Sunday, September 18, 2011

[9/18/2011] SRTA #5 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #5
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 14°C sunny

Test & Tune

Run 1 - Dampers +18F/+20R, Cold Tire Pressures 33/35 psi
I went out on track to warm up and then spun out on the uphill. I came back into the pit lane and had something from the rear suspension howling like a banshee. Now, I should mention that for the past few weeks I've had a faint howling noise from the rear creep up once in a while and it was getting worse just this past week. But seems like that spin out really aggravated whatever was happening back there. It's probably a wheel bearing but I can't be 100% sure at the moment. The car still drives fine apart from the noise (and no body damage phewf) but I decided to play it safe by posting a DNS and having my car towed back for free. CAA Plus ftw! I also noticed later on that there is a clunking around in the front and a crunching feeling when turning the steering wheel left. Hrmm...

The day wasn't a total write off though. I was able to give my friend Jason some pointers in his Evo X and help him break into the 1:08's (previous best was 1:09.3). Was a great feeling even though afterwards I felt sick! LOL... I'm a terrible passenger, it's not your driving! Free BBQ by NEX was also yummy. Unfortunately I couldn't stick around to spectate the OTA because the tow truck came a bit early...


It's safe to say that my 2011 track season is over. It's been such a crazy summer with 10 track days!!! In 2010 I only did 4 track days, and in 2009 when I first started it was 3. More track days this year than my first two combined. To be honest it's nice to finally have a break. I'm a little exhausted mentally, physically, and especially financially.

I learned so much this year, but still have so much more to learn. Really thinking hard about what to focus on for 2012: which events to enter, and if/how I want to tweak the car. There are a few options I'm considering but at the end of the day it all boils down to the budget. This year was a bit of an exception and I might not be fortunate enough to have as big of a track budget for next year. We'll see though. I'm sure I can make something work, or I'll just have to work more.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TiC Fender Braces

T-5 days until SRTA #5
TiC fender cowl braces are in!

Stock (top) vs. TiC (bottom):

Monday, September 12, 2011

Prova Replica Brake Ducts

Got these a while back from a really nice Italian dude named Jacopo. They're made out of aluminum, unlike the real Prova ones which are CF. But they're very lightweight and slightly malleable unlike CF which can shatter. Also a fraction of the cost.
Today I finally installed them on my car, along with removal of my modified dust shields and the front "mudflap" trim piece on the plastic wheel guard to allow for more airflow.

Prova replica brake duct:
Front mudflap removed:
Frontal view:
And some super ghetto wind tunnel testing to verify airflow: I have a feeling that removing my front lip would increase airflow to the ducts even more, but it's work I don't want to do unless I absolutely have to. SRTA #5 is this Sunday, so it should be a decent opportunity to test their effectiveness.

Prova Replica Brake Ducts

Got these a while back from a really nice Italian dude named Jacopo. They're made out of aluminum, unlike the real Prova ones which are CF. But they're very lightweight and slightly malleable unlike CF which can shatter. Also a fraction of the cost.

Today I finally installed them on my car, along with removal of my modified dust shields and the front "mudflap" trim piece on the plastic wheel guard to allow for more airflow.

Prova replica brake duct:

Front mudflap removed:

Frontal view:

And some super ghetto wind tunnel testing to verify airflow:

I have a feeling that removing my front lip would increase airflow to the ducts even more, but it's work I don't want to do unless I absolutely have to. SRTA #5 is this Sunday, so it should be a decent opportunity to test their effectiveness.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Garage Makeover!

I haven't been able to work on my car for the past week+ because I haven't had a garage...

But it was worth the wait! For my birthday, my gf got me an awesome Husky 36" tool chest on wheels and my parents got me a Husky cabinet. Add epoxy/clearcoat to the floors, some decent lighting, white paint to the drywall and now I have a decent place to work on my Suby!

It's still a bit cramped, and far from my dream of a triple garage with a hoist, but it will do for now :)



Friday, September 2, 2011

TSC Hypermeet 2011

Last week was the 2011 TSC Hypermeet. 25 cars in my convoy merged up with another 60 on the highway, heading towards Subaru Canada HQ where hundreds of other Suby's awaited. We raised $12,000 towards the Ronald McDonald House charity. Not bad TSC!

Here's the album with pics from the actual meet.

And a shot of my car for the hell of it:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

[8/21/2011] SRTA #4 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #4
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 17-21°C slightly wet morning, cloudy afternoon, thunderstorm during time attack!

Wow event #4 already? Time flies! I went karting the day before with some friends and also had a really long night so I didn't wake up with the most energy. But I was determined to do well at this event. Many of the faster guys were out competing at CSCS or just taking a break in general. Today was my chance to redeem myself from the DNF at SRTA #3, and maybe even score a podium finish...

Test & Tune

Very cool morning. The temperature surprised me actually. It was if summer was gone overnight. It also rained. The track was very wet, with standing water all over the place. I knew it would take a while for the track to dry off so I took the entire morning at a snails pace, being very calm and relaxed and not rushing anything.

There were a few changes to my line I wanted to try today. Driving the course in the opposite direction last week gave me some new perspective on which curbs to cut. I was also going to move my downshift point from T2 to T4 because I don't need the torque on the downhill (thanks random YouTube guy).

From the looks of the weather report on my phone it was supposed to clear up and be warmer in time for the 3:00PM OTA. There was really no point practicing in such wet and cold conditions so I pretty much sat out and let other people dry up the track.

Run 1 - Dampers +20/+20, Hot Tire Pressures 39/36 psi Best Time 1:11.36
Before I went onto the drying but still very damp track I made sure to ask some friends how their runs went. Danwizzle warned me about standing water at T4 and it was a damn good thing I asked. A small lake was present and had I not slowed down enough I would've been owned for sure. I still ended up sliding through it but it wasn't nearly as dramatic as it could've been.

The track surface was also quite cold. My tires weren't heating up and thus lacked grip... especially the rears. The car was very tail happy. I pulled some crazy slides on the uphill because of no rear traction so I came off early to check the tire pressures. What do you know, the rears were very far off from the fronts. 39 psi front, 36 psi rear. I added +2 psi to the rears and went out again.

