Our machine looks like the real beginnings of a race car now with the rollcage welded in. The roof will be left off until the end. This will make it easier to install all of those little parts such as gauges, batteries, and controls.

Back To The Grind

With the CSC Racing rollcage welded down (Remember, last time we twisted the frame first.), we began to fit things back on the car. Even so, there were still those places we used the torch. Next to burning things up, future driver Patrick Manzi enjoyed grinding metal, making little pieces out of big ones. While I was working on other parts of the car, I showed Patrick how to gut the doors.

I recommend using a 4- to 4-1/2-inch angle-head grinder for this job. If you don't have one, get the best you can afford. The cheap ones don't last long. Using a grinder on the door edges doesn't require the use of a torch, nor does it leave ugly hickeys around the edge. Place the door on a pair of sawhorses, outside up. Grind the edge of the door until a line appears. The doorskin wraps around the doorframe. This wrap is spot welded on the inside. However, the doorskin is not welded to the doorframe. So when the metal wrap-around edge is ground down, the doorskin can be lifted off. This leaves a nice, light, door panel. But be sure to smooth the edges--you wouldn't want to slice up your new driving suit.

It took Patrick an evening or so to complete the task. He did the hood panel the same way. The hood has glue spots on its framework. Pull the panel off gently to keep from putting in a permanent wave. By the way, there is no need to gut the trunk. You are going to need the rear weight. Also, keep the hinges operational. We will use one of those seatbelts we saved when stripping the car for a latch.

Gauging Our Progress

With Patrick occupied, I welded a tube on the center of the rear of the rollcage down to the floor near the left rear wheel. Using A&A Manufacturing tabs and pieces, I fabricated the mount for a battery box.

The battery should be mounted to the left and rear as far as the rules allow. By all means, use a plastic boat-style battery box to enclose the battery. I found a suitable box at AutoZone. Be sure to get the box before welding the battery mount up; these things do vary in size.

With the battery mounted, it was time to mount the gauges and switches. I know it looks impressive to have sheet aluminum covering the interior of one of these cars. Personally, I don't care for it. There is no aerodynamic reason to use it on a short track. The air inside is too turbulent. It also makes maintenance more difficult. It only took one broken wire to the ignition, causing me to miss an A Main, to convince me I should have easy access to wiring and other parts. Also, if you race on dirt, you can wind up carrying some hidden extra right-side weight in places the pressure washer can't reach.

We decided upon Longacre Racing Products gauges and switches. I have used its parts before and found them to be easy to read and a cinch to hook up. Each set is mounted in its own panel, which makes mounting simple. All of the gauges and switches were mounted to A&A Manufacturing's tabs. The tabs were bolted to the panel first. Then the tabs were carefully tack welded in the appropriate place. Gauge and switch panels were removed before final welding.

Joe Federico and Jerry Stark did a really professional job of wiring the car using the QuickCar battery wiring harness. We used batteries from Performance Distributors, the VIP 18-volt for the ignition and the DynaBat 12-volt for starting. With this setup there is no need to run an alternator. The 18-volt feeds only the HEI ignition. The 12-volt powers the starter and the gauges. I have used 18 volts with an HEI several times, and I have always been pleased with the results.

Using two batteries means using a common ground. Joe wired the QuickCar master disconnect switch into the ground side so both batteries can be switched off. Notice in the photos that the gauges are mounted on an angle to the right of the driver. The driver won't see the gauges during a race, but the warning lights will still catch his eye. I should mention, we mounted the switches too close to the steering wheel. The second night out, with Patrick flailing at the wheel, he turned the engine off. The switches should be at least 10 inches from the wheel.

Steering Our Course

This brings us to where to locate the steering components--first, the steering box. The original was replaced by a 3:1 box from Speedway Motors. This is a rebuilt unit requiring no core charge. Not that expensive at $140, it has a better ratio and we know the power steering will work properly.

General Motors made boxes with two kinds of fittings. Some have O-ring-type fittings while others have flare fittings. Your box could have either. Ours had O-ring fittings. Since the original pump had the same, we were in luck.

