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Showing posts from 2008

Looking back on '08

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We have been in Boulder, Colorado for almost three weeks and first thing tomorrow morning, we will head back to Southern California. The picture above is of Margo alongside the other ‘Vette – the C5 Z06 that is our “other car” when in Colorado – but no longer playing the part of an “umbrella girl”, having swapped the T Shirt in favor of something much warmer! For some time we have been contemplating driving the Z06 back to Southern California, and taking it to the track for ’09. We had been reconsidering whether to continue our driver education in the C6 Z51 ‘Vette, or to try the Z06, as the Z06 chassis is pretty good and the 6-speed manual affords a lot more control over power delivery to the rear wheels. All we would need to do is to replace the tires (still the original tires from 2003), upgrade the brake pads and swap out the brake fluids for something with higher temperature tolerances. Could be the way to go! From our first outing, under the tutelage of the National Auto

Coming to terms with Frankenstein

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I am a little disoriented – but I can see the wall approaching rapidly. I can even see the protective tires surrounding it – it’s the wall that divides the track from the “hot pits” and has proved to be a very strong magnet over the years, pulling in cars on regular basis. I am not completely sure of what driver input I am providing to any of the controls and the wall continues to get closer! If I destroy the car on this wall, I will be pretty upset. Before leaving Simi Valley I had driven out to A&A Corvette Performance at Oxnard as Andy had wanted to give the engine software a quick check to make sure there were no new “codes” showing or any strange entries in the tables that manage the fuel mix to the engine. But it all checked out OK, and he made sure the computer was providing us with a slightly richer fuel mix. I had already added a measure of 100 octane gas to the tank to bring up the overall octane reading to 95 and, for good measure, added a pint of oil as well. Even th

The pedal on the right ...

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Track sessions this month were held at ButtonWillow, a difficult track favoring the “technicians” of our group, more capable of wringing the best from their “momentum” cars. This would be the first time out for the new, supercharged Corvette, and from our previous experience at ButtonWillow, we couldn’t have picked a worse track! This is where the agile Honda Civics, and Mazda Miatas, drive everyone nuts – swarming behind the more powerful “torque” cars. The track serves up uneven surfaces, turns with changing radiuses and corner sequences that simply don’t reward those who try to follow conventional "racing lines"! So the question really was – could a 580 bhp supercharged ‘Vette even stay on the track, let alone be fun! But before heading to the track, preparation began on Thursday, and the picture above is of the ‘Vette on that hoist at A&A Corvette Performance. Andy, of A&A, had shown me an enhanced air-to-air intercooler for the supercharger that had fins add

Almost ...

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This weekend we managed to fit in a trip down to Anaheim to visit the Orange County Auto Show sponsored by the magazine Motor Trend. I have developed a liking for some of the editorials in this magazine and given the chance of a one year free subscription, just for attending the show, I couldn’t resist. Even though this meant navigating more than fifty miles of LA freeways on a Saturday afternoon, in light rain – the first for the season, getting the chance to look at the new Corvette ZR1 up close certainly seemed fair enough compensation. The trip down was uneventful except for the slight detour we took through a Disney parking station, when we should have been at the Anaheim convention center, but the helpful folks at Disney soon had us headed out of the garage and in the right direction. As we had bought our tickets online, and had an e-ticket receipts, gaining entry to the event went very smoothly. And without any fuss at all, or lengthy queuing, we were standing on the floor of

Whoosh, and Blur!

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It was only a week or so ago that my good friend and former boss, Chris, emailed me about his latest outing on the track. Chris was back east and he was clearly lapping the course in a Lotus Super 7 – or one of the many derivatives of this well known model. Racing a Super 7 just has to be a whole lot of fun and a return to the early days of motor racing, when all the cars were roughly the same and it was the superior driver skills that won on the day. When I moved to London in the early ‘70s I had the good fortune of being able to go to Caterham and to the small workshop that existed there at the time – I have no idea what it looks like today, but back in those days, it was just a very small village operation. It had been only a short time before my arrival at the garage that Lotus had decided to leave the Super 7 market, and had handed over the rights, as well as a lot of supporting technology, to the garage at Caterham. From that date, the car was renamed the Caterham Super 7. I w

Crisscrossing the Continental Divide …

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After our weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway (July 12 – 13), we found ourselves without a racing weekend until early October. The race weekend planned for August 9th – 10th was cancelled by our club – National Auto Sports Association (NASA), and although a one day session was organized at the last moment, we were not able to adjust our schedules in time. Our next weekend at the track will be in October, when we had back to the track at ButtonWillow and this time, we hope, we get to drive it clockwise and arrive better prepared. But the time away from the track has given us an opportunity to do more behind the wheel of our daily drives. We had been talking about this for a few months; what our time on the track has exposed is that following our regular routines would see me behind the wheel and give Margo little opportunity to drive. So for the past couple of weekends, as we criss-crossed the continental divide, Margo gained a lot more time behind the wheel, tackling moun

Staying smooth! Making adjustments!

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Once again, we only gave ourselves a few days to prepare for our third outing to the race track. This time, we were headed back to the high-speed Willow Springs track – the one marketed as the Fastest Track in the West. We spent the July 4th weekend back in Boulder, Colorado, with family, but had also taken time out to catch up with a number of friends. Part of the plan, in returning to Boulder, was to give Margo as much opportunity to drive the 6-speed stick-shift Corvette and to just re-familiarize with driving the “stick shift” model. After driving through the countryside, Margo improved considerably, but it only reinforced for me that she just needs to drive more often. As with most couples, whenever we take off on a trip, I tend to gravitate to the drivers side while Margo heads for the passenger seat – and this only started in the years we have been married! I am now very aware of this and when we take sight seeing trips I take the passenger seat half the time. Not easy, be