4/30/16 – 5/1/16 California CAM Challenge

This past weekend we competed in the SCCA California CAM Challenge, hosted at Autoclub Speedway, in Fontana, CA. The CAM Challenge is a relatively new event for SCCA autocross, and was our first experience with National-level competition. Saturday consists of a day of in-class competition, with three-run morning and afternoon sessions giving drivers many runs to reach perfection. Best times were combined between the two sessions to establish class rankings and trophies. Sunday starts with a morning session for each class, where the top sixteen of each class are entered into a forty-eight car bracket for shootout racing.

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Saturday started wet and ended dry. The course was fast and a lot of fun. Our morning runs were extremely wet, and traction was just a dream for us on our worn Bridgestone RE-71R’s. Our fastest time came on our third run, with a competitive 66.476, but a cone strike increased our time to a 68.476. For comparison, the fastest time was a 63.684 and the slowest a 87.938. The weather cleared up for our work session, allowing the CAM-T and CAM-S cars to run much faster with the additional grip.

The afternoon was dry with a lot of cloud cover. Angry clouds rolled overhead, but only provided a very light sprinkling at the end of our session. Our second run ended up being our fastest run, with a clean 61.560. Again for comparison, fastest was 58.598, with slowest coming in at 70.061. The dry tarmac really sped up the competition. Total time for us was 130.036, placing us in eight out of seventeen. Our work session was dry with just a bit of drizzle at the end, giving a few Corvettes in CAM-S a slippery final run.

Winning the CAM-C crown for the day was BTM-AutoSport‘s Brett Madsen, taking fastest in both sessions with a total time of 122.282. His Modzilla beat out Greg Nelson’s 2015 Camaro with a 124.319, and Raleigh Boreen’s loud and hard to miss yellow 1998 Mustang Cobra with a 125.140.

In the other classes, twenty-five classics shredded tires in CAM-T, with Mary Pozzi and her 73 Camaro running away with the crown, putting down a fast 117.158 overall, followed up by Mike Trenke in a cool 1982 Four-Eyed Fox Mustang at 119.732, and Jake Rozelle rounding out the podium in his 69 Camaro with a 121.499. CAM-S, hereby known as the Corvette class; was snagged by Steve Abbott in a C5 Z06 with a 116.481, local favorite Tom Kamman in a very similar C5 Z06 with a 118.983, and Randy Gonzalez in a C6 Grand Sport with a 119.274. Sixteen cars competed in CAM-S.

Our fastest runs of Saturday, in video format, below.

Going into Sunday, we started similar to Saturday, but an hour earlier at 8:00 am. We managed to whittle our time down to 61.465. Brett again led the charge with a blazing 57.972, while slowest was  72.211. After CAM-T and CAM-S had their fun, we met at the timing trailer and got the plan for the rest of the day. Each class was placed into a bracket shootout of 16 cars total. Fastest versus slowest, 2nd fastest versus second slowest, and so on. Then, the top of each class went head-to-head, based on their PAX-adjusted time.

We were placed into grid according to our results from the morning, and had two runs to beat our competitor. Once those initial runs were completed, we went to single runs run hot, keeping the tires warm and the competition fierce. We easily advanced to the second round, beating out a 2014 Camaro ZL1 convertible. Our second round, we faced down Chris Darquea in his similarly equipped 2006 Mustang GT. We got unlucky with a cone strike, but so did he. We lost by a hair to his 63.487, versus our 63.504. The rest of the competition was quite exciting, with Brett Madsen taking home first for CAM-C  in the BTM-AutoSport Modzilla, with a 58.259. His PAX time computed to a 49.425, while Steve Abbott took second with a 49.488, and Mike Trenkle rounded out the trio with 50.061.

Our fastest morning run, followed by our CAM Challenge runs, in video, below.

We really enjoyed the format and the level of competition presented by the 2016 SCCA California CAM Challenge. We learned a lot, made a lot of new friends, and are already making plans to up our game for the 2017 Challenge!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

A lot has happened since our last update. The garage has been busy as hell at SkunkRennWerks and the lineup has changed. Let’s dive into it.

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From a racing perspective, while we love the #Stealthbomber, it wasn’t a great fit for the household, and with a certain 1988 Mustang lurking like a specter in the shadows, the Bomber wasn’t long for our stable. Upon discussing the car’s fate among friends, a fellow Mustang enthusiast jumped at the opportunity to continue the legacy.  A deal was struck and our S197 Mustang went off to a new home in November.

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What is the next racecar? We would be silly to say we won’t race again. Our daily driver BMW e46 Wagon has been given the go-ahead on becoming the new race vehicle for SkunkRennWerks, and the moniker #racewagon has been adopted. Look for a future post on the history of our little wagon that could.

