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(Member Suggestion) Potential Fuel Capacity and Fluid Cooler Rule Changes for 2023 or Beyond


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ChampCar is a beautiful thing. It has a great story, gives the best road racing experience there is dollar for dollar, if not anywhere and is the racing home of so many awesome people. As the saying goes, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. ChampCar is no different and has changed over the years, balancing its mission of providing cheap racing with providing good, close racing. I believe the series has done a pretty good job of that, but sometimes “cheap” isn’t actually cheap for the competitor or the series and it isn’t always good in the long run. ChumpCar took a big step becoming ChampCar, but still has some housekeeping to do. Engine reliability and fuel capacity limits are two examples of this. The current related rules are actually costing competitors more money in the long run, while costing the series money, both in fewer new teams and in fewer entries from current competitors. They are ChumpCar rules, it is time for more ChampCar rules.

-- Begin edit
The bullet points:
*rah rah Champcar, it is awesome but can be better!
*There are a ton of cars great, affordable cars that can't make it long enough on fuel to be competitive.

*There are some outliers that have way too much fuel such as C3 Corvette and 944, 26 gallons and 23.1 respectively.

*Limiting fuel limits current performance issues and will help catch the next oddball.

*Limiting coolers is costing money, not saving money on multiple levels.

*Limiting coolers is a barrier of entry to the series.

*These are legacy ChumpCar issues and the effects of changing any of these is short term, the cons of the status quo are long term.

-- End edit

The series needs to take a hard look at fuel capacity limits, both minimum and maximum. There are many great affordable chassis out there in every class that don’t have enough fuel to run two hours at any track, at a pace with which they can be competitive. These cars are all at a disadvantage before they even turn a wrench or a lap. This is also true for odd hour races, even if they can make it on the same number of stops, these teams will have less strategy flexibility. Sure, some teams are just happy to be out there, but they’d be happier with a better shot. Furthermore, to give many of these teams a consistent shot of winning, they’d have to swap chassis costing them money and possibly compromising their values and overall experience by not being able to race what they want and know. This goes against the foundations of the series multiple ways. Including fuel capacity in the VPI process and then monitoring/accounting for this extra variable?? First of all, it doesn't work, or isn't and second, our points system is complicated enough and our volunteers do enough already. Let’s simplify a barrier of entry while taking a burden off our staff and create a new min fuel capacity rule(likely per class) or eliminate the link to stock capacity all together and formulate a maximum fuel capacity rule that suits what ChampCar has become.

Some say that we should ditch fuel limits all together, but one of the benefits of having a max fuel capacity is that the ultimate pace of any car is limited. It doesn’t matter if it is a class D car, the car’s VPI is off, the team formulated a genius super swap or engineered the poop outta something. Each car only has so much fuel and can only go so far, so fast. The issue is, the current rule is essentially random. Some great affordable and popular cars came with 9 or 10 gallon tanks, while the GBU Vette is running around with 26 gallons of fuel and 944’s with 23.1 gallons! When a single car can put 5-10 laps on the field or a few models standout above the rest, it isn’t healthy for the series. Jerking the points around on a single competitor isn’t great either. Just look at what the “Car of the Year” syndrome did to Showroom Stock to see the long term effect of such a cycle. There are more cars hiding in the VPI list and some being ran already that have more fuel than they should relative to others in their class and overall. A rule limiting max fuel capacity would solve these concerns. Such a limit could be based on engine size, class or a combination of both for D to account for the larger variety of engine and car size, but maintain simplicity for the masses. FWD, relying a bit more on HP vs grip to make lap time, should likely get a 1 gallon bump vs RWD. Fuel capacity limiting balls and blocks are pretty cheap relatively speaking. We need to level the playing field and help protect the future of the series.

On the reliability side of things, some of the same applies. How is the ChampCar staff supposed to balance OE included coolers vs not and the need for coolers in the VPI??!! Coolers, oil pans and oil accumulators are not cheap, but missed track time, engines and the labor to change engines are far more expensive. Not only is this a great example of “cheap” not being cheap, these rules are a barrier of entry to the series. Both via perception and due to the fact that many cars have these things added on before they ever make it to Champ. No HPDE orgs nor any other series running the cars we do limit coolers like this. A large many of us are concerned about free items and speed creep and have made cases against such a change. These free items are being or would be used to level the playing field, make our racing less expensive over all and bring the series more entries. Any standout effects would be easy to adjust on the VPI list and would be much smaller than the GBU car, for example. The negative effects would be minimal and short term while the benefits would be long term. Simply put, the pros outweigh the cons.

