Viking 43 Formula SAE racecar was originally built at the Vehicle Research Institute, Western Washington University for the 2008 FSAE competition where it placed 6th overall at FSAE West. We chose this car in particular because it has great fundamentals. The carbon tub is stiff, light, and has great ergonomics. It’s a simple car with lots of off-the-shelf components (engine management, display, brake system, etc) for easy repair or replacement. Suspension members are all welded 4130 – strong and easily repaired if damaged. Original roll-out video below:
The car sat in storage for almost 10 years after competition where the intake and ecu were pilfered for use on new FSAE cars. Trever (who was on the original 2008 FSAE team) and I (Jared) acquired the car with the goal of rebuilding to be a reliable and competitive SCCA auto-x racecar. This required a lot of work (task list includes well over 100 items). The main highlights include:
Rebuilt differential with hardened steel side plates
Reinforced front rocker mounts
Reinforced steering rack mount
AEM Series 2 ECU, AEM Wideband O2, AEMnet CAN bus Gauge (multi-channel)
Custom motorsport grade wiring harness complete with datalogger and sensors (brake pressure F and R, wheel speeds, oil pressure, oil temperature, fuel pressure)
New Shorai LFX Lithium battery
New Momo steering wheel and quick release hub
Cleaned F4i injectors
Replumbed fuel system
New fuel pump – Walbro
New spark plugs – NGK Iridium
Gutted and plugged F4i throttle bodies
Custom Carbon Fiber intake plenum with AT Power 20mm restrictor and T-Body
Triple element carbon fiber unsprung rear wing
Carbon splitter with air dam and diffusers
Result: We raced the car during the 2017 auto-x season prior to adding aero and using the factory ECU with a Power Commander to compensate for the restrictor and it was awesome. Very reliable and very fast. Finished with top time of day at nearly every event. Competed in ~10 events with dual drivers totaling over 120 runs. This also included SCCA National Tour and Pro-Solo Events. The only major issue was a failed rod end on the rear suspension. V43 Auto-X 2017
In 2018, we built the new wiring harness and tuned the AEM ECU. We only competed in a couple of events but set fastest time of the day at all of them. V43 Auto-X 2018
In 2019 we added aero and finished 2nd in A-Modified at SCCA National Tour in Packwood, set FTD at most other local events, and took the car to SCCA National Championship in Lincoln Nebraska where we finished 5th and 6th. The car is competitive and has the speed to win (3rd place on day one) but our lack of practice (especially with the new aero) throughout 2019 resulted in poor driving. Datalogs show the car was on track to put down the fastest time but driving mistakes ended our chances. The car is much easier to drive with the the aero. Very stable and has so much grip.
Engine: CBR600F4i – wet sump with baffling/trap doors
Carbon fiber monocoque tub with chromoly roll hoop and rear chassis, body is painted Honda Championship White and partially covered with black vinyl graphics
Dampers: Penske with Titanium Coil Springs (pull-rod fronts, push-rod rears)
Front and rear adjustable ARB’s
10″ 3 piece wheels – 8 wheels
Hoosier 10″ R25B tires (4 tires are new with 12 auto-x runs in September 2019, 4 tires are 2-years old with about 50 runs in 2019, 4 Hoosier wets also included)
Transmission: 6 speed sequential, lever actuated
Fuel: 91+ octane
ECU: AEM Series 2
Driveshafts: Taylor Race FSAE Tripods (4340 steel)
Injectors, fuel rail and regulator from CBR600F4i
Differential Internals: Honda OBX Torsen style
Chromoly a-arms, billet aluminum uprights and hubs
Fits many driver sizes – Trever and I co-drive with no cockpit changes and I’m 6’2″ with a 36″ inseam vs Trever at around 5′ 8″
Hindle Titanium muffler with custom removable tip insert that drops 2.5 dBs
Ceramic coated custom stainless steel headers
Brake System: Wilwood Calipers, dual master cylinders with adjustable balance bar
Weight: 518 lbs with full aero and full of fuel (competition weight was around 465 lbs in 2008 – no aero)
Horsepower: 85-90 hp (75 hp at the wheels on dynojet)
Track Width (center-to-center): 45″
Wheel Base: 60″
Walk around and cold start video below:
In car video below:
For more blog posts with pictures and videos of Viking 43 click link: Viking 43
The Tire Rack SCCA Autocross National Championship – known as “Solo Nationals” – where 1,325 autocrossers come from across the country to compete in one of the largest motorsports gatherings on the planet and the premier SCCA autocross competition event of the year. To crown a national champion in each class, drivers get three runs each on two different courses with the fastest times from each course combined for the official results.
