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    Deztaz II - the new Desert Racer
    Keeper of the Asylum K-fab's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Scottsdale, AZ. 10.9 miles from the trailheads
    I've played in the dirt for as long as I can remember - knocked out four teeth "jumping" the curb with a tricycle when I was 4 and haven't stopped since.

    I've done go-karts, four wheel drive stuff on the beach and all over Texas, ridden MX bikes for the past 25 years and always dreamed of ripping through the desert.

    Back in the late 70's and early 80's I used to watch off road racing on ESPN. Some desert stuff, when I got lucky, and a lot of the old Mickey Thompson races. Don't know exactly what it was about it, but it absolutely fascinated me. I was 14 or so the first time I saw it and was immediately hooked on the idea of doing something like it.

    I never lost site of that particular dream.

    Back in 1993 I purchased a Honda Pilot. There aren't a lot of places in Ohio to play with it - at least not like I wanted to. The bikes were still more fun, but the yearning to go off roading in a fast, light four wheeled vehicle stayed strong.

    In 1997 I read a little blurb in 'Dirt Bike' about an off road series - they were trying to revive the Mickey Thompson style racing in the stadiums - a nation wide series that ran in the winter. In the article, it said one of the classes was "Stadium Lites" - Honda Pilots fit the bill and mine was pretty much built to the hilt. I was in. I got my feet wet by winning the inaugural race. I ended up loosing the championship by two measley points. - only ran half the series too...

    In 1999 I ran the whole series and ended up second overall again. Not bad for someone that had almost no experience against a bunch of guys from the old MT series - these guys were serious and fast, but I held my ground pretty well.

    I also did some short course racing - Crandon (I won the World Championship round - woo hoo!), Topeka, KS, and a few other mid west tracks. If I didn't break, I generally did fairly well.

    During the second season I hooked up with the guys from ATV Racing and got my first trip out into the desert, just to see what this terrain was like. I was on a bike. I was in hog heaven and knew that the dream I had from way back when I was a kid was something that I was going to have to chase.

    Neil (ATV Racing's owner) and I found an old off road car and proceeded to get it set up to go play in the Whiplash series. We were going to go racing. Neil's raced all sorts of things - from stadium and short course to local AZ stuff to the the Baja 1000 on a 250R three wheeler. He hadn't been involved in racing for quite a while and thought it would be fun to get back into it.

    The car we put together ended up being a bust (POS Hymark/SSC transmission), but interestingly enough, ATV Racing was developing a small two seater powered by a sled engine. He called it a Tazcar.

    I managed to be in the right place at the right time and went out to Glamis with ATV Racing to test their first two Tazcars. It didn't take me long to figure out that this may just be what I was looking for. By the end of the weekend, Tazcar chassis #5 (it was actually the fourth completed car, though) had my name on it and we were in the process of developing a race car out of his sand car. - the Deztaz was born.

    After five years of beating the old Deztaz into submission, flying it, crashing it, ripping up the desert in it, bending it, repairing it, modifying it, learning from it, about it, and enjoying the hell out of it, the time has come to move on out of the grass roots level racing that is Whiplash and on to the big boys - SCORE & Best In The Desert.

    I figure since I've covered the spectrum - from dead last with a race that lasted all of 11 seconds to winning my class (Unlimited Sportsman) and taking the over all in Sportsman that I was ready for the next step in my passion. I'm not going into the new racing with any sort of expectations, except to get my arse handed to me for at least the first couple years. These guys are serious and extremely FAST, but hey, my first desert race only lasted 10 miles and it was more than enough for me to have fun, so anything after the green flag drops is just what my dream's about.

    So, get a new SCORE rules book and start building.

    James (ATV Racing's head fabbie) and I started planning and getting ready to build the new Deztaz II. I think was sometime around this past Feb that we started talking about it.

    Back in July of this year I got some pix - three to be exact. Two of the lower half of a chassis in a jig and one of a trailing arm mounting plate:

    In June I got to come out to Phoenix in June and help work on the car a bit. We got the rear shocks mounted, seats in place and the general layout of the car set up. We were once again taking a Tazcar and setting it up for desert racing. This time, unlike the first try, we planned on building the car as a race car from the start. The first Dez started as a sand car and went through many, many modifications and changes to make it a race car. This isn't the right way to go about it either...

    The lastest generation of Tazcars is lightyears ahead of my old Dez - they've produced close to 100 of them now and they have six years of developement behind them. A lot of the new car stuff has been directly off of my old car. Fuel tanks, shock mounts, bracing, trailing arms, engine mounts are just a few of the things ATV's learned from me beating the old Dez across the desert floor. The new platform is a great place to start.

    ATV's also developed the Tazcar's drivetrain over the years. The first car had a 700 triple two stroke sled engine in it. The second had a 600 twin, third had an 800 twin and mine started out with an 800 twin. Noisy, vibrating, low power... Now ATV's putting automotive powerplants in the Tazcars. They started out with the Honda VTEC 1600cc engines and the latest and by far the greatest is the 2.2 liter GM Ecotech.

