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Moving to C Mod an Introduction
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PCalhoun
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28 Nov 2010 12:27 PM

    How to move from Stock or Street Touring to C Mod- An Introduction

    All of us have been there. We've been autocrossing for a number of years, decided this is a hobby we are going to stick with, but can't decide what competition vehicle to purchase next. Yes, we have our dream list, but then reality sets in when you determine that it is cost prohibitive between the cost of the car, insurance, depreciation, performance upgrades, not to mention the cost of DOT competition tires (and it has nothing to-do w/ if there is a R on the side or not).

    For over 40 years Formula Ford has been a mainstay of entry level, open wheel, road racing around the world; including the USA. In SCCA Solo Formula Fords (Formula F as of 2010) slot into C Modified w/ little or no modification from their road racing configuration, as our technical specifications are specified by the SCCA Club Racing General Competition Rules (GCR). The differences, if you choose: no fire bottle, no rear view mirrors, no rain light, and seat belts do not have a life span. Yes, the main differences are literally that simple.

    The cars are mechanically simple, yet stout being that they were purposely built for road racing. No wings or aero to play with, you tune to maximize mechanical grip. Engines are the 1600cc Ford Kent (AKA Cortina GT) pushrod w/ a single Weber DGV downdraft carb pushing out about 110 HP (varies by builders dyno). The motor is of English Ford origin, but has been used all over the world in a number of different applications; including US Pintos and Fiestas. Sometimes it has been referred to as the English "small-block" such was its popularity and durability within the UK specialty car industry, including Cosworth & Lotus applications. The fuel of choice is 110 leaded race gas or low-lead AV gas.

    The '09 Honda Fit motor is legal as of 2010 and conversion kits are being marketed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) for some of the newer chassis. This is not an inexpensive conversion at about $13k in parts alone and would take a long-time to pay for itself in a solo only car. You could get more than a few Kent engine rebuilds for that amount of money and be racing well into the next decade.

    The gearbox is a true racing transaxle designed and manufactured by Hewland. The most popular will be the Mk 9 model, which is a traditional four-speed, h-pattern gearbox, using the VW Beetle magnesium case turned upside down and filled w/ dog-ring engaged racing internals. Newer cars may have a Staffs or Hewland LD200 box. Gears are easily replaceable and available thru a number of sources w/ Taylor Race Engineering being the most popular. The clutch is limited to single disc units; which may be stock (uncommon) or more popular a 7.25" Tilton, AP, or Quartermaster. The rear diff must remain open, but with a light, low horsepower car on slicks it is never needed. Shifts are fast, crisp, and clutch free once you are rolling.

    Brakes are four-wheel disc w/ adjustable bias. Calipers must be cast iron, w/ AP LD-19s being on 95% of cars. Pads are available from all of your favorite suppliers be it Hawk, Ferodo, CarboTech, Porterfield, etc and are cheap. Most compounds being priced $50-75 a set, which will last approx three seasons w/ two-drivers.

    At the moment the Hooser R25B C2500 has become the 'spec' tire for CM- 7" fronts & std FF1600 centelever rears. Good Year has not been producing their R120 compound in a number of years and Avon came, saw, and did not conquer the US FF1600 market about 5-6 years ago. They exited to concentrate on the F2000 market after not being able to come up w/ a suitable rear cantelever tire, which is unique to the American FF market. All cars run on 13x5.5 rims front and rear.

    Now that we have the mechanical basics down what are you looking for...

    The Solo Rulebook lists approved manufacturers for participation in CM. This list was compiled over 17 years ago with a reorganization of the mod classes, but could use some slight updating w/ a letter to the SEB & MAC starting the process. The list, however, will cover 95% of the cars you will see on the open market, which was its original intent. No single make or model has proven dominant at the National level. In general what we are looking for are the "orphan" cars. Those cars too new for club ford (w/ outboard suspension), not competitive in national road racing, or those cars which were deemed uncompetitive by the introduction of the Swift DB1 back in 1983. Formula Ford was huge in SCCA Club Racing throughout the 1970's & 80's and cars are in all corners of the country. The newer pushrod cars from the early 90s on w/ Hewland LD 200 gearboxes do not have the same selection of gears available w/out possibly spending big money on a ring & pinon (CWP) swap and also have longer wheelbases, often over 100+" compared to 96" common in the mid-80s.

