LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
12/13/21 1:48 a.m.

I've been racing an oddball car for many years ( build thread here ). I plan to keep the Mercedes forever, but I'd like to race something more mainstream so I can compete in larger fields.

I've come across a bunch of 944 builds for sale. As a child of the '80s, the 944 and 951 were dream cars for me. There's a 944S I'm looking at that has had lots of success in SCCA ITS and Pro-IT. I'd like to get into SCCA racing, but my Mercedes doesn't really fit anywhere. I know NASA has a Spec944 class, the PCA has some classes for them, and there's also the 944 Cup. So, there would be a few options.

Any love for this platform? Seems like I'll have a bunch of places to race with a car like this.

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
12/13/21 2:03 a.m.

Forgot to ask: how does a normally aspirated 944 keep up with modern lap traffic? As far as I can tell, they're around 2700 lbs with 190hp and modest 225/50/15 rubber. On paper, that looks slower than an E30 M3.

Also, how is parts availability? One reason I'm looking for another racecar is because it's getting hard to find engines and transmissions for the 190E Cosworth. The supply of LSD diffs is already zero. Half-shafts are NLA as well. I'm jealous of E36 guys who can break stuff and be back on track the next weekend. I'd like to save the Mercedes for special events like the big vintage racing festivals and have something less "precious" for endurance racing, HPDE, etc. 

jh36
jh36 Dork
12/13/21 6:09 a.m.

I raced 944 na's for decades. The spec class is extremely popular in many parts of the country. 
The car is a joy to drive at the limit. Set up well, it's incredible. 
If you don't want to race pure spec, ST 6 or 5 are good options with NASA. It is very competitive in class. I hold the track record at Summit Point in ST6 and Ed Higginbotham holds the record at VIR in the same car. 
parts are still easily available but getting a bit pricier. 
A 944 na, spec Miata and specE30 will be around the same lap times. 
the 944 is about 144 peak hp so the average p:w at 2750 or so pounds puts it right in ST6 land. You can also easily run nasa gts1 depending on what's more popular in your area. 
I do not have much experience racing the S-variants, and while I know some are out there doing well, my gut tells me your best success will be in an na. 
short version, it's a great handling car that will never win a drag race but it's hard to find a 40 year old platform that has aged so well. 
 

edit: I started out with 944 cup (Now PCA, Dave Derricola's baby) then ran GTS1, PTE, and finally ST6

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/13/21 7:30 a.m.

944 cup was a sub series within PCA club racing, Dave had a fallout with PCA within the past year that I won't get into. They provided excellent events for his series to run within, he provided excellent support for the racers, ensuring high entry numbers within the series for the hosting sanctioning body and generated more exposure than they did internally. It was mutually beneficial and I'm sad to see that they have gone their separate ways. 

 

SP1-SP3 classes within PCA club racing are excellent classes that offer some really fantastic competition. I'm not at all a 944 fan as a street car. I really don't understand the appeal of them from a cost of ownership practicality or dynamics aspect. But on track, it's a different story. And that is in large part due to the community that races them, the support that they have, and how tough of a platform they are. 

porschenut
porschenut Reader
12/13/21 7:51 a.m.

Can't speak to their competitiveness in class racing but an amazing track car.  The trans in the back gives it a low polar moment of inertia which makes it extremely stable, balance at the limit is excellent.  The motors have their issues, I remember some problems with the 16V heads but it has been a while.

jh36
jh36 Dork
12/13/21 7:56 a.m.
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

944 cup was a sub series within PCA club racing, Dave had a fallout with PCA within the past year that I won't get into. They provided excellent events for his series to run within, he provided excellent support for the racers, ensuring high entry numbers within the series for the hosting sanctioning body and generated more exposure than they did internally. It was mutually beneficial and I'm sad to see that they have gone their separate ways. 

944CUP started out inside of NASA and something happened there too.  But the 944Cup Nationals were at Hyperfest/NASA Mid Atlantic in 2021...it would be cool to see the series come back to its roots.  I don't know what Dave is planning, but when he branched out of NASA years ago, a big lure was playing on a more national level.  With work/play balance being what it is for me, that didn't catch my interest.  

kevlarcorolla
kevlarcorolla Dork
12/13/21 8:08 a.m.

Mantis Racing runs a few up here in our LDRC endurance series,well sorted and not slow.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
12/13/21 8:17 a.m.

In reply to LanEvo :

You can also race with SVRA  since they are a national group  you'll have plenty of company. I suspect you'll be in group 10. 

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
12/13/21 8:44 a.m.

You can run in HSR too.  I run with quite a few 944s in group 3.  That's me in the SVO.

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
12/13/21 9:18 a.m.

When tracking/racing a 944 the rod bearings are a wear item.  I think the Spec 944 racers in AZ changed them once a year.

johndej
johndej Dork
12/13/21 11:02 a.m.

They must be tracking as this was just on my recommended items on Facebook this morning.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1163821863645385/permalink/5304287856265411/

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
12/13/21 11:11 a.m.
DWNSHFT said:

When tracking/racing a 944 the rod bearings are a wear item.  I think the Spec 944 racers in AZ changed them once a year.

Have you used a dry sump?  I know accusump makes claims and there are the stories of over filling or added baffles.  But when I tried all of those the only thing that actually worked was a pure dry sump system. Suddenly no bearing wear or oil based problems. 

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
12/13/21 12:12 p.m.

In reply to johndej :

That's the car I was looking at! I guess it hasn't sold yet. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
12/13/21 2:22 p.m.

In reply to LanEvo :

At that price you could buy it try it for a few events and then move it on if you don't like it.

jh36
jh36 Dork
12/13/21 4:15 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to LanEvo :

At that price you could buy it try it for a few events and then move it on if you don't like it.

True that.  If that's a running and even remotely competitive car, that's a deal.  I do find it odd that it is leaning so much while the driver is waving out the window!  frown  Cool opportunity.  I say go for it.

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/13/21 9:39 p.m.

New England Region car. It ran some ProIT races 5 - 6 years ago. Won a "bracket enduro" in 2015 (video, picture). Not sure when it was raced last...

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
12/13/21 11:21 p.m.

Raced them for years and toasted a couple motors with #2 rod bearing failure. Added an accu-sump (the big one) and plumbed it in to the filter / cooler housing. Cutting and welding the housing is required.  Never had a bearing issue after that.  In stock configuration they will not last long on tracks with long sweeping left hand turns. 
 

I still have my original race car in my back yard.  It needs the rod bearings swapped or the spare motor I have swapped in but I am not complaining as once I stopped tracking it I put another 200k mikes on the motor.  A quick bearing refresh and it would be good to go.  
 

These are great track cars. Really well balanced once you set them up. Also I never needed to upgrade the brakes to the 928 big brakes. Good pads and you will be good to go. I never had fade. This I think is largely due to ot being a momentum car not a high hp point to point car.  

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