 1:20.5, but all I ended up with only a 1:21.138. That's still a solid 8 tenths faster than this car has ever run here on RE-71R tires, and fully 3 laps past when these tires have their best performance (lap 1).

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After 8 total laps in this session, both front tires  were now showing cords. The worst one was showing cords on the inside  and outside shoulders. This tire had been flipped inside out between the  COTA and NOLA weekends - the majority of the wear is from the outside  shoulder, even with -4° of front camber. The tread layer was actually peeling smooth off on the outer two inches, so these tires were officially D-U-N!

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The temps on the fluids looks within spec (pic above shot right as I came  into paddock), but only just in spec for the trans and diff. We have some ideas on how to combat high diff temps that we will address very soon. Engine oil looks perfect, and I rattle off all of the temps at the end of the Hoosier test video.

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Not having our enclosed trailer meant I had to throw a bunch of tools and  such in the back of the pickup. Brought a new battery jump box / air  compressor to set pressures (#500psi) and a crappy jack that will never go to the track with us again. Pulled the four wheels and tires off and took them to Doghouse Performance for a tire swap to the RE-71R streets. That took about an hour while we sat out a session and let everything cool down.

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Made it back out in the last session of the day, 4:30 pm, but luckily the temps were still cool and the partial clouds were keeping the track from cooking on  this 70°F day. It was less crowded out there, but this set of tires had been sitting in the shop for a couple of months and took a couple of laps to scrub them back in and get the tires up to temp.



I edited
  down a good bit, but in this session I got stuck behind some slow Miatas, a new NSX, and two Porsches. Somehow I managed 3 laps in a row without traffic.

Lap times on RE-71Rs (not showing the out lap or cool down laps)
Lap 1: 1:28.748 (cold tires + caught a slow Miata)
Lap 2: 1:23.065 (still cold tires)
Lap 3: 1:22.126 (nearly matched the best lap these tires have ever done - when new)
Lap 4: 1:22.440 (made a big mistake in big bend - almost had a 1:21.1)
Lap 5: 1:26.188 (passed a new NSX + caught slow Porsche)
Lap 6: 1:24.050 (lapped slow Miata + caught slow Porsche)

On lap 3 everything mostly worked, and got that 1:22.126. That is less than 2 tenths off my best lap  ever on these tires, 8 months earlier. So the stories of RE-71Rs wearing  out or falling off might be greatly exaggerated. We used these RE-71Rs  at yet another event after this!

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The difference in grip from A7s to RE-71Rs was painfully apparent, and  there is one full second difference in lap times (see log of best laps  for each tire, above) but I fear that the lap time differences don't show a fair representation of that.

With the laps on the A7s I was considerably restricted by traffic. There was  some "potential improvement" I didn't reach on the street tires, too. On  my best RE-71R lap the AiM showed a 1:21.5 predicted time, and on Lap 4  it showed a 1:21.1 pred, but I screwed up something on both laps.  Either time would have a marked improvement over the 1:21.9 previous  best lap on these same tires. Oh well, I'm a bit of a hack driver and  can't always match what the computer says is possible (that 1:21.9 lap was matching predicative, so it was a better driven lap).

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The small changes made since that March NASA TT event - mostly brakes - are what makes the difference. The Whiteline and Ohlins coilovers are using  about the same spring rates (which both produce more roll than I like on Hoosiers - see the 3 phases of Big Bend, above), but some of that potential lap time improvement from March to December would be firmer spring rates & damping of the Ohlins setup. I still need to get a  lap on the RE-71Rs here on the MCS RR2s...

PRODUCTION TOW HOOKS RELEASED

We didn't do much to the Mustang over the next week, other than getting  the prototype front and rear S550 tow hooks ready for production. These  were made back in the summer but the templates were lost in the move.  Off comes the front and rear bumper covers.

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Once the prototype pieces we made were removed they were reverse-engineered  and a few updates were made. These changes make the cut parts 1-piece, to remove some welding, but we did add a cut line for the bend.

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Getting these into CAD then cutting them on our CNC plasma table a few minutes later was nice. I love this machine and we keep coming up with new  products to make on it. Getting the settings right for each material  isn't easy, but we're working our way through steel, aluminum, and stainless in various thicknesses and finding out what works.

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We now have a production batch of red powder coated steel tow hooks that  bolt on without cutting any painted parts or removing critical crash  structures of your S550 chassis.

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The S550 rear tow hook kit is a 100% no cut/bolt-on part. The front (2018-19 GT) kit requires a notch be cut into the lower black grill plastics. We include a cutting template for the front 2018-19 GT tow hook kit and will be making these for the  2015-17 cars and Shelby GT350 models soon.

PRODUCTION S550 BRAKE BACKING PLATES

While we had the car apart we went ahead and made a major revision and  production batch of S550 front brake cooling backing plates and 2018-19 GT brake cooling inlet ducts.

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On the backing plate we changed from the prototype's round 4" opening to  this 4" oval, as this shape puts all of the airflow "inside" the rotor ring. Pumping cool air in this region first cools the front wheel hub, then the air is pumped through the vented rotor ring.

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This "ghosted" picture shows the backing plate's 4" oval opening being under  the rotor ring of the 2015-19 Performance Pack 15" rotors. This backing  plate works on the 6 piston Brembo PP brakes as well as the 380mm 6 piston Powerbrake front kit (PB caliper shown).

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This backing plate also serves as a heat shield, protecting three different ball joints (see above right) on the front suspension from the heat radiated by the brake rotors. This is  why we use 304 Stainless Steel vs Aluminum or Carbon steel - SS has better thermal resistance, and is often used for heat shields.

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To get air to the rotor backing plates it needs to come from somewhere. On  the 2018-19 GT there isn't a great place to steal air from, so we took some dead flat space in the corners of these lower grill pockets, that were likely added for styling.

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We include a cutting template to cut a 4" oval hole and 3 mounting holes,  then the inlet ducts bolt in and mount on the back side of this plastic grill. Some 4" hose connects the inlet to the backing plates, and now you have brake cooling. We are already working on some other S550  Mustang model variants and will show that next time.

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SCCA CLUB TRIALS, MSR 1.3, DECEMBER 1, 2018

This was our last opportunity to compete on track for 2018. The Hoosiers were TOAST but the RE-71Rs had a little tread left. Send it! The weather for the Saturday event was forecast to be excellent, so right after wrapping up the new brake backing plates and production tow hooks on the Mustang I washed then we loaded up the Mustang the night before. Of course it rained overnight, and being on an open trailer, the freshly washed Mustang had spots on it all damn day at the track (see below).

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I'd rather have a dirty car running on a dry day, of course. You can see the shape of the Mishimoto oil cooler almost perfectly fits inside the reduced opening of the upper grill in that close up pic. The back-up open trailer was back so we loaded up after I washed the car Friday for the event on Saturday.

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We were back at MSR but running on the smaller, more technical 1.3 mile course, which has a lot of elevation change. This course is located next to the MSR 1.7 course, which an HPDE group was running that same day. The SCCA used the newly built MSR "Museum" clubhouse for the driver's meeting, and that's where most of us spent time between sessions. After seeing the  insulating foam in here, I sure was glad we painted the foam insulation  in our shop (otherwise it turns this yellow color in a short time).

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At this point the 9 month old RE-71Rs weren't going to shine, but I wanted to get more temp data on the oil/trans/diff fluids as well as the Mishimoto oil cooler. Also wanted to see how the Ohlins R&T coilovers stacked up against the tough "CAM-C" class Mustangs and Camaros that run a lot of TT events in this region. I'd be learning a new track so it would be dependent on "that driving stuff" more than  normal.

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For the past 5 years the Texas Region  SCCA has been holding TT events (9 events in 2018) using modified autocross classes, unlike the SCCA National TT classes. While it is far from perfect, it is a lot more sensible than 2018 National TT classing, which I'm not a huge fan of. It also makes it easy for local autocrossers to "class" their cars.

The cars we would be running against in the combined "CAM" classes are all  on 200 TW tires and include 5th and 6th gen Camaros (including many 1LEs  and even a new ZL1 1LE), S197 and S550 Mustangs, and a healthy chunk of  C6 and C7 Corvette Grand Sports and Z06s, including some heavily modded  ones. They have a "handicap" system that merges the Pony Car  Mustangs/Camaros in the same class as Corvettes. This doesn't work that  well, but "it is what it is" and most of the competitors ignore the  "handicap" times and just look at the raw times. This Region has some TT classing changes for 2019 that might work better. We would be looking  more closely at the CAM-C pony cars.

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Event Photo Gallery: 



The Texas region runs their events with at least 4 different run groups on their stand-alone TT events. The group splits are based on class, experience and speed. They stuck me in the faster "Red" group, which had all of the CAM cars, instructors, and advanced folks. Passing is only with a point-by, which can only happen in two spots on this short course. With these smaller run groups, though, it worked fairly well.

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I most recently ran this MSR 1.3 course back in August in Amy's FR-S (that car on 315 Rival-S tires could only muster a 1:10 lap). Before that event it was fully ten years since I ran the 1.3, and it was in an EVO X. So it took me a few sessions to re-learn this track and to make this big pony car dance around this tight circuit. I started off in the hunt (see session 2 results above) sitting in second only to a heavily modified CAM-S Corvette (which HPR built the 660 whp 468" LS engine for) and ahead of the CAM-C cars.

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This was a somewhat blustery day, with ambient temps in the low 70s but high winds all day. Amy was there shooting pics and the Mustang ran great  all day - running all five sessions without a hitch. The car could run the whole 15 minute session but I usually found my best laps in the first 5 to 7 laps. I kept getting quicker in each of the 5 sessions, even as the track warmed up - an obvious sign that I was still learning this course.



At one point I had fallen to 3rd in class, fighting with some light traffic in each of the earlier 4 sessions. By the 5th session they put  me at the front of the grid so I could set the pace on the out lap. In
you can see that I had 4 traffic-free laps and found my quickest time on lap 3. Predictive timing kept flashing up 1:04.9 laps but I only managed a 1:05.448, which was a little disappointing.

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Final results sorted by time for the 46 entrants in Time Trials

It was good enough for 2nd place in the 11 car "combined" CAM class, and quickest of all of the CAM-C Camaros and Mustangs. Barely. Scott's similarly modded, white 2016 GT on 315 Rival-S  tires was only 2 hundredths back. Overall I scored 3rd quickest out of  46 total T cars - behind two C6 Z06 Corvettes. There aren't many folks  running in this TT in this region on R-compounds.

200TW TIRES AFTER 9 WEEKENDS

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These pics above are a good reference - this is what the RE-71R tires look like after 9 weekends and 9 months of track use (zero street use). The rears are pretty hammered, but they actually spent much of their life up front. The tires have been flipped and rotated more than once. The "fronts" still have plenty of life left in them, and if you look at the data logged in the video, they still sustain 1.25g lateral and touch 1.4g loads in spikes. Have they really fallen off that much? It would be nice to test an old set vs a new set back-to-back - only takes money!

NASA TEXAS AND VORSHLAG ANNOUNCE STREET TIRE TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP

This press release was sent out on Dec 21st about an experimental series of sub-classes for NASA Texas Time Trial built around a 200TW tire. For 2019 this is a Texas Region only championship that they agreed to let us try, where Vorshlag is going to provide trophies for the Street Tire competitors.

Press Release: https://nasatx.com/nasa-texas-and-vorshlag-announce-street-tire-time-trial-championship/

A little back story: NASA has the largest Time Trial series running in the United States, and they regularly bring in the largest, most competitive fields at dozens of events every year. NASA's "science based" ST/TT classing - where power, weight, tire widths, and aero  devices have hard limits and are routinely measured - are attractive to the top level TT racers. Easy to understand, easy to build around, and easy to verify. We have written a post analyzing the 2019 ST/TT rules in detail, linked below.

More on NASA ST/TT classing: http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=58774#post58774

Back at the beginning of NASA TT, some competitors could win classes and even set class track records on street tires (we did a few times), but that quickly changed. It wasn't long before more top level NASA TT entries moved to a dedicated R-compound and non-DOT slicks.

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This EVO X and this BMW both took wins and/or set TT records on street tires back in 2006-2008

These "tire wars" have escalated, and unless you can afford to buy or win new contingency tires every time  out, you have to budget $300-1000+ per weekend to stay on sticky  R-compound tires. Tire costs have quickly become largest part of most  Time Trial competitors' budgets. Some people have seen this tire battle  play out and have opted to switch to longer wearing street tires - often  with other series.

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By 2013 we were bringing new "sticker" sets of Hoosier A6 tires, to help knock down track records

Since those days, the number of tire options in the 200 treadwear segment of tires has grown tremendously - tires which last a lot longer than sticky  R-compounds. This growth has been fueled by endurance racing groups,  autocross classes, drifters, and other Time Attack groups building classes and entire series around these longer wearing street compound tires. We have been hearing from a lot of folks about tire costs, and were working on a way to bring 200TW to NASA TT. We worked with Will Faules of NASA Texas to create this experimental series of regional classes built around a 200TW limit.

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Optima / USCA was one of the groups that built their whole series around 200TW tires - and it works

In the new NASA Texas 200TW Championship, cars will compete in the existing TT1 to TT6 classes, but will also be scored during the event as a ‘race within a race’ for cars entered on and declaring the use of 200 UTQG rated tire. For example; a driver will still compete in TT1-6  but will declare in the morning meeting to be running on a 200TW tire. Tires will be verified by the NASA Texas Time Trial Director. It will then be noted on each results page during the day which cars are running in the 200TW sub-class. Regional season points will be awarded for  these Street Tire sub-classes. Vorshlag will be presenting trophies for the podiums of these classes for every event as well as the 2019 Street Tire Season Championship.

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This set of experimental 200TW classes should bring in new competitors and give existing TT folks a new option to compete on tires that could save them thousands of dollars per year. We are excited to see the outcome in 2019! If you are in or near Texas we welcome you to reach out and try to be a part of this. You will still need to earn a NASA Time Trial  license, of course.

WHAT'S NEXT?

There are even more updates to show but this update is running very long. I am gong to wrap it up now with a few teaser shots if what is in store for 2019 on our car, as well as associated S550 product development.

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The lone prototype "Auburn Pro" limited slip differential unit built for the Super 8.8" is in our hands. We are building up an all new aluminum Super 8.8" housing to use with this diff as well as 4.30:1 gears. I will show more of this next time, weights of the housings, and reasoning behind 4.30 gearing.

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This set of ARH 1-7/8" long tubes with a catted 3" X-pipe is here and already installed on our car, but we are waiting on a CAI kit that was on backorder to arrive. When we get the car dyno tuned we are seeing how much this Gen III Coyote can make on 93  octane. Should do a bit more once it has both a free flowing inlet and exhaust.

Until next time,

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Project Update for February 28th, 2018: I started writing this over 4 weeks ago, showing the work we have done since the last update. More and more parts kept showing up and it blew up into a mega-sized post, and I couldn't wrap it up. So I have shortened it to the prep we did right before the 2019 season opener NASA TT competition weekend, over the last weekend in January, which I will instead show next time. Plus ALL of the mountain of parts we have added since then.

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In this update we will show some horsepower that was added, by way of ARH 1-7/8" long tubes + JLT CAI kit + SCT X4 tuner. After a dyno tuning session and average power dyno calculations, this forced a last minute NASA classing change, which I will go into further below. Running TT2 was never in the game plan, and we will switch back to TT3 after this January event.

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Then we removed the Ohlins R&T coilovers after three successful track tests and some street miles to reinstall the MCS RR2 coilovers. These went on with a new revision of our spherical rear shock mounts, with which we tested 3 different shock lengths. We also installed a strut tower brace and made proper remote reservoir brackets this time.

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Two new sets of MOMO wheels with both street and race tires were procured, so we could test out their new flow formed wheel offerings in 18x11 and 19x11" sizes. I bought a new helmet, which was long overdue. Made production seat brackets for the S550 and installed the passenger Sparco seat and Schroth belts. Then we go into a brake pad wear analysis on the Powerbrake X6EL fronts compared to the wear on the base 14" 4 piston as well as the PP 15" 6 piston front brakes. We also put together two new S550 front brake cooling tricks, one of which did not work at all and another we will be testing soon.

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Let's get started!

BRAKE PAD WEAR, BRAKE COOLING, + OVAL TUBING DUCT TEST

In the last year we have done a lot of events and upgraded from the the base GT 14" 4 piston "inverted hat" rotors and OEM pads -> to G-LOC pads on the 14" bits -> to the 15" PP 6 piston brakes with G-LOC pads and brake cooling -> to the Powerbrake 380x34 6 piston brakes with cooling + Powerbrake pads. We note that not only stopping power/longevity improve, so did the pad wear after each braking system improvement.

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STEP ONE - BASE 14" 4 PISTON BRAKES

The single biggest disappointment with our "base model" GT were the front brakes that came on these 480 hp cars. They aren't just "not great" on track, they are downright UNSAFE. I've even had HPDE1 students in base S550 GTs cook these pads/rotors on easy 70% effort laps at some tracks. We spent our first few track days doing "one lap stints", even with GOOD track pads on the car. If I pushed hard I could overheat the fronts AFTER ONE STOP, so it was a study in restraint to make them last a lap and still get a "decent" time.

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The inverted hat front rotor design - which allows no airflow through the back of the rotor and through the vanes - is the single dumbest idea I've seen in the automotive world in the last 15 years. And remember: I've worked on SUBARUS! (these car combine many of the worst ideas into one single platform)

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We tried to keep track of the brake pad wear rates since the beginning, but the 14" brakes were so horrendous that we had trouble. If you followed along in this development thread, you might remember that we saw very high wear rates on the stock 14" front brake pads (only 8 laps took new OEM pads to the backing plates!) and even the rears (3 track days). We put on some R8 G-LOC front track pads, then shortly after new R16s, and while the wear rates got a little better, the fronts were continuing to wear rapidly - and would still overheat the fronts within about 1-2 laps.

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The rears pads, even though those are inverted hat rotors, still have the same set of G-LOC R16 pads with plenty of meat left, a full year later. Rear brakes never wear as quickly as the fronts.

STEP TWO: 15" PP 6 PISTON FRONT BRAKE UPGRADE

After the upgrade to the larger 15" PP front rotors and 6-piston calipers, we could finally add some brake cooling - since the rotor wasn't made "backwards". This helped in two ways - the larger pad/rotor as well as basic forced cooling.

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We went with another new set of G-LOC R16 front pads for this caliper, and initially we had WORSE brakes, due to the large hydraulic ratio difference in the master cylinders between the base and PP cars. We fixed that and had working brakes, yay. These front pads were still wearing a bit faster than we liked - closer to what we saw on our S197 with the same pads on the 14" Brembos with cooling.

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After seeing the pad wear rates I had started planning for front pad replacements every 4-5 weekends, similar to the S197 saw on the ducted 14" Brembos. Still, these 15" PP brakes were a DRAMATIC improvement over the 4 piston S550 brakes, and probably what most casual to semi-serious track days S550 folks should run. If you do go this route, brake cooling is still a very wise investment - saving brake pad and rotor wear, as well as extending wheel bearing life significantly.

STEP THREE: POWERBRAKE 380X34MM X6EL 6 PISTON BRAKES

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We probably could have run these 15" PP brakes for a few years and just cycled through rotors and pads regularly. But I wanted MOAR! Powerbrake made the prototype set of Powerbrake 380x34mm 6 piston "X6EL" S550 big brake kit for our car and we put that on before NASA Nationals at COTA.

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With the upgrade to the Powerbrakes, we not only lost 21 pounds from the 15" 6-piston Brembo PP brakes, we gained even more rotor cooling, a more rigid caliper, thicker pads, and after a number of events since then, we are seeing even better pad & rotor wear.

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We try to take pictures of new brake system consumables like this, to help track wear after events. This is after two high speed NASA event weekends, at COTA than NOLA. We see our highest speeds all season at these two tracks (145 mph+).

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The two pics above are after 5 full weekends of testing and TT events in the car, shown above. The Powerbrake PB13 front pad thickness is still thicker than the backing plate, which means we still have some life left in these. One side is worn more than the other, which is explained by an issue we had at MSR-H with the brake ducts (see below), but still well within usable limits. Happy with that wear, might get 1-2 more weekends out of these pads, and the rotors look like they should last another 6-12 months as well.

BRAKE DUCT TESTING

So the brake ducting we have on this car consists of 3 parts: the brake inlet ducts (2018-19 GT specific parts), the brake backing plates (which fit all S550 Mustangs with either the 15" PP brakes or the 380mm Powerbrake kit), and a length of 4" diameter brake duct hose on each side.

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Ideally these brake cooling parts parts should last forever, and our metal parts will do just that. But there is one part that becomes a consumable on the S550 when you run wide wheels and tires - the brake duct hoses.

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With 11" wide front wheels and the massive 315mm Hoosiers, the tires "get into" the brake duct hoses at full steering lock. You shouldn't ever turn the wheels to full lock on track, but you will do it surprisingly often in the paddock, or parking lots when driving around on the street. Over time it wears a hole into the hoses - about once a season we replace the hoses. This is a hassle, so we tried a new solution.

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Above is a test we did to try to alleviate the brake hose wear issue - a stainless steel oval 4" tube section, which was "squashed down" a bit, and bolted to the chassis. The hope was to make a thinner cross section piece of tubing that can allow for more steering lock yet not wear down if the tire touches it.

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Great idea, in theory, and I sketched out what I wanted fabricated while I was going to be gone on a week long vacation which I was taking 2 weeks before the 2019 season opener at MSR-H. They did a good job, but if I was there it might never have made it onto the car.

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Evan made it bolt to the chassis with two riv-nuts added to the inner fender section shown above right. The hope was that it could be "crushed" right where the tire would hit at full lock and yet still flow enough area. Well the 4" oval-ized tube starts to pancake and buckle pretty quickly when put into a press, and it ended up still being more than 2 inches wide at the tire intersection.

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The problem is, the 11" wide wheel and 305-315mm tire BARELY fits this car under the stock fenders, and even then it takes some camber to fit. At full lock the tire just starts to rub the inner liner. Well with a 2" thick tube in there, this massively limits steering lock.

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At MSR-H this became a real nuisance in the paddock and grid. I kept running over cones and doing 3 point turns and felt the tire rubbing the tubing HARD in paddock.

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Never on track, but the grid tire rubbing eventually ripped one of the stainless steel tubes off, which blocked the LF brake duct hose. This led to some brake temperature issues that made uneven pad wear, which I will describe in the event write-up next time. Long story short - this did NOT work, and we will be going back to hoses for the next event.

ALTERNATIVE TO BRAKE HOSES

When the S550 first arrived in 2014 we tore one apart and looked at things to improve. We got to explore Aaron's 2015 PP1 car, then this red PP1 I ordered but decided not to buy (the dealership was happy to sell it for more).

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We noticed the "scoop and flap" brake cooling that came on the PP GT cars, and while we felt the flaps were a bit on the small side, we had plans for a more traditional "forced" air inlet-hose-backing plate cooling.

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Of course the hoses can become a challenge with wide wheels and tires, and of course adding the inlet scoops can force you to cut on the front of your car. We also had some advice from a Ford engineer that a bigger flap than the PP cars came with would help. And strangely, the Shelby GT350 is missing the flaps altogether - but has the undertray duct.

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So we took the PP1 brake deflector scoop that mounts to the front control arm and made it significantly bigger. The prototype above is ready for testing, which we will do soon on our car - comparing it to no cooling (like the base GT) and then to our forced brake cooling package on the car now. We will share the results, and if it is as helpful as we think it will be, these will go for sale on our website shortly thereafter.

MCS RR2 + NEW SHOCK MOUNTS + STRUT TOWER BRACE

After 3 events/weekends testing with the Ohlins R&T coilovers, it was time to go back to the MCS Remote Double adjustable coilovers, which we call the "RR2" (shown below).  This setup is valved for a higher spring rate, and has separate Rebound and Compression adjustments. This will help us dial i the setup for running both 200 Treadwear street tires and the Hoosiers in the same weekend, which we have planned for 2019.

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We ran these dampers before at COTA during the 2018 NASA Nationals, but the lengths of the rear dampers changed from the 2014 design we helped come up with (which was not inverted then), and the rear was running out of shock travel, until I raised the ride height. There were two ways to fix this - make an extended height shock mount and/or shorten the rear dampers. In this case, we did both.

NEW S550 SPHERICAL REAR SHOCK MOUNT

The factory rear shock on the S550 uses a "divorced" spring, located inboard on the rear control arm. The shock mounts to an aluminum upper shock mount, which has a rubber bushing to allow for shock articulation during suspension travel. Rubber in a damper path is never wanted, as this delays the shock's reaction to suspension movement.