Run 2 - Dampers +20/+20, Hot Tire Pressures 39/39 psi Best Time 1:11.30
Immediately there was a difference in the handling bias with the +2 psi in the rear. The car was back to predictable, but still lacked overall grip due to the cold surface. I had Karen riding shotgun and managed to do a 1:11.30. Still not so great, but my confidence was back. Although I didn't think my time was spectacular, apparently I wasn't the only one having grip issues. With this time I managed to hold 2nd place overall. Chatting with everyone else they all had the same issue as me - just no grip.

Runs 3 & 4 - Same settings Best Time 1:10.14
The next 2 runs were just for fun giving people rides. But the track was drying up so I managed to lower my time again. By this time I dropped to 3rd place overall, with James in his S2000 somehow pulling a 1:09.69 to secure the lead... in the wet... on street tires?? WTF! He's crazy.

Run 5 - Same settings Best Time 1:09.53
Afternoon time now. A short sunny period broke out and it was actually feeling nicer out. The track had mostly dried up so I decided to give it 110%. This was also a test run for the OTA. I won't elaborate on my strategy but it doesn't take a genius to figure out. It was a great run. I set a personal best and managed to snatch 1st from James... mwahaha sorry dude :P

Run 6 - Same settings Best Time ???
Another strategic run. Really can't talk about this one ;)

Official Time Attack

During the drivers meet it started to look very dark and cloudy. As the meeting was coming to an end, a loud BOOM thundered across the sky. We had to start the OTA ... now!!! Everyone ran to their cars. Luckily for me I still held the #1 position so that meant I got to be the first person on the track. I sprinted to my car, fired up the GoPro, and raced to the staging area.

Waiting in line was pretty nerve wrecking. Looked like I might have to drive a wet track after all. Was it smart to skimp on the morning practice session? lol. Rain was starting to spit down. More thunder too. I remember the Jetta driver in 3rd place shouting to the marshalls "Are we gonna go now or what?!" He was right. It was spitting enough now that I had to use my wipers. Uh oh... Howi give me the signal!!

A mid-season rule change was to tape up the lap timer screens during OTA. I knew I was slow from the rain. But how slow? I tried to push as hard as I could while still keeping the shiny side up. But would it be enough? The other guys in my group were the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fastest guys (S2000, Jetta, and S2000). I was using RA-1's without tread. But they had RWD, bad news in rain. But we saw how well James did with his street tires in the wet! I was really nervous about the results.

It wouldn't matter though. By about the 4th heat there was really no point in continuing the OTA. Lots of people were spinning out (Danwizzle nooo!) and times were approaching 1:30+ Ken's Honda Civic hit a puddle so hard his CAI sucked in water and stalled the engine. Lucky no hydrolock buddy!! A wise decision by SRTA staff to call off the event...

Later on I found out that my 1:12.33 time would've held up. 2nd place was in the 1:13's But it definitely wouldn't have been a fair comparison for heats 2+ because they had way more rain than we did. So unofficial win? No T-shirt or prize money, but hey -- I'll take it. Finally got SRTA #3's DNF monkey off my back, and really happy about doing it after 1 event!

Overall result: 1st place Test & Tune, Unofficial 1st place Group B and Overall :D

For Next Time

Tires are pretty worn/heat cycled. Probably only good for 1 more event, if that. Not sure how competitive I'll be. But I really don't feel like buying a new (used) set of rubber just for 1 more event.

Hot Brakes?
I had zero hot-brake issues. I'm wondering if it had anything to do with the fact that my front lip was missing. More under car air flow? Or maybe it was just the cooler ambient temperatures... that's the most logical reason. Pit temps after cool down were rotors 370°C, pads 340°C.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

[8/12/2011] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Track: Mosport DDT - Brandt Circuit
Weather Conditions: 17-22°C Sunny

Took Friday off to enjoy a day of instruction at Mosport DDT with HANSON International Advanced Driving School. Great weather and a good chance for me to work on my driving and ask the instructors some questions.

This time I had a few friends going with me... my brother Jordan in his Ralliart, my neighbour Rick and his RX-8, Jeff in his Corolla, and Ryan in his E350. A few other people signed up through TSC and it was great to see them out there too! Always happy to see more Suby's at the track. Please chime in on your experiences if you happen to stumble across my ramblings :)

The things I came to practice were:
- Driving more relaxed, especially in the arms. I noticed in many of my videos that I have a deathgrip on the steering wheel.
- Squeezing the brakes and building up to a strong threshold braking rather than just slamming on them
- Getting more comfortable with trail braking/braking while turning and using up ALL of the tire's grip
- Taking a smoother line and not scrubbing speed off the tires as much

For the classroom part I was a keener and asked a couple questions to Derek Hanson, the head instructor:

Q: Left-foot braking, is it necessary to be good in road racing?
A: No. Left-foot braking is mainly used in cars without a clutch (formula cars) or in rally to get the back end to rotate while keeping the throttle pinned. For road racing that's not necessary. Your left foot will never be as sensitive as your right foot, so you will always be giving up some feedback by using LFB and the gains are not worth it.

Q: What about LFB for turbo cars to keep the turbo spooled?
A: Still no. Just apply throttle earlier to compensate. Turbo lag these days isn't what it used to be.

Q: Should we be double clutching?
A: No. You don't need to because the synchro's take care of all the work now.

Q: I've heard of many different ways to hold the steering wheel. One way is to hold it at 9-3 and twist your arms around while turning. The other way is to still hold it 9-3 but to shuffle your hand position while turning so that it's always at 9-3. Which is correct?
A: It depends on what kind of turn it is. Steering technique shouldn't just be isolated to one type of technique. It should be dynamic. Do what's comfortable and what you think makes sense for the turn. Sometimes you need to shuffle your hands. Never get caught twisted up, that's the worst thing that can happen.

