Archive for June, 2009

FIESTA TAKES ON ESPN’S X GAMES

I am so glad to see the Fiesta showing up at more and more motorsport events. Stuff like this is why I bought my first Focus, and why I want a Fiesta. Competition breeds the very best.

 

Copy of Press Release

 

FIESTA TAKES ON ESPN’S X GAMES
6/30/2009
Dearborn, Mich. – The new Fiesta Rallycross cars have already created plenty of buzz in the enthusiast community with word of their North American motorsport debut in July’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

Now, the anticipation will be even greater as the Swedish Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution team has announced it will compete in ESPN’s X Games 15 in Los Angeles, Calif., July 30 – Aug. 2. Olsbergs MSE is entering the race with the famous Swedish driver Kenny Brack. The team will also field Ford Fiestas with Rockstar Energy Drink for drivers Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan. All three Fiestas will comply with Rally America Open Class specifications.

Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution will utilize BFGoodrich Tires at both the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and at ESPN’s X Games 15.

“The new Fiesta is already creating headlines around the world,” said Brian Wolfe, director of Ford North America Motorsport. “The announcement that it would compete at Pikes Peak was greeted so positively by enthusiasts everywhere. Now, to back it up with competition at the X Games will just create even more buzz for the car.”

The X Games, considered the premier action sports event in the world, features athletes from across the globe competing in a variety of sports, ranging from skateboarding, motocross, BMX and rally car racing. X Games 15 will be covered live on ESPN’s family of networks, including ABC, as well as across ESPN’s many digital media assets, including Xgames.com and ESPN360.com.

The three Fiestas will be driven by an all-star lineup, which includes an Indy 500 winner, a former X Games rally champion and a 10-time X Games medalist.

The 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack, who will drive the 2009 Fiesta 3-door hatchback, is making his X Games debut. Brack was the ’98 IndyCar Series champion and was a factory driver for Ford Racing’s Champ Car entry Rahal Letterman Racing. Brack sustained significant injures in a major accident at Texas Motor Speedway in ’03 while driving for RLR, but he returned to the car at the Indy 500 in ’05, subbing for the injured Buddy Rice and posting the fastest qualifying speed (227.598 mph) of the field. Brack has been retired since ’06, pursuing his music career, but still drives competitively in special events. Olsbergs and Kenny Brack have had a long-term partnership and at present Kenny and Olsbergs are acting as mentors for a new promising Swedish racing star, 17-year old Markus Eriksson.

Rockstar Energy Rally driver Tanner Foust will drive a race-prepared ’09 Fiesta 5-door hatchback. He is a winning competitor in rally, drift, ice racing and time attack with a proven track record of multiple podium placements and national championships. Foust has seen success in Drift and Rally in the last few seasons. In addition to winning the both the ’07 and ’08 Formula Drift Pro Drift Championship, he also took the Silver medal as runner-up in the 2008 Summer X Games Pro Rally race.

Foust won the ’07 X Games Gold Medal in the Pro Rally for the Rockstar Energy Rally team. He was selected to represent Team USA in the annual Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium in London, UK this past December. He teamed with Ford Racing NASCAR star Carl Edwards to do battle with the world’s fastest drivers and riders from Formula One, World Rally Championship, Superbike and Touring Car racing.

Joining Foust will be Moto X star Brian Deegan, a 10-time medalist at the X Games, including three gold medals for Moto X Best Trick (’02, ’03, ’05). Earlier this year, Deegan launched a Pro-Lite class off road truck team in Championship Off-Road Racing under a newly formed Rockstar/Metal Mulisha/Caffaro Motorsports banner. Named one of the Top 100 Action Sports Stars by ESPN in ’04, Deegan has competed at every X Games rally event and will drive a ’08 Fiesta 3-door hatchback.

This will be the first time a Ford race car has been part of the X Games’ Rally competition.

“We are very excited to see the Fiesta competing not only at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, but also at the X Games in LA,” said Jost Capito, director of Ford Global Motorsport Business Development. “The competition will be extremely strong in both events, but we’ve put together a strong team with the Rockstar/BF Goodrich Tires Fiestas and our all star drivers. The Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution race team is doing an outstanding job in preparing the cars for both of these world famous events.”

