ICEngineering Subjects

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Full Disclosure, GTI Story ends

Fall 2013 I moved across town, another rental house. This one has a nice attached garage, but it is smaller, and I'm not allowed to keep ANYTHING outside.

Oh, also, I'd bought a beautiful 1995 Miata that summer  (Actually, for a few years now, ever time I saw a Miata I thought 'funnnnn!')  It can also be for track days, it's nice to have a convertible and reasonable fuel economy in my commute, and should be great for E-stock (Street!) autocross on some of our bumpier lots and allow different co-drivers than the kart. This led to some required downsizing.

So of course, I chose to sell the one really good car which we've put so much work into---the '88 GTI rallycar which 'started' this blog.

Selling the car was very bittersweet, and I dragged my feet for a while. Finally, I did actually list it for sale, instead of just saying it was for sale... and sold it in Fall 2013 (1 year ago!) to a person who I think will use it well, and is also in the region.

It was really great reading some of the responses to the listing in some of the forums. A few people had stories to share of watching the car compete, and the car got complements all around. But of course it would - because it looked absolutely badass in track-day(!) trim (which is wheels + muffler extension)
Car looking awesome at 2013 Waterford Hills Track Day, thanks John for the picture!
"For Sale" contents: (Red = work Kenneth and I did):
For sale is a 1988 MKII Golf, started as a GTI. Fairly straight, never rolled.  Biggest repair was a replaced front-left frame horn ahead of the strut top after sno-drift 2012. (still finished the day though)

Log book dates 5/7/99, 'Identity No. 97-206' original owner ran 7 rallies in New England 1999-2001
Billy Elliot owned and ran 4 rallies from 2008-2010, and I have run 4 from 2010-2012
Most recent entry 2012 Sno*Drift

I have also run many rallycross, and even an autocross and track day with the car.  It has proven to be reliable through all, except for once where I broke some wheel studs (see new pressed-in ARP studs below).  Car is capable of running at the top of G2 (2nd at 2011 Sno regional, fastest stage time on last stage).  One of its strongest points is the handling - it is a very driveable car.

Rally stage: (exhaust now includes hushpower muffler for less harshness)

Check out from 2011-2012 to get a good idea of the story!

8 point cage, 1.5"x0.098, updated door bars + dash bar 2011
Sparco Pro ADV (2x, new 2010) spectacular condition still (of course) INCLUDED!
6061 3/8" front skid plate, extremely strong
steel center skids for fuel lines
Plastic under-car skids
6061 rear skid plate for fuel system
All wheel mudflaps durable and in good condition
Roof vent
Belts dated Nov. '08
Quick release steering wheel
2002 china-market Chery mechanical HVAC heater core and flapper unit! awesome.  
Required spill kit and orange triangle kit

Brakes (
MKIII front knuckles with greater diameter rotors, larger calipers.  New rotors and pads 2011, still look great
Rear disc (GTI...)
Brake system converted to AN standard (easy repair, multiple-use fittings), hard line run in-car, stainless line to wheels.  No hardware on rear beam.
Rear brake bias driver adjustable
Hydraulic handbrake

MKIII rear beam (stronger than MKII)
Front control arms plated, adapted for spherical bearings (COM12) to eliminate durability concern common to OEM rubber
Converted to studs, ARP permanently pressed in from rear (required hub disassembly)
Bilstein "Group B" struts: 
Front: 85-92 Strut Conventional Body 300/120 VE3-4141
Rear: 85-92 Rear Conventional Body 300/100 AK30140
Front top hats replaced with Subaru 'Group N' to eliminate durability concern

Engine swap to 2.0L 9A (no modifications) 2011
New fuel injectors, injector seals, coolant lines, accessory belts, etc, all at that time
Stainless steel supersprint 4-2-1 long tube header, race cat, flowmaster hushpower.  Also includes external bolt-on muffler for meeting sound requirements for that track day, which is pretty sweet.  Seen in the fancy track day pictures.
Stock 020 GTI close ratio transmission

AGM battery, relocated behind driver seat
Engine harness separated from body harness
WOLO air horn (pretty fun)
Body harness relay and fuses relocated to dash center, some rally functionality enhancements for lighting, extra navigator wiper, washer, horn controls, etc
seen briefly here: (exhaust is since changed though)
4x giant Hella driving lights with nice weatherpack connectors and wiring
Kill switch

Yes.  Many many.  And you must take them with the car!
About 16 wheels and tires (VW alloys, snow, rally, and street tires)
Many beams, bumpers, suspension arms, belts, brakes...everything
Spare 020 trans

Let me justify further: I sold it because I found plenty of fun stuff to do in my unofficial rally sabbatical (posts to come), and I am not making any short or even medium-term stage rally plans.
Fact #1.  The car was all set and running
This made selling it seem like a particularly strange idea, but it also means it had value...
Fact #2.  Is that the GTI was a really good STAGE rally car. And just a 'good for a local region' rallycross car. And a 'silly' track day car.

