As blessed as one can be!

Ok, so this will be my third run at Daytona. My second in the Charger. I almost backed out because I haven’t had the chance to get the new transmission in, and the new motor just went to the machine shop. BUT, who in the heck can pass up the chance to go play on the most famous speedway in the world?? I can’t say enough about the SCCA, TireRack, and Grass Roots Motorsports for putting on such an awesome event. Everything ran smooth as could be. As usual, a few who get a bit carried away on track, but it is to be expected. (Something about being at the most famous Speedway in the world)!

 

Great shot from the GRM Honda! Thanks guys!

 

This was the first session. Later on the night, second gear started going away on me. I also made a dumb rookie mistake and left the vacuum advance hooked up on the distributor so I had some misfire issues for a bit. Easy fix! Last session, I was told I neared 145! Plenty fast trying to stop this behemoth! The new EBC brake pads helped immensely and I had to dial in way more rear brake bias that I ever expected to use. Every lap seemed to get more and more fun. Don’t forget your point by guys! I am not ashamed!

 

This was pretty cool to see as well. Chris caught up to us and was able to shoot some video following us for a lap or two. Man, I never knew this car sounded so cool from the outside. I can hardly wait to keep perfecting it!

 

 

Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to check out the SCCA Track Night in America!

Engine carnage

So I recently bought a batch of 5.9 (360) engines to rebuild. With the pending purchase of another car and the need to swap the engine out of the 71 when I do the 5 speed install, I thought it would be a good time to gather some stock for the builds.

I made a deal with a guy local to us who has a barn full of motors. I ended up with two complete long blocks and one bottom end. As luck would have it, the first teardown was a bust. The motor looked brand new on the outside. The paint was still shiny black. I have no idea exactly what happened, but I was told that the oil filter reportedly came off of the motor and the person kept running it. In my 35 years of working on cars, I have never seen one this bad that didn’t fly into a hundred pieces!

I guess the fact that it would not spin at all should have been a hint! The #3 bearing spun and the bock was black as could be right there. The piston pins were welded to the rods! I managed to be able to save three of the 8 rods. Get a look at the rod bearings!

So, good news is the supplier is going to bring some more cores by so I can continue with my original plan of a three engine build.  may keep this block and build it later as a low RPM truck motor or something. The crank is beyond repair. I may make some funky yard art out of it.

With that, I was happy to see that the heads looked like brand new, so I ordered a set of springs and retainers from Hughes Engines so we can at least get some top end action going!

 

Spending a day with true legends!

On July 5th, we were invited to bring the 71 car to a fund raising event for the Living Legends of Auto Racing museum in Daytona. What an awesome time! We met Bobby and Donny Allison as well as Linda Vaughn! We also had the opportunity to meet several other local legends and view some of the most beautiful classic race cars that I have seen. It was great to be able to help out the museum and we know we will certainly be attending more events with the museum. If you are local or just visiting, be sure to stop the museum at 2400 S Ridgewood Ave #36, South Daytona, FL, and let them know we sent you that way!

 

 

 

Roll your own…….HEI that is

Ok, well here we go! Done, and done! New HEI system is all installed and she runs great!

 

Yes, you too can do this! It may be blasphemy to some, but I can tell you that this is 100 times more reliable and the spark hotter than a Mopar or Direct Connection box. While not as fancy as a full MSD or Mallory setup, it comes at a fraction of the cost! All you need is a stock Mopar distributor, GM HEI module, and a coil. No more ballast resistor!

Here is a great article from Elizabeth Puckett at Power and Performance Magazine about how she did it.

Here is how it’s wired.  Don’t forget the heat sink paste on the module and mount it to aluminum for cooling.

One note is on the distributor cap. The older (late 80’s to around 92 had a clip down cap, where later ones had the screw down cap. The later cap has HEI Male terminals, where the older one had standard female wire sockets. I did find a cap at Mancini racing that had the male HEI terminals with the clip mount cap, and it was $48!! I have seen some on eBay but as of now haven’t tested them.

And here we have the first firing. Timing was not set yet, but she sounded pretty mean for a cold start!

 

Feel free to email me: nick@excopllc.com or hit me up on Facebook if you want help setting up your own!

And here we go …again!

Remember me talking about Chinese junk a few posts ago? That awesome HEI distributor? Well, here we go again! Took the car from a cruise and on the way home it died like the switch was turned off. At first, I thought it’s almost 100 degrees out, so maybe vapor lock. Nope. I noticed when it shut down that the tach died immediately and pegged at zero. I managed to limp it home by cycles of driving and cooling, driving and cooling. That was fun!

I started checking things over. While letting the engine idle I noticed the weirdest thing! The damned distributor cap was wobbling around while the engine was running. Turns out out wasn’t the cap, but the entire base plate! I opened it up to have a look and the entire base was full of oil! Pic below was after I had spilled some of the oil. The stator was full of oil as well. Absolute JUNK!

