June 30, 2010

Tune, Small Fortune Visit, And National Tour

Many people have told me of how drastically different their car can feel with a different tune. After I got my tune from MazdaManiac, I can see why. Jeff (MazdaManiac) provides tuning services to RX-8 owners by having you submit specific information and some data logs to him. He makes tunes for the Cobb Accessport, and offers tuning for 6 months per subscription.

Unfortunately I have no dyno numbers, but you can at least feel the differences. Before the tune, the car had next to no initial pickup at 1, all the way to 3.5rpm. Once it hit 4,000rpm, it suddenly had a fair amount of torque and power, and was relatively smooth to 9,300 rpm. After the tune, the car has no initial pickup only from 1-1,800 rpm. Anything after, it is constantly outputting torque and power, VERY smoothly. No sudden kick in like before, just very smooth and consistent. Big thanks to Jeff for the awesome tune, looking forward to trying it out when I get my car back.

Which brings me to the next part of this post! I dropped off my car at Small Fortune Racing for the next large install, along with a few other touch ups. The laundry list is as follows:
  • Black Halo Racing/Small Fortune Racing collaboration full header-back exhaust
  • Removing the air pump
  • Fixing the seat positions so they're even (the pegs were shaved off uneven)
  • Creating a radiator bracket that holds up the under-tray properly
  • Creating a radiator shroud so the hood doesn't start getting jumpy at high speeds
  • Checking the alignment after getting my new steering rack

I can't wait to feel out the car after all of these items get completed. Hopefully he can find some time on the dyno as well so I can finally get some numbers, and if not, I can always do a few pulls somewhere I haven't visited in a long time; DSG! Thanks again Bill, looking forward to see more of your work on my car.

Lastly, I wanted to announce that Ben Wagstaff has invited me to National Tour down in Fingerlakes, New York. I will be racing in his STS Miata, checking out the scene, helping Ben out, and taking a ton of footage when I'm out on the course. Test course is July 9th, followed by 2 days of racing after. Looking forward to it and can't wait to see how I stack up against pros in a car I have never driven before! Stay tuned.

June 20, 2010

Renegade Miata Club's 2nd Event

There is always something to be said about the Renegade Miata events. It's not JUST how great of a community it is, the number of runs or little quirks (Kenny cones, morning low-down, etc.) but it's also how amazing and energizing their course designs are. All of the above always makes for an amazing event on the weekend.I got to have Gunner co-drive with me for this event, and bagged some great footage of my runs, including some fun runs after. The course layout was designed beautifully, without the feeling of having something left to be desired. Many slaloms into some sweeping turns, which is just how I like my courses. I'd say my favorite section was the back half. In the video you'll notice me sweeping out of a slalom going left and into 3 six packs, followed by two directional slaloms, with some high-speed offset gates. Course elements like those are exactly what I feel the most comfortable in, with the car responding very well to my inputs.I wanted to try out running the course with the front sway bar set to full stiff (was medium stiff, with rear full stiff) as recommended by Bill Gendron. It felt a lot more planted on the turns, behaved exactly as I wanted it to, and seemed to make the car more balanced. Ben Wagstaff and Brian Levesque mentioned the rear feeling a touch too loose, which I find interesting because the car feels spot on to me. Granted, when they took the car out, the gas tank was almost empty, and I went to the event with 7 gallons. Maybe that could help play a role in saying the rear felt slightly loose? Either way, I really enjoy the setting, but we'll have to try some different settings for fun to see what else we can come up with. There may be different settings out there that will suit my driving style better!For the end of the day results, I came 2nd place in the "Other Mazdas" category behind John Stevens. I came first in raw with a 1'08.4, followed by Gunner with a 1'11.3, but not in pax points. Jeff managed to bag a 1'15.7 but could not hold off Matt Thompson, coming in with a 1'14.3. Fastest time of the day goes to Brian Levesque with a screaming 1'01.5. Any faster and it would have been warp speed! Check out the results page listed here on Renegade Miata. Just want to give a big ups to Gunner for teaching more some good tricks and the awesome lunch. Big ups to Jeff of Show Shine Detail & Performance for coming out and the great video with him in my car for a fun run. More big ups to Brian Levesque for taking me out for a fun run and showing me that I still have a lot to learn in my car, and letting me catch it on film! Some more of those big ups to Ben Wagstaff for taking my car out during some fun runs and giving me a show as I was working the corner. Wish I caught it on film! Huge thanks to Nayda for some of the great photos of the event, and lastly to my friend Patryk for coming out to see what Solo racing is all about. He is also racing, but on a much different platform. Feel free to check out his Ducati blog and see what he's up to.
The camera seemed a bit more jumpy then usual but it could just be that it's more noticeable since I recorded at 1080P this time around. Not quite sure, will do some testing since I have some down time from racing for awhile. First three videos are my fastest runs of the day, which were my 2nd, 6th and 7th runs. After that is a quick outside video Nayda took, 3 fun runs I took with some passengers, Jeff taking my car out with Patryk, then a special footage of Brian Levesque going all out (bagged a low 1'07 too)! Thanks again everyone, couple of long weeks with some rest time ahead of me so until then, stay tuned.

