Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer rolls on...

As summer rolls on, I have been focusing more on driving my race car than other sports, like basketball or running. In the running department, Nico has found out he has a knee condition that will prevent him from trail running. As a result, we will not be participating in the Asics X-Trail this year. This is somewhat of a relief, as I was not keeping up with the training plan at all...

The basketball seasons will be starting up again in a few weeks, and that will take up 3 evenings per week. I figured I might as well attend as many driving events as I can before that. Unfortunately, the problem with third gear on the race car has worsened, and in my last session on track Monday, a missed downshift was a contributing factor in my heading off the track in the esses. My lap times were poor anyway (1:05.2), and I blame the combination of old tires and having to keep my hand on the shifter in third gear. This created a dilemma, as there are several lapping events remaining in the season, and the car is now extremely unpleasant to drive. The solution? Buying another transmission to use for the rest of the season. I will pick up a new used transmission tonight or tomorrow, and hopefully have it installed before the weekend. It does not have a limited-slip differential or the 4.78 final drive, but it should get the job done. There is a lapping day this Sunday organised by ASE which I hope to attend.

Here are some great photos by JAG of my mediocre lapping sessions from Monday:

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News of Alex:
Alex taught her first class at UIC yesterday, and it went very well. I am not surprised, but I'm happy to hear that she likes teaching this class. Sadly, I have no video to post, as Alex staunchly refuses to record her presentations and classes on video or even audio.

Cool cars spotted:
Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Phantom coupe (I did not know such a car existed)
Porsche 997 GT3
Ferrari 360 Spyder
Bentley Arnage

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bachelor life!

Alex has been in Chicago since Monday and I'm alone in Montreal. I guess it really just kicked in today as I was busy with the Tremblant track day until now. I will have to find something to do besides watch TV.

I just went out and ran a 10-k after a couple of weeks off... There is a lot of atmosphere in this city. I went by an Alouettes game in progress at Molson Stadium and a huge outdoor dinner party called "Diner en blanc" in front of club W.

I just bought a new webcam today, and it definitely increases the quality of communication with Alex. Ahhh, technology.

Speaking of technology, I have been exchanging e-mails and data with Oktay all day. He has the same GPS lap timer as I do, and we have been able to compare his laps at Tremblant in the S2000 with mine in the Civic. I am faster in some corners, while he is faster in others and on the straights, giving a lap 1.3 seconds faster for him. His car was also pulling higher lateral G's, despite running on performance street tires. I think this confirms that there is no real performance difference between used race tires and new performance tires.

Cool cars spotted:
Lamborghini Murcielago
Lexus IS-F
AMG SLS
AMG C63
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 360
Ferrari California
Maserati Quattroporte
Bentley Arnage
Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Audi S6
Audi S8
Porsche 997 Turbo
Porsche 968
New Porsche Cayenne
BMW M6
BMW M3
BMW Z4M
Cadillac XLR
Jaguar XKR

At Tremblant:
Audi R8
Audi RS4
Porsche 996 GT3
Porsche 996 Turbo
Porsche 997 GT2
Porsche 993
Lotus Exige
Ferrari F430 Spyder
BMW M3
Corvette Z06
Cadillac CTS-V

Track Day at Tremblant

Yesterday some of the instructors from the ASE Lapping Club (Carl, Marc N., Oktay, Amélie, Pascal and Antoine) and myself headed up to Tremblant for a lapping day organized by VAG Tuning. I think I can safely say that we all had a blast!

I had not been to Tremblant in five years, and the last time I was there, I blew an engine (there is video of it on my Youtube page and over 100 000 views). VAG Tuning organized a fun day for everyone with lots of track time.

Carl and I got to run with the advanced group, and there were some pretty fast cars and drivers there. I really enjoyed the track as I gradually got up to speed. I had some problems with my third gear popping out when I let off the throttle, so I had to keep my hand on the shifter at a couple of locations on track. Otherwise, the car was running fine and I was left wishing I had invested in some better tires.

Carl had brought both his cars, and in the before last session, we went out together, me in my Civic and him in his Type R. It's not easy following Carl when he is driving flat out (because that's the way he drives... flat out). We had a great time in that session until I stuck my car in the Gravel at turn 4.

Here is a video of my best lap and of a lap following Carl:

Here are some photos I took in the paddocks. I don't have the equipment or skills to take action photos. As you can see, VAG's clientèle mainly go for German cars, many of them turbocharged.

