Lemons Car

Accessible Endurance Racing: Prepping Interior For Racing

Last week we told you about our insane idea to start out with 4 mediocre people and build a race car for the 24 Hours of Lemons. At least a few people seem to shrug it off, like “we know lots of people who have done this before”. This must be true somehow, there are cars in the Lemons. Still, ever noticed nobody you know or anyone you know has ever done it, or even knows someone whose done it?

Alright, that definitely isn’t entirely true, I’m just trying to make myself feel better because when I started this I didn’t know anyone. In fact, we’ve had a number of people from the Shift community who are already interested in contributing. Several have even done Lemons and similar races before. We’re excited to have their help, along with the help of the racing stores and shops as we bring this to life.

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As we’ve talked before accessible doesn’t mean easy. We began getting the hard lesson in what it actually takes. While this form racing may be accessible due low cost, there is a lot to it. Hopefully through our pain, misery and wasted money we can help make it easier. Our goal here is to encourage people to realize this is possible and push themselves to try it.

So even with the help we get from the community we won’t just magically make things happen like those Sunday morning car shows where a few twists of a ratchet you have a full transmission swap done. We’re going to be sharing the good, the bad, the ugly and hopefully some time and money saving advice we get from the community along the way. After all, Shift is about enthusiasts enabling other enthusiasts.

This week we update on our weekend session doing interior stripping. We also discuss the hunt for safety gear and I discover how little I know about what you need to do to be ready to install a roll cage.

Interior Stripping

This week we began to learn why most people don’t take on this challenge. We began interior prep. This does a few things

  • Eliminates unnecessary weight (more on this in a bit)
  • Removes elements that can accelerate a fire
  • Makes room for the roll cage
  • Makes the car look super racy and fast

What we discovered is it is a lot of work. It’s even worse when you do something like take a German luxury car and try to make it into a race car. Those Germans sure know how to put a lot of heavy stuff in an interior. They make up for it by making it exceedingly complicated to remove.

At the end of our first session we have the entire rear of the car cleared out. We also cleared the trunk and removed a number of pieces from the engine bay and front end. The vast majority of the front was also removed. We still have some work to do around the dash and some of the carpet that routes under the dash.

The end result was we filled up an entire F150 bed full of removed parts and interior pieces. And that is without the seats (more on why in a bit) and with the top half the dash still in place.

Whats Left To Do

Our next working session we do have some more pieces still to remove before we can get to the safety gear install.

  • Top part of the dash
  • All of the airbags (including the side airbags)
  • Seats – we kept these in because we don’t yet have our race seat. We are also keeping the passenger seat for now so we can support some of our plans with the car before the Lemons race. We will be removing the passenger seat for Lemons.
  • Carpet/sound deadening and some interior pieces under the dash
  • The heater core and anything else under the dash

We are hoping to accomplish most of this in the next 1-2 weeks so we are ready for the roll cage install. But there is a big maybe to that.

Safety Gear

As we kicked off the interior removal we also started working to line up and acquire the safety gear we needed to install. While I didn’t realize it at the time, having this in before the cage is a must. It just seemed like a good time to do it since we could show up and race if we strip our interior and put in safety gear. So getting those out of the way make sense.

We discovered a few problems we didn’t consider along the way.

  • Finding safety gear for team members who vary from 5’2″ @ 120lbs to 6+ feet and topping off well north of 250 pounds is a lot harder than it sounds
  • Lemons safety is pretty strict and while most is objective, some isn’t as easy as looking for the right label
  • There is a pandemic going on. It appears racing isn’t consider essential so a lot of smaller race parts providers have not been producing. This means stock is low.
  • Companies seeing a drop in demand are also stocking less.

Sizing is a huge issue. We can’t just go as big as possible because 1) it’s not in stock and 2) it might make things less safe for our smaller team members. I suggested a diet to our team, but this was poorly received. That fact that I said it while eating fried chicken wings and drinking beer probably didn’t help sell the message. I’ll try body shaming next, but I’m pretty sure it’ll fail as well. It just makes me cry about my own self image, can’t imagine it’ll work on anyone else.

Without at least our seat we shouldn’t schedule the cage install. The seat in some sizes is available, but in others may not show until September. So we need to be sure about the seat we need.

Here is the current list of safety gear we are ready to order and are just pending finding the proper sizes and stock issues:

  • Seat
  • Seat harness (5 or 6 point)
  • 10lb 3 zone fire suppression system
  • Cage
  • Steering Wheel with quick release (not required, but highly ideal and likely easier to put in now)

Thankfully we’ve gotten some great help from contacts within our team. A few local shops have also been really helpful in answering questions and let us try on gear.

Coming Up

I’ll dive further into the why we selected each product we did. We’ll also talk about where we bought the items from. We are going to try to buy as much as we can from local Atlanta race vendors, and preferably smaller companies. This not only helps support the community but gives us an opportunity to profile the shops and the experience for Shift members who may be doing the same thing.

We’ll also have an update as we head into Interior Stripping Session #2.

Finally I’ll have good or bad news about locating our needed race parts in time for scheduling the cage install. Fitting our fat asses into the cage bars will be the next challenge. But I’ll worry about that after I finish all these wings and beer.

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