June 7, 2010

SCCA Weekend Event!

The SCCA New England Region held a weekend-long event over at Deven's Airforce Base. Saturday's event was a charity event that had a "Pro-Elimination" mini-event during the day. Sunday was their 4th points event. The weather was unpredictable, having many dark clouds, sporadic rain and lightning, with even some local tornado warnings. I didn't believe it at first, but when I saw those black clouds so low to the ground and starting to funnel together, I couldn't help but get slightly nervous myself.

Before I give a overview of both days, I just want to say thank you to Bill Gendron of Small Fortune Racing for co-driving with me in the afternoon on Saturday and allowing me to grab some footage of him at the wheel. I also wanted to thank Brian Kuehl for co-driving with me on Sunday, helping me see some different things I could be working on with my lines and putting the pedal to the metal. Be sure to check out Brian's blog about his CRX, which is a monster CRX. Boasting over 350+ wheel horse power with a supercharged K20 engine!

Saturday had a small number of participants, so Bill Gendron setup a cross over-type course, allowing us to utilize our number of workers better. A cross over for those who are unfamiliar is a course in where it goes up one runway, and then has a U turn at the end, making you come back down and then back up another runway, before going back down that one into the finish line. Course was great once I got the hang of it, but with how long things were taking during the pro-elimination event and a storm heading straight for Devens, I decided to cut out early. Luckily I managed to catch footage of a good run in the morning and Bill's two evening runs. This was not a points event so the results didn't necessarily matter. As for the Pro-Elimination, I wanted to congratulate Ben Wagstaff for battling hard, coming in a very close 2nd place behind Eric Chang. Good job to the both of you! First video is my last morning run, pulling in a '66 flat. Second two are of Bill Gendron's afternoon runs, pulling in a 67' and a 66.5 (he is also not used to my car). Interesting driving style though, don't you think?

Sunday's points event was a bit of a tricky one, as we had to keep a close eye on the weather, and figure out which way was optimal on the course as there was four optional slaloms. You'll notice me and Brian trying different ways throughout the videos below as it was hard to keep lines consistent while figuring out a faster way, but I suppose the fastest way is always what flows better, right? I managed to take 3rd place in SM with 4th only .1 seconds away from me. A bit hard on myself for that because I know even if I still was in 3rd, I could have driven a lot faster if I was worrying less about the slaloms and focusing more on just driving. Brian took 3rd as well in SSM, which was still really good considering he is used to driving a high powered front wheel drive car! Final results are located here, with pax times here, and raw times located here. Plenty of footage below and a lot less camera pictures.

Reflecting on this weekend, I have a lot of things to consider with my car. I'm on the fence about many things going on with the car that I'm not 100% about. I'm a firm believer that I won't fully benefit from R Compounds unless I'm pushing the car to it's limits currently. That being said, if I don't get slicks until next year, 1st place for me for the year is guaranteed not to happen. Plus with my entire exhaust build coming up very soon, I won't exactly have the resources for extra wheels, R Compounds and the tools to change wheels at events. Of course then there are the free modifications I could be doing as well, such as removing the air conditioner, or 11-Speaker Bose sound system, or the sunroof as I have been harping about for awhile now, or some other things. First thing is first though, and that is the upcoming exhaust. Lets see how the car behaves after losing some weight there and get that added power and torque, matched with a good tune from MazdaManiac. Once that's done, I guess I'll revisit my situation and decide from there, but until then, stay tuned. Current SCCA NER Standings are as follows:

3, 9, 9, 4 = 25 Marc Monnar 1st Place
6, 6, 0, 9 = 21 PJ Corrales 2nd Place
9, 4, 0, 0 = 13 David White 3rd Place
4, 0, 0, 3 = 7 Eric Schnider 4th Place
1, 1, 3, 1 = 6 Daniel Howard 5th Place

Videos are in order from morning to afternoon, 3 runs each. Brian forgot to record his last morning run, so it goes right to my 1st afternoon run. My fastest time of the day was a 56.3, which is the 6th video. Some pictures from the event from Eddie located here.