Sold: The Best Fiesta ST Ever

In 2017 I attempted to participate in both autocrossing and road racing in the same season.

That didn’t work out too well. The constant preparation for this event or another was enough to put my back/lumbar region out of commission for over a year. I tried chiropractic, physical therapy, lidocaine injections, heat, cold, icy-hot, TENS, massage, and finally acupuncture.

So in 2018 I concentrated on road racing, which involves a lot less physical work in a single day. I can prepare the race car and have everything ready to go a week ahead of time, as opposed to autocross, where a single day goes like this:

  • Load tires into car

  • Unload tires from car

  • Change all four tires

  • Drive four minutes

  • Change all four tires

  • Load tires into car

  • Unload tires from car

By August of 2018, my back was finally starting to feel better. But I hadn’t driven the Fiesta much at all since I bought my BMW i3 all-electric car. So it was just sitting around.

I tried selling it on Craigslist and in the classifieds at work, but the only people interested in the car were kids with no money to buy it. So I bit the bullet and sold it to CarMax in December 2018.

I’ll miss that car. It was good to me, even if it wasn’t all that good to my back. It never broke down, and it performed nearly flawlessly for over a hundred autocrosses and track events.

I hope it gets some love from its future owner. And I hope that future owner has a strong back.

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Numbers

Yesterday, a fellow driver asked me where I bought the numbers on my car.

 

On my white Fiesta, I've been using numbers cut out of black magnetic material that I purchased in a big roll. Well, that doesn't show up too well on my black 944.  But the silver paw vinyl does...

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So last year I used some of the silver "repositionable adhesive vinyl" left over on the roll from the dogpark livery. I've been cutting out different fonts for each event. My last event was kind of art-deco:

At the VIR event I did a futuristic, hastily done font:

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At my first event I used the Porsche font which might have been used for the numbers "911" and "GT3":

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This year I bought some golden yellow vinyl which matches the yellow track wheels I have. This font is called "Clockwork Orange".

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Numbers are so simple to make, I don't know why more people don't make them. They certainly look cooler than painter's tape, and they don't cost much more. Here are links to the products I picked up on Amazon:

It's really simple to pick a font, and print out each number as big as it will be printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet. Transfer the outline to the vinyl either by scribbling the back side with pencil or by using extra pressure to make an imprint on the vinyl. Then just cut it out.

It's actually one of the more fun and relaxing things I do to prepare for a track weekend, particularly if I'm not rushed.

Make a Carrying Case for your Stuff!

Hey everyone.

I just picked up a GoPro Hero 4 Black from OG Racing with the discount they've offered to Rennlist folks:

http://rennlist.com/forums/racing-an...a-blowout.html

And I thought I'd share the carrying case I made to take my camera gear to the track and to stay organized.

First I took a case from an old cordless drill that my brother was about to throw out, and I cut out all the separators and support fins with a wood chisel (could have used a dremel, it's tough stuff though).

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Then I took some packaging foam from a big server crate and cut it to fit. I cut holes all the way through for everything with a sharp knife, and cut a slice of each of the cut-out pieces to line the bottom of each hole.

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The swim goggles case is great for keeping track of really small stuff like media.

As you can see, I've cut a new hole for my new camera, right next to my original GoPro 3+ Black edition. I also carry my gps receiver, gopro remote (came with my first cam), and a couple tools including a stubby philips for tightening the mounts.

You can also tell that I could add at least four more gopros, but I'd probably have to make another case just for all the mounting stuff at that point. I'd also have to take out a second mortgage, and at some point I'd have to admit to myself that I'm not Ken Block.  <-- that's a youtube video about a pro gopro production worth checking out...

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I keep charging / USB wires in the little drill compartment with its handy door, which I retained when I cut all the other stuff out of the case. That compartment doubles as the lid for the big opening for mounts.


I've been using this case for a couple years now, and it's been awesome knowing exactly where all your camera gear is. This organization makes it easy to prepare for your track day, too.

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I'm just posting in case this provides some ideas you can use. People throw this sort of thing out all the time.