During skid pad practice I couldn't manage to break the rear tires loose. I didn't want to e-brake it because of the risk of center diff. damage and I didn't feel like playing with tire pressures so all I did was up the rear dampers to max stiffness. It still wouldn't come loose though... From what I was told, my car was tri-podding. One thing I forgot to try was the Scandinavian Flick, like I did in the April school. Oh well!

Immediately after skid pad practice was a lapping session for my group. I managed to find a shortcut through the course because I forgot to set my rear damper settings back to normal ...

End result was a broken lip. Thankfully no mechanical damage. The lip was on it's way out anyway so this is an excuse for me to get a fresh one :)

In the morning I lapped with my instructor, Randy, same guy from the first school. I guess I improved a lot since the first school because he wasn't commenting much on my driving. He later signed me off to lap on my own in the afternoon. He said my driving improved a lot and asked me if my goal was to compete. I was flattered! Here are the highlights from my afternoon lapping... a battle with a Ferrari F430 and Lotus Elise

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

[7/24/2011] SRTA #3 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #3
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 23°C cloudy morning, 26°C sunny afternoon

I woke up feeling great for SRTA #3 and the weather was perfect! Not humid at all, unlike the past week. This time we had a nice little convoy cruising to Mosport! Vinh in his Team Lexus IS300, Peter in his '84 Jetta (inside the black trailer), Francis (pit crew) in his Genesis, Alan in his FD, James in his newly acquired S2K, and Pat in his newly acquired FC.

Test & Tune

With the addition of the swaybars, the car was much more confident through every turn. Since there was less body roll, my tires didn't rub at all! The car felt "softer" through the turns, less pushing and understeer. Definitely more available grip. The rear end felt GREAT. At first I was worried about setting it TOO stiff, but getting the car to rotate was important.

Brake Pads:
With the RC6E race pads in the front and DS2500 in the rear I found I had to trail brake more to get the car to rotate. Sometimes I would lift off the throttle to get the rear to rotate on the uphill at T7. The braking performance of the RC6E pads was good. They seemed to stop better after they got warmed up a little. I was able to stay on track much longer than with the DS2500's. They weren't invincible though. Fade would kick in if I stayed out too long (10+ hot laps) but this was infrequent and the amount of fade was way less than with the DS2500's. Because I stayed out longer, I brought a ton of heat onto the rotors and calipers. My caliper paint finally turned "brownbo" colour and rotor hats turned purple.

Also, since I cut my dust shields in half, my brake lines were exposed to more heat when parked in the pits. I realized this when sitting in the pits for 5 minutes, my brake fluid started to boil. Might have also had something to do with me pressing on the brakes a few times. So I started to do 2 cool down laps instead of 1... DDT is too tiny to get away with 1 cool down lap after prolonged hard driving.

Run 1 - Dampers +25/+25 Best Time: 1:09.65
Video contains off-roading, a battle with Fred (Echo) and catching up to MajesticBlueNTO (MS3)
Cold tire pressures 32F, 33R, hot 40F/37R. Started the morning with a great run, already beating my personal best from SRTA #2 of 1:09.85. Had a moment of "cutting the grass" after powering out of T4 too early. I ended up with all 4 wheels on the RH side of the back straight. I kept calm while driving straight, and tucked back onto the tarmac about halfway down the straight when it was clear :o

Run 2 - Dampers +31/+31 Best Time: 1:10.16
Video contains some AWD drifting, chasing down Purple Integra, Ken (Civic), and Silver Mazda3
For the hell of it I cranked my dampers to max minus 1 click. The car was sliding around just a bit too much.

Run 3 - Dampers +29/+29 Best Time: 1:10.85
Video contains more AWD drifting, battle with Silver BMW, Red 240, Black GTI
By this point it was getting to the afternoon and the sun was coming out. Temps were rising and everyone I spoke to was complaining that they were slower.

Run 4 - Dampers +29/+29 Best Time: 1:09.73
Video contains battle with Red 240, Eric (Civic) he's FAST
I bled 2 psi off each corner for a pit temp of 36F/34R, hoping to achieve the 40F/37R balance I had in Run 1. The car was getting a "skipping" feeling coming out of corners though, especially through T4 and T5. This is the same "chugging" feeling I described in SRTA 1 & 2. It feels like the car is rocking back and forth on corner exit and I can't put power down to the road. It's very frustrating because I just want to GO!!!

Run 5 - Dampers +20/+20 Best Time 1:09.80
Video contains battle with Raymond (Green Prelude) he's REALLY FAST, and catching a GT3RS
Getting even more hot outside. Dropped tire pressures again, but more in the front to increase oversteer a little. Went with 34F/36R on warm pit tires. Overall these settings gave me less of the "chugging" feeling and more confidence. I just noticed after editing all these videos that my tires were probably worn down by this point.

Run 6 & 7 - Dampers +25/+25, +23/+23 Best Time: 1:09.92
No video.
Decided to keep tire pressures constant and again, fiddle with the damper settings. I did a few laps on +25/+25 and didn't like it, so hopped out and changed to +23/+23 and went back on. I didn't like those either and it was almost time for the compeition so I just went back to +20/+20 for the time attack.

Official Time Attack

My goal for SRTA #3 was to podium. Since Jeff Pippy and his Sinister Evo X didn't show up, Pat was getting used to a new RWD car, and a bunch of other Stage Four Motorsports guys missed the registration, my chances were very very good. I volunteered to "move up" to Group A. Although Group A is supposed to have faster cars (in their factory form) the reality is that it's less crowded and less competitive. I'm not the only one who noticed this though. James, Vinh, and Neil all moved up to Group A... and all were doing 1:09-1:10's which meant it was going to be a tight battle!

Well, not so tight afterall. The rest of the OTA was just a blur. I did my warm up lap, and then decided to push really REALLY hard on my first hot lap. I made the conscious decision to brake late after the main straight into T2. I made T2, but didn't have enough tires or enough braking room for T3. The rest you can watch in the video... final result was DNF.

If I had driven as consistently as I was doing all day long, who knows what might have happened. But the reality is I took a risk that was 100% unwarranted and I paid the price. My tires may have been losing grip but I won't accept that as an excuse, as I should have adjusted for it.

