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Ceramic Coatings-PLEASE READ


tomlinmgt

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First, let me introduce myself. I'm Michael Tomlin, a second year NASA member and am currently converting a '79 Mercury Capri from a retired A-Sedan racer to a reincarnated CMC warrior to campaign in the Texas region. I also own a business that specializes in the application of performance coatings, namely ceramics, dry-film polymers, and powder. I'll preface any further comments/opinions by saying that I in no way am trying to solicit business for myself. I only wish to ask that the current ruling on the coating of exhaust manifolds be reconsidered in the interest of safety and the overall benefit of the racing community and its participants. I’ll offer some factual information that I’ve gathered over the course of my eight year tenure in the business so that anyone who cares may join me in championing my cause…the reversal of this rule. Please bare with me as I’ll offer a fair amount of information here and it may get a bit lengthy. Now, let’s get this show on the road.

When I was made aware of the illegality of exhaust coatings in the current ruling my first question was of course "why"? The typical answer I get in return is cost….it’s a luxury afforded to well-funded participants that is out of the reach of those racers that are on a very tight budget. So here we have yet another beneficial technology that goes to the chopping block so that racing can stay "affordable" (understandably a relative term, but otherwise ridiculous to associate with just about any form of organized racing). With all due respect, this logic is as airtight as a torn screen-door. I have to ask… has anyone checked the cost of ceramic coating a set of cast-iron exhaust manifolds (LT1, TPI) or “shorty“ style factory headers (5.0 H.O.)? We're talking $100-150, depending on the shop that you employ to do the work. The big companies that offer the service, like Jet-Hot and HPC, will be the most expensive. The smaller operations (mine included, and they are in just about every metropolitan area) will have rates that more closely resemble what I've stated. Another argument that I’ve heard is that it provides an unfair competitive edge to those that have the budget to afford it. Now, am I to believe that a $100-150 technology is going to sideline a racer because it has such tremendous potential to ravage his/her racing account? Is this technology’s only benefit a 3 to 5% power gain to be had by only the racers with the fattest budgets? No. Absolutely, positively...NO! Let's take an honest look at how the coating can pay for itself over time and more importantly, how the rule in and of itself is unreasonable and quite possibly unsafe.

First, ceramic coated exhaust manifolds and surrounding under hood components last longer and the replacement expense of these components due to heat-related deterioration is delayed or eliminated, thus saving the racer money. Ceramic coatings provide longer life cycles to exhaust components by inhibiting corrosion and heat-stress related cracking. Ceramic coatings will also reduce radiated heat from exhaust manifolds. This reduction in radiated heat will increase the life-span of heat-sensitive components of plastic or rubber construction through the reduction of dry rot and other heat-related forms of deterioration. This includes spark plug wires, electrical wiring and associated harnesses, suspension or steering bushings and boots, vacuum hoses, coolant hoses, etc. This will save a racer money over time just by reducing component attrition. More importantly, there exists the benefit of reducing the possibility of failure of any of the previously mentioned components while on track. Consider a burst coolant hose or a sudden electrical failure of the car that you've been chasing around the track in very close proximity. The inevitable repairs that could very well result from an on track incident would absolutely exceed the price of admission for the technology that could have prevented it. Additionally, reducing radiated exhaust heat translates into reduced surface temperatures of all under hood components. Consider the possibility of a fuel or oil leak coming in contact with a surface hot enough to ignite the fluid. The temperature differential of under hood components between a car with coated exhaust as compared to a car with uncoated exhaust could be the difference between flash point being avoided versus attained. These scenarios may not be of such alarming frequency that swift action must be taken immediately, but the possibility of them happening is certainly real enough that a racer should be given the choice to employ any available technology that may prevent them, and this includes ceramic coatings. The right to have that choice is given additional validity when you consider the relatively low cost of the technology that is in question. Compared to the cost of repairs that could result from any of the aforementioned scenarios, the cost of prevention by ceramic coating one’s exhaust manifolds has unquestionable value.

