6/29/02 A tri-club track day at PIR hosted by the Porsche club this year. VERY crowded, I think 110 cars. The advanced group had a lot of people who didn't belong there, really. I did a lot of passing. The day was weird in many ways. It was pouring rain the day before, and it was still pouring when I briefly woke up at 2 am. I was completely ready to take the M Coupe, having pre-paid the fee. Roof, tread on the tires and ABS sounded good. The Elise was the backup - at least it has a roof. In the morning I woke up to some clouds but the rain had stopped. Good, Elise time then. The problem is that the Elise was up on the lift. And just as I got up at 7 am, a power outage hit. The power company estimated the fix to take up to 2 hours. I had to be at the track by then. I studied the sky in all directions and decided that the Westfield was OK. Brought a towel just in case.... The weather turned out just fine. The crowded conditions meant that I only got 3 sessions in, but that also was a blessing in disguise since the Westfield started spraying oil all over the engine bay. THAT will be a fun one to try and fix, no doubt.

On the plus side, I FINALLY broke the 1:30 barrier and recorded it on video! So it is now official. After 2 years of trying... The car has much more to give, I just don't yet have what it takes to ask it. YET. No problem, seeing how I broke minute-thirty on my fourth track session ever in the car. Seat time will help :)

Also, some fiends took a few pictures and video from outside (thanks, Roy and Julia!), so I put together a quick 'mixed' video clip. The Westfield looks tiny lined up next to 'normal' cars...

That's because it IS tiny!

6/30/02 Got the Beast up on the rack to see what is spraying oil. Turns out the oil pressure sensor coupling is POURING oil out. I'll need to come up with something different.

There are a couple of other leaks, too. I guess it's time for a comprehensive going-over of the oiling system. Looks like I lost about 2 quarts during the track day. Good thing the drysump capacity is 7 quarts, so there was still plenty left (about 3 quarts, upon draining the system). Also the reversing box is still disgorging lubricant, if anything worse than before. And none of it seems to be coming from the vent tube that I've added... Hmmm... Good thing I have more than one track car, since next weekend is a two-day prepaid event in California. The Elise gets to go to that one.

On the positive side, the new quicker steering rack feels great, the geometry changes are working quite well, and the chassis overall is very confidence-inspiring. Even the brakes work now. With all of that I was able to warm up the tires some... Running 16 psi all around seems about perfect.

Even my somewhat kludgy fix for CV joint boots seemed to hold up for the full hour of track time at up to 125 mph. There was very little grease coming out. I either fixed it or all the grease is gone.

07/18/02 It seems all the vehicles are wanting attention at once. Of course it is still better than having multiple girlfriends - at least with vehicles I can at any time decide not to deal with it, close the door to the garage and come back another day... OK, so it's better but not by a whole lot. Sooner or later I still need to deal with it. Might as well do it now.

Tearing apart the oiling system of the Westfield I realized that I have actually been quite lucky. The oil pressure sensor hookup had developed a crack and was about to break. Had it done so on the track (where the crack first started to manifest itself), major engine damage would have been unavoidable. I also realized that I had not properly tightened the oil cooler line fittings. It is surprising that they didn't leak worse. Retightening will take a lot of disassembly - well, still better than engine failure. To compensate, perhaps, I had overtightened the oil pan bolts. Fortunately the bolts themselves elongated (on the verge of breaking but not quite) rather than stripping out the threads.

I now have to replace all the bolts, but it is still far better than breaking one off inplace or stripping out the thread in the engine block. So the theme for the day is "yeah, it's pretty bad but could be much worse". Sigh....

So now I have to procure two new oil pan gaskets from Suzuki dealer, a set of new bolts, a different oil pressure sensor solution, and figure out how to retighten the oil cooler line fittings. And I don't even want to think about the reversing box, which is spraying oil past every seal but none out of the vent tube that I've added. It is safe to say the Westie won't be hitting the road anytime soon.

7/22/02 Got the oil pan back on with the new bolts, and found a much better adapter for the oil pressure sensor. Also redid a lot of the dry sump plumbing connections, correctly this time I hope. With luck it will stay leak-free... And speaking of leaks, after looking at cars at the racetrack, I've implemented a genuine race-car solution for my brake/clutch master cylinders spraying fluid: a high-tech shop rag with equally high tech rubber bands. Doesn't get much more genuine than this.

Overall luck is running a bit short it seems. The motor still has a loud clicking noise at idle. Upon some investigation, I determined that Suzuki had a recall on the cam chain tensioner, and it had not been performed on my motor. Of course with it being a salvage engine they are not interested in even releasing the recall kit to the dealer - so I have to figure out which parts I need and order them separately. And of course put them in once they arrive. Perhaps that's all it is, and not a bent valve or anything else equally nasty.

Also, finally got the bushings for the wide-track front suspension, so at some point I'll need to install all of that. To date I have spent far more time working on this car than driving it. Wonder if that's going to change anytime soon?

So the Westfield is still off the road, waiting for parts and a new rollbar.

7/31/02 Picked up the rollbar that I had someone make for me. The guy came highly recommended, and the work certainly looked nice... BUT - he did not make it to print! I requested 4" radius and tilted legs for the bar, to match the windshield. He instead, for some reason, made the legs straight and the radius more like 12". Which just doesn't look right on the car.

Worse yet, the brackets are at a wrong angle and the rod ends on the braces can't accommodate it.

I'll need to see what he can do to fix this. For over $500 (before painting) I'd like to have it pretty close to what I asked for. After taking the items back, it turned out that the fabricator did not have tooling for tighter bends. He's going to check around to see if he can get a new one bent outside, and if not will weld brackets and cross-brace to the original bar supplied by Westfield. The positive thing is that the guy is good to deal with and is committed to making it right.

In other news, while in Orange County I stopped by the place that sold me the motor in search for the correct intake pressure sensor. They had a beat up one (that later fell apart in my hands) and one off a GSXR 600 which inexplicably has a wrong connector on it. So I am still sensorless, although they promised to mail me the correct one today. They also offered to try and get the cam chain tensioner recall kit - that would be nice, but so far no luck. Looks like I should have just ordered one from the local Suzuki dealer last week and not wasted a week of good weather.

This stuff is proving to be challenging. It is the reality of living the dream. Oh well :)