Christening the New Ride (Track Day at Island Dragway)

Posted: November 29, 2012 in 300ZX Build
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300zx Z32 Island Dragway Quarter Mile 1/4 Mile Track Day

What’s the best way to christen a new ride you ask? Take it to the track of course! Feeling satisfied with my new purchase (and with the unusually high temperatures on what would have normally been a cold November Sunday), I couldn’t resist the temptation to head down to Island Dragway in Great Meadows, NJ for the last Test n Tune of the season!

Since purchasing the Z, I’ve been making good progress chasing down lots of little issues that come with owning a car of this age, and have most of the major ones resolved. Yes, I know the entire car will be ripped apart for the Twin Turbo/5 speed swap come spring, but I needed to drive it while my arm healed, so I wanted to make sure it was in the best possible condition.

The other reason… I just plain love driving a Z! Like I said in my previous post – after a year of setbacks, it feels so good to be driving a Z again, even if it is a non turbo automatic.

Before I get to the [laughable] quarter mile results (it is a non turbo automatic after all), I’d like to rewind a bit and go over some of the details of the car. Here’s a shot from the day I picked her up. That’s Joe, the former owner of my new Z – a 93 2+2 non turbo automatic with 131K on the clock.

Joe owned the Z for several years, originally purchasing it from his sister. Both Joe and his sister took incredible care of the car, and it really shows in its appearance. The car still wears all of its original paint, and practically shines like new. Not a single panel’s ever been removed from the body, and all the bolts still have their factory paint/seam sealer. Scratches & dings are minimal, and rust is almost nonexistent, which is a rarity given its age (and geographic location).

Interior is clean for a 20 year old car, although the steering wheel cover needs to go. I’m a big fan of OEM leather seats in a Z, but the cloth holds me firmly in place (which is probably better for the track anyways).

Mechanically the car was in great condition as well, with only a few minor issues. But in all honesty, none of that mattered much, as most of the drivetrain will be ripped out in the coming months. The pristine body was what I was really after, although I do plan to sell the drivetrain come spring to recoup some of my purchase price.

So why would someone who took such good care of a Z be looking to sell it? Well… unfortunately, Joe had some health issues a while back and really didn’t feel comfortable driving the Z anymore. After a few close calls behind the wheel, he finally decided to park the car and put it up for sale.

One of the things I kept hearing from Joe while we chatted about the car was how he “just wanted it to go to a good home.” Definitely felt his love for the Z (and reluctance to sell it) were sincere, and I promised to take good care of the car while under my ownership. Even told him about the film and what I planned to do with the car; I think he got a real kick out of that. After much searching (and many trials and tribulations), I had found my new Z!

Trophy Tire Stroudsburg PA Mount Balance Tire

Once home, I immediately began giving it the once over. With the stitches still fresh in my right arm, I was limited in what I could do, but I wrapped the wound as tight as I could with an ace bandage, covered it with an old sock, and got to work.

The Z had a nasty rear vibration that felt like the center carrier bearing on the driveshaft. It’s a common issue on high mileage Z’s, and I even had a new one still in the box that I picked up for the white Z (which also had a bad carrier bearing). A quick visual inspection proved otherwise though, so I decided to take it down to Trophy Tire in Stroudsburg, PA to have them check the wheel balance.

Before they even had a chance to check the balance, we could see both rear wheels were bent once removed. Bingo! There’s the problem. The right rear had actually been swapped from the front left, and was facing the wrong direction on the rear; a problem in and of itself as stock wheels are directional.

My guess is Joe must of slid off the road and bent the two driver’s side wheels somehow. To stop the shimmy in the steering wheel, they swapped the left front to the right rear (isolating the vibration to the back). I guess that was the close call Joe was talking about… To be fair, he had told me a bent wheel was to blame for the vibration when I first test drove it, but I disregarded that as the outside of the wheels had no curb rash whatsoever; I was sure it was the carrier bearing. How he only bent the inner lip of the wheel is beyond me. No other was damage was found under the vehicle.

