SCCA STX 2012 - R56 Class Prep / Introduction

Discussion in 'Autocross' started by GreyLens, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    #1 GreyLens, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
    I recently started following a thread on a BMW forum started by "race2win" which is focused on the challenge of building a BMW E30 that would be able to win at the SCCA Nationals in Sept. race2win is evidently a multiple champion at the nationals but not with the E30. He has won with Miata's in the STR class in the past. The E30 has never won there in STX and the consensus is it is too hard to build a national level car in STX with the E30. This is an excellent thread. I if you're interested in this subject I encourage you to follow it.

    [ame=http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=222733]SCCA STX E30 Build/Introduction - R3VLimited Forums[/ame]


    What is interesting to me is, though the E30 is a wholly different platform than the MINI JCW, many of the core issues/challenges with the platform are similar to those faced by the MINI JCW, which is also not considered a nationally competitive car in STX.

    While I certainly don't have the driving skills to actually be competitive at the nationals this year I'm seriously considering and halfway planning to go to the nationals in September. If I do I'd like the GreyLenz to at least be in the ballpark from a configuration perspective.

    So, I plan to work through many of the issues that race2win, as a national level driver, is addressing in his thread for the E30 except, obviously, I'm only a locally semi-competitive driver focused on the R56 JCW platform. If there is interest in this subject this year I'll continue, if not...

    I'll try to keep the posts segmented and better titled this time.
     
  2. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    While I'm a horrible AutoX'er, I get lost in the sea of cones, I'd be quite interested to read about your trials and tribulations as the season progresses.
     
  3. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    #3 GreyLens, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    STX Rules and Cars

    I've copied and posted race2win's description of STX with a few minor edits:

    "SCCA STX rules for those that don't know...

    The street touring category is the most popular in SCCA Solo, & continues to grow each year. In a nutshell, the cars are stock with the following exceptions

    - Emmisions-legal engine bolt-ons limited to intake, exhaust (with cats), chips/re-flash or any ECU programming in the stock case. Otherwise engine must be totally stock & original...no bolting in a "i" motor in an "e"

    - The suspension is mostly open allowing most any shock/strut/spring combo as long as the suspension type stayes the same & the original pick-up points & geometry is used. Any sway bar, strut bar, camber plates, etc.

    - Transmissions & diffs must be stock, but any limited slip unit can be used.

    - Interior must be stock, but race seats can be used, harnesses, any steering wheel, & any shift linkage. (Replacement seats have to weigh at least 25 lbs.)

    - One of the most desirable aspects of the category though is the tires...no R-compound tires allowed like in other SCCA categories. Only street tires with a minimum of 140 treadwear are allowed, so the tire budgets are more managable than the other categories (it takes a minimum of 2 sets of $1100 Hoosiers to stay competitive in our E-Stock Miata each season, & those are 14" tires!).

    Currently, the STX class allows most 2 or 4-door coupes/sedans from 2.5-5.1 liters normally aspirated & 2.0 liters or less forced induction. The current cars-to-have are 3-series 6-cyl BMWs, 02+ 2.0 liter Subaru WRX, Mazda RX8, & the E30 M3. Each of these cars has strong points & can win, but compared to them the 6-cyl E30 is lighter (as much as 300+ lbs lighter), & it's narrowerer, meaning it should get through slaloms & transitions very well. It does have less power, but the power-to-weight should still be very close, & more importantly it has one of the best tire-to-weight ratios."

    Compare MINI JCW:

    The MINI JCW is clearly considered not very competitive in the STX category at the national level. Then, again, there aren't many that I can find that have been campaigned at that level. For several reason's I'll discuss in this thread as we go, it looks to me like we can learn from race2win's experience with the E30 even though the E30 is a RWD and the JCW is FWD.

    I've also learned some things recently from k-huevo regarding limitations with my AST based suspension set up that was a bit of a surprise for both of us. I'll explain that and a few other findings for you to consider. race2win is also looking at AST's for his E30 build.

    Btw, k-huevo's maintenance thread is excellent. If you haven't yet discovered it...

    http://www.motoringalliance.com/forums/cooper-s/5621-todays-job-12.html

    STX vs D Street Prepared:

    I've noted in a couple of other threads recently that I was seriously considering moving to DSP. To make a long story short...I'm staying in STX. The DSP category is a slippery slope. I'll discuss why later if anyone asks.
     
