Track Test Prep - Project G.R.E.E.N. Heading To The Track
We Prepare To Test The Project G.R.E.E.N. Engine Combos At New Smryna Speedway
From the December, 2010 issue of Circle Track
By Bob Bolles
Photography by Bob Bolles, Jim Jones
The hauler of Dalton Zehr...
The hauler of Dalton Zehr Racing arrives at New Smryna Speedway in Florida to begin the track testing phase of Project G.R.E.E.N. This was a test of different fuel-delivery systems, different fuels, and even emissions-reducing catalytic converters. What we discover and report may well be the future of stock car racing.
The second phase of testing for Project G.R.E.E.N. has arrived. You'll remember back in the May issue of Circle Track we hauled our GM Performance Parts CT525 down to Mast Motorsports in Nagadoches, Texas, for three solid days of dyno testing. While there, we tested carbureted and fuel-injected configurations of the motor both with and without catalytic converters. We also swapped back and forth between 100-octane race gas and E85. The test results were published in that May issue with a more deeper study on the results conducted in the September issue.
In order to validate our dyno session, we planned on testing the same configurations on the track. The technical report on our findings will be published next month, in the January issue. However, we wanted to show you just how much work went into this test and how we got those results. It's a very interesting story.
Our group of technical experts who participated in the dyno session agreed to come down to Florida and lend their support to an on-track test session at New Smyrna Speedway. As to the car, Marty and Dalton Zehr were kind enough to lend us one of their chassis, the tranny and rearend, and so on, so we could install the engine, dual fuel tanks, and all of the other related hardware and software needed to complete our testing.
The idea is to back up our dyno tests with real on-track laps run at racing speeds, or as close to that as possible. I can tell you that Dalton was as consistent as a driver could possibly be and clicked off laps within several thousandths of each other; more than enough consistency to provide usable data. And, as is always the case, Marty and team member Mark Jones jumped in with all four limbs and worked hard for days on end preparing this car.
The key technical players attending the test were Forrest Jehlik and Danny Bocci, both from Argonne National Laboratories; Dave Kalen, representing Sensors, Inc.; and Horace Mast, owner of Mast Motorsports. Rob Fisher provided support while I worked alongside Marty and his gang at the shop prior to the arrival of our tech staff.
We began our build with the...
We began our build with the engine. Here, Mark installs the Jones Racing Products kit designed especially for the CT525 motor. It includes everything you need from the water pump, to the alternator, to power steering. Next, we installed our clutch pack from Quarter Master. On went the bell housing and tranny and we were ready to install the engine in the chassis.
I can say, honestly, that this "build" was extremely difficult due to the fact that we had to fit the engine with the two induction systems along with all of the test equipment, the wiring harness for the computerized ignition and fuel injection controls, and mount the SEMTECH-DS analyzer into the car. We installed two separate fuel tanks to hold the racing gas and the E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas), all provided by VP Racing fuels. Our fuel line was drained between the runs with each configuration and the fuel pressure had to be adjusted from carb to fuel-injection, or from around 6-8 psi to 60 psi.
All in all, things got done, the crew all came together well, working to complete the assembly on Monday. We made it to the track on Tuesday morning, July 13, for what was to be a very lucky day. Just one rain delay on Wednesday and we were able to complete our testing on Thursday afternoon. Now the team will run the data, compare results and make a full report. The following is a pictorial report on the construction of this great-looking Camaro-bodied car that might just help shape the future of circle track racing.
We weren't quite sure how...
We weren't quite sure how the engine would fit fore and aft, but once we had it positioned over the chassis engine mount tabs, we made a quick measurement and found that the driveshaft distance matched the length used for the crate motor that had run in this car. The height was adjusted to a 2-degree angle, rear down, so that the oil pan just cleared the ground should the bottom of the car come in contact with the track surface. For our pinion angle, we rotated the pinion up to a 2-degree angle to match the transmission output shaft angle. A slight difference in height between the ends of the driveshaft provided plenty of angle differential at the U-joints. The mounts were tightened and we were now ready to move on to the next phase of installing our Schoenfeld headers.
The header design for this...
