This year the eEuroparts.com race team will be completing in a full American Endurance Racing season. American Endurance Racing (AER) is an endurance racing series that features two 9 hour feature events over a Saturday and Sunday. That’s 18 total hours of racing in a weekend plus a full day practice session the day before. That means stepping up our game and addressing some of the issues we had with our car last year. Most importantly it means being even more prepared than we have been in the past. We have 5 races at top tracks around the country to run Norma, our SAAB 900. The 2016 AER season plans to be a true test of endurance.
AER Rule Changes – Fire System Halo Seat or Window Net
Racing changes from year to year. This year featured two AER rule changes that make it safer for drivers. The first was to require an onboard two zone fire suppression system. Gone are the days of a fire extinguisher conveniently placed just out of reach of a belted in driver. There are plenty of racing leagues that still hope this will be enough to save someone from terrible burns in the event of an issue when, in reality, it is probably only effective if someone outside of the car can employ it quickly (in event of a fire, priority 1 is to get out of car. Priority 2 would be to attempt to put it out). This year AER took the step towards protecting drivers by requiring a driver deployed two zone system. After some research we chose to employ a three zone system. The additional zone allows us to cover engine, cockpit, and fuel cell and ensures that a driver will have adequate time to exit the vehicle in the event of a fire.
We’re OK with this as we literally watched a BMW burst into flames in front of us at Summit Point last season, and the local fire department floundered as the damage ensued.
The second change didn’t really affect our team as our car already features a solid mounted aluminum racing seat with head, chest, and thigh support. Specifically it would never allow the driver to slide outside of the seat in the event of an accident. If you do not employ a halo seat AER is now requiring a center net to protect the driver from ejection along with the already required window net.
Improved Braking System
At the end of the season last year we had major issues with our stock style OEM master cylinder. Our modified booster-less master cylinder that come stock on a SAAB 900 was prone to sticking and the driver would lose brake pedal as the pin pushrod would contact the piston at different angles. No brakes. This season we added a Wilwood tandem master which provides the same style master, but in a lightweight, high-capacity design with a captured pushrod that should provide a more consistent pedal. We’ve also replaced 30 year old stock rear hard lines with new CuNiFer (it’s a copper alloy) line and a stainless steel flex line between the body and rear axle. This was solely a preventive measure we hope keeps us out of the paddock. With these small improvements we should be able to build confidence in our braking capability, which will bring us faster lap times overall.
New Tire Size
Over the last three years, our number one problem has been getting tires and getting tires consistently. We’ve run almost anything suppliers have available in a fifteen inch tire, and they just don’t hold up to the speed, power, and acceleration that our little car produces. The problem is two-fold.
First, the smaller tires don’t have as much surface area or as much surface area in contact with the road. That causes them to build heat faster and to hold more heat than a larger tire, which is ideal if you’re auto crossing, but not endurance racing. AER is endurance. It’s in the title. Hotter temps on average mean the car doesn’t brake as well or accelerate as quickly because the tires have a tendency to slide and break loose.
Second, the fifteens don’t seem to be readily available or come from supply lines that are hard to trust. We were constantly changing compounds based on what was currently in stock rather than what we wanted to run last year, which put us on melty gumball autocross tires at the end of the 2015 AER season. What we know now is that one 200 tread wear tire is dramatically different from another, which leads to inconsistent overall performance throughout the season. For us it meant sometimes changing tires after four to five hours of run time or risk a blow-out.
This year we made the investment in 17 inch wheels. It was hard to find a 17×8 with a 4×4.5 bolt pattern but we were able to source three sets from Rota wheels. These wheels enable us to run more modern tire sizes, and get closer to tire widths run by our competitors. A staggered 235/40/17 and 215/40/17 now fill our wheel wells without much room to spare. The new setup has some advantages and disadvantages, but we’re confident it was the right move. This change also will require us to re-tune the suspension to account for higher lateral G forces attainable, but with consistent tire selection we will be better able to make clear conclusions based on changes made.