Re-use!

TRACK DAY RECAP: The Porsche 944 at VIR

This past weekend was my second track weekend with the 944, and it was just about perfect, all things considered.

The car performed heroically. It hauled itself, me, four race tires, a 10'x10' canopy, jack, stands, tools, and a duffel 350 miles to the track. Then it went eight 20-25 minute sessions on track without a complaint, and then 350 miles home again. I am once again pleased with my purchase.

Here's a picture of my steed in the paddock that I took with an 80mm prime portrait lens, which makes the car look 100x better than it does when you're standing next to it:

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I guess portrait lenses are as good for cars as they are for people.

Driving VIR in the 944

Anyway, I had a great time building up confidence, gradually re-learning each turn in a RWD car. I didn't have an instructor this weekend, but I did capture all but my first session on my lap timer / gps recorder. I'm looking forward to evaluating the data in the off-season, comparing it to the Fiesta.

Speaking of the Fiesta, it is still the faster car even at VIR. My best times in the Fiesta were 2:25's. In the 944, I pared it down to a 2:28 by the end of the weekend. But I'm sure I can find three seconds out there, because late on Sunday I realized I wasn't flooring the gas pedal in many places that I could have been. I guess I thought I was being smooth, but the fact is, I could have been smooth and still gotten the pedal all the way down!

Also, because of the large groups in HPDE-2, I was usually right up behind a train of cars by the time I reached Oak Tree, so I really didn't get a lot of practice taking that turn properly. And it's the most important turn on the course for a momentum car, carrying into the longest straight on the circuit.

Brake Pad Success!

Before the first session on day 2, I changed all the brake pads to Performance Friction PFC-08's, which are an endurance racing compound. When I took them off at the end of the day, they looked like they hadn't been used at all! Wow. When I was installing them I filed down the rough edges where they ride on the caliper guides, and I think that made a huge difference in letting them float where they needed to. I saw no evidence of a "lazy piston" or uneven wear. Finally, some brake pads that perform like they should! I have high hopes that these pads will last me quite a few weekends, if not a whole season.

Marathon Drive

The drive home from VIR is a trial, though. First of all, they load up all the DE group sessions late on Sunday afternoon so the racers can go home early. (It's not really fair, but the argument is that racers need the extra time to manage impound, protests, and other activities that the DE groups don't. That's a bunch of hooey, but that's the way it is.) So at 5:40 PM I can start to put my car back together- changing tires and brake pads back to street ones. And third, loading the car is a Tetris exercise that really can't be pre-staged, since so much stuff is needed to do that re-assembly work. Fourth, the car's muffler is shot, so I had to stop and buy some earplugs (I couldn't find the ones I used on the way down) Even with the ear plugs, the car drones along the dark 2-lane highway, which tends to hypnotize and sedate an already-exhausted driver. With some breaks for 10-minute naps to prevent death-by-guardrail, I arrived home at 1 AM this morning. I was a zombie today at work.

So there you have it. A great weekend at VIR, beautiful cool fall weather with only a spritz of rain on Saturday, and no issues with the car (or the brakes!).

 

My Porsche 944 Build Thread

I have begun my build thread over at Grassroots Motorsports. But I caution you, the build threads on that site are somewhat addictive. Don't visit on a school night or you could find yourself at 2am reading to find out what Burrito decided to do about the exhaust on his Fiat 128 Sedan.

I'll continue to post here about the joys of driving. I'll post there about the details you're not interested in. But if you are, then just go to my build thread at grassrootsmotorsports.com.

I did post there about my first track day in the Porsche at Summit Point main circuit. I'll say it here too, that was one of the most rewarding weekends I've had at the track.

The reason I post all the technical stuff at GRM is because the readership there is full of really talented car people. They have a lot to offer in terms of advice and ideas for just such a project. So I look forward to that sort of feedback there.

Turn 1 (I'll let all those other guys pass me before turn 3)

Turn 1 (I'll let all those other guys pass me before turn 3)

As I explain in the post on GRM, my Fiesta is actually faster around the track than the Porsche.

