“Year 2 of the Battle Begins” The Story of the Man Who Challenged the World’s Max Speed with a Fully Tuned FC3S / Part 1 [DANDY x FC3S the Max Speed Throne Capture Plan 2010]

Published : 2019/10/04 16:22 Modified : 2019/10/22 15:02

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Aim to renew Racing Beat’s record with a 2-year plan!

Day 1(8/14 Sat.)

A blown engine amidst prepping for the start line!?

The saltwater lake and the clear sky stretched beyond the naked eye. It was 2010, and the Dandy FC3S was back at the Salt Flats.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Last year, the driver was the FC3S owner, Toru Tokoyoda. This year, he passed the steering wheel onto his good friend, Rei Shioi (pictured on the left). It was Rei’s first challenge at Bonneville. According to Tanaka, Rei has the best footing among all of his clients.

Due to a lack of safety equipment last year, they had to do large-scale work of welding the rollcage on-site. Unfortunately, this pushed back passing the car inspection to the second evening of the race. This year was different; they successfully passed on the first morning.

Nevertheless, the inspectors pointed out 5 areas that required some work.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

First, the wheel nuts. Since the tapered nuts had a small diameter, the inspectors advised to swap them to at least an inch in diameter. Tanaka and co utilized the nuts on the rental–a Chrysler minivan. “The regulations mentioned nothing about nuts,” Tanaka grumbled.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Next, the seat position; they needed to offset it to secure clearance between the driver’s helmet and rollcage when he sits. They could not attach the seat itself near the center tunnel, so they dealt with it by slightly raising the right side of the seat.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Another point was the rear lower arm. To prepare for the worst, they added an auxiliary wire to prevent it from falling off completely. The other two areas for improvement included the location change of the parachute wire and an addition of a steel plate. The steel plate secured the fuel line in the case that the flywheel breaks through the bell housing.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Once they passed the car inspection, they moved on to the driver emergency escape test. Within five seconds, the driver, wearing a helmet and racing suit, must exit the vehicle from the seated position with his seat belt fastened and the doors and side net closed.

With this, they completed the start prep. Tanaka sat in the driver’s seat and started the engine for warm-up, as the crisp sounds and fine beats of the peri-ported turbo reverberated through the pit. Everything looked great.

When the engine was warmed up, Tanaka slowly moved forward and backward by shifting from first to reverse, in order to cycle the oil of the transmission and diff. The clutch seemed lousy, since Tanaka repeatedly stepped on the pedal to shift. As soon as the gear went in, we noticed a shock transmitted through the car. Something was wrong.

A crack, then a rattle… All of a sudden, the FC3S started spewing out abnormal noise.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Tanaka instantly stopped the engine. We saw him carefully check the feel of the clutch pedal and shifter.

“Both the pedal stroke and shift touch are acting strange. Maybe the transmission’s second and third gears are blown… The first time we drove the FC3S in 1998, we also had issues with the clutch. Something always happens when we come here.”

They now faced unexpected drive system issues right before the start line. Driving it as is was obviously impossible and they had no spare parts on hand. Was their unaccomplished goal from the previous year of overthrowing Racing Beat’s FC3S an unreachable one? Had they come to the Salt Flats for nothing?

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Tanaka and the mechanic, Nogu, began their strategy meeting. They diagnosed where the problems stemmed from, based on the vehicle’s symptoms. They first discussed how they could tackle the issues without demounting the transmission and clutch.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Before taking down the transmission, they injected oil from the shifter side to determine whether it was an internal or shifter problem. Since there was no change in the shift feel, they decided that it was an internal problem; they chose to unload the transmission.

Joe, an American who helped them last year, was present again this year to support them. He had a BMW tuning shop in California and knew someone with a genuine FC3S trans. When they contacted him urgently, he said, “Please wait until Monday; I can bring it on-site.” With this, they now had a transmission.

All that remained was the clutch. Tanaka said, “The final ratio is a super high gear 2.73, so last year, we abused the half clutch until around 37.282 mph. Because of that, the plate probably warped from holding in the heat.

Either way, ATS from Japan contacted the US sales office, and they confirmed that a brand new plate was available. Joe’s friend picked it up without delay to bring it along with the trans.

Day 2 (8/15 Sun.)

Dissecting work on the salt begins to investigate the cause of issues

From 9 AM in the morning, Tanaka and Nogu, the mechanic, began to unload the clutch and transmission. That being said, this was on the Salt Flats. As they propped the FC3S up on jack stands, they began with their limited manpower.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

It was a struggle up until they removed the propeller shaft. First, they detached the muffler, then cut off the rear suspension arm tip coming from the diff carrier.

While listening to the exhaust sound of the cars speeding through the long course situated by the pit, the two worked meticulously.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Regardless of the restricting and limited space, the mechanic Nogu successfully removed the transmission.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

They began to check the unloaded HKS 6-speed transmission right away. The gears had difficulty aligning with the vertical lines of the second and third. In addition, once the gears aligned, they would not separate easily. They also discovered that the even in neutral, the main shaft would not rotate. From the gears skipping and their double meshing, they deduced that the inside must have been fatally damaged. Joe, pictured on the left, brought over the genuine trans.

“Yesterday, I was thinking about maybe changing to fourth from first at 9000 rpm if there was no second to third. Considering this situation, even if we let it run, there was a high chance of the engine blowing out or the gears locking. We made the right choice to unload it,” Tanaka mentioned.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

In contrast, the clutch’s pressure and center plates were warped. Their warping was obvious at first glance; this means that the clutch wasn’t fully disengaging, despite stepping firmly onto it. Proceeding to shift gears would obviously incur damage to the transmission… Thus, they had figured out their main problem. An issue they had pushed back from last year ultimately stood in their way at this specific timing.

