Monday, July 28, 2008

Top Gear USA

Top Gear USA coming soon to an NBC station. For many American car enthusiasts, this is the long awaited show that has been cloned from our former masters across the pond, the British. I never watched a complete episode of the British version, only small snippets, so I can’t really compare it with the original. I was fortunate to attend a taping of the first episode this past weekend.

I think it’s a mixture of The Man Show (comedy wise no girls on trampoline here probably because Adam Carolla is the host) , Motor Trend, and any MTV reality show all thrown together. To keep its BBC roots they even brought over the original Top Gear producers to assist in the making of the American version. They pretty much kept many of the segments of the British version. Car reviews, The Stig, Star in a reasonably priced car etc. will be used. The main host Adam Carolla did a marvelous job and made the show very entertaining with his witty comments. Tanner Foust brings his knowledge of cars and racing to the table is probably the voice of reason in this bunch. Eric Stromer is the home improvement guy to give an outside perspective, we cars guys are always stubborn sometimes never thinking out of the box.

According to my friends who are more in tune with the British version really enjoyed the show and say it’s pretty much the same as the British counterpart. One commented that it was funnier, but that’s his opinion. You’ll just have to wait for the first episode. I can say that the first episode will be a good one. Hopefully, the rest of America will think so.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Name Plates

Something clever I came across this past weekend. At least I thought it was clever. An ST205 Toyota Celica adorned with GT4 attire. I won’t show the entire car to protect the innocent. Though the owner’s plate I thought was the best part of the whole car. What do you think?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Megalopolis Expressway Trial

Before Fast and Furious and Legend of Speed, there was Megalopolis Expressway Trial (shuto kousoku toraiaru), renamed Freeway Speedway for the U.S. consumer. A series of 5 movies based on the underground freeway racing scene in Japan. I seen the 5th installment of the series about 15 years ago when a friend brought it over. I didn’t really know the name of it except that it had a number 5 on it. It didn’t have any subtitles and I didn’t have any fobby Japanese friends so I had no clue of what the story was about. I liked it cause it had modestly done up Japanese cars, my favorite was the FC3S RX7. I was also exposed to the not yet discovered driving style of drifting. Back then it was all about Hondas and drag racing.

For some reason I had stumbled upon it during my many random searches on Wikipedia. From there I found out that this # 5 had a sequel and prequels. And there were subtitles so I can understand what it was about. So next search led to ebay where I found and bought the whole set.

After watching it, I come to the conclusion that this is a really cheesy movie. Maybe along the lines of F & F, but I had never seen all the F & F movies. None of the movies have a connection to each other. But they had the same basic premise of street racing and Keiichi Tsuchiya giving them a lecture about how street racing is bad. In the end he belittles them at the track and shows them why he’s the king.

If you like the old R32 Skylines and JZA80 Supras, this movie could be for you. If you like to see the AE86 Corolla and other 80’s era cars, this movie could be for you. If you’re into 80’s fashion from Japan this is definitely for you. The only reason why I continued to watch is due to random 80’s cars that show up like the beloved AE86 and of course some of the drifting shots. The story itself is something you could just fast forward through. My personal favorite is still the 5th one after all these years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

626 Drift Comp.

This weekend, I skipped Formula D Las Vegas to compete in 1st 626 Drift competition. I had never been to a 626 event so I was curious how it operated with other events I’ve attended. Let’s just say their methods are on the unorthodox side. It was a fun event but a tad on the confusing side.

The V8 freaks out in force.

Jason and his rotary Corolla ripping it up. One kick ass setup.

John and his Spicy Orange chicken FC was the loudest of them all.

Jeff Jones makes his presence known.

Guys who like to tandem.

Overall, the event was very open and everyone was friendly. If you are interested in participating in their event visit their site.

Click here for the rest of the pics.


Toshiki Yoshioka for the win in Formula D RD. 4 Las Vegas. Now I really regret not going. I seen him drive during previous D1 events and it was nothing less than spectacular.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Invasion of GTR

Looks like all the Nissan dealers are beginning delivery on the GTR. I just got this email a few days ago from a Nissan dealer announcing the arrival of their first GTR. Though the price was removed, last I saw it was up at ~150k. Ouch, but i guess there's not enough supply but big demand the stealers dealers will certainly accommodate. If you're in O.C. visit this dealership for an up close look of godzilla here.

Too Cheap for Premium

Originally uploaded by orange_advan

As gas prices soar and our pockets shrink, owners of vehicles that recommend premium are thinking of feeding their beast with lower grade fuels to help keep money in their pockets. I came across an article that addresses this question. Interesting read for vehicles that need the premium gas.
Click here to read the article.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Addicted to LSD

It’s been 8 years since I’ve had my LSD. It’s definitely one of the best investments I have ever done. Looking back it should be one of the first mods to do if you’re putting together a performance car. After about 8 years of hard running on track and drift days, finally decided it was time for a rebuild. The LSD I’m using is made by Cusco. It’s the MZ model with 1 or 2 way option. Granted I was clueless at the time when I choose this one because it was different and everyone else was getting TRD or Kaaz. But getting it for a pretty sweet deal, when I was working at Signal helped too.

Tearing down the differential here’s is what we get:

Compared to the TRD (middle) discs, the Cusco (right) discs are large. So it has better lock up and dissipates heat much better. The stock LSD is way on the left and very inferior for performance applications.

Checking the clutch pack thickness, it turns out it was about .020 undersize from new. It doesn’t sound like much, but I guess that means it’s worn.

Rebuilding a few TRD differentials the past few years, I was expecting to do some work on the housing. Since TRD housings are cast and not hardened, they have a tendency to develop ridges in the keyways from abuse. Sorry don’t have any pictures to show you what I’m explaining. If not properly taken care of during a rebuild, they may hinder the function of the LSD after the rebuild.