You read that right. Ford Fiesta > Porsche.

I'm hoping to change that situation eventually, through better driving, a stronger engine, and possibly lighter weight. The GRM crowd is full of help that way too.

Making Tire Caddys from Salvaged Medical Equipment

My neighbors are doctors, and they had a couple anesthesia machines that they intended to leave out for scrap. I thought the wheels on them might make perfect dollies for my new-to-me Porsche wheels and tires.

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The equipment was heavier than I expected, which was good, because those wheels really seemed to be built for the task. They also rolled really easily across asphalt, all the way from my neighbor's driveway to mine.

It took me a while to figure out how it was put together, but once I had one of them taken apart, I found that four nuts and a single cut of a metal brace would free my wheels from the whole apparatus:

I cut out some scrap plywood into circles to distribute the load on the tire. I wouldn't want to damage the sidewalls by storing them stacked four-high on four square inches of surface.

They roll around so nicely in my garage and driveway now. Way better than any Harbor Freight piece of crap could. I'm pretty happy with this little project. Eventually I'll attach the plywood to the cast aluminum frames with four carriage bolts, but for now they just sit on top. Which is what they do most of the time anyway!

Here they are in action, handily carrying the two sets of "phone dials". My garage is beginning to look like a Tire Rack warehouse.

Here they are in action, handily carrying the two sets of "phone dials". My garage is beginning to look like a Tire Rack warehouse.


Porsche 944: On The Road!

I love Maryland. Yeah, I said it. I work in Virginia, and there are actually people there who despise all things Maryland, to the point that they will not cross over the Potomac River without a good reason, whatever that might be.

Well, here in Maryland, we've got something called Historic tags. You pay just $51 for two years of registration, and you don't need to have the car inspected or pass emissions testing. As long as it's an occasional use car that's at least 20 years old, you can get them.

As a result, I was able to get tags for this car in 1 hour flat. I paid my sales tax on the car, a $100 title fee, and the $51 registration good for two years. On a really busy day at the MVA. I was impressed!

Someday I'll get some personalized ones that say something clever. But not until I'm more comfortable in our relationship. I want to see if this is real before I commit to something serious like that.

Purchased: 1988 Porsche 944 Track Car

I have been having a blast driving the Fiesta on the track this year, but the faster I get, the more I think it's important to have more appropriate safety gear. I'm approaching Spec Miata lap times in a car that has no roll cage, standard shoulder belts, and no rescue features like tow hooks or engine kill switches.

I've come to the realization that if I ball up the Fiesta, I'm down at least $20K, my daily driver, and not least, hospital bills. If I ball up a reasonably priced track car with track-appropriate safety equipment, then I'm out the reasonable cost of the car, I would likely walk away from the incident, and drive to work on Monday.

So my friend Mike said I should consider a Porsche 944. They're relatively inexpensive, easy to work on, and there are lots of them out there on the road and on the track. Eventually he sent me a link to one for sale, and I think it was the perfect thing for me. Yes, parts are still Porsche expensive. But at least I can do a great deal of the work myself without a lift, as opposed to just about any task you'd want to undertake on a Porsche 911.

So here it is: a 1988 Porsche 944 naturally aspirated coupe. It has been built up as a track car by a guy in Northeast Ohio. He had much of his work done for him by professionals, and I've got the receipts. Quite a lot of money has gone into this car. I bought it from a guy in Buffalo, NY, who had bought it for his wife in the hopes that she would take to track events. I guess she didn't take. So the car basically lived in a garage for a year before he got around to selling it.

Here it is on the trailer. I dragged it home from Buffalo, NY on August 23, 2015.

Here it is on the trailer. I dragged it home from Buffalo, NY on August 23, 2015.

The car has 87,500 miles. I was skeptical, but the CarFax report corroborated the number. It has been fairly heavily modified for the track, but it's still street legal. It had been safety inspected and registered in New York in 2014.

