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6G Celicas Forums _ My Project _ Going LeMons racing in a 6GC!

Posted by: slavie Jun 25, 2017 - 11:06 PM

Hey ya'all!

A series of questionable decisions have led me to getting accepted to my first LeMons race coming up at Thompson, CT in August. Not much time left, lots to do.
If anybody is seriously interested, I'm still looking for the 4th driver. Hit me up.

The car came from 6gc community - I picked up Rymaster's 96 GT (
Car has an issue with the gearbox - makes really funny noises. I suspect something off with the diff. Drivetrain is already out of the car, gearbox separated, waiting for me to get wrenching on.

Cage installation is lined up for a week from now.
Need to completely redo the brakes - rebuild rears, replace fronts with dual-piston calipers, new rotors and pads.
Replace wheel bearings as a precaution.
Figure out what tires I'll use.
Finally, all the safety bs - kill switch is a must, and I'd like to plumb fire extinguisher and cool suit in if funds and time allows. If not, hand held extinguisher and sweaty balls will have to do.
Tons more crap I'm sure will come up.

Interior is getting completely gutted, so feel free to inquire if you need parts (I'll be posting a FS thread, will put the link in here). Any money I make back on selling parts I can use towards "performance mods", and I'm looking to get some decent lowering springs (no thanks to noname crap). If you have a set of such springs collecting dust - talk to me.

If you've done LeMons before and have suggestions, fire away.

Posted by: narly_charley Jun 26, 2017 - 9:50 AM

I've always wanted to try it, but it's pretty pricey just to get on the track.

Entry: $600 per car, $175 per driver, $75 for non-driving crew members. (Each team must have 4-6 drivers.) This fee covers registration, track time, paddock pass, track insurance, on-site ambulance crew, commemorative crap, and anything else we come up with by then. Non-driving crew members get all the same bennies except track time.

Each driver must also have a valid Lemons Competition Membership, which is $60.

Not driving or wrenching for a team? General-access paddock passes are always available at the gate–they’re $30 and good all weekend. Kids under 16 are free.

Posted by: slavie Jun 26, 2017 - 3:07 PM

Oh, there's nothing cheap about racing on a race track - but this is really, really cheap in comparison to just about anything else considering the amount of track time you get. (aside from other crapcan events)

The entry fee is only the beginning. You have to factor in actual race expenses:
Tires: at least one set, preferably two per event - $300-1000
Brakes: pads and rotors - $200-500
Gas: 6-8 gal per hour * 14 hours = $250-300, plus another $100 on towing your junk to and from track
Food and lodging: depending on your taste, on-track camping at $50 + beer & burgers, or hotels and actual meals
Incidentals: pray for none

We're talking another $1000-$2000 (to be split among drivers) per event.
If you're starting out and don't have SFI race suit and helmet, add $500-800, cool suit shirt is $150-250, SFI or FIA rated neck restraint if you don't have it. $300-600 + helmet attachment at $50-100 each.

Cost to build car?
$500 for car
$2000 for roll cage
$500-1000 for fire extinguisher and radio communication,
$300 for cool suit (or homebrew)
$600 and up for racing seat + harness
Few hundred to change all fluids, wheel bearings, other maintenance items

So yea, $3-4k (split among 4-6 drivers) per weekend and $5k to build a car (for the owner with cash burning a hole in the pocket, I guess), and another grand for decent/comfortable personal safety equipment if you're just starting out. If the car survives, the costs go down for subsequent events, hopefully.

But, compare that to a SpecWhatever car: $8-15k to build a car, $800+ per event in fees and expendables (use more expensive tires/pads/etc) to run 2 or 3 20-40 minute races, vs Lemons where you get 3+ hours per driver. Not to mention, you are required to have a race license, which can easily cost a few grand to procure (no license needed for LeMons).

