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Worth it to Build a New 1.6 Motor?

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#1
OrangeCrush86

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I started racing SM this year and I bought a 1990 1.6L before I knew that they weren't competitive past regional races. This car has been raced a long time and I'm sure the motor could be freshened up.

 

Is it even worth it to freshen a tired 1.6? In 2018 I want to try running a Majors event, but maybe it would be better to sell the car and change to a 1.8 car if I want to get serious. Opinions?



#2
Steve Scheifler

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When it comes to lap times I think that an equally prepped 1.6 is very close at most tracks, probably with an edge at some and deficit at others. Many will say they are still more susceptible to power loss during a session on warm days, some that the relative lack of torque makes them more difficult to pass & defend, or are a bit harder to drive consistently due to slightly less desirable suspension geometry. All of those are probably true to some degree but they don’t add up to multiple seconds per lap, and the car also has a slight theoretical advantage in cornering and braking. They can also be more finicky to keep at peak power due to the crude AFM, and that can be important.

In other words, at a minimum, at most tracks a proper build and driver a 1.6 should be in the mix even at a Majors. I’m not convinced that it the overdog some say it is, but it isn’t a hopeless underdog either.

I suggest getting your car to dyno shop with plenty of 1.6 SM experience first. Then if it is weak fix it, but continue with the car while working your way up the grid.
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#3
davew

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Too many variables to give an easy answer.

What is your budget? The cheapest car is always the car you have.

What are your goals? If winning a Major is important to you, then you need a well prepped and well funded program (see budget).

Do you feel the car is holding you back? That is the easy answer, spend money (see budget)

 

But I agree with everything Steve said.

 

dave


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#4
OrangeCrush86

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I don't think the car is holding me back yet as I still have a lot of driving improvement to do. However I'm sure this motor hasn't been rebuilt in the last 5 years of racing. When I'm racing closely with people I do notice where I lose the most ground to other cars is out of the corners. This winter I was looking at a new motor, but was just wondering if it's really worth it to drop several thousand dollars on a 1.6, maybe its better spent to go to a newer car. When I looked at the runoffs results for the last 4 years there are basically no NA cars in the top 20+...



#5
Jamz14

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If scca and NASA stand by their tech, there is little doubt that the 1.6 can be more than just competitive when in the right hands. I disagree that the car is still susceptible to heat related power loss. I haven't seen any hint of that since the rule change and I go to some of the hottest tracks in the country. Build it.
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#6
Bench Racer

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 When I looked at the runoffs results for the last 4 years there are basically no NA cars in the top 20+...

A. Compression test

B. Leak down test

 

Ditto on the heat soak issue.

 

2017 Runoffs results, Jason Kohler qualified 24th ahead of some heavy hitters and finished 25th ahead of many 1999 plus cars. As a site member look for Speedengineer, PM him and talk.

 

Are you racing this weekend at Blackhawk Farm's SCCA event?


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#7
OrangeCrush86

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I'll be at Blackhawk this weekend. However it's my first time at this track so my goal is to learn the track, not sure I can be competitive. Sucks there are no racing sims with this track so I can't even do some digital practice.



#8
Johnny D

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I'll be at Blackhawk this weekend. However it's my first time at this track so my goal is to learn the track, not sure I can be competitive. Sucks there are no racing sims with this track so I can't even do some digital practice.

 

Coming on Friday ?

http://www.blackhawk...ar-test-tune-9/

 

J~


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#9
Joe (dad) Jordan

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Do you have data in the car?  Before you spend money on the engine get data so you can compare your driving with others.  I believe a 1.6 has the raw speed of the 1.8's just harder to win with one.  Without data you will never be able to truly evaluate what you need.  Throw the car on a known chassis dyno and see where it stacks up to other spec Miata's before you rebuild the engine, it may not be as tired as you think.


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#10
OrangeCrush86

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I don't have data really. I suppose that is a challenge with the old Miatas.. we can't just plug into the ECM and get free data. :(

 

Currently I have my wide band O2 installed, but I haven't had time to connect it to the data logger. I installed that because the car originally had a messed with AFM and I didn't trust it. A new adjustable fuel pressure regulator is on my list because these cars definitely run slightly lean at WOT.