Autosport Labs Race Capture Pro
We’re now running the RaceCapture Pro 2 with available Bluetooth Module and built-in telemetry. Although the RaceCapture is a great platform for timing and data logging track position and speed with its built-in GPS and accelerometers, it did not have any out of the box support to look at our engine data from our Trionic 5 engine management system. It did have the capability to add custom support through its scripting language interface through the ubiquitous CAN network communication. With some community support and some late night programming sessions, we were able to unlock the full capability of Trionic 5 and the RaceCapture interface to read and log the hundreds of engine parameters available through T5 and display them on a wireless tablet in the car or with anyone with a web browser and an internet connection all over the world, in real time. How cool is that? With this capability we decided to scrap our analog gauges and move into the next generation with a total digital dash.
New Paint Scheme
Finally, we’re pleased to introduce our new paint scheme for the year. The paint was by Chad Longo and crew at Unlimited Motorsports & Paint in Ellington, CT (right next to TSI Harley Davidson). The team at Unlimited specializes in premium vehicle restoration and paint. This is actually the fourth or fifth car that they’ve painted on behalf of this author and they are the best. They were able to run Norma’s paint job around in one week, which was huge in crunch time. Best part is it came out incredible!
Color – Silver, Royal Blue, and Orange
Primary Sponsors – Bosch, Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket, Bizol, Unlimited Motorsports & Paint, ZF/Sachs
Secondary Sponsors – MANN-FILTER, NGK, NTK, ePartsLand
2.0L Turbo 16v
200k mile bottom end – Stock
Modified Solid Engine Mounts
Trionic 5 Conversion w/ eEuroparts Conversion Harness
eEuroparts T5 Conversion Ultimate Lightened Flywheel v2 & CPS Trigger Rev 2.0
2.1L Cylinder Head (B212)
2.1L Intake Manifold
Custom Valve Cover with Oil Filler and PCV Vent
NG900 Intake Valves (B204)
Volvo “Redblock” Valve Springs
Volvo V70R +TD04-16HL Turbocharger
Do88 Universal Intercooler (520x235x63mm)
Do88 Silicone Couplers / Custom Intake Pipes 2.5”
K&N Air Filter
Trionic 7 Boost Control Valve
3″ Custom Stainless Steel Exhaust & Downpipe
Wideband O2 and EGT Sensors
7500rpm RPM limiter
~270whp @ 18lbs of boost
Reproduction SAAB Sport & Rally Competition 4-Speed Gearset
“Ko-kill” Chillcast main case
‘81-’88 pinion bearing housing
Solid “Crush” Sleeve
‘86+ Inner Drivers (modified)
9000 Quaife ATB Differential
Reinforced gear selector with steel double selector forks
Steel rear differential cover w/ cooler ports
Custom Short throw shifter with gating and reverse lockout
9000 Transmission Oil Cooler using power steering pump and filter
Chassis & Suspension:
Lightened “Notchback” Chassis ~ 2150lbs
Fully Welded Roll Cage
Sunroof Removed & Panel Welded
eEuroparts Adjustable Rear Panhard Rod Bar
Heim-joint Control Arm Upper & Lower “Bushings”
Modified Lower Spring Perches for 5” Diameter Springs
Bilstein HD Shocks
235/40/17 Front 235/40/17 Rear Tires
17x8” Rota “Grid” wheels
“Un-Powered” Standard Power Steering Rack
RaceCapture Pro datalogging/telemetry
Custom Dash with Digital Instrumentation Display w/ RCP
‘86 Turbo “Vented” Rotor Front Hub Assemblies (w/ Custom Vented Hub adapters)
Wilwood 4-Piston Aluminum Front Calipers w/Racing Front Pads
Standard Rear Calipers w/ EBC Pads
Stainless Steel Braided Lines & CuNiFer Hard Lines
Wilwood Tandem master with modified pedal fulcrum
22 Gallon Fuel Cell
-6 (⅜”) Aluminum and Flexible Line with A/N Fittings
Twin (255LPH) Walbro GSL392 Fuel Pumps w/ Custom Manifold/Mounts
Volvo “Green Giant” Fuel Injectors (42lb/hr)http://www.eeuroparts.com/Parts/59138/Fuel-Injector-Green-Giant-0280155968/
Relocated Fuel Filter with AN adapters
AEM Adjustable fuel pressure regulator with custom rail