Second, regarding the cost of ceramic coating one’s exhaust manifolds as a cost-prohibitive luxury that gives an unfair completive edge is inconsistent and creates inequality with other allowances in the current ruling. Allowed suspension component and brake upgrades aren’t spec’d and the degree to which you can improve the performance in these areas is largely a matter of one‘s financial capability. Racer “A†may have a competitive advantage over racer “B†because he/she has the budget to spend several hundred more dollars on his/her brake or suspension upgrades. The same could be said for a seat, driver’s gear, or gauges. Racer “A†can afford a more comfortable seat, a lighter-weight suit, and bigger, more easily read gauges than racer “B†and is therefore unhindered by discomfort or unnecessary distraction because he/she had the financial means to invest in more expensive gear which could ultimately give racer “A†a competitive edge. Again, if the argument against coatings is largely a contention of controlling expense, then the ruling that allows non-spec suspension and brake upgrades and freedom of choice of driver and safety gear is inconsistent with this logic. The argument that ceramic-coated manifolds creates an unfair horsepower advantage by virtue of lower intake air temperatures is also inconsistent with the current rules. The playing field is already uneven in regards to allowable intake set-ups. Carbureted cars are forced to use an open-element filter or a restrictive factory air-cleaner set-up while fuel-injected cars take their intake air from a location outside of the engine-bay with less restrictive air paths. This may not be as pronounced on the dyno with the hood up and a big drum-fan blowing on the front of the car, but after five or ten minutes of racing under hood temps begin to soar and the car that takes it’s air from outside the engine bay is absolutely going to have cooler intake air than the car that takes its air from within the engine bay. I’m not asking to revisit any rules on allowable intake set-ups. I am simply pointing out that the only other argument that I’ve been presented with as to why one shouldn’t be allowed to ceramic coat their exhaust manifolds is negated by the fact that rules allow certain intake set-ups that clearly have the ability to make more power than others by virtue of lower intake air temperatures.

In conclusion, I hope I’ve clearly pointed out the problem with the prohibition of exhaust manifold coatings in the current NASA ruling. My primary concern is the denial of an affordable safety item. As a racer, I strongly believe that I, as well as my fellow racers, have the right to utilize any safety item that I elect to employ so long as it doesn’t endanger any fellow racer. My secondary concern is that the argument against the ceramic coating of exhaust manifolds is simply inconsistent with the writing of the current rules for the Camaro-Mustang Challenge class. The allowance of the allocation of additional expense with a number of items to improve performance and safety is widespread in the current ruling. I hope that those who agree with my views will support me by notifying your regional director of your concerns. Additionally, I strongly encourage any opposition to my views be put forth so that I may consider any perspectives that I may have been unable to see. All information contained in this document is yours to use as you please and can be reproduced without my permission. Feel free to consult me via email or phone.

 

Thank You,

Michael Tomlin

CMC #66

Specialized Performance Coating, Inc.

Arlington, TX

817-274-1947

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I knew this wasn't going to be easy. I don't mean to be abrasive when I say this but whether or not it's needed, when it comes to a safety item, should be left up to the racer to decide. Do you simply not believe that ceramic coatings have the capability to do as I've described? This is something that will make my car and my competitor's car safer and will save me money in time by reducing heat-related deterioraton of parts. Period. I'm afraid your argument that "it's illegal because we wanted to keep the rules simple" is not going to mean much to me if I ever am involved in or hear of an incident that could have been prevented through the use of ceramic coatings. The fact that you're so quick to turn a blind eye to this makes me question your experience with ceramic coated exhaust components. They radiate less heat, they cool down faster, they last longer, and they make other parts last longer. Period. I'm prepared to prove this to anyone who fails to recognize it. These are assets that offer much more than a simple power advantage to the user. I respect your desire to keep the class simple, but just how much would it really complicate things to change the ruling on this and give the racer the right to decide whether or not it's needed. I didn't expect to see any immediate changes to the rules, but I'd say I'm quite surprised to see such a myopic view by a director on the topic.

 

