Thursday, September 15, 2005

Long time, no post

Well, it's been quite a while since I've posted. Things got quite off-track lately. First, I had to cancel my plans to race at Daytona in early August. I just didn't have the money or the time. So, we worked throughout August to get a new motor built and installed in the car, only to have to cancel our outing at Sebring on September 3rd and 4th due to Hurricane Katrina. My parents, sister and brother all live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and they took a hard hit from Katrina. I did not hear from them for almost 2 days after the storm, so I decided to cancel my race plans and head up there from Tampa to try to find them. Fortunately, they managed to get a call out to me just as I was leaving to drive there. I went anyway, taking up a large amount of water, food, batteries, and a generator. Our house came through mostly unscathed, though many neighbors and friends were not nearly so lucky. Please remember the residents of the Gulf Coast in your prayers and donate generously to the Red Cross or another relief organization.

So, the next chance we'll get to race is at Sebring the weekend of October 22-23. The new motor is together and in the car, and everything else is looking good. I'm ready to RACE!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gearing up again

The next race is looming near - Daytona International Speedway on August 6-7, for a SARRC series double-header.
Stuart decided he wasn't happy with the bottom end on the motor, so he's building a new one. We were a little low on compression on the high-mile block - probably because we honed the bores and the end-gap is out of spec. We blame this on the Showroom Stock engine rules we're stuck with that won't allow us to overbore at all when doing a rebuild. I guess I should have just bought a crate motor and been done with it. Anyway, we have to swap the bottom end out within the next couple weeks. Other than that, the car just needs a new front left fender (oops), and I want to change the differential fluid now that the new diff has a couple hundred miles on it.

The Just Miata shop is moving to a new location, just a couple miles from the old shop. That will give us more room for the racecar and trailer, and Stu will have a lot more space for customer cars and such.

I'll keep you posted on our preparations as they progress. Hopefully, there's not much else to do...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Successful first outing

Just Miata Racing competed in our first race in 16 months this weekend, on the short course at Sebring. In a field of 24 starters we qualified 12th, and after running as high as 9th at one point in the second race, finished 11th in both the first and second races.

I got a really good start in race 2 and put a lot of distance on the guys behind me, and stayed in touch with the lead pack for the first half of the race. Gradually, the car seemed to lose a little power and I dropped back a bit. Then, late in the race, my foot slipped off the brake pedal on a downshift and I missed my turn-in point. In a class this competitive, that's all it takes and two cars got by me.

We were hoping for a top ten finish, but overall we're very happy with our results this weekend. Finishing in the top half of the field in a brand new car after not racing for 16 months is the best we could have hoped for. It's a very positive result.

Photos and video coming soon.

-Kevin Morrison

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Another day of work

Spent the day Saturday over at Just Miata taking care of race prep for this coming weekend. I installed my cool suit plumbing, the window net, cleaned all the wheels and tires, inspected the brakes and suspension, did a few little things around the engine compartment, installed the fuel test port. Stuart worked on the cutoff switch wiring and mounting.

This Thursday, the car is going over to Cars and Concepts in Tampa for alignment and corner weighting. Then Friday afternoon I'll head down to Sebring. The weather is looking ok for this weekend - just scattered showers. Most likely we'll have dry track. I don't have rain tires so I will skip any wet track sessions. No sense risking the car.

The goal for this race is to finish with the car in the same condition we started in, learn as much as we can about the setup, and get me back up to speed with racing. No heroics. It's been over a year since I ran wheel-to-wheel.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Gearing up

Trying to get everything ready for the race in less than two weeks time. We'll be at Sebring on June 4-5 with the SCCA. I still have to install the window net, cutoff switch, and a few other odds and ends. Stuart is going to help. This will be my first race on the Hoosiers. I'm interested to see how much (if any) faster I am in this car and on those tires. I need to be a good 3-4 seconds faster than I was last year to be anywhere near the front. I think it is doable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


We took the car down to Sebring Sunday for a test day. It went very well. I put about 100 miles on the car. The only issues that cropped up were a loose exhaust pipe, a loose alternator bracket, and a very loud exhaust rattle. All except the rattle were fixed at the track. I did a short, 15 minute session on my new set of Hoosier R3S04's, to get them heat cycled. I then switched to an older set of Hankook Z211's for two long sessions. They don't have nearly the grip of the Hoosiers, but they are ok for testing and practice.
Overall, the car is good. This was just a shake-down, so we didn't bother with things like tire pressures or temperatures. We also haven't got quite as much camber as we would like, and the car hasn't been corner-weighted. Despite all that, it's quite neutral and doesn't come unglued over Sebring's bumps. It seemed to make good power as well. In fact, I almost ran out of 4th gear on the back straight, which I don't think I've ever been close to doing in the old car. We'll get it to a dyno soon and verify that it's making good power.

The next race is at Sebring in June. If I am to make that, I'll need to install my window net and cutoff switch, but I think that is all I need to do.

Here's a few pictures (Warning: these are BIG files)
Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

and here's a quick video clip (also a big file)


Next time I'll get some in-car video.

I hereby declare this project officially done! Now comes the fun part - racing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

So Close I Can Taste It

Last night, for the first time, the engine on the #89 Spec Miata was started. It was a little rough at first, but after a couple tweaks and it smoothed out and ran very nicely. Unfortunately, the gauges on the dash were not working at all, so we couldn't tell anything about oil pressure or temperature, so we didn't run it long. It sounds healthy, though. This weekend, before going down to Sebring for a Sunday test session, we have to fix the gauges (Stuart may have already done that as I write this), bleed the brakes, and get some sort of a reasonable alignment on it. That should be enough to get me on the track.

The car looks great, by the way. Stuart has done a lot of work on it, as have I.