Targa Miata
November 25, 2008 - New wheels for the Targa car!
The SSR wheels that we used during the race are going to California to be part of an endurance racer. So a set of Team Dynamic Pro 1.2 wheels were ordered to take their place. In white, of course. Rally cars have to run white wheels, it's an unwritten law.
They look the part and are very strong. Unfortunately, they're about 3.5 lbs heavier than the anorexic SSRs, but they're also less than 1/3 the price. And when you're buying your own parts, that's important!
Still waiting for the shocks to come back. Then the car will get back out there to have some fun. I'm expecting to be in both California and Texas with it in the next six months.
entry 643 - tags: wheels
June 13, 2011 - The new wheels are here!
The selection was pretty tough, actually. I'm allowed to use a total of 8 tires during the race, so I need 8 wheels. Given that I'm going to run a 225/45-15 (more on the tire selection later), I wanted something wider than the 15x7 wheels I have now. That's a shame, because I have a full set of 8 of those. Oh well.
So I wanted either a 15x8 or 15x9. At Flyin' Miata, we have a collection of both. I decided to go with the narrower of the two because it'll give me a bit more sidewall flexibility for following the rough surface. That narrowed it down to three basic choices: the TR Motorsport C1, 949Racing 6UL and the new Konig Wideopen. The C1 is the least expensive of the lot, but the heaviest by several pounds. The Konig is a brand new wheel and looks to be a pretty good value, but it's unproven. More importantly, we didn't have any I could borrow so I'd need a full set of 8 of either.
Meanwhile, the 6UL is both the most expensive and the lightest at 12.0 lbs on our scale. It also seems to be pretty strong. But we have a set of 4 of them at FM, so I only needed 4 new ones to get my full complement. That makes them the least expensive option really.
The black is a satin sheen. With polished lips, they'd look pretty killer. Better than other black/polished 6ULs I've seen that had a glossy center. They're not going to stay black, though. The car needs white wheels, and Emilio at 949 says the black is the best base color for paint. I just have to decide if I'm going to use proper car paint or use Duplicolor wheel paint. The advantage of the latter is that it's easy to touch up should the need arise.
I can hear howls of protest now about my painting plans. I'm okay with that.
entry 861 - tags: wheels
June 15, 2011 - Time for some paint on the wheels.
I decided to paint them with rattlecan paint instead of proper car paint - even though I had all my painting gear out for working on another car. The main reason was that it's easy to patch if it gets chipped. I'm using Duplicolor wheel paint, and I've had good luck with it in the past on three other sets of wheels. It's also just plain easier to deal with.
First, I scuffed them up a bit with a Scotchbrite pad, then wiped them down with wax and grease remover. Emilio at 949Racing had told me that they didn't need to be scuffed, but it can't hurt to give the paint a bit more to adhere to.
Unfortunately, the local auto parts store only had one can of white. It would have been more than enough to do just the faces, but when you're trying to paint the barrels of 8" wide wheels that just doesn't quite do it. One can did this - they're covered, but a little patchy. I'm not too worried about that, the inside of the wheel isn't that visible. I shall obtain another can later and do the front faces. Those will be blinding white.
entry 862 - tags: wheels
July 13, 2011 - Check out the race wheels!
It's a pretty cool looking car with the crazy Toyo R1-R tread pattern and the white wheels. The ride height is set fairly tall as well, to give me room to deal with the roads. Right now, it's at 13.5" front and 14" rear. Current spring rates are 550 front and 450 rear. That's a fairly high rear spring rate, but this car has always needed more rear spring than usual for some reason. It could be the way it gets used! Normally, I'd use a 375 or so to match those fronts. There's a V8 customer car at FM with that exact setup and it's a sweetheart.
On the road, the suspension feels pretty good. The car hasn't been aligned since the ride height increase and a changed lower control arm, so I've not gone far. But it does seem to have the right suppleness I need. One thing I've learned about the AFCOs since the 2008 race is that they love stiff springs. It's almost as if they ride better with the heavy springs than they do with the light ones as you move into the higher damping settings. I'm looking forward to running this car at speed.
I've also moved it to my home garage for a while. I find it easier to work on the car at home instead of staying late at work. That's the theory, anyhow. I've got a good list of jobs to do on the car. Little stuff, but it still needs to be done and it all adds up.
Driving the Targa Miata and the LS1-powered MGB back to back also illustrates that I need to spend more time tuning the Miata's engine. It doesn't feel anywhere near as strong as that MG does, despite a similar weight on the two cars.
entry 874 - tags: suspension, wheels, tires
July 29, 2011 - The second set of wheels are here.
This set was powdercoated, compared to the paint I used last time. The wheel in the foreground is one of the painted ones, and after that track day last weekend I could not get the brake dust off. So the paint experiment was a failure then. I've used the same Duplicolor wheel paint with great success in the past, but there were two things different this time. First, I didn't clearcoat it. And second, I've only used black before. The powdercoated wheels look great, so that's what I'll do with the first set when it comes time to change tires.
entry 890 - tags: wheels
August 3, 2011 - There's no real reason for this picture.
The car was out for a photo shoot and it just looks cool.
An update on the white wheels. It turns out that powdercoating a set of alloys like this is a bad idea. The heat of the powdercoating process affects the heat treating of the aluminum, weakening them. There are numerous discussions on various forums, but I confirmed by contacting some wheel engineers at the Tire Rack. 949Racing also warns against it.
If I was just running this car on the street, I'd probably continue to use them. But these wheels will take particular abuse in an event that does not allow for weakness or failure.
