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Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/16/20 8:22 p.m.

Over the last couple days I've been listening to the Ten Tenths Podcast and the Slip Angle Podcast.  The concept of a "trainer car" has come up a couple times and I'm intrigued.  I'm not unfamiliar with the idea but I had never really put a ton of thought into it.  I'm having withdrawals from not driving just like everyone else so I've started looking at track ready cars for sale out of pure boredom.

My experience;

-13+ years of autocross starting with a non-turbo Nissan S14, SR20DET S14, 425whp Nissan S15, Evo III, and a few Mustangs.

-3 years of riding sport bikes, CBR1100xx, GSXR600, R1, FZ07

-10+ drift events

-2 open track days, 1 at Grandsport Speedway, 1 at Mugello Circuit

-Have current SCCA Novice Time Trials License

My current car if you don't follow my build thread.  2002 Mustang, LS swap, 480whp, sub-3000lb.  A very fast, very capable car.    

Obviously I'm not a profesional driver but I'm not a complete noob.  Getting more track time in the Mustang would be greatly benefical I'm sure.  I'm just south of Kansas City so my local tracks are Heartland Park Topeka, Hallet, and Raceway Park of the Midlands.  At this point I've never driven any of these tracks.  Is a "trainer car" something I should entertain?  Would it be more beneficial than just getting seat time in my current car?

By trainer car I'm looking at something cheap, low hp, relatively stock.  Something like a used Spec Miata, Focus SVT, some flavor of Honda?  BRZ is probably more than I want to spend.  Basically something stock that I can throw tires and brake pads on and go turn laps.  I don't want something I need to "prep", I already have a racecar.

Thoughts?

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
7/16/20 9:08 p.m.

In reply to Patientzero :

Well first a car set up for autocross likely won't survive wheel to wheel.  Today's race ready cars Really need a dry sump.  No, a Accusump isn't a good alternative.  In an Autocross oil slides up into the timing chain housing or up the cylinder walls  but a second or so later the car changes direction and oil gets picked up by the pump.   Road race corners are much longer. Turn 5 at Elkart Lake for example starts when you're hard on the brakes slowing down from your top speed. once you've dropped  that 100+ mph you start turning for the corner.  At 40mph  that cornering takes several seconds.  Add that time together  and the accusump will be out of oil.   
As you floor it past the apex oil will change direction and head back towards the pickup.  At first the pickup is getting mostly foam and froth but eventually it will pick up real oil admittedly with a lot of air in it.  
That would be great if it didn't have to fill up the accusump. But it does and that low pressure chamber will take priority until it's filled and pressure is again up to normal. At which point oil will start working its way through all those dry areas. Like bearings etc. 

Now how many times did that engine spin around  without benefit of oil?  5-6-7000 times per minute.  Say just 20 seconds?  That's  over 2000 revolutions. 
Then there is the whole question of is stock strong enough?  
 

Track sessions tend to be  20-30 minutes long. That's a long time to hold the throttle flat on the floor.  Yes sometimes you're downshifting slowing down.  
That's hardest of all!!! Under power the rod is jammed down.  Under braking the rod is being pulled apart and only the strength of the rod bolts  ( and nuts)  keeps it together. 

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/16/20 9:21 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Umm... ok?  Not sure how any of that had to do with my question.

AaronT
AaronT New Reader
7/16/20 9:59 p.m.
Patientzero said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Umm... ok?  Not sure how any of that had to do with my question.

And a Spec Miata would be set up to deal with all of that anyway. 
 

 

Is there some reason you can't just lap your Mustang more? You'll probably want to be real honest with yourself about motivation, will your new toy help you be a better driver or do you just want a new toy?

 

What about racing karts instead of a car? If you have access to a track that may offer you more for less money (I'm guessing this is part of your motivation).

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/16/20 10:12 p.m.

In reply to AaronT :

I have a Track Night in America in a couple weeks that I plan to take the Mustang to.  Admittedly, consumables on the Mustang are more expensive than a Miata.  It also tends to break alot which cuts into potential seat time.  Ultimately I just want to be better driver.  I really DON'T want a new toy because I don't want to take resources away from the Mustang or my C10.  Just wondering if I'm handicapping myself but not getting more seat time in a slower car before I trying to drive the Mustang at a high level.

