Saturday, December 8, 2012


Saw an ad for this free software in a racecar engineering magazine today. It not only has the ability to do predict optimal lap times, but can tell you how your lap times will increase or decrease based on a range of variables. For example if you changed your gear ratios from a USDM 5MT to USDM 6MT or JDM 6MT, how would it affect lap times? This software can do that.

It works by modelling your car as a single point on the race track. Given the maximum traction forces of your tires based on real world data, vehicle mass, coefficient of drag/lift, horsepower/torque, gear ratios, etc. it will calculate the maximum apex speed your car can carry and then works backwards to figure out braking zones and top speeds on the straights. It can even model the track for you if you have GPS data (which I do).

Of course there are some limitations such as no elevation changes on the track, difficult to know the true coefficient of drag, etc. but it does seem very neat.

Would love to take some time to play around with it. Maybe over the holidays.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

[10/27/2012] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Track: Mosport DDT, Skid Pad
Weather Conditions: 6°C, Rain

I just thought I'd stop by for a quick journal update since it's been a while. And before you ask, no there hasn't been any progress on my WRX since last time 

Last Saturday I was given the opportunity to help out the HANSON school as an instructor-in-training. This meant helping out on the skid pad. 

The weather was crap. Great for the students, but not so great for standing outside lol. I tried my best to spend as much time in student cars as possible to stay dry, but I still ended up soaked to the bone.

Even though I'm no pro, I noticed a lot of reoccurring errors from students when I sat in their cars. See if you make these mistakes. I know I've made every single one of them so it was easy for me to recognize since it wasn't too long ago.

Car Control vs. Going Fast
Rain plus skid pad is a very good way to find the limits of the car. There were many RWD cars (lots of FR-S!) and I noticed some of the guys were purposely trying to spin out or power oversteer. I asked them what their goals were, and found out that they wanted to get faster lap times. Drifting around a skid pad is great for car control, but ultimately it won't really help you set faster times. I switched their exercise from doing donuts to treating the skid pad like a big sweeping turn on a track. The new exercise was to imagine the pylon on the skidpad as the apex, and to try and take that corner as fast as possible before spinning out. That way, they could find the cornering limit while going fast in the wet.

Threshold Braking
Many instructors teach students to finish their braking in a straight line before starting to turn in. And for good reason too. On a track, trying to learn trail braking can get you into a lot of trouble. But for the more intermediate students who want to experiment or think they're read for trail braking, the skid pad is the perfect place to start. In addition to the exercise above, I noticed that students were braking WAY too early. They were braking 2-3 car lengths before the marked turn-in gate. If I was driving I would probably be braking 1 car length beyond the marked gate. So I tried to get them to push their comfort zone by braking later and using corner entry to scrub the remainder of the speed. This was easier said than done in the rain though 

Students who braked too early also had a tendency to turn-in too early. They would quickly realize they had more grip than they thought they had, and were moving into the centre of the skid pad too quickly. So, to adjust, they would turn the steering wheel back outward to "get back onto the racing line". Steering input should be one smooth arc, without many big corrections. Having an excess of grip like this means you can be going a lot faster into the corners, even in the rain!

Induced Understeer
The other thing I noticed everyone doing was trying to turn the steering wheel more and more once the car started understeering. This would result in the car vibrating (the tires are beyond its useful slip angle) and then occasionally going from understeer to oversteer once the tires regained grip. Everyone says that their cars understeer (especially on Subaru forums) but the real truth is that any car can understeer if you turn the steering wheel too quickly into a turn (smoothness) and/or point the front wheels past their useful slip angle. It's natural to try and turn the wheel more and more since we want to turn in that direction but the car isn't letting us! But the correct, and somewhat counter-intuitive thing to do, is to back the steering wheel off slightly, and once you feel the grip has regained (through your finger tips while modulating throttle/brake), continue to move the steering wheel back into the turn. The end result is many tiny back and forth corrections while making a turn. If you watch the hands of a race car driver closely you'll see them doing this.

F1 2011 - Mercedes GP - Onboard cameras with Schumacher and Rosberg in the MGP W02 - YouTube Skip to 1:25

Unfortunately I don't have any good photos or videos from this day as it was really rainy and I was too busy with students. But I did manage to get a good rip on the skidpad in my iQ lol. I can't believe how much grip that little car has, even in the rain!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

[8/19/2012] CSCS #4 (TMP)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #4
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 24°C Sunny

I didn't get much sleep due to Dobaru constantly waking me up from howling at stuff all night. I was also still in recovery mode from a hangover on Saturday. So having to wake up at 5AM wasn't the best of starts for me. But I was ready to kick some ass at TMP so that was my motivation!

I got to TMP really early, just before 8:00. Luckily I managed to dodge the police harassment everyone was talking about. During technical inspection my car threw a CEL while idling. Not something you want to see at the start of a track day. I reset my ECU and restarted the car. Stu from Can-Jam came up to me and said "That the startup didn't sound good, Sounds like you may be down on one cylinder." Anyone who has ever reset their ECU knows that the first crank can take a bit longer. So I thought it was normal and carried on with my morning.

Open Lapping

My first session started off behind Mr. Cassidy's RX-7 once again. Although it was in a pure white colour scheme now, and not the space shuttle theme previously :P

Going from DDT to TMP is always a huge change for me. TMP just feels so much harder on the car. On my first session out I had no confidence in the way my car was handling. My underdamped suspension combined with greasy feeling tires lead me into a four wheels off situation at T1 just three laps in. Luckily I didn't take any damage. I pulled into the pits and took a breather to gather myself and refocus.

I spent the rest of open lapping playing around with different lines (shallower, as I learnt on Friday). I also experimented with left foot braking at T4. I was indifferent to it as it had no impact on my lap times so I carried on with regular braking. After T11 I started short shifting into 3rd to carry more speed into the sweeping left hander T12. This change probably had the biggest impact to my lap times as my cornering speeds went up by ~10 kph.

My parents also came to visit me. I took my Dad out and he didn't even last 1 lap :| We spent more time doing up his harness than on the track lol. While we were busy laughing at my dad, xeno_impreza noticed that one of the clamps on my after-MAF hose was completely loose. Thanks man! We thought this would fix the CEL but it didn't. The CEL remained on for the entirety of the day.

