BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car

BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car

Author
Discussion

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Thursday 15th April
quotequote all
ROLL CAGE IS IN

I collected the car a week later and was very happy with the results.



The welding on the cage is superb - granted I'm not an engineer so it's only a layman's opinion, but it seems incredibly sturdy and also very neatly done.



My main reason for paying for fitting was that I wanted the additional box sections and plates to be welded to a very high standard, and I think that's what I have got.



You can always have a better roll cage. I could easily have spent twice this much on it and there would still be many ways it could have been improved. But at this very reasonable cost, I don't think I could have asked for a better result.



The harness bars are a nice touch, and the double door bars are incredibly sturdy without making it too difficult to get in and out of the car.



I'd been really torn about whether or not to order the cage with additional A-pillar supports. But if these pillars were present then I definitely would really struggle to get in and out - not a concept I'd relish after a shunt or if there was fire involved.



Overall I'd certainly recommend JP Cages. They were great to deal with, very honest and straight-forward; and I'm chuffed with the results. It ended up costing around £1500 ish. Money very well spent.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Friday 16th April
quotequote all
BONNET PINS

I’d intended to use a spare set of aerocatches that I had lying around. Unfortunately on closer inspection these turned out to be some cheap eBay catches which are usually more trouble than they’re worth. So we ordered two sets of bonnet pins from Motamec.



Bolting in the stud is the easy part. Lining it up with the correct point on the bonnet and then cutting holes in the exact right location is slightly harder.



I had a quick check on eBay and found a spare silver bonnet available for just £40 which gave me a bit more confidence, and got stuck into it.



Managed to get the holes lined up pretty well. The additional screw holes were a little close for my liking but the end result seemed pretty secure.

The hardest part by far is betting the correct length/height of the studs. High enough to allow the pin through, but low enough to stop any rattling and ensure the bonnet is fully secure.



The same process was carried out at the rear. This was a bit easier perhaps because you have easier access to the other side of the stud; or perhaps because I’d learned how not to do it with the front ones first!

I might still add additional spring latches to the bonnet for added security. I’ve seen someone’s bonnet fly up at speed and the results are not pretty. Happy to hear what others have done.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Friday 16th April
quotequote all
NEW BRAKES

I ordered new brakes all round. The standard calipers are perfectly adequate in these cars, and it seems like most people retain those; and I believe a number of race series rule out upgrading them. However discs pads and hoses are usually free.



I went for c-hook vented discs all round, supplied by Halo performance who were nice to deal with. I’ve run vented grooved discs on other cars and fancied a change mostly because I like the look - I’m not convinced there is much if any performance difference between the various disc types on a small 2.0 150bhp car like this.



I decided to try out these new RP-X pads by EBC. I haven’t used them before but heard good things and saw another Fiesta driver using them and winning races so they must be more than up to the job. My previous preference had been the Ferodo DS3000 front pads. But as the two were the same price I thought I’d try something new.



Went for EBC Yellowstuff for the rears. I’ve used these as front pads before and in my experience they don’t stand up to too much track abuse, I got brake fade after a while and also ended up with half the pads spread across my wheels in brake dust! But on the small rear calipers I’m hoping they’ll do fine. Not sure which pads other drivers use?



Obvious choice for the braided lines was Goodridge. I’ve used them on at least five other cars so wouldn’t change now.



Also got some new slider pins to regrease the calipers. And some race brake fluid from Millers.



With it being a reasonably high mileage car, I’d been prepared for the worst with the brakes. But I was pleasantly surprised. Nothing was damaged and there was no serious degradation on any of the components. In fact the discs I took off the front were virtually new, as were most of the pads; another good indication this car had been reasonably well looked after.



One aspect I did have an issue with was the front caliper carrier bolts. One of these was stripped on the front near side.. and I then proceeded to strip the other one too. A classic novice error I’m sure. Luckily with a bolt removal tool (Irwin Bolt-Grip) the rounded bolts did come out eventually after some treatment with the blowtorch.



The rear carriers cleaned up ok with a wire brush and some elbow grease. I’d like to come back and do this job again with a sandblaster and maybe paint them to freshen the whole lot up. But not now!



I didn’t have any issues with the rear calipers, however I did run into trouble when trying to reassemble it. I couldn’t get the rear caliper to slide on with the new pads inside - even though I had wound the piston all the way in with a piston compressor. After a lot of head scratching we noticed there is a small notch on the brake pads, which needs to line up with the notches on the piston. Not something I’d ever noticed before, but luckily this was the last issue and everything went back together nicely.



A nice rewarding job. I took the car for a little test drive and everything felt ok. The car then got a fairly good bedding in drive with gentle progressively bigger stops. The new brakes have done 50 miles now and feel great.