Two V8-powered Audi's


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Corvette Z06
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One of the many, many 911's
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Audi R8 V10... this car passed me often!
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One of the many M3's on hand
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The morning mist at Tremblant as our we set up
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The Civic, ready for action
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The Civic, later in the day with different tires in front
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A rare picture of me
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Another M3, another car that often passed me
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Carl in his Evo
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Another of the 911's, this one is a bit newer
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Two S2000's, owned by a couple of ASE Lapping Club members
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A lovely Exige
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Solo 2: not my thing!

Last week I participated in the Solo 2 Canadian National Championships. Have I mentioned before that I am not that good at navigating the cones? I'm not. I decided to participate with my race car, which I would be sharing with Marc Normandin, one of the ASE gang and master BBQ chef. The weekend can be summarized as follows: Marc was faster than me in my own car on pretty much every run, the driver-side trailing arm on the car broke on Sunday, and I finished 8th in class out of 9 participants. Carl won the whole thing with ridiculously fast times in his stock-class Integra Type R.

Marc offered to fix the Civic's trailing arm and he did so in the past couple of days, which is good, since I have a track day at Tremblant next Wednesday. This will be my first visit to Tremblant since 2005, when I blew my engine. I am quite looking forward to it, and plan to run the car at St-Eustache on Monday to make sure everything is OK. It should be, as the car was aligned today at the shop.

Yesterday, I took the race car to the nursery school where my Mom works to show it to the kids, along with all my racing safety equipment. I was honestly surprised at the level of interest and the smart questions asked by kids only 4 or 5 years old. We even staged a mock race with kids wearing cardboard cars, using real flags!

Cooking news: I was at a lovely restaurant yesterday and was hesitating between ordering the duck and the sardines. I chose the duck and decided to try to make my own sardines today. Here is the result:

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I am quite satisfied, having yet agaain learned how to make something new. This dish reminded me of our 2008 trip to Portugal, as I hoped it would.

In other news, I have not been running at all in the past few days. I saw a new Mazda 2 and a new Ford Fiesta. Both are nice small cars, but the Fiesta is not as small as I would have liked. I saw a Saab 99 with a blown head gasket in the classifieds for 950 $... tempting!

News of Alex:
We have been running around a lot getting Alex ready for her semester in Chicago. It will be tough while she is gone, but I plan to rely heavily on Skype and to occupy my time with automotive events. Alex attended the Academy of Management conference last week in exotic Montreal. She has been getting ready for Chicago mainly by planning the class she will be teacing at UIC.

Cool cars spotted:
Ford GT
Maybach 57S
Ferrari 575
Ferrari California
Maserati Quattroporte
Fiat X1/9
Alfa Romeo Spyder
Aston Martin Vantage
Aston Martin Vanquish (!)
Audi RS4
Audi S8
BMW M6
BMW M5
BMW M3
Saab Turbo X
Lotus Elise
AMG SLS
AMG C63
Porsche 997 Turbo
Porsche 996 GT3
Porsche 993

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer is keeping me busy.

I just got back from St-Eustache. Rob had borrowed the Civic to go to a lapping day at Tremblant. The plan was for him to meet me at St-Eustache on his way back down to Montreal. The first part of the plan went well: Rob had a great day at Tremblant and the car ran faultlessly. Rob figured out that the coolant leak was due to a faulty radiator, so he changed it yesterday. By the time he got to St-Eustache this evening, it had started to rain. I went out for three laps at low speed on the slicked out race tires just to see if the GPS lap timer was working. It was, and I was lapping in 1:29. Before the rain, I had a couple of students. I drove a Mercedes C230 Kompressor (meh...) and a highly modified Subaru Impreza 22B replica (probably very fast when driven hard) while coaching a couple of new students. Both were enthusiastic. I look forward to more lapping in the next few weeks.

I went running again on Sunday. Alex joined me on the bike and the pace was pretty fast: 10 km on Mount Royal in 42:30, so an average of 4:15 per km. I am not running as much as I should to properly train for the Asics Xtrail this fall.

On a topic that is totally unrelated to the usual stuff, I decided on Saturday that I wanted to try to cook risotto. I am not much of a cook (mostly, I barbecue), but I wanted to see what the bid deal was with risotto. I found a recipe online that looked easy enough and I managed to follow it without problem. Here is a photo of my plate when I was done:

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I was pretty happy with the result, as was Alex. I don't know how many people the recipe was supposed to serve, but the two of us ate it all and enjoyed it. The next challenge I have set for myself is coq-au-vin.

Cool cars spotted:
Ferrari Testarossa
Ferrari F430
Ferrari 348
Ferrari California
Shelby GT350
Ford GT
1960's Mercedes 280 SL
Aston Martin Vantage
AMG E63
AMG C63
Saab SPG
Saab 9-3 Turbo X