Saturday, November 17, 2012

Off to Circuit of the Americas this Morning for Screaming 18,000 RPM V8s

It is bright and early and we are headed to the track for FP3 and Quali today for Formula 1 in Austin, TX. I had to work yesterday so this morning will be my first time seeing/hearing F1 cars live. I can't wait! Pictures and stories to follow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yama's Top Notch Photos of the FR-S at H2R

Yama took these photos at our H2R track day a few weeks ago. He got them all prettied up and uploaded to the interwebs. Here are a few of his finest photos of my FR-S on-track. Thanks for the great photos Yama!

My New Desktop Wallpaper...I know you were all dying to know my desktop pictures choices

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Speedway Motors 2012 SCCA Solo National Championships Music Video

I didn't hit a cone or spin at the 2012 Solo Nats so the Goodyear Eagle RS / Camaro didn't have much of a chance to the video....but it is still worth a watch. Some of our good friends made the video which is good to see!

Friday, October 19, 2012

SpeedHunters: Inside MadMike HQ

Mad Mike's RX-7 and RX-8 Drift cars

I love the quote and dorifto sim rig setup
Mad Mike Whiddett is a Red Bull sponsored drifting star from New Zealand. His shop is epic and is inspiration for my shop build (more on that later). Here is the full article on SpeedHunter's website:

Photos from

Monday, October 15, 2012

Slidin' Sideways in my Scion FR-S at H2R w/ Video

I went to Harris Hill Road this past weekend for my first track day in the FR-S. My buddies and I arrived around Noon during one of the H2R challenge races, and we were able to start lapping at 2PM after the races. Yama who is an H2R member and our guide for the day took me out for me sighting laps to start the on-track fun. After two solo Sessions, I started to push a bit more and got down to a 1:33.8s lap. After starting in the 1:35s range, I was happy to shave two seconds off without taking too much risk of balling up my daily driver. I'm sure there was a 1:32 out there.....but with only about 9 hot laps on the track prior to my 1:33.8s lap that was only going to happen if I didn't own the car or have to drive it home! I was also able to take Yama, Stuart, and Josh out for a demo ride in the new car so we could all have some fun. To feel the car out and get comfortable sliding it around, I also did some drift practice (see video below). All in all, we got about two hours of open track time before some heavy rain started. It showed no sign of letting up and there were some big thunderstorms predicted for our drive home, so we bolted. 

Despite getting cut short on track time, it was a blast. The FR-S is great on track - it was fun for the time attack laps and great for drifting out of the box. My car is only slightly modified, but from what I've read about the stock tires on track performance, I'm glad I was able to put the Goodyear tires on my car before going to H2R. It has great yaw damping and is very controllable in a slide especially in 2nd gear where you can use your right foot to steer more. Some more power would help in higher speed (3rd and 4th gear corner) drifting because it is hard to keep the drift alive on corner exit with the current engine output. For grip driving, it has one of the better stock balances of car's I've driven in it's price range. Most vehicles have strong understeer balance from the factory, but the Scion is easy and rewarding to make dance with the pedals. I was only running 3 laps stints to be easy on the engine, tires, and brakes, but I did not get any brake fade all day....which is not bad for a factory brake system. I'm glad I finally got to experience how this car is supposed to be driven.....and it didn't disappoint!

Here is in-car video with data overlay from my two fast laps:

Some drifting clips:

Yama and I at Micky D's on the way to H2R

View from the H2R Pits

My Rear Tires after some abuse at H2R - they hold up pretty well!
We got hailed on by this storm on the way home....not fun

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Off to H2R for my first Track Day in the FR-S

I am driving to San Marcos, TX with a few friends to burn some rubber at Harris Hill Road. Yama is driving his wicked Cayman R, Stuart is in his 3-series Bimmer daily driver, and I am in my new FR-S. I will have video and data later so stay tuned!

