Thursday, October 29, 2015

Another beautiful fall day

It was a beautiful day to walk to work today, as the temperature was several degrees above normal for late October. There aren't many leaves left on the tree, but it's still quite nice out there.

On a walk to Bureau en Gros earlier, I saw a new Audi TT, and it must be the most underwhelming re-design of the year. 

The new edgier nose does not fit with the rest of the design
The rear has barely changed
Within a few minutes, I had spotted both previous generation TT's
The first generation still looks good and it was a really bold design when it hit the market in 1998
A strikingly-coloured M3
I again spotted this 6-series
One of the coolest M-cars now available, the M3
Ugly wheels, but the FR-S looks much better without the rear wing
There was an extra Rolls this week in front of the LH Hotel
This F430 seemed out of place in Mile End
A break in the clouds on McGill street
Some trees still have their leaves
It was misty on the mountain this morning
Oscar quite likes the piano
Jules, making himself at home at Rockland shopping center
Oscar, waiting patiently for lunch time

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Colours

Jules enjoys the nice weather at the park
Most of the leaves have fallen at this point, but the weather has still been quite nice. Yesterday was incredible, with a high of 17 degrees. It's time to spend as much time outdoors as possible before the cold and snow hit us!

The Mini's pale green contrasts nicely with the fall foliage
The Basilica this morning
Fall colours on the mountain... look how much bigger a 997 is than an early Miata!
The pumpkin-coloured M3 in its natural setting
The same yellow Z06 blending in with the fall surroundings
Neat cloud cover
I don't know much about bikes, but this BMW looks like a serious machine
It's not winter yet! Keep driving that Corvette to work.
The weirdly proportioned (and huge) Fisker Karma
A Cayman with 997 wheels looks like a squashed 997
The garage on Clark and Laurier works on some cool European cars
Another rare colour for the E46 M3
Oscar is smiling again after a few days of teething issues
The right colour combo for this car
... the wrong colour combo for this car.
I don't love the Allroad Audis, but this one had nice wheels
An unexpected sight in this grungy parking spot
I didn't know there was such a thing as a Spark RS Turbo. Good for you Chevy!
One of two V70R's spotted the same morning
Here is the other
Sleeper: the Legacy GT Spec B. It had a very nice interior
Nice paint, looks nice without the wing too
I love how the sunlight was shining right through the mud flaps
This STi owner replaced the taillights with much nicer/redder ones
These are the best OEM wheels for the new STi
This GTR was extremely clean and shiny
I read that in some places, there are hardly any unmodified early Miatas. Not so for Montreal!
There are some nice old buildings in Little Burgundy

Just across the street from the first one.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Integra Type R Expo - 2007

A couple of months before I started this blog in 2007, My friend Carl and I had driven my Civic all the way to Virginia to attend the Integra Type R Expo. I figured that it was not too late to write up a summary of what, for me, was an epic road trip.

I don't know whose idea it was, but Carl and I figured it would be a cool to drive the race Civic almost 1400 km down to Virginia International Raceway so we could instruct and get some track time at this fabulous track.

For those who are not familiar with the Civic in question, the car had no interior, except for two seats, no radio, no air conditioning and no cruise control. Add to that a pretty loud exhaust and a close-ratio transmission, and you end up with possibly the dumbest possible choice of a car for a road trip. At least we had a roof.

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We loaded up the car with our gear and some old race tires and began the long trip south. Our plan was to arrive a day before the Expo so we could relax and hang around the track. We had arranged to stay at a condo at the track itself and looked forward to being at the heart of the action. Once we got to the Shenandoah Valley, we chose the more scenic roads through the mountains and stopped to take in the sights and snap a few pictures. We also did part of the Skyline drive.

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When we finally arrived at the track, there was a huge vintage racing event in progress, the Gold Cup historic races. This turned out to be a happy surprise for us, as the cars on hand were of the highest caliber, including Jaguar D-Types, Ford GT40's, a Maserati Birdcage and many other cool entries. We were drooling as we walked around the paddocks.

We were also very impressed by the facility in general. The track almost seemed like a country club, and the same farm-building architecture was repeated throughout the facility. One barn-like building housed some beautiful vintage race cars, including a couple of Brumos Porsches, but these were overshadowed by the amazing array of cars out on the track.

