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June 09, 2011

VRPerformance Open Track Day at GingerMan

It's official: Friday, July 29th, 2011 is the date for another VRPerformance Open Track day-- this time at the newly configured GingerMan Raceway in beautiful South Haven, Michigan.

If you've been to one of our events in the past, you know the drill. We try to gather experienced track drivers (those with some club or professional performance driving instruction under their seatbelts) for 8 or so hours of open track fun. We rely heavily on personal responsibility to make the event safe for everyone.

Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011 rain or shine
Time: Short driver's meeting at 8:30, open track from 09:00 to 17:00, lunch around 12:00
Early registration $225 via check, $235 via credit
Late registration (after July 1st) $245/$255
GingerMan Raceway, South Haven, Michigan

Do to GingerMan's Draconian no refund policy on deposits, if we do not get enough interest ASAP, we will pull the plug. This is not a money making exercise on our part, we just want to cover the costs. Please, if you're interested sign up sooner rather than later.

As of this moment we do not plan on having many instructors on hand, since we are inviting experienced track rats that know how to handle themselves around a race track. Harris Edwards will be on hand to provide in-car tutoring in 15 minute blocks for a small fee (check out Harris at work in video below).

You are responsible for your self and your car. That includes inspecting your car and making sure it is track worthy. We expect you to have fun, stay within your (and your car's) limit, and to have respect for those around you. We're all adults and shenanigans will not be tolerated.

Contact us if you're interested.

June 08, 2011

Fabspeed Exhaust Installation on a Porsche

One of the most balanced, best handling cars on the market today is the mid-engined Porsche Cayman. But, like every car coming out of a factory, it can be improved. Thanks to worldwide noise regulations, the stock exhaust stifles the glorious flat six cylinder engine note just a bit too much. Enter Fabspeed.

Fabspeed is a US company producing high performance components for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bentley. Straight out of the box, the Maxflo system we ordered for our customer's Cayman looked impressive. The welds were clean and the all stainless steel construction polished. But the test is always how it fits and how it sounds.

The stock exhaust system is chunky and not very pretty.


The Fabspeed system eliminates the secondary catalytic converters (which are unmonitored by the car's ECU, so no dash lights are triggered by dropping them), and replaces the large stock mufflers with two small section mufflers.


The new system bolted directly to the stock header flanges-- which were much corroded considering the low mileage and young age of the car. We took extra care removing the nuts from the flange studs so that we would not break them. Exhaust systems see so much heat cycling that it’s always tough to remove the hardware cleanly. Time and experience helps!

The end result was perfect. The engine note is now deeper and more classic Porsche-like without the drone you get from kits that are not properly engineered. And we've eliminated the chunky look of the stock muffler and replaced it with a race car inspired polished mufflers that look all business peaking out from under the bumper valence.

E46 M3 GT Part 4

I think I may have fallen off the GT wagon with the latest modification to my E46 M3. The last time we spoke, I installed a TC Kline Racing suspension. Next up, the exhaust.

And it's not a mild upgrade-- instead we went full zoot race car grade. Bimmerworld, one of our trusted BMW go fast suppliers, came up with a super high flow, lightweight exhaust that was simply too tempting to pass up. The system is a full 62 lbs lighter and reportedly adds 10 hp and 12 ft-lbs torque to the bottom line. What intrigued me most was its simple, elegant design and high quality execution.

So, off with the old.


Here is the rather startling side by side comparison between the stock exhaust and the new Bimmerworld race exhaust. The cross sectional area of the one large pipe of the Bimmerworld exhaust is about the same as the section area of the two smaller stock pipes. But the biggest difference is the flow path-- almost straight on the Bimmerworld unit.


As always, the installation required a fair amount of tweaking, or "clearancing" as the included instructions said-- I would not want to do this without a professional car lift.


The end result is pretty awesome-- and loud, even with the optional resonator.


100% 304 stainless steel, sturdy v-band clamps, quality welds and good (but tight) fit. While it's too loud for everyday use, it performs as advertised. I love playing with the decibel level by shifting through the gears and listening to the change in pitch. My exhaust is now a musical instrument...


Yes, you lose the classic 4 pipe exhaust of your typical M car, but frankly we think it looks that much more serious.

Brake Rotor Friction Ring Replacement

To say that brakes are an important part of a car's performance is to state the obvious. Pads and rotors need to be checked often and replaced when worn or damaged. Most cars come with single piece rotors-- the friction surface that contacts the pads and the inner "hat" that bolts to the hub are formed from a single casting. Higher end brake systems, and many after market big brake kits, use two piece rotors.