Sammo123

1,715 posts

146 months

Friday 16th April
quotequote all
This is looking like a nice little car you've got coming together smile Good to see you tackling the majority of the work yourself. Similar to the BMW I'm turning into a track car in my rented single car garage laugh

Rockatansky

1,564 posts

152 months

Friday 16th April
quotequote all
On the subject of rear pads, our guys generally use standard pads. There's not much braking effort going on back there, and there's a possibility that over braking the rear has caused early (and unwanted) abs activation issues.

Car is looking good though, makes me want to build another!


SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Sunday 18th April
quotequote all
PARTS ARRIVING & ODD JOBS

A couple of little updates. The seat arrived from Demon Tweeks. This was a big decision for me, whether to stick with the budget build theme - or go with something a bit more substantial.

The seat is a very important safety item. You can get perfectly good seats for £200. But just like the roll cage, it seems like an area worth spending a bit more on. I wanted a seat with adequate wrap around protection, and of course it’s always nice if you can get a slightly lighter weight material too.



I went for the Sparco Circuit II QRT. The shell is made of fibreglass and the seat weighs in at 9.1kg which isn’t too bad for such a substantial seat. It’s comfortable and very supportive with high sides and those chunky wrap around head restraints - it certainly feels safe. It ended up costing £450.



I’d need to re-fit the dashboard first. No easy task, and something we’d be roping a mechanic friend into helping with. There was also the OMP subframe to fit, the seat mounts, and the foot plate.



The OMP front strut brace also arrived along with the OMP (again!) steering wheel boss, and a few other smaller bits like the sun-strip & rear tow strap.



Another part to arrive was the steering wheel. Very exciting. I’d wanted to plump for a nice expensive Sparco wheel, but decided that didn’t fit with the budget theme and as it wasn’t a safety item I wasn’t budging on that one.



The tow strap was a nice easy bolt on part. Given that I’d already sanded down and resprayed the original tow loop, this was an obvious anchor point and the strap went on nice and securely using a harness eyebolt and plate washer.



I also did a test fit for the seat, which I’d been slightly nervous about as I’d not measured up since the cage went in - but found that it fitted neatly.



Sun-strip is another simple and satisfying job - super simple to do but very important now that the roof lining and sun visors have been taken out.

Next up is the driver compartment: seat positioning and steering wheel fitting.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Sunday 18th April
quotequote all
REPLACING THE DASHBOARD

This isn’t an easy job. I’d imagined getting the car back from the cage fitter, and simply slotting the dash back into place; perhaps nipping a small hole out of each side with a dremmel.



Re-fitting the dash has got to be one of the best examples how building a race car is not as easy as the pros make it look. The dash does not, does not, just slot back into place around the roll cage.

I’d known from the start that one job we’d need help with was wiring in the electrical cut-off switch and the pull cables. So we’d roped in our friend at Kent Motorsport to help.

In fact what actually happened was that we needed him to save the day with the dashboard re-fitting too. He ended up cutting the dash apart and then using soldering wizardry to effectively weld the plastic dash back together in the correct position.



Cutting holes/slots in the correct place for the front bars was not the hardest part. The end result was very neat and tidy, I was over the moon with how they ended up.



But getting the dash back inside the cage and sitting flush with the bulkhead was an absolute nightmare. One simple answer to this is that on a professional build it’s highly likely that the windscreen would come out; either to allow for A-pillar gussets to be welded into the rollcage, or for a full interior respray after roll cage fitting. But we did not have this luxury and had to work within the small space we did have.



So an absolutely huge thank you to Kent Motorsport for taking on that additional challenge and doing a fantastic job - even though they had only agreed to helping with the pull cables/cut off switch.

I have to accept that without that help, I would have ended up cutting the dash into at least two pieces and then having to fix it back together with some concoction of bolts and brackets - which would not have looked pretty.



Instead, the end result is a dash cut perfectly to size around the cage, and fixed back in place perfectly with no rattles, no interference, and with no noticeable joins or marks. Top work.

We also test fitted the fire extinguisher and the battery. So that’ll be the next post (seat & steering wheel fitting also to come).

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Monday 19th April
quotequote all
FITTING A STEERING WHEEL

Nice simple upgrade that makes a big difference to the driver experience.



The steering wheel is very straight forward to remove. I’d already removed the airbag which is a little trickier. But the wheel itself is just one large bolt and can be removed in a few seconds.



The boss supplied by OMP seems overpriced for what it is. But this isn’t a component that you can cheap out on; a poorly made pattern-part could have serious repercussions if it failed.



The boss comes with an outer rubber sleeve which sits nicely over the top. You then fix the steering wheel onto the boss with the screws provided; obviously these are the screw heads you can see when looking at the face of the wheel. It’s very simple and uncomplicated, and the hub comes with very clear assembly instructions.



