Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Monday at St-Eustache

I headed out to Monday night lapping at St-Eustache for the first time this year. The car was basically as I had left it after renting it out at the Calabogie race school. I put the almost-corded 2016 Hankook RS3's on the front and the fresher RS4's on the rear. I hoped this setup would allow me to improve on my best time so far of 1:03.0, which I had achieved on even older tires. 

In my first session, it took me a while to even get under 1:05 and I ended up with a disappointing best time of 1:04.3. I was still having fun, despite the lousy lap times. The car felt good, other than that the front end was not gripping as I would have liked. 

My second session was not much better, and I clocked a best lap of 1:03.7. In one of these sessions, I was closely following a Scion FRS and we even swapped places for a while. It was quite fun and I had a talk with the other driver afterwards. Carl pointed out that my car was leaking oil while parked and I was trying to figure out where it was coming from. Marc N. theorized that my oil filler cap was not sealing, and it seemed like a realistic theory, so I have since gone out to buy a new one. 

In my last session, I somehow managed to find some speed, probably due to the track cooling down a bit. I achieved my best time yet with this car, a 1:02.7. While looking at the data, I could see that I was not particularly fast anywhere on track. It's hard to predict how fast I can ultimately go with the current setup. With my old coupe, I had managed a 1:00.5 with a 1.8 Type R engine. If I want to dip under 1:01, I need to shave off 1.8 seconds... that'a a lot. Can I get a full second just by switching to fresh tires? Can I get the other 0.8 seconds with cooler temperatures, or better driving? If it doesn't rain on Monday, I will head back to the track with fresh tires and see how much that helps. My new goal for the season in so go under 1:01 at St-Eustache. Can it be done? Stay tuned...

The Civic beside two real Type R's
Carl's Civic is a lot bigger than mine
Ready for cation
Here are some of JAG's awesome photos of the evening.

Back straight
Back straight
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With the FRS
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

AISA Race school at Calabogie

We held our second race school this past weekend at Calabogie. I headed out early Friday in the Civic, which now sported 2 fresh tires so I could get some track time without fear of wearing out my 2016 tires. It turned out one of our students needed a car to use for the school as his had some last minute problems. As a result, I rented him my car for the weekend and didn't turn a single lap behind the wheel. He brought the car back in one piece (despite one spin) and now I have a better tire budget than I did before. It was fun seeing my car on track all weekend, duking it out with 911's and Mustang's.

There were plenty of fast cars, as there always are at Ontario events. I had two Porsche 911 GT3's in my group, and a super-rare Mercedes AMG GTR. The weather was fantastic. The only down side was that I was suffering a lot of back pain, from some sort of sprain.

The weather has really warmed up and it feels a lot more like summer than it has all year. There are more and more exotic cars on the road (although strangely, very few classic cars).

Here are some photos from Calabogie:
Wide variety of quick cars at Calabogie
A rare manual 991 GT3
The Civic was surrounded by V8's
German muscle
The other 991 GT3 in my group
The Civic, ready for action
Here some photos from around town:

When you're trying to photograph a cool car and another cool car drives by...
Cool car
Strange way to carry a BMX...

Those are 22-inch wheels... huge
I still think these Cadillac's are cool!
Aventador in parking mode
Another GT3, in a neat light grey
Challenger Hellcat
Shiny Maserati GT
This Nissan still looks good, especially with these wheels.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

AISA race school @ Autodrome St-Eustache

This past weekend, we held our annual AISA race school at St-Eustache. After a few weeks of pretty cold weather, we were happy to have a sunny and warm weekend on hand. There were still snow banks in and around the track... it was a rare sight.

As is often the case, there was a broad mix of cars at the event, from lowly stripped out Honda's to exotics (including our first Lamborghini), and everything in between. My group was mostly made up of small stripped out front-wheel drive cars and high-powered rear-wheel-drive German cars. I got to drive a couple of laps in a Cayman GT4, and it was fantastic. The car just feels so planted and has so much grip coming out of the corners.