I'm not aware of any kart racing locally but that's not to say it doesn't exist.

drock25too
drock25too New Reader
7/16/20 10:14 p.m.
Patientzero said:

Over the last couple days I've been listening to the Ten Tenths Podcast and the Slip Angle Podcast.  The concept of a "trainer car" has come up a couple times and I'm intrigued.  I'm not unfamiliar with the idea but I had never really put a ton of thought into it.  I'm having withdrawals from not driving just like everyone else so I've started looking at track ready cars for sale out of pure boredom.

My experience;

-13+ years of autocross starting with a non-turbo Nissan S14, SR20DET S14, 425whp Nissan S15, Evo III, and a few Mustangs.

-3 years of riding sport bikes, CBR1100xx, GSXR600, R1, FZ07

-10+ drift events

-2 open track days, 1 at Grandsport Speedway, 1 at Mugello Circuit

-Have current SCCA Novice Time Trials License

My current car if you don't follow my build thread.  2002 Mustang, LS swap, 480whp, sub-3000lb.  A very fast, very capable car.    

Obviously I'm not a profesional driver but I'm not a complete noob.  Getting more track time in the Mustang would be greatly benefical I'm sure.  I'm just south of Kansas City so my local tracks are Heartland Park Topeka, Hallet, and Raceway Park of the Midlands.  At this point I've never driven any of these tracks.  Is a "trainer car" something I should entertain?  Would it be more beneficial than just getting seat time in my current car?

By trainer car I'm looking at something cheap, low hp, relatively stock.  Something like a used Spec Miata, Focus SVT, some flavor of Honda?  BRZ is probably more than I want to spend.  Basically something stock that I can throw tires and brake pads on and go turn laps.  I don't want something I need to "prep", I already have a racecar.

Thoughts?

I paid $800 for a 98 Dodge Avenger, replaced the fluids, brake pads and rotors, put some new tires and wheels on it and took it to Hallett and had a blast. It was kind of a trainer car. I had raced oval dirt tracks but never on a road course and I decided to do a Champcar race. After two HST days at Hallett, we stripped it down and installed the cage to go do the Champcar deal. I had no problems with the car other than it not being very fast. But I figured I needed to work on the driver before building big horsepower. 

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/16/20 10:24 p.m.

In reply to drock25too :

Where are you located?  

drock25too
drock25too New Reader
7/16/20 10:26 p.m.

Northwest Arkansas Just outside of Fayetteville.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
7/16/20 10:35 p.m.
drock25too said:
Patientzero said:

Over the last couple days I've been listening to the Ten Tenths Podcast and the Slip Angle Podcast.  The concept of a "trainer car" has come up a couple times and I'm intrigued.  I'm not unfamiliar with the idea but I had never really put a ton of thought into it.  I'm having withdrawals from not driving just like everyone else so I've started looking at track ready cars for sale out of pure boredom.

My experience;

-13+ years of autocross starting with a non-turbo Nissan S14, SR20DET S14, 425whp Nissan S15, Evo III, and a few Mustangs.

-3 years of riding sport bikes, CBR1100xx, GSXR600, R1, FZ07

-10+ drift events

-2 open track days, 1 at Grandsport Speedway, 1 at Mugello Circuit

-Have current SCCA Novice Time Trials License

My current car if you don't follow my build thread.  2002 Mustang, LS swap, 480whp, sub-3000lb.  A very fast, very capable car.    

Obviously I'm not a profesional driver but I'm not a complete noob.  Getting more track time in the Mustang would be greatly benefical I'm sure.  I'm just south of Kansas City so my local tracks are Heartland Park Topeka, Hallet, and Raceway Park of the Midlands.  At this point I've never driven any of these tracks.  Is a "trainer car" something I should entertain?  Would it be more beneficial than just getting seat time in my current car?

By trainer car I'm looking at something cheap, low hp, relatively stock.  Something like a used Spec Miata, Focus SVT, some flavor of Honda?  BRZ is probably more than I want to spend.  Basically something stock that I can throw tires and brake pads on and go turn laps.  I don't want something I need to "prep", I already have a racecar.

Thoughts?

I paid $800 for a 98 Dodge Avenger, replaced the fluids, brake pads and rotors, put some new tires and wheels on it and took it to Hallett and had a blast. It was kind of a trainer car. I had raced oval dirt tracks but never on a road course and I decided to do a Champcar race. After two HST days at Hallett, we stripped it down and installed the cage to go do the Champcar deal. I had no problems with the car other than it not being very fast. But I figured I needed to work on the driver before building big horsepower. 

Champcar gives a break  to the oiling system since they are running on street radials and the focus isn't on speed as much as endurance and fuel mileage. 


