Friday, January 30, 2009

Party Time!

Are you coming to watch us make fools of ourselves? Here's all the info you need:

Where: Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC, about 4 hours from the ATL. We'll be camping at the track for the weekend.

Friday, 3 April 2009

  • 8:30am: Gates Open9am-4pm: Participant Check-In and Mandatory Vehicle Tech Inspection: YOUR CAR AND AT LEAST ONE TEAM MEMBER MUST SHOW UP FOR TECH INSPECTION ON FRIDAY.
  • 9am-4pm: CMP's Test-N-Tune Friday
  • 5-8pm: Mandatory BS Judging

Saturday, 4 April 2009

  • 7:30am: Gates Open
  • 10:00am: Mandatory Drivers' Meeting
  • 11:00am-7:30pm: Race Session I

Sunday, 5 April 2009

  • 8:30am: Mandatory Drivers' Meeting
  • 9-11am: Race Session II
  • 11am-noon: Quiet Hour (No Race Motors Allowed)
  • 11:30am: People's Curse
  • noon-4pm: Race Session II Continues
  • 4:30pm: Awards Ceremony
  • 5-7pm: Pack Up and Patch Out
  • 7:15pm: Gates Close
  • 7:30pm: Ominous Banjo Duet Starts

We will have plenty of food and probably enough beer. Camping is $50 for the weekend, but you can probably fall under our camping fee. There's power and showers, so it's not too primitive. Entry is $20/day or $30 for the weekend. We'll be there first thing on Friday for the Track-n-Tune.

Even more info can be found here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We're in!

We got the email from Jay. We're in! Now we just need to write a huge check and actually be ready to race on April 4th. We will probably go up there late Thursday or early Friday. There's a track day on Friday that I'd like to get the car into. We'll probably wrap up just after the race on Sunday.
It sounds like we may have a fairly large group of spectators tagging along. It's ~$30 to get in as a spectator and the camping fee is $50 (We might be able cover you guys with our camping fee). There's showers on the campground. I'm going to start putting together a roster. Barry's going to cook, so we need to make sure there's enough food.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Getcher motor runnin...

A few months ago we picked up a motor that we eventually identified as being from a Honda CB750 to run our fan. The motor is overkill for the 20-30 Hp that I need for the fan, but it was cheap and it seemed to come with all of the little ignition doohickeys needed to make it go. We got it from a guy about an hour past Athens with an old shipping container that he was using as storage for his tractor repair shop. He was trying to get the container cleaned out of his past projects. After spending a couple of months leaking oil onto the shop floor at work, Mark and Trevor built a stand for it and took it back to his garage.
Trevor and I have made some progress getting it going. Trevor found some electrical diagrams online, and we got the motor to turn over. Now we just need to figure out how to keep the carbs from spewing fuel all over the floor.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It was cold this morning. We decided to move the car into the garage to put in our $20 radiator. Unfortunately we forgot that the transmission routes fluid through the radiator to cool it and it managed to empty itself out in the 10 feet we traveled putting the nose of the car in the garage.

The new radiator didn't fit perfect, but well enough for $20. We didn't double-check the fittings, however, and it looks like one of the transmission cooler fittings is leaking. We went ahead and flushed the rest of the cooling system and we'll wait for our next session to pull the radiator out and tighten the fittings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dashboard Awesomeness

We're going to have the coolest dash of any car in the race. Pictured above is an industrial pressure gauge we got off ebay. The range of vacuum that it can measure ranges from 0 to 20 inches of water. That's about 0 to 0.7 psi. Useless for pretty much anything other than monitoring the vacuum under your sucker car.

Not only does it read the pressure, but I can also set alarm lights. Cool.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wheels and Tires

After seeing the post race condition of the Turbo Schnitzel Merkur's tires at last years LeMons South, I knew that we'd need an extra set for Our Lady. After just 10-ish hours of racing the previously new Kumho Solus KH16 tires were toast. The tread was weirdly smeared and was starting to chunk out at the edge of the tire.

The Kumho's were H (130mph) rated tires, with a 440 treadwear. This time around we settled on the Hankook Ventus R-S2. It's got a 200 treadwear that puts us just above the 190 minimum for LeMons. It's pretty cheap at $75/tire and has a V (149 mph)speed rating. We knew we'd need two sets based on how chewed up the Schnitzel's tires got. Getting an extra set of cheap wheels would let us switch out a complete set without the downtime of mounting the tires.
I always assumed that low profile tires had some benefit to racing, but the only big performance gain seems to be the ability to fit bigger brakes inside of large wheels. There is still a good reason to upgrade the steel wheels on the Civic: tires. There's not a lot of performance tires that are made to fit a 13x5 wheel. 15" seems like the sweet spot for tires. Hence our junkyard search for some 15x6 wheels.
Unfortunately for us, the Civic has a 4x100 bolt pattern. A pattern shared by such notable sports cars as the Geo Prizm and the Mercury Tracer and ..... the Miata. A few Miata's came with 15" wheels from the factory, but most had 14's which are much more plentiful on Craigslist. While there isn't a huge selection of performance tires at that size, there are a few. The Hankook tire we picked is available as 195/60R14. $600 + tax and shipping later and they are on their way.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pull-A-Part Bust

