Tighe Cams Round 6

2nd December was the final hillclimb for the year at Mt Cotton, so there was a larger than normal field of cars running – up around 100 cars I think. This made the pit area pretty crowded, and with some of the drivers not having run on the track before there was also more incidents than usual – including an old 1964 EH Holden rolling it just after the finish line. Driver fine except for a bruised ego, but the car was a bit of a mess and needs more than a few new panels (including the roof).
Thankfully Jezebel ran like a charm for each of the 4 runs I had, getting progressively quicker from first 56.75s run on a cold wet track to a new personal best of 53.78. Just to be sure I followed it up with a 53.82 to prove that I’m definitely into the 53’s now. I of course am totally stoked – that time got me 2nd in class for the round as well as 2nd in class for the series.
Completing the round without incident was a pretty big milestone for Jezebel – she’s now completed a full season’s racing without any real incidents or breakages, and times at Mt Cotton have improved by over 8 seconds. Still 4 seconds back from Jeff’s Datto up in first place, but with Jezebel’s off-season development program about to start – including an upgrade  Porsche 944 Turbo brakes all round – I should be able to get a bit closer to him.
Next season’s target, get into the 50’s…

Jezebel at the Australian Hillclimb Championships

Well, the delay this time is due to me being on holidays and away from the computer, rather than sheer slackness. Honest !!!
2-4 November the MG Car Club hosted the Australian Hillclimb Championships at Mt Cotton, which only comes to Queensland once every 7 years. Of course Jezebel and I just had to run, despite needing to make some not-so-small mods to qualify for the Improved Production category (my normal Road Registered category isn’t always run at National level rounds).
By not-so-small, we’re talking:
  • Standard steel mudguards on the back, which meant clearance problems compared to my normal 2" wider fiberglass ones
  • 15" rims instead of the normal 16", with accompanying new but smaller race tyres (2" shorter in diameter)
  • Putting the front bumper on, with required cutting into the older model front guards to mount the brackets (also added a go-fast spoiler 🙂
  • Finally suspension adjustments to get Jezzi back up over the 100mm min ride height (adding in stiffer rear bars while I was at it)
The weird thing about all of this was that Jezzi was already 100% legal for road-rego, and altho the changes are a bit iffy for road-rego they would only make me faster on the track !!! Oh well – it was worth it for 3 days of racing, and they definitely made Jezzi faster….
First run on the Friday was a 56.14 which was only 0.5 seconds of my personal best. On the second run I got my time down to 55.2 – a new personal best – but the last run gave me a bit of a scare when managed to suck part of the wiring harness into the cooling fan – absolutely TERRIBLE noise that I’d at first thought was a busted transmission or a seized generator. Cue visions of being out of competition on day 1, or pulling an all-nighter fixing things, to luckily be replaced by about 10 minutes of dragging wiring out of the cooling fan and 2 replacement bolts on the fan mount.
Saturday things back on track (literally) with times just getting into the 54’s, and by the end of Sunday I’d lowered my personal best down to 54.56, almost exactly 1 second improvement over previous round. Even better I’d logged at least 4 runs in the 54’s. Totally stoked with the result – even though I finished last in class up against some serious competition, things are definitely heating up now with both Jezzi’s and my "development"…
Big thanks to Dad who drove up from Sydney to help put the finishing touches on Jezzi and get her ready to race, with both he and another competitor Jeff providing moral/calming support when dealing with the fan issue. A whole heap of stress over nothing… luckily.
On-car video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx2QkN3WVNE, and will hopefully get some photo’s up soon.