At this point both my front and rear brake pads were running really low. I had nothing to gain from going out more as my tire pressures were dialed in and I felt that this was as good as the car was going to get. I didn't get too many hard runs in because of traffic and giving rides but I did manage to set a new personal best of 1:23.96. Finally in the 23's at TMP :)

Richard Nadeau was nice enough to give me a ride in his yellow bugeye beast. This thing is gutted and caged with home made aero. He's riding on HotBits DT2's and powered by an 18G-XTR. I was impressed with the HotBits' ability to soak up bumps. I'm not sure what his spring rates were but his car felt much softer than mine. He was able to drive over the pothole at T2 without upsetting the car and also take a different line through the chicaine which just wouldn't work with my suspension. I believe he was using the tire groove that RedScoobie eluded to in his journal.

Richard ended up doing a 1:20.4 with me in the car. I'm not a very good passenger and this is probably the closest I've ever come to puking in someone's car, lol. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to recover in time for the time attack. Instructing might not be my thing after all. Richard went on to win Unlimited AWD but unfortunately also managed to break his second 6-speed this year. Ouch!

Time Attack

Sloppy is the best way to describe my run. I even missed a shift in my final hot lap. In all of that chaos I still managed to pull a personal best of 1:22.93, although the official time shown at showed a 1:23.156.

Unofficial lap times:
Lap 1 - 1:24.31
Lap 2 - 1:22.93
Lap 3 - 1:23.81

Another 1st place finish in a small Street AWD class.

Car Trouble

Towards the end of the day we noticed some smoke coming out of my exhaust on start up. I was hoping the CEL would be something pollution related like the air pump, but the smoke meant it was probably something worse.

I had Monday off so I did some self diagnosis but I wasn't able to come to any conclusions. My car is at Can-Jam right now and I'm prepared for the worst. CSCS #4 marks my 22nd track day and despite 22 being my "lucky" number I guess I was due for some bad luck.

Edit: I just realized I forgot to count 2010 so it's actually more like 27th track day... w/e I'll probably lose count soon lol

Friday, August 17, 2012

[8/17/2012] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW 1 kink), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 23°C Sunny

My first time running this track configuration was at CSCS #3 earlier this year. I wasn't happy with my performance there especially with the uphill section of the track. I wanted another chance to practice this layout before the season was over so I called up Peter Hanson at the HANSON driving school and begged him to run the same layout. He agreed to run it for me. I was stoked!

Lots of Subys showed up this time (some missed the photoshoot sorry)!

I was placed in the advanced group and allowed to run without an instructor. But I actually wanted an instructor, as that would defeat the purpose of the school. So I requested one, and Peter said he would come out with me after he took care of some stuff.

In the mean time, I tried my hand out at the skid pad. Last year the only way I could get my car to oversteer was to do the Scandinavian flick. But I only remembered this after my first failed attempt:

I might not be ready for DMCC but hey it's an improvement over last year lol. I only did 4 runs because these tires need to last me two more time attacks!

Now it was time for the second advanced lapping session of the day with Peter as my coach. Here's the vid:

I must've impressed Peter with my driving because after our run he invited me to become an instructor! I was totally honoured and this pretty much made my day :D I told him I would think about it because I know there is a lot of responsibility behind being an instructor and I want to make sure that I'm ready before accepting such a position.

The classroom portion with Derek Hanson was eye opening to say the least. Some of the important tid bits I picked up were:

  • Too many people concentrate on the exit of a corner. But the entry of a corner is what separates the good with the best. Shallower entries allow for higher entry speeds.
  • Sacrificing linked turns is a misconception. The extra speed gained from taking a shallow entry will make up for the extra exit speed gained by "sacrificing" the first corner for a better exit on the second. You also travel less total distance by not swinging wide. The shallow entry also happens to have the largest radius.

At least that's what my interpretation of his rambling was :p CSCS #4 at TMP on Sunday would be a great place to practice shallower corner entry since some of the turns there are linked.

There was some discussion of the bucking issue I've been having as well. I was trying out a softer rear swaybar setting but it didn't seem to do anything towards the bucking. Although I think the overall amount of tri-podding has been reduced. Here's a GoPro view of the inside rear:

Some of the instructors, including Derek, were watching me on the track. Their comment was that visually they could see the car pitching back and forth. Derek is convinced that it's the center differential "vacillating" as it hunts for the proper torque split. But from my understanding it's locked at 50/50 on the WRX. Although going back to that one ride in Kwan's STI we did hear and feel the wonders of the Auto DCCD working through all the turns I struggled in. Another instructor said I should just buy a Porsche

Peter had previously mentioned improperly matched front and rear springs. That could be it too. And the fact that my dampers are underdamped would cause the car to bounce around as well.

I'm a bit sick of theorizing and chasing my tail with this issue. I could have all the horsepower in the world but if my car still handled like this through corners I wouldn't be happy with it. I think at this point I know I need better dampers so I should just get them first and go from there.

In the end, it was a great day hanging out with friends; some old and some new. And with no real drama other than my EZ-UP tent breaking from the wind lol

Ninja edit: I forgot to post my lap times!

Best lap times per session
Session 1 - 1:02.51
Session 2 - 1:02.54
Session 3 - 1:02.98
Session 4 - 1:02.09
Session 5 - 1:03.03

My best lap time from CSCS #3 was 1:03.31. Amazing how much of a difference improving that one section of the uphill made. Looks like I'll be able to sleep at night again :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

