Saturday, March 28, 2009

More non-car stuff...

The automotive season is fast approaching, yet I have found myself mostly involved with and thinking about basketball the last couple of week. My girls team are in the playoffs and we will be playing in the quarter-final on Tuesday... against the only team in the league that beat us by 40 points. I know we are a better team than we were when they beat us, but I still consider a win to be a long shot. I've tried to explain to the girls that they have the talent and skills to win the game, but they know it will be tough.

My school's other team, coached by my friend Pascal, will be playing in the league final tomorrow. I will be dropping by to "assist", which will involve mainly keeping an eye on the timing and scoring.

The team on which I played is also in the playoffs. We have a best of three semifinal. We won the first game by 20 and lost game 2 last night by 9. The other team's best player had missed the first game. I personally had terrible games offensively (scoring 4 and 2) because I missed a bunch of short that I should have been hitting. I played solid defense both games and got at least three blocks yesterday. Unfortunately, most of the team was shooting poorly yesterday. We went down 8-0 at the beginning and then basically maintained the gap the whole game.

I've also been watching March Madness, and it's much more interesting when you're already in a basketball mindset, and when you look at the game from the perspective of a player and a coach.

Car stuff:
I haven't really done anything about my race car, except order bushings, which I hope JP will have time to install before our first race on May 16th. We should be able to take the car out in three weeks at the AISA race school at St-Eustache, where we will be instructing. Carl has ordered us some Koni race shocks and Ground Control springs and sleeves. In other words, the car will soon have a completely new suspension setup, which will definitely take some getting used to. We'll see soon enough how different it feels.

I've been watching racing on TV as well. I downloaded the first four rounds of WTCC. The racing is ridiculously close. There are tons of position changes and a 3-second lead is considered huge. Seat has been winning quite easily so far, but it will be interesting to see if BMW or Chevy can make up lost ground.


The first F1 race will be on tonight. I love that a new team, Brawn GP, is qualified 1st and 2nd. I think that Barrichello and Button, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time with Honda, are suddenly in a great position to show their worth. I can't wait to see how this plays out. I also love that they have reduced aero grip and returned to mechanical grip with slick tires.

My opinion on the Nissan 370Z: I don't like it in pictures and have not seen one in the flesh. However, it is shorter, 5 cm wider, lighter and has more power than the 350Z. As a result, I like it.

At a dinner party the other day, someone I barely know who was sitting next to me remembered I was into cars and asked me what he should buy next. He now drives an Audi A3 and days he doesn't like the way it drives, which sort of surprises me, given how pleasant I found the car when I drove an identical model a couple of years ago. I asked him what he thought about having a summer car and a winter car, mentioning the Miata. He actually owned a 1990 Miata then it first came out and had fond memories of it. I told him to go test drive a Lexus IS250 (good value in my book, solid resale for a luxury car, sporty), a BMW 3-series (to see if he liked it any more than the Lexus and was willing to pay the extra dough) and a Honda Fit. I figured if he liked the fit almost as much as the others (it is very pleasant to drive as well), he could buy a nice used Miata, maybe even a Mazdaspeed edition. I wonder if he'll follow my advice.

It's spring, and the hot cars are out in Montreal.
Cool cars spotted:
Lamborghini Gallardo
Ferrari F430
Viper SRT10
Audi s4
Audi S6
Audi S8
BMW M3 (tons)
BMW M5
AMG C63
AMG CLS63
AMG G55
Mercedes 190e 2.3-16
Porsche 997 turbo

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Updates

It's been a while since I last posted and I apologize. Here are some updates on various non-car related topics:

Alex and I have booked out flights and lodging for her cousin's wedding in Barbados in early May. The Sunday after the wedding, there is a rally (the Automotive Art Shakedown Stages) at which I hope to spectate. Alex has no objection and, because Barbados is so small, I doubt logistics will be a problem if I want to spectate some stages. Barbados is a left-hand-drive country, so there are many cool JDM imported performance cars, like the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R and Toyota Starlet Turbo. Should be fun! Also, Alex's cousin has asked me to be her driver on the day before the wedding and the day of the wedding. I have to organise the car rental. It will be my first time driving a RHD car on the left (I've driven motorcycles on the left in Thailand and RHD cars on the track though). Alex and I are really looking forward to this vacation.

Here is a photo from the 2008 event:

Alex has handed in her PhD thesis and will defend her thesis before her committee on April 20th. After that, she is 100% done with her PhD. I am very proud.
The basketball team I coach won two of their four last games. One win was 41-21 and the other was 48-3. We then lost against the 2nd and 3rd place teams, 32-21 (after leading 10-2!) and 42-28 (that was today). The girls played well in the two losses and I have no complaints. We will make the playoffs (8 of 10 teams make them) and will likely play our first game against one of the teams that recently beat us. If we have a great game, we can take these teams!

The team I play on has been losing a bit more than we've been winning. We will still make the playoffs, which start next week. I have scored 7 to 11 points in the last three games, with one three-pointer in each game. Our injured captain is back, but another of our players cut up his finger in a snow blower... ouch!

I went running twice last week, the first time this year. It wasn't that bad: 9 km on Mount Royal in winter conditions followed by 10 km on the road a few days later in spring conditions. I felt pretty good, especially the second time, and clocked a mid 46 on the 10k, which is again decent for an early season training run.

Now to the car stuff:

My new club, the AISA, has a few members now, including some former provincial champions. Our April 18-19 race school at St-Eustache is steadily filling up.

Pat Boyer finally had time to take a look at my busted race motor. There was a broken valve. I have to order a new valve, retainer and head gasket so Pat can finish the job. Luckily, there is no significant damage to the head itself... dodged a bullet there.

I haven't done any work on the race car. Procrastination...

Yesterday, I got to try out my friend Raymond's new M3 4-door. Wow and wow. That car accelerates, and I didn't even rev it that high where the real power is. It does not feel light, but it sure feels tight. Also, as is common in BMW's, the ride is firm but not uncomfortable. It's a really nice car and it drives beautifully. He also has a 335 and I hope to drive that one too so I can see how they compare (the 335 actually has more torque than the M3).



Cool cars spotted:Bentley Continental GT
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Porsche 997 turbo
AMG E55
AMG C63
Jaguar XF-R
Audi S4
Audi S5
Audi S6 Avant
BMW M3
BMW M5
Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
Toyota Celica Turbo RC
Mitsubishi Evolution
Subary WRX STi