    Sports 2000 (S2) sports racers are also elgible for competition in CM. We have not seen any on the national level in a number of years, but Guy Ankeny did win the National Championship in a Tiga SC87 in the late 90's. S2's have a number of significant differences from the open-wheeled FF1600. First, they are powered by a 2.0 OHC motor, which is larger and has a higher center of gravity than the pushrod 1.6, but it does come w/ approx +40 hp. Other key differences are the larger 6"-Front & 8" rear wheels and often a right-hand drive seating position, though right-hand shifting is retained. With the full width sportsracer body S2s are often referred to has "two-man" cars, as they are not easy to work on w/out assistance to remove the nose & tail. but do fit a wider variety of driver sizes with the roomier cockpit. With the additional power, larger wheels & brakes also comes an increase in minimum weight to xxxx#. S2 prices have been climbing the last few years, as many are now accepted by vintage organizations, with clean cars now $25-35k.

    For the more popular FF here are some popular and competitive choices w/ 1983 being a good barometer, as this was the year front & rear in-board suspension cars really took the market by storm:

    Crossle 55+ (used to build all the cars for Skip Barber prior to Mondiale, 30 series are popular Club Fords)
    Lola 640-644 (Michael Andretti ran factory backed cars in US, Charlie Matthews has successfully autocrossed 644 in CenDiv)
    Reynard FF82+ (These cars put Adrian Reynard on the map, great parts availability, large cockpits, driver friendly)
    Van Dieman RF85+ (85 was a Swift copy, which evolved from there, can be tight fit for larger drivers)
    Swift DB1 (most expensive on list, but also most plentiful, can be tight in shoulders for larger drivers)
    Citation 85+ (beautiful cars built in IN w/ support still available from ICP. Peter Raymond/Josh Sirota/Jim Garry car has been very successful)
    and many more choices available...

    Make sure you test fit the car before you buy if possible. If you're 5'8" and 150# you'll fit in anything, but if you're 6'2" and 210# you may need to shop around a little for soemthing which you're comfortable in. Even make a post on ApexSpeed to test fit a similar car locally before traveling. The pedals and steering columns are adjustable, as well as using custom molded bead or foam seats, but cockpit dimensions limiting shoulder room and footbox dimensions can be deal breakers. Don't plan on fitting in the car w/ your running shoes on. You will need a true racing type driving or wrestling shoe to properly operate the closely placed pedals. Size 12 feet and up beware of potential issues and the need for possible modifications, but its Mod you can do that:)

    Prices for complete cars will be $6500 on the low-side to the best of the best Swift DB1s pushing $20k. Purchasing a FF is no different than purchasing any other used car. Look for the cleanest car you can afford, lack of (or properly repaired) crash damage , does it have its logbooks and homologation certificate, does it have maintenance and set-up records, what about a spares package (wheels/gears/etc), is it an owner you feel is trustworthy, etc. With SS starting at $20k for a used C5 ZO6, which hasn't been prepped, and 89 Civics in ST having more in parts then the cost of the car; CM w/ fully-depreciated cars offers not only great performance, but great value.

    The FF community has a very active and helpful group of enthusiasts at www.ApexSpeed.com. Questions are answered honestly, quickly, and without mud-slinging being that they are a more mature and affluent group.

