Pikes Peak: Spencer Steele’s full run

I will be adding each of the drivers full run’s over the next week, but today we have Spencer’s. He was the fastest in the group of drivers that we had cameras on and I figured it would be nice to get his run up first. Ride along with Spencer as he claims the top rung on the podium in Open Wheel devision and also grabs the 4th fastest on the mountain. Keep your eyes peeled, he’s got a few hairy moments too!

If you haven’t seen already, check out my previous entry with video from all the cars we ran cameras on this year. Video Number one link

You can also see this on My Life @ Speed

The Motorsports Carnival

A bit curiously I purchased some tickets to go try out this Motorsports Carnival. These things are really good in theory, but if you think of any carnival the rides are usually a bit beat up, you can see the wear on them and well there are some parts and pieces that you think should probably be fixed in order to be safe however the novelty seems to get you through. In a motorsports carnival those parts and pieces just make the vehicle no fun to drive or unpredictable or just downright unreliable. So the level of maintenance is kinda important.

I had a primary purpose for going to the carnival, I wanted to drive the F2000 car. Why? Well, I don’t know, I just haven’t driven one before so It seemed like a good plan. I bought some tickets and headed down.


I truly stayed only long enough to drive the car, watch an Indy car run a few laps then go say Hi to a friend Kubo who was working the cobra ride. The F2000 cars were pretty fun, sequential gear box and a nice low fast car. It is definitely different than anything I have driven before. We only got about 8 laps and we weren’t allowed to pass in the corners… unfortunately, but driving one of these cars on a banked corner and feeling the wind pushing your head around at top speed was pretty cool. Speaking of that, it is interesting, driving an open wheel car for the first time, you feel that wind pushing your head around and you realize how much your head is part of the aerodynamics!


I talked to the workers, they said that the top speed on these is about 130 at the current gearing. The car itself has a sequencial 4 speed gearbox in an “H” pattern. No clutch needed after you get going, which is good because getting going was a bit of a chore. It is powered by a 2L ford motor and has a small (maybe 8 inch wide) steering wheel.There were 6 of us on the track at one time and definitely a range of skill levels out there from newb to well, it didn’t get much into the pro ranks lets say. The car was glued, you felt pretty confident at speed. I didn’t feel confident enough to give it full throttle in the corners, but I hit redline in the straight. I bet that someone who knew what they were doing could probably hold that thing flat out through the whole Oval however.

Afterward, I did a quick look around. An Indy car was lapping:

A lotus elise was doing autocross runs, some drifters were doing their thing, Lambo laps, Spyker laps and of course the Cobra “wet course” laps.


I only drove the one car, but I’d say it’s maintenance was pretty good. I believe that these cars are coming from driving schools who are using this opportunity to try to gain some customers. So since each event as a secondary backing this could be a nicely maintained fleet of cars. We will see what happens through the summer however! Anyhow, check it out if you have a chance, plenty more events to come and there is one nice thing to note. Contact them, send them a note and say Hi. They are willing to listen. If you have a reasonable request for an event that you want to see, well let them know!
Here is a link to their website American Dreams Racing

As a side note, I wasn’t allowed to take my GoPro this time, so no video. If I go drive the f2000 again I will take my roll bar mount so we can get some good stuff!

Carbon EVO Dash… Part 1

Well, I always find my way into various projects. It is funny, the more things you say yes too the more that you can learn. So with that in mind I set off to make a new dash for the Kern Racing Pikes Peak EVO.

For those of you not familiar with this car, I have built a few parts for the Kerns already. Last year I worked on their Aero Package and in the last few years the Kerns, piloting this car, have held the record for the Time Attack 4wd class at Pikes Peak. This team is unstoppable with the proper equipment and I am happy to be able to help them with their quest.

This year they are switching to Pikes Peak Open. This allows them a few more options in lightening the vehicle. Weight is a huge advantage in racing. Lotus has a saying “performance through light weigh” this saying just means that you don’t need as much power if you have less to move. So with the new possibilities every option needs to be considered. So Dave has been working on ideas. Remove brackets, replace windows with lexan, remove lights, remove dash…. wait. We can’t remove the dash, we need that to block reflections from the windshield. we need it to hold critical components like the speedometer and switches that we need. So instead it needs to be a composite dash of some sort. Now to give you an idea, the current dash weighs in at 38lbs. That is a lot of weight! Why does it weight that much you ask? Well, glovebox, vent plumbing, plastic bits, tabs, mounting brackets and more stuff that isn’t needed in a race car all add up pretty fast. With a carbon dash, we should be able to get that down to about 2 lbs! 36lbs of weight savings!

So to start I began with the original dash. This is to provide the form of the dash that we will end up with rather than try to duplicate it out of foam. The first steps were to mount this to a board, and begin creating the form of the underside of the dash. This dash will have a slightly different shape than the original in order to minimize material and make it very stiff and light.

Carbon Dash Project

I started shaping the foam and coating it with bondo in order to create a nice solid surface to create the mold from. Any factory dash is going to have texture to it and I needed to eliminate that texture. So coating it with bondo while starting to fill in the holes was pretty crucial. We are eliminating all of the vents on this dash except for the defrost vent. This one we will still need!

Carbon Dash Project

Carbon Dash Project

After the first layers of bondo a lot of sanding goes on, I kept smoothing this thing down so that the dash shape stays the same. I don’t want to lose the form of the dash while slathering it with all this bondo, so I figure work my way up slowly. Once I got to a point that I felt comfortable I started filling in gaps. Vents on the sides were the first stop.

Carbon Dash Project

The vent holes on the front needed to be filled next, so a piece of foam went in and bondo was applied over top. This is a bit complicated because we really want to make sure the shape holds true to the shape that the dash gives us already. The last thing I’d want is for someone to be able to identify where the vents were at one point.


Slowly I built up layers and sanded them back to get the shape correct. Over a few attempts I got this thing pretty close.


I am sure you can see that there are a lot of colors going on now. Primer grey, bondo (grey), glazing putty (white) and the actual dash (black). All these colors start taking away the visual cues of the lines that you are looking for when you are trying to make a part. So the best plan is always to coat it again every once and a while. get a good idea what it looks like in one color and start working hard at the areas that need improvement. I knew that I wasn’t ready to be done, but I really wanted to see where I needed to work the hardest so I did a quick coat of primer. Nice and heavy and this time I did black so it would give a good visual indicator.




I am sure you can see that there are some inconsistencies in this thing. It isn’t perfect by any means and it isn’t perfectly straight or anything. But this is getting very close. I have a bit more sanding to do, I have a bit more bondo to do and hopefully in the next day or two I will be able to finish up this part of the project so I can start waxing it and pulling a mold off this buck. Check back for the next part. If you have any questions, post them up! I’ll try to answer them.



Oh, notice as well, all the seams are filled, all the switch locations are filled and everything is pretty close to smooth. Details are next!

Check out Part 2 of this project here