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Hooniverse 24 Hours of Lemons Racing: Tales of Buick Brakes, Tires, and Suspension

Kamil Kaluski May 6, 2014 24 Hours of Lemons, Featured 22 Comments

lemons 24 buick hooniverse

The second race for our amazing-ish 2002 Buick Regal is coming up within a week, The Real Hoopties of New Jersey at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I don’t know what the hell is going, maybe the earth is spinning faster, but I don’t have the time for anything anymore. Good thing that one of my teammates, Andy, has the time and ability to wrench on the car. Outside of a one team wrenching day, he has done all the prep work for this race.

In the past I yapped about the race but managed skip the part about how the car has actually performed. It’s now time to fix that. Today we shall discuss some vital vehicle components such as tires. Yes, very exciting stuff.

Going back to our October race, you may recall BFGoodrich offered us a set of their g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires to use for this race. I honestly knew nothing about these tires. I had no idea how they were going to perform, what reputation they had, and had no time for research. I haven’t bought performance tires in ten years or so, and ten years is an eternity in tire technology. But BFG insisted that these are the tires we should be using. To say that I was surprised by these tires would be an understatement

hooniverse buick lemons side

The suspension on our so-called race car was 100% factory original going to the race. We took the true Lemons approach just raced what we had. We used 17” Mustang GT wheels and wrapped them with the new BFG g-Force Comp-2 in 245/45-17 variety. We didn’t align the car, we just eye-balled it at the shop; logistics of transporting the vehicle to and from the shop were an issue.

Our brakes consisted of F-body front rotors and calipers. Hawk HPS (I think) front pads, cheapo rear pads. Turner Motorsport sponsored us with some high temp brake fluid but we did not have the time to flush the system, so we stuck with conventional brake fluid. We had zero brake fade and we used up about half the meat on our front pads over two days of racing.

During Friday practice the car felt fine, that is to say it predictably floated like a coked-up Cadillac and stung like a drunken Messerschmitt. But it wasn’t until we were in the race that we noticed something peculiar about our Buick:

  • hooniverse buick lemons tiresIt went through corners faster than it should have.
  • It stopped better than it should have.

At New Hampshire Motor Speedway there are two sections that consist of multiple corners. I observed that in those corners I easily kept up with cars that I shouldn’t have kept up with – a certain CR-X and an E30 come to mind. But those cars would pull away from us on the straights; no way in hell could I keep up with them. It wasn’t until the end of the main straight where the 3600lb Buick was able to out-brake them going into turns! Physics, they clearly did not apply to us that day.

Don’t get me wrong, there dozens cars that were much faster than us, but there were also a few that should have been faster than us. We had no idea what class these shouldof cars were in or who was driving them but we got them in the corners and on braking, but they got us on power.

We were certain that in corners it was the tires, and the tires alone, that kept us glued to the track and going in the intended direction. We are also certain that the wide tires helped tremendously under braking, too. ABS did kick in but only under ridiculously hard “oh crap I’m gonna smack into him unless I stand up on this pedal” kind of braking. Otherwise we were driving with endurance and reliability in mind.

Part of me also believes that, contrary to common sense, this stupid 50lb bench on out trunk lid actually helped us out. I think it kept the car steady under heavy braking; it acted like wing, providing a down force onto the rear wheels. It also helped to redistribute the weight for a better front-to-rear balance. Stupid, but it did work! I think. Maybe.

That said, the bench spoiler definitely increased body roll in corners and slowed us down aerodynamically. We probably lost a few MPGs because of it, too. Whatever, it’s staying on. I suggested that we add some active shutters on it but we did not have the time.

Details 24 lemons buick hooniverse

We did develop a problem with the tires, but the problem with the tires was not the tires, but rather our jalopy race car. The Buick had no adjustable camber. The springs and struts were super soft, as were all the bushings. Combined with a heavy nose, it makes sense that the outer shoulders started wearing out very fast. Us driving over the rumble strips, sometimes grass, and other rough parts of the track did not help one bit. At the end of the two-day race two of our tires were toast.

Overall, these tires amazed me and I fully intend on getting a set for my other car which will see some track duty. But please, do not take my word for it. Read this Hooniverse Asks. Then read tirerack.com and note that both Skip Barber and Ford Racing High Performance Driving schools use them for training and racing.