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The real problem comes when we convert to a "coilover" spring location on the rear. This moves ALL of the suspension loads (not just damper loads) to the rear shock mount. What can happen - and often does - is shown above. The steel washer that is crimped into the aluminum housing holds the bushing in place, but when you hit a big enough bump with coilover springs it can act like a fuse - and pops. The solution is an all metal spherical shock mount, made for these higher suspension loads.

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We used to make a spherical rear shock mount out of the OEM cast aluminum pieces, which we machined and added a CNC machined aluminum spherical cup to. But these were too expensive to make, pretty ugly, and didn't give us any additional shock travel - so we moved to this steel plate design with a CNC machined steel bearing cup welded into the structure.

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Jason and I have been stumped on how to make a dual height shock mount on our CNC machines, but ever since we purchased a CNC plasma table last year I have wanted to move to a welded design with a machined cup. Myles expounded on a sketch I gave him to create this mount and it has worked great.

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We have tested this new design on multiple cars, including our own, with two lengths of MCS rear dampers. The lower holes from the dual mounting positions adds 1.5" of additional "bump" travel, which helps accommodate OEM length shocks with lower-than-stock ride heights. Remote Reservoir style shocks can go even lower, and with the new shorter length we have, we get a LOT of bump travel. That's the setup we have on our car - the lower mounting holes and a shorter shock length (I like to run the car pretty damned low).

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We tested the bump and droop travel of these dampers on the lift with with the rear swaybar disconnected and the rear spring removed. Now we get extreme bump travel without running out of rear shock stroke.

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I tested these dampers + mounts at the very bumpy MSR-Houston and never had a single "shock travel" issue all weekend, so we can check that issue off the list. As you can see above, the rear "squats" pretty good on acceleration (even with 750#/in coilover springs), but its nowhere near the limit of shock travel now. Very happy with the new shock mount design, which is now available on our website for any "pin" style upper S550 rear shock.

STRUT TOWER BRACE

Our "base model" 2018 GT came with no strut tower brace. Not a huge deal, and I don't think most modern S197 or S550 Mustangs even need these items - not as badly as the floppy pony car chassis of the 1980s-90s.

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But I wanted to add one, mostly just for a place to mount the front strut reservoirs, like on the BMW above. That car didn't really need strut tower brace, either. Mostly these braces and doo-dads are another somewhat useless holdover from the 1980s...

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We looked at the Performance Pack and Shelby GT350 strut tower designs. There were OEM options (painted black) and a Ford Racing version (the silver one we bought). There's a big U-shaped stamped steel plate piece that attaches at the towers and back to a flange on the firewall, which triangulates the towers to the firewall. All of the mounting studs there there... and our car had "half" of this triangulating piece from the factory.

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Of course we weighed these bits. The strut tower brace was only 5.1 pounds, but the triangulating stamped plate piece was twice that at 10.6 pounds. Again, we took about 5 pounds off with the stock "half brace" at the back, so we gained about 10 pounds. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal, and I don't expect any real "chassis stiffness" gain from this, either. Mostly wanted it for a shock reservoir mount. :)

MCS INSTALL + MOUNTING REMOTE RESERVOIRS

So we have installed this set of MCS RR2 double adjustables with remotes before, and ran them at NASA Nationals. Now we have had the rear shortened and of course the new rear shock mounts gain us another 1.5" in bump travel. Excited to get these installed.

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This time we had enough time to make some brackets to hold the reservoirs correctly, instead of just zip-tying them to the swaybar or underhood. We do want to place these in a place that is easy to access, allows for heat dissipation, and protect the hoses from any kind of chafing. The Teflon lined reservoir hoses are braided stainless steel and can saw through just about anything, but worse - if they get cut you lose both Nitrogen pressure and hydraulic fluid. This will turn a high end damper into a useless slug of metal.

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We mounted the MCS rear remotes in the spare tire well inside the trunk, which requires some 2-piece grommets from Seals-It to allow them to pass through the trunk sheet metal. No, we don't use "quick connects" on our remote shocks because those are damned pricey and you still have to discharge ALL of the Nitrogen pressure before connecting/disconnecting those. It is much easier in the end to just use a larger 2-piece grommet to seal the opening into the trunk. Those can be unbolted to allow the whole remote reservoir to pass through the opening.

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Pro Tip: One thing about the S550 rear is there is a lot going on back there. With an inverted shock and coilover spring mounting, the spring sits at the bottom of the shock. This puts it very close to the CV boot at the rear axle. Most mounting designs we have seen (AST, Ohlins, MCS) have either an offset lower fork mount (one side is longer than the other) or slotted holes in the lower mounting fork. Offset the bottom of the damper AWAY from the axle/CV boot and use the smallest diameter spring for that damper (2.25" ID is what we use on the MCS). This way the spring cannot rub the CV boot, which can expand at speed, tear, and then let all of the grease out. This will cause the CV internals to fail rapidly.

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The hose length on the MCS front struts wasn't quite long enough to allow those remotes to be attached to the strut tower brace like I had hoped. Evan still made some nice "saddles" to hold them, which are bolted in the front of the engine bay, away from heat sources and with adequate airflow over them. Also with excellent access to the compression knobs.

AMERICAN RACING LONG TUBE HEADERS + CAI FOR MORE POWER

I teased this upgrade last time, as I was tired of running TT3 class being down on power and/or heavy for the class. In 2018 we ran TT3 at ___ pounds, which was 240 pounds heavy or 21 whp down on power. With no great way to lose weight, we wanted to instead jump up by that ~21 whp amount in average power. There is no easier way to gain power on a modern V8 pony car than long tube headers and a cold air.

ARH LONG TUBES + X-PIPE + CATS

Over the past 34 years of wrenching on pony cars I have installed dozens of sets of long tube headers, and backed with lots of dyno testing, I can see obvious trends. Having worked with ARH in the past we know that these fit and function the best of the available options for the Coyote 5.0L, and know that the 1-7/8" primaries work better even on otherwise stock engines than the optional 1-3/4" versions.

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I ordered the setup above, complete with catalytic convertors and an X-pipe merge. All 100% stainless steel, and American Made. No Chinalloy up in here! :D

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Again, this is the best bang-per-buck power mod on the planet for the Coyote. "BuT tHe StOcK hEaDeR iS tUnEd!" That's JUST a big load of nonsense. The factory tubular stock manifolds are constructed by the lowest bidder, made to "light off" the catalytic convertor quickly, designed to go onto the engine with the least amount of work, and have the drivetrain all pop into the chassis from underneath on an assembly line. That's it. LOOK at the visual tubing differences above. Then look at the dyno results below.

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The actual header install is the biggest challenge, involving partial removal of the front crossmember. This is done to gain access to remove the stock manifolds as well as slide in the new ones. Big fun! We bill this header install as an 8 hour job, but you hopefully only ever do this once. And once you see the gains...

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There was a little challenge merging the Magnaflow exhaust with the mid-pipe sections ARH included, with a cut and splice needed, but nothing we couldn't handle in our shop.

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The finished job looks mighty nice, and when I heard it fire up for the first time I knew we were in for a treat at the dyno.

continued below

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continued from above

COLD AIR INLET TUBE + FILTER

The stock air filter, filter box, and inlet tube are made to meet strict government "sound" rules (which apply to new factory vehicles), as well as keep any trace of dust out of the filter element box. This is done by restricting the size of the "inlet" into the filter box very small. There are often sound resonators and quarter wave tubes leading off of OEM air inlet tubes as well. The Mustang has a "sound tube" that pumps sound into the cabin, so it "sounds cool". We took that bit off long ago, but now it was time for a real "cold air" inlet tube, bigger filter, and integral MAF sensor housing.

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We waited six weeks for a particular brand of cold air to become available off backorder - a major brand that we can buy wholesale and hopefully resell. With only a few days before our first event I punted and got a brand that was available. Oh well.

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This JLT kit is unique for the 2018-19 GT, as it is based on their Shelby GT350 unit. The diameter of the tube / MAF housing is larger than the stock throttle body, so it has to converge slightly at the TB. But air is much more inclined to converge than diverge, and doesn't seem to hurt airflow as much at the latter factor.

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The picture above shows the two front MCS remote reservoir mounts and saddles we made

This JLT unit did not have some of the features of the brand I wanted to buy, having to do with materials and a more sealed "box" for the filter element, but it was available and I had a deadline. This is still a popular unit, and the dyno results also speak volumes (we might have made 20 whp with the CAI alone).

DYNO TUNE + SUDDEN CLASS CHANGE!

Our local tuner is True Street Motorsports, who we have worked with for many years. They stepped up again, moved some things around, and got our car slotted in and dyno tuned at the last minute. They are the ones that also dyno'd the car for us in stock form (well, it had a Magnaflow "race" exhaust), shown below with SAE correction.

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Previous dyno of our Stock 2018 GT with Magnaflow axle-back exhaust

Above is the initial 435 peak / 417 whp average dyno number we have been using for the last year in TT3. Remember, with the stock tune the engine wouldn't pull past 145mph (speed limiter on the base GT, due to OEM tires) in 4th, but did make peak power at 6800 rpm, right before the speed cut. If you look below this is the same RPM the new tune made peak power, but could still pull to 7400 rpm. We have to test for NASA in the 1:1 transmission gear (4th gear on this year model) and that was the legal way to do that TT dyno test initially. Doesn't look like we left anything on the table with the 145mph speed cut before, good to know. All the gains in the dynos below are real, then.

This time True Street reflashed the stock tune with this SCT "X4" handheld unit, an updated version of the SCT handheld that they used to tune our S197 Coyote Mustang. This re-flash allowed them to turn off the 145mph speed limiter as well as dial-in the fuel and spark tables to work with the additional airflow provided by the hard parts, the long tube headers and CAI.

We also had them keep a smooth, linear throttle response curve, unlike the mail-order tunes that make it a logarithmic or regressive curve. Logarithmic throttle action is where a small amount of initial gas pedal movement makes for a LOT of throttle blade opening - making the car REALLY hard to drive, but it "feels faster". Just like those plug-in electronic throttle "tuner box" kits that uninformed dummies like to buy. ;)

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True Street also supplied the JLT cold air, which got us out of a bind. While they are primarily a drag race tuner shop, we have worked with them over the years to have them tune 50+ road course cars, and they know what we are after: a linear throttle response (not digressive), a safe spark table (for long periods of WOT use), and an average power dyno readout + data plot with SAE corrections. I dropped the car off the day before the NASA event and picked it up that after noon, hoping for a +20-25 whp bump, but I didn't tell them to hold back.

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After the tuning it made an uncorrected pull of 485 whp peak whp... wait, what?! That's too much. What's the SAE corrected number???

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Peak with SAE correction (corrected down on this cool day) is still 474 whp peak, 426 wtq. Oh crap. I frantically started doing the average power dyno calculations the night I was loading the car up for a Friday morning NASA event departure.

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Yes, the car went from 435 peak/417 whp avg to 474 peak/460 whp avg. Notice how the peak gained 39 whp but the average went up 43 whp. This number was going to make staying in TT3 difficult. Time to weigh the car and do a quick corner balance (after the pic below). Last time we weighed it at 3825 lbs with driver, but that was less fuel (1/3rd of a tank) and no passenger seat at all, before 2018 NASA Nationals. With the ~62 pound roll bar in the car, though. Again, we were 240+ pounds heavy for TT3 then at 417 whp avg.

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Well "luckily" the car gained about 100 lbs from last time. I just came back from a week long Caribbean cruise, and we ate GOOD! Well, the second seat was installed (will show that next time) and added some mass, as did the higher fuel load and a few other updates - the strut brace, the long tube headers, oil cooler, brand new RE-71s (this weight) vs Hoosier (the 2018 weight), and some other doo-dads.

So running the NASA ST/TT online car classification form, using a minimum weight of 3925 pounds (slightly less than it weighed that night, and close to what we claimed last year with full fuel load) and the 460 whp avg, with all of the bonuses (stock aero for TT3) only got us to 9.63:1 pounds per hp. Need to be at 10.0:1. Oops...

With the "over 100 UTQG" bonus we would have been fine at 10.13:1 ratio, and we did plan on running our 200 TW on Saturdays and R7s on Sunday. But switching classes and sheets from Saturday to Sunday was asking a lot, and we were out of time to add ballast to make the Hoosier R7 setup TT3 legal. There was no time to de-tune the car, so there's no way to run TT3 on Hoosiers with this power level. We overshot TT3 by 25 whp -OR- I needed to add 204 more pounds and run the car at 4140 lbs minimum (wow!) Adding 50 pounds of fuel wasn't going to be nearly enough.

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It's 8:30 pm the night before I leave for this NASA event, the crew is long gone home, and I still need to load the car into the trailer. So I re-did my classing paperwork for TT2, a class which had grown to 10 cars for this event.

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TT2 ended up being brutally fast, and I will show "how well" this class jump turned out next time. Then how we will find a way to get back to TT3 (200 TW tires + a power de-tune after we add aero). ;)

HELMET UPGRADE FOR 2019

I've had the same composite helmet since early 2010, which was a Pyrotect full face unit with a Snell SA2005 rating (the new 2010 rating hadn't come out yet when I bought it). I have used this lid in Autocross, Time Trial, HPDE, Track Testing, Karting, Drift Events, and Wheel to Wheel road races hundreds of times since I purchased it. Even around the office. ;)

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I have used this lid with a "horse collar" neck device as well as 4 different HANS devices, and have had to change out the anchors each time (we had to drill the holes the first time - the helmets rarely included anchors for HANS units back then). In the 2018 season the fabric inner liner was starting to come unglued (and would fall down in my eyes), and some of the hardware on the visor hinge was worn so badly that if I hit a bump the visor would SLAM down.

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Why do so many of my Mustang events look like drift events??

Racng groups are starting to refuse SA2005 helmets this year, so I had to step up to a SA2015 rated helmet. After some neck strain at a few events, I wanted to move to lighter unit, maybe even carbon? The costs can get into the $3000 range for a Stilo carbon helmet, and I had no intentions of using one of the fake China-Carbon helmets.

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Again, since I try to use brands that I can actually resell, I looked at Sparco. We do move a decent amount of Sparco seats, so this brand helmet could "match" the seats in my car. This Sparco Sky RF-7W model retails for $950 and includes the latest FIA 8859-2015 and Snell SA2015 ratings. This composite design "has a carbon fiber outer shell reinforced with layers of carbon-Kevlar", like any Carbon helmet under $2000 usually does. The visor closure is pretty slick and can be opened easily with gloves on, and the venting works very well.

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The fit for me turned out to be perfect on their XL sized helmet. I like the chin strap, it came pre-drilled and with HANS anchors installed (which we switched out for the NecksGen anchors), and the visor is really nice. Using it on track I am only mad that I didn't get this sooner. And the "MADE IN ITALY" tag on this helmet makes me a lot more confident than "MADE IN CHINA" of my old helmet.

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It always frustrates me how little weight data there is out there on just about anything. How hard is it to snap a pic on a digital scale? So the weight of this helmet was a bit of a mystery until we snapped this pic above. Luckily it is indeed 0.52 pounds (or 14%) lighter than my old Pyrotect helmet. Not an insane weight drop, probably due to some of the upgrades required to meet the one decade newer SA2015 standard. But when you are pulling 1.5g in a corner or under braking, every little bit helps. :)

TWO NEW SETS OF MOMO WHEELS + TIRES

It is no secret that we have been a dealer for Forgestar wheels ever since we first found this company and dragged them into the motorsports field back in 2012. Some ownership changes have been brewing for a while, with Weld Wheels buying Forgestar, then MOMO bought Weld and their subsidiaries. Which eventually led to MOMO developing, then introducing several Flow Formed wheel designs in late 2018, which we ordered for testing on our car for the 2019 season.

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I showed some of these in my PRI 2018 posts, including this video above.

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The first two sets we ordered include the "Heritage 6", shown at left, and the RF-20, shown at right. The Heritage 6 is based on their popular 6 spoke Formula 1 wheel from the past. It comes in 17" and 18" diameters from 8" to to 11" wide. The RF series has 3 styles, and we chose the 20 spoke RF-20 for our first set. This wheel comes in 18" and 19" diameters from 8.5" to 12" wide.

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These two models both come in 3 depths or "concave profiles", which are somewhat visible in the images above. The width and offset range of the initial "blank" determines which depth of spoke or outer lip is provided. We picked the sizes that fit our car, ordered the bolt circle and offset we needed, and MOMO finish machined and powder coated these in the color we wanted.

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We ordered the Heritage 6 wheels in 18x11" for use with 315/30/18 Hoosier race tires, and the RF-20 in 19x11" for use with 305/30/19 street tires. We switched to Hoosier R7 compound for this set, to track wear/life and lap times. We will use these on the same days back-to-back to get good data against a new set of RE-71R street tires, for 200 treadwear events.

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With the sets mounted and balanced, we installed the RF-20 set, and loaded up the car for the first track event of 2019. And while you might be asking about weights, know that I will show all of that and much more - next time (this post is running long!)

WHAT'S NEXT?

This post got really long and I had to pick a place to stop and post.

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Next time we will cover the 2019 season opener NASA TT event (TT2), talk about the RE-71R vs Hoosier R7 lap time comparisons, and then all of the parts and work that followed. This included a gearing/speed analysis, the Auburn Pro diff + 4.09 gears + aluminum diff housing build up and install, and an S550 pinion flange "running change" issue we learned. We will show the new Anderson Composites GT5 carbon fiber hood install (with weights), PP2 splitter install, show some wheel/tire weights, a new rear muffler upgrade (bigger, quieter mufflers), Mishimoto radiator install (and weights), then cover an SCCA autocross and another NASA TT weekend we should have completed before the next post drops (weather permitting). We might have the carbon rear trunk install and GT350R wing on by then, too.

Thanks for reading!

 

Terry @ Vorshlag

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Project Update for April 15th, 2019: The last update was cut short due to the volume of info we had to share and the limits of most peoples' attention span. 😉 This time we will cover the event right after the first round of 2019 mods (power!), which was the 2019 season opener NASA TT event (where we ran the car in TT2) in January. While running at MSR Houston that weekend we got more RE-71R vs Hoosier R7 lap times to compare, then another round of work followed that event that we will cover.

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This post MSR-H work included a LOT of things: a gearing/speed analysis, the Auburn Pro diff + 4.09 gears + aluminum diff housing build up and install, which included both a last minute rear axle install and an S550 pinion flange / driveshaft "running change" issue we found. We will also show the new Anderson Composites GT5 carbon fiber hood install (with weights), PP2 splitter install (and the many items we had to order!), show some wheel/tire weights, a new rear muffler upgrade, Mishimoto radiator install (and weights), and stop there.

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We have since changed classes again (above) and attended another NASA TT weekend (March, TT3) plus an Autocross (CAM-C), but we will cover those events next time. The power level and weight are both getting to the point where it is nearly impossible to stay legal for TT3, so look for a move back to TT2 for the rest of the season for this car. The TT2 and TT3 classes are serious enough in Texas region that it looks like we might not be competitive (we'd do better in TTU or TT1) in a street car we refuse to cut on - so be it. The NASA classing is secondary to the parts development and raw lap times we are wringing out of the car.

MAKING TROPHIES FOR NASA TEXAS 200TW CLASS

We are sponsoring a new series of 200 Treadwear sub-classes in TT for NASA Texas in 2019, and made these Trophies for those entrants.

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We made these on our CNC plasma table, then cleaned up the surfaces, and bent them to shape. With some graphic design done we ordered decals and applied them. Came out pretty slick. Of course we were down to the wire making 40 trophies, until the night I loaded up for the event. But deadlines lead to progress!

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2019 NASA SEASON OPENER AT MSR-HOUSTON CW, JAN 26-27, 2019

That event highlighted not only that you shouldn't up-class when you are 500 pounds too heavy, but also how badly the gearing and worn out OEM Traction-Lok differential were. Since then we have finally made the upgrade to the built aluminum "Super 8.8" housing, new gears, and a prototype Auburn Pro differential. Wish we had the time to get it finished before this January event, and that plus being wildly overweight/under powered for TT2 definitely put us on the back foot for the weekend. Of course TT2  became the largest and most competitive class at this event - I sure can pick 'em!

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Event Photo and Video Gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/NASA-MSR-H-012619/

Amy and I left early Friday morning to make the 6 hour tow down to the southern tip of the greater Houston area from our shop at the extreme northern end of Dallas metroplex. We got there at 1 pm and in hindsight, we should have done the relatively inexpensive test day at the track, to try out all of the new changes to the car over the Winter and work on dialing in the new setup (going from Ohlins R&T back to MCS RR2 remote dampers and stiffer springs).

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DAY 1 - SATURDAY

Saturday morning we got there with a brand new set of 200TW Bridgestone RE-71R street tires mounted onto the new RF-20 MOMO 19x11" wheels. The plan was to run Saturday on 200TW tires (for test purposes and to support the new sub-class) and switch to R7s on Sunday. I ran the Saturday "TT warm up" session and was 4th quickest of all of the ~30 TT cars, on street tires, so I felt good about that. 1:43.0 lap. This of course gave me a false sense of security, as the other drivers got a LOT faster in later sessions.

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Making a good time in TT practice put me pretty far up the grid, which gave me clear track for the first few laps. In the second TT session I went out and ran a 1:42.05, but predictive showed high 1:40s. I went out again in TT session 3, but with rising track temps, I could not find any more time. Took my HPDE1 student (GT350 owner) out for a few laps in HPDE4, to give him a sense of the lap times his car is capable of - and he really enjoyed it.

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Throughout the day I fell from 4th fastest all the way to 8th on the grid going into the final TT session, as others found more time in their cars. I guess I found our car's best laps early, while the steadily increasing ambient and track temps tapered my times off later in the day? Never felt like I really nailed the laps on street tires, for a number of reasons. I don't run at MSR-H more than one event per year, and sometimes we switch configuration from CW to CCW from year to year, so I always feel like I am still learning this track. I never do all that well here.

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Watching the in-car video above of my 1:42.0 laps, sure there are some issues and of course driving mistakes. The rear rebound was set too soft, and it takes a bit of work to access the knobs for that on the inverted rear (we should have a revised MCS setup soon that will make it easier to reach the Rebound knob). I turned the Rebound up a LOT and it settled down in later sessions on this bumpy track, but I couldn't find more time. The extra power we added was very nice but the noise level was LOUD AF. I vowed not to run another event with a car this loud that is also this slow. 😄

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The extra power and torque from the long tubes/CAI/tune made the "wrong gearing" issues even worse. Having to use 2nd gear in the Diamonds Edge and Sugar and Spice corners and stuck in 3rd gear in the Carousel made the rear end want to step out ALL THE TIME. I tried laps using a higher gear in these corners - it was easier to drive, but considerably slower. Kind of disgusted how far off the TT2 pace I ended up, but again - it was 500 pounds heavy + narrow street tires + no aero, in what was a TT3 legal car (with the bonus for 100+ TW tires). I would have handily won TT3 that day, even on street tires, but some key TT3 regulars were missing.

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Engine oil temps were fine, and trans temps as well. Diff temps were moving up fast, sitting on the 250°F limit of the gauge after 4 laps. I kept the lap count shorter to minimize the diff temp issues, but we had planned on the new aluminum diff housing going in before the next event. Other than diff temps the car was flawless - brakes, handling, etc.

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Decent NASA party that night, and the street tire trophies we handed our were welcomed (7 cars declared 200 TW before the day began). Lots of people still finding out about the 200TW sub-class competition and more folks promised they would look closer at these tires for use later in the year - including some HPDE4 regulars who have TT licenses but didn't want to commit to Hoosiers.

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I ended up 6th out of 10 in TT2, 11th fastest overall of all cars, and the quickest car of all TT competitors on 200TW tires for the day. When 8 of the 10 cars in TT2 were full aero/Hoosier cars, I should be happy to get mid-pack in what was a TT3 car. I could not blame traffic or poor grid positioning - just didn't have the pace for a serious TT2 effort.

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Costas won TT2 in the red G-Speed C5 Corvette (above left), running a 1:36.9 and resetting the TT2 lap record here. Sticker Hoosier A7s help, as does the HPR built motor was turned up over 100 hp more than when he ran it in TT3 last year and won the TT3 class National Championship. This same car also ran in ST2 with another driver, running double duty for the weekend. Pretty cool. Kevin in a Lotus was 2nd (above right), Dennis in a black E46 M3 was 3rd (below left), Casey's white C7 (below left) was 4th, and Chet's black C5 was 5th.

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It was good to see Yuri back in his TT2 classed EVO, which we haven't seen in a while. He and I diced it up a bit and I barely stayed ahead of his times. Again, most of this class were prepped race cars with Hoosiers and Aero, except for our car (6th) and another (8th) on street tires.

