The Cart Before the Horse: Spec 3 Build
Single mass flywheel conversion finished, cool suit installed, new transponder wired up, cleaned car and redid my sticker/vinyl placement, also I was gifted the Spec3 test wheels so I'm now rocking some 17x8 Konig Hypergrams. Drove to Raleigh on Thursday to pick up my new enclosed trailer (financed, zero down, yolo) and then drove essentially straight to PittRace with a stop along the way to load the car.

The weekend went well. I had not been to PittRace since 2019 and I've never raced there (was in HPDE2 in 2019). The first day was really just to get my feet wet and get comfortable going door to door with folks on a foreign track. The trailer was an absolute blessing and gave me a place to sleep, relax, change, and store my stuff out of the rain. My goal for the weekend was to improve my times to a 2:08, which I smashed in the first warm up session sunday, running consistent 2:07s. The car developed a severe clunk, however, and I had to figure out what that was. It turns out my diff bolt and subframe bolts had started to back out a little bit. They were "tight" but not tight enough. I snugged all of those down and was good to go.

Qualified 6th on Sunday and finished 5th.

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Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
Before this last event here at VIR, I didn't manage to do much work except install a radiator duct and do a nut and bolt check on the car. The car seemed to be in good enough shape anyway.

Saturday went well, picked up about a second every session I went out. In the race on Saturday, some wires under the dash melted and forced me to retire early. It took a lot of time digging around to find what all had melted, and eventually it became clear that it was nothing I could fix at the track. I'm going to need to pull the whole harness out and get it thinned out properly.

The fix for the time being was to run without a gauge cluster so that the worst wire that was completely melted was not powered. The qualifying session went pretty well and I started the race in 6th of out 9 racers. Driving without any gauges is harder than I thought and I missed quite a few shifts. I went off in T1 after starting to pull away from the folks at the back and dropped to last, but this was a blessing. The rest of the race was a lot of fun trying to get past the guys that got around me, but it was extremely clear to me that my car was down on power by a lot compared to the other folks, which was frustrating.

Near the end of the race, the engine became more and more sickly and eventually started misfiring bad enough for me to pull back into the paddock. I had no gauges at all, so I had no idea if it was running hot, but it has since become clear that the head gasket failed around cylinder 5 and that cylinder 2 has/had bad rings (which explains why I haven't had any power). I cancelled my registration for nationals and will be sourcing a new engine, and thinning my harness properly. I hope to be ready for Hyperfest in October.

New PB of 2:17 @ VIR

Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
congrats on the new PB! it sucks to read of all the issues... but it happens
#99 - 2000 Civic Si (Future H2 Car, Former H1 car)
IPGparts.com, AutoFair Honda, Amsoil, QuikLatch Fasteners
NASA-MA Tech Inspector (Retired)
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Picked up another engine from a guy in DC. Decided I would NOT open it up unless it seemed completely needed since I was clearly messing up something along the way with the last engine. Pulled the current engine and found that the head gasket failed on the driver side of cylinder #5 for no apparent reason and that Cylinder #2 was low on compression as well from the bottom end. The radiator seemingly took a big lick when something flew off another car and broke out my grill going into Oak Tree, but I'm not sure that really affected cooling capacity. 

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 Installed my baffled oil pan, safety wired oil pump nut, new gasket, new o ring for the dip stick, valve cover gasket, rear main, and some other seals on the "new" engine and also found that my oil filter housing had a huge piece of plastic jamming the drain back valve open which answers my question about why the engine took so long to build oil pressure on startup. I also bought all new equipment for the cooling system (new CSF radiator, aluminum expansion tank, stewart water pump, hoses, thermostat, etc), Installed the engine and got everything bolted back up and started going through my wire harness to fix whatever caused the small fire I had. It seems one wire I cut actually had THREE ends, and thus was still connected even though I cut one end. It was the 12v charge signal from the alternator to the gauge cluster that controls the alternator light and also excited the alternator itself. I ran a new wire for that and double checked everything else. I think I should be fine to run one more race before I send my harness off to a pro to get thinned.

