Tag Archives: Toyota

Problem: 1991 Toyota MR2 Clutch Releasing Too Close To The Floor

ACT Performance Clutch releasing very close to the 1991 Toyota MR2 floor.


I did some more research in 2015 after Troy Trugleo raced my car. He complained a lot. We had just grown used to the pedal release point. I was at a loss as to what to do.

I searched the internet for a few days, weeks… and then months.

I found a thread on a Honda forum that discussed this same issue. The OP was using a ACT racing clutch and the release point was on the floor. It was discovered that the ACT pressure plates are made by Exedy. They also make a few other “performance clutch pressure plates”. The Exedy made pressure plates have a shorter height as compared to the OE Honda pressure plate. The height is only by a millimeter or so. The fix was to put a washer under the release fork pivot stud.


I was then speaking with Gouky who had said he was having a hard time keeping E153s working in his V6 race car, and he mentioned another endurance race team was having the same issues.
I mentioned my finding on the Honda forum. He suggested trying to fit a body panel spacer U-washer in through the access hole. I tried doing it on a E153 that was out of the car and to me and my fat fingers there was just not enough room.

So two weeks ago at Watkins Glen we lost a transaxle when the front engine mount bolts broke and shoved the transaxle into the frame rail. Here was my chance to test the theory.


I used a regular off the shelf washer. It was between 1 and 2 mm thick. Well used but clean. No clue where it came from. I unscrewed the pivot stud under the shift fork, and put the washer on the stud and torqued it back into place.

After reinstallation of the new transaxle we tested it.

Release is now where OE release is, in the middle of the clutch pedal arc. Shifting is much more precise as the gear shafts have more time to slow when you shift gears, thus slowing the wear on the sychros.

Now I am working on a fix for the wearing of the nylon bushing that is on the number 2 shift fork. I think that by using the solid shift cable bearings/brass bushings, that too much pressure from the shift input is being applied to the nylon bushing to the shift hub that causes abnormal wear.
The fix would be to use BRD Polyoxymethylene bushings at the end of the transaxle side of the shift cables. I think this will allow a 30% less force to the nylon, while still allowing for an accurate shift feel. More on this after we test it at Charlotte over the 4th of July weekend




What has been the best performance modification / tool for me?

I get asked this a lot online and at the track. “Bill, what has been the best mod you have done on your race car? Is it the engine swaps? The alignment? Aero?”


My answer is always my Aim Solo lap timer.

Troy Trugleo's Biohazard V6 Toyota MR2 at the 2013 ChumpCar World Series VIR-24
Troy Trugleo’s Biohazard V6 Toyota MR2 at the 2013 ChumpCar World Series VIR-24

At the 2013 VIR 24-hour race I was driving Troy Trugleo’s Biohazard V6 Toyota MR2.  Kevin Tulay is the king in Biohazard. FTDs all over the country in that car. But I was lapping an easy 30 seconds slower then Kevin per lap. I could not figure out why. I know I will never be as fast as him, but hell, I should at least be within 10 seconds of him!

On the dash of the Biohazard MR2 sits this lap timer. It is a predictive lap timer. It lets you know what your time will be at the end of the lap at sectors on the track. So if I screw up a corner, my lap time increases. Or I get that apex perfect my lap time decreases on the display. It shows what my session FTD is as compared to the event FTD. Oh, FTD stands for “fastest time of day”.

So I am struggling with Troys car. Ham fisting it around the fast course. Each lap I am trying to assess why I am going so slow. Then I realize that I am not relaxed. Kevin makes driving this car look so easy.  You can see it in the videos. Relaxed, composed, even with the car sideways or in traffic. And even after 2 years of racing since that time, I remember the moment as if it was yesterday…

I told myself to relax.

And boom! 10 seconds faster.

So now I am relaxed. I am watching the Aim Solo on the dash as I take corners, or go down the straight. I discover little things can make a big difference in my lap times. In my head i thought that taking a certain line was faster because I could maintain momentum. But I was wrong, less distance traveled made a huge difference in lap times. At the end of the session I was still slower than Kevin, but I had gained a huge amount of time on him, and felt better with driving Troys awesome MR2.

