Slow Car Fast
July 24, 2011 - Track day test!
I was at the track testing the Targa Miata, and Janel stopped by with the MG. It garnered quite a bit of attention - all you have to do is park this car with the hood up and it will cause some double-takes.
And of course, I took it out on the track to see how it would do. Not to see how fast it would go, but the track is the ideal place to test the handling of a car safely. And as you can see in the video below, I did have a bit of fun. The first wobble coming on to the front straight was because I provoked the car to see what it would do. I was a bit slow on unwinding the counter-steer. Oops. But the suspension coped with the bump coming back on to track just fine, working as designed. Once I was recalibrated, I was able to hang the back end out fairly consistently when I wanted to. The biggest problem was that the body did move around a bit as the car was hooking back up, so you can't pitch it around like you can a Lotus Seven. Well, you can't really do that with anything.
The brakes were the weakest point. It feels as if the pads aren't properly bedded. They did feel stronger on the street after the track session, which would back that up. I'll take the car out and bed them again.
And of course, the excitement at the end. Fire! A couple of laps in, I heard a bit of a bang from the back followed by the smell of burning rubber. Yes, well, after the way I'd been driving burning rubber was to be expected. But this wasn't molten tire from spinning, this smelled like someone had actually lit rubber on fire. My first thought was that a tire was rubbing badly on something, so I started to back off a bit and come in. When I came towards the pit entrance, I was greeted by a very excited Brandon waving me down. Apparently I'd blown a big fireball and run around with the back of the car trailing flames for a bit.
It was pretty easy to figure out what had been going on. The vented fuel cap had been leaking a bit of fuel under hard left turns, and it eventually lit off. The burning rubber was the rubber gasket around the filler neck getting wobbly. No permanent harm done, but it did mean the track time was over for the day. I'll find a way to stop that from happening again. Not a major problem, but it sure was dramatic!

entry 632 - tags: track, fire, testing
January 5, 2014 - The MG's seen some action.
First, I took it to the track again. I finally got the chance to see how it handled at the limit without the big fireballs. The answer? Not that well, really. The car was oversteering badly, feeling like an arrow flying backwards. On the sweeper, it was actively trying to kill me constantly. The steering still had the wobble in it I didn't want. I tried adjusting the rear suspension pickup points (based on something I came across in Mark Donohue's "Unfair Advantage", of all things) and it helped a bit. But it was still twitchy and difficult to even drive on the interstate without the car exhibiting roll steer.
But I noticed something. The front tires were worn as if I had significant toe in. Lots and lots of it. So I checked, and sure enough. The toe was way out. I fixed that and all of a sudden the car was much better. The odd roll behavior went away and the steering dead spot disappeared. All of that chasing around, and it was just a bad alignment. Which is odd, given that it's been aligned before...
I also took the car out to a Corvette autocross, which they found fairly entertaining. Unfortunately, I simply didn't have enough tire to deal with the torque of the engine on a first-gear course and finished 4th overall if memory serves. Still, it was a fun day.
So it's mostly a driver right now. There are still some things that need to be sorted - in particular a vibration from the transmission leaning up against the tunnel under load and the bad reverse selection - but those don't stop me from driving it. That steering problem really took the fun out of it. That's been sorted!
entry 648 - tags: track, steering, handling, autocross