Carolina Exotic Car Club

A couple of week  ago we had a special invitation to get the inside peek at a very special car club, the Carolina Exotic Car Club.  Tucked away in a corner of Raleigh, north of the airport, is a unique club where owners of exotic cars can store their special vehicles, have them maintained, detailed, as well as enjoy private events with members and their guests in a friendly and cozy atmosphere.

While we enjoyed the food and spirits we were able to explore the climate controlled areas where members vehicles are kept.  Here are a few photographs of some, just some, of the kind of cars that will be of interest to readers of Jim’s Garage.






We appreciated the chance to explore these automotive enthusiasts beautiful rides as well as meet and converse with them on the common language of cars.



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Crass Self-promotion

I love track days, and road race course driving opportunities, sometimes known as HPDE (high performance driving experience) weekends.  I’ve participated in them actively for over a decade, and while I don’t do so much now, I would encourage all those interested in trying it out for themselves.

So much so, that I’ve written a guide for people that want to try it out.  It is called: HPDE How To Guide – How to get the most out of your track day experience.  This book is now available through in both paperback and Kindle versions.

If you are inspired to pick up a copy, please don’t hesitate to give it a review.  Remember, this is for people who are starting out and will, hopefully, help them to get the most out of the experience!

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Tar Heel Sports Car Club Tech Inspection Day

Yes, its winter, but the track day blood is flowing as one of North Carolina’s premiere sports car clubs is holding their inspection day for members that want to have their ride checked out and approved for upcoming track days.

They are called track days and HPDE (high performance driving education) weekends.  They are not racing events, but they offer a car owner a chance to see what they can do to improve their own driving skills in an environment that is far safer than public roads.  These events are run at many of the road racing tracks around the country and North Carolina has several great tracks within a two or three hours drive.  Consequently, track days have become a very popular with the membership of THSCC.

Since these events take place in a high speed environment it is critical that the vehicles are thoroughly inspected for safety and compliance with track day standards.  These inspections take place in garages that donate their space and facilities for the club members to use.


The THSCC folks spent a Saturday at Automotive Performance & Chassis looking over cars from eight in the morning until the mid-afternoon.




Everything is checked, from tires to suspension components.  From seatbelts to brakes.  They are looking for any potential problem areas that would jeopardize the safety of the participants.



When all is deemed correct the car receives its sticker.


Even the helmets must meet the club’s standards.


Check your own local sports car clubs for any track day events in your area.  They are a singular opportunity to learn your personal limits and with some instruction, increase your skills.  These skills are certainly transferable to the environment of public roads.  Not to try your hand at racing on the street, but to ensure that you are improving your ability to manage your vehicle in a constantly changing jungle of traffic.

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Our Day at PRI 2018

Yes, there has been a couple of days gap between this and the last post on PRI 2018.   Let’s just blame it on the weather and flight delays, shall we?

Some of the categories of displays are telling in terms of the industry focus these days.  Dynamometers, and in particular, chassis dynos have been in the tuning world for quite some time.  They are essential parts of the modern tuning process which includes ECU mapping and fuel injection technology.

There were quite a few dyno displays at PRI including some well known names as well as some newer ones:








There were several companies that focus on ECU tuning such as ECU Tek.



Today’s cars have thirty to forty computers, or more determining how to manage all the systems that contribute to our driving experience and key to all this are the multiple sensors that provide the information that feed the decisions programmed into these computers.



Fuel injection is a huge part of being able to extract maximum horsepower and still maintain drivability be it a street car or a track car.


Holley, once known for its carburetors, has their focus on fuel injection and ECU tuning.

Fuel injector technology has gone from batch-fired to controlled pulse rail mounted injectors to direct injection.  Keeping these various types of injectors doing their job properly is not easy. 



For spec racers these tools will allow them to find the best flowing fuel injectors out of a batch of stock parts and allow them to check on their health as the season progresses.  For street car owners using the new direct injection technology it is cost-critical to be able to determine which of their injectors might be failing as they can cost well over $1000 each, and it is a budget blower to replace 8-12 at a time. 

Direct injection allows for precise fuel monitoring that results in maximum power and economy, but it comes at a price.  They operate at thousands of pounds of pressure and a faulty injector can wash a cylinder of oil, resulting in ring and cylinder damage.  Not to mention dilution of the crankcase oil.  The same oil that is used to lubricate the mechanical booster fuel pump.

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing is maturing into a technology that will eventually surpass casting, welding, and machining as the primary method of creating automotive parts and systems.  There were several examples of this technology at PRI this year.


Much of the caliper assembly above was printed.




The header above was a combination of printing, welding, and machining.


The above part was printed.




TRUMPF, a German company, had a live display of its laser 3D manufacturing technology.




Layer, by layer, this machine fused powdered metal into a 3D part.




Perhaps some day you will go to your parts supplier and have them print out your replacement parts.

There were some interesting displays of technology that we already know and love.  What’s not to love about a turbo?


Can you ever have enough on your engine?


Can they ever be large enough?


Or powerful enough?

How about keeping the exhaust on a turbocharged engine from coming loose?



Stage 8 has a solution for turbo applications as well as exhaust headers.

Speaking of exhaust, now that you need a large diameter exhaust to get the flow you need for that turbo, how do you manage to have enough clearance?


This oval tubing could be your solution providing large flow area with plenty of clearance.

With all that power will the demand on your brakes mean that you are overheating them?


Above is an example of a coolant-cooled brake caliper.

