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i had a rally x recently.

there was only 8 drivers, so lots of runs. Also its a small venue so course design is limited.
anyways. I was 3rd over all behind 2 subies.

my car is regular zx3 springs up front with 1" spacers. Fresh SVT dampers all round. Also skidplate to protect the header.

 

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i had a rally x recently.

there was only 8 drivers, so lots of runs. Also its a small venue so course design is limited.
anyways. I was 3rd over all behind 2 subies.

my car is regular zx3 springs up front with 1" spacers. Fresh SVT dampers all round. Also skidplate to protect the header.

Cool..where did you get the 1" spacers?
 

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Discussion Starter #23
So far on my car I've blown out stockers, HTS's ,and Inverted Dynamics(FRPP Multimatic) and have no doubt I would have blown AGX's.
...
Geesh that's quite a hassle with the warranty.

Wow that's surprising it's 2" less travel for the bilsteins. But I'll definitely call around and research it a bit more. There's no race in July for the DC region (there is one up in Pennsylvania I may go to but it's on a much tamer course) so I'll probably plan to get the new suspension on before August's race. There's a test and tune the day before the event so that'll give me time to play around with it and get it right.

I'm thinking the bilsteins for the front if they'll work and maybe tokicos in the rear... or just AGX since they're cheap and I can buy a backup set. I googled around a bit and I can't find anything on the rear bilsteins.
 

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Geesh that's quite a hassle with the warranty.

Wow that's surprising it's 2" less travel for the bilsteins. But I'll definitely call around and research it a bit more. There's no race in July for the DC region (there is one up in Pennsylvania I may go to but it's on a much tamer course) so I'll probably plan to get the new suspension on before August's race. There's a test and tune the day before the event so that'll give me time to play around with it and get it right.

I'm thinking the bilsteins for the front if they'll work and maybe tokicos in the rear... or just AGX since they're cheap and I can buy a backup set. I googled around a bit and I can't find anything on the rear bilsteins.
Yeah-check out those Bilstein fronts and let us know if you find what I did on the travel length...
Bilstein usa will revalve them for rallyx for you for not too much $$ also.

But..just remember I went through 3/4 of a rallyx season with the HTS front struts turned full stiff on svt springs with the spacers and placing well..but even with those struts at full stiff occasionally bottoming pretty bad still.
Not until I went with a slightly taller spring and added 50% rate to the springs did I stop bottoming issues.



This link below shows stock focus and svt spring rates.. and even the svt ones are really soft..

http://forums.focaljet.com/mk-i-suspension/417250-spring-rates-all-first-page-updated-7-15-04-a.html


To further confuse the issue..some people rallyx on relatively stiff lowering springs and do really well.

Not a Focus..but last year I asked the guy that runs this vr6 powered Golf what suspension he was running.



He said H&R sport lowering springs and Bilsteins.
He said no bottoming issues........

I never did catch him all season...well I did..only because he broke(not anything suspension related).

Here's another guy doing well on lowering springs(although they are coilovers):

[/URL]
Drivers name is Keith Lightfoot, and the pic and quote below are from a rallyanarchy post:

"...... I ran a Focus SVT in SCCA RallyCross for several years with some success (two National Championships). I would recommend Team Dynamics Pro Rally 15" x 6" wheels (tight fit, but they clear the stock front calipers without modification) and a limited slip diff (I used a Torsen T2). Add some good coilovers. The Bilstein PSS9's I used were bullet-proof but the ride height would be too low for [stage]rally. Get your feet wet with a season or two of rallycross then add a cage if you still want to try stage rally..........."

So there is more than one way to do it..I went slightly taller and slightly stiffer others have had success with (almost) road race rates and stock height or even lowered and done well.

By the way the spring rate thread I posted earlier shows those pss9 rates at:

Bilstein PSS9
Front: 370#/in + 145#/in helper
Rear: 285#/in
These numbers came from Bilstein.

Way stiffer than our measly 129 lb/inch svt front springs......
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Hm.. so many options! Yeah I didn't realize the SVT springs were so soft... that would definitely help out.

