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SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 8:25 p.m.

It's really hard bringing a well known car back to the Challenge. I've done it before- it's hard to compete. The car has it's own persona, and everyone knows someone else did a lot of the work. The story is stale, and you kind of look like a carpetbagger hanging on the efforts of someone else.

When I bought The Mumpkin, I didn't expect to compete at the Challenge. It was just for fun, and to do some autocrossing with my kids.

But after last year's performance, I had to try. The car has a win in it, and we know it. Mr. Joshua has believed in this car for a long time, and I am now a believer as well.

So the first thing to change was it's story. Well, not really change. I decided that the true story of The Mumpkin was not a story anyone could claim, it has evolved through multiple owners (as Mr. Joshua has shared), and it's story is held by us all.

So, I decided to assemble a different kind of team. Team Mumpkin 2015 consists of all of the previous owners and builders I could find, many of their kids, plus a few board ringers. I've gotten us back together for one last hurrah. We swap the car back and forth from GA to FL for building and testing, and we all get to get our hands on it again.

SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 8:27 p.m.

After a great team and story, the second thing it needed was a new look. I wanted something that would embrace it's past, and keep some of the things it is known for. Orange had to stay, which left us chasing a dozen themes from Home Depot (Tony Stewart jokes are now in bad taste), to Hooters (my wife would cut my liver out if I even suggested anything about orange hot pants). We looked at Nickelodeon, Fanta, Orange Crush, Gulf, Harley Davidson, Shell, and the list goes on. We needed something that was worthy of capturing the cover of GRM, even in a car as boring as a Miata. Finally settled on a good one, but this is just a tease... I am going to wait to show you some pics of the finished product. Trust me... you will like it.

SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 8:36 p.m.

The theme wasn't enough. Miatas are boring, and I want something that is not just worthy of an itty bitty pic in the back pages, I want something that has a shot at a cover pic.

And if Miatas aren't boring enough, this is an NA. If a super model is a 10 on the hotness scale, an NA is like a grocery clerk.

A paint job wasn't gonna cut it. We are going for broke.

We considered windshieldless. There were a lot of ideas with this, and it's a look I really like. But they are just not much fun to drive. Taking a shower in road debris and marbles every time you drive gets old.

So, there is the opposite extreme...

Instead of cutting the windscreen, we could add a roof. A FASTBACK MIATA! Mmmmmm....

So, I made the decision to hand laminate a fiberglass fastback roof. I've been working on it for about 2 months while the car has been in FL

I'll get a few build pics up in the next few days...

SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 8:44 p.m.

So, would a cool theme and some paint and body panels win the Challenge? No way. It could certainly help us on the Concourse (we only scored a pathetic 14.5 out of 25 points last year), but there is no way to win the Challenge if you can't go FAAST.

We had an easy time at third place in the autocross last year. We left a lot on the table, and we knew what to improve. The Miata will never be a drag race champion. In order to have a shot, we need a first place autocross score, by a wide margin.

We knew we needed more front spring, and better dampening adjustment. We were lifting the rear inside corner (and loosing traction from our Torsen) on every corner last year. Also knew tires would make a big difference. But then there was the one thing we are all terrible at, the ONE thing that can make a good car great, the ONE thing those of us who have perfected the art of procrastination can NEVER do...

...the car needed to be dialed in. berkeley.

One thing I can say with great confidence about every member of Team Mumpkin- we all suck at dialing stuff in. We don't have the patience. But if we wanted the win...

It HAD to be done.

SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 8:54 p.m.

So, that's our plan. We are coming to the Challenge, and looking for the win. We have a great team, a new look, a great theme, a terrific story, a revamped suspension, a different tire setup, lots of on-track testing, more powar, more boost, and a little giggle juice in the trunk.

We want to seriously beat our previous Concourse score, dominate the autocross, and get the car in the top 5 on the drags.

We will build it with children, old farts, and a rag tag gang of Challenge has-beens.

And we will do it with an original 1.6L engine.

Call it smack, call it our gauntlet, call it whatever.

But we will see you there!

Now that I've done the rah-rah thing, we'll back up a bit and tell a few more details of the build this year.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/14/15 9:01 p.m.

SVreX MegaDork
8/14/15 9:18 p.m.

Just digging up an old picture...

Remember this car?

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/14/15 9:42 p.m.

That silver was AWESOME, everyone who touched it got shiny palms to remember it by.

That was a fun driveway/garage full of cars. It's like a snapshot of my automotive ADD.

VWguyBruce Dork
8/16/15 2:06 a.m.

Looking forward to seeing it.

bluej SuperDork
8/16/15 6:42 a.m.

Love this.

SVreX MegaDork
8/16/15 7:45 p.m.

OK, so the first thing I did after the $2014 Challenge was to work on the suspension.

If you've followed all the way through, it was wearing motorcycle struts from a Yamaha R6 on the rear with 500 lb springs (but very little throw), and an oddball mismatched Koni setup with 500 lb springs on the front, with cut down bump stops (which became part of the "suspension" at full compression, just for the raw pucker factor during the non-existent transitions). We dropped the rear anti-sway for autoxing (but re-installed it and shimmed the rear for the drags). Additionally, it had staggered 15" Kumho V710's (225 rear, 205 front) squeezed onto stock MINI 6" wheels (seriously pinched). The stock backset left a pretty narrow track.

