Monday, September 04, 2006

Small Changes

One of life’s conundrums is that when you are at your peak earning power, and have disposable income, you don’t have time to spend. The corollary is also true. After you retire you have the time to spare, but funds must be carefully marshaled. It then becomes a matter of using imagination, ingenuity and labor, rather than cubic dollars, to achieve a goal.

We were trying to get to Formula First. On the other hand we, as a group, still had a learning curve to go through. Vee’s are simple, but not easy.

After discussion, we, Hugh, Mike and I, decided that we could take it in steps rather than blowing a lot of bucks in one big swoop to make the transition. We knew what the overall rules were but that did not mean we had to make the transition all in one step.

Our goal was not balls out racing toward a national championship but to have a little fun competition amongst our selves and any one else who cared to join us. Sure, eventually the rules would be needed as a restraint, but not this season or probably the even the next.

What we were doing was finding older cars, generally in the less than five thousand-dollar range, and beginning an education in open wheel racing. To keep it simple we were buying formula Vees or maybe a former vee that had been converted for Autocross or Solo F modified competition.

We could use wider tires, either engine size and begin to learn how to race. The rules specified the maximum but we didn’t have to be there tomorrow.

We knew that disc brakes were allowed but on this course the brakes were used in only three spots and even then not hard. Converting to disc meant changes in both the front and rear wheel assemblies from spindles out. It was expensive and maybe not required. We could save dollars by not making the jump from drums to disc immediately. Especially if we were still running 1200 cc engines. The car and driver weight was around a thousand pounds. The drum brakes were designed to stop cars twice that weight.

With racing cars, brakes are used more to slow down than to stop, and drum brakes work as well as disc provided that you are not using them to the point of over heating or running in the rain. Since after market wheels were allowed we could go to wider tires (within the set limits) that would fit the existing brake drums. There are many dune buggy and Bug kits available to accomplish that.

This still left us open to convert to disc later, if we wished, and could convert to the Formula first specified wheel and tire then. For now we would use our own rules.
So where would I go with my car?

For the rest of this season, I planned to run it just like it was with one a couple of minor exceptions. The steering box was shot and the steering box mounting braces were a problem to my fitting the car. I would switch to rack and pinion steering which would allow me to get rid of the braces without interfering with foot room. This would make it a much more comfortable car for me to drive. It would also mean changing out the inventive system the Dassinger's had devised.

I would switch to wider tires. That just required a little research into wheel rims and tires. No big deal there, the Internet would be a big help.

What other changes? For now, none. I wanted to switch to a zero roll rear suspension but there was a time constraint. The car needed to be taken back down to a bare frame and brought back. I wanted to do that, but for now I needed to get the car running and safe to drive. There were only a couple of outings left in the season. Over the winter I would do the frame up rebuild. That would also be the time to make the rear suspension modifications.

In the mean time I would get to find out what it was like to be the Grinch.


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