BMC Tool Racing Panoz DP02 25 Hour Car The guys over at Tool Racing have just spent the last 5 weeks thrashing like crazy to get their newly acquired Panoz DP02 ex-IMSA Lights car ready for the 2009 25 Hours of Thunderhill.  The team consists of a mish mash of race car mechanics and engineers from Champ Car, Formula Atlantic, ALMS, Formula Mazda, etc. under the supervision of TJ from Tool Racing who is one of the coolest race car mechanics that I know. So for the past 3 weeks on and off Jeremy, Ian, and myself from Cosworth Torrance have been sorting out the electronics side of the equation with the help of Mark_F and Roland from Cosworth Electronics. The Tool guys have been seriously living at the shop and living off of take out food for the past month. It's a good thing they have a bitchin' expresso machine on site.

The car is actually a joint effort between BMC and Tool Racing. Sean and Erich enjoy their race cars very much. So much so that they are hoping to finish on the podium. If you think you've heard of Tool Racing before, you probably have. As a hobby they have dabbled in drifting with EVOs here and there. The Pursuit Systems EVO camera car is also part of their fleet of cars. Yours truly handles the engine tuning on these cars as well.

It all started a couple months ago when TJ called up and the conversation went a little something like this:

TJ: “Hey buddy, can one of your Formula Atlantic Mazda engines last 25hrs in an ex-IMSA Lights car?”
Me: “How many miles is the race?”
“About 2200-2600 or so. It depends how quick the car is”
“Hmm….I'm sure it would last, but the engines are normally mileaged and rebuilt at 2000.”
“Well what do you think? You think that lump will last?”
“Hell yeah, but you know how racing goes…since it's not part of the spec engine series and the engine is yours you can run it to 5000 miles if you want!  They make more power when they come back after 2000 miles than they do when they're new anway.”
“When's the Race?”
“December 5-6th.”
“Wait, I didn't see a Panoz at the shop. That's only 8 weeks away.”
“Yeah that's cuz I haven't picked it up yet! I gotta fly down to Florida, check out the car, make a deal, bring it back, rebuild it from the ground up, and we want to run the full Cosworth gear.”
“Holy shit dude, all in 8 weeks?!?!”
“Shit, you know it buddy!”

So since Magnus and Lyon are away in the UK building F1 engines (we had to pry them away because they wanted to keep building Subaru engines….psyche!), Scotty got the task of building the Tool Racing 2.3L Mazda MZR/Ford Duratec derivative. It isn't 100% Formula Atlantic spec to keep costs down. The engine utilizes a “BVD” (big valve Duratec) cylinder head that is designed and built in Torrance with Atlantic spec camshafts. The bottom end and cam drive system is Formula Atlantic spec and also built in Torrance. I can't say how much power the engine makes or how high it revs until after the 25 Hour, but if you search hard enough on the web I'm sure you can figure it out.

At this point the car is just barely put together and the engine hasn't even cranked yet. It is far from done so maybe the Tool guys might ask me WTF I put this picture up. The engine is far more complete now and looks much cleaner. The Cosworth Mazda engine is mounted to the chassis via trunions and to the Hewland sequential transaxle. Pushrod suspension, double A-arms, dry carbon flat bottom belly pan, tubes everywhere, mil-spec harnesses, individual thottle bodies with the airbox as part of the body work: real race cars are fucking cool aren't they?

Once again we have Dynamic dampers at all four corners just like the Sierra Sierra EVO, Aston Martin 177, and Formula Atlantic 016 cars use. What do these three cars all have in common? Cosworth engines and Dynamic dampers. It's my guess that this probably isn't a coincidence.

The electronics are all Cosworth/Pectel/Pi Research. FYI Pectel and Pi are brands of Cosworth Electronics. Anyhow, the ECU is a Pectel SQ6, the logger is a Pi Sigma Elite with telemetry, and the harnesses are all mil-spec and built by Cosworth Electronics.  Props to Mark_F for helping Jeremy and I set up the Sigma and Roland for answering my 900 questions. The SQ6 is the foundation of the Cosworth ECPros for the 08+ Subarus and EVO Xs. Who else in the tuner world makes ECUs that have been credited for winning in F1, LeMans, Superbike, MotoGP, etc. (and hopefully the 25hrs of Thunderhill soon)? Nobody. Anyhow, after tuning the engine on the engine dyno, I went to Buttonwillow with Tool to monitor the engine and to fine tune it like a tight ass. Remember in endurance racing fuel economy is a huge factor so I had to tap the cheap ass Chinese guy skills I had in reserve and bargain with the SQ6.

Once again Paul at Hankook set up Tool with some kick ass slicks. It is absolutely unbelievable how long these things last on the Panoz. The Panoz weighs only 1175lbs! We did 6 20 minute sessions and these C71 compound (one step harder than C91s) Ventus slicks looked like they were barely scathed. The next car I build will have to be crazy light. Screw this newer car, big engine bullshit that I've been playing with all these years.

Does that look like a mini ALMS P1 car or what? This was the car's first outting at Buttonwillow a couple weeks ago. It ran a 1:52 on clockwise 13 with a 6500rpm rev limiter and way too much downforce. If it stretched it's legs, had some aero tweaks, and more suspension/chassis tuning it would be unlimited class time attack fast; except that it would last 25hrs instead of only 2 laps.

So if you can make it out to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill stop by and say hi. I will be one of the zombies in the Tool Racing pits. If not you should still come by and watch the race because there will be some cool cars there. The entry list has all kinds of cars from production cars, MX-5 cup, ALMS GT, prototypes, Daytona Prototypes, EVOs, Exiges, etc. Sorry, no Subarus because they wouldn't last 25 hours hahah. Anyhow, I admit that this DP02 is a bit sketchy with what very little track time the car has since being rebuilt, but the guys who put it together really know their shit. And of course it has a kick ass engine and electronics. If Erich, Sean, and Dino (the drivers) do well, Erich wants a 450hp turbo engine for next year. Now THAT WOULD BE SICK with GTP like power to weight ratios.

Tool Racing will be posting hourly updates on their You Tube channel. Stay tuned because I will update this post with their You Tube channel information. ADDED: ToolRacing's YouTube Channel.

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