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Meanwhile my friend Brian Matteucci won TT3 outright in his 2017 Camaro 1LE... with V6 power, on 340 TW Continental street tires! He was there mostly to do some testing on the new Vorshlag 6th gen Camaro camber plate, which we built and shipped him the prototype of the week before. Worked great and that is in production by the time you read this. Previously he tested our first OEM perch S550 camber plate, too. He was the only outright TT class winner on 200TW tires for the weekend.

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I realized Saturday night that the left front (?) brake duct hose had come off. Last time I showed these wacky experimental 4" stainless oval tubing brake tubes we made for the front, which absolutely did not work. This led to accelerated pad wear on the LF caliper, which I showed in the last update.

DAY 2 - SUNDAY

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We mounted up the 18x11" MOMO Classic 6 wheels and new 315/30/18 Hoosier R7s first thing Sunday morning, with a bit of a time crunch involved, and I also "fixed" the brake hose that had fallen off. Vowed to remove these tubular sections as soon as we got back, of course.

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With the fresh Hoosiers mounted I went out in session 1, but heard a funky noise that sounded like a wheel bearing issue in the rear. I came in after a warm up lap and jacked up the car, checked everything, re-torqued the wheels and went back out in the 2nd session. I thought it was a bad wheel bearing, but it was fine once I drove on it again. Probably just missed a lug nut when torquing the wheels on, in a rush. Still seems crazy that these M14 studs need 140 ft-lbs of torque on the lug nuts, but with 95 ft-lbs it makes a lot of racket. Gotta follow the engineers' numbers!

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During that 2nd session there was some oil dry down from a previous racer's engine that had ventilated, but I still ran a 1:40.9 on the Hoosiers. Did that on my first lap, where I had gapped Casey's white TT2 classed C7. I caught him early into the 2nd lap, when he had an ICE mode issue with his GM ABS system. He pulled offline and let me by but my lap slowed down a full second. I tried a 3rd hot lap but predictive showed even slower times. By then the front of the field started catching the back markers, and it got impossible to get a clear lap.

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This time was a little over a second quicker than my best on 200TW tires, even getting held up a tiny bit during that lap.

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That ended up being my best time, as my next session was hotter and my times were slower. Missing that first Sunday morning session was probably why the gap from streets to R7s was once again only a seond, as that first Sunday session is usually quickest for me in any Time Trial weekend. Oh well, I was so far out of the hunt for TT2 it didn't matter much.

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Weather was beautiful all weekend, Sunny and in the 50s-60s. It rained Saturday night - the track was dry and a bit green Sunday morning, but people still put in good lap times. Gearing worked a bit better on the shorter 18" Hoosier tires (25.5") vs the taller 19" RE-71R tires (26.2"), so this cemented our plans to go to 4.09 gears before the next event.

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The stock clutch-style limited slip was completely wasted many months before, of course, and that is costing us time. We would have been using 3rd-4th-5th gear here with the 4.09s instead of 2nd-3rd-4th like we had to with the 3.55 rear and the new MT82-D4 trans gearing.

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Looking at the results I didn't improve in placement (still 6th out of 10) but moved up to 9th overall out of 35 TT competitors, by going to the Hoosiers. That's how far out of the hunt this car is for TT2, and why we are going to great lengths to get back into TT3. On the relatively skinny R7s, we were 500 pounds overweight or 60 whp down from the limits of TT2, and still had no aero. Most of the players in TT2 are winged warriors on stickier Hoosier A7s in wider sizes.

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I stuck around to do more instructor duties, as my HPDE1 student moved to HPDE2 (solo). I did a number of check rides on Sunday afternoon, a 2 to 3, a 3 to 4, and a 4 to TT. The most fun ride of the day was in the "Alpha" LS swapped 2013 FR-S we built for another customer 3 years ago, now owned by Tyler Starr - who was moving up from HPDE4 to TT. That session was a blast and he more than earned his way into TT! Two months later we were competing head-to-head in TT3 at MSR-Cresson.

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It was nice seeing a car we "built for track use" being run in Time Trial, and working flawlessly. The radiator and oil cooling we added worked, the gauges we had added were helpful, gearing was spot on, and the custom shifter just falls right into your hand - inches away from the steering wheel. He was having a ball and even hooning a bit, after I encouraged him to "let the car eat". 😉 He added aero before he joined us in TT3 at the March event, too! I can't wait to get our shop V8 FR-S completed.

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Amy didn't drive this weekend, but she did at the next event in March. We had a few snafus with loading some of our gear, since we just had the trailer refitted and had stripped out all of our stuff. Will get those items added back before the March event. Had a lot of fun - got some sun, some good laps, and saw lots of friends, competitors and customers. Glad we missed the rain, which was looming the week before but only came down Saturday night and did not impact any racing.

200 TREADWEAR RE71-R VS HOOSIER R7 - TEST #2

So this is our first back-to-back test of a BRAND NEW set of RE-71R 200 treadwear tires vs BRAND NEW Hoosier R7s (the last test was worn A7s vs worn RE-71Rs). Was this a perfect test? Not quite, no. This track is the one I perform the worst at on the entire NASA Texas schedule, and my times on both days were hampered by my driving, increasing track temps and other factors. Neither the street tire or Hoosier tests here managed a lap as good as the predictive lap timer showed was possible.

  • Tire Test #2
  • Best lap on new RE-71R - 1:42.050 (MSR-H 2.38 CW, 1/26/19)
  • Best lap on new Hoosier R7 - 1:40.911 (MSR-H 2.38 CW, 1/27/19)


But still, it is another data point. On this 2.38 mile track with the same driver, conditions, and surface, the R7s were 1.139 seconds faster than the RE-71Rs. This is less difference than we thought there would be.

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Looking at the AiM data min/max numbers, the minimum speed was slightly higher but the top speed was almost identical on the R7s (likely due to some gearing differences). Lateral grip wasn't radically different, 1.32g vs 1.28g on the street tires. But braking is where the Hoosiers seem to jump ahead, 1.16g vs 1.06g on the Bridgestones, and I could feel that ~10% difference. The RE-71R registered a higher "forward" grip level, .49g vs .56g, due to the fact that I was using 2nd gear in one slow corner on the taller RE-71R that just didn't work at all on the R7s (massive wheelspin). This only affected one small segment of that one corner. A change to the 4.09 final gear ratio would make 3rd gear work better in that corner on both tires, I suspect.

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We have another test of this at the March NASA event, where I ran the same two tires on the same day, and better matched what the predictive timing showed as possible on both tires. I will continue to do this back-to-back testing at all NASA events all season.

AUBURN PRO DIFF + 4.09 GEARS + NEW ALUMINUM "SUPER 8.8" HOUSING

Speaking of final gearing, we finally wrapped this up in February! We started this project back in November, analyzing ratios, and then gathering parts. Let's cover the what, why and how of this gearing, differential, and housing change.

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I have run the various Texas /Oklahoma / Louisiana road course tracks in over a dozen of my own cars and customer cars (100+) for the past 3 decades. None logged more laps than my red 2011 GT (shown above) with the old MT82 6-speed manual. In this car we would use 3rd, 4th and 5th gears on almost all road course tracks, with a 3.31 rear end ratio. This was a good gearing spread that worked at both low speed tracks (125 mph top speed) and higher speed tracks (160+) with the same 3 transmission gears. We never touched 2nd gear on a road course with this setup, yet autocrossing worked great like using 2nd, with a 75 mph top speed.

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Our current 2018 Mustang GT has a similar 6 speed and a 3.55 rear gear (shown above), but it always feels like I'm in the wrong gear on any road course, everywhere. Why is that?

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The 2018+ Mustang GT has a revised six speed manual, which has all new transmission ratios, called the MT82-D4. We have talked about this before in this thread, and listed out all of the ratios. The 2011-17 Mustang's MT82 manual had a 1:1 5th gear (plus one overdrive), whereas the MT82-D4 uses a 1:1 in 4th gear (and has 2 overdrives). So all of the gears "feel wrong" on track to me, compared to the old MT82 transmission. 2nd gear is too low for slow speed corners (like the T11 at ECR above - I have to upshift to 3rd gear mid-corner) but 3rd is too tall for many slow corners. 4th gear goes on forever - I can't even use "all of this gear" at big tracks like COTA or NOLA. Have never touched 5th or 6th gear on any track with the new trans -those 2 gears are completely worthless to me with 3.55 rear gearing.

  • 2011-17 rear ratio options for MT82 equipped cars: 3.15, 3.55, 3.73
  • 2018-19 rear ratio options for MT82-D4 equipped cars: 3.55, 3.73


The real issue comes from the fact that Ford offered the exact same final gear ratio options in the 2018-19 cars as the previous MT82 cars... so every gear feels "off" for the 2018+ GTs. The Shelby GT350 uses a different and better built 6-speed manual called the Tremec 3160, so it was not affected by the MT82-D4 change.

GEARING ANALYSIS

The spreadsheet below has the new MT82-D4 ratios in for 1st through 5th gears, and you can see that with the existing 3.55 rear gearing we have and the two tires we use most, 4th gear goes to 165 mph and 5th gear goes to 203 mph! That's just not practical, making 5th gear totally worthless, so in essence we are giving up usable acceleration in 3rd and 4th gears. Plus 2nd gear is still almost unusable on track - too much torque at the rear tire.

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Jason made this spreadsheet years ago (we will gladly share it with you) with lots of variables he can change. "Low and high RPM" gives us the spread we want to see speeds for in each gear. We use two different tires so we have two tire heights. We input 4 different rear rear gear ratios (there are currently only 4 choices for the Super 8.8 at this time). After looking at the transmission / rear gear / tire heights and doing many calculations, we picked a new rear end ratio and ran it by swapping in a new ring-and-pinion.

After analyzing the speeds our car is seeing on most tracks, from the slowest corners to the highest speed straights, the Ford Racing 4.09:1 rear gear set (which never came in any OEM Super 8.8 application) looks like it will work the best for our road course needs. That is the lowest ratio offered for the 34 spline Super 8.8 axle, in any case. This won't be perfect for autocrossing, as the 4.09 limits 2nd gear to 66 mph (18" Hoosier) or 68 mm (19" RE-71R). If you have one of these '18-up MT82-D4 cars and autocross is your game, look at the 3.73 ratio 2nd gear speed numbers above.

WHAT IS A SUPER 8.8?

The 2015-up S550 Mustang came with an all new independent rear suspension that utilized a new "Super 8.8" differential housing, in place of the solid axle 8.8" that has been in use in one form or another since 1985. This new Super 8.8 housing comes in two flavors: a cast aluminum version and a cast iron housing (both shown below). The Shelby GT350 and all 6-speed manual GT's use the iron housing, the rest (automatic equipped GT, all V6 and Ecoboost) use the aluminum housing, which is a tick lighter (more on that later).

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Both Super 8.8 housings bolt into the tubular steel rear suspension S550 subframe (see below) at the same 4 points. These are built to accept differential housings with 34 spline stubs for the halfshafts (axles), up from 31 splines in the 03-04 Cobra IRS 8.8" housing (the 1999-04 Cobra IRS diff housing looks nothing likes this, and has zero cross-over parts), and is stronger than the 28 spline axles used in the earlier stick axle Mustangs (1985-2006). More splines = stronger.

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The Super 8.8 uses all new guts (34 spline diff housing + gears + bearings) but luckily Ford Racing makes compatible gear ratios, just in a lot fewer options than the 1985-2014 solid axle 8.8. The Super 8.8 ratios include 3.31, 3.55 and 3.73 from the factory but there is also a 4.09 ratio available (new ratios might exist by now - we did this analysis late last year).

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We had weighed one of the bare aluminum Super 8.8" housings a couple of years ago when I purchased it for another development project, so when we thought about putting this heavy S550 on a diet (for TT2), this made the most sense. Weights above are ones we took of the bare aluminum housing and cover - we show the complete aluminum super 8.8 housing plus the complete iron unit below. Before the peanut gallery chimes in, I know what you are thinking. "BuT tHe AlUmInUm HoUsInG bReAkS!" No, not really.

Of course drag racers can break anything on a good hook, at a prepped drag strip, with axle hop. Yet we have spoken to a 900 whp drag racer who vouched for the strength of his aluminum Super 8.8 housing, and the pro road race teams also use these also and don't break them. If we break it, then I will post that data point. We try new things and sometimes they don't work out - but we share that data.

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We already have some direct evidence from our S550 OEM camber plate tester's car, above (Brian M), who used one of these aluminum Super 8.8 housings with a Torsen T-2R that he built up in his 2015 Mustang GT 6-speed manual over 3 years ago, and its still holding strong. This car now spends time every week on track at MSR-Houston with the new owner Matt (now on MCS TT1s), running on sticky 315mm tires, turning fast laps. Again - all 2015-17 5.0L automatic GT's got the aluminum housing, so its not exactly unproven.

NEW DIFFERENTIAL - AUBURN PRO FOR SUPER 8.8

The 2015-up Performance Pack GT and 2016-up GT350 models got a Torsen style differential, which is helical geared unit that "does not wear" and does not rely on clutches to have a limited slip action. Of course the cheap base model GT like our's came with the old "clutch style" differential unit Ford calls the Traction Lok. These are universally loathed and it was showing signs of wear AFTER OUR FIRST TRACK WEEKEND. Our car essentially has had an open differential since March of 2018.

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Stock (left) and upgraded carbon (right) clutch packs we destroyed regularly in our S197

We regularly destroyed these clutch packs (even the upgraded Ford Racing carbon packs) in our S197 before moving to a Torsen T2-R... they would last one or two days before the differential needed to be rebuilt again (see above). The T2-R was a non-wearing, performance upgrade in that car.

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New Auburn Pro differential for 2015-up Ford Super 8.8 Housing

This build thread gets around, and Auburn found out we were going to be testing a new diff. We talked, and shortly after Auburn sent us a new prototype Auburn Pro diff for the Super 8.8" housing. We will put in some test laps to help get their prototype Super 8.8 unit proven and ready for production.

BUILDING THE SUPER 8.8

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After we gathered the new Auburn Pro diff, the aluminum housing, cover, new 4.09 gear set, new bearings, pinion flange, plus all the seals and shims it was time to build a new Super 8.8 assembly from scratch.

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First, we needed to modify the new cover for our aftermarket diff temp sensor. The original rear housing cover on our 2018 GT had a BLIND threaded hole that looked like a perfect diff temp sensor location (between the fill and drain plugs), but since it was blind the hole had no direct access to the diff fluid. We had purchased an extra rear cover, since we need a complete Super 8.8 for another project we are working on. The new cover was slightly different - it only had a "cast" blind hole, no threads, but still looked perfect for a differential temp sensor location.

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We drilled and tapped that cast hole for 1/8" NPT threads, and fit the external diff sensor - and it can touch fluid. On the previous setup we had made an adapter to mount this sensor in the threaded hole for the lower drain plug in the housing (see this image).

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After reading some of the small amount of tech we could find about installing a new differential and gears into a Super 8.8, we found we would need a "spreader tool". This tool can be used to help install the pre-loaded diff bearings and shims, so we built this. We built something similar for the SN99 aluminum IRS 8.8" housing we used in a customers V8 BMW.

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Now we were ready, right? We looked for instructions and torque specs for assembling a Super 8.8 from scratch. There wasn't much out there, so I called up one of my old employees - who used to free lance doing gear swaps for us for many years. He came by the shop in late February to put this Super 8.8 together.

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Torque values are somewhat hard to find for the aluminum Super 8.8, but here's what we unearthed from this document and some other sources:

  • Main Bearing Caps = 71 lb-ft on aluminum super 8.8" housing
  • Pinion Bearing Preload: 16-29 lb-in (how much drag it should have)
  • Pinion Nut = Has no set torque value?!
      + Ford says to "measure the removal torque and replicate on re-installation"
      + We used 3 Ugga-Duggas with the 3/4" impact gun 😉
      + 1985-2014 Mustang 8.8" stick axle requires 140 lb-ft, for reference
  • Ring Gear Bolts = 100 lb-ft "Use new bolts with pre-applied thread locker"
  • Rear Cover Bolts = 34 lb-ft
  • Ring Gear Backlash: 0.008-0.012 in

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Donnie was familiar with setting and checking the gear wear pattern, back lash, bearing installs, and torque settings. The wear pattern on the ring gear marking paint looked good, then Donnie buttoned up his work. The rear cover went on with a thin line of RTV sealant and new Ford hardware bolted the cover to the housing.

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We filled it with Motul Gear 300 along with the friction modifier supplied by Auburn. After driving it and listening for noise on decel, backlash, etc - its dead silent, perfect.

GETTING IRON VS ALUMINUM SUPER 8.8 WEIGHTS

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One of the small goals was to possibly reduce some mass. We had heard rumors that the aluminum housing is "30 pounds lighter" than the iron unit. We had weights on the bare aluminum housing, but not the iron. During the install for the new aluminum unit we weighed them both, and the difference in weight was less than we had been told.

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As you can see the weight difference was closer to 15 pounds - but we have a bit of apples to oranges comparison here. The Auburn Pro diff is built differently and could account for some of the weight difference. Still, its 15 pounds less mass that we need to haul around, and if we move to TT2 for good we will need every pound we can find. If we see any adverse wear or cracks in this lighter aluminum housing, we will share that here.

CHANGING THE FRONT PINION FLANGE?

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We had an extra step we hadn't anticipated here. When the new pinion flange was mated up to the driveshaft... it didn't fit. The ID of the flange was different and the 6 driveshaft bolts wouldn't line up.

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Apparently there has been some change to the Super 8.8 driveshaft rear CV joint and pinion flange. We figured this out after the unit was in the car and ready to button up, of course.

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The "black" unit on the left was the one that came on our base 2018 GT. The "silver" pinion flange on the right was the one we bought, when we looked up a similar model S550 housing. The inner diameter differs by (4.316" black to 4.443" silver), and the 6 driveshaft attachment bolt holes are on different bolt circle as well. We pulled the flange off of the base GT axle assembly and swapped it in place for the new aluminum unit.

GETTING THE SUPER 8.8 INTO THE CHASSIS

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Installation is relatively straight forward, but not exactly easy. We had the rear exhaust out of the way for a muffler change, and it helped to have this extra access. Next you disconnect the axle at the diff, then go to the rear uprights. Undo the upper mounting bolts at the upright and let them dangle on the lower mounting points, which allows lateral room for you to "pop" the rear axles out of the diff housing.

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Then secure the diff housing with a trans jack and partially drop the subframe - loosen the front two mounts and remove the bolts from the other two, then drop the rear down. This lets the rear cover of the housing clear the back of the car and come out. Installation is the reverse of this. We did this twice, as we found the diff flange issue buttoning up to the driveshaft the first time. Fun.

REPLACING A REAR AXLE SHAFT

We have had 5 different rear shock setups on this car in the last year, including the inverted Whiteline/AST coilover units (once) and the inverted MCS coilover rears (twice). One time we must have had the shock and spring slide a hair too close to the right rear CV boot on the outer part of the halfshaft, and it nicked it... a little grease was starting to come out, so I pushed to repair this boot before it lost all of the grease and failed.

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No worries - we just ordered a new CV boot kit from Ford. Had to get it over-nighted from Detroit, but how hard could it be to replace? Evan was a Toyota tech and has replaced 100s of CV boots in the past...

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To get the new boot over the internals you have to cut the old boot off, take the joint off the shaft, and slide it in place, reassemble the joint, and push the boot into place. Its a 1-2 hour deal, normally. But this new boot was made of some VERY INFLEXIBLE rubber...

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I was busy doing something and checked in on Evan and Brad,who were fighting this new CV boot. They had made a pair of "spreader" tools, tried the heat gun, but nothing worked. This CV boot would not go on.

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Evan called a technician he knew who worked at a Ford dealer, and he said "Oh we don't ever try to replace those boots! Impossible to get on. Just toss in a new axle!" We checked, and sure enough, the new rear axle is only about 3x the price of the dang boot kit. And it just goes right in....

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PRO TIP: DO NOT EVER TRY TO REPLACE A REAR CV BOOT ON AN S550! JUST BUY A NEW HALF SHAFT. The additional labor of replacing a CV boot is more than enough to offset the difference in cost on the parts.

MONITORING DIFF TEMPS

Now that we have engine oil temps under control (never see more than 220F now, used to touch 300+ when it went "into the red") we can make more than 3 laps in a session. The Mishimoto oil cooler was a life saver there.

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The differential fluid temps shown below are from the the January 2019 NASA event are still a bit frightening. The diff temp gauge only goes from 100 to 250°F, but often "sits on the peg" after 4 or 5 laps, so we don't know really how hot it is getting. We will see if this aluminum housing can shed heat better than the iron housing, but I suspect we will see a diff fluid cooler in the future on this car.

CARBON FIBRE!

With the rear axle built with the new gearing, housing and Auburn Pro diff, plus the drive flange and right rear axle replacement, we could move on to some other upgrades. We ordered this shiny carbon fiber hood from Anderson Composites in January and it arrived (along with a GT350R replica rear wing we will install later) after we got back from the MSR-H NASA event.

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These double-sided hoods are real carbon-fiber replicas of 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500, with fully functional hood vents. These will work with factory hinges and latches. This was shipped via freight truck and was very well wrapped in foam inside of a big shipping box. The hood was bolted into the box via the threaded mounting bosses. This is a double-sided carbon fiber hood, no fiberglass, with a glossy gel coat to give it some UV protection. We plan on painting this but not for a few months.

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We weighed the stock aluminum hood at 41.2 pounds on our 2018 GT and this carbon hood weighs only 27.3 pounds. That gives us a 14 pound weight savings without any of the compromises of a Motorsports level dry carbon hood (which has to use hood pins and must be clear coated, painted, or wrapped). The glossy gel coat looks good, is super smooth, and should withstand the elements - but a clear coat or layer of paint never hurts.

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This carbon hood has a fully-finished underside layer with enough structure in place to mount the factory hood hinges, latch, and prop rod - but Anderson recommends not using any aftermarket lift struts. This hood features a large 19 x 26-inch louvered vent totaling 3.43 square feet for heat extraction and reduced front end lift. We have both the 2015-17 and 2018-19 versions of this "GT5" hood listed on our website.

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The video above is a quick walk-around showing the fit and finish of this hood, and how it was installed. We spent 30 minutes bolting this on and tweaking body gaps - no joke. So much easier than the 8-12 hours of bodywork most aftermarket composite hoods for these cars need to be installed.

PP1 LOWER LIP + PP2 SPLITTER

As I have said many times before, our base model GT is missing many of the performance tweaks that come on the Performance Pack 1 or PP2 optioned Mustangs. Radiator, Torsen, 15" brakes, and on and on. Well we found another thing that was missing - the slightly larger PP1 lower lip.

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As we investigated what it would take to install the PP2 "extended splitter" we found that we needed to order the PP1 lower lip, among other parts. We had seen many forum posts as to what the 2018-19 GT PP2 splitter required and found all sorts of parts numbers, many of which were wrong or incomplete.

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So we ordered the lower lip and installed that onto the front bumper cover - which is luckily the same as the PP1 and PP2. Next up we noticed the undertray was all wrong...

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We noticed that the base GT undertray would not line up with the PP2 "splitter", so we ordered the PP2 undertray next plus a bunch of new hardware.

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This PP2 "splitter" piece is supposed to go on with plastic rivets, but we used nuts and bolts instead, to make it easier to remove later (which we might do if we have a "TT2" splitter).

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Next the PP undertray was installed, but then we noticed more parts that were different. This "rear" section of undertray no longer lined up from the base car, so this steel brace and a completely different shape rear panel was ordered. The various hardware we ordered earlier all finally arrived and all of the PP1 and PP2 parts from 6 different orders (including some mistakenly ordered parts we sent back) were finally secured properly. Whew!

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This work shown took place over several weeks, of course. This is what the undertray and PP2 splitter looks like in all its glory. We might offer all of this as a kit for other base model 2018-19 GTs - it took a lotof research and trial and error to get these parts that worked together.

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Brad noticed that the molded in "tunnels" in the flat PP undertray piece did not line up with the base GT fender liners. That is because the base GT had the goofy INVERTED HAT FRONT ROTORS, which cannot flow any air through them to cool for track use. He trimmed the plastic fender liners to fit with the tunnels, which can now route air to the front brakes. This is a key upgrade because we want to test a new brake cooling technique that doesn't use any hoses. More on that side-by-side track test and data in a later post.

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Last but not least, you can see the newly replaced 4" brake duct hoses that went in after the failed experiment with 4" oval stainless sections, which were removed. Sure, the hoses get a bit squeezed a small amount at full steering lock with 11" wide front wheels, but it just "is what it is" for now. The stainless tubes restricted steering so badly that one ripped off the car.

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I'm happy with how this turned out, just wish it would have been easier to piece this PP2 splitter/undertray package together. This will be our front aero for classes that restrict splitter sizes or only allow "OEM option packages", like SCCA CAM-C or Optima GT class - both of which are on our schedule for later this year.