    Do not let parts availability or engine durability scare you, their are numerous resources around the country (world). As mentioned the engine has been used throughout the world and a number of different aftermarket replacement parts have been approved including blocks, heads, cranks, cams, & pistons. The other mechanical parts are often shared w/ production cars (wheel bearings & fuel pumps for example) or are open market performance items (rod ends, spherical bearings, braided hose, etc)

    Here is the start of an essential internet & reading list:

    General:
    www.apexspeed.com
    www.thekentlives.com
    www.carrollsmith.com
    www.eformulacarnews.com

    Cars For Sale:
    www.apexspeed.com
    www.race-cars.com
    www.frcca.com

    Parts:
    www.pegasusautoracing.com (General)
    www.batinc.com (English Ford)
    www.davebean.com (English Ford)
    www.racing-stuff.com (General & Reynard)
    www.hewland.com (Manual & Gear Charts)
    www.taylor-race.com (TRE- Hewland & Driveline)
    www.twodogg.com (TDI- Driveline & Reynard)
    www.porterracing.com (General & Crossle Parts)
    www.iveyengines.com (FF Engine Specialist one of about ten around the country)
    www.hoosiertire.com (Tire Specs)
    www.midatlanticmotorsport.com (Hoosier Tires & Panasport Wheels)
    www.srpengineering.com (Shocks/Hyperco Springs)
    www.formulacars.com (Reynard Parts)
    www.fastforwardracingcomponents.com (Swift & Piper Parts)
    www.primusracing.com (Van Dieman Parts)

    Books:
    Carroll Smith Series (Pocket Engineer is an awesome quick reference guide)
    The Anatomy & Development of the Formula Ford Racecar- Steve Nicholls, history thru early 90's, long out of print & expensive on EBay or Amazon, but a great reference guide to the different manufacturers.
    How to Build & Maintain a Competitive (yet legal) Formula Ford Engine- Jake Lamont & Tom Andresen (available at Pegasus)
    Weber DGV Downdraft Carb Service Manual (many different books on market check out Amazon or Ebay)
    Hewland Mk9 Service Manual (PDF available off Hewland website) including gear charts for 22.5" tire w/ 9:31 or 10:31 R&P

    Maintenance:
    The biggest between event ritual is to-do a nut & bolt of the car to make sure nothing has worked itself loose, as well as a wipe down of dirt & grime. The basics of the car are simple: Plugs 1x/yr ($10), Oil Change 1x/yr ($50-60 w/ synthetic & filter), Gearbox Fluid Red Line Shockproof 1x/yr ($10-12), Fuel 1-1.5 gallon per day w/ two drivers, Bleed Clutch/Brakes 1x/yr ($15), Pack CVs every other season w/ synthetic grease, fuel filter every other season, clean air filter, cap/rotor/wires are good for multiple seasons, as is Pertronix ignition module,
    1x/yr, adjust engine valves 1x/yr. All simple, basic, & affordable.

    Set-Up;
    If you like the science of developing a car to your individual tastes CM is for you. Working off the basic platform you will have more adjustments to fine tune the handling and balance of the car then you ever imagined on your stock class car. Yet, it is all accessible, quick, and easy: alignment- camber, toe, caster, ride height, rake, corner weights, shocks, springs, sway-bars, etc. Don't be intimated, read, ask questions, test, and tune. The cars can be very forgiving, but once you hit that sweet spot you will wonder why you it took so long to see the light of CM affordability vs performance.

    Sound Control:
    An open exhaust FF1600 can blow up to 105db if not properly muffled. Adequate race mufflers are on the market, which will quite the car and not effect performance. My Swift was blowing 88-89db at all national events w/ sound control in 2010, down from 102db in 2009 w/ a straight pipe.

    Transaxle:
    You will require autocross gears for your Hewland transaxle, with first being a fixed-layshaft gear. These gears rarely come up on the used market, but are available from TRE new and may be your largest single initial outlay at approx $450. The second-forth gears are std slide-on ratios and may be purchased new ($207-227), used on ApexSpeed, or traded. Make sure the car you purchase comes w/ some spare gears, as they have real dollar value.

    Tires:
    As mentioned Hoosier has become the defacto spec tire. A complete set runs approx $800 w/ life expectancy dependent on surface, car set-up, and driving style, but 75+ runs per set is not unheard of w/ the current generation Hoosier compound. The tires will heat cycle out before they physically wear out, so for locals if you want to practice car control go for it.