And any pro-am race series? If you have to ask, you can't afford it. (Hint: $40-60k per car, $5-10k weekends at the very bare minimum)

Posted by: narly_charley Jun 26, 2017 - 3:34 PM

Oh trust me, I grew up around motorsports... My dad had the IRS at his door because his priorities were his dirt late model.

Posted by: slavie Jul 5, 2017 - 10:08 PM

Well, she's ready for that roll cage. All interior, sun roof, dash w/ dash wiring out. (ignore driver's door - the whole door is getting replaced) Picking 'er up this weekend.

Got my race suit in the mail the other day. Radios ordered. Still need to decide on and order the seats. And, deciding on my head and neck restraint SRH Flex, NecksGen Rev, or the good old HANS Sport? Any suggestions from experienced racers out there? SRH Flex looks best to me, but some folks have complained that it's uncomfortable to some due to lack of padding. NecksGen has expensive mounting hardware (I need to buy multiple pieces to accommodate multiple drivers) and some argue that it's not "as safe". Good ol' HANS Sport is pretty cheap these days, but does it stand up well to the new generation of competitors?

Posted by: richee3 Jul 5, 2017 - 10:32 PM

You may want to get in tough with Mike (qatar11.) He's the only other 6gc LeMons car I know of.

He's got a few other LeMons posts but those are the ones that catch my attention.

Posted by: slavie Jul 22, 2017 - 9:56 AM

...And the cage is in!

Had Chris Howard up in MA do it. I'm very pleased with the results, would have no issue recommending him to anyone. Easy to work with, quick turnaround, doesn't nickel and dime you over every inch of tubing like some shops I called around.

Transmission torn apart. Didn't find anything obviously wrong with it. Diff backlash is out of spec, about 20 thou vs 6-12 the book calls for. Had a known good spare (from my Camry LSD install), threw it in along with that diff's bearings. Put it all back together already - should fix it.

Time to refresh the engine a bit and stuff it all back in the car this weekend. Wish me luck!

QUOTE (richee3 @ Jul 5, 2017 - 11:32 PM) *
You may want to get in tough with Mike (qatar11.) He's the only other 6gc LeMons car I know of.

He's got a few other LeMons posts but those are the ones that catch my attention.

Yeah, had already reached out to him on Facebook, bounced some ideas around. He forgot his login on 6gc, but still racing his 6gc in LeMons.

Posted by: ClevelandGaint Jul 26, 2017 - 1:37 PM

This is awesome! Been debating on doing this when it comes to Michigan or ohio next year hopefully. Buying little by little helps out alot.

Posted by: slavie Aug 2, 2017 - 6:51 PM

Building a race car in a little over a month is a ridiculous undertaking. Makes me appreciate all the other folks doing big project that much more.

Ordered a ton of crap, a lot of which I put in hours of research into. The seat was a big issue (and still is) - turns out, the seat one picks if far from guaranteed to be in stock. Had my mind set on a specific FIA tagged fiberglass seat - nowhere to be found once time came to ordering. Here's a partial list of crap for the car:
Maintenance: WP and TB kit, all seals, radiator hoses, Accessory belt w/o AC, 170F thermostat, rad cap, camber bolts, brake rebuild kits, Tein springs, air filter, EBC Yellow brake pads.
Yet to order/decide: new rotors, wheel bearings, ball joints, struts

Safety items: roll cage padding (SFI cert for around helmet, reg high density for other areas), fire extinguisher with bracket, seat (ended up going with Aluminum Ultra Racing one), seat sliders, adjustable seat back brace, steering wheel (MOMO, already had NRG quick disconnect)

Radio communications: decided to build my own kit, had to order radio, external antenna & battery delete kit for car, larger antenna and headset for spotter, in-car harness with PTT, driver helmet kits (going with NASCAR style over IMSA).

Cool suit stuff: had my DW make me a shirt, but making my own cooler, so had to decide on and get all the parts for how I wanted to plumb it. Fittings, pump, quick disconnects.

Personal safety: Frontal head restraint, helmet anchors for it for all team members (will share one FHR). Had to get/make sure everyone had valid suits, valid SA helmets, gloves, shoes, SFI socks.

