Parts, parts and more parts

As I’ve chronicled before, the 911 is becoming a race car and I’ve slowly been gathering up the safety equipment and other parts that it needs.  The latest haul is a combination of safety and comfort equipment: a fuel cell, cool shirt and associated goodies, and window nets.

The fuel cell is a FuelSafe 17 gallon “shoe-box” style fuel cell with a surge tank.  The cool shirt will help keep me cool while racing (and perhaps while driving around the street as well if I become crazy enough to ditch my A/C while I’m still driving it on the road).  And, finally, the window nets will keep me and my associated extremities inside the vehicle in case of a problem.. like a crash.

The biggest thing is to now start putting parts onto the car and selling parts I don’t need before buying anything else.  So, the install list is as follows:

  1. Headers
  2. Front Splitter
  3. Cool Shirt System
  4. Fuel Cell

With the installations I need to do, the headers, front splitter and cool shirt system I know I can attempt myself.  The fuel cell requires some welding (which I can’t do… yet) but I can at least gather the additional items needed for the fuel cell installation such as AN fittings and fuel hose to get it connected to the fuel pump and return lines.

When I get a free weekend I’m hoping to do the header install which will also necessitate an oil change because an oil line must be replaced in order for the headers to fit onto the car.  It’ll also require a torch to heat up the exhaust nuts so I can pull them off the studs without breaking them (or at least that is the hope).  I’ve been dousing the exhaust studs in Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster for the past few weeks so I hope that’ll be enough for me to at least start getting the exhaust system off of the vehicle.

Secondly, the front splitter requires me dropping the bottom air damn, which while not particularly hard (only 6 bolts) will have to be done outside (where it is currently hovering in the high 90s).  Once it is dropped, I’ll need to replace one nut and bolt on the air dam then I can start making the splitter out of the sheet of polycarbonate I have.  I’m going to design the splitter to go out at least three inches from the bottom of the air dam and also go back underneath the car to the underbody tray protecting the fuel pump.  With this I should be able to channel air better into the oil coolers since it won’t be able to escape underneath the car and will be forced through the coolers.  Also, it should at smooth out the air flow a little bit beneath the vehicle.

Finally, the last two things: the cool shirt and the windows nets.  I’m not going to install the window nets just yet since I’ve got to do some more modification to the interior of the vehicle.  However, the cool shirt system will require a little fabrication (that I can do) to hold the cooler someplace in the cockpit along with a little wiring since I’ve gotta power the dang thing as well.

And the fun part, selling all the parts that I’ve taken off the car.  Of course, I don’t want to do that until I’ve figured out which parts still work and which ones do not.  So, I really need a weekend or two to sort through everything, get it photographed and put the parts up for sale.

This is INSANITY!

As you can tell from reading my website, I like to drive on the track and am working toward my NASA Competition License.  Well, in order to compete you need to be in decent health.  Which, I feel I am; however, I feel that in order to win I should be in as good a shape as possible.  Even if it doesn’t help me win, it’ll help me in all other parts of my life; being healthy is a good thing(tm).

At work I was chatting with someone about my racing aspirations and said that I was going to need to get myself in better shape since I felt it was important to not neglect the most important part of the race car: the driver.  He asked what I was going to focus on and I told him, endurance and strength — but not so much strength that I turn into a body builder looking person.  I still need to fit into my racing suit and be flexible enough to escape from a burning car quickly. As an additional plus, being in better health helps alleviate some of the complications of diabetes (both type II, type II, and LADA).  Working out causes your body to become more receptive to insulin, keeps your heart healthy, your muscles healthy, and if you feel bad about yourself… your mental health should also be better as well since you’ll feel better as well.  All of these are good things in my book.  So, working on making more than just mountain biking or walking every day with my dog as physical activity seems like a great idea.

The person I was talking to suggested I look at this workout program called INSANITY! which is produced by the same people that make P90X and probably 50 other extreme workout routines.  I looked into both P90X and INSANITY! and chose to go with Insanity (yeah, I’m getting tired of typing INSANITY!).  A lot of the websites for Insanity just sound like a bunch of paid shrilling like ‘I can’t wait to listen to Shaun T and his awesome motivation!’ and ‘Oh WOW, slurp, slurp, slurp, wipe’… you get the idea.  It sounds fake.  So after removing all of biases that I could find and looked at the both realistically, I chose Insanity.  Insanity doesn’t require any weights just you and enough free room to kick and jump up and down and side to side, which I like… having to keep up with anything more than myself and a couple DVDs I’m afraid I’d just lose it all.  Anyway, I took the plunge and bought the INSANITY! Deluxe Edition which came with three additional DVDs of exercise routines (two replace sections later in the program and the 3rd disk is working with weights).