Jezebel tries Drag Racing

Yes – the slack’ness continues in how long it takes me to post updates…
29-30 September Jezebel and I had our first taste of drag racing with VW Warwick 2007 organized by VW Magazine Australia (www.vwma.net.au).
  • 1/8th mile drag strip with competition timing gear on it.
  • 65-70 cars competing, all VW or VW powered
  • 200+ drivers and crew camping at the track Saturday night, swapping tall stories etc.
This was my first ever go at straight line racing, and although I don’t think it’ll ever draw me away from hillclimb it was still a ton of fun, made just that bit better with two of my mates Pete and Sonia coming along as my Pit Crew (read as moral support/cheer squad/grandstand photographers).
Jezebel and I weren’t all that quick, but we ran as many times as we were allowed – 14 passes total I think across the two days, with a fastest of 11.121 @ 64mph. With some more tuning and driver confidence there’s another 2 seconds to gain in there, but still very happy since had no breakages or any real problems to speak of. Jezebel also got a lot of approving comments for a "roundy-roundy racer" and more than a few photos taken of her from amongst the spectators… after all she does look the business with race numbers and masked headlights !!!
Unfortunately I forgot to set up the video for Saturday practice when the car running beside me retired with an engine fire, but I did get a good run on Sunday which gives a pretty good idea of what it’s like… just unfortunate that I got beaten by about a car length !!!

Jezebel Racing

OK, I know I’ve been a bit slack lately updating the blog…  work and other things have just gotten in the way a bit.
Anyhow, recent events that Jezebel and I have run in:
28 July – Queensland Challenge
This was a mini-Targa styled event, with all different types of stages including a short course sprint on Queensland Raceway, Motorkhana, Slalom on the Willowbank Dragstrip, Autocross, Navigation Rally and a Hillclimb next to Wivenhoe Dam. Competed in it with a mate of mine Mick as Navigator – we didn’t do all that well (placed 2nd last after going over our late time) but had a ton of fun anyway. Jezzi ran perfectly all day – despite pretty warm weather – and the only real damage a broken sway bar links due to grounding out (hard) at one point on the Autocross circuit and a ton of stone chips in the paint. Hey – stone chips are a badge of honor that PROVE the car get’s driven !!! 🙂
Unfortunately didn’t get any decent footage at this one – was still running the bullet cam from battery pack, and both sets of batteries died right at the critical time.
5 August – Tighe Cams Round 4
The usual deal at Mt Cotton. Times very similar to previous round – 56.48 best run, but consistency definitely improving with all runs down in the 56’s (bar the initial go-slow sight-in run of course). Now consistently about 0.5 seconds behind Nev in the Cortina… just need to keep the consistency and up the pace slightly. Camera now wired into Jezzi’s main power and safely mounted on the roof, hopefully so footage reliable from now on.
23 September – Tighe Cams Round 5
Mt Cotton again – a lot more cars than normal due to being part of the Ironman Series, which has Night Nav Run, Sprint, Motorkhana and finally Hillclimb stages spread across the weekend. Due to being jet-lagged from only just arriving back from a business trip to the US,  I only competed in the Night Nav Run and Hillclimb stages. Lack of time meant Jezebel hadn’t had the normal tune-up I give her before an event, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot – just to have fun really. Some of my mates turning out meant I had a few spectators to impress though, so I was totally stoked when I put down a 55.53 second run- an improvement of 0.9 seconds over my previous best !!!
This put me ahead of Nev in the Cortina by about 0.3 seconds on each run, but instead of jumping up into 2nd place now find myself battling with Mark in his 2 liter Escort who’d picked up 3 seconds following some work on his engine – I guess I’m not the only one trying to get faster !!! Mark’s about 0.7 seconds in front of me, and admitted he was pretty much on the limit… so much so that he skipped the last run worried he might push too hard and have an off !!!
I still have some minor mods planned for Jezzi that’ll give a bit of an improvement in times I think, so Mark… game on… 😉
btw – my 55.53 second run is up on YouTube also – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHFv51sgsQE  Can you tell I was happy ???

