Project One

Why "Sneaky"?

Project Two

'02 ACR Preperation - Competition

Projects 3 and 4

'03-'06 Miata Development

RX-8 Resources

2009 "cisco Sticks" RX-8

Liquid Sun Rubber Ducky

MS MX-5 Resources

'02 Neon ACR
#40 2005 San Francisco Region Street Tire Champion sponsored by modacar.com, David Lear, Broker, Better Homes, Big O Tires, Dublin and 4d-SPORT.com

From Humble Beginnings

The original Neon appeared on the market in January 1994 as a 1995 model.  Approximately five years after the first release, the second generation Neons began to appear.  The troublesome frameless windows and exhaust donut were gone, and the whole car had been tweaked to make it easier to own, drive, and love.


In March 2001, the Neon Road and Track (R/T) and American Club Racer (ACR) were re-introduced to the world.  Both came with a single-cam, 150 horsepower version of the standard 133 hp 2.0 "Magnum"® engine, which makes extra power from a revised camshaft, a low-restriction, throaty exhaust (2.25 inch diameter exhaust pipe and stainless steel header) with dual exhaust though it has a single muffler (a setup similar to the current Corvette and Acura NSX), and a electronically controlled dual-plenum intake. ABS and EVBP brakes are included, with four wheel disks and traction control are standard.  Both come equipped with a performance oriented manual transmission.


 The ACR is a low option, race-oriented vehicle - an R/T without any fluff.  Weighing about 2600 pounds the ACR does not have a rear spoiler, nor does it have the door moldings running along the sides - or carpeting on the trunk lid, air conditioning, radio, speakers, etc.  The ACR has adjustable suspension damping and bigger wheel hubs than standard Neons or the R/T and a Firm power 18:1 steering box.


What's more, with room for four to travel in comfort, a shape that allows tall people to sit in all four seats, and a capacious trunk and reasonable gas mileage, the ACR has enough practical value to serve as a daily driver for a family.  Compared to sports cars, space, convenience, price for performance, comfort, four doors and a real trunk.  With five year, 60,000 mile warranty as part of a "security package," and a standard seven year, 100,000 mile power train warranty.


The Neon is one of the most successful affordable stock racing cars, the hottest entry-level performer of the 1990s and still a serious bang-for-the-buck deal today.


May 2002 issue of Grassroots Motorsports. … 7 'pocket rockets under $20,000' at a local autocross venue.  The cars included 2002 versions of the Mazda MP3, VW Golf GTI turbo, Nissan Sentra SE-R, Focus SVT, Civic Si, Hyundai Tiburon V6, and the Neon ACR.   When all was said and done, the Neon finished mid-pack in 0-60 (7.9 seconds).  But on the autocross course the Neon trounced the others.  It finished the course at least 1.5 seconds ahead of the Focus, and 2 or 3 seconds ahead of everything else.

(Source: http://www.allpar.com/ )


To Lofty Aspiratins

Having read the May 2002 Grassroots Motorsports article 'pocket rockets under $20,000' we called up our friend, Derek Butts (of Pro Solo fame), and put an ACR on order.  

We took delivery of this black 2002 ACR on April 26, 2002, delivered to our doorstep by the good folks at Serramonte Auto Plaza, our pride and joy being birthed in Belvidere, Illinois by Daimler/Chrysler on February 23, 2002 @ 6:00 AM, # 589052 off the line.


Neon American Club Racer (ACR) - This is one of 279 ACRs produced for the 2002 model year.
The ACR is nearly complete for competition from the factory
Early test runs showed it reasonable competitive
Dual-plenum intake, stainless steel header and high performance exhaust system from the factory.

Initial feedback on the car from Kevin McCormick, 2002 D-Stock Champion, when after his first run on concrete with DOT-R tires commenting; this thing really turns in.

Some of the preliminary tuning included turning the front shocks down a couple notches from full stiff. Struts set full stiff in the back we induce plenty of rotation on corner entry with a price to be paid on the occasional high-speed slalom, the tail wagging from side to side and spinning after five transitions. Of course, the smaller contact patch of the rear tires might of contributed (running Victoracer V700s 225 front & 205 rear).


