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Some Heroes Are Worth Meeting

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“Someone just asked us to take their grandfather’s ashes around the track. We’ll have to figure out how to strap that in,” says Andrew “H” Smith. No one calls him Andrew. Or Andy. Or Smith. Just H. And In that one moment, he’s shown the core of Robertson Racing.

They don’t have to do that. It won’t make the car faster. It won’t make sponsors happy. It’s just a favor for a fan, one easily brushed aside with any number of potential easy excuses. But they’ll do it anyway, the same way they let kids hop in the car and let people wander under their awning. They’ll do it because they’re full of heart. They’re forever thankful for their fans. You don’t get that with a lot of professional race teams–especially not ones that have stood on the podium at Le Mans. But then, not many drivers have shared a podium spot with their spouse on their wedding anniversary either.

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Marine With One Leg Leads in Continental Tire Series, Supported by a Whole Mess o’ Veterans

Photo courtesy Mazdaspeed/Al Merion Padron.

Half of Liam Dwyer’s clutch leg is gone. His right knee has been replaced. A steel plate, a rod, and 23 screws hold his right forearm together. He endured more than 50 surgeries over four and a half years.

Dwyer is a retired United States Marine. A Taliban IED hit him on May 22, 2011.

Whenever possible, Dwyer is strapping into a Mazda MX-5 Miata race car, attaching his prosthetic clutch leg, and blazing out on track to compete for position with drivers who have four complete appendages. “I have no regrets,” he says. “I would do it again knowing this would happen.”

Dwyer is a professional race car driver. He has trophies to prove it. His team is in first place in the IMSA Continental Tire Series ST class. Next week, he races at Circuit of the Americas. A number of other veterans have helped him get there, and he’s paying it forward, too.

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Justy Little Project Car: Shifter Tips for Everyone, Sweet New Wheels for Me

Alan Cesar August 17, 2015 Featured, Project Cars

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Though my Subaru Justy’s cabin is surprisingly roomy and airy for such a small car and the pedals are well placed for podiatric gymnastics (I can make up words), the sloppy and vague shifter has always been something of a disappointment. The 4-wheel-drive system also wasn’t switching on. It might seem silly to work on these small problems when I have the elephant of low compression also looming in the garage, but after two years of fighting with an AMC Eagle’s clutch, I needed to establish some forward progress and eke out a little satisfaction from this project car before I could knock on the door to the engine party.

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Project AMC Eagle wrap-up: “Universal” was an exact fit; I sold it anyway

Alan Cesar July 28, 2015 Project Cars

20150701_185711 This AMC Eagle’s unobtainable clutch master cylinder has plagued me since I bought the project two years ago. After enough screwing around with rebuild kits and new hoses, I finally capitulated and followed the advice of a LeMons racer I met last year: It’s a simple hydraulic system. Just adapt a Tilton or a Wilwood master cylinder and move on.

That advice was better than I could’ve imagined, but it still didn’t solve the problem.  … Continue Reading

Cars You Should Know — Street-Legal Chevy Luv Drag Truck

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It’s not every day that I see a Chevrolet LUV. The badge-engineered Chevy “Light Utility Vehicle” was actually an Isuzu Faster, originally equipped with a wheezy but durable 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Zero-to-60 times were… probably not attainable within a quarter mile. I was surprised, then, when I spotted a LUV drag truck out in the wild.

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Tech Daze: 2000-’06 Audi TT, 8N Chassis

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The first-generation Audi TT was the modern analog to the Porsche 356. If you take it down to its essential mechanicals, it’s VW Beetle (and Golf) underpinnings with sportier styling on top. But while the Porsche has the right driven wheels and an engine at the wrong end of the car, the Audi has that problem in reverse. At least the Audi is available with all wheel drive.

Plebeian underpinnings or not, the first-gen TTs earned praise when they were new: North American Car of the Year in 2000; on Car & Driver’s 10Best list in ’00 and ’01. They’ve been around long enough now that the problem areas are as clear as the right performance upgrade options. Follow the jump for tips from TT specialists on how to shop for, maintain, and modify these cars.

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How to replace batteries in an AMB Tranx 260 racing transponder

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Transponders are expensive. To me, inexplicably so, which is part of why I’ve never owned one. I pay the $50 rental fee whenever I run a LeMons race and grumble to myself about why a plastic box with some simple electronics and nothing-special NiCd rechargeable batteries would cost more than a GoPro.

A transponder with a dead battery fell into my possession. It sat in my garage for a few years before I finally took the time to crack it open. Hit the jump to find out how you can try and revive a dying TranX battery.

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Project Car SOTU: 1991 Subaru Justy

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In my last Justy post, I was prompted by the car’s horrifically uneven compression numbers to sideline the car until I made more progress on my AMC Eagle. This has mostly been accurate, though I have since confirmed a handful of possible issues and purchased some new parts to install, while mentally preparing for an engine teardown and rebuild.

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Project Car SOTU: 1984 AMC Eagle

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My AMC Eagle’s primer-gray hood has unceremoniously become a staging area for crap I need to shove into the attic. My access ladder is right above the Eagle’s engine bay, which means I usually sit on the top edge of the windshield as I pull the folding ladder down. Rusted fittings on its clutch master cylinder had me stuck as of my last update, but I lucked out. I also found a local shop that could accommodate my request for a custom-made brake line. Same day, even.

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1981 AMC Spirit: A Real IMSA Race Car for Two Grand

Alan Cesar February 27, 2015 All Things Hoon

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A piece of SCCA and IMSA racing history is ready for new ownership. Casual AMC fans know about the Javelins that Penske Racing raced in IMSA with that iconic red, white and blue livery, but 10 years later, AMC supported teams with AMC Spirits to compete in the series. This one can be yours, but be warned: Though it has an SCCA logbook, it probably needs a fair amount of updating and work.

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