Category Archives: Events

Jalopy Racing – Part 2: Our Road to Lemons [w/ Video]

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The following is part two in a series of three guest posts by John Watts about his team’s Lemons racing experience, and the genre of “crapcan” racing. See “So These Guys Find A Bucket of Lemons” for Part 1. In John’s words…

The idea to enter a 24 Hours of Lemons race was first raised in January 2011 on the F1 Meetup page. There was a race at Summit Point in June, so we decided to aim for that.

At that point we really didn’t know each other and had virtually no experience in racing. We decided to buy a previously raced car to make it easier, and found a Suzuki X-90 with a 1.8 liter Mazda Miata engine for sale.

The car had raced in several guises, including one as pop-up camper. When we got it, it had a blown head gasket from the last race, but had a roll cage, race seat and other safety equipment. As we started taking the engine apart, we realized it was in bad shape and decided to buy another one from a junk yard.

To understand just how amateur we were at this point, consider that the first couple of weekends we struggled to figure out how to remove the engine and replace the water pump. But we eventually managed to revamp the whole car, upgrade the brakes and suspension, clean up and repaint it, and somehow managed to turn up at Summit Point in June ready to race.
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Building A Better Race Car For Formula SAE

Last month I attended the annual Formula SAE competition at Michigan International Speedway as one of about 400 volunteers. My last outing there took place years ago as a student. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) sponsors a range of collegiate design competitions, and FSAE is one of the biggest.

Since 1981 teams of engineering students at an ever expanding roster of universities design, build, test and race their very own formula-style race cars each year. FSAE is where they go to race.

This year it was cold and dreary most of the time. Mobile phone signals weren’t great either. I could go on. But it’s not like it was much different from where it used to be held: The Pontiac Thunderdome Silverdome parking lot. Except back then pretty much no one had cell phones. But the real world doesn’t promise ideal conditions so this was as good a venue as any to put the cars to the test.

The rules are fairly open to encourage innovation: Create a race car for autocross courses within certain safety parameters, with a maximum engine displacement of 610 cc, and then race it against other teams that have done the same thing to see who does best.
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2014 New York Notables At the Auto Show

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As one of the world’s major auto shows, New York always has its share of new vehicle introductions, and 2014 was no different with the new Nissan Murano, Toyota Camry, and Ford Focus sedan. Our interests, however, center specifically on sports car events (and non-events). Below is a summary of this year’s notable moves.

Alfa Romeo is returning to the States. It’s for real this time with the mid-engine 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C. Sporting a 237 hp four cylinder turbo and a twin clutch six speed semi-automatic transmission, this is a big deal. Little else in sports car land pairs approximately 2,000 lbs with wait… wait… wait… manual steering! Yes, it’s true. There will not be any power assist filter between the front wheels and the driver. With 258 lb-ft of torque and 80 percent of it available at a diesel-like 1,700 rpm, count on this to be loads of fun and the purest sports car since the Lotus Elise.

Aston Martin rolled out an “entry level” V8 Vantage at just a hair under $100k. Aside from the lower price, power increased to 430 hp and additional styling tweaks were made. The power upgrade certainly helped it avoid regular Special Ed status below. Aston also launched the DB9 Carbon Edition but we’ll let that one slide.

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