Cone Jar

As I was driving to the Rocket Dog Rescue mobile adoption event on Sunday, I had this great idea on a way to give back to the community. For the last two years, it has been a family tradition among my brother, sister, and myself to make a large donation of toys to the local Toys-for-Tots chapter. We spend the day going on a shopping spree and stretching between $100-$150 on as many toys as we can get, and then delivering them to the local drop-off site.

This year, I want to build onto that. I am planning to donate $100 worth of toys, but I would like to tie in autocross into the mix. I came up with the “Cone Jar.” It pretty much like a cuss jar where you have to pay into the jar every time you use profanity. In this case, for each cone penalty I incur this season, I will pay $1 into the Cone Jar. For every DNF, I will pay $2. Oppositely, I hope that I can get fellow friends and family to sponsor or pledge an amount for a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place finish.

With that said… for the remainder of this year’s events…

For each cone penalty incurred, I will donate $1 to Toys-for-Tots (up to 5 per run).

For each DNF, I will donate $2 to Toys-for-Tots.

Additionally, if Dennis Q., my co-driver chooses to participate with is own “Cone Jar,” I will pledge a donation to his charity of choice.

$5 for 1st place finish
$3 for 2nd place finish
$1 for 3rd place finish

If anyone would like to make a pledge, you know where to find me! Let’s make this happen!

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Discipline

Outside of racing, I have a variety of other hobbies. Board games, technology, Magic: the Gathering, and fostering dogs through a local rescue. As I was driving to the mobile adoption event with my foster dog Jimi, I was thinking about what makes a great racer. What is it that sets racers apart from the others.

As I thought of it more, I realized that racing is just as much a mental game as it is anything else. If I had to choose a word or a characteristic that would best describe what it takes to set one apart from another, it would be discipline.

I chose the word discipline because racing takes more than just talent and a good car. I believe discipline is the keystone to developing into a good driver and getting ahead of the rest of the competition. It starts with being disciplined and dragging yourself out of bed early in the morning to make the trip to the race track or autocross. It takes discipline to constantly go faster. It takes discipline to grasp new ideas and concepts. It takes discipline to constantly refine your techniques or the platform that you are racing. It takes discipline to continually have the mindset that you are ALWAYS learning. Discipline. Discipline. Discipline.

People don’t become the fastest racers overnight. They don’t become the fastest racers just by showing up. They become the fastest by investing time and effort in racing, even then, that might not be enough. That’s really the tip of the iceberg. Funny thing is that this is true of ANYTHING you want to do well. Could be playing a musical instrument or cooking. If you want to become good at something, you need to COMMIT.

Just my two cents.

Last but not least, ADOPT, DON’T BUY! Jimi and I will be heading to SF in a little bit to hopefully finalize his adoption. If you ever feel like making a feline or canine addition to your family, consider adopting. There are a lot of great pets out there that just need a second chance and a loving home.

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Race Car

I am often asked by prospective autocrossers what they need to do in order to participate, and am often met with shock when I answer, “…really, nothing.” “But… but… do I need this or that?”

To autocross, you just need a mechanically safe and functioning car. You don’t need any specific equipment or mods. Sure, mods can certainly help your car perform, but you don’t NEED mods to participate. I hope that people take away the concept that you don’t NEED a race car to race. You can race in stock trim and still have a blast.

A stock car isn’t any less fun than a prepared one. It is just a different trim. Like anything else, each trim offers different pros and cons. A stock car is pretty much an arrive and drive experience. The prep is minimal. The cost is a bit lighter. And the competition is a bit less dependent on the car. However, the trade-off is that the car isn’t as specifically prepped for performance. Where as a heavily modified platform may require more initial investment, pre-race calibration, and transportation.

There’s really nothing wrong with either path. It simply gets down to the driver and what he is willing or able to do. I obviously exampled the two ends of the spectrum, and there is middle ground with classes like Street Touring and Street Prepared, but at the end of it all, it just gets down to the individual. How much time, money, and effort is one willing to commit to autocrossing. Just my two cents.

