Thursday, June 27, 2013

Racing Against Leukemia

We are raising money for UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center at the NER SCCA Racing Against Leukemia charity event on 8/10/13. You can read more about the event on the NER site and tax deductible donations can be made securely on my FirstGiving site.

 More info here.

Thank you!

Monday, June 24, 2013

SCCA NER Points Event #4 6-24-13

We had an interesting day of autocross this past Sunday.  First we all knew that it was going to be a very hot day, getting into the low 90's by early afternoon.  There were 130 drivers registered to be run in three heats.  ASP was in the first heat and we were right up front in grid because Sandi and I were both driving my car for this event.  This was the first time this year that I had to spray the tires between runs.  I used to have to do it all the time on my old 245's but the 295's handle the heat much better but I have always had the sprayer on hand just in case. The Hoosiers also like heat a bit more than the Kumhos do but the heat on this day was way to much.

The course was a rather open one with many higher speed elements and on my first run I spent a lot of time on the rev limiter.  I put down a solid on that run but knew there was a lot of time out there.  My second run I went to third gear for a good portion of the back section.  When I came in from the run the time display showed some crazy time like 86 seconds so I immediately knew that there was a timing error.  Apparently a few cars ahead of me someone had broken down off the course (I didn't even see them out there) so they never tripped the timing lights, screwing up the other on course cars times.  I was pissed because I knew that it was a blazing fast run and it was clean.  We got set up to take our re-runs and before I made it to the line they stopped the event.  The powers that be had decided that the course was way to fast to be safe so they wanted to make some changes.  I've been around for mild changes to courses before but this time was a big deal.  They actually decided to start the event over again.  The heat groups switched out like it was the end of the heat (so the current workers weren't stuck out on course forever) so we went back to paddock for our "break heat".

We didn't get to walk the course again so we had no idea of what exactly had changed but I had talked to a few people and found that it was basically the same but some elements had been tightened up to slow us down a bit.  When it was our turn to drive again I asked Sandi to drive first and if I could ride along in a slight "cheater" move to be able to see the course before I had to run it.  It was true that it hadn't changed much and it was still easy to read and drive.  My first run back out on course was still faster than my time on the "fast" course.  I ran a 60.9xx, which, in the end, could have carried me through the day.  I even had a Ken Block moment on course making for some good footage (see below) and still produced a fast run.  Being who I am, I continued to try and improve my times throughout the day, never expecting my time to hold up, but I was having trouble improving cleanly.  I did run a 60.09x on one run but I had 3 cones to negate the improvement.  My final run was actually after everyone else in my class so I knew I had locked in the victory but I still put all I could down and managed out a clean run of 60.4xx!

Somehow, even with all the down time from the course change, several cars breaking, timing issues and what ever else slowed the event, we managed to get in 5 runs for everyone and still be off site by 6pm.  I was very surprised/impressed.  Kudo's to everyone who worked so hard at the event to make it happen.  The "new" course was still a blast to drive and suited my car well.  I also remembered to used plenty of sunblock so no burns for me!

On the negative side I somehow managed to hurt my neck and shoulder driving.  I don't know if it was from cranking the wheel or twisting my head trying to look ahead etc. but it is now rather uncomfortable.  I have also been noticing some small hiccups from the car both under heavy load/light throttle on the highway or when first taking off from a stop. The throttle seems unresponsive at first and needs to be "blipped" more.  After some discussion I am going to be replacing my spark plugs (even though they were new with the motor only 3k miles ago) because they could be fowled up from break-in and all the abuse.  I am also planning on replacing all four coil packs since I have so many miles on them anyways, I'm sure it is time.  When pushing the car it seems to run/pull just as well as when it was tuned.  I really hope it is just plugs.  I also think I sheared the oil beyond its capability as when it is hot (230*+ after a run) the pressure is really dropping until it cools down.  I only have 2k miles on it, at most, but with all the hard driving it is probably the case.  I will find out soon!

Hopefully I will have some pictures to share sometime soon as well but for now here are my two fastest, clean runs:

Run #1 60.9xx (with the drift action at ~1:00, it happens fast but a trained eye will see how big the slide was as well as how close to the cone I got!)