With minimal auto-x practice this year and an all new aero package, it only makes sense to drive 30 hours each way and compete in the SCCA Solo Championships in Lincoln Nebraska. My co-driver, Trever, has competed at the National Championships a few times several years ago but I’ve never been. With a fresh set of tires and a few last minute car prep activities, we loaded up the trailer and drove to Lincoln. The trip was fairly uneventful and we arrived on Monday afternoon to high temps, strong winds, and a concrete dust storm. After registering, sliding through tech, and setting up our site, we walked the East course a few times and then took the car over to Test-n-Tune for 4 laps. We had reserved the last test session from 6-7 PM but after driving through two time zones, both of our phones were still one hour off so we got there as they were finishing for the night. They agreed to let us run two back-to-back runs so I jumped right in. We were using the 2-year old tires to get an idea of chassis balance on the concrete in order to make some setup changes before Tuesday morning competition. First lap went OK as I was trying to figure out where the course went. The last turn was a 180 degree tight corner. As I braked and turned in, I noticed the car hiked up a bit and the rear wheel spun (inside tire spin). I didn’t think too much of it but as I pulled up to the starter for the second run, he pointed at both tires and then pointed towards the sky. I waved it off like it was no big deal as we have fought inside tire spin on several occasions but I was now very aware and a bit tentative for the second lap. The entire lap was great until that final corner where it did it again. Those watching said both right side tires were airborne – really airborne. We drove the car back through the white dust storm and cleaned it up. I was concerned that there was a mechanical failure leading to this two wheeling and that it could lead to a disaster the next morning during competition runs. Everything appeared OK but it was concerning me all night. I finally realized that there was a ~20 mph southerly wind that was likely the culprit. That was the only corner where the wind direction would attempt to blow the car over acting against the massive wing end-plates while the car was fully loaded in a turn. Mystery solved… I think. Despite the old tires and two-wheeling, the grip and balance felt amazing. This is the first time I’ve driven on concrete and will definitely need to lean on this increased grip to achieve fastest results.
FSAE had 11 entries and ran the East Course on Tuesday and the West Course on Wednesday. It was really fun checking out the other FSAE cars and talking with the other drivers/team members (mostly university students). UTA Racing (University of Texas, Arlington) had 2 cars (2019 and 2016) with 4 drivers, Jayhawk Motorsports (University of Kansas) had 2 cars (2019 and 2017) with 4 drivers, Powercat Motorsports (Kansas State University) had one driver in the 2019 car, and Trever and I raced the 2008 WWU Racing (Western Washington University) car. These are some of the fastest FSAE cars/drivers in the US.
The East course was fast and long. Pretty easy course to memorize but a few tricky bits to get right. With sticker tires and dry conditions, competition started. Trever was up first and ran a 60.8 on cold tires. My first run was a 60.9. Our strategy was to bank one good run each before really pushing on the car in case something fails. My run felt OK but I drove in too hot in the first big left hand sweeper which caused me to go wide, hit the marbles and loose a bunch of speed getting back on line. Second run was a 59.7 for Trever and a 59.8 for me. This time, I had the same mistake on the next big right hand sweeper. John Price (UTA) and Julian Garfield (KU) both had 57.5 second runs so we needed to pick up some time. Turns out Price and Garfield are both past National Champions and it shows. Final run netted a 58.6 for Trever which landed him in 3rd for day one. My final run was great until the offset in the back slalom where I got sideways and scrubbed a bunch of speed going into the second half of the slalom. Ended up with a slower 59.9 which put me in 7th or 8th. I was pretty disappointed to have a major mistake on all three runs. Reviewing data afterwards showed that my mistake on the third run cost at least 2 seconds and would have been a low 58 or high 57 second run. Car ran great, aero was working, and the balance was excellent. My time was over 2 seconds off first and second place. An impossible deficit to make up on day two.
On Wednesday, we ran the West course which was slower, tighter, and a bit more technical. We walked the course Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and I felt confident that I could move up a few positions if I just drove like I normally do. Trever’s first run was a 60.6 which was, once again, a great first run on cold tires. My first run was awful and ended up with a 61.5. As I was driving through the first slalom, I suddenly wasn’t sure if I was in the correct place and started turning the right hand sweeper hoping I was still on course. It’s sometimes hard to tell when you are going 60 mph and looking up at a sea of cones. The rest of the lap was done at a moderate pace just trying to make sure I knew where I was going. Second run Trever ran a 58.4. I felt confident in where I was going on the second run but went in too hot in the first left hand sweeper which had a big bump on entry and exit which bumped me off line, into the marbles and took out the first cone on the outside wall. Time was a 59.9 but had a 2 second cone penalty for a total time of 61.9. On the third run, Trever ran a 58.7 which was a little slower than his second run. I took it easy as I needed at least one good run. It felt pretty good but there were two sections where I left lots of time on the table and finished with a 59.1.