[7/15/2012] CSCS #3 (DDT)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #3
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW 1 kink), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 24-30°C cloudy with thunderstorms
My body woke itself up at 5:13AM with a random burst of adrenaline, ahead of my alarm set for 5:45AM. Funny how your subconscious just knows it's going to be an important day. Pre-track day routine was business as usual. Get dressed in light clothing, slap on the sun screen. Eat a big breakfast, forcefully if necessary (hard to eat when anxious sometimes) while watching YouTube and listening to some music. Washroom pit stop (very important!). Pack the cooler with the sandwiches and drinks prepared the night before. Pack the jerry cans, left out on purpose so the car doesn't reek of gasoline. Double check that all my other gear is packed: helmet, driving shoes, GoPro, lap timer, etc. And then head off to Mosport :)
Pit lane was set up around the skid pad because the rectangular paddock was used for the show & shine and vendors.. This is something I wasn't used but it worked out better than I expected. There really wasn't much for me to set up today as I had done everything, including set my initial tire pressures, at home. All I had to do was put up the EZ-UP tent and then kill time until the technical inspection opened up and then driver's meeting.
I got a good jump on the crowd and was one of the first in line for tech. Great start to the day for me and weather seemed to be holding out for now, although forecasts did call for a 40% chance of thunderstorms around 2:00PM and lasting throughout the day. As long as it rained for everyone during the time attack, there was no need to sandbag the competition ;)
Open Lapping
 Racing the 'Bro'
My first session features Andrew Cassidy's RX-7 on a semi-wet track. Although I had a great start to the morning, the same couldn't be said for some others. Vinh, who had snapped his left half-shaft at CSCS #2 in Grand Bend, had snapped the other side on the very first lap of the day. Back-to-back DNS must suck.
BC Racing Civic Disaster!
But that was nothing compared to the terrible incident involving Joe Liu's BC Racing EK9. I'm not exaclty sure how it happened, but you can see from my footage that it was quite a shock to see his car upside down on the front straight. I've seen Joe's car out many times before so it just goes to show how anything can happen at the track despite someone's experience level. I should really consider a half-cage/roll bar if I continue to do time attack in the future.
Struggling with the Uphill
I was having a very difficult time re-learning the uphill portion of the track. I think it's because I've done the CCW 2-kink layout so many times from SRTA that it's become second nature to me. Without the first kink on the uphill, my entry speed is way higher into the uphill S and it was throwing me off my pace all morning. MIBAgentQ had a good tip which was to visualize yourself coming out of T6 in the 2-kink layout. This meant keeping track left over the first part of the S, which is a bit counter-intuitive given the nature of the blind corners. It seemed to work for me. But then I was still confused with the exit of T5. I couldn't figure it out all day, whether or not to late apex or turn-in regularly. Almost everyone I went up against seemed to pull away from me there. I had been watching videos of the CCW 2-kink layout all week in preparation for this event so I felt a bit frustrated that I still couldn't figure it out. Sti_04 you're in this video!
To add to my list of problems was my left front making the clicking noises again and the bucking/chugging feeling from lack of damping. Regarding the clicking noises, I wasn't sure whether or not I should have kept pushing and trying to shave tenths, or to save the car for the time attack and collect points. But after some reassurance from Can-Jam that my car wouldn't explode, I decided to keep practising. Every time I run DDT it's a painful reminder of the poor decision I made to buy cheap coilovers 2 years ago. A good suspension setup is crucial to getting good times at DDT.

Mario Kart Shenanigans
My final run of the day featured some interesting action following two Hondas. VTEC kicks in quite frequently in this video. Windows movie maker is terrible at adding sound effects so you'll just have to imagine the banana boing sound and Luigi going "Ahwowowowow" in your head ;)

Best lap times per session:
Session 1 - 1:03.71
Session 2 - 1:03.31
Session 3 - 1:03.88
Session 4 - 1:03.43

Time Attack

As grumpy old Mac was wrapping up the driver's meeting for the time attack, thunder struck. Some small chuckles broke out amongst the drivers but I know everyone was really thinking "FML"
It started to pour as the time attack was just about to get started. Not sure what happened but the first few heats were stalled quite a bit. During this time, the rain was subsiding but the damage had already been done to the track. It's a good thing I decided to just go all out during qualifying and not sandbag. I would've been punished so badly for that haha!

I love racing on a semi-wet track as it really tests your ability to adapt to changing conditions. I also love watching other people tackle the wet tracks too. I'm not a big fan of drifting, but when it's the fastest way around the corner it becomes the most awesome thing in the world. I really enjoyed being a spectator for the first 7 heats of the day. Kpower elicited a crazy reaction from the crowd when he held a crazy powerslide on the uphill section of the track and only to lose it at the very last second. We all thought you had it man! Nice try. Looking forward to the footage on that one lol.

By my turn the rain had completely stopped but the track was still semi-wet. It helped that people were driving on it so some dry patches were starting to show up. But still plenty of standing water, especially on the downhill. The entire back section of the track, especially T5/T6 felt like it was covered in oil. I had a few moments where I thought I was either going straight into the field, or going to end up backwards.

Despite my trouble I guess I was doing relatively well as I was able to catch up to the RX-8 in front of me after only the very first lap. AWD FTW. But it wasn't doing me any favours because of the pace of the car ahead of me. With 3 of the cars in my heat being RWD, I had even volunteered to lead the pack but they stuck with their decision to keep me in 3rd. It was mildly frustrating to say the least. You can see it from my GoPro footage that I had to back it off a LOT. Even after they released the RX-8 in front of me and gave us 2 additional laps, MIBAgentQ had somehow managed to catch up to the last car in the pack and now both of us were blocked lol! SRTA trained us well man!
Official time was 1:06.539, enough to put me in 1st place for Street AWD again. Personally, I wasn't happy with the time because of how blocked I felt during the run. I asked for a re-run but they wouldn't let me go out again because I had already won my class. I would have only held up the event for a selfish reason. While this much was true, leaving time on the table is never a good feeling. Still, a win is a win so I'll take it :D

To do:
- Fix left front clicking noise (most likely driveshaft)
- Get some rest

Friday, June 29, 2012

[6/29/2012] Track Report (TMP)

Event: TCI & TMMC Open Lapping
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 31°C, Sunny
Here's a real quick track report. A few of my co-workers went lapping today so I took the day off work to join them for moral support.

The track was barren. Maximum number of cars on the track at any given time was three, lol!

Weekday lapping is such a great time to practice. Some un-cut videos of my friends' driving:
An interesting note riding in Lelan's IS300 with an open-diff: Because of the open diff, there was crazy bogging through the corners. I have a similar feeling in my car although not as intense. The 06 WRX has an open front diff if I'm not mistaken. I'm starting to think that maybe it's time I start looking at upgrading my diffs as well. It never ends :|

Sunday, June 24, 2012

[6/24/2012] CSCS #2 (GBR)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #2
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Circuit), Grand Bend
Weather Conditions: 20-24°C cloudy with intermittent drizzle (1mm)
I think waking up at 7:00am is the latest I've ever woken up for a track day. It felt great knowing that it was only a 10 minute drive to the track from the hotel. Despite being so close, I still managed to show up a bit late lol. My friends driving out from Toronto even beat me to the track.