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Of course this is still a bunch of plastic, and won't offer a lot of real front downforce. I'm hoping the GT500 style vented hood will help this PP2 stuff make more than the "24 pounds of downforce" Ford claims. The lower plane of the PP2 splitter is still way too high off the ground - we barely need any ramp to get the car in the trailer.

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Look for a longer, more substantial, reinforced "real" front splitter later this season for TT2 use. This car might not ever make the power-to-weight limit for TT2, but we're damn sure going to make some proper aero to try to close the gap!

VORSHLAG 15" BREMBO 6 PISTON BRAKE KIT OFFERED

Speaking of things that come on the Performance Pack GTs... the PP 15" brakes are a huge improvement over the inverted hat 14" brakes that come on the base GT or Ecoboost Performance Pack cars, especially the base Ecoboost and V6 brakes. We have talked about this here before, and until now we only offered the 380x34mm Powerbrake big brake kit. That just isn't in everyone's budget, so we did some research, checked a number of new sources, and put together our own version of the PP brakes for sale. This Ford based kit we assembled is heavier than the Powerbrake BBK, but the price is significantly less.

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When Ford built the S550 they tried a new technique for the rotor design on the front and rear, in all sizes: the ridiculous "inverted hat" rotor design, shown above left. Initially both the 14" and 15" rotors had this "no way to cool" design, but an engineering team at Ford led by our friend Marco proved the inverted hat design can not work on track. He has reams of test data to back this up. We talk about a lot of that in this forum post.

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The track worthy solution he pushed through, at least for the 15" Performance Pack brakes, was to go back to a conventional rotor design as well as some tunnels in the undertray and cooling deflectors. This all happened right before the S550 was released, and some of the inverted hat 15" parts are still floating around out there. We accidentally got a set of brake backing plates from these backwards 15" rotors when we were putting together our 15" 6-piston Brembo upgrade kits - which we showed Marco and he got a good laugh at seeing.

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After ordering a variety of parts to see what worked together best, we put together our version of the 6-piston 15" Brembo kit for the 2015-up non-Performance Pack cars to get the maximum benefits of that testing and development. If you have the inverted hat brakes on your S550 Mustang and plan to do more than parade lap pace on track, you will want to look at this upgrade. After camber adjustment, this should be the next track upgrade on your list. Our kit even includes the required master cylinder (one for manual, one for automatic), unlike the Ford Racing M-2300-V kit that is priced higher. And we use all new, Ford-sourced parts.

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Of course you can still get these brakes hot on track, so good track pads, track rated brake fluid, and even brake cooling is still a good idea. If you can see the rotors glowing, they are getting hot enough to cause trouble! Nobody likes "losing the brakes" on their car on track, most of all me. We have brake cooling solutions for the S550 15" PP brakes and the 21 pound lighter 380x34mm Powerbrake option for this chassis, of course.

NEW QUIETER CUSTOM EXHAUST (MUFFLER CHANGE)

The Magnaflow "race" exhaust has been on this car since the beginning and was the only mod when we got our "baseline dyno" pulls last year. It fit great, sounded great, and had provisions for the optional exhaust bypass valves (which our car did not have).

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Once we installed the long tube headers the sound got to be a little bit much. This thing sounded like a full blown race car at the January MSR-H event, just minus the full blown race car lap times. 😄

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I took some measurements of the existing exhaust and back of the car and found the biggest Magnaflow mufflers in the same 3" tubing diameter.

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After many years of testing this theory we know how much muffler case volume works in knocking down decibels of sound, but the right style not only keeps the same power level it usually ADDS power. This Magnaflow 12249 part has a straight through design you can stick your arm through, but more batting inside. We mocked them up and they fit, as long as I was OK with losing the two exhaust tips and the space needed for the bypass valves (which this car doesn't have).

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I was worried that the larger muffler would add a few pounds... nope!The smaller case "race" muffler was heavier when you added in the twin tips and the straight pipe adapter for the bypass valve. The new setup was 9 pounds lighter.

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The installation was a bit custom, with some cutting and welding. I snapped this shot while the muffler was being welded in - the arc light inside shows the straight through muffler design.

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These were welded in and some brackets were added to line up with the factory mounts on the chassis. We went without any tips and just have the muffler cases stuffed up into the back of the car. The first time they fired up the car.... WOW! So much quieter! I've driven the car with this setup at another track event and an autocross, and at both events had people come by and ask "What have you DONE to this car?! It sounds amazing!" And it really does. Very happy with this, and we will see soon if it made a small improvement in power.

SPL PARTS SPHERICAL CONTROL ARMS

One of the best improvements on the S550 chassis over the previous generation S197 Mustang, is the double-ball joint front suspension. This was lifted straight from the BMW playbook, but it works. There are some big rubber bushings in this suspension, especially the forward hydraulic bushing in the front location (see below right).

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Just like on the S197, this one hydro bushing is there to reduce NVH transferred into the cabin, but it allows for a lot of deflection under braking and cornering. We worry about replacing this one with polyurethane, as it might bind during travel. This bushing needs to move freely in 2 axis...

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Our friends at SPL Parts have two products to replace the front lower control arms. Their S550 Front Tension Rod kit includes the replacement arm that gets rid of the massive hydro bushing, replacing it with a spherical. This arm is also adjustable in length and has geometry correction at the spindle side (with a spherical and adjustable height pin).

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This went in with ease and gives some caster adjustment and other geometry corrections. Removing that massive hydro bushing is key here - and replacing it with high end spherical bushing in that location.

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The other SPL Parts kit is the S550 Lower Control Arm kit, which is the lateral piece of the 2 arms. This arm gives additional camber adjustment while also replacing rubber bushings with sphericals - and giving adjustable geometry.

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With both arms in place we have removed a lot of rubber and hydraulic bushings, added lots of adjustment, fixed some geometry that gets altered when lowered, and... lost some weight?

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Looks like these are 6 pounds lighter per side, so we lost another 12 pounds with these parts. Not a huge amount, but the small weight drops from this round of changes is adding up.

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The rear suspension link and swaybar end links above are new, and SPL sent these to us to test. They have been by our shop and at the track measuring some things on our S550, plus we loaned them a rear subframe and complete set of S550 rear control arms. Look for some additional prototype SPL parts on our car for more testing later this season. I will give my first hand impressions of these after an autocross and TT weekend in the next update.

WHAT'S NEXT?

This update ran long but we covered our first 2019 competition event and a huge array of new parts added. Next time we will cover two more events where we get to test all of these upgrades (on track and autocross). I will show the new weight of the car - which was lighter than I had calculated, and that made moving to TT3 impossible with the Hoosiers.

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We also added a few more things to this Mustang, such as the Mishimoto radiator. We have pictures of our production S550 and S197 seat brackets, some new prototype clevis style rear shock mounts (requested by one of our shock manufacturers), and some other bits and pieces.

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Project Update for July 25th, 2019: I originally started writing this update in April for a release in mid May - then about a day before I was going to post this update there was a change on our host server which knocked out the forum. This turned into a 2 month outage, major server upgrade and migration, then a new version of vBulletin software, and other fixes. I am going to cut this release in half and get out what I can quickly. This round will cover 2 more competition events and the associated changes we did between them.

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These events two include Texas Region SCCA autocrosses at two different sites, where Amy and I both drove the 2018 GT and both did pretty well. Running the Mustang in CAM-C on 200TW street tires is probably where this car is best suited, and it also prepares us for the autocross portion of the Optima event at NCM in early June.

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There was a NASA event in May at COTA which I was going to cover, but I ran out of space. Instead I will show installation steps on a few items we added plus a weight analysis of weights of this 2018 GT - which has gone up and down.

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We added a quick release handheld fire extinguisher, Aerocatch latches to the carbon hood, tested a hood "buffeting" fix, added a new S550 Mishimoto radiator, and tested and learned a bit about AiM SmartyCam data integrated video. Let's get started.

CHASSIS WEIGHT CHANGES OVER TIME

Let's look at one of my favorite data points for any car - the weight. Dropping weight is universally seen as one of the best places to gain performance in the Motorsports venues we like to do. We usually compete in some sort of power-to-weight restricted class, and the lightest weight isn't always what we need to shoot for. Getting to some weight also has compromises we are not willing to make - at least on this 2018 Mustang, which we plan to keep only 2 years. For the first year (2018 model) we ran this car in NASA TT3 class, which has a 10 pounds per average whp limit. We were skirting near that limit early on, with some heavy OEM bits on the car and bone stock power levels.

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2-23-2018, factory stock, very low fuel, spare tire removed, low fuel, 3645 lbs

This is where we started, and of all of the weights shown it has the lowest fuel level. I try to weigh cars with ZERO fuel, as it is easy to calculate that "up" to compare. But as we found out right after installing real tires and suspension, these cars will FUEL STARVE BADLY on a road course in left hand turns, so we almost never let this Mustang get below 1/2 tank of fuel. On Hoosiers I top off the fuel before every session on track - it starves that badly. But here, on the super janky 235mm M+S tires the base GT came with, grip was not high enough to worry about fuel starve. I ran it low on fuel at the first track test. Stock 18x8" wheels were skinny but HEAVY, and the 14" 4-piston brakes weren't exactly light.

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9-13-2018, 3/8 tank, with 4-point roll bar (58 lbs), no passenger seat, 3607 lbs

This is 6 months after buying the car and by then we had done a good bit of updates to this Mustang. I don't seem to have a weight of this car on the 15" 6 piston PP brakes, as they were on the car for only about 6 weeks before we got the lighter Powerbrake motorsport brakes on the car (as shown above). I'm going to point out that this is only weight taken with ONE seat, and its the Sparco composite unit at that. Keep that in mind when comparing with all other weights here, which all have two seats installed. Here we have the roll bar added, which is 58 lbs, but the rear seat bits removed (62 pounds) makes that about a wash. Magnaflow mid-pipe back exhaust replaced the OEM bits. The Powerbrake 380mm 6 piston bits replaced the HEAVY 15" PP brakes (21 pound drop).

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1-24-19, over half a tank of fuel, 3711 lbs empty and 3936 with driver + gear

This was the heaviest the car has weighed to date (as well as me!), but we had added a lot of big parts to the car at this point. The oil cooler, gauges, strut tower brace, and the 2nd seat (40+ pounds with side brackets, base bracket, and harness). I didn't expect the car to sneak below this weight any time soon, so all of my TT3 plans for 2019 had this weight as the basis...

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3-19-19, 1/2 tank fuel, 3626 lbs

Well, I was wrong - the car got a bit lighter before the March NASA event. Crap, I was not expecting the car to be lighter than before, but we had added a carbon hood, new "bigger" mufflers (which dropped weight), the aluminum diff housing was lighter, and the SPL Parts control arms, the long tube headers, updated mufflers, as well as a few other bits that all dropped weight. Losing 10 pounds here, 14 pounds there, and pretty soon it was 85 pounds lighter. That, plus the nice bump in power added after the long tube headers/CAI/tune pretty much wrecked our chances of staying in TT3 class. Changing classes mid-season is never a good idea, but we had to.

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This car has moved from TT3 (left) to TT2 (right) and it is staying there, where it is 300 lbs too heavy

After this new weight and power level we moved to TT2 - where the car is 300 pounds overweight. Sucks, but the car just ended up stuck in a zone clearly "between two classes". For reasons that will become apparent in a later post, I'm not willing to A) cut the car up to try to find 300 freagin pounds, B) not going to add a LOT of ballast to run TT3, or C) drop a LOT of that power to get back as well.

This car was always planned to be a two year development mule for us - we plan to "de-content" the final version to an easily sell-able setup and recoup as much as possible "next year". This car has helped us test and develop a LOT of S550 Mustang parts, but ultimately its still a full weight street car that has more value than a cut-up race car. I talk more about this next time.

MISHIMOTO RADIATOR UPGRADE

At this point, the heat issues we had seen on track for the first year of use were already fixed - it was all in the base GT "oil pre-heater" and the funky electronic grill louvers (that don't come on the PP cars). With the Mishimoto oil cooler we could extend our stints from 2-3 laps at a time to "run the whole session". But we still haven't run this car with the aftermarket oil cooler in a REAL Texas summer yet, so we went ahead and invested in a larger Mishimoto aluminum radiator. We had excellent results with the S197 Mishimoto radiator in our 2011 GT and I figured, why not? Cheap insurance.

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Wow, that picture says a lot. We always like taking this "side-by-side" shot of the OEM radiator vs the larger Mishi unit. Now the base model GT has a smaller radiator core compared to the Performance Pack GT unit or the Shelby GT350, of course, but the up-sized Mishi unit absolutely dwarfs the base OEM radiator. You can read more about the specs on this S550 Mishimoto radiator here. We recommend and sell this unit for all tracked S550 Mustangs.

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Brad started by draining the factory fill of anti-freeze and water. Now we always try to get that slick stuff out of a radiator whenever its a car that doesn't see harsh winters or sub-freezing temps, which fits this car (it isn't daily driven like some dual-purpose cars). We went back with distilled water plus Motul MoCool additive. If we have a coolant leak on track this mixture won't be an oil slick like anti-freeze would.

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After the coolant was drained, the cold air tube and coolant reservoir were moved out of the way. Then the plastic upper radiator cover is removed, then the upper mounts can be unbolted from the black fiber-reinforced-composite radiator support. The radiator hoses are disconnected and the electric fan assembly removed from the top.

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The new unit fits in place of the smaller stock unit. The upper metal cover from the Mishimoto oil cooler kit was adjusted slightly so that the seal mates up to the front of the new, thicker Mishimoto radiator.

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The radiator fans are installed, the radiator hoses connected, and the upper radiator mounts go back in place over the mounting pins on the larger radiator. It all fits like stock, even with the big increase in size. The cold air and reservoir are reinstalled, as is the upper vent line. Then the upper radiator plastics go on (below).

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At this point it was time to fill up the cooling system with distilled H2O and MoCool, then we went through a start and warm-up phase, to let the thermostat open up, then keep topping off the coolant with the cap removed. Many shops like ours will have a pressurized radiator fill rig like this, which makes this a much less time consuming procedure.

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At this point we were done with any updates before the next event - an SCCA autocross. We slapped on some "CAM-C" class letters, loaded up the car into our trailer with the 200TW tires installed, and got ready to head out to the SCCA autocross.

SCCA AUTOCROSS, LONE STAR PARK, MARCH 24, 2019

This event was only the second time I have autocrossed this car in the 2 years we have owned it. Amy and I used to do 10-15 autocross events a year for nearly 2 decades, but now I'm lucky if I do two events a year - my last autocross event was April 2018 at the Optima event at NOLA.

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I have run at this Lone Star Park (horse race track) parking lot many times over the past dozen years, and honestly, its one of my least favorite event sites around Dallas/Ft Worth. There is some elevation change - which is good - but the surface is aging and coming apart, there are many massive bumps, and plenty of light poles. All of this makes it very difficult to design a course in advance (there is a committee that has to see a course map and approve it) without some part of the course going over the bumpiest sections.

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And no matter how you lay it out the unsealed asphalt top surface "comes apart" after just a few runs, which makes a very narrow clean line but piles of gravel just off line. There's also a tendency in this region to design courses that massively benefit very narrow cars (Miatas) where some sections are straights for some cars but offsets for the wider cars like the S550.

Event photo and video gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...ox-LSP-032419/

Even when driven VERY well, a wider car is not going to do well in raw time or PAX factored times here. Due to the course being adjusted during the morning runs to miss the really deteriorated sections, the 180° turn-arounds in corner station 3 and the other in corner station 5 were pinched even worse than the map shows - to the point of being painfully tight. Its just the nature of this site - its hard to make a "new" layout here without that sort of impact.

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Luckily we already knew this site was bumpy and we raised the ride height before this event. Glad we have GOOD shocks, but we would have benefited from a softer spring setup here. There were 3" and taller humps we had to take at speed, and the softer sprung CAM cars probably had a slight advantage there. We unloaded the car from the trailer, then walked this "Jekyll and Hyde" course - the first half was nice, flowing, easy to see, and fast. The second half was an evil monster made to inflict pain and suffering. Super tight, visually obscure, and with the 180s that damn near took full steering lock to navigate in our car.

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We ran the 4th and final heat, which meant the very edge of the driving line in every corner was all gravel. If you step off the "common denominator" driving line you're going to hit those marbles and go wide. Which I managed to do on every single run, yay. Always felt like I nailed the first half of the course, but the "exercise in restraint" for the second half just never came together for me. The one run I made that actually felt pretty good, the timers didn't trip (got a rerun).

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The new 4.09:1 gearing worked out perfectly for this tight course, and the new Auburn Pro Limited Slip was letting the rear tires really dig out of corners. For the first half of the heat I was in 1st and Amy was in 2nd, but I never felt secure - one of the local hot shoes (the regional exec, Matt Lucas) was hitting cones but running faster raw times. He moved ahead of me into 1st for a bit, then I bounced back into 1st briefly, but eventually Matt found a lot of time in a later run and took the win.

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It has been a year since Amy had done an autocross, and the seat isn't really setup well for her shorter stature. We borrowed some seat cushions and got her sitting higher in the seat, which helped. She was fast right out of the box - a multi-time SCCA National Champion like her never loses this skill set completely. She hung in 2nd for a bit but struggled in the tight bits and fell back to 5th in the 16 car CAM-C class.

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The video above is my 4th of 5 runs, which at the time was good enough for 2nd place. I felt good about the first half of the course, really attacked those sections. I was struggling to get the braking points down in the very tight 2nd half, slipped into the gravel in two spots, wrecking the run. I never hit a cone all day, but never nailed the whole course, either. Frustrating.

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Amy's 3rd run was her best. She ran almost the exact same time on her 4th run and found a half second on her 5th, but caught a cone. She was pretty happy for her first autocross back in well over a year, especially considering she could barely see over the dash.

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As you can see, the CAM-C class was made up completely of late model Camaros and Mustangs. There were five 6th gen F-body 1LEs entered, and some of them were pretty hotted up. I guess we should be happy with 2nd and 5th, considering the lack of autocross events we have done in this car. Other than the ride height change and one shock adjustment, this is exactly how we run the car for track events.

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Left: 3-4-2018 (stock suspension & 235mm M+S tires). Right: 3-24-2019 (coilovers + bars + 305mm tires). Car has come a long way in a year!

Its interesting to see the "attitude" difference of this car from the bone stock (above left) and current setup (right). That 3-4-18 event looked pretty painful. These S550s are VERY soft in stock form, and the base GT tires are laughable. We've added a good chunk of power, grip, roll stiffness, spring rate and damping since then.

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We had fun, even considering the course frustrations and lack of a win. Rain held off so the weather was partly cloudy, windy, with a high of 79°F. Beat sitting at home on the couch! 165 cars that day, but a lot of reruns, DNFs, and stoppages - made for a long day. We need to hone our autocross skills a bit before we go to another Optima weekend, so I'm glad we did this one. We will work on the seat tilt angle so Amy can see better, stick to the local event site that is less janky (TMS Bus Lot), and do some more local autocrosses later this year.

AIM SMARTY CAM TESTING

I am always taking in-car video when we run on track or autocross - this is both to chronicle what is going on in the car for these write-ups, but also for me to use to LEARN TO IMPROVE. Seeing the video, the data overlay, and even watching my hands and where I'm looking helps me improve. And while many of you love GoPro camera, I have had some pretty poor results with these. Also, the "phone apps" for lap timing are generally not very accurate - whereas we have had the 10Hz GPS driven lap data from our AiM within a couple of hundredths of a second of the AMB timing loop, which is what every racing group uses for competition lap timing.

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The videos from the autocross event above were not particularly good, especially the audio. We really have to run an external microphone with a "dead cat" noise sock on it to get clean audio on a windy day (see below). I was lazy that day and didn't bring the powered external mic, and it shows. Every time a gust of wind blows sideways into the cabin from the open windows, the on-board stereo mic on the Sony just explodes with noise, which I tried to edit out for these videos.

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Always use an external mic with in-car video, it is 100% better sound quality. I like mounting them down by the center console inside the cabin - that way the wind buffeting is minimal, you can still hear the engine noises, and also I can somewhat narrate the runs in real time. It seems nuts, but I am used to having "conversations with the camera" as I'm driving, which helps me remember what was going on, rattle off temp data, etc. Many folks mount their mic behind the rear of the car, out of the direct wind and with the mic pointed at the exhaust - that works, too. I just bought another non-powered external mic (Rode Micro, shown above left) and test that also (The Boya powered mic eats a 9V batteries - one more thing to remember to charge/replace).

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The Sony HD video camera we have been using the last 3 years (shown above in the bottom right corner) normally takes excellent video and audio, but the wide Field of View lens (which distorts the edges of the field) means it only captures good in-car video if you stick it right next to the windshield. Stick it behind the driver and only about 25% of the video image is of the forward view outside of the car. Wide angle lenses kind of suck for in-car video when you place it behind the driver.

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Mounting it close to the windshield is tricky, but we built a special RAM mount on the FR-S where it can sit "right side up", above left. This is normally where we have Amy's cell phone holder, for street use in that car, and we swap in this vidcam for track events. We just added that type of mount to the Mustang and the video is complete garbage - too far from the glass? Don't know.

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I will show some of this video from Optima @ NCM next time taken with this new "right-side up" dash mount, but it was not very good. When using this vidcam with a suction cup mount and running the camera "upside down" means I have to flip the video and re-render before I can bring it into Race Render, to merge it with data. Then it goes back for a 3rd round of edits and another render in my video editing software once the data is overlaid. Real time killer... I usually spend 90 minutes to make a 3-5 minute in-car video. It didn't help that I had a dead CPU fan for almost a year, which crippled rendering times (just fixed that - and my PC is 5x faster rendering)

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I've also wanted to get back to a "roll bar mount" camera location using a "narrow" Field of View lens. My previous Sony vidcam (2012-2016) worked pretty well, and even had a nice wired remote (with indicators for on/off, recording, etc), with a narrow FOV and a real adjustable lens. The quality from that 7+ year old 1080P vidcam started to look pretty dated, and the lack of a external mic was a real killer. Now that the 2018 Mustang has a roll bar (like we ran in our 2011 GT) it is time to install the I/O Port vidcam mount behind the driver, get a modern vidcam with a narrow FOV lens, and finally be able to see what the idiot driver is doing as well as a good view out the front.

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If you have been following my build threads for the past 8+ years you will have seen that I don't drive on track without my AiM Solo. I have two of these units, the $399 SOLO (my loaner/spare) and the $799 SOLO DL (which can read data via OBDII or CAN). There are newer units called the SOLO 2 & SOLO2 DL, but they don't have a lot of new features (and they shipped with a few bugs). Again, merging the captured data to the video is a bit of a pain in the ass, and its something that gobbles up time after every event. I've also never data logged any autocross runs (until recently), but I knew it was possible with the AiM SOLO and a custom course setup for the day (walking the course to "set" the GPS points for a separate start and finish).

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The obvious answer to all of these issues - if you ask anyone online - is the AiM SMartyCam HD. This $1000 camera can "talk" to the AiM SOLO (as well as AiM's other data logging digital dashes) and merges data and video real time. It also auto-starts and auto-stops, well according to the literature. We have sold and installed a number of these for customers, so I figured it was finally time to test this on the Mustang.

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Crucially, I have never personally setup/used/tested one of these SmartyCams with an AiM or digital dash. This is how these two devices are supposed to be connected together and to the car. I have the OBDII/CAN wiring cable, and the SmartyCam came with the 5 pin to 7 pin AiM cable needed to connect to the SOLO DL. So now I need to learn to use these two devices for future videos - how hard can it be?

I thought I knew the array of AiM software that was needed, but I was wrong. There is Race Studio 2 and Race Studio 3, SmartyManager, Race Studio Analysis, GPS Manager, plus some software I have used just for AiM firmware updates. Over the years AiM has killed off some of this software, but they never really remove it from their website, and still have YouTube videos up that show how to use them. One of these was SmartyManager - something that crashes immediately when you use it on Windows 10 with an SD card connected (that is configured with the SmartyCam). After a few hours with I got it to work, but it was pretty limited, and the auto start/stop had major issues when tested at an event.

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Don't use the SmartyManager software - it is obsolete junk!

After using the out-of-the-box SmartyCam config setup at an event (an autocross you will read about below), I worked on the setup of a "custom data overlay" for the merged data. You do this by using the SD card associated with the SmartyCam. After fumbling around looking at a bunch of dated videos from AiM, I finally figured it out (trial and error). Connect the formatted SD card (not the SmartyCam itself) to your computer, then run their Race Studio 3 software.

