1977 Triumph 2500S Hits The Track - Our Shed

By: Cliff Chambers

Presented by

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Cliff's budget racer takes to the track

 

1977 Triumph 2500S

Having got dirt on his boots and grit in his teeth during some exploratory laps of a SE Queensland dirt circuit, our Man With The Triumph has been inspired to transform his very British sporting sedan into an unlikely contender for Autocross glory.

Out Ipswich (QLD) way, nestled between the hostile environments of an International Raceway and the Willowbank dragstrip lies a tract of land that for many years has honed a different sort of motor sporting skill.

That space is home to the Ipswich-West Moreton Auto Club’s Sprint and Autocross short circuits and over the years has delivered hours of low-cost fun to many hundreds of participants in all kinds of cars.

| Buyer's guide: Triumph 2000/2500/2.5

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My first contact with the IWMAC layout came early in 2017 when I attended the Club’s annual ‘Come and Try’ day and that was still sufficient for the dirt sprint bug to bite.

MAKING IT SAFE

• Even low-risk events like Autocross require competitors and cars to meet a minimum safety standard. Come & Try scrutineering revealed a list of safety-related additions that would be needed before the car could enter a timed event. Some are sensible additions even for cars that never venture off a public road.

• Fire Extinguisher: a 1.5kg dry powder extinguisher securely mounted inside the car and able to be reached by the driver while wearing a seat belt or harness. Read the instructions so you know without hesitation how your device works.

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• Seat Belts: just how old are those belts in your car? Original equipment perhaps? The last thing you want in the event of a crash is for the belt webbing to snap or a mounting fail. Replace the front belts at least with a new pair and inspect mounting points for cracks or rust.

• Dual Throttle Springs: essential to avoid a throttle jamming open with potentially disastrous consequences. Mine were expertly fabricated by Triumph and Jaguar specialist Don Milner of DM Car Repairs. It is possible to make your own but follow exactly a proven design.

• Roll Cage: I don’t have one as yet and the IWMAC tracks with their wide run-off areas and relatively low speeds don’t require them in closed cars. However if your aspirations include sealed circuit events, hill-climbs or tarmac rallies, consider at least a half cage for closed cars and a full-width hoop for convertibles.

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• Recovery hooks & identifiers: hooks or tow-straps are required front and rear to aid quick recovery of a damaged or broken-down vehicle. On older models these can usually be bolted through a solid lump of sub-frame, bumper mount or the boot floor. Later models may already have recovery points installed but if not consult a qualified automotive fabricator before popping them just anywhere.

MAKING IT GO – AND STOP

The first issue that arose once the car was being pushed harder than normal was overheating. An absent thermostat was part of the problem but a new radiator with double the cooling capacity of the original delivered a long-term fix. Not cheap at around $600 but overheating can cause extensive and expensive damage.

Triumph -brake -rotor Pink brake calipers don't stop it any better, but proved to be a talking point

Occasional misfiring and a fuelly smell were symptomatic of missed maintenance and lots of ancient underbonnet components. Most of the issues were cured after some serious shelf emptying at the local Autobarn; new plugs, coil, fuel pump and condenser all changed but the leaks persisted. Some ultra-expensive braided hose seems to have stemmed the flow of fuel but oil leaks remain a constant frustration.

In Sprint events there is no such thing as a ‘warm up’ lap. Brakes need to work pretty much from stone cold and keep working once temperatures rise. Again, Don Milner’s expertise with competition-kitted Triumphs was called into play and some meaty RDA 171D rotors ordered. To protect the new discs against being ripped to bits by tiny rocks a further $120 was spent having the rotors grooved AND dimpled. Marvellous brakes now.

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GIVING IT A GO

By late August and with a brand new CAMS competition licence in my pocket the time had come for a serious lash at the Willowbank AutoCross circuit. From a distance the course looks simple enough but just six metres wide in places and lined with inconveniently sited traffic cones, precision is essential. Hit one and your time cops a shattering five second penalty.

Stepson Mark Braham was on hand to ensure all went well during scrutineering (all ticks) and to snap some classic shots of the car at least looking like it was going fast.

My best effort during the ‘Come and Try’ day could have been timed with an alarm clock and my early experimental efforts weren’t much better. By Run Three my agregate for two laps had dropped from a pathetic 2.06 to a promising 1.54s. For reasons unknown, nobody’s R3 was recorded in the official results, so a misfiring 1.56.7 from Run 4 stood as my best effort on the day.

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That put me second slowest in Class C against VL Commodores, a very potent VW Beetle and rally-engined Datsun Bluebird but in close company with a bunch of older Falcons, MX5s and Hyundais contesting other categories.

With barely six clicks of competitive running under its wheels, the Triumph has a long way to go in its development and the driver even further. Before lining up in 2018 the car will need taller 15-inch rims to help keep the tacho needle away from the red-line and a lid on the overheating.

If you’re in SE QLD and this sounds like the kind of motorsport that might appeal, take a trip to the Dirt Sprint website www.iwmac.org.au

Second slowest in Class might sound a bit dire but I wasn’t the slowest contender on the day. What I learned was that my gearing is wrong for the twisty Autocross layout – second gear too low, third too high – and that street tyres are completely unsuited for a surface which after a few runs offers similar grip levels to a bitumen race track.

The solution to both issues seems to involve acquiring a set of larger-diameter rims (old Datsun TRX alloys I am hopeful will fit) and running a set of the ‘semi-slick’ street tyres that seem very popular across the Sprint Circuit paddock.

 

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