4 Apr 2013

Ah yes, there’s nothing like the odd collection of: high heels, tattoos, short shorts, gray hair, piercings, butt cleavage, push-up bras and mustaches – which can only mean that the Del Mar Goodguy’s Hot rod show has rolled back into town. Oh, and there were a bunch of cars there, too…

Midlana got a lot of attention, more so than Kimini. Part of it is me wising up on how to best present it. On Saturday, the mad rush in the morning put us near the back of the lot which didn’t help. However, I figured that if I parked nose-in and removed the engine cover, that should draw people over, and it worked pretty well, with 2-6 people always checking it out. However, a few were heard to say “that’s a kit”, like it was thus somehow beneath them to give it any further attention – okay. For Sunday a sign was added to point out that it wasn’t a kit, and that a book containing plans is forthcoming. Plus, because Sunday was less crowded in the morning we snagged an end slot near the main drag. That, and the turbocharger were pure magic for drawing attention. Of course, there were a few references to the dreaded “sandrail” and “dune buggy.” I worked long and hard to avoid that, but since they were few I guess I’ll live đŸ™‚

Then there’s the four pictures below of the twin V8, quad supercharged car. The belts running to the superchargers were really skinny, so it’s unclear just how much work they were actually doing. But the comment most frequently heard in the crowd was, “How does he see where he’s going?” Good question.

Also at the car show was an autocross. To be honest I expected it to be a real circus; surely all those pretty 800-hp cars would lose it in the first corner, only that hardly ever happened. Autocross tends to be about 90% driver and 10% car and there were some surprisingly fast cars out there with two things in common. One, they were driven by seasoned autocrossers and two, allot of these “old” cars actually had complete Corvette drivetrains <em>and</em> suspension under them. To me that makes them a lot more like “rebodied Corvettes”, but whatever. (One in particular was virtually a NASCAR “pickup truck.” A side effect of the autocross was me being asked about 137 times why I wasn’t running my car in the event. I explained that  Midlana only had about 70 miles on it and I was still getting used to it, and that I wanted to “break in the car, not break it.”

I’d been hearing what sounded like an exhaust leak from one cylinder and started looking around, and found it near the center of the header exhaust manifold. After removing the heat wrap for a better look, the center bolt on the flange was found loose so it was tightened up, so we’ll see if that fixes it. Since the flange was milled flat it seems odd for it to be leaking… a defective (new) exhaust gasket maybe? The back-pressure caused by the turbo can’t be helping things, but it’s still not acceptable. The header wrap is already a big disappointment for what it cost, already trying to disintegrate, with the aluminum becoming unbonded from the cloth and flaking off, and the cloth itself is getting brittle. I’m considering having the header and turbo down-pipe coated by the same place that did the turbocharger turbine housing, but of course that mean having the car side-lined for several weeks. Plus, once the header is coated it means that if it cracks it can’t be welded without grinding the coating off… Another approach is to fabricate a thin stainless heat shield that surrounds the header tubes – which would be far cheaper, using air as the insulator. We’ll see.

Somewhat related, the brakes were bedded in a couple days ago which involves half a dozen hard stops. The pedal’s a little soft so there may still be some air in the system, but that’s a non-issue. The bothersome thing is that after the sixth hard stop there was smoke coming off the front pads, and that seems like evidence that they’re going to be marginal when run hard. My brother suggested running the first trackday at California Speedway, where they also run NASCAR. For open trackday events, they run part of the main oval, then drop down into the in-field in order to add a bit more “road racing” to balance out the “NASCAR” left-turn-only thing. There, my brother and his then 240-hp managed to blue his brake discs, which are larger than mine, getting up to about 155 mph+. With at least another 100 hp and being the same weight, it seems highly likely that I’m going to cook the stock Miata brakes. I really hate to spend $$$ for the event only to have the pedal go soft… never mind the safety aspect of fast-approaching concrete walls… There are a couple big brake kits for the Miata which will be investigated. I figure that I can sell off my brake system to someone building a less demanding which well help offset the upgrade cost, somewhat…

Regarding the book, it’s a bit of a Catch-22, where if I’m driving the car I’m not working on the book, and vice-versa. I’m pushing to get it up to date so the only thing lacking is results from trackday events. After that it’s on to final review and getting it out!