Respectfully,

Michael Tomlin

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Michael....welcome to CMC racing...I think you aren't aware of the basic philosophy of CMC racing that has held true for over a decade now...KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT CHEAP, KEEP IT SAFE...while I agree with everything you say about coatings lowering temperatures and increasing power you have to realize that the second component of coating is what will prevent it from being added to the CMC build list. CMC does not add additional power adders beyond its current basic list. The intent is to keep the cost down. Yes, there are variations that racers can spend money on, but add $150 here and there and you've added another grand to the cost of a car. This was the problem with SCCA's A Sedan class. Is you old AS Capri still competitive? I doubt it. Is a ten year old CMC car still competitive...you bet, especially if I'm driving! Now I read all your safety concerns but you have to remember that these are basicly stock cars that have a long history of component cycles and based on annecdotal evidence over the past 15 years I've been racing these cars I'm not aware of any failures due to heat radiated by stock cast iron exhaust manifolds. Are you? If this were a true safety issue and the manifolds were causing gas and oil lines to spontaneously combust as you intimate in your posting, the CMC Directors would immediately require coated exhaust. IMHO exhaust coating is a horsepower adder first and a safety item...well, not even second in this class, we just don't have problems with heat related issues (except when the umbrella girls walk by and the old drivers suit gets a bit uncomfortable). The American Iron and AIX classes are for those drivers who wish to expand their prep modes and spend mo' money, mo' money and mo' money. CMC is the fastest growing class in NASA for the basic reasons of a defined cost containment policy, strong safety considerations and great comraderie among the competitors.....build you car to the CMC rules, give it a season or two and see if you can catch Todd and Neil....have fun...Richard "can I direct deposit my Social Security check to Toyo Tires?" Pryor

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I'll chime in siding with Richard. Dear Lord...

 

Anyway, to be honest, I could care less if you have coated manifolds or not, at the end of the day, we have power limits. BUT, if you have them, why wouldn't somebody else? Next thing you know, it's another thing added to the 'gotta do' list. And I think that list is already too long for SOME people.

 

This class was/is essentially for showroom stock cars. Add a cage/seat/kill switch and go racing. Simple, huh? But then brakes were opened up (since stock ones' suck), then suspension (sucks too), and on and on. Problem here is, the stock manifolds don't suck. Well, at least they don't need to be replaced. They're cast iron for pete's sake.

 

However, if I can get my manifolds coated for $150, I'll do it! But nope, it doesn't cost that. How about the labor to remove the manifolds? In a 4th Gen? Nope, not cheap. How about re-tapping that exhaust stud that broke off 'cause it was rusted through? Still not cheap. Shipping? Reinstall? I think getting manifolds coated would get my wallet for over $500. Easy. And we don't need more $500 items!

 

It's inconceivable to me that people (not specific to you Michael) come in and want to put more 'cool things' on their car. If you want to spend more dollars, and get more cool parts, then go AI/X, that's what it's there for!

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Ok, I had a long post up here for a few minutes where I replied in a very corner-carvers-eske way...but then I decided to not fight fire with fire.

 

Michael, just for the record I do think your post is a little abrasive, perhaps bordering on offensive. Greg is certainly not myopic. As a matter of fact, he's a volunteer who does a hell of a job, and the results of his efforts speak for themselves in turn-out and growth of the series.

 

Further, lets just for a moment assume we know nothing about coatings. Explain to us using real numbers exactly how this would reduce maintenance costs. Please consider the fact that underhood component degradation is a function of time as well as temperature and that CMC cars see very little run time.

 

With regards to performance, explain to us exactly how we would keep this from becoming another "must have" for the guys that want to win, especially considering the potential performance gain of having lower underhood temps. Keep in mind we currently dont allow any other much cheaper methods for lowering underhood temps (like aerodynamic mods such as louvers or naca ducts).

 

With regards to safety, I think your opinion on the racer's right to use whatever they think is right is completely off base. The proof is in the CCR. It is full of things you must do, with very few suggestions. The reason is because racers gravitate towards what is required, not what is safest. If you dont agree, consider why so many sanctioning bodies are requiring components that are obvious, as opposed to just letting the racers decide. Also, I think you need to revisit your thinking that coated exhaust will prevent fires. Most CMC cars are either cold, or full throttle hot. At that point, will coated manifolds be less than 495F? If so, I think the right venue is Nasa, since we rely on them for safety rules anyway.

 

Last, please keep in mind that changing rules (any rules) is a BIG deal and isn't taken lightly, especially weeks before the first event of the year. If Greg pushes towards no first, he's acting on your best interest as a racer...just ask A-sedan regulars.

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Michael,

I couldn't fully read all the posts...simply too long.

I did get the gist of what you and the others were saying,However, CMC is mainly about low cost. (All series must consider safety a priority.) If a winning driver has ceramic coated headers, then everyone else will feel the need to run out and get them. If it's not ceramic coatings, it'll be rear diff. covers, or penske shocks or some other item. The series will naturally rise to the winningest driver's setup. (Frankly I'm surprised everyone hasn't switched to convertibles yet! ) To limit costs, modifications are severely limited.