I sent an email to Bilstein... which I probably shouldn't have done I should just find a shop and call and ask about it but here's the response I got:

"So you are correct that the travel is about 4", which from the information we have, is about 1" shorter than stock. This isn't uncommon when you make the switch from a twin-tube strut to a monotube shock, since the construction of the two is completely different.

The difference definitely wouldn't be any issue for the street driving that the B6 is designed for, but we can't say for sure what the effect would be while using them for rallycross. We obviously can't officially recommend it, but if you have colleagues that are using them with success, maybe they are worth a try?"

Sounds like there's a lot of ways to do this but the most important thing is to get something stiffer. I'm going camping this weekend for a bachelor party, also go karts at Summit Point Motorsports Park! So I won't have access to technology for the next few days. I'll look into this more when I'm back.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Little bit of an update.

My race last weekend was canceled due to severe weather. The course was pretty much under water so it has been rescheduled for July 12.

The new LSD and clutch are installed! Big thanks to Schroeder02 on here who did the install for me. The car feels awesome on turns now. It doesn't understeer as much on the road and on ramps are fun. Of course I can't push the car to its limit on the road so I'm excited to see how it does in rallycross.

I also got a new SVT header from someone on the forums here. My old one got dented and bent a bit from running the first event without a skid plate. The header was so bent that it angled the cat dangerously close to the oil pan so they were just about touching. I found a place nearby to ceramic coat the inside and outside of the header, it's all nice and pretty now:



It was still pretty hot and I was worried I'd melt up some fan wiring and resistor like has happened in the past. The heat wrap does a better job of reducing heat than the ceramic coating so I did a new heat wrap on the ceramic coated header with the DEI titanium wrap... looks really good but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Finally, new suspension has been ordered. After talking with Bilstein I decided to go with the Tokicos instead. Every Bilstein rep I talked to said the travel is less.. they said it wouldn't be a problem because of the design; however, they could only say this for street use and wouldn't comment on rallycross. Also I ordered custom stiffer springs from the site rallyrs mentioned. I shipped them an old SVT spring and they'll use it to make measurements and create new ones.

In other news, I'm going to the Pikes Peak Hillclimb next week! My parents live in Colorado so that will work out nicely. I'll post some pics on here later. Disappointed the road is completely paved to the top now, would have been nice to see it in the dirt.
 

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Header looks nice.....
Im interested to see how much the lsd helps....might have to adjust your driving style a bit...

Did you go much stiffer/taller on the springs?
Fronts only?
 

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Discussion Starter #28 (Edited)
Back from Colorado and spectating the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. It was quite an experience with over 120 competitors. I've wanted to do it since I was a kid so glad I finally got out there. There was even a Ford RS200!



Back to rallycross.. I actually kept the same specs. 50% increase to spring rate, 1" height and did fronts only. I had to send them an SVT spring so they could take measurements and create the custom one. I figure yours was based on the standard Focus spring so it will be a little different. I'll try this out and then I'll have a better idea of what to do next time and then I'll include rears as well.

Also the car has started making some strange noises which has me a bit concerned... It reminds me of a wheel bearing sound, sort of a rotating rubbing noise; however it's not wheel bearings. I can get it to happen in neutral and revving the engine to around 3100 RPM. It's louder and more obvious if moving instead of stationary but will do it under both conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I had my big two day event on July 12-13. I almost didn't make it due to some car problems right before the race.

So that noise I heard? I was way off. I must have been hearing a different noise when I had the car in neutral standing still. Maybe mistaking the sound of the air intake or something for the rotating noise I heard when driving at certain RPM. I was inspecting the car on the Monday before the race and couldn't find anything. I got an alignment done since I installed the Tokico suspension (I had some random problems getting those installed as well, company shipped me wrong hardware and the shock stems were too large for the original Focus mounts. I had to drill them out to get them to fit) While getting the alignment done I had the shop try and diagnose the noise for me and they had no idea. They said it was my tires or wheels being unbalanced even though I've swapped sets and still heard it. They say it's nothing serious so I'm fine to drive it. Thursday night comes and I'm putting the skid plate on, I spot grease flung all around the passenger side inner CV joint. I checked that same CV joint earlier in the week and it looked fine externally, no leaking grease or anything, but can't really see much with that boot on heh. At least now I know exactly the problem. I was kind of surprised cause usually CV joint problems you hear when you turn the car and it's an entirely different noise from what I was hearing. Mine would just do it at certain RPM randomly and turning it has no affect, you hear it regardless.