Adaptors can be found to use AN fittings, but in this application I suggest finding a junkyard pump with the matching fittings. If you find one full of fluid, it should be OK. Given the age of the car, we troubled our AutoZone parts man for some new hoses. It makes sense to me to replace all 20-year-old hoses.

Patrick bolted the box to the chassis. We laid all of the parts of the Speedway steering kit out on the floor. Everything was there. The universal joint was fitted to the steering box and the shaft inserted. Don't weld anything now.

Using two U-joints is the safest thing in a car not allowed to have front chassis bracing. The joints should be close to the same angle, but opposite directions. The shaft should not be straight. This allows the shaft to fold instead of coming straight back in a crash. We had to use two Heim ends to support the upper shaft because local rules don't allow a steering quickener. A plus here was that the steering wheel could be adjusted to Patrick's liking. Speedway has a clamp-on collar for the steering shaft to keep the steering wheel at arm's length in a crash. This is a good item to have. Once the steering parts were all fitted and we were sure the shaft lengths were correct, the assembly was removed. Laid on whatever is convenient (we didn't have a bench), the shafts were welded to the U-joints and the steering wheel hub. Be certain the ground current of the welder doesn't pass through the U-joint. Remember to have the Heim end support bearings in place before welding. Now the steering shaft parts can be assembled as a unit.

Hit The Brakes

The Richardson seat is bolted in so Patrick can check the fit of everything. He grins and wrestles the steering wheel. He says it's fast. I asked him how he likes the wall; we haven't installed the brake pedals yet! When stripping out the car, the vacuum diaphragm (or power booster) for the power brakes was removed. Most likely there won't be enough vacuum to operate it, and it might give a sluggish response to pumping the brakes. Besides, it's front weight. Removal is easy. Unbolt it from the pedal assembly and from the master cylinder. In our case the brake lines were never removed from the master cylinder. Knowing we had no metal scraps, I asked A&A Manufacturing to send me a 5x5x1/8-inch steel plate along with the tabs and brackets. I used Patrick's favorite tool, the torch, to cut a hole in the center of the plate. This hole needs to be large enough for the snout of the master cylinder to fit inside.

Mark and drill the two holes to bolt this plate to the master cylinder. Hold this plate up to the firewall. Centering the large hole, mark and drill the four holes for the brake pedal assembly. The master cylinder can now be bolted to the plate. The plate is then bolted through the firewall to the pedal assembly.

It won't work yet. The actuator rod from the pedal to the master cylinder is too long. It will need to be cut off. It will take a bit of trial and error to get the right length. When the pedal is all the way up, the rod should have a small amount of clearance before contacting the master cylinder. Be sure to radius the end of the rod. For safety, weld a short piece (1 inch) of rollcage tubing to the plate. This will keep the rod from falling out of the master cylinder if the pedal is kicked up too far. The tube may need to be hammered from the bottom to get it close to the rod.

One more thing in this area is the throttle pedal. We used the stock throttle pedal assembly bolted in the stock location. It does require a small amount of modification. Originally the top (or pull end) of the pedal rod attached to a cable, which in turn was linked to the carb. We wanted a more solid hookup. A 5/16-inch nut was welded to the top of the pull end. This will allow us to use a 1/4-inch rod from the carb, bent as needed, to the pedal assembly. Leave at least 1 inch of rod clearance at the firewall. Check this in all throttle positions. With rubber motor mounts, the engine can move around, causing the throttle to stick.

While mounting parts behind the seat, we secured a Moroso Accumulator to the rollcage crossbar. This accumulator stores engine oil under pressure and feeds the engine when centrifugal force pulls oil away from the oil pump. Mounting it to the rear puts it in a safer location and adds rear weight. An accumulator such as this is recommended when using stock pans and wet sump systems. Next month we'll sort out some interesting things while installing the engine and transmission.

Speedway Motors Inc.
P.O. Box 81906, Dept. CRM
NE  68501
GA  30680
A&A Manufacturing
19033 174th Ave.
Spring Lake
MI  49456
Cale Yarborough's Executive Racing School Moroso
CSC Racing Performance Distributors Inc.
Longacre Racing Products