A little off tangent on the original topic; the other thing I wanted to suggest is that people have realistic expectations for their platform. I came across a guy who just detested the FRS/BRZ platform. The car belonged to his wife, but for whatever reason, he just seemed really disappointed to with the car. When asked to elaborate, he stated that his second gen MR2 turbo was better in every way. It handled better. It had more power. And it was more fun to drive. However, it was modified. Upgraded with many tidbits.

I hope people understand that a prepped car is always going to be better performance wise. And that a street car was designed for the street and was designed for the masses and not the speed/car enthusiasts.

Just my honest opinion.

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Materialism

I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, my focus on certain parts of the car enthusiast lifestyle has changed quite a bit. It’s probably me becoming more mature and responsible, but really… who knows?! When I first immersed myself in the car scene during my sophomore year of college, circa 2005-2006ish, I was really only focused on one thing. Modifying and owning a fast car. I wanted to be that kid on the block with a fast car. I wanted to outrun Evos and American muscle. And I wanted to so badly modify my Impreza into something amazing and fast. More specifically, I wanted to convert the NA drivetrain to that of the turbo WRX.

Almost a decade later, here I am on the totally opposite side. No longer am I focused on building a fast car, or modifying it. Rather, I prioritize the experiences associated with cars and their owners. I guess I’ve grown less materialistic. The BRZ is pretty much stock. Instead of investing in my time into making new additions or modifications to my cars, I instead try to find a means and a way to do things with cars. My drug of choice is autocross. However, it could really be anything. It could be a cruise, a BBQ, or a kickback. Instead of using the cars to define myself, I instead use cars as a medium to meet new people and to enjoy myself.

This past week, I did something that doesn’t happen very often. I ended up going out to a Subaru meet and a FRS/BRZ meet in the same week. I must be getting old or boring, or both, but the Subaru meet was so dull. Not sure why. I think it might be the shift of focus from the owner to the cars. For whatever reason, the car holds so much more weight now. It seems like everyone puts so much money into their cars, and for what? I think that 90% of cars out there are for show. Put some big wheels on and slam the car, and you are a rockstar. Dump 15-20-30k in the car and you are a god.

And I think this is generally true for the FRS/BRZ scene also. People are spending ridiculous amounts of money decking out their cars, whether it is vinyl wrapping, mods, or force induction. And for what? Mostly for show I guess.

To me… it’s just a waste of money. It’s a lot of money that is being put into a car so it could look cool. I can’t really fault people, though. It is their money and they can do whatever they want. But my experience tells me that the money can be used in much better ways.

Yesterday, at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant table, I struck up a conversation with a fellow “twins” owner and his father. He wanted to get his car, with intake and exhaust, dynoed to see how much power he was making. As soon as he asked where, I suggested that he save his money as both parts don’t really make substantial power gains. After some debate, I countered with, “Instead of spending $100 to dyno your car, why don’t you instead take your parents out to a nice dinner?” I suggested to him that cars and mods are fun and all, but there are a lot of cool things that he could also do with money.

Afterwards, I suggested that he and his dad consider coming out to an autocross and giving it a try. He was hesitant in his answer, and he didn’t really seem too on board with the idea, but I did try to reason with him. I pointed out that he would have a great opportunity to see what the car can do and that he would learn a lot, but more importantly, he would have an amazing time while spending time with his dad.

I know I am beating a dead horse with the whole autocross thing, but I do really love autocrossing. Just not the competition portion of it, but a lot of it is the PEOPLE. I love my fellow competitors, or at least most of them. There’s always going to be one or two guys… but for the most part, I love being around the people. I enjoy their company and the friendship, and I am very blessed to be competing against many high class individuals. And yes… I do hate being slower, but that is so miniscule compared to being around some amazing friends.

So, to sum it all up, don’t let cars mislead you. There is a lot more to the car enthusiast scene than just cars. There are a lifetime worth of experiences and friendships to be had. Don’t let cool cars distract you and overlook them.

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A Recap on SFR SCCA Solo Round 6 at Marina

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Round 6 – 5/10/2015 – Picture by Mark Mervich

I did the unthinkable. I went autocrossing instead of staying home and celebrating Mother’s Day. I am such a terrible person. 🙁

Round 6 at Marina went really well. We had a pretty good showing for C-Street with a total of 8. 7 of us were FRS/BRZ, and  the lone BMW. C-Street is always represented very well and the many different platforms provide many close battles.