#11
OrangeCrush86

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Coming on Friday ?

http://www.blackhawk...ar-test-tune-9/

 

J~

 I can't make it for testing unfortunately. Friday will be my 6 hour drive from MN.



#12
Johnny D

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 I can't make it for testing unfortunately. Friday will be my 6 hour drive from MN.

 

See if this will help.

 


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#13
Bench Racer

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Thanks for the video Johnny, that's truly great support


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#14
davew

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We will be testing all 3 days with various agendas.

 

Voytek ,yellow and black car will be testing some new brake pads

Voytek will also be comparing the VVT versus the new 1.6 we just built.

The 1.6 will be doing back to back sessions with the Torsen diff and a Mazda Comp diff.

Danny Bender will be doing some shock testing with non-SM shocks

 

Hope to find some interesting info.

 

Anyone at the track, feel free to stop by, we are easy to find.

 

Dave


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#15
Bench Racer

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We will be testing all 3 days with various agendas.

 

The 1.6 will be doing back to back sessions with the Torsen diff and a Mazda Comp diff.

 

Dave

 

In theory Mazda Comp L/S should out perform the Torsen. Less rotating weight, no opening when curb hopping, but that's my 2 cents. What lap time difference will you presume is a success for either diff.?   :scratchchin:


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#16
Jamz14

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In theory Mazda Comp L/S should out perform the Torsen. Less rotating weight, no opening when curb hopping, but that's my 2 cents. What lap time difference will you presume is a success for either diff.?   :scratchchin:


Good luck getting that answer. No one was prepared to give me success failure criteria in advance of the changes to the NA 1.8. Everything was anecdotal and not based on a predetermined criteria of success. If I recall you didn't find that a problem. Could of been because it wasn't happening to a 1.6.
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#17
dstevens

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I don't have data really. I suppose that is a challenge with the old Miatas.. we can't just plug into the ECM and get free data. :(

 

Currently I have my wide band O2 installed, but I haven't had time to connect it to the data logger. I installed that because the car originally had a messed with AFM and I didn't trust it. A new adjustable fuel pressure regulator is on my list because these cars definitely run slightly lean at WOT.

 

Go see Wheeler at Black Hawk.  Your car isn't holding you back now.  Spending the money for someone like Wheeler to help you with the car is better money spent than buying another car at this point.  Even if you bought a new Wheeler or Drago build it's doubtful you'd be competitive at the front at a Majors at this point in your racing.   I'd spend the money on coaching and support, adding to the car when required.

 

It's not difficult to get data from a pre OBDII cars.  The data you'll need to see the basics of if you're getting off the corner is going to be generated by the accelerometer, tach and the GPS.  When newer racers get beat out of the corner it's usually because they are getting beat out of the corner on technique.    The other data is great for tuning but there is easily obtainable data to help with driving techniques without adding many (or any) sensors.  


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#18
callumhay

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I started racing SM this year and I bought a 1990 1.6L before I knew that they weren't competitive past regional races. This car has been raced a long time and I'm sure the motor could be freshened up.

 

Is it even worth it to freshen a tired 1.6? In 2018 I want to try running a Majors event, but maybe it would be better to sell the car and change to a 1.8 car if I want to get serious. Opinions?