It was too late Thursday to call any part store so I had to wait until Friday morning. I call up about 4 parts stores in the area and they all tell me they can get me the part... next week. With the race tomorrow that wouldn't work. The SVT front axle is slightly different from the standard Focus so finding the part is a challenge. I give Autozone a try and luckily they can get me a remanufactured CV axle at 3pm that day.

My boss lets me leave a couple hours early since I have no idea how long this will take. Turns out, removing the passenger side CV axle is really easy and I have the old busted one out in about an hour. Autozone calls me to let me know the part is in so I take the Datsun over to pick it up. And I got the new axle installed in less than an hour. New one only cost $50 after the core charge so not bad at all really. I took it for a test drive and everything is perfect, no noise or problems. It's probably a good idea to replace the driver's side axle as well since usually if one goes the other one is going but I had no time. I may do it before the next one.

Onto the race...

There's about 40 entries total. My class (Prepared FWD) only has three cars: myself, Dodge Daytona and.. Focus ST! This guy spectated a previous rallycross and said he was planning to race his Focus ST this year... I never thought he would since it's a brand new car and I wouldn't thrash on it offroad.



There's two courses each day and Saturday's were all tight technical courses with lots of quick turns. My times started out a little rough, on my first run I screwed up my line and was headed the wrong way around a gate which would give me an offcourse penalty (worst time in your run group + 15 seconds). Instead I just aimed the car at the cones and took them out which got me a 2 cone penalty but much less severe than off course (+4 seconds). The rest of my runs were pretty smooth and I only had a couple more cone hits that day.

The new differential and suspension changes made a big difference. There was one long slightly uphill curve that previously I'd have to really fight the wheel to keep it in line and I'd have to be easy on the throttle. With the new limited slip differential, I could just put the throttle down and the car would just pull itself easily through the turn.



At the end of the first day, I was first in my class and about 40 or so seconds ahead of the Focus ST. The Dodge Daytona actually beat the Focus ST as well. Turns out I didn't have much to worry about. Driver experience matters a lot and this was the other guy's first event.

The SCCA rallycross chair invites everyone out to a bar/steakhouse a few minutes away in Frostburg so about 20 of us pile into our rally cars and drive into town. The college town is empty since it's the summer and apparently this steakhouse/bar closes in 30 minutes... However, they're so excited to have customers, especially 20, so they don't mind staying open late and letting us clean up in the bathroom (we all looked like coal miners after standing out in the dirt and dust all day).

I was planning to camp the first night with the other drivers but no one felt like camping after the long day. We all wanted AC, showers and a shelter that was already built. So instead a bunch of us got a few rooms at a comfort inn and we camped out in the hotel rooms.

On Sunday the Focus ST driver didn't show up. He wasn't running a skid plate so he was concerned about hurting his car which I fully understand. He said he's going to have one on and be back next event.



Sunday's courses were longer and faster speed courses with a lot of slaloms and large sweeping turns. I struggled a bit with the slaloms since I disconnected my front sway bar to give better traction. My first couple runs are a little sloppy as I adjust to fighting the wheel more but once I get used to it my times come down.

There's one long horseshoe turn that you are forced to drift if you want to be quick. On one run I nailed it perfectly, swinging the back end out and putting the car sideways through the apex while I adjusted the throttle to keep the wheels spinning. It was about a 3 or 4 second drift to get all the way through this big horseshoe. As soon as I was lined up with my exit out of the turn the wheels got grip and I launched forward. The corner worker that was watching that turn came up to me afterwards and told me it was the most beautiful drift he had ever seen.. wish I had it on video.