The Cusco on the other hand is a hardened steel housing. Upon inspection of the housing I didn’t see any kind of wear on the housing nor the gear. And this is after 8 years of hard driving. And most corolla drivers know that constant clutch kicks are the norm for drifting.

The clutch pack still looks new. The new one from the rebuild kit is on the left.

What sucked was the rebuild kit I received after about 2 months of waiting, I was short 2 discs. My differential requires a total of 16 discs. I only got 14 discs. Since I didn’t want to wait for the replacement, I had to grab one the used discs to fill in the gap. So make sure you know how may you need and get the proper amount of discs. The MZ and RS use different amount of disc. The new MZ has a total of 20 discs.

I’ve also opted to use a 4.556 ring and pinion this time around for better acceleration and to hang in 3rd gear longer. We’ll see how it turns out.

Eventually, I’ll need to get my ass in gear and upgrade to this puppy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

GT Live 6 Extra Crap

During the down time, when I wasn’t practicing or working on the car, I made some time to take some snaps of other happenings.

Taka hanging out with the locals. He’s famous in Utah.

Poor Choh’d had lost his phone. He was depressed cause he won’t be receiving any booty calls for a couple of days. But the track workers did find it and wrote him a friendly note. Utonians are so friendly.

They take friendly to a whole different level.

Choh’d oil temps were really hot +250F and couldn’t keep it cool for the whole event. They tried to make the cooler work better with this make shift duct. Unfortunately it didn't work so his day was pretty much over.

Cyrus was hot on and off the track so everyone did their part to keep him cool.

But she is even hotter.

Wish I had a better shot, of Naoki doing his impression of Deebo. If you don’t who that is, then get a copy of Friday.

Herb knows how to keep cool.

D.A. staff relaxing before the start of the event.

Before I returned home I had to stop by and pick up the awesome Alien Jerky. If you’re ever in Baker, Ca. stop by and check it out. It’s a bit on the expensive side but it’s well worth the money.

Overall, it was a great event. Everyone was really friendly and we got along really well. What really annoyed me was I had to pay to get in to the venue. It should have been stated on the site and/or added into the registration fee. It’s kinda like they’re nickel and diming me. There also should have a been a packet that contained wrist bands, parking permits, etc. I kept on going back to the main office, first to get tickets, then the parking permit. It’s like every time I return the gate keepers had something different I needed.

Well enough of me rambling let’s enjoy.

The End

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pro Am Utah

This past weekend was spent at Tool Tooele, Utah, which is about ½ hour away from Salt Lake City. You’re probably wondering what would be interesting in a place called Tooele? Miller Motorsports Park of course, which was the site for GT Live 6, I was there to participate in the Formula D/ Pro- Am qualifier presented by Mazda. Miller Motorsports Park, located in Tooele, Utah, is the host to great racing series such as American LeMans, AMA Super Bike, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, etc.

The plan was to leave Thursday night with an ETA of noon Friday. Only after a 2 hours of driving I had to stop. I was so drained the past few days that the road started looking like this, so I had the co driver take over.

As we got closer to Salt Lake City, gas got cheaper. But you get cheated by being served up 85 octane. Being the cheap bastard, I filled it up to the top. It’s a Ford it’ll take anything you throw at it. I had arrived at the track Friday afternoon after a long 12 hour drive up from Los Angeles.

Even being in the middle of nowhere, I have to admit, that this was one of the most amazing tracks I have been too. It's a bit smaller than what I thought it was. It seemed much bigger from videos and maps I saw online.

We were assigned a garage space, which was setup along pit row. Here’s stupid Choh’d getting in the way and ruining the shot. The garages themselves are fully decked out, with all utilities. From air hook ups to televisions, even the bathrooms were hella clean, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It definitely beats working on the car with the under the sun.

With 1st day of practice over, I really hadn’t been able to link the whole track. Due to the higher elevation, my car was down on power. I couldn’t get the tires to keep spinning as I normally do back in California. I’m not making any excuses, cause AE86 drivers don’t need power to make things happen. Just a bigger bag of pixie dust will make things work, not excuses here.

On Saturday my car was just had some minor problems, leaky clutch slave cylinder and an oil leak around the rear main seal. I had to travel back to the city to get the slave because the little town of Tooele didn’t have them in stock. But I noticed that this town doesn’t have very many import vehicles to begin with.

2nd day of practice was much better, with some good advice from Taka, I made some changes to my setup and my driving technique. I was able to link up the first 2 corners once, I was getting very close.

There was a time attack on our side of the track so here’s a couple of snaps.

She wasn’t driving but still looked fast.

On Sunday Naoki decided to put his art skills to use and drew a penis on my car. Why? I never did anything wrong. Competition consisted of 3 runs taking the best of 3. All that was needed was one clean run. My goal for the day was to score points for by completing first 2 corners, I really didn’t think I was going to make the third corner. 1st run was o.k, too many corrections more than likely a zero run. 2nd run was a zero dirt drop at the end of the 2nd corner. By this time I wasn’t sure if I was going to choke and go home empty handed. Naoki came over asked me how I was doing and I think he offered to draw another penis on my window. 3rd run definitely a score. A bit on the dirty side but I’m pretty satisified, I hope the judge was too.

Returning to the pits, I was greeted by a beautiful sight. The GT Live models happen to be hanging around in front of my pit garage. So I took it upon myself to at least grab one picture with all of them because I couldn’t find them during my pit walks.

She was hella pretty.

After all the fierce competition, we’re all still friends by the end of the day and it still shows.

Congratulations to the top 10 who got invited to Pro-Am. Which includes me!

The rest of the pics are here