  4. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    Thanks. I'm entering my third year of autox and I'm just now getting used to seeing through the "waves of orange" out there. It's a great sport! I'd love to see more MINI's out there in STX. MINI's came on strong in the early days because they didn't know how to class them. Now that the classification rules are settling the MINI's into a clearly more competitive field it is getting tougher to win. Should be interesting. Hopefully, we can learn some things from each other. I'm sort of shooting in the dark down here being the only MINI to drive autox regularly in the San Antonio / Austin area. :confused5:
     
  5. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    Tire Rack SCCA National Solo 2011 Results

    Here's a quick perspective on the cars and results at the 2011 Nationals.

    There were 44 entries in STX which allowed for twelve trophies. The old Honda Civics took 7 of the twelve trophies to include the first four positions. There were 3 RX-8's, a BMW M3 and BMW 325 in the top twelve. The Civics have finally been prevented from class hopping. So, if you remove them from the formula the top cars were:

    BMW 325, BMW M3, RX-8, and two WRX's.

    No MINI's entered and all the cars were 6 to 15+ years old. Conventional wisdom says building to compete at this level takes about 3 to 5 years plus.

    There were no E30's as race2win is building and no MINI's.

    I'm not planning or trying, of course, to build a MINI that can truly compete at this level. But, following some of the ideas might be helpful in competing at the local level and maybe at a couple of the Tire Rack Tour events. In any event, I think this will be fun and hopefully useful to some to write a bit about.
     
  6. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    #6 GreyLens, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    The GREYLENZ Modification List

    The GREYLENZ is a 2009 JCW (Factory). To set perspective I thought I'd list the mods I have in place. Many of them are for fun but several are key upgrades for STX.

    1. NM Engineering CAI
    2. NM Eng Air Charge Pipe
    3. NM Eng Discharge Pipe
    4. NM Eng Torque Arm Insert
    5. NM Eng Titanium Turbo Heat Shield
    6. NM Eng Steel Brake Lines
    7. NM Eng Short Shifter Adapter
    8. NM Eng Shifter Assembly Box Cover
    9. Whalen Shifter Knob
    10. Whalen Brake Handle
    11. Kosei K1 TS 17x7 Wheels
    12. Hankook RS-3 215-45-17 Tires
    13. JCW Factory Anti-Sway Bar
    14. AST 5100 Shocks
    15. Swift 60Nmm Springs front and rear
    16. Whalen Turbo Wrap
    17. Whalen Heat Shield for scoop
    18. Vorshlag Variable Camber Plates (the new improved model in red)
    19. OS Giken Limited Slip Differential

    I also have the COBB AccessPort and run the Stage One tune for daily driving just for the fun of it. I remove the tune and go to stock for STX competition because no boost changes are allowed in STX. I may get a tune that does a few things without any boost change but for now it is the stock tune that was available about 8 months ago. I'll get an update on the stock tune from COBB soon. They usually have a much more current stock tune than what the dealer will have on your car. It takes the dealer a very long time to update your tune due to their very old computer technology so they just don't update it very often unless you ask. The AccessPort does much more and is worth checking out. You can get it from Alta Performance and their support for the product is excellent in my experience.

    I've not upgraded the intercooler...not allowed in STX.

    On of the biggest upgrades in autox is, of course, wheels and tires (and an LSD...will discuss later). I have a pretty good set up for now but I will discuss a different approach to that issue in another post.

    I also upgraded the 2009 JCW aero kit with the OEM JCW 2010 brake ducts and slightly more aggressive splitter.
     
  7. ScottinBend

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    How do the scrutineers determine if the boost has been adjusted.....self regulated?
     
  8. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    Great question! I really don't know. The new STX rules allow for "in line" devices to change the ECU tune which is a big change. But, they don't allow direct changes in "boost levels." This is the one area of the rules that I think needs to be reconsidered. With the AccessPort, if one were really sneaky and wanted to cheat, I think you could do it anytime, except maybe at the nationals. I just always take it off for an event. Since I'm staying in STX I'm also not installing the intercooler I've had sitting in my garage for a year+. I'd like to set it up to use at the track...but too much hassle if I'm staying in STX. These two upgrades are pretty common. You'd think they would allow them in STX.
     