Got some work done on the car, too! Finished the AC delete, patched up the holes from removing evaporator core from inside (keeping rest of HVAC for now to defog windshield if necessary). Welded up the hole in the firewall (all holes must be closed). Bolted in the fire extinguisher. Replaced the dash harness and windshield vent (they're both bolted to the dash, which is not going back in). Cut off random dash brackets. Fixed hood latch (was stuck). Cutout the OEM seat brackets, and banged up the floor pan to move the seat towards the center as much as possible (helmet clearance to roll cage must be 2+ inches). Fabbed up a square tube square which will locate the seat to the floor.

Did TB and WP on the engine, along with all the seals (rear main, front crank, cam, oil pump, oil pump o-ring, VC, spark plug tube seals). All valve clearances are within spec - thank goodness. BUT, and there's always a BUTT, found metal shavings in the oil pan as I was about to stick that on and call engine done. This prompted further investigation. Took off rod caps - sure enough, hardly any bearing left, with the rest corresponding to the shavings in the pan. Took main caps off, a little better but still beyond serviceable.

Placed overnight order for rod and main bearings. RA f-ed it up - shipped day later. Then FedEx f-ed it up. Overnight order that was placed Monday morning is still not here on Wednesday night. F me.
To make matters worse, UPS f-ed up my order for seat sliders - it went from IL to MO, OK, TX, then back to PA and NY. Ok, fine, I said. Get the box - giant hole in the side of it, nothing but packing material in the box. Called the vendor (Pyrotect), and while those guys are nice, they certainly don't understand the concept or "hurry" and "urgency" - After being informed of the issue Monday, I still have not received a tracking number for replacement. also messed up my order, but at least they managed to get it straight on time.

So, I have no engine to go in the car, and no way to mount the race seat. 8 days to race. Moral of the story - 1 month for a racecar build is re-DICK-ulous as you run a good chance of getting screwed over by the vendors. Engine still on engine stand. At least the transmission is back together, and, I'm hoping here, fixed.

LeMons requires OE hood in their rules. Crap. E-mailed them about by ultra laggera VIS racing carbon fiber hood, and fortunately they showed mercy on my poor soul and said "whatever".

Other weird LeMons rules?
- Can't have any coolant, water only. Coolant is slippery when spilled on asphalt. Also, must have a drip pan when fueling. Like, wtf? Cool suit cooler must be secured with TWO ratcheting straps.

Planning to get the brakes serviced tonight, let's see how that goes.

Still need:
Well, engine bearings replaced, engine and all related drivetrain components back in the car
Replace exhaust b-pipe (flex pipe section fell off somewhere on I-95 while towing the shell home from roll cage install)
Wire in electrical cut off (must kill bat and alt) Found a build thread on SC300 where the guy wired the alt into kill switch from the fuse box rather than running wires to alt itself. Genius idea.
Disable steering lock (required)
Add tow hooks
Install springs (if I ever get to it)
Install new wheel bearings (if have time)
Hood pins for CF hood
Wiring for radio (probably going to install regular 12v socket)
Wiring for cool suit - need to have switch so that driver can turn it off
Oil pressure gauge (would be very nice to have)
Front end bolted back together (fenders, bumper, etc)
Camber bolts installed, alignment
All suspension and brake components re-torqued to spec

Did I mention 8 days left?

Posted by: slavie Aug 5, 2017 - 9:19 PM

Very productive day: installed rod bearings and caps (mains were installed last night), buttoned up the bottom of the engine (oil pickup, pump, oil pan), reinstalled TB, set timing, buttoned up TB cover and related, rear main retainer, installed new spark plugs, low temp (170F) thermostat.

Primed the oil pump by spinning it with a drill before installing the TB - it worked! Had to spin it pretty fast for it to suck the vacuum and start pumping oil. Then watched the oil start coming out back - forgot that the flywheel bolts seal the rear holes on the engine. Oops. Other than that, worked great.