Vinh with his Team Lexus IS300 race car got shafted with his pit spot early on. Apparently we weren't allowed to park left of the Krikorian tent in the vendor area but they didn't tell him that until he already unpacked. My friend Peter was also trailering a Jetta race car. Tension was high as we tried to find a pit spot where we could fit everything. All the teams who camped the night before had set up their trailers perpendicular to the pit parking lines.

But you snooze you lose. And I knew from last year's CSCS experience that something as silly as not finding a good pit spot could be enough to set you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Realizing this I tried to stay cool and thankfully worked out a spot in between the NV Auto crew and Defcon Racing.

The weather wasn't nearly as nice as the day before. I checked the forecast the night before and they were calling for a 60% chance of thunderstorms and the hourly forecast said they would start by 2:00PM, just in time for the timed runs. But checking again at the track on the morning of showed that the storm was pushed back to 5:00PM. I can see now why F1 teams spend lots of money on weather research. It didn't end up more than spitting rain for the whole day so we were lucky. But can you imagine how interesting things would've become if it started to rain as the time attack started? It happened to me last year at SRTA #4 and I won because of that. But at CSCS the slower groups lead the time attack... definitely something to think about.

Open Lapping
Practice really paid off as traffic was quite heavy on the small track and getting clean laps in was proving to be difficult. I started the day off with a full tank of gas but it had to last the entire day plus my drive back to London. I used up both of my jerry cans during practice the day before. By noon I was down to just over a quarter tank so I called it quits for lapping.
Best lap times per session: 
Session 1 - 0:59.17
Session 2 - 0:58.85
Session 3 - 0:58.51
Session 4 - 0:59.23
Vinh snapped a half-shaft and was doing 1WD in his IS300. He somehow managed to convince Scion to lend him an FR-S so that he could carry on and get points. Perks of the job I guess! If AlmostHip was driving I'm sure he would've zip tied the shaft back to the diff and kept going lol.
Peter, who provided me with lots of valuable advice before I started doing the HANSON schools, was also out learning the track. I was happy he was able to finally have a working car because I honestly can't remember the last time he didn't have a car break on him lol. He had some wiring and 2nd gear issues throughout the day but he still managed to put a time down.

Time Attack
I was in heat 9 of 12 so lots of waiting for my turn. Years of competing in various things and I still get a little anxious about things like this. But I love it. I love the release of adrenaline as the marshall tells me to move forward and wait there. With nothing else in front of me but open track and a bunch of cars lined up behind me with drivers feeling the exact same way. Am I an adrenaline junky? Hell yes!
Overall I was happy with my timed run. No big mistakes but I did take T1 too hot on laps 2 and 3. I was really conservative through T6 and really pushed the limit of T9 on one of the laps where I get really close to the grass on the exit. I also think I could've taken T7 a little wider on laps 2 and 3.

Official Time was 0:58.301. A new personal best thanks to the low fuel level and lack of passengers. This win goes to my friends who drove all the way to Grand Bend to help me out: Tang, Francis, Jeff and Kaori. And also to Karen and Doburu for putting up with me at the track :)

Some issues to address before CSCS #3 at DDT on July 15: 
- Twisting/binding noise while turning left at low speed. Maybe my ball joint(s)? I can feel it in the steering wheel over some rough surfaces too.
- Intermittent rattling/squeaking noise while driving at low speed (sounds like same issue as above) - Brake vibration, worse when slowing from high speed. Hope I didn't warp my rotors or the hats.
- Sometimes difficult to shift into 4th gear at the track (intermittent)
- Need new rear brake pads (Ferodo DS2500) - In my GPS data my speed on the main straight appears to dip as it approaches 170 kph. Not sure if that's actually happening or my AiM Solo is messing up.
- Pad knockback approaching braking zone for T1 the pedal drops a lot deeper than normal. Once I reach T3 pedal feel is back to normal.

I get a few weeks off until the next event. Both myself and the car could use a rest. June was intense!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

[6/23/2012] Track Report (GBR)

Event: GBR Open Lapping (Practice for CSCS #2)
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Circuit), Grand Bend
Weather Conditions: 27°C sunny
GBR opened a new road course last year and not many people have been to it. I booked this day ahead of CSCS to get an edge on learning. What I've come to realize after doing SRTA's same layout over and over again is that it's not necessarily how good of a driver you are, but also how well you know the track. CSCS open lapping is fun, but typically there is a lot of traffic which makes it difficult for learning.

The plan was to get to Grand Bend on Saturday and get the car setup (tires and brake pads) and go out and really learn the line. The weather was perfect and only a dozen or so cars showed up to the track. Since Grand Bend is quite the drive from where I live (3+ hours) I decided to book a stay at the Pine Dale Motor Inn so that I could be well rested for the time attack.

Track Analysis

 GBR modified is a tiny circuit, with lap times hovering around the 1 minute mark. My goal was to crack the 1:00 mark just based off of what I've seen on the internet. On my very first session I did a 0:59.59 so maybe my goal was too easy. Although they did add curbs for 2012, which they didn't have in 2011. That could lead to faster lap times from cutting corners.

I also learned that the main straight is actually an active landing strip for airplanes. I had to pull over during one of my sessions because a plane was landing! Imagine drag racing a Cessna down the main straight lol.
I played around with a couple different lines and gearing throughout the day but this is the combination that yielded the fastest lap times. Theoretically this is how I want to drive the track but after watching my videos there is definitely lots of room for improvement. Pit entry feeds you into turn 2.

Turns 1 & 2: These turns are linked so you can take a constant radius around them (double apex). It looks like two turns in person, but on a map and in the car it's really one big turn. The track is overly wide here so running a tighter line is probably better.

