Further down the driveline, the billet-steel uprights are complete and the crew is waiting for the custom hub and carbon front brake assemblies from Mark Williams. Once they arrive, the crew will mount the uprights and install the CVs and driveshafts.
Finding the right wheels was a stumbling block until Norwood teamed with the folks at Bogart Racing Wheels. The unique size and offset the Norwood design dictates aren't available from any manufacturer as an off-the-shelf item. Bogart agreed to manufacture the wheels to Norwood's specifications and they're spectacular.
Two versions of the front wheels were developed. The first are 11 inches wide and will be used for the NHRA events. The NDRA versions are a massive 16 inches wide, taking advantage of the unlimited tire size regulations.
Rado's new Celica is a fairly complex car in terms of electronically controlled or monitored systems. A multitude of sensors record everything from suspension movement and chassis flex to air/fuel ratios and individual cylinder knock.
The heart of the system is Motec's M880 engine management ECU. The capabilities of the high-end Motec systems have made them a requirement in many forms of motorsports-Norwood refuses to use anything else.
"The ability to datalog so many functions is crucial," says Norwood. "When you combine the M880 with the Motec dash, you have a massive amount of processing power. We have the ability to look at just about every mechanical, electrical and hydraulic function on the car. If we have a problem, we can hone in on it quickly and get it fixed. It's easy when you know exactly what's going on at any given time."
Norwood has spent a lot of time tuning with various engine management systems. Motec tops his list. Says Norwood, "It works. Plain and simple. Many systems will struggle to control big injectors, but using the Motec boxes I can make a car fitted with 1600cc injectors idle like your mom's minivan. The software is easy to use and the definition of the maps is excellent. Tuning with the Motec is a dream."
The Celica is also fitted with Motec's CDI 8 ignition unit. Compact, powerful but also not inexpensive, the Motec CDI unit is worth the additional cost to Norwood. There are some powerful boxes on the market but Norwood says they're either unreliable or cause so much RF interference that the system is constantly dogged by problems. The Motec CDI outperforms them all and is capable of producing a much hotter spark. We'll go into much deeper detail on the capabilities of the Motec M880 in a future article that will focus on the testing and tuning of the NORAD Celica.
Norwood is just as enthusiastic about the capabilities of the J&S knock control system. Unique in its ability to monitor each individual cylinder for detonation, the J&S system will also trim the timing for each cylinder. By allowing the tuner to run much closer to the edge of detonation, the J&S is a sensible safeguard.
"Once you've set up the system, you can forget about knock," explains Norwood. If there's too much timing or one cylinder is running warmer than the rest, the system will retard the ignition timing on that cylinder just enough to be safe. The J&S system is like an insurance policy that buys you a little more room to play with.
At the time of writing the NORAD crew finished the Mil-spec harness, and the dry-cell Odyssey battery is ready to be installed.
With just a few weeks to go, Norwood and his crew have their hands full. The lights will burn late into the night at the NORAD facility as they finish the construction phase. Our next articles will focus on the testing, tuning and race debut of this amazing project.