    Dedicated rain tires are available and I have found that most folks go 'dead' sitting in their trailers they are used so infrequently, but for big events it is one of those things you must have at your disposal. I personally get much more use out of having a second set of older mounted slicks for local events, if you are limited in your number of wheels.

    Towing:
    The cars are light, approx 900# empty, combined w/ a small single axle trailer they can be towed by virtually anything. S-10 or Ranger p/u no problem and no need for a big one-ton diesel dually! Tools & support equip go in the back of the truck.

    Insurance:
    Your dedicated racecar will not be covered by your auto or home owners policy and will require specialized insurance if you desire. Storage, Transportation, and Paddock (STP) policies are priced for an agreed upon value and are very affordable at $250/yr from Heacock Insurance. When applying for a policy do not insure for what you purchased the car for, but what it would cost you to replace it. As many of the entry level cars will be worth more in parts. For example if you buy a $6500 car, I would not insure it for less than $10k, $10k car I personally would insure for $15k. It has no effect on the cost of the policy until you get into much higher values. Often your trailer can be added to the policy too, if it is not already on your tow vehicle insurance.

    C Modified....real racecars, real speed, real affordable. Come join the fun, your fellow competitors are here to help the transition.

    Clemens
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:308


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    28 Nov 2010 06:43 PM

    Wow, looks like you were in a typing mood, Pete. Nice summary on how to get started in CM!

    Clemens

    t walgamuth
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:680


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    28 Nov 2010 08:39 PM

    Yeah!

    I spent a good while poring over that. I am not even 20% through it!

    Great stuff! Thanks very much, Pete!

    BTW I was looking over a Sports Car Illustrated from January of 1961 today and yesterday.....it has a host of wonderful articles, a report on the Monzs F1 race, won by Phil Hill, an article/interview of Phil summarizing his '60 season (It was great but the next year he won the championship), a road test on the Ferrari GT 250 GTE, a wonderful article about a streamliner powered by a Ford Falcon straight six which ran 200 mph at Bonneville and a road test on the '60 English Ford which was powered by the exciting new 996cc Kent Engine which had a bore of about 3" and stroke of less than 2" (later expaned to 1.6 Liters)....and powering thousands of C mod and FF world round!

    PCalhoun
    Basic Member
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    Posts:149


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    28 Nov 2010 09:03 PM
    Clemens wrote:

    Wow, looks like you were in a typing mood, Pete. Nice summary on how to get started in CM!

    Clemens

    I'll admit it was not in one sitting and -Pru- helped w/ some editing and content ideas, but the goal remains the same. Build up CM particpation numbers to what they were about ten years ago w/ a new generation of drivers.

    EWCMR2
    Basic Member
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    Posts:181


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    29 Nov 2010 12:31 AM
    Cool post Pete, makes me want to go out to the garage and rebuild Roberts fuel cell!
    na94
    New Member
    New Member
    Posts:38


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    30 Nov 2010 04:52 AM
    Excellent post, Pete! I would like to add a couple of things from the perspective of a recent CM convert:


    1) Many maintenance items will require a small amount of machining/fabrication knowledge. If you have access to a lathe and maybe a mill, then great. If not, find a good machinist friendly to car nuts. This will be useful to make bobbins, bushings, and small widgets. Things wear out, and need to be replaced. This is not especially difficult, but you do need to be willing to learn. Be warned that machining is a disease almost as addictive as speed - once you start cutting chips, it will become an addiction. Remember: if something broke, you can not only fix it, but design it better than the last guy.


    2) Learn how to fabricate sheet metal. Learn about different alloys, strain relief, and proper riveting procedures. Many brackets on race cars are made of sheet metal, and it can be quite common for them to fail over time (depending on who made them). Think about stress/strain, load concentration, bending radius, load reversal. You can get by with some good shears and a rubber mallet + 2x4, but access to a hand brake is a bonus. The slickest thing I have ever made was cut on a water jet and bent on a cnc bender - this was for a pretty critical piece, but other things, like my catch tank bracket were cut by hand and drilled and filed, then dollied with a rubber mallet. Solidworks is great for laying out sheet metal parts.


