(Updated 14 December 2005)
2004 and Before...
January - Wow, another year has come and gone! Hard to believe, really.
As you can imagine, not much is happening during the off-season...NOT!! Matt is actually working pretty damn hard trying to get several projects on-line:
Installing a crate engine in Jeff's Spec Miata
Building an engine for the ITA (I love to say that) NX2000
Building a cage for my '94 Miata
Prying money out of my hands for other NX projects
A couple of things probably caught your eye there. "Miata you say? I thought you dropped that project?" Well, once I tallied up how much I had invested in that car, and the time involved removing a lot of the parts to make it into a race car, and mentally tallied what I could get for it plus the amount of time involved in putting it all back together to sell it as a street car, I figured I was better off finishing the project. At worst, I'll sell it as a ready-to-go Spec Miata, or I may give serious thought to renting it out. I'm sure I'll drive it in an event on occasion. Matt wants to rent it out so if he's willing to handle that, so much the better.
Another bell-ringer is the "projects" for the NX. While I'm pleased with all of our progress to date, there's still a lot left to go. First and foremost, we will be using Race Technology's DL-1 data acquisition system this year, procured from Al Seim at Action Digital of Richmond VA. Al let us borrow a DL-1 for the 13 hour race at VIR last fall, and I'm a convert to the value of that technology. It will go a long way towards helping us decide priorities for everything else, plus I'm hoping it will teach me to drive that much better. Also look for a series of technical articles on this web site on data acquisition, as I relate my experiences and what I learn with the tools.
We are close to a working agreement with a major damper supplier to develop some struts around their products. While our current setup is "OK", it's not the stellar product we'd hoped for and it seems to be somewhat fragile, requiring often damper rebuilds. We're hoping to develop a more-stout system using the suspension geometry of our preference.
We're also giving serious consideration to developing our own engine management program instead of relying on other vendors for support. We are coming closer to the idea that we can do this ourselves, in real time (at least in testing) and get the results we need. Matt is also considering developing his own header for the car.
Our schedule for this year is wide open. The priorities for the year are the ARRC Runoffs at Road Atlanta in November, Hyperfest at Summit Point in July, and several New England Region SCCA events at LRP, NHIS, and possibly the Glen.
Also, as of today we're waiting to hear about the lottery system for the WDCR's 12 Hours At The Point. Both Jeff and I have submitted entries for our Miatas, as has Kirk Knestis. It's possible we could be running a three-car team in that enduro. Jeff is interested in running the 4-hour enduro at NHIS again this year, and Kirk and I are discussing defending our win at the 13-hour at VIR in the Fall.
As you can see, a fairly aggressive program is planned for '05.
Oh, and did I mention I was planning on doing some ice racing in the Miata this year with the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club? Watch this space for details and updates!
January 18 - The Racing Technology DL-1 data acquisition tool arrived today from Action Digital. Wow, what a neat tool. Can't wait to get that bad boy operating (I think I'll stick it in my daily driver just to be able to play with it...)
January 19 - The lottery results are in for the entries to the WDCR 6th Annual Kumho 12 Hours at the Point. Of the three lottery entries we submitted (for Kirk's, Jeff's, and Greg's cars), only Greg's was chosen. After discussions and negotiations, we have chosen to enter Kirk Knestis' ITB Golf in the event to back up our class victory at the 2004 Virginia 13 Hours. Our driver line-up will be Greg Amy, Kirk Knestis, and Evan Webb (three-quarters of that winning driver lineup), joined by newcomer Jeff Frederick. There's a small chance (very small) that either Kirk's or Jeff's lottery entry may work its way through the system and get approved, and if that happens we will add Jeff's Spec Miata to the team matrix. Details to follow, but you can follow our progress here.
January 21 - The weather has turned bitter cold with the arrival of a deep Arctic air mass, so you know what that means (no, not more rum). That's right: ice racing! Unfortunately, the Miata is not quite ready as we're still working on the rollcage for the car. A rollcage is not required for the ice racing, but now is the optimal time to build it for Spec Miata; the latter is the priority. We hope to get the cage done soon so that I can drive northbound and go sliding around for fun. Maybe next weekend...(how many times have you seen me write that)?
February 8 - Not really racing related, but Greg was interviewed, quoted, and photographed for a New York Times article, "Dumbing Down Over-Engineered Cars" (login required, but it's free...).