I think what Steve, Dave W and Bench said above are good answers

You might get a laugh out of how I ended up dealing with the same conundrum.  I bought a 1.6 that was well prepped by a professional racer and used it as my learner car. I did a lot to the car, new tranny, torsen diff (which I think hurt my lap times but was unbreakable compared to the VLSD), learned how to scale and align it, put in a fuel pressure regulator, played with the AFM clock spring..accumulated boxes of 1/2 used brake pads..hit a spec racer ford..but that's a different story..After a few years of SCCA racing I decided to dyno the thing...got 108 hp SAE corrected on a humid and hot day in FL. Thought, well I'm down on power so may as well put a new motor in. Besides racing I for sure also enjoy the mechanical aspects of working on the car, so I bought a craigslist motor, tore it apart and rebuilt it using the factory manual as a guide..popped the motor in fired her up, broke her in and re dynoed at ...111 hp. ...this after hours on the dyno with tuning the AFM, fuel pressure and the tech shaking his head at me getting excited about 1 hp. I gave up mostly because I got tired of hearing about how I should megasquirt it. OK so now round 3: a pro head ... Guess what ? same hp and maybe a smidge more if we get creative with the dyno calculation. Final round: new car. Oh yes I did, took 14 months and built the whole damn thing using everything Mazda doing all the work myself  (including motor) except cage. dyno 123 with the plate...yesss look out on the track... but but wait my times are only marginally improved. WTF? It's the driver stupid (I'm calling myself stupid here) In all that effort I neglected to work on my skills on track. 

 

Now to be clear, I did all that work partly for the satisfaction of saying I could and did and not solely because I thought I would start winning races. Also I have a really reliable car and I know I have minimized it as a limiting factor. So here is what I have learned about SM racing. If you are in a 20+ car field you are likely around some drivers who have spent a lot of time on their skills as well as the car. The drivers who win, can and do outdrive their competition and that is a very difficult thing to learn if you do not have natural talent. What is their secret? Are they cheating?...who knows..? the likely answer is time and effort into themselves as drivers as well as their cars. They are keeping the car as close to the limit as possible in the entry and mid corner phases of the corner...none of which is dependent on what is behind the pedal on the far right but their ability to control the middle pedal along with hand/eye co-ordination. That may translate to only 1 or 2 or 3 mph of difference compared to a driver like me but it translates to a big difference in time by the end of the straightaway. You know that I'm sure, we all know that BUT there is something in human nature that makes us think the answer has to be a different car. Maybe that's true to win major races but not to move up the grid. 

 

If your car is low on HP ( maybe I'm wrong here but if it is closer to 100 hp you probably have a worn motor) you should probably rebuild or put a used good motor in. Even 5-6 K on a pro motor is going to be less than the 20 K you will have to spend to build a new car. Talk to someone who knows what a good number is for a 1.6 and if you are close to a good HP for sure you need to work on skills.  In terms of a new car, maybe 17k to 20 k for a good 1999 era car or 20-25 K for some new builds and obviously way more for a known car or one from well known shops. These are rough numbers but as part of a racing budget how much are we including for coaching? Maybe a 5-10 K investment in you car along with another 5-7k in coaching gets you to a better lap time than just buying a 17 K used car.  If you are solely interested in answering the question how much skill do you have compared to the front runners, here is something you could do:  contact one of the shops that is local to the track you are racing at  and pay for a rental at least for a test day or a track event. Spend the day trying to set your best time and compare that to their data or have someone who is a known good driver set the target time for you By the end of the day you will know how much work you have to do on you vs the car.  If the car you rented was for sale, then you know, you might just buy it. If you are concerned about wrecking it, think about this: you would have to be really unlucky to total the thing on a test day and if you just buy the car at the end of the day, then you have a project now to fix the damage instead of messing around with a 1.6 motor. Just a thought anyway. Maybe I have given you some laughs and a perspective from someone who has asked the same question. Ultimately you have gotta set a goal for what you want to achieve as a driver and then your path will become clearer.   In terms of enjoying it and having fun, that's mandatory. Make some friends this weekend, I hope you enjoy the whole process from loading the car up until you get home.

 

Good luck!

 

Cal 


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#19
Steve Scheifler

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Nicely said Cal!
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#20
dstevens

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Here's a Dropbox link to some pics of an NA SM data install with a few basic articles from the NW Region newsletter.  It's from Roger at AIM when his son Andrew was running SM (don't know if it was the car he won the national championship).  It's about 10 years old at this point but has good install pics for a non ODBII car and covers some data basics.  Some of the data, speed and lap times for example, use GPS in modern loggers though older loggers like the one in these pics have ports for speed and beacon receivers.  

 

https://www.dropbox....nEMccJZAua?dl=0






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