I went with the Motamec wheel as I’d been impressed with the other components they supplied such as the battery tray. I’ve previously purchased a very nice Sabelt wheel for our other Fiesta, and I must say the weight, finish & quality of this Motamec wheels seems entirely level with the Sabelt one - at less than half the price. I would recommend.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Monday 19th April
quotequote all
Thanks for the encouragement Sammo123. Having a single garage to work out of is definitely a help; although I can't actually fit my car inside so it's used more as a storage space and workbench area. Good luck with the BMW.

Cheers for the heads up on the rear brakes Rockatansky. Yellowstuff are a good fast road pad, and are ok on track - but not super aggressive so hopefully I won't encounter that over-braking issue? I've got a brake bias kit on my wish-list for later on in this build (not within the original £5k budget!) so I will be looking for advice on that at some point down the line.


944 Man

398 posts

97 months

Monday 19th April
quotequote all
Id save a little of the budget for seam welding. I realise that the regs probably prohibit it, but everyone does it because cars dont work properly unless everything is tight. Do as little as you can get away with around the suspension mountings, and do not be tempted to go too far forward. Cover it all up with seam sealer and re-paint.

indigorallye

503 posts

190 months

Tuesday 20th April
quotequote all
944 Man said:
Id save a little of the budget for seam welding. I realise that the regs probably prohibit it, but everyone does it because cars dont work properly unless everything is tight. Do as little as you can get away with around the suspension mountings, and do not be tempted to go too far forward. Cover it all up with seam sealer and re-paint.
I hope I never have or ever will race against you.



OP- this is BAD advice. Stick to the rules.


Edited by indigorallye on Tuesday 20th April 09:17

944 Man

398 posts

97 months

Tuesday 20th April
quotequote all
That is quite a naive position that you are taking.

See how easy it is to disagree without being snide?

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Tuesday 20th April
quotequote all
I appreciate the honest input 944 Man. I've spent enough years in race paddocks to hear many claims about what others are secretly doing, or what the guys at the front are doing 'differently' from the guys at the back. But there is a certain naivety about it from my perspective, because I often don't know precisely which actions/tactics are being referred to. So it's good to have one such example spelled out honestly.

Everyone has their own opinion on what constitutes 'clever interpretation of the rules' (see Adrian Newey's book; How to Build a Racing Car) versus 'cheating' (see Lance Armstrong's example of 'its not cheating if everyone is doing it'). Each to their own.

My personal view is that anyone is more than welcome to interpret the rules however they see fit.. so long as you are willing to look a scrutineer in the eye and tell them what you've done. If you can stand by your actions and argue that you think they are within the spirit of the rules then good luck to you - many a Formula1 race was won with that attitude.

But when you are going to lengths to conceal what you've done from scrutineers, and also from fellow competitors.. for me that is where the distinction is made. That is the rule I will stick rigidly to with this project. But again, each to their own!

ChevronB19

2,522 posts

128 months

Tuesday 20th April
quotequote all
944 Man said:
Id save a little of the budget for seam welding. I realise that the regs probably prohibit it, but everyone does it because cars dont work properly unless everything is tight. Do as little as you can get away with around the suspension mountings, and do not be tempted to go too far forward. Cover it all up with seam sealer and re-paint.
While seam welding is allowed in the series I race in, firstly stitch welding is better, and secondly, if it wasn’t allowed, I’d far rather come 2nd with a legal car than 1st with an illegal car.

But anyway, back to an interesting build thread!

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Tuesday 20th April
quotequote all
FITTING THE RAIN LIGHT

The plan here was to wire the rain light into the existing fog light cabling, to replace the fog light - and give us a race legal rain light.



There aren’t a huge number of options for approved rain lights - although I’m sure there are if you have a much bigger budget. So I went for this standard MSA approved one, which if you shop around you can find for under £40.



The rain light does not come with any kind of bracket. So we came up with this bracket, to fix the rain light into two redundant holes at the top of the rear hatch. The holes were blank, so we used a rivnut gun to insert a thread into these. The bracket then got a nice coat of satin black.



We then soldered on some suitable cable to the short stubby wires coming out the back of the rain light and added some heat shrink for extra protection - ready to wire into the rear light loom.



The bracket does the job really nicely, and the rain light sits perfectly in line with the glass at a distance of 2cm. There is absolutely no flex in the steel bracket, so no chance of rattling or interference against the glass.



The result is a nice clear view of the rain light through the rear glass, with a solid fixing to the car, and a nice oem style button operation using the existing fog light.



It’s all coming together.

Edited by SparrowHawk on Tuesday 20th April 19:34

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Wednesday 21st April
quotequote all
NEW CLUTCH

The car doesn’t need a new clutch. Or at least it didn’t feel like it really needed one.