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Seat Adjustment Knob vs Lever

             Lately, it seems there have been a number of people saying they want the Fiesta’s seat adjustment to be done by a lever instead of a knob. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why? Does anyone know why you would want a lever for the back rest instead of a knob? For my experience, I can dial in the exact amount of back rest tilt to provide to optimum seat position. According to many performance driving books, you should be able to sit back in the seat, extend your arm to the top of the steering wheel and rest your wrist on the top without stretching. Using that technique, I have found that the lever style seat adjustment rarely ever has the notches in the ratchet mechanism to allow my wrist to be in the right spot. The knob on the other hand can be used to make minute adjustments to achieve the perfect posture. I have also noticed that the Recaro seat in my SVT Focus and Mustang use a knob for seat adjustment. Looking at Sparco, Momo, Corbeau, and Cobra seats, they all use the knob. To my knowledge, no performance seat comes with a lever. For a pure driver’s car, the lever belongs in the trash. Precise adjustments are the key to driver’s comfort. I would be happy if the old crank from the first gen Focus came back for the height adjustment!

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Autocross weekend!

            This Sunday, July 5th, Racetech will be running the Ford Fiesta and Ford Mustang in the annual Grand Valley State University autocross. The Mustang will be running the CP class with other high powered V8’s, and the Fiesta will be running in HS for lower powered four cylinder cars. If you are around the area, please stop by and watch the Fiesta and Mustang dodge cones! Competition starts around 11:00am and goes until 3:00pm.

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What is autocrossing?

            I have had a few people ask me what autocrossing is, so I thought I would give a quick explanation. Autocrossing is a timed event in which a car travels thru a course lined with orange pylons. The cars are split up based upon their performance so the playing field is level. Fast reaction time, grippy tires, and smooth controls will always yield the fastest lap times. Each driver will have 4 attempts to go for the fastest time. Time penalties are awarded for hitting or moving cones, so control is key to doing well. Autocrossing is one of the safest forms of motorsports since it is held in a parking lot and only one car is on course. There is no wheel to wheel competition, just one driver, one car, and a clock. A typical course can have 15-30 turns and last around a minute. The tighter the course, the better the Fiesta will do, and the more open courses tend to favor the Mustang. You never know what the course will be like until you walk the course prior to driving on it.

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Autocross Prep

            With the first autocross of the season for the team coming up this weekend, here is the types of things we do to get ready.

            Fiesta:

  • 1) Check all lug nuts to make sure they are in spec. They will be checked after each run due to the high amounts of stress they will encounter on track. We have never had one fail or come loose, but double checking is always good
  • 2) Clean all the window’s to keep glare from distracting the driver.
  • 3) Decide to run on either a full tank or empty tank. A full tank is heavy, but helps move the cg back in the car. An empty tank is light, but produces a more nose heavy car. Half tank is the worst since the motion of the fuel around corners could cause the car to oversteer due to its inertia.
  • 4) Add magnetic number plates to the doors for driver and class identification.
  • 5) Check tire temps with a pyrometer after each run to see if a tire pressure adjustment needs to be made.

Mustang:

  • 1) Items 1-5 for the Fiesta are same for the Mustang except;
  • 2) Once at the track, the street tires are replaced with Hoosier R6 race tires.
  • 3) Pressures are adjusted cold based on data from last season.
  • 4) Sponsor magnet decals are added
  • 5) All fluids are checked to ensure they are at the proper level
  • 6) The car goes to tech inspection to make sure nothing is unsafe.
  • 7) Safety harnesses are checked for frays or tears.

