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Ultimate Track Car Challenge

With a large grill in tow and our weight in hamburgers and hotdogs - we were happy to open the doors at TMI AutoTech Friday night to host an awards ceremony and cookout for the Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge for our friends at Grassroots Motorsports Magazine. 

This annual no-holds-barred track competition to find the fastest machine on four wheels resulted in some spectacular laps at VIR – and a good time by all. As our parking lot filled with the winners from each class, the cars ranged from GTRs, Vipers, an old school Camaro, and even a Miata just to name a few. 

Out sister company TMI Racing products was one of the sponsors of the event. With a convenient trackside location at VIR and an ever—growing online presence at www.tmiracing.com, it was a good opportunity for us to be able to let everyone know what we have to offer in the area of track-day prep, repair, and safety equipment. 

We hope that it was an enjoyable evening for all involved. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all those who participated…..See you guys next year!


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Quiet on the set....Not so much

This week we had the honor of working with Titan Gilroy, host of Titan American Built on MavTV. Titan and his film crew came out to our shop in Halifax County Virginia to film an upcoming episode about TMI AutoTech for the reality TV show – Season 2, Episode 2 set to air in November if you want to tune in and check us out….just saying :)

Titan American Built tells the story of American Manufacturing and is a huge advocate for bringing jobs back to the United States. From the moment you meet the crew you realize they are sincerely passionate about this Country and “American Built”.

By the end of the second day of filming we were comfortable enough to turn Titan loose behind the wheel and see what the Atom is all about. The smiles just kept getting bigger and you could tell Titan was starting to settle into the driver’s seat of the Atom.

By the end of the filming you could see the excitement from Titan and his film crew; we were able to showcase the in-house manufacturing process from start to finish…..and have some fun doing it! That’s what Titan American Built is all about – Pride in what you do and Pride that it is American Built……Boom!

Watch Titan American Built Monday’s at 9PM on MavTV and be sure to catch our episode when it airs in November.

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Love at first sight.....

Is love at first sight possible? I would assume that yes is the correct answer based on over 7 years of experiencing delivering Atoms from our Virginia based facility.  The extreme joy that we see on the faces of grown adults who first lay their eyes on their custom built, shiny new Ariel Atom is like watching a kid open presents on Christmas morning.  Extreme grins….followed by long pauses…..followed by “WOW” is not out of the ordinary.

It is great when we are able to schedule a client to come and visit our facility for the first viewing of their car.  We had this opportunity over the weekend with an owner and it went something like this:

  • Meet at the shop – grab a coffee
  • Walk through the manufacturing facility to see chassis fabrication, machine shop, sub-assembly, and then finally make it to the final assembly area where your new Atom is waiting
  • Do a complete walk around of your new car!  Answer as many questions as you have along the way
  • Roll it outside to go for the first drive
  • Go over any further questions you may have, meet the staff that built your car, and arrange for transport of the vehicle to its new home

Ready to find your next love?  Give the Atom a shot……we will be happy to set you up on a date!

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Atoms through the years

TMI AutoTech has been making the Atom since 2008. So we decided to put some general knowledge out there and take you on a little walk through time and give you some specs on the Atom models over the past 7 years. 

1.    Ariel Atom 3 –  Year 2008 to 2011
Chassis: Tig Welded 
Engine: Honda K20A JDM -  Supercharger Optional 
Dampers: Bilstein adjustable or non-adjustable 
Fuel: 91-93 Octane
Bolt circle: 4 x 3.75
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite 4-piston or Alcon 4-piston

2.    Ariel Atom 3 – Year 2012
Chassis: Tig Welded 
Engine: Honda K24Z7 - Supercharger Optional
Dampers: Bilstein adjustable or non-adjustable
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt Circle: 4 x 3.75
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite 4-Piston or Alcon 4-piston

3.    Ariel Atom 3 – Year 2013 to 2014
Chassis: rear sub frame modifications ala Atom 3.5
Engine: Honda K24Z7 Naturally Aspirated
Dash: switch to Race Technology Digital Dash2 
Dampers: JRi Adjustable or non-adjustable
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt circle: 4 x 3.75
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite 4-piston or Alcon 4-piston

4.    Ariel Atom 3 – Year 2015
Chassis: Same as since 2013
Engine: Honda K24Z7 Naturally Aspirated
Changes: Windshield Standard. Footrest Standard. New Style lights
Dampers: JRi Adjustable or non-adjustable 
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt Circle: 4 x 3.75
Brakes: Wilwood 4-piston standard.  Alcon 4-piston optional

