“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 [DANDY x FC3S the Max Speed Throne Capture Plan 2009]
Published : 2019/10/23 08:12 Modified : 2019/10/23 08:12
The silver-white Salt Flats and an over 390 km/h (about 248 mph) goal!
Team DANDY Close Coverage Report Day 1 – 4
Day 1 (8/8 Sat.)
A difficult start and a failed inspection…
The DANDY FC3S entered the Salt Flats with high spirits to defeat the record of 238.442 mph, which was set by the Racing Beat RX-7 twenty-three years ago. However, no one expected the sudden situation that occurred.
First and foremost, the vehicle arrived a day late due to customs clearance. Additionally, since it did not meet regulation requirements, the car failed the inspection conducted on the day prior to the race. The inspector pointed out five areas of concern, which included roll cage installment, seat securement, addition of helmet guards, and application of anti-scattering films to the side and rear windows.
“Er, honestly it’s a helpless situation when they point out areas that weren’t mentioned in the regulation book. I don’t want to sound negative, but it almost seems like they’re picking on us. Anyway, we can’t drive if we don’t fix those areas, so we need to get to it,” DANDY Tanaka said. Acting immediately, Tanaka thought about specific remakes to pass the vehicle inspection, and they procured the necessary parts and materials as quickly as possible.
To prevent broken glass from exploding everywhere in the case of a crash, they taped a protective film on the side and rear windows. There were clearly a handful of wrinkles in the film, but they prioritized its function, and not the form.
The steel plates and pipes collected for roll cage reinforcement. “We found these at a storage place near the airport,” Tanaka said. On the left–the helmet guard to be attached to the full bucket.
They began cutting the steel plates with the sander. Both the generator and sander belonged to another team, who allowed Tanaka’s crew to borrow them. They also borrowed the welding machine; the local American teams brought many tools on-site.
Torch in hand, Tanaka worked on the welding himself. He prioritized passing the inspection with the roll cage reinforcement, instead of looks. Tanaka proceeded with welding the steel plates onto the outside of the bar.
On the first day of the race, amidst the pleasing orchestra of the other teams’ speeding cars, Team DANDY worked diligently in the pit. Mr. Tokoyoda, the owner and driver of the FC3S, watched the scene from afar.
The team’s devotion and energy filled the pit; they made it this far and giving up was completely out of the question.
Day 2 (8/9 Sun.)
With support from the other teams, they successfully passed the inspection!
The team commenced modification work from the morning on this day, as well. Welding work for the reinforcement of the roll cage proved to be the most troublesome. The inspectors failed the DANDY FC3S because only bolts secured each bar; thus they instructed the team to reinforce this area just in case the bolts rip off.
Therefore, they cut the procured steel plate into short 3 cm cuts, which they planned to weld onto two bars–making a triangular shape. Fourteen points required this rework. Though they began working from the day before, the road ahead seemed tediously long.
Then, some members from another team showed up. As they watched DANDY’s team work, one of them offered help and said, “Welding is kind of my expertise; just leave it to me.” After he sanded the welds, he threw on his mask with torch in one hand and began to weld with skill and efficiency. Thanks to his help, the overall work pace sped up greatly. It wasn’t uncommon for members from another team to support other teams in need. This too, was one of the many charms of Bonneville.
The welding and painting, completed. This way, the roll cage was stronger than simply attaching the plates on the outside–and it looked better, too. Above all, the finishing quality was impeccable; it was hard to believe that their work took place only on-site.
While the team reinforced the roll cage, the other members worked on the seat rail to remove the slide mechanism and fix its position. They also added a helmet guard to protect the driver’s head in the case of a crash.
To prevent the seat from sliding if it unlocks from strong impact, they affixed the seat rail. They drilled in holes, then fastened it with nuts and bolts.
In addition, a helmet guard was attached to protect the head in the event of a crash. After they adjusted the seat position with the driver sitting down, they drilled a hole into the headrest of the full bucket seat. “Well, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d tweak a RECARO bucket seat in such a way,” Tanaka said in amusement.
Upon completion of the work, the team asked the inspectors to check the various reworked areas. They then pointed out two new concerns: the affixing method under the side net and the insufficient size of the side net itself. The inspectors, however, mentioned that the team had time to fix these areas until they faced the long course.