UGH!! Soooo… off to my scrap bin and picked out a Mopar distributor. Now I am back to rolling my own ignition module and coil setup the way that I want it. I’ll update that as soon as I get it fired up!

On a really good note, JEGS was more than happy to refund the money for the purchase even though I told them they were getting a box of parts back.

Oh what a night!

So when you are a photographer AND the car owner, what do you do? You find the best and give them a call. I found Dave Green at Flag to Flag Photography.  It was awesome having him shoot some photos of our track night. Short of having someone else drive the car, this was the choice we had to use and I am so not disappointed. Dave shot great pics, and made the purchase easy at the end. This is in no way, all of the photos he shot. Just a few to highlight our evening…. and maybe one that snuck in from a time capsule.

 

 

Now I’m off to the garage to start the hard work for the next run. Oil change, 5Speed conversion, rearend oil change, new spring bushings in the rear… and I am sure I’ll find some other stuff.

Stay tuned!

Finally made it to Daytona!

I am in total disbelief. Who would have thought it. When I was racing those Carolina dirt tracks in the 80’s and only able to watch NASCAR on TV, (Cable TV which my dad was getting illegally at the time) I never fathomed I’d be here, running a car that I built, on the Daytona International Speedway. Now granted, we weren’t racing door to door, but trying only to beat our own time, it was still the thrill of a lifetime. I had chill bumps pulling onto pit road. Knowing all those childhood heroes of mine had been right here and rolled onto the same track was an indescribable rush.

I know this is nothing to many that have had the privilege to do this often, but the first time here was almost overwhelming. I’ll be running the late season run in the BRZ while I do some upgrades on the 71 car.

My car doubtful that it would pass a full blown NASCAR inspection, did the job! Due to the gearing, I was limited to about 130 in the high banks. I was told that I did break 140 going into the tri-oval but I was pushing that tired motor to the end of its limits. A road course section with an automatic is a PITA! All that did was make we want to build a better motor and change out the gearing before the run next year. By the way, I just bought the five speed last night!

So, to Bobby Issac, Buddy Baker and Dave Marcis… I thank you for some childhood inspiration!

I do seriously want to thank EVERYONE that helped me get here. I have had sponsors from $5 to $200 and up that helped make this happen. I haven’t forgotten who you are.

Never pass up a chance for a drive…

Last weekend we started painting our pool area. We want some Florida colors! I’ll still be working on it this weekend. BUT… in between coats of paint and various other chores, I took the 71 for a quick 30 mile loop from our house up to Daytona Beach, then back to New Smyrna before heading home. I wanted to actually figure out my top speed at around 5,000 RPM. Hey, I am about to head to the speedway so I want to see if it will hold together.

The new Dynomax race bullet mufflers are just what we needed. That and routing the exhaust out of the side finally. I am happy with the sound and the performance. For what it’s worth… yes she makes triple digits just fine.

Time to hit the track,,,,

Well here we go! Childhood dreams coming true! Funny, even after my short time at Drive Petty and playing around the track in Vegas, nothing can match the excitement I have about driving the 71 car at Daytona. While we won’t be racing, we will have a couple of 20 minute track sessions and who can argue with the feeling of driving a vintage NASCAR replica at speed at the most famous track in the world! Sure it would be fun to rub doors with the King, but I am sure my inner Walter Mitty will handle that!

In all seriousness, guys do this almost every weekend all of the country thanks to the SCCA and Tire Rack. These track events are geared towards the non-professional ,full time race driver and allow the general public to test their skill and their car without having to own a race team. I am very thankful for the opportunity and look forward to visiting other tracks later on this year.

Stay tuned for track photos and video after the event. If you want, come on out and spectate!

https://www.tracknightinamerica.com/events/1994506-track-night-2019-daytona-may-3

Grounded by Chinese junk!

Well I am as about as cheap as anyone…I mean, I shop bargains and I have seen some good products out of China, but this week has seen two huge failures from my bargain shopping. I guess lesson learned.

First one, I noticed the brake lights on the Charger staying on all the time. What did I find? The “no-name” switch from Rock Auto melted down and fell apart.

Luckily the local parts store had a quality version for about $10. Problem solved and we move on to the next day. I went for a good drive and towards the end the car started stuttering and backfiring. I got home and looked everything over and nothing. Next day, off for another drive and everything was great then… again. Skipping, backfiring, the whole thing. It finally hit me that either the coil was breaking down or the module had issues from overheating. The distributor was a JEGS HEI replacement for the Dodge stock distributor. This guy right here:

Fix for it… swapped out the module and coil with Accell parts and man she runs AWESOME!

Super Coil and their HEI module seemed to make life grand. I can hardly wait until the weekend to go for a drive.

Lesson learned… do be cheap! 🙂