Originally built in 1997, our racecar has been through many changes and adaptations since, in fact the amount of ‘original’ 1997 car which is actually left is pretty small! Still, let’s take a look at how it is today, lining up on the UK’s best circuits in the Avon Intermarque Championship.
The first thing you should know about our ‘car’ is that there isn’t (nor has there ever been) any traditional car to it. A lot of racing cars do start with at least a shell from a roadgoing car, but our car was built for short oval hotrod racing and all these cars are built from the ground up to go racing. As such the chassis is a tubular steel spaceframe construction. Very strong, very light and of course much adapted over the years!
Engine and Drivetrain
The engine is a 2.0 Vauxhall XE. Originally developed by GM in the late 1980’s, it proved extremely popular and has been fitted to many roadcars since. It has also proved itself a very tuneable and reliable engine for motorsports, hence many racing cars the world over still use this wonderful engine in all sorts of applications. Of course, we only use the standard production engine as a donor, before it gets anywhere near the racecar it is stripped and fitted with a lot of new internal parts. New steel rods ensure the engine can withstand the 8000rpm it will experience for prolonged periods of time. Meanwhile these steel rods are mated to lightweight pistons, while the top end of the engine will receive some much needed attention. Firstly it will be ‘skimmed’ to increase the engine compression ratio from a standard 10.5:1 to a much racier 12:1. It will then be fitted with race cams, and as a consequence of our championship regulations it will be fitted with twin carbs and run by a sealed MBE system.
An ARP clutch and lightweight flywheel replace the standard equipment. The gearbox would have originally began its life in an old Ford (think Capri, Cortina, Escort etc) before we got hold of it and replaced the internals with a Quaife ultra close gearkit. Our championship limits competitors to a ‘H pattern’ four speed gearbox, so choices are reasonably limited in this area.
The propshaft connects all this power to the rear end which consists of a solid rear axle, again a ruling of our championship. Although the original axle would have at one point been found in a Ford Capri, it gets new life breathed into it with new Quaife 2 piece halfshafts and limited slip diff. Although the ratios are changeable, it is unusual to see anything but a 3:5 diff in the car, which is good for a top speed of around 130mph.
The front of the car features Willwood 6 Pot Calipers, together with AP Rotors, while the rear gets smaller Willwood 4 Pots and standard roadgoing discs. Just about every type of brake pad imaginable has been found in the car at some point or another!
The current bodyshape is (believe it or not) based on a Vauxhall Tigra. The car is a massive 73 inches wide, considerably wider than your average Tigra and was designed by ourselves back in 2008. To create the shape we began with a standard production Tigra and then applied copious amount of foam and filler until we had something in the shape you see today. We then perfected this ‘plug’ and took fibreglass moulds from it. Using these moulds we can now create the very light fibreglass panels whenever required…(that being, whenever the car goes on an unplanned adventure!) We’ve tried to make the car as aerodynamic as possible within the regulations and you can see the large splitter and rear wing to provide downforce. The whole underneath of the car is also completely flat as far back as the rear wheels, where the air meets the large rear diffuser, again providing more downforce. Lexan windows are present to again make the car as slippery and light as possible.
Obviously the main safety point of the car is the strong steel spaceframe, but there are of course many other features including a snug supportive seat, six point safety harness and a plumbed in fire eater system which when triggered sprays the engine, driver and fuel tank in foam. The driver meanwhile wears 3 layer nomex fireproof overalls, as well as fireproof raceboots, gloves and underhelmet. A high spec fireproof helmet and HANS device complete the drivers safety equipment.
Top Trumps –
Power – Approx 220bhp
Weight – 850Kg including driver
So that’s our racing car, or ‘Betsy’ as she is affectionately known. Come and see her at a meeting soon.