Congratulations to the trophy winners. Well deserved win with some great driving. Trever finished 5th (0.007 seconds from 4th and final trophy spot) and I finished 6th. I’m super disappointed in my driving performance. Not sure if it was the pressure of a national championship event, lack of sleep from the 30 hour drive, or something else but I do know that my mental game was weak. Very happy with the car and based on reviewing the data, Viking 43 has the speed to compete at the top. The aero transformed the car, which is now stable and fast. The car worked perfectly all weekend and we never touched a wrench – just adjusted tire pressures and added fuel. Overall a fun trip and great experience.
The intent was to get some testing of the newly fabricated and installed aero (see this post for more info on the aero: V43 Aero ) prior to the National Tour event. Unfortunately, schedules conflicted with local autocross events and I don’t have access to any test lots. The best I could do was strap on a few GoPros and perform some very tight circles in my driveway and a quick blast up to speed down the road to make sure everything was safe at speed. Everything was working as intended but no way to measure/test aero balance in my driveway. Knowing that the aero balance could be way off and most likely heavily rear biased, I made some air dam extensions from scrap material laying around and bolted them on. The rear wing has lots of adjustment for angle of attack and, as a more drastic measure, the third element can be removed. At least we could run a few practice runs on Friday to make any minor adjustments… until we ran into a pile of traffic on the way to Packwood and arrived just after practice was closed. Here goes something!
With only myself and Trever in the FSAE class, we decided to bump into the highest PAX class which is A Modified (AMod) which already had 5 drivers signed up. We asked the event officials and they said we could switch classes but before we did, we found all 5 drivers and asked permission. Everyone was very welcoming. AMod is essentially an unlimited class for purpose built autocross cars. A typical AMod car uses a snowmobile engine (2 or 4 stroke) with CVT, often turbocharged with huge multi element wings, full undertrays, and a chassis big enough to hold a driver, engine, and aero. Minimum weight with driver is 900 lbs and there is a minimum wheelbase and that’s about it for rules. The three cars entered in AMod this event were John Haftner’s Tui Vee, Neal Stanley’s custom 2001 LRC LRC AMod, and an Exocet with a K24 and ITB’s. These cars are fascinating.
John Haftner is a bit of a legend and has raced this car and other similar cars for decades in AMod autocross and hillclimbs. His Tui Vee is a tube chassis with massive 4-element carbon wings designed and fabricated by Simon McBeath. The car uses a large displacement turbocharged air-cooled VW boxer 4 cylinder with water cooled heads and makes around 300 whp from what I hear (not confirmed). John was using Pirelli P ZERO ultrasoft compound tires. This car likely isn’t the fastest AMod car in the nation but is reliable, properly tested and tuned, and John is a great driver.
Neal Stanley’s AMod car was built from scratch and uses a 4-cylinder snowmobile engine with turbo and CVT. The CVT allows the car to be at peak hp at all times – no shifting gears, no waiting for the powerband. Horsepower was estimated to be around 280. This car also has massive multi-element wings front and rear with leading edge turbulators based on whales. Whale power! Car was on Avon slicks. Neal was a few seconds off the pace of his co-driver, Jeremy Boyer, who was right on the heels of John’s times on Saturday and had fastest time of the day on Sunday but hit a cone.
John Jobin’s Exocet was the nicest example I have seen. The fabrication and finish work was impeccable. This is not an AMod car as it’s several hundred pounds over the 900 lb minimum weight but it’s the only class where it’s legal. The ITB’d and tuned internally stock K24 makes 240 whp. Car was on Hoosier A7’s and used a Nine Lives Racing aluminum rear wing. The Exocet is based on Miata suspension, brakes, and chassis dimensions so it is essentially a Miata with no bodywork, windows or doors.
Viking 43 is a Formula SAE car and built to comply with rules from the 2008 competition which it competed in originally. Compared to an AMod car, V43 is underweight by a little over 200 lbs, has a shorter wheelbase and has 70-75 whp. Being shorter and narrower has some advantages in the tighter corners of auto-x.
As we walked the course for Saturday’s event, it felt like a high speed, high horsepower track. Several straights to lay into the power and some large sweeping turns. Lots of offsets but no traditional slaloms. This would favor cars with lots of horsepower and big aero to take advantage of the high speed sweepers.