  9. BThayer23

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  10. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Grey, I have VERY good news for you. My fiancee and I (both AutoX'ers) are moving to Austin. We are looking forward getting back into our sport. While I'm not a JCW and not the best autox'er I still have a good time and work to get faster. So, you will have MINI company soon. :Thumbsup:

    It's a fuzzy area but in most cases those issues are brought-up via protest. At regional or national levels you do open yourself to having to allow officials at the time of protest to examine your car which can include checking the ECU.

    In the R56 there are a few mods that can be made mechanically that are legal that MIGHT give you an extra pound of boost that are STX allowed. So you get extra boost without directly adjusting boost levels via Accessport or other fun device.

    Realistically, most everyone cheats at Nationals. They make mods that are hard to find or notice that will give them those few extra tenths. You'll never see blatant mods because it will be VERY obvious when you are running away from the class.
     
  11. CarlB

    CarlB Active Member

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    Thank you for starting this thread. I started autocrossing two years ago. I have a 06 R-53 JCW, which I specifically bought to autocross. This will be my third year. The first year I just ran with the local BMW club, but last year I ran the SCCA and BMW events. The DC region of the SCCA, where I live, is a hot bed of autocrossing and is very competitive. Hopefully I will get the opportunity for a school or two this year to improve my skills. I built my car for STX and have the following modifications:
    V-3 KW coilovers from Texas Speed Works.
    Fixed camber plates – 1.5 degrees
    19 MM rear bar
    400 LBS springs all around
    TSW motor mount
    The car is easy to drive. Let off the gas in the corner and the line tightens up. Turn in is very good. My first autocrosses were on 215-45-17 Dunlop star specs. I liked the tire because the slip angle to grip point was very pronounced but easy to stay on top of. Last year I got some Toyo 225-45-16 R-1s. They are mounted on seven inch wheels and I am not very happy with them. I do not know if the wheels are wide enough, although Toyo says it is OK. They do not have a very well defined grip “island”. Not being a good driver, I over drive the entry and get the big push. Hopefully I will do better this year. I am thinking I want to go back to 17 inch wheels and Hancook R S3 215-45-17 tires. The other changes I want to make are a bigger front bar and 500 LBS rear springs. The car will spin the inside tire coming off some corners and the bigger front bar should help that. The new rear springs should keep the same balance.
     
  12. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Hankook RS3s are a GREAT street tire for autosports. From what I have seen thus far the 215/45/17 is just about right for MINIs in STX.

    Versus using more swaybar to keep the wheel from spinning an LSD would be much more effective. If thats not a cost practical thing I'd still advise against the sway and have you break a hair more on entry and on throttle later (late apexing). You'll push less and spin the inside drive-wheel less or not at all. :)
     
  13. GreyLens

    GreyLens New Member
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    Awesome! I look forward meeting you. The Austin club, SPOKES, has a bunch of excellent drivers. You'll be in good company. They send a much bigger contingent to nationals than the San Antonio club. In the old days the clubs weren't very friendly with each other but over the last few years we've shared a lot of events and both clubs usually get over half the other club at their monthly events. Most everyone is a member of both clubs. Plus we drive year round. Our limitation is good parking lots to run on. Both lots we use are adequate but neither is great.

    Also, when you get here you can join our little "Lone Star Mini Club." It is a handful of folks to include k-huevo who is sys admin for our board.

    http://www.lonestarminiclub.com/forums/




    [/quote]It's a fuzzy area but in most cases those issues are brought-up via protest. At regional or national levels you do open yourself to having to allow officials at the time of protest to examine your car which can include checking the ECU.

    In the R56 there are a few mods that can be made mechanically that are legal that MIGHT give you an extra pound of boost that are STX allowed. So you get extra boost without directly adjusting boost levels via Accessport or other fun device.

    Realistically, most everyone cheats at Nationals. They make mods that are hard to find or notice that will give them those few extra tenths. You'll never see blatant mods because it will be VERY obvious when you are running away from the class.[/quote]


    I know what you're saying. Everyone pushes the envelope a bit. I just wish they'd get rid of the ECU limitations in ST classes...would make it simpler.
     
  14. GreyLens

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    #14 GreyLens, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    CarlB,

    I ran the star specs for the first 18 months of autocross and loved them. I ran the RS-3's for the last half of 2011 and also liked them. They're much better in the heat we have down here. I'm going to do a short post on my plan for tires soon.

    I think you might be right about the R-1's. I would think an 8 or 8.5" wheel would do a bit better with the Toyo's.