Course was very simple, but also deceptively difficult as well. All the sweepers were make it or break elements of the course, and rewarded drivers who were able to manage speed through through the sweepers. You really have to hit the three sweepers well in order to put down a fast time. Go into the sweepers too fast and you’ll ruin your exit speed. Go too slow through the sweepers and leave time on the table. The key to the whole day was slowing down enough so that you didn’t understeer exiting the sweeper.

Dennis has been awesome this season. A great co-driver and traveling partner. And he’s improving very rapidly. I have to tip my hat to him, because without him, my autocross season wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it has. I am very fortunate to be among great C-Street competitors. The class has certainly turned it up a notch and has brought some awesome competition.

As for my runs, they went really well. I started up at 48.xxx and then worked my way down to 47.160/47.163 for my next two runs. My last run of the day, I pushed hard, went all in, and was able to pull a clean 45.976! I was pretty stoked about it. Not sure how I pulled it off, but I did somehow. Only 1.3 seconds behind the leader. I’ll have to figure out what the heck I did and see if I can apply it to every event.

At the end of the day, one of my fellow competitors came up to me and congratulated me on second place in class. “You said what?! Second place?” With my last run, I was able to to jump up several places. I edged out one competitor by a few hundredths. While another competitor, though faster raw time, didn’t get any clean run and was carry a cone penalty on his runs.

All and all, round 6 was a great event. As I drive this platform more, the more I realize what the BRZ is capable of. The platform is very nimble, dynamic, and fun to drive. Completely opposite than my Impreza’s confident, precise, and sharp characteristics. The more I drive the BRZ, the more I realize how driver dependent it is and that the car will not cover up mistakes.

We are off this coming weekend. No autocrosses. We’ll be back in action in two weeks and will be at Marina! Looking forward to getting faster!

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Street Racing and Its Effect on Car Enthusiasts

I came across this article last night, and to be perfectly honest, I am a little worried.

LAPD trying to put the brakes on illegal street racing

I am 100% in support for police cracking down on street racing. I applaud them for making an effort to curb it. Street racing is reckless and incredibly dangerous. I don’t want to get into the reasons or justification on why it is dangerous. I think the reasons are very obvious. My greatest fear is that I, a family member, or friend is hurt or killed due to something that could have been prevented. These illegal street races take place on the very same public roads that I use to go to work, to visit my family, or to walk my dog.

My concern is the stereotyping and profiling. I have an issue with people being profiled incorrectly. I drive a car that looks like a illegal street race car. My car sounds like a illegal street race car. I look like a person that illegally street races. Therefore I must be a illegal street racer. BUT in reality, I have nothing illegal on my car, nor do I do anything illegal with it.

This LA Times article is misleading. Car modifications and illegal street racing, though associated, isn’t always 100% correlated. Someone with car modifications doesn’t mean they race illegally. Vice versa, you don’t need modifications to race. Illegally racing a factory car is just as dangerous as racing a modified one.

With that said, please be careful when you read articles like this as there are many misreported incidents. You can not accurately label someone an illegal street racer if you don’t see them taking part in an illegally street race.

= = =

One more link. Can’t call it illegal street racing if there was no racing involved. Can’t call it a sideshow, because it wasn’t in Oakland. Just saying…

http://wn.ktvu.com/story/29003313/one-arrested-unruly-crowd-dispersed-at-illegal-milpitas-sideshow

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Donuts for Sunday’s Autocross

I think I am going to make a bunch of donuts for Sunday. I found this link from a friend that shared it on Facebook. One Pot Chef introduced a recipe to make donuts in the oven. I think I might whip up a bunch Sunday morning before getting to Marina and share it with my friends.

Some of you might think that I am just being really nice. Not really. I am getting faster, one donut at a time. I am secretly trying to weigh my competition down!

JKJK. Actually, outside of racing, I like to cook. My current obsession is making sushi rolls. I currently have the dragon roll (shrimp tempura and avocado) down. The next roll I am going to try is a baked salmon roll by request of my mom. She doesn’t eat raw fish or avocados. Crazy!