So my final results for the day.. I was first for all FWD cars. I beat all of the Stock and Prepared RWD cars and a few of the Modified RWD cars. I think in another couple events I could be first for all 2WD. I was surprised I beat a lot of AWD cars as well. Overall I'm pretty pleased and impressed with how the car is holding up. I have some more tweaks to make before the next event but each time myself and the car do better.

Thanks again to Schroeder02 on here for the LSD install and Tom for getting me the new tune with wideband right before the race.



Also found out recently that the Washington DC region has been chosen to host the Northeast Division championships in September. Will be nice to see some people from outside the area coming down.
 

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That’s fantastic the weekend went so well. Keep us all posted.
 

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Great post!

It's funny how much some of your rallyx experiences mirror mine.

Like you-I wish there were more cars in prepared.

I decided to sit out 2014 racing as I want to get some $ in the bank and I make most of my income on the weekends, so taking weekends off to go racing hurts- not even counting entries, car maintenance and lodging.

I'm pretty much living vicariously through your posts...

Sounds like the diff and suspension are working well and as expected car handles and drives a bit different.

Since you have better traction with the diff you can experiment with hooking the front s/b back up and seeing how that works for you.

I suspect it still would be better disconnected but without testing you won't know.

Other than that-as we discussed before seat time seat time seat time is the answer.

Beating many of the other "faster" cars(especially 227-300+hp awd's!) is fun!


My first few races at first I wasn't paying that much attention to the faster classes-I was just happy with my novice results.

I had a bunch of pics and video of some nice cars and a video of a bad ass looking fully caged evo worth 7x my cars worth launching as just tearing it up sideways throwing rooster tails etc.-it looked fast.

A few months after the race -I'm like-hey I wonder how much that guy beat me on my time?

So I look(more than once-bewildered..) and I'm like -WHAT?

I beat the guy handily- I don't remember-it was either my first or third race ever there...

Of course-who knows-maybe that was his first race too..so you can't get too proud.


After that I always check all classes times.

Often I beat awd cars some with big hp.

But don't get me wrong-the good guys in sorted awd's often destroy me.
And mod 2wd as well and often a couple really good guys in stock 2wd too.

It's driver over car for sure.

One bud I made (in a modified class wrx) that I think started racing about the time I did I beat pretty easily for several races.

But as he got more seat time and tweaked the car....I can't get close anymore..

Anyway nice to see that ST out there-that guy has balls.

I don't think he'll catch you though..

Turbo as we discussed has ZERO advantage in 2wd on gravel and his weight will hurt him.

Still like to see more years of Foci out there in the dirt though including
ST's(Fiestas too).
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Sorry I haven't updated this in a while! I usually write these up when things are slow at the office but work has been ridiculously busy lately. Also I was in Hawaii for a few weeks.

I've had a couple events since my last post. First up is the one back in August. The only changes I made on the car between the two day event in July and the one in August was installing my new custom front springs and hooking my front sway bar back up. I used the company rallyrs told me about to get the custom springs, I mailed them my SVT ones, they did their calculations, built the springs and shipped everything back to me. It didn't really take that long either; I'll probably do the rears eventually.

I measured the height before and after and with the new springs the car sat a little over an inch higher. So with spacers + custom springs I'm probably at about 1.75" higher than stock SVT in the front. I think it looks good and a bit more rally-ish. I brought my girlfriend out and tried to have her guess what was different about the car. She had no clue and told me to stop bothering her.

I took it for a spirited drive around a large parking lot and quickly decided to reconnect the front sway bar. The handling was a little better with that extra stiffness in the front end. I figure with the new suspension and higher spring rate that traction should be less of an issue and my bigger concern should just be controlling the car. As I think I mentioned before, the slaloms were a challenge with the front sway bar disconnected.

So now for the race...

The night before it rained pretty heavily in the mountains of Frostburg. Next morning, the sky was clear but our racing surface was a mix of mud, large puddles and wet gravel. This would be my first time ever racing on a wet surface so I was excited.

Unfortunately there wasn't much competition... I think it was bad timing of the event. The Great Lakes National Challenge was the same weekend so about 5 of our regulars were up there competing. It was also back to school time so I think some parents were home getting kids ready. We only had about 22 or so drivers and no other competitors in my class. Though this also means we get more seat time since less cars.

