Race Day for Fun








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Race Day for Fun!

By Steve Houtari
Editor, Central Oklahoma Jaguar Association

 



The Author at Trackside

Ever wonder how fast your car is? Sure, everybody reads the car literature, we scan the car magazines for the numbers before buying the next "mistress car", and we always want the car to be just a bit faster. My car (1994 XJ12, the MUSLCAT) has been a little massaged in the breathing department, and I've often wondered what the car would do in a quarter mile race. I have a G-Tech Pro accelerometer, and it works pretty well for giving a good idea of the car's capabilities. The original literature from Jaguar indicates that the car will do 0-60 in about 7.1 seconds or so, my G-Tech gizmo says it'll do the job in 6.4 seconds. The quarter mile times showed about 16 seconds or so.

Mike Waldron, former President of COJA and Board Member, has also modified his 1959 Mark I for better performance. His car has had the original engine put away, and there now is a 4.2 liter 6 cylinder engine, the car has a 4 speed automatic, and the car is fuel injected. Now that story is a separate adventure, but suffice it to say that Mike has adapted a GM fuel injection system and computer to work on his Mark I, and Mike can program the curves from his laptop computer. The car runs a lot better, and is more fuel efficient to boot! He also has a custom-built exhaust system that is a little freer flowing than original. His car has a 1980s vintage Vanden Plas set of seats!

Mike had been teasing me for quite some time that his car would probably be a good bit of competition against my V-12 because his car is significantly lighter, but still with good horsepower. My car is more modern, has some minor engine mods, but is heavy as a bank vault! We finally decided that it would be a hoot to go down to Thunder Valley Race Park in Noble OK and find out who's got the faster car! Just think of it: old age classic car takes on the modern luxury sedan!



Mike Waldron and his Mark I

Mike did some Internet research and discovered that the Thunder Valley Raceway has what they call Test & Tune sessions. This is an opportunity for the racers to have a few runs down the strip to check out their latest modifications on the car. There isn't any racing as such, and the times are not posted to NHRA records. We decided to take the plunge on Sunday the 10th of November. The Race Park is located in Noble, just a short drive south from OKC. The location has hosted some of the great names in drag racing and is a full service quarter mile drag racing facility.

We finally managed to gather our stuff together (that means dropping Mike's daughter off at a friend's house so she would not go stir crazy while the adults were playing), and got to the park about 3 or so. We paid the required fee of only $15, got the cars tech inspected, and got in line to demonstrate how fast a cat can run.

Now, think about it. Folks that were SERIOUS about drag racing surrounded us. We had some cars that were barely street legal, there were a number of rail cars, and a few street Corvettes and Firebirds. We were the only two with Jaguars. Our cars drew some interesting looks since Mikes is a classic rounded Mark I in British Racing Green, and my red car is a luxury sedan with leather seats, chrome wheels, and a CD player! Some cars are just built for comfort, not for speed, eh?

We set out to race against each other, and had more dang fun than you can imagine! The first time out on the track, Mike had me by about a half car length for probably the first 100 feet or so. Then the power of the 6 liter V-12 came on, and the rear tires got some grip, and MUSLCAT blew by Mike without a problem. The first run turned out to be the fastest time for both of us, my time was right at 15.86 seconds, Mike came in at 16.89; speeds for the two cars were 89.8 and 80.7 mph respectively. We ran two more times, and I noticed that the initial jump off the line got a little better with less wheelspin and noise. Mike also improved his starts a bit, but he was handicapped by not having a limited slip rear end. One of the rear tires would be bouncing up and down, trying desperately to transmit power to the ground, and making only noise and vibrations! My car was able to get the power down more efficiently. Then, there's the old saying in automotive circles: there's no substitute for cubic inches!

On our last run, we stopped by the scales to see how much each weighed. I drove my car up on the scales, got out to check the weight, and was disappointed to see that the car was beyond the scales' capacity of 5000 pounds! Mike's car weighed in at a slim 3530 pounds, with driver and a fairly full tank of fuel.

One of the objectives that I had when I got my car was to have a Jaguar that would perform about like the muscle cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I think the result has been met, as the literature that I've seen from various places indicate that most street muscle cars could do the quarter mile in the region of 15 to 17 seconds, with terminal speeds of 90 to 100 mph or so. I am pretty pleased with the car, and probably won't do much more to improve the performance. There is always a trade off in the performance area, as the car performs better, it inevitably will lose something in return. I have no intent to have a car that is blazing fast in the quarter mile, but won't drive me to the next Jaguar club outing!

Mike has thought about doing some more modifications on his car, he thinks that a limited slip rear would be beneficial. That is most likely true, and he will continue to develop his fuel injection hardware.

I can definitely recommend that if you want to see another side of the performance envelope of your Jaguar, head down to the drag strip and let 'er rip! Mike and I both left the track with our faces hurting from grinning so much!

posted 1/31/2003


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