Props to my friend Vinh for taking 1st place in Group A!! The guy on the right is James, the guy who wins Group B every time lol. He's damn quick in that Type-R...

Final Thoughts

I wasn't disappointed with the DNF but I was a bit disappointed by my decision to drive risky during the time attack :mad:. I'm lucky I didn't do any damage to my car or myself. But at the same time I'm proud of the fact that I drove the shit out of my car that day... the Test & Tune footage was extensive this time!! Hope you guys enjoy it ;)

I was happy to stay in the top 5 all day long and that I was able to consistently lap in the high 1:09's; 1.2 to 1.5 seconds faster than my average test & tune lap times at SRTA #2 :)

How do you guys like my consolation trophy?

For Next Time:
Fix the power out chugging on corner exit. It's bothering me a lot
Gotta inspect my tires. I think the tread might be donezo.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stock Intake Testing

All this heat lately has given me the idea to do some intake testing. Heat soak is the enemy! I had some extra hardware lying around from my failed brake duct project so I did my best to put it to good use. Note that I'm still using stock airbox with silencer deleted. I used 2 pieces of 3" PVC pipe from Home Depot Racing to replace the silencer in the fender well and I plugged the hole where the ram scoop goes in the engine bay.

I tested 3 different intake setups today:
- Foglight cover CLOSED
- Foglight cover OPEN
- Foglight cover open and ROUTED to airbox using aluminum ducting

Outside temperature was 34°C
The route I took was 5.3 kms long and about a 9 minute drive. Basically just a big square with 70 & 80 zones. I tried to keep vehicle speed and shift points consistent. I also tried to get the IAT heatsoaked to 45°C before starting.


Average temp while driving:
Closed: 41.0°C
Open: 39.1°C
Routed: 36.7°C

It looks like the routed intake wins hands down. The coolest part about my new intake setup is that it's modular -- the aluminum duct can be removed very easily for non-track days without having to rework any of the other parts. I drilled holes in the bottom of the aluminum duct to drain water just in case I left it in by accident. I might paint it black if I get some time. I hope this helps with the heat at SRTA tomorrow.

Friday, July 8, 2011

SRTA Mid Season Teaser Video

Great video produced by my friend James:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[6/26/2011] SRTA #2 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #2
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 21°C, mix of sun and clouds

I can't believe that it's only been 1 month since SRTA #1... it feels like so much longer because of my insanely busy schedule both on and off the track. Two track days at TMP, Cayuga and a week in California with no time to rest! But it's back to business. SRTA is the reason I'm posting so let's get to it :cool:

Test & Tune

The only difference in my setup between SRTA #1 and SRTA #2 was tire size. I went from 235/40/17 RA-1's to 235/45/17 RA-1's because that's the only size I could find (used take-offs). The tires I had this time round also had a bit more tread. Since I didn't know how much the tire size would affect my handling I decided to start off with the same damper settings I had success with at SRTA #1. +20/+20 and tire pressures of 32 psi front, 33 psi rear. This translated to 37-39 hot front and 35-37.5 hot rear after cool-down in the pits.

Balance through corners (no passengers) was perfectly neutral with a bit of trail braking to aid the initial turn-in. If that wasn't enough then I was able to get the car turning with throttle modulation (mainly on the uphill through T7). This is exactly how I wanted it to feel. What I could use more of was higher maximum grip, less compression, and more rebound. Grip could come from newer and/or wider rubber. But with the BC Racing coilovers I can't increase rebound without also increasing compression. Overall I could probably use some more spring rate/wheel rate too as I notice some body roll on transitions. I'm just a bit worried about losing suspension independence (aka tripoding) if I install bigger swaybars, though arguably my coilovers are already bad for that...

Despite these flaws, I managed to set a personal best of the day at 1:11.13 (best T&T time at SRTA #1 was 1:11.37). This run was with a 250 lb passenger on-board and there was a noticeable difference on left turns (understeer) and stopping distance.

I also made some significant changes to my driving:
Taking the kink through T1 and T2 flat out
Braking later for T2
Taking T8 flat out while exiting on the LH curb (thanks PH)
More confidence through T9 and keeping tighter to the RH on exit
Braking earlier for T1, T5 and T10

I didn't play with tire pressure settings as I found the 32/33 psi setting to work well, but I did try different damper settings once. I bumped it to +25/+25 but my best was only 1:11.26 with a lighter passenger. I noticed the car pushed a bit more with this setting, likely because of too much compression. Since I was slower with a lighter passenger, I went back to +20/+20.

Interesting to note is that my Litespeed X-Brace was quite loose on inspection last week. I tightened it significantly the night before SRTA and during my runs I could tell that the brace was doing something in the rear because of the popping sounds the cables made on loading/unloading through hard turns. How much of an effect did this have on my lap times? No idea.

Also, the brake fade issues I've been having were back, although not as pronounced as TMP since DDT is a smaller track. Still, I had to take a cool down lap every 4-5 hot laps to get confidence back into the brakes. I measured surface brake temps out of curiosity in the pits right after a run and the front calipers were 250°C and pads 450°C. Rotors were easily > 450°C (pyrometer couldn't read that high). And this is after cool down ... must be significantly hotter on the track. I have wobbletop's old brake ducts waiting to be installed, and a few more goodies from Chris @ Touge Tuning. I should definitely have those on the car by SRTA #3.

Lastly, I had rubbing issues in the rear due to the 5% sidewall increase. I tore those rubber protection thingies off and that got rid of some of the rubbing, though not all...

Official Time Attack

My goal for OTA was to break into the 1:10's since I had no passenger as ballast. I knew from the last event that I had to make sure the tires were warm for my timed runs. I had a strategy this time. It involved booking it HARD on the warm-up run to get as much heat into the tires as possible, then doing 3 hot laps (flying cooldown) and then cool down outside the DDT park after OTA was over.

My plan nearly backfired through T3 on the warm-up since the tires didn't have full grip yet LOL .. but I willed through the DNF and pushed hard for the rest of the OTA!