    3) Read, read, read. In addition to the books Pete recommends, I suggest (in this order): Think Fast (forget the author, used to work for Swift), Introduction to Race Car Engineering (Rowley) and Race Car Vehicle Dynamics (Millikens). The Rowley book is really a fine piece of work, and even though it is HUGE, it is only an introduction. Millikens' book is a lot of theory, but it makes you think about some things quite differently.


    4) Don't be afraid to experiment. With a light, stiff chassis, setup changes will have a more profound effect than on a 2500lb sponge of a chassis. You will learn a LOT about car setup and chassis tuning. Combine this with step #3 plus taking the time to make a good kinematic model of your chassis, and you will realize that 90% of people have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to car setup and suspension analysis. That includes some 'professional' race prep shops as well.
    Dick Rasmussen
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:931


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    30 Nov 2010 07:52 AM

    Great posts! Obviously I'm sold on CM . . . I've been running my car since 1992 and am currently freshening it for the first time in many years. Other than freshening the engine which was still plenty healthy but "due" and getting the radiators cleaned, "freshening" consists mostly of cleaning, painting the frame (by brush in my garage), and springing for new or replated suspension arms due to 25 years of exposure to the elements on race tracks, autox courses, and about 100K miles of towing on an open trailer.

    FYI, don't be put off by na94's items 1 and 2 unless you are looking for an excuse to do that kind of work. :-) In 18 years I've never machined any parts. The very few repairs or custom parts which have been needed were done very economically by a local race or machine shops. My catch tanks are "color coded" empty plastic oil bottles secured with tie-wraps (learned from the race shop). :-)

    Dick

    CM85

    85 Van Diemen

    GChambers
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:1928


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    30 Nov 2010 11:36 AM
    You guys rock! Thanks for all the information! Looks like I'll have a busy winter of reading ahead of me.
    t walgamuth
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:680


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    06 Dec 2010 06:04 AM
    I had a wonderful time yesterday evening at our unofficial INdy region Kart challange talking with our local growing C MOD mafia. What a wonderful group of enthusiasts! I learned a lot. I am going out east to look at and purchase my new '85 Reynard this weekend.;)
    Markwrx
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:247


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    15 Jul 2011 08:48 AM

    Peter, Found this thread while doing research on a Crossle 25F for possible auto cross use. Great info. I know this is a very old car. Do you have an opinion on this idea?

    Mark

    Locked
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    15 Jul 2011 11:04 AM

    I'm not Peter, but I'll share my opinion...

    Mark Lamm was 3rd at Nationals last year in his 1973 Dulon (Crossle nose), I was 5th. Mark also won the Peru Tour last year.




    The older cars may be lacking in aero advancement and suspension geometry to the mid '80s cars, but they are much narrower(4"), and shorter(4").

    This year Mark and I have been driving my '85 Van Diemen. I've yet to be convinced my car is faster than Mark's Dulon. I'm thining both of us would have rather been in the Dulon at the Toledo Tour. It comes down to getting the setup right, and of course driving.

    -- Nick
    CM 187

    Markwrx
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:247


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    15 Jul 2011 11:30 AM
    Locked wrote:

    I'm not Peter, but I'll share my opinion...

    Mark Lamm was 3rd at Nationals last year in his 1973 Dulon (Crossle nose), I was 5th. Mark also won the Peru Tour last year.




    The older cars may be lacking in aero advancement and suspension geometry to the mid '80s cars, but they are much narrower(4"), and shorter(4").

    This year Mark and I have been driving my '85 Van Diemen. I've yet to be convinced my car is faster than Mark's Dulon. I'm thining both of us would have rather been in the Dulon at the Toledo Tour. It comes down to getting the setup right, and of course driving.

    -- Nick
    CM 187

    Nick,

    Thanks for the response. That is good news. I am not really worried about being competitive at the national level, mostly just want to have fun. The 25F is still ava.

