We were all pretty happy with the car’s performance in 2018, so there weren’t any major iterations during the off-season (which is a first for us). However, the winter was spent on a ton of little maintenance items and minor upgrades, so there was still plenty to test.
- We had a leaky radiator at the end of last season, so we had a brand new, oversized aluminum radiator to put through the paces.
- We upgraded the fuel system substantially, installing a fuel cell, a hydramat, and an upgraded fuel pump and regulator (should we ever decide to add more power).
- We tweaked the alignment specs, adding some camber at all four corners, as well as some positive toe in the front to address some stability issues under moderate-to-heavy braking events.
- We swapped in a used transmission to replace ours which had worn out synchros. We are currently rebuilding the worn old transmission, which you’ll hear about as soon as we get it working.
- Lastly, the front brake pads were in need of replacing, so we upgraded to a more aggressive pad compound than last year.
If you’d like to read more about these upgrades, you can check out our previous article.
The excitement was building as we finished prepping the car the weekend before our test and tune. The tire pressures were set, the alignment was exactly how we wanted, and the lug bolts were torqued. Unfortunately, we found that someone put some chocolate milk where the oil should be. After a quick leak down check, we confirmed the head gasket was leaking. It was surely a dampener on our mood, but with this being one of the last chances to test the car before our first race in June, we had to run it. We threw in a little head gasket sealer, replaced the oil and water, loaded everything up, and set off.
The goals of the night were simple.
- Give the car a general shakedown. This meant making sure the car was more stable than last year with the new alignment specs, bedding in the new brake pads, evaluating the cooling performance of the new radiator, making sure all aspects of the new fuel system performed properly, and making sure our transmission swap was up-to-par. Of course, all of this is in addition to ensuring everything stays together after being disassembled and reassembled numerous times in the off-season.
- We had two new drivers, Parker and Steve, who have never driven the 900 before. We wanted to ensure they were comfortable with the car so that they are confident in the upcoming races they’ll be competing in this season.
- Most importantly, we hoped to gain some momentum to start the season, because after 6 months of being mechanics, we were all ready to be race car drivers again!
We took part in eight sessions over the course of four hours and the car performed as expected. Lap times were on par with last year’s, but accomplished in a much more stable fashion. Parker and Steve enjoyed themselves during their first stints with our Saab 900 and were amped to get on track again. The only issue on the night was some vibration under braking that we later diagnosed as a loose axle nut. Remember to always torque to spec!
The car is back in the garage as we prepare it for its first race at the National Corvette Museum. Hassan knocked out the head gasket repair in just a couple of days, as I built a firewall for our fuel cell and continued our ongoing challenge of making the car as light as possible. We still need a fuel filler neck, some new shifter bushings, and a few other odds and ends, but only 20 days separate us from and our first event of the season. Be sure to check back in a few weeks to see how it went!
Until then, check out the playlist of everyone’s stints at Gingerman Raceway!