Turn 3: After the exit of T2 you really need to slow down and not charge the entry into T3. Entry into T3 needs to be compromised for a wide entry into T4. I downshift into 2nd gear here and try not to exit too wide so that I can take a bigger arc into T4. (Note that in the video I'm in 3rd most of the time. Look how slow it feels! Didn't start playing around with the 2nd gear downshift until later in the day)

Turn 4: If T3 was setup correctly then you should be entering T4 from the about the middle of the track. Get on the throttle early. WOT and track left on exit, upshifting into 3rd gear as you swing over to the right side of the track to setup for T5. 

Turn 5: There is a small cutout on the left curb that you can place your left tire into. Because of this cutout, the curb is deceivingly level with the rest of the track and you can take this turn flat out. 

Turn 6: Not really a full turn, but because of the high speed through 5 you have to shuffle over left to get a wide entry into T6. This turn takes the most balls in my opionion and I think I could be going a lot faster here. Sitting in Kpower's car he takes this turn very well. I think he is lifting here whereas I am lightly taping the brake to get the car settled because I'm scared of running wide into the grass.

Turn 7: Shoot for the middle if not wider past the first set of curbs so that you can get a really wide radius onto the straight. Get your right tire as close as possible to the tire markers on the inside of the straight. This is the most important turn of the track but not necessarily the most difficult to get right (I think that goes to T3/T6). I'm well into 4th gear on the straight. It's longer than the one at TMP. 

Turn 8: The carousel. I find I brake way later than most people here. I start braking at the 300 (3 pylon) marker but it's hard on the brakes and then trail braking. Brake earlier if you aren't comfortable with the back end getting squirmy. I keep a tight and tidy line around here. I see the faster guys running wide here though so I'm not sure if my line around here is better or worse. 

Turn 9: Most fun corner of the track because it can be taken flat out. There is a dip in the pavement close to the inside but it's not the end of the world to hit. Yes the car gets unsettled but it's leading onto a straight and I'd rather hit the bump every time and stay on the track than dodge the bump and end up off the track. I just barely skim the rev limiter on this small straight leading up to T1 so I don't bother upshifting. 

And that's one lap of GBR modified :) 

Best lap times per practice session: 
Session 1 - 0:59.59
Session 2 - 1:00.01 
Session 3 - 0:59.20 
Session 4 - 0:59.13 

When I got back to the hotel I noticed that I had bent my left rear wheel :( I suspect this happened while experimenting with cutting the curb at turn 3. It was a really big jolt to the car. So far I haven't experienced any loss of air pressure or vibration while driving so I don't plan on repairing it just yet. Because race car. Damaging a (very rare) forged rim is very tilting though...
That concluded practice. I love that this track isn't in the middle of nowhere like most other tracks. Spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach and exploring the nice little town of Grand Bend 8)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blackstone Labs Oil Analysis #2

Got my oil analysis back from Blackstone Labs. This is what they had to say about it:
BRANDON: We saw the last comment mentioned two HPDE on this oil. This oil saw three HPDE's, so we're quite pleased to see that metals haven't really increased much. And this oil saw a longer overall run too, so clearly the extra miles and the hard use isn't giving this engine any hassle. The viscosity read in the expected range for 5W/40, and there was no measurable fuel, water, coolant, or excessive dirt present in this sample. All things considered, this engine appears to be in great shape as of the 6/11/12 sample date. Nice report.
Myth: You should change your oil after every track day.


*Do your own oil anaylsis, every engine is different!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[6/10/2012] SRTA #2 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #2
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 24-29°C sunny
Nice to be back in familiar territory for the first time this season. The morning was already warm and humid so I knew by afternoon it would be really hot.

My goal for the day was to break into the 1:08's. Considering my best time last season was 1:09.53 on RA-1's it was an ambitious goal for StarSpecs. But I've come to realize that most of the time it's not the hardware that limits your potential lap times but rather the driver.

The weight reduction, chassis bracing, and brake cooling added a lot to my confidence level in the car this year. I was looking forward to setting a new personal best.

Test & Tune
Since it felt like I was overheating my tires at the last CSCS I decided to drop the hot pressure from 40 psi to 38 psi all around. I kept bleeding my tire pressures until they stabilized around 38-39 psi hot. The balance of these pressures was good but they still felt greasy after a couple laps. I guess that's just the nature of the StarSpecs. I heard these tires were more catered towards autocrossers because of the soft compound. I was positive I was still overheating them. Coming into the pits, you couldn't even keep your hand on the tread for a split second without having to pull it off. They were that hot. They also seem to be wearing pretty quickly after just two events (see attachments).

A friend of mine once taught me the ghetto way of measuring tire temp without a pyrometer. He said you should be able to keep your hand on the tire for 1-2 seconds before having to pull it off. If it burns you right away it's definitely too hot, and if you can keep it on for any longer, they aren't up to temp yet. I didn't bring a pyrometer this time so I resorted to his method.

DDT is a really twisty track. The amount of steering inputs here, compared to TMP, is way higher. There are also elevation changes. I started off with dampers set to +16 all around and eventually settled at +24. Although no setting made me happy* *I wrote up a really long rant about my coilovers but I deleted it to save myself the QQ.

Best Lap Times 
Session #1 - 1:12.46
Session #2 - 1:10.24
Session #3 - 1:10.60
Session #4 - 1:10.66
Session #5 - 1:09.40 (new best)

It was a struggle for me to break into the 1:09's but I eventually did it after running my fuel level down and riding without any passengers.
Differences in my line this year over last:
T1 - braking earlier and cutting more
T2 - braking earlier but with less pressure and carrying more speed while turning in shallower using the curb
T3 - downshifting into 2nd and using the extra torque to carry me out using the full width of the track 
T4 - braking earlier and cutting more (needs work) 
T5 - braking earlier and cutting more, accelerating earlier (needs work) 
T6 - no changes other than hating my dampers 
T7 - more throttle, but stabbing brakes to get the car rotated in the right direction 
T8 - earlier WOT, cutting more 
T9 - higher entry speed due to more confidence but I think I can go even faster 
T10 - no changes but I need to get better at hitting the apex 

In summary, I'm just cutting corners a lot better this year. Here is my attempt at explaining to Gutantag (passenger) on how to cut the curbs lol. As you will see I'm still far from being an instructor  
 Here's a video from my last test & tune run of the day. Somewhere in there is my 1:09.40 lap. I chose to upload this one because lots of interesting things happen, including almost rear ending two cars, a chase with a Porsche 911, and some cars deciding to cut the grass lol. You can also hear how underdamped my car is as I bounce out of several turns. Chug chug chug chug. I need better dampers!  