For the OTA I was behind Pat B. and I recall a thick cloud of dust at T8 on my first hot lap. I almost expected to see a spun out civic on the other side of it but Pat is too good for that ;) I flew through the dust cloud WRC style and the rest of the OTA was literally just a blur. I actually lost track of how many laps I did and someone told me I exited the track after Lap 3 ... must have been because I was too excited about the 2 laps I had just put down: 1:09.85 and 1:10.38 respectively. I was totally floored by the times and at he same time ridiculously happy about it LOL!! Final standing was 4th place in Group B, 6th place Overall.

I definitely exceeded my goal of breaking into the 1:10's :D The theme of "becoming a better driver" is really starting to take shape...

Other Stuff

danwizzle it was nice to meet you dude. Sorry I didn't see your PM to cruise up but maybe next time since we live pretty close! Hope you had a good time. At least your ball joints didn't explode this time right? :P

Lord_Sid hope your trip from Windsor was worth it! You're welcome to crash at my place for SRTA #3 ;)

MIBAgentQ funny how we never really saw each other during the day despite cruising up together lol. Your "strategy" for the OTA definitely backfired way worse than mine LOL. PS. thanks for remembering the gas!

For Next Time:
Fix the hot brakes, seriously
Roll the rear fenders
Figure out how the hell I pulled those times in OTA and be more consistent with them
Other small improvements to the car as necessary

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

[6/05/2011] CSCS #1 (TMP)

CSCS was pretty much an epic fail for me.

I thought I was arriving early at 9:30AM but turns out it wasn't early enough. By the time I got registered and into the pit area there were no spots left. I had to go to the very end, but still ended up in someone's spot. One of the drifters was kind enough to lend me his spot while he went for qualifying though. It was a start ... at least I had a place to change my tires lol.

Since I was in such a scramble to get my car set up, and was all the way at the end of the pit lane I totally missed the drivers meeting (despite having full intentions on going to it - I was running down the pit to make it to the tent but just missed it when I got there). This set the pace for the rest of the day ... I basically had no idea what was going on and it was super packed and super hot outside :o

Lapping run #1, on the first hot lap, one of the cars ahead of me blew his engine right before T2 and spewed white smoke and oil all over the track. I cut speed and then slid on the slick track surface going into T2. I also noticed a bit of rubbing noise with my taller 235/45/17 RA-1's. Lapping session #1 was pretty much a write-off because of the oil on the track so I pitted early to adjust some of my settings.

Lapping run #2 was a little better but not by much. I forgot to record it on my camera. For most of this session I was stuck behind a blue R32 who was driving like a jackass and not letting me pass. He fish tailed every corner and a few times I had to slam on the brakes to avoid rear ending him from his spin... then on the main straight I would pull to the right hoping to pass him, but he had more power than me and would not let me pass despite being blue flagged :mad: I was hoping the "experienced" lapping group wouldn't have people like this but I was wrong.

Lapping run #3 was also cut short when I overheated my brakes going into T10 right after the double chicane. I slammed on the brakes but -- nothing. I went straight off into grass cutting mode and then exited the track shortly after to check for damage. Luckily, none. But by this point all the weeds/grass that I caught in my dust shields were starting to smoke up :o I cleaned them out quickly with a long screwdriver and then hopped in my car to try and get some air flow to them. The problem was... it was so packed with spectators I literally couldn't get anywhere LOL. Driving up the pit lane on the main straight and back must have taken me 10 minutes! Ridiculous...

Anyway, at this point it was time for lunch. It was hard to find parking with 6000 people walking around and a pit lane that was 150% booked so I parked in parallel to the staging lanes with my 2 RH tires barely on the tarmac (plenty of space for people to still drive by me). Fast forward about 1.5-2 hours later and this infamous event happened:

Took them a while to clean it up but basically it was now time for drifting, and then the actual time attack. During the drivers meeting for time attack I was actually quite shocked to see that no lap times were taken at all during the day - despite an RFID lap timer being applied to every car that registered in time attack. I questioned how they were planning on staging the heats so that the pace could be maintained. Then my question was answered -- they expected us to form our own groups, based on our own best estimates of how fast we were ... honestly this was a big WTF moment for me

So I went around trying to meet people to make a group of 5. I approached about 4-5 different groups but all of them already had 5 (thanks Kyle for trying to squeeze me in as a 6th haha) or were running WAY faster times than I knew I could handle (low 20's, my best is 28 flat). I bumped into Ana from SGR and she mentioned the Stage Four guys were looking for a 5th. Cool. So I went walking down the pits to find these guys. Figured it'd be cool to run with them since they were also at SRTA. But no luck, I couldn't find them...

By then I was at the end of the pit lane near my car so I decided to get inside and drive back to the start to keep looking for a group. Then one of the marshals approached me and asked if it was my car. "Yeah" I said... and then I was greeted by "Are you a f***ing idiot? What the f*** were you thinking?" proceeded by an entire 5 minute scolding (and about 15 f-bombs) of how I parked my car blocking the staging lane for lappers, how he was gonna kick me out of the park and not let me participate in lapping, etc... Not gonna go too much into the details of it, but apparently he was calling out for me on the PA system as the "Silver STI" to move my car. You can figure out why I never clued in.

Anyway... I was pretty put off by this, and honestly didn't feel like looking for a group for the time attack anymore. I was upset with how the whole event had turned out so I just packed it in and went home. No sense pushing my car to the limit while angry and in a really bad mood (not to mention drained from the heat). Congrats to all the winners and everyone that actually enjoyed it. I for one will not be going to any of the other CSCS events. Also a thank you to StE who took some awesome action shots of my car during the limited time I had on track Sorry no cool track videos this week :p

Coles Notes:
- No live leaderboard
- Drivers had to organize their own heats
- Got yelled at for parking in the wrong spot
- Apparently my car is a Silver STI
- DNS for the Time Attack
- Brakes still overheating - need ducts badly
- 2nd weekend in a row for a safety incident at TMP

Monday, May 30, 2011

[5/28/2011] Track Report (TMP)

Event: Open Lapping Day
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather: 15°C Overcast (morning), 20°C Sunny (afternoon)

Another weekend, another track day! Today I learned a valuable lesson: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GEAR BEFORE EVERY EVENT

I was stupid and only checked the tread on 1 of my tires the night before track day. When I got to TMP I found that one of my tires was already showing cords, and another 2 had essentially no tread remaining. I had to put the corded tire on the RR and tire that had a bit of tread left on the LF to make sure I survived on the CW track.