But I’ve been caught out before and didn’t want to risk the same thing happening again. Turning up to Silverstone a few years ago in what I thought was an immaculately prepared Civic, only to find myself sheepishly limping off the circuit after only 10 laps due to total clutch failure.



I have been told by several people that I am mad to fit a standard clutch into a race car. But my reasoning is three-fold.

1. This LUK kit was incredibly reasonably priced, versus a Stage1 clutch.

2. We’ve always thoughts it’s best to have the clutch as the weak link in the transmission - as it’s much easier to have the clutch changed than to fix or repair a gearbox.

3. Our other Fiesta ST has done somewhere in the region of twenty-five trackdays, and we have only needed to change the clutch once.

I realise that racing is different from trackdays, but am very optimistic that this clutch will last well beyond this season.

Took the car to my local gearbox & clutch specialist who I’ve dealt with before and who are well regarded. They changed the clutch all-in for £350 which I think is very reasonable.

That money has obviously come out of my overall budget for racing this year, but I don’t think I’ll include it within my £5000 target budget for the build. Because I could definitely have gone to the first race weekend on the existing clutch; and because I know full well there is not £350 left in the budget!

I didn’t think to take a picture of the car getting done - or of the clutch that came out, but I did see it and it looked like it had plenty of life left in it. One fortunate thing is that the technician said the slave cylinder had started leaking slightly; a sign that the clutch would have started failing soon after.

So it’s a good job we got it done, and it gives an additional layer of confidence in the car going into the season.

Kraken

1,654 posts

165 months

Wednesday 21st April
quotequote all
944 Man said:
That is quite a naive position that you are taking.
Lol, playing fair and not cheating is naïve is it? Sums up everything wrong with club motorsport these days. People cheating to win a plastic trophy that they've paid hundreds to compete for and trying to justify it by saying "everyone" does it.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Wednesday 21st April
quotequote all
SEAT IN

This was another big step in the process, with the car starting to come to life as a race car. First job was to put in the foot plate, to give myself a nice flat surface beneath the pedals.



This was easy enough, as the Motamec plate simply fixes in with 4 self-tappers and washers. However, I did need to drill 2 of the holes myself which as predicted did damage the nice black paint finish - a very odd design feature.



The next bolt-on part was the OMP seat subframe. I'd hoped that as these frames are custom made for this exact car, that I might be able to install the seat with no additional drilling or modifications. The frame goes in very easily with 4 M12 bolts (not provided!) and it looks & feels very strong once in.



On the first run I did fix the seat brackets into place on the furthest back setting on the frame. Considering the mounts were in the 'back-most' holes, they did still look very far forwards to me. I decided to crack on and try the seat in that position, and took the car for a drive. As predicted the seat was way too far forward.



This meant drilling two new holes in the frame, and two new holes in the seat brackets. Having measured my arms in the position I wanted them to be on the steering wheel, I decided on moving the holes 3 inches backwards. This gave a good driving position, but without compromising the safety of the seat anchoring.



In this new position, there was some overhang behind the frame, but the mounts were still very firmly fixed to the frame and the placement of the bolts felt very secure and was nowhere near 50% overhang.



The seat position was just about spot on, with my arms slightly bent with my hands on the steering wheel - and with my left leg not fully extended when operating the clutch pedal. I did move the front of the seat vertically down one notch, to allow my legs to straighten slightly. And that was the seat position sorted.



In addition to feeling very comfortable and secure, the seat also gives great support with no body movement allowed. I also really like how enclosed the seat wings are, giving a big extra layer of protection if the car is rolled. I can also get in and out fairly easily although as I said before, I'm not convinced that would be the case with an added bar in the roll cage.



And lastly, it looks really cool. It is really starting to feel like a race car at this point.

croissant

1,241 posts

103 months

Wednesday 21st April
quotequote all
Great thread! This car looks like it's going to be a lot of fun and a great drive!

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

52 posts

108 months

Wednesday 21st April
quotequote all
FRONT SPLITTER

The guys at TRC make really nice parts. They are marketed more as styling parts, but I’m convinced having a small splitter must give some aero improvement.



As luck would have it, we’ve already installed one of these on our trackday Fiesta. So it was a case of copying that.



I lined up the lip to match the location of the one on our other car, and used a lot of masking tape to hold it firmly in place. A little bit of heat gun helped to smooth it into place.



The lip is supplied with exactly the right hardware and is also pre-drilled with 10 holes in the correct location. Drilling through the plastic bumper is super easy, and the lip lined up spot on first time.



It looks good. I’ve got nothing to back up my claim that a small splitter like this really aids grip in any meaningful way - but it just seems like it should be on there.

I’ve seen lots of more comprehensive lip spoilers on other Fiesta race cars, and will be happy to hear suggestions on better solutions - so this might be an area to revisit later down the line.