 

As we know, club endurance racing on two hundred tread wear tires is booming and ChampCar is perfectly positioned to be at the forefront of said growth. To stay relevant and best be able to do this, the series needs to work on some leftover rules that don’t fit with its goals and/or club racing in general. By leveling and/or limiting fuel capacities and eliminating the legacy cooler rules, the series would create better, more competitive racing and gain more entries from more teams with a larger variety of cars. It is late in the season, but these are easy to implement changes, the first race under 2023 rules is not until March and a lot can happen in a year. Also very important, the mandatory changes to any car under these proposed changes should be very affordable. I ask that the series take an honest look at these issues and make changes for 2023 where it is best for the series long term.


By now, those that don’t know me may be asking, “who is this guy and why does he think he has all the answers?” Well first off, I don’t have ALL(or all) the answers, but I’m a compassionate blue collar guy that has been turning laps and racing at tracks all over the US since 2005 with a large variety of organizations. Even when not driving, I have been working on the cars and with the drivers, orgs or even the tracks themselves and as such, have looked at the sport from many angles. I stay up on five or more racing rulebooks, have watched them evolve and am familiar with different rule writing philosophies. Every ChampCar event I have crewed, coached and/or driven at has been a treat and I believe in the series. The cars that I work with currently in Champ have little to no issue running two hours everywhere and we don’t need any extra coolers. However, wanting what’s best for the series, even over what might be best for my team(s), I felt it important to sit down and write this up. I’m also a proponent of restricting tires even though my teams have always run fast tires, but that has been brought up recently elsewhere.

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P.S. I'm well read and relatively well spoken, or so I'm told regarding the latter, but haven't published anything in writing... This is likely my longest post ever. Please feel free to PM any criticism, comments or tips about not just what I wrote, but how I wrote it and how it comes across.

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Just my views on fuel for what its worth

 

More capacity would make more horsepower, for existing cars, thus increasing the speed of the field. Only way to combat that would be a PWR value applied to all cars, which it appears the series is not interested in.

 

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1 hour ago, Wheelman_99 - C Rallo said:

P.S. I'm well read and relatively well spoken, or so I'm told regarding the latter, but haven't published anything in writing... This is likely my longest post ever. Please feel free to PM any criticism, comments or tips about not just what I wrote, but how I wrote it and how it comes across.

Can you write a condensed version? No fluff, just the basics of what you are proposing. Maybe in bulleted list form.

Edited by enginerd
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Changing the fuel rule would upset the current VPI ratings I think. Fuel capacity is the only thing stopping someone to build a $$$$ turbo civic or something.
When the NC was 400pts it was the fuel capacity that was the limiting factor. A 200whp NC doesn't makes sense on 13 gallons, but would be great with 20 :)

(Didn't read the entire post, just read "cars can't go 2 hours")

Edited by turbogrill
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8 minutes ago, turbogrill said:

Changing the fuel rule would upset the current VPI ratings I think. Fuel capacity is the only thing stopping someone to build a $$$$ turbo civic or something.

Pull back on the turbo rule. How many are using it now?

5 minutes ago, Hillar K said:

Being able to go 2 hrs in a lower hp car allows those cars to be somewhat competitive against the higher hp cars. Not that it totally equalizes things but it helps.

The problem is high hp cars that can go 2 hours.

 

Try 1:30 stints for everyone, no fuel capacity issues.

Edited by mender
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1 minute ago, mender said:

Try 1:30 stints for everyone, no fuel capacity issues.

 That would work if all the cars were approx the same speed. Otherwise it would be time to start from scratch and find the best chassis/engine combo to build.

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40 minutes ago, Wink said:

Just my views on fuel for what its worth

 

More capacity would make more horsepower, for existing cars, thus increasing the speed of the field. Only way to combat that would be a PWR value applied to all cars, which it appears the series is not interested in.