Let’s not forget the suspension required to get all that power to the tires and provide the best grip possible.






This year’s PRI was a treat to attend.  If you are part of a race team or support shop you owe it to yourself to spend a few days at next year’s event.  Nowhere else can you see so much relevant products and displays in one place.  I know that I’ll be in Indianapolis next year!

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PRI 20018 our second day exploring

As promised today’s entry will focus on some of the interesting product exhibits that we discovered while navigating the crowded aisles of PRI. Attendees were having a great time taking in the thousands of booths and displays. I always get a kick out of “Machinery Row” with all the machines from simple sanding wheels to five-axis milling machines.

While I continued on I came across an old friend, Robert Young, of Forced Performance. Back in the day when I had a 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, I was looking for ways to get more out of the turbocharged four banger and Forced Performance had a wonderful upgraded turbo known as the Big T-28. So along with improved cam shafts, and a reworked cylinder head from Road Race Engineering, I installed one of Robert’s Big T-28s. The resulting horsepower provided me with many exciting and successful track days where I was often able to pass Corvette C5 Z06s with my 2 liter 4G63 engine.

It had been a few years and it was nice to meet up with Robert in person. Along with Forced Performance, he and TiAL Sport have partnered to form another business known as Xona Rotor. Robert spent some time with me explaining the engineering breakthroughs that they have been able to bring to their turbos.

One of the latest improvements is the splitter rotor whose design incorporates alternating rotor blades that are stepped down in dimension. This seemingly simple change has brought forth huge benefits in terms of efficiency and power.


It provides faster spool-up with less energy wasted. It is like getting 100 free extra horsepower.

Robert also gave me an education in the internal design of the xona turbos where the shaft seals can not only endure the heat generated, but use the inevitable carbon buildup to form a protective seal of its own.

All the main components of xona turbochargers are made in-house and in the US, which is also a plus. It was great to get to spend some quality time with Robert as well as get an in-depth education on the latest in turbocharger design.


Off we went to explore some more corners of the PRI floor show.


There are plenty of attendees and that is especially true on the second day.  Many great and respected brands are represented:



What I’d like to do is give you a peek at some of the other exhibits that are tucked in the corners and might not be quite so well known, but still interesting.

We found an aluminum car trailer that didn’t need ramps:


The whole trailer dropped down so you can drive your car right on.  Futura Car Lifts was there from New Zealand.

There was another company from the US that had their own version. 


They are No Ramp.  While they started these to accommodate large utility equipment, they soon discovered that track car owners were looking for a similar solution. 

Any of you out there that follow Formula 1 will recognize this company:


They had some exotic machines on display.



Their computer controlled milling machines are amazing.

Speaking of machining billet aluminum there was a display that really caught my eye.  It was the Bullet display:


This company has several engine blocks that they make out of aluminum and since I have had several Mitsubishi cars that used the turbocharged version  known as the 4G63 this really got my attention.



They are not cheap, but for racing they can cut the engine block weight nearly in half and still support horsepower well over 1000 bhp.

Let’s check out some of the other companies on display.  Here is Jack Tech:


They first had a booth at PRI a couple of years ago and offer some of the most innovative shop equipment around.  Their strut spring compressors are fast, safe, and effective.




Shop floors are always in need of a quick cleanup and you never know if it will be oil, antifreeze, or something else.  Well, here is a powdered product that quickly soaks up just about any liquid and makes it easy to sweep up and off your shop floor. 



How about dealing with tools and parts as you remove and reassemble? 



Grypmat make it easy to keep track of parts and tools while keeping them close at hand.  They also protect the car’s fenders and bodywork.

How about a lightweight welding helmet that gives you panoramic vision along with auto-darkening and true color representation?



They are Jackco Transnational, Inc.

There is even more interesting stuff out there and I will save them for another post.  PRI 2018 is like nothing else!

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PRI 2018–The First Day

We flew in to Indianapolis yesterday afternoon and waited excitedly for today’s start of the Performance Racing Industry show in downtown Indy.  As usual there was a long line waiting for the kick-off breakfast.


This morning’s guest interviewees were none other than Al Unser and his son who were interviewed by Dave Despain, even though Dave has professed to have retired.


It was a treat to hear these two racing greats recount past glories and entertain us with their memories.  They both have a wonderful sense of humor and they do enjoy themselves.  If you ever get to Albuquerque, New Mexico, be sure to visit their museum there.  With a little luck you will probably get to meet them as well.

When the breakfast and interviews were complete the attendees headed to the show floor and the vast number of exhibitors that populate the show. 

I will get to some of the exhibits that I found most interesting, but first lets take a tour of the many cars that were on display.




There was also a display of a few of the Unser family race cars.





There was also a display of a very unusual Indy racer that was once driven by Joe Leonard.






At the time it was revolutionary with its dihedral wings and its highly turbocharged Offenhauser four cylinder engine.  The Offy engine had the head integrated with the block so there was no head gasket and consequently they could really increase the boost pressure.

Here are several other cars that I saw as I perused the aisles.


















No, PRI is not a car show, but it certainly has some interesting competition vehicles to view.

Tomorrow I will focus on some of the exhibits of the various vendors that I found interesting.  Stay tuned.

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Things You Find on the Side of the Road

On our travels back east we came across this sight at a gas stop.


These are some great old trucks that they use out front as a display.



This old Mack truck is being towed by a White truck.



There was an even older yellow truck.  Can you guess what brand of truck it is?





It is a Mack truck as well!


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