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Be Cool, Innovate and TCI Help Solve Big Problems In Our Project Car

Our Street Stock project car had made its way through three-quarters of the season, and while the car wasn’t breaking anymore, our driver had gotten to the point where he was driving beyond the abilities of the equipment that we had.

Along the way we had found some tricks that we began to use, like running VP Fuel’s Crate Horse Power (CHP) fuel. We found some extra power in that fuel and our driver was getting faster and more confident on the track.  This combination of things caused other problems to develop.  In our never ending quest to go faster and claim dirt track domination, we had created new challenges that needed to be dealt with, and pronto, if we wanted to end up with a decent finish for the season.

Double pass radiators gain their efficiency by first passing the fluid over the top half of the radiator and then the bottom half, giving the radiator the ability to dissipate heat twice.

Problem number one was engine temperature.  We originally experienced some overheating problems when we first rolled the car on the track at the end of last season.  A decent radiator shroud seemed to take care of the problem.  That turned out to be a temporary fix.  With better fuel, better lap times and higher revs, our engine overheating problem returned.  Knowing that if we kept on the same path we were on, death and destruction to the engine would be the ultimate outcome.  We placed a call to Roger Rosebush at Be Cool Radiators.

Roger gave us a verbal tutorial on cooling systems then pointed us toward the Be Cool dual bypass radiator.  “The dual bypass is the way to go here because the coolant passes through the radiator in one direction at the top and makes a second pass through the radiator in the other direction at the bottom.  This keeps the coolant in the radiator longer, where it can be cooled properly.”  In racing circles, this coolant flow style is often referred to as crossflow design.

Be Cool's aluminum dual pass GM radiator with inlet and outlet on the same side.

With crossflow style dual pass radiators, the inlet and outlet are on the same side of the radiator.  Our GM engine thermostat housing routed the hose to the top left of the old single pass cooler, while the typical GM water pump pulls the coolant from the bottom right side of the radiator.  There are several aftermarket thermostat housings on the market that can relocate the direction of the return hose to the right side of the radiator.  We picked one up from a local parts store.

Our new Radiator, Fan, and Shroud

In addition to the longer period spent in the radiator, more volume could be pushed through the unit.  The Be Cool dual bypass radiator was wider and deeper, three inches wider in fact.  There was no doubt that we would have plenty of cooling surface area.  We also found the Be Cool “U channel” design on the top and bottom of the radiator made it simple to mount in the car and stupidly easy to mount a fan shroud.

Features of the Be Cool dual pass radiator (Part #35025):

  • Dual pass “crossflow” style.
  • 19″ high, 31″ wide, 3″ wide
  • 1.5″ inlet
  • 1.75″ outlet
  • Outlet and Inlet located on passenger side
  • Aluminum construction for quick heat dissipation

We also changed our fan and shroud set up. Going with a four-bladed fan with a more aggressive angle on the fan blades, and a full shroud that covers the entire length of the radiator really helped pull a ton of air over the radiator.  We found that our newly redesigned cooling system held our motor temp between 165 -185 degrees fahrenheit.  This was a big deal because a cooler engine can make more horsepower than one that is on the verge of overheating.

Our new Innovate Air/Fuel DB Digital Gauge all lit up.

Optimizing our fuel system

Air/fuel ratio wasn’t that big of a deal when we were running pump gas on a worn out motor with a new shoe behind the wheel.  Now that our driver had some experience and was running faster lap times, and a serious upgrade in fuel, there was a need to monitor our air/fuel ratio.  Sure, it would help with our cooling issues, but more importantly, we could maximize the horses we could get out of the engine.  Too much fuel can kill some of your power, especially on an oval track, too little can kill your engine.  Using a wideband air/fuel monitoring system is like Goldilocks picking the “just right” fuel jet.

We picked out a killer LC-1 wideband kit from Innovate Motorsports.  From our perspective, these are affordable, way easy to install and fool-proof to use; so there is no reason not to have one on your racecar. Simply weld in a bung in the header, attach the power wire, ground wire and attach the gauge.  Follow the directions in the manual to set up your baseline and the system does all the rest for you.

