My Spec Racer Ford

Steve Levin

Master of Disaster
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Spec Racer Ford!
I wanted to move up to a quicker car for track days than my Chrysler 300, and then a friend pointed me at Spec Racer Fords. So I thought I'd give it a whirl...and try racing as well!. It's not really "my" car in that it's a rental, but since I'm planning on renting it for at least 12 events this year (and will get to chose the new paintwork) it's close enough to mine to count, I think :)

First test was at an open track day at Buttonwillow, CA, on the 29th. I unleashed 100 horses of fury on the track...and did fairly well after a big spin early on.

Most of the bodywork on the car is going to be replaced because it's seen better days (but better to test with old bodywork in case something goes wrong).

Compared to street cars, the braking and cornering is just amazing. Because of the weight distribution, the car tends to oversteer badly, so you really have to respect weight transfer.

Dave explaining the digital dash and alarms before I head out for the first time:

SRF-start.jpg


At speed:

SRF-crop.jpg


Rolling in after a session on the track:

SRF-pits.jpg


And here you can see how ratty the bodywork really is...honest, it's not all my fault!

SRF-side.jpg
 

TC

aka TomCat
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That's really cool. How much are they to buy?
 

Steve Levin

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They are pretty inexpensive compared to street machines. The cars themselves run between 15 and 18 thousand dollars. For example, right now there's a car+spares+enclosed trailer that could be had for about $22,000. Engines tend to last years, not months, and only cost $3,000. Pretty much all the parts are sealed spec parts, so you don't have to get into huge money to be fast (as compared to Miatas, which you can into racing cheaper, but to be competitive you really end up spending more money, plus they cost more to repair).

Since right now I don't have the knowledge, tools, or time to maintain a car, it made sense to strike a "long term rental" deal with Dave to use his second car (and I think he's getting a third car soon). This way, I can test and do the driver's school without worrying about the car itself, just the driving.

Another option (which I may take up eventually) is "arrive and drive" where I buy a car but have Dave (or someone else, there are a number of people who do this) maintain it, trailer it to races, and act as pit support at the events. This option really makes sense if one lives on the east coast where the rental rates tend to be around $1,500/day, but less sense on the west coast where the rates are typically $1,000/day (less for volume).

If you just want to check it out, I know Dave (and of course, lots of other SRF's) will be in Phoenix in a couple of weeks (the 18th-20th?) for the Double National race there. I won't be there since I don't have even my Novice (much less National) license yet.

Steve
 

argatoga

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I am jealous, that must be a hoot to drive in on a track. Oh and is that a Ford GT to the right in the first picture?
 

TC

aka TomCat
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They are pretty inexpensive compared to street machines. The cars themselves run between 15 and 18 thousand dollars. For example, right now there's a car+spares+enclosed trailer that could be had for about $22,000. Engines tend to last years, not months, and only cost $3,000. Pretty much all the parts are sealed spec parts, so you don't have to get into huge money to be fast (as compared to Miatas, which you can into racing cheaper, but to be competitive you really end up spending more money, plus they cost more to repair).

Since right now I don't have the knowledge, tools, or time to maintain a car, it made sense to strike a "long term rental" deal with Dave to use his second car (and I think he's getting a third car soon). This way, I can test and do the driver's school without worrying about the car itself, just the driving.

Another option (which I may take up eventually) is "arrive and drive" where I buy a car but have Dave (or someone else, there are a number of people who do this) maintain it, trailer it to races, and act as pit support at the events. This option really makes sense if one lives on the east coast where the rental rates tend to be around $1,500/day, but less sense on the west coast where the rates are typically $1,000/day (less for volume).

If you just want to check it out, I know Dave (and of course, lots of other SRF's) will be in Phoenix in a couple of weeks (the 18th-20th?) for the Double National race there. I won't be there since I don't have even my Novice (much less National) license yet.

Steve

That's not bad at all for a little racecar. Will they be at PIR?
 

Steve Levin

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Spec Racer Ford!
I am jealous, that must be a hoot to drive in on a track. Oh and is that a Ford GT to the right in the first picture?

Yeah, and sadly in its first session out the engine expired in spectacular fashion. Compounded by the driver opting to complete the remaining 1.5 miles of racetrack spewing coolant, which probably would have bitten me big time if I hadn't been on my cooldown lap and at about 7/10th's pace (I still darn near went off track).

There were a few other cool cars there...a couple of Cobras, an old TVR, a couple of SCCA T2 350z's, and a couple of Nissan 240sx's heavily modded with the turbo engines, etc. And the usualy suspects of Corvette Z06's, BMW M3's, etc.

There are more pictures at:

http://photos.interceptor.com/main.php?g2_itemId=7722

but most of them are my wife's snaps of me and the SRF.