     

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
7/16/20 10:46 p.m.
Patientzero said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Umm... ok?  Not sure how any of that had to do with my question.

You asked if your autocross Mustang would be a good trainer car. short answer is probably not.  For reasons above. 
 

Second is you will learn a lot more how to drive if you learn with an underpowered car.  Scrubbing off speed is a kiss of death but if you're frantically trying to catch up to an overpowered car you will never learn those nuances. 
 

All of us racers think we are great. It's only when we're are with the great drivers that we find out where we are in need. 
 

In Formula V  nearly every driver thought the fast guy cheated. So he would offer to trade motors. ( those cars it takes less than an hour )  invariably the fast guy would go faster with the engine he swapped in than his own and win.  
Driving is a skill youll go faster with more experiance. 

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/16/20 10:54 p.m.
frenchyd said:

You asked if your autocross Mustang would be a good trainer car. short answer is probably not.  For reasons above. 

That is not in any way what I asked.  Read it again.

 

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
7/16/20 11:11 p.m.

Just run the mustang. If you had a miata and the mustang sitting in your garage right now I'd probably tell you to start with the miata at least once or twice. But I can't see the effort and expense of obtaining and prepping a second car that you know is going to be temporary being anywhere near worth it. Yeah, a slow car might teach you "better" or whatever, but it's not exactly like you've got a 700hp supercar that does all the driving for you. Getting that thing to be fast is going to take some skill.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
7/17/20 2:33 a.m.

Is there an active field of 125cc shifter karts running in the area? 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
7/17/20 3:10 a.m.
Patientzero said:

In reply to AaronT :

I have a Track Night in America in a couple weeks that I plan to take the Mustang to.  Admittedly, consumables on the Mustang are more expensive than a Miata.  It also tends to break alot which cuts into potential seat time.  Ultimately I just want to be better driver.

Is it breaking because of the swap, or is breaking because it's a mustang?

edit:
what's your DD?

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
7/17/20 4:57 a.m.

So it's a bit different, but I started autocrossing in my 97 mustang cobra and ran it for several years. I got to a point where I needed a new daily and the mustang was probably going into storage for a few years being in college so I got a Miata as a daily. The mustang was in esp trim, the Miata STS short the engine management. The mustang was also my "baby" that I cared for a lot. The Miata, well, it could just be thrown in and other than snow season drove around on 200tw tires.

 

I wound up learning a lot running the Miata and unlearning some bad behaviors the mustang induced. It did help. It punished mistakes harder, but was also easier to get to do what was intended, so gave a better lesson in what was intended being the right thing. I also focused more on driving and less on caring for the car. 

 

Went back to running the mustang after several years and was a better driver for the Miata time. Now moved on to a F500 and climbing that mountain.

 

So that's my experience, what you want out of it your track time? 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
7/17/20 5:15 a.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

Is there an active field of 125cc shifter karts running in the area? 

This is the real answer. If you can get a kart and a track membership the amount of driving you can do will dwarf anything you can do in cars. You don't even need to race with the guys who are running (racing and lapping are different beasts to conquer) but having a field that's running let's you have people to practice with and learn from. Imagine a world where you can stop off after work two nights a week and bang out 50 laps and then go home for dinner. People talk about racing karts here, but not enough about lapping and practicing in them. 

If that doesn't work, look at consumables and their costs. After track fees themselves, the next most expensive thing is tires/brakes/fuel. A lot of the guys who have trainer cars are getting "free" track time because they instruct or otherwise work the events they attend. This is a thing you should do. Once  you're doing that, you need to control you tire budget and the best way to to that is to be running small cheap tires on a small cheap car. 

bmw88rider (Forum Supporter)
bmw88rider (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/17/20 7:31 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

That's a really good point. I was looking at that after you mentioned it and between the local "league" nights, the open days, and the state wide series I could kart 85 days a year. Compare that to track nights and open lapping days which would be maybe 25-30. With the added bonus of 2 of the kart tracks are less than 20 miles of the house. Much closer than High Plains. They even have old man divisions so I'd only get beat by old men and not some 15 Y/O. Ha. Now can my body handle that.  

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/17/20 7:49 a.m.
sleepyhead the buffalo said:

Is it breaking because of the swap, or is breaking because it's a mustang?

edit:
what's your DD?

It likes to eat transmissions.  DD is a 2019 Ford Fusion.  I have autocrossed the Fusion (when the Mustang was broke) but I don't think I'd want to risk wadding it up.

 

 

 

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/17/20 7:55 a.m.