Trophy Tire Stroudsburg PA SSR Type C wheels Mount Balance Tire

Thankfully I had a clean set of 18″ SSR Type C’s I bought used a while back for the white Z. Only problem was they were fitted with some Nitto NT05’s that were close to being toast. Luckily the tire shop had some decent used tires in a close enough size and swapped them over for me.

Why didn’t I just go new? Well, I don’t plan to keep these wheels as they’re only 8.5″ wide all around. The guy who sold them to me said they were 9″ wide (capable of running a 275 tire); only after I got them home and cleaned the brake dust off did I realize they were actually 8.5″! He totally ripped me off (beware of eBay member – euntaeyi). In hindsight, I should have been more diligent when inspecting them. I plan to run a 17″ by 9″ or 9.5″ square setup in the future.

300ZX Z32 SSR TYPE C

A quick before / after comparison. The 18″ SSR’s really transform the whole look of the car!

300ZX Z32 BRAKE ROTOR BREMBO SS LINES

While swapping the front wheels I realized both front calipers were dragging (the factory wheels were hot to the touch and wouldn’t spin freely without considerable force). A problem most likely due to age and sitting for long periods of time.

I had a good set of calipers on the white Z, so I swapped them over along with the factory replacement cross drilled Brembos and stainless steel lines. I wish I could say they made a difference in braking feel/stopping power, but I felt nothing. I’m sure at the limit the cross drilled rotors would help vent the off gasses between the pads/rotor, but no amount of spirited street driving has proved any noticeable difference so far.

I have adapter brackets I’ll be running in the near future that relocate the factory calipers allowing larger 350Z track rotors to be used, effectively creating a low budget “big brake kit.” I plan to install them over the winter once I save up for the chryo treated rotors. (Full install to follow.)

300ZX Z32 BREMBO ROTOR E BRAKE ADJUSTMENT

I swapped the stock rear brakes for the cross drilled Brembos as well (save for the stainless lines as one had begun to fray). While I was there, I adjusted the E brake (which was easy to do with the rotor removed).

300ZX Z32 FUEL LINE WORM GEAR CLAMPS

Fuel lines were next. Worm gear clamps have no place on high pressure fuel lines! They can chew into the hose causing leaks and tend to loosen over time. The Z is already known for fuel leaks in this area even with the factory clamps.

The OEM Nissan fuel injection hose is quite expensive at a $1.50 an inch (as well as the clamps which run about $2.60 a piece). I replaced all the old dry rotted line for about half the price of OEM with high pressure textile braided fuel hose recommended by Harry over at Ztuner. The clamps were replaced with constant tension clamps from NAPA for about half the price as well.

300ZX Z32 COOLANT TEMP SENSOR

Last on the list was the coolant temp sensor, another common issue with the Z32. You can see how corroded the pins are in the pic above.

The auxiliary fan switched on immediately at start up – a dead giveaway that the sensor was either faulty or just plain corroded. More than just the nuisance of the aux fan continually running, a faulty/corroded temp sensor can actually cause warm/cold starting issues, hesitation, as well as rough idle and rich fuel mixtures. A few minutes with an emery cloth and a thin bladed screwdriver had the connections clean and the sensor working like it should.

300ZX Z32 ISLAND DRAGWAY TRACK QUARTER MILE

Back at the track I breezed through tech and straight into the staging lanes. The weather was incredible with temperatures in the mid 60’s. The track was packed with a lot of people trying to get their last runs of the season in.

Island had everything from classic & late model muscle cars, to imports & drag cars that day. And quite a few Z’s actually – including a buddy from the NYZC Facebook group who brought out his TT Z32 (I apologize for not getting pics but the day was just too hectic). I was impressed to see that almost all the Z’s were running in the low 12’s. Years ago when I ran my old Z32 at the track, you wouldn’t see too many Z’s, let alone running low 12’s in the quarter.

300ZX Z32 ISLAND DRAGWAY QUARTER MILE

It had been a while since I staged a car on the tree. I remembered enough to foot brake the car at about 2k rpm and mash the gas on the third yellow. Cut a .205 reaction time, which ain’t half bad for just dusting the cobwebs off.

