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MCRGO Sponsors “The Grape” Race Car

May 2008 Update.

There are now two Dodge Neons wearing MCRGO logos in the SCCA-Detroit Region and Detroit Council of Sports Car Clubs autocross racing series.

I built "The Penguin" (named by my four year old grandson Clayton) over the winter to compete in the Street Tire-Street Touring (TSM) class in SCCA events and the C-Modified Street Tire (CMT) class at Council events. This car is basically an evil twin to "The Grape" but with about 20 more horsepower and it is about 100 lbs. lighter. My newest "hired" driver Sean Foster and I will be running this car against 400+ horsepower Subaru STi's and Mitsubishi Evolution's in the TSM class, but being that we are almost 1,000 lbs. lighter, our 175 horsepower will be plenty.

After three events, the K.G. Motorsports Team has already bagged eight trophies this season: three for my partner Sean Grogan (all 1st Place spots) and two each for Jessica Krausch and Chris Lambertson (another new driver this season, all driving "The Grape") and one for Sean Foster, with plenty more to come once I get some more chassis tuning time on the new car.

Our next event is a Corvette Club autocross at Belle Isle on May 18th, on the new concrete slab used by the Indy Car teams at the Detroit Grand Prix, followed by the SCCA Memorial Day Solo at DTE Music Theater in Clarkston.

May 2007 Update.

After four full autocross events and over 50 laps, we now have what we feel is a near perfect brake combo on "The Grape" ... which is Hawk HP+ front pads and the rears being a mixed set: HPS inner pads with HP+ outer pads. (Other brake parts: new RaceShopper Gen-II front rotors, cut to Gen-I thickness spec. plus 0.060", two year old NAPA Gen-I rear rotors, 0.015" cut to remove run-out, new Raybestos remanufactured front and rear calipers (fronts have steel pistons), two year old NAPA flex hoses, stock master cylinder, Valvoline synthetic fluid.

The stopping performance is great (maybe 100 feet or less from 60 mph), with very good pedal feel and modulation. In a near panic stop situation, the fronts lock up just a tick more than the rears ... and the car stops straight as an arrow.

Our car set-up changes slightly from event to event, depending on the track surface and the course layout. For SCCA Solo events, we run Hankook RS2 Z212 225/50R15 front tires and 225/45R15 rear tires, both on Kosei 15x7" wheels. For local "council" events, with lesser competition, we run an older set of Falken Azeni 205/50R15 tires all around on Enkei 15x7" wheels. Our chassis is mainly comprised of custom re-valved Koni ACR struts, Performance Driven XX-High Rate springs, Suspension Techniques bushings, -2.5 degrees front camber with -1/8" toe-out / -0.75 degrees rear camber with -1/8" toe-out ... and any number of front / rear sway bar combinations.

For the front, we can run a base coupe 20mm front bar (slippery-coated asphalt), a 22mm ACR/RT front bar (for better asphalt) and a 29mm hollow front bar for big grippy concrete surfaces. For the rear, we have a 22mm solid or a 25mm hollow bar, both of which have a choice of "soft" or "firm" attaching holes. We match up one of these four choices to go with whatever we're running up front. The goal is to get the four Konis all adjusted to roughly the same valving adjustment point and near neutral handling ... hopefully with all four struts at somewhere near one turn down from full stiff.

The final tuning aid is a small air pressure adjustment to the rear tires. The fronts are almost always set to 38 psi cold, as are the rears, but the rears could go as low as 34 or as high as 40. We usually end up pretty close to the handling we want ... and we are always quick, particularly with Sean behind the wheel. And, it's always lots of fun.

Sean was 2nd in Toledo today to Jeff Mabrey's 91 Honda Civic by 0.2xx seconds in the STS class, and Jessie won the STS-L class by a little over 0.5xx seconds.

Below: Photo I shot of Sean in "The Grape" at the SCCA-Detroit Season Opener solo event at the DTE Music Theater in Auburn Hills, MI ... where he finished 17th in the handicap "Pro-Index" class (not one of his better outings). Yours truly took 1st Place in STS and my co-driver Jessica Krausch took 2nd Place (choosing to run in our class rather than to run against "nobody" in the STS-Ladies class).

Look who is on the cover of the April '07 SCCA-Detroit Region's monthly magazine!

March 2007 Update

Here's a nice photo of Sean and Jessie with their 2006 SCCA-Detroit Region Class Championship trophies (Sean in STS, Jessie in STS-Ladies) at the recent awards banquet.

After some off-season adjustments and tweaking, "The Grape" appears to be on its way to another successful season, helped in part by the financial support of MCRGO.

Our new spring and shock package combined with a few other changes allowed my partner Sean Grogan to take first place in the SCCA-Cincinnati Region Season Opener on Sunday, March 25th at the River Downs in Cincinnati by a whopping 3.829 seconds! His best raw time of 40.170 seconds on the half mile course also placed him 7th overall on the "PAX" handicap index, out of 126 competitors. (Sean was just 0.671 seconds off the leader's best time.)