The header design for this Pathfinder front stub caused a conflict with the connection of the plug wires and with the individual coils over each cylinder on the CT525. So, we had to fabricate a new mount for the coils up and away from the headers. In addition, we had to have new, longer wires made by Phillips Racing Wires. The new position also provided separation from the heat of the headers. Mark did a fabulous job of fabricating these new mounts. With the headers in place and the plug wiring straightened out, we now had to install the stock wiring harness that would connect all of the systems, sensors, and computers needed for our test. This was not an easy task either and Mark had to cut a large hole in the dash to allow the large plug-ins to be threaded inside of the cockpit. Mast provided a wiring plan and it was simple and to the point. We easily found each plug and wire we would need and made our connections. This process was made simpler by the fact that each plug was different than the others.
Mark carefully welded on the...
Mark carefully welded on the six bungs that were needed to place two thermocouples, two air inlets, and two O2 sensors into the exhaust stream at predetermined locations. We needed to monitor the oxygen content of the exhaust at a point before and after our air injection ports. Air needed to be pumped into the exhaust so that the catalytic converters will have enough oxygen to burn properly and help reduce harmful emissions. In dyno testing, we were able to see a significant reduction of those harmful emissions using racing catalytic converters. We hope that we will see similar results once all of the data has been reviewed. One of the most meaningful results of that dyno testing was to find a very small drop in hp using the cats. So, racers don't have to worry that running cats will hurt their performance. The use of E85 fuel recorded a significant gain in hp and torque and the power curve was improved on the low end when we switched to the FI system on the dyno. A combo of E85 and FI results in more power.
What Does All Of This Mean?
After we installed the motor,...
After we installed the motor, we tried putting the fuel injection manifold on, only to find that the water outlet on top of the pump hit the throttle body. So, Marty, being the "git-er-done" type of person he is, cut the snout off the pump and welded on a standard snout that ran to the side instead of up to clear the FI unit. That worked out great and solved a potentially serious problem. We ran into several other issues that required evaluation and solution, such as cooling of the SEMTECH emissions testing box by running an air hose inside the cockpit to the fan at the back of the unit. As an additional note, the emissions test box weighed about 100 pounds and was mounted high in the car raising the center of gravity a considerable amount. When we removed it for our last outing of the test, Dalton remarked that he could feel the difference going down pit road, it was that influential to the setup.
As an overview, what we are trying to do is some pre-planning for the future. No one knows exactly what the future of circle track racing will be, but we can imagine. If I were to guess, based on past experience, the evolution of racing will follow the car manufacturers' leads. That is, the racing will need to be based on engines and fuel systems that are produced for passenger cars and those that will be readily available.
This fits perfectly with our stock classes. But more than that, we can look forward to Late Model racing becoming more simplistic if we use the FI systems, and more than that, we could be the leaders in implementing green technology while enjoying more power and less noxious emissions. The cost can be as reasonable as the current crate systems once the volume of sales is up and cost is a factor in the economy of today. The Street Stock car of tomorrow will necessarily need to be of the more current designs, meaning FI.
The idea of running FI is not new and was done before. But the use of alternative fuels like the E85 we ran plus using racing cats all add up to a leap forward for short track racing. It's a win-win situation. Now let's see who will step up to the plate and take the lead.
To save time, we installed...
To save time, we installed two separate 8-gallon fuel tanks from ATL, one filled with racing gasoline and the other with E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol-or corn liquor for you hill folks-and 15 percent gas. The E85 tank had to be fitted with special foam that would not deteriorate from exposure to the alcohol. This is very important to consider if you try to run that type of fuel. We switched fuel lines from one to the other when switching between fuels and then flushed the line before running the engine. The carburetor needs to be built to withstand the corrosive effects of alcohol too. When using the fuel-injection system, we could conceivably switch the fuel lines from gas to E85, not drain the fuel lines, start the engine and when the E85 got to the injectors and was pumped into the engine, the computer would immediately alter the fuel flow to the correct amount and the engine wouldn't even stumble. Try that with a carb.
When switching between carburetor...
When switching between carburetor and fuel injection, we had to adjust the fuel pressure from 6-8 psi for the carbs to 60 psi for the FI system. We carefully monitored the pressure gauge installed in the fuel pressure regulator. This is the Fore Precision Works regulator designed for EFI systems, truly a well-built and impressive piece.
