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Old 12-03-2012, 11:17 PM   #1
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A racecar Noob, a Sube and the Mexican 1000 Rally

Well, here I go again. Or should I say, here my ADHD goes again!

I had an absolute blast building up the Outta Sight Racing 1972 Honda SL350 Baja race bike. If there is one thing I am good at, it is finding the right people and putting them together and then letting the magic happen. In the case of the Honda, the OSR crewmembers were the real heroes, and thanks to all of their efforts, we were able to finish both the 2011 and 2012 Mexican 1000 Rally and won our class both years. And all of this from a bunch of Baja Virgins!

When I got back home from this year’s race, I was already thinking about what to do next year. Although I absolutely love the SL350, I thought it would be fun to build a tribute bike to Bill Bell’s game-changing Bell 440, and race it in 2013. My wife Laura was subjected to hours of my bench-racing...until she had enough and said, “I think I want to go next year.” I said, “chase?” And she said, “No, I want to race it with you.”

That’s how it started. Ray the welder and I had been kicking around the idea of building a Baja bug. See, Ray is a VW guy, and this is something he always wanted to do. However, I thought that I wanted a race platform that might offer a little more comfort for Laura and my first racecar effort. I know, hard core.

I was looking at vintage, in order to stay within the spirit of the Mexican 1000, and came real close to taking on an early 80’s AMC eagle wagon project. But then, I thought I’d rather have something a little more modern. Then I thought; “Rally Car.” Subaru rally car. I had owned at least 4 Subaru’s over years and love them. NORRA had a Rally Car class that no one was insane enough to run. Perfect.

I started researching what car I wanted to use. I seriously looked at vintage subies, but they are horribly slow and, well slow. I then thought about an early 90’s Loyales, because I had one for a decade here in Oregon and it never let me down...and it is still being driven around the roads on the coast, by a stoned hippie probably with no beware of a 1991 gun-metal gray subie near Manzanita...with smokey-haze inside the cabin

Still, I wanted something that would actually have some power. I mean at least over 100 horsepower!

I decided on a 1998 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport. I really hadn’t solidified my concept for the project, but I really like the looks of these cars. It was modern enough and had the bulletproof 2.2 L boxer with the 5-speed manual. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things at this stage, but I knew I did not want your standard rally car; a 2 or 4 door Impreza. I wanted the wagon, because in a 4 day endurance rally, I would need to carry spares...lots of spares.

I sold my 2007 V-Strom to buy this new project, a bittersweet moment as that bike was a lot of fun. However, there is only so much time to do hobbies....speaking of which; anyone interested in a flat-bottomed fishing boat that is sitting in my driveway?

Oh yeah, that’s another thing, I haven’t mentioned. After two years of running the M1K with a proper chase crew, I also wanted to plan on running the 2013 M1K as simply (see cheaply) as possible. That means, being as self-sufficient as possible, just in case there are no chase vehicles.

The Outback Sport ran fine, was nimble and handled great, but it had several oil seal leaks that needed addressing. I decided to turn to Craig’s List to see if I could find a Subaru specific mechanic for some assistance. This proved to be one of the smartest things I did. I do seem to have a knack for attracting the right people at the right time. In then case, I contacted David from Apple Automotive in Vancouver, WA from his CL ad. We emailed back and forth and talked about him doing the work on my motor. I got a good feel from this guy, he seemed honest and forthcoming and was even offering a warranty for his work. I finally wrote him this email:

Hi Dave,
I appreciate your prompt and honest reply.
So, here's the deal: I am in the process of building a very specific racecar - so a warranty is not as important to me as someone understanding what I am doing and what I can do to accomplish it.

I bought a 1998 Subaru Outback Sport with about 196k on the clock. The motor runs great, no strange sounds, no burning oil, no milky oil, new radiator, however it leaks oil like a stuck pig. At first I thought it was the main seal, but I put it on a lift and it appears to be coming from the front, so I'm thinking crank or oil pump seals, etc.

Also, I have no idea when the timing belt has been changed, so I think its wise to just do that, so then maybe we're talking the full kit, which would do the water pump too...right?
Then maybe I should think about the oil pump?? Problem is this is a budget build, but I really need reliability?? Interested in partially sponsoring a racecar??

I am a two-time class winner in the Mexican 1000 on a vintage motorcycle (2011, 2012), but next year I want to do a rally-type car with the wife. I don't need speed; I need dependability. It is a four day race, 1000 miles, in 90-plus degree heat on dusty roads, dry lake beds...etc. I would love to have you just rebuild my motor, and maybe that is the way we should go. Does this rebuild include every thing discussed here, plus all the stuff you described?? When could you get the car in and get started??

Interested in having your name on the car??

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, the tranny might need some love or a replacement as there is a bit of grind at certain speeds going into third - sycro type issue. But this can wait, I want to address the leaks and TB first.

Seriously though, what are your thoughts??