Emilio at 949Racing has been really good to deal with. He's treating me better than he has any reason to, and he's ensured that I will have full strength wheels for the race despite my blunder. I've always had a lot of respect for both his level of knowledge and the way he does business, and now I have even more. He may be a competitor of Flyin' Miata, but he's the sort of competitor that we like to have. There's a reason I'm running his parts on an FM car.
You have to admit the wheels look good in white, though. This is the set that was painted with a rattle can. These will be repainted along with the new set in proper automotive paint, the same color used on the body of the car. That should ensure it survives the brake dust while the wheels survive the Newfoundland roads. A learning process for me!
entry 899 - tags: wheels, powdercoat, oops
August 3, 2011 - Nancy in full livery.
Most of the sponsor stickers are on the back half of the car, where we can get more contrast and visibility with the solid black rear instead of trying to fit in the mixed white and purple. We will have to load the car up with an undisclosed number of event stickers as well, so we're leaving room. The one sticker on the front half of the car is the Heifer International logo. They're not a sponsor of the car, but Flyin' Miata is a sponsor of theirs.
Check out the new black C3M wheels wrapped in new Dunlop Star Spec tires in a 245/45-17. Thanks to Tire Rack for donating the wheels and Dunlop for supplying tires. Why a 245 when we've been running a 255 in the past? Because Grassroots Motorsports found that size to be measurably quicker in their testing on a car very much like ours.
Both cars will spend the next two days pounding around the track, showing off their abilities to Flyin' Miata fans. It'll also serve as a good shakedown for them. Neither car is completely in Targa spec yet, but they're close.
entry 900 - tags: Nancy, tires, wheels, sponsors
August 14, 2011 - I have lots of important work to do on the car, but I'm back to painting wheels again.
It would have been a lot easier if I'd just stuck with an off-the-shelf color, but the car looks much better with white. Besides, it's easier to inspect the wheels for damage this way!
So, after trying rattlecan paint from the auto parts store and powdercoating, I'm back to doing things right. That means real automotive paint and clearcoat. First, I had to clean the set of rattlebombed wheels of all the brake dust, rubber and debris from several track days. Simple Green, scotchbrite pads and a session in the bead blaster followed by a wipe-down with wax remover and they're ready to shoot.
I spent 45 minutes building this wheel rack out of a half-dozen 2x4s. It might seem like overkill, but it means I have the wheels at eye level so they'll be much easier to paint. Plus I can do both sides at the same time and, since they're supported by the barrel I don't have to worry about the paint on the rims getting damaged. Well worth the $12 investment in materials. I'll do this set of wheels first, then follow up with the second set later.
Tomorrow I'll be back to work on the car itself!
entry 907 - tags: wheels, paint
August 14, 2011 - Emilio from 949Racing is very concerned about sub-standard wheels getting out.
Because my powdercoated wheels were weakened, he asked me to render them unusable so there's no chance they'd end up on a car. I respect that. He suggested a 1/2" hole drilled in the barrel as well as a nice dent on the rim so nobody would be tempted to put them back in service, along with ensuring they went straight to the metal recycler. I had a different plan.
Just how strong are a set of good wheels? I've seen reviews of aftermarket wheels in a German magazine that included destructive testing, so I figured I'd take the opportunity for a bit of non-instrumented destructive testing myself. Besides, it's a lot more fun to use a sledgehammer than a drill. It's much harder to wreak this level of destruction on a set of 6ULs than you'd expect, even those with a heat treating problem. They're tough. We were all surprised at how hard we had to hit the lip in order to dent it, and knocking the center out requires quite a bit of determination. Emilio, it's fair to say these aren't going to get rescued.
For those who want more details on the actual problem: as part of the T6 heat-treating process, these wheels are aged at 350F for about 18 hours. Powdercoating takes the wheels up to 400F for 30 minutes, which can "over-age" the alloy and make it more brittle. I've heard - first-hand - of a German NC owner that had the stock wheels powdercoated and they cracked on him.
There actually is a 15x8 on the market that comes in white: the new Konig Wide Open. The weight is about the same as the 949Racing 6UL as well. I chose the 6UL over the Konig because of a proven track record - the 6UL is a well-known wheel that should take the abuse of the Targa, and Emilio stands behind his products. It's meant a lot of extra work on my part to make them white, but I think it's worth it.
entry 908 - tags: wheels
August 15, 2011 - Now that's how you're supposed to finish wheels.
Four coats of 1990-93 Miata white - which is actually almost pure white paint - finished with three coats of clearcoat. A nice smooth, hard finish that looks good and should shrug off brake dust. The special rack worked perfectly, making it easy for me to lay down a good coat without having to gyrate around. With the wheels at eye level, I could easily see how well the coverage was going down. Excellent.
entry 909 - tags: wheels
August 20, 2011 - Race rubber!
The painted 6UL wheels are an awesome, blinding white. Whiter than the powdercoat was, which is kinda nice. They've now been mounted with the actual tires that will be used in the race, a set of six Toyo R1Rs in 225/45-15.
A rehash of the tire rules that led to this choice: I am allowed a maximum of six tires for the race, and they have to have a minimum of 140 treadwear. This means I can't run a tire such as the Toyo RA1 that did so well for me last time. So the Toyo R1R is it.
entry 917 - tags: tires, wheels
July 21, 2014 - More track time at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway.
But first, some news from the last event. My maximum speed (into the wind) on the back straight at High Plains was either 215 or 217 km/h that day - I forget. At the previous event which was run with the old L33 engine, my top speed was 197. That's an 18-20 km/h (11-12 mph) speed difference. Huge! This new engine is a hero.

