KEITH GRAHAM and JOE MAUCERI'S CAMS IMPROVED PRODUCTION 124 CC COUPE
Keith Graham and Joe Mauceri send us info and some great shots of their CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) prepared Improved Production 124 CC Coupe. We take our hats off Australian motorsport. The cars are way cool and there's a class for everything. When it comes to "Improved Production" CAMS got it right. It's refreshing to see an entry level category where one can actually improve the car as opposed to restricting it which is what the class name means here in North America. Having said that though, we were also startled to see just how far this supposedly limited category's rules allows a car to actually improve. The rules allow mods closer to SCCA E-Production with the exception of the Yokohama spec tires. For more info on CAMS you can visit here.
Keith takes us through the nitty gritty of his car and his team's ups and downs which, of course, are all a part of racing...
MODEL: 124 SPORTS COUPE
OWNERS BUILDERS: KEITH GRAHAM & JOSEPH MAUCERI
DRIVER: JOSEPH MAUCERI
CLASS; IMPROVED PRODUCTION 3J under 2Litre
Project started in 2001 with a very rusted and damaged car, it was stripped to the bare body shell and then seam welded We also replaced the floor and welded half guards in, after which we started preparing the body for paint.
The interior and engine bay have been painted in silver, the exterior was painted in heron white and the rear painted in bright blue. With the body now finished we started on the interior, door trims which had to be made as original ones are not available. We cut panels out of 5mm MBF and covered them with blue vinyl. We then fitted a blue SPARCO race seat and 3in racing harness. The car has a six point cage supplied by BOND ROLLBARS.
The front cross member was then seam welded as were the upper and lower wish bones. Cross member modification also involved fitting longer lower wish bone mount bolts with a 15 mm spacer so as to give more negative camber. Next came new, larger front stubs (as fitted to the coil over Fiat 131) as the standard 124 sports coupe tend to crack and brake under race conditions. The brake refit included larger (257mm Argenta)
D B A slotted disc rotors, a master cylinder from Holden Commodore (20mm bore) and EBC pads, greenstuff up front and blackstuff on the rears. New springs made so the car was lowered 50mm, with front spring rate at 275Kg and the rear at 175Kg , the shocks are Koni yellow adjustable. The front sway bar is standard.
The engine was then stripped and checked; we decided to only modify the engine slightly for greater reliability. The cylinder bore was honed, new 11 to 1 pistons fitted, the oil pump and sump were both modified (more pressure and volume), the flywheel was machined and lightened along with the clutch assembly which is from a Holden one tonne truck. We then sent the crankshaft, conrods, pistons and flywheel/clutch assembly off to Terry Edward’s engine balancing to have the engine balanced.
The head still uses standard valves and springs but ports and chambers have been modified. The camshafts were sent off to Tighe Camshaft to be modified. The grind is mild (EX: op 78 cl 42 IN: op 44 cl 78 Duration 300 @ 0.50 gross lift .460” ) With the engine assembled, two 40mm Weber carburetors and a tuned exhaust ( 2 1/2”) were fitted. Once everything was installed we then started to rewire then car from front to back with separate systems for each of the lights. The dash was then modified in order to fit a Tacho, gauges for oil pressure, water temperature and a volt metre. We then wired the dash, fitted separate switches for the lights and wired a new fuse panel below the dash to the floor.
Both the gearbox and differential are standard (4.3to1 ratio) Fiat with out any modifications. The wheels are 14” from a 131, fronts are standard 5.5” and the rears have been widened to 7” which is the maximum for this class in under 2Lt. The tyres are a controlled (road radial) Yokohama AO32R’s 60 series, front are 175 x 60 x 14” and rear are 195 x 60 x 14”. This was the setup for the car’s first test.
We entered the car in a super sprint at Oran Park race track in July 2003. This was the first time both car and driver had been on the track and after two runs ( each of four laps) we had to adjust the timing and change the main jets. This increased the power and lowered the times. Unfortunately, after another two runs the engine failed, so we loaded up the car and went back to the workshop where the engine was pulled out and stripped. We found that we had done a front main bearing in the engine.
After a rebuild we again entered in another super sprint at Oran Park, armed this time with more jets and air bleeds. This increased both the power and again lowered the lap times but once again after only three runs the engine failed. So it was back to the workshop to pull the engine out, strip and inspect. This time we had done both the front and middle main bearings. After checking what could have caused the failure (oil pressure while running was on 60psi) we then asked other Fiat racers and they said that maybe it’s because we ran standard rods, but we thought why only the front main middle main and not any big ends?
