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AutoX guys...want advise

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:12 pm
by deathbypsi
I did my first auto cross yesterday and loved it. Outa 40 some cars I was second to last tho!

My XR is my daily driver and go to work car so keeping that in mind I am lookin for some easy upgrades to improve the handling without giving up anything in the daily commute.

I know I need some R compounds which will come next year.

As of now I have 15" 10holes with cheap no brand 195/60 and 205/60's on it,Stock sway bars,Powerflex bushings up front,stock springs,brand new Monroe SensaTracs all 4 corners,stock brakes, posi and a motor that wants to go.

No coil overs,cages or hackin the car up. I aint lookin to kick anyones butt there just wanna have my car better prepaired so I can learn to be a better driver.

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:45 pm
by Ray
Dont switch to R-Comps when you're green. Get some good streetable sport tires if anything.

Given what you have, i'd recommend:
rear diff mount, beam bushes, firmer springs

for tires you have a bunch of options. get another set of wheels maybe for your sport tires, when those burn off throw your rcomps on them.
azenis, direzza d1's, rs2 kooks, etc.

as for now, the biggest variable is to work on the nut behind the wheel. find someone who's experienced and have them take your car on a fun run (with you in the passenger seat) to see how they drive the car. most novices are "switches" and too abrupt with their inputs. full throttle, off throttle, full brake, full throttle, etc. too sharp steering inputs, as well.

Basically, they overdrive the car.

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:07 pm
by Grayson
Welcome to the wonderful world of racing Merkurs!

Lumping coilovers in with "cages or hackin the car up" is a bit of stretch. Bear in mind that technically your car already has coilovers on it - they're just not height-adjustable. Installing coilovers requires ZERO mods to the car. The positives of coilovers include height adjustment, wheel and tire clearance, and massively improved spring rate availability. The negative is it costs $58 per corner plus springs to do it.

Now, if you want some upgrade recommendations that will maintain a good daily driver ride while vastly improving your performance, here's what I recommend:

1.) Race tires
2.) Minimum 7" wide wheels
3.) Rear bushing kit (including the diff mount of course)
4.) 200lb/in drop-in front springs with 700lb/in rear springs
5.) Adjustable dampers
6.) Grippier differential

Obviously you'll probably want to do #1 and #2 at the same time. I absolutely, positively disagree with Ray regarding the race tires. Nobody has ever given me a good reason why people should get used to racing on tires that nobody in their right mind would ever use in meaningful competition. If that's sensible then I further recommend that you remove the turbo from your engine. If you don't want to learn what your car is like at 100% handling, don't go out there with 100% power! You might suffer from increased performance! I've seen several people recommend learning on street tires but that has baffled me for years. I had race tires on my car before my second autocross, and it was definitely the correct choice in my case.

Ray is correct about the driver being a big hurdle though. You'll get way, way faster as you continue to attend more events. Definitely pay attention to the lines fast drivers are taking, and do what you can to get a ride in a fast driver's car. Maybe even get a fast driver to drive your car during a fun run while you hold down the passenger seat.

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:16 am
by deathbypsi
demonfire wrote: most novices are "switches" and too abrupt with their inputs. full throttle, off throttle, full brake, full throttle, etc. too sharp steering inputs, as well.

Basically, they overdrive the car.
Were you there watchin me?? Thats how I drove to the T.

I will do one more event on these street tires then I will find some race rubber.

I plan on getting everything for my rear thru MC2{bushings & mount}
And I am collecting parts for the brakes.
I have a Auburn posi in the rear that is very tight still.

My comment on coil overs was based mostly on my precieved cost of them. I have brand new dampeners and really dont want to change them. Springs I was thinkin about the v6 Tempo fronts and leaving the rears alone. Yes? No?

What are some sources for bigger sway bars?

Thank you both for the input!

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:59 am
by Ray

The reasoning for using just sport tires instead of rcomps is to help fix the nut behind the wheel. Slicks eat up a LOT of mistake in smoothness, and you have to be smooth to be fast. Hiding errors doesn't correct them. A smooth driver on slicks will be faster than a switch driver on the same tires.


No i wasn't there watching you but i'm familiar with how first timers and novices drive.

As for hackin' up your struts, do it. do the coilover conversion. trust me, it's fun to take a brand new expensive damper and cut the spring perch off. you dont modify the car or destroy the damper, you just give yourself adjustability.

Have you decided what class you want to run in? Probably going to be SM given what you have said.

Feel free to get yourself a set of slicks, but please drive the rest of this season on your $#!%^& tires to teach yourself how the car reacts and become a smoother driver. Save for wheels and tires over the winter. Hit up eBay for used slicks - you can find people that run a set for one sprint race and sell them cheap cheap with almost full life tires. You can score a set of tires that are $220 each new for like $350 for a SET.

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:12 am
by deathbypsi
I have had a few guys that were there offer me their slicks at the end of the season for me to get started next season.

And by hackin up the car I was meaning stuff like rippin the seats out,welding cages or braces inside.

I did some reading on MC2 site and never realized that I could do a coilover conversion using my struts. Now that I know that I will prolly go with some #200 springs up front with the do it yourself kit and the #700 springs out back.

Will a spring setup like this mean the stock sway bars will work better?

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:50 am
by Grayson
I guess we've had opposite experiences with street and race tires Ray. You mention that slicks cover up mistakes, yet I've found street tires to be more forgiving at the limit than slicks. Thus, I tend to spin out more on slicks than I do on street tires. With street tires you get a lot of howl, and when the car breaks traction the transition from grip to slip is soft. With slicks, the grip limit is obviously much higher, but the transition from grip to slip is pretty much digital, and much harder to catch. A mistake on streets, and you run a little wide. A mistake on slicks, and you're backwards. I dunno. I still stick by the concept that if you're going to learn to drive your car fast, then make the car capable of going fast in the first place. We'll just give conflicting advice :D

deathbypsi - are you looking to maintain the stock ride height? If so, you can simply use the 200lb/in drop-in springs without going to coilovers. If you want to lower your car from stock or use a different spring rate, then you'll need coilovers. I don't know anything about the Tempo springs, particularly in the context of their spring rate or their resulting ride height.

Springs will not make your sway bars work better. However, if you upgrade your springs and observe the handling of your car, it will generally tell you what changes in sway bars are required.

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:53 pm
by Ray
I'd recommend a little firmer than 200lb/in. should be GREAT on the street but pretty soft for autox.

Grayson - yeah, you and i will just give conflicting advise for novices for tires :) slicks dont make much noise @ threshold before breakaway, but up until that point they hide a lot of the hard right left stop go that you need to smooth out.

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:46 pm
by deathbypsi
Well today I ordered a solid beam kit,solid diff mount and 700lb rear springs. I am rippin it apart tomorrow and looks like I will be stickin my old stock open 3.64 diff back in for now.

Once the rear is done and I get it back on the road I will order the 200lb front springs and do them next.

I know its not the best setup for auto-x and goin solid in the rear is against what most people say but I think this is my best route for my car. I am used to old noisey crappy 4x4 trucks as daily drivers so I am sure the XR will be fine for my taste.

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:19 am
by Ray
Yeah, honestly i'm a little surprised you went with solid mounting.

hope it works well for you.

i'd go a little firmer than 200lb/in in the front as well.