 

I'm always proud to open the hood of mine, or better yet, Eric Varner's CMC Championship hood and show people "HOW STOCK" these motors really are after ripping off laptimes 3 seconds slower than AI and 6 seconds faster than a 400 HP HPDE car.

 

That's what it's about. See you out at the track and call me if you want to discuss further...

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The series will naturally rise to the winningest driver's setup. (Frankly I'm surprised everyone hasn't switched to convertibles yet!

 

That one had me falling out of my chair ... :lol:

 

6 seconds faster than a 400 HP HPDE car.

 

Maybe in driver's group 1

 

:evil:

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Hmmmm...my curiousity is peaked.

I'll talk to Tony about this...I believe every CMC region should have it's "token" convertible. I saw a couple in Indy...we've got one in Texas...I think you guys need one in California!

 

-=- Todd

 

PS-- I'm kidding...I don't wish this topless affliction on anyone!

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Speaking of heavy....what's this I hear that you're ready to take the plunge and dump that old breakaway Mustang and pick up a Chevy? A Genuine GM RAcerCosmo entry in......drum roll....SCCA T1 Corvette? YOW...we're all jealous...and expect you to share with all your CMC buddies...I'm aware of several for sale that aren't listed....same advice as with CMC cars...buy a winner...get last year's Heinracy car...Mike Pettiford got the winner the year before and finished third or fourth this year in T1 at the Runoffs...saves you lots of time....see you at the SCCA Nationals...just wave when you lap me and Nick Littleton in our tiny V6 Camaros in SSB....keep us informed...rp

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Wow, this internet lets word travel fast.

Really, I was just doing research. My sugar momma hasn't arrived yet, so I'm making due with a Sweet & Low aunt. She lets me race the go kart and promised me GT-4 when it comes out.

 

I did speak with Joe at Phoenix, he is a great guy and gave me a lot of information.

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"Michael, just for the record I do think your post is a little abrasive, perhaps bordering on offensive. Greg is certainly not myopic. As a matter of fact, he's a volunteer who does a hell of a job, and the results of his efforts speak for themselves in turn-out and growth of the series."

 

First, my apologies to anyone who took offense to my comments. I meant no personal attack against Greg . Given your testimonial concerning his contributions to the series, I likely owe him a "thank-you" for his dedication and hard work, which I'm sure I've already benefited from. I simply felt that his reply to my initial post that stated "it's jut not needed" seemed a bit curt and dismissive. Now that I've been given more elaborate reasoning for the argument against coatings, I see additional justification for the rule. Being in the business, I hear frequent testimonials from customers about how plug wires are lasting longer, how much easier it is to work under the hood shortly after shut-down without getting burned, etc. I've seen first hand on my own vehicles these benefits realized, as well as the avoidance of a potentially hairy situation that could have cost me time and money, or worse (Hot Rod Power Tour '04...won't go into details here). So please, I beg your pardon for my strong beliefs in a technology that has proven its benefits and value to myself and fellow enthusiasts countless times over. Being denied this technology without adequate justification seemed close-minded. But I failed to consider the hassle of removing a set of manifolds from a fourth-gen F-body. As you pointed out, it could quickly escalate in expense beyond the cost of the coating job. All I ever asked for was a better explanation than what I'd been given for the current ruling. Well, I got it. I won't rebut your other arguments point for point, tempting as it is, as I see your fervor in maintaining the status quo and don't think the timing is right to drag this out. This is not to say that I've given up the fight. I still believe strongly in my arguments and see inconsistency in the ruling. But for now, I think I'll concentrate my efforts toward working on the car. Thank you for your time, gentlemen, and good luck this season.

 

Michael Tomlin

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Michael,

After reading all the great and true comments above , my suggestion would be to drop the request.

It just won't ever happen,and if you still say why,then just re-read the reasons above, since there is no need to really repeat them.

Join CMC and you will understand what we are saying, that will be the best way to understand what is being said in case you still don't understand.

CMC will never go the A/S way and then go away.

We simply won't change things that mean so little, and again CMC is a driven and drivers series, not a trick this or that series.

Thanks,

Tony Guaglione

CMC Chief Director

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  • 1 year later...

BUT, if you have them, why wouldn't somebody else? Next thing you know, it's another thing added to the 'gotta do' list. And I think that list is already too long for SOME people.

 

This is the maintality that makes me slap my forehead... The rules are set up to protect us dummies from ourselves.

 

...I don't have a cat...

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