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post #1 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Post 88 mustang vert and autocross

hey,
ive searched around and read alot trying not to make a thread, but i still am.
so heres where im at.
ive got an 88 mustang lx vert, with a stock 5.0. its got :
tokico blue shocks, and struts. ford racing "b" springs which are progressive rate. 5.0 resto boxed rear control arms, maximum motorsports subframe connectors, 8.8 with trac lok and 3.73 gears, steeda triax shifter, full exhaust, clutch quadrant and 16" ponies with 245-50-16 street tires. ive got a strut tower brace coming from a guy in the mustang club im in)
ive dont one auto x so far... im doing as many more as i can by the end of the year.(quite a few, about 3 a month) i know alot of you will prolly say im jumping the gun, and to get more experience, but im just trying to get an idea.
my main problem is, my car has got serious understeer when im REALLY on it, which slowed me down. i did prolly 8 timed laps and like 5 warm up laps to get to know the track. it was 1.1 miles long. i shaved about 37 seconds from my 1st times lap to the last. i was the most improved of the day. the fastes lap on the track was 1:42, and average was 1:56.
the car will be off the road come prolly october/november. until probably april ish.
one of my goals is to pull the motor. not do benifit in autocross, but just because i want to. it was something i wanted to do when i bought the car.
i was thinking what should i do over the winter to benifit from autocross (even the motor build really)
im hopefully gonna take a high performance driving school, which costs $250 bucks.
a couple of things i thought of:
tubular kmember (since the motor will be out)
coil overs in the front only (or all 4 corners)
rear discs (i wanna keep 4 lug, and see if i can jerry rig a swap. i dont wanna spend $650 on the kit, and im not afraid to get dirty)
4 point roll bar (its a vert)
rear shock tower brace.
sway bars?

and what else would i benifit from? im totally open to suggestions, as its not happening until this winter, and ill have some more racing under my belt
thanks for the help.
dillon
feel free to im me at dtrox90

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post #2 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 01:01 PM
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As you've said, autox experience is the biggest thing you need. Does your region offer novice schools or Evo schools? Are there instructors at the events who can ride with you? These things can make a huge difference and some of that terminal understeer will go away once you adapt your driving.

You can also do free adjustments such as tire pressures and inexpensive changes such as a "performance" alignment. Tires are also a huge factor.

With regard to modifications, you may want to decide which class to run before doing much more. It can be frustrating to find yourself accidentaly in CP because of one bad 'mod' choice.

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post #3 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 01:18 PM
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First off, as a fellow convertible owner, I suggest that you stop and think about what you want this car to be and where you might go with it. The convertible is just about the worst possible platform for any sort of performance work - the chassis is significantly less rigid than the coupes and hatchbacks, and it's the heaviest of the Fox cars. It's a pretty crappy platform, frankly. With that said, there's nothing that beats droppin' the top down, so here I am 15 years after buying mine and I'm still modifying it. But seriously, think about your goals, think about how much you really want a convertible vs. how much you just want a fast, fun to drive Mustang, and go from there. At this point it's not too late to shift to a nice 5.0L LX notch or a hatchback.

Also, as leecea said, figure out whether you want to do auto-x to be competitive, or if you just want to have a very fun street car that you take to auto-x events. I've always been in the latter category, even in my Subaru (which has been my DD/auto-x car for years). If you want to be in the first category, you need to make sure the mods you're making are authorized and put you in the class you want to be in.

Now, on to the planned mods...

I highly, highly, highly encourage you to swap to 5-lug. If you use plain ol' V6 parts from any '94-04 car it can be done very cheaply and you will open up a whole new world of wheel selection and brake upgrades for the future. It also makes brake maintenance on the fronts sooooo much easier because the wheel bearing is no longer part of the rotor - no more repacking the wheel bearings for routine brake maintenance. Hell, no more repacking wheel bearings ever - it's a sealed unit that you don't need to mess with.

I would agree with coil-overs, front only. I've been running that way for years now. I've done just about everything to this car but have never bothered to switch to coil-overs in the rear. With that said, I do have rear LCAs with adjustable spring perches, so I can still dial in ride height as necessary. If you plan to stick with the Tokicos then you'll have to take it easy on the spring rates. I initially had Koni Reds (which I think are pretty comparable to Tokico Blues - they're both intended to be OEM replacement performance struts) and with 300# springs the front end was horribly underdamped and rode very poorly. I eventually upgraded to Koni DAs, and even with 425# springs the ride is better than the underdamped Reds with 300# springs.