 

Tuning Details

The ACR is nearly complete for competition from the factory, competition alignment and tires are all that’s needed. Copying the highest placing Neon in G-Stock @ the '02 SCCA Solo2 Nationals we settled on the following:

Alignment settings (requires Crash Bolts (p/n 05019074AA) & elongating clevis bolt hole on strut as specified in Neon Shop Manual)

  • Front:  Camber – 2.4 degrees, Toe – 1/16” out
  • Rear:  Camber - .5 degrees, Toe – ¼” out

 

Strut Settings (ACR standard Dynamic Suspension Struts inverted technology 50mm tube (double adjustable 26 position)

  • Front:  Full Stiff (26 “clicks” clockwise from full soft)
  • Rear:  ~ ¾ Stiff (7 “Clicks counter clockwise from full stiff)

Wheels (OEM)

  • Impulse 15x6 - 40mm offset

 

Tire Pressures (Falken Azenis Sport 205/50x15 Street Tires)

  • Front:  52 psi cold
  • Rear:  47 psi cold

 

Spacer (H&R Hub Centric)

  • Front:  5mm
  • Rear:  None

 


Getting that factory recommended 2.4 degrees of negative camber up front was relatively straight –forward
Factory manual specifies the procedure for getting negative camber up front
We've been warned about 1/4 inch of toe out on the street but it’s been working without incident.
With 26 position adjustable Dynamic Suspension Struts compression / rebound tuning is almost as simple as a snooze.
Continued testing on a concrete surface on race tires demonstrates the Neon can use the grip.
Grip is good but the significant body roll requires some getting used to.

Street Tire Success

We began to experience success switching from a race tire to street tire class in late 2003 picking up three second place finishes in the six event season.  Maintaining the same configuration for 2004 we've gained momentum with the car taking first six times out of ten.


As it turns out, Street Tire competition is what this Neon loves.

Leading the SFR SCCA Street Tire Class

The San Francisco Region SCCA indexed Street Tire class, one of the hottest, most competitive classes, where cars from all classes are combined into one, running on tires of 140 wear rating, or higher.

We are very excited about the way the Neon has taken to the 65 competitor Street Tire Class, running against an average of 17 competitors at each event. 

The ACR came out the first eveng earning a win for it's primary driver and in the second Event handed one of our co-drivers his first win.  Our Co-Driver accomplished the win after, on his second run, pushing the Neon through the slalom for all it was worth, spun, collected it up and then again rotating the car all the way around in the following turn, the announcer commenting that he saw back up lights and that it couldn't be good indication. 


So with a factory delivered race-car, what’s to play with?

  • Autocross Competition Alignment: Motorsports Techniques, Hayward, CA
  • Hawk KP+ Brake Pads: Modcar.com
  • ATE Super Blue Racing Brake Fluid: Monument Car Parts, San Ramon, CA
  • Schroth Harness (Drivers Side): Modacar.com
  • Reese Hitch: hitchweb.com
  • 5mm wheel spacers H&R (1 set / front): Modacar.com
  • Camera Mount: Solo Performance Specialties, LLC
  • Factory Service Manual: Fenton Dodge in Southeastern Michigan
  • 2nd sets of factory Impulse wheels: Big O Tires - Dublin, California
  • Kumho V700s & Victoracers: tirerack.com
  • SSR Type C: tirerack.com
  • 205/50 x 15 & 215/45 x 16 Azenis Sports: Big O Tires - Dublin, California
  • Set of 4 New in Box 1st Gen matched Springs ((~1.5" drop) not SCCA Solo2 Stock legal)): Fenton Dodge, Southeastern Michigan
  • Car Cover: autoanything.com
  • Driver Skill: http://autocross.com/evolution/

Sources:

http://www.allpar.com

http://www.napylon.com

http://www.neons.org

http://www.Sportscarimge.com

Serremonte Auto Plaza