Here is a lap of H2R riding along with Yama and his Cayman R:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Scion FR-S: New Goodyear Tires and Exhaust Mod

 I am planning to do my first track day in the FR-S this weekend. I am going to Harris Hill Road in San Marcos, TX with my Cayman-owning pal Yama. In preparation for my new car's first taste of the track, I acquired some higher grip tires, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric, to replace the soft and slow stock Michelin All-Seasons. I also removed the 30-lb stock muffler and replaced it with a Berk Technology track pipe. This means I am running a straight pipe, but the stock cats and resonator keep the engine quiet enough for the street, but now it has a more aggressive boxer engine growl on the track.

Stock Muffler Removed - it's heavy!
Berk Technology Track Pipe

New Goodyear sneakers...sorry for the crappy photo
Here is a quick video of the new exhaust note taken from my cell phone:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Highway 24 through the Tennessee Pass in Colorado

Tennessee Pass on Highway 24 in Colorado

Two weeks ago, Ali and I went to Mt. Princeton deep in the Rockies of Colorado to see two of our friends tie the knot. The views were spectacular and the driving roads were epic....especially now that I am used to West Texas roads. On the way back to the Denver airport from Mt. Princeton, one of my former Team Honda Research teammates and I "drove spiritedly" through this amazing stretch of road - Highway 24 through the Tennessee Pass:

We had a "scare your wife" contest and I think Chad won because his wife had to take some Dramamine. Either way, we all made it through safe and sound and with big smiles....until we got stuck behind a tractor trailer. Until this drive, I had never seen a hairpin sign like the one below. It might as well say "Awesome" because that is what followed this sign. 

I might have to travel to Colorado more often....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Trip to Paradise - Bondurant Advanced Road Racing Class

Entrance to the Bondurant School including the Tony Stewart liveried Vette
Well, some of you may not consider Chandler, Arizona paradise, but you can't deny that the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving is great fun and fantastic place to learn the craft of driving cars to the limit. I completed a 3-Day Advanced Road Racing class at the Bondurant school two weeks ago with two of my co-workers. We had three students including myself and two instructors for the class which makes for an excellent instructor/student ratio. My instructor was Pete Miller and I also worked with Austin Robison who both did an excellent job during the school and provided expert feedback to each student.

Drifting fun on the Firebird West Track
We were very fortunate to be able to driver three different tracks during the three day class. We started Day 1 in the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sports on sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tires and drove the Bondurant School track for a full day. For Day 2, we moved to the Firebird West Track and were welcomed with rainy conditions! This sounds like a negative but getting wet track time is rare and provides an excellent car control training ground. I also managed to have some fun drifting the oval section of the West Track as you can see in the photo above! After Day 2, my co-workers and I rented shifter karts for two hours and had loads of fun ripping around the Bondurant SuperKart school track. Thanks to Alan Rudolph to making it possible!

Rooster tailing in the wet on the West Track

Another wet driving shot from the West Track

For Day 3, we moved to the Firebird East Track which is my favorite track that the Bondurant School has to offer. In addition to the great track, we were allowed to drive the Bondurant Camaros in addition to the Grand Sport Corvettes which allowed myself and the other students to get driver training in multiple platforms which really helps to fine-tune advanced driving skills.

Group shot with my classmates

This was my third Bondurant class and fifth trip to the facility and I really enjoyed my experience this year. The Bondurant schools offers a top-notch training ground with great instructors, ample track time, and track-worthy vehicles. I would highly recommend a trip to Chandler, AZ to get faster on the track and to have a little fun along the way.

I took many hours of GoPro video and will post a compilation of the different tracks and cars when I get some time in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Here are some other photos from the trip:

Gordon stock car in the Bondo Museum
Ford GT40 in the Bondo Museum
A little baseball action after a full day of on-track activities

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Podium Finish at the 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals

Team Goodyear!
The 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals wrapped up three weeks ago in Lincoln, Nebraska. Life has been busy since Ali and I got back. This is the first chance I've had to write up a blog post and edit video so I apologize for the delay. Ali and I arrived in Lincoln on Saturday September 1st - a few days early in order to setup camp and run a few test and tune sessions. I was very optimistic going into the event since I was very quick in my last National Event (June Blytheville Tour) and I thought I had gained some pace from the testing I did
back in July. 