You'll find plenty of info here about K-members. Don't go with some lightweight, drag-oriented crap. They're just not desiged to stand up to the punishment you'll dish out to the car during auto-x and open track events. Unfortunately, the very stout, very well engineered K-members are expensive. Maximum Motorsports is probably the way to go on that, although Griggs is also excellent.

If you do swaybars, you might want to consider the opposite of what you're probably thinking. Specifically, go smaller rather than bigger. Note that the '93 Cobra ran a smaller front bar than the '87-93 GTs did. I switched a 4cyl front bar a few years ago - significant weight reduction, and I like the way it feels. Again, I'm running pretty heavy spring rates up front, so with lighter spring rates it might not work so well. I would definitely not go to a bigger bar up front.

Rear shock tower brace won't do much of anything.

Get some good (read: Maximum Motorsports) caster/camber plates to go along with the front coil-overs. Dialing in a decent front end alignment will go a looooong way to improving handling and tire longevity.

'89 GT convertible, N/A 357W, MM front susp w/425# coil-overs and Koni D/As, MM TA/PB rear setup (Koni Yellows, 390-430# springs), Stoptech 332mm / 12" Baers, MM 6 point rollbar, Maier 1.5" flared fenders & quarters, 18x9.5" front/18x10.5" rear Enkei RPF-1s (street), 18x10" CCW C-10s (track), etc...
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post #4 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the help.
im keeping the vert no doubt. its been in my family almost since new. my uncle actually bought it the day i was born.
with the mods i allready have (subframe connectors, and aluminum driveshaft i believe are 2 biggies) im allready in a pretty high up class. im doing it for fun so i dont care if im in last, id just like to have my car nicely set up for it.

ill hopefully be taking a class before fall.
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post #5 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 06:28 PM
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Just understand that things like the K-member can't be added without lots of nickel and dime extras. Things like coilovers, control arms, bumpsteer kit, aluminum rack bushings, and sway bar end links are the beginning. Those add up quickly and you're wasting money if you don't do them all as the sytem won't work together as a whole.

I'd also agree with Patrick on the 5 lug conversion, your going to find the limits of your Fox brakes on a road course really quickly. Much moreso than the suspension.

The importance as it goes on track for Mustangs is (for the car anyway):

1. Reliability of ALL components: An overheating, oil leaking, car with bad wheel bearings is very dangerous- not that your car is that, but you need to be sure
2. Brakes: It's pretty obvious, if you can't stop, you're screwed
3. Tires: They need to be in decent condition and not too hard a compound, the right ones can make the car, the wrong ones can break it (as it releates to grip)
4. Chassis stiffness: Your subframes are a good start
5. Rear suspension: The rear is full of bind and should be corrected before the front, namely lower control arms, a panhard bar or watts link, and some decent springs and shocks, a torque arm is a great addition (or so I'm told) but it can wait. Swaybars are a fine tuning tool- you're best to learn to drive your car then determine how you want to correct it with swaybars
6. Front suspension: I believe that one's been covered above.
7. Power: I've heard and read too many people talking it up on how power doesn't matter if the car can handle, they're usually in a Miata and getting passed by everyone else (not that there aren't some fast Miatas). Handling is more important but you need both to be really fast around a road course, not as much in a parking lot/coned auto x.

Obviously, learning to drive the car is most important, you'll find you have a different idea of what your car's issues are once you get consistent and learn to drive the car at it's limits as opposed to over them, you'll find that the car will still understeer but if you enter the corner more slowly and get on the gas sooner, you can drive alot of it away and be much faster than just blasting into a corner at hyper speed and scrubbing all your speed off while wasting your tires. The driver's school/instructors at the events will take you a long way.

Last edited by MJ91GT; 08-05-2009 at 06:31 PM.
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post #6 of 20 Old 08-05-2009, 09:18 PM
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I also have a vert - two in fact: an 86 GT and an 01 Cobra. As Patrick said, the vert has the worst possible combination of attirbutes for a track car. However, since both of mine see more street miles than track time, I too don't really care where I place in an event. I'm simply having fun and improving my driving skill. The build can be progressive but the vert twists/bends so getting as much of that reduced as possible will help make other mods more effective. Since the front suspension to the firewall is so disconnected from the rest of the car (i'm sure you've noticed the cowl shake), a STB will help with cowl shake and twist. A G-load brace will help keep the k-member in place. You said you have MM SFC; I hope they are the full-length versions since we are trying to link the front with the rest of the car. if not, at least you have something. the 4-point bar helps with the body twist and adds some safety, but it doesn't connect the body to the front. You may just have to live with that and learn to drive around this issue.