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Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
Well... it happened AGAIN.

Junk yard motor was amazing until it wasn't. Battled some issues with the cooling system to start the day, but got it sorted and ran a new Personal Best by 2 full seconds (consistently) and qualified 5th out of 15 drivers for the Friday race. My mirror fell off during the race, but I ended up in 4th place with the 3rd place guy in my sights and running similar times, then with 2 or 3 laps left... I dropped a valve.

Lesson learned? Replace valve retainers on these cars before anything else. I've got some horrible luck (no one else has seen a failure rate like I have), but also that's on me for slapping a junkyard motor in all willy-nilly like that.

I picked up a built head from a fellow racer, but the head is undocumented, meaning I don't know for sure what was done except valve seals, and 14 new valves. I'm 80% certain the valve retainers were replaced, but I'm not sure I want to chance it. Depending on when parts get here, I may try to have everything back together for an even I'm instructing at next Thursday. Fingers crossed.
Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
Long time update coming. I managed to order the last valve spring retainers from Bimmerworld and got them to the machine shop to install on the head I bought. I pulled some long hours in the garage and got the new head on the engine days before the November Summit event. When replacing the head I found that the junkyard block was not in great shape. Heavy pitting on the deck surface and a chip was knocked out of the cylinder edge from the valve hitting the piston and knocking the cylinder wall. I knew the block would need to be reworked or replaced, but I needed to get it back out there and there was no time for anything else.

Summit went well and the car felt decent, but a bit down on power. I asked a fellow Spec3 racer to take my car out himself to see how it felt because I was concerned how I wasn't able to even get close to 5th gear on the front straight. He said it felt fine (but this may have been a red herring seeing as he ended up finding his motor was bad too). I keep pushing, thinking I was just not driving well or something. I was also struggling MAJORLY with oil leaks. Crazy valve cover oil leaks that I could not get to stop. I think that distracted me from the from the real problem soon to rear its head.

I was rounding T10 and lost all power and starting SPEWING oil smoke out the exhaust. I dove in to the paddock at Pit-Out and limped back to my paddock spot. The engine was done. I packed up early and headed home. Thinking this was somehow my fault and that I had failed at the head gasket job, I decided to throw in the towel and have someone else work on my car for once. I contacted one shop and planned to drop my car off in January. This shop also happened to have an M50 they could sell me, so I paid them for that with the plan to swap it in when my car got there. However, this shop ended up having some family medical issues that did not allow them to work on my car so I ended up taking my car to GTPeace well behind schedule if I wanted to make March VIR.

I dropped the car and new engine off at GTPeace with a huge box of parts from FCP Euro and waited. It wasn't long before I got a call to explain that one of my pistons had melted. Yes, piston #1 melted. Seemingly from an injector failure or something else. This caused major blow by, which caused the pressurized crank case and crazy leaks from the valve cover. So I expected the block to be toast, so no worries there, but then comes the concern of the built head I had just purchased and installed.

Well, the bad news is that head is cracked. So there's no way I'm making March VIR and the machine shop will be swapping everything from the built head over to the other head from the new engine I bought, and hopefully I'll be ready for April at Summit Point.

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Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
Finally a good update!

I got the car back just in time for my move to Pittsburgh. I barely touched the car until a few days before the April Summit event, but I did get a chance to install new calipers, guides, rotors, pads, and also some bimmerworld strut spacers to give me some much needed camber to the front wheels. I also installed a fire system and a center net so I can run with BMW CCA if I want.

My focus on the first day was just finishing a race, so I didn't really push hard. Still managed a 4th place finish though. The car was much more planted and had much better turn in with the added camber. The engine felt great and it's really nice having an engine that actually works for once. This may be the first time I haven't been down on power. The bad news is, the car is 100lbs over the minimum weight with not much left to remove from the car. So it's time for me to lose some weight and to also finally do a real wire harness thinning. I ordered a lightweight battery to shave 20lbs off before the next event.