The Innovate LC-1 harness is small enough to mount in an out of the way place virtually anywhere on the car.

Our local track is located in Victorville, California, which sits about 2,950 feet above sea level.  Our shop in Murrieta is right about 1,000 feet above sea level.  It doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to figure out that tuning your car at 1,000 feet ASL will give you a different response at 3,000 ASL.  Not a good response either.  It’s important to note that simply installing a wide band kit won’t make you go faster, or have Sprint Cup type horsepower, but it will allow you to monitor your car’s air to fuel ratio and determine if your car is laying flat coming out of the corner because the fuel curve is “pig fat” or “skinny minnie lean”.  The ability to quickly recognize that a jet change is needed and whether to go up or down a size is critical to having a good day on the track.

The Innovate LC-1 Air/Fuel gauge is a direct replacement fit in a standard gauge hole in the dash.

Innovate LC-1 Wideband Kit Key Features

  • Fully digital wideband controller.
  • Auto calibration capability to compensate for changes in temperature, altitude, and sensor condition.
  • Two user programmable analog outputs.
  • Permanent install applications
  • Cost effective individual cylinder tuning.
  • Easy to upgrade.
  • Includes LogWorks software

Welding in the new O2 sensor bung for our air/fuel monitoring.

Having a wideband sensor and gauge kit on the car is more than a just a nice addition.  From our perspective, it’s a necessity. You can’t take a full dyno with you to the track, and having a wideband kit is like having a dedicated dyno that travels with the car.  Winning races and championships doesn’t happen by accident. It takes preparation and having the right equipment.  For as little as theseunits cost, the payoff in race position makes it mandatory to have.  The Innovate LC-1 kit works well and is rugged enough for the dirt track.

Installing the Innovate Wideband Sensor into the exhaust pipe.

TCI provides driver comfort

Driver’s comfort is always important, so we hooked up our hot shoe with a new TCI Outlaw ratchet shifter (part#611323).  Not only was our driver worried about reaching the shifter, but getting a positive lock into gear was problematic.  Finding the right gear when you need it is incredibly important when your on the track or in the pits.  Running over the competition may be a good thing, but running over track workers or a spectator in the pit area is frowned on.  That’s a quick way to lose major cool points.

TCI's Ratcheting Outlaw Shifter kit. Our solution for driver comfort and safety.

TCI’s Outlaw shifters have been popular in various forms of racing because they are constructed for rugged use.  Approved for compliance with NHRA/IHRA legal reverse lock out regulations, these shifters can handle whatever you can throw at them.  We selected the TCI Outlaw shifter that was designed for use with powerglide transmissions but TCI also offers the popular shifter for Ford and Chrysler 3 & 4 speed transmissions.  Locating the shifter for diver’s comfort is no problem with the shifter’s 5 feet of shift cable that comes with the kit.  The hardware kit is very complete and easy to find everything you need to mount the shifter wherever you feel like.

Our newly fabricated shifter mount and TCI Outlaw shifter, installed and ready for action.

Our driver, who is affectionately known as “T-Rex” because of his short arms, was very pleased to have a smooth shifter that could be mounted in a comfortable position.  Our fabricator went to work making a “rally style” shifter mount that wouldn’t require excessive arm movement from the steering wheel to the shifter and back to the wheel.  Driver’s comfort goes a long way in improving lap times on the track.

Our project car is ready for the next trip out to the track. Will the next night out be our long awaited first feature win?

Conclusion

Racing is not a one style fits all proposal.  There are constant tweaks and changes that need to be made in order to get quicker at the track.  In our case, we started with a cooling system that worked great until the driver got faster and his RPMs climbed up.  Once he got comfortable with running at the top end, we needed to optimize the air/fuel to run at the engine’s premium every time out at the track, and we had to make the controls a little more comfortable for the driver at higher speeds.  With these changes, we feel that we are on the cusp of getting that first feature win.

Sources

Innovate Motorsports
Phone: 714-372-5910
TCI Automotive
Phone: 888-776-9824
BeCool Radiators
Phone: 800-691-2667
VP Racing Fuel
Phone: 210-635-07744

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