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Once you are in the right software package (RS3), and it recognizes you have a SmartyCam formatted SD card connected, then you can create the data overlay, move the data readouts around, add a logo, etc. The auto start/stop bits are setup in menus on the SmartyCam, which I am still learning how to use. Of course I setup all sorts of things and almost none of it shows up when I use the unit.

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Crucial tip here - these AiM video cameras usually come with a 4GB SD card. Throw that card away, as it will fill up in less than 60 minutes of use (ask me how I know). The SmartyCam ver 2.1 supports up to a 128GB SD card, so buy a Class10 or better (how fast it can write) name brand card. $25-30 will get you a good one. That 128GB card should hold 32 hours of video + data, so you won't fill it up in 3 track sessions like I did. The camera won't tell you its full, of course, it just won't record anything.

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Using the on-board SmartyCam mic is a mistake - its hot garbage. I had to buy a special $80 cable from AiM to use a remote mic ($30), which is the same 5 to 7 pin cable as before but with an external 3.5mm mic pig-tailed off of it. This lets me use a dedicated external mic placed where I want it. The on-board mic on the SmartyCam is total TRASH - as you will see in my videos from COTA below. Of course when I went to test that it didn't work - no audio whatsoever. And if the configuration of the SmartyCam isn't just perfect, and you have the Solo DL data logger connected to the camera, the DL won't log ANY data.

Can you sense some frustration here? Yes, I have lost video and data from a number of events testing out the $1000 AiM SmartyCam. The video I managed to get had garbled or no audio, and usually no data, or started at the wrong time, or ended early. At best - when it all works like it should - you will see 720P video. That's 10 years or more out of date, yet this is their latest, greatest, $1000 camera. Somehow many people do manage to make this work - I probably need someone who has gone through these painful lessons to come fix all of the weird config issues I am having.

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For the past 2 years I have only had the generic "OBDII data" from our 2018 Mustang. This is limited in scope, slow to transmit (data lags about a second, sometimes more), drops comms often (OBDII data seems to go away and come back several times per lap). AiM has to create a CAN protocol for each ECU, and while the S197 units had a CAN proocol, the S550 did not until very recently. During some online frustration rants in the previous weeks, someone informed me that there is a new CAN protocol for the 2015 Mustang, finally. This adds 8 more data channels (4 TPMS + 4 wheel speed sensors), and hopefully using CAN now all 15 channels are faster and more reliable than OBDII. I will configure that and try this at a future event.

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I will keep working with these AiM software & hardware gizmos at future events and hopefully I will be able to get better videos with data overlays that are easier to edit, without all of the extra time spent merging data/video, or the other limitations. The idea of an auto starting / stopping camera that logs data and overlays it in real time is appealing, just have to work through a lot of hardware and software teething pains. Out of the box it is a bit of a mess, and at best we will have lower rez (720P) video, which does not thrill me. And before anyone says, "Maybe its you, homeslice!", you might be right.

SCCA AUTO-X, TMS BUS LOT, APRIL 28, 2019

We loaded up for another autocross, but this time at Texas Motor Speedway's "Bus Lot", which is a smooth, flat, sealed asphalt lot in excellent condition in front of the Texas Motor Speedway tri-oval NASCAR track. We got there at around 7 am, stopped at Buc-cee's to get breakfast and fuel, planning on running the Mustang a low on fuel as a test (1/4 tank). We drove through some rain on the way to this event, and we thought that was all of it.

Video and Picture Gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...CA-TMS-042819/
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Got the car unloaded, then teched, then it rained for about half an hour straight. Yuck. This sealed asphalt site is very slick in the wet, but I've autocrossed ~20 times here in the wet and always do well in this stuff. Normally, though, it rains briefly then dries out before some heats run - and luckily it dried out right as we went to grid for fir first heat.

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Amy and I drove the Mustang together in the 15 cars in CAM-C, which ran in the first heat of four. This meant we ran first, worked third, and could leave during the fourth heat if we wanted. During the 2nd heat we went to lunch across the highway, and lately there are a lot of great places to eat that cropped up.

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And you might have gathered from the course map, the course was very busy with some extremely tight turn-arounds once again. Luckily in the past 18 years I've run every manner of course layout here, so this course looked somewhat familiar. The speed we could hit on some straights was more than 68mph, as I was riding the rev limiter in 2nd gear on my first run. I started up-shifting (short shifting) to 3rd gear in one section, and it was worth the time to up- then down-shift.

The 4.09 rear gearing with the 2018-up MT82-D4 trans gear combine to be less than perfect for autocross, but damn if it ripped out of the tight corners well. It does works very well on a road course, so I'm not going to complain. As you will see in a future post the 4.09s work REALLY well for shorter course (like Optima autox + speed stop).

continued below

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continued from above

The ambient temps were low when we started, in the mid 60°F range, but the sun was out so by the end of the first heat it was 82°F. The track surface temps climbed rapidly, and I felt like the grip on the RE-71Rs fell off on my last couple of runs. With 2 driver's running almost back to back over a total of 10 runs, we should have probably sprayed the tires to cool them on those last couple of runs. Too hot to touch. Still not sure we made the right call to "let em get hot". Hell, I just don't have enough autocross seat time in the last 3 years to know exactly what these Bridgestones "like" on a heavy car like this. Most folks let em just boil.

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We started the tires at 28 psi cold then bled them down to 30 psi hot - which felt fine, but might not be the ideal settings. We really need to do a proper autocross test day to learn what these RE-71Rs work best at on this car for low speed events.

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As you can sort of see in the video linked above, 2nd gear was almost ideal everywhere here. I used the out-of-the-box SmartyCam setup with the AiM SOLO DL connected, using a custom start-stop track location I set for this course. The problem was the auto-start delay on the SmartyCam must have been 20+ seconds long, so the first HALF of the run didn't record (on all 10 runs). The data overlays were also super crude, with the default overlay settings, and the audio was the on-board mid, which is junk. I was still learning a lot at this point.

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Our alignment settings of -3.5° Front /-2.2° Rear camber and 1/8" toe out Front and 1/4" toe-in Rear felt GREAT. The stiff road course spring and shock settings worked fine as well - didn't touch a knob, just kept tire pressure stable at 30 psi. The handling overall was REALLY good - the turn in was super fast, car liked to rotate, and I had ZERO complaints. I hope we can replicate this "feel" in any autocross car we ever build again, wow! Acceleration, braking, slaloms were just spot on. Absolute driving perfection.

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I have always liked running at the TMS Bus low, with its clean, smooth surface. Even after running here so many times before, it has been a while, so it was nice seeing some of the "rust" come off my autocross skills. From pictures I can see that I was putting the car an inch or so off the base of most cones, still with 2 of my 5 runs getting cone penalties for a bit too aggressive placement. My 3rd run was my quickest, and I won the class only by a tenth - with virtually the same folks that ran CAM-C at the previous event. The tires really felt greasy by run 4 and 5, and I really should have sprayed the tires. I don't know how much I could have found in the car, as it really felt hooked up on the first 3 runs.

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Amy was less than a 1/2 second off my times, which made her super happy


Amy pulled off a quick 5th run and moved into 5th place overall once again, but this time only a half second back from 1st. She felt REALLY good to be that close to me after only running this car twice in this setup, ever, and she was still fighting seating & visibility issues. Her PAX factored times would have won the local Women's class by over a second, if she had run it, but she was having fun co-driving in the open class.

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This yellow 2001 "SN95" Mustang GT had a pair of hot shoe drivers who came down from the Oklahoma Region and took 2nd (and 11th) place by only a tenth. This car looked and sounded like properly built CAM-C car, likely weighing close to the class minimum limit of 3300 pounds without driver (our car is about 350+ pounds over that weight). Matt Lucas took 3rd and his co-driver Tim took 9th - in the orange 2012 Boss302 that beat us last time. Would feel better if we were a bit farther ahead than only a tenth, but this class is brutal locally, so I was happy with the 1st and 5th we pulled off. Again, a half second covered the top 5 finish positions.

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After our run heat we drove the Mustang to lunch and filled up the gas tank for the next track event. The fuel level was down to 1/4 tank after our combined 10 runs, but it never fuel starved. The fuel sloshing in this saddle tank in a parking lot is nothing like a long sustained left-hander on a road course, especially with Hoosiers. That's where we need to be at least 3/4 full to prevent fuel starvation.

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Weather was great after the rain left and dried up and the event ran very smoothly, with very few reruns or DNFs among the 157 entrants making runs. One of the best run autocross events I can ever remember. Normally we stick around after the last heat for awards with the rest of the competitors, but it was a long week with some wacky weather - since the sun was out, we had yard work to tackle back on our property.

ADDING AEROCATCH LATCHES

The carbon hood from Anderson Composites has worked well with the OEM latch for a bit now, just always makes me nervous having a composite hood held in place with a stock latch. We usually add two positive locking, visible latches on all composite hoods we install and after some "cowl flutter" I noted at one track day, we decided to add a pair of Aerocatch brand hood latches to our 2018 GT.

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This is where the factory 302S race cars place them - out on the edges, but about a foot back from the leading edge. I think they were trying to keep the pins on the leading edge of the sheet metal upper frame horn sections. When we looked at the carbon reinforced composite radiator support we found what we felt was a better location, farther forward and easier to mount the pins at.

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Evan installed some pointed marking pins inside some reinforced holes we wanted to use for the hood latch pins, which were then transferred to the underside of the carbon fiber hood.

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Once this pin location was marked the underside opening could be cut in the hood. This isn't super critical, not like the upper surface hole, and was cut out with a pneumatic body saw.

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Then the pin adjusted to point at the top layer of the carbon hood, the oval shape could then be laid out and cut. We like to cut the top opening with 2 hole saws then connect them to form the shape, but some like to free-hand cut this with a jig saw or body saw. We always smooth the edges and then drill the holes for the top flange to mount (we never use the flush, bottom mount version).

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With the upper openings cut and the latches fitted, the lower pins were installed. These almost never point "straight up" - the pins need to be clocked correctly, usually bent to line up perpendicularly with the hood surface (which is not flat). Using this factory hole at the radiator bracket hole allowed us to install the pins without drilling the radiator support, which makes this easier to "un-do" when we go to sell this car (to be announced soon).

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We kept the stock hood "double latch" in place, just to be triple sure the hood never comes open at speed. This makes it a 3 step process to open the hood - you open the Aerocatch latches, then pop the hood latch, then release the secondary safety latch.

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The Aerocatch latch opening in the lower carbon skin is right where the hood prop rod mounts on the driver's side, so Evan drilled and slotted a mating hole a couple of inches to the left. We don't use gas strut lift kits on composite hoods, as I have had one of those fail when the hood was open into the wind - cost me a windshield and hood.

HOOD BUFFETING FIX

As I mentioned, some of my in-car videos show some serious hood flutter at the cowl on this carbon hood. I showed to former Ford / S550 Mustang engineer Marco Garcia when he stopped by the shop - he suggested that we still have some pressure build-up under the hood, yes, even with the massive "GT500" sized vent opening.

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We might not be helping things with so many changes - the PP1 and PP2 undertray bits, removing the electric grill louvers, and adding the vented GT5 hood. There is a lot of weird aero pathways going on under this car. Marco's suggestion - remove the rear cowl plastics at the back of the engine bay (see above left). These help seal the opening at the back of the hood to the windshield and cowl.

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So we did. And at the next event - viola! - the hood flutter was gone. Looks a little funky with the hood up, but I'm not worried about car shows. Well... maybe I should have been (Optima event foreshadowing!) wink.png

QUICK RELEASE FIRE BOTTLE ADDED

As I have mentioned before HPDE and Time Trial generally have fairly low safety and fire suppression thresholds to enter. 3-point belt + a helmet, and some groups have some minimal clothing and shoe requirements. You don't even need a hand-held fire bottle in most series. Wheel to Wheel road racing, however, almost always requires a dedicated fire system with nozzles - pointed at driver, engine and other potential fire sources.

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Even with a full fire system on a W2W car, we often add a hand-held bottle in an easy-to-reach location, like the S197 Mustang race car above. This way if you have a tiny fire in the pits, or a simple grass fire when pulled off track, you don't "blow" the dedicated system putting out something that a 2.5 pound fire bottle could have easily extinguished. We also put these little fire bottles in HPDE and TT cars, and it was long past time to add a fire bottle to our 2018 GT...

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I ordered the same Drake quick-release bracket and a Halon replacement (Halotron) 2.5 pound fire bottle we have used dozens of times. Brad then fabricated a bracket to fit in the stock lower seat holes for the passenger side. Yes, we are making this with an eye to producing more for an easy bolt-in setup for a number of cars.

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This mounts cleanly with the OEM seat or even our new S550 production seat mount bracket, which also uses the front seat mounting holes. I can reach over, pull the red pin and the fire bottle swings out quickly and cleanly. Its also out of the way of the passenger's feet. A minimum fire standard for a car tracked as often as we do, I'd say.

WHAT'S NEXT?

That's a lot to read in one sitting, so I am pushing the May NASA @ COTA event coverage until next time. We have done FIVE track events since this update now and more coming in August. Now that our forum is back up and working I can catch up on these posts. Plenty of events,upgrades, and news in the pipeline to cover next time.

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We still have a busy competition and test calendar as we try to cram in as much testing and development in 2019, before we announce what we are doing in 2020 with this car. Do we keep racing it in a class at 300 pounds overweight, with tires that are too narrow for the weight (but we don't want to cut the fenders) in TT2 for 2020? Or is it time to build a dedicated S550 race car (or another chassis altogether - or a C8?) for next year? Tune in next time to see!

Until next time!

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Project Update for August 30th, 2019: The last update got cut short since we were so far behind in updates due to the 3 month forum outage. There are six more track and test events that we have done in our 2018 Mustang GT we have done since that post, as well as some new parts we have been testing.

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Going to try and cover as much ground as possible in this post. We also have a new S550 chassis entering the shop, which we are already building for the 2020 season...

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Yes, its a front hit rolling chassis. I will explain why we bought it and what we are going to do. Let's get started!

NASA AT COTA, MAY 4-5, 2019

This annual NASA event at Circuit of the Americas is always fun, but this particular weekend was pretty far from the perfect outing I had hoped we would see this year.

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First I was a little bummed as we had to move to TT2, where we are 300 pounds overweight, or 47 whp under the limit, however you want to look at it. Its a shame as we would have dominated TT3 class both days, even on street tires. Still doing our "street tires on Saturday / R compounds on Sunday" testing for NASA weekends. Just cannot get back to TT3 without cutting the car or swapping in a different engine (could this be hints for things to come?) It is what it is.

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The drive down Friday afternoon was rough. Hellish drive in traffic and heavy rains all the way down. The Friday test-and-tune day was wet all day, a total a wash, so I'm glad we didn't enter that. We lost count of how many crashed cars, car-b-ques, and wreckers we saw on the "3 hour drive" from Dallas, that took 5.5 hours.

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It stopped raining by 6 pm when we finally got there, we unloaded the car and put it inside our garage, while very dark clouds were rolling in. We got out of there just before the skies OPENED UP. It rained for so long and hard that evening that the tunnels flooded and people inside the track got stuck there for many hours. Was hoping the forecast would clean up for Saturday.

SATURDAY

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Saturday morning, and its been raining all night, so the track is still wet. TT goes out first at 8 am, totally wet. I tried to start towards the front of the field but of course I had issues trying to get the AiM Solo to talk to the SmartyCam and fought with it during the entire out lap (see below left). Never did come on, so I was "flying blind". I hate driving on track with no CLUE how the lap times look. I live and die by my predictive lap timer. It was also wet enough to put up a spray in a lot of places (below right).

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That first session was a mess - I let several cars go by on the out lap while I fidgeted with the AiM, then fought to re-pass these same cars in the later wet laps. The Video is unwatchable, as the AiM Solo and AiM SmartyCam were not playing well together. I stayed out longer than normal trying to get a clear lap, just kept getting blocked by formula cars and TTU cars, lap after lap.

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After a lap and a half of passing cars and then filling the mirrors of some Corvettes, a gaggle of TTU cars finally pointed me by (above left). That was bad enough, then I got stuck behind a Elan DP-2 prototype that was on a leisurely Sunday drive in the corners, and he had juuuust enough grunt on the straights to block me from passing (he later ran a 2:20 laps in the dry on Sunday). This went on for an entire lap and a half, super frustrating, and I finally just made a pass braking on the inside of T1 just enough to get past him, then built a gap and pulled away in the esses. On street tires, in a 3800 pound car, with no aero. By then the diff fluid temps were pegged at 250°F again. I had made most of a clean lap, but finally gave up in traffic frustration and came in.

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Turns out I had the 3rd quickest time of the session at 2:38.114, even with crazy traffic. The SmartyCam video is nearly unwatchable, the audio is a train wreck, and the lap counter and most of the data overlays never worked. I'm already sick of the SmartyCam, but we will try it again another weekend.

Felt good gridding P3, but the wet conditions masked some setup issues. I went out in session 2 and it was dry, but the car handled something awful. Worst it has ever felt! Pushed like mad on corner entry, loose as hell on corner exit. I was pulling my hair out, driving sideways a lot, but at least the AiM was finally displaying my times - which were CRAP. Ran a 2:33.0, which is slow even with the "street tire handicap" (we've run 2:28s here on A7s last year at Nationals, in TT3, with less power). Fell down to P7 on the grid.

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I came into the garage and started checking things like shock settings, tire pressures, wiggled this and that... Spent an hour chasing a whole lot of nothing. Noticed the windshield had picked up a HUGE crack from a rock, probably when following some traffic in the wet session. "Great".

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I went out in session 3 and found a little time, but now I'm down to P12 on grid. Everyone else is finding huge amounts of time so I'm going backwards. The car has never handled this badly, never had this wicked of a front end push. Its just killing the front tires so I don't stay out more than a few laps. Come in and change shock settings, looking for anything.

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Went out in session 4, hot as hell, last session of the day. Still a total mess to drive, and while I got marginally quicker at a 2:32.0, I fell down the grid again further to 17th overall. What in hell is going on??? The front tires took some visible damage on the outer shoulders by the end of the day, and I've fallen from 2nd in TT2 class down to 7th out of 9. SEVENTH. My worst class finish in 2 years of driving this car.

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I spent an hour at the end of the day, car back up on jack stands, wheels off, checking everything I can see or torque on the suspension. All day my friend and fellow TT2 competitor Paul Costas kept telling me "string the car", meaning check the alignment. What I described to him sounded like an alignment issue, but we set this car up, so I had no reason to doubt it. I finally broke out the toe plates after we had swapped on the R7s for Sunday and promptly found the issue. Front toe was set 1/8" total toe in, instead of 1/8" toe out. So that 1/4" in toe error caused all of this hell. Wish I would have checked this earlier!! We always keep these $50 toe plates in the trailer - next time I will bring them into the garage with me! Stupid, stupid, stupid mistake.

SUNDAY

The weather was perfect on Sunday morning, and I was hoping we would be a LOT quicker with the alignment fix and switch to Hoosiers. Now for most of the 200TW -> Hoosier R7 testing this year the switch to R compounds was worth no more than 1 second. Problem was I was gridded way down in 17th position, which would mean I had a lot of slower cars ahead of me IF the alignment tweak fixed the handling AND the R7 Hoosiers worked at least as well as the A7s did last year in TT3.

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I went out and immediately knew we had fixed the handling problem, and the R7s were switching on quickly. The temps were perfect but I had to fight through traffic, and passed 7 cars ahead of me in this session. That means I never got a clear lap, but I knew this 2:27.385 lap would help me grid better next time - moving me up to P10 on grid. Already 1 second faster than my previous best here at COTA - handling 100% better!

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Of course during the out lap of Sunday TT session 1 is when the SmartyCam filled up the 4GB SD card it comes with, which will hold less than 45 minutes of video (like I said last time - you need to buy a 128 GB SD card for a SmartyCam). So we had zero video or data logging for Sunday. The damn thing doesn't beep at you or warn you - it still turns on (if it has power) and the lap timer still works, just stores zero video or data. Frustrating.... ran my quickest lap ever at COTA and I have zero video of it.

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Even with the temps rising, TT session 2 looked to be even better, due to the big move up the grid. Now I won't have as many cars to pass, so maybe I can find more time. I still had some traffic on that first hot lap and slowed to a 2:28.248, making a pass, but seeing clearer track ahead. Kept pushing and found a 2:27.266 on hot lap 2, still getting a bit stuck, but at least quicker than session 1 and new personal best. I kept getting around cars, seeing a clear stretch of track ahead... predictive timing was now flashing low 2:25 times, which could move me as high as P3 or P4 in class, which would be great.

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As I cross Start/Finish on hot lap 2, I see this Super Unlimited class Lamborghini Huracan with giant aero bombing down the front straight, coming up on me from way back. He put it in 2:19 lap Saturday, so I don't know why he started behind me on grid on Sunday? Some of the W2W guys like to use TT as practice, and they don't care about grid position. The above right pic shows how close he was getting to me braking up the hill into T1, after hot lap 2. I was trying to figure out how to get this guy by me without ruining my 3rd hot lap, which was showing a 2:25.0 predictive at this point...

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I'm exiting T1, powering through 3rd and shifting into 4th gear, now in the middle of T2 at about 90 mph - when the car takes a violent, instant snap spin, like I had run though oil. Turns out I did - and unbeknownst to me, it was from my own car. Meanwhile time had slowed down for me - I was heading backwards towards the outside wall at near triple digit speeds, but at least knew enough to keep the car lined up in the direction it wanted to go, in reverse. I'm looking in the rear view mirror, trying to keep the car straight, and applying the brakes. Gently... gently... - the ABS freaks out braking hard in reverse at high speeds - steering away from the walls, got it stopped, on the apron. Whew!

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Turn off the engine by pushing the "push to start" button, gather my wits. Hmm, I'm parked backwards looking at the exit of T2, not in a great spot if anyone else hits "whatever fluid" caused my spin. I saw a spritz of what looked like coolant on my windshield, tinted just a hair yellow - was this coolant from my car? (we don't have any coolant in this car - just distilled water and MoCool additive)

I tentatively fire up the engine, thinking I can drive way off on the apron and get to a safe spot or maybe one of the "cut-thrus" between the track barriers, then get on the access road, pop the hood and assess the coolant leak. No idiot lights or beeping, so I start moving along slowly at about 30 mph on the wide apron off track left, then the "low oil pressure" idiot light comes on. CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! I frantically push the "push to start" button to turn off the engine and coast to stop. I stay buckled in but I'm frantically looking for fire, and wait for the flat bed. They black flagged the session early, due to my oil spill and another issue on the other side of the track that also required a flat bed.

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After making the "tow of shame" back to the paddock, I went to the TT driver's meeting, apologized for the black flagged session. Everybody thought the worst - engine blew up, car crashed, etc. Had to calm people down, just an oil leak. First mechanical I've had in 5 years, and the first time in 33 years I've ever shut down a session. I was pissed, embarrassed, pissed some more - but I guess it was bound to happen eventually. We are meticulous about pre-track prep but must have missed something. There was hardly any oil spray in the engine bay, and we couldn't tell where the leak came from. Whatever it was we didn't have any spares to fix what broke, and the engine bay was quite drippy, so we pulled it into the trailer with the winch...

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After we finished loading the car I still had an HPDE1 student to work with, then did some check rides. It was pretty crappy hanging around all day, hot as hell, with a non-running car in the trailer that had two more seconds left in it. Ugh.

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At least our results moved up from 7th out of 9 on Saturday to 5th out of 9 in TT2 on Sunday, but I was not satisfied with the times from either day, for obvious reasons. This heavy street car has no business gunning for the front of TT2, with 8 out of 9 entrants running full aero and Hoosiers both days, but it still rankled me being mid-pack.

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This frustrating weekend added the oil leak as the icing on the cake. I was trying to stay positive, but with the SmartyCam and AiM issues, the heavy rain followed by major heat and humidity, then chasing the alignment goof on Saturday that cost me any chance of getting a good time on street tires here. Just writing this report 3 months later reminded me how terrible this event went - but I'm all about sharing the good and the bad. The NASA crew did a fine job, and I'm only mad at myself. We were coming back in June with SCCA TT so I would bring street tires and try again.

REPAIRS AFTER COTA INCIDENT

After unloading the car and pushing it into the shop, we got the car on the lift. There was plenty of oil evidence underneath but not much oil left in the 8 quart plastic oil pan. The oil residue led us quickly to the oil filter sandwich plate, which had cut an O-ring.

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Why this happened took some investigation. See, this is a prototype oil cooler setup we made from parts originally built to fit the 2015-17 GT. We had to make new oil lines and route them in a new way to the front mounted heat exchanger.

