No Excuses

July 1st, 2015 by Q

PinchedIn the days of AE86, if we wanted more than 185mm of tire, we needed more than 7″ of wheel. Heck in most cases, guys felt like 185mm of tire required 8″ of wheel. Now I’ve degenerated to the point where I’m pinching 245’s on a 7″ wheel. 245’s!!!

I haven’t driven it yet, but I expect that it will feel terrible… yet be incredibly fast.

Maybe that’ just optimism.

If it’s not fast, then I am not fast. The truth is that there will always be excuses. Should I fail, my new excuse is that I don’t have Koni struts, which although are “dimensionally identical” to the stock struts, allow for another degree of negative camber. The CS discussion on FT86club is as dramatic as any car talk out there. Between cheater springs, and cheater struts, and some very questionable 7.5J +35 wheels, I expect there will be fireworks at some point.

Won’t Be Long Now

June 28th, 2015 by Q

summer1… STX, or CSP, or SM that is. As much as I have come to dislike modified vehicles, the pile of parts on my shelf keeps growing, and I’m slowly giving in. While it’s only a couple bolts away from being stock legal, 8J wheels and and an exhaust hole fill in plate on the rear valence were to hard to refuse. Of course I’ll pull them both off when it matters, but I won’t look at the car with the same twinkle in my eye afterwards.

On a more practical note, I cannot for the life of me get the OEM rear cam plate to stop leaking. I’ve re-torqued it, removed it and cleaned it, re-sealed it, and it runs dry for a couple days, and then always reverts back to leaking. It’s a very common problem (a steel sheet blocking a hole on an aluminum head is a bad idea), but Toyota has yet to deal with it. There are lots of aftermarket solutions… but until August 23rd, it seems like I’m stuck with a slippery, wet, but smelly car.

summer2As for the winter, I constantly day dream about what my ultimate FRS actually is, and wonder where it fits in solo rules and regulations, and how well it will work at the coming Badlands Motorsports Resort. Will it actually be naturally aspirated??? Can I keep it from looking like some hacked up, burnt out high school project??

Is it already too late?

Man Crush

June 25th, 2015 by Q

A. Chris Harris is a boss. If you don’t subscribe to his you tube channel, do it now and then go watch all of his videos dating back to the beginning of time (i.e. the dawn of the interwebz.)
B. As he said… this particular video is what racing should be about. Damn look what pro drivers can do with regular cars. Indy? Not interested. Formula 1? I’d rather read engineering articles about the cars. Touring cars are tops… and vintage stuff that moves around like this can have my attention anytime, anywhere.

Tender Youth and Crusty Oldness

June 16th, 2015 by Q

qrustaI remember the first time I ever modified my own car, because it was total heart break.  I was 17 at the time, and had basically grown up in a repair shop, doing homework in the back office of my Dad’s shop from grade 4 on, cleaning the floor and putting tools away from grade 5, and then eventually graduating to oil changes and tires in Junior high school.  My first job away from Dad was at a bicycle repair shop where I started by doing tune ups, overhauls, and by the time I was in grade twelve I was building wheels, and even supervising at a small rental shop.  That was short lived.  Customers don’t like to be called fat.  Owners don’t like to show up and find the shop closed mid day while the staff bombs local trails.

All that, and yet when I tried to home brew a cold air intake on my first AE86, failed and was left with a hacked up, unusable stock intake and a car that didn’t run it felt like the world had ended and I had thrown 5 years of income in the trash.  Emo kids.  

I remember my Dad being somewhat annoyed and disgusted with me. (A) My car ran perfectly fine, why was I taking it apart?  (B) What was cold air and why did I want it?  … Well not actually, but despite all the years that I spent in his shop, modifying was something that was a last resort only.  The torch and the welder in the back corner of the shop were evil.  If a tech needed either, something had gone to shit, someone was gonna miss their lunch break and the door between the shop at the customer waiting area got closed and dead bolted shut in an effort to isolate the paying customer from the hell that was unfolding within.  This is where I learned to curse and break things… and if I’m honest probably saw my first glimpses of something I wanted to be.

evilBut I forgot all of that when I botched that cold air intake, and my Dad despite his lack of understanding for what I was doing, seized the chance to be my Dad and drove me to his shop where we collected the required scraps of tubing, and of all things, that horrid oxy acetylene welder to hack together an AFM adapter plate.  The car was back together shortly after, and I imagined, made an additional 10hp as a result.  My Dad continued to express disappointment that I had cut up the nicely engineered Toyota bits the car had come with.

