Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spare Parts Anyone?

I was inspired by the progress on the LeMons car. We had a "team" meeting with all the guys who are braindead like me...I mean, who have the gusto and fortitude to race a hunk-o-crap around a track for two days in the June Vegas heat. We kicked around some ideas for our "theme" we are going to have for the car and the team. I think we came up with one, but I'm going to keep it under my hat so the three people who actually read this blog will come back later. We also came up with a list of the parts we know the car is going to need before we go racing and some spare parts we should have if we consider ourselves astute racing aficionados (which we are not, in any was shape or form). Typical things like brakes, rotors, spare alternator, radiator, etc. I then took the task of searching for these things on the Internet, more specifically at

This place is the online Mecca for these rotary powered Mazda's. I had been visiting the site far more than my boss would like in the past few weeks trying to learn more about the car and some of the things to watch out for. I learned some things like "lube up the Apex seals in the motor BEFORE you try and start it if it has been sitting for a long period". Without that advice I probably would have ruined the engine the first time I hit the key. I have learned countless other things from the site and now consider myself fairly well educated in the language of the rotary (it's not nearly as romantic as French, but at least it doesn't smell). Back on topic, I found a whole pile of parts for sale in the classified section and started buying. In addition I posted a "want to buy" thread in the Mountain States forum of the site in hopes someone would have a set of wheels we could buy fairly cheap. I was worried about wheels because the RX7 has a weird bolt pattern of 4X110 which was not used very widely. Even though wheels and tires are not included in the $500 limit for the car, I didn't want to spend a crapload of money on them if we didn't have to (we are in a recession people!).

The first thing I bought was a header. The factory pieces are so restrictive on these Mazda's, and most any car for that matter, that adding just the header adds 20% horsepower. I first looked online at a few major RX7 parts dealers, and saw prices around $225-$275 for the header brand new. I found one in the classified section for $75 shipped. S-O-L-D. I also came across a spare alternator and fuel pump for $60 shipped. Then I started to get replies in the local thread I posted. The first guy contacted me and said he had stock 13" wheels for $25 each. Woo hoo! Then I had a guy contact me that wanted to give me a set of steel wheels for FREE (my favorite word). I also found a guy with a RX7 he was parting out that had some parts left over. So Monday after work I jumped in the car and headed to Centennial and Colorado Springs to pick up parts. I returned to the house a mere 3 1/2 hours later with:

A set of wheels and tires
A pair of front calipers
A whole bag filled with misc front suspension pieces
A spare transmission
A radiator
A spare starter

Total cost for above parts: $50

I'm a big fan of cheap and free race car parts! After that little road trip I think we are headed in the right direction with having enough spares of things that might get damaged or fail during the race. I'm going to keep looking for stuff and see what else I can find, maybe another radiator or two would be good!

At our meeting we also forged a plan of attack on how we are going to try and stay in this race for 12 racing hours over 2 days. The major culprits that would keep us from finishing would be engine failure and part failure from being run into or running into someone. The first one we are going to try and avoid by keeping the engine as cool as possible. Heat is the major foe of these rotary engines. We need to do everything we can to keep it cool. The RX7 has a large stock oil cooler which is a plus. We will be doing our best to control the heat in the motor and crossing our fingers that nothing else gives way. The second probable way for us to go home early is a mechanical failure of a part by way of hitting other cars or solid items. We plan to control this as much as possible by not driving too aggressively. Most of the cars we will be up against will outweigh our car by upwards of 1000 lbs. We need to be smart and if they are going to be aggressive in the corner we will just slow down and let them take it. If we are going to be competitive in this race it will be because of fuel mileage and handling. If we finish the whole race with a running car I feel we will have met our goals. Each driver is going to have a large sum of money tied up in this project by the time it is completed and my goal is to make sure everyone fells like they got their money's worth.

It would be kind of fun to go out in a blaze of glory though...

Application is due in 4 weeks, we find out if we are in soon after that. Stay tuned!

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