Aim Solo ad
Aim Solo ad


So I looked at them on the web. Pricey. $399.

I then asked my team to give me lap times in the car, but they just told me to shut up and drive. lol. So I did.

I drove for Troy another time and after that told myself I was going to save the money up and get my own.

So when I went on my own with the Racing Strong Motorsports Endurance Racing Team, purchased an Aim Solo. It took a couple of races before I got it installed and working, and a few more to actually understand what I was looking at. The Aim Solo also an excellent data collector. The Solo collects track map GPS data, lap times, G-forces, braking forces, acceleration forces, total laps, distance driven and speeds. They have this Windows software that you can use to analyze the race to see where you are doing well or where you suck at racing. And a really cool feature is that we can compare drivers in the same car at the same track. As we collect data, we can even see how well the chassis is doing from race to race, year to year.

My drivers love it, and before I am even home they are begging for the data. And as a car owner, trying to sell seats, it is a valuable value add for the paying drivers. And I have seen huge improvements in my drivers. They drive smoother, better lines, and we have had less crashes and have done way better at collecting trophies then we did prior to the lap timer.

Now the Aim Solo is not perfect. I wish it had other features. And guess what? Aim Sports has it in the SoloDL. At $699 it is an awesome data logger that also does the normal predictive lap timing stuff. But this guy plugs into your OBDII/CanBus port and can record everything the ECU sees, which is a huge amount of useful data as a car owner.

Now one thing I do suggest if you get an Aim data logger/timing unit. Go to an Aim sponsored class. Or at least go visit the Aim YouTube website for how to videos. Even my less powerful unit can do some incredible performance envelope data to show how our drivers are doing.

Aim Sports YouTube Channel

So the predictive lap timer is the best single drivers performance aid we have seen so far. It has allowed my drivers to make my car faster and safer.

So what is next? Saving up my cash to buy a Aim Sports MXL dashboard for the new MR2 chassis. Ballenger Motorsports is a AIM Sports Dealer that also sells any needed sensors to optimize that data recording. http://bmotorsports.com/shop/

Aim Sports MXL
Aim Sports MXL



I forgot… You can take this data, and use it with software to combine an overlay to your in car Go-Pro or ChaseCam videos like I did here. This is Troy driving my yellow #79 MR2 at this years VIR 12-hour race.

How to convert your Toyota 3MZ electronic throttle to wire and TPS

Click here to see how I did this simple conversion.  The link is to my facebook page

2014 racing starts off great for MR2’s!