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There is a lot crap in the way down there, but the lines were too close to the Whiteline front swaybar. As the swaybar articulated it "pushed" on one of the oil lines. This rocking back-and-forth transferred to the sandwich plate and sawed through the O-ring. You can see the new oil line routing above, with a section of fire sleeve added over the portions near the sandwich plate. This helps keep them together and we added a P-clamp to one section to keep it away from the swaybar. Part of the joy of trying new things, using prototype part setups.

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3 months later there have been no other incidents with the sandwich plate. We check this before each event, too. If its not "tight", if it can rock at all, it will get realigned and tweaked further. A new oil filter and 9 quarts of Motul 5W50 ester based oil was installed. Engine fired up, ran fine.

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The Mustang was thoroughly washed, and pressure washed underhood and underneath. All traces of oil were removed - which was no small task.

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The other thing that we needed to "fix" after this event were the front brake cooling hoses. These 4" high temp hoses do fine in the heat, they just get in the way of the 305 or 315mm tires we run, which like to smash them at full turning lock. Don't really see that on track but we do in the paddock and pits. We replace these two times a year, but we had a guest stopping by soon who had a new idea...

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BRAKE COOLING METHOD + TRACK TEST

After seeing these 4" brake duct hoses smashed to bits and getting a bit frustrated, a certain engineer (Marco) stopped by reiterating some advice he gave me 2 years ago - get rid of the dang hoses. This time we will show some work we have been doing for the past few months - a solution to cool front brakes without giant ducted hoses.

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Long term readers here will know that we have built, tested, and perfected a number of brake cooling solutions on the S550, at least for the 15" Performance Pack brake rotors that can even be cooled (the wacky inverted hat 14" rotors cannot). Our S550 brake cooling backing plates work great for the 15" PP brakes as well as the 380mm Powerbrake kit we are running now. We make inlet ducts for the 2018-19 front end and have more in the works.

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The inlet duct at the front of the bumper cover provides high pressure air that pushes through high temp 4" diameter corrugated hoses into the brake backing plate. This air then goes around the bearing and is pumped through the vented rotor, cooling the brake rotor/pad/etc.

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We used this on the 15" PP1 brakes (above left) and again with our Powerbrake 380mm brakes (above right) for the past year and a half - and they worked great. Vorshlag has sold a good number of these brake cooling kits to folks with S550s and have had no complaints. We will continue to make and sell these even after we introduce this new brake cooling design.

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They worked extremely well with the 305mm street tire setup, which is about an 11.5" wide tire. When we went to the 315mm Hoosiers, things started to get complicated. This "315" is 12.5" wide even mounted to a little 11" wide wheel (they work better on a 12" wide wheel, but then the fender poke becomes enormous)

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Not many people run this 315mm Hoosier, as it doesn't really fit under the fenders without compromises. The obvious problem is evidenced above. Once we started running that 12.5" wide Hoosier tire up front, pushing them inboard as tight to the strut as we can get, there is no room for the brake cooling hoses. This tire is just touching the frame at full steering lock - something that is hard to avoid when you autocross the car, or hell, even driving in the paddock at a race track. Maybe we should have added steering rack limiters, but I didn't want to give up that steering angle for autocross events.

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This meant we have had to replace the front hoses about 3 times in that period, and at a certain point in their life cycle the hoses have some holes in them and don't work as well. Again, not everyone runs a 315mm Hoosier on 18x11" wheels on the front of their S550, so most folks won't see this issue.

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Marco suggested a new type of cooling method after we switched to the PP1 front undertray and PP2 lip: brake cooling deflectors. The added "tunnels" in the front undertray provide a path he helped engineer into the S550 for brake cooling air. I was very skeptical, as we have used brake ducting hoses pumping into the back of the rotor for decades without fail.

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This is a trick the OEMs often do on certain models, as they obviously cannot add brake cooling hoses from the factory due to the situations that we have run into at full lock on super wide tires. This is also known as the "scoop and flap" method, which was introduced by Porsche in the 1980s and copied by other OEMs later. The S550 was the first time this was used on a Mustang, and then only on the PP1 brake equipped cars (there is no sense in trying to "cool" the inverted hat rotors on other models). Strangely enough the GT350 has the tunnels but they removed the flaps or "deflectors" on the lower control arm before the car went to production.

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Now that we had the tunnel to feed the deflector we could test this on track. Again - I was very skeptical, but we agreed to try it. We added the "bikini" heat shield in place of our brake backing plate. This is to shield the three ball joints (at the steering tie rod and two control arm mounts) from heat radiated by the nearby rotor (which can get to over 900°F even with forced brake cooling).

Removing the full dust shield and only using the "bikini" shield leaves the back of the hub area open for cooling. The brake cooling flap bolts to the control arm and deflects the air towards the hub and inside of the rotor. Then the vanes in the rotor pumps the air through the rotor ring and removes the heat.

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For our first deflector iteration (version 1) we made an aluminum deflector about 40% larger in surface area than the plastic unit used on the PP1 cars. We placed it in what we thought would be the best part of the air stream from two different cold air sources (see below), thinking that the tunnels alone might not feed enough air to the brakes. We trimmed and fitted these until they cleared our 18x11" wheels, which is the smallest diameter anyone could hope to fit over the 15" PP1 brakes.

There are cut-outs to clear the tie rod, and it bolts to one of the control arms (the forward "TC rod"). Since we have aftermarket arms there are no holes to bolt to, so Brad used some U-bolts to clamp it to the round TC arm. At full lock the deflector would get no airflow, but that is a situation you never see on track - and our hoses were crushed flat at full lock anyway.

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We have long been told by aerodynamic engineers that the corrugated brake cooling hose has terrible airflow, with a boundary layer that stalls out near the surface of the inner corrugations. So a 4" diameter corrugated hose flows about the same as a 2" diameter smooth bore hose. Problem is, smooth bore hoses cannot bend, and the old school hoses needed to articulate with the steering.

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I was super skeptical so we made a temporary hose from the 4" oval deflector we had on the right front. We used some smooth bore 3" diameter hose necked down from the 4" oval inlet, and at the back of the fender liner added a small 3" aluminum mandrel bend, to point air at the deflector. On the other side we kept our proven 4" brake backing plate and inlet with a brand new 4" hose. Then we scheduled a private test at MSR to see any side-to-side differences in rotor temps, after bombing into the hot pits after a number of hot laps with no cool down.

ADDING OIL PRESSURE GAUGE + RAM MOUNT

To prevent any future mistakes where I try to start an engine that has a massive oil leak again, I ordered another one of the low cost, electronic, full sweep stepper gauges from Glowshift to monitor Oil Pressure. There is no gauge on my Mustang for this - just the idiot light.

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Our S197 Boss302 3-gauge pod we have added on top of the S550 dash already had 3 gauges we needed: engine oil, trans oil, and diff oil temp gauges. So the new 0-150 psi oil pressure gauge and add-on, programmable WARNING LIGHT were added to the left of the pod, as shown. Not going to win any car shows with this setup, but we are looking for function over form here.

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Brad wired this in using the wiring that came with the kit + a set of Weatherpack connectors and pins. These aren't as fancy as the Deutch connectors we use on most race car builds, but this isn't a long term race car (we have an end game in sight).

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Brad also added a 1" ball RAM mount base to the right of the pod. I wanted this so I can mount my AiM Solo -or- a wide angle video camera here using RAM arms, which removes at least one suction cup windshield mount from the windshield. The plastic panel we attach everything to is cheap and easily replaced, so why not drill more holes?? This entire gauge cluster + dash piece will likely migrate to the next S550 chassis.

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The pressure sensor that came with the gauge kit was inserted into the 2nd 1/8" NPT port on the Mishimoto sandwich plate. These come with plugs but we are using both of them now with sensors for oil temp and oil pressure. This sandwich plate has a thermostatic bypass for the oil cooler as well. Brad wired in the gauges to the light circuit, so that they can work at night as well.

TRACK TEST, MSR-C 1.7 CCW, MAY 15, 2019

After we made our first version of the brake cooling deflector I wanted to do two track tests to verify the effectiveness. Remember - we had the traditional 4" backing plate + corrugated hose + 4" oval inlet on the LEFT FRONT wheel, and the new brake cooling "deflector" setup on the RIGHT FRONT wheel. The RF also had the smooth bore 3" hose from the 4" inlet as well as the "tunnel" from the PP1 undertray. Double airflow to the deflector, for test one.

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We loaded up the car and I drove out to MSR Cresson on a Thursday "member day", where I drove in 2 sessions before lunch. I arrived by 7:45 am and the weather was nearly perfect.

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The front tires had taken a real beating at COTA with all of that crazy toe in, so the shoulders looked pretty rough. Yet I matched my previous best street tire times here on this well worn set of tires - while doing the various brake cooling tests.

I always drive with a lot of left foot braking, shooting for threshold stops in TT wherever I can pull it off, and in these two tests session I was in full qualifying mode, pushing 10/10ths. Lots of rear tire slip, purposefully over-driving the car, trying to make the brakes as hot as I could. With the oil cooler we can make longer full-tilt sessions like this without issues (of course the diff temps were spiking after 5-6 laps again - more on that later).

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Once again I was testing the SmartyCam wired into the AiM SOLO DL which was pulling data from the CAN system. But I don't trust it - I was so paranoid after the issues at COTA that I utilized a backup AiM Solo and a backup video camera (Sony HD on the windshield). I was not going to lose this video or data - the whole point of being here on this day was to test the brake cooling.

I went out in the first test and did 5 laps with the brake cooling inlet OPEN on the RF, so it was getting cooling air from both the 4" oval and the tunnel to the deflector. The LF corner was open for both test and used the normal 4" corrugated hose and backing plate.

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I drove five hot laps (with some mediocre 1:23-1:25 times in traffic) and came in to check temps... the ducted LF was 800°F and the RF was 700°F. Wait... WHAT? It was 100°F cooler on the deflector side than the ducted hose side. The car was really loose and the times were not great, but the brake temp thing had me scratching my head. I went to get fuel and covered up the inlet duct on the RF, so make the deflector only get air from the undertray tunnel. Surely this would make it lose some effectiveness. Put in fuel for 3/4 tank to try to put in some faster laps in the 2nd session. The rotors had cooled to about 230°F on both fronts (took video of that) after sitting for 10 minutes, waiting for the next session to start. So this time I was gong out on warm brakes, not ambient temp brakes like session 1.

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This in-car video shows session 2 with 6 hot laps, where I was trying to push hard to get heat into the brakes. I nearly matched the best times ever on street tires for this car here with a 1:21.0 lap, even fuel starving in one section of left turns. I came into the pits after the 6th full hot lap, with no cool down lap, jumped out of the car, then took IR gun temps of the brake rotors. Best I can do without an expensive real time IR sensor rig on each corner.

The Left Front, which had our traditional 4" ducted brake cooling was 880°F. The right front, with the tunnel+3" hose feeding the Vorshlag S550 brake deflector was 780°F, once again 100°F cooler. I show the rear brake temps too, just to see what they were (they also get hot).

The SmartyCam video still has the factory default settings for the data overlay, and I've reset and checked and triple checked the programming of the SD card for the camera so many times I am losing faith. I probably need someone that knows the AiM software better to show me what I'm doing wrong - the software is just so terrible that I cannot make it work without some assistance. This is ridiculous, and we are WASTING data by using this "easier" SmartyCam slaved system. Once you tie the camera to the SOLO the data is gone.

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More importantly - the scoop-and-flap brake cooling that Marco suggested worked better than our ducted cooling. No hoses to crush and replace, just too easy to install. And even with the cooling duct blocked off on the deflector side, it was still 100°F cooler. All of the airflow was from the tunnel in the PP1 undertray.

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My skepticism about this brake cooling method was finally fading away, after seeing these two back to back tests first hand, but now I suspect other people won't believe me. That's fine, we will sell the ducted backing plate design. We continued to refine and test this new "scoop and flap" method for several more track events before sharing our findings here. We have revised and improved the deflector design two more times. We should have S550 options available shortly after this post is published.

REAR SHOCK OFFSET LOWER T-BAR

The stock rear suspension on the S550 uses a "divorced" spring and shock, with the spring located inboard on the control arm connected to a pocket on the chassis. Big diameter, necessary to make enough spring rate on this "poor motion ratio" location. It is done for packaging reasons, platform sharing, etc. It is really to have a "coilover shock" spring mounting location on the rear suspension of most cars.

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For an S550 we like to move the spring outboard and mount it onto the shock, which allows us a lot of advantages: A) this way we can have ride height adjustability without a lot of extra hardware, B) we can use a variety of spring rates and lengths using 2.25" inner diameter coilover springs, and C) the springs are much lighter than the larger but super soft OEM bits. And, we don't suffer the usual compromises we see on other cars, like the S197 that loses tire room when converted to coilover.

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The key take-away is that we need MORE SPRING RATE to turn these marshmallow Mustang suspensions into something that can avoid the brake dive, body roll, and heave. Real spring rates require "real" dampers... adjustable monotubes are the best solution there. This is where we come in.

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Our very first coilover install for the S550 (March of 2015, above left) utilized an Eibach lowering spring in the stock divorced spring position. It was a while before MCS moved to a coilover rear, but in the meantime we ran the Whiteline/AST coilovers (above right) starting in early 2018. These utilized an inverted shock design with the spring at the bottom of the shock. This moved the spring very close to the rear axle's CV boot.

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Then in September 2018 we tested the Ohlins R&T coilovers for a few months, which uses a coilover style spring but mounted in the stock divorced spring location. Unlike the Eibach lowering spring it was easier to find stiffer rates for this setup. This removes the spring from being close to the axle/CV boot.

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The mounting in the actual control arm could be a challenge, as Ford changed the lower control arm casting from 2015 to sometime around 2018, as shown above.

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I had to cut the top of the "protrusion" off of our 2018 arms, then do a bit of grinding to make the Ohlins 2.5" ID spring adapter fit.We show all of this in our S550 Ohlins coilover instruction gallery.

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We moved to the MCS RR2 remote reservoir dampers and even more aggressive spring rates after the Ohlins R&T testing, but had some issues with shock lengths. Working with MCS on shock lengths (2" shorter bodies) as well as our new spherical upper shock mount with dual mounting heights (1.5" more stroke) gained us the bump travel we needed at a lowered ride height, and more.

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That bump travel testing/shock mount design work consumed a lot of our bandwidth, but meanwhile Brad noticed some axle grease on one of the springs...

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Packaging gets very tight back there when you run a coilover shock setup, with the spring getting precariously close to the CV boot on the rear axles. To gain the most room any coilover rear shock setup on the S550 needs to be inverted, with the spring down lower (below the barrel of the wheel) to clear a BIG wheel and tire package, like the 18x11" and 19x11" we like to run. Of course to be run inverted, a shock has to be a monotube - a twin tube damper cannot be run upside down like this.

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As we have seen, every additional 1/8" of room we can get between the CV boot and the spring is crucial. Even though the 2.25" ID coilover spring was spaced away from the CV boot, after higher speed events like COTA - where we reach 150 mph on the back straight - we noticed that the CV boot "grows" enough to tough the spring. It gets a tiny crack then spits out the grease. Oh well, we bought a $52 CV boot kit from Ford.

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Turns out this CV boot from Ford is so hard that it won't slip over the CV housing. Hours were wasted, heat guns and special tools and all sorts of tricks were tried. We called a tech at a Ford dealer, familiar with the S550, and he said "Oh those never work - just buy a new axle!)"

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It sounds crazy, but this is not a serviceable CV boot. And to remove the axle is not a fun job. In any case, this is an issue we chased for weeks.

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We have changed both rear axles once and the need to be done again, as the CV boosts are cracked again. We have investigated and found that the Whiteline shocks used an offset lower T-bar mount (as well as a smaller diameter 50mm ID spring), which MCS now has as well.

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Whiteline's unit as above left, MCS at right. Just know that if you bought some S550 MCS coilovers before mid 2019, you need to convert to the new offset T-bar - which kicks the bottom of the shock away from the spring. Its an easy change to make, and MCS has these for both the GT350/PP2 spacing and normal S550 mounting hole spacing. They have even slotted the holes to allow for additional shock offset adjustment.

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I hope someday that a more pliable CV boot comes out for the S550, because I have a number of used axles with just a little crack in the boots. wink.png And while this was a lot of writing and pictures to show what few of you might care about, we learned this the hard way (4 axle replacements!) and wanted to share this tech bit. THE CV BOOT GROWS!

SCCA TIME TRIAL, COTA, JUNE 29, 2019

I signed up for just one day of this 2 day SCCA Time Trial weekend at COTA, partly due to costs but more because I was super busy and couldn't afford a 2 day weekend + a Friday travel day away from the shop. The Texas Region SCCA TT group had never run an event here, and were only able to pull this together because the Club Racer attendance was low and they needed "numbers". I had a feeling this event might be our last chance to run this track in the red 2018 GT (I was right) and I wanted vindication for the problematic event we had in May with COTA. Just wanted to finally see a sub 2:30 lap time on street tires. Again, we've run 2:27s here on R7s, just not a strong time on streets.

Amy and I left Friday early afternoon, once again took us 5 hours to get there again (traffic on I-35 is horrible - this drive is always a beating), arriving at 7 pm. We quickly unhooked the trailer, went and had a good dinner with many of the SCCA TT folks at Javi's Tex Mex, then hit the hotel. Got to see folks we don't get to hang out with often, which was nice. That's when we saw the scheduled - which only showed 2 sessions per day for TT. While I was worried beforehand the SCCA Club Racers would get preferential treatment with respect to track time, and of course they did in a BIG way. It was also very, very hot (99F). They also told us that the track limits were super strict, which would change our lines drastically from any other group that runs here. All of the big curbs were in place.

SATURDAY

There was a ridiculously early 6:30 am TT drivers meeting, then first car out was to be 8 am, with TT being the first group to take the track for the day. Really long meeting, and of the 33 cars entered, 3/4 of the people raised their hand when asked "who has never run at COTA". Yikes... this did not bode well. My heart just sunk.

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Luckily they started me in P1 on the grid, knowing that I had run here 7 times before and could lead the group out, bunch them up well, before we would go green at T19 on the out lap. Kinda late to go green for what I'm used to, but it's their party, their rules. There is also limited passing with this group (only on straights with point-bys) so that could prove to be an issue. But leading the group out for this 3.41 mile circuit with only 33 cars, I should easily get 3-4 laps traffic free.

The morning TT session was the only time we would get a cool track surface, according to the forecast. The next session wasn't until after 2 pm, when it would be well into the 90's and with the sun beating down making the track surface "boiling". Again, these RE-71R tires have about 2 hard laps in them at COTA in the Texas Summer, so the first two laps in this first session were all that would matter.

I got to grid at 7:45 am, and they kept giving us repeated "5 minute" warnings with 33 engines running... waiting. Finally I took the initiative, turned off the engine, and peeling out of the car - as I was sweating profusely in my 3 layer suit in the car (I should have just turned the damned air con on.) The rest of the drivers followed suit and we all huddled in the limited shade near grid.

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We finally got the go ahead, hopped in our cars, and went out on track at 8:26 am, with the sun beating down. Ambient temps showed to be 76°F when we headed out but the humidity was near 100%, so it was "unpleasant". Again, due to a forecast of high 90s later in the day and not having another session for SIX HOURS, this first session was the only one that would matter for good lap times.

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I stacked up the the group while we made a brisk 50-60 mph average out lap, as instructed. It takes a while to get all of these cars out of grid but I had everyone bunched up nicely...

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Except for one goofball - who had left grid to "go get gas", wondered back over after we had left, and didn't go out on track for 5+ minutes after we left. Why grid let him out on track so late is a question I asked the grid workers later, with an elevated emphasis... And why he drove SO SLOWLY on his very late to start out lap, I also asked directly, with elevated emphasis...

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Finally got the out lap done, and at T19 I turned on the speed, setting up for a fast hot Lap 1. Huge gap opened up behind me, which was fine. But as you can see in the video above, by T6 I had caught the "late to leave grid" goofball, who was on a leisurely 40mph pace lap without a care in the world. And of course he wasn't paying any attention to his mirrors, and didn't see me until I was already having to shut down my lap and riding his bumper. Of course I am fuming about losing this first hot lap for no good reason. I finally got around him at T9, but I had lost so much time that I had to back off and "reset", manage tire temps and the gap behind, and get ready for Hot Lap 2. There were waving black flags for some reason on the back straight anyway, but nothing came of that.

The same guy proceeded on his 40 mph pace for "his" whole out lap, which was smack dab in the middle of everyone else's hot lap 1 - making the entire field behind me pass him, one at a time. Complete and total newbie move. So lap 1 all got to be the "train" passing the moving apex, that you always try to avoid in Time Trial. Everyone was super pissed at this guy, who just simply could not get his brain in gear (he ended up with a 2:55 best lap time of the weekend - about 15 seconds slower than Spec Miata).

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So on this aborted first Hot lap I reset, left a huge gap behind, and drove tamely until T19, then went green again looking for a good Hot Lap 2. I come around T20, good blast down the front straight, then I start seeing black flags and then waving yellows from T4 on. Turns out another competitor had spun coming out of the slowest turn of the track (T12) on the first hot lap. Backed it into a wall. Top speed through this turn is literally 45 mph, folks. (facepalm) Since he didn't have tow hooks installed (they were in his trunk!) the track crew had to spend half an hour extracting him from the wall and towing him back on a roll back truck, so the session was shut down midway through the second lap. And that was that. My only chance of the day to get a clear track with favorable conditions was up in smoke. Bonus: the timers never even worked, so nobody got any times whatsoever.

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After hanging around for SIX HOURS I finally went out again in the 2nd TT session at 2:30 pm, but by then it was 92°F degrees outside and the track surface was boiling. And for for some reason they had shuffled the grid, and dropped me down to P2, even though there were no times were in the first TT session. I had some quick guys all around me, but they weren't the typical "my fastest lap is on lap 1" hard core TT folks, you know? I feared early traffic, and my fears were well founded.

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On the out lap I built a 200 yard gap ahead to the Corvette (Relle, super nice guy, and pretty quick), then I went green at T19, but he he waited until T20 to go, and I got uncomfortably close to him right before the Start/Finish on the first lap. Luckily he has a lot more power and pulled out a bit on the front straight (C6 Z06), but then I caught him in the esses on lap 1 (below).

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I had to back off then for a bit, but since we both had a few fast cars behind us, I kept pushing his mirrors. That forced a mistake, he drove wide out of T11 and pointed me by, but by then I had lost all momentum in that turn (was 8 mph down in the braking zone into T12) and that lap was a throw away (2:34.4).

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By the very next lap now I had my mirrors full of cars, including the C6Z that had let me by (above). I drove raggedly putting in an even slower 2:35.3 lap, which was all my fault. As we started lap 3, just after the S/F line, I backed off and pointed Relle (C6Z) back by, then Dusty (fast 2nd GEN Camaro), and tried to take a cool down lap and build a gap. I also let Scottish Joe (C7GS) Cody (6th gen 1LE) go by on the back straight.

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Finally on hot lap 5 I had a decent gap ahead and behind, but all of the fluid temps were climbing, and these tires were still boiling. I gave it a shot anyway and put in a lousy 2:32.842 best lap - nearly a second down on my times here in May (with the massive push / alignment snafu). The track surface temp was just too hot at 130°F.

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After this session I was completely spent from the heat, and we had to hydrate up before we could load up the trailer. It was 99°F when we left at 3:30 pm, but we had no interest in sticking around for several hours more for "maybe" a third TT session (they got one at 5:30 pm, but the track surface was so hot nobody in TT went faster). Glad we didn't sign up or stick around for Sunday, either, as they had a soaking wet downpour in session 1 and then it got hot again for their next session 6 hours later.
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We sponsored beers for the TT "after party" Saturday night, but it wasn't until 6:30 pm and we were most of the way home by then. The results for Saturday are above, but overall I was more upset that I couldn't manage a decent first sessison lap than my "3rd place" in their autocross based classing.

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Looking back on it, this probably wasn't the best event to try to get lap time test data from. We did test both the new diff cooler and brake cooling flaps. The brakes worked great, but with the narrow range 0-250°F Diff Temp gauge (the one on the far right above), it was still getting pegged in the later laps of the second hot session. We have to put a wider range gauge (0-300F) there, then test it again without the pump on + with the pump/cooler on + with the pump & fan turned on (I will show that stuff next time).

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I will think twice before entering another SCCA TT event when they are sharing the weekend with the SCCA Club Race group (all of whom got 5 sessions on track per day). Both times we have done that the TT group ended up with very truncated session and/or many fewer sessions than normal. Not the best deal for the TT entrants. Normally this group puts on great events when they don't try to "cross the streams" with Club Racers at the same time.

NEXT BUILD: 2015 MUSTANG GT "RACE CAR"

Are you tired of hearing me make excuses about driving a 3800 pound street car against other race cars in NASA TT? Well I sure the hell am. Can't cut the car, can't flare the car, no more power potential in the Coyote, yadd-yadd-yadda. So instead of just complaining for another season, we are doing something about it...