The good things:

  • Full bolt-in cage
  • Momo racing seats (expired for racing, but great for DE's)
  • 5-point cam-release harnesses (expired for racing, still ok for DE's)
  • A/C delete
  • Bigger brake swap from a 968
  • three sets of wheels (street tires you see, two sets of yellow phone dials with Nitto NT01 racing tires)
  • Momo steering wheel
  • 500# front springs
  • Kokeln front and rear anti-sway bars
  • Timing belt / balancer belt / water pump replacement within 5K miles
  • Aftermarket clutch
  • No oil leaks
  • No coolant leaks
  • No interior leaks
  • No rust
  • It drove up onto the trailer under its own power.
  • Everything seemed accurately represented in the advertisement. Many good things were actually left out!

The bad things:

  • It had been sitting a while. The condition of the fuel and fuel system was unknown.
  • The paint is in poor shape... the clearcoat came off with decal removal by the previous owner, and any forward-facing paint surfaces look like a starry sky from rock dings.
  • There was a missing bolt connecting the front driver-side lower control arm to the very fancy anti-sway bar end link.
  • It's a pain to get in and out of because I'm such a big lump.

So, not too many bad things, actually. That I've come across yet.

My plans for the car are to drive it at HPDE events (aka Track Days), and to drive it to and from HPDE events. I don't intend to modify it much further at this time. I bought it because it's ready to drive, and I hope to get some considerable quality track time with it before I would consider any mods.

944 N/A cars are known to be great handling, but on the slow side. That's ok with me. I'm looking forward to gaining a lot of RWD experience with this puppy, and I am not out there to break track records. In any case, it should be a lot of fun to drive on the track.

My Fiesta ST Mods

People always ask me at events, "What have you done to your car?" Well, it's kind of hard to explain in a short amount of time. I tend to rattle off the short version:

  • Wheels & Tires
  • Shocks
  • Drop-in K&N air filter
  • Seat harness (for autocross only)
  • Brake pads (for the track)
  • Brake ducts (for the track)

And that's about it.

But some of those mods were pretty involved, I've documented them pretty well on a couple websites. But it was hard to tell people how to find those links.

So it's really nice to be able to say, "just look on my website, www.dogparkracing.com!"

Autocross Build

My "2014 Fiesta ST G-Street Autocrosser" Build Thread on GrassrootsMotorsports.com.

- Includes wheels, tires, shocks, harness, graphics, and a trailer hitch.

Brake Ducts for the Track Build

My Brake Ducts Build on FiestaST.net.

Brake Pads for the Track

My Hawk StreetRace Brake Pad Review on FiestaST.net.

My Hawk DTC-60 Brake Pad Review on FiestaST.net.

Modifying the rear shock tower mount to accept a shock that was made for a VW Beetle.

Modifying the rear shock tower mount to accept a shock that was made for a VW Beetle.

I'll probably just do the rest of my mods here and link to them from other websites, unless I do a massive car project. I like doing the build threads on GRM because it's such a great resource. I get feedback from a lot of experienced gearheads.

VIDEO: Summit Point HPDE with NASA-MA

NASA Mid Atlantic HPDE-2 group was a great bunch to run with. I wanted to do something a little different with the video so I compiled all the passes together, in order, no exceptions. Whether I was passing or being passed. They're all in there.

I made this video just for fun.. Not everyone had nice sticky tires like me. Not everyone was out there to break personal land speed records (nor was I). The point is, it wasn't a competition. Just driving on a closed course at a high rate of speed. So nothing here really means anything, except that if you have a track-prepared Ferrari, you can probably get by a Ford Fiesta if you really want to.

Turn it up! The music is great, licensed under Creative Commons licensing. As such, this video is also licensed the same way, CC NC.

http://luziusstone.com

Still Photos from Watkins Glen

In late April, I took off on a Monday and Tuesday to drive to upstate New York and participate in what is on many a car enthusiast's bucket list: Driving the famous Watkins Glen International raceway.