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In addition to the #racewagon, we’ve replaced the Bomber with something a lot more practical. Something that can go off-pavement and haul a lot of stuff. Something from across the Pacific.

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Yep, we just went full wagon. We picked up this 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium 6MT with a little under 50k miles in late November. Packaged in a pretty Azurite Blue Pearl, along with an Ivory interior, this wagon is our go-anywhere do-anything solution. In typical SkunkRennWerks fashion, we wasted no time in heading off the beaten path with it, venturing up Nate Harrison Grade to Palomar Mountain Observatory for Black Friday.

4/24/16 CSCC SCCA CAM-C Writeup

This weekend we ran with the California Sports Car Club region at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, CA. This was another new venue for us, and we enjoyed it nearly as much as El Toro last month. This venue is similar in distance as San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, but is east instead of south. Setup inside one of the many lots in the shadow of the Autoclub Speedway NASCAR oval, this venue has slight elevation changes and a relatively smooth asphalt surface. It’s no El Toro, but it is worlds better than the SDR lot. We ran third and worked fourth. With this event being the same weekend as the Crow’s Landing Champ Tour, the turnout was small and only four run groups were scheduled, with a record five runs per group – perfect! The weather was a windy and slightly overcast 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with just a very light sprinkling of rain right as we were packing up to head home.

The course was long, technical, and a blast to drive. We DNF’d the first run, then cleaned it up for our second and fastest run with a 68.120. Our only improvement in the next three runs came on our final run with a 66.734, but a pair of cone strikes knocked that time out of contention. Brett Madsen of BTM AutoSport piloted the famous Modzilla, along with a 2013 Camaro SS, rounding up our only competition. Madsen ran away with the lead with a blinding 63.503 (4th in PAX!), while the Camaro could only try to keep up with our galloping ponies with a 72.105 (we apologize for the pun).

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After discussion with Madsen and review of our video footage, we could see that we were merely maintaining speed for most of the course, not gaining speed. We had the complete GT500 brake setup after our recent rear brake update, but weren’t putting them to their full use by adding more speed. We also left too much distance from the cones, not taking advantage of the entire course. Our fastest run in video format below:

NC Mustang Parts GT500 Rear Brake Adapter Install and Review

With the Steath Bomber’s GT500 front 4-piston Brembo calipers on 14″ rotors, we love the performance and the look. However, our stock 11.8″ rear rotors left us wanting more. Having read about the inter-changeability of the GT500 rear 13.8″ rotor, we researched and found the easiest method to be the NC Mustang Parts adapter brackets. The other popular method is to use the factory GT500 brackets, which requires removing the axles, which then leads into a rear differential fluid change. That seemed a waste, seeing as we had changed our rear differential fluid just a few months ago. The great thing about this swap, regardless of method, is that the GT and GT500 rear calipers are basically the same. The only difference is that certain GT’s have a bit of interference between the caliper bracket and the GT500 rotor. With years of grinding under our belt, we weren’t afraid to make sparks fly to fit this kit.

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We ordered the brackets from NC Mustang Part’s eBay store. They arrived quick and packaged well, and included all new hardware. We also ordered a pair of StopTech slotted rear rotors. We then gathered the required tools:

  • 1/2″ Electric Impact
  • 1/2″ Breaker Bar
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 3/8″ to 1/2″ Adapter
  • 18mm Socket
  • 15mm Socket
  • 13mm Socket
  • 3/4″ Socket (for lug nuts)
  • Brake Cleaner
  • Matador Surface
  • Brake Caliper Compressor
  • Permatex Medium Strength Blue Thread Locker
  • Bungee Cord (to support the brake caliper)
  • 2x Jack Stands
  • Jack
  • 2x Wheel Chocks

We began by chocking the front wheels, then jacking up the rear of the car by the axle pumpkin. Placing our jack stands under the axle tubes, we lowered the car onto the stands. Using our torque wrench, we removed the rear lug nuts and the rear wheels. Side note, this is a great time to inspect your wheels for cracks front and back, as well as clean them!

Using our 13mm socket, we loosened the two caliper slide bolts, then hung the caliper from a convenient hole in the inner fender with a bungee cord. We removed the brake pads, then used our 15mm socket to remove the two bolts holding the caliper bracket to the axle bracket. The rotor was then able to be removed. We then used our caliper compressor kit to push the brake piston back into the caliper to make the coming installation easier. Laying the stock rotor on top of the new GT500 rotor, the size difference between them was obvious!