5.    Ariel Atom 3S – Year 2015
Chassis: Same as Atom 3 with additional Side Pods for coolers
Engine: Honda K24Z7 Turbocharged and intercooled
Dampers: JRi Adjustable Standard
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt circle: 4 x 3.75
Brakes: Alcon 4-piston with 2-piece floating disc 

6.    Spec:RaceAtom (SRA) – Year 2011
Chassis: Fully MIG welded with additional roll structure and floor structure
Engine: Honda K20Z3 Naturally aspirated
Seating: Kirkey Aluminum Road Race Seat.  Passenger seat optional
Dampers: Bespoke QA1 adjustable
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt circle: 4 x 100mm
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite 4-piston

7.    Spec:RaceAtom (SRA) Year 2012-2015
Chassis: Fully MIG Welded with additional roll structure and floor structure
Engine: Honda K24Z7 Naturally Aspirated 
Seating: Kirkey Aluminum Road Race seat.  Passenger Seat optional 
Dampers: Bespoke QA1 adjustable
Fuel: 91-93 octane
Bolt Circle: 4 x 100mm
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite 4-piston 


8.    Honda Racing Special Edition Ariel Atom
Chassis: Fully TIG Welded with integral roll bar
Engine: Honda Performance Development Spec K24
Dampers: JRI Double Adjustable
Brakes: 4 Piston HPD w/ floating disc
Transmission: Close Ratio HPD Race transmission

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Dyno and Track Testing - A good week at TMI

The guys in the shop have been incredibly busy this past week with lots of exciting things going on.  I always like to look ahead to the future, however it is always interesting to look back at the end of a busy week to see what happened at TMI AutoTech.

Those of you who have been following the Atom 3S progress you know that the engine is a 2.4L Honda with addition of a fully intercooled turbo system. (Note: if you just started following us – check out the Atom 3S here!  It is awesome!)  Each Atom 3S receives a variety of tests prior to being delivered to the end user; engine is started and run within the chassis, short test drive, dyno test, and finally a track test. 

The dyno test allows us to ensure the tune, as well as the turbo pressure are all working in sync.  This is an important step to ensure reliability for the end user.

After the dyno test the assembly technicians will take the car back into the shop to give it a good look over for any items that may have changed during the dyno test.  The next step is a track test.

Track testing is the final step in the process and takes place on the beautiful Virginia International Raceway.  TMI AutoTech utilizes a standard test procedure that brings the cars up to speed in a controlled manner while also testing ride and handling characteristics.  A total of ~ 50 miles are placed on the cars prior to delivery to the end user.

In the midst of all the excitement of testing cars we also had the pleasure of providing a quick shop tour; always a good time to open up the shop and show people around. 

Until Next Week….

Mark Swain

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TMI AutoTech Opens Its Doors

What a way to spend a Saturday morning; Thank you to everyone who joined us at TMI AutoTech for our first ever “Cars & Coffee” event.  We look forward to hosting another event in the fall so please tell your friends! 

The Ariel Atom is the vehicle that we manufacturer from the ground up at our facility and we love to be able to show others what goes into these unique lightweight sports cars.  On the other side of the equation is that everyone at TMI AutoTech love cars so the hosting of this event was a chance to talk cars in general.  Every car (and owner) have a story which is great to hear.

From Ariel Atoms to Hot Rods we had a great mix of cars – see you next time!

Keep in touch with TMI AutoTech:

Sign up for our Monthly Newsletter here: TMI AutoTech Newsletter

Like our Manufacturing Facebook here:  www.facebook.com/tmiautotech

Like our Ariel Atom Facebook here:  www.facebook.com/thearielatom

Until next week – Happy Motoring.

Mark Swain

mswain@tmiautotech.com

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Manufacturing in America – Check us out!

Halifax County, Virginia is the home base for the manufacturing of the Atom 3S.  Yes, that is right…..Southern Virginia, USA.  TMI AutoTech, Inc. has been proudly located here for the past 8 years with up to 80% of each car being manufactured in-house while expanding to a staff of 22 full-time employees.

The guys in the shop have been extremely busy the last few months.  You can see by the photos below that there is a ton of activity going on from chassis manufacturing through to final assembly of brand new Atoms.  It is really awesome see the variety of chassis colors that owners are choosing.

In addition to complete vehicle manufacturing TMI AutoTech also works with companies on specialty engineered components; engineering, turning, machining, and fabrication are all skills we use to help others as well.

If you happen to be in the area next Saturday June 6th we will be having a car show and shop tour from 8:30am-11:00am.  Stop by and say hello! 

