Penny-pinching car geek's guide to racing, track days, and car build. DIY projects, product reviews, and interviews.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Home Track - Gainesville Test Track

This is my home track. This is the driver training and testing track of the famous Gainesville Raceway that hosts the NHRA Gator Nationals (not to be confused with the Gatorz karting). Its a small 1-mile - ish course with a lot of standard driving elements. Its a lateral-G and horsepower heavy track. Surface is one of the smoothest I've driven on.

This is the current configuration. Click to see a bigger picture.

Nobody gave the corners names so I included my own reference numbers on the picture. The course was designed by the famous Alan Wilson, who designed circuits such as Barber Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park, and much more. He is even designing a road course in Seoul, Korea. That is where I am from by the way.

Fun areas include the turn 5-6 exit onto the front straight. Of course, the best part is still the turn 9 that goes onto the long back straight. By long, I mean relatively long. It isn't as long as it is on a real road course. Turn 3, the second section of the figure eight is slightly off-camber and makes the corner feel much tighter than it is. Turn 7-8 chicane area is cool too. Take a leap of faith, fly into the chicane, hit all the apexes, and don't get pushed out too far into turn 9.

The course rewards having a lot of lateral grip and horsepower. Tire width and torque is king. 
Here is a video of a demonstration lap. It is a warm-up lap, so the lines are clean.

I will post some track notes sometime. Oh, and I hope you all had a merry Christmas!

Copyright 2009, 2010 (c) by Jerry Lee.

Exhaust noise update

I went on a three hour trip in the car the other day. I also fixed an exhaust leak so the annoying-ness of the noise wasn't that bad but there is definitely more bass. I suggest earplugs for long trips. However, I can definitely survive short in-town trips in the car.

Copyright 2009, 2010 (c) by Jerry Lee.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mazda Competition Exhaust Install

The Mazda Competition Exhaust arrived in the mail from Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development. Shipping costs were only 20 dollars. After tax, it came out to be 211 dollars. It looks good. Stainless steel exhaust with good bends. The pipe diameter is 2.25". The muffler is much smaller than the OEM unit and the whole exhaust is much lighter. According to the mazdaspeed statement, shipping weight about 15 lbs. The OEM unit is close to 21 lbs. The exhaust is made by Bosal. This exhaust is commonly used in Spec Miata, but Springfield Dyno exhaust is the top-shit exhaust over there with even less bends, more power, and lighter weight (around 12 lbs) than the Mazda comp exhaust. It is too loud for my application so this exhaust will do.

Removal of the exhaust is very simple. Two bolts connecting it to the catalytic converter (in my case, cat delete test pipe) and three rubber hangers. The rubber hangers are very old in my car and was not that stiff, so removal was very simple.

A friend of mine has the same exhaust with a cat converter. His car wasn't too loud, though it does get kind of loud under load. Without the can converter it is louder. Idling is fine, and reving it produces a very sharp noise. Car revs and drops revs much faster than before. Under load I suspect the car will get quite loud. Not looking forward to the freeway noise.

Note: The burn damage on the bumper is from my stock exhaust tip being cut my the previous owner. The tip ended before the bumper. I think he might have done that to further quiet down
the car.

Next up is seat install and RX-7 AFM install. The RX-7 AFM install will involve some fiberglass for minimal underhood modification and use with stock intake, so stay tuned!

Copyright 2009, 2010 (c) by Jerry Lee.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Really big helmet

The other day, I saw someone with a really big helmet on their scooter. Really small person with a really big helmet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

About this blog

Before you read my blog, please read the disclaimer above.

Earlier this year, my project Miata came to a conclusion when it finally clocked about the same laptime that a stock S2000 would make.  I had a great run, and it was a lot of fun.  I learned how to make your car go faster, on the cheap!    And I wanted to deliver that message also:  You can be a poor college student (which I sort of was) and still build a awesome track toy.  You don't have to spend big bucks to have fun.

I also worked on my driving, but the main goal of the project was really the car and the attitude.  Now it was time to really work on my driving.  I want to throw myself into something much more competitive, where pretty much all that matters is the driver.  So I bought a kart, at a new phase of my life.  So from now on, I'll be writing on my karting adventures, with more focus on developing myself as a driver.  I hope you'll follow me in my journey.

