We settled on the Norma M20FC chassis. The FC designates that this car is a carbon composite tub, which was done from year 2015 and on. Prior to this the cars were steel tube frame. The FC car also had some aerodynamic upgrades over its predecessor that made the car more desirable. The M20FC came in a variety of engine configurations but the most basic configuration attracted us the most. This is because it used the commonly available, easy to source, K20 Honda engine. While Honda engines are not at all what we focus on at Lang Racing Development, we knew it would be something we could get familiar with. The car runs 13” wheels, produces 260hp and weighs 1250 lbs, which is about half the weight of our E46 M3.
We lucked out and found a 2015 Norma M20FC from Aurora Motorsports in Northern California. Jonothan from Aurora made us a deal we couldn’t refuse and tossed in quite a few spares to help get us going.
We ran into reliability issues at our first test day, which anyone would expect to happen with a used race car. The dry sump belt popped off and took out our crank position sensor at the same time. This killed our engine preventing any engine damage from lack of oil pressure. Our first test day came to a quick halt. A simple problem of replacing a belt turned into a big job when we discovered our dry sump pulley was bent. Sorting out this issue was our first experience with the difficulty in locating parts and information on our Norma.
Eventually we did get the car going in time to make it to a sprint race weekend with NASA at Buttonwillow in October of 2019. Still getting used to the car we knew we were turning slow lap times. We were happy to see these times were still 10 seconds faster than anything we had ever achieved in our E46 M3. We won our Saturday sprint race in STU and took second on Sunday. Another prototype did show up to that event and showed us the kind of lap times we should be striving for on Sunday, we were a few seconds behind a more seasoned driver in an Elan DP02. We did get into some trouble on Saturday for driving too quickly under a full course yellow when the safety car was trying to catch us. Andrew will have to adjust to leading races overall and not repeat this mistake.
We still had issues to sort out after this race. Our oil system had been spitting out oil and overflowing all weekend as we tried to figure out the proper oil level for the dry sump system. Once again no real information could be located on how much oil to keep in the tank. We went into the winter with just a few things we knew we had to do to prepare for the 2020 season.
Check back next time for our first 2020 event…