Want to see any specific areas of the manufcaturing process?  Let us know and we can see about grabbing some photos.

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VIR Cup Series – Race #1 & #2 brings multiple lead changes and blistering track records.

Sunny and clear skies greeted the drivers for the first round of the VIR Cup Spec:RaceAtom series presented by Honda Racing/HPD.  Temperatures in the mid-60s were present for the first practice session of the year just past 9am on Saturday.  This quickly changed with the mercury rising to just below 90 degrees for the rest of the day.

2 practice sessions allowed the drivers to get acquainted with the new Hoosier R7 spec tire prior to a 20 minute qualifying session around the twisty, undulating VIR South Course.  Qualifying took place in the heat of the day around 1pm with the race scheduled to take a green flag shortly after at 2:20pm.  Craig Reynolds in the #65 set the pace during qualifying with a time of 1:13.067; a time already under the Spec:RaceAtom race record.

Race #1 for the 2015 season took the green at 2:23pm and continued non-stop for 18 action filled laps.  Multiple lead changes occurred with Tyson Bytzek, Craig Reynolds, and Richard Thomas all taking a turn at the front of the grid. As the checkered flag was thrown it was Tyson Bytzek who took the win followed by Richard Thomas and Drew Heffring to round out the podium.  Bytzek bettered the previous race record he had set in 2013 to a time of 1:12.947.

Top 10 – Race #1

1.       Tyson Bytzek
2.       Richard Thomas
3.       Drew Heffring
4.     John Williams
5.     Peter Heffring
6.     Steve Gugenheim
7.     John Won
8.     Bryan Yates
9.     Kris Gustafson
10.   Craig Reynolds

Hot conditions again were present for Race #2 held on Sunday, yet with slightly cloudy skies blocking the sun early in the day.  Qualifying took place at 12 noon with another 20 minute open session available to drivers to log their fastest lap to set the grid.  Bytzek and Reynolds were again quickest, however swapping sides of the front row from the previous day.  Peter Heffring made a great lap to put him in third starting position for Race #2.

Bytzek and Reynolds led the field to the green flag and quickly engaged in a back and forth battle swapping the led on numerous occasions.  Lap 2 saw contact between the #36 of Drew Heffring and the #87 of Steve Gugenheim which ultimately ended the day for Gugenheim with right front damage.  With the race re-started the lead changes continued to occur between Bytzek and Reynolds, while just behind that Thomas, Heffring, and Chip Huff battled for the final podium position. 

After 18 laps the top 3 were Bytzek, Reynolds, and Thomas.  Craig Reynolds bested the lap record set the previous day by Bytzek dropping the South Course record to a blistering 1:12.710.

Top 10 – Race #2

1.      Tyson Bytzek
2.     Craig Reynolds
3.    Richard Thomas
4.    Peter Heffring
5.    Chip Huff
6.    John Williams
7.    John Won
8.    David Davidian
9.    Bryan Yates
0.   Drew Heffring

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Spec:RaceAtom - Could it be for me?

If you are reading this right now we are assuming that you enjoy fast cars, especially the Ariel Atom, and may at some point have the need to get out on the track and drive.  Many of the current drivers in the Spec:RaceAtom series came from the track day market, or simply made the decision that racing was a dream of theirs and took the steps to become involved.

In a future article I will get more into the steps of going from the sidelines to the track.  Currently we are heading into the first race of 2015 that will occur tomorrow, so I thought it would be a good time to outline some of the major things that will happen during the day. 

1.       Registration – This begins at around 7am; the VIR Cup Series is run by the VIR Club that utilize an online registration platform.  All you need to do at this point is sign in, grab a schedule for the day, and wait for the driver meeting to begin.

2.       Driver’s Meeting – This is an important part of any race event.  You will be given any instructions that may have changed from previous events, any changes in procedure that may be different on that specific course, as well as the overview of safety procedures.  The meeting also allows for any questions.

3.       Getting your Spec:RaceAtom Car ready – many participants choose to have a full trackside service & support package which allows them to focus on driving versus worrying about their car; tires, fuel, etc.  If you are inclined to do your own preparation that does occur as well.  At this point in the day you will be setting your tire pressures, filling up with fuel, and doing some final nut & bolt checks.

4.       Practice – The SRA series has 2 practice sessions on Saturday mornings.  These sessions are generally at least 20 minutes in length which allows time for driver, and car, to get up to speed on the course.  Many drivers will make slight changes during the session to tire pressures trying to get the maximum performance.

