Virginia International Raceway 
with the Mazda Drivers Association
March 27 & 28, 2004

    I had not run an event in over a year before I signed up for the Mazda Drivers event this March at the VIR North Course.  I'm glad I did.  The Mazda Drivers event was nicely run and I will consider going back and running with them again.

    My track car, the 86 Ford Mustang, had undergone some serious front suspension renovations since its last outing.  It used to have the conventional springs and shocks.  But it also had an alignment problem in that ever since I installed the 94+ Cobra Brakes I was not able to get better than +0.7 camber, even with the CC plates cranked all the way in.
    Over the winter, I decided to install some longer lower control arms to get back the camber.  I refurbished a set of 1988 Thunderbird control arms with some urethane bushings and the Steeda X2 ball points.  The X2's raise the spindle height which also ends up lowering the front end.  They provide spring spacers to restore the ride heigth. However, it didn't work on mine as the longer arms increased the lowering.  I had the wheels in the fenders.  So I decided to install the Maximum Motorsports coil over kit to gain the height and I wanted.
    Additionally, with the longer arms, I needed a longer steering rack.  To gain that I installed the Steeda bumpsteer kit with its longer outer tie rod sleeves. Worked fine.
    I was able to get -2.0 camber on both sides after all the parts.  And it appears I can now adjust it to about -3.  I was satisfied with the setup.  The front end looked right.

    Car prep was pretty routine. Flush the brake system, Do an oil change. Top off the other fluids.  the seat belts were a bit old and stiff, so I installed a pair of GFORCE 5 point harnesses to replace the old units. Popped in the Porterfield R4 pads, and the car was ready.  The trailer had to spend a few days at the shop for maintenance.  4 bearing sets, 2 tires, a few lights, and a breakaway kit. But it was ready also.

    I was looking forward to meeting up with Calvin and Dale at the track.  I haven't seen either of them in quite awhile.  The trip was smooth. We left Va Beach about noon.  It takes about 4 hours to get to Danville from Virginia Beach.  A nice ride.  We swung by the track and dropped the trailer.  Then off to the hotel and dinner at Sweet Sugar BBQ.  Always good food.

    Saturday dawned bright and clear.  Calvin arrive, but Dale didn't make it. We experienced about 75 degrees and sunshine with a touch of showers in the afternoon.  Great track weather. I got the Mustang ontrack and after a bunch of laps to shake off the cobwebs, I started leaning into it.  I was amazed by the way the front end just hunkered down and grabbed the track.  The improvements were well worth it. I could feel the front plant itself.  And on some corners, when I got back into the throttle, the car would turn into the corner up to the limit of the front tire's adhesion. 
    Going up thru 7, I was getting a bit of wheel spin. I had to try to straighten it out more to be able to get back into the throttle earlier.  The switchbacks were fun and with the right speed, I was steering by the throttle.
    Brakes were good with the Porterfield R4's.  Until the 3rd session when I felt a thunka-thunka-thunka.  I managed to crack a rotor in two places.  I headed off to town and purchased one, but it didn't arrive at Advance until 3:30 that afternoon.  So my Saturday was cut a bit short.

    Sunday dawned cloudy, and a bit breezy.  Highs were in the upper 60's though, and the sun popped in and out.  Still a nice day at the track.  I got the rotor replaced and got back out onto the track.  I was liking the way the car stuck.  I was able to keep up with other cars in the corners,,,finally.  The tremec was seeping a bit of fluid so every time I parked it left a puddle.  

    I was getting good launches onto the main straight so I was redlining in 4th early at 130 mph. I started feathering the throttle a bit to keep from hitting the rev limiter before I got to the braking zone for turn 1.  

Then I felt the steering bind up going uphill thru the esses.  I immediately went into the pits and noticed I was leaving a trail of fluid.  A close inspection found a pin hole in the power steering cooler input line.  Smack in the middle between the cooler and the rack.  A pinhole. I had spare lines so I swapped in a new piece of rubber hose and refilled the system, then back out onto the track.


    A very well spent 2 days.  170 miles run on track. 1 brake rotor, a section of rubber PS hoes, and some type F fluid (and gasoline) were the damage.  Not too bad.  Calvin suggested some SS lines so I'll look into that.  I want to get about 3 degrees negative camber before the next event. The 2 year old Victoracers worked well even for sitting around for a year. I need to swap them around to maximize their life. with the front of the car lowered, I need to take some steps in getting the rear down a bit.  I might just cut the springs, or possible go for a coil over.

    Standard trip home, except it was colder down here. Great time.  Something to bring spring back in.