    I will also probably experiment with springs. I had a set of 70Nmm (450lbs/in) SWIFT's all around and just replaced them with a set of 60Nmm's (350lbs/in). I did so mainly for the daily driver ride. About mid year I might put the 70's in the rear and run the 60's in front. I'll also do a post on some lesson's learned with the AST set up. K-huevo is helping me figure some things out there and I'll post when we have more info.

    WATER PUMP: Also, I guess I'll be taking the LENZ in for a manufacturer replacement of the auxiliary water pump. I'm going to call the dealer today.

    http://www.motoringalliance.com/forums/mini-news/11710-mini-recall-88-911-2007-2011-s-jcw-models.html
     
  15. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Unfortunately they aren't going to touch it until you get your letter. It looks like they dealer service network isn't prepared to do the work yet and they are planning on fixing any used/pre-owned units on site before beginning with customer cars.

    I'm interested to what notes you have for autox'ing the R-S3s. I only had mine on the track so I'm not sure how they do when not at track temps.
     
  16. FredR53

    FredR53 New Member

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    @ GreyLens, I'll be back racing this year with you. I hope to make the Jan 29th event. I've got to wait on a new axle to come in though. I missed almost all of last year due to different things (family, work, school). But I'm going to try to make just about all of the SASCA events.
     
  17. CarlB

    CarlB Active Member

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    Thank you all for the feedback on the tires. The Toyo’s are just not working out for me. Redbeard I have a factory LSD. They are the Torson or Quaife type. The Giken type of modified clutch differential would help coming out of the corners, but would probably not be as good in. My Idea is to limit the roll to keep the inside tire on the ground and not lose power. To keep from understeering more from the bigger front bar I am going to increase my rear roll stiffness with more rear spring. The 19 mm rear bar can almost get the inside tire off the ground. Unfortunately I think these modifications will make the car very stiff for the street. I specifically used fixed camber plates so I could drive it on the street. Even with the 400 lbs springs and the shocks dialed back the car is not harsh. I know you are giving me very good advice on my driving. I just need to be able to do it. At one time I was a racer, but I never did any autocrossing. Autocross is very violent in comparison to driving on a real race track. The other issue is you have time to think about it on a race track. When you autocross you get three or four runs. I will get on top of this, but currently it is all happening too fast. GrayLens the R-56 has more suspension travel than the R-53 doesn’t it? When MINI takes the states came through DC they had a test drive quasi autocross set up and I went. The R-56 felt like it had more travel and a softer set up.
     
  18. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    AH! Your so stiff in the front you are lifting your inside FRONT-wheel off the ground? That would definitely negate the torsen-style factory LSD. I'm following you now. You are correct. You might be a bit too stiff up front with the bar. Upping the spring rate in the rear will help.

    As far as the DD versus track/autox compromise everyone has to walk their own path. I feel you there.

    It's funny; I had just the opposite issue. I autox'ed for year then got into running on a track. I had to slow down my inputs and anticipate more. I also learned that there are many places on local tracks where I can get away with an early apex to shorten compromising corners. If I tried that on an AutoX course I'd be spinning.

    A random aside: I am very good at right seating people to improve thier lines and driving habits. I consider myself a good teacher. In fact, everyone I have a ever co-drove with has actually gotten better and beaten me. I can see all of these issues and work to fix them and yet I still do dumb things that keep me slower. The good news of this is that Greylens and Fred get to have help in stomping thier class a little later this year. :lol: :Thumbsup:
     
  19. GreyLens

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    #19 GreyLens, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    We have a lot of hot days here in SA and the R-S3s are quite popular. Andy Hollis, who does most of the tire testing for Grassroots Motorsports, is a member of the Spokes club in Austin. As soon as he started using them in the local events many of us followed and have been pleased. But you can feel a real difference on the few cold day runs in Jan and Feb...not much traction.

    When I used the Star Specs on hot days I always had to cool them down between runs with water. I don't do that with the R-S3's. They seem to increase in grip with each run. I'll likely stay with them again this season. But, I'm thinking about setting up with a set of dedicated tires...kinda strange for Street Touring but it's getting pretty popular around here. I'm going to post on this issue soon.

    Btw, I'm looking forward to some coaching. Like you I know a fair bit about what to do (I read and listen a lot) but I'm not too great at doing it.
     
  20. GreyLens

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    FRED!!! Excellent news!!! I missed you the last half of the year. You were just starting to click when you disappeared. Redbeard may be joining us in Austin as well! It'll be great to have a few other Mini's out there. :cornut:
     

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