Engine off the engine stand. Flywheel and clutch back on, transmission mated to the engine and bolted together.

Fell short of the goal of putting the engine back in the car today. Bummer. I'm exhausted though, so that will have to happen tomorrow morning. Then reconnect all the plumbing and start the engine, find out whether the transaxle is fixed. Have to install the seat tomorrow (finally have the sliders), and tend to the brakes. If I can make it all happen, will go to track on Monday for car shakedown.

Posted by: Bitter Aug 5, 2017 - 10:37 PM

Just put a snowmobile power train in it.

Posted by: djgeo05 Aug 12, 2017 - 2:44 AM


Good Luck with it all! I hope to hear more from this thread as I am auto crossing for the first time in my celi in a week as well. Completely different scale but just as excited.

Posted by: ClevelandGaint Aug 12, 2017 - 7:00 PM

awesome!!! let us know all the weird rules they have

Posted by: SwissFerdi Aug 13, 2017 - 1:00 PM

QUOTE (djgeo05 @ Aug 12, 2017 - 3:44 AM) *
Good Luck with it all! I hope to hear more from this thread as I am auto crossing for the first time in my celi in a week as well. Completely different scale but just as excited.

Where do you live? Central FL is pretty active with AX.

QUOTE (ClevelandGaint @ Aug 12, 2017 - 8:00 PM) *
awesome!!! let us know all the weird rules they have

Autocross is fairly lax as long as you pass a short tech inspection- steering wheel play, brake pedal firmness, tire condition, underhood tidiness, and no loose items (including DS floormat) in the car. Bring or borrow a helmet and go racing. Now if the car is too far from stock it gets more complicated, but someone at the event will always know classification.

Posted by: slavie Aug 14, 2017 - 10:34 AM

Alright, got back home last night. The build ran into a ton of problems, but I'm very proud to say that we did get the car on the track, albeit for only few hours.

Got to the track late Friday night, got up early with a short list of things to finish. But, failed tech - roll cage spreader plates did not meet the spec, as their rules require 24 sq. in. plates (this is necessary when mounting to sheet metal to spread the force). I had the cage professionally built and the builder mounted a smaller spreader plate to the frame rail (much stronger than sheet metal), but LeMons did not want to take that into consideration. This required welding, and took us a few hours to sort.

After that, went to put in rear EBC Yellow pads, could not retract the piston into caliper for the new pads, had to take the calipers apart and hone the bore, clean up the piston. Fortunately I had brought my case of "SSTs" and had the hone and some sand paper scraps.

Got the car on track shortly after 1pm. Our second driver almost immediately got black flagged for going off track. This would not be a big deal if he actually noticed the black flag rather than continuing blowing by repeated black flags for 20min, and additionally spinning the car in that time. The spotter (me at that time) also failed to notice the flag as the black flags are only shown at two of the flag stations, which we didn't know. By the time he pitted, LeMons officials had some pent up anger to unleash upon us and grilled us for about half an hour. Even though a first black flag is usually not a problem at LeMons, blowing said flag for extended period of time is high up on the list of worst offenses, right behind speeding past corner workers and causing a massive wreck. Not attending the Friday rookie meeting because we arrived at 11:30pm did not help our cause.

We lost time at every pit stop/driver change as small things kept creeping up - belts needed to be adjusted for our skinniest driver, we did not have fuel ready and had to wait at the pump, more belt adjustments, fluid top-offs. In the end, all 4 drivers got at least 30 min of track time before the engine blew the head gasket and stalled/seized literally 100 yards after the checkered flag on day 1. Everybody was exhausted from the endless sprint to get the car ready for the track, and there was no energy left to tear into the motor Saturday night. It cooled off and started later in the night, ran with no problems, so we hoped for the best. Of course, the next day on track the car started overheating and lost all coolant within few minutes. We topped it off a few times to get another 10 laps out of it, but by this point it overheated so severely that the spark plug wires melted to the plugs and the distributor cap started melting away from the cylinder head, and we called it in. With about 4 hours to go in the race, we made an attempt to tear the thing apart and throw a new HG on it, but about 2 hr into it, and seeing how much overheating went on, we realized we were not making it back on track that day and threw in the towel.