On the ladies side, Jessica Krausch battled it out to win the STS-L class with a very nice lap of 41.808 seconds. With a bit more track time and tuning of the suspension, we hope to see Sean and Jessica repeat as SCCA-Detroit Region Class Champions.

June 2006 Update.

"The Grape" continues to rule the autocross courses ... two weeks ago at the SCCA-Saginaw Valley's event at the Jack Barstow Airport in Midland, MI Sean took 1st Place in the STS class and I took 2nd Place.

And, this past Sunday at the SCCA-Detroit Region's "Spring Fling" event at the GM Parts Depot in Ypsilanti, MI Sean took 1st Place in the STS class, my "substitute" Jessica Krause took 6th Place (the final trophy spot ... I was off vacationing, camping, golfing, drinking with my family up north ) plus Mike Occhipinti ran the car in the handicap "Pro" class and took 2nd Place!

"Three Trophies in One Day!" ... Jim Kidd

When we received an offer from James Kidd to be one of the sponsors for a race car, the lights came on, and the engine roared! Race car sponsorship. A new advertising venue for us. James, and his partner Sean Grogan, made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse, and one of our members has volunteered to pay the fee for this season’s sponsorship fee. James and Sean are the primary drivers of # 65 (The Grape) and they compete in the SCCA Detroit Region, and also the Cen-Div Region, Pro- Solo and Pro Solo II events.
Their most recent racing event, called the Dog-Days Solo-II, took their ACR Neon into 1st place by Sean, and 4th place by Jim (out of 19 entries) in the STS class.

Jim Kidd #65: 2004 SCCA Solo-II STS Class ... 5th Place in Season Championship Points, 1982 IHRA Drag Racing F/Modified Compact National Record Holder, 2005 Detroit SCCA Season Opener - 5th Place STS Class.
Sean Grogan #165: 2004 SCCA Solo-II STS Class ... 9th Place in Season Championship Points, 2001 World Karting Association East Lansing Series Champion, 2000 World Karting Association East Lansing Series Runner-Up, 2005 Detroit SCCA Season Opener - 1st Place STS Class.

The car is a 1997 Dodge ACR Neon, the limited production "American Club Racing" version, of which approximately 1000 units are made each year. From the factory the two-door coupe comes with the DOHC engine, the four-door sedan with the SOHC engine ... four wheel disc brakes without ABS, sport suspension with Koni adjustable shocks and anti-sway bars front and rear, plus the car could be ordered without air conditioning or radio. Attention Race Fans: Their next SCCA-Detroit event is September 25th at The Silverdome, and the last event of the season is October 9th at the DTE Music Theater.

Recent Updates
March 28, 2006

After a long Winter spent in my garage totally in pieces, "The Grape" is back together, running and kicking butt in the Sports Car Club of America's STS class.

For our first test of the 2006 season, my partner Sean Grogan and I made the five hour journey down to Cincinnati this past Sunday to take part in their region's Season Opener, the Solo-II event at the River Downs horseracing track. They have a rather expansive parking lot which they graciously allow us to use for autocrossing, but it was slightly restricted this time with some sand piles that will eventually be out filling holes before the ponies are allowed to run. As a result, we had a nice, tight ˝ mile course that was somewhat dusty and slick, making it a real challenge to find grip on street tires with a fresh engine under the hood.

Our little ACR Neon now has an abundance of mid-range torque, which has made it a bit of a challenge when exiting second gear corners, especially the left-handers. Without a limited slip differential in the transaxle (not allowed by the rules in our class) it is very easy to send the left front tire up in smoke! It is very fun and entertaining for the spectators, but it is not the quickest way around the course.

When the dust and smoke settled, Sean took 1st Place honors and I took 2nd out of the 11 cars entered in the STS class, plus we were 7th and 13th respectively on the handicap index against the 71 competitors that were entered … and this was on last year's tires, which have undoubtedly lost some grip. We will certainly have a fresh set of rubber on the car by the SCCA-Detroit Region Season Opener on May 6th at the DTE Music Theater. See http://www.detroit-scca.org/news/season_opener.pdf for details.

Our next outing will be the Detroit Council of Sports Car Clubs season opener at the GM Poletown plant on April 9th, where we run in the CMT (C/Modified-Street Tire) class with our ported and polished intake manifold and larger throttle body. We have our sights on beating the supercharged Alfa-Romeo that has won the DCSCC class championship the last five years in a row. (Sean was second to him last year with our old 3-1/2 cylinder engine.)

Thanks again to the members of MCRGO for your financial support of our racing efforts, and what you do to help keep our Second Amendment Rights safe here in the Great State of Michigan.

Jim Kidd

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