Once we drove the track, it wasn’t quite as high speed as we were expecting. Many others experienced the same realization having expected to shift to 3rd gear in multiple spots but staying in second once on track. Our peak speed was only around 65 mph, however, average speed was high which meant that the new aero was very noticeable. For me, it took a few corners to realize I had more grip than expected and started leaning on it. The aero significantly stabilized the car as well which meant I could go full throttle at corner exit almost everywhere vs pre-aero where I would feather the throttle and make constant steering corrections to stay pointed in the right direction. We exceeded the sound limit on the first run. The sound meter was near the finish lights on the right side of the track. The exhaust exits straight out of the right side of the sidepod on V43, aimed directly at the sound meter. Between runs, we added a turn down to help direct the exhaust away from the meter and the next run was right near the 95 dB limit so we decided to lift at the finish to avoid a DQ. Many cars were exceeding the sound limit on Saturday. My three runs were clean and I dropped a full second each run. Despite coasting up to the straight line finish, my last run (41.957) put me in 3rd place at the end of the day on Saturday. First and second place were within 0.004 seconds of each other (40.828) and 1 second faster than my time. That’s a large gap to make up but considering I’m driving this new aero car for the first time and dropping a second each run and coasting to the finish, it might be possible.
On Sunday, Trever took his first run and had a great time (42.933) putting him in 1st. My first run was even faster (41.301) thanks to the pre-heated tires from Trever’s run. My time was enough to bump me into first overall for the moment and my run was sloppy and full of errors so I knew there was more time in it. Trever’s second run was a blistering 40.765 but had a cone. On my second run, I wanted to fix the errors and go through the left hand sweeper with more speed. I did fix the errors on the early part of the course and entered the left hand sweeper with more speed and stayed in the throttle with the intent to stay on the wide line to carry more speed which should equal more downforce and more grip. I ended up wider than expected due to speed and then got into the marbles and washed out, nearly taking out a line of cones. I had to lift and get the car back on line which probably cost a few seconds. Time was 42.212. Trever’s third run was a 41.022 which was slightly slower than his second run but clean. I had one run to get it done. Needed to be a little conservative to bank a good time but also needed to push it. I stayed tight on the left hand sweeper and the run felt good. I was expecting a 40 second or even a 39 which would put me in first overall but ended up with a 41.957 so my first run ended up the fastest for day two. Haftner was in first place and Jeremy Boyer put in a flyer with a raw time of 40.650 which would seal the deal but had a cone which put him in third behind me and in front of Trever. Thank you Hoosier Tire and Hawk brakes for the contingency awards!
Overall, a fantastic event and the aero exceeded expectations. Trever and I were able to immediately take advantage of the aero and drive faster with more confidence. Initially, I felt like the car was a little tight/pushy on the high-speed sweepers but the more I drove, the better it felt. Need more seat time to dial in the aero balance. With the downforce and increased grip, the car now feels underpowered as you can run full throttle without wheelspin. It almost feels like it’s bogging the engine down which may be due to the massive increase in aerodynamic drag but I think it’s accelerating fine, we just aren’t used to continuous WOT without wheelspin and steering corrections. We considered making changes to the aero balance, like removing the 3rd element, but opted to focus on driving and learning the car first.
The aero was clearly working by creating more grip and helping to stabilize the car. Compare the 2019 National Tour video above to the 2017 National Tour below to see how much more stable the car is compared to how twitchy (note the constant steering corrections and throttle lifts) it was previously. Site and surface are the same. Weather and course were very similar.
Looking at this years video, it’s clear that my autocross skills are very rusty. I’ve only competed in 4 auto-x events in the past two years and it was evident by the distance to cones. When I should be millimeters from the cones, at this event I was inches if not feet from cones. A bit more seat time required to get back to that level of accuracy and learning to trust the aero is likely worth a few seconds. We have a few minor items to address on the car for the next few events but overall, a very successful first test of the aero.
Viking 43 was designed in 2008 for Formula SAE competition. The rules allow some aerodynamic devices but in the interest of time, weight, and cost, the design did not include aero. Many teams choose to run without aero as the grip advantage requires speed and the events run on small low speed tracks. Also, it doesn’t help in the other dynamic events such as acceleration and fuel economy. For SCCA auto-x, the only thing that matters is lap time so if the grip advantages of aero outweighs the weight and drag penalty then it is a net gain.
Based on lap simulations and real world data, an efficient aero package should be worth a few seconds on a typical 60 second SCCA autocross run.
Ideally, a car is designed around aero from the beginning as packaging is critical. In this case, we have an existing car and a set of rules that bound the aero dimension envelope so we do the best we can within time and budget constraints. Because of the low speeds and relatively low weight of the car, maximum downforce with good aero balance front to rear is the goal. Aerodynamic drag is a concern but more downforce at the expense of drag is a tradeoff we will accept. We decided to use a multi-element wing for the rear to create extreme angles of attack while maintaining attached flow. For the front we initially considered a similar multi-element wing but ultimately decided against it.