Tighe Cams Rnd 3

Today Jezebel ran in Round 3 of the Tighe Cams series. Didn’t manage to better my times – about 0.3 seconds off pace – but the little mods I’m making are definitely heading in the right direction.
So far only minor changes since the last time out – new muffler (less restrictive) plus heavier race sway bars, with multiple stiffness settings, plus the first incarnation of my in-car video system. I had the sway bars set to be only slightly stiffer than the old street bars – about 1/3 of the way through their adjustment range – but even that has made a big improvement in handling. Definitely got better turn in on the hairpins, and much easier to keep smooth on the track.
The new muffler has brought a slight increase in grunt from the engine too – one huge power slide out of the first turn, which although it felt awesome and looked impressive just wasn’t the fastest way round.
Oh – and although camera placement needs to be worked on a bit, I’m totally stoked with my first go at video’ing a run !!! See it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw5-tzde89A and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TVZYxLuHWE

Queensland Hillclimb Championships

Over the weekend was the Queensland Hillclimb Championships, held at Mt Cotton and the culmination of all my Log Booking efforts.
Jezebel and I had a blast, with two solid days of tearing up and down the hill – 12 runs in total. Especially since this was the first time that Jezzi has had company there, with two other VW bugs that had come up from NSW to compete (with each one double entered so 4 other VW drivers).
Saturday was timed-practice, and managed to improve my best time slightly and get down to 56.43seconds. The VW’s were drastically faster than me – down in the 48s – and although they entered in a different class the specs of all the cars are pretty close, so it’s obvious that Jezebel has a lot of potential. All the other drivers have been hillclimbing for 3+ years, and this was only Jezebel and my 3rd ever event !!!
Sunday was competition, but since Nev broke his car late Saturday afternoon (the main guy I swap times with) it became a test session for me since I was guaranteed a second placing no matter what I did. The other VW drivers are doing quite a few things different than me, so I tried some of their driving tactics as well as making some minor suspension tweaks and so on. Initially this sent my times back about 4 seconds, but I managed to gain most of it back and log a 57.28 fastest for the day. There’s another few seconds if I can get my head around holding gears longer and braking a bit later. What can I say – I’m still being gentle on the girl. The other bugs got their times down lower still, now just tipping into the 47s
Other highlights were seeing the battle amongst the fast cars – the open wheelers running down in the 37s including a Gould that is basically a Maclaren F1 car. The fastest ever time for the track was beaten I think 4 times during the day – seriously quick.
All up a brilliant weekend. Literally doubled the number of times I’ve run on the track, improved my best time while posting 5 runs in total that were in the 56s, gained a whole heap of things to try AND I scored my first motorsport trophy – Queensland Hillclimb Championship, 2nd place Road Registered 1601-2000cc.

Jezebel gets a Log Book

Just a short update to say that on Thursday I got Jezebel issued with her Log Book, so she’s now fully certified as Group 3C RCO (Rally Car Other).
A Log Book is the final level of inspection for a race car, so although she was already fully road legal and registered, this last step means she’s been inspected and OK’d by a racing scrutineer and fully complianced and registered for on-track Motorsport use in Australia. Getting log booked as 3C means I can do either tarmac or gravel rallies as well as on-road and on-track events – it’s basically the most flexible in terms of what Jezzi and I can do.
Why now ??? Well although I’d always planned on getting a log book, I needed it done sooner rather than later  so I can compete in the Queensland Hillclimb Championship that’s on in the first weekend in June (the racing regulations here say that only log booked cars are allowed in State level events and above). Although I’m not really expecting to be all that competitve, I figured that I just couldn’t miss out on 2 days of running at Mt Cotton
So, the last little hurdle out of the way and Jezzi is proudly showing two CAMS compliance stickers on her doors. Now I’m basically all set for my next go at the hill – although there’s nothing I HAVE to do on her, hopefully the stiffer front springs I’ve ordered will arrive soon so I have time to get them in…

Jezebel gets faster !!!