The SEMTECH-DS Mobile Emissions...
The SEMTECH-DS Mobile Emissions Analyzer is all strapped in and all of the other wiring has been connected and tested. This unit requires the use of a deep cycle battery to power it. We chose the Optima Yellow Top which performed like a champ. We had to place the testing equipment in the passenger seat area because that was the only space available that size. We had to remove the door to get it through the window, but that allowed us to work on the exhaust and run the various wires too. Fortunately, the cushioned base of the unit fit perfectly onto two of the rollcage bars beside Dalton. We just had to use hose clamps to strap it to the tubing. Then we ran two ratchet straps around the front to back sides and one side to side. We placed rubber tool box matting between the unit and the base to further cushion it and to prevent it from sliding. It worked as planned and we saw only slight movement during our runs throughout the test.
Here is an end view of Random...
Here is an end view of Random Technologies' racing catalytic converters. We have two densities, one that is 100 cells per square inch (right) and one that has 300 cells per square inch. If the 100 count cat can do the job, it would be preferable because it allows more flow over the 300 count cat. These units run red hot and easily combust the unspent fuel. Research is ongoing to develop racing cats that can withstand the rigors of short track racing. Street performance cars don't run upwards of 7,000 rpm like many race cars. We feel that with the use of fuel-injection and computer monitoring of the air/fuel ratio at all rpm levels, the cats would survive much better in that environment than with carburetors with their low rpm fuel rich tendencies.
Prior to heading to the track,...
Prior to heading to the track, Horace adjusts the engine's computer using his laptop. Once we had the tune we needed, the car ran like a champ. The very first time we hit the starter, it fired up. From then on it was just a matter of refinement. With a race system like we envision, the computer adjusts for everything: fuel density, air density, temperature, and more. There would be no more carb adjusting or flames out of the exhaust using fuel-injection.
The car sits on pit road with...
The car sits on pit road with the FI system installed and ready to go. One of the advantages of going to FI and computerized engine management is simplicity. Like we saw in the dyno test, we expected this motor configuration to deliver better performance thanks to its better torque curve and its ability to automatically maintain the proper air/feul ratio no matter what the conditions. There will come a day soon when all that will be available are stock FI engines. And we don't need to fear those times, we should instead look forward to that as a way to increase our performance while making our racing lives easier.
During our dyno test we learned...
During our dyno test we learned that there was not enough oxygen flowing into and through the motor to efficiently reduce NOx emissions. Although total hydrocarbon emissions were significantly reduced with the addition of cats, they need air to burn off NOx. Our solution for the on track test was this stock Camaro air pump. It was installed to pump air into the two exhaust pipes before the cats so that there would be enough oxygen to burn the unspent NOx. There was a check valve for each bank to ensure that there was no backflow going on. The team was concerned that, under high rpm, the pump wouldn't be able to produce enough pressure to be effective since on a production car, it's only designed to work at low rpm. The data currently being analyzed will tell the true story.
This is the exhaust flow meter,...
This is the exhaust flow meter, which contains several of the sensors the SEMTECH unit uses to analyze the emissions. When building the exhaust system for this car we placed the O2 sensors and the cats along a section of exhaust pipe that fit between the ends of the headers and a "Y" pipe. Y pipes are becoming more common in southeastern Asphalt Late Model competition, so the exhaust configuration was fairly typical of what we'd see at a local Saturday night. We started out with two sections of plain 31/2-inch pipe coming off the headers, then placed two more dummy pipes cut the same length as the catalytic converters and then into the Y pipe. From there, we ran flexible stainless steel tubing back and outside the frame to the flow meter that contained sensors which were hard wired back to the SEMTECH-DS unit. The design goal of the cats is to heat up to a sufficient temperature to ignite any unburned fuel and along with that any harmful emissions that may be present in the exhaust gases.
Dalton Zehr climbs behind...
Dalton Zehr climbs behind the wheel of the Project G.R.E.E.N. Late Model to begin logging the first of what would be numerous laps around New Smyrna's half-mile oval. The technical results of the test, which will be published in next month's Circle Track, were eye opening, to say the least.