Official Time Attack 

No footage this time as I was fumbling with my GoPro as Raf was sending us out. When he sent me out I hit the power button instead of the record button by accident :( 

(Unofficial) OTA Lap Times 
OTA Lap #1 - 1:09.18 
OTA Lap #2 - 1:08.94 

3rd Place - Group A (1:09.15) 

 There was some variance between my AiM Solo and the MyLaps times as it showed my official time as 1:09.15. I was happy thinking I did a 1:08 after coming off the track but then instant heart break when they revealed the official times LOL. That just means I need to work harder to get an official 1:08 on the SRTA website... 

 Congrats to MIBAgentQ on his 2nd place with a 1:08.91! Also great to see other TSC'ers Lord_Sid and kwan_1104 setting new personal bests and Gutantag for attending his first time attack. I gotta watch out for Kwan as his lap times at DDT are creeping up on me! 1:09.96 for him during OTA for a 4th place finish right behind me. 

Big thank you to SRTA for putting on yet another awesome event :D 

Next event is CSCS #2 at Grand Bend Raceway. Never been there before so it should be interesting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[6/03/2012] CSCS #1 (TMP)

Event: Canadian Sports Compact Series #1
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 13-16°C mix of rain and sunshine
With a last minute change to the 2012 CSCS rules I was scrambling to get some 200 treadwear tires for street class. Chris @ TougeTuning was able to hook me up with some 235/40/17 StarSpecs two days before the event and my buddy Ken helped me mount them the night before. Talk about last minute! Thanks guys!

Normally I stop by the Petro at Ancaster on Wilson & Fiddler's the morning of, but my friends wanted to meet somewhere "closer and on the way". I agreed to meet them at the Sunoco in Stoney Creek but to my demise it turned into a Husky. I told them it was a bad idea trying a new fuelling spot on the day of an event but they were convinced I'd be fine. So that kinda threw my morning off a bit, but luckily because of the poor morning weather it wasn't that busy. A spot in the paddock was actually easy to find, omg!

Open Lapping Practice
Lapping was staggered, 20 minutes experienced, 20 minutes novice. I was in the experienced group and and set off to find my tire pressures. I started at 36 PSI warm all around and ended up with them at 44 PSI hot. They felt really greasy on the track so I backed them down to 39 PSI hot for the day and eventually left them at that. This year is about driving more and worrying less about setups. I had my dampers set to +16 front/rear but I feel I could've used a bit more stiffness since the car was wobbling a bit through T1. Next time I'll try +20.

I did 4 practice sessions but missed a few because I wanted to take some time to check out the booths and catch up with some friends. It was raining during some of the runs so I opted to sit out for those runs to avoid an unforced disaster. I think I prefer SRTA's open lapping practice better, where you can take your time and go out whenever you're ready. Although with 50% more cars at CSCS I understand that this is done to regulate traffic. HANSON schools run this way anyway so I'm kind of used to it by now.

StE's forged rims paid off big time as the left chicain (T8) had a big pot hole in front of it. Most people, including myself, cut this chicaine really hard on the left. I believe AlmostHip blew a tire and KPower bent a rim because of this hole. On one run I hit the hole so hard my wiper switch turned itself on! I actually hit this hole twice so I'm really lucky I didn't damage anything.

Best lap times per practice session:
Session 1 - 1:25.24
Session 2 - 1:24.84
Session 3 - 1:24.60 
Session 4 - 1:24.47 

The brake ducts also worked extremely well. During session 1 I ran with the ducts covered up and noticed a bit of pad fade. But with the ducts open I never experienced any fade whatsoever. No smoking or burnign smells in the pits either. What a relief to have this hot braking issue finally sorted (although StE still thinks I brake too much lol). Thank you Can-Jam and Randy Zimmer! 

For lap timing I was using an AiM Solo DL that I picked up from the SRTA webstore (yes, they sell stuff now!). I love the AiM products because they are so straight forward to set up and use. All I had to do was stand by the start/finish line on the pit-wall and hit the "OK" button to set the GPS marker. The lap timer turns on with the car and once you drive by the market it starts the lap times. CSCS was using the MyLaps RFID system (same one as SRTA) and I found my lap times to be within a tenth of second all day long. The MyLaps system kept giving me the (slightly) faster lap times. 

This year CSCS has taken the hint and staged the heats for us. They had staff staging the cars from slowest to fastest in heats of 5. Live timing was supposed to be available on a TV but we never saw one during the day. Instead, they were made available on paper printouts for us to check, or through cell phones at if you managed to get data reception (which I didn't). Still, this is a tremendous improvement over last year, which pretty much made CSCS broken in my opinion. I'm really glad they fixed this and look foreward to more improvements for event #2 in Grand Bend.
Regarding the open lapping qualifying - talk about a close battle! KPower and I were duking it out all day long and we kept swapping positions. Final times were within a couple thousandths. Definitely tons of fun, Thanks Kyle! Did you notice I was taking messed up lines when you were behind me so as not to reveal anything? Lol j/k I didn't do that... or did I? ;)
Official Time Attack
The thing I like the most about the CSCS rules is the chance to put down 3 hot laps (unlike SRTA's 2 hot laps). That 3rd hot lap makes such a big difference because it usually takes at least that many laps to get tires up to temp. At SRTA before the timed runs you always hear people freaking out about changing tire pressures last minute, but at CSCS there's none of that. CSCS runs more cars and gives more laps. SRTA guys take note! A (rare) Kaizen opportunity!

I qualified for the 8th heat of the day and everyone in my group was running 1:24's (including KPower). We were staged beside each other actually.

My runs went well. No drama and fairly clean laps. I didn't have any big screw ups but I didn't particularly feel overly satisfied with any of the laps either. Room for improvement definitely exists and looking over the footage I can already tell which areas need work. Still, I managed to pull out a new personal best of 1:24.038 and take home 1st place in a small Street AWD class.
I only managed to beat my previous personal best by 0.2 seconds after switching to a stickier street tire. I think this is the reason I felt only mildly satisfied with that new time. People have told me that the StarSpecs get grippier as the tread gets shaved so I hope they're right.