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After some internal debate about our "next big build" it was decided that a lightweight, caged, aero equipped, flared and basically "full re**rd" S550 makes more sense to develop. Rather than ruining a clean "full bolt on" 2018 GT, that still has a lot of value as a street car, we can get more serious about pushing this a dedicated chassis. So I put a call out a couple of months ago for a 2015-up S550 Mustang rolling chassis, and after looking locally and trolling salvage auctions for months, it was a bust.

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Then Steve Poe of Poe Motorsports put me in touch with The Parts Farm in Lyons, Georgia. These guys buy wrecked V8 pony cars to salvage the drivetrains and other parts. I told them what I needed and they sent me a dozens of pics of the 2015 Mustang GT above, they had already stripped of the 5.0L engine/trans/wiring and a few other parts. This car was otherwise very rebuildable for a race car. The $2500 price was the best deal I had seen in months of looking at even less suitable candidates (some people wanted $10-15K for a wrecked V6 Mustang!)

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A long time friend of mine, Paul M, volunteered to co-drive with me for the 2000 mile round trip from Dallas to east Georgia and back. We left int he F350 and enclosed trailer at 5:30 am one Friday morning, drove all night and arrived at the farm-turned-salvage yard at 9:45 am Saturday morning. The folks there were super helpful and already had the car ready to load. We pushed it near the trailer ramp, winched it inside, paid for the car, and we were back on the road 45 minutes later. It was a grueling 34 hour round trip, but we had full day Sunday to catch up.

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Yes, this is a wrecked car, but it's a $2500 complete chassis that is 100% paid for (and I've already sold $1100 worth of parts off this that we won't need). The main frame rails and upper horns are straight, the doors close perfectly, and it has zero rust or other issues. We got an initial weight at 2349 pounds (no engine/trans/front brakes) and already removed a lot of fluff (its under 2100 now) with more to go.

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The bank owns most of my 3626 pound 2018 GT, and doing competition track events in a car you are making payments on is less than optimum - that's what we tell our clients. I'm just going to finally follow our own advice. Our crew already has this '15 new 1537 pounds lighter than the 2018 GT, missing the drivetrain and some other bits. At 2089 pounds there is still carpet, a full dash, center console and both 84.2 pound doors in place! We think a sub 3000 pound caged S550 race car is possible...

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We have a lot of plans for this one, and of course many of the parts from the suspension, brakes, wheels, seats, and bodywork from the 2018 GT will be moved over to this chassis. What will power it? Well I need to think on this one?? I will show all of the progress of this 2015 GT in this same thread, next time. #LS550

WHAT'S NEXT?

I skipped an event we did in the 2018 GT in here, since this post was running long. Optima @ NCM in early June, which is 3 days of stuff I will cover next time. So much went on that weekend that it needs a new post to cover it. I will also cover the development and install of the diff cooler we installed before the SCCA @ COTA TT event.

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Next time we will show the "Ricco Swappe" parts migration from the 2018 GT to the 2015 GT chassis, and I'll even link to the 2010 Mustang GT Gen2 Coyote swap we are doing (we aren't TOTAL monsters). We will also cover the last events in the 2018 GT we haven't yet - another SCCA TT event at MSR 1.3 in August and an August NASA "TT event" at TMS (which went all sorts of sideways). August track events in Texas are VERY hot, by the way.

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That's enough for this time, hope it wasn't a boring read!

Cheers,

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Awesome information!  Keep it up.  I literally just spent my entire evening reading every word of this thread.

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Any updates?  I was looking through the nasa time results and it seems you've managed a 1:40.xx time.  Have you broke into the 39's?

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On 10/22/2019 at 8:19 AM, Talley said:

Any updates?  I was looking through the nasa time results and it seems you've managed a 1:40.xx time.  Have you broke into the 39's?

He was selling that car and building a LSx-swap replacement Mustang.

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Project Update for November 26th, 2019: Here we are once again playing "catch-up" on forum updates. We had that 3 month Vorshlag forum outage, plus I was out for a number of weeks due to an illness, and the shop was as busy as ever the whole time. After a couple of cars left it made room for a new customer '67 Mustang track build recently.

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In this update we will cover 2 of the next 3 track events that we completed in our 2018 Mustang GT: the Optima event at NCM, NASA Time Trial at TMS, and we will show the August SCCA Time Trial at COTA next time. We changed a bunch of parts on our 2018 Mustang GT, got it cleaned up (see above) and it is now for sale.

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At one of these TT events, a friend's white S550 2015 Mustang GT got smashed up, so we jumped in to help complete the repairs, and amazingly got it back on track in 3.5 weeks - just in time for him to take it to SCCA TT Nationals. Our black 2015 GT build (#Trigger) went to the body shop for measurements and had a few things "borrowed" to fix the smashed up white 2015 GT, shown below left.

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Once this 2015 chassis came back with a clean measurement test, we began the LS engine swap and moved much of the 2018 GT's raciest bits over. This is now rolling on MCS RR2s, SPL arms, 19x11s, and much more. First we will talk about our S550 brake cooling upgrade that has been hugely successful in the last month since it went into production.

FRONT BRAKE DEFLECTORS

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Since my last post, our S550 front brake deflectors are in production and selling like hotcakes. We now make this for 7 different varieties of S550 front brake / control arm setups, including the 4-hole with U-bolts (shown above) and a 3-hole version (see below).

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This pair of images above show our final S550 brake deflector version next to the OEM Performance Pack plastic flap. The PP cars have a front control arm with 3 threaded holes that this will replace. The same version also fits the GT350/R with the same style 3-hole control arm, and we make a 4-hole version that fits the cars with a control arm that has no holes, like the base GT, V6 and Ecoboost as well as aftermarket arms like the SPL Parts arms - all of which are shown below in different sections.

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We make these deflectors in-house, and cut out a batch of these every few days, so if you order it should ship pretty quickly. We have started including some M6-1.0 bolt hardware for all kits because we have seen that the OEM hardware tends to break when removed. Be prepared to drill out the old stuff and re-tap. Likewise the GT350/R arms have the 3 holes in the arms but they aren't tapped - an M16-1.0 tap takes care of that. For the non-PP / non-Shelby Mustangs and aftermarket control arms we include the U-bolt kit, which allows you to attach the deflector to the arm that way.

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We will also continue building and selling our traditional S550 (4") and S197 (3" and 4") ducted hose front brake cooling packages, for those who don't have undertray tunnels or a way to add them, or don't trust our brake deflector test data (or Marco's more extensive Ford test data). Hey, you want to spend 3 times as much to use the old school brake ducting with hoses, we'll sell them to you. We should have our S197 brake cooling deflector solution in a few weeks as well as a few other Mustang models we are working on with Marco Garcia.

OPTIMA AT NCM, JUNE 1-2, 2019

I skipped covering the June Optima @ NCM event last time, which was 3 days of cool car fun I need to go back and cover. A lot of stuff went down that weekend that it needs to be covered - there was a lot of good, a bit of frustration, followed by my mediocre GT class finish (5th out of 31) after some good timed competition battles (I finished 1st, 2nd, and 5th in the timed competitions). This event had the normal 3 competition elements: Autocross, Speed Stop and road course Time Trial. The Road Rally was no problem, but our car was judged poorly in the Design and Engineering subjective score.

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First of all - wow! What an amazing facility! NCM has a huge paved paddock that allowed for a rather large area to run the Autocross (Saturday) and Speed Stop (Sunday) segments. The road course was massive, had a LOT of elevation change, and is surrounded by walls - which made it somewhat intimidating. Learning this track will bit more time for me. Apparently 4 sessions was not enough seat time for me to get a good lap in. The "National Corvette Museum" is right across the highway from NCM Motorsports park after which this place is named, and we went through the tour there.

Friday

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We had the car loaded in the trailer with a fresh set of RE-71R tires mounted, left Dallas on Friday morning at 1:15 am, drove 11 hours straight, and got to Bowling Green at 12:30 in the afternoon. There were 31 cars in GT class with us, second only to 37 in GTV (vintage) for numbers. Yikes!

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We unloaded the car, installed all of the required decals, went thru tech, did the fire drill, reloaded the car into trailer, and were done at 4:30 pm. We went across the highway (which literally takes 10 minutes) to the National Corvette Museum. Toured the displays, saw the "sinkhole" and carnage they pulled out, and made fun of Corvette themed clothing in the Museum Store. Of course we bought some stuff!

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National Corvette Museum gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Car-Shows/NCM-2019/

Had a nice dinner out in Bowling Green in the college district at The Bistro. Amazing food, and we went to their sister restaurant Saturday night. Then crashed at the hotel.

Saturday

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Arrived on site at 6:30 am with a thick fog from massive humidity. We unloaded the car again (it rained hard Friday night), and started checking pressures and setting up cameras. Walked the autocross course six times that morning. The Autocross, Design and Engineering (D&E) and the Road Rally were scheduled for this day. Lots to do.

Optima NCM event gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...ma-NCM-060119/

We had 4 autocross runs in the morning, then 4 in the afternoon, with a threat of "maybe some more" if there was time. It was hot and very humid, temps were in the high 80's but with this brutal humidity, it was fairly miserable. Luckily we only had to wear our helmet for the autocross, so I was driving in shorts and a T-shirt, trying to stay hydrated and out of the sun.

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I took my first autocross run and the car felt GREAT - gearing was perfect, tires were hooked up, and right off the bat I was the only GT class car in the 29 second range - way ahead of the class. I knocked some time down but ran similar times for 3 runs in a row. Jonathon Blevins had snuck ahead of me in his '08 GT500, which he built just for this series (837 whp supercharged engine). I tried to go to D&E in the morning but it was super crowded. It was hot hot hot, no shade in the paddock, so we hung out in our trailer when waiting to drive.

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I walked the course two more times during lunch. It was a momentum course, setup more for Miatas than Detroit iron, so it was a bit frustrating to drive. Speed maintenance type deal, nowhere to use throttle or brakes, and zero slaloms. It was a just a big long: offset, offset, turn, offset, offset, turn, finish. Did our 2nd set of 4 runs right after lunch.

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Ran a little quicker on my 5th run, then my 6th was my quickest of the day with a 29.1135 sec time. No better on run 7 or 8 - was really hoping for 28s, which is what most of the fastest cars in other classes were running. I was still in the lead and once everyone in GT had run their 8 runs. I thought this might be the one event we win in GT class, as I tend to do better at Optima in the autocross than any other timed competition.

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Then we got in the line for D&E again, and waited... waited... waited... Then we noticed cars were making more autocross runs. Wasn't announced well, but when pressed the organizers admitted that yes, all cars were going to run two more runs. Crap. We had 3 cars ahead of us in the D&E line, but we were going to miss our chance at the additional "bonus" autocross runs, so we hopped out and rushed to grid.

I ran two nearly identical times, 29.2 and 29.5, no help. Blevins improved to a 29.0 on his 10th and final run, bumping me to 2nd. Then my 29.1 run disappeared from the results, so I had to go take my time slips and a screen shot from live timing system to the Timing and Scoring trailer, they sent me to the Optima trailer, then the next day they finally found this time. Didn't show up on the autocross results until Sunday, but I was finally shown in 2nd almost a tenth of a second off the lead. Falling back to a 29.2 time have changed the class order, but it would effect points - as they give points for placements based on ALL cars at the event in a particular segment.

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Frustrating to lose an autocross on run # 10, but hey, its Optima - they try to give people as many runs as they can, so it can lead to time drops throughout the day. We're about 400 pounds heavier then the purpose built Blevins car (which is near the 3200 pound GT class minimum), but I still should have driven better. The 4.09 gearing worked really well for us, ideal for 2nd gear, and I hoped that could translate to a good performance in the Speed Stop on Sunday.

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We finally got through the D&E judging, the 4 minute presentation went well, but we wouldn't know our score until the next day. Bunch of stock Shelbys and Mustangs in GT class - surely we will outscore most of those? We've changed major parts on every system of this car, and have done quite a lot since we did our last Optima event in 2018 at NOLA. Felt good about it.

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But on Sunday we saw the D&E results - and our car did terrible. Ranked 63rd out of 67 cars that were judged! Something on this car pissed off the judges, not sure what. There were multiple BONE STOCK Mustang GTs and Shelbys and Camaros that outscored us by 30 places or more. This poor placement really chapped my ass. A car with a LOT of modifications, prototype parts, and bespoke equipment gets outscored by 30 places by a showroom stock Mustangs? Come on...

"ItS yOuR pReSeNtAtIoN!" some said. Look, I'm not a noob when it comes to public speaking or giving presentations - this was just some weird scoring guidelines. Whatever - the car show portion is the one I hate the most in Optima, and since I'm a bit vocal about it, I guess this is my punishment. We probably need to bring stuffed animals, mini models of our car (yes - they were there), underglow LEDs, big speakers, chrome doo-dads and tacky wraps.

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Some of the excuses I heard were missing carpet in the back seat - which was done to make room for the 4-point roll bar. If that is the case, they are literally discouraging safety upgrades to justify the car show crowd. When somebody rolls a car and they get injured due to their car show emphasis, I'm not gonna say "I told ya so", but I am going to think it.

At the end of the day we went on the Road Rally, which was to the Holley Performance headquarters across town and back. We stopped for fuel on the way, got back in plenty of time. We went over to the clubhouse where everyone is eating the sponsored dinner - sandwiches and potato salad - but they ran out of sandwiches a half hour before we got there. How do you run out of food when you know how many people are entered? No biggie, we had another good meal in town. We were pretty tired and over heated, so we crashed out at the hotel early.

Sunday

We have the Speed Stop and Road Course Time Trial competitions left, but by now I had seen the D&E score knew I was out of the running. I've never won the Speed Stop in the many Optima events I've entered (won Optima autocross events a few times), so I didn't have much hope here. I was more hopeful for the road course, but not having run here before was a huge variable. How quickly can I learn a 23 turn course??

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This looked complicated and daunting. I had some track notes, and got some tips from locals who worked at this track, and later from Danny Popp. We were supposed get 3 or 4 sessions, but at only 15 minutes each on the 3.2 mile course that meant you get an out lap (no passing), about 3 hot laps, and a cool down. Best case scenario I'd get 12 laps at speed that day. And with the temps being much cooler in the morning and sweltering in the afternoon, the first track session mattered most. Really the first hot lap in the first session was the best chance at a quick time - on a track I'd never driven. All told I got 10 laps that day at speed. We did 2 slow orientation laps early on in a parade fashion, which was only marginally helpful when there were cars blocking every corner.

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I did the first 4 right and 4 left side runs on the Speed Stop in the morning, which put me in the lead for GT class. The 4.09 gearing was PERFECTION on this course - 2nd gear was using all of the RPM range and the brakes were WORKING WELL. I had some good drives, sliding the car just ever so slightly, and braking DEEP into the stop box. My left side time was solid - was the only GT car in the 8 second range. I was stoked, because Speed Stop isn't ever my best event. Time for road course...

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One of the locals who helped me, Brian Sowders, put a 2:18 in at the very end of the day in his Shelby GT350. He works at the track and knows it well, but since he had no roll bar or belts he had to run in Intermediate run group - and on this day that meant he was one of the faster cars leading the pack, in a smaller run group, so not much traffic. I ran one of the two Expert classed, since I do have a roll bar, 6-point belts, HANS, fire bottle, and halo seat. What did that get me? Stuck in traffic on track all freagin day. The lap below was in the last session after I figured out a trick to break away from the pack.

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First TT Session: I finally got on track for real laps in our first session at 10:30 am. Ran a 2:26.163 on my first ever lap here, in traffic. I was stuck in a train of slower cars for two more laps (2:38 and 2:29) and was very held up. There was gaggle of Corvettes that WOULD NOT let cars pass. I was "that guy" in the Mustang, flashing lights, swerving, waving, just desperate for a point by. Even after wild hand gestures out the window and honking the horn, nothing. These folks would not acknowledge cars behind or lift for a pass. Just PARKED in the corners, and blocked any attempts at passes. I'm still learning the course but couldn't see a damn thing - just the back of Corvettes. Rolling chicanes.

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Second TT Session: For the next sessions they would grid you by best times from all previous sessions - so guess who I am stuck behind for the session? The same "I can't see you" Corvettes with +300 more hp but -30 mph minimum corning speeds. It was a train of cars. I finally gave up after 2 laps and let ALL the cars stuck behind me in the megatrain go by. With only 12 cars on a 3.2 mile track it was better to hold back for a half of a lap and get two hot laps in. Unfortunately I had overheated the RE-71R tires in the first hot lap and only ran a 2:23.163 - and found 3 seconds. Still building up my courage, trying to ignore the sea of Armco that surrounded every section of this track, and the concrete wall along the main pit straight.

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Third TT Session: There were still 5 or 6 turns I was struggling with, not stringing together. I just could not differentiate some turns, and kept putting 2 off in T10 and T12. Had not gotten my bearings. For the 3rd session I taped the track map to my dash just to help figure out which turns were which. Of course I got flustered and went out with the ASC (traction control) turned on, which I figured out halfway through the out lap. DAMN!

Now all the gains I had made on grid placement were lost - I had to back off, point everyone by, then turn traction control off (you have to press a button and hold the brakes for 5 seconds straight), then try to build a gap ahead, and then go. I lost time doing this and only had 2 hot laps: but I ran a new best of 2:22.482 followed by a 2:21.692 before the tires got super hot. This was a stupid mistake, not turning ASC off in grid. Nobody to blame but me!

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We had a quick lunch then back to Speed Stop. I'm soaking wet from sweat at this point, salt rings on my T-shirt, exhausted. I cannot overstate how hot and humid this place was - its June in Kentucky, and all sessions on track are in a full fire suit, so it's not hard to understand. Amy's trying to keep me hydrated, using an umbrella to keep me shaded while in the long lines for Speed Stop (below left). The AiM was not talking to the SmartyCam and I had to use a second camera. I'm done with this SmartyCam - it is too unreliable. Even when it works it has pretty poor video resolution.

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Didn't find any time in my afternoon Speed Stop times, track surface was boiling and the tires felt greasy. All I was doing was sliding around. Blevins found some time, moving him up to 3rd place overall. Luckily there were no "bonus" laps and I won the GT class for Speed Stop (see below). I felt pretty good about the driving bits - had a 1st in Speed Stop and a 2nd in Autocross, and was still finding major time on the road course for TT.

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Forth TT Session: The quick guys in GT class were in the 2:18 to 2:19 range, and I'm in the 2:21s, but still dropping seconds in each session as I learned this layout and find clear track. It was so hot many drivers had already packed up and left before this last session, but I didn't want to leave a single session undriven as I figured out this course. I had hoped for a 2:19 lap, and it was in the car, according to the AiM Solo.

I went out in the 4th and final session and put myself at the BACK of the grid, after letting local racer Marty in his boosted 5th gen Camaro know what I was doing. Letting everyone go by worked in session 3, but I lost track time setting up the "gap ahead". Marty wanted to follow me, as he was also struggling trying to learn this track - so now it was the blind leading the blind. At least we wouldn't be stuck in a train. Sitting in grid, the air coming off the pavement at the IAT sensor was 115°F - I was miserable in my fire suit, so I turned the air con on and tried to cool down, which helped a little.

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They wave everybody out of grid but we sat there, let the entire 12 car grid go for about 45 seconds, then we went. This built a huge gap to the slower cars in front. Marty stuck with me a bit and we had some clear track. He had been running 2:26s all day but with a rabbit to chase he dropped down to a 2:22.5! Track surface was well over 130°F, and these "200 treadwear" tires do not like that.

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My first lap was all that mattered and I found a 2:20.690, my best of the day. Not the 2:19 I wanted so I start into lap 2 and blew Corner 2, backed off to wave Marty by, then I tried to set a gap ahead again while still running a 2:22 lap. I was hoping to get one more lap in, and the flagger was reaching for the checker but didn't pull it when I went past start finish. I started my 3rd hot lap and predictive timing was showing a low 2:19... but I blew turn 10, put 2 off of T12, and then took it easy coming by the finish.

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We went to the results meeting not knowing how we placed. The D&E scoring really tanked us, but I had hoped for a top 3. Nope! No idea where we finished until days later, when we finally saw the results for the individual classes and events. I was shown to be 5th in GT class (see overall results below) and 24th overall for the Time Trial. Obviously this was a disappointment but I had nobody to blame but myself. Many of the drivers at this event had run NCM before (or were locals), and some even flew in earlier in the year to take laps in the Corvettes you can drive in their "Corvette Experience" events. In hindsight that would have been smart, as would gridding earlier for that first session and not getting stuck behind the "rolling chicane" drivers. And putting carpet in the back seat area for the D&E.

NCM event results: http://clubregistration.net/clients/...m?eventID=9459

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME AND WIN

So I bitch about Optima's D&E car show games a lot, but Jonathon Blevins showed how to get the class win this time. He has been running this series in his 2008 GT500 for a few years and this was their debut event for 2019 after a major overhaul and massive rework of this car, including many smart D&E tricks.

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As you can see they cut out a lot of the front structure and added some roll cage tubing underhood, swapped struts for a double A-arm suspension, and of course the giant blower. They claim 837 whp, and it was pretty quick on track for a few laps - but with today's 200TW tires and the high track temps we saw here, none of us had much more than that in our cars that day.

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The interior is filled with some interesting gear, with an AiM dash integrated into the factory surround, buttons on the steering wheel, and a roll cage that has the upper door bars hidden above the headliner. The judges eat that kind of stuff up. The fit and finish was top notch and he deserved the D&E class win.

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Apparently leaving the stock trunk carpet out really hurt my D&E score, but if you have a giant fuel cell that makes up for it. He also drove well in the timed events and got a 1st (autocross), 2nd (Time Trial), 3rd (Speed Stop), and 1st (D&E). That's how you get a class win and an invite to the OUSCI event at the end of the year (where he also won GT class and placed 6th overall - impressive). Do well in all of the events, timed and judged. Congrats to him!

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The D&E does skew the finish results quite heavily. If you ignore the D&E scores, Blevins would have still won the class, but I would have been 2nd instead of 5th, down by 6 points instead of 67. I actually tied for 4th but they let D&E be the tie breaker - it means that much to this series. So if you want to win not only do you need to drive fast you ALSO should prioritize the shiny bits. Also have a good story for the 4 minute D&E presentation - a number of competitors made up that their car had unobtanium this or that, and the judges took their word for it. Outright lying about mods you don't have is encouraged in this event.

NASA "TT" at TMS, AUGUST 18-19, 2019

Why, oh why, does anyone in Texas try to hold a Time Trial event in August? Well two local groups did this year - NASA and SCCA - and we foolishly went to both. I knew the "end was near" for our time in the 2018 Mustang, and we wanted to test some versions of the diff cooler we were working on. Unlike many NASA weekends we decided to arrive on Saturday morning instead of the night before to setup and unload. This event was a "home track" that we can get to in 45 minutes, so why get there the day before? Well this was a mistake - it made for a rushed morning, unload, and I was a couple of minutes late to the TT meeting at 8 am. There was a bit of troubling news at the TT meeting, but I will cover that below.

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This was an unusual event - the first time NASA Texas had run at Texas Motor Speedway - and the various sub-groups ran completely different courses. HPDE and TT ran the short 1.1 mile infield road course shown above. The W2W groups ran the huge tri-oval + the infield course (they joined and left the infield course where "pit out" and "pit in" are shown above. The full course looked a LOT more fun, but when it was announced that TT would be running the short infield course I was relieved. Why? The infield course is (supposedly) safer, speeds are much lower, and I had run this 1,1 mile course 3 times previously with wins at each event (GTA, Optima, and a W2W event).

SATURDAY

But it was August. In Texas. So it was hot AF! I had dragged Erik from HPR out to the event with me and rented a garage, to keep out of the sun and heat. It was still hot inside the garages but it was almost tolerable with shade. We just didn't venture out much, and I spent some time in the air conditioned driver's center to keep cool. I didn't watch a single lap of any W2W race, and was smart enough to not sign up for instructing, so I didn't need to be in a car except for my lone TT session.

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The garages at TMS are super nice and you really MUST rent one if you run an event here. These are the same garages that NASCAR use when they run this track in their series. Spacious, bathrooms on the ends, roll up doors and power. Plenty of room to spread out your stuff, chairs, cooler, etc.

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After we got unloaded I picked up our 2nd place trophy for the 2018 season at the driver's meeting - forgot we had placed that high last year. Really wished we had stayed in TT3 for all of 2019, as we were so out-gunned (and hundreds of pounds overweight) for TT2. Bad planning on my part, for sure.