    The Ecotech's smooth as glass and rips - too bad it's not legal for Class 10 racing... So I'm going to be running the Honda 1600cc VTEC. ATV has a proven track record with these little powerplants and the engine is very easy to modify for lots of HP, yet retain it's reliablilty.

    We're starting out with a bone stocker - 170 hp. Once we get the car dialed in we'll see just how well we compare to the other Class 10 racers out there. After that we'll consider modding the engine for a bit more HP - but NEVER at the sacrifice of reliabilty. I've had to sit out in the Mexican desert, waiting on the pit crew to come find me - let me tell you, it SUCKS. I want to come home at the end of each race, not have to be retrieved.

    I know, enough babble already - let's get on with what's happened so far and where I'm headed with the new car:

    All chromoly construction
    1.5" x .120" wall main tubes
    Rest is all .065" and .095" wall and varies from .75" to 1.25", depending on the structure.
    Honda 1600 VTEC powered
    18.75" of travel on all four corners. - as compared to 15" front, 16" rear on a regular Tazcar.
    Dual vented inboard rear rotors with four piston calipers
    Two piston calipers up front on non-vented rotors.
    CVT setup - belt drive, no shifting, just push the skinny pedal and go.
    Roberto RPM transmission - 8:1 internal ratio.
    Comet drive clutch, Team driven clutch
    Non-plunging 930 CVs - can get up to 40 degrees out of them, but we're running around 26 with the option to go up to about 33-34 later.
    Fox Internal Bypass shocks on all four corners - 12" stroke
    VW Wide 5 bolt pattern hubs (Gear One stuff) - gives me lots of options for wheels and tires.
    15 x 5 front wheels, 15 x 7 rears with OMF bead locks and reinforcing rings
    BFG or Yokohama tires - 31" or 33" diameter - not sure yet, will probably depend on the race and terrain - better ground clearance over my old 29" Goodyears, plus with a taller tire, more ground clearance and more travel, I'll be able to set the car deeper into the suspension's droop - makes it all work better through the rough stuff.

    I finally got back out to Phoenix last week to start working on the new Dez again. James had sent me some pix of the 12" shocks we're going to use up front in position and informed me that he wasn't going to be a part of putting those ugly shock towers on the front of the car. (James only does cool looking stuff...) I was going to be fully responsible for the new mounts. That was okay by me. We discussed how and where the mounts were going to end up and they became exactly what James said he envisioned - but he still wasn't responsible for them. (in case you haven't figure it out, this is an ongoing joke between the two of us)

    With the new shock towers, we're getting 18.75" of travel (same on the rear also). At full compression the car will have right at five inches of ground clearance. This should be just about perfect and allowing for side wall flex, the bottom of the car should stay about two off the ground with one of the dreaded monster hits.

    Another thing we're trying is a new rear axle and CV setup. The new CVs are non plunging, but they will allow up to 40 degrees of deflection (as opposed to 26). The drive axles are a plunging style that uses a new technology borrowed from the Range Rover utility vehicles. No pix yet, as we just ordered them today. They're made to our dimensions and requirements.

    Here are the front shock mounts. The standard Tazcar mounts are in the left side pic. The new long travel hoop setup is seen in the right one.

    Here's a side view of the chassis:

    Here are side views of the Honda VTEC and the RPM tranny:

    I started working on the dash this afternoon and we're waiting to talk to the SCORE tech man on Wed - have a couple questions concerning the fuel tank.

    Tomorrow I hope to get a bunch of the main electronic pieces mounts made and start getting the bodywork underway. The wire harness will probably be next week.

    I'll keep updating as long as I'm out here in Phoenix and working on the car.

    I hope to get out in the desert in the Old Dez this weekend and get the fuel injection dialed in. I'm looking forward to going out and throwing some rocks and roost in it. It's been a great car and I still love driving the tired old thing.
    Last edited by amergin; 07-07-2008 at 09:17 PM.
    Sand is for fast cars
    Dirt is for fast drivers

    Yellow Dog Racing
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    Seems like an awesome build!

    Keep posting... When do you think You´ll have a roller?
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    That build is nice! It's the attention to detail, the little things that make the differeance! I see alot of that on this site.
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    Are you guys going to install that new Tree early warning device? I heard it works wonders when runing around the yard....

    Like the detail you always put into your reports/stories. Can't tell you how many hours I've spent reading over your race reports. Car looks nice... Going to go sit in my rusty frame now...

    Currently on a two year walkabout
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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    SoCal, USA
    So, you are using a Honda 1600cc VTEC without the Honda tranny? What CVT are you using?
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    The Bob Ross of MBN Bullnerd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Cream Ridge ,NJ
    Can you run that engine without the flywheel ?
    Do you adapt the clutch to the flywheel or the crank?
    What year motors are good to use?

    Looks sweet ,keep the pics commin.
    "Speed is time-time is speed"-Dennis Hopper

    Quote Originally Posted by TALON View Post
    did you use a special bigfoot camera or something ,you know all blurry could be a tree stump kinda thing .
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    K-fab, as usual, only the highest quality and the standard has been re-set. Huge congrats. with a taller tire, more ground clearance and more travel, I'll be able to set the car deeper into the suspension's droop - makes it all work better through the rough stuff.
    HUZZAR! When will the builders of all those horrible looking sky-high sand cars ever catch on about off-road suspension? Do the buyers of those sand cars never look at what they're buying and compare them to what a proper off-road car's stance is and say to themselves "hey wait a minute – what's going on here?"

