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corey_mck New Reader
6/6/18 9:57 p.m.

Honestly, I don't have a really good reason for doing it other than wanting the experience of building one that way.  I have another car I'd like to cage soon, and I'd like the cage to fit very tight to the body.  I felt like I could get a closer fit with the single A pillar style than a halo.  From everything I saw, there isn't much difference in strength, and it's about the same amount of material.

Good call on padding the B pillar!  I hadn't thought of it.  I'll go put the seat in tomorrow morning and see what I need to do.   

Wally MegaDork
6/6/18 10:12 p.m.

I put padding everywhere. When I was a kid a friend of ours some bounced around and got his hand between the door skin and bars before he was done hitting things. He almost lost the hand and even after surgery it was never quite right.

stylngle2003 New Reader
6/7/18 8:36 a.m.

This is a really nice build.  That cage is tight, strong and clever.   

corey_mck New Reader
6/11/18 9:45 a.m.

In reply to stylngle2003 :


corey_mck New Reader
6/11/18 10:08 a.m.

I've spent the last few evenings buttoning some stuff up so I can say I'm finished with the interior.  That includes:

-Cut out lap belt harness mount and replaced with a double shear tab (Did you know Dale's lap belt broke?)

-Clean up wiring under dash

-Trim and reinstall dash

-Make a heel rest out of a cutting board from Walmart

-Made windscreen bars / mesh (I test-threw my sawed off sledge at it.  It works)

-Built a battery tray / holder

-Made a way to mount the grill

-Mount fire extinguisher

-Mount a phone holder (more on that in a bit)

-Built passenger side door bar gussets

-Seat and harness mounted and adjusted


I also drove it a few miles (I live a few miles back a country road).  It runs good and isn't throwing any running codes, but I'm still getting auto trans codes.  I need to figure out why the ECU still thinks it's in an auto car.  Also, the fuel trims are pretty high - 16%ish.  I can't imagine that an open exhaust (headers and stock cat are all that's on the car) would make the ECU add that much fuel.

The to-do list is getting pretty short! 
-swap springs from a 2.5RS parts car I have

-tow hooks

-make a sunroof cover

-roll cage padding

-skid plate for tank


I'm hoping to race this weekend.


Now, on to why I need a phone mount.  I'd like to log some data while I'm racing.  We don't use transponders, so having some type of idea of lap times would be nice.  I've used Track Addict before.  I would also like to log some actual telemetry from the OBD port.  Can anyone recommend some apps / hardware for use on Android?



corey_mck New Reader
6/11/18 10:48 a.m.

So I got the auto codes to go away.  I read a while ago that there was a trans ID pin to tell the ECU if it was running an auto or manual car.  I assumed that my car had that pin from the factory, considering it was a manual car.  Turns out, it didn't.  I added a pin to the B 135 connector at position 25 (not 26, as a few forum comments say) and the trans codes went away.

corey_mck New Reader
6/13/18 7:49 a.m.

I knew I saved my old WRX exhaust for a reason. I used the midpipe and section with the resonator, then made a 90° to attach to the manifold. I love the way it sounds, and I don't even like how Subarus sound! Also, I found a pretty massive leak before the O2 sensor on the stock exhaust, which explained the excessive fuel trims. Idles good now, but I haven't had time to drive it.

I also replaced the front springs with 2.5RS springs with half a coil cut, then notched the top strut bolt holes to get some more camber out of it.

I still need to do some final adjustment, then weld washers on to the strut so the camber doesn't move. I think I'm going to start with around 3°.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
6/13/18 8:02 a.m.

I love this car and all the little details.  It could be a level of unconscious bias about the type of racing, but I assume this is being prepped to a higher standard than the average stock FWD circle track car.  I really love the door bars outside of the B pillar, I can't believe I've not seen it else where before.

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/13/18 8:36 a.m.
corey_mck said:

That wasn't the only mistake I made.  I broke 3 bolts off inside the trans casing - one that holds the rear housing on and 2 that hold the reverse lockout cover.  I'm 0 for 4 on Subaru trans lockout cover bolts. Also, I broke the snout that goes over the input shaft.  It wasn't the smoothest night of wrenching.  I guess I'll be fixing that stuff tonight.  


Typically you should keep the welding to the gears and they won't be able to move.  It looks like you welded the gears to the carrier and they really don't like to be welded. If you feel some funky business in the front as you go on/off throttle it could be a broken carrier.