We rebuilt the engine once again but this time we increased the flow of the oil pump. As it was now at the end 2003 and the race season finished we looked forward to the 2004 State Championship.
The first round was at a WakefieldPark ( about 165Km’s south of the City of Sydney) which we did not enter, the second round was at Eastern Creek Raceway ( about 30Km’s west of Sydney). This time we entered but after only four laps of practice the engine started to misfire and lose power, we checked and found we had blown a head gasket so we loaded up and went back to the workshop to replace it and then headed back out to the track the next day for the races. Unfortunately we did not finish the first race as we blew another head gasket.When we removed the head this time, we checked the block and head for any warping or cracks. To play it safe we had them tested and they were found to be ok. The car was ready to go again in time for the next round at Oran Park (about 50Km’s south west of Sydney) which had entered but once again, after only a few practice laps, another blown head gasket!
We now decided to bring the car to TONY RIGOLI PERFORMANCE (www.rigoliracing.com.au ) a well known Fiat drag racer ( 330HpFiat 124 CC and 235HP Fiat 131 Super Brava) We brought him all the components and let him work his magic. Tony modified the block’s oil ways and o-ringed both the head and block. He also fitted new studs from a MISTIBUSHI EVO engine. He then got us to rebuild the engine using the same parts that we had run before and not to fit new ones. We also purchased aand installed a set of PIPER vernier pulleys and a kevlar cam belt. Once the car was running again we brought it back down to Tony Rigoli’s workshop and he ran the car on his Dyno. The first runs showed good horsepower for what had been done to the engine, but after some tuning and the fitment of a set of Tony’s extractors (headers) we again ran the car up but this time it showed about a 35% increase in power. By now, the 2004 race season was over so we would have to wait till the 2005 season which was to start in February. (our race season runs from February to October each Year with six races) During the off-season, we also fitted a larger front sway bar ( 28mm ) and an adjustable rear panhard rod.
The first round of the 2005 season was at Wakefield Park. ( never run this track before) This is a small track with short straights sharp corners and a steep hill. After practice on the Friday the car was strong but lacked speed due to the diff ratio being too high ( we could only use 1st,2nd and 3rd ). On Saturday we had qualifying in the morning and the first race in the afternoon. The car ran at 7,500 RPM all weekend with out any problems, Sunday was race two in the morning and the main trophy race in the afternoon, in all three races we scored points, we packed up and started off home with the car still running and ready for round two
Round two was at Eastern Creek in March all we did between the first and second round was change oil and filter (our race oil is a special blend supplied by sponsorship from Valvoline Australia). We ran practice, qualifying and the first race with out any problems but on Sunday morning in the second race the car started to misfire and lose power. We found that the electronic ignition was failing and in the trophy race it stopped only 800 metres from the finish so we had a DNF.As parts are hard to get in Australia and import cost so great we decided to fit a locally purchased Crane Cams XR3000 electronic ignition system, and two 45mm Weber carburettors. We then took the car back to Tony Rigoli’s workshop and ran it on the dyno again. This time, after replacing the 40mm chokes, jets and air bleeds we found some more horsepower and torque; 135HP at 7,500RPM’s at the rear wheels. Everybody as over the moon with the performance form such a small amount of modification that had been done to the engine.
Now it was round three at OranPark in June. There again the car completed qualifying and finished all three races with out any problems. We came back to OranPark for round four in July and the car ran strong in qualifying. Unfortunately young Joe got hit in the rear coming off the bridge by a faster car. We had to do some running repairs so we could race in the first race on Saturday. On Sunday in the first race we had a fuel pump failure which we replaced and went on to finish the trophy race.
We did not enter round five at WakefieldPark in August as we did not have the rear body panels repaired and painted. We were also waiting for new tail lights. Round six was at Eastern Creek in September which was a great weekend. Now that the 2005 season has finished it’s time to do some more work to improve the car and be ready for season 2006.
Both Joe and I would like to thank all the sponsors that have helped get this little car to the race track and keep it running, We would also like to thank Joe Clemente and his web site Fire breathing Fiats for letting us to tell our story about such a great little car.
1st TONY RIGOLI PERFORMANCE: for his ongoing support and sponsor ship with all the
engine work and parts he has supplied.
2nd VALVOLINE AUSTRALIA: for their supply and sponsorship of a great oil product that
has not let us down
3rd ALLIED AUSTRALIA: distributors of TECUMSEH products.
4th TERRY EDWARDS ENGINE BALANCING: for his excellent work in balancing of our
REGARDS: from KEITH GRAHAM and JOSEPH MAUCERI
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