The setup nabbed us 3rd place in the autoX at the Challenge, even though it lifted the rear inside corner and lost traction from the Torsen.

I was actually quite content with the rear setup. It sounds weird, but on the lighter car, the R6 struts do quite well.

But the front wasn't gonna work.

I bought a sweet set of Leda struts from Mr. Joshua. They've got remote reservoirs, and 2 way dampening adjustability:

EBay helped me out with a used 12" NASCAR 400# spring (which gave us 2 800# 6" springs when we cut it in half).

I did have to do some modifications to squeeze them on the car. I pressed out the sleeve, and bored the bushing to accept the old sleeve (which had larger exterior dimensions, but a smaller shaft diameter). I don't have a press, so I substituted a big hammer:

The bracket on the lower A-arm was also too narrow to accept the new strut. I solved this with a combination of a bit of grinding (to make the bushings thinner), and a crude spreader I fabricated with a bolt (to spread the ears of the A-arm bracket). Once again, I finished the job with a big effin hammer (my favorite tool for tweaking and fine adjustments):

I had to set the adjustable perches almost all the way up to get the lower A-arms level (they were a bit short). So, the setup is excellent, but we won't be getting any great stance shots, yo!:

Since we have given up on the headlight buckets permanently, I bored a hole through the fenderwell (to access the nitrogen charge on the bottom), and mounted the remote resevoirs right up front. 24 clicks lock to lock, baby:

I completed the setup with a set of 13"x 8" wheels (with a better offset), and some well worn hard Hoosier whatever-the-berkeleys.

Next step... some testing.

SVreX MegaDork
8/18/15 7:12 p.m.

Before we got to some testing...

Concourse points killed us last year. We just hadn't spent the time...

So, I've spent time everywhere I could. That darned silver paint Mr. Joshua referred to was still everywhere. Under the hood, interior, trunk. Wipe your hand across it, and instant mess.

I figured I'd tackle the cowl area. Not only was it a hodge-podge of all the colors the car had ever been, but it had never been well detailed.

I removed every uneccessary bolt, bracket, or fitting. I took a die grinder to the joints, the caulk, the welds, and smoothed everything.

I even wire brushed every bolt, and shot it with a little clear coat, to prevent rusting:

A little sanding, a little masking...

...and Voila!

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/21/15 9:54 p.m.

I am tired. 4 hours of sleep last night because I stayed up with Spinout007 trying to figure out MX5 MS2 CBR COP wiring and poking at the MS2 tune to up the redline so in case someone more skilled than me goes really fast at Moultrie this weekend they have a few more MPH in second gear. 7800rpm soft cut and 8100 hard cut with 15psi set on the boost controller should do it.

I think we figured out what we need to do, now to combine this:

With this:

(and a resistor for the tach to function or something like that) before I go to bed tonight. Man it feels like the night before the challenge(just without all the happy drinking and camaraderie).

SVreX MegaDork
8/22/15 5:44 a.m.

Awesome! Looking forward to Sunday.

SVreX MegaDork
8/22/15 6:27 a.m.

Oh yeah...

To bring everyone up to speed on our testing...

  • Our first romp in the wild was at the Traqmate Skidpad Challenge at the Mitty. We started the day on hard as crap old Hoosiers, which were quite limited in their ability to go roundy-round. Mr. J and I fought it into submission as best as we could, but were definitely tire limited. We then decided to try our tired but not destroyed V710's. They were staggered sizes, so we thought it would be trick to mount the larger 225's on the right side, and the smaller 205's on the left, because they were running the skidpad only counter-clockwise. It was an odd setup- but it gave the car the cant to the left we wanted. We took off for the skidpad, but simply couldn't get the car turning much harder. We pulled 1.13 G's and scored a mid-packk finish at 24th out of 52 entries. It wasn't until I got home that I realized we had made a stupid move and failed to check our tire pressures. They were all at 0 psi, as I had deflated them when in storage. I guess 1.13 G's on 4 flat tires is still respectable.

  • Next shot- Moultrie 5/24. Dixie SCCA autocross. Mr. J, spinout007, and I all entered driving the same car. They gave us 5 runs each, which meant 15 runs for the car overall. It was a thorough thrashing. We did basically nothing in terms of dialing it in, we were too busy driving. Had a lot of trouble- backfiring, no power, spark issues, wheel lift, no traction, etc. But we did learn a lot about the car and what needed to be improved. We made lots of notes, and headed back to the shop. Mr. J had our fastest time, but only managed a raw time that gave us a 26th overall finish (out of 36). That's OK, we got we we came for. Lots of data. We swapped the car, and it headed for FL with the Gainesville crew.