I ran 4-wheel discs in a 4 lug conversion for over 12 years on my 86. The majority of the braking with a stock suspension is carried by the front. Outside of an aftermarket kit, the best you can do upgrade-wise on the 88 is better pads since there really isn't a "cheap" 4-lug kit - this assumes all components are operating correctly. So, as others have said getting better brakes on the front will help a lot and the sn95 5-lug is a very cheap option. I finally upgraded to the sn95 13" Cobras which also as noted, can be pieced together for a reasonable price. If you have a desire to stay 4-lug, then consider the Turbo Coupe rear disc set-up (also came on the 93 Cobra) - I believe a member here is selling most of the components. A basic primer on brake upgrades will be found here: http://mjbobbitt.home.comcast.net/~m...tang/5lug.html I'd also go with driving classes over multiple events, since you get more seat time repeatedly which helps you work out issues in a single day. Do some reading too - I was surprised at how much more I learned from a good driving book.

Last edited by qtrracer; 08-05-2009 at 09:20 PM.
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post #7 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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id love to do a 5 lug, but i just got my white pony rims to match my car, with brand new tires. triple white vert ftw.
these are my 2 options for local classes:
cornering techniques: http://www.1adsi.com/high_perform/co.../cornering.php
or understangind vehicle dynamics (which id prolly take first) :
http://www.1adsi.com/high_perform/co.../cornering.php

i also forgot to say. at the autocross i did, i did have an instructor ride with me. he said i have two problems. coming in too tight, and relying on my brakes/front end too much, and coming out too hard and breaking my rear tires loose.
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post #8 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 07:40 AM
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I've taken maybe 8 A/X driving classes including those offered by Evolution. I heard car balance, smooth driving, look ahead, etc. But converting what I was hearing into something I understood and could feel in the car has been a major issue for me - until I read one of the driving books. Maybe it's the way I learn stuff, or perhaps I needed a new perspective, but reading that book was like an epiphany. I've been practicing some of the stuff while communting to the office - amazing difference. Can't wait to try this stuff on a course.
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post #9 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by qtrracer View Post
I've taken maybe 8 A/X driving classes including those offered by Evolution. I heard car balance, smooth driving, look ahead, etc. But converting what I was hearing into something I understood and could feel in the car has been a major issue for me - until I read one of the driving books. Maybe it's the way I learn stuff, or perhaps I needed a new perspective, but reading that book was like an epiphany. I've been practicing some of the stuff while communting to the office - amazing difference. Can't wait to try this stuff on a course.
It's hard to pick up all this stuff while going at speed, the trick is to always be thinking about the stuff you've learned and slow yourself down (in your head). Once the panic and adrenalin subside some, you'll find a groove and all the stuff the instructors said (or you've read) starts to make sense. It's a great idea to practice on the street as long as you're not speeding or being reckless, I found myself looking for turn in, apex, turn out on the street, practicing my heel and toe and just generally trying to notice specific landmarks on my normal routes (helps me remember to check flagging stations on the track). I always take an instructor the first time around a new track too so I get an idea of the preferred line.
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post #10 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 10:46 AM
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One word for upgrades.

www.maximummotorsports.com

They do a great job of putting together well balanced "packages"
for what ever level your budget allows, and their stuff is 100% race proven.

Tires are critical too. Do as much research on tires as you can.
Look for what other proven 5.0's are running at the track.


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post #11 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 11:19 AM
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Just understand that things like the K-member can't be added without lots of nickel and dime extras. Things like coilovers, control arms, bumpsteer kit, aluminum rack bushings, and sway bar end links are the beginning. Those add up quickly and you're wasting money if you don't do them all as the sytem won't work together as a whole.
I agree -- sort of.

If you go with a road-racing K-member (and the only ones I consider good enough to be used on a road course are Griggs and Maximum Motorsports,) you're definitely going to need:
  • A front coilover setup.
  • A-arms

Bumpsteer kits are strongly recomended, but not required. The same goes for caster/camber plates. Steering rack bushings are nice to have, but don't get those until after you bumpsteer the car, and stick with non-offset ones if you can. (The Griggs K-member comes with non-offset aluminum bushings.)


Quote:
I'd also agree with Patrick on the 5 lug conversion, your going to find the limits of your Fox brakes on a road course really quickly. Much moreso than the suspension.
Agreed -- the SN95 upgrade needs to be one of the earliest midifications, right after getting the car safe and reliable.

