All posts by Russ

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

This father’s day my friend Bill and I decided to fix another issue both of our NC Miata’s were having… my rear stabilizer links were making a clicking sound ever since we installed the Bilstein shocks. His Miata seemed to have aftermarket end links where one of them was ripped out of it’s socket because of possible incorrect install to his massive Flyin’ Miata rear stabilizer bar. So Bill ordered the parts online, came over and as soon as we got the car up on the RhinoRamps it started raining… so we went to the Diner for breakfast. On the way we also stopped by at CarQuest to pick up some more new end link nuts because the old ones on my car were showing signs of wear and I didn’t want them to get stripped. He paid $3.30 apiece at the Mazda dealer… I paid $3.30 for a box of 4 Dorman aftermarket pieces. They looked the same.

Fast forward to some better weather and replacing the end links turned out to be a rather quick job. We did Bill’s car first. Taking them off was easy. But placing new ones on seemed to look weird because they went in on an angle when attached to the stabilizer bar… I was worried if we fastened them in this condition, it was possible that they might fail again.

Luckily we had my car nearby to see exactly what they were meant to look like in correct condition, as installed from factory.

So another idea was to take mine off. Replace them with new ones. And use my old ones as guinea pigs on Bills car to see if they would last. If no failure happens after a few weeks of driving we’ll go ahead and replace them with the new ones. So that’s what we did.

Ironically though, the clicking didn’t stop once we installed new end links on my car. Turns out they were not the problem I was experiencing. Instead it appears that the actual stabilizer bar was bending in such a manner that it was making noise when the chasis of the car twisted on various road conditions, particularly when going onto uneven surfaces, like up a driveway or into parking lots, or hitting pot holes.

I was disappointed that the problem didn’t get fixed, but as we were tinkering under my car I discovered that my differential was covered in fluid and grime. It turns out that the last time I did Castrol Syntrax flush to replace the Mobil 1 75W90, I did something wrong. It’s possible I didn’t tighten the bolts enough. Or that I overfilled the differential. Or that my car didn’t like the Castrol product. I was so concerned about it, I ordered another jug of Mobil 1 since it was proven to work well for a good 20k miles, and did the flush later on in the day. So far after the test drive the car feels smooth. There’s no whine at cruising speeds. And all is well. What I’m concerned about now looking at the old Castrol that I drained from the diff, is a bunch of small aluminum shavings. That doesn’t seem normal to me.

But I guess time will tell if there’s a bigger issue.

Today was a very productive Sunday!

Fathers Day Weekend SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock

To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!

Boy am I glad I did.

I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.

The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.

But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.

Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:

This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.

Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…

Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…

Woo Hoo… NC Miata!

Not a Miata!

But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…

This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.

Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?

This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!

Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.

I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!

Thank You New England Region Drivers For a Delicious Paddock Crawl at Lime Rock Park

For the second year in a row now the New England Region SCCA drivers have put on quite a feast for the volunteers and fellow drivers on Friday night after track activities came to a close.

It’s a nice touch… this gives the drivers an opportunity to show their appreciation for the workers and I wanted to do my part to show my appreciation for a job well done. Thank you very much! It’s certainly appreciated.

I only spent a little time pigging out before driving home to Jersey for the night, but I must say the BBQ ribs one fella had were outstanding. Last years’ favorites: margarita slushie people with a side of tacos and the Dinosaur RX-7 folks with their assortment of sausages and meatballs also did a fantastic job. And there was someone with a tasty strawberry and whip cream desert. Full, tasty, meal… hit the spot after a long day at a wet track.

Thanks again to all the NER Drivers!

22 lbs of ribs gone in a matter or minutes… finger lickin’ good!

Una Frozen Margarita por favor… Gracias!

Soooooo tasty!

Oh look I spy Stevie!

Gotta say it looks way different with those massive Mustang wheels!

One of the more social socials I’ve been to at a track lately.

Thanks NER!

Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix

Something exciting will be happening in Canada in July:

Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix couronnera les champions de la saison 2016-2017 !

La Formule E de la F.I.A. arrive au Canada pour la première fois en juillet 2017. Venez découvrir l’avenir de la course automobile au centre-ville de Montréal avec des pilotes de renommée mondiale comme Buemi, Prost ou Piquet Jr. et profitez d’activités de tout genre au eVillage!
Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix, c’est deux courses dont la grande finale de la saison où le grand champion sera couronné!
Assurez-vous d’être des nôtres pour vivre l’adrénaline de la Formule E à son maximum !

