It’s Been Too Long

July 28th, 2015 by Q

IMG_0309…Since there’s been an action shot. I don’t want to dampen the spirits of those who come out to photograph events, but not many of them shoot with a style that excites me. Kevin has shot me before on ice, and he’s good at showing movement. He’s also a fellow Subaru guy (wait… am I a Subaru guy?) His full gallery from the autox last Sunday is HERE.

I got stomped again and it makes me feel sad. Sup!?!

It’s Only Fun When You Win

July 23rd, 2015 by Q

PackwoodProOr maybe it’s just not fun when you get obliterated.

My first Pro Solo was as painful of an event as I’ve ever experienced. It was in part yellow jerry cans being fed to cars, partly stop clocks spitting out the same times again and again, and part ass kicking. If you don’t know what Pro Solo is, think drag racing meets autocross. There are two mirror image courses and a tree. I’m not sure what the appeal really is, because besides the start and opening straight, competing cars are so far apart from each other, the drivers or spectators really can’t effectively judge who is in front. More than that, how does one create two mirror image courses on a lot surface that is not symmetrical and often wildly different side to side? How does one create a fun course that includes a variety of elements in only half of the typical area?

The whole thing seems about as good for judging performance, as the guy at the local dealership who brags about how fast his favourite model of car can take a highway off-ramp.

Now maybe I’m getting a bit carried away here, as the SCCA does take some measures to try and make up for these inadequacies… but four days later I’m still pissed about my weekend.

The worst part was the ass kicking.
packwoodresultsI had higher expectations for myself. The prior weekend I had a result I was happy with, and thought I was within striking distance for top spot. As for all my humble talk, “the other guys are fast, I’m just a first timer, what can I really expect?” It was just that: talk. I thought I could win and I wanted it… bad.

It started to show. First we got totally flustered with the FR-S’s inability to get off the line quick. Highlighting this, was how stupidly fast the class winner and his co-driver were getting off the line. With turbo torque and engine behind the driver, they were beating us to the 60ft mark by around four tenths of a second. Four tenths there… and the straight continued for at least 100ft past that mark. By the end of it I was staring at the back of his car with something closer to anger than envy, and reading his number plate “MINTIME” rather than focusing on the corners ahead where I was supposed to be able to make up time.

Instead I turned up the rage, got sloppy as hell, probably made up no ground until we both came to a single cone turn around at the half way point of the course. Then there was another horrendous drag race where I decided I was getting left behind again, and another short series of corners before the finish that I imagined I must be able to drive flat out because… hell… an FRS can win here, and since it certainly can’t do it on the straightaways, it must be able to do miraculous things in the corners.

I still believe it can win, and relative to a tall squishy 20 year old car it probably can do miraculous things in the turns, but I obviously wasn’t the guy to do either. Run after run, what I was doing only got worse. Eventually I decided the only chance I had was to crank up the music, risk jumping the light, hold my foot on the floor everywhere and either win or spin. I did neither… but I did run red lights. Andrew fell into basically the same boat. Wrong answer.

defeatedThis is how you throw in the towel. There are no action shots, and I’m too annoyed to look at the video. However, since I’m a geek, and since practically every car that wasn’t an FRS had a better 60FT time than we did, I came home and scrounged up some numbers.

60fttimeschart What you are looking at are the average 60FT times of the fastest example of car in class, for the 2015 Pro Solo season. There are seven events included (Official Packwood and … results are not out yet), but I’m disappointed, and yet somewhat relieved to conclude that the FRS is the slowest launching car in Pro Solo. Yes it’s slower than a 10 year old Miata. It’s much much much slower than any MR2. It’s even slower than the car that wins the slowest of all Solo classes (the front wheel drive Fiesta ST). I was somewhat surprised to see the RX8 only slightly in front of the FR-S. It benefits from wider tires, and a little more power and rearward weight bias, but I guess really falls victim to a torqueless naturally aspirated rotary engine.

The whole way home, I fantasized about all the different cars I wanted to race that wouldn’t trip on themselves right out of the start gate: MR2’s, Corvette’s, Lotus’… and then I realized what the greatest part of my weekend had been

Dorsey…Chris Dorsey’s honest to god AE86 featuring naturally aspirated 4AG, live axle rear end, T50 transmission and enough magic and heart to win R2 over 600hp FD’s, 400hp Lotus complete with carbon fiber, obnoxious aero, lexan, Avons and national champion pilots.

So I guess I’m going to keep my car, and put a poster of Mr. Dorsey’s simple monster up on my wall.

The High’s and Low’s of Racing

July 13th, 2015 by Q

CS Grid Packwood NT 2015Packwood National Tour: yah I earned a trophy… but I got my ass kicked as well.

As someone who has autocrossed a lot, but national toured not at all, my brief summary is this: wow what a freaking waste of time!

I’m not sure how much I mean it though. Basically it comes down to 4.5 days spent away from home, more than a thousand dollars on gas and entry fee and hotel and food… and 336.301 seconds of racing. That’s about 5 and a half minutes of seat time. Really. 86400 seconds on the highway. 336 seconds on the course. It almost makes you want to drive slower just to get better value for your time and money… or at least drive a slow car.

Not actually.

The truth is that I had a great time, and enjoyed it so much that I’m happy to do it all over again next weekend. Yes, after my runs were finished I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t manage better, and wanted nothing more than one more shot… but unless I win it all, I’m bound to feel that way no matter how many runs I have taken.

The lack of driving time and/or success, is easily compensated for by the intensity of the show around you. I.E. friends in battles equivalent to or even better than your own, Lotus Exige’s digging in and lifting two wheels off the ground, cars launching and returning at perfect rhythm, and Dad’s walking their young daughters around the course giving them pointers.

heavenThis is still grassroots motorsports, but to me it feels like racing utopia.

The OG’s running times near the bottom, coming dependably again and again, will tell you it’s more about the people and the community than the drive. For myself it’s not about that. As with everything, there are rad people, and there are dicks. Sometimes it’s hard to give the guy you may not know with the nondescript car, credit for skills. Sometimes it’s hard not to be the whiny bitch who tells everyone where they would have placed if it wasn’t for said cone, without first looking at the coned runs of others. Best to just shut your mouth, congratulate those who got you and not belittle those who didn’t.

I may still have lots to learn… or perhaps I just need to drive faster. Maybe that happens next weekend… though I’m likely to eat some more humble pie as the fellow who blew me up this weekend returns, and another perhaps even faster opponent emerges. Andrew is coming now though… to hopefully double our chances.

thisanddrivingMore quiet moments like this, and autocross though??? Looking forward to it.

Performance Analysis

July 8th, 2015 by Q

July5mapHaving a co-driver makes Solo a lot more fun. Here is a video I put together from last Sunday’s event at the Westerner grounds in Red Deer. Read fast, and don’t get hung up on my spelling and grammatical errors.

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.