The course this weekend is a higher speed one with less tight technical turns. May not be good to go faster in the wet but that's better than the course getting completely destroyed from a bunch of tight turns in wet gravel, mud and water. It was a great course that included an elevation change down across a large puddle. You could get some good speed through there and make quite a splash. I don't think the course workers were to happy about getting splashed but it looked amazing. After that it was a tight slalom to a horseshoe which you could drift around. Very easy to get sideways on the wet gravel.

I was amazed with how well the car held up through the morning runs. Slaloms were much easier, getting the car to slide when I wanted wasn't an issue and I kept traction pretty well considering the wet surface. Before, I was constantly bottoming out and scraping my skid plate across the gravel. Now I would only hear the skid plate hit once on a run at a particularly bad rut. Quite an improvement and I could push the car harder without worrying about breaking everything. Also the car no longer bounced. The better spring rate and dampers fixed that issue. The stock suspension was just too soft for this kind of driving.

The afternoon course was just a reverse of the morning course.

Overall it was a good practice day for me with not much competition. I wasn't really consistent with my times and hit a few cones but it was also an adjustment for me to be driving on such a wet surface. I was mostly comparing times with a couple of PA Subaru guys in my run group. One has a 2012 STi that has been tuned to 350ft-lb torque. I was getting lap times of around 54-52 seconds until we came up on the last run of the day. Somehow everything clicked and I ended the day with a 50.6 clean. Only a tenth of second behind the 2012 STi's fastest time. He and I were surprised and impressed. It just shows how much room I have to improve considering I cut down 2 seconds in one run. Just need more practice!

Here's some pics of the car after the event. I spent a good long time chiseling and spraying mud and rocks off the car. The undercarriage was especially awful... which reminds me I really need to figure out a skid plate for the fuel lines.









Next up is the Northeast National Challenge! Also I registered for MF since my times have been so good lately and I wanted more competition.
 

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Sure is too bad Prepared 2wd class is so underrepresented.
You'd think cars with some mild mods but still having interiors would be popular..but...
at least in my neck of the woods it's like 2-5 cars max if you are lucky.

Stock 2wd and Mod 2wd on the other hand,are huge classes, at least in SoCal.

But....it sounds like your car set-up and mad skills are progressing nicely!
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Sorry I've been really slacking on these updates. I'm about a month behind.



Early September was the Northeast National Challenge event which consisted of three days. Test and tune on Friday and actual event racing on Saturday and Sunday. No times were being logged for the test and tune cause not many people showed up. It was mostly a relaxed testing day for the people from the New England area who haven't driven on our surface before. They're used to a mostly dirt course (sometimes snowy) and ours is basically all gravel so very different to drive on, they compared it to driving on marbles.

For the event, we had less of a turn out than the organizers had hoped for. Only about 35 drivers. We were hoping for close to 50 but oh well. I think it was bad timing for some; I know a lot of the regular local guys couldn't make it due to weddings, kids going back to school or other plans. About 10 of the drivers were from out of the area. One came from as far as Maine.

Also I changed class to Modified FWD instead of Prepared. My times have been so good lately that I decided I needed the extra challenge and bumped myself up. And I bought myself a set of gravel tires and 15" BRAIDs! Really expensive... my bank account is hurting but they should last me through all of next year.



There were only three other cars in my class, disappointing since usually MF has a bigger turn out than that but still some good competition. There's an early 90s civic that usually dominates MF in our region. His car weighs less than 2000 lbs and the guy has been racing here for a few years. The other is a ridiculous Buick Century that looks nothing like a Buick anymore. It's completely gutted and sounds like a monster. His times have been improving a lot with each race this season and right before this event he picked up a set of gravel tires. The third car in my class was an old VW Golf from Massachusetts. I'm not sure about all the modifications he's done but his car was gutted with a rollcage. I heard he usually does pretty well in his own region back home but it's a very different style of course compared to ours.



So onto racing...