Shifter Karts sound fun but how does it relate to a car?  It would be on different tracks and the physics aren't really the same in terms of how it reacts to inputs and the way you have to drive it.  Legit question.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
7/17/20 8:21 a.m.

Well, reactivity is different - you dont have suspension to take a set. Plus you have the non-differential rear axle changing things a bit too.  You are nailing a few drawbacks, but there are positives. Price/access to driving opportunities and time on track. Ease of actually getting into wheel to wheel action.  Another food for thought thing - many F1 drivers use karting to keep themselves sharp in the off season. In fact A good number of them went out in shifter karts before this years season started up to blow the rust off. 

I would say a shifter may be the wrong way to go out of the gates though, go for a lower class kart if you are gonna do the kart. At least to get toes wet. Thinking is that its better to start slow and get habits right. If you get used, I would bet the residual value (resell price when you want to move up) wouldnt make it a very expensive proposition. 

 

Another thing that this thread makes me think about. When I started going snow skiing; a knew a bunch of people who obsessed over getting great equipment and all the things. I had $20 tied up in my equipment (yard sale straight skis, grandpas snowmobile suit, college lab goggles, etc) and could ski circles around them because I got a season pass and my grandparents house was 15 minutes from the slopes. Equipment didnt matter as much as actual time on task. I eventually spent another $15 on a more modern set of skis (parabolic, worked with my old boots too) and while there was a moderate learning curve, I was still ahead of most of my friends. If it wasnt a black diamond I was bored. 

Point is - get out driving, access is more important than higher performance equipment in many many cases. In cars lower performance punishes you more for mistakes, so can be a better teacher. 

 

I wish there was a kart track near me.   Closest is 2 hours away in baltimore I think

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
7/17/20 8:40 a.m.

What you call a "trainer car" I call a "school car."  Although I like that "trainer" calls to mind a T-38.  Mmmmm, T-38...

But to answer the question, you will will benefit greatly by learning to drive a slow car fast before trying to learn to drive a fast car fast.  Honestly, this is common knowledge among professional instructors and coaches.

In order to learn you need to think about learning what you are doing wrong and how to do it better.  In a fast car you will be running riot with the loud pedal and merely trying to hang on to the steering wheel with no brain power left over for analysis.  Also, taking Heartland Park turn 10 as an example, it is way easier and less expensive to learn to drive it at the limit at 75 MPH rather than 95 MPH.  Your runoff is a lot bigger at 75 than 95.

A school car needs to be RWD, have no vices, and be reliable and inexpensive to run.  A Spec Miata is perfect.  I think a Spec E30 or Spec3 (E36) would also be excellent, although I don't think you can find a track car more reliable than a Spec Miata (just pack OEM hubs with top-quality grease).  The Miata is too small for some drivers while the BMWs have more room.

The really cool thing about a Spec Miata is that they are everywhere; they are sort of a commodity.  You can buy a regional car for under $9,000, run it for a year, and sell it for about what you paid.  In that time you've used only one set of tires and brake pads.  It's awfully difficult to get cheaper track time than that.

As for karts, that is another possible option.  But only if you have a source for free used tires.  I can't recommend a 125cc shifter as a "school car" as it is just too fast, you are too busy, and in my limited experience it is a struggle to get them to run smoothly.  How busy?  At PKRA in Phoenix I was running 47 second laps with 54 shifts (according to my bad memory).  Karts are great for vision, balance and mental training.  I don't think they are great for throttle and steering training as they are just a different animal.

Bottom line: buy a Spec Miata if you fit in one, run it for a year while you ensure the Mustang can lap reliably and stay cool.  The Spec Miata should be easy to sell and you will be a better, faster driver and appreciate your V8 a whole lot more.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
7/17/20 9:02 a.m.
Patientzero said:

Shifter Karts sound fun but how does it relate to a car?  It would be on different tracks and the physics aren't really the same in terms of how it reacts to inputs and the way you have to drive it.  Legit question.

It's not so much about becoming a perfect car driver as it is becoming better in general and getting seat time. Even after 15 years of autocross and a dozen or so track weekends and half a year of TT and five One Laps, I'm better in a car now because of riding crappy kids dirt bikes on kart tracks for a year than I was before, and that's with almost no car time at all. The things you learn about grip and eyes and relaxing and finding little bits of time and proper commitment to fast sections and restraint in slow sections are hard to learn without your butt in a seat. Having that butt in a seat is relatively more important than what seat it's in until you get to a high specific level, and that level is honestly higher than most of us will ever reach. 