February 11 - As the say "The best laid plans..." We've been planning to go ice racing during the "off season". However, as noted before the rollcage fabrication for the new Spec Miata was the first priority. Unfortunately, our tubing supplier ran out of stock mid-January and we were not able to pick up supplies until earlier this week (his prices were worth the wait). We got the stuff now, so Matt's working to get that cage done. We're hoping to make the ice racing next weekend or the following. Running out of time...
On the NX front, the car pretty much sits the way it was last October, but the gears are runnin' in the background. We are developing our own ECU programming tools and techniques to get the engine running at peak. Matt's still building the engine, but there was another setback: our preferred crankshaft grinder was sick during the whole month of December. He's fine now, so we're hoping to get back on track. And, on the suspension, we are working on a relationship with a major damper manufacturer to develop our own struts (and trying to decide that wheels and tires we're going to run). It looks like another development year for this car, but it will all come to a head in November at Road Atlanta...
And finally, just so you don't think we're sittin' around doin' nothin', we've added another car to our endurance team for the 12 Hours at Summit Point in June. Greg will not only be driving the 13-hour-winning ITB Golf, but he will also be managing Jeff Frederick's Spec Miata as a second entry for the event. We have adjusted the driver lineup in the Golf and added four more drivers to the team (along with the associated increase in volunteers, equipment, tools, transporters, accommodations, food, blah, blah, blah.) The Golf lineup will be Greg Amy, Kirk Knestis, Jeff Lawton, and Phil Philips; the Spec Miata will be driven by Tom Clendinin, Nick Craft, Jeff Frederick, and Evan Webb.
We'll keep you apprised of the efforts on this site, but most major details on the endurance team effort will be kept here. Oh, and take a look to the right to see what I've been doing to stay out of trouble====>>>
February 13th - So, what do you get when you combine a massive expanse of ice and an itchy right foot? That's right: we finally made it to the ice racing! Matt busted his tail to get the cage "safe" in the car (but not totally SCCA-legal - it's not required for AMEC), and Greg actually drove the car all the way up north of Albany with minimal interior, the racing seat and 5-point harnesses, no radio at all, a leaking hard top, and studded tires! It took a great leap of faith to drive off that boat dock into the "water", but we found that driving on the slick stuff is a load of fun! Unfortunately, we also found out that a rear-wheel-drive Miata, even with studded tires, isn't the best equipment (we got passed by almost all the front-wheel-drive cars), but we look forward to trying more of it as the opportunity arises. More photos here.
First Week April - March was spent cleaning out cobwebs and prepping the cars for the first event of the year at New Hampshire Int'l. The weather has cleared out nicely, with warming days and clear skies. The Miata is completed, with its new rollcage, suspension, setup and logbook; the Nissan is prepped and ready to go, nothing new except the DL-1 data acquisition and some new tires. We'll be going to the NHIS Thursday test day, Greg will be instructing at the Fri/Sat school, and racing both the Nissan and the Miata (different run groups). Happy we're finally back to racing, and really looking forward to it!
April 18 - Mother Nature generously handed us a beautiful warm-ish weekend for the first outing of 2005, at New Hampshire International Speedway. The bottom line? The B13 Nissan has a very good chance of success in ITA. Our experience this past weekend was very mixed, but extremely promising.
We had a test day Thursday at NHIS, and Greg was busy acting as both tech inspector and on- and off-track instructor Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the SCCA school. The car ran great all three days.
Sunday was the one-day Regional, offering a 10-minute practice/qualifying session, a 15-minute qualifier, and the 20-lap race. Greg was pole position after the first session by two seconds, but keep in mind he'd had three days of track time and everyone else was rusty. Unfortunately, in the second session he bumped a curb on the first lap and mis-aligned the car, so he parked it for the session; he ended up gridded for the race third behind Richie Hunter in an Integra, Jeremy Sheppard in a 240SX, and two (or more!) Integras right behind, including Rick Benazic in last year's ARRC-winning Acura.
The start was perfect. Greg tucked up under the pole car and watched the starter like a hawk. Matt was on the headset giving rolling flag calls ("hold, hold, hold") and when that starter moved, so did he (with Matt screaming, "GO, GO, GO, GO!!!" on the radio). By the time he got to Turn 1 the #33 Kessler Engineering NX2000 was leading the pack by a car length or more (he hit that start so perfectly that several folks accused him - politely of course - of jumping the start. No way, baby, and we have the video to prove it!)