Here's a photo from this year's moto year, the rally class!
- Paul
And here was David’s reply:

Hi Paul,
Let’s do this thing! I haven’t built a race motor since the late ‘90s. The last one was a Datsun 1600 GT4 car. The engine lasted over 3 years (seasons) with no tear-downs, so I can make ‘em reliable. The Subaru is a good engine to start with as the bottom end has 5 main bearings. There are a couple things that can be done to ensure reliability.

I was recently reading an aviation site that builds kit planes with the EJ25 engine. I studied what they do and why to ensure reliability for an engine that is being pushed to produce peak HP for hours at a time. I can give you a killer deal, but I cannot do it for free. I suggest starting with your motor and completely going through it. I can work on the engine alongside regular customers. My problem is space for cars. I work out of my house and have to be careful about the amount of vehicles at any one time. Do you have the ability to pull the engine out and bring it over? You sound like you want to get moving on the project. I know the next 1000 is a year away. Do you want to enter it in some local rallies? I would want you to push the engine hard several times like in eastern Oregon or the Tillamook burn area.

Lets talk some more. David

And with that, it began!

David and I worked out a financial agreement and he pulled the motor and installed a motor he had on his floor so the car could be ridden hard and worked on while he built the race motor.

David reminds me of my friend Luke, in that he is a stickler for details and is some sort of a savant when it comes to certain things. David is an ASE Master Technician and has been working on cars for more than 30 years. He is like the auto doppelganger to my moto-mechanic Gary Strange; At least in practice. They are both weird dudes but for totally different

I loved that David was looking toward the Subaru aviation motors to gain insight into building the most reliable normally aspirated Subaru boxer motor possible. I mean, airplane motors have to be reliable....right? Oh yeah, forgot to mention that the NORRA rules prohibit turbo motors, so that is why we weren’t even considering a turbo power plant. Also, using an older car meant that when we wrecked something, I wouldn’t be into damages in the thousands.

It was during the next few months that I realized that David is an amazing mechanic, who has skillz that thrill. The proof is in the details of the motor build. Which will be soon to follow.

We decided that we needed some parts stock. I bought this wrecked Forester from the local tow yard for just a couple of hundred bucks.

We trailered the car to Ray's shop and tore it down there. Ray hates anything Japanese, loves German anything. David hates working on anything German. It was a match made in heaven! We had a blast!

It was fun watching David work. He set up his work station and had that motor and tranny out in no time. He focuses only on Subaru and he is damn efficient at it.

Ray had no problem tearing into the Japanese car...

This gave David a recently rebuilt motor and a good transmission among other parts to resell which would help to offset his expenses and time for working on the OSR race motor. For me it was just fun to tear the car apart and see how they go together. By the time we were done, it was merely a shell. I took it to the scrap yard and with that and selling a few other parts from it, we made back much more than what I paid for the car in the first place!

This teardown was a good exercise. I did the same thing with the Honda build. I tore down a couple of old bikes, collecting parts and seeing how everything was put together. This helped me get comfortable with the machine and for me is a necessary part of the build process.

For those that don’t know, Subaru’s are often referred to as Lego cars. Many parts fit many models from many years. It reminded me of the old Honda. This is great for the budget builder because you can often find an OEM solution from another car that will improve characteristics of your car. A good example of this with the Sube is simply using strut assemblies from a Forester on an Impreza for instant lift. This will come up later in this story...

Ok. I guess that’s as good a start as any.

Next up: Every project needs a vision.

Spoiler alert: David did come through and its one sweet motor!

oregoncoast screwed with this post 12-04-2012 at 07:38 AM
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:25 AM   #2
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:25 AM   #3
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I love it
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:50 AM   #4
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This is going to be fun.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:21 AM   #5
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:12 AM   #6
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A Quick Trip to Big Sur

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Old 12-04-2012, 09:30 AM   #7
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This looks like a good one!
I adventure-tour on my GSXR. 160 mph is adventurous, no?
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:34 AM   #8
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:11 PM   #9
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144 days.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:06 PM   #10
LC Garage
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Originally Posted by Luke View Post
144 days.
144 days = 20 weekends
What would John Penton do?
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:25 PM   #11
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Shit,... now I gotta build a rallye car.

Just kidding. If you need any help this year just look for the suburban. I also know a guy that is pretty good with car suspension if you need it.

I will get you our radio freq just in case.

An Elefant never forgets.

azcagiva screwed with this post 12-04-2012 at 04:41 PM
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by azcagiva View Post
Shit,... now I gotta build a rallye car.

Just kidding. If you need any help this year just look for the suburban. I also know a guy that is pretty good with car suspension if you need it.

I will get you our radio freq just in case.

A SUBurban chase rig for a SUBe Rally Car? A Tale of Two Fraternal Twins??
What would John Penton do?
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:20 PM   #13
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This should be good, good luck and subscribed!
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Boondoggle View Post
Watching Dakar is like watching people who've built their own world, and for just a couple of weeks they get to live in it.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:37 PM   #15
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Being a fellow Subie owner, I'm in!
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Not all who wander are lost!
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