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Ford at SEMA

 By Bryan Redeker

 

            News surfaced a few weeks ago that Ford will be the featured company at this year’s SEMA show. Quickly, my thoughts would tell me that the Fiesta may be getting its aftermarket debut before it is for sale. The Focus ZX3 was at SEMA prior to its release, and the pictures coming from the show in 1999 made me order my Focus before even seeing on in person. Actually, it was the Wings West Focus ZX3 that was shown in magazines in October that lead me to order my ZX3 at the end of the month. The car later showed up at SEMA, along with many more modified hatchbacks. Could the Fiesta be there this year? If so, who is working on them? I am hoping FSWerks has one at their shop and have started making parts. I use a number of their parts on my SVT Focus, and everything they make is top notch! Having a decent number of modified Fiesta’s at SEMA would gain magazine exposure thru the winter, when the Movement has ended, but the car is not out yet. Keeping people excited about the Fiesta from December to May is going to be hard, but a number of SEMA Fiesta’s would be on the right path. The next question is, if the Fiesta is going to be at SEMA, how do I get there? Hmmm, I need to work on this.

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Prelude to an Autocross

By Bryan Redeker

            This Sunday will be Racetech’s first autocross of the year. The event will be at GVSU, which is where one year ago, the Mustang suffered suspension failure and came home on a flatbed. This year should go better with a complete new front and rear suspension, very sticky tires, and improved suspension geometry. Brandon and I will also be running the Fiesta in HS.

            Since the Mustang has completely new suspension geometry and tires, all of the tire pressure data from the past few years gets thrown out. We don’t have any data on the Fiesta either for tire pressures. Brandon and I will be going into this autocross blind, with no real idea how to set up the pressures on either car. Our assumptions are a low pressure on the back of the Mustang for grip off the line, but also lower front pressures than we have been used to in order to try and reduce potential understeer due to the higher front spring rate than is recommended. For the Fiesta, I am thinking about a very high rear tire pressure to decrease rear traction and promote rotation. The Mustang rotates with the touch of the throttle, while the Fiesta will need some left foot braking and high rear pressures. Going to look at the data from my ZX3 and see if that points me into a direction to start. I think I used to run 38 psi front and up to 42-44 psi in the rear. I also put the Koni’s on full stiff and a massive rear sway bar. There are none of those adjustments on the Fiesta, just tire pressure.

            We do have a magical instrument that will help guide us to setting up the Mustang and Fiesta on course. I have a Longacre pyrometer that we can check the tire temps at the outer edges and center. That data will tell us either to decrease or increase pressure based the temperature spread between three points on the tire. Since we don’t have a compressor at the track, we will go high and bleed down from there. I am expecting the Fiesta will draw a large crowd around it when it shows up on Sunday. When you are trying to prep two cars for competition, trying to walk and learn the course, and find time to relax, having a crowd makes things hard. The group that will see the car in action this Sunday are the hardcore weekend warriors, and making a good impression in front of them is important. I am hoping that a few of them will make a change to the Fiesta next year after seeing it on course this weekend.

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Trip to Stonehenge

By Bryan Redeker

 

            On Saturday, Sara and I took the Fiesta into Spring Lake to find the Stonehenge replica to snap some pictures. As luck would have it, the road leading to the massive structure was full of turns and elevation changes. The road follows close the Grand River before turning towards the north. The further we got away from the city, the more fun the road became. Once again, I am surprised how well composed the Fiesta is on twisty roads. There is very little body roll, no complaining from the tires, and the steering response is as good as my Mustang track car. Even on a very warm and humid day, the 1.6L DOHC engine was very responsive and had minimal trouble climbing the hills with the AC turned on. There were only a few occasions that I could have used an extra 50hp, which was when I was going up a steep hill in forth gear. Downshifting into third would have taken me to around 5k, so leaving it in 4th was the only real option. Forth gear is where I think the car needs more power. Trying to make a pass on a rural back road usually requires a downshift into 4th to pass, and the Fiesta needs a little bit more power to make that happen in a quicker fashion. Besides that, the Fiesta reacts well to the elevation changes and numerous different types of turns that were placed on the road ahead of us. Long sweepers, decreasing radius sweepers, and esses is really where the Fiesta shows off its European bred suspension. After we finished taking the pictures, I could not wait to jump back on the twisty road to head to our next destination. I have a feeling the Fiesta couldn’t wait either!