----------------------------previous "about me" post below --------------

This blog is my personal notebook for the world to see. I will be posting three different types of posts. First is technical posts. I'll make notes on my performance on the track, car setup, driving tips and DIY projects. The second category of posts are industry news and opinions. I'm not a motor journalist, so I'll just be posting things that strikes me as important. Lastly, I'll be posting quotes, interviews, and thoughts and opinions on mental approaches to motorsports, engineering and racing. A major theme you will see throughout my post is how to save you money! Some things with some work, ingenuity, and adventurousness, you can save yourself a lot of money that works very well.

As the posts pile on, it gets hard for me to organize posts. There will be table of contents soon. Meanwhile, I encourage you to use the search function!

Please keep track of my blog and provide feedback. I'm not a professional in any of these fields, so if I post something questionable, I would like to have it pointed out. I am open to discussion too, and moderating comments will be very minimal.

If you would like to give any part of the information on my blog to somebody, I would prefer that you just refer them to my blog page. However, if you have a compelling reason or can't link, please credit it to this blog. Thanks!

You can reach me here: Hikickracing @ gmail dot com  (dot is a period, so that scanning software cannot take my email and spam me)

Tasklist as of Dec. 7th 2009

Tasklist Summary:
1. Seat 2. Exhaust 3. Shocks 4. AFM

Last track day, I realized I am forgoing some time because my body is being used to hold myself in the seat. For example, at the high-speed sweeper leading onto the longest straight, I am propping myself up with my left elbow against the door as I drive out of the corner. I am sure I can attack it more if I did not have to do that.

My friend Chris, "Punk Phenomena" Cullen told me, I should be more aggressive on corner exit.

So I've planned to purchase a race seat, mounting bracket, and a set of harnesses and mounting hardware when I am done with exams. Too poor to buy a nice fiberglass or kevlar seat. I am not comfortable with the idea of a back brace with an aluminum seat, unless someone can build me a very nice back brace with plenty of bracing surface area on the cheap! So I will be running a tubular seat. For now, Corbeau Forza looks like a good option. It used to have FIA rating for bottom mount, and the mounting brackets are very economical also. Having a past FIA rating must be better than never having a rating right? I hope it was just because they did not update it to new standards, or they decided it was not worth renewing the certification. Downside is that it is 19 lbs instead of the 17lbs-ish aluminum seat+brace package.

I got some more things I will do shortly:

My rear bumper is getting more and more burn damage. I can just weld on a tip, but I think I will use this opportunity to upgrade the exhaust system. Cost is a big issue in selecting an exhaust. From what I've researched, most performance tuner exhaust setups seem to have been designed with a lot of consideration in the sound and appearance. Although I am sure most of them have very similar performance gain, since most of this gain will be from the larger pipe diameter and a better bending of the tubes. Sound and appearance is not important to me as long as I can pass reasonable sound restrictions. So what does my selection come down to? Weight.

I settled on the Mazdaspeed Competition Exhaust for spec miata. This is a one piece unit made of stainless steel. A couple of my friends have this exhaust and I can live with how noisy it is. The pipe and can look pretty minimal so I believe this will be the lightest exhaust I can get on the cheap. Cost is about 195 dollars through Mazdaspeed support program.

I have a set of stock R-package Bilsteins from my friend's wrecked 1994. Traded it for a new radiator. Good trade, huh?

I plan to get these guys revalved for road racing. I have a complete lack of data in this area. I will probably just take it to a road-racing shock tuner and just give them my spring rates. This will be slightly more expensive then just shipping it out to Bilstein in San Diego. Although, I will try and find out how much experience and data the San Diego shop has to work with; if they do, they might be able to give me a revalve just as good as a mid-priced race shop.

I thought about running them with my current springs since no doubt these shocks are better than my stock, blown shocks, but it will throw off my laptimes and it will be hard to gauge my improvement. So hopefully, when I go to a different spring rate I will be driving more consistently.

RX-7 Air Flow Meter
I got this tip from Apparently the stock AFM only measures up to 165CFM, and the 1.6l engine flows about 178CFM @ 7000rpms. The RX-7 unit can measure much more than that, and it plugs in. Check out the website for more information.