But overall I'm very happy with my results. Nothing broke, no major off-roading, new personal best and a trophy to boot. The only thing I really need to focus on now is driving better. Let's have more weekends like this please :)

See you at SRTA #2 at Mosport DDT this Sunday! Do I smell 1:08's? ;)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Roo Ducts Installed

28°C today and hot hot hot! Good thing I have working brake ducts now ;)

I had the specialists at Can-Jam Motorsports install my Roo Ducts for a guaranteed flush result. A bit of difficulty on the left side due to the placement of the washer bottle but they were able to figure that out by angling the roo duct a bit lower to accommodate. We used 3" rubber couplers in the fog light area for a "quick disconnect" between the covers. Works surprisingly well. Very happy with their work.

We also flushed the system with RBF660. I'm hoping that this is the nail in the coffin for my brake heat issues. Bring it on summer heat 8)

Battle mode:

Cruising mode:

Monday, April 30, 2012

[4/29/2012] Shakedown (TMP)

Event: Open Lapping Day 
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather: 5°C Sunny (morning), 14°C Sunny (afternoon)

Glad I had a shakedown day to figure things out. Weather was great! Sunny all day, high of 14°C and some slightly gusty winds.

There are some things that need to be adjusted or fixed before the next track day:
Coilover right rear seat adjuster rubbing on Oswald brace
CV boot (repair actually held up!)

To bring next time:
Sunscreen! I'm a lobster

Driving Technique
I managed to bribe a very experienced driving instructor to come along with me and here were his comments on my driving:
  1. I'm using too much brakes. Instead of slamming on them 100% and upsetting the car, quickly work up to 80% a little earlier and roll off the brakes while turning in to the apex. He said that even during qualifying he doesn't use as much brakes as me. If I were in a real race I would cook them for sure. 
  2. Work on maintaining momentum through turns. By modulating the brakes better it should help reduce chopping too much entry speed.
  3. Apply throttle sooner on exits and use fast pedal/steering inputs to make corrections. Need higher actions per minute with all my limbs... must play more StarCraft! 
  4. Eyes need to be looking ahead to the apex ALL the time. Immediately after that start thinking about the next turn. Rinse and repeat. Never lose focus with the eyes, even if wonky shit is going on down below. Look at where you want to go and the car will follow. 
  5. Stop using the cones as reference points. Some of them are just wrong and you need to think for yourself on what the best approach is. I also heard that the cones at TMP might not even apply to cars as they mostly host bike/SOAR track days. 
  6. With my driving style I have a tendency to take too many late apexes (in general). Try to turn in shallower and use more of the curbing wherever possible. This will also help maintain momentum. Stop making up turns. Just because there's track width doesn't mean you have to use it. Try to keep going in a straight line with the biggest curves possible. 

Part Reviews
Oswald Subframe/Rear Triangle Braces
I had a lot more feedback through the steering wheel/seat while driving. I'm sure part of it is me becoming more in-tune with the car but more likely also due to the bracing. I can feel which end of the car is going to slide out a lot earlier than I used to and thus I'm able to make corrections sooner. I recovered from a pretty vicious AWD drift that was pretty surprising! Unfortunately the right rear strut top brace is contacting a small bur on my damper knob. Nobody had a file at the track to solve this stupid little issue! Wasted 30 minutes of track time figuring this out at the track. Gotta fix this one day.

Oswald/Antigravity Lightweight Stuff
Weight reduction makes a big difference. How big? Just by driving solo vs. with a 130 lb passenger I was able to cut 1 second off my lap time without changing my driving. I'm sure removing all that weight also made my brakes happier!

StopTech ST-40 Big Brake Kit / KFP Gold Pads
Lots of braking force up front. Their marketing states that the foreward bias is the same as stock but I feel that may not be true anymore after using them. The front gets a bit squirmy under hard braking but that's likely due to my technique as well (see above). Consistency is significantly improved. I now have confidence that I'll actually have brakes for the next turn! With the heavy braking due to my technique I was still only able to fade my KFP Gold pads just a little after about 4+ hot laps. Maybe I lost about 25% braking force but never more than that. The fade came on gradually and never caught me off guard like it did with my 4-pots, where it would just drop off a cliff. I just had to adjust my braking points a little and the fade would subside after a cool down Lap. Mind you this is on less grippy street tires vs. R-compounds last year, and on a 13°C day. I think the Roo Ducts would be the cherry on the top for braking consistency. I'm looking forward to reviewing them at my next TMP day.

JDM Spec-C V9 Seats
Way more bolstering than the stock WRX seats! My left leg didn't have any signs of cramping like it did last year and it's evident from my interior GoPro footage that the seat hugs my frame way better! The biggest downside to these seats, as with any other OEM seat, is the weight. They weigh around 50-60 lbs which is a TON compared to aftermarket buckets that weigh 10-15 lbs each. Although you do lose adjustability and side airbags which is pretty huge for a daily driver. Driving all day in them didn't tire out my back or legs like my old seats did. The 2.5 hour commute each way to TMP was much more bearable.

Falken FK-452 Tires (225/45/17)
Driving on my street tires was actually a lot of fun and I was able to learn a lot! Despite having less overall grip, the audible feedback was nice to have and they broke traction in a more gradual fashion than R-comps which tend to let go without much warning. The FK-452's performed much better than I was expecting. Sure they got a little greasy but only when pushing them really hard like 5+ laps. They didn't look melted afterwards like most street tires either! The downside is the howl like a banshee during regular driving now (mostly during braking). 

Other Comments 
  • I spent zero time playing with settings today. Dampers were +12F/R and tire pressures 38/33 psi F/R. The focus was on learning the line and practicing certain sections of the track one session at a time.
  • I noticed I was much more calm about driving this year. This is evident from my in-car footage. Last year I had a death grip on the steering wheel! This year I look a bit more relaxed. 
  • Putting in brake pads the day before and not having to swap tires at the track makes the day way more enjoyable! I think the minor wear from the commute is worth the hassle at the track.