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Post Mission 2 Review Part 1 of 5

By Bryan Redeker

            Pulling into the parking lot at Ford Research and Innovation Center, my jaw dropped at all of the European Ford’s parked everywhere. It was hard to find a parking spot because I kept looking around at all of the neat stuff. European Focuses, Mondeo’s, and even some Australian Falcons. For a Ford fan, this place is like heaven. There was also a good number of Fiesta’s running around the area in all sorts of colors. I had no idea at the time, that what I was seeing was just a tip of the iceberg compared to what the rest of the day had in store. Brandon and I met up with Kristen, and headed towards the RIC building to meet the VIRTTEX simulator team.

            Walking through the main doors of the RIC, I notice the large number of flags hanging from the ceiling. I learned that each flag represents the nationality of the employees at that building which is a nice reminder that Ford is a global company. Brandon and I are greeted by the VIRTTEX simulation team, and get our first look at the control room. Computer screens, TV monitors, computers, panels full of switches, and massive glass panes that separate the control room from the simulator. Outside the control room sits a giant carbon fibre bubble that is elevated by large hydraulic cylinders. Imagine the creatures from the remake of “War of the Worlds” except paint them white, and you get the idea of it looks like. We get a technical run-down on exactly what the simulator consists of.

VIRTTEX stands for Virtual Test Track Experiment, which is a full motion simulator that provides a safe environment to test a driver’s reaction to events. The carbon fibre bubble has a full size Taurus-X placed on stanchions, and screens that cover all 360′ of the inside. There are 5 projectors that show the views around the car, including one in the back seat for the rear view mirror. Once sitting in the simulator, you forget that you are not outside on public roads. A 400hp motor powers the hydraulic cylinders that move the simulator 12 feet front, back, and side to side. The cylinders also rotate the simulator up to .6 lateral g’s of acceleration. Pitch and dive are also very realistic, so when you accelerate, the car’s nose lifts, and then does the opposite under braking. For safety, there is an accelerometer that measures the maximum amount of g-force being generated under emergency maneuvers. Exceed the g-force, and well, you will need to watch the mission video.

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Post Mission 2 Review Part 2 of 5

By Bryan Redeker

 

I am up first to try the simulator, while Brandon stayed in the control room to watch my progress. I got into the Taurus-X, buckled my seat belt, and waited for the instructions to start. Sitting in the car, the only thing that is different is the gauge cluster, which is digital instead of analog. Otherwise, this thing is real. The screen lights up, and I am sitting on the highway next to some fields. I put the car into drive and start to accelerate up to 70mph. I mash the gas, and the simulator pitches up and vibrates just as it would if I was really driving. Once at speed, I test out the lane detection systems. I drift to the left, and an audible beep is heard to let me know I am drifting. This is the system from the Volvo line-up, and it works very well. I drift again, and this time it is not a noise, but a vibration to alert me. There were a number of different things I tried out to see my reactions to them.

Next task was to read a set of numbers near the console. First attempt I got 5 out of 6, next attempt I got all 6. More driving follows and I practice switching lanes, which moves the simulator a full lane width over. You really get a great sense of driving from this simulator. I get to do another task that distracts me from the road, and I find a semi-truck has cut me off. Do I slam on the brakes to avoid crashing? Do I dump the car into the ditch and miss the truck? Nope, I do the typical Bryan thing which is to check my mirror, turn the wheel, and hit the gas to drive around the obstacle. My brain calculated there was not enough room to stop, and the ditch would suck. I picked the best route to safety. My next move wasn’t so safe, but lots of fun. I made an attempt to do a 4 wheel drift down the highway at 80mph. The end result was a lot of laughing and a loud crash. Oops, I figured I could recover the spin, but I exceeded the allowable g-force and the simulator shut down.

Brandon jumped in the simulator next, and tried out the lane departure warning systems. We both had about the same thoughts on which ones were are favorite, and which we did not like. Brandon decided not to crash the simulator as I did, which I guess was a good idea. Instead of the number reading while driving, he used Ford’s Sync system. Since Brandon knew what was going to happen with the semi-truck, they turned the motion off on him without warning to see his reactions. It was strange that you feel more motion sick with the motion turned off than with it on. Neither of got sick, but driving with no motion was very odd feeling. After he was done driving, we got a chance to see the simulator’s mechanics up close. Everything is top notch, and the quality of the machining would make any engineer drool.

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