The main goal of this whole endeavor was to get as much seat time as possible. We walked away with a massive amount of racing experience instead.
The car ran like a champ. Brakes were fantastic, car held a line in the corner despite the blown shocks and all-season tires. Gearbox worked great, and everyone was impressed with the build. Everybody went home unharmed, wiser, and holding memories they'll never forget of their first real race. The car is not wrecked or damaged, and will be back on track in a month or two once I address the engine situation.

Thank you all for tagging along! More to come.

Posted by: richee3 Aug 14, 2017 - 11:29 AM

Sounds like you guys had an awesome time! It sucks that you ran into a few problems but it sounds like the car held up very well considering the abuse of being on a track. And now you know what to expect and how to prepare for the next one!

Posted by: SwissFerdi Aug 16, 2017 - 1:42 PM

Lot of work, commitment, follow-through. Good stuff. thumbsup.gif

Posted by: Tobz Nov 12, 2017 - 6:01 AM

Hello from Australia!

Me and a group of mates also have a 6gc and are in the process of getting it ready for lemons in April 2018!

Any tips and tricks would be awesome. At this stage we are doing

Double thick radiator
Oil cooler
Timing belt, water pump cam seals oil pump seal and crankshaft seals
Fuel filter, oil filter air filter, gearbox oil, diff oil and engine (usual stuff)
Rotors and pads
If money allows we will do springs and shocks

Let me know what issues you guys have so we can try and avoid them smile.gif

Posted by: slavie Nov 13, 2017 - 11:15 AM

QUOTE (Tobz @ Nov 12, 2017 - 7:01 AM) *
Hello from Australia!

Me and a group of mates also have a 6gc and are in the process of getting it ready for lemons in April 2018!

Any tips and tricks would be awesome. At this stage we are doing

Double thick radiator
Oil cooler
Timing belt, water pump cam seals oil pump seal and crankshaft seals
Fuel filter, oil filter air filter, gearbox oil, diff oil and engine (usual stuff)
Rotors and pads
If money allows we will do springs and shocks

Let me know what issues you guys have so we can try and avoid them smile.gif

Sounds like you're doing the same thing I did. I'm assuming you also have the 2.2l 5SFE, so here's what I'll recommend beyond what you have listed:
- These engines are known to blow HGs, Mine did. If you can, replace the HG if you don't know of it being replaced and if the engine is higher mileage.
- Again, I was dealing with a higher mileage engine, so I replaced all the bottom end bearings. They were certainly worn. Because the engine did not spin any bearings, the crank was not damaged and did not need any work.
- If you can't do HG, at least test the cooling system for pressure to make sure there are no leaks. Fill the engine and make sure to burp the system. Best would be to get a vacuum coolant fill setup (under $100 USD)
- Do not do ANY engine performance modifications, NONE, esp if this is your first race. You're not winning any awards on your first race (unless you have a team of experienced fast drivers, which you do not or you would not be asking questions here). They will not increase your chances of winning by any amount (because you have no chance - sorry if I sound harsh, but I've talked to dozens of teams to get their experience, and this is the reality). All you will do is decrease the reliability on an unknown, not proven motor.
- Suspension mods are great - go for it. Good tires never hurt anybody either, but don't go too crazy there. Decent street legal summer tires will do you well.
- Brakes: do get better pads. You'll get faster as the weekend progresses and will cook the brakes on your second day if you have not upgraded to pads that can handle it. I'd say EBC yellowstuff is the minimum, and are pretty cheap as far as track pads go. Extra points if you do anything to help with brake cooling. Don't need to have a complicated setup - even an air deflector that will direct some air towards the rotors will make a difference (porsche style - look it up)
- Friday test and tune (if that's offered in Australia) is great to learn the track, esp if you have drivers who've never been to that track, or a track at all. There's still plenty of passing on a Friday, but there are far fewer cars allowing you to get familiar with the car and the track.