 

 

36 minutes ago, turbogrill said:

Changing the fuel rule would upset the current VPI ratings I think. Fuel capacity is the only thing stopping someone to build a $$$$ turbo civic or something.
When the NC was 400pts it was the fuel capacity that was the limiting factor. A 200whp NC doesn't makes sense on 13 gallons, but would be great with 20 :)

(Didn't read the entire post, just read "cars can't go 2 hours")

 

33 minutes ago, Hillar K said:

Being able to go 2 hrs in a lower hp car allows those cars to be somewhat competitive against the higher hp cars. Not that it totally equalizes things but it helps.

The top two quotes are how I feel…the 3rd @Hillar K Inadequately addresses the fact that a 400 hp mustang/Camaro will now be able to go close to two hours completely destroying the slower car and everybody else.

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On 11/15/2022 at 3:36 PM, Wink said:

Just my views on fuel for what its worth

 

More capacity would make more horsepower, for existing cars, thus increasing the speed of the field. Only way to combat that would be a PWR value applied to all cars, which it appears the series is not interested in.

 

 

I'm talking about adding a max fuel cap limit which would reign in fast cars, not the opposite.

Simply put, the cars that would get/need more fuel are all the ones that can't go far or fast.

 

On 11/15/2022 at 3:36 PM, enginerd said:

Can you write a condensed version? No fluff, just the basics of what you are proposing. Maybe in bulleted list form.

 

Done. Tough balance to support what I'm asking for/about, propose a couple solutions AND keep it short.

 

On 11/15/2022 at 3:40 PM, turbogrill said:

Changing the fuel rule would upset the current VPI ratings I think. Fuel capacity is the only thing stopping someone to build a $$$$ turbo civic or something.
When the NC was 400pts it was the fuel capacity that was the limiting factor. A 200whp NC doesn't makes sense on 13 gallons, but would be great with 20 :)

(Didn't read the entire post, just read "cars can't go 2 hours")


Turbos drink fuel. Yes, they say Fuel is baked into VPI, but the results literally and figuratively don't show that. There are a ton of cars that can't go far enough or fast enough to be truly competitive.
 

On 11/15/2022 at 3:43 PM, Hillar K said:

Being able to go 2 hrs in a lower hp car allows those cars to be somewhat competitive against the higher hp cars. Not that it totally equalizes things but it helps.


Covered above think and sounds good on paper, but we have some of the fastest cars going two hours and a ton of not fast cars not able to go two hours. Just one example, when is the last time a Neon podiumed?
 

Edited by Wheelman_99 - C Rallo
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10 minutes ago, Team Infiniti said:

 

 

The top two quotes are how I feel…the 3rd @Hillar K Inadequately addresses the fact that a 400 hp mustang/Camaro will now be able to go close to two hours completely destroying the slower car and everybody else.

Why a 400hp car be able to go two hours? I literally said to take away fuel from fast cars, not add it.

I added bullets which may help clarify what I'm aiming at

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Completely agree about the coolers.  Motors are expensive.  This is my car's heater core after testing at 60-70psi.  Equal size oil cooler cost less than the price of welding (I know its a skill many of you have, I don't, and pay those that do) and now it's a fun ornament.  Or we run it, blow up a motor, lay down a bunch of oil and maybe cost someone a racecar or worse.  

PXL_20221115_211644686_MP.jpg.e47f518756e6cda0f4868dfb673ef7b3.jpg

 

this isn't a gopro distorted image, I made an oval out of a rectangle

 

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16 minutes ago, macheesy said:

Completely agree about the coolers.  Motors are expensive.  This is my car's heater core after testing at 60-70psi.  Equal size oil cooler cost less than the price of welding (I know its a skill many of you have, I don't, and pay those that do) and now it's a fun ornament.  Or we run it, blow up a motor, lay down a bunch of oil and maybe cost someone a racecar or worse.  

PXL_20221115_211644686_MP.jpg.e47f518756e6cda0f4868dfb673ef7b3.jpg

 

this isn't a gopro distorted image, I made an oval out of a rectangle

 

Thank you for trying, I think you’ll have infinitely better luck with the AC evaporator coil from the dashboard, it’s made to withstand much higher pressures

Edited by Team Infiniti
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56 minutes ago, Wheelman_99 - C Rallo said:

Why a 400hp car be able to go two hours? I literally said to take away fuel from fast cars, not add it.