Sunday was Round 2 of the Tighe Cams series – at Mt Cotton again – and I had an absolutely excellent day.
Although we’d had a bit of rain over night, the day fined up pretty quickly so only the first run was on a damp track.  I’m REALLY happy with the progress I’ve made with Jezebel since her last outing, improving by over 5 seconds to post times of 60.79, 59.18, 56.78, 57.00 and 57.26.  That had me running 3rd in my class with a gap of about 2 seconds over 4th position, and only 1 second gap to get me up to 2nd place !!!
I’m still not driving anywhere near the limits of the car – suffered from a slight brake pressure problem all day which hurt my confidence and I reckon cost me a second or so each run. Also can see a few other areas to work on in my driving, and some minor suspension tweaks and so on I think will give me another couple of seconds.
Was very cool that Mum and Dad made the trip up from Gosford again to act as pit crew, caterers and trackside video, and also had other parts of the family and a bunch of my friends come out to watch me run.  Hopefully they didn’t find the process too boring – I really appreciated having everyone there.
Thanks too to Sonia who took a few shots of Jezebel doing her thing, and I’m going to try and get some of the video up that Mum took.
As before, there’s also some pro-photographer shots at the link below:

Tighe Cams Hillclimb Series, Rnd 1

OK, a very delayed update, but I’ve been busy with work as well as a few little jobs on the car.
Sunday 11/3 was the first round of the Tighe Cams Hillclimb Series, and so Jezebel the Hillclimb Bug had her first competitive outing. I was completely stoked with how things went – didn’t break anything on the car, and am definitely starting to make some progress on both getting the car solid AND on re-learning how to drive a bug.
Had four runs for the day with subtle little tweaks to the engine in between. The first run was really just remember where the track went, for a shocking time of 71.08, but subsequent runs I got pregressively more serious posting times of 64.7, 62.47 and a 61.96. That had me running last in my class by about half a second or so, but considering I still didn’t put the engine over 4500 rpm (it’ll go to 7000 when run in) and a few other little driver confidence things I reckon there’s an easy 5 or so seconds to be gained. Still a slight niggling fuel pressure issue towards the end of the run, which I’ve hopefully now fixed by re-designing the fuel return line.
 A BIG thanks to Mum and Dad who made the trip up to watch me run, as well as to provide some moral support (read as pit crew, catering, start line photography and off-track video).
One of the pro photographers there got some nice pics of my car too, which I’m at some point going to purchase some copies of.

Mt Cotton “Come and Try”

Sunday the MG Car Club ran a "Come and Try" day for their hillclimb circuit at Mt Cotton, to try and get people into Hillclimb as well as maybe some new members for their club.
Pretty big deal for me, as it was both the first time I’d driven in a hillclimb AND the first event that the bug had competed in.
Brand new race car and a brand new driver, so of course not everything went smoothly:
 – car refused to start once I’d unloaded it from the trailer (broken the main ignition points which I’d never seen happen before)
 – missed the normal scrutineering window since I was busy trying to bypass the broken points and get it running (with some much appreciated help from within the MG club)
 – smoke from the engine bay after my first run (due to some oil that had been spilt on the heatwrap on the headers)
 – front tyres rubbing under braking (combination of front suspension set too low and having a second person in the car)
 – running out of fuel right at the end of a run, and not clearing the circuit (stoopid dufus me forgetting to refill from the jerry after unloading
 – best time of 72 seconds (unofficial), which is about 20 seconds off the pace the car should be capable of (not bad I think for a beginner driver in an unproven car with an engine yet to be run-in)
All in all tho it was a brilliant day – I had a huge amount of fun, had no breakages or damage to the car and even managed to not look bad or stuff anyone else around. Now just to get the roadworthy certificate and registration done, and I can start on developing some pace…
P.S. 21/2 I’ve just gotten roused on by Dad for him not getting a mention in this blog – he’d driven up from Sydney to help me get the final touches done on the car, get it engineered etc. as well as to act as pit crew/moral support for my first event. Thanks Dad – you were a huge help all round – I’ve even almost forgiven over the "Gee mate, I think you want bumpers on it." comment !!!