I was lined up against a late 60’s GTX with an idle so lopey I was sure it was going to embarrass me good.

300ZX Z32 ISLAND DRAGWAY QUARTER MILE

But to my surprise, he only got me by a few car lengths, crossing the 1/4 in 15.2 @ 90.5 mph – I on the other hand cruised to a 16.0 @ a blistering speed of 85 mph. Yikes…

I wasn’t expecting much, but that was definitely a bit slower than I had thought. My butt dyno figured around mid 15’s, guess it’s getting a little rusty.

300ZX Z32 JWT JIM WOLF TURBO POP NON TURBO AIR FILTER

Back in the pits I decided to swap out the stock restrictive air box for a Jim Wolf Turbo POP charger fitted with a shorter G35 filter.

It was just sitting on the shelf in the garage anyway (I’ll be running twin POP’s/G35 filters with a Selin Translator and AshSpec planar intake pipes on the TT build), so I figured why not bring it along and see how much it actually helps in the real world on a stock NA.

300ZX Z32 STOCK AIR BOX POP JWT JIM WOLF TURBO

Classic Nissan over engineering. 6 bolts hold in the air box, 2 made almost inaccessible by the front bumper bracket mounts. I had to use an open end wrench and turn a 1/4 turn at a time.

300ZX Z32 JWT JIM WOLF TURBO POP NON TURBO

30 minutes, bloody knuckles, and a lot of cursing later, it was in.

300ZX Z32 JWT JIM WOLF TURBO POP NON TURBO AIR FILTER

A better shot of the installed POP/G35 filter. Way less restrictive than the factory air box.

300ZX Z32 ISLAND DRAGWAY QUARTER MILE TRACK

Back on the track the newly installed intake was good for a full tenth and 1 mph in the quarter. I tripped the lights with a 15.9 @ 86 mph. If you look off in the distance you’ll spot the newer Dodge Challenger that blew my doors off with a 12.8 @ 107 mph.

Not exactly riveting results I know (and probably not worth the bloody knuckles to install it), but a small gain none the less. By the end of the day the lines in the staging lanes were getting long, and I didn’t feel like waiting an hour or more to get another run in. Had I been able to make a few more passes, I’m confident I would have shaved a few more tenths off that time. (On a side note – the POP intake definitely picked up throttle response and the overall “feel” of the car while driving on the street.)

In the end, I didn’t go expecting to break any speed records that day, I went to have some fun and enjoy the new ride. The past year’s been a long strange journey, but I’m finally starting to remember why I do this.

I’ve got a lot planned over the winter, including a full SPL suspension install.

Stay tuned!

Jay

*BONUS PHOTOS*

I had the pleasure of watching this nasty FD RX7 run 8’s all day long – with a FULL interior and glass! I pitted next to them and the guys were real friendly. It’s powered by a 2 rotor 13B rotary (a tiny 1.3 liters making over 1000 HP!). The car was just incredible to watch – I believe their best time of the day was an 8.38 @ over 160 mph. Enjoy!

FD RX 7 13B DRAG RACING 1000HP

FD RX 7 13B DRAG RACING 1000HP

FD RX 7 13B DRAG RACING 1000HP

FD RX 7 13B DRAG RACING 1000HP

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Comments
  1. Michael Martinez says:

    Once again, the Z looks amazing. Track day looks like a lot of fun, hopefully I can join you this coming year. Also, thanks for bringing up that issue on the coolant temp sensor. My aux fan comes on every time i start the car. The Z also hesitates a bit if i take off and its not fully warmed up. I guess I’ll be replacing it soon. I was totally clueless until now, thanks!

  2. No problem! It’s a pain to get at the pins with the emery cloth for sure, but just take your time and you’ll get it. A lot cheaper than buying a new sensor – lol – Let me know how you make out.

  3. Gilbert says:

    Nice. glad you got another Z. 1/10 on the air filter… good. Its better to show 15.9 than 16.0..

  4. Haha, for sure. Thanks Gilbert!

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