Suivez @FIAFormulaE pour les dernières nouvelles du #MontrealePrix

 

montreal.fiaformulae.com

And I intend to be there… it’s been a long while since I visited Montreal for a Motorsport event. Formula 1 just wrapped up and I missed it, but Formula E season finale will be amazing.

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey June 2017

Sunday Fun Day! A heatwave is hitting Northern New Jersey, and a ton of people came out for this month’s Cars & Coffee event at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ

I overslept… didn’t wash my car but wanted to hang out with a few people at the event. So I rushed over… and as soon as I pulled in around 10am everyone else started leaving… all the McLaren P1’s, the Porsche 911’s, the Lamborghinis and Ferrari’s of very recent vintage, but the few cars that remained still caught my eye. So I wanted to share some pix of them…. I realize a lot of the cars are classic and vintage, which you’re likely to see at your neighborhood’s weekly cruise night. But I don’t care. It was a great mix of new and old and for me these oldies stood out….

especially the Figaro:

It’s also important to remember that this area of Jersey is still very European… there’s BMW North American headquarters just across the street. There’s lots of Italians still living here. The real Mafialand… you know where Soprano’s are from. So it’s nice to see all these Alfa Romeo’s, Lancia’s and Fiat’s around. The classic type, the ones that you don’t normally see here. That was nice to see!

Oh and I also really loved the Geländewagen:

Haven’t seen these in a while… but I have seen them before… in Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand. It was nice to see them again!

How is this car a “Historic”?

It is registered as one… look at the Trianglular inspection sticker.

Seeing the Mercedes-Benz 300SL in both convertible and gullwing was awesome… seen both of them before but they sure stood out.

Oh look… a nice Ford

C’est fini….  until next time!

Sunday Fun Day Part 3! BBQ with Car People in Edison New Jersey

Today was an awesome day!

And the rain held off long enough for me to enjoy a delicious BBQ with a bunch of cool car people. They weren’t necessarily Mazda enthusiasts, many of course were. But there were also plenty of Subi fans. Evo fans. Toyobaru fans. Dodge Viper fans… Jaguar F-type fans. You get the idea.

The BBQ was delicious also because of the diversity of the people. Lots of Asian folks making delicious Pinoy food. Korean burgers. Ribs, hot dogs, etc. I was planning on bringing some hot dogs but since I wasn’t sure if I end up really going after the visit to the Meadowlands I didn’t want them sitting in my car. Glad I didn’t because there was food left over at the end. But my six pack of soda went to a good use. Enough about the food. The cars were so awesome and I am especially looking forward to the drone footage that one fella recorded (after almost crashing the thing into a tree).

Thanks to everyone that helped make this day awesome for me!

I really enjoyed myself…

Sunday Fun Day Part 2! SCCA Solo II AutoX at the Meadowlands

My day got better as I kept on hearing tires screeching on the neighboring parking lot in the Meadowlands… I was already enjoying the view of the older MX-5’s racing… I discovered one white NA had huge plumes of flames shooting out under braking at the end of their autoX course… so my goal was to catch it on film trying to take a picture. I of unfortunately failed. But having heard the noise of engines roaring nearby decided to check out what it was.

Boy am I glad I did…. because it both excited me and pissed me off.

I’ll explain why, but first let me share some pix:

Notice anything different to Parking Lot L?

Parking Lot E definitely looks different… Most cars didn’t drive here on their own, they were towed. Most car numbers are real stickers not painter’s tape. The cars are newer. The asphalt looks better in the parking lot. Hey, these folks got deep pockets!

This is what excites me… the cool cars. The variety. The performance. And this is what pisses me off… Look at all this fucking money! I’m so sick and tired of SCCA raising fees because they need more money and look at all this stuff in SOLO, they are not hurting for money. They got all the money in the world. It upsets me that they can’t afford to offer training in this area of the country, the New York/New Jersey Regions, but the money clearly is flowing in. Anyway… back to the cars, racing around cones set up on a big parking lot. I enjoyed watching. It was great! Many cars traveled long distance to be here. I saw lots of NER – New England Region stickers. A lot of cars with Connecticut plates. A lot of serious machinery, racing for 40-50 seconds at a time. And that’s cool!

But even with the cool machinery I was bored after five minutes.

So I departed on my final stop of my Sunday Fun Day automotive adventures… BBQ with car people in Edison.