So the future of this blog from my garage (which is already here in a lot of ways, to update soon-ish!) is
1) Occasional track days with the better Miata (complete with Miata prep!),
2) To build a nationally competitive car for rallycross (the snowmobile civic...) 
   2b) Hm, and maybe some rallycross nationals.
3) Plus autocross nationals with the Shifter Kart (constant fabrication involved for and around that one),
4) and motorcycle track days (maybe a motorcycle front end swap on this blog next year).
5) In all honesty, maybe other RC and some electronic stuff.  Yea yea.  But it's pretty fun.
6) Friend's cars that we get to drive, like Jon's supercharged Miata which I got to drive all through 2014 rallycross (Jon's car, my supercharger!)

Not to mention Kenneth's garage!  hehe, which makes my list above look easy (and my fabrication look woeful)

The future, which is now, is busy and awesome.  There are many more builds, repairs, and races to come and to be documented here!

GTI Repair, back in 2012

After being fairly deflated at Sno*Drift 2012, I heavily procrastinated on the car repair.  It got so bad that I even went in with a couple local Detroit Region competitors and rallycrossed a rental automatic Yaris (sounds awesome, was awesome, not a good idea though), and also bummed a ride in an rx7 in an Ohio event (straight awesome, and the 198something Suburban tow rig with 3spd manual and fragile coolant lines = also awesome, I can only try to give back enough awesomeness someday Kevin!) to get my dirt-driving fix as my car sat broken in the garage.

The damage was as minor as possible given the hit: conveniently we'd relocated the battery to the rear of the car, and its' empty OEM location was the entire crumple zone.  It (the crumpling) was 98% contained forward of the strut top, but at that area we had serious accordion-ing and spot weld tearing.
The light is shining in from the wheel well = not good!

After pulling the engine and evaluating the extent of the damage (~April...) I sent an MSpaint picture to Matt Bushore's brother (of Bent Mettle Racing) for a sawzall request, and a couple weeks later, that car chunk arrived at my house! (Thank you!)

Overall Damage (un-crashed grey fender on outside is mocked up to show 'before' shape)

Requested frame-part to Bent Mettle (not his or my car pictured!)
After deciding I could live with the crumple and wasn't going to pull the chassis, I cut the left frame horn off with a $20 Harbor Fright reciprocating saw.  Awesome tool/dollar, went through like butter.

Hehe, looks like a bad photoshop...

I think by now it's late summer, about 8 months after the tree...  like I said, I was embarrassed and procrastinating...

I matched up the pieces, and reassembled all the body panels to serve as a 'jig' for the frame.
I thought this was pretty rally.

I even used a ruler to jig it!  Pro.

Then went through and welded the pieces together.  I was very pleased with quality of the welds I was able to get with the little mig.
After removing the panels again, finishing the welds and painting, I reassembled.  Maybe the car isn't as square as it used to be, but wow, the reassembly was much easier than before the crash, thanks to the jigging method!

Finally, it was back together. 

(Oh man, I will miss the exhaust sound on it, it was great in the final iteration:
Supersprint stainless long tube 4-1 header, high flow cat, Hushpower muffler, then about 5 feet of 2.25dia tube.  Highly recommended) 

Driving it: Got it out for the September 2012 DRSCCA rallycross in which I hit almost every cone (9mos after tree), and then at Thistle Hill in December.  I took the win in that one, unbelievable mud, but the car was good and apparently I was trying to impress my girlfriend: I took overall FTD (not just 2wd), and caused all my in-class competitors at least one max time.  Sweet.

The car at its first return event, 9months after tree

The car at second return event, December, now with lights and grill...

Sno-Drift 2012 back-from-the-dead update, and the 'State of the Rally'

All the way back on July 1, 2012 I excused my lack of posts, and mentioned that Sno*Drift had not gone as planned.

At the time, I'd said: "Coming up soon: rally storytelling, fabrication and repair explanation and pictures, and future plans."  Well, it's taken 2.5 years now, and I've almost forgotten the story.