The inner portion that attaches to the hub is usually made of a lighter weight material like aluminum and is bolted or pinned to the outer "friction ring". Two piece designs usually weigh less for their size, reducing unsprung weight, and they help mitigate the transfer of heat from the friction ring to the hub, saving your wheel bearings from overheating. More complex "floating" rotors allow the friction rings to grow irrespective of the hub as well as insuring even pad contact. This float allows for better modulation of the brake torque applied during stopping.

Here we replace the friction ring of a standard ST40 Stop Tech big brake kit. Despite not being worn down to its minimum thickness, we felt it was time to replace thanks to the radial cracks in the ring as well as the deep concentric groves.


The first step is to take the existing rotor apart by loosening the small bolts that hold the ring to the hat. These are often frozen in place, so it’s a good idea to apply penetrating fluid 15 minutes before your try to crack them loose. (Back side view)



The next step involves lining up and installing the new friction ring to the existing hat. Always use new hardware! We find it easier to do this with the ring vertical in a vise.


Once all the new nuts and bolts are in place, follow the maker's torque specifications (usually pretty light). We like to tighten in a criss-cross pattern, for example starting at the 12 o'clock position and then 6 o'clock and so on, marking each bolt with a paint marker once it's been torqued.



When the two piece rotors are all assembled, they're fitted back onto the car as any other rotor.

June 07, 2011

Splitter Install (again)

Aerodynamics on a street car is important for efficiency-- how easily it can punch a hole through the atmosphere. On a race car, aero is even more important for handling. A splitter-- typically a horizontal plane extending out from below the front bumper, helps push the front end of the car down and consequently aids front end grip or traction. Balanced with a wing at the back, a splitter is an integral part in the car's handling.

Because the splitter is usually very low, it is vulnerable to trailer ramps, track burms and digging into wet grass should you have an "off". If it's attached to the front fascia and you have an off and bad things happen, you can kiss the front end of the car good-bye. The solution is to attach the splitter to something more robust, while allowing it to break away should an unfortunate incident occur.

You'll remember we installed a splitter on the E36 M3 race car once before-- well that one was torn off at the last track day taking with it the entire front fascia. To avoid this from happening again, we installed its replacement differently.

Bimmerworld provides a hardware kit for the E36 M3 EVO II splitter that attaches it to the aluminum bumper beam instead of the lower lip of the plastic fascia. Here is how we installed the kit.

The kit: three stanchions, 2 metal straps and hardware:


The EVO II track splitter:


The front end:


Since the kit is not originally designed to fit the OEM fascia and the splitter, modifications had to be made to each. After deciding where we wanted to attach the stanchions, or "uprights" to the bumper beam, we had to cut reliefs in the fascia and splitter.


To attach the stanchions to the bumper beam, four holes for the bolts had to be drilled.



The trailing edge of the splitter is attached to the anti-roll bar mounting points using the two metal straps. At first they did not fit so we had to grind away some material.



After aligning all the components on the car, corresponding bolt holes for the straps and stanchions-- which have nuts welded to them-- had to be drilled into the splitter. Finally the splitter could be test fitted to the car with the fascia installed.


It was a straight forward procedure that nonetheless took quite a bit of time. We were very careful to make sure everything aligns perfectly on the car and that the splitter is optimally positioned to work efficiently and provide the desired downforce. And now, should the leading edge of the splitter dig into anything, it’s the only thing that will be sacrificed.

The Little Things

Having worked on hundreds of cars over the past 5 years or so a few things have become abundantly clear: no two jobs are ever the same, even if the parts being installed are, instructions from the component manufacturer-- if they exist at all-- are almost never complete, and finally, exhausts never ever fit without a good amount of "tweaking". A quick example of tweaking is presented after the jump...

The problem: connecting a single pipe race exhaust system on an E36 M3 with a Euro engine, stock headers. It was claimed that the header merge pipe we bought-- basically two pipes (that connect to the header) that merge into one (which connects to the rest of the exhaust system) -- was the solution.

Well... after cutting off the original flanges (bolt holes didn't line up), extending the two pipes that attach to the smaller diameter OEM header pipes by 1.5 inches and 3.0 inches, flaring and welding it all together, it did work.


The tweaked merge pipe:


To clean it up, we applied high temperature exhaust paint to the extended portion.