You can see the car's on new wheels. Those are Advanti Storm S1s in a 15x9 size. They're part of a new breed of light and strong flow formed wheels. Despite being the biggest wheels I've ever had on the car, they may also be the lightest at 12.1 lbs. Excellent.
I've also swapped back to the fixed wing so I can concentrate on other things. It's still working well at higher speeds, but I didn't think it would help as much on the slow little Grand Junction track. I also want to experiment with some aero balance, so it's being used as a control for now.
Inside the car, I added some reflective gold heat shielding inside the transmission tunnel to mellow out the interior.
And of course, after all that work, the fuel pump failed as I was driving the car home the day before the track event. A late night run to the Flyin' Miata shop and a pump swap, and it was in full health again. It's about the best place it could have failed.

After all the planned and unplanned prep work, how was the track? Pretty fun. We built a black V8 track car at FM that has a lot of parts in common with mine. I accidentally ran a 1:00.2 in it while heat-cycling some Hoosiers, so it's quick. The new owner was at the track, and we spent some time playing tag. Here's the noisy result. While he has an advantage with those big fat Hoosiers, I know the track far better and you can hear me backing off the throttle early on a number of spots as I try to judge his braking points and adjust to his speed. Those Hoosiers are great around the tightest corners, but he was leaving a lot of time on the table on the long sweeper. Fair enough, it takes some time to get comfortable there.

I spent a bit of time haring around as well. The brakes felt good, although I was being careful to avoid lockups. The track's developed some new bumps in a couple of critical braking zones, although it's also quite possible that I'm going faster in said zones. The car was understeering in the long sweeper, which seems to be the fastest setup based on my times. Despite scorching summer temperatures nearing 100F, I put down repeated laps in the 1:01 range with a best of 1:01.692. I was hoping there was more in it, but I think the driver is too slow and it was hot!

Fun setup note: my tires were showing signs of a good setup. 100% consistent pressures at the end of a session across all four wheels, and the temps were dead even across the front tires. The rears were a bit hotter as I went inwards, which looks like camber. Not dramatically, though, and I'm going to keep playing with aero for balance.

Overall, the car's good. It's ready for the big FM Summer Camp in a couple of weeks. Which will again be very hot.
entry 1125 - tags: testing, video, wheels, aero, setup
January 21, 2015 - Test fit of the new Maxxis RC-1 tires!
And it's a problem. In the front, I could probably get them to just barely clear with a hard pull of the fenders. Probably.
entry 1133 - tags: wheels