I think we all had a great time, I know I did. I brought out my Civic on Sunday, still on some old 2016 tires, and essentially matching my lap times of last fall. When I look at the data, my speeds were pretty much identical at all the reference points I use around the track. The car performed flawlessly and the suspension dealt superbly with the bumpy track.

Here is a photo of all the instructors from the 300-400 group (I'm third from the left). 

300-400 instructors
My group of 400-level students
A couple of V8's
A few generations apart
Two very different cars, same goals: to be a better track driver
Lovely GT4
Cool 944 Turbo among the spectators
Another GT4, among the spectators
A beautiful Hurracan Performante
Cool JDM track cars. Sadly the RX7 was out of commission after the first session.
Java green M3 and Cayman GT4
The Civic, ready for the weekend

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring is sort of almost here...

Well, spring is officially here, although even a month in, it still feels like winter on many days. The temperature dips below freezing every night and we often awaken to a layer of snow or ice covering everything. We managed to escape the cold spring a little with an Easter weekend family trip to Ogunquit, which was really nice. It was a few degrees warmer than here and we spent a lot of time outdoors together.

My friend Ray was in town, so I engaged his help to bring the BMW out of storage, and then store the Saabaru. I had removed the BMW's battery for winter and parked the car outside in Ray's yard. Surprisingly, after installing the battery, it started right up, without a boost or a charge or anything. It's now back in use as a daily driver (although some days, it seems I should have kept the Saabaru in service a little longer.

The Saab sprouted a radiator leak and I had no choice but to install a brand new radiator (bought from Carl at Perry Auto). Even though this was the second real repair on the car (the exhaust being the first), I am still satisfied with the car's over all reliability. I hope it will start right up and be reliable when we need it again at the beginning of winter. 

I also picked up the Civic last weekend. It was being stored an hour out of town at another friend's house. He had graciously charged the battery and I was able to drive off with no issues. I had many small tasks I wanted to perform on the car to make it track worthy. The first AISA race school is this weekend. My priority was to install the used race seat (OMP WRC) I bought over the winter. It was supposed to be a simple bolt-in affair. It turned out not to be that simple... 

When I bolted in the all-in one seat mounts (base+sliders+side mounts), I could see that it would be a tight fit to get the seat into the side mounts, as they are not that tall and it was a bit difficult to line up even the topmost holes with the holes in the seat. When I finally managed, the seat was so low that there was no room to pull up on the bar that lets the seat slide back and forth... the bar was pressed right up against the bottom of the seat. I tried to make the side mounts a few milliliters taller with some thick washers I had, but I still couldn't pull up enough on the slider bar. Then I really forced the rear of the seat down into the second-highest holes of the rear side mounts, so that the seat would tilt back a few milliliters, and this gave me just enough space to be able to slide the seat back and forth. I am pretty happy with the final result... the seat is as low as it can be without cutting up the floor. I haven't really driven the car this way yet, except to take it around the block. I really look forward to trying it on track, as I think this will be the best modification possible for a track-oriented car. I still have to install the OMP steering wheel and remove some more interior bits, but that's about all I have planned for now. I will also install some better tires in the next few days, and hopefully the car will be as reliable and fun as my past Honda's have been...

The Civic is also out of storage, though the conditions are not optimal to actually drive it...
The BMW is back from winter storage, though still on winter tires...
The Saab is ready for its summer storage, finally on its nicer wheels
Looks like someone had an "oops" moment with a Focus RS
Nice car, but I don't like tinted tail lights...
Flat black Huracan
Looks like someone tried to break into it
Still looking good, especially with these wheels
Nice decals on this Land Cruiser
Cool off-roader Land Rover
Cool old Honda 175 spotted in Portsmouth, NH
This is the Saab in early-spring mode
This Huracan seems to be driven all winter
Clean lines of a 991