Regarding your post about how little info there is online about FWD circle track cars. The reason for that (I think) is that there's really very little quality information coming out of those types of classes. My friends and I had a discussion about this last night, and from my experience, most people doing this type of racing are not very technically savvy. In my first year of racing I was surprised at the lack of knowledge and concluded really quickly that if you are a mechanic or have good technical skills you have a very real advantage.

So how much do you think it's going to weigh?

corey_mck New Reader
6/13/18 9:50 a.m.

In reply to Suprf1y :

Hmm, I didn't think that with the carrier. The first diff I ever welded was just between gears, and it broke. The second time I put some plates between the gears, and it held up longer than 5 axle shafts. Lol. I thought this would be more thorough. We'll see! I preheated the carrier and cooled it down slowly.

I believe you're correct about the lack of info. The other problem I see is that people don't want to share their setups.

I have no idea on weight! The cage weighs about 130lbs. An 01 L wagon weighs 2780 and a base model FWD wagon in 93 weighs 2490. I'm hoping to be around 2400 before I gut any doors / hatch / hood / etc. I'll know this weekend when they weigh it! Our class minimum is 2250.

corey_mck New Reader
6/13/18 9:57 a.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson :


There's definitely some nice cars out there, and there's some car builders that know what they're doing. Most of them just do GMs though. Also, I'm not convinced on the safety of 1.5x0.95 or the build quality of their cages. 

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/13/18 12:14 p.m.

1.5 x .095 is way overkill for cars like that but they also have to take into consideration the quality of some of the cages. Some are definitely better than others but I don't think I've ever seen anything get through tech that I would consider dangerous. Just not up to the unrealistic standards that people on the sidelines often have.

There's a good reason for using GM's in that kind of racing. Aside from the fact that they are often competitive, parts and complete cars are cheap.

corey_mck New Reader
6/13/18 1:18 p.m.

Maybe 4 cylinder racing is taken more seriously where you're at. Our track is pretty big at 5/8 mile, and has wide turns. My last car ran about 95mph at the end of the straight. Last year a guy raced all season with a cage that was cut apart in another car and welded back together in his car. The main hoop had booger welds around it at the b pillar bend. Another guy showed up from a much smaller track and ran his Saturn with a "cage" that consisted of some tubes around the driver's seat. Even the better built cars have some things that don't make sense on them... one of the local cage builders has a habit of welding the halo to the top of the main hoop. They didn't even start doing safety inspections until this year, when they got a tech guy specifically for the class.

corey_mck New Reader
6/13/18 1:27 p.m.

* I don't mean to make that sound like the whole class is a bunch of rednecks who have no business out there. Those are just some good (bad) examples. There's also plenty of guys who take it seriously and have well built cars.

I just don't want to have a life altering injury racing an economy car at the fairgrounds. Lol.

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/13/18 6:07 p.m.
corey_mck said:

* I don't mean to make that sound like the whole class is a bunch of rednecks who have no business out there.

That's what we have here!

We have 3 dirt tracks local to us and they race Fri/Sat/Sun. They have updated and aligned their mini stock rules so they're all the same now.  I'm trying to think about what would work and to me it seems like a Cobalt would be pretty hard to beat. Though the power is only average, they really handle, that Eco motor will put up with hundreds of hours of racing abuse with only minimal maintenance, and complete cars are peanuts.

I used to run all three tracks at one time, but that made a for an awfully long weekend and I was a little younger then.

Wally MegaDork
6/13/18 7:25 p.m.

I haven't seen a lot of local 4 cyl cars that looked dangerous but they run at tracks with small and big block modifieds so the tech guys are pretty strict.  Being a mostly beginners class though few appear to be prepped to this level.  I have never run FWD so this may sound dumb but locking the front diff seems like the car should want to push pretty bad.  Do you run a larger right side tire or is the dirt forgiving enough that it still turns well?

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/14/18 8:16 a.m.

I've never raced a FWD car but watching them and seeing how the tracks are prepped these days (I had to drive them completely different than I used to) makes me think that there are a few options. Most of the dirt tracks these days are prepping the track such that by the time you're racing they're already very tacky. So the slower divisions actually race them very similar to a paved track. If your car handles you can get in and out at speed pretty easily.  On cars that don't handle as well, or tracks that are still loose you can set it up so the rear comes around on turn entry, scrubs a little speed, and keeps your front end going in the right direction.

ckosacranoid SuperDork
6/15/18 12:16 p.m.