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We have arrived!
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The Civic would remain on the sidelines on this day
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Cool British sports cars in the paddocks
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Vintage formula cars on track
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Three Ford GT's. Wow!
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More cool British hardware
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There were many, many Fords at the event
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Beautiful sports racer. Fat tires!
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Carl in front of the garage-condos
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More Ford powered racers
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... and another beautiful sports racer
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Two Mustangs and one of several real Ford GT40's
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A nice Volvo P1800
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An unexpected racer: Pagoda Mercedes SL. I love the steelies
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A very small sports racer, ready to go
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Another cool, low sports car (also on steelies!)
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You don't see these Volvos racing every day...
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Beautiful Lancia
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Lovely Lotus Seven
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Porsche 912 and Datsun 510
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And here they all are on track
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Shelby GT500 among the spectator cars
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A beautiful 50's SL
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In VIR's museum. D-Type!
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Carl poses beside another GT40
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Brumos racing Porsches
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C-Type and XK120
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Big bad Maserati
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People park under the oak trees when they can
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Carl, the track, and some vintage karts
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Another GT40 lurking in this plain-looking trailer
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Lotus Seven on track
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More small-bore racers
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What variety!
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British, Italian, German and Japanese cars fight it out
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Yet more small-bore racers
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A not-so vintage Civic... we could not wait to hit the track for ourselves!
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These racers were a bit more powerful
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Another cool car in the paddocks
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Pristine Datsun Roadster
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Minimalist design for this formula car
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Rare in North America: a Euro-Ford
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Some serious muscle
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A big Pontiac racer
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Lovely 240Z
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And a mean-looking E-Type
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Yet another Shelby
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A super-clean Mustang
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The MGB-GT looked like it had seen some action in its day.
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Words cannot describe how wide and mean-looking this car was
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Loud paint on this 911 (or 934?)
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Racing Falcon
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Another rare sight at the track: vintage Saab
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A view of the paddock condos and track
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Is that what I think it is?
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I had never seen such valuable cars on a track.
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Yes, it was a Maserati Birdcage!
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Another minimalist sports racer
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... and another!
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This was the first time in my life I had seen a D-Type, one of my all-time favourite cars, up close
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These Shelby's were almost commonplace
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Up close with the Kremer Porsche
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Carl with the crazy Dodge
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Clean Shelby
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Front view of the Dodge Challenger
As the day progressed, more and more ITR Expo people began to arrive. Not all of the attendees had Type R's, but most did. Among non Type-R owners, there was still a large percentage of Honda ownership. Many, like my Civic, had Type-R engines in them. One guy had actually converted his Integra to a mid-engine layout, with a 2.2 liter Prelude motor.

We took possession of our condo, and it was brilliant. Our balcony was literally overlooking the track.

There was a banquet dinner for the ITR Expo and it was the first time I ever tasted pulled pork. I loved it. I even won a titanium shift knob at the banquet.

The track day itself was a blast. I had watched a lot of video online, so I knew what type of corner would be coming up next, but I was glad to have a bunch of laps in the passenger seat to bring me up to speed. The track is fun and feels pretty safe, despite the high speeds. We had brought some pretty well-worn tires, but we were still far from the slowest car out there. I checked my lap times at one point and we were in the 2:24 range. There were some quick cars out there, including several Ariel Atoms. It turned out that the company that imported and sold them in the USA was based at this very track. We got a close up look of them in the paddocks. I took some video of a couple of fun laps in the instructor group, following a couple of CRX's around the track:

There was also a parade of the hundreds of Integra Type R's at the event, and they were grouped by colour (white, black and yellow, the only colours available). It was an impressive sight to see all these cars together.

At one point late in the day, our alternator died. I went to ask the organizers to announce on the P.A. that we were looking to buy a replacement on-site (we needed the model from an Integra, of course). By the time I walked back to the car, there were two people who had brought us alternators, and we purchased and installed one of them on the still-hot car.

We had another issue as well: our power steering was leaking, a lot, and it was leaking right near the pedals. We had to put shop towels on the floor to absorb the fluid, and steering on the way home took a bit more effort than usual. Also, we had somehow chosen a route that involved a lot of twisting roads at the beginning.

In the end, the drive home was mostly uneventful. This was the furthest I had ever driven the Civic and the furthest I had ever been from home to attend a track event (not so for Carl, who has been everywhere). It was a memorable road trip for me and an unforgettable experience over all.

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Ready to tackle the track
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The Type R's begin to arrive
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Many of them were track cars
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Carl is checking out the maps
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A snack and an excellent view
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Parade of Integra Type R's... first white...
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... then black...
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... and finally the yellow ones.
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The paddocks seem empty, but they are so big that our group was pretty spaced out
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Carl gets ready to head out
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An action shot from
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A.J. Nealy's ITA-class CRX (this car is in my video)
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A rarity on track : Crossfire
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Improvised Honda badge on this GTi
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Tasteful green accents
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A more modern Civic
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Not available in Canada: Mitsubishi Evolution
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There was something special about this Integra (scroll down to see what)
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Swapped Civic
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Graffitied Integra
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A cool Sentra track car
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A pair of lovely Mugen-inspired Hondas
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More ITR's
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This one with the JDM front end
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O-Man's ITR powered CRX (this car is also featured in my video).

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... what was special? It's frikkin mid-engined!
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and it's a Prelude 2.2
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A big gaping hole where the Integra motor used to sit
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All three colours in one shot
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A serious-looking RSX
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A.J.'s car again
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It featured the original D16 SOHC
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This Ariel Atom was not like the others...
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It was a UK-spec car with the Honda K20
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... and not the Chevy 2.3
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... as can be seen from the license plate

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The man himself
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We borrowed a garage at one point
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Those wheels used to be red...
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Parked in front of the lovely CDOC race store
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Cool VW R32
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I didn't look happy, but I was!
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At least Carl looks happy
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And the Civic seemed happy too...
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... in its natural environment
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The pit lane was quiet, time for a photo.
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Shop towels to soak up the leaking power steering fluid
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We had the perfect spot to keep the roll of shop towels. Time to head home!