At a recent engagement, someone was asking me about cars and the things I do with them.  A question was worded, something like… “so when you are working on these cars, is there a manual? How do you know what you are doing?”

I replied, “Most of the time there is no manual.  A lot of the work I’m doing is custom, so I have no choice but to wing it.”

My Dad, who happened to be in earshot, jumped in, “The reason it is custom is because you are not using a manual.”

I lol’ed on the spot, at the realization that 20 years later, having seen me hack and cut and weld and grind, both destroying perfectly good cars and making things I loved and cherished, spending all my money and then finally earning something of a living, he still feels exactly the same way.

mechanics3On my end, much has been learned in those twenty years, but I’m not sure much has really changed either. I recently realized that there may not be a project I won’t undertake. Sometimes that means diving in head first, and then putting in a whole lot of hard work and research to get it done. My Dad has been assistance in that regard over the years, and is a huge part of why I’ve learned so much. Generally, I’ve adapted and can save myself heart-break and anguish by going slow when I’m unsure, double and triple checking everything, and often re-doing things completely to get them perfect. I often like to think that I don’t have much use for my Dad anymore, but the truth is he still has things to show me, even if it’s just what the weird obscure symbols are on a Lotus wiring diagram are, or the fact that Mopar trucks have separate fuses for left and right tail lights. At the very least he is always tremendous moral support, backing me up when shit rains down and lending a hand, and often a tool when mine are not enough.

And because you’ve got [qr]GaraGe on your top menu bookmarks, and have for years even if you don’t always appreciate what you read here, thanks Dad. Happy Father’s day.

A Divide Between Brothers

June 12th, 2015 by Q

CAC_postercropUnlike road racers, auto-xers are a friendly bunch most of the time… until national titles are on the line. My CAC experiences are already tainted from my experiences twelve years ago. 12!!!

cac2Put some money on the line as well though, and there are sure to be some weenies inspecting cars with micrometer and magnifying glass. I just hope I don’t have any reason to be one of them…

I am pumped for this weekend. The local racers are guys that I truly like to be around even when they kick my ass, and I expect some out-of- towners to put us all to the test as well. At the very least it will be a great way to spend my birthday and final weekend of summer bachelor life.

CAC Website: http://www.cac2015.cscc.ab.ca/index.html

SoloPro Driving School

June 5th, 2015 by Q

evo1The SoloPro Driving School has been coming to Calgary for six years now, and this year, not because of my own great motivation, I was given a chance to partake… and I learned something.

Every event that I attend, I try and take something away from it that can be applied to future driving… but it’s rare these days that I find something concrete. When I do find something, often what I think I’ve found doesn’t apply itself well to following events. After nearly twenty years of autox, how much could I really have left to learn?

evo3But learn something I did. I’ve always felt supremely confident in transition, but less so when it comes to asking a car to take a set and hold it through a longer corner. After a pointer relating to braking (less brake over a longer period) I noticed a consistent drop in my times. And given the number of runs done in my car by various drivers over the course of the day, they were GOOD times…

evo2At the end of the day, I felt like the car was a bit of a slut, but it was a good thing. Tire temperatures were once measured in the range of 170degrees, which is as hot as I have ever measured. The sway bar change I made after last event seems to have had the desired effect: making the car less twitchy in transition, but more neutral mid corner. No one offered me any suggestions on vehicle set up, or pointed out various faults that they felt like they needed to drive around. Also, being more than 6ft tall, it impresses me that the car can comfortably fit both myself and real horse jockies/race car drivers.

I’m still not wholly in love with a couple features of this car, but it’s very hard to argue that it is not friendly on track.

SoloPro Driving School website: http://soloprodrivingschool.com
Photos credit Nick F.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

June 2nd, 2015 by Q

A video trailer for a book is an interesting idea, and it fails miserably here. I saw this trailer for Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain” in 2008 and thought to myself… WTF? Seven years later, after professional race car drivers and office ladies alike have recommended the book to me, I’ve finally made the purchase and in one day (albeit a long one at hospitals) am a couple hundred pages in.

The story line is nothing special, but told from the perspective of a dog, is occasionally amusing. The race and driving talk however is as good as any I’ve ever read, just oozing nerdiness in a way that is both passionate and endearing.

The Art of Racing in the Rain - chapter3It’s like a high performance driving school in novel format.