Monday, June 22, 2015

NASA @ BIR July 4th weekend with Trans-AM

Should be a good event....Trans-Am will have over 40 cars!

If you are interested in learning the basics of High Performance Driving, or simply want to drive your car on a racetrack in a controlled and professionally staffed environment, then NASA’s HPDE is for you. NASA HPDE gives drivers a chance to test their skills and learn from NASA's cadre of experienced instructors in a venue designed for safe spirited driving far away from the risks present on the street. Our HPDE program has become the standard for the 'open track' industry and features multiple skill levels to ensure that drivers are able to enjoy a safe and fun day at the track. 

If anyone is coming up to Brainerd International Raceway to spectate theNASA Central Region races/HPDE and TRANS AM / Brainerd International Raceway; BIR is charging $25/day for admission...mostly because of the drag racing, but I digress. Anyways, consider signing up for the NASA HyperDrive program. It is $70 and you get part of the classroom session, and a SINGLE session on track with an instructor. It is highly recommended that Hyper drive people show up Sat. AM. Point is, if you were coming up to spectate, just pay the extra $45 and get a track session.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Ok...not really Motorsports related...well maybe...keep reading
Elio Motors came to visit Minneapolis this past May.  I have been reading about them for a while and was truly excited to see the prototype in person.

For those of you unfamiliar with this car go google it...but until then, here are the high-lights:
-84mpg!!!  87 octane (representative said the ECU might adjust to more octane aka more power and MPG)
-0-60 in under 10 seconds
-two 6' plus people will fit in it tandem
-Traction control, ABS, cruise, A/C, and stability control
-Will meet CAFE emission standards in all 50 states
-Will meet crash test safety standards

Just that list alone in my opinion makes this car a no-brainier.  As 90% of the time I am driving solo.  Supposedly there is a computer repair place (something like Geek Squad, but not) and a security firm have already placed orders for these.  Why wouldn't they?!?  When a company has a basically one adult driving around all day.

I do wish it had a bit more cargo space, other pictures on net show the rear seat folded down and a full set of golf clubs in the hatch & back seat.  Other than that most of the time anything I transport can fit in the back seat and back seat floor.  The trunk/hatch is designed to fit a bag that normally fit in an airliner overhead compartment.  Rumor is an aftermarket company already has a trailer hitch designed for it.  I can totally see having a small enclosed trailer in tow, much like that behind many motorcycles.  The representative said something about voiding transmission warranty, blah, blah, honestly I tuned that part out!  There is no spare tire, one gets a can of "Fix-a-flat".

Much like the smart car, and some other uni body cars, the frame is basically and exo-skeleton, or a roll cage?  Wait what?  Roll-cage?  Hmmm......  The motor is designed to break away from the frame and fall under the car, much the same way newer Subaru's do.  The theory is it saves the driver's legs.

Officially this is licensed as a motor-cycle, has the US DMV has defined cars as having 4 wheels.  That being said, Elio Motors has gotten exempt for the helmet law in all but 2 states.  However one still needs to have motor cycle endorsement, which is odd but whatever.  Getting a motorcycle endorsement is EASY!!!!  It is all INEXPENSIVE!  The classroom session is like 1/2 a day or a couple of evenings, the written test is easy, I highly recommend taking the 'day on the bike' class instead of taking the 'behind the wheel test' as the day on the bike class is cheap, easier than taking the test, and it is good practice especially if one has never been on a bike.  So don't let this stop one from buying an Elio!

The motor is a completely brand new design.  It is a 0.9L three cylinder motor.  It is rated at 55hp and 55 lbs of torque.  Unofficially, the dyno charts are showing 60hp.  Considering the car is expected to weigh in at roughly 1250lbs, the performance numbers should be really good.  The compression ratio is a really high 12.5:1 (most cars, especially pre-2012 are under 10:1).  There is a some advanced swirling of inlet stream into the combustion chamber and pistons, along with valve timing to achieve this.  

Coil overs?!?   Not on the base model; but wait, base model?  Rumor is that roughly a year after release there will be a sports car version!  Coil overs, and turbo charger!  Now we are talking!

Even if the turbo makes 20% more HP, that would be a mere 11hp (I think we can call that a really conservative number) , that is enough to move it from 22lbs/hp to 18.9lbs/hp (assuming we go with the stated 1250lb curb weight) which puts it close to sport compact territory.  Let's say that this performance version costs and extra $1200, aka 20% (probably a safe up charge when going from a base to performance model), making it a whopping $8000!  Oh darn!, a brand new sporty car than can out drag race what 40% of the cars you see on the road?  Let's not forget MPG goes down on sporty cars right?  Well, turbos don't usually but, that is a whole another conversation...just for rough math let's say mileage goes down by 20%, that brings us down to a mere 65mpg....again, OH DARN!

Now I am thinking this could be the next race car....think about it...."Spec Elio"!  Twenty of these things on the same race track at once!  Unfortunately they are not legal for SCCA Solo, as the rules say something about having to have 4 wheels or some such non-sense.