It turns out our radiator is mildly FUBAR'd. The radiator is mounted with pins that fit into rubber grommets. 3 of the 4 pins had been snapped off, so we figured we'd go find another at the Pull-A-Part. We also figured we might find some 15x6 wheels to better shod the Civic with.The web promised that the south Atlanta location had 9 4th gen (88-91) Civics on the lot. Unfortunately what the web doesn't tell you is that they are as picked over as a cow in a piranha pond. The only radiator we found was nearly folded in half.
We didn't do any better finding wheels. I had always assumed that the wheels were stacked separately somewhere since they had been stripped off of almost every car on the lot. I got a funny look when I asked where they were. Evidently the wheels are all gone because they get poached as soon as the car hits the lot.
Dejected at our fruitless trip we left. On the way back we stopped at a hubcap place that had stacks of steel wheels quietly rusting away. They wanted $53 each. We kept on driving.
On the plus side we found a new radiator on ebay for $20. That's right, $20. It's on it's way.

Roll Cage Plan

One of the biggest time sinks of prepping the Turbo Schnitzel car last year was getting a roll cage into it. The XR4Ti wasn't incredibly popular, so finding a prebent cage was problematic. We ended up piecing together a kit using a main hoop intended for a dodge something-or-other and the A pillar struts from a Mustang.

I had hoped that since the Civic was a much more popular car than the XR4Ti, we'd be able to easily find a cage for it. Alas, since the Civic DX 4 door is not your usual choice for a drag car, we've had a bit of a problem finding a pre-bent cage. I guess the whole Honda tuner phenomenon was focused on coupes rather than the budget economy transportation look of the sedan. The closest I've found is a CRX cage, but it's significantly shorter than we'd need for Our Lady.

We also have a few requirements for our fan mounting, so it looks like we'll be doing a custom cage. I've scanned in the drawing of the car from the service manual and I've been using as a template to design a cage in SolidWorks. We'll do some verification of the dimesions using some PVC pipe (1-1/4" sch 40 pipe has ~1-5/8" OD). Once we have the plans in CAD we can easily make drawings and have a local shop do the bending.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


We almost finished stripping out the interior and engine compartment last night. Out came the seats, dash, carpet and side panels. I found a petrified french fry, numerous pens and 26 cents. What remains is the door trim and headliner.

Under the hood we took out the AC system and changed the ATF and engine oil. Weight is one benefit of removing the AC, but we really just wanted to clear out some space in an otherwise cramped engine compartment by yanking out anything unnecessary. We also short circuited the heater core so we could take it out with the dash. We still need to get the radiator back in and track down the coolant leak. We may get lucky in that the leak is probably in the heater valve that we just short circuited!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Team

Unfortunately, the Turbo Schnitzel Team did not share my enthusiasm for this project. I was a bit surprised as I thought that a sucker-civic was a clear winner, but I realized that I would need to better present my case. After a caffine fueled night of PowerPoint I had all the ammunition I needed to convince the naysayers. Click the image to go to a copy that I've posted to

I managed to convert a few participants to my cause and we now have a 5 person team to race in April. The current roster:

Brian VanHiel
Trevor Crites
Mark Berkobin
Nick Reaves
Leslie VanHiel

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Car

My wife loved our Civic. It was a gift from her parents during college. Thus it was a little bit of a shock when when we came back from vacation to find it painted purple. You can read a bit more about it herein the Jalopnik PBR Article. She was understandably taken aback, even if the car had been getting a little long in the tooth.

My workmates had made a few miscalculations in their planning. First they didn't realize that the junker that I drove to work every day had any emotional value. They assumed that we'd return, laugh a bit, and then I'd finally buy the S2000 that I had been talking about. It sort of happened that way. I laughed, and then drove the car for another 6 months before getting my new(ish) honda. Leslie didn't laugh. She had this reaction:

That wasn't a lucky shot of her reaction. That was the pose that she held for nearly 30 minutes. She made me swear not to tell her parents. They didn't find out until over 2 years later.

When we put together the team that would become Turbo Schnitzel that ran in the first LeMons South, I had hoped to use the civic as our car. After all, it's already got an obnoxious paint job. Unfortunately I was voted down as my teammates wanted a more exciting car. We ended up with an '87 Merkur that blew two head gaskets, dropped the exhaust and boiled our brake fluid with a burnt wheel bearing. Exciting indeed.

This time around it's the natural candidate. Roomy enough for a giant fan and no turbo to blow up the engine with. It also happens to be sitting in my driveway, rotting slowly away. It's not without its problems:

1. Dead battery.
2. Only starts on 1/3 of key turns.
3. Leaks coolant.
4. Overheats (see #3).
5. Runs on what seems like 3 cylinders even when it does start.

The Plan

With the inspiration of the Cheaparral car fresh in my mind I set to work...

I calculated that with a large enough manifold that only a small pressure differential was needed to generate huge quantities of downforce. The trick was to find a fan that was capable of generating that differential. Most air moving fans for buildings only create a differential of 1 inch of water (about 0.036 psi). I figured I needed about 10 times that much.

Thankfully there is I found a few fans that were close in performance, but finally ended up with a lot of 15 fans from an 8" mobile howitzer.

After spending several times the purchase price on shipping from Ohio I have them in hand. They are monsters. The opening is 24" and they weigh about 90 lbs. each. The body is .5" thick cast aluminum.

Now we just need a car to put it in.