Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Calabogie Trac school a success.

This past weekend, I headed to Calabogie, Ontario, for the second Trac Racing Depot school of 2008. Thanks to Stephane and Carl of Trac Racing, the school was an unmitigated success. We were about 20 instructors for about 55 students. The weather was nice for most of the weekend. Alex was able to get around on her own on her bike. The blue Civic continues to excel: I was able to fit in our luggage for the 3-day weekend, four race tires and Alex's bike. I brought the car hoping to do a few laps of the track, since the race car is still stuck in the transporter at Trac. Little did I know how much track time the car would see!

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I was in charge of the 300-level students. They generally had quite a few events under their belt. There was a good mix of front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars in my group.

Marc, one of the CADL guys I know who was participating as an advanced student, had an exhaust failure in his Scirocco and I let him drive my Civic for a couple of sessions so he wouldn't miss out on the school.

The only track time available to us was at 5:00 pm. Unfortunately, the tires I had brought were almost completely slick, so I sat out the session. We had a great evening at one of the rental houses where Steph cooked us all a pasta dinner and we watched the Canadiens lose.

On Sunday, Marc's car was not fixed, so I let him continue using the Civic. He swapped his wheels onto the car. Go Honda reliability! The car performed flawlessly and I noticed he was far from being the slowest car out there. I only got in a few laps myself driving the car, but I still feel I'm getting to know the track better and better. I'm considering doing a race there in July with the CASC.

The Civic comes to the rescue of a student. Shown here with Marc's Compomotive wheels.
All in all, it was a fun weekend and one of the more enjoyable track schools. Now I really have to focus on the race car as the Sundown enduro is only a couple of weeks away.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Trac Schools - Spring 2008

Last weekend I instructed at the first Trac Racing Depot school of 2008 at St-Eustache. The weather was beautiful and it felt good to get out to the track after the rough winter we had. My race car was not available (as in, not ready, as in, never even came out of the transporter yet) so I decided to see what the blue Civic could do on the track. I took it out for about 10 laps at lunch Saturday and another couple of sessions Sunday. The suspension is stock and it shows. Even though there is a 3-inch gap above the rear wheels when the car is stationary, the rear tires rub in the fenderwells when driving on track. I guess I'll have to roll the fender lips. No big deal.

I had to double clutch on the 2-3 shift to avoid grinding gears, and that worked well enough. In fact, when I returned to street driving, the low rpm grind was gone. Can synchros heal themselves? Who knows. The brake pedal got very soft after each session, but that's what I get for driving on track with unknown brake fluid.

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Over all, the car performed well. There was no sign of overheating and the handling was not that bad. The power from the 1.8 is good.

I had a great bunch of students in my group. There were some pretty nice cars in the school, including a Viper, an NSX, a 996 and a Skyline. Tomorrow I will be heading out to Calabogie to instruct at the next Trac school, sadly, without my race car. I had some ooold Toyo RA1 tires mounted on some wheels today so at least I would have some somewhat sticky tires. This will be my 3rd visit to Calabogie without my race car. At least the blue Civic should make a better lapping car than my old 323 did.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gearing up...

It's 22 degrees centigrade outside... Awesome. Just in the past 24 hours I've spotted a bunch of nice cars:
Porsche 930
Porsche 996 turbo
Aston Martin DB9
BMW M5
BMW M6
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
RX7 twin turbo
Acura NSX

There are also a ton of sport bikes on the road. I just went to Canadian Tire at lunch to replace a bad tire on my summer wheels with a less bad tire. Last year, I was told that one of my two tires was not sitting properly on the rim. I stupidly did not mark which one it was. I assumed it was the one with a ton of balancing weights and changed that one. After the change, there were still many weights on the wheel, so I'm beginning to doubt whether I chose the right one. The seating problem was not visible to the naked eye. I'll throw the wheels on the car and go for a test drive on the highway this evening. I will put the wider Toyo's on the front, as there was some slight rubbing when I had them in the back. Hopefully, I'll get to try a few laps on the track at St-Eustache this weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring is really here

You know spring has arrived when you start to see sport bikes and Ferraris on the road. The first Trac school at St-Eustache was cancelled, but the second one is on for this upcoming weekend. The warm weather should melt the last of the snow.

The Civic is running reliably since I changed the starter a few days ago. The car is not using any oil, which is good news. It seems the oil I kept adding was compensating for the leak (now repaired) in the catch can and not burnt oil.

I am trying to organize my team for the Mosport Sundown GP enduro on May 17th. I can't wait to do this event! I've even been playing my PC simulator "GT Legends" to get mentally ready (Mosport is a downloadable track for the game). I've confirmed one of two crew members and both my co-drivers so far. I will register for the event once I have confirmed that the race car is OK after doing a test run at the Calabogie race school in 2 weekends. We put the car away in sound mechanical condition. It only needed an alternator, as far as I know, as the old one crapped out on the way to Calabogie in October (as described in this blog).

I saw a new Subaru STi and I really like it. It looks functional and aggressive, and less tacky than the old one with its huge wing and hood scoop (don't get me wrong, I also loved the old car).

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari 360 Modena
Maserati Coupe
Aston Martin DB9
Porsche 996 turbo
Nissan Skyline GT-R
Toyota Starlet Turbo
Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
BMW M6
BMW M5
Lotus Esprit 300
New Subaru WRX STi

Friday, April 4, 2008

Projects slowly moving forward...

As I write this, it's snowing big flakes outside. Carl just wrote me that the April 12-13 Trac school is cancelled because there is still too much snow in the paddock area to accomodate cars. They will have to squeeze the students from that school into the one the following week.

I spent Saturday "helping" Pat Boyer work on the blue Civic. We changed the holed exhaust line, welded on a Chery Bomb Turbo muffler, like the one on the race car, took apart the starter, to clean it, changed the oil and tranny oil and bled the clutch. After all this, the starter still does not work 100% of the time, so I will have to replace it. The tranny still grinds on the 2-3 shift at anything above 3000 rpm, so I will have to double-clutch and just live with it. The clutch feels fine. I finally bought the sleeve to install the radio properly. Pat noticed that the larger rear trailing arm bushings are pretty much shot. Fortunately, he has some polyurethane ones laying around that he will sell to me cheap and install.

Next step: change the starter, try to find some inexpensive used performance shocks and install them.

Steph called me to discuss the colour scheme he proposed for the race car and I agreed with him that it would look nice. Stay tuned for pics of the painted race car. Steph has had a burst of enthusiasm for the car and wants to install a different final drive. I've started searching for one. He also informed me that he wants to run in the Sundown enduro, like we did in 2007 and 2005. It takes place in only 6 weeks. I hope everything will be ready by then, because this 3-hour enduro at Mosport is one of the highlights of my year.

I just booked my plane ticket to Paris for my summer trip, which will take place in early June and will end with a trip to the 24 hours of Le Mans (after a short tour of Portugal). I can't wait!

Cool cars spotted:
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Mazda RX7 twin-turbo
AMG s63
Audi RS4