It rained most of the early morning Saturday and my run group (all the 2WD cars so every class of RWD and FWD) was up first. Great because the AWD cars usually tear up the course a lot more but difficult for us since we'd be racing in the rain. At the last event it had rained the night before so we had a wet course but I haven't yet run in actual rain.

The morning was a little rough for me but everyone else was having a hard time as well. Saturday's course was a tighter technical course with lots of sharp challenging turns which made sliding in the wet gravel and mud a lot of fun but not particularly fast. Of course as soon as our run group was done the sky cleared up and the sun came out. I still managed to have a 10 second lead over the other cars in my class at the end of the morning session.



The afternoon session went a lot smoother and I only had one cone penalty. The gravel tires drive a lot differently than my old winters. It's a lot better but just different to get used to since the grip and traction is much more immediate. With the stiff sidewall and sharp edges the tires really bite when I abruptly change direction in loose gravel so I can travel through slaloms and chicanes much faster than before. It took me a few runs to realize this and just trust the car when before it would typically slide out. Now the car would only slide or drift when I wanted it to which was perfect.

At the end of the first day I think I was ahead by about 30 seconds or so. That's a pretty large lead so first place was mine unless I got a couple big penalties or the car breaks down. I was considering just driving it easy to get the car through the next day but then I saw that the guy leading the RWD group with a red RX7 was only 4 seconds ahead of me.



That night we all took over the same restaurant/bar we did at the last two day event. I love to drink but took it easy since my hangovers are typically brutal. Other drivers didn't care and went all out.. not sure if their times suffered the next day haha.

Sunday was a bright sunny day with higher temperatures. This means the gravel is hot and more loose. Also extremely dusty.



The course was set up very differently than the previous day's. This was a long fast course with one large horseshoe turn and some big slaloms. There were also some interesting elevation changes.

The morning session went smoothly for me and I just barely put down the fastest lap time.

My competitor in 2nd place with the Honda had a big problem on his last run. He was able to finish but the transmission mount had sheared off from the frame rail and now his transmission was just laying on his skid plate. The car wouldn't be able to finish the afternoon session.

The rules allow you a replacement car as long as it fits within the class rules. I've known the guy all year and he's helped me out a lot and taught me a lot about driving FWD. I felt bad so offered up to dual drive my car. Basically, two drivers can race the same car. Each driver gets the same amount of runs it's just double the runs (and wear) for the car.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, he would just take the DNF for the day but this was a National event so money is involved.



The afternoon course is roughly the same course driven in reverse. I enjoyed this version of the course.. it was a little faster and for the last few runs a rut had developed making a little hill before an elevation change. If you were going fast enough out of the horseshoe the front tires would leave the ground for a moment. Kind of awesome to be going full throttle, feel the car lift off and the engine revs fly up and bounce off the limiter for a moment. By the time the safety stewards noticed our session ended and they changed the course for the AWD group coming up next.

The guy with the Honda was also driving my car for this session. His times were very close to mine but I had the fastest time overall. I'm glad I was the faster one in my own car at least.

The red RX7 had a lot of cone penalties the second day so I ended up beating him by about 20 seconds. However, he did have the fastest lap time.

So I got 1st for MF. The Civic ended up in second instead of last since he used my car and the Buick came in third beating the VW from New England.

For 2WD overall I got first followed by an E30 BMW and then a 1990 Miata in the stock class (this was another guy from new england and he was really quick). The RX7 ended up in 4th overall I think due to all the cone penalties.

Here's the times:http://scca.cdn.racersites.com/prod/assets/2014%20Northeast%20RX%20National%20Challenge%20Results.pdf

Overall about 30+ minutes of seat time. Most I've done in one weekend. The AWD times aren't really comparable since the courses changed a bit between 2WD and AWD run groups.



Since this is a national SCCA event there's contingency money. Unfortunately, Ford doesn't support the program. The only manufacturers that do are Honda, Mazda, Subaru and I think VW. I was pretty surprised with Subaru, 1st place gets $1250! I did at least get a certificate from Hawk Brakes so yay free brake pads.

MF podium cars:


MA podium:


Thanks to a friend of mine for most of the pictures. They were all taken on Saturday when the weather was nice.