I got a used one sitting in my garage. The inlet is rectangular, and I've been thinking about how to mate this up with an intake filter. I will probably have someone make an aluminum one that goes from round to square in a reasonable smooth manner. I don't want the simple adaptor that is sold on ebay because I think the transition is too abrupt around the sharp edges of the inlet and the meter will probably end up measuring very turbulent air.

Finals exams are finished in Dec. 18th. I will take a short vacation with my girlfriend and get to work!

Baseline Planning

Some information about my current car:
I'm building it to STS ish spec, so I can periodically run the car in PAX and compare my times with STS competitors at autocross events. Mainly, I'll be working on myself as a driver and developing the car at local track day events.

Current state:
1992 Mazda Miata
Fuji Racing flywheel
Mystery Flyin' Miata springs (lowers the car a bit)
99 Miata front sway bar
Test Pipe
14x6 hollow spoke wheels or 15x7 Konig Rewinds

First, I need to take some measurements and determine the suspension setup.

1. Find out if the FM springs are of the old type (342 lb/in, 228 lb/in) or the new type (318 lb/in, 218 lb/in). I emailed Kieth Tanner from FM to get some more information. The springs were changed over sometime in 2006. He gave me some identifying tips, so when I am done with exams I'll get under the car and figure everything out.

2. I need to measure the front sway bar diameter. I think it is 23mm.

Second, After I have these measurements, I will figure out the roll couple ratio to determine target balance for when I further upgrade the car's suspension. I will plug in the numbers to a spreadsheet and come out with my current balance in terms of front roll couple ratio. (FRC%). This number shows the roll couple ratio front and back. Front roll couple ratio of 52% means that the rear roll couple is 48%. This number is used to determine the balance of the car. For now, whatever number I come up with using the measurements above will be the target.

Thirdly, I would like to see if I can get my car on a dyno to determine what power I am putting down. I don't plan on developing the engine that much, but it would be very nice to have baseline information to work off of. I may not do this since I am on a limited budget.


This blog is a bit about my life, a bit about my driving, a bit about the build of my car(s), but most of all, it is about saving everyone money. There are a lot of expensive racing products out there. Some are rightfully so; stuff that even advanced enthusiasts will have trouble building; Stuff that takes too long, takes specialized eqiupment, takes too much manual skills, stuff that is difficult to make safe, and stuff that is too toxic to handle in your garage.

But otherwise, you can do things yourself. Or you can source parts and put them together. Most products out there are a result of that anyways. Sure, some companies claim the time spent testing and picking the parts justify their prices. That may or may not be true. But I see it this way. You look at their product, come up with your own design, use it. If they can still sell and profit from it, thats fine. If they can't, then they should lower their prices, or come up with a better product. Us as consumers always benefit, and that is what it should be all about.

Most of this can be achieved by vigorous research and shopping, by the way. Don't leave any stone unturned. Check other fields and industries for similar products. Check circle track markets, check dirt track, motorcycle, oval markets, spend as much time as you reasonably can to find what satisfies you. Don't have much time? Then you should just go buy the product available on the market. Thats what you really pay for, anyways.

I am all about getting more seat time and not spending any more money than necessary. Why? Because that money can be spent on wear items like brakes, tires and on track event fees. That is the absolute most important for me. And the things I figure out, discover, or hear from others, I will post them here. I hope it helps you as it has helped me. Read the disclaimer though! It is at the top of the blog.

A bit about myself:

I'm a law student at the University of Florida. I started racing activities when I started autocrossing with the SCCA back in 2007. I have my undergraduate degree in finance, and speak Korean also.

Since then, I've been more and more involved. I was involved at the Formula SAE project at San Diego State University since 2007. I was president from the 2007 fall to 2008 spring season. My team was the first team to successfully complete the SAE competition from San Diego State University in about a decade or so, and the first in several years to complete a car. I learned the most from my experiences at FSAE. I'm not a real engineer though. I can only do so much. But I did specialize in the suspension aspect of the car we were building.

I also have karting experience in the San Diego region in the Formula Yamaha Heavy class. I couldn't keep it up because I had underestimated how much kart racing costs. It was embarrassing really.

