Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A stroll down Jean-Talon avenue

I finally managed to have the BMW's air conditioning fixed (using parts generously donated by my racing friend Oktay) and on my way to pick up the car, I ended up walking along the portion of Jean-Talon with a bunch of car-related businesses, including the Ferrari-Maserati dealer. It turns out that there are several other cool businesses on that stretch.

Crazy bunch of cars here, including a Porsche GT2 RS (I think), 2 Meredes 4x4 squared and a McLaren-Mercedes SLR...
European-focused garage with a bunch of air-cooled Porsches, including 356's and a 993 Turbo

A new BMW 8-series, strangely in front of the Ferrari-Maserati deal
Probably some overflow from EK Performance accross the street... so many cool Porsches there
Even this small garage had a cool Mustang Fastback
Cool old Alfa in Outremont

Early Range Rover
I really like these late Defenders

Thursday, June 13, 2019

No new best lap at St-Eustache... but that's OK

Although I have been unable to beat my lap record, I really can't complain. I've made it out to the track several Mondays in a row and the car has been reliable (except that it needs oil added after every session). I got in three sessions on Monday and my best time was a 1:02.2. It was 28 degrees, so that might explain why I felt fast but didn't beat my best time. I really now feel I can lean on the car and trust it to do what I ask of it. 

In between my sessions, I was tasked with an extra special mission: instructing Carl's dad Bernie, who is 89 years old and has never driven on a track. Although Bernie has worked in the automotive industry for decades, he has never tried his hand at track driving. Somehow it came up recently and Carl took the steps to make it happen. He even provided Bernie with a car up to the task: his near-new Civic Type R. I got to drive the car for a couple of laps to show Bernie some reference points (not enough to provide a full review of the car, but I can say it's really fast in a straight line). After Bernie started listening to instructions, things went well and he seemed to really enjoy himself. It was a unique experience.

Last weekend was Grand Prix weekend and there were many exotics on the road, as well as more than a few classics. The most exotic car I saw was a McLaren Senna, and I was surprised at how unimpressive its appearance was. I was more impressed with the Golf GTI in the pictures below.

Carl's Civic Type R 
My Civic between sessions
2WD! Ural
Super clean GTi
A better phptp of that new Vantage I saw the other day
Super clean early NSX
A lovely orange McLaren
4x4 Squared
I think the Ferrari 348 has aged well
Jules checking out a rare red M3
You don't see many Fiero's on the road anymore!
The McLaren Senna is much uglier "in person" than I expected...
Porsche had a bunch of cool cars on display again this year... GT2RS
Turbo S
GT3 in a cool colour
The boys on a pedestal
Never seen one of these in Canada before
A rare AMG GTR
Why don't more people put aftermarket wheels on electric cars?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New fastest lap at St-Eustache and another tow...

For the first time in a long time, I have made it out to St-Eustache's Monday night lapping three Mondays in a row. Now that the Civic finally seemed reliable, it was time to go after my best lap yet with this car. In my last post, I mentioned that I managed to reduce my best lap time from a 1:02.4 to a 1:02.1 and that the next logical goal was to hit the 1:01's. Well, I'm happy to say that at my very next outing, I managed to hit a 1:01.73. This is my best lap yet with this Civic, and better than the best I had achieved with the 2002 K24-powered Civic (1:01.8). As a reference point, with my old 2000 Civic race car., my best laps were a 1:00.08 with the 2.3 liter engine, a 1:00.5 with the 1.8 and a 1:01.2 with the 1.6 (using race tires). Looking at the data, I can see that what is lacking compared to the lap times of the old race car is top speed, not cornering speed, which is surprising, given that this engine is supposed to make more power than the 1.6 did in the old car. My cornering speed is still lower than my fellow instructors in their modified Honda's, which I will have to address, but I can no longer complain, having looked at the data, that my current Civic is slow in the corners compared to my previous cars.

Indeed, in my most racent sessions, I have managed to brake less and enter corners carrying more speed, leaning on the car more as I gain confidence in it. As I have mentioned before, being strapped into my seat with a harness also increases confidence. 

In the session following my best lap, the car developed a serious steering problem at one point. I pulled over and eventually limped back to the pits. Adam Miller helped me diagnose the issue as being a damaged passenger-side axle. I decided to try to drive the car home as-is, but the faulty axle snapped on the higway, leaving me stranded. Had I taken the small roads, I would have been able to use my Canadian Tire roadside assistance to get the car to Pat's. Instead, I ended up having the car towed only to my home, to keep the towing charge under the maximum amount that Canadian Tire would reimburse. The next day, I called Canadian Tire for a second tow to get the car to Pat's and he quickly replaced the axle.

The following Monday, it was cold and a bit rainy, but when I got to the track, it was 99% dry. I hoped to again improve my lap time, but it was not to be. I headed out behind my new nemesis: the K20-powered Celica (he is always there Monday's and is at least one second per lap faster than me), but only managed a 1:02.2. Still, I wasn't the slowest one on track anymore and I passed a couple of other cars. In my second session, I managed a 1:02.0 and in my third, a 1:02.3. I can't explain why I wasn't quicker, the car felt fine and the cold air should have been helping me make more power. Still, I wasn't that far off my best times. 

So what will make the car faster? It's hard to tell... everything seems to be working fine. I have to decide if it's worth having this engine tuned to make optimal power, or if I'm better off saving that part of the budget for an engine upgrade. I'm confident I can make it through this season with the current engine, as long as I keep adding oil. Other than that, I can remove a bit more weight (like the non-functional a/c), but that's about it. Now that I can hit the 1:01's, I am feeling better about the car's overall speed. I am very satisfied with the way the season is playing out. The car is pretty reliable, confidence inspiring and easy to drive. It's not even that bad on the road on the way to the track... the a/c may not work, but the radio does!

I just have to find a way to get out to one of the big tracks (Calabogie, Tremblant or Mosport) before the end of the season.

Between sessions at the track
First tow, from the highway

Second tow, from home to Pat's
These AMG SL's are not bad-looking
A poor photo of a stunning new Aston Martin Vantage, with cool wheels and a nice stripe
Very cool JDM Nissan camper
Someone brought this lovely Renault Sport Spider to drive on track at St-Eustache. What a cool car.
These are some of the instructors' cars... including Adam's very quick turbo Miata
The dent still isn't fixed
Cool Volvo 740 Turbo Intercooler
The same Nissan camper
I love the wheels on this classic Mini.... so small!
You don't see many of these M5's anymore
Huracan and 488 on St-Jacques
A rare Mustang Bullitt
The M6 still looks cool
The Boxster looks great on Fuchs-style wheels
More very cool wheels
Cool Civic Type R, probably a wrap