Run #5 60.4xx (I left in the bit with the starter trying to trick me :lol:)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What a crazy day with so many ups and downs! We loaded up the cars the day before to keep things simple on Sunday morning. Saturday evening I got word from Josh (acejam2k) that he had found an oil leak on his turbo feed line and that he wouldn't be racing the next day. This made me decide to just run on my street tires rather than wasting the Hoosiers when it would just be my fiance (Sandi) and I in the class. I chose to leave the slicks in the car just in case someone else ended up running in ASP but I had no such luck. I would rather race on the A6s any day over street tires but couldn't justify wasting the precious runs on them. I also much prefer to have some competition in the class but for some reason we haven't had any new drivers come (and stay) in the open class. Maybe we scare them off a little with our times.

It was set to be a very hot day and my Dad, and his support trailer, were not coming to this event so we brought my crappy, cheap, fake EZUp for some shade. Thankfully, it also turned out to be rather windy so it kept things feeling cooler. Once we got unloaded and set up we went out for some course walks. The course looked very interesting with some extremely fast areas broken up with some very tight, slow, challenging elements. We were running in the first heat so at least the course would be fresh in our heads but I already knew that the course would have been so much better on slicks.

We got our cars set up in grid towards the end and as they started sending cars I started checking our tire pressures and found that Sandi's right rear was WAY down from what I had set it to earlier. It was then that I noticed the hissing sound and quickly found the nail in her tire. We scrambled to let the OP Steward know that we were moving her to my car and we would be moving my car to the dual driver grid area. I pulled her car out of the grid line and off the runway so it wouldn't be in the way. Sandi had not raced my car since it's refresh and this was no way to get her feet wet but what choice did she have?

After my first run went smoothly she jumped straight in the deep end and came out OK. She didn't have any issues driving it other than just plain old under driving. This at least confirmed to me that the car was much more smooth and stable now. We managed out 6 runs each even with the 144 drivers in attendance. The course drove pretty much as I expected it to. After leaving the taxiway there was a very fast 3rd gear section that I could have entered much faster but even if I had I was at/beyond the limit of grip with the street tires as I transitioned through those next couple of elements.

By the end of the day I ended up a few seconds off of the pace of the guys I would have expected to keep up with but that was to be expected because of the tires so I think I did alright but still have lots of room for improvement. My first afternoon run ended up being my fastest. I think I was trying to push to hard after that. Sandi ended up improving with each run she took. I think she raw timed the closest to me as she ever has since she started but she had a cone on that run (even though it was still her fastest final time because she finally started gaining some right foot confidence).

By the time we came in for our rest heat in the afternoon the wind had all but destroyed my knock off EZUp, I am surprised it has lasted this long so I wasn't upset and sent it straight to the on site dumpster! We left shortly after finishing packing up rather than waiting around for trophies, there was no honor in accepting the trophy this time. Sandi's leaking tire was holding air well enough that I chose to just pump it back up and head home rather than trying to drive it home on the donut. Thankfully we have 7-8 sets of wheels/tires for our cars so when we got home we just threw another set onto her car so I don't have to rush and find my patch kit and fix it. +1 for my side of the discussion of keeping so many wheels/tires in the basement!

This makes 3 first place finishes out of 9 events. Josh, you gotta bring it at the end of the month!

Video of my fastest run. I had some really crappy lines but every time I switch back to street tires I seem to have this problem. (Video courtesy of Willub because I stupidly forgot my GoPro, Thanks Billy!)

About to tear it up!

Keepin' it "quiet" with my fancy looking tailpipe.

Sandi about to get started.

Hopefully there will be more pictures added with some better action shots but the photographer hasn't had a chance to upload everything yet.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Autocross weekend Renegade Miata 5-4-13 & SCCA NER 5-5-13

I had a busy weekend with a double header of autocrosses with Renegade Miata's first points event on Saturday and SCCA NER's second points event on Sunday.  I had previously decided to only run street tires with Renegade Miata to keep tire costs down and maybe to learn a thing or two about driving fast without relying on the R-comps to clean things up for me.  The car has been running and driving great, consuming no oil at all. Thanks to eveyone who had a hand in building the car over the winter (Motive Auto Works/BrenTuning/Clarks Auto Body/and a shout out to Grimmspeed) as well as my family for being so supportive.

