It was late Wednesday night, event prep is always a bit of a rush no matter how far you plan ahead. This event would be no exception as I hadn’t driven my car since last year. I took the cars panels off for tire room due to the new alignment and got the car eyeballed up and on the trailer.
Early Thursday morning I eagerly headed over to Autocomp Racecars. Marty and I had been discussing what direction we wanted to head with my car. If you remember, Marty is also the one to help my ARB setup come to life.
( http://www.stewartleask.com/build/adjustable-arbs )
Marty and I are on a very similar mindset when it comes to the direction I want to go with this car. I have the knowledge to know what I want my car to do and how I want it to act and react to my driving style thanks to ASD Motorsports. Marty knows how to help me apply it. Without any delay we got through our quick hello’s and got busy on the car.
The first 4-5 hours were dedicated specifically to bumpstop adjustments and tooling around with preloads. Finally we’d found the stroke lengths we were satisfied with for both compression and rebound so it was immediately onto the scales.
Considering the car had just been base assembled we didn’t have to change a lot. The chassis reacted very well to even 1/4 and 1/2 turns on the collars representing a very sturdy shell to base all this work off of. By the time it was said and done, fronts were within 5lbs of eachother with swaybar unhooked. Once the swaybar was hooked up the numbers changed no more than 1 lb in either direction, the fronts actually got 1-2lbs closer. We were very excited to say the least. Marty and I discussed a new alignment for the car which was something I hadn’t tried before. After seeing what results he’d produced for my car in the past I knew to trust his instincts and go forward with the new settings.
As soon as I was done at Autocomp I thanked Marty infinitely and headed down to Houston where I’d be going to PowerFAB Automotive to final assemble the car and break in my new ring and pinion gear from the 350z differential install. As always I got all the help I needed from Jeremy and the guys at PowerFAB. We were up very late getting some fresh livery on the car as well as breaking in the ring and pinion. Afterwards we called it a night knowing tomorrow was gonna be a long day!
I showed up to the track early so I could drive the car around, test out the new OS Giken differential and feel out the car. Immediately I confirmed the diff was working and everything on the car seemed to be good to go. It was time, I’d been installing custom parts on this thing since November. I had no idea at all how everything was going to work together (nothing ever works as well in real life as it does in your head). I dialed in my shock damping and went out for my cars first lap since 2011.
…Its for the best that I wear a tinted visor, because I was grinning ear to ear. Like a child almost! The car was miraculous! It had on demand grip that it had never had before. The harder you tossed the car, the harder it dug in and went for it. It could seat at whatever angle I wanted it to and just pushed through the course. During the day we even tested a visual on the rebound issue I’d noticed late last year and found out it was gone! The car was reacting just as it should to the upset in the suspension. Not only that, I was told that visually it was the ONLY car that hit that bump at whatever angle it wanted to and did not get upset by it at all. The car stayed steady, the suspension complied and the power was put down the entire time. Unfortunately a sensor issue came up halfway through practice. We searched and searched for solutions and ended up swapping out the crank/cam and map sensors which ended up fixing the issue right before qualifying. I swapped seats over winter (Recaro SPG to Recaro SPG Pro) and doing so changed the height I sat at in the car. Because of this, it was a bit harder to judge the nose of my car. My splitter took down a good 2-3 cones each one of my qualifying runs which set me back to 6th place qualifier.
The tandem field was full this event (Fabricated Motorsports turned out over 50 drivers!) so we got right to the competition. I went against Kevin Spoolin in the first round. Kevin seemed to have a good follow but ended up making a mistake and spun out near the end of the run. I was finally starting to get comfortable with the car again since the sensor issue and ended up laying down a follow I was really proud of to lock in the win.
In top 8 I was going to go against one of my favorite Texas drivers, Will Parsons. Will and I have a history of laying down incredible tandem runs. Neither of us holds back and it usually shows, this day was no exception. Round 1 was incredibly close, we both aimed at eachothers cars and went into a one more time. Round 2 was good, but my follow was lacking a little bit. I caught myself making a small mistake and couldn’t close the gap back up unfortunately, Will went on for the win.
Other than the tough loss in top 8, the event went great. I had massive support from PowerFAB when it came to the sensor issue and anything else that happened with the car. I had great support as well from parents and friends that had come from all over Texas. Without all you guys, these events are often times too much for me to handle on my own. I’m very thankful for all that helped me at the event!
The next step is a good one, the car stayed in Houston at PowerFAB. Jeremy and the group are thirsty for more horsepower from the car. By the time I go pick it up it will be outfitted with a freshly ported set of 243 heads. The car will be going back to Autocomp Racecars after reviewing footage of the suspension mid-driving. Marty’s got some stuff he wants to talk about and some changes we’re going to try out. I feel like I should make it more known that Texas truly is growing and expanding right now. Our events are very competitive (and very well organized and thrown, thank you Aaron Losey!), our fanbase is growing rapidly and the shops that are becoming involved are amazing. Anybody in Houston with any car work necessary should go by and see PowerFAB. Check out the shop, see what they can do for you. Its a very talented group of individuals that run a very solid business! And anybody thats interested in exploring the route I’ve been taking in car setup needn’t go any further than Autocomp Racecars. Marty will assess your car, he will take in your input and he will point you in the right direction. He’s been gracious enough to extend his services to us drivers, now we need to use it and take advantage of it! Proper chassis setup will change your car for the best and I strongly influence any and everybody interested in furthering their cars to give it a shot and see what kind of difference it really makes.