For the first four (or so?) laps Greg led the field through the course, with the NX showing its torque out of the corners and the Acuras rolling him in at the end of the straights. Greg had to run a very defensive line to keep them behind him, giving them a speed advantage. At one point Greg hoped Richie and Rick might start tussling, giving him the opportunity to pull away, but that didn't happen.
Right around lap three Greg noted the oil and water temperatures were increasing very quickly and by lap four there was a noticeable flatness in the engine; the car wasn't revving as well. Rick got by Greg with a beautiful pass in turn nine; once he'd passed Greg couldn't keep up and Matt told him to lower my shift points 400 RPM to try and save the engine. Unfortunately, that didn't help; the temps were over 230 by then. By lap six it was obvious he was in trouble so he backed off a lot in order to finish the race.
During lap eleven the power was so bad it seemed he'd never make it up the hill in three; going down the front straight next time around he called in, "Smoke in the cockpit, I'm shutting it down." He coasted to a stop at three where he watched the rest of the race; Rick Benazic won with a comfortable lead and with Richie Hunter quickly on trail.
We haven't even begun looking into it, but we suspect the cause of the failure was a combination of too much ignition timing and not enough octane (or bad gas). We're running a new experimental ECU based on dyno tests on 93 octane; while it may work for short runs (it worked great for the test and school days), it doesn't work for extended 7000+ RPM runs. Fortunately, it didn't toss any major parts so the engine should be rebuildable.
Regardless of this result, we are psyched!! We proved the potential is there, now all we have to do is implement it.
Lots of folks came by to ask what happened and offer condolences and congrats. One person came by and commented how well such a "new car" is doing. Matt and I had to laugh; yeah, it may be a "new ITA car" but can't you imagine the development we've done over the last three years...all for fun, eh?
Update: yeah, I'm going with "The Detonation Theory"...whadya think? ===>>
Early May - The NX has pretty much sat on the trailer since New Hampshire, a victim of other priorities. We have committed to prepping the white Miata for the 12 Hours at the Point, and that has taken top billing. We are expecting that the NX will become top priority after the June 6th event, with a goal towards the Pig Roast Regional at NHIS in early July.
May 27th - Greg got tired of sitting on his butt and decided to put the NX Hoosiers on the Spec Miata and race in ITS. Needless to say, he was way outclassed, but it was sure fun. Oddly enough, the car was slower than the NX, and the engine felt flat through the weekend. This was later borne out by a blown head gasket and overheating during the race.
The positive (?) side is that during the event we received a down payment towards the purchase of the black Miata. Once the head gasket work is completed so will be the sale. Sayonara, little buddy...
June 5-6 - Team Kakashi lead driver Greg Amy co-drove the Phil's Tire Service Golf GTi to a class victory at the 12 Hours at the Point June 6th, also turning the team's fastest race lap in the process and at night! Full story here! More photos here.
Unfortunately, our sister car, the white Spec Miata, was wrecked heavily and will not repairable. Fortunately, there were no human injuries.
June 21 - Nothing much new to report.
Greg and his wife attended the USGP at Indy. What a farce that was...
The Spec Miata is sold and will be delivered this weekend, and the orange E-350 and open trailer are up for grabs. I've made a verbal agreement to re-purchase my buddy's V10-powered E-350 and another friend's enclosed trailer.
Now, if we can only get an engine built we might even make the double regional at NHIS next month...
June 25 - Today was Greg's liquidation and acquisition day. All in the span of 10 hours, Greg sold the Spec Miata to one fellow from Massachusetts, sold the orange truck and open trailer as a package to another fellow from Virginia, and closed the deal on a good used 24' Haulmark enclosed trailer and agreed to purchase back the E-350 V10 from his buddy Jeff. Greg's wife is extremely happy to see the orange van leave the driveway, but is chagrined at the appearance of a large black rectangular block on wheels...
July 12 - And the beat goes on...we're starting to feel like that old Hee-Haw song:("...if it weren't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all...gloom, despair, and agony on me...")