Saturdays weather was perfect with enough sun/heat to get things warm but not so much that it gets uncomfortable.  I was very happy with how the Kumho XS's performed.  They seem very predictable at and above the limit of grip.  They give feedback but not so much that it gets distracting.  My fastest time of the day came on my first afternoon run that somehow came out to be ~1.5 seconds faster than any of my other runs.  I haven't had a chance to go over the videos to see what I did differently but it may have just been one of those hero runs that you usually can't reproduce.  Unfortunately this club averages your two best runs to get your final time.  While I normally like this method, because it weeds out those blazing fast one time runs and gives the upper hand to those who are consistant, when it happens to be you that gets that one fast run it's disappointing to know that your fastest run isn't going to hold it's place in the results list.  Thats OK, I had a blast and we ended up getting a total of 12 runs throughout the day including the 5 fun runs that we got to do.  I took a couple of other competitors that were eager to go for a ride in the car and let a fellow Subaru driver (LGT) take it out for a spin to see what it was like.  He posted a time a full 2 seconds faster than in his car and he was babying my car since it wasn't his and he was not used to it (much appreciated!).

Full results have yet to be posted but here is my fastest run:

On sunday the real test was to come.  SCCA NER has some amazing drivers in almost every class and the competition is very heated (in a good way).  There were three of us in ASP and the 295 Hoosiers were back on the car for the day.  The moring was once again cold but with 140 drivers we had three heats and we ended up running the third heat so the ambient temps had plenty of time to get up to a good level (high 60's).  After being off the first heat and working the second I could see the event getting behind schedule due to several timing errors and a lot of reruns.  I knew there was no way we could get the full 6 runs for the day and was worried that we would only get 4 runs.  I knew I had to bring out all that I had right from the get go.  We did end up managing 5 runs for the day because the afternoon went a bit quicker once the timing issues got worked out.

My first run out was clean and was under the 60 second mark that I had hoped for with a 57.978.  I knew right away that there was a TON more time out there.  The A Mod open wheel "cars" were running in the 53's at that point (not that I expected to catch them).

In grid between my runs I found out that my exhaust finally reached the maximum db at 75 feet.  I believe it only happened because at the spot on course that the sound meter was located I had run out of gearing and was bouncing off the rev limiter, making the car afterfire.  Technically 90 db is allowed but any higher and it's a violation that will require action to be taken to quiet the car down before going on the next run.  So I basically got a warning that I was about to break sound.  Thankfully I had both a silencer and a downturn on hand in the event that this ever happened.  I chose to try the downturn first to keep the restriction to a minimum.  I was told after my second run that I was down well into the 80's.  I am glad that the downturn alone is enough to keep it quiet.  I will be running it from now on even though I only got that loud due to the afterfiring.  If the sound limit for our site wasn't such a sore subject I am sure I could run without it but it is so easy to put on and off it will be better to just have it on there and not ever worry about being the target of a noise complaint.

My second run out I wasn't able to improve and ran a 58.199, and got back down to 57.104 for the third run but reducing my best so far by a few tenths.  I stayed clean all morning and that was able to keep myself well in the lead at this point because Josh, who was chasing me, was in the low  58's but was also carrying cones.  In the afternoon, for our last two runs, Josh was further up in the grid than I was so I heard his times just before going to the start line.  His first run out he put down a 57.273, putting some serious pressure on me.  I knew I had to step it up a bit more if I wanted to secure the lead.  On my first run out I put more trust in the car in some of the high speed elements (we had discussed this at lunch after reviewing some video) and it paid off.  Upon coming in from that run I saw/heard the time of 56.083!  I was very surprised at the time I dropped.  However, the announcer had said that I had a cone on the run.  I was disappointed that I conned away such a good run but I was still in the lead by less then 2/10ths.  Josh took his final run but ended up back in the 58's due to the car acting up.  My last run I pushed the car again but was more careful to keep it clean.  I managed out another fast run at 56.487.  This, of course, wasn't necessary but it was more about seeing what the car and I could do.  It wasn't until trophies were being handed out that I heard that they had my fastest time as the 56.083 run!  I double checked the sheet and that's what it said.  I first assumed the announcer was just incorrect on the call but I also knew that I had at least grazed the cone because I heard it when it happened.  After reviewing my video it was absolutely clear that I clobbered that cone (the camera was on the same side) but I suppose it is possible that I got lucky and the cone landed standing up touching the box.  If it wasn't that then it was just an error in the timing/scoring department.  Either way it doesn't affect the final class results but I wish I could find out for sure what happened with that cone.