I just checked the SCCA website and the Phoenix National is indeed at PIR and not Firebird.

Steve
 

JipJopJones

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OOOOOHHHH!!! That El Camino is amazing.... I want to see it in action.... *drools for hours*
 

BlaRo

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That's really cool.

Love the helmet too, very Captain America. :D
 

Steve Levin

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I actually didn't set out for it to be a Captain America helmet, but you aren't the first person to have made the comment, and it's begun to stick. I had originally thought of just doing the two side stripes, one red and one blue -- more or less a pure homage to Ayrton Senna's design, but I didn't think it would stand out enough. Hence the final design. I'm actually slightly more disappointed that the marks of faith -- the Star of David on each side -- ended up as large as they were, but it wasn't a big thing and re-doing it seemed silly.

The car itself weighs about 1,850 pounds with myself and fuel onboard (maybe a smidge less), and has a 1.9 liter 4 cylinder engine and transaxle from a late 1980's Ford Escort that generates 105hp. The modest weight, low CG and fairly stick 180mm wide slicks give it significantly high cornering and braking power -- not as much as open wheel Formula cars, of course, but much higher than all but supercars (when talking street legal). Down the straights is another matter, of course...it has power but nothing earth-shattering.

Overall lap time comparisons depend a lot of the track in question. At Willow Springs, known as "the fastest track in the West" the SRF is probably 20 seconds a lap slower than a SCCA T1-prepped Z06 Corvette. One most configurations of Buttonwillow Raceway Park (a much tighter and more technical track) the difference is pretty close to zero. Compared to a Lotus Exige 240, the SRF is pretty even at many tracks except Willow (which is very high speed)

Another quick reference point is that the top guys lap Laguna Seca at about 1:43 in an SRF. Even the slowest guys do it at about 1:50 -- which is still faster than Clarkson got around the track in an NSX.

Not bad when you can have a really nice car, spares, and a trailer for about $23,000, with about $300-350 in overal maintenance costs per outing. You can get into Spec Miata racing for less money, but because that's a "Spec" rather than "sealed" class as far as engines and shocks, etc., go, you won't find any Miatas that cost less being very competitive even in the SCCA Regional events (much less National ones). And with a Miata, if you tear a corner off the car, you pretty much have to get a new car, and move all your parts from the old to the new (a process that has become known as "re-shelling" in the Miata community).

Steve
 

hansvonaxion

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The car itself weighs about 1,850 pounds with myself and fuel onboard (maybe a smidge less), and has a 1.9 liter 4 cylinder engine and transaxle from a late 1980's Ford Escort that generates 105hp. The modest weight, low CG and fairly stick 180mm wide slicks give it significantly high cornering and braking power -- not as much as open wheel Formula cars, of course, but much higher than all but supercars (when talking street legal). Down the straights is another matter, of course...it has power but nothing earth-shattering.

Sweet, looks like heaps of fun.
I was told the Formula Ford cars in Oz which are open wheelers and use the 2L Ford Cosworth enhanced engine were only a couple of seconds behind the V8 supercars, that was quite a few years and may have changed, but they're impressive nonetheless.
Add me to the list of jealous onlookers.
 

Steve Levin

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It depends on the specific cars, but Formula Ford 2000's (often referred to these days as F2000's) which also have wings are VERY quick indeed. Compared to the video lap, you could speed it up...say...30% and you'd be about spot on.

Steve
 

Steve Levin

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Well, yesterday (Sunday) waa another test...up at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California. The weather wasn't entirely friendly, but still it was an interesting day.

About four laps into the first session, exiting Turn 10 I (to paraphrase Jason Plato) looked into my bag of talent and found it wasn't quite as full as I thought it was... :)

SRF-spin.jpg


Other pictures can be see at http://photos.interceptor.com/main.php?g2_itemId=8025

Steve
 

Steve Levin

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Spec Racer Ford!
So here's the update. After saying I was going to rent a car this year...I lied. :)

As anything, it's largely a matter of the right car coming available at the right time. So Friday I bought a car...and Saturday we brought it "home" (well, to the "shop" of sorts...the home of HSE racing).

SRF408.jpg


We went to take pictures this morning, but as wel pulled the car out of the trailer it started to rain. And the camera battery died...leaving us with a cell phone camera. So there's no really good pictures yet.

http://photos.interceptor.com/main.php?g2_itemId=8165

I'm planning to change the number of the car to 29 because 1 seems too auspicious for a rookie :)

Steve
 

TC

aka TomCat
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Cool! Are you going to change the paint scheme too?
 

Steve Levin

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Spec Racer Ford!
Yes, but probably not until I crash it first :) For right now we'll patch up some of the bodywork, keep the paintwork, and get new vinyl numbers to replace the number on there. :)

Steve
 
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