Friday, September 28, 2018

Breakdown #3

On my first attempt to lap St-Eustache under 1:02, I had a GPS malfunction and my external GPS was not communicating with my phone. I saw a lap of 1:01.9, but I can't rely on that data.

Civic at the track
I figured I had another chance last Monday, September 24th. My first session was cut short after a best lap at 1:02.6, when a fellow instructor lost a wheel on his BMW. In the next session, my distributor died yet again... I coasted back to the pits. It was again either the igniter or the coil. The car started after 30 minutes and I tried to drive home, but the engine died again after about 3 km. I had to call CAA for the third time in a few weeks.

I changed the coil and the car starts, but I won't know if the problem is solved until I attempt to take it on track again, hopefully Monday, which may be the last Monday night lapping of the year.

Back on the flatbed
I went to check on the Saab winter car. It started right up with no battery boost. The windshield cracked and will need to be changed. The car will need new winter tires, and I will likely install them on the OEM 17-inch wheels, which look cool in my opinion.

997 Turbo still looks cool
Rare 9-3 Turbo X
The Civic parked on the street, as usual
Tasteful WRX STi
A nice M3 on the way to J's school
Alfa Spider Graduate
Rare colour for an E46 M3
The 993 Targa looks better with age

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The only photo of my first sports car

This is the only photo I have of my first sports car: a 1987 Mazda RX7 Turbo II. This was my second car (my first was a Dodge Aries I had bought from my Mom). I never had money to fix it properly and it used more gas than a V8 Mustang. I hade a love/hate relationship with the car because it was so expensive for me to own, given that I was a student. Also, I had not yet discovered track driving, so I never got to enjoy it on track. Do I regret selling it today? Not really, it was not in the best condition over all and if I really wanted another one today, I could sell my Civic and buy one. For a track car, I prefer the Civic.

The RX7 just before I sold it
 As far as car spotting goes, there are fewer exotics and classics on the road these days, but still some interesting stuff:

The best angle for the Civic
Rare aftermarket wheels on a Tesla
Nice wheels on this Civic
The RS3 looks better from the front than from the rear
My first choice for a daily driven dream car
Nice wheels on this 350Z
I would consider a clean WRX like this as my next winter car
Surprising spot: a fire rescue Nissan Patrol
Nice Golf R32 on Porsche wheels

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Civic has become reliable again!

Thanks in large part to my friend Pat, the Civic is back to being reliable. As I had committed to instruct at a BMW driver education event at Tremblant on September 10th, I really wanted to try the car on track before that event. As I had been away on Monday the 3rd on a family trip, my only chance to get on track before the event was to try the car at a Wednesday night at ICAR.

I hadn't been back to ICAR since my crash there last year. Pat decided to join me and we headed up to the track together in the Civic. We were occasionally getting a check engine light on the way up there, but it turned out not to be anything important, probably something to do with the idle.

By the time I got on track, it was around 7:30 pm and getting pretty dark. I was driving tentatively and getting passed a lot... it was hard for me to see the best line on track with the fading daylight. Still, the car was reliable and I was satisfied. Pat went out for another session in the car and was several seconds per lap faster than me. I guess he's not afraid of the dark! He dropped me off at home and left with the Civic so he could perform a bit more work on it: he was going to finish installing the catch can and swap the new muffler back to my old one in an attempt to make the car a bit more quiet.

He brought the car back to me on Saturday and I didn't drive it until early Monday morning for the trip up to Tremblant. The check engine light came on a couple of times, but by the time I was halfway there it was off and it would not come on again all day. The noise level on the highway was indeed reduced by the muffler swap. The forecast had been for rain, but it looked like the rain would only come in the late afternoon and I would have access to some dry track. On my last day at Tremblant in July, it had rained so much that even the drive to and from the track had been scary. It would be my first time at Tremblant in the dry with this Civic and I was very curious to see how the car fare in comparison with my previous Civics.

I arrived just in time for the instructor's meeting at 8:15 and had a few minutes to set up the car (basically, check the oil level and tire pressures) before my first session at 9:00 am. The cars on hand were extremely varied, but there were many, many Porsches, especially Caymans and Boxsters.

I took it relatively easy in my first session, but my data shows I managed a 2:06 on my last lap. My best lap with my previous Civic was a 2:03, so I hoped to manage a similar lap with this car, or at least a 2:04.

My second session was cancelled due to a Subaru catching fire after some kind of mechanical failure. There would be other cancelled and compressed sessions during the day, due to an Audi TT-RS losing a wheel and an unfortunate crash by an instructor.

My former student Joe wanted to ride along with me in my second session, and I happily obliged. Of course, the lap times are slower when you have a passenger. The car was performing reliably, but I did not have quite the confidence to carry big speed into the faster corners like I used to with my old race car. As a reference, I had managed a best lap time of 1:58 in the past with the 1.8 liter engine in the race car, and a 2:02 with the 1.6.

My students were driving two completely different cars: a Honda CRX with an LS-vtec engine, and a brand new Audi RS5. The CRX was a nicely set up car and the driver did well with it. The driver of the RS5 was really a novice when it came to track driving, but he made excellent progress throughout the day. The RS5, to me, was an extremely boring car for the track. It had lots of power and grip, but felt heavy and disconnected. There was virtually no engine sound from the twin-turbo V6. I imagine it makes a lovely street car, but it's not a track car.

My last session turned out to be my best. I was getting more confident with each lap when a Fox-body Mustang entered the track ahead of me. I thought I would pass it right away, but even on its warmup lap, it was not going slowly. I ended up following that car for the rest of the session, and my lap times improved, as I eventually hit a 2:02.9. I was happy with that, and happy not to be the absolute slowest car in the instructor group (I don't think I passed anyone all day).

I would have had access to one more session at 4:30, but it had started to rain a bit and I preferred to end the day on a high note (and be back in time for dinner with the family). The ride home was without incident or traffic and I parked the car, where it still sits ready for its next event. I look forward to seeing if I can improve on my best lap time at St-Eustache now that the engine seems to be making its full power. Stay tuned!

Different approaches, similar results! 
Super rare in North America: BMW Z1
The Mustang I chased for several laps... fun times
The Civic Type R in its natural environment.
This R8 V10 passed me often
This 280Z looked great and was not slow on track
Same thing for this lovely Corolla GT-S

One of the lovely Porsches on hand
A rare 1M
The Z1 with its roof and doors down
My Civic, resting between sessions