I do agree about shifters maybe being too intense. One of the young men at our local kart track is doing 3-500 laps a week on hard tires in a shifter kart for training. Normally he races Formula 4. In the shifter EVERYHING is faster and sharper and when he gets in the F4 car things seem calm and tame and reasonable and he can easily concentrate on the track and the small details. There are many other karts that you can drive as well that take out the shifting and leave you with braking and corner speed and keeping eyes up and lots and lots of laps. 

Even though I've kind of "moved on" to small bikes from cars for the time being (becasue my duaghter is racing bikes with me) I have a friend collecting parts for a kart so that I can start to spend time doing that. Lots and lots of kart laps are in my future as part of getting back into cars. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
7/17/20 12:02 p.m.

I started racing on 125cc GP bikes so I am a huge proponent of starting with something that teaches you about momentum

A Kart is a good pick but get one of the low power clutch Karts............shifter Karts are easy to overdrive. There are loads of 4 stroke 10-15hp kart classes that will teach you a ton about momentum.

As for a car, get whatever sub 200hp car you can find and run it on street tires. Here's why.

First, street tires are very easy to get over the limit. You need to learn to get all four tires to their maximum slip angles at the same time; loads of drivers get the most out of the front tires under braking and turn-in and and then get the most out the rears from mid corner to exit. Very few drivers manage to go from maximum grip under braking to max slip angles on all four tires on turn-in to apex and then transition that to maximum traction out of the rears while still get the max out of the fronts on exit.  Those transitions are where all your speed is, follow a fast driver and you'll notice they gap you just past the turn-in point and again just past the apex. I nag nag ang about this as an instructor.

Second, why do I need a gutless car, when I could learn all of the above in my 400+hp Mustang? 99% of drivers aren't likely to learn that in a high horsepower car. In a gutless wonder, when you over do it, you'll see a near instant RPM drop. Also in a slower car you'll find momentum carrying you out to the exit kerbs rather than powering out to the exit kerb, you quickly learn you're not carrying near the corner speed that's possible. Note when I say powering out to the kerbs this is an example of getting the most out of the rears but still not being near the limit of the front tires.

Back to what car; my first pick would be a bone stock Miata on 200-300TW tires, add a roll hoop and call it a day. Since you have a Mustang I'd also be good with an older V6 Mustang. While I prefer RWD, there are a whole host of good FWD cars that fit the bill. Realistically all you need is something that handles decent because after several events in the car you're likely going to sell it off........once your training is done.

Now as for seat time in your existing Mustang I have several questions; first is it possible to dial back the motor easily (limit revs etc)? Why does the tranny break.........weak or never designed for that much power? What tires are you running?  Here's my thoughts on your Mustang; if possible de-tune it / make the tranny live (limit RPM / timing whatever) and put it on some hard tires (200tw), drive several events with it and then put it back to original trim.

 

 

 

Patientzero
Patientzero HalfDork
7/17/20 12:20 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

Now as for seat time in your existing Mustang I have several questions; first is it possible to dial back the motor easily (limit revs etc)? Why does the tranny break.........weak or never designed for that much power? What tires are you running?  Here's my thoughts on your Mustang; if possible de-tune it / make the tranny live (limit RPM / timing whatever) and put it on some hard tires (200tw), drive several events with it and then put it back to original trim.

I can lower the rev limiter on it.  A restrictor plate is also a consideration to kill some of the power/weight ratio so I can drop a class in time trials.  Transmission problems are just a weakness, transmission was never designed for this much power. It most recently broke at the ProSolo in Topeka shifting to 3rd gear in a hurry.  I can make it live if I take it easy I think. An upgrade will be neccesary sooner than later.  Tires are Yokohama A052's.

 

I guess to sum up what everyone has said, seat time is more important than anything.  Seat time in a slower car would be benefical but not 100% necessary.  Pull power out of the Mustang and maybe put some less grippy tires on it?

I appreciate everyone's input.

 

chada75
chada75 Reader
7/17/20 2:25 p.m.
AaronT said:
Patientzero said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Umm... ok?  Not sure how any of that had to do with my question.

And a Spec Miata would be set up to deal with all of that anyway. 
 

 

Is there some reason you can't just lap your Mustang more? You'll probably want to be real honest with yourself about motivation, will your new toy help you be a better driver or do you just want a new toy?

 

What about racing karts instead of a car? If you have access to a track that may offer you more for less money (I'm guessing this is part of your motivation).

Karts are the Answer here. 

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