Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slow weekend

Well, my car is still not fixed. JP didn't have time due to his busy schedule, so he just took his own car to Calabogie for the Solo 1 national championship. There are less than 2 weeks before the War Bonnet Enduro at Mosport, which makes me wonder if we will find the problem that has been making the car overheat and also make the alternator wiring reliable (it acted up again on the way to JP's place last Sunday). If I can't make the enduro, maybe I can make the Fall Classic at Tremblant the following week...

I made a purchase that is indirectly related to my passion for cars and racing: a DVD player with a USB slot. This allows me to download stuff at work (where there is no download limit), put them on my 8 GB memory stick, and watch it at home. It works well and I've watched 1/2 the 2004 BTCC season this weekend.

I saw a Nissan GTR for the first time. It's pretty impressive, in that is has presence. It's not a small car by any stretch, however. I saw another R8: that is one beautiful car!

Cool cars spotted:
Audi R8
Nissan GTR
Ford GT
Corvette Z06
Mini Cooper S Works
Mini Cooper S AC Schnitzer
Audi RS4
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 512 bb
Bentley Continental
Bentley Mulsanne S

Monday, August 25, 2008

Busy Sunday

Yesterday was the last Trac Racing Time Attack of 2008. Unfortunately, my car began overheating, despite a new head gasket. It seems the problem might have been that the timing was not set properly. I hope to do enough testing this evening to figure it out.

I still got to do a few timed laps in Carl's Type R (unfortunately equiped with so-so front tires) and JP's car. I was 1 second slower than Carl in his car, 2 seconds slower than JP in his. That's what you get with no practice!

The event was beautifully organized by Carl and there were over 50 drivers participating. Some of the newer TLC members are getting quite fast!

When the event ended, I headed to ICAR, the new track at Mirabel airport. Below you can see my modified diagram that shows the layout most clubs use. I was instructing at a VAG Tuning event. I have to thank JP for letting me use his car for this event. His 1.6 liter Civic was a great car for this twisty track. There were very few instructors on hand, so I basically led out groups of cars in a follow-the-leader. Fortunately for me, expert driver Gilles Villeneuve (yes, same name) was on hand to show me 2 laps behind the ICAR Mustang. Also, the track was clearly marked with turn-in and apex cones, which helped a lot.

People who expect this track to be another Tremblant or Mosport will be sadly disappointed. However, the track is fun, seems safe, and is a good use of the available space. It is lit for night driving, but it is not at all like driving in the day time. When it started to rain at about 9:00 pm, I called it quits, as my tires were almost slick. Unfortunately, one person heavily damaged his E46 M3 at the hairpin. I enjoyed getting some track time at this new location and hope to be able to head back with my own car in the future.

Thanks to photographer Vincent Pouliot for the excellent photos of me driving JP's car!

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Civic is fast, but not indestructible...

Photo by
As promised, Steph took the Civic to Trois-Rivieres to participate in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in the Touring class. Apparently, Steph was leading his class during the Satruday race when he was squeezed against the wall by a comptetitor from the ST class. This damaged the wheel and bumper and Steph was forced to pit, which basically ended his race.

Steph and JP worked on the car to get it up and running for Sunday. He told me the car would not turn properly due to the post-contact alignment and he managed a 7th in class. The car made it hom under its own steam. Steph told me the rear shocks are finished, so I have to figure out what to do about this issue. The driver-side rear view mirror was also damaged on Saturday. Carl ordered all the parts to get the alignment back to normal before Sunday's time attack at St-Eustache.

Meanwhile, Alex and I were in Toronto and Niagara falls this weekend for a wedding. Alex again drove more than her share on the way home, proving her worthiness for longer road trips once again.

Cool cars spotted this past weekend:
Aston Martin Vantage
Triumph TR4
TVR 350i Coupe
New M3
First generation M5
BMW Z4 M Coupe
C6 Corvette Z06
Mercedes 230 SL

Friday, August 15, 2008

News Flash: the Civic is running in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres this weekend!

Typical Stephane behaviour: Wednesday evening I receive a call, Stephane is mentioning that he's considering running my Civic in the Touring class of the Canadian Touring Car Championship this weekend at the GP3R. I wish him luck, telling him the event is probably sold out and the car may or may not have a head on the block. Yesterday was the registration... Steph was there. The car is in, and he qualified today (he had to shorten his session so he could rush back to Montreal for a family obligation). Just like that, the car is now a Canadian Touring car! Good luck Steph! There is a race Saturday and one Sunday. Let's hope the car holds up... it just got its new head gasket and has had no testing at all, except the drive to Trois-Rivieres...

This is what the car looked like the last time I saw it
GP3R with the car in 2005 (before the engine blew up)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Will it rain every day this summer?

It seems that it has rained at least a few minutes every day this summer. Yesterday, I was enthusiastically driving to St-Eustache, eagerly awating the chance to drive my street car on the track for several sessions, when it began to rain out of nowhere. The track was soaked in a matter of minutes. I headed out in my Civic in the rain, but it was not much fun, as my street tires had little tread. Over an hour later, the track was finally drying out and I was able to have a bit of fun after having swapped my race tires onto the street Civic. I timed myself at 1:09.4... not very fast (my race car does 1:01), but not bad for a 2 000$ car.

