If you follow my instagram account or if you know me personally then you will know that I sold the [BROKAGAIN] STI because, well, it was broke… again. Compression low on CYL4, eating a quart of oil every 500miles, the crack on the turbo you saw in the first article, new exhaust manifold was needed, and the list goes on and on. I ended up selling the car to Carmax for $10k and got myself a brand new 2015 Scion FR-S.
Best way I could compare the two, is the FRS has half the doors, half the driving wheels, half the power, and is more than twice as much fun to drive. As soon as I got the car I got myself some second hand race wheels with race rubber so I could run the car. I can’t stress enough how many good deals are out there for racing parts like wheels and tires. If you are racing on a budget this is the best path to take in my opinion.
I was supposed to have my first event 2 weeks earlier but I was in bed with a fever the entire weekend – c’est la vie. I couldn’t tell you how anxious I was to get the car on a track after driving it on the street. The car feels like I’m working with a scalpel instead of a cleaver like the STI felt. Every input is precise and feel instantaneous along with being very smooth. It wants to be driven fast; if only I was a fast driver. The course we raced on was a rather short one with the FTD (fastest time of the day) coming in at 30.683 seconds. Most autocross courses will be around 1 minute so this was definitely definitely short, but we got more runs in the day because of it. My best time for the day was a 34.518 which got me 3rd (of 3) in class and overall (PAX) I came in 48th of 75 drivers. Not a bad day for the first event with a new car and new drivetrain. The fun had in the day far outweighed any frustration I had from not performing as well as I would have liked. A bad day of racing is better than a good day of work.
Now, to get into the finer details of the day/weekend: Preparation. Friday afternoon, and parts of Saturday day were spent swapping my wheels, cleaning out the car of loose items, making a makeshift breakfast and lunch for the day, getting all my things organized, and just generally getting my focus where it should be. Sunday after the race was spent doing the above steps but kind of in reverse. All of this time is usually over shadowed by the events that happen at the track so I wanted to cover these as they are as important as race day itself. If you don’t prepare properly your car isn’t going to be as fast as it can be, and you won’t be as fast as you can be because you won’t have that necessary peace of mind. On my last car, I used to spend $50 twice a month during race season to have the car put on a lift and have pre & post race inspections done. Anything I could do so that all my focus could be on driving to the best of my abilities. It’s nice with the new car as my prep basically consists of cleaning out fast food receipts and swapping wheels. I’m not sure of the best vehicle to convey this message, but lets try a little timeline.
Friday Night – I get home from work about 5:30pm, have a snack, and change into some clothes I’m ready to get dirty in. I bring the wheels from the backyard and place them by the wheels on the car they are to replace. Then it’s time to grab the tools necessary to make this job as easy as possible; not all of these tools are required, but I’m going to put the ones I used into the end of post receipt.
(pictures are of the reverse process Sunday night)
- Wheel Chocks
- 24v Cordless Impact Wrench (1/2″ Drive)
- Torque Wrench (1/2″ Drive)
- Impact Socket Set
The process itself shouldn’t be all that foreign if you have ever changed a tire in your life, and if you are reading Build Race Party I’m going to assume you have. Jack the car up; thankfully my new car has a front jacking point and the rear just goes up by the differential. If you don’t have a cordless impact wrench, be sure to break the bolts loose prior to jacking the car up.
I also recommend bringing a sharpie with you to mark what corner of the car the wheel came off of, and what corner it is going back onto. In the picture below you can see I marked the driver side front and tallied a 1 next to it as it has seen one event. I usually tally till it hit 5 and then rotate and clean off my writing with some acetone.
Once you’ve got the wheels off, put your race wheels on and be sure to torque them to spec. It wouldn’t hurt to perhaps tighten the lugs a little bit higher than factory spec for race day. By the time I got all 4 wheels swapped daylight had left and it was time to put my tools away.
Saturday – I spent the day cleaning out all the little loose knick-knacks that were lying around in my car. Basically, end goal is to have nothing in your car that could get stuck under a pedal or distract you while driving. I also got all of the items that I would need for the race day together.
Race Day Necessities:
- Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Water
- Portable Air Compressor
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Glass Cleaner and Micro Fiber Towels
- Magnetic Numbers and Class Placards (or masking tape)
- Sun Screen
- Bug Spray
- Shop Towels
- Tools (the same as mentioned above, but now with more Breaker Bar)
- Chalk (for the sidewalls of the tires)
- Extra Change of Clothes
Sunday – Wake up early, take a shower, eat a snack, and roll out. I would recommend getting to the event at least 30 minutes before registration and tech open. Get your race day necessities out of your car, put too much pressure in your tires so you can let some out (40psi should do), get your numbers and class on your car, and if you really care take out your donut and all that is associated with it. If you don’t have a portable compressor, look for another racer nearby who may have one and ask if you can borrow it when they are done. I can’t tell you how nice and forthcoming racers are at grassroots events. Everyone has been where you are (if this is your first event) and they all know the frustrations and struggles. Nothing feels better, at least for me, than helping out a first timer and seeing them at the end of the day with an ear-to-ear grin telling me they can’t wait for the next event. Forewarning: If you race once, there is a high probability you will become addicted. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Ask them to take ride alongs with you and help you navigate the course, ask them what pressure they are running their tires at, ask them what they are doing about the weird offset slalom at the beginning of the course. Bottom Line: ASK THEM. The good racers will be happy to give you all the advice in the world as that means they may have another person to compete with. Race days are the most fun when you are going back and forth on times with another person in class. It’s fun, and it will help you keep pushing the limit because you want to get ahead of them again. Most importantly, get invited to bench race later. The best advice I’ve gotten was while having a burger and a beer after the race with the fast guys and gals. It’s nice to relax after the event with friends, and talk about the course and where you struggled and where you excelled.
Once the race day is over, and the burgers have been consumed it’s time to head home. When I get home the first thing I want to do is shower and pass out, but I force myself to swap my wheels back and get my car ready to be a daily driver again. It sucks, and you will be dead tired, but it is a great sense of accomplishment when everything is back together and ready for work Monday after a fun racing weekend. I apologize for the delay since my last post, but now you know why (dealing with getting a new car ready). I also want to apologize as this was a rather long post, but I want to be thorough. If you want to know anything else, or have any other questions or concerns – feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me directly. I’m more than happy to help. Race on!
(Pictures of me on course taken by my friend and fellow racer Hubert Borowski – Thanks BTW)