Sunday Fun Day Part 1! AutoX Motorsport NE at the Meadownlands

Today was a good day!

The threat of rain didn’t dampen my automotive adventures… I slept in pretty late, woke up 9’ish which was a good change from last year when I volunteered Detroit Grand Prix and had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Belle Isle. So that was a plus. I did get to see some racing today, if you could call Autocross racing… all 50+ seconds of it at a time where various Miata’s, Porsche’s, Vette’s, Rotary RX-7’s and RX-8’s and a shitton of other cars took to the track… err parking lot at the Meadownalds.

I was surprised to see two concurrent AutoX events happening at the Met Life Stadium (the former Giants Stadium) one at Lot L and another at Lot E. I’ll share my observations below, knowing full well that many will not agree with my opinions… and since I took a hell of a lot of pictures I’ll break them up into three parts, the Sunday Fun Day series if you will.

So first stop was at Lot L where Motorsports North East were running their Autocross… I learned about it at Miata.net where several owners posted a plan to “race” and hang out, spectate and proceed to lunch at a famous hot dog joint nearby.

I came. I saw. I took some pix. And I got bored rather quickly. Now I understand why I prefer circuit racing to solo. Especially if I could be a part of it as a volunteer.

So here’s some pix:

As you can see people run what they brung… I had a hard time choosing a cover photo for this post because it was definitely a hard choice between the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia which I was delighted to go flat out for the first time, or that cobbled together Mazda MX-5 Miata NA with a turbo and a big wang in the back.

But this event was definitely the “budget” version of the next stop on my automotive adventures today… the Sunday Fun Day series continues…

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Today was a good day!

After the post maintenance test drive my toddler nephew exclaimed: “Oh look it’s Mia and Tia!”

Last week at the Woodcliff Lake Cars & Coffee my buddy Bill with the NC1 Copper Red Soft Top said he needed an oil change, so I volunteered to do it for him. Great! Today was the day to do it, perfect weather… lots of time since it’s the weekend, and besides the oil change we flushed the rear diff too.

Bill’s NC is pushing 104k miles, so it’s got a few more than mine. The area where the trans pairs to the engine was a bit covered with oil, which I guess may be normal for that age. It certainly looks similar as my high mileage Ford Explorer that my mom drives. There was also a lot of grime on the engine cover so I spend much of the time cleaning as the actual oil change took very little time. Actually, it took us the longest to figure out where to jack the car up correctly since his has an Appearance Package with side skirts that stick out beyond the pinch welds that I normally jack my car by.

Here’s some pix:

(first shot with my new Samsung Galaxy J3 6 “budget” smart phone)

Bill’s Miata:

The dreaded Sports Appearance package side skirts… look good from a distance, make the car seem lower to the ground, but a bit tough to work with especially when jacking the car up (and having to remove the jack leaving jack stands in place to lift the other side).

I don’t know if these openings are supposed to look like that or the previous shops/mechanics cut a piece out to get to the jacking point

The wet spot at the joint of transmission and engine

Bill lowered his car 1 inch with Flyin’ Miata Stage 2 kit, so we definitely had to use 2×4’s to get the front high enough for my jack to slide under

All done, first test drive to Advance Auto to recycle old oil and to buy gear lube to flush the rear differential.

Thanks to the great deal at Advance Auto I posted about earlier I got a chance to use both Castrol EDGE and Castrol EDGE Extended Performance + K&N HP-1002 filters on Bill’s oil change and mine…

Back in the air and leveled for the diff flush.

I was hoping that the Castrol Syntrax I used in my car’s last diff flush was going to work out but it seems to me that the quality of Mobil 1 is better so I recommended Bill get Mobil 1 instead.

Discovered one of Bill’s end links had broken off it’s mounting point to the sway bar, so he is going to order some new ones. These are the same pieces that make the clunking sound on my car ever since we replaced my stock shocks with OEM Bilstein’s.

Off on another test drive to get a feel for the rear end of the car… all Good!

Thansk for stopping by Bill!

My car is next, this time I tried the Castrol EDGE Extended Performance to see how it compares to Castrol EDGE I used for the past two oil changes. I’m assuming there will be no difference because I really don’t intend on running the car for 15k miles before the next oil change. In fact I was about 500 miles short of 5k on this one and I have no regrets, I’d rather change it more frequently then less…

This is my 3rd oil change this year, not sure if one more will be necessary before winter time… depends how many races I volunteer.