Mostly, I was embarrassed.  About both the rally (and letting down the most amazing crew ever by withdrawing after the first day), but maybe more so that I would probably be quitting stage rally, but didn't want to rush to conclusions.

     Sno-Drift Recap
We were so ready for Sno-Drift 2012.  The car was all set up with the new 2.0L, and electrical was all proven with Black River Stages under its belt. As mentioned in the older post, the goal now was to go fast.
Final Touches before Tech
We had the F150, which is a bit of an adventure but worked great.  The truck was on great new tires, all of us could fit (and did! three across the front, two in the back...hehe, I sat in the front middle and mostly annoyed Jon), all our stuff was under the cap in the bed, and we were pulling the rallycar on a trailer behind (Side note: the F150 had a 3.2:1 final drive, a broken leaf in one of the rear springs, and no factory tow package... so we were REALLY overloading it - - - worked fine)

Recce (special stage) with the truck...

And the lodging situation was awesome.  We were sharing a cabin with Billy Elliot and Dmitriy Martynov

Looking at the pictures now, we really left to start the rally all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Unfortunately, the next bit of the story goes "At Sno-Drift 2012 (which 2.5 years later is the last rally I've done or have plans to do) we had, in fact, hit a tree"

We were moving well, driving fast, and it was even still daylight.  (I know, pics or it wasn't fast, but we didn't have charged batteries in the camera to get any of the in-car when we were really cooking in those first couple stages)

The tree was entirely my fault, I caught my foot up on the brake when moving over to get some gas, and missed the inside line on the turn in.  The conditions were unforgiving and off we went!  I remember quite clearly my mild curse, which probably got Kenneth's head out of the route book in time to see we were NOT making that corner...  We went off, and as we hit the tree I thought 'crap.  I'M the one, the third owner, on this car's 14th stage rally, who finally totaled it.'

However, checking out the damage, the wheels were still attached and the car still held its fluids.  We started waving for a tow and (after almost getting hit a couple times as other cars came sliding our way) we were yanked out by a fellow awesome competitor!

We were able to continue down the road, it was only another couple corners to the finish of the stage.  Quickly we slashed a tire on the bodywork during the next transit (bummer, new tire!) and had to pull bodywork as best we could and get the spare on there, but we held enough schedule to keep in the game before the next special stage.  We tiptoed through another special stage, and brought her home to service.

Us coming into service after ~5 stages

The crew sawzalled us and we went back out, but my confidence was gone.  The car was pretty fine though.  Miraculously, the alignment was intact better than most events, and we had re-aimed the driving lights.  Another shake (I almost forgot, was this during this rally?) was that we cooked a relay halfway through the night!  We smelled this terrible burning, we lost all lights (!) and I could see something glowing hot behind the fusebox!  I pulled over, telling Kenneth quite urgently to get the fire extinguisher out, and shut off the car.  However, without power, it cooled down before becoming a bigger problem.  Brutal acrid smoke all over though, really bad.  We limped around, using as little electricity as we could by turning off the driving lights (I really don't remember, this may have been at Black River!)

Finally, after midnight and with the transmission making a heck of a whining noise (turns out the fill plug had been knocked out in the tree incident and it was very low on oil) we finished out the day, and got it back to the cabin.

After looking at the car (but really, I was already done before we even pulled in), we quit the event and didn't start the second day.  Sleeping in was really nice on Saturday...rally really is brutal.

Heading back out after the first service

Post-day inspection


Goodnight bruised car

Over a year later, I checked the results.  We had been running 2nd in the regional 2WD classes through the first 3 stages, and reached 10th overall, but the 4th stage, where we had the off, we lost 10 minutes and dropped back to 10th in G2, 11th in 2WD, and 29th overall.  Disheartened and having lost my confidence, we tiptoed through the rest of the day, ending up 7th in G2, 8th in 2WD, and 22 overall (of 38 competitors).

Those results are actually better than I had expected.  And I am glad to see our pace on the first 3 stages!  We were running ahead of all our friends, and many other much more experienced competitors.  Of course, their experience showed.  The race is 2 days long, 20+ stages... we found the tree early.

The big thing was that I really didn't WANT to rally the next day, and had felt that way since night fell.  I was embarrassed by that, like I was giving in.  So, hence the delay...

I'm hoping to finish out this story so I can face up to this blog a bit better, and get back to updating it with all the awesome other motorsports stuff which has been going on!

(most of these pictures from Kyle, thank you!)