Anyways, here’s the how-to on making donuts in the oven.

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A Quick Update

Hi all,

Just a quick update. There’s a lot of exciting things going on here on my blog. As you can see, it is starting to come together nicely. I have used WordPress in the past, but it has been several years since. Definitely being brought back up to date in the new structure and interface.

I added several sections to the blog. About Me, Projects, Events, and Race Car. At the moment, I am trying to fill them with quality content. Things are definitely coming together.

Our next autocross event is this Sunday at Marina with the SFR SCCA. Last I checked, we had 8 people signed up for C-Street and I know a few people will be missing for Mother’s Day. So far this season, the class has been really awesome. We’ve have been getting a pretty good turn-out for all our events. We had 17 or 18 signed up for the National Tour.

It’s a very competitive class and a very close class. I hope that this coming event, I can close the gap between myself and the leaders. Even though the leaders have a full built platform, I use them as a general landmark. On any given day in our current platform, I am about 5-10% behind the leader. If I do toward 5%, I am doing pretty well.

Here’s the event information for this Sunday’s event. Check it out!

http://www.sfrautox.com/?page_id=162

-Kevin

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Introducing Friends to Autocross

AAS @ Marina 5-2-2015 - Photo: Mark Mervich

AAS @ Marina 5-2-2015 – Photo: Mark Mervich

This past weekend, Dennis and I had the opportunity to introduce a few of our FRS/BRZ friends to autocross. Earlier in the week, Dennis asked me if I would co-drive with one of his friends (blue BRZ below). After the rush and seriousness of the last several events, I wanted to go out and have fun. No car prep. No GoPro recording. No data logging. Just wanted to autocross and enjoy myself.

The BRZ was 100% stock except for the wheels. There were no upgrades, and it was still running the stock “Prius” tires. The tires are great for fuel economy, but that’s really about it. They are terrible auto-x tires.

All and all, my day was super enjoyable. Here are some tips for new people to get into autocross. In no real order. (See after picture.)

AAS @ Marina 5-2-2015 - Photo: Mark Mervich

AAS @ Marina 5-2-2015 – Photo: Mark Mervich

Tips for New Autocrossers

  1. Have Fun – Most people autocross because they enjoy it. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, why do it?
  2. Have Realistic Expectations – Have realistic expectations in regards to the times you put down. It isn’t realistic to expect to be the fastest time of the day your first or second time out. Instead, focus on yourself by improving on each of your runs.
  3. Losing Control – Don’t be afraid to spin out or lose control. Don’t let it discourage you out if you do. You can learn a lot by spinning out. Autocross is a perfect place to try to find the limits of the car. Think of it like this: How do you know what the limit of your car is if you haven’t experienced it? If you have the option, turn traction control completely off. You’ll have the opportunity to learn much more with it disabled. The only time where I would suggest you to turn it on is if you are having such a difficult and frustrating time with the car/course that you are NO LONGER HAVING FUN.
  4. Find a Co-Driver – Co-drivers, regardless of experience, are a great way to get up to speed with autocrossing. Sharing the same car and co-driving will allow you to see what the car can do. You’ll be able to compare your times and lines to your co-driver, as well as have many more opportunities to see the course across the course of the day. Co-driving in autocross is different than other forms of racing. Co-driving is simply sharing a single car. Each driver alternates runs and will gets their own set of runs.
  5. Friends – Go autocrossing with friends. Autocrossing is more fun with good company. If you can’t get any friends to tag along, no worries. Come out anyways and make some new friends.
  6. Ask Questions – Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarifications. Or ask for someone to ride along with you. We were all beginners once.
  7. Take Away a Skill – For your first few autocrosses, try to learn and take away one or two skills or ideas each event. It is much more beneficial to leave with a good/solid understanding of one or two ideas versus a poor understanding of many ideas. Like anything else, becoming good, or fast in this case, takes time and experience. Don’t expect to be blistering fast after a few events. It isn’t realistic.

Want to share any other tips? Share it with us by emailing me at darkonion@kimete.com.

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