So, Don and Dave decide to build a D Prepared class car: 13x8" wheels allowed, and 1750 lbs. We can do that! This was November, 2002 that we started. For 2003, the SCCA, in their "Almighty Wisdom," decided that 8" wide was too much wheel width for the Miata, and that the weight was too little. They decided, for the MIATA ONLY, that 13x7" rims would be the Max. Width Allowed, AND Miatas had to weigh 2250 lbs. (You see, some guy in an MG Midget, a perennial winner, got beat by this relatively new guy in a Miata. So, he evidently pulls some strings at the SCCA Corporate level, and gets these Rules changes put in, while HIS car is not affected at all. Typical of some of the things that happen with SCCA, but them's the Rules, and we all have to live (or die?) by them. But I digress, ...)
So there we are with an 1800 lb. car, suddenly "underweight" and with a brand new set of "illegal wheels." (GRRRRRR !) We had just bought tires for those rims, but I ordered some 7" wide anyway, just to try and be legal. Then, we decided to Hell with the Rules ! We have a light car, with working wheels and tires, and we can loose MORE weight, and run in the Modified Class! That was about when the Windshield got ... [Ahem!] ... AXED !!! ;-]
Oh yes, and don't forget the good ole sledgehammer!
Okay, so we take out even more weight, then decide to get a Legal rollbar. We paid a guy $500 to build us a legal bar, height WAY over legal, and designed for some extra chassis stiffness. That put more weight ON the car. Yikes ! So, out came the wiring, and any and all panels or plastic bits we could find. Eventually, we pop-riveted the front end together, and made it a one-piece removable hood, fenders and snout section. Nice for working on the front end!
We ran it for a while with the smaller tires, then needed to get more to the ground, so went to 13x10" rims. Hoosier slick tires, we had pretty much determined, were the hot setup. We tried Goodyears (lose air overnight and burn up quick!) and Yokohamas (too thin, and also wore out fast), but the Hoosiers were nicest of the bunch!
At first, we bought 22x9x13", and two compounds, one soft for "winter" in AZ, and one harder, for the summertime. These were pretty good, but we soon discovered that the car wouldn't TURN ! We found out later that what we were using was built for the back end of a Formula Continental open wheel car (thanks, Hoosier, you morons, you told us to use that tire?). I can still hear Don saying, "No WONDER it won't turn!!! Then we went to a 20x9x13. This was for the front end on a Sports Racer, and Suddenly, the car Turned, like a darting cat ! REALLY made it come ALIVE !!!
~~~ Story Time ~~~
This is Don hitting the finish line at the Phoenix National Tour. We had a Jackson Racing Supercharger kit on the car, running in E Modified. Funny thing is, the belt came off the supercharger in the FIRST TURN of Don's FIRST RUN on Saturday. We ran that round without BOOST !!! But we still did fairly well, two runs at the course that day, and the blower belt back ON for the second session!
Don pretty much had it sewn up by the end of Saturday, but dared not slack off, or Greg Duncan in his Fiero, or maybe even his co-driver (ME!), could catch him. That's the way it was at the end of the day; Don 1st, Greg 2nd, me 3rd.
So, there I was on the line on Sunday, Firebird Sports Park, Skidpad 4, and with ONLY one more run to go !!!
AND. i was still in Third ? Yikes !!!
It had rained both mornings, and the first few Groups of cars had run in either SERIOUS Rain and puddles, or wet, but drying conditions. We were in Run Group 4 of 6, so it had stopped raining by then both days, and though there were a few puddles, and some dampness, we had a mostly dry track. Well, except for the Finish, where you can see the standing water! In fact, a few runs, we were BLASTING through puddles at the end. Pretty wild stuff! I lost it one time, just after the line. Complete 180, and wacked a cone. DARN !!!
But back to that last run...
This amazing sense of Calm, but yet Focused feeling came over me at the line. I somehow knew I could do this; just had to concentrate, drive the available dry line, and DON'T SCREW UP !!! Okay, so off I go, going pretty well, but hit one little puddle that sort of kicked the car offline a bit. TOO CLOSE TO THAT CONE !!! Gathered up again, and concentrating, I finished out the course fairly well, I thought. I remember crossing the line thinking it was pretty good, but I had no idea if it was enough to pass Greg, or maybe even to WIN ?
Well, I ended up with the Fastest Time in the bunch that day, but fell just short of Don's 2-Day combined time, but we came in 1-2 at that event. You may notice that this was on the aforementioned "Too Big" or "wrong" tires? but not bad! Greg was a CLOSE 3rd that day. Whew !!!
At the San Diego Tour Event (where I grew up, by the way), I outdrove Don on Saturday, had a comfortable lead, with a Ferrari Challenge 360 Modena in third, the only other car in our class that weekend. On Sunday, well, it was one of those days... We had this rubber and trash buildup on the tires (too soft!), and with the "wrong" sized tires on, the car was doing some wierd stuff! Not to mention that the Stadium parking lot, West side, is on a slant, so turn one way, you have grip; turn the other, you may not! Or at least you have less.
On Sunday, on the side hill, there was a spot where we could have been upshifting to 3rd gear. Both Don and I went to FIRST gear instead, by accident, but just for a split second. We later figured out what it was, and it was eventually corrected, but that first time was QUITE a suprise! We found out that the worn out motor mounts were allowing the drivetrain to actually TWIST when turning hard, particularly on that sidehill !!! The engine and trans leaned over to the right, and where 3rd gear used to be, suddenly it was 1st ??? Anyway, this REALLY spooked us !!!
Don outdrove me on that day (his Birthday!), and I ended up 2nd again. I had my one last run chance again, but wacked a really stupid cone at the beginning of the course, so it was all over early. Thank goodness his cousin showed up with some "Adult Beverages" because I was NOT a happy camper that day. Then again, give a guy a birthday present? I may be a nice guy, but even I have my limits! That was NOT the plan. Not for me anyway...
Next, we tried the Hoosier Autocrosser tires, the A3S04s, as Don thought that those will heat cycle better. You see, the slicks were kinda tough for autocrossing. They took a little while to heat up, so our first couple of runs, co-driving, would be pretty squirrely! Then, we would get a couple good ones, and often on the last run, the tires would be too hot, and get slippery. We ended up on the Hoosier Autocrossers, which were used by Lotus Elan drivers, and they were great! The Autocrossers, which were designed specifically for this application, would heat up quicker, cool down quicker, and give us good tires for EVERY run. Those tires worked well, but Hoosier, in their infinite wisdom(?) decided to discontinue them, so we are now on Kumho 710s. and they are NICE!