On safety: do have ALL drivers practice getting in and out of the car. Make sure there's enough seat and belt adjustment to cover all drivers. Make sure all drivers know how to strap the harness properly.

Finally, if this is your first race, the best you can hope for is to finish the race with minimal down time. If you do that, you will have won as far as new teams go. Good luck, and have fun out there.

Posted by: Tobz Nov 15, 2017 - 1:36 AM

Cheers Slavie!

Yer defo not doing nay engine mods, was tossing up the head gasket, but will do it now, we have the time to get it done and we do have a very high mileage engine.

Brakes we are looking at a few options but going down the race pad route for sure, not worth skimping on these.

Were looking at some coilovers for the suspension, but unsure if we will bother with bushings or swaybars.

A few of the drivers in the team, including myself, do a lot track days, but adjusting for endurance driving is going to be the challenge!

will also look into doing the bottom end bearings too

Posted by: slavie Nov 16, 2017 - 11:35 AM

No problem.

Another thing that I did not do that is a must: MIRRORS. For next race, I'm going with a convex center mirror (seems like people recommend that over "wink" mirrors), convex side mirror mounted inside the cabin (if you get side swiped and your outside mirrors are gone, you're screwed without these).
I'm also planning to take off the rear hatch completely (during race, bolt it back for transport) to improve rearward visibility, as the cage tubing does get in the way enough for you to wish for more visibility.

Seat was also a pain in the rear, so make sure to get that project going sooner than later. 6gc's are small cars, and you have to fit a driver with a helmet on his head (+2" easily), and have enough clearance around the cage that is covered in impact absorbent material (at least 1" thick per regs). I had to bang the transmission tunnel quite a bit, but there is a stupid strong support beam going under the seat area so I was not able to make as much room there as I would have liked. We did pass tech, but our tallest driver still had issues where he was not able to turn his head to the left without hitting the cage padding.

If you guys have some track day experience, your biggest obstacle will be learning the art of "traffic management". LeMons events, at least in my area, always sell out and the field is packed tight. I mean, imagine 100+ race cars on a 2 mile course, all with various performance levels. Cars stacked 3 deep going into the corner, constant passing everywhere. This being endurance racing, fastest lap is irrelevant; how many laps you clock at the end of the day is what it's all about.

The level of competition is higher than you might imagine, both on track (though you do see plenty of slow rookies) and in terms of car preparation. Sure, everybody talks about the idiots that blew their engine and did a heroic swap on track with a junkyard motor. Yes, that does happen, but only to a handful of teams here and there. Most of the field come prepared and run start to finish. The $500 car idea is total bs that is impossible to adhere to. The organizers know that, which is why you have the bs inspection, but the idea is an irresistible marketing draw. The reality is closer to the ChumpCar rules, where any OEM part replacement modifications are allowed, and only the performance modifications count against you. Such as, head gasket and engine bearings don't count (and nobody asks anyway, as good portion of the field runs with rebuilt motors), but coilovers, non-original turbochargers and/or souped up motors sure do.

Endurance racing is a truly humbling experience where you get out what you put in, and your effort and skill bears a number that is your finishing position. There's no such thing as getting lucky.

Posted by: Tobz Nov 26, 2017 - 6:05 AM

Quick question, what oil are you going to run race day?

Also what odd you running? Struggling to find any for the st204

Posted by: slavie Nov 27, 2017 - 3:17 PM

I ran stock 10W-30. Once I install the oil temp/pressure gauge I might change that based on what I'm getting, but stock oil for now.

QUOTE (Tobz @ Nov 26, 2017 - 7:05 AM) *
Also what odd you running? Struggling to find any for the st204

Not sure what you mean here. What's "odd" in Australia?

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