Going into this race we installed camber adjuster kits on all four corners. We’re going with the same pads and rotors, but with high temp brake fluid. We did some other top-secret suspension mods but the well worn springs and shocks remain due to lack of funds. The vehicle maybe enhanced aerodynamically if Andy has the time. The two remaining Comp-2s will be in rotation but our tire strategy isn’t solidified yet.

 

  • FЯeeMan

    Between now and the next race, you need to devise an active shutter system for that bench that will close when the rear rises under braking. Should help with "down force", and an air brake will certainly help reduce pad wear.

    Plus, it worked for Porsche, so it must be good!

    • wunno sev

      since the car already has an automatic, do a Chaparral 2E and have the wing shutters operated by a left-foot pedal

      <img src="http://www.chaparralcars.com/images/chap2e.jpg"&gt;

      • FЯeeMan

        That could work, too.\

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      [youtube kPKD85mFbkA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPKD85mFbkA youtube] Though if I remember rightlyo, was not used in race for some poppycock safety reasons or such.

      • Judge Murlee mentioned this to me at the track last time… what could potentially go wrong?

    • Van_Sarockin

      For LeMons, I think you want to copy the air brakes of the 300SL, which caused the greatest loss of life in motorsports at LeMans.

  • Eric Rood

    Looks like you're set to dominate!

    • I doubt it. We're a bit short of skill.

      • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        Perfect another checkbox then, you will dominate!!!1!

  • I remember in the 1990s, the one SCCA "showroom stock" team I hung out with one time drilled out the shocks and replaced the oil with gear lube. That might be a cheap way to stiffen up the suspension.

    • Eric Rood

      I know for a fact that at least one crapcan team has done that.

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Yes yet another use for gear oil, thanks!

      • jeepjeff

        I really want to try this now. "Hey, Honey! I found out a way to make your Civic even better!"

        I don't think she'd go for it.

        • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

          She might.

          Jeff, I put onetenth on GH for one of my boardgame buddies: https://github.com/msliczniak/onetenth It now has neat effect for sliding (I did the 200ms delay with an expect oneliner) and color. And I fixed some bugs, and there must be more.

          $ x1k wkey=…

          Also, this exists and is much more impressive to me! https://github.com/themattrix/sed2048

          • jeepjeff

            She refused to dignify my suggestion with a response. I believe that is more no than no 😉 That won't stop me from trying it as an early mod on a future project car.

            Just pulled down your repo. The color and sliding works pretty well! Here's how it looks on my quake-xterm:
            <img src="http://i.imgur.com/Z8kIE4a.png"&gt;

            • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

              I have to hand it to you, your technique of blending 2048 with Scrabble is genius. I usually just set rows=3 and/or cols=3 for a challenge, but the games are just too short then.

    • Van_Sarockin

      A lovely way to recycle your sludgy old motor oil.

  • buzzboy7

    Same tires on my DD M3. Love em. Something tells me that my 4000lbs lemons car would eat them for breakfast though. Especially at our home track CMP. We nommed our Azenis to the metal in 8.5 hours.

  • Zaxbys

    A few months ago, when there was a question posed about tires on here, Kamil had sung the praises of the Comp-2s (along with some other peeps I think). That (along with tirerack reviews and a $50 mail-in rebate) convinced me to buy a set for my PT Cruiser for the summer. If you thought the floatastic Buick cornered well with the Comp-2s, just imagine what they do in a car known for an overly stiff suspension. I've been thoroughly impressed with what this car can do with just tires. I've even driven them with the temps in the 30's (crazy MN weather…) and they still have loads of grip. I've only found one issue: the tires make you want more supportive seats…

    • Vairship

      If you need side bolsters, just use the front seat armrests to hold you in place during cornering!

  • mohammed

    I had these tires on my 1993 Sentra SE-R around 10 years ago. I remember the time i took it out for a drive through a new housing development near where i worked. The area of consisted of hills and turns that would not be out of place in a famous german ring. Anyways there were no homes up yet so i took a stab at it. I would fly through these areas at 90 mph without any loss of confidence and while it was raining. I came away very impressed. These tires are great for all season and that is why they will be going onto my SR20VE powered Infiniti G20t soon. With the multilink front suspension, LSD, and coilovers, this thing will out handle even a type-r. Wonderful tires.