We get an "A" for effort, and an "F" for execution. Matt once again busted tail to get the engine built for the NX2000, and we made it to the Pig Roast Regional at NHIS this weekend. Hopes were high for a pair of good placings, if not outright wins. Unfortunately, it was not to be; due to a miscommunication between Greg and Matt, the same ECU programming that was involved in the April engine detonation was re-installed into the NX and the engine once again overheated. The only possibly positive outcome was that the damage may be limited to a blown head gasket, but the engine's coming apart anyway to get thoroughly inspected. We scratched the second half of the weekend and we're also a scratch for Hyperfest next weekend.
On the plus side, it sure felt strong...well, right before it done blowed up...
July 20 - Matt confirmed the damage: warped head and block. He's pulling it apart to check to see if it need align-boring. Looks like another total-engine rebuild...<sigh> But, as my buddy JeffL said, "Hey, at least you have a nice trailer..."
This has been one hell of a year, huh?
August 19 - Just to follow-up, the second engine is toasted as well. That makes two good engine done this year. We're looking for another rebuildable engine, and we've got leads on a couple good candidates.
Unfortunately, these failures - and limitations of Greg's pocketbook - have effectively quenched the fires for 2005. It's quite possible we could build an engine and make an appearance in '05, but the plan now is to build for '06. If you review the blogs for the last 5 years you'll really understand the work we've put into this project, but these failures have pretty much pulled the winds from our sails - it's time for a break. Greg needs to get his head and finances back into the game and has chosen to focus on defending the ITB 13 Hours at VIR win, and Matt just wants a break, period. As of now there are no plans to attend any particular races, rather "if we're there, we're there."
If someone comes up with some cash to support the effort (hah!!!) we'll push onward, but look for us to work towards showing up full-force in '06!!
September 15 - Then it just gets worse...I got word this week that my ride for the 2005 13 Hours at VIR was rolled during a rally and is totaled, so we won't be able to defend our 2004 win. So, I guess I won't be doing that event...
To make matters even worse, SCCA announced that the 1.8L Miata will be going to ITA and a very attractive weight in '06. Yep, the black Miata - that I just sold - is a 1.8L and is race-ready...wow, what a suck-a$$ year...
October 17 - HOLD THE PRESSES!!! The reports of the end of our racing season have apparently been greatly exaggerated!
Basically, we got tired of sitting on our butts all year. Greg creaked open the wallet and Matt is building an engine; it appears we might actually be able to make the NARRC Runoffs at Lime Rock this coming weekend. Even better, we have aspirations of making the ARRC in Atlanta in November!! (or as Greg put it: "...there's good food to be eaten, beer to be drunk, and tall tales to be told, plus it would be really cool to top off a sucky year by driving 15+ hours down to Road Atlanta to blow up the brandy-new engine before getting stone s**t-faced and driving back home 15+ hours. So, I guess you never know..."
First things first: let's get to the NARRC, get Greg's butt in the car for some seat time, and see if we can get the damnable thing to last through the weekend. Once completed, I think we just might make the drive south...!
October 23 - Unfortunately, we didn't make the NARRC Runoffs due to some parts availability problems, but we're still a "go" for the ARRC at Road Atlanta!
November 05 - Update! The Nissan engine is installed and running, the chassis is all setup, and the car is in the trailer all tied down ready to go. Atlanta, we're "go" for launch!
All credit goes to Matt Kessler for this one; he pulled more magic out of his back pocket and made it happen. We're doing the test day on Thursday, with qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday. Watch for qualifying and race session updates at http://www.arrc-online.com. I hope to have good news in a week!
November 13 - Holy mackerel! Kakashi Racing attended the American Road Race of Champions at Road Atlanta we qualified and finished FOURTH! The best part is that the bulk of our competition was left wondering what that was and what just happened...! We're quite pleased with the results, especially given the lack of success through the year.
Write-up - and photos and videos - here.
December 14 - Kakashi Racing welcomes Saturn and Jeff Lawton to the team! ITA is gonna be a barn-burner!
2006 and After...
December 2005 - Kakashi Racing welcomes Saturn and Jeff Lawton to the team!
November 2005 - Kakashi Racing Places FOURTH at the ARRC '05!!!
June 2005 - Greg and Jeff Lawton co-drive to 12-hour class victory at Summit Point!
April 2005 - Kakashi Racing's Spec Miata is for sale!!!
February 2005 - Kakashi Racing Adds Second Entry to SPR Enduro Effort
January 2005 - Kakashi Drivers to race Summit Point Enduro