The package arrived a few days ago and I took some time to open it up, make sure all the pieces were there and read through all the materials included.  The first thing I noticed was throughout the packaging they’re very serious about telling you that you must be in at least decent shape before even attempting the workout.  Anyway, the box comes with a nice case to hold the 10 DVDs and the reading materials in the main Insanity workout product.  For the deluxe edition they include another nice case for 2 DVDs containing “INSANE ABS” and “MAX INTERVAL SPORTS TRAINING AND INSANE ABS” and finally there is a third DVD for a workout involving weights called “UPPER BODY WEIGHT TRAINING”.  Why they couldn’t find room to put that in a case with the other two is beyond me, cause having this random DVD not in the case spells a recipe for it to get lost.  In the main booklet there is a section that holds all the written materials you need.  The materials are: an introduction sheet, a 60 day calendar, and a nutrition guide. The intro sheet is just that.  It tells you to check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to do it and to get you pumped for working out.  The 60 day calendar for tells you which day to do which workout and how long each workout is going to take.  Finally, the nutrition guide tells you how to calculate how many calories a day you’re going to need and then a lot of healthy recipes for each meal.  The meals in the nutrition guide look like they could straight out of a diabetic cookbook given the make up of the recipes and the ingredients involved.  Which isn’t all bad, you have to (or you should) eat healthily as a diabetic.

So, that is the run down on the packaging and my initial review of the packaging and its contents and thoughts behind it all.  Now, the question is, does it work?  Well, starting Monday I’ll find out and see just how it works out.  It could be a painful and tiring road, but at the end of it I should be in excellent physical shape.  And if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll see about doing weekly updates for my view of if the program is actually working like I expected or not.

Speed Secrets 6: The Perfect Driver

Well, I’ve now finished off the Speed Secrets series with the exception of #7, which is about autocrossing.  I’m still debating on purchasing it since I already have Secrets of Solo Racing which is supposedly one of the best books on the subject.  Chances are I’ll eventually read the seventh, but not right now.

Speed Secrets 6: The Perfect Driver is a continuation of Inner Speed Secrets (Speed Secrets #3).  It focuses on particular situations that occur when driving and how to use mental imagery to overcome the problem facing the driver.  Each chapter has a small introduction and setup to the problem and then discusses how to think your way out of the problem.  I think the setup of the book is nice you can jump to any section to see how the Speed Secrets people helped the driver out.

The topics are, of course, wide-ranging, but definitely within the realm of driving the car on the track.  There are 21 chapters within the book and all but three deal with pure driving issues.  The remaining three are about mental imagery and how to make use of your strengths and how to always stay positive and have fun out there.  There are also two appendices, the first is a review of the exercises shown in Inner Speed Secrets and the second appendix is the list of all the speed secret phrases from each of the chapters within the book.

Speed Secrets 6 took me about three hours to read cover-to-cover (much like all the previous books in the series).  It is well written and provides information in a concise and understandable manner, however, for me, I don’t think I got as much out of this book as I did from Inner Speed Secrets.  Part of this could be that I’ve been through a racing school and they teach and describe a lot of these techniques so this book felt a lot like a refresher course than anything ground breaking.  If you’ve never attended a driving school or have only been to a high speed driver education class a few times, you won’t harm yourself by picking up this book and reading it.  However, I’d suggest getting Inner Speed Secrets, Speed Secrets, Going Faster! or one of the other basic driving books before jumping into this one because I think you’ll miss out in a lot of the situations that are being described within the covers.

Speed Secrets 5: The Complete Driver

You’ll notice I’ve skipped Speed Secrets 4: Engineering the Driver since it no longer seems to be in print and from what I can tell doesn’t relate to you as a driver.  It is about everyone around the driver and how to make the driver better; so, one day I might find the book and read it, until then, I jumped forward to the 5th book in the series.  This time the book is written by Ross Bentley and Bruce Cleland, but I think Bruce Cleland should get top billing since I’m not noticing any of Ross’s influence in the book other than the first two chapters.