When they finished working and checking each part, Tanaka murmured, “This is a Zenki FC3S, whereas the genuine transmission they will bring for us tomorrow is for Kouki. So I’m kind of worried if it’s going to mount properly. When we checked with Joe, he said that there wouldn’t be a problem. It’s just that if they’re not compatible, that’s the end of it all.”

Considering that they had a normal propeller shaft, if the dimensions of the transmission case are sufficient, the trans could be installed. Also, compared to an HKS 6-speed transmission with fifth speed direct gear, the biggest difference was that the genuine trans was a 5-speed transmission with a fourth speed direct gear. That being said, the top speed calculations remained the same, whether it was HKS or genuine, because Tanaka was aiming for max speed with direct gear.

The real question, however, was if there was up to fourth or only third to reach the direct gear. This would definitely affect the intermediate acceleration performance.

While it seemed that he could somehow avoid the critical situation of dropping out of the race, a new uncertainty began to plague Tanaka’s mind.

Day 3 (8/16 Mon.)

Overcoming the struggles and onward to the start line!

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

10 AM in the morning: On their pickup truck, Joe’s friends delivered the genuine transmission and clutch plate all the way from California.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

They brought the genuine transmission for an NA model as a safety net, if they were unable to use the Kouki turbo trans. According to Joe however, we confirmed that they successfully mounted the Kouki turbo trans. This made even Tanaka very happy and enthusiastic.

“The mileage and other details are unknown. It was a struggle to combine the rusted main shaft with the clutch. We can’t be concerned with the small things. Now the car can finally run. Besides, we’re truly grateful for Joe’s friends for driving out 750 miles to bring it to us,” Tanaka said.

For the clutch, they swapped the heat-warped pressure and center plates with new ones. At 1 PM, they mounted the transmission, connected the drive shaft, and completed attaching the rear suspension arm and muffler.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Furthermore, they struggled with Joe’s transmission mount. The use of the brackets on the transmission side for turbo and on the floor side for NA may have caused increased difficulty to install the rubber bushings between them. Due to time constraints, they concluded that a rigid mount with sandwiched washers instead of rubber bushings could support the transmission.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

Transmission replacement work: Lifting its rear on the garage jacks, they engaged the main shaft spline with the clutch disc. Nogu told us, “The main drive shaft was rusting, so it was difficult.”

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

For their last step, they attached the one-off transmission mount, which they made with great hardship. They finished working on the car around 3:30 PM. Tanaka sat in the driver’s seat and started the engine. As he put his foot on the clutch, he shifted into first gear. While the FC3S slowly moved forward with no irregularities, the team staff cheered. They could finally drive!

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

The time-consuming work from the first and second day delayed them quite a bit. In spite of their setbacks, they recouped wonderfully. Tanaka, who never gave up on putting the FC3S on the road, worked tediously with a dedicated mindset. Rei smiled with eagerness as he prepared to drive.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

They thoroughly reviewed the exit routes for the cars after their attack completion on each course. In the event of an error, it could not only lead to a huge accident, but also impact the race itself.

The first attack began around 6 PM, around sunset. License acquisition was possible during Bonneville Speed Week, and the various license levels set the corresponding max speed limits for each area. In other words, while a car could perform around 250 mph, it could not drive full throttle without a competition license.

Since this was Rei’s first challenge, he had no competition license and needed to start with the E License. He had to obtain the licenses in order from D, C, B, then to A; for each license, the max speed limit gradually increases.

Moreover, the courses up to the C License were only five miles in length. Upon acquiring the B License, one can finally attack the long course, which was eight miles long. But first, Raei must drive at less than 120 mph to obtain his E License.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

The gear position and engine revs indicated the required speed to acquire each license. Since the error from the actual measurement value was applied as a correction coefficient, the resulting numbers were highly accurate.

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

The FC3S arrived at the start line. Here began the fight to renew Racing Beat’s class record of 238.442 mph.

This was Rei’s first run in Bonneville. He shared, “It surprised me that you can’t feel the speed here. Even though your speed may be around 124 mph, physically you feel like you’re under 50 mph. The car has no problems, of course! I can certainly use the half clutch, and at this speed, there’s no burden on the engine–it feels like we’re driving in neutral. In reality, the road is flat, but it feels as though there’s a decline… if you know what I mean. So I drove in a manner to prevent the car from going too forward. Conversely, the engine revs drop significantly when I shift from second to third. With this in mind, I have to shift at 8500 to 8800 rpm if we want proper acceleration in third gear.”

Dandy RX-7 at Bonneville

■ATTACK for E License

Measurement point Passing speed

2mile 108.233 mph

2.25mile 108.156 mph

3mile 108.384 mph

*Acquisition requirements: Below 120 mph

●PHOTO: Katsuyoshi KOBAYASHI/TEXT: Kentaro HIROSHIMA

【Related Links】

[DANDY x FC3S the Max Speed Throne Capture Plan 2009]

● “Everything About Bonneville Speed Week” The Story of the Man Who Challenged the World’s Max Speed with a Fully Tuned FC3S / Prologue
https://option.tokyo/2019/09/14/36400/

● “Defeat Racing Beat’s RX-7!” The Story of the Man Who Challenged the World’s Max Speed with a Fully Tuned FC3S / Part 1

https://option.tokyo/2019/09/15/36474/

● “The Over 200 MPH Battle” The Story of the Man Who Challenged the World’s Max Speed with a Fully Tuned FC3S / Part 2

https://option.tokyo/2019/09/16/36539/

● “The Bonneville Charm” The Story of the Man Who Challenged the World’s Max Speed with a Fully Tuned FC3S / Epilogue
https://option.tokyo/2019/09/16/36539/