Because my tires were absolutely dead there wasn't much to "test & tune" ... with newer tires that had tread the tire pressures/temperatures would likely go up faster and my damper settings would also need to change. I decided to try playing with the settings anyway, setting my fronts at 32 psi, rears at 34 psi, dampers to +24/+28. A very rear biased setup, just to see how it felt. You can see what happens the first time I take T2 in the video below :) For the remainder of the day I set my dampers to be stiffer in the front because my rear tires had no more grip and I was drifting all over the place. Final settings were +24/+20.

I had no idea that the C7 spring cruise was on the same day -- which explains why such a huge crowd showed up in the afternoon. Apparently 80+ cars were registered for lapping. It was absolute madness!! They let a lot of beginners on the track that didn't have a clue what they were doing. Some guys were driving at speeds of 60 kmh at times and holding everyone up. They didn't understand that you had to signal to let the other person pass, or they would move off-line to let you pass (which is dangerous because it's unpredictable). I personally witnessed 4 people go flying off the track - including a GT-R R35 and S2000 that lost his rear bumper. Close to an hour of track time was lost waiting for the tow trucks to get these guys out of the ditch... Regardless, it was nice to see such spirit at a track event and that the interest for these kinds of things still exists. I managed to have a few nice battles with friends, 2 of which I've included in my video below.

I definitely need a break from the track. CSCS isn't happening for me since I need to reload on tires, brake pads, and possibly even rotors. I might still go to spectate and help out if I can though... we'll see. My next event is SRTA on June 26th which gives me a few weekends to relax.

Update: So apparently there was some drama surrounding the S2000 that went off and lost his bumper. The S2000 blamed the Prelude behind him for rear-ending him and later on confronted the Prelude driver with a group of people intending to start a fight. The Prelude driver had his side of the story on tape. All of that drama can be found here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[5/22/2011] SRTA #1 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #1
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 15°C~23°C, Overcast with light drizzle

The 2011 Time Attack season has begun! SRTA marks my foray into the world of competitive grassroots motorsports. Today was the day to see if all the work I've done since the beginning of April had paid off. The day started bright and early, waking up at 6:00AM to head out to Mosport. I cruised up with my buddies James and Alan and we got there at 8:30AM. I had a pit crew that did an extraordinary job of helping me setup and tune my suspension settings throughout the day. Huge thanks to Francis, Tang, and his friend Andrew, who showed up to help because the engine on his Ford Escort blew up and he couldn't run his GT Sprint race.

Speaking with Andrew, he recommended that I shoot for a hot tire pressure of 37 psi. With that in mind, we began the test & tune phase of the day. The Official Time Attack (OTA) was scheduled to start at 3:00PM so that meant we had a solid ~5 hours of test & tune time. I also knew from other competitive (non-racing) events that I had to pace myself throughout the day and eat healthy in order to stay focused before the real event.

Test & Tune

Run 1 - Dampers +8/+8 Best Time: 1:15.67
I started off with the +8/+8 damper settings I used at Cayuga. Cold tire pressure was 33 psi all around. I did about 5-6 laps to get heat into the tires and immediately exited the track without a cooldown so that Tang and Andrew could measure my hot tire pressure and temperatures. Hot pressures were 37 psi all around except for RH which was 38 psi (CCW track). Tire temps were (outside to inside) 44/46/48°C (LF), 58,56,54°C (RF), 37/39/41°C (LR/RR). +2°C difference in temps seemed like a pretty small spread to me, and Andrew agreed it was rare to get the tire temps even all around in real world testing. (I later found out from Peter Hanson that the ideal temperatures for my RA-1’s are in the >70°C range, but that’s from inside of the tire). Maybe I could use an extra -0.5 camber up front but it's probably not worth the effort right now. I also wasn't focusing too much on my line yet - I just wanted to get the settings right.

Run 2 - Dampers +10/+10 Best Time: 1:12.86
Bumped the dampers up to +10/+10. We noticed that on the track, the front end was plowing under braking, and the car was quite bouncy/underdamped from all the elevation changes. Tire pressures went up a bit to 41 in the fronts, and 38 in the rears, so we bled them back down to 37 psi afterwards. Temperatures went up too, but the spread stayed +2°C from outside to inside; 52/54/56°C (LF), 58/62/61°C (RF). I decided to take a short break for lunch and then crank the dampers to +15/+15 afterwards.

Run 3 - Dampers +15/+15 Best Time: 1:12.11
This setting felt better and more composed. Less body roll and more confidence through the kink in the fast straight. I was beginning to be convinced that stiffer on these coilovers always meant better. I continued to shave my time down by a couple tenths but could not break into the 1:11's. Alan in his 305 rwhp RX-7 did a 1:10.16 and James in his EK Civic had a 1:11.60. I was eager to break into the 1:11's because I knew my car was capable. It was time to stop worrying so much about the suspension and time to start focusing on the time attack!

Run 4 - Dampers +20/+20 Best Time: 1:11.37
By this point I was running a little low on gas, around 1/3 tank remaining. No problem because I brought an extra 20L of Ultra 94 in my gerry can right? Wrong! Note to self: label your gerry can. Alan brought the exact same one, and since we pitted beside each other, he used up all my Ultra 94 by accident LOL!! Unfortunately his was filled with 91 and some mix for his water injection system so I didn't want to risk feeding that to my suby. On the bright side - Andrew and Tang both gave me valuable feedback in their runs with me on my line. I also noticed a lot of areas for improvement as well. Dive bombing and trail braking into T2 while down shifting into 2nd gear gave me extra torque for T3 and T4 and allowed me to carry WAY more speed into this section of the track. Power could be applied sooner after T6 and I needed to desperately stop cutting the curb so hard at T8 because it upset the suspension too much. T9 I needed to miss the first apex and clip the 2nd while staying more to the right of the track on exit. At this point I was down to a little over 1/4 tank. I didn't want to risk running out of fuel for the OTA. It was starting to rain at this point... and all the drivers agreed to start the OTA early.

