The detail design of the bodywork is finally done. I’ll do a separate post next week when I have some renders. There are also many exciting discussions, more on that when definitive agreements are reached. Relationship building is yet another full time job that I get to do 🙂 It’s fun but demanding and involves a steep learning curve. Just like all my other jobs.

In the meantime, we’ve been getting ready for the testing at ORP tomorrow (among hundreds of other things of course). There are several goals for the day: set baseline peformance for D2 on street tires, then move up to older R compounds we have and test that, which will prepare us for the transition to Hoosier A7s when they show up. We have also made changes to front suspension geometry that we want to try out. Another goal is for Jonathan to really start pushing the car and get more comfortable with it in preparation for jumping into the supercharged race version.

One prerequisite for this is an upgrade of our demo to drysump lubrication. The car was mostly taken apart for this (good time to do other maintenance like clutch, fluids, oil analysis, caliper rebuild and so on). Now it’s back together.

Tomorrow’s test is just the start. It will give us valuable data that we can use to gauge progress, and progress will be made. One item we’re working on is upgrading the brakes. One might not think that brakes are important when climbing a mountain, but experience has shown that they are. Very.

So the plan is to upgrade both rotors and calipers. Weight will be about the same but performance should step up quite a bit.

I’ll be machining new hats and caliper brackets this weekend, after we get back.

There is lots more I hope to announce soon but need to finalize some things first.

Things are moving right along. We are getting very good response from sponsors for the effort, both individual and commercial, which is a great help (and added motivation!). Thank you very much for the support!

The build on the race car continues. Lots of not-so-visible stuff like plumbing. Suspension is fabricated and will be installed shortly. Stll figuring out the intake but it’s getting there.

The intake tube requires a 6″ straight section for the airflow meter to work properly which is a challenge. We are bascially making a custom airbox behind the seats with multiple filter panels to get us as much filter area as possible.

While the race car is being built we are updating our normally aspirated demo D2 with a drysump system for the engine, revised front suspension arms (to change steering effort) and bigger brakes. So far we’ve been running the demo on R888 and NT01 tires and with those the wet sump is right on the edge. The car pulls 1.4g sustained on this level of tire (1.7g peak) and there are some logged oil pressure drops to below 20 psi. Hoosier is supplying us with the latest A7 rubber for the race and on the sticky tires we expect well over 2.0g cornering. We want to start testing with the race tires as soon as possible, hence the drysump upgrade for the demo.

The car last ran on Saturday (I think it was something like 50th trackday for it) and now it looks like this, with engine and transmission out:

Testing is planned to resume on the 10th with the updates installed. For the brakes I still have to machine custom rotor hats and caliper brackets. Suspension arms are made already, just need to be installed.

In parallel the new bodywork is progressing as well. This is the stage where all the pesky little details get worked out – how the various panels are split up, how they interface to each other, how each is molded. Door hinges, coupe vs roadster configuration, access to components – all of this is as 3D puzzle wth many interactions. Click on the first picture for a larger version.

We are currently looking at three different ways to get the plugs (master patterns) made from which we can then pull molds. The tradeoffs are time, cost and technological unknowns – 3D printing is one potential method but at this size it’s not a proven technology and costs are not known. 5-axis CNC machining of foam plugs is something we’ve done before but it requires farming it out and the costs are fairly high. Breaking up molds into pieces that are machinable on a 3-axis router requires more CAD work but it’s the most accessible and lowest cost approach. I’m now talking with various vendors as we are in the final stretch for the design. A decision will have to be made soon.

It’s been three years since we did this last. Our first Pikes Peak experience was an incredible adventure – we had no idea of what we were up against, or how we were going to do it. Through determination and a lot of crazy work we pulled it off and did well. I still look back on it with disbelief occasionally.

In comparison, this year’s effort is a less impossible undertaking but ultimately no less stressful. We are running a supercharged D2 in the Open class (as of right now, more on that later). There are several things in our favor that we didn’t have last time:

1. We’ve been to the Mountain and we know what it demands.

2. The D2 chassis is now well sorted and can provide Jonathan Frost, our driver this year, with the necessary performance and confidence. Jonathan has been closely involved in D2 development testing and is very familiar with the chassis.

3. The car build is well underway – the chassis is welded and powdercoated, the engine and transmission are installed, many of the subsystems are going in as this is written.

4. We already have some sponsors onboard with Pete Stoppani in the lead as the car’s primary individual backer.


All those things definitely help but this is not going to be easy. Key among the challenges ahead are:

1. We are scrambling to complete the new 2015 D2 bodywork design. Our goal is to run the new body in the race. It will be extremely close and besides lots of hard work will require everything to go perfectly, including the use of some innovative and untried technologies to shorten the tooling time. As a backup we can run the current body and we do have one set of panels onhand, but obviously the preference is to have new stuff done.

2. We are using a supercharged LSA e-Rod engine, one we haven’t used before. This installation has presented us with numerous unanticipated challenges already, from having to completely redo the intake to requiring a new flywheel, to redesigning the drysump tank. All of these are solvable (and we’re doing it) but it’s a lot of extra effort.

3. Our resources available for this endeavor are still not what we would like them to be and we’ll be relying on the support of all of our sponsors, individual and corporate, to help us get to the starting line.

4. We have numerous existing commitments to customers that we have to honor, without the race effort getting in the way of getting this work done. This is perhaps the biggest challenge as most of our time between now and the race is already spoken for. We’ll have to make time for the race effort on top of everything else that’s going on.

In other words there will be no shortage in adventure and excitement over the next three months, and of course in the race itself. As before, the blog will be accessible to sponsors only and opened up to the general public after the race. There are many ways for our backers to participate, from simply following the blog to stages of closer involvement which include attending our testing, private track events and up to joining our Lead Customer Program.

We’re charging full speed ahead! In the meantime, below are some in-progress renderings of how we hope the car will look in just two short months.