    Mark

    PCalhoun
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:149


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    15 Jul 2011 07:01 PM

    As Nick states preparation and driving can overcome the perceived disadvantages of an older car. When I changed from my 83 Reynard to the Swift it took quite a while until it was on par, just as Nick is experiencing now.

    Crossle is a good starting point. People know them, can point you in the right directions for parts & set-up info; and is club ford eligible for club racing. If it is priced right you won't lose your pants on it if you decide it is not your cup of tea.

    For Crossle advise I would recommend you talk to Neal Porter at Porter Racing in Merced, CA. look in the back of SportsCar or Google for #.

    Markwrx
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:247


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    15 Jul 2011 07:07 PM
    PCalhoun wrote:

    As Nick states preparation and driving can overcome the perceived disadvantages of an older car. When I changed from my 83 Reynard to the Swift it took quite a while until it was on par, just as Nick is experiencing now.

    Crossle is a good starting point. People know them, can point you in the right directions for parts & set-up info; and is club ford eligible for club racing. If it is priced right you won't lose your pants on it if you decide it is not your cup of tea.

    For Crossle advise I would recommend you talk to Neal Porter at Porter Racing in Merced, CA. look in the back of SportsCar or Google for #.

    Thanks, Peter. Price is at the bottom end of what they go for, but I have not got all the specifics yet. Does say recent engine rebuild. So what am I going to need in the way of gear change parts to convert this Baby for autoX? And where do I get them?

    Mark

    PCalhoun
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    15 Jul 2011 07:17 PM

    See original post, but long-story short visit www.taylor-race.com or call and talk to Scotty.

    You'll need a Hewland Mk9 Integral Layshaft 1st gear of 12:xx or 13:xx ratio to go w/ a 9:31 R&P. This will be the most expensive part you buy or post a WTB on ApexSpeed.com. Then select your 2nd-4th gears from what comes w/ the car or you can trade too to get the speeds or RPM drop you want.

    Markwrx
    Basic Member
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    Posts:247


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    15 Jul 2011 07:44 PM

    Peter,

    Thanks for the info. I called Porter and got some good info. He even knew about the car I am interested in. Said I would probably need to do a lot of work on the car so should only get it if I can negotiate a really good price.

    Mark

    Markwrx
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    Basic Member
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    15 Jul 2011 08:24 PM

    What are you Formula Ford guys using for tires for AutoX? I know, Peter said in his origonal post "Hooser R25B C2500 has become the 'spec' tire for CM- 7" fronts & std FF1600 centelever rears" but that isn't enough info for someone not in the know on this.

    Mark

    Dick Rasmussen
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:931


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    15 Jul 2011 10:23 PM
    Markwrx wrote:

    What are you Formula Ford guys using for tires for AutoX? I know, Peter said in his origonal post "Hooser R25B C2500 has become the 'spec' tire for CM- 7" fronts & std FF1600 centelever rears" but that isn't enough info for someone not in the know on this.

    Mark

    Actually it is enough info . . . if you contact a Solo oriented Hoosier dealer . . . :-) . Like http://www.midatlanticmotorsport.com/ or https://www.rsracing.com/

    http://www.hoosiertire.com/rrtire.htm

    Afaik the correct tires are still the 25B compound version of:

    item 43162 fronts and 43306 rears.

    Don't get the F1600 version with the same part number. I think it is a harder compound specifically marked for the F1600 Pro road racing series.

    Dick

    CM 85

    85VD


    pru
    Basic Member
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    Posts:151


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    15 Jul 2011 10:36 PM

    Mark,

    Pete is spot on in that the Hoosier R25B, in the noted sizes, is the preferred tire for the CM FF. That is, there is basically no other viable choice for the CM FF since Goodyear stopped making the R120 compound (~6 years ago?).

    Markwrx
    Basic Member
    Basic Member
    Posts:247


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    16 Jul 2011 01:06 AM

    Thanks for the tire info. I looked at an Anson FF this evening. Very cherry car. I would need to get new tires and a trailer(any recommendations?) which mostly puts it out of my price range. Darn!

    Mark

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