Our Paddock Setup

For the first test and tune session, I ran some baseline laps for a balance check and then settled on a slightly higher rear spring rate to help the car rotate. The Nationals TNT course is not always a good indicator of balance/pace on the race day courses, but it is the only option for last-minute tuning. My Dad ran two sessions in the car to get more seat time. He has made some big strides throughout the year as it is hard to get comfortable with a race-tire-shod 350HP RWD racecar when your normal autocross car is an STX class Mini Cooper and you only drive the Camaro a few times per season.

2012 Solo Nationals Course Maps

Lined up on the Day 1 Starting Line
ESP ran in Heat 3 of the Tuesday/Wednesday group and we started on the West Course. The West Course was fairly straightforward meaning there was not an excess of cones and purposeful "tricky" visual elements that are typical of National courses. Heat 3 started in the heat of the day with ambient temperatures around 95 degrees. There was two heats worth of rubber laid down on the track which should have made for decent conditions. To my surprise (and many of my competitors), it was hard to make the front tires work in these conditions and I struggled with understeer on each of my 3 runs. My first run clocked in at a 59.289 which was good enough for P3 in class - 0.1s behind 2nd and 0.6s behind Mark Madarash in 1st place. Mark laid down a quick first run (58.8s), but was then one of only a few drivers to pick up time on his 2nd and 3rd runs. He finished with a class-leading time of 58.691s. One of the keys to his was his mid-session ARB adjustment - an option I did not have with my non-adjustable front and rear ARBs fitted to the Camaro. This is something to improve on next year - quick, in-session balance adjustments.

Tire blankets on trying to keep the Goodyears hot!

Madarash making adjustment for the understeer-balanced track conditions
Me tipping into a corner on the Day 1 course
Going into Day 2, my goal was to at least match Mark's time and to move into 2nd place. I knew Mark would be hard to catch for the win, but I never gave up hope there either. The Day course was about 10s longer than Day 1 and had more technical elements that tested your vision and "course-reading" ability. To improve the understeer issues from Day 1, I removed the spoiler and increased the rear spring rate. The understeer from Day 1 was especially bad in high-speed corners and it felt like the rears were over-driving the fronts. The change worked and it was easier to make the car rotate, but unfortunately, 2nd place was not to be had. After two runs, I had moved into P2 over Britt Dollmeyer in his 2006 Ford Mustang GT by  two tenths. On his third run, he threw down a very quick 68.641 which moved him back into 2nd place by over a half second. I needed 6 tenths on my last run, but was only able to come up with a 4 tenth improvement (68.711s). I finished 3rd in class and cleared 4th place by 0.5s. In the end, I was happy to keep the final step on the podium! I have lots of room for improvement on the Camaro and we will be back next year to contend for the ESP National Championship. Congrats to Mark Madarash on extending his winning streak and taking home the 2012 ESP title.

Getting my 3rd Place trophy

Video of my fast Day 1 and Day 2 Runs:

My Dad and faithful co-driver had a great time at his 2nd trip to the Solo Nationals. The 33-car ESP field was very tough and he finished in the 28th position. He had a great Day 1 and was closer to myself and Mark than he had been all year. This put him somewhere around 20th, but he struggled a little bit on the Day 2 course and dropped down to 28th. He is always getting faster and continues to be a great student! I just hope he enjoys racing with me as much as I do with him!
My Dad pulling over a 1G on Day 1

I have many people to thank, but let me start with a big congrats to Lane Borg for winning his first National Championship this year in his bright yellow C5 A-Stock Corvette. This was also the first National Championship for the Goodyear Eagle RS brand! He came back on his last run on Day 2 to win by less than a tenth over Tony Savini who also drove great all week. Watching those two battle was a lot of fun.
Lane Borg on the way to his first National Championship
I also have to congratulate one of my autocross mentors and now sponsors - Sam Strano - on winning the prestigious Driver of Eminence award. Congrats Sammy!