For the sunday race, I'll just share the race recap from NASA SpeedNews.

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Summit Point Motorsports Park - Summit Point, West Virginia. A scenic facility an hour outside Washington, D.C. and the location of the second event of the NASA Mid Atlantic race season. An Easter Weekend event meant racing was on Friday and Saturday and a much less crowded Paddock than the region is used to seeing. Even with those circumstances, NASA Spec3 fielded one of the larger classes and even had their second rookie of the 2022 season complete their competition evaluation and join their ranks.

Friday

Friday saw Sean O’Hara take pole with a blistering 1:24.838 lap time, followed by Jon McAvoy, Joey Thomas, Taylor Johnson, and Edward Higginbothom. Edward being one of the latest racers to join the class in 2022. The race that evening started with a typical standing start with McAvoy and O’Hara battling for 1st going into turn 1 and Thomas and Johnson battling for third. Over the next 30 minutes these two games of cat and mouse played out as expected until a new variable was thrown into the mix. A Spec Miata dropped oil in the famous “carousel” portion of the track which consists of a high speed drop during a right hander dubbed “the chute” followed by a hairpin left and a long sweeping right. This tricky part of the track requires careful throttle modulation, left foot braking, and a lot of nerve.

The oil caused the race pace to change considerably and the Spec3 leader became its first victim. As the remaining laps counted down, O’Hara maintained his lead but had significant pressure in his rear view, and a loss of traction in turn 5 due to the oil slick caused enough understeer to send him through the grass. McAvoy took advantage and claimed the lead position but his success was short lived as the rear of his car stepped out aggressively in turn 7 near where the Spec Miata had pulled off track after their spill and the Spec3 national series leader spun off track toward the tire wall. Luckily, speeds at this part of the track are at their lowest and McAvoy was able to slow to a stop and rejoin the race, now a distant second place again.

Meanwhile, the battle for third had been won by Joey Thomas, who enjoyed a lead of over a second on the fourth place Taylor Johnson. Now, however, Thomas was within striking distance of McAvoy for second place after his spin. The two spent the remaining laps jostling for silver position while Johnson used the battle to his advantage to gain ground. Ultimately, the remaining laps dwindled to 0 and the finishing order was O’Hara, McAvoy, Thomas, Johnson, Higginbothom.


Saturday

Saturday Morning saw the qualifying race, the “Beast of the East” which allotted extra season points for the winners of classes within the field grouped by their best time from the race the previous day. Group #1 saw the 5 fastest of the lightning racers, McAvoy, O’Hara, and the front runners of the Honda Challenge class. Group #2 saw the next 5 fastest and this included Thomas, Johnson, and the lightning fast Jason Crisgavage in his Spec E30. 3 more groups of racers followed behind as well.

The qualifying race churned on with not much out of the ordinary until the racers encountered a red flag as the result of the newest Spec3 racer in the field going off in T1 and rolling the car onto its side. The driver, Edward HigginBothom was unscathed, however, during the incident, the windshield was damaged and an engine mount was broken. This marked the end of the qualifying race with Jon McAvoy taking the overall winner position as well as winning his group.

Saturday Race:

The race grid for the Saturday Lightning race saw Sean O’Hara once again on pole, followed by McAvoy, Thomas, Johnson, Thomas Norton (who had just completed their competition evaluation the day before), and Edward Higginbothom, who was racing with no windshield and only one mirror after kicking the windshield out and replacing a broken motor mount to get his car back on track after his rollover.

The battles for 1st and 3rd that took place Friday were back, and back with a vengeance. McAvoy and O’Hara spent the first several laps basically door to door while Johnson and Thomas traded third place back and forth. Each lap, Johnson orchestrated a run through the final turn that allowed for a pass crossing the start/finish line heading into turn 1, where time after time, Thomas would out-maneuver Johnson and the two would head into the high speed, blind, off camber turn 3 side by side. Down into the chute, Johnson was able to out brake Thomas and make up lost ground to follow nose to tail through the carousel and the whole dance would play out again, lap after lap. Johnson attempted turn 1 on the inside and outside of Thomas and could not make the pass stick either way.