Quote:
The importance as it goes on track for Mustangs is (for the car anyway):

1. Reliability of ALL components: An overheating, oil leaking, car with bad wheel bearings is very dangerous- not that your car is that, but you need to be sure
2. Brakes: It's pretty obvious, if you can't stop, you're screwed
3. Tires: They need to be in decent condition and not too hard a compound, the right ones can make the car, the wrong ones can break it (as it releates to grip)
A quick tip. It's tempting to go out and buy new tires for this. DON'T! New tires will overheat very quickly and start chunking (marble-sized chunks of rubber will get torn off the shoulders of the tires.) It'd be better to buy a used set of tires -- even if they're worn down to the wear bars.

Quote:
4. Chassis stiffness: Your subframes are a good start
5. Rear suspension: The rear is full of bind and should be corrected before the front, namely lower control arms, a panhard bar or watts link, and some decent springs and shocks, a torque arm is a great addition (or so I'm told) but it can wait.
the factory rear setup has its problems, but for a beginning driver, it's evils are fairly benign. Stick whit what you have until it starts causing problems (this is good advice for everything on the car.)

Quote:
Swaybars are a fine tuning tool- you're best to learn to drive your car then determine how you want to correct it with swaybars
6. Front suspension: I believe that one's been covered above.
7. Power: I've heard and read too many people talking it up on how power doesn't matter if the car can handle, they're usually in a Miata and getting passed by everyone else (not that there aren't some fast Miatas). Handling is more important but you need both to be really fast around a road course, not as much in a parking lot/coned auto x.
Ultimately true but having ha high-powered car has its risks, too. I've had many, MANY students who relied on the car's power to turn a crappy lap into a decent one simply because they could rocket down the straight after crawling through the corner.

Look at almost any really fast driver and they have had a lot of experiance in low powered cars. Low power gives you a couple of LEARNING advantages:
  • Mistakes are made at a lower speed and are easier to recognize and correct.
  • Having no power forces you to avoid slowing the car down more than is absolutely necessary. It teaches you to keep the momentum up.

The key to a fast lap is controlling and using your momentum. If early on, you don't learn this, it'll be a lot harder to learn later on.

-- Robert King
NASA AI #42, Texas
Instructor, NASA Texas Region
Instructor, TWS Perf. Driving School
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post #12 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 11:19 AM
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I think the calling MM is a very good suggestion. They have always been straight forward with me and they aren't looking to sell something at every opportunity. They will give you solid advice

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post #13 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 11:21 AM
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I think the calling MM is a very good suggestion. They have always been straight forward with me and they aren't looking to sell something at every opportunity. They will give you solid advice
Jack Hidley on this forum is a great resource as well.

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post #14 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 06:27 PM
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I agree -- sort of.

If you go with a road-racing K-member (and the only ones I consider good enough to be used on a road course are Griggs and Maximum Motorsports,) you're definitely going to need:
  • A front coilover setup.
  • A-arms

Bumpsteer kits are strongly recomended, but not required. The same goes for caster/camber plates. Steering rack bushings are nice to have, but don't get those until after you bumpsteer the car, and stick with non-offset ones if you can. (The Griggs K-member comes with non-offset aluminum bushings.)


Agreed -- the SN95 upgrade needs to be one of the earliest midifications, right after getting the car safe and reliable.

A quick tip. It's tempting to go out and buy new tires for this. DON'T! New tires will overheat very quickly and start chunking (marble-sized chunks of rubber will get torn off the shoulders of the tires.) It'd be better to buy a used set of tires -- even if they're worn down to the wear bars.

the factory rear setup has its problems, but for a beginning driver, it's evils are fairly benign. Stick whit what you have until it starts causing problems (this is good advice for everything on the car.)

Ultimately true but having ha high-powered car has its risks, too. I've had many, MANY students who relied on the car's power to turn a crappy lap into a decent one simply because they could rocket down the straight after crawling through the corner.

Look at almost any really fast driver and they have had a lot of experiance in low powered cars. Low power gives you a couple of LEARNING advantages:
  • Mistakes are made at a lower speed and are easier to recognize and correct.
  • Having no power forces you to avoid slowing the car down more than is absolutely necessary. It teaches you to keep the momentum up.

The key to a fast lap is controlling and using your momentum. If early on, you don't learn this, it'll be a lot harder to learn later on.