 

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Tx for posting the stories, vicarious racing thrills for sure!

Rally-X sounds like a good time, and like lower level Auto-X it isn't the investment full on Rally or racing would be.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Tx for posting the stories, vicarious racing thrills for sure!

Rally-X sounds like a good time, and like lower level Auto-X it isn't the investment full on Rally or racing would be.
Yep it's definitely the cheaper alternative to an actual rally! And helps you prepare for what may come if you do move on to other things. I've learned so much about the car and racing over the course of this year.


After the September National Challenge I did some maintenance.

I found that my driver side outer CV joint was making some noise. It's generally a good idea if replacing one CV axle to replace the other at the same time... I replaced the passenger side a couple months ago but not the driver. Replacing the driver side axle was really easy. I heard some people have had problems getting it out and have to remove the passenger side axle then insert a rod through the open differential to pound out the driver side axle. I have an LSD so there is no hole to slide a rod through; however, I was able to use a pry bar and get it out with not much effort.

One front wheel bearing had some very slight play. The car has 115k miles so figured I might as well do both fronts while I'm working on axles. I ordered the bearing kit from Steve then took the knuckles to a nearby shop to have old bearings pressed out and new ones put in. The shop only charged me 30 bucks for both which is pretty reasonable.

I removed the AC clutch and pulley from the car. The AC has been leaking a while and making some noise so decided I might as well just remove the whole AC system to reduce weight. I never use the AC anyways so race car! I ordered a shorter drive belt for bypassing the AC that fits the 04 SVT properly. There's a little bit of a difference between the 02-03 SVT and 04 SVT since I think the alternator pulley is slightly bigger on the 04. Part number is a Dayco 5060780. Belt fit perfectly and haven't had any issues with it.

The rest of the AC equipment I'll remove at a later date when I have more time. The process seems pretty straightforward and it'll be nice to have a little more room in the engine bay.

I also worked on a bunch of other misc items: cleaning dirt out of K&N air filter, cleaned IACV, TPS, MAF.. probably a few other items. Dirt likes to get everywhere. New gasket for the PCV. New eibach 22mm front sway bar, the bushings on the original SVT bar were looking pretty rough so decided to just replace the whole thing. That was a PITA to lower the subframe to get to. Inspected all my strut mounts and suspension bits to make sure everything is fine. Inspected motor mounts... they looked fine and retorqued them all to be sure but as you'll see in my next update... there's problems.

I shouldn't have bought a bigger front sway bar without getting a bigger rear. The car will understeer more which I don't want for RX but my budget has been a little tight lately so just went with the front for now. Bigger rear is next step, thinking about the CFM 28mm.

So everything is good and I'm pretty excited for the next race in October. However, I notice a little problem developing when I'm putting the skid plate back on. There's a small crack forming on the rear weld for the CFM HFC directly after the cat. It doesn't look too bad... so I go to autozone and get some of that exhaust sealer, looks kind of like a grey putty, and some wrap to cover up the crack.

Next up is season race #6!
 

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6th race of the season... and it was a rough one. I stayed in Modified FWD class since my car is no longer Prepared due to the AC delete. Also the competition is just better. I've also already won Prepared for season points so it doesn't really matter.. just racing for fun and experience.

I also brought a friend with me since he hadn't done rallycross before. Spectators are allowed to ride along with the drivers so it can be a lot of fun. Also nice to have a second set of hands to unload the car and swap wheels.

It rained hard the night before and the course was pretty wet. My run group was up first and there were some huge puddles. First time I went through one water and mud came up all over my windshield and I had to get the wipers going. Pretty hilarious and fun but my first couple laps destroyed some cones. I wasn't the only person having issues though; I was still the fastest in my class just because everyone was getting pretty sloppy. After a few laps the puddles disappeared from the water being thrown out and traction improved. I definitely noticed some understeer and really wish I didn't put that 22mm front sway on.





