Tuesday, August 25, 2020

[Focus] Back on track

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 


I got bored and decided to plasti-dip my track wheels. I am a fan of colored spokes. I liked this turquoise color when I saw it on the shelf, but mounted on the car I probably should have done red or something, as they don't really stand out. I bet it would have looked great on black wheels. In any case... RS returned to Laguna a month after the last track day here.

At least, I think it did. Laguna is always foggy in the morning but this was the thickest I've seen it. Couldn't even see my way into the paddock.

Northern California is suffering from enormous and widespread fires at the moment. Laguna Seca is not far from one of them. Take a look here at the extent of the wildfires, the Bay Area is burning in all directions. To my surprise, the track was almost entirely unaffected. The air was clearer than anything I've seen around San Jose in the past week.

In any case, it was a "typical" track day. The car ran well, I felt fast, I cooked the brakes. The first-generation Cayman S next to me had carbon ceramic brakes and I was jealous. I didn't know they offered these on those cars back then, apparently it was a $13k option! And then you have the carbon brake paradox - they provide optimum track performance, but they're so expensive to replace that you don't want to run them on the track. Silly. It will be nice if/when costs come down on those.

Things were 30m delayed in the morning until the track cleared up enough to run - that is, the flag Marshalls can see each other at the stations. I ran in a mixed group - being a Tuesday, I don't think the organizer put together enough of a group for a full day. So we shared track time with a motorcycle group and another car organization. Unfortunately this made our run group an "open" mish-mash of drivers and comfort levels, which I do not like. The rule was "open passing, unless the car in front of you has a big red sticker on the back, which means they're not comfortable with open passing and you need to wait for their point-by." It's just one more thing to process when your mind is already pretty busy. There were some novices out and it made for a couple of hairy situations.

When you really, really don't want any rock chips.

The weather cleared up in its usual way and the conditions were nice.

I cooked the brakes early in the day, same old story.

Gridded for an afternoon session, I found myself envying more carbon brakes. And also being glad that I got track insurance with $1m liability coverage. Can't take chances with the level of hardware out on track.

And... that was about it. The car ran well aside from the brakes, the tires have impressive tread depth after 3 full track days on them. I ran my personal best time of a high 1:49, you can watch that at the end of this post if you're having trouble sleeping. The Plasti-Dip surprised me and endured the heat of my braking system, which probably means that it's baked on permanently. Haha.

Monday, August 10, 2020

[M3] Borrowed wheels and waking up the 2.3

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

It's been a busy month. M3 has been mostly idle since the big road trip.

I got tired of rolling around on the stock 15s and ancient tires. Jon loaned me his 16" BBS RS. I don't know the model numbers but they're 16x8 with et 24 up front and et11 in the back. Looks nice!

Tons of space in the back even with ET11. Tires are 225/40.

I received a big box in the mail from Germany. 

The cams (284/276) and flywheel (Evo, despite my labeling) have been on the shelf for a while. Airbox and A-N is new. The car will be heading to Sacramento this weekend with Josh for installation.

It's time to wake this 2.3 up!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

[Focus] Road trip!!

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

[also note: I have condensed multiple forum posts into this entry, please forgive awkward transitions]

The RS had certainly earned its rest after such a long Saturday tearing around the track. Instead, I put the street wheel setup back on and set out on a 1000-mile week-long road trip:

We needed to get out of the house. I didn't know where to go, except that we wanted to hit our friends in Kirkwood on the way home. So, having not really explored much of northeast California, I opened Google maps and picked something on the map up in that area. The town of Chester looked nice, right on lake Almanor and next to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Booked a B&B and took off.

Outside of Chico the RS crossed the 14,000 mile barrier. We stopped in Chico to eat some McDonald's in the parking lot.

The town of Chester was... smaller than expected. We stayed in a nice B&B on the north edge of town, which was really just the one stretch of road. I got the sense that lake Almanor is more of a private place - there are few public beaches, and most of the lakefront is private homes or country clubs. We were there for four days/three nights, which was a good thing, because that was enough to exhaust the town's takeout restaurant options.

It was pretty quiet up there, and that was nice. Few people out and about. Made it possible to grab a photo on the boat launch ramp.

The RS carried us into Lassen Volcanic National Park bright and early.

Nitrous blue stands out, even from afar.

We hiked the Bumpass Hell trail - named for the guy who found it and then, while showing it off to a visiting writer, stepped through the earth and dipped his leg in boiling mud. Oops. Lost the leg.

The rest of the park was lovely too.

The next day, we did a big driving loop to explore more of the area. We stopped in Westwood to see Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

Next, we passed through Susanville and had lunch.

We cut up north on 139 and spent some time going through the desert.

Our northern-most point was Alturas. Over 5 hours of driving we passed through dozens of towns, almost all of them small and maybe past their prime.

The bug body count really took off some time between Alturas and Fall River Mills.

Had to grab this photo in front of the flag of the state of Jefferson. For those not in the know, Jefferson is a proposed sub-state of California.

This last photo is from Tahoe City. We drove down through Lake Tahoe to reach Kirkwood and it was an absolute zoo. Not even space to pull off for a cool photo in front of the lake. So here's a Street View look at the view I really wanted to photograph.

Oh wait, bonus photo: total bug massacre. Hopefully you're not eating.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, what an amazing car. Saturday I'm tearing around Laguna Seca at full speed, Sunday I swap the wheels and tires, Monday I'm off on a 1,000 mile road trip. The suspension is a bit jiggly but otherwise, fantastic road trip car. Took all our luggage, A/C on and strong, cruise control, Apple CarPlay (now with Waze!), didn't skip a beat. On the many 2-lane roads overtaking was not a problem, and of course it was a blast on the fast and windy roads. Huge kudos to Ford for building such an incredibly capable machine.

Next for the RS: going back to Laguna Seca again a week from Tuesday!