Nice to see someone doing the dirst track thing. I do photographry here in wisconsin and we have the 4 banger class that is mostly fwd, though we did have some rwd cars show up here and there in the past couple of years. Thery do not run up front though and not very fast, but its cool to see them out there. We have have lots of Cavs, a few coblts, One driver with a nission sentra spec r, some civics, a couple of focues, a escort or two, a EXT, and some intreas.

It pretty sad when the bandits put on a better show then some of the other classes in a night for racing. 

Good luck with the season and the car.

corey_mck New Reader
6/18/18 8:15 a.m.

Sorry I've been MIA, it's been ​​a busy week and weekend!


So yeah, Suprf1y, before I started this build I was trying to figure out what makes the Cavaliers and Cobalts the car of choice.  We have Cavaliers with 2.2s that are as fast on the track or faster than 2.4 Cobalts.  The main thing I could see that makes them handle is a long wheelbase - they're both really long cars.  The Cavalier is a ridiculous 104.1.  That's .2 inches shorter than a 2008 Legacy, and longer than anything else in it's class.  The Impreza wheelbase was my main hangup for building the car.  My hopes are that the other things I cited - lower COG, equal length axles, IRS, more suspension options - would give me an advantage.  The Eco engines are no slough, either, and they're pretty well supported.  What is typically fast up your way, other than GMs?  We have some Sentra SE-Rs show up at times, and they're always front runners.

Wally, you're 100% correct that it makes the car push on turn in and pull to the outside wall on exit.  The effect is worse on tracks with tighter turns.  Bedford Speedway in Bedford, PA feels worse to drive than Cumberland.  Cumberland's turns are HUGE.  Turns 1 and 2 are 600' across, outside to outside.  The way I drove the Cavalier at Cumberland was WOT until I was ready to turn in, sharply let up for just long enough to get the weight forward and the car set a little sideways, then immediately back into the gas.  This all happens in the first 25% of the turn, so the rest of the turn is adjusting steering angle and throttle to keep the line, and maybe some left foot brake to change lines.  We are not allowed any stagger in tire sizes, so I run about 35 PSI in my right front and 26 in my left front.  Anyway, I guess it's better than frying the inside tire through every turn.

corey_mck New Reader
6/18/18 9:31 a.m.

So I finally got it together and on the track this week.  I don't have any progress pictures, but I got my SFI roll cage padding mounted, belts in and adjusted, and cage resprayed.  A good friend who also rents the garage I work in made an awesome sunroof cover. 

The last thing to button up was suspension.  I pulled 2.5 RS springs from a junkyard car and a parts car I own, and have the front springs with half a coil cut on the fronts, a full length front spring on the right rear, and a rear RS spring on the left rear with half a coil cut.  It gives it a little more ride height in the right rear, and way more rate than stock. 

The idea was to keep weight from transferring rearward when I'm on the gas in turns, and by wedging the right rear up, it forces more weight onto the left front.  I cut half a coil simply because the ride height was way too high with the gutted chassis.  The additional stiffness is also good.

To finish up camber adjustment, I took the stock upper camber bolt and drilled out two heavy washers to fit the fatter cammed sections of the bolt and the smaller threaded portion.  I set the camber at  4° with the camber bolt in it's midway position, then welded the washers to the struts.  Now can adjust camber about 1.5° either way.

Friday night after work, I planned on bolting tow hooks to the front bumpers and finishing up.  When I took the front bumper off, 3 of the bolts brought the threads out with them.  After a quick phone call and trip to the good people at Peer's junkyard , I had another bumper.  I swapped the covers, drilled some holes, and bolted on tow straps.  Other than numbers, the car was ready to go.


Saturday was busy, so another friend stopped by before loading the car up to help with numbers and go over everything one last time.  I'm glad he did, because I only put one nut on the right rear strut mount.  Duh.  We got numbers applied and loaded up!

I was pretty nervous at the track.  If you've never been to a dirt track race, here's a rundown of how it goes:

You show up and pay to get into the pits.  It was $30 this night, it's typically $25.  That covers your race entry fee.  You walk up and register, then draw a "pill" (or sticks or tokens... never actually a pill, so I don't know why it's called that).  The number you pull on pill draw decides your starting position for the heat race.  Heat races are 5 laps and have the field broken down into smaller groups, so our heat had 6 cars.  Heat race finishing positions determines starting position for the feature race, or main race.  My brother drew a 26, so he was mid pack.  I pulled a 1, so I was on pole for the heat race.  Great.  They do a driver's meeting that doesn't cover much of anything.  EVERYONE has a towing company.  