OUR ONE SESSION OF THE WEEKEND

Saturday morning warm-up was our ONE session of the weekend - I will explain. As we were warned in the TT meeting, the infield road course timing loop was broken. Hadn't been used in years, and it was only tested on Friday. NASA was flying in another loop for use on this course, supposed to arrive around lunch time. The W2W folks had the regular timing loop on the NASCAR tri-oval start/finish to use, so they were fine. And HPDE doesn't get timed, so they were gonna be OK too.

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This is a VERY short course and the 24 cars in Time Trial were to be split into two sub-groups of 12 cars each. This was something we campaigned for earlier in the year, as we had run here before and knew the difficulties with running more than 8 or 10 cars at a time on such limited track mileage. But, to our dismay, ALL of the TT cars were lumped into a single group for the first "Practice" session, which wasn't going to have times due to the loop being down. The new timing loop was to arrive "after lunch" so we would have a one or two practice sessions before anyone got times. I had planned to do 3 tests of our diff cooler: 1) no cooler at all, 2) diff pump only, and 3) diff pump and cooler. This testing was what I cared about more than "winning" TT2.

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It was already 86°F and humid when we went out on track at 8:43 am, after we sat on grid for delays picking up wrecked W2W cars in the previous group. I started grid in P2 behind Casey's TT2 C7 Corvette. He and I used to be closer in pace but his car prep evolved quite a bit over the previous months and this was his debut with a fully stripped and caged C7 ready for W2W, on Hoosiers/aero/etc. I was running Day 1 on the 200TW tires then switching to R7s for Day 2, per my normal plan for the season. I knew from previous events that Hoosiers and Aero were a big help here, so I gladly let him go first.

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We took the apron around and joined the 1.1 mile road course as a group. I had a feeling Casey would be quick, and he was with some 38.6 sec laps on his AiM - just walking away from me. I ran a bunch of 40.5 to 40.6 sec laps, and I got 4 or 5 laps in before we caught the back of the field - which was remarkable, for having 24 cars in about a 1 mile stretch. Then I peeled off and came into the paddock. I've gone quicker here in the TT3 2011 GT (39.2 sec), but that was on Hoosiers with aero 6 years previous.

THE "INCIDENT"

Normally I don't show it when "bad things happen", and I want everyone reading this to know that any car-to-car contact in Time Trial is super rare. Since coming to NASA TT events starting in 2006 I have witnessed car-to-car incidents only 3 times in probably 100+ TT events. It happens in HPDE more than TT, honestly. But not talking about this incident would be dishonest, because we knew both drivers and helped repair one of the cars. This happened in the lone TT session after I came in, and I missed all of the action. All was not going smoothly in the middle of the pack, where a massive log jam was brewing. Erik from HPR and Jason from Vorshlag saw it all go down from the viewing stands, who gave me their eye witness accounts. I also talked to both of the drivers afterwards.

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The lead car (I'm not getting into all of the who or what on that) went a bit fast through T7 and spun off track left at T8, heading towards a concrete wall along that side of the course. I have seen many cars impact that wall and it always ends up with a totaled chassis. This driver tried to avoid the wall (smart) but after pointing the car away from that near certain impact, he came back across track and tagged the car behind - Matt's white 2015 Mustang GT, shown above. I will cover the repairs to this car below, but long story short: both cars were damaged but both drivers were fine. Both cars had more than minimum safety gear and the seats, harnesses, HANS and roll bars did their jobs well. SMART.

I know both drivers well and neither was overly upset at the other - it was just the result of very close confines plus a spin that got a little out of hand. Matt said he thought the car ahead was going wide to let him pass as it went into T8, so he accelerated to pass on the ritht, then noticed the car coming back across track. He then dove way off track right, to try to avoid - they didn't make contact until 10-20 feet off the track, in the grass. It was the right move to make, given what he could see, just some bad luck.

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The session was black flagged. When I heard what had happened I ran over to Matt's paddock area with a floor jack, as the car was being dropped off the flat bed wrecker. He was fine, but his Mustang was a mess. It had popped air bags, the LF wheel was crunched into the body, and the LR corner was banged up. Did not roll. Matt had planned on being at SCCA TT Nationals just 5 weeks from that day, so we had to act quickly to try to make that happen. Jason and I did a quick triage, took some pics, then rolled into action. I sent pictures to our paint an body guru, Shiloh at Heritage Collision - who has fixed a number of SCCA and NASA race cars after incidents, and paints all of our project cars. He felt like it could be fixed, so the work was scheduled. Not going to be an insurance job.

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We had Matt call a flat bed wrecker, then I had Amy meet that at the shop, to show where to drop the car. We had some OEM parts from our recently acquired 2015 Mustang we could donate. Matt was a bit in shock but we took care of everything else and the car was at Vorshlag about 60 minutes later. We helped Matt pack up his stuff, then he and Brian Matteucci headed back home to Houston while we waited to see what was going to happen the rest of the day.

There was about a half hour delay, then the W2W race group got going again. The HPDE group ran again sometime around lunch, while the rest of us took a long lunch break at an air conditioned restaurant. During a long lunch break the track shut down and workers tried to get the new overnighted AiM timing loop installed - to no avail. After lunch we knew that there would be no more sessions for Saturday. I missed an incident in HPDE where a car spun off track and almost hit one of the NASCAR lights, which shut down HPDE and TT both. So no more opportunities to collect data. When we left at 2:45 pm it was 103°F - a miserable, hot, nasty day.

SUNDAY

After more timing loop attempts overnight, that near miss of their precious light standing out in the dirt in the infield was enough to spook the TMS folks and they called off the HPDE and TT cars for the rest of the weekend. My only regret was not trusting my gut Saturday afternoon and loading up the car and taking the trailer then. So Amy and I had to drive out to TMS Sunday, load the car, hook up the trailer. We stopped by an SCCA autocross happening in the outer parking lot that day, got super sweaty and hot, then headed home. That blew a whole day in triple digit temps again.

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Other than crashing, this outcome made for the least fun TT weekend you can think of. Nobody in TT got any times, so nobody got class points or trophies - and we made a lot of our "street tire" sub-class trophies. Still, the W2W groups raved about the longer Tri-oval + infield track layout they got to run. Casey in the TT2 C7 Corvette was able to take his new cage, fire system, and log book updates and entered W2W. There he practiced, qualified and raced in ST2 with a Rookie status this weekend. Not only did he set the ST2 track record he won his first race!

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NASA has put this event back on the schedule for 2020, thankfully NOT in August. We will be there May 1-3, 2020, with the same split courses for HPDE TT on the infield and W2W on the full Tri-oval + road course. If at first you don't succeed - try, try again!

Photo and video gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...ug-17-18-2019/

TIPS FOR REPAIRING A CRASHED S550

We talked about the repair work to Matt's car online back in August (after he gave us permission), and it was a bit of a thrash on our end + the work needed at Heritage to get this car back up and running in less than 4 weeks. Why not share the work in chronological order here? There were just 5 weeks to repair this car and make it track ready again before the SCCA TT Nationals. Some asked why we stopped everything at our shop to attack the work on this car? Let me explain.

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It turns out this car is kind of special to us, for multiple reasons. It was formerly owned by Brian Matteucci, who is an old friend of mine from college, and who's company (Motor-Force Engineering) we bought in 2006. We had Brian use this 2015 GT for our first S550 camber-caster plate for the OEM style spring. And later his 6th gen 1LE for our first 6th gen camber plate as well. Then he sold this car to Matt Givens, his endurance racing team partner - who we got to know at several events. Super nice guy, and a quick driver. He still rocks the Vorshlag banners on his car, too.

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Matt bought the car from Brian a couple of years ago and has upgraded to MCS TT2 coilovers that he got from us, added a 4-point roll bar, Sparco racing seats, long tube headers + CAI, and more. Last year he ran the car at the NOLA round of Optima, and did well. In 2019 he began running the car in National SCCA TT events across the country and cleaned up there, setting FTD at more than one event.

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In this car Matt had been was racking up the TT wins in the SCCA's unique classing structure by going to events on the road, and we really wanted to see him take this car to the 2019 TT Nationals at NCM. We had originally talked about going to that event in our 2018 GT, and the June Optima event was a sighting trip for this TT Nationals for us. After starting our 2015 Mustang project we decided to skip TT Nationals and instead support Matt.

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So it's Monday morning after the TMS incident and Matt's car is parked in front of our shop. It was slid off the roll back there and won't roll because the wheel is crammed into the strut, and the LF control arm is broken. Brad installed the LF arm off of our 2015 GT, swapped on one of my spare 19x11s, and it was driven into the shop. First step of many!

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We noted a jacked up front alignment - once on the lift we could see that the steering rack was partially broken and the tie rod was very bent. The transmission crossmember was also shattered. The 650 pound engine + transmission sits on sloppy hydraulic mounts, and when the car was hit from the side, the drivetrain moved as a big undamped mass, which shock-loaded the 2 pound cast aluminum transmission crossmember. Boom!

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The LF wheel took the brunt of the car-to-car impact, which drove it into the strut, which bent the strut housing and shaft. The fender was shredded - the fronts are aluminum and very flimsy. We stole the LF fender off my black 2015, to save time and money. Took our driver's door, too.

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Luckily we had a set of S550 MCS TT2 coilovers in stock (only set in the country we could get our hands on that day), so we stole the front strut from this kit to replace the badly bent unit on his car. We inspected the camber plate and surprisingly it was perfect, so that and the spring were swapped over.

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The steering rack from my 2015 looked good so it replaced his broken rack (left side mount had broken off) plus the new suspension bits went in quickly. One of the inner fender reinforcements was missing from this white car - the big black panel shown above. This is a foot intrusion panel that bolts the frame to the inner fender structure. That being in place would have mitigated some of the damage, and Shiloh wanted this piece to be able to pull some of the seam back in place and align it - so that came from my 2015 GT as well.

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We worked on the car for only 3 days (Aug 19th-21st) but had the car to Shiloh rolling and driving - with a replacement door and fender - on Day 4. After I dropped it off his team got to work located the parts needed to replace the busted headlight, bumper cover, and do the bodywork and paint repairs.

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It was at Shiloh's for about 3 weeks where they bodyworked the rear fender and bumper cover (secondary impact), pulled the front inner fender structure back into place, then installed the LF fender and door from my black 2015.

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They primed, painted, and cleared the left side of the car + bumper cover. It looks great but they noticed an issue with the left side wheelbase - the front wheel was pushed rearward and didn't line up with the fender arch.

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It got back to Vorshlag for some work Sept 17-th to 20th, where we attacked some remaining items. The car had a somewhat janky seat bracket that bent badly and pulled the floorpan up from the impact. We replaced that with a Vorshlag CNC cut, steel ribbed seat bracket that was MUCH more rigid. During the install of this is when we figured out that the floor was damaged - because it didn't line up.

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Bit of a head scratcher, but Shiloh noted that this happens a lot on cars that get hit - the weight of a driver and/or passenger will push the floorpan out of shape as the seat deforms in the crash. We looked and my 2015 passenger floor is buckled the exact same way! After pulling carpet and some other things out of the way it took about 20 minutes with some sections of 2x6" wood and hammers to persuade the floorpan back into shape. The frame was perfect, just part of the floor distorted. Once that was pushed back our seat bracket lined up perfectly and went in.

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We briefly installed the 3-bolt S550 brake deflector (above right), for pictures. We had planned to replace the janky ducted backing plates that had some of the worst corrugated hoses (above left) we had ever seen - routed up and over the arms like we see some do. Not his fault, this is how this product is sold.

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We had the car in the air and could not see why the wheel was offset to the rear. Maybe the front subframe was bent? That's a big expensive part ($900) and takes a lot of time to install. The SCCA TT Nationals was only days away. We punted and got some adjustable front control arms with spherical ends from our buddies down at SPL Parts in Austin, which arrived the next day. As Brad was installing these he pulled the factory TC rod, the second lower control arm that looked perfect... and wow. We uncovered the mystery.

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the spindle was badly distorted at the mounting hole for the TC rod, as was the ball joint end there and the bolt at the subframe end. So it didn't need a subframe, just a new spindle and arm. We rushed our local Ford dealer and they got a spindle quickly for only $220. Something to look closer at in a car that has had an impact - we will inspect these more closely next time.

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Matt was OK with the upgrade and we put the SPL arms on - he had sphericals on one end of the TC rod already, so this wasn't going to be a change in "NVH" for him. The SPL arms are very adjustable and allow for more camber, caster, and slight wheelbase changes. New Whiteline swaybar end links replaced some lower end bits he had in there, so now the suspension was refreshed and it was time for a gross alignment.

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The long tube headers and mid-pipe exhaust was out of kilter with the rear bits, so we adjusted that. Installed our 4-bolt brake deflectors to mount to the SPL arms, then fixed the PP1 undertray panels, which had ripped out a few holes.

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Brad really crushed it on this job, and when he was done he detailed this car inside, out and under the hood. Matt ended up buying 5 wheels from us that we had in stock, so he now has 3 sets for wets and drys. He picked up the car on the weekend, took it down to MSR Houston for an alignment and track test, then was on the road the next Tuesday headed to NCM. Amazed at the work that Shiloh and his crew did also. Great team work!

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Working on this car, then observing some things on my 2015 Mustang GT chassis - which I took to Shiloh for a cross check when I picked up the white car - taught us a number of things. Shiloh pointed out where these cars are super rigid and hard and where they are meant to deform. We took what we learned an put it into this video, linked above. If you have an S550 and do track things, might be helpful to watch this 15 minute video on our YouTube page.

PREPPING 2018 GT FOR SALE

At the time of this writing our 2018 Mustang GT is for sale, as shown below. If this classified ad is still showing "for sale", then it is still for sale. When you go there and it shows "SOLD" then its sold. That should hopefully cut down on 300+ questions over the next 12 months. I hope. #IsItStillForSale

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I made a promise when we bought this 2018 Mustang GT in February of 2018 to NOT do any mods that couldn't be un-done. Why? Our 2011 GT had flared fenders and some other mods we could not "un-do" and that made it tough to sell quickly. I stuck to that promise on this car, but we did leave several of the track worthy parts in this car when we put it up for sale.

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In early September we decided to scrub further 2019 season events in this car and spent a couple of weeks, between customer jobs, putting the car back as close to stock as made sense. The carbon hood and hood pins came off, the 4-point roll bar came out, the race seats were replaced with the stock bits that have been bagged in storage.

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De-stickering the car took several hours, and some of the cheaper vinyl was tough to get off without some heat. With some help from Amy the decals were taken off, then Brad got the adhesive goo removed and waxed and buffed the finish to a shine. I picked at a few decals but broke my thumbnails all to crap. There is no "easy" way to get cheap vinyl off after it has been baked on.

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ProTip: Some of the black trim bits had some wax residue near the painted finish areas, which was baked into the finish and wouldn't come off. Crusty white looking stuff. Brad found this "Back-to-Black" black trim cleaner from Mothers and it worked like a charm.

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The long tube headers and custom exhaust was a tough call - we could have burned 8-10 hours swapping this stuff back to stock, but how much are used stainless headers worth? And then we'd have to pull the CAI, load the stock tune, etc. The car sounds SO good and works so well with these long tubes and the exhaust we built with the over-sized Magnaflows that we decided to keep it all on their, plus the CAI and include the SCT tuner with the car.

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The engine bay was cleaned up after the strut tower brace we added was removed. The Powerbrake fronts were swapped out for PP1 6-piston Brembos and 15" rotors that were used briefly during the progression of our brake development. The MCS RR2 coilovers were swapped for the AST/Whiteline set that we used for much of 2018. These AST5100 based inverted monotubes ride great, are super strong, have rebound damping adjustment and include our camber/caster plates.

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The spare tire and trunk carpets were reinstalled (look at the D&E magic!), and the triple gauge panel was left in place. We could have pulled this entirely but the labor involved in adding the wiring and sensors for these is worth more than the parts cost, so we pulled the 4th gauge (diff temp) and left the other three in place. Oil temp, oil pressure and water temp gauges remain in the Boss 302 3 gauge cluster. We pulled the diff cooler and replaced the aluminum 4.09 geared housing with the original 3.55 geared steel case limited slip unit that came on this car.

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Last but not least we couldn't let the car leave with this many track ready parts without some sort of brake cooling. This Vorshlag 4-bolt deflector mounts to the OEM TC rod with the U-bolts included in that kit, as shown above. All of the original swaybars and control arms were installed, and the SPL spherical arms will go on the 2015. Comes with the 19x11" Momos and our freshest set of 305/30/19 RE-71R tires so you could drive it to work or rip around a race track equally well.

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Brad took a LOT of nice pictures of the 2018 GT in its "for sale" condition. Super low miles, "only driven on the weekends", and of course you can see a lot more here in the classified ad.

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PROGRESS ON 2015 MUSTANG GT RACE CAR #TRIGGER

Now for the fun part of this post - showing the work we have done to #Trigger, our black 2015 GT chassis. This is the car that will continue with what we have learned on the 2018 GT, but will be lighter and is getting MOAR POWER. We will continue to show the build-up in this same thread, and hopefully pick up where we left off in the 2018. The initial LS engine (a very cost effective engine) should make roughly the same power as the Gen III Coyote, which will let us test things with a LOT of the same variables from the red car: power, tires, suspension, seats, and brakes.

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We have been accumulating a lot of "missing" parts while removing other parts from this chassis to lose weight. Have not cut anything out of the car yet, but we will in Phase 2. This T56 Magnum XL was mated to our LS mockup longblock in this round.

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We have weighed a bunch of bits and pieces as they came off the car, like the full weight 84 pound doors with glass. The stock power cloth seats are 50 pounds each, things like that. We will show all sorts of weights as parts get removed or added to this car.

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The dash, carpet, door panels and center console are still in this chassis for all car weights shown. Why? The el strippo interior might happen later on Phase 2 of the build, but I want a little bit more of a complete looking interior for now. I found some of the missing dash panel inserts and gauge binnacle, which will go in to the final Phase 1 build (above right). The Sparco race seats, 4-point roll bar, and 6-point Schroth belts will be going in, sure, but the half-stripped dash was looking too "trailer park trash" for me.

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Been leaning heavily on eBay for the only thing that site is good for - finding used car parts at a good price. I rarely buy anything new on eBay, but the complete pedal box (above left) and steering rack (above right) have replaced missing parts or items we stole from this car for Matt's white GT.

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We pulled the aluminum 2-point strut tower brace that we had added to our 2018 GT (it wasn't an option on the base model) and have since added several more factory pieces to that make this tie into the firewall and cowl. I will show all of those pieces and weights in a later post, when we install them. We put the 2-point brace in place to show the room down to the LS3 intake manifold during some LS engine mock-ups. The LS engine is just so little!

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Those that question the reasons behind an LS swap just need to look at the image above. I shot both pics myself, from the same height/angle, and cropped the images to show the same width of each chassis. Both S197 and S550 engine bays have the same distance between the strut towers (roughly 36"). The Coyote in the S197 (left) is a pretty snug fit, but the LS (right) in the S550 has room for days around, above, and in front of it.

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We are still setting the exact fore-aft placement of the engines + trans, but this image above is pretty close to perfect. This puts the T56 Magnum XL shifter inside the stock shifter hole and 85% of the engine behind the front axle centerline. With a custom "one off" kind of cut and slash install, sure, we could cut the firewall and tunnel. This would let us move the engine back even more, maybe even use a shorter T56 Magnum or Magnum S... but that would defeat the purpose of this build: to make an LS swap kit that was really 100% bolt in. To sell LS swap parts people might buy (we have had a massive response to news of this swap).

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The "Phase 1" engine is a mild 383" aluminum LS that will use a wet sump oil pan and an Accusump, so we are testing the swap with a variety of LS oil pans for the swap to be built around. The 4th gen Camaro LS pan fits easily, as does this steel, baffled pickup, 7 qt Summit oil pan. I will show more of this pan later.

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The transmission crossmember design is nearly done - just checking the driveline angles before we finalize the fabrication of that. We want to test fit a 4L80E automatic as well, possibly make a transmission crossmember that fits this one (for drag racers and street cars). Once the trans crossmember is done then we can set side-to-side placement.

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Exhaust header room looks good but the height of the motor mounts and placement of the steering shaft might require a custom long tube header again. We have 5 different production LS header designs we will test in the coming weeks to try to find one side or maybe both sides that fit. If not - we will make a production style long tube.

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During driveline angle tests I noticed something odd, and it turns out the rear subframe wasn't even fully bolted in, and one hole was cross threaded. So the subframe came out to be able to re-tap that hole, which went cleanly. Normally I am not a big fan of doo-dad mods like "subframe/diff bushings", as their value is dubious at best... I never felt like the rear bits were flopping around on our 2018 GT. But this car is "going to eleven", plus it had some really worn, aged, cracked bushings back there.

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While the subframe was out we decided that the diff mount and subframe bushings (8 in total) needed an upgrade. So we ordered the Whiteline bushings to swap into their places. The extraction of these 8 mounts is a REAL CHORE if you don't break out a SawsAll, which can easily cause damage to the somewhat thin metal on the steel subframe assembly. We made some custom tools and tried a number of tricks getting the old bushings out - which I will show in more detail next time.

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After the many hours of work removing the old ones, the new bushings went into the subframe in less than 20 minutes. An all new SPL Parts lower adjustable toe link went in, replacing the stock bits here (see above right). This toe link is a brand new design from SPL and was not installed on our 2018 GT.

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SPL Parts were also swapped into this spherical/adjustable vertical link shown above, which replaced the stock rubber bushed piece. We transferred this part right over from the 2018 GT.

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The 4.09 geared, Auburn Pro diff equipped, aluminum super 8.8" was swapped into the subframe while it was down. We will move the diff cooler / fan / pump over to this car as well. The adjustable Whiteline rear swaybar was transferred over from our 2018 GT, and some GT350 axles are on order (cheaper from Ford Racing than the dealership) as well as new rear hubs with ARP studs, which we left on the 2018 GT. More details on that next time.

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Jason and I searched the online used parts interchange and found one shop in the Dallas area who was organized enough to list fenders, hoods, headlights and bumper covers for many cars at reasonable prices. We bought this white 2018 front nose for 1/6th the cost of the stock pieces, and it came with some structural and grill bits that were going to cost extra from Ford. I want to re-use the 2018 style Anderson carbon hood - and the '18 front end is supposed to have less drag - which is why we picked up a 2018 nose. I have upper and lower GT grills arriving any day but we're still searching for headlights (horrendously expensive for any S550) and park lights to wrap up the front. We had none of these parts on the 2015 to start with, so going to 2018 look front bits was no extra cost.

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We had already sold one of the 2015 front fenders to Matt, so it wasn't a stretch to get two 2018 style front fenders. One is really perfect and the other is OK, but its the best we could get at the same yard we got the nose from. Paid even a smaller a fraction of the cost of new, and both came with bits that aren't included with new fenders.

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I asked Evan to use our strut tower cutting fixture and open up the tiny tower holes to a 3.0" opening. We used a 2-3/4" hole saw on the 2018 GT but this 3" is as far as you can go and still keep the entire vertical "wall" and the curved portion of the factory tower. Some of our customers have already tested this size opening without issue.

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Time for the good stuff! The MCS Remote Double "RR2" model coilovers went from our 2018 GT straight to the 2015 chassis, as did the Powerbrake front brake kit.

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Last Friday, November 22nd, this round of installation was wrapped up. Brad slapped on the 19x11" Forgestar / RE-71R set of wheels and tires, which really made the car look a lot better. It was set on the ground at the end of the day and it made me smile. All of the work above happened in October and November, when we had an hour or two to spare between tasks on customer cars. Hoped we would be at this point back in September, but we were slammed.

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I came in last Saturday and scaled the car with the parts shown above. Its missing 70 pounds of crank/rods/pistons, the radiator, battery, front bumper beam (we will make a tubular one) and bumper cover, left side door, and two seats. We also don't have a fuel tank, driveshaft, clutch, or rear axles in the car. But the rest is pretty much there. The LS is no lighter than the Coyote, as they are nearly identical in weight. But 2327 pounds? I was more than happy to see a number that low.

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This is less than the 2349 pounds the car weighed when it rolled in - when it had no motor or trans, no front brakes, and skinny 8" wheels. Jason and I added up about 400 pounds of parts that needs to go back into this to be a running/driving track car. Maybe 500 if we are super conservative. That's still less than 3000 pounds, so we are hopeful!

WHAT'S NEXT?

This post ran long and I skipped one more August event, SCCA TT at MSR 1.3. I will cover that event next time and finally show more more of our diff cooler iterations. Hopefully we will have the tubular front bumper beam made for #Trigger by then, the nose mounted, and a rolled radiator in place.

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I can also show the many steps that Brad and Even went through to get the rear subframe bushings out, using special tools that Myles designed and built. We might make a run of these tools, for those patient enough not to just use a saw to cut the mounts out.

Until next time!

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