To get warmed up for this year’s season of NASA track days, I signed up for a Speed Ventures autocross at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Speed Ventures hosts the autocross event on one of the infield parking lots at the same time as a track day event on the Roval course, a demanding circuit with a mix of high-speed banked sections on the NASCAR oval mixed with a more technical infield course.
In between my autocross run groups I took the opportunity for an impromptu photo shoot – including some on track action – with Chris’ Wiita’s awesome 2007 Honda S2000 AP2.
Chris Wiita was there for the Speed Ventures track day with his Laguna Blue Pearl S2000, which he’s been modifying and tuning since purchasing it in 2010, when it was bone stock. Chris started by dialing in the car for autocross and moved on to track days in 2013, where he’s been setting highly respectable lap times at various California road courses, including a 1:58 on the Roval with street tires. You can see a video of that run here.
Last Sunday was the final race of the 2013 Porterfield RallyCross Series at Glen Helen Raceway. I showed with and competed in my Apocalypse Wagon, scored enough points to hold my lead, and won the 2013 season! The rest of the day was spent shooting thousands (THOUSANDS) of photos of the highly-entertaining afternoon run groups.
Here are some of my favorites. I shot these photos using my new Canon 70D with the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. I try to minimize post-processing. Usually just a bit of contrast and exposure adjustment.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a professional safety equipment builder, and I do NOT recommend building your harness bar the same way I built mine! This bar isn’t legal for any wheel-to-wheel racing, and race harnesses are not legal for use on the street. I just needed a way to put harnesses in the car for autocross and track days, since there’s no way to lock the stock seatbelts on a Fiero. Use a professional race shop to build a roll bar/cage if you intend to use a race harness. Race harnesses, harness bars and roll bars are NOT to be used on the street.
I recently finished building and installing a harness bar in my ’88 Fiero. I designed it so no parts need to be removed from the car except the B-pillars, the stock seatbelt can still be used, and no holes need to be drilled in the chassis.
I designed a bracket to go over two existing holes in the B-pillar. I mock up all my brackets in cardboard, then trace them onto the material to be cut on a bandsaw, and bend it using my vice and a hammer or adjustable wrench. Obviously a sheet metal brake would be a lot easier and more precise, but I don’t have room for one in my shop right now.
There is a hole at the bottom of the B-pillar that’s big enough to fit my arm through to feed the inner backing plate into place. I had two M12 nuts welded to the backing plate so I don’t have to fumble with nuts on the inside.
I bent the harness bar from 1.5″ OD, 0.120″ thickness 4130 “chrome moly” steel using a JD Squared Model 32 manual bender:
The brackets (inner and outer) were cut from 3/16″ 4130 steel plate and bent in my vice:
I may add another M8 or M12 bolt in the 3rd hole, but haven’t done so yet.
If anti-rotation bars are desired, the main harness bar can be tied into plate bolted to the OE shoulder belt mounting points.
The bracket shown mocked up in cardboard would be made from 3/16″ 4130 steel plate and would be tied into the main harness bar with 1.5″ OD 0.120″ wall thickness tubes. This can help prevent the main harness bar from rotating forward when the shoulder harnesses pull on it in a collision.
When I have enough parts ready to fill a large batch, I’ll probably have the harness bar powdercoated. I’ve read that some race teams don’t powdercoat or paint their roll cages or harness bars, so that it’s easier to inspect for cracks. However, some surface rust will develop over time if it isn’t protected.
With its mid-engine layout, the Fiero needs to shuttle coolant from the rear to the front of the car, where the radiator is located. The coolant flows through tubes located just inboard of the rocker panels. Since this is a common location for modern cars to be lifted for maintenance and repair, shops often damage the coolant tubes by using them as jackpoints. All it takes is one careless mechanic or tire shop employee to crush the pipes and render the cooling system ineffective.
The damage is often hidden, as shown below:
Replacement coolant tubes for the 1984 to 1987 Fieros are available from The Fiero Store. However, they are expensive, and tubes for 1988 Fieros are not available.
With access to a welder, it’s possible to repair kinked/crushed tubing.
First, cut the tubing at the narrowest part of the kink. A hacksaw will make quick work of the thin stainless steel tubing.
When not suffering from damage, the coolant tube should have an inner diameter of ~1.236″. A socket with approximately the same outer diameter can be used as a mandrel to bend the tube back into shape.
To facilitate removal, insert a long bolt through the drive hole in the socket. Later, a slide hammer can be used to remove the socket.
It may be necessary to bend the coolant tube with pliers or a vice to make room for the stepped smaller diameter of the socket.
It will be necessary to secure the coolant tube in a vice to prevent it from moving while knocking the socket into the tube.
After making the small diameter of the socket fit by bending the tube with pliers or the vice, carefully hammer the socket evenly into the tube. Make sure to wear safety glasses! The chrome plating of the socket or the hammer itself may chip. Using a piece of wood to drive the socket is also a good idea, as it can help prevent the hammer and socket from chipping, and help distribute load.
After the socket is fully inserted into the tubing, remove it using a slide hammer or channel locks (see photo below).
Repeat the socket-reshaping procedure described above fro the other piece of the cut tube.
Finally, prepare the tube for welding by sanding the inside and outside, and grind or deburr the faces if necessary to get the best fit.
If you don’t have access to a welder, a muffler shop should be able to weld the tube back together. Make sure they know it’s stainless steel, and tell them to line up the welded seam of the tubing.