Sam accepting the driver of eminence award

2012 was a very successful year finishing off with a podium finish at the Solo Nationals. I would to extend a big THANK YOU to the following people and companies for their support this year:

  • Goodyear - for providing the very fast Eagle RS(AC) tires fitted to my ESP Camaro
  • Strano Parts - for always helping me make the Camaro go quicker around the cones
  • My Dad - for being a great co-driver and co-team-owner
  • My Mom - for travelling with us to all of the National races and cooking great food
  • My Wife Ali - for being the best racing wife a guy could ask for
  • Lane Borg - for being my residential GM expert and helping me wrench/tune the Camaro
  • Josh Pu'u  - for slugging it out many hot days and long nights making the Camaro faster

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2012 SCCA Solo Nationals This Week! - Live Timing and Video Links

The 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals are here. My parents, Ali and I arrived in Lincoln, NE yesterday to setup our pits and get ready for the event. Today, my Dad and I each ran one test n' tune session each to get re-acquaint ourselves with the Lincoln surface and to tune the balance. I started off with adjusting rear spring rate and went to a stiffer rear spring to make the car rotate better mid-corner. I'm happy with the minor change and will be running this setup for the Solo Nats. My Dad is running one more test session tomorrow to get more seat time in the car before race day.

We are #99 (My Dad) and #199 (Me) in E Street Prepared class which runs on Tuesday (West Course) and Wednesday (East Course). We race during the 3rd heat which should start sometime between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The Solo Nationals is scored by combining your fastest time from each day (two different courses) - fastest overall driver wins and is crowned an SCCA National Champion!

See the links below for a schedule, live timing, and live video from the event. Follow along and root for the #99/199 Goodyear Eagle RS/ Camaro Z28 to take the National Championship in ESP!

2012 Solo Nationals Event Home Page:
Event Schedule:
Event Live Timing and Scoring:
Event Live Audio and Ustream Video:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 26th VMSC Autocross Race Recap

I went back to Virginia this past weekend for a friend's wedding and it happened to coincide with a VMSC autocross in Richmond. The Virginia Motor Sports Club is where I first learned to drive so I was really excited to run my first event with the club in 4+ years and see old friends.

My Dad and I co-drive his STX-class Mini Cooper JCW. This is the same car (same prep too) we ran at the Solo Nationals in 2010 which happened to be the last time I raced it so it was nice to be reacquainted with the quick and quirky Mini Cooper. We started off the day in drying conditions and I ran two low 33s lap times. With Ali riding shotgun on my 3rd run, I dropped to a 32.7s lap and slowly whittled this down to a  a 32.513s lap on my final run. The main change I made to improve the lap was add a quick downshift to 1st in the final corner so I would be in the power-band for the pull through the finish. The 32.5s lap put me in 1st place out of  7 in STX class and 2nd overall in PAX out of 69 drivers - only 0.152 behind a very nice looking CSP Miata.

My Dad had a good showing with a 33.8s fast lap which put him in P2 in STX and 12th in PAX. I had a blast racing with my old club and my family. It was fun to see old friends and I am looking forward to autocrossing with the VMSC again on future trips back home!

Here is in-car video from my fast run:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rainy Day Autocrossing and Drifting in the NSX

I got a chance to drive my Dad's 2000 Acura NSX at an autocross test and tune this past weekend in Richmond, VA. This was my first time track-driving the NSX so I was really looking forward to it and then it started raining. At first I was bummed....but when life gives you lemons, you make drifting.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mentioned in SportsCar's "Pick the Winners" Article

SportsCar magazine recently released their "Who Will Win" article for the 2012 SCCA Solo Nationals. I didn't get picked to win ESP (didn't expect too), but I got a mention in the article for the first time. Luckily though, Lane was picked to win A-Stock and was referred to as the "Goodyear-driver" in the article so he got some good press for our sponsor. Lane will be trying to prove SportsCar right and I will be trying to prove SportsCar wrong in Lincoln!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Livery for the ESP Camaro

Lane and I did a vinyl job on our Camaro and Corvette racecars with the help of Jay Orcutt. Jay did a great job of cutting the vinyl and helping us apply it to the car. The first order of business was getting rid of a black roof so I had a local shop do a white vinyl wrap on the roof. After that, we applied the blue/orange stripes and the huge Goodyear decals. I think it turned out great and can't wait to show up at Solo Nationals with a great looking car. Here are pictures of the finished product:

Thanks to Takahisa Yamaoka for taking these photos.