Yellow 79 at VIR South
Yellow 79 at VIR South
2014 has started off awesome for MR2s in endurance racing.
December 2013 saw Racing Strong finishing 3rd in the ice bowl championship on the Patriot Course at VIR in Virginia. 10 hours of racing in the ice and rain was incredibly fun with our yellow 3MZ v6 powered MR2.
So to start 2014 we headed to Road Atlanta in late February along with Team Biohazard MR2 owned by Troy Truglio to race for 14 hours. We started out pretty good getting into 5nd, and then fell back to 88th place when Racing Strong driver and 2013 Ohio SCCA Driver of the Year (MK1 MR2 D-Production)  Mike Helm lost the right front tie rod on the 1991 MR2 braking into turn 10A. He made it back into the pits where we set out to fix it. Found out the tie rod was frozen on the rack side. So when I would align the wheels it basically unscrewed itself. Lesson learned. We got the car back out on the track in about 19 minutes after reinstalling the rod, and doing a quick alignment.
All the time this is happening Troy and his team in the 3MZ V6 powered Biohazard MR2 take the race lead.
We battle back and get back into the low 30s, but at the 12 hour mark I get a radio call that the car broke. Gene says he thinks the transaxle let go. Tow truck gets back to the pit and we immediately see that the tire is no longer connected to the car, it is sitting up in the wheel well. The Timken Camry hub broke in two at the flange, and then the axle tip broke from the stress.
Troy and his team ends up winning the first race of 2014 in his badass winged 91 V6 MR2. We load up and head home to figure out why the axle broke.
After a few emails to different people, Timkin emails me and basically says that the Camry hub broke due to stress that it was not designed to take. So I picked some 1998 turbo uprights with hubs off a MR2OC member and installed those.
So we head down to Virginia International Raceway near Danville, Virginia for the ChumpCar 12-hour endurance race.
I have Gene Bird owner of Zipline Welding Booms and Mike Helm driving for me. Troy is there with his MR2. He has a new driver, and he is also testing out a few new things.
We start the race pretty well in 8th and work our way into the top 5. A few times we take the lead. I am really concentrating on learning and trying out new “race craft”, trying to time pit stops and getting our pit stops done so we spend no more than 5-minutes total in the pit. We have minimum 5-minute pit stop rules. Safety thing. So I have my 13-year old son Ian sitting on the stopwatch letting us know exactly how we are doing as we fuel and swap drivers and cool suit ice. It is working great.
Troy has some issues, one of his drivers hits something and the left front strut breaks. He also had some ECU issues that were fixed with a quick ECU swap. But he was basically out of contention early. But he was still fast as hell when he was out there.
On the second to last stint Gene takes over and is doing well. He is in 2nd and a big rain comes. The third place car is an Acura Legend V6 and he is very close to catching us.I was pulling faster laps than Gene, so we made a decision to pull him in 20 minutes early when a local yellow popped up. I hopped in, we added 15 gallons of high test fuel, and I headed out on a wet track. Really really NOT fun in the MR2!
I kept us in 2nd until the 3rd place car passed me. I had a very big issue with third gear. It worked sometimes. Under hard braking it may be there, or it may not. And third is a very important gear on the South Course! Troy was coaching me over the radio letting me know where the Acura was.When he passed me, I basically gave up. Save the car and settle for 3rd and a podium. He basically called out my manhood at that moment. I agreed, balls out. 1st or last. That is why we race. I caught back up to the Acura and we both came up on slower traffic. I am really good in traffic. I was able to get past him and boxed him and then sneak in between two cars on Oak Tree leaving him stuck behind me. I then put down the fastest lap I have ever down on VIR South. 01:25.976. What is wild is that I did that in traffic!
We ended up finishing 2nd overall. My best finish racing this yellow V6 powered MR2 over the past 3 years.
Great video of the Acura chasing me down at the end of the race.
Inside the V6 MR2 with Mike Helm driving. Mike set our fastest lap at 01:25.157.
Our next race is at Watkins Glen May 23 – 25 for three races, 6 hour, 12-hour and a 6-hour. We are bringing spare engines! lol. Come join us if you want to see some great racing!

NHTSA Toyota MR2 Crash Test Results

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 4.25.47 PM

I know you just want to see the data! You will need to have a PDF reader installed to view these. 

1985 Toyota MR2

1987 Toyota MR2

1991 Toyota MR2 N/A

1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo


Racing Strong Motorsports Endurance MR2 GTv6 Endurance Racing Team Finishes 3rd at VIR Regional Championship

1991 MR2 GTv6 at speed
A little bit of off roading could not stop the RSm Toyota MR2 GTv6!

RSm’s 1991 Toyota MR2 GTv6 finished 3rd in the 2013 Optima Batteries ChumpCar World Series Eastern Division Championship at VIR.

Ice and freezing rain could not stop the power and reliability of the Camry V6 powered MR2 against some of the fastest machines in the ChumpCar series.

Gene Bird, Mike Helm and Bill Strong piloted the MR2 RSm’s best finish in 4 years of racing in the ChumpCar World Series.

2014 brings some big changes to RSm and endurance racing. 8 races planned with more possible.

ChumpCar World Series Eastern Regional Series 3rd place
RSm #79 Toyota MR2 GTv6