Thursday, April 23, 2009

AISA school a success!

I again apologize for the long delay between posts. I have still been really busy as there has been a lot going on: Alex's PhD thesis defence, the AISA school, the trip to Barbados next week, getting the race car ready and, on top of it all, buying a condo (more on that later). I will touch on each topic separately.

Getting the Civic ready

I spent Saturday the 11th painstakingly removing all the vinyl stickers from the race car so that we could eventually apply new decals this year. It was a cold day outside, maybe 4 degrees, and I spent many hours with the heat gun. Luckily, JP had a good trick to remove the residue left behind from the decals: gasoline. I can't believe how well it worked. We did an oil change and the car was ready for testing. Here are a couple of photos of the car at the track:
Ready to roll!
Track time!
The car performed well at the track. We got in about an hour of lapping total in the weekend and there were absolutely no problems. I can confirm that the car is a lot slower with a passenger than without one, now that it has the 1.6 with only 111 ft.-lb. of torque!

I dropped the car off with Pascal St-Cyr last night and he is supposed to install the bushings and maybe the shocks and springs, if they arrive in time. If not, the car can be driven pretty much as-is. We have to change front pads and discs, the passenger side mirror which I broke last fall, and figure out what tires we will be using. There won't be much time after my trip to work on the Civic, so I'm glad that all seems in order for now.

AISA School

The AISA school was a great success! Students had nothing but kind words to say about their experience at the track driving school held over last weekend at St-Eustache. I wasthe head instructor for the 300-group, made up mostly of people with a good amount of track experience, some seeking a race licence. I worked with Quebec racing legend Claude Bourbonnais as well as experienced instructors Martin and Phil and Yves. We had a god group, a couple of whom had fast cars (C6 Corvette, BMW 135, Porsche 997 turbo) and all went smoothly. Carl and Dave did a great job planning and supervising the event. Here are a few pics (my camera is getting old, I know!):

JP driving my Civic
Students' cars from the 300 and 400 groups
Students at a briefing between sessions
On a side note, one of the instructors, JF Coulombe, brought this lovely BMW to the school. It's funny, as I had been thinking a BMW 320 would be a neat project car. This one was euro model in really nice condition (only 2 headlights, small bumpers). I told him to make sure he called me the day he decided to sell it. He half-jokingly mentioned I might be interested in a trade against the race car. I would't be ready to do that at this point, as I believe the race car brings me more enjoyment than a semi-classic car would. Someday though, I would love to have a car somewhat like this one.

Cool E21
Alex's PhD

After five years of hard work, Alex is now Dr. Alex. I knew she could do it, but I am still terribly proud of her. Her thesis defence was on Monday and it went really well. So well, in fact, that it is nominated for one of the best theses of the year by the university. Not bad! All those brains, and good looks too!

Alex will be doing post-doctoral research in Chicago starting this summer, and she will be travelling back and forth to Montreal for a few months or a year. What race tracks are near Chicago?

Trip to Barbados

Next week, we head to Barbados for Alex's cousin's wedding and a little bit of vacation. I can't wait! I will have to bring some work with me, but I still look forward to some relaxing beach time.

New Condo

When we found out Alex was getting some grant money, we sort of started looking at condos for sale in our area to see what we could afford. The first few we visited were either quite dark, quite small, or not ideally located. Then, we went to an open house of a condo that seemed to have it all... only to find out that there was already an offer in even before we had visited.

A few days later, we spotted another place that was more expensive than what we wanted to pay, in a really prime part of town, and decided to make a low offer. After a quick back and forth, our second offer was accepted. All seems fine with the financing and the building inspection went well, so it seems like we will be moving in July. So, for about the price of a Lamborghini Gallardo, we will be getting a condo... a Gallardo would have been nice though....

Cool cars spotted:
Lotus Elise x 2
Lamborghini Diablo
Rolls-Royce Phantom
Bentley Arnage

Bentley Continental
Ferrari F430 x 3

Ferrari 550
Porsche 997 turbo x 3
Audi RS4 x 3
Audi S5

Audi S8
Audi S6 Avant
Audi R8 x 3
Saab Turbo X wagon

BMW M Coupe
BMW Z8 x 2!
C6 Corvette Z06
RHD Toyota A
Nissan Pulsar GTi-R

Nissan Skyline GT-R

Dodge Viper coupe

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

OK, basketball season is over... time to think about the car!

Well, we lost. By one point. Our season is over because of one stupid point. I scored a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, but it was too little, too late. I also missed a 3-pointer with about 50 seconds to go. I also missed two foul shots during the game, and a couple of other shots that should have gone in. Pascal's grade-9 team went to the regionals and finished 5th out of 16. They only lost once, but because of the order of the draw, they were eliminated early. The NCAA final game was not exciting at all. NC took an early lead and it never really shrank.

OK. Time to think abut car stuff! I'm going karting with Rob tonight. He has an enduro tomorrow night with a group of colleagues (I don't know why I wasn't invited!). I'm getting over a cold, but I figure when the adrenaline kicks in, I'll be fine.

Our race school is slowly filling up. The theoretical course will take place Friday the 17th, while the on-track action will take place the 18th and 19th.

I still have not done even the tiniest bit of work on the car. I received the OBD1 conversion harness I had ordered on Ebay, so I will be able to run the reprogrammed ECU as soon as we take the car out. This weekend is a long weekend and I hope it is warm enough so I can work on the car a bit. It was snowing today, so I don't know what to expect. It sure doesn't feel like spring.

Cool cars spotted:
Porsche 997 turbo
Lamborghini Diablo
C5 Corvette Z06

Friday, April 3, 2009

Basketball season winding down, racing season looming

Well, my grade 8 girls' basketball team did not make it past the first round of the playoffs. We lost 57-31 against the team that beat us by 40 earlier in the season. The girls played quite well in the second half, but it was too little, too late. The grade 9 team, coached by my friend Pascal, won the regional championship last weekend.

My own team will be playing game 3 tonight in our best of 3 semi-final. I really want us to win! Last week, we lost by 9 and I had a poor game offensively.

In other news, Alex found out she will e receiving funding for her post-doctoral work in Chicago, which is great news, professionally and financially. I guess there will be a few more road trips in my future!

I've slowly started planning the race season. The first event we will run with the race car will be the Sundown Grand Prix at Mosport on the weekend of May 18th. I have decided on a new name and car number for this year:

Another home-made logo

For the first race, Carl, JP and I will share driving duties. I hope we will soon be able to sort out who will do what to get the car ready. I just received the OBD1-OBD2 conversion harness so that we can reprogram the car's old ECU. I also received my Energy Suspension bushings, which will have to be installed. Hopefully, the car will be ready to test out in two weeks at the AISA school at St-Eustache.

I saw the new Kia Soul on the road. Looks nice. It seems that Kia has understood that great styling is something any car maker can afford, and that it sells cars.

Cool cars spotted:

Audi RS4
Audi S5
Audi S6 Avant
Ferrari Testarossa
Maserati GT
Bentley Continental Convertible
Triumph TR5