We dry-fit the adapter bracket (which installed with 18mm bolts), then the new GT500 rotor (noting proper orientation of the slots, and using a pair of lug nuts to hold the rotor to the axle flange), then the caliper bracket, and then the caliper. During each step we judiciously checked for proper clearance. Overall, at least 2mm of clearance was present at all points, and the rotor spun free. We then disassembled everything and reinstalled the adapter bracket and caliper bracket using a dab of Loctite blue on the adapter bolts, and proper torque on the caliper slide bolts.

We reinstalled the wheel, then repeated the entire performance on the opposite side. After both sides were completely installed, we removed the jack stands, lowered the car to the ground, and took a test drive to ensure everything was operating correctly. No noises were detected and the brakes worked perfectly. We torture tested the brakes a few days later at the CSCC Fontana Autocross, where they performed great and allowed the car to stay flatter and brake later when entering corners. We highly recommend this upgrade, along with the front GT500 brakes, for any S197 Mustang.

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3/20/16 CSCC SCCA CAM-C Writeup

This weekend we ran with the California Sports Car Club region at El Toro MCAS in Irvine, CA. This was a new venue for us and we loved it. Located a mere 25 minutes from SRW Headquarters, the commute was easy, the weather was great, and the course was awesome! Getting to the track was a little confusing, but luckily we followed in a few other competitors. We worked in the first group and worked third, allowing for a much shorter day than our previous SDR adventures.

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The course itself is run on the retired airfield, with grid and paddock being setup on the adjoining runways. CSCC has large banners and abundant signage; making registration, tech, and getting into grid a clear and simple process. We pre-registered online, which gave us a look at the entry list beforehand. 9 cars were on the list, with one more being added day-of. The final entry list, not counting the Stealth Bomber, was as follows:

  • 1999 Roush Mustang
  • 2010 Camaro
  • 2006 Mustang GT
  • 2008 Mustang Bullitt
  • 1990 Mustang
  • 2015 Camaro
  • 2001 Roush Mustang
  • 2003 Mustang GT
  • 2012 Mustang GT

The most exciting entrant was the 1999 Roush Mustang, BTM-Autosport‘s Modzilla. Fresh out of the garage in CAM-C configuration, this beast came ready to fight with super-wide Jongbloed Racing wheels and fresh BFGoodrich g-Force Rival-S tires.

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The field was large and competition was hot. The course was Nationals-level good, with a fantastic choose-your-line corner and a lot of learning experiences. An exciting moment occurred when a C6 Corvette went off-course and performed some involuntary body work via wooden directional marker. In CAM-C, Modzilla stole first with a blazing 66.876, the 2010 Camaro grabbed second with a 68.902, and the Stealth Bomber rounded out the podium with a 69.941. The rest of the field couldn’t manage to break into the 60’s with times ranging between 71.403 and 82.408. The entire results list can be found here. Did we mention CSCC features live scoring? The tech used by this region was a great benefit, something sorely lacking at SDR.

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We used this event to dial-in our tire pressure game and test some experimental aero work. Results were great and taught us a lot about car setup. Overall the experience was great and we can’t wait to return to El Toro with CSCC.

S197 Mustang Bumper Removal

We’ve seen a video or two on the S197 bumper removal process, but after tackling the job ourselves, we found a written step-by-step was needed to cover everything. Lets gather the tools.

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  • Medium Flathead Screwdriver
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 3/8″ Long Extension, Wobble
  • 3/8″ 10mm Socket
  • 1/4″ Driver
  • 1/4″ 7/32″ Socket (optional)
  • 5/16″ Hex Driver (optional)
  • Short Phillips Screwdriver (We use the thumb drive in our Chapman 5503 Screwdriver Kit)
  • Matador Surface

We started by opening the hood, then popping out the six pop rivets on the upper radiator cover with our flathead screwdriver, then removing the cover.

Next, we unbolted the two 10mm bolts holding the upper bumper cover on, then lifted each corner over the retention tabs.

Then we moved to the wheel wells. The exact same process works for both driver and passenger sides. We removed the three Phillips screws and the pop clip, which required a half-turn to disengage. It can then be removed by hand. Then the lower portion of the fender liner can be pulled over the lip of the bumper. The liner hides two 10mm bolts holding the bumper to the fender, which are best removed with the 3/8″ wobble extension and ratchet. Note that the liner has a cutout to allow for just the lower portion to pivot away from the fender.

We then went under the front bumper, where in our case five 7/32″ screws and two Phillips screws held the lower splash shield to the bumper and the radiator cross member. We suspect the 7/32″ screws were added by the previous owner, as they did not appear OEM. We also loosened the hose clamps around our brake duct hoses with the 5/16″ driver, sliding the hoses off our fiberglass brake ducts.