The blue Civic with my race wheels and tires
My friend Choo offered me to drive his K20-powered Civic for the last session of the day and to give a ride to his friend Marco. I gladly accepted, as I had deeply enjoyed driving his super-torquey car last week. This week, it was even better. Nothing broke. Also, he had softened up the shock settings, allowing the ride to be much more confidence-insipiring that last week. When I first headed out, I was getting passed left and right by fellow instructors and Porsche 944 drivers. As I got the hang of the car, I re-passed everyone who had passed me, except JP. Man is he fast! Choo clocked me at 1:03 and I'm thinking I can go a couple of clicks faster... I was driving conservatively in some corners as I had a passenger and was still not 100% comfortable with the car.

You may wonder why I was not driving the race car... funny story. I had ordered the wrong head gasket and could not change it on Saturday as planned. My friend Pat Boyer had the gasket I needed and very graciously did a straight trade for the one I had bought. When Pat and his dad saw my old head gasket, which I had brought along to make sure I was picking up the right part, they mentioned that I should not install the new gasket until I checked the head for straightness. They showed me where the gasket had failed. JP took the head to his guy, who confirmed that it was straighter than a brand new head. JP will reinstall the head this week and we will hope for the best. I really really hope we can drive the car Monday!

In other news, I ran 21 km last Thursday, just to see if I could do it. I can, but not that quickly. I was considering entering a 1/2 marathon (21 km) this fall, but the race coincided with the War Bonnet Enduro at Mosport. I chose Mosport.

Canada has not yet won any medals 4.5 days into the olympics. Sad.

Cool cars spotted this week:
Shelby GT350H
Austin Healey 3000
Datsun roadster
RHD Toyota Supra TT

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Race car is busted again...

I know it's been forever since my last post. I've been super busy as I squeezed in another small vacation, a one week trip to Gaspesie, last week. Let me try and be chronological.

1) I went to crew for my friend and sometimes mechanic Patrick Boyer at ICAR. He is running in the Extreme Touring series. The series is new, and there are not a ton of cars, but it looks like a fun place to race. As for ICAR, well, it's a completely flat track with nice facilities, but I don't know how fun it would be to drive there. I don't really feel like spending 200$ to lap there for an evening... I was there on Saturday and Pat did OK, but he was having a great day on Sunday, leading his class until his engine blew.

2) I took out my Civic at Monday night lapping a couple of times. The temperature would steadily climb after a few laps. It seems to be the head gasket. I left the car with JP a few days ago so he could change it, but he decided it was more important to be with his girlfriend at the hospital while she gave birth to his second child instead of working on my car. Jeez! doesn't he know we have a time attack in only 19 days? I drove a TSX on the track and was underwhelmed. I guess I expected more.

3) Alex and I headed out to Gaspesie with the blue Civic. Alex broke several driving records: longest non-stop distance (Rimouski to Montreal, 550 km with not even one bathroom break!) and the most mileage on one tank: 658 km using 40 liters. Not bad. When she's the passenger, we have to stop every 88 minutes so she can pee. When she drives, she forgets about her bodily functions, I guess! The roads there are pretty cool. The car performed flawlessly. I was so happy that I'd managed to get the radio fully functional for the trip. I actually fixed an electrical issue myself for the first time ever! I also had a surprise 70 km section of gravel courtesy of a road closure. That was really fun (Alex was sleeping through it, after a 17 km hike up Mont Albert). It left the car quite dirty, as can be seen from this picture in Mont St-Pierre, the hang-gliding capital of the East.

Civic in road trip mode

4) At lapping on Monday, I got to drive JP's 1998 Civic with B16 and JDM-Type R transmission. What a fun car! I has no torque, but great gear ratios. A real pleasure to drive. I also drove Choo's Civic coupe (same type as mine) with a K20. WOW! That car has crazy torque and awesome gear ratios. Also, the spring rates are much higher than mine. The handling was not the most confidence-inspiring at St-Eustache, which is a bumpy track, but the car is fast and has a lot of potential. Aslo, I had a scary little off at the exit of the Caroussel when the adjustable front camber kit let go and the car refused to continue turning left. Luckily, I managed to avoid the tire wall... Still had fun though! Thanks to JP and Choo for letting me drive their cars while mine is parked!

5) Plans: Trac will be holding its final Time Attack of the year on August 24th and I should be driving my car in that event if all goes well. September 13th is the War Bonnet enduro at Mosport, and it looks like I will be participating with JP and Stephane, again, if all goes to plan. I had hoped to enter a hillclimb. I did one in 2003 with my 1988 Civic DX and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the Burke event is the same weekend as the time attack, but I may be able to attend another one at Mount Philo in October. Here is a photo from the 2002 event:

My first and only hillclimb
In the past few weeks, I've spotted a bunch of neat cars on the street:
Renault R5 Turbo II
Mercedes 190E 2.3 16
New M3
New STi
New Evo
Ferrari F430 Challenge Stradale
Aston Martin Vainquish
Lancer Evo 1
Skyline GTR R32
RHD Civic EG SiR
Nissan Figaro