Instead, the plan was to build a splitter with diffusers and an airdam with end fences to create a stagnation zone. The intent is to create front downforce with a device that is more robust in terms of cone strikes and doesn’t starve the side pod mounted radiator of cool ambient flow. For the FSAE 2008 rules, the front aero is limited to 18″ in front of the front tires so there isn’t much room for a large multi-element wing and you’d need to mount it right up against the tire surface which is producing air flow in the counter direction to the wing. The airflow interaction in that area would create poor results. The concept is similar to closed wheel hill climb cars with massive splitters and end fences as well as March, Brabham, and Tyrrell F1 cars from the 1970’s.
The splitter/air dam was constructed of birch plywood and balsa cores laminated with carbon fiber/epoxy. The V43 carbon skinned honeycomb core tub was drilled and metal inserts were bonded in for mounting locations. The splitter unit has two sets of mounting holes for height adjustment that corresponds to 2″ or 3″ ground clearance. The splitter was purposefully built to withstand ground and cone strikes. I added some sacrificial replaceable nylon rub strips to the bottom corners to take ground strike abrasion.
We tested this front aero before the rear aero was complete at SCCA NWR Region Event #1 autocross in Bremerton. Conditions were poor for our 2 year old Hoosiers with ambient temps around 45 degrees F. We couldn’t get much heat into the tires to get them to stick so not a great test of the new front aero. That said, the front tires were noticeably warmer than the rears despite lots of wheel spin at launch and corner exits and the chassis balance was heavily oversteer biased. By the end of the day, the tires still had sticker material remaining on the tread (2 years old but never used). We started the day with the splitter in the low position (2″ ground clearance) but moved it up as we were getting significant ground contact on the bumpy surface. The car is softly sprung for maximum mechanical grip and we are hoping to keep it that way but will need to sacrifice some splitter height in the process. I ended up with 3rd fastest time of the day and Trever ended up 5th fastest only 3 tenths behind me. On the first run in the afternoon entering the slalom, Trever lost control and ended up off course. The splitter sheared a swath of grass and dirt as it drove straight into the rough run-off. The good news is that the splitter survived a severe impact test with no issues. The bad news was that with 4 wheels off, Trever was not allowed to run the remaining sessions.
A few weeks later, we entered SCCA NWR Region Event #3 also at Bremerton. Conditions were much better with ambient temps in the 60’s and 70’s with partly sunny sky. Grip was much higher but balance was still very oversteer biased which was expected with the front downforce and no rear aero to balance it out. This car has always been oversteer biased and very twitchy and eager to rotate and this made it worse which means the front aero is working. I finished with FTD (fastest time of the day) with Trever in 2nd about 8 tenths back and the next fastest car about 1.5 seconds behind.
The FSAE 2008 rules limit the rear wing in width (max width equal to outside of front tires) and the trailing edge can’t extend past the rear edge of the rear tires. In this application, that limits the chord length to the distance between the roll hoop and the back edge of the tires, which is OK as any larger would create too much downforce to balance at the front. I chose to go with a 3 element wing using an E423 airfoil due to its efficiency at low speeds and thick section which is easier to fabricate and more rigid.
The airfoils were produced by making a hot wire foam cutter and cutting pink insulation foam. Birch plywood was used for end ribs with threaded inserts pressed in from the inside for attaching the endplates. These cores were laminated with carbon fiber cloth and epoxy resin, covered in a release film, and cured in a compression mold. The shucks (leftover foam from the top and bottom of the airfoil profile) were used to create a compression mold tool. Took some experimenting to get the foam cores to cut accurately but worked out well in the end.
The wing uprights need to be stout as this wing will be unsprung so it can’t have additional supports such as tension wires supporting the ends. I decided to make this wing unsprung as it has many advantages including directly loading the suspension/tires rather than the chassis which allows us to continue using very compliant suspension without running into ground clearance issues during high speed/high downforce conditions. The pushrod/rocker rear suspension on Viking 43 made this fairly easy to incorporate. The uprights will pivot off the roll hoop and the load will be transferred to the rear suspension rockers via push rods. To make the uprights, I used a birch plywood core laminated with carbon/epoxy. The core profiles were cut and a wet layup was used to vacuum bag both uprights. Once cured, the uprights were trimmed and the mounting holes and airfoil holes were cut. The endplates were produced in the same fashion but using a foam core (cut out with the same hot wire cutter).
Once everything was fabricated and fit up, the main element and secondary element were bonded to the uprights using epoxy. The tertiary element can be removed by removing one endplate and sliding it out to decrease the effective drag/downforce at the rear. Threaded mounts were welded to the roll bar to accept heim joints for the wing pivots. A stabilizer arm was cut and welded which also pivots off the roll bar. This arm serves as a pivot for the balance bar that allows the suspension to articulate independently while still being loaded by the wing via push rods.
A quick test in the driveway and down the street demonstrates that it’s working as intended. Next will be track testing to evaluate the aero balance.