I added bullets which may help clarify what I'm aiming at

Chris, I'd be concerned that there will be a lot of subjectivity added to the rule set.

 

How do we come up with a formula for speed=fuel capacity/horsepower/laptime

 

Then do it for every single car on the grid, plus other cars that we havent seen race before.

 

 

Fuel capacity is the last equalizer for a field of home built diverse cars, IMO

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Your ideas are not bad, but I have a hard time imagining that the leadership will do anything with them.   The best is to write specific petitions and see where it goes in the rule making process.

 

My view on free reliability parts (coolers)  If they are made free there needs to be an adjustment to the vpi on some cars.  Some up and some possibly down.  Coolers have always been legal, they just use up points and teams have to choose speed parts or reliability insurance parts.    If the cars that truly need them get them free then the points should go up on those cars.   We have run Champcar since 2014 or so and never run an oil cooler.  We have paid close attention to ducting air and maximizing driveline cooling that way.  

 

Equalizing fuel, sounds good but is probably almost impossible.   Mender has proposed fuel to weight formulas that would probably work...except we have seen how the formulas get manipulated to work real good for some and not so good for others.    What starts out a formula turns into something else.  Actually taking fuel away from some, seems reasonable on the surface but Tech doesn't want anything to do with checking fuel capacity to enforce the rules we have now so telling a team with a 944 they have to have displacement blocks might work, might not.

 

Mostly we have to just show up, help pay the bills for the series and have fun.    Not much different than other series or organizations.  Lots or drivers and teams go to the Runnoffs every year and really only a few have much chance at the podium.   

 

 

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I wouldn't mind seeing a pay for fuel situation.  Like 25 to 50 pts for a gallon of fuel.

 

Also, increase the vpi of cars that are fuel rich by the same value.

 

So like a 2nd gen s5 rx7 has 18.5 gallons.  It's vpi should be raised by whatever 1 or 2 gallons of gas cost in points.

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26 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

I wouldn't mind seeing a pay for fuel situation.  Like 25 to 50 pts for a gallon of fuel.

 

 

What's the argument against this? A camshaft or more fuel is more or less the same thing.

Ambitious teams could even adjust the fuel level depending on the track, remove a header for some more fuel for instance. 

Maybe it's hard to police?

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2 hours ago, JDChristianson said:

 

My view on free reliability parts (coolers)  If they are made free there needs to be an adjustment to the vpi on some cars.  Some up and some possibly down.  Coolers have always been legal, they just use up points and teams have to choose speed parts or reliability insurance parts.    If the cars that truly need them get them free then the points should go up on those cars.   We have run Champcar since 2014 or so and never run an oil cooler.  We have paid close attention to ducting air and maximizing driveline cooling that way.  

 

 

 

 

 

Need to sort out if a part is worth XXX then it doesn't matter where it came from.  Like an oil cooler is an oil cooler or a non-stock cam pulley is a non-stock cam pulley and Points is Points.

 

 

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So sort out fuel capacity based on displacement.

 

Bigger motor = bigger consumption right?

 

Or fuel capacity based on OE listed HP.

 

Pick one of these methods, then make the excel sheet based on where we are now to show what cars are outliers.  Then decide what the value should be and therefore what cars are outliers and need adjustment.

 

 

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3 hours ago, macheesy said:

Completely agree about the coolers.  Motors are expensive.  This is my car's heater core after testing at 60-70psi.  Equal size oil cooler cost less than the price of welding (I know its a skill many of you have, I don't, and pay those that do) and now it's a fun ornament.  Or we run it, blow up a motor, lay down a bunch of oil and maybe cost someone a racecar or worse.  

PXL_20221115_211644686_MP.jpg.e47f518756e6cda0f4868dfb673ef7b3.jpg

 

this isn't a gopro distorted image, I made an oval out of a rectangle

 

Using  a heater core that was not designed to cool oil is not a good comparison.   Your lucky it just distorted instead of blowing out.