At this point the bumper was ready to remove. We pulled down on the corners of the bumper, clearing the two studs by each of the wheels, then pulled the bumper upwards and out, from the center, and set it aside.

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Installation is – wait for it – reverse of removal! We performed this work to facilitate painting the AC condenser flat black and touching up our front tow hook, which you can find in our February 2016 Bomber update. We also performed some top secret aero work, which we cannot reveal until testing is complete, so stay tuned!

I Wanna See It Painted, Painted Black

We clearly appreciate the color black (or shade, if that’s your opinion on colors, but that’s a whole other post), and there are many types of ways to turn an item black. After getting asked by a fellow racer about the types of black paint we use on the Stealth Bomber, we decided an in-depth post was needed.

In the SkunkRennWerks garage, we have five basic categories of black paint. From left to right; Plasti-Dip, Rustoleum Textured Satin Black, Rustoleum Trim & Bumper Black, Rustoleum Flat Black Engine Enamel, and Krylon Smooth Finish Flat Black. All are spray cans for convenience. Now these aren’t the only blacks we use, but they are in the rotation the most.

The first, and our personal favorite, is the love-it-or-hate-it Plasti-Dip. Originally developed as a tool handle coating to increase grip, Plasti-Dip’s spray can formula allows the wielder to create a tough, rubbery coating on nearly any surface. This product produces more of a satin than a flat black, with an appearance similar to OEM trim. We like Plasti-Dip’s ease of application, with minimal prep work required and rather lax masking needs. It can even be re-coated over and over with no need to remove existing dip. Plasti-Dip can be peeled off, assuming sufficiently thick coats are used. The downside of Plasti-Dip is that it loves to stick to itself, so as mentioned it peels (occasionally when you don’t want it to), adding difficulty in areas where you need a harsh line. It also does not wear well, resulting in tears in the dip itself, so is not suitable for high-traffic areas. Painting with Plasti-Dip is also an art form. Unlike traditional spray paint, thick coats are a way of life. Typical application steps for us are one light mist coat, then 3-4 thick, wet-paint coats applied 15 minutes apart. Our preferred use for Plasti-Dip are grills, three dimensional badges, and trim that doesn’t get touched often. We would never use Plasti-Dip on an area that sees high heat. Plasti-Dip’s makeup means cleanup is a snap, with Goo-Gone reverting the dip to a liquid state, and overspray wiping away with detailing spray and minimal elbow grease. The Stealth Bomber has Plasti-Dipped GT badges, gauge and vent trim rings, and strut tower brace.

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Next up is the Rustoleum Textured Satin Black. This is a standard spray paint, but with just a hint of texture. This texture happens to match most OEM’s black plastic. Our preferred usage for Rustoleum Textured Satin Black is for interior trim, radio bezels, and items that get touched often. Like Plasti-Dip, we wouldn’t use this on areas that see high heat. The Stealth Bomber has Textured Satin Black on the 3-gauge panel, shift light surround, pedals, and cup holder trim.

Third in line is Rustoleum Trim and Bumper Paint. This paint is great for exactly what it says, trim and bumpers! We use this in place of Plasti-Dip where we have harsh lines and transitions that don’t bode well for the dip. Produces a satin black similar to Plasti-Dip. This paint also has a bit of flex additive in it. Currently, the Stealth Bomber has nothing painted with this paint. Works great for Fox Mustang bumper trim.

Fourth is Rustoleum Engine Enamel. The can we grabbed happened to be the 500° version, but we also use the 2000° version regularly. This paint is very flat, and best for temperature-intense areas. Note that it will produce some vapors/smoke as it fully cures after the first heat cycle. The Stealth Bomber has it’s AC Condenser and exhaust tips painted with this paint.

Finally we close with Krylon Interior-Exterior Ultra Flat. This paint seems to stick to anything, dries dead flat, and has incredible coverage. However it is not for high-temp usage, or nice enough to use in the interior. The Stealth Bomber has the tow hooks and some miscellaneous underhood items painted with this paint.

Besides the five main black paints, we also have a few little cans in our blackout bag of tricks. Among those are gloss black caliper paint, obviously only for brake calipers and recently used for touch-up on our Brembo calipers, and Testors Flat Black Enamel Model paint which was recently put into action with the rivets holding down our GT500 hood vent.

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In general, we paint in what we call a four-angle paint job. Large items are painted from four sides to ensure even application, then flipped over and repeated for complete 360° coverage. Small items are rotated by hand through each of the four sides, with the hand holding the part sheathed in a latex glove for easy cleanup.

In the words of Mick Jagger, “No colors any more, I want them to turn black