Hot to Trot

HEAT IS NOT SOMETHING we have to contend with in April. It is something we have to contend with on track. Most mechanical failures, regardless of which system they occur in, have their source in excessive heat. For clear economical reasons, manufacturers build their vehicles to please the average owner. All-season tires are really just no-season tires since they don’t do anything really well, but don’t do anything really badly either. The same middle-of-the-road engineering goes into every system in your cars.

It’s often up to enthusiasts to find issues common to our use and resolve them. Engine working really hard? Add an extra radiator. Steering and AC pumps working too hard? Reduce the drive pulley size to slow them down. Are your brakes starting to fade? Just run cooling ducts to lower their temperature and increase their grip. If your bearings are running hot you can add a nice jet of cooling oil to them. If your transmission is running hot, an external cooler will fit that bill as well.

It seems like the solution to every mechanical failure is cooling. We all know that internal-combustion engines generate a tremendous amount of heat. It stands to reason that moving them and stopping them also generates huge amounts of heat. The quest is to reduce that heat below damage thresholds. Manufacturers like Porsche increase these protections in proportion to their cars’ horsepower, but I often think they are missing a key market. Why not produce a track-ready car for sports men and sports women? None of these production-based cars would need more horsepower or bigger brakes. They wouldn’t need exotic metals or advanced engineering. They would just need to be cooled at every opportunity, so they could perform closer to their limits without reverting back to an aluminum ingot.

Like anything that’s broken I always figure I can’t do any damage to it, so my whole transmission is apart in my garage. There is a list of things in there that I’ve never seen before, so I’m using it as a learning experience.

As I mentioned previously, I turned my transmission’s ring and pinion gears into mush due to a heat-induced bearing failure. Apparently the 987 Cayman transmission, while containing very robust gears, has an oiling issue. In a mid-engine car, with the transmission facing the opposite way, the oil used for cooling moves away from the ring and pinion output shaft under hard acceleration. Add the up-hill pull of Mosport’s back straight into the mixture and the front of these transmissions can be oil-starved for over 10 seconds per lap. That’s a heat-induced failure just waiting to happen.

Like anything that’s broken I always figure I can’t do any damage to it, so my whole transmission is apart in my garage. There is a list of things in there that I’ve never seen before, so I’m using it as a learning experience. I may as well get something out of it other than an anchor for a small boat. The gear ratio for the Cayman has always been a little high for the track with most of sixth gear unusable. So at this point my thought is to replace the ring and pinion, the final drive, with a lower-ratio gear set and see if I can reassemble it. Why not? I’ll let you know how I make out.

I got an interesting E-mail from one of our ex-presidents, Kathleen Wong, who still does more jobs than three people. She saw a statement by Porsche Canada’s CEO that said that 50 percent of its cars will be electric by 2025. While that may be true in the new-car market, it should only raise the value of the noisy cars that we all love. I don’t think that petrol-fuelled cars are going anywhere in the following decades. They will just take their place as “vintage” cars for the next generation.

With our first event of the 2021 season just around the corner, I’m sure that everyone is starting to get excited. Just a couple of reminders. We are going to accept the 2010 Snell rated helmets for at least the first half of the 2021 season. We asked that you add a four-inch car number on the back of your car so that it is more readily identifiable in traffic. This will be even more important for the yellow group as they join us in a lead-follow program. The existence of these numbers will be checked at the tech line.

We plan on using the same format for the events that we developed last season. Your track information package will be E-mailed to you prior to the event and it’s up to you to print and bring it to the event. Now is a good time to make sure your contact information is correct. Our no-contact registration system will again be in place and we ask that you respect other people’s space. You don’t know who may have underlying health issues, so physical distancing is a must at all times. There will be a new PCA COVID-19 waiver sent out with your registration package and, once signed and submitted at your first event, it will be valid for the whole 2021 season.

Your track team is looking forward to seeing you all track-side soon! </>

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