2017 was a great year of auto-x for Viking 43. My driving improved, the car got faster, and we found some weak links. We set FTD at almost every event and only had one mechanical failure that resulted in a DNF. The engine was using the factory CBR 600 F4i ECU with a Power Commander for fuel tuning to compensate for the 20mm inlet restrictor. The engine ran OK but idle quality was very poor and ignition timing was not optimal. The plan for the off season was to replace the ECU with the AEM Series 2 ECU from my S2000 along with a complete custom wiring harness. Trever tackled the harness, which is a motorsports grade piece of art.
Life got in the way of progress so we didn’t actually get the car running and tuned until September so we missed most of the race season. I built a base map and dialed in the tune for idle and low load in the shop. Once happy with the results, we took the car to a local dynojet for final high load fuel and ignition tuning. Final results were about 75 whp at 11,000 rpm and 37 lb ft at 10,000 rpm. Cold start is perfect and idle quality is good. Time to hit the track.
Bremerton Sports Car Club Kitsap Kup #8 – FTD out of 113 competitors
Great first event. Engine ran great. Brakes were a bit mushy and the tires were toast. Still running the tires from last season which now have well over 100 runs. Front tires were really bad and the car understeered terribly. Despite the minor issues, I finished with FTD followed by Ed (co-driving V43) who was only 3/4 second behind despite this being his first time ever driving the car. The next fastest car was a CP car over 2 seconds back.
Chuckanut Sport Car Club Late October Event – FTD out of 45 competitors
Second event was in Bellingham at a very small lot. It was a cold fall day and the tires had no grip but the tight course favored a small car and Trever and I battled each other for FTD. We continued trading top times all day until the final run (9 runs). After a top time of 34.475 on run 8, Trever slid wide and took out two cones. I went all in on my final run to trip the lights at 34.442 for the win and FTD by 0.033 seconds. That was a fun battle. The next fastest car was more than 3 seconds back.
And that was that for the 2018 season. Off season plans are to design and fabricate front and rear aero.
After several months of designing, rebuilding, fabricating, and testing over the winter, the 2017 auto-x season had begun. We needed class and number decals to compete and I had a vision for a long term graphics package for this car. The current all Championship White color scheme and body shape always reminded me of the “Ambiguously Gay Duo” car so I want to add some graphics to break up the lines. For now, we added some black vinyl wrap to the side pods and white vinyl numbers and class letters so I wouldn’t have to make new numbers in the future. We also replaced the 9-year old Hoosiers with new Hoosiers.
NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #1 Packwood WA – 2nd FTD out of 74 competitors
Great first event. I was pretty rusty with the Pro-Solo starts but managed a 1.8 second 60′ time and took 2nd FTD (Fastest Time of the Day) behind Phil Leavens Honda Powered C-Mod Formula F. Trever took 3rd FTD. Kelsey and Ed drove V26. Pretty cool seeing 4 drivers in FSAE cars at a local auto-x event.
NWR SCCA AUTO-X #2 Packwood WA – FTD out of 144 competitors
Second event was the day after the first event. With more confidence in the car and driving more aggressively, I finished with FTD by almost 3 seconds over 2nd FTD Phil Leavens in the Honda powered C-Mod Formula F. Trever finished 3rd FTD. V43 was amazing. Very twitchy and always wanting to rotate but also has a wonderful trail braking behavior. Will take some time to adapt.
NWR SCCA AUTO-X #3 Bremerton – FTD out of 159 competitors
Clutch line broke pulling up to the start lights so we scrambled as fast as we could to fix it. I got one run in the morning session but missed a gate – basically forgot where the course went after the mad rush of fixing the car. Ran in Time Only in the afternoon and finished with FTD by 2 seconds followed by Trever with 2nd FTD and Phil Leavens C-Mod car with 3rd FTD. Paul and Ed raced V26 with Paul earning 5th FTD.
NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #2 Packwood – 2nd FTD out of 50 competitors
V43 was still running well. One issue we had been fighting is inside wheel spin. This car uses a Torsen limited slip differential which works well until a wheel is unloaded. When unloaded, the LSD behaves like an open differential and the unloaded wheel spins up while the other wheel does nothing. This typically happens in tight corners during corner exit when on the power. When it happens, the inside wheel lights up and the car doesn’t accelerate. A bit frustrating to try and drive around it. I was driving fairly well with some decent reaction times (.581, .557, .604, .611) and 1.8-1.9 second 60′ times and was running FTD for the first round. I was up first for the second round and decided to disconnect the rear anti-roll bar to try and improve the inside wheel spin situation. This was a very poor choice. The car had massive understeer and front brake lock up. In a Pro-Solo format, you don’t return to the pits until you complete all four runs so there was no time to change back. I wasn’t able to improve my times from the morning session. Once back in the pits for a driver change, we reconnected the Rear ARB and Trever was able to improve on both sides to take FTD and bump me to 2nd FTD by 0.077 seconds. Ed in V26 finished with 3rd FTD.