5.       Qualifying – The SRA series has a 20 minute qualifying session.  Each driver’s fastest lap is recorded and used to set the starting grid.

6.       Tech inspection – The top 3 qualifiers, as well as one randomly selected car, are weighed to ensure minimum weight is adhered to.  In the case of the SRA series the minimum weight, including driver, is 1550 lbs.

7.       Race Time – The SRA series is run based on a number of laps generally a race is approx. 25 minutes in length).  A double file, rolling start is used with the race commencing upon a waving green flag.  It is not uncommon to see multiple lead changes during the event, along with close racing action throughout the field.

8.       Podium – It’s celebration time!  Awards are given to the top 3 racers, along with a nice contingency award from Honda Performance Development to the top 3 drivers. 

9.       Tech Inspection – Once again the cars are inspected to ensure everyone is complying with the rules

10.   Bench Racing – The great thing about the Spec:RaceAtom series is that after the event many of the competitors chat, discuss the race, and enjoy the moment.  Racing in the SRA series is fun; it is competitive on the track but provides a friendly atmosphere off the track.

What is next?  Do it all over again on Sunday! 

If this sounds interesting to you and you would like to become involved please contact us, or come to check us at an event.  Stay tuned for the race report this coming Monday.

Mark Swain

mswain@tmiautotech.com

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Let’s Go Racing! Spec:RaceAtom presented by Honda Racing/HPD

The 5th season of the Spec:RaceAtom series presented by Honda Racing/HPD at Virginia International Raceway is about to take the green flag for 2015.  May 16th & 17th will see Race #1 & #2 take place on the challenging, and highly technical South Course.  The South Course has been the course configuration for the opening round of the Spec:RaceAtom series since its inception in 2011.

The 2015 VIR Cup Series will see 10 races taking place on 3 different course configurations at VIR; South, Full, and Grand Course.  The series has been a great location for veteran racers, and novices alike to hone their race craft in identical vehicles.  Close racing action is always present. 

The Spec:RaceAtom vehicle is the track day sibling of the very popular Ariel Atom 3 with slight changes to assist with both safety and race level stress on the vehicles.  Safety and reliability were the top priorities when designing this vehicle with the inclusion of a fully welded roll structure, aluminum racing seat, as well as additional under structure bracing.  Reliability comes thanks to a Honda 2.4L engines utilized in a naturally aspirated form producing 230hp which is mated to a 6-speed transmission.

Pre-season testing has gone very well for some drivers and we are likely to see track records fall this season.  Stay tuned to this blog for race reports after each event. 

Interested to join in on the action?  Give us a call at 434.822.9130 or email at mswain@tmiautotech.com

2015 VIR Cup Schedule – Spec:RaceAtom presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Race #1 May 16th – VIR South Course

Race #2 May 17th – VIR South Course

Race #3 July 4th – VIR Full Course

Race #4 July 5th – VIR Full Course

Race #5 July 25th – VIR South Course

Race #6 July 26th – VIR South Course

Race #7 August 29th – VIR South Course

Race #8 August 30th – VIR Full Course

Race #9 November 28th – VIR Grand Course

Race #10 November 29th – VIR Full Course

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It is true…..Sit Happens.

We are excited to offer a brand new option for the Atom 3 going forward….and for the next 2 weeks will be offering this option as a part sale at an introductory price to current Atom owners.

We have a brand new seating upholstery option that you can add to any one-piece fiberglass seat used in your Ariel Atom.  These covers add a unique look, provide a new finish to your interior, and can provide increased comfort for you and your passenger.  Covers are weather resistant and can be easily cleaned after a day out driving. 

Have a look at the pictures below and give us a call to order yours.  Introductory price of $775.00 for standard cover or $850.00 with Ariel Logo embroidered in each headrest.

Call Mark or Chris at 434.822.9130 

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Spec:RaceAtom - Now is the time to buy......

If you are reading this, chances are the thought of taking an Atom on your local track has at least crossed you mind. Add in the warm weather that has started to take hold, the car shows and events starting to pop up on the weekends, and the track days that are now hitting full stride; and you have the perfect conditions for the track bug to bite.

Well I am here to tell you that the time to buy a Spec:RaceAtom is NOW! If you have thought about getting one in the past and have been on the fence trying to make a decision; our price of $49,750 will be increasing to $53,750 starting May 15, 2015. All deposits received prior to this date will receive current pricing, so save some money and give us a call at 434-822-9130 or send me an email to cdoss@tmiautotech.com to get locked in before the price increases.