This book focuses on everything external to the actual racing and driving of the car.  For instance, it discusses what it takes to get to the top, what you need to know, an overview of the business, teams, marketing, sponsors, PR, and networking.  In fact you could just rename the book ‘Marketing for Racers: 101’ and have a pretty good idea of what goes on in the book.  The only two chapters that seem to be from Ross are the first two chapters which come from the second Speed Secrets book.  After that it is all about the business of racing and what you need to do and know to be successful.  The positives and negatives of different approaches are discussed and a lot of time is spent telling you the same thing over, over and over: use common sense, think, plan, be respectful, execute, repeat.  No matter what you do.   Of course, we all know common sense isn’t so common so I see why they hammer it home all the time.

Speed Secrets 5: The Complete Driver is not so much a book on how to race and how to be successful on the racetrack but how to handle yourself off the racetrack in order to be successful on the track.  If you removed the racing aspect of the book it’d be a great book on how to be an entrepreneur since it does discuss items such as getting your foot in the door to potential sponsors (investors), giving your pitch, and how to correctly handle follow-ups to your pitch. It is a quick read, I finished reading it from cover-to-cover in a single sitting.  If you’re clueless on how to network or present yourself it is definitely worth the purchase if you want to continue on the track to be a race car driver (or in life for that matter).

Ayrton Senna’s Principles of Race Driving

Ayrton Senna’s Principles of Race Driving is a great book.  Is it the first book I’d recommend to a newbie driver taking his car to the track for the first time?  Probably not.  I’d recommend Drive to Win, Going Faster!, or Speed Secrets first, then this book.  Principles of Race Driving gives a look inside the mind of Ayrton Senna arguably one of the best Formula 1 drivers to ever grace the cockpit.  It covers everything from the correct seating positions to exercises and diet plans used by Senna (and more than likely his contemporaries) to gain endurance and be physically and mentally prepared for anything coming their way during the race.

The book begins by discussing the seating position, how to turn the steering wheel correctly, and how to shift gears with minimum disruption to not upset the balance of the car.  Next he delves into determining the fastest line through a track and the basic physics of the car (oversteer, understeer and sliding) which then leads to the discussion of passing and general passing etiquette (which, by the way, etiquette goes out the door on the last few laps of the race if your position is being contested).  Continuing on with the racing discussion, he touches on car setup and how important it is to understand enough engineering to be able to discuss competently what needs to be changed with the vehicle, how to choose gearing for a track and then the beginning of a race; from the start to the first few laps and what to expect and how to handle it.  The book ends with chapters devoted to physical training, visualization and the proper diet to be able to handle the demands placed on the body during a race.

Principles of Race Driving is now very hard to find since it has been out of print for many years.  I found a copy on Amazon.com and even though I paid more than I wanted to, it was definitely worth the price in my opinion.

Passed Level 3 at The Driveway, can’t wait for Level 4 – Advanced Race Craft

Yesterday, I completed the last two sessions required before I could take the Level 3 Test at The Driveway.  After the two sessions, I took a break then took the test.  The test wasn’t the typical pen and paper type, it was, of course, one with lots of high speed driving around their Grand Prix course and being chased by another car.  And best of all, I got to do it in the rain.  But that was just the precursor as to what I really want to do: the Level 4: Advanced Race Craft course.  Taking the course will also allow me to obtain a NASA racing license so I can start competing in wheel-to-wheel racing.

The level four course teaches the basics of what to expect during a race and how to handle the situations.  I can’t really describe it much better than what they do on The Driveway’s website, so I’ll just repost it here.

  • Track walk and Identifying Passing Zones
  • Qualifying Strategies (it’s just the clock)
  • Pre-Grid procedures
  • 5-Minute, 3-Minute, 1-Minute Warning
  • Warm up lap procedures
  • Getting in position for start
  • From the Pole Procedures (pick side and pace)
  • Rolling Start procedures
  • Standing Start procedures
  • Race Starts and Turn 1
  • Aborted Race Starts
  • Setting up the pass
  • Drafting and Slip Streams
  • Taking the race line
  • Passing under braking
  • Looking for weaknesses in other cars
  • Using other cars to your advantage
  • Working with another car to increase position
  • Radio Communications
  • Preserving your race car
  • Psychology of Winning

I’ve read about the majority of these in the Drive to Win and Going Faster! books, however, nothing prepares you for the real deal out there on the track.  I think it’ll be great fun to go from learning how to move the pieces on the chess board to actually playing.