If you've got coilovers, you're going to need camber/caster plates as now the weight of the vehicle is transferred to a part that was not designed to handle this load. MM now requires the aluminum rack bushings with their k-members (just installed one). The bumpsteer kit may not be 100% necessary but why skimp out on a $150 part after spending over a grand on the rest? If you're really going to go and spend the money on this stuff, there's no reason not to ante up for the whole shebang, otherwise I wouldn't touch any of it. I'd be willing to bet a poorly set up MM or Griggs k-member/front system is worse than a stock one that's still in there from the factory.
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post #15 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 06:38 PM
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I know a lot of people suggest using sway bars for tuning only, but since you don't have shocks/struts that are good enough for aggressive springs or coilovers, I think that would be a good place to look. You can get a set of Eibach Sway Bars for ~$300 or less. They would make a dramatic impact on your handling by reducing body roll. If you have the budget you can go straight to good shocks and springs or coilovers but that is only if you have ~$1,000 or more to spend. You don't need upgraded shocks to run stiff sways.

Camber Caster Plates would be a good investment anyway because you can tweak your alignment settings to suit your taste and increase front grip. They aren't uber expensive and you will need them down the road if you switch to coilovers.

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post #16 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 07:53 PM
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Whoa; lots of info for a guy with limited asperations and perhaps a limited budget. The idea here is to have fun and learn a few things in the process. Think in terms of progression - baby steps if you will. IMHO, take the car out as currently configured. Learn to drive as Robert said - a low powered, marginally handling car will allow mistakes without significant drama. Then upgrade if you must when resources allow; select pieces that will allow you to evalute as you're driving. Too many changes adds many variables which may not result in a correct evaluation. I certainly understand the desire to mod a car; I've been doing it for well over - well a very long time. But with this comes some wisdom earned from very expensive and often times useless mistakes. A vert is not the optimal platform. You can help it but ultimately, your skill as a driver will be more important.

Regarding MM, their customer service is second to none. I can't tell you how many times they have come to my rescue and/or provided over the top service/advice. Always a pleasure to deal with.

Last edited by qtrracer; 08-06-2009 at 08:01 PM. Reason: added stuff
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post #17 of 20 Old 08-06-2009, 11:16 PM
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I'd be willing to bet a poorly set up MM or Griggs k-member/front system is worse than a stock one that's still in there from the factory.
You'd lose that bet. I drove a poorly set-up Griggs setup for two events. Even without bumpsteering the car, an eyeball-alignment, and screwed up rode height (way above Griggs recomended height,) the car was SIGNIFICANTLY better than stock (on the order of 4 seconds a lap on a 2:10 track.)

Getting that crap right got me another 5 seconds...

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post #18 of 20 Old 08-07-2009, 12:07 AM
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my main problem is, my car has got serious understeer when im REALLY on it, which slowed me down.
This, along with your instructor comments (which are common to a lot of people starting out), tells me your head's in the right place if you're going to work on understanding the vehicle dynamics before you look to parts as a solution. Dynamics are pretty universal, input A equals output X, the parts come into play in the nuances of how X is delivered.

Specifically, "serious understeer when I'm REALLY on it" can't be fixed by adding parts, if you don't already have a feel for the fact that being "on it" means you're accelerating, which causes load to shift off the front and onto the rear, which reduces traction to the front wheels, which reduces their ability to steer the car where you want it to go. Boom, there's your understeer. Up until the point where, in a rear-wheel-drive car, you overpower the rear tires and go into oversteer. In both cases, fixed by lifting your right foot to whatever degree is required to regain traction at whatever end of the car doesn't have enough of it.

You need a real feel for that before you're truly in a situation to fix it with parts instead of technique.
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yeah mfe. def. sounds good. im gonna skip just doing random autocrosses. stick to the one with the long course and instructors, and save up for the class
thanks for the help everyone.
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post #20 of 20 Old 08-07-2009, 03:40 AM
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You'd lose that bet. I drove a poorly set-up Griggs setup for two events. Even without bumpsteering the car, an eyeball-alignment, and screwed up rode height (way above Griggs recomended height,) the car was SIGNIFICANTLY better than stock (on the order of 4 seconds a lap on a 2:10 track.)

Getting that crap right got me another 5 seconds...
This has kind of spun off topic but if you got 4 seconds a lap faster on a 2:10 track from just a k-member, coilovers, and a-arms that were improperly set up (with stock rack bushings, stock length and bushing'd sway bar end links, and no camber/caster plates or bumpsteer kit), you can color me very impressed.

I hope to pick up that kind of time with a properly setup full front and rear (minus torque arm) and 125 extra hp with 150lbs less weight.
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