So get on the track in you own Spec:RaceAtom and do it while we can still offer the current price. I hope to see you at the track..........

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The view from within.....

On a daily basis….I get to talk about Atoms, Atom options, Atom driving, and Atom racing; in general…..Atoms 24/7 which is great.  The chance to speak with prospective buyers, buyers, current owners, and enthusiasts is a great way to spend my time. Within these conversation comes a variety of standard questions that I thought may be helpful if I share some of these and their respective answers.

One of the most common questions we get is – Will I fit, and is it comfortable?

The standard answer is generally yes…..although there are some parameters to work within…but the cockpit of the Atom is one of the roomiest exotics I have come across. 

Here is the view from an Atom 3 driver seat. 

The Atom is a car that you sit within……you feel like you are part of the vehicle……It is exciting to just sit in it.  The seat on the Atom 3 is adjustable and we have had owners of Atoms that range from 5’ to 6’7” tall…and a wide range of weight ranges.  The low seating position makes all day driving sessions comfortable as all the controls are within excellent operating range.

You may notice in this picture that there is a full glass windshield blocking the wind; this is a standard feature on the Atom 3 and 3S that allows for spirited driving without a blast of air directly on your face.  The open sides, in addition to air coming through the foot well give just enough airflow to keep the visceral driving experience alive. 

Is there room for 2?  Yes, absolutely room for a full size adult passenger/co-pilot/significant other.  A standard footrest makes for a comfortable place for the passengers feet to rest.  Now – as we all know the passenger is generally given the rights to operate the radio for any road trip…..however, in this case the passenger will have to give way to the driver controlling the sound track with the throttle pedal!  The High rev-ing Honda engine is certainly top 40 worthy!

Have any part of the Atom you want to see in more detail?  Let me know….happy to show all areas.

Mark Swain - mswain@tmiautotech.com

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Time Flies......

Last week was a busy week here at TMI AutoTech…..time seems to be flying by so we must be having fun.

Amongst all the hustle of building cars and working with clients I was fortunate enough this week to get out and enjoy the Atom a little bit myself.

The Victory Junction Camp was at Virginia International Raceway raising funds, and awareness for their camp programs that benefit children between the ages of 6-16 that have severe, or chronic medical conditions.  www.victoryjunction.org

The Atom is a great vehicle to provide ride-alongs around the 3.27 mile Full Course at VIR; passengers who made a donation to the Charity had the opportunity for a hot lap around the track in the right seat of a Spec:RaceAtom car.  This is always fun to see the reaction from first time riders…..to seasoned track-day enthusiasts who still get a kick out of the performance the Atom has.

Thank you to all who came to the event! 

In addition to the charity event we had many visitors through the shop checking the new Atom Turbo cars that are ready for delivery.  It is always great to show people around the shop to show them how all the components come together in the Atom.  If you are interested in purchasing an Atom and want to see one up close just give us a call to arrange a time. 

Now….back to work.  If you ever have Atom questions just let me know at mswain@tmiautotech.com

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Racing + Atoms = Spec:RaceAtom Presented by Honda Racing/HPD

2015 will mark the start of the 5th season for Spec:RaceAtom presented by Honda Racing/HPD.  It seems like just yesterday that a decision was made to design an Atom specifically for a spec series. June 2011 marked the first time in the world that an Atom only race grid took the green flag…..and it hasn’t looked back.

If you are looking for an affordable, competitive, and attainable way to get in to road racing the Spec:RaceAtom series is for you.  Drivers who take part in the races come from a variety of backgrounds from High Speed Track days….right through to those done with the professional motorsport grind.   The incredibly quick nature of the SRA car combined with reliability make for a favorite among racers.

Honda Performance Development has been the presenting sponsor of the series since 2011 and will continue into 2015 by providing contingency awards. 

The best way to find out more about the cars and the series is to just call me and chat at 434.822.9130 and ask for Mark - but in the meantime here are a few facts about the SRA car:

-          Fully welded roll structure
-          QA1 suspension dampers designed specifically for this chassis
-          Honda 2.4L Engine
-          Hoosier R7 tires
-          Wilwood Dynalite Brake Calipers on all corners
-          Hawk DTC 30 brake pads
-          Aluminum Road Race seat with optional Halo

10 races take place at Virginia International Raceway – The VIR CUP – and we also have some races that should be announced soon at other facilities.  2014 saw races take place at Virginia International Raceway, Barber Motorsports Park, as well as Road Atlanta.

Are the cars quick?  Yup…..check out some track action from last season in the video below.

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