  • The FL guys spent a lot of time chasing bugs (they may fill in later). 7/23 was it's first chance at the 1/4 mile. They headed to Gainesville Motor Speedway for some test and tune. It was a hot sticky night, so no records set. The car managed a 14.9 @ 92 mph. We can do better, but again, it's just test and tune. The point was to learn, and we did. The drag slicks stuck well, but the poor little 1.6L is saddled with poor gearing for drag racing and just not enough ponies to get off the line. Ran well at the top end, but couldn't get there quick enough.

  • 7/26 Next shot at autocrossing in Moultrie GA with the Dixie SCCA. We limited the runs, and gave ourselves a bit more time to think. Eventually, we put a driver in the car who was better than us. Made a lot of progress on dialing it in, and managed a raw time 6th place finish (with 31 entries). NOW we are getting there! It's kind of fun to see our little beater sub $2K car competing with $50K+ cars and beating them. Mr. J and spinout007 had a few more things they really wanted to iron our, so the car went back to FL again.

  • 8/23. No updates yet (because 8/23 is tomorrow!), but I am really excited. We will be autocrossing again with the Dixie SCCA, and this time we have our sights set really high. We are hoping for a FTD in raw time, or perhaps a shot at beating the Brunton Stalker that always comes. We will post our results here after the event.

I have long recognized the Challenge is a mix of buying well, building well, and TESTING well. The last step is the one so few of us ever get done, but it is critical to getting the car ready to be truly competitive at the Challenge.

What have I learned? Testing and dialing in a car is a HECK OF A LOT OF WORK, especially when it is a frankenstein jumble of odd parts. But good friends help make it lots of fun.

VWguyBruce Dork
8/22/15 8:08 a.m.

Good progress. You're definitely right about testing, I've certainly never done that before the Challenge. You guys make it sound easy.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/22/15 9:43 a.m.

You had to call out the Stalker didn't you. On paper there's no way we should beat them. We have Less power, more weight, less tire, less sorted, etc....

I think we can take em!

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
8/22/15 12:03 p.m.
SVreX wrote: So, would a cool theme and some paint and body panels win the Challenge? No way. It could certainly help us on the Concourse (we only scored a pathetic 14.5 out of 25 points last year), but there is no way to win the Challenge if you can't go FAAST.

Margie would probably assign you an extra 5 concours points for spelling it correctly.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/22/15 12:23 p.m.
Jerry From LA wrote:
SVreX wrote: So, would a cool theme and some paint and body panels win the Challenge? No way. It could certainly help us on the Concourse (we only scored a pathetic 14.5 out of 25 points last year), but there is no way to win the Challenge if you can't go FAAST.
Margie would probably assign you an extra 5 concours points for spelling it correctly.

"Parc Expose". There, that better?

SVreX MegaDork
8/22/15 1:19 p.m.
MrJoshua wrote: You had to call out the Stalker didn't you. On paper there's no way we should beat them. We have Less power, more weight, less tire, less sorted, etc.... I think we can take em!

Darned right I called them out. That's the target.

We were 2 1/2 seconds off the Stalker's time last month on a 55 second course. We still left something on the table.

So everything you said is true. But, we are also a shorter wheelbase, narrower track, more nimble, 2.8 turns lock to lock (compared to the Stalker's 3.75), more willing to take risks, and may have a better driver.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/22/15 10:50 p.m.

Really feels like the night before the challenge now. A predicted easy night of wrenching with an early bedtime just turned into Spinout007 heading home in the rain to dig through the miatae in his sleeping parents front yard to try to pull parts to get cylinders 2&3 back on the mumpkin.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/23/15 8:49 a.m.

Stayed up until 4. Now doing coil swap stuff while cruising north to Moultrie. Hope it solves 2&3.

SVreX MegaDork
8/23/15 8:43 p.m.

The Stalker is safe for another month.

Sadly, after 6 of us converged on the Dixie SCCA from different directions, we never got the car off the trailer this time.

We think a short while installing the COP setup may have fried the circuit board on our Megasquirt. There was no way to fix that in the field.

I DID have the chance to spend a couple of hours with Phil Curren- That was a treat. It's always fun to to learn from a racing legend.

Now the car is REALLY divided up. The shell is with me in GA, but the brains (Megasquirt) is in FL. Mr. J is going to do some soldering and see if we can bring this Megasquirt back from the grave.

I will begin bodywork and aero.

Sad day, but that's racing.

patgizz PowerDork
8/23/15 9:10 p.m.

keep on it, i like how you guys are doing it. my challenge car made it's maiden voyage the entire length of the driveway today. previous best was back out of the garage 20 feet then pull back in. beat it by a good 100 feet.

Spinout007 UberDork
8/24/15 8:19 a.m.

If SVrex and I are willing to take a temporary name change, we could change the team name to "Team Josh" or Team Sloshua! Seems like we keep recruiting Josh's to help with the car. Yesterday we had 3 of em answering whenever you were talking to one or the other. It was cool. I've been trying to recruit my cousin into a challenge build for the past 7 or 8 years, and I FINALLY got him to an event with the car that I've been going on and on about. AAAAAND the car never leaves the trailer. Oh well, he had fun. And getting to meet Phil was neat as hell.

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