Their original plan for this day was to pass the car inspection by noon and to get one attack done, but they finished working around 4 PM. After they contacted an inspector to come to the pit so he could provide an initial “ok,” they moved to the official car inspection area. The team’s hard work over these past two days paid off; the team finally obtained a green light to commence their attacks on course.
Tanaka in smiles–his efforts during these past two days were definitely worth it. The inspectors equally praised him for his dedication as they shook his hand.
And now, the start line. The true battle was about to begin.
Day 3 (8/10 Mon.)
Plenty of power, more than sufficient speed!
At last, the DANDY FC3S began its run. On this day, they took on two attacks. The first required them to drive under 120 mph in order to obtain the E License.
Because the final gear ratio was really high at 2.73, this required the driver to use the half clutch skillfully in order to keep the engine at higher revs in the beginning. “I had to be very careful; I’d stall out if the revs were too low, whereas if I rev’d too hard, the engine would fog down,” Tokoyoda said.
However, the result was over the speed limit at 143.450 mph. In reality, one wouldn’t be able to obtain the E License with this result. As a last resort, they explained to the officials that they incorrectly inputted the outer tire diameter during speed calculations–and the officials bought it. To add on to their luck, with just this one attack (125 – 149 MPH) Team DANDY successfully obtained the D License, as well.
After his first drive, Tokoyoda commented, “All I did was drive in fourth gear at 6500 rpm. When there’s boost, you can’t even feel the weight of the car; that’s how much power this can output.”
The record sheet received upon completing an attack showing the speeds recorded at each measurement point (2 mi, 2.25 mi, 3 mi). This sheet specifically belonged to the first attack on the third day.
Furthermore, Tanaka compared the measurement results to the table showing the speed calculated from each gear and engine speed. After obtaining an error between the calculated value and the actual measurement value, he calculated appropriate coefficients to correct those errors.
“Air fuel ratio is perfect, so we won’t have to do much tweaking. The boost pressure hasn’t exceeded the minimum of 1.5 kg/cm2. While the injector is at 90% for primary, it’s only open about 10% for secondary, so it’s as though we’re just cruising. But until yesterday, we were running around like headless chickens. So today I’m so relieved, being able to let it run. Though, I’ll admit I’m still nervous since I’m not the one driving it,” Tanaka said.
While making up for the two-day delay, the DANDY FC3S was off to a great start.
Day 4 (8/11 Tue.)
The lightweight calamity, a painful spin
To reach the minimum speed, they calculated to drive in fourth gear at 8500 rpm, or in fifth gear at 6800 rpm. Tanaka stuck a reminder memo on the dash for Tokoyoda, so he could refer to it while driving. As their beginning attack for the day, they were unable to leave any marks because the FC3S spun out–its first one here at Bonneville.
“I panicked a bit when I failed at the start; I needed to accelerate enough before the measurement point. When the boost kicked in around 8000 rpm in fourth gear, the rear of the car slid, and I ended up spinning out. Actually, even up to this point, the rear usually swayed whenever I accelerated; it’s really difficult to control the power. How can I drive it without spinning? This was a true challenge,” shared Tokoyoda.
Thus, before the next attack, they shifted and softened the damping force by four notches in order to stabilize the rear. Despite their two additional efforts, they could not fix the rear’s instability. While they hit a 173.133 mph mark, it was not enough to obtain the B License.
Tanaka explained, “A sense of indecisiveness during the shifting–that’s the first thing I can tell from the log data. On the throttle opening angle graph, there’s a flat part, also known as wait time. That, and I think acceleration handling is a bit rough. The car itself still has a max boost of 1.0 kg/cm2, and even when floored, its throttle is only at 30%. Therefore, it can definitely do more. In fact, the FC3S hasn’t unleashed even half of its capability.”
Conversely, Tokoyoda said, “After three runs, I’m starting to get a hold of the acceleration control behavior. Tomorrow, we’re going to get that B License and move on to the long course.”
ERC Company, the gas supplier for Bonneville, was present on-site with a tank rolley. This was where the entrants filled their tanks. The DANDY FC3S filled up with the same Octane 120 A8C that they set it up with, back in Japan.
They did not particularly lighten the car load, albeit the Dandy FC3S in the mid 1200 kg range was certainly light. In addition to the body’s light weight causing instability, the 650 to 700 ps power on top undoubtedly resulted in a loss of traction.
In order to move on to the long course attacks, they now faced the challenge of obtaining the B License.
● PHOTO: Katsuyoshi Kobayashi
● TEXT: Kentaro Hiroshima