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6 hours ago, Wheelman_99 - C Rallo said:

ChampCar is a beautiful thing. It has a great story, gives the best road racing experience there is dollar for dollar, if not anywhere and is the racing home of so many awesome people. As the saying goes, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. ChampCar is no different and has changed over the years, balancing its mission of providing cheap racing with providing good, close racing. I believe the series has done a pretty good job of that, but sometimes “cheap” isn’t actually cheap for the competitor or the series and it isn’t always good in the long run. ChumpCar took a big step becoming ChampCar, but still has some housekeeping to do. Engine reliability and fuel capacity limits are two examples of this. The current related rules are actually costing competitors more money in the long run, while costing the series money, both in fewer new teams and in fewer entries from current competitors. They are ChumpCar rules, it is time for more ChampCar rules.

-- Begin edit
The bullet points:
*rah rah Champcar, it is awesome but can be better!
*There are a ton of cars great, affordable cars that can't make it long enough on fuel to be competitive.

*There are some outliers that have way too much fuel such as C3 Corvette and 944, 26 gallons and 23.1 respectively.

*Limiting fuel limits current performance issues and will help catch the next oddball.

*Limiting coolers is costing money, not saving money on multiple levels.

*Limiting coolers is a barrier of entry to the series.

*These are legacy ChumpCar issues and the effects of changing any of these is short term, the cons of the status quo are long term.

-- End edit

The series needs to take a hard look at fuel capacity limits, both minimum and maximum. There are many great affordable chassis out there in every class that don’t have enough fuel to run two hours at any track, at a pace with which they can be competitive. These cars are all at a disadvantage before they even turn a wrench or a lap. This is also true for odd hour races, even if they can make it on the same number of stops, these teams will have less strategy flexibility. Sure, some teams are just happy to be out there, but they’d be happier with a better shot. Furthermore, to give many of these teams a consistent shot of winning, they’d have to swap chassis costing them money and possibly compromising their values and overall experience by not being able to race what they want and know. This goes against the foundations of the series multiple ways. Including fuel capacity in the VPI process and then monitoring/accounting for this extra variable?? First of all, it doesn't work, or isn't and second, our points system is complicated enough and our volunteers do enough already. Let’s simplify a barrier of entry while taking a burden off our staff and create a new min fuel capacity rule(likely per class) or eliminate the link to stock capacity all together and formulate a maximum fuel capacity rule that suits what ChampCar has become.

Some say that we should ditch fuel limits all together, but one of the benefits of having a max fuel capacity is that the ultimate pace of any car is limited. It doesn’t matter if it is a class D car, the car’s VPI is off, the team formulated a genius super swap or engineered the poop outta something. Each car only has so much fuel and can only go so far, so fast. The issue is, the current rule is essentially random. Some great affordable and popular cars came with 9 or 10 gallon tanks, while the GBU Vette is running around with 26 gallons of fuel and 944’s with 23.1 gallons! When a single car can put 5-10 laps on the field or a few models standout above the rest, it isn’t healthy for the series. Jerking the points around on a single competitor isn’t great either. Just look at what the “Car of the Year” syndrome did to Showroom Stock to see the long term effect of such a cycle. There are more cars hiding in the VPI list and some being ran already that have more fuel than they should relative to others in their class and overall. A rule limiting max fuel capacity would solve these concerns. Such a limit could be based on engine size, class or a combination of both for D to account for the larger variety of engine and car size, but maintain simplicity for the masses. FWD, relying a bit more on HP vs grip to make lap time, should likely get a 1 gallon bump vs RWD. Fuel capacity limiting balls and blocks are pretty cheap relatively speaking. We need to level the playing field and help protect the future of the series.

On the reliability side of things, some of the same applies. How is the ChampCar staff supposed to balance OE included coolers vs not and the need for coolers in the VPI??!! Coolers, oil pans and oil accumulators are not cheap, but missed track time, engines and the labor to change engines are far more expensive. Not only is this a great example of “cheap” not being cheap, these rules are a barrier of entry to the series. Both via perception and due to the fact that many cars have these things added on before they ever make it to Champ. No HPDE orgs nor any other series running the cars we do limit coolers like this. A large many of us are concerned about free items and speed creep and have made cases against such a change. These free items are being or would be used to level the playing field, make our racing less expensive over all and bring the series more entries. Any standout effects would be easy to adjust on the VPI list and would be much smaller than the GBU car, for example. The negative effects would be minimal and short term while the benefits would be long term. Simply put, the pros outweigh the cons.