Bit of a rookie move to make an unknown set-up change during a Pro-Solo event but on the other hand, we were trying to treat these local events as tests to improve driving and car set-up. After this experience, we found some time to run some practice sessions and evaluate more significant set-up changes.
NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #4 Packwood WA – FTD out of 118 competitors
At this point the car set-up is feeling quite good and I feel like my driving has improved. Still getting inside wheel spin and the tires are at around 80 heat cycles and seem to be falling off a bit. I set the FTD in the morning session and beat it by almost a second in the afternoon. Trever had 2nd FTD in V43 and Ed 4th FTD in V26.
SCCA CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR Packwood – 1st Place FSAE
We were really hoping for other FSAE cars to show up for this event. Where are OSU, UW, UBC, and WWU? Last year’s National Championship winner in FSAE is a local. This was the event I was looking forward to all year and Trever and I were the only entrants in FSAE. Weather was looking perfect so we removed the rain tires from the spare wheels and mounted up a new set of Hoosiers but never ran them because we were only competing with each other. In preparation for this event, we finished the black vinyl wrap on the tub and added a red pinstripe. Car was looking sharp – less so after all the required decals for national events.
Over the two day event, I ended up in 1st place by 2.4 seconds. These national events are lots of fun. It was a real treat talking to the A-Mod and C-Mod drivers – great learning experience. This was a big event with 267 competitors from all over North America. The course was high speed and flowing. Aero would have been a major benefit.
SCCA ProSolo Packwood – DNS
The following weekend was the ProSolo. In ProSolo, the classes are lumped together and results are based on index. The previous weekend had over 15 entries in A-Mod, B-Mod, and C-Mod which would all be competing in Race Tire Index 1 class with us. With a set of fresh Hoosiers at the ready, we decided to run the morning session on the old tires to see if we are competitive enough to justify using the new tires. Turns out only 4 other cars are entered in Race Tire 1 and all of them C-Mod. With the tighter course, I think we could have been competitive with the C-Mod cars even with the index discrepancy if we ran fresh tires. Trever was up first and running well on his first three runs. Trever’s second left side run was .599 RT and a 1.775 60′ time which is amazing for a 2WD car. On Trever’s second right side run, the car launched and the right rear suspension broke. Fortunately, Trever instantly recognized something was wrong and coasted to a stop. The upper rear A-arm spherical joint had sheared. Because the push-rod snakes through the upper A-arm, it buckled when the spherical let loose. We considered trying to fix it but we didn’t have spares and were a long way from home/fabrication equipment. We ultimately packed up and drove home early. I never got a single run. Very disappointed but another learning experience and the repairs are fairly minor. Once home, we discovered that the rod end that failed appeared to have been compromised for a long time (see cross section below). Also, when the rear wheel launched forward, the CV joint was damaged when the tripod exited the cup. The bearings in the joint were also chipped.
I replaced the CV joint internals and smoothed out the cup edges with a die grinder. I replaced all the suspect rod ends and fabricated a replacement push-rod along with a spare for the rear and a spare for the front pull-rods.
VCMC Cup 7 Pitt Meadows – 2nd FTD
After fixing the damage from the failed rod end and a few months off, we competed with VCMC. This was the first time we’ve run with VCMC and were impressed by the organization and crew. Doesn’t hurt that this site is much closer to home. Even raced against some A-Mod and C-Mod cars and finished the day with 2nd FTD behind John Haftner in his A-Mod car. Mark Uhlmann and Phil Leavens in the Honda powered Formula F finished in 4th and 5th FTD behind Trever. It took most of the day to shake the cobwebs out from the 2 months between events. I ran 4 runs in a row all within .4 seconds and all in the 47 second range. By the end of the day, I finally remembered how aggressive I need to be to really drop some time and finished with a 45.8. I really liked the way these events are run and will definitely be back in 2018. Hope to see some UBC FSAE cars as well.
Last winter, my friend Trever and I acquired an incomplete WWU Viking 43 Formula SAE racecar with the intent to rebuild and race it at SCCA Auto-X events. V43 was originally designed and built for FSAE competition in 2008. Check out this promotional video for details:
V43 uses a carbon fiber monocoque tub and tubular steel rear frame, pushrod/pullrod inboard dampers, and a Honda CRB600 F4i engine. This is a fundamentally good car with intelligent design and execution. It performed well at FSAE competition and was optimized over an extensive testing period (extensive for a volunteer student designed/built/raced in one year effort). As received, the car was missing the ECU, intake system (intake manifold, T-body, restrictor, etc), fuel system, steering wheel, battery, jack bar, and several other components and systems.