Official Time Attack

SRTA broke drivers down into heats of 4, starting with the fastest drivers first. I was in the 2nd heat. As I drove through the skid pad to be staged for my OTA I heard the dreaded "beep beep beep!" that I heard back at Cayuga. My GoPro batteries were dead!! So ironic... just before the OTA. But I was prepared this time! I quickly did a U-turn and drove back to the pits to grab a new battery. Considering my times all day, anything in the 1:12's would be acceptable "under pressure", and anything under that ideal :)

Here’s my OTA run “home video style” from my friends' point of view:

Here’s my OTA run from inside the car:

My best time was the 1st hot lap of 1:11.71. Overall I placed 6th in Group B of 24 participants in total. I’m really happy that I was able to put down a time that was consistent during test & tune and that it was fairly close to my daily record. Post-OTA tire data was 34 psi/50C fronts, 35 psi/36C rears. Next time I might have to set my cold pressures a little higher before OTA.

Improvement Points

Trailing Arm Bushings: I experienced a lot of driveline pogo during my runs, regardless of the damper settings. Passengers said the same thing. Normally I can live with it for day to day driving, but at the track it’s killing me. The power delivery from the apex through the exit is so chunky that it’s upsetting the suspension. I’m assuming that the culprits are my tailing arm bushings – which happen to be made from gummy bears on our cars. It’s one of the few bushings that I haven’t changed out – but now I plan on changing it out ASAP. I originally intended on doing a Cayuga track day on May 28th but will be cancelling my plans for that and directing those funds towards stiffer trailing arm bushings instead.

Left Foot Braking: It’s time for me to pick up left foot braking, or at least start experimenting with it. I don’t know if you guys can see it in the videos but I’m actually fighting to turn the car through every corner. My suby pushes like a tank!! I really want a bit more rotation out of the car, but I don’t want to go the easy route and drop a load of cash on something like swaybars yet. I want to see if a little bit of left foot braking can get the car to turn-in better on the turns that don’t require any downshifting.

Misc. Consumables: I also noticed my front pads are being worn down a lot quicker than last year. It could be because of the DBA slotted rotors and/or that I’m pushing my car much harder this year. My RA-1’s are starting to look worn too… they were manufactured in 2007 and I bought them used for $200. This will be my 3rd track season on them. I gotta tuck some money away for the consumables too, just in case.

Bonus Videos!
Now, we can’t be so serious about lap times all day long! Here are some bonus videos for your enjoyment ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

[4/22/2011] Track Report (TMP)

Event: TCI & TMMC Open Lapping
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: +4~7°C, Overcast

Yesterday was my first open lapping day of the season with co-workers & friends. It was also my first time at TMP, Cayuga. The day was very cold and windy! But at least it was dry :rolleyes:

Run 1 - High 1:30's ???
I started my first run with pressures of LF 31.5, RF/LR/RR 32.0 PSI. Damper settings were +3F, +4R from soft, my street settings. Goal of the first run was to get familiar with the track and see how my tires were holding up. The track was very slick at this point and it felt like I was struggling for grip. I was not confident at ALL in T1 because of the speed, lack of grip and amount my car was rolling. I was also having trouble finding a line through T7 because it was a deceivingly long turn. I was also hitting the rev limiter on the straight up to T7. Hot pressures after cool-down lap and 5 minutes into pit were LF 39.5, RF 39, LR 36.0, RR 37.0 PSI. No idea what my lap times were at this point, but I'm guessing high 1:30's

Run 2 - 1:34.xx
Decided to go out again and not change anything. Maybe my line was wrong, or I just needed more guts? My friends put a MyChron beacon up at this point so I started timing. The beacon was running out of batteries though, and everyone was getting intermittent readings. It only recorded 1 of my lap times and it was 1:34.xx I decided to crank up my dampers for the next run. Last week at HANSON +3/+4 might have been OK in the wet with my StarSpecs, but today I was running RA-1's in the dry so I definitely needed something stiffer.

Run 3 - 1:33.xx
Did not change tire pressures for the whole day, but I started to play with the dampers. I set them to +6/+6 and immediately noticed less roll in the car. They also relocated the beacon and put new batteries so I was getting proper lap times readings every lap. I put down a 1:33.xx best on Run 3 so I knew I was on to something. My buddy Tang riding shotgun pointed out that I could be braking much deeper into T10 (after the chicane) and taking T13 wider to get a faster slingshot through T14 onto the main straight. Excellent advice, I would try it out in Run 4. I love having useful passengers in my car!

Run 4 - 1:30.xx
Cranked the dampers up to +8/+8 this time. Noticed tighter turning response and less body roll again, with zero drawbacks. Started refining my line and shift points at this point since I was getting much more confident in my car's handling. I started upshifting to 3rd on the straight before T7 and overall using more of the track. I took Tang's advice and managed to bring my time down to 1:30.xx. Huge improvement on this run.

Run 5 - 1.29.89
Ran the same settings since they gave me confidence. I just tried to be faster this time. It was on Run 5 where I really started to push it. My friend Vinh in his Team Lexus IS300 racecar was on my tail chasing me down and we had an amazing battle for several laps. I started taking T11 in 3rd gear instead of downshifting to 2nd because I was carrying much more speed and confidence. I was getting a lot more consistent with my times hovering around 1:30. Best time for this session was 1:29.89.

Run 6 - 1.28.44
Time for some more experimenting. Dampers to +10/+10. Again, tighter than +8/+8, but I started to notice a very minor amount of sliding through turns. It was absolutely AWESOME to be able to feel the car on the limit of traction through the turns. I don't really know how to put it into words. Had it not been for last week's practice in the rain, I definitely would not have been able to control the car through this type of sliding. I'm not sure if it was my damper settings, or just me getting faster overall, but this time out I managed to do a 1:28.54 and 1:28.44 in the same session, with most of my times being under 1:30. I don't know if this type of sliding is actually the fastest way around the corner, but hell it's fun! My passenger thought I could definitely be going faster though. He pointed out that the car in front was holding me up and that I could still be taking T1 faster.