 

As we know, club endurance racing on two hundred tread wear tires is booming and ChampCar is perfectly positioned to be at the forefront of said growth. To stay relevant and best be able to do this, the series needs to work on some leftover rules that don’t fit with its goals and/or club racing in general. By leveling and/or limiting fuel capacities and eliminating the legacy cooler rules, the series would create better, more competitive racing and gain more entries from more teams with a larger variety of cars. It is late in the season, but these are easy to implement changes, the first race under 2023 rules is not until March and a lot can happen in a year. Also very important, the mandatory changes to any car under these proposed changes should be very affordable. I ask that the series take an honest look at these issues and make changes for 2023 where it is best for the series long term.


By now, those that don’t know me may be asking, “who is this guy and why does he think he has all the answers?” Well first off, I don’t have ALL(or all) the answers, but I’m a compassionate blue collar guy that has been turning laps and racing at tracks all over the US since 2005 with a large variety of organizations. Even when not driving, I have been working on the cars and with the drivers, orgs or even the tracks themselves and as such, have looked at the sport from many angles. I stay up on five or more racing rulebooks, have watched them evolve and am familiar with different rule writing philosophies. Every ChampCar event I have crewed, coached and/or driven at has been a treat and I believe in the series. The cars that I work with currently in Champ have little to no issue running two hours everywhere and we don’t need any extra coolers. However, wanting what’s best for the series, even over what might be best for my team(s), I felt it important to sit down and write this up. I’m also a proponent of restricting tires even though my teams have always run fast tires, but that has been brought up recently elsewhere.


Chris, just for clarification purposes, I would say approximately 90% of 944s raced in Champ have the factory 17.3 gallon tank. The other 10% have the 21.1 gallon tank.  I don’t know of a single 944 team (non-EC) that runs a fuel cell to get the extra 2 gallons.

 

As for the free durability items can 944s get free control arms that are prone to breaking?  It would reduce our running costs a bunch, reman arms are $350 plus a $200 core(which you don’t have when they break) or I can buy new ones for $700 EA.   Improved aftermarket ones that don’t break are $1200 for the pair. 
 

The problem with free durability items is where does it stop?

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10 hours ago, ABR-Glen said:

Can you share some examples of the many cars that you feel would be great in the series but don't have adequate fuel capacity or can't compete without (or with the points for) a cooler? 


I can think of the Honda Fit for lack of fuel. There have been a few that have run in ChampCar, they were all EC from what I recall. 

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13 hours ago, DEE DEE said:

Using  a heater core that was not designed to cool oil is not a good comparison.   Your lucky it just distorted instead of blowing out.

 

Sorry, wasn't clear on the point.  Every car has a heater core or evap that can be reused as an oil cooler but lets not kid ourselves that the reuse of something from the car is a cost saving measure.

 

Heater core fitting welding: $120

Evap core fitting welding (because the heater core obviously won't work): $120

Those 2 hvac pieces that could have been sold used: -$150ish 

 

So it's costing around $400 for an oil cooler that can be bought for essentially free, after selling the other cores, and is designed for the purpose.

 

So it's costing around $240 for an oil cooler that can be bought for half that and is designed for the purpose.

Edited by macheesy
Ed knows better than I do about that stuff so I just want the post to be accurate.
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2 minutes ago, macheesy said:

 

 

 

 

Those 2 hvac pieces that could have been sold used: -$150ish

 

 

Mac, I absolutely get the point you are trying to make about not saving $ by paying to mod the stuff on hand, but in reference to non precious, commonish  cars raced in this series, its a reach to say those hard to change parts are desirable used. Reiterating, you have a good point but...

 

As a tech by day, you would have to pay cash in advance and understand no warranty if handing me a used evaporator and heater to install... what Im saying, no one few would choose used over new unless the stuff was unobtainable otherwise.

 

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  • Bill Strong changed the title to (Member Suggestion) Potential Fuel Capacity and Fluid Cooler Rule Changes for 2023 or Beyond

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