Rites of passage

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Perhaps its a side effect of getting old or perhaps its a consequence of the amount of strange alcohol i have been drinking lately, but I have been paying more and more attention to a cultural shift in American culture. When I grew up and for generations before, the last major right of passage for any American teenager was passing the driving test and getting your license. Sure there may be some others, like graduating high school, or your inevitable 21st birthday inebriation but lets face it, most teenagers have been drinking long before their 21st arrives so adding legitimacy to it is hardly the event it once was, and graduating high school is less of a right of passage anymore given the fact that most public high schools are little more than holding cells that serve to destroy any semblance of self esteem a youth might have then at the end give you a degree that can later be exchanged for 1 job flipping burgers. There is no real difficulty in attaining a degree (though i guess the same could not be said for surviving the North American high school experience intact, but that is a different topic all-together), and in fact it is virtually mandatory. (more…)

More about lube…

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So as the summer months have trundled in and brought with them several triple digit track days which have put to the test the cooling systems on every car dumb enough to go out to the track on a 107 degree day I figured it was time for another oil change and an update from Blackstone on if I should be expecting to see a trail of engine innards trailing behind me on my next outing or if alls clear to give her the beans.

Fortunately the boffins over at Blackstone seem to think its OK to go ahead and give her the beans…

S2000 challenge round 6 OR How I learned to stop worrying and love Laguna seca.

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Sooo on June 30th the S2000 challenge went to Laguna Seca raceway. Yep THE Laguna Seca raceway, home of the infamous turn 8 corkscrew.

What this really meant is I was going to drive a tiny sports car 400 miles then whip the snot out of it all day on one of the most famous racetracks in the world, then, god willing (OK maybe not god, ill go with Carlin on this one and worship the sun but pray to Joe Pesci), drive it 400 miles back home to LA. Now as someone whose sum total of racing experience revolves around tracking a thankless JZA70 Supra (I still love it, but British car owners have a laugh at my expense on the reliability side of things) and running a LeMons racecar which should come with a prescription for meds to ease the post-traumatic stress disorder it will induce, this had the makings of an epic story that would some day involve the phrase “And then it all went wrong”…..and here I sit, back at home still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For the curious out there in internet land here is what a lap around that track looks like from the point of view of a rank amateur (or if you prefer, from the point of view of the bug smeared on my windshield)

 

 

Lubrications and analysis

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So given all of the track time I have been abusing my S2000 with, I figured it was time to give the old girl a spa day, and invest in the long-term longevity of the car since I intend to ask much more of it in the future.

To outline what I intended to do:

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That name again is Mr Plow….

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Ok so at this point we have crossed the rubicon. We have gone from mildly ameteur-ish wanna-be racers to fully amateur-ish wanna-be racers. We now have a tow vehicle.That means the same people who have built the rolling collection of bad ideas we call shitbox will soon be trundling down your local highway sporting a GVWR of over 10,000lbs (yep thats 5 zeroes, get outta my way bitches). Of course we COULD have just gone and bought any ol pickup truck, I hear good things about Fords eco-boost motor, but again what fun would THAT be, so here’s what we did……

Through proper alighment of the stars I had an opportunity to buy a lightly used 2000 Ford Excursion snow plow from Boston Mass. Yep you heard that right snow plow.

Ill say it again snow plow…..do you want to get out of my way yet.

Just imagine this in your rear view mirror:

 

 

 

 

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Sword of Omens….Show me the path to more camber!

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Seriously, our LeMons racer needs camber in a bad way (think Lindsay Lohan in search of cocaine and vodka). The problem is the car as Toyota designed it was never designed to have approximately 1200 lbs cut off of it in a crash diet (insert another Lindsay Lohan joke here). Oh sure there are dozens of after-market parts that can make all our handling dreams come true, they will lower our car, stiffen our ride and make us go all night long (see a doctor if suspension stiffness persists for 4 hours or more) but this is LeMons and those parts all cost way more than we are allowed to spend so we have to get our camber for endurance the way our forefathers used to (you know….think about baseball when things get too intense to avoid early-apexing….) by modifying the OEM parts to do what we need them to.