On one of the last few runs of the morning session I run into my first problem. I take off the line, shift from 1st to second and BAM then a loud deafening roar of exhaust dumping straight out of the high flow cat. I don't hesitate and just keep going, people have broken exhausts on this course before. I finish the run and pull back into the grid to get ready for the next one. Underneath the car I can see where directly after the cat the weld just sheared and the rest of the pipe was just sitting on my skid plate. Some cars have straight pipes out there.. but this is a bit more obnoxious because it's dumping directly underneath me. The entire car resonates and shakes with the sound of the exhaust. Not technically legal.. but they let me keep going. I still manage to put down some good times in the morning.

The afternoon session starts off better. I finally have a run where I don't badly screw up any corners and I put down the best time for my run group.

Next run I hope to improve on my time even more and know what to do... However, first hard left, it's a tight 90 degree turn, I accelerate out of it in 1st then shift hard into second and another BAM. This time it's not my exhaust and I feel that I no longer am putting power down. I drift off course and some course workers help push me to a safe spot to inspect the damage. Nearby I find the lower plastic drive belt cover shattered in a few pieces and the red poly bushing from the torque strut mount (the rear dogbone mount). Oh [:)][:)][:)][:)], this can't be good. Service vehicle drives me over to the pit area to collect my tools and I know this day is going to be a long rough one.

I jacked up the car and take off the wheels and remove the skid plate. Driver side.. looks ok. Passenger side.. oh shit. The CV joint had popped out of the axle and the axle had just flopped around the engine. That's what shattered the lower plastic cover. I check the block and there's little chunk taken out of the engine where the axle hit. Luckily it's only cosmetic and part of one of those ribbed portions. I forgot to take a picture of that but I'll get one later.

The torque strut mount is also hanging down. The front portion connected to the transmission is still fine but the part that goes on the subframe is cracked and the bushing flew out. (Picture is of it all back in my garage).



The portion where the bolt goes through the mount was fine and intact, still attached to the subframe but the bushing and mount itself had been torn straight through.

I think this was what caused the CV joint to pop out of the axle... mount must have gotten destroyed and then engine/trans shifted enough that the axle could become separated.

I'm frustrated with myself since I just inspected the mount. However, I only inspected the sides that were visible without removing the mount. That rear portion that is worn in the picture can't be seen unless you take the mount out. I suspect it's been getting worn for a while I just never noticed. The mount is also just the stock mount. I pressed out the old bushings and put in new energy suspension poly bushings about 5 months ago.

Luckily a nearby autozone has a crappy Dorman dogbone mount in stock. However, the axle is still a problem and no one carries SVT axles. I don't have a tow vehicle yet so I have to drive this car the 3+ hours back home. So I just push the CV joint back in and use a lot of zip ties to hold the boot to the axle.

Here's a shot of a Subie with me in the background working on the Focus:


Yay! The car drives again; however, the exhaust is no longer hilarious and is going to make my friend and I deaf. We stop at a dollar store to pick up ear plugs for the long drive home. The whole way back I'm shifting really early and going the speed limit or under. Anything above 3000RPM sounds like death and the car resonates and vibrates like crazy. My car is covered in mud with stickers and numbers on it so I'm sure it's an interesting sight for everyone else on the road. A girl in a car driving by sticks her hand out the window and gives me a thumbs up. I thought she was giving me the finger at first.

About half an hour from home I see police lights behind me. Oh shit.. not now. This can't go well. I know I'm not speeding but my exhaust is definitely not legal. He pulls me over and asks if I've been mudding (I live in a really redneck area). I explain that I'm coming back from a rallycross but he has no idea what that is. He asks if the Focus does pretty well, I tell him yeah but not today I've broken a lot of things and I'm sorry for the exhaust. He doesn't say anything about that and asks for my license and registration. He then tells me my front right headlight is out.. and writes me a repair order for it. I have ten days to fix the headlight and get the car inspected or my registration is suspended. Haha.. well could have been worse. I wait for him to leave and get far down the road before I start the car and wake up everyone within 5 miles.

Anyways I safely make it back home around midnight, email my boss that I'm taking off work tomorrow (I forgot it's Columbus Day and didn't have work anyways, he laughed at me) and then pass out for about 10 hours.
 
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