May 23, 2009

Grippy Weekend

Wow. I'm still wowing. All I can say is "Holy Consistent Grip Batman!". I don't think these things want to let go, ever. On a serious note, I just put on my new tires this morning. Dunlop Direzza Sport Star Spec Z1 in 245/40/18. The tread is just as aggressive as the tire, and is essentially just barely a step down from an R compound tire. Their R compound has the same tread, except without the ribbed center (which is required for the street apparently).

My driving impression on sweepers and long turns, even short ones, is that it just grips to the road. Doesn't matter your speed, as long as you are in control, the tires do the rest of the work. I noticed a hum from the tires 45miles and up, but it's tolerable and easily forgotten after awhile. Apparently these wheels are on top for dry grip, and medium for wet grip. The competing Advan AD08 is a monster in the wet, while very similar grip in the dry compared to the Dunlop. The new Bridgestone RE11 is also exceptional, but the problem is that due to the softer sidewall, my car wouldn't get the full potential of the tire like a Miata or S2000 would.

I highly recommend these street tires to anyone who basically wants a streetable race tire. I can't wait to try these out at autocross, as they may be more predicable than my old Yokohama S-Drives.

May 21, 2009

Flush And Brackets

Small update of some minor upgrade I did. All new Stainless Steel brake and clutch lines from Technafit, full flush with ATE Super Blue, and finished off with new front swaybar bushings and brackets.

The lines were very nicely made, and all fit perfectly, just very time consuming to get it all completed. We flushed my old OEM brake fluid from the car after installing each line to make sure all air was gone, and the old fluid had gone. It is kind of neat to see blue brake fluid as opposed to the traditional golden colored fluids.

After the brake and clutch line installs, I had gotten for my birthday some nice Energy Suspension front swaybar bushings and brackets. The front swaybar bushings that came with the Progress Technology swaybars were actually rubber, and not polyurethane surprisingly. So I replaced the old rubber ones with the new polyurethane bushings, and with beefier brackets. The kit fit so perfect that it was actually hard to get in.

My road impressions about the bushings is that they actually are worth the swap. I noticed that the front isn't really much stiffer than before, but I get more feedback from what the front of the car is doing. Very nice to get this kind of input with just a small modification like that. As for my impression of the lines and after the flush, it was well needed. My brakes are much firmer now, as well as my clutch pedal. Each shift is spot on consistent, while my brakes felt very responsive.

May 16, 2009

Beginner Autocross School

Every year, SCCA NER holds two autocross schools that club members are enabled to attend; beginner and intermediate. Today was the beginner class, and though I have prior experience, I still learned a lot!

The event started off with tech inspection as usual, but was followed by a good hour of sitting down and going over a packet that included various terms of how to take turns, sit properly within your seat, proper hand positions on the steering wheel, etc. Shortly after, we were all split into 3 groups to tackle 3 different exercise courses.
Exercise 1 was a slalom course. There were two slaloms, one set up equal length apart, while the other was set up with different lengths between the cones. As you go through one slalom, there was a sharp turn at the end that allowed you to turn around and go through the other slalom.

Exercise 2 was a clam shell course. For those who are unfamiliar with what a clam shell is - imagine a curve, like a turn, with a cone on the other it's a gate you have to go through at a angle. There were 5 clam shells, followed by a quick 6 pack of cones, and then a long sweeper to go backwards on the course. It was really to teach you to not only look ahead and how to take clam shells, but to learn how to position your car for when you're looking ahead, visualizing where you want to be at the end of each turn, and so forth.

Exercise 3 was what is called a Kidney Bean. In this case, imagine if you were looking down at a kidney bean, and that is how the cones were setup. Sort of like an oval, only with a pinch. Another exercise that focuses on looking ahead and setting your car up for upcoming turns. Once I got the hang of this, this was a really fun one.

In the end, they threw together Exercises 2 and 3, and threw in a slalom to connect the two, creating a small autocross course to put everyone to the test. We had people from high level, to very beginner attacking this course, along with some people with R compounds. I managed to rank 9th out of 36. The instructors for the day said I looked really good out there, and that 58' wasn't a bad time at all. I guess plenty of room for improvement as well though.

I definitely recommend this class to all beginner autocrossers though, as I learned many things. I'm sure regardless of how much you are interested in autocross, you'll find some enjoyment out of taking this course.

May 3, 2009

All Mazda Meet At Orange County Choppers

The day finally came for the annual Mazda Meet at OCC! I unfortunately did not have the time to go last year, so I decided to go this year to check out what it's all about! It was great to see some old faces from people in NY, and get together with the usual NEPOC crew.

I had gone to also support my good friend with his business, SleeperModZ, and setup the booth with him and get my car on display, along with Josh. After all the setup, making sure our cars were clean and getting things in gear, we were ready to go! The booth consisted of a large white tent, with the black SleeperModz banner infront. Inside the tent at the back wall was a SleeperModz banner, with all information needed. At the center table, there were items on display, with a large monitor, keyboard and mouse that was connected wirelessly to the Internet. Firefox was set to Kiosk mode so that people could surf only the SleeperModz website and check out what product they have for their car.The day went on with some music, over 150+ different cars, raffles, and mostly hanging out and talking. At the end of the day, we packed up, went to the hotel for a nap to make up for the lost hours of sleep, before hitting up TGI Friday's for celebration dinner!

Day 2 mostly consisted of a few people getting together, saying goodbyes, getting the grand shop tour of OCC, and then heading back out to MA. Was a great time, and was great to see everyone there. Below is a list of all the picture galleries of various people that had gone.
Josh's Gallery
Josh's Car's Infront of OCC Gallery
Josh's Shop Tour Gallery
Anna's Gallery 1
Anna's Gallery 2
Chris's Gallery
Lonecorp's Gallery
Ashley's Gallery
Zach's Gallery
Craig's Gallery
SpeedAddiction's Gallery