10/14/11 The big day. Didn't really feel that way at first. Just another test. The weather was iffy. Yesterday was supposed to be sunny, and was - on the internet. In the real world it poured most of the day. So this morning the only thing I'd trust was the radar map which showed rain moving about but missing the track most of the time. Well, we're ready so we decided to go for it. Driving through intermittent rain we arrived at the Pat's Acres track to find it damp but runnable. We wouldn't be pushing hard today anyway. I did take a broom and cleared some standing water from the track surface before we ventured out.

I must admit I had a bit of unease going into this test. 430hp, 1,000 lbs, brand new cold tires, damp track and a great number of unknowns... Of course restraint would be exercised but still. Then, the car was sitting there (almost exactly 5 years after the very first dp1 proto sat in the same spot) and there was nothing more to do but drive it. And so I did (and then Tristan did too). Click on the picture below for video.

I need not have feared. The main thing I walked away with is amazement at just how controllable the car is. You can dial in exactly as much power as needed and apply it very early in turns, quite a ways before the apex. Yes it will be able to use all of its power once fully sorted, I know that now. The engine is just as tractable as I remember it and the combination of the chassis, AWD and the paddle shifter makes it immensely usable.

We did end up with a list of things that need to be taken care of, as expected. The plan now is to finish fitting the bodywork and other pieces then take everything apart, powdercoat the frame, ceramic-coat the exhaust, then put it back together and run it again in the near-finished state. This car is Karl's (in particular the paddle shifter was his choice and will now be standard on the D1) and I know he's going to enjoy it the next time he comes out this way. In the meantime we have plenty of work to do. But it feels good to have finally come this far.

10/21/11 I was trying to put the D1 into perspective and explain how it's really a shrunken-down LMP car. So what better way than to compare it directly to an actual LMP2 racer, in this case the Porsche RS Spyder:

D1 RS Spyder
3.0L V8
3.4L V8
1,100 lb
1,800 lb

Both cars have sequential gearboxes with electronic paddle shifter and full underbody ground effects although it's a safe bet the Porsche is producing lots more downforce. So take an LMP2, downsize a bit, throw out 700 lbs, add AWD and you've got a D1. And it's still docile enough to be driven on a damp kart track :) Also, anyone who can afford a plain garden-variety Porsche GT3 or a used Ferrari F430 can buy and regularly track a D1.

To further the LMP comparison I loaded both thd D1 and the RS Spyder into a simulator and ran them at Laguna Seca. Both post nearly identical times of 1:12 in the sim when driven by AI. Makes sense, with the Porsche being heavier but having better aero. Oh yeah, the sim.... The D1 (and D4) will both be available in SimRaceway when it's officially released. So those interested will be able to do their own virtual comparisons. Below are some screen grabs from a test version of the car.

10/29/11 The D1 is now back apart. After some final trimming of the pilot pod we will double-check all the welds, attach a few more brackets, then send everything off for powdercoating/plating/anodizing.

All the miscellaneous parts that will eventually get put back on have been assigned their own shelf.

It will probably take us a couple months to get this car finished because of everything else going on. The driving season is pretty much over around these parts so unless we take it down south we won't have a chance to run it until March.

02/03/12 Time flies. It is now February which means that if we want to run this car in March we better get going on it again. Before sending the frame off to powdercoat I looked at packaging one more time and decided to move the oil tank from in front of the engine to the side. This accomplishes several things, the most important one being a big improvement in cooling airflow around the engine. A revised intake system is also in the works.

The new arrangement will improve the serviceability as well, with much easier access to the oil tank and a number of other items. The overflow tank location is also vastly improved and allows for drain-back to be added that will eliminate the need to periodically drain it. The oil tank does get some impact protection from the floor/body/jack point tubing but ultimately, coolers are already outside the frame and the tank is about as far away from the driver as practical so I don't think that safety is compromised in any way. An extra tube and some tabs did the trick and Monday this frame (and Pearl's as well) will go off to powdercoat. A week from Monday we expect to start putting both cars back together. Driving season draws near!

The other reason for addressing the D1 now is that we have decided that the Pikes Peak car (technically still a D4 because it's a 4-cylinder) will use the longer D1 chassis. With an advanced turbo system it will have similar power to the D1, albeit at 14,000 feet, and so a part of our test program will involve running the two cars (and a standard D4) back to back. Much will be learned, no doubt. It's a tough job... :) More details on the Pikes Peak car will be posted shortly on the sponsor blog.

03/28/12 It's been a while since the last D1 update but that doesn't mean there's been no activity. Quite the contrary... The frame is back from powdercoating and the car is now going back together with some updates and revisions. The production version of the Pilot Pod is here and it's being fitted to the car.

Prior to putting the engine back in we had to check and correct a small leak in the clutch slave cylinder. The pedal set was clamped to the chassis table to make testing easier. The clutch is a twin-plate Tilton racing setup but it only gets used to get going from a dead stop. The Geartronics paddle shift takes care of shifting without using the clutch at all once underway.

Once the leak was identified and fixed, the engine is now back in the chassis. I have to design new intake plenums and a few other minor bits and pieces. Still a bit of development to do on the car but that's going to happen very soon. Can't wait to drive it at ORP!

Until the Pikes Peak car is drivable, the D1 will serve as the aero development platform for that effort. As part of the miscellaneous updates I'll be installing a set of strain gages on the suspension to give us a definitive reading of the downforce being generated. This of course is in parallel with all the other things we're doing.

04/16/12 Fired up the engine today. Still a bit of tidying up left to do on the wires and plumbing but shortly the car will be ready to go. Karl is coming to visit and the plan is for him to drive it on a couple of tracks. Friday and Saturday we'll be at the new Ridge track in Washington, next week at ORP. There are quite a few developmental changes since the last time the D1 ran, primarily in the oiling system and the installation of the production Pilot Pod and some heat shielding.

From here the refinements get more subtle but they'll continue for a while. We're planning to redo the intake plenums, parts have been ordered but won't be done in time for the next round of tests. I'm particularly looking forward to the aero work and testing. Much to be learned there and it will tie in with the Pikes Peak effort. Speaking of which, much progress there too - will update the sponsor blog shortly.

04/19/12 Getting ready for the first real track drives, tidying up various systems, fabricating catch can, getting the floor installed... This is just the initial aero configuration, it will definitely change as we test and learn.