Then I moved to Florida to attend law school. I told myself, no more motorsports, no more cars. Yeah right. I had this motorcycle for commuting, and in Spring of 2009, I took my motorcycle to a track day and remembered how fun this hobby is. Come this fall, I bought another Miata from another autocrosser down in Orlando. I couldn't resist the temptation. I'll be running this car until I finish Law School.

The only "professional" experience in this industry is my time from working as a legal intern for Kumho Tire's Legal issues and compliance team. If you couldn't tell, I really want to work in the automotive industry. If you have a job or internship opportunity, please let me know!

Because my activities are sporadic, this blog will be updated slowly also. Please keep track, and thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Part Weights

Part weight
Parts marked with * are parts that I have not measured past 2/10th's accuracy
Parts marked with ** are parts I have not weighed personally
Parts marked with N/A are parts I have not measured yet, but plan to someday.

E-bay Coilovers Front 330g Rear 245g
Flyin' Miata Springs, pre 2006 342 lbs/in (single) 780g
Flyin' Miata Springs, pre 2006 228 lbs/in (single) 900g
QA-1 Springs, 450lbs/in (single), 2.5" ID 7" Length 3.43lbs**
QA-1 Springs, 300lbs/in (single), 2.5" ID 7" Length 2.47lbs**
E-Bay blue springs, 325lbs/in N/A
Short Endlink (QA-1 sourced, each) - 139g
1992 Rear sway bar and factory endlinks - 637g

Mazda Comp Spec Miata Exhaust - 15lbs**
OEM 1.6l exhaust (almost identical to 1.8l NA) - 21lbs
RX-7 AFM, Series 4 86-88 N/A
1.6L Miata AFM - 928g
Air Filter, PN: XXX N/A
Custom AFM rectangle to round adaptor N/A
Air filter to AFM assy weight N/A
A/C Condensor without any hoses or fittings N/A
Fuji Racing Chromoly Flywheel 8.36lbs

Hard Dog Hard Core Double Diag. with Harness Bar 55lbs**

Megan Racing AS-GT56 Airfoil and endplate only - 9.2lbs

OEM NA seat w/ speakers - 27.2lbs
Sparco Sprint V - 19.8lbs
Guage hood N/A

Konig Rewinds 15x7 et40 - 14.5lbs
Enkei RPF-1 15x7" - 4.425kg (9.75lbs)
949 Racing 6UL 15x8" et36 - 12.8lbs
Hankook R-S3 225/45/15 - 21.8lbs
Toyo R1R 225/45/15 - 20lbs
Falken Azenis 205/50/15 - 19lbs

Updated: 1/22/2011

Table of Contents

Arranged from early to recent. All titles are links.

General Information
Twitter page

Motorcycle Related Articles 

Hawk GT Build
Bike is running! ..a bit rough. Nov 2014
Merry Christmas! - Revival progress Dec 2014
Completely rusted out tank - Tank repair Oct 2014
I am back! New project- Honda Hawk GT NT650 (RC31) Oct 2014

Track Day and Race Reports
The Five Stages of a Crash (at the track) March. 2015
'Making' the dots before connecting them - Streets of Willow track day  November 2014
M1GP Mini Moto Clinic  Nov 2014

The Five Stages of a Crash (at the track) March. 2015

Karting Related Articles
Practice Reports
Track Day Report - Calspeed Karting - 11/25/2011  Nov. 2011
Track Day Report - Don't Buy That Shit! 11/19/2011 - Apex Karting

Product Reviews
Gear Review - Aisics Matflex Wrestling Shoes  Dec. 2011

Other Posts
A Little Bit Bruised at Fontana  Nov. 2011
Happy Thanksgiving  Nov. 2011
Beginning of a New Phase of My Life  Nov. 2011
Revival of the Blog  Oct. 2011

Miata Related Articles
Going Faster With Gerardo Bonilla (May 2010)

How-To Instructional (Don't Be A Sucka)

Product Review
R-Package Bilstein Shocks (February 2010)


Track Day Reports
Tasklist as of Dec 7th 2009 (December 2009)
Baseline Planning (December 2009) 
Really Big Helmet (Dec 2009)