I really wanted to do a 7th run but at this point I was running with about 1/4 tank left and all my friends were packing up to go home. It was probably a good idea to call it a day. I was happy with my results and quitting on a good note is never a bad thing.

At this point you're probably wondering - where are all the videos? Well here's ONE :p

It turns out the front USB ports on my PC are garbage at charging devices. I'll have to make sure to use a wall outlet to charge from now on.

Other notes:
- Could not for the life of me get my Android Trackmaster to start. I tried playing around with different 1st split marker locations but I think the GPS is inaccurate overall. The MyChron is still way more reliable.
- I really like the view from the rear windshield mount. It gives a wide view of the track and apex, as well as captures my steering input, gear position, and where I'm looking. The only thing missing now is a pedal cam and telemetry!
- Look at how much of a difference a harness makes on the track - my passenger is flying all over the place and this is just warm-up! I'm planted solid. I love my Schroth harness!
- Having a friend or three help in the pits is a HUGE help. I invited 3 friends to the track day and they helped me unload, change tires, and re-pack in exchange for turns riding shotgun. It saved me a ton of labour and allowed me to focus on driving well. Thanks Jeff, Francis, and Tang!

Overall another awesome day at the track. These small steps in driver improvement are giving me a lot of confidence for the upcoming time attack season.

One final thanks to my gf who prepared a feast for the boys when they got home:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

[4/17/2011] HANSON School (DDT) Part 2

Settings for the day:
Tires: 225/45/17 Dunlop Direzza Z1 StarSpecs, 34 PSI front & rear cold
Dampers: BC Racing BR Coilovers 10k/8k, +3 Front, +4 Rear (from full soft)
Note: This is my street setup. I didn't make any adjustments other than slightly increase the tire pressures.

I got bumped into the advanced group which only had 6 cars (Elise, S2K, 318, A6, RS4, and myself) due to overcapacity in intermediate. I'm glad this happened because I could be on the track with more experienced drivers AND had less traffic to worry about at the same time.

1st Lapping Session (No Video):
This was actually the first in-car session of the day and I had a lot of rust to shave off... but because I did my homework, I didn't make any anticipation errors in terms of the track layout. I knew each turn because of the immersive visualization process I did in my Obutto. But as Chris previously mentioned, elevation changes and track surfaces are something that you can only feel out at the track... the roughness of certain areas and the elevation differences were greater than I had expected.

I don't remember too much from the first session other than a really close call I had with the Elise. I entered the double right hander near the portable after the uphill too hot for the wet/snowy track so I tapped the brakes mid-turn. Of course, my rear end broke loose and Randy (my instructor ) was yelling "COUNTER-STEER, COUNTER-STEER!!" but I was too late - I spun 180 degrees and as my car was turning backwards I saw the Elise make the EXACT same mistake - he entered a slide heading straight towards me! Luckily he stopped about a car length away. Close call... woke me up for the morning :) (I actually go off-track here in my 2nd Lapping Session)

Afterwards, Randy invited me for a ride in his M3 for instructor lapping. He wanted to show me just how lazy I was being with my steering input by driving DDT "Dorifto" style to drill home the point. His driving was ... holy shit batman scary. We were booking every corner way faster than I was comfortable with for the wet track, and he was going through them all SIDEWAYS!!! I tried to watch his steering while holding back my breakfast. Per steering input, he had about 2-3 inputs for every 1 input I had and he was always modulating the throttle at the same time. I learned a lot after this ride, but I also wanted to puke...

2nd Lapping Session:
This took place right after the Skid Pad excercise from Part 1. At this point I was full of confidence because of what I achieved in my final skid pad run. My new found skill came into play almost immediately during this session where I nearly lost control several times, but managed to save it with quick steering and throttle inputs. I have a nice chase with a BMW 318 and Lotus Elise starting at around 3:17 in the video.

Here's the result from the last bit of the video ... luckily just dirt and no rocks, washed right off afterwards :p

3rd Lapping Session:
The track started to dry up which is good. I managed to go a little faster this time, but still tried to keep things reasonable given the conditions. To be honest I was not confident taking the first straight at higher speed, despite my instructor saying it was OK to do so. The driver of the BMW 318 was much quicker this time because the track dried up - I couldn't catch him...

4th Lapping Session (no video):
It was snowing really hard at this point and the track was quite wet. This session I just tried to hit the line and try drifting further out towards the pylons after the swoop (a line recommended to me by the driver of the S2K) to get a straighter chute for the back section of the course. I have video but I won't bother posting it because it's very short and boring.

After this session, Peter Hanson asked me if I wanted to take a ride with him in his CTS V6 (rental) on all-season tires :D He drove much faster than Randy, and because he was trying to go fast and not drift, it was slightly less scary and nauseating. Again, watching his hands and feet when I could, I noticed he had very high APM (actions per minute, for those non-SC players). He cut the curbs HARD, he had 2 wheels on the grass coming out of a lot of the turns and he took the first straightaway flat out while sliding through the kink. It was freaking awesome.

5th Lapping Session (no video):
I took it easy on this one since it was about 3:45PM and I had been up since 6:00AM driving hard all day. No word of a lie I was pretty tired by this point and there was no sense in making a costly mistake. I just sat back and enjoyed the empty track :)

Other Stuff:
I wasn't able to use the dome lamp mount that Adam preferred because I noticed that it was just wobbling way too much. I had to use the gauge pod mount entirely for simplicity. Also, the electrical tape fixed most of the rattle, but not all of it especially at lower speeds. I'll have to play around with it this week. In the future I would like to try the rear windshield mount to capture my steering input, and think of a way to get a 2nd camera rolling on my pedal input. Also, because of the school's strict policy on NO lap timers I couldn't test my Android Trackmaster app.

Well that's it for my track report! I hope those who were on the fence about high performance driving school now have a better idea of what it's like.