Out of the 137 drivers I placed 14th in RAW times, 7 of which were open wheel Mod cars (so I don't really count them) and the other 6 remaining drivers are all some of the fastest drivers in our region who all run in our "Pro" class.  In PAX I was a little lower coming in at number 17.  According to PAX I should have run about 2 seconds faster.  I am sure as I get more comfortable with this setup I can get a little closer to that.  I am pretty excited overall about the results.  The full results can be found here.

My fastest run (that I question the lack of the cone call):

My second fastest run (that I know was clean for sure):

Friday, April 19, 2013

SCCA Points Event #1

 The day started off below freezing when we were on our way to the site. It was supposed to get up to mid-50's by the afternoon but it also turned out to be pretty cloudy and windy for most of the day. It was a bit uncomfortable but the pavement did get a little warm. Thankfully I was in the third run group and didn't get out on course until after 1pm. Between the cool temps, new tires  and gobs of available power my first couple runs were pretty ugly. The car really felt good but I was still having grip issues like last year. What I started to realize was that the car had plenty of grip but the problem was that I was driving it at 110% like I had to last year to be at all close to competitive. What I didn't realize at first was that I was already going that much faster than before and kept screwing up by trying to go faster. With the power level of the new motor and tune I had to back off with the right foot a bit and do the whole "slow is fast" thing. It paid off immediately and my times dropped considerably (especially since I wasn't putting all my effort into chasing the tail end around the course). I've always understood the slow is fast concept but I have never experienced it to this extent, it all makes so much more sense now. I always thought that when I got up to speed with the other top drivers everything would feel so blazing fast that I wouldn't know what to do, but in reality it didn't feel any faster than before. Now that I had a handle on the car I was able to drop a couple good times on my last two runs, partially thanks to a downed cone that got me (and Josh) a rerun. We only were going to have 5 runs so the extra one was quite handy. My second to last run was enough to eek out first place in the end but my last run was several tenths faster giving me a .48 lead over Josh's already fast best time. It is nice to finally have the car at a competitive level and that I am able to handle it at this level. I always had it in my head that the car was holding me back but never wanted to blame the car for fear that it was in fact me that was the hang up. The course was ideal for our cars since it had some very fast sections and some nice big sweepers that allowed for lots of speed. Although conditions weren't ideal the event went pretty smooth and it was a heck of a season starter! Can't wait for more!

Results can be found here.

Sandi's and my car ready to go!

Video of my last and fastest run. I was still very sloppy but I have only had 4.5 runs prior to this to try and figure out how to handle the new setup.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tuning Day

I finished up my initial break-in miles just as planned with no problems so I scheduled a tune date on February 23rd.  After a bit of a drive we arrived at BrenTuning's facility in Auburn Ma.  It is a small shop that he rents space out to do his dyno tuning.  Bren is a great guy and makes you feel very comfortable.  He is also a superb Subaru (among other manufacturers) tuner.

After several pulls on the dyno and a few miles of road tuning we were done.  The results netted 344 WHP and 400 WTQ.  All of the torque is available at about 3100 RPM, a benefit of staying with the stock turbo. This will be excellent for autocross.  I believe that my car is also the 2nd most powerful STi on a stock turbo that he has ever tuned! And only by 9 HP and 5 TQ.  Not to shabby!  Below is my graph as well as a couple videos. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2013 Autocross Schedule

I have finally gotten all the autocross dates together and compiled a list:

April 7th NER Points #1
April 13th Renegade School
May 4th Renegade Points #1
May 5th NER Points #2
June 2nd NER Points #3
June 8th Renegade Points #2
June 22nd NER School
June 23rd NER Points #4
June 29th Renegade Points #3
July 13th Renegade Points #4
July 20th NER Points #5 (National Match Tour Day 1)
July 21st NER National Match Tour Day 2 (for qualifiers)
July 27th Renegade Points #5
August 3rd NER R.A.L Fundraiser (@ NHMS)
August 4th NER Points #6 (@ NHMS)
August 17th NER Points #7
August 31st Renegade Points #6
September 15th NER Points #8
September 28th Renegade Points #7
September 29th NER Points #9 (Moss Runoff)
October 20th NER Team Challenge
October 26th Renegade Points #8