Topic: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

New jack round' here. Picked up a 99 mercedes for scrap price because it's got 157,000 miles and no keys, dead battery, and more squirrels under the hood than in the woods behind my house. Dash lights are said to be light up like Christmas, and the power steering fluid looks like banana pudding. (If you have any clue how red liquid turned solid yellow.. please do tell.)

I read most of the forums, rules, shenanigans etc. I've come up with a few questions I have about my potential bid at entering a race.

I'm a one man circus currently. I intend to fund / build a car by myself. Logistically the only thing I can't handle in my home work shop / garage is the roll cage. I'm not made of money, and I have to do this in my spare time. So I'm going with the "if you build it they will come" theory.

That brings me to a few questions.

1.) This is a 99 SLK 230, I can't quite figure out how to design a roll cage that terminates before the rear wheel arches. They are literally right behind the seats! Are there any exceptions to this rule, and does anybody have photos of the 1 SLK that competed in the Lemons race previously? (OR can you have them contact me?)

2.) I'm way too tall for a car this size. I suspect with the roof on the car, even with a seat mounted to the floor I'd still be dangerously close to the top of the roll bar with my helmet. a.) Are there many Lemons racers that run a topless car around? I only took notice of a few in the highlight reels on youtube. b.) Are there any real disadvantages to running say a spring or summer race with a topless car?

3.) I guess this should have been question #1.. Who here thinks a car like this could actually rank in a race with a decent driver? People tell me this car is too under powered and too heavy.. but I'm overly optimistic about everything in life. Set me straight before I dive into an empty pool.

Thanks for any advice, perhaps I'll be seeing you in the future!

Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

About the only questions I can clearly answer is that the roll cage needs to terminate before the back side of the rear tires. Looking at online pics of the SLK, you can do it. If a Miata can do it and a c4 vette can do it, so can you with an slk 230. The 45-degree angle for the backstays is a suggestion and not a mandatory requirement. Landing the backstays NEAR the top of the cage and then landing the lower portion at or just behind the strut tower centerline attachment point should be sufficient to get the car through tech.

plenty of pics of topless cars in Murilee Martin's uber galleries

Oh, the other thing I can suggest is to STOP thinking you can win. Just stop. Don't build the car because you think you can win, build the car because you think it'll be fun and rewarding to actually take something you built with your own hands out on track and turn laps in it.

3 (edited by Guildenstern 2019-02-02 02:30 PM)

Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

You don’t win having the fastest/lightest car. You win by staying out the longest and laying down the most laps.

Build the cage tall enough for you to fit and use arm restraints, figure out what to do in rain if/when it rains. Some kind of kamm back or bread van top would look sweet.

Also the power steering fluid was probably the pentosin stuff that’s more a yellowy green. German stuff likes to use diffrent stuff because german.

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Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

Oh, and THIS just happened

Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

Thank you for the replies. I understand this is an endurance race. It seems the biggest challenge is avoiding accidents as much as it is to try and avoid inevitable mechanical failure with cars this old / worn out. I would be in it for the fun, and camaraderie. I found photos of that slk roll cage thanks to you posting that pic with their number on the side. I appreciate that.

I was thinking the 45 degree thing was a rule, but as you pointed out it's not a major factor. Looks like their rear stays are welded to the rear most part of the rear wheel arch. It passed tech at Road Atlanta in December 2017.

I will have to go to some measuring and removing of interior bits to make sure I can fit in this car. I'd much rather keep the roof on the car if I can for rain, or even just bright sun!

6 (edited by OnkelUdo 2019-02-03 05:50 AM)

Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

MercedesNuts wrote:

Thank you for the replies. I understand this is an endurance race. It seems the biggest challenge is avoiding accidents as much as it is to try and avoid inevitable mechanical failure with cars this old / worn out.

This is not Chumpcar from three years ago.  With a few exceptions, contact is rare in the Midwest, a little more common in the NE and a little more common at one particular west coast race.  In 5 years of doing this, at least 3 races a year, occasionally with two cars, we have NEVER had serious contact and never lost more than the time it took to drill few holes and reinforce our bumper cover attachment with zip ties due to contact.  We HAVE lost hours cutting melted calipers of cars, swapping engines, swapping transmissions, chasing electrical gremlins (Mercedes of that era's specialty), etc.

As far as running open top cars it has literally never been an issue for us. We campaigned a topless Saturn for three years including some monsoon races and one that never got about freezing.  You literally never noticed it except if you had to cover the car working on it in the paddock.

For height...exocage or a "bow bar" that arches up from the front of the cage halo and back down to the main hoop.  You just have to pass the broomstick test with 2" to spare.

Re: SLK 230 contender, have some Q's

Mount the seat first, especially if you are tall. Wiggle the cage in around your mounted seat. Plus when your seat is in, you can start doing auto cross and stuff as you are piecing cage together. That will help to keep you motivated.

I also took the lonesome drifter approach to the car build. Nice part is you get to have it your way uncontested. Cost isn’t that bad as you are buying piece by piece over a year or so.

Even though you have your car, continue to shop for another of the same. Complete donor cars are way cheaper than junkyard parts. Only buy junkyard parts on sale weekends.

When car is ready-ish it will be easier to recruit a team.  With that said, team management is the hardest part. I just flaked on a friend for the Arizona race and I even know the struggle of captaining.

The answer to your cage geometry question is email, email, email, with pictures.  Vettes and miatas both have wheels immediately behind driver, plenty of those on track.

Enjoy the creative process, you may be the next Michaelangelo of crap cars.

TriLamb Motorsports ‘87 528e