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Release the Skinny

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Hello internets, Anorexicpoodle has convinced me to get up off my butt and start contributing to this site. As if conjuring Duff Man in the middle of August in the arm pit of Bakersfield wasn’t enough, now I have to share my thoughts with the world. In the same vein as other self indulgent online articles here are a couple of things I think I think about Ford.

1) First and foremost they make cars that I want to own. Now these aren’t cars that I wouldn’t mind owning but cars that I would be proud to own. Carpocalypse sure did kick start something in the big three and it shows with what Ford is pumping out these days. They started taking queues from their European division and they remembered what a turbo charger can do.

2) I love Australians, yes the women are hot but more importantly it is some of Ford Australia’s products that make get me froggy. Ford America brought over the Fiesta from Europe and I see these things all over the place. Is there some worldly reason they won’t bring Falcon to the states? Drop a slightly detuned 5.0 Coyote motor in there and it would be a riot. Worst case scenario I get stuck with a 4 liter turbocharged inline 6 booo hoo. I am sure I can figure out what to do with a 4 door sedan that makes 360hp with 390lbs of torque. Oh I know, go embarrass the hell out of some BMW owners.

3) SHOnuffff, yeah that is right the rein-visioned Taurus SHO. Never in my right mind would I have thought I would be walking onto the lot of a Ford dealership and asking to look at Taurus. It happened about a month ago and you know what it felt good. With a solid interior, robust power train and a trunk that has more capacity than a truck bed it is a well rounded package. To top it all off the power is derived from a boosted motor and sent to all 4 wheels. Can you say American skyline?? I think it could be the best American sedan under $40k if only it had a RWD bias.

That is enough out of me for now but I will be back as long as I don’t choke on a chicken bone or something.

And the madness has begun to set in…..

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OK so I am now 3 events into the S2K challenge and about 6 track days into the new year and the insanity is increasing. Suspension has been modified (or as much as I can in my class), Honda alignment recommendations have been tossed out the window in favor of what has colloquially come to be known as “Man Camber” (as in anything less is for women and children). I have upgraded my brakes, then melted them, set them on fire and upgraded them again. I have abused tires in a way that should be a violation of the Geneva convention, and most importantly, I have now been off-track at every racetrack in southern California and I have been sun-burnt,  wind-burnt, and had torrential rain dumped on me in a convertible; but what does all of this actually mean?

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Quenching the thirst for competition…leaves a salty aftertaste

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So I have decided, against my own better judgment and against the advice of friends, financial advisors and loved ones to enter into yet another racing series, the S2000 Challenge. This was really more of a way to twist my own arm to get my lazy ass up to the track at LEAST once a month, wreck some tires and try to improve upon the a-rhythmic gyrations and accompanied swearing that I loosely refer to as driving.

I figure the best way to do this was to do it just like the way I learned how to swim. Stay up late the night before drinking, then show up completely unprepared and jump into the deep end. Man 7 was a weird age for me….but back to the car thing….So I took my car to the 2nd track event I had ever driven it at, and promptly entered it into event number 1 for the 2012 S2000 challenge, in the stock class.

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Bespoke Wiring harness goodness

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Originally I had intended to scratch-build the harness for my supra myself, and get my solder-on, but as I was searching for a good connector source, I stumbled across the guys over at Tweak’d Performance. They quickly figured out what I was up to and simply asked “Well would you rather have us build it?”. Initially, i wasn’t so keen on this, but after a quick back and forth, it became apparent that it was actually cheaper to have it done by experts instead of my bumbling self. Well the fruit of their labor was dropped on my front porch today, and boy oh boy am I impressed. These guys are class acts, and while I hope I stay this impressed when I go to start the car, it looks good so far.

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