    I can't work out whether it's driven by fashion or compounded ignorance.

    I wondered about the lack of a flywheel too. I appreciate you wouldn't want a full weight stock flywheel, but surely it would be a complete pig to drive without one at all? Is there a flywheel combined with the new CVT pulley?

    What about the side loadings on the rear main bearing, have there been any problems in that area? I'm sure that if ATV Racing have been running this set-up for a while, they'll have it all sussed – I'm just curious (my wife says I'm very curious).

    I look forward to reading and ssseing more of your new car soon.
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    Re: Deztaz II - the new Desert Racer
    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by K-fab
    I hope to get out in the desert in the Old Dez this weekend and get the fuel injection dialed in. I'm looking forward to going out and throwing some rocks and roost in it. It's been a great car and I still love driving the tired old thing.
    If I can get my 'homework' done early, perhaps I can go out and play in the dirt too.
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    Nice Build
    Admin Gene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Soyo, Angola Africa
    I have a lead on the same CV setup and may very well go that way too. The story for everyone else - unless you have another source - is that a company in San Diego has married non-plunging CV's to a plunging axle and they are making custom drive axles.

    The axle has 4 inches plunge and the CV's are front drive, no plunge variety. Minimum axle length is 23.39. Plunge is 4 inches. Cost is $1200 per axle.

    At least 3 sets are running right now. K-Fab, correct me if I am wrong. The name of the company is ......

    I don't know if I am allowed to say - so for the moment I must say nothing more.

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    Keeper of the Asylum K-fab's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Scottsdale, AZ. 10.9 miles from the trailheads
    Egad!!! I'm overwhelmed with responses... :shock:

    Amergin: Tree warning device - absolutely!!!

    Tenaja: Comet drive, Team driven - Honda spins opposite of sled engines, so ATV has custom helixes made for the Team clutch. I guess the Comet drive clutch doesn't care which way it spins. The tranny is an RPM tranny - F-N-R box. No diff, just the direction you want to go.

    Bullnerd: Flywheel was sitting in the floorboard when I took the pix... I'll try to remember to get a pic of it on the engine (where it is now). The flywheel's held on by the clutch adaptor - a tapered snout looking piece. No clue on the year.

    Rorty: What? You don't think cars are supposed to sit at the top of their travel when static?? Come on!!! It's funny you mention this - I flipped the old Dez on it's back at the dunes a couple years ago - it looked like a dead bug with it's feet sticking straight up when there was no load on the springs. It was weird to see the car at full extension. It sits about 30% into the travel normally.

    ATV's been doing the car engines for over three years now - maybe even four?? - and I can't recall hearing anyone in the shop saying that there's been any sort of issue with crank side loading. The clutch adaptor is extremely short, so there's not a huge amount of leverage.

    Gene: Yup - that's the one - and no, I can't say the name of the company either...

    23.39, eh? I ordered 23.25... I guess I'll probably be getting a phone call tomorrow!!!

    I went thru this Monday - "send me the info" - I did and he freaked... I can get over 29" of axle length at 39 degrees - he said "oh no!" go remeasure, so I just stuck with what it's setup at right now - 18.75" travel, 26 degrees. Gave me a three inch plunge.

    I get max doable length around 30 - 32 degrees. It works out to about 22 - 23" of travel. We'll have to relocate the shock mounts on both the trailing arms and chassis if we want this much, though. Right now I'm going to stick with what we have and then if we find we need more, out comes the sawzall and we'll modify for more travel.

    There's already been a lot of time put into the suspension to get max travel out of it w/regular 930's and solid axles, so if these axles fail, I'll be able to just drop in the old setup and be on my way.

    I gave the axle .375" worth of "clearance" at min distance in case I manage to flex the trailing arm a bit - safety factor, if you will. Salesman was a bit concerned about not having any, so we modded the dimensions a tad. I was never given a min distance that they'll do.

    I enjoy experiementing too much.


    I worked on the dash layout and the electronics layout today. Got the radio mounted, ECU box mounted, a bunch of welding done and we're waiting on the guy that does the wire harness to show up.

    From what I hear, the guys at ATV are waiting to unleash me on the wire harness guy - his work, while it works, appearantly looks like total crap. I get the feeling they're going to enjoy watching me squirm while the guy does his crappy work. They know I'm extremely anal about my wire looms - perfect or not on the car... and he's a hack that uses electrical tape (not on my car!!)

    I'll let him get it laid out, then I'll go back and do it with the correct type of wire, connectors and such. Oh what fun... :roll:

    Ordered an on-board fire suppression system today - should be here Friday. Still have a bunch of electronic stuff - lights, horn, switches, etc. - to get. The list keeps growing. I'm looking forward to the point that it finally starts shrinking. :wink:
    Sand is for fast cars
    Dirt is for fast drivers

    Yellow Dog Racing
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