One of two road circuits on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour season, "The Glen" is one of the most revered, and respected, road racing circuits in the country. It is huge. But there can be a hefty price to pay for the slightest off-course excursion. Just a few feet from anywhere on the track, the bright baby blue steel Armco barriers loom.

Here are some pictures I took with my still camera while I was there. I also took quite a bit of video, and I look forward to distilling that footage into something short, sweet, and entertaining.

For now, the pics:

I got my own garage space, just like Ricky Bobby! Shake n Bake!

I got my own garage space, just like Ricky Bobby! Shake n Bake!

The famous blue barriers. And sponsors everywhere.

The famous blue barriers. And sponsors everywhere.

There weren't a lot of spectators present to watch me master the course.

There weren't a lot of spectators present to watch me master the course.


VIDEO: Brake ducts installed at VIR!

Here's one of those videos that rely on just one viewpoint that's so amazing to watch that it doesn't take much to keep it interesting.

I have had a hard time keeping my Ford Fiesta ST in brakes during track events. The ST is hard on them, because it actually uses the brakes during acceleration out of a turn to keep the inside tire from spinning. It's called Torque Vectoring, or sometimes it's called an "e-diff". 

My hope was that keeping the brakes cooler would reduce the rate of wear, so I built some brake ducts. 

The ducts just provide some additional fresh air right to the hub area, where hopefully the rotors will pick it up and flow it through their cooling vanes.

The ducts just provide some additional fresh air right to the hub area, where hopefully the rotors will pick it up and flow it through their cooling vanes.

I put a camera down there to see what was going on with my design, and I was pleased to see that the system worked better than I could have imagined. The evidence is how quickly the red hot rotors go dark again.

but the video is even more interesting, just to watch everything mechanical going on.. The engine shifting, the suspension compressing, the tire stressing. It is pretty interesting to watch.

VIDEO: Last Track Day of 2014

November, 2014

At the NASA Mid-Atlantic Fall Finale event at Summit Point Raceway, in West Virginia, I got a little excited on the track and didn't realize that I was out of brakes. So I drove it until I had none at all. That was bad, but very fortunately, no real harm was done (except to my brakes).

I chalk it up to good experience. Now I know what to listen for. And with experience, you understand that you and the car are not invincible. That conditions change. That things can go wrong. And that you always have to be careful and vigilant at the track.

Check your brake pad material before every session. And your oil. And your GoPro batteries and media. Live and learn.

VIDEO: Virginia International Raceway

This is my second track day ever, if you don't count the ST Octane Academy experience with Ford Racing in Utah.

It was such a beautiful place to drive - and the track was just rewarding to learn. 

Learning from the first track-day video, I condensed the warmup lap and ran a single lap at regular speed. And after this run, my go-pro ran out of room on the card. There was actually lots of room, but because I emptied the card manually, the camera didn't really know the space was there.

So I had to deal with the footage I had. It's foggy because the temps were warming up during the run. It's not my best line because it was early in the weekend. And I didn't have any engine audio because this camera placement only captures wind noise.

But again, it has some cool music, and for me, it's a worthwhile video. I watch it and I remember every nuance of the turns as I move through it, and I remember how damn fast I was going at the end of the back straight (120 mph). Gopro video doesn't really capture speed well because the lens is such a fisheye. But I can remember it!


VIDEO: My First Track Day Ever

This is a video of my very first open track day ever. I had such a blast in my new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. The footage is taken from a single camera, placed in different locations on the car over the ten sessions I ran that weekend.

On the last session, it snowed.

This video represents a great deal of learning on my part. I learned a lot about driving road courses. I got a lot of seat time in my car. And I learned what it costs to maintain a car if you're tracking it.

Most of all, I learned that four minutes is too long to make people watch a video of yourself driving in circles. So since then I've tried to keep things simple... Digest, compress, concise-ify. You know that saying, right?

Still, I learned a lot about cutting video to the music marks. That kind of redeems the video - I felt like I kept up the energy throughout. At the end, if you're willing to wait for it, there's a montage of myself starting the camera. Kind of fun.