Blacktrax Performance S2000 Motorsport Makeover: Part 1 – Basic Chassis Preparation
To start off 2014, the TunerPlayground and BlackTrax Performance team have huge plans for overhauling their time attack Honda S2000, nicknamed “Irene.” In the past few years, Tom Tang, TunerPlayground founder, has showcased just how capable he and the car are at events such as Global Time Attack at Buttonwillow, where it ran a 1:56 in the CW13 configuration, all while retaining street-driven status. Above is a “before” photo.
This year, however, Irene is going all out. TunerPlayground Motorsports is aiming to participate in wheel-to-wheel, hill climb, and time attack events. These include, but are not limited to: NASA USTCC, Honda Challenge, SCCA Run-Offs, Global Time Attack, Redline Time Attack, Super Lap Battle, MotoIQ MPTCC, Hoopa Hill climb, and eventually, even Pikes Peak.
Plans are underway for a full chassis reinforcement, a roll cage that would be overkill for anything less than a professional competition car, a custom-built stroked 2.4L engine, bigger brakes, bigger wheels and tires, and increased aero. Three points of emphasis that the TunerPlayground and Blacktrax Performance team want to keep in mind throughout the project are safety, performance, and convenience.
Part 1: Basic chassis preparation – bead blasting, stitch/seam welding
The first step that needs to be done with such an extensive overhaul is the preparation of the car’s chassis. This includes stripping everything from the car, leaving it as only the frame. As soon as Irene rolled into Blacktrax Performance in Milpitas, California, work started to disassemble the car.
When that’s done, the frame needs to be blasted with some media to strip all the paint and other coatings (like rubber undercoating) from every surface. When all the paint is gone, what’s left is bare metal from every angle. The reason this is so important is to ensure that when welding begins, the welds connect metal to metal all the way, without any paint or other contaminants in the way.
Designed as essentially a small race car for the street, the S2000 in stock form is already a very rigid car. If you take a look any other car stripped out, you would notice that the floor is nearly flat. However, the S2000’s cabin is bisected by a center tunnel that comes all the way up to the driver’s elbow. The armrest is actually part of the chassis! This center tunnel helps the chassis’ rigidity by adding strength and support in the cabin, which would otherwise be susceptible to inherent flexing and deforming under cornering and bumps under performance driving conditions. On the next page, we'll see a photo of the center tunnel to better illustrate its dual function.