This battle raged on until the closing laps where Johnson plotted to set up a pass to steal the final podium position. McAvoy had already managed to snatch first place from O’Hara with a pass between turns 1 and 3 laps prior. The racers received the white flag signifying the final lap and the Spec3 racers knew the time was now to execute their plans. However, Johnson’s fuel gauge had long since bottomed out on “E” and his fuel level was dangerously low. As the third and fourth place racers rounded the final turns of the track, Johnson’s car began to sputter as the fuel pumps struggled to find what remaining fuel there was. Johnson could finish the race, but there was no way a pass could be made unless something dramatic happened.

Then something dramatic happened. The front running Spec Miatas had collected each other right before the checkered flag and this caused a waving yellow in the final turn of the race. No passing allowed and the racers were forced to slow as they crossed the line. All of the racers escaped without injury and the Spec3 results showed McAvoy, O’Hara, Thomas, Johnson, Norton, Higginbothom.



Spec3 Forum: https://community.drivenasa.com/topic/58...ors-guide/
Official Website: https://drivenasa.com/road-racing/spec3/
Facebook Media Page: https://www.facebook.com/NASASpec3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nasaspec3/
Facebook Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spec3
Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply
Good update followed by not so good!


We had a few Spec3 racers head up to Watkins Glen to run NASA Northeast so I checked that track off the bucket list. I signed up for three days because all the sim time in the world can't prepare you for a track you've never been to! Friday went well for the first hour and a half of track time and I got down to a 1:28 or so which was faster than any Spec E30s, and that's always my minimum goal. In the 4th session I lost coolant and the car "overheated" (read, temp gauge went up) . Long story short, I chased that issue non stop for the next two days and never got it resolved. 10-15 minutes on track with perfect temps, then when it'd get near 180F, it'd pop the expansion tank and I'd lose coolant and have to get towed in.


The good news is that the Spec3 track record at WGI is now a 2.13 which was the fastest of anyone in the lightning class!


You may remember that I stated previously that I finally caved and took the car to a shop to have the last head/engine swap done, so the car went right back to that shop and they tore into it to find the head gasket blew out between cylinder 6 and the big water passage back there. This is the thinnest part of the headgasket. Why this happened, none of us have a clue. The simple answer is "an air bubble" but the car was perfectly fine for an entire weekend before on the fresh head gasket job. Perhaps the engine never got hot enough to surface the issue at Summit Point. I'm not sure.


The car should hopefully be ready for Hyperfest and this will be my second time ever having sticker tires, so I'm really pumped for that. We should have a good Spec3 field ready for our Spec E30 vs Spec3 vs Spec E46 battle royale sponsored by Bimmerworld and then hopefully I'm off to Road Atlanta with some others to welcome our FIRST NASA SOUTHEAST SPEC3 RACERS!!!!!!


Spec3 continues to grow! If you know anyone interested in joining the series as a racer/sponsor/partner, please reach out!






[Image: p2QINJX.jpg]
Current:
2011 F150 Platinum | 1995 BMW 325i 1983 BMW 320i  The MMoped | 2008 BMW 128i
Past:
1996 Toyota Tacoma: | 1992 Mazda Miata | 2002 BMW 325i |
2003 Toyota Tacoma | 1995 Miata M Edition | 1997 Subaru Outback |
1992 Mazda Miata | 1990 BMW 325i  | 2007 Toyota 4Runner | 
1995 Ford Windstar 1987 BMW 325i | 1987 BMW 325 | 1990 BMW 325i Vert |
2018 VW GTI | 1990 Mazda Miata | 
1989 BMW 325i Vert 2015 Fiesta ST | 1983 BMW 320i parts car
  Reply


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