13 Time SCCA E Mod AutoCross Champion Jeff Kiesel’s Turbocharged 1958 Austin Healey Sprite
What is AutoCross
Autocrossing is a motorsport where a single driver pilots their car around a course that is marked with road cones. Events are usually held on open parking lots, fairgrounds, racetracks, or airports. The goal is to make it around the course with your fastest time, to not hit any cones, spin out, or break your car. Most runs are between 40-60 seconds long and can have up to 50 turns. There are classes for nearly every vehicle from stock up to professional race cars and you only race against competitors in your skill and vehicle set. It’s one of the most inexpensive ways to get involved in a sanctioned form of motorsports and it provides a safe and controlled environment for everyone. In this write up we get to learn more about 13 Time SCCA Autocross Champion, Jeff Kiesel’s 1958 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite powered by a 2 rotor 13B-REW rotary with a Garrett GTX3071R turbocharger.
About the Car
Running in the highest-level production based class in SCCA, the E Modified class is defined as a highly modified lightweight production-based or approved kit car with no limit on displacement and higher weights than D Modified. The only real limitations are aero and vehicle weight because the minimum weight is 1,800 pounds with driver.
Deciding on a 1958 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite with an 80” wheelbase and open cockpit would allow for a light and small car to be built with a front engine and rear drive configuration. Autocrossing demands instant throttle response to maximize performance because there can be 30-50 turns and throttle lifts in a short span of under 1 mile. Jeff chose a 2 rotor 13B-REW aluminum race motor that has been fitted with a GTX3071R turbo and a .82 A/R housing. A Motec M2R feeds it fuel through the four ID2000 injectors. There are 5 different presets for power and these can be adjusted through the Motec with a button on the dash before or during a run. The car is so small, packaging everything had to be custom to fit within the space available all while be conscious of total weight, height of center of gravity and balance of weight front to rear.
We have 5 different presets for power and we adjust these through the Motec with a button on the dash (most of the time I run the car at 350 horsepower to the wheels since that is about all it can put down
About Jeff Kiesel
Over the years, Jeff continued to fine tune the car to near perfection. His driving ability has multiplied in parallel which has been the recipe for the winning success it has had – winning the SCCA Solo National Championship in E Modified every single year it has run from 2007-2019.
“My goal with this car is to focus on the development of two areas each year. Last season, it was lowering the center of gravity and fine tuning the differential. I have always pushed myself really hard in anything I do. I don’t pay attention to results – I only focus on how the car feels, how I drove and what I can do to improve both the car and driver. Working with Garrett has been amazing, the products and support are the best in the industry. Changing over to the GTX series I noticed a huge improvement in low-mid RPM response plus the motor picked up top end power.”
Jeff is the Vice President of Kiesel Custom Guitars, a company that has deep roots in the music industry. The Escondido based company got it’s start in 1946 when Kiesel’s great grandfather started the Carvin Corporation. Today, they manufacture electric guitars, electric bass guitars, and accessories and with 50 employees they produce 4,000 custom instruments a year!
See The Sprite In Action