Highlights of the SCCA-E CSR Meeting in Colorado
Customer Service Representatives met February 21st at the SCCA-E facilities in Colorado for a meeting of CSR’s. The goal of the meeting was to improve the level of service and the product that is provided to racers.
Upon arriving at SCCA-E we received a warm welcome and a tour of the facilities. We toured the motor shop with dyno, the parts inventory area, shipping and receiving, Mike’s prototype area and the offices. The engine rebuild and dyno area were clean and organized. I was impressed with the operations and the people. After the tour, the group of CSR’s moved upstairs into a large conference room.
Robey, the president of SCCA-E, started the meeting welcoming the team. He then introduced Shannon who is in charge of the engine shop.
Shannon began by letting us know he just finished running in motor #518. He then gave us a glimpse of key issues relating to the engines.
He went through the process of new or rebuilt motor run-in; it was interesting to hear how close the motors are matched. The horsepower of each engine is controlled to a very tight range of typically .3 to .4 HP. He also explained the importance of sending back a motor if it is over-revved. If an engine is accidentally shifted to the wrong gear, like from 3rd to 2nd when the driver was attempting to shift to 4th, and the motor exceeds 8,500 RPM for even a fraction of a second, it should be sent back. When a motor is over-revved the rod bolts stretch and the rod bearings can be compromised. If the engine is not sent back, the rod bearings will typically fail, leading to rod failure and possibly a hole in the block. Of the many motors sent back to Shannan most if not all have had no problems and are still running. The cost to have new rod bolts and bearings installed is a fraction of totaled motor. Shannon also discussed how they repair a motor that has been overheated. Most motors that overheat can be fixed by removing the head and installing a new head gasket and in some cases, the head might need resurfacing. Mike noted that the water holding tank should be filled to the brim to keep air out of the system to avoid overheating. If air gets into the system, it can get into the thermostat area and cause the thermostat to stay closed. This can lead to a hot engine at startup.
Mike took over from Shannon and started with talking about the transaxle. Mike is looking into other ways to improve the transaxle, like new synchros, alternative transaxles, and improved shift linkage. These improvements are probably years away from the track, but it was great to hear they are thinking about the future.
Mike gave us the status on shock bump stops. With the improved performance of the GEN3 at some tracks, the car works better with shorter or in some cases no bump stops. Mike has been testing a custom design for the bump stop, not a Penske part, that will give good performance at all tracks. The new bump stop is still in development and probably won’t be available for a while. Until the new ones come out keep using the current Penske parts.
The new Wilwood brakes are also getting small improvements. Mike is working with Engineers at Wilwood to reduce the caliper pull back, a complaint some drivers have experienced with their new brakes. The various new designs to minimize the pull-back is under testing. All of the solutions will be a simple, low-cost part that is easy to install.
The status of the new sprung clutch disk was also reviewed. There are now about 150 new clutch disks in the field with limited or no failures to date. There have been a few issues due to the wear or out of tolerance parts. When installing a clutch, it is recommended to measure the critical parts before installing the clutch. If unsure about the installation, it is recommended to contact the local CSR to help with measurements and installation.
The last technical issue was a new windscreen design. Some tall drivers experience wind turbulence that causes the helmet to buffet. The guys at MBI came up with a design that eliminates the buffeting but doesn’t affect the performance or drag on the car. So, in the future there will be an optional small, about 2”, tall clear plastic windscreen that should be available.
Another small improvement being considered is a beefier wheel bearing. The bearing that Mike is considering has the same ID but larger OD. The new bearing would require a larger bore in the steering knuckle. At some point, the racer may have the option to buy a knuckle with a larger bore and a heavy duty bearing.
At the end of the meeting, Nikki gave a quick update on the status of inventory and parts. They are working on improved sources for parts and reducing back ordered parts.
Robey closed the meeting with an update on their plans to improve the website and other marketing efforts. Overall, I was impressed with the team and operations. I am confident that the car we have will only get better and will be around for many years to come.