After they say something over the PA that you can't hear because dirt cars are loud, you go for "warm ups", AKA practice.  4 cylinders get 4 laps.  That meant I had 4 laps in a newly built, unproven and completely oddball car before starting on pole for a race.  


Anyway, warm ups went well.  My brother and I waited until the last group of cars and got in the back of the pack.  I know my brother's car is a front runner, so it gave me a good gauge on how my car would perform around someone I trusted.  I let him get a little bit ahead of me, then took off.  The track was incredibly rough.  The weather was not good leading up to the race, and though the promoter tried everything he could to get the track prepped, it was still pretty bad. The first thing I noticed was how quiet my car was - not from the exhaust, it was loud, but rattles and suspension noises.  It was pretty nice.  It handles differently than my Cavalier did.  It didn't like being thrown sideways, and was generally very neutral feeling.  I started catching my brother, and we both passed a few cars.  I only got 4 laps on a rough track to get a feel for it, but it felt good.  It also seemed that the gearing was right where it needed to be with the 205/55-16s.  GPS indicated 86 MPH.  


There were a couple fast cars in my heat, and one was starting right behind me.  It was a 2.2 Cavalier that wins at Bedford Speedway all the time.  I pulled up to grid in the heat and realized that I didn't hear the race director in my receiver toward the end of the race before me.  There was a little bit of confusion from the track official at grid, so I assumed there was maybe an issues with the RACEceiver system.  They waved us out on track, so I went out, assuming no one could hear the race director.  After the first parade lap, the caution lights went out and the flagman had the green flag bundled, indicated we were ready to go.  I came around turn 4, almost lined up on the straight, rolled into the throttle and took off.  The caution was out before I even got to the first turn.  I looked around on the caution lap and didn't see any wrecks, so I assumed they didn't like my start.  When I pulled back around T4, a course worker was pointing at the "start" marker in the ground.  I then remembered that they got really picky about starts and restarts this year, painted a big tire orange, and set it about 60' out of the turn on the inside edge of the track.  That was supposed to be the start location.  Next lap around, caution lights went off, I rolled through turn 4, waited for the tire, then got into it.  Another car was already around me at the tire (which I cussed into my helmet about), but I threw it down to the inside of T1 and passed him back, then (according to everyone watching) proceeded to gradually pull away from the field. On lap 3, the rough track broke someone's wheel, so there was another caution.  Under the caution lap, the T4 course worker was pointing at the orange tire again.  I thought to myself how much BS it was that I started at the tire, but someone passed me beforehand.  Oh well, I thought, I'm still out front.  If they didn't like my start again, they would send me to the back of the pack, and I didn't want that for sure. 2 laps left.  Go lap, I came around, rolled up to the tire, got about 50 feet from it, and the guy behind me drives out around me, with the two cars behind him following.  I drove the entire front straight thinking they'd call the start back, but when I didn't see the caution lights coming out of T2 I was pretty upset.  Lots more cussing into my helmet.  I caught the 3rd place guy and got down on the inside of him, but couldn't get around him before the finish.  I came off the track heated.  Told a track official that the restart was BS, he was as mad as me about it and agreed.  I also told the race manager and the guy who started behind me.  Oh well.

Anyway, I was really happy with the car.  It felt planted and definitely ran good.  Even after the completely screwed up starts, I was able to reel the other cars in on the first straight.  The car was much easier to drive than my Cavalier, and that was with junkyard struts and 4 year old Douglas all season tires.

I decided not to race the feature.  I had a loose RF wheel bearing, the track was a mess, and I would be starting mid-pack in a field of 26 with all the questionable drivers.  They ended up cancelling the 4 cylinder race due to running into their curfew, so I have a rain check for next race.  

So, the to do list is:

Fix RF wheel bearing

Buy some struts - probably GR2s

Buy some tires


Not bad for a first night out.


corey_mck New Reader
6/18/18 10:07 a.m.

Oh, almost forgot.  I ran it across the scales.  2510 with me in it.  I can cut out a lot of weight!  I'm stoked about that.  I need to stock up on cut off wheels.

Wally MegaDork
6/18/18 10:10 a.m.

Great start to a new car.  It should be in good shape once it gets sorted.

corey_mck New Reader
6/18/18 3:53 p.m.
bluej UltraDork
6/18/18 4:29 p.m.

"busy" on Saturday, huh? Congrats, bud laugh

corey_mck New Reader
6/18/18 4:43 p.m.

In reply to bluej :

Haaaaa thanks man!  It was a pretty good day.

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