Photo of Viking 43 from 2008
First step was to get the car operational. We decided to get the car running with the factory Honda intake/injection/ECU system and once running, test and fix the other vehicle systems. To compete in FSAE or SCCA FSAE competition, the intake charge must pass through a 20mm restrictor. This limits power to roughly 80-90 hp. With the stock engine and intake system, the engine produces over 100 hp. With a total car weight of approximately 450 lbs, this makes for a very fast vehicle. After modifying a factory wire harness to work in the car, rebuilding the differential, rebuilding the oil pan, and plumbing a new fuel filler tube, fuel pump, and fuel filter, the cars maiden voyage was in the snow. We still had V26 at the shop so we jumped into both cars and ran some laps down the driveway – the Hoosier Wets worked much better in the snow than the slicks.
A few additional modifications would be required before competing. To build a seat, we used two-part expandable foam poured into a heavy garbage bag and let it form around the seated driver. We ended up making a seat base and a left and right upper seat insert. Despite a 5-6″ height difference in drivers, the seat and controls work for both. The shifter is mounted to the left side of the driver for the most direct cable routing. Feels a bit odd but pretty easy to use as it’s sequential. I manually machined a spacer for the steering wheel as my hands would hit the shifter when turning. This makes the cockpit very cramped for me as I’m 6’2″ with long arms but lock-to-lock is minimal so I can manage. I also modified the clutch and accelerator pedal to optimize both cable travel and cable orientation. A lift bar is required per rules and was missing so I tig welded one up and formed a stainless steel chain guard also required by the rules.
We sourced new sprockets based on clearance and the gearing from V26 which worked well for auto-x speeds. 2nd gear is used the majority of the time with 1st and 3rd used in spurts depending on track layout.
Car was aligned and corner balanced. At this point, we joined the WWU FSAE Team in a test session at a local airport. Car ran great for the most part after bedding in some new brake pads. The steering rack kept coming loose which required some fastener modifications while there for a temporary fix.
To address the intake restrictor rules, I initially designed a new intake plenum for use with the factory injector bosses and an AT-Power throttle body with integrated 20 mm restrictor.
My plan was to 3D print the intake plenum in two parts with a bolted flange interface. After seeing the very expensive quotes for the printed part, I opted to fabricate something similar using part of the factory airbox modified with a carbon fiber transition. I cut the airbox top and bottom in half and welded in some plastic walls. I then turned some wood on the lathe to match the restrictor diffuser taper on the AT-Power T-body. Clay was used to sculpt the transition. Carbon/epoxy was hand laid and vacuum bagged. Once the shape was cured, the wood/clay was removed and the carbon top was bonded to the plastic airbox top. Not pretty but effective. I also created an epoxy cradle for the steering rack to distribute the side loads into the chassis rather than bend/stretch the rack bolts.
We planned to use the factory ECU along with a Power Commander for the first several events. I designed a TPS sensor adaptor that allows the factory Honda TPS sensor to be used on the AT-Power T-Body. We used a chassis dyno to run loaded pulls and fine tune the Air Fuel Ratio.
At this point, we completed over 70 tasks. Some were minor details and some required significant design and fabrication. Next up, we go racing!
I guess Formula SAE / Formula Student never left but it’s been many years since I’ve been involved. That changed this summer when I brought Western Washington University’s Viking 26 FSAE racecar into my shop (Thanks Paul!) and, along with the help of several original teammates, rebuilt it to running condition. In the fall, we raced it at a Pacific NW Porsche Club auto-x in pouring rain. This car was originally designed and raced in 1995 and also competed in 1996 when I joined the team as a freshman. It is a very unique car with lots of unconventional designs and construction. It was also very light, powerful, and successful. V26 placed 4th at FSAE Michigan in 1995 and 22nd in 1996 (thanks to a blown motor during the endurance event – would have placed top 5). Some notable features of V26 are the 6″ filament wound carbon tube chassis, turbocharged fuel injected CBR600 engine, spool rear end (no differential), and suspension geometry designed to promote jacking to enable rotation with the spool. The car also used 10″ wheels, inside-out front disk brakes, and dual floating inboard rear brake rotors.
Here’s V26 20 years after it last competed:
Some welding work on the fuel tank:
Here are some videos from this fall:
The car is a handful to drive with a hard hitting turbo and locked rear end (especially in wet conditions on 8 year old Hoosier Wets or 20 year old Hoosier Slicks). It’s surprisingly easy to slide around but once you get too sideways it comes around fast.
Here are some pictures of Viking 26 (from 1996) and Viking 28 (1998) along with some of the original team members.