Lap Times 
  • My best time last year was 1:28.44 on RA-1's 
  • Best lap times throughout sessions were: 1:28.45, 1:27.07, 1:26.95, 1:25.98, 1:25.28, and a new personal best of 1:24.21 on my final run without any passengers (see video) 


I'm looking forward to at least one more practice session before my first time attack. We'll see if I can get some laps in at SRTA #1 or maybe another regular open lapping day @ TMP.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Whiteline RCK & NV Auto Alignment

Whiteline Roll Center Adjustment Kit

This weekend I had my friend Ken help me install the Whiteline Roll Center Adjustment Kit on my car which I picked up from Touge Tuning a while back.

The roll center is an imaginary point in space around which the chassis rolls. This point is usually a couple inches off the ground on a stock car. Lowering the car on lowering springs or coilovers moves this roll center closer to the ground, or sometimes even beneath it (it's just an imaginary point in space, remember).
Having such a low roll center has the negative side effect of adding more body roll (think of a larger lever) and adding bump steer. Bump steer means that when the suspension is compressed and the wheels move upward, they will have a tendency to steer themselves outward (toe out). In other words it adds rolling understeer.

As you can see from the diagram above, the roll center is determined by the angles at which the lower control arms sit. The Whiteline RCK corrects this angle closer to the factory setting by providing longer ball joints and tie rod ends that force the control arm back into a parallel position to the ground.
After installing it the car will need an alignment. We tried to do one ourselves but failed miserably due to some seized bolts. With shakedown this weekend at TMP that meant I needed an alignment ASAP. My local shop, CanJam, was out all week testing so I decided to ask NV Auto considering their solid reputation.


Dov @ NV Auto was able to help me out and get me an alignment in less than 24 hours! I'm glad I found another reputable shop I can count on when I need something done. It was a bit of a drive out from east Markham but worth it in the end.

I decided to go with -3° front camber due to not having enough last year at -2°. I knew I didn't have enough -'ve camber by how my front tires were wearing relative to the rear. The outsides would wear down at a much faster rate than the inside of the tire, and I had to keep swapping them to the rear for the next track day. Tire temps also confirmed this by the outside of the tire consistently being 4-6° hotter than the inside after cool down lap. Finally, in some of my GoPro footage you can see the tire rolling over (and this was after installing 24mm front/rear swaybars).

They had to use camber bolts in the front to achieve the -3° because my camber plates were installed diagonally for the sake of caster. +6° caster ftw.

In the rear, I decided to stick with -1.5 degrees because tire wear and tire temps were even. Zero toe all around because I daily drive my car. 

Bdon's Track Tip: If you're trying to sort out your suspension, try to record as much information as you can after every session on the track. I wouldn't have known what alignment settings to start out with this year if I hadn't taken notes last year. Even if you don't have a tire pyrometer you can use GoPro footage or just visual cues from the wear marks. I've heard using chalk to mark the sides of the tires is also a good indicator. I'll upload my track data template for anyone to use once I find it... (EDIT: uploaded it!) 

Corner Weights
NV Auto threw my car on their scales just for the hell of it. I didn't have my car corner balanced there, just a regular alignment. Although I did have the car previously corner balanced at CanJam in 2010. The corner weights looked really good. The 3.2 lb Antigravity battery really helped even out the LF.

Total weight was 2987 lbs without driver, 3/8 fuel tank, full washer fluid, all the interior bits and my street wheels! I'm guessing without the back seats and my forged track rims on will be another ~50 lbs in savings. I secretly wanted my car to be under 3000 lbs this year with 1/2 tank of gas and in track trim, so I think I've definitely exceeded that goal! :D

Saturday, April 21, 2012

[4/21/2012] HANSON School (DDT)

Stopped by Mosport this morning to say hi to a few friends at the Hanson school. It makes me really happy to see Suby attendance WAY up this year!!! Good stuff guys, and gal :) I'm no longer the only one who wants to become a better driver!
Unfortunately some car problems for Razlin and my buddy Mike :( It's always heart breaking to see it happen, especially on Subys. Best of luck to you guys in fixing your cars and let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oswald Rear Bumper Beam

Jenny Craig on my Suby continued tonight with installation of the Oswald Rear Bumper Beam.

This install was a bit more of a PITA. The main annoyance was the charcoal canister getting in the way of one of the 17mm bumper bolts and having to undo a ton of things like the tail lamps, license plate harness, etc. There are even some rivets you need to drill out but "luckily" my rear end got smashed a few years ago and the idiot truck driver actually saved me some work; none of the rivets were left on my car lol.

The rear bumper beam weighs 7 lbs vs. the stock 28 lbs. I also got another dirty little piercing to match the front one I also went ahead and ditched the spare tire and jack for another good 31 lbs (comes out at the track anyway).

Removal of the 60+ lbs from the front end really made a huge difference driving around today. Since most of the weight was at the part of the car with the highest polar moment of inertia, the effects were immediately noticed even during regular cornering. There is less push/understeer/dive and the car feels more "point and shoot". Even acceleration and braking seems to have improved by a noticeable amount. I noticed it especially just rolling around between stop signs.

I'm now glad I did these mods despite their somewhat high price. I wouldn't place them ahead of things like swaybars or Stage 2, but they're definitely something to consider when trying to go faster. I would take weight reduction over HP any day because it helps with side to side as well as braking.

Now the outstanding problem is my damper setup. The BC's harsh ride are becoming more apparent due to the weight reduction. Less weight = higher natural frequency = uncomfortable. I'm also hoping I didn't make the rear end too light so that it becomes twitchy, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Weight reduction so far:
- Lightweight battery 28 lbs
- Subframe 14 lbs
- Front bumper beam 22 lbs
- Rear bumper beam 21 lbs
- StopTech BBK ?? lbs (lighter than 4-pots)
- Forged track wheels 15-20 lbs
TOTAL: 100+ lbs

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oswald Front Bumper Beam

Weather was good today so put on the Oswald Front Bumper Beam.

Another straight forward install of re & re bumper beam. Stock weighs 28 lbs, new one weighs 6 lbs. Also got a nice nose ring too ;)

Didn't have time to test drive but will feel it out tomorrow morning and report back.

The 40 lbs of weight I shed this weekend was very noticeable on my commute to/from work. The front end recovers from bumps quicker and I'm getting a lot more feedback from the steering wheel during cornering. Since I haven't changed damper settings I even noticed a slight increase in the amount of rebound from the reduced front end mass.