Odometer oddity

On Friday, June 20, 2008, an odd thing happened to my car’s odometer.  Its backlight (see the lower right corner of the photo above) stopped working!  My thoughts ranged from, “<sarcasm>Great</sarcasm>.  Now I’ll have to spend more money on the car.  Replacing this will be a pain, too, because the replacement instrument cluster will have to be turned to my car’s current mileage,” to “Upgrade time! ” after thinking a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi instrument cluster (seen below) retrofit could work.  The problem with retrofitting a STi instrument cluster is that my car doesn’t have the driver-controlled center differential (DCCD) or an outside temperature sensor.  Retrofitting the STi cluster would require modifying the cluster itself to make it work well with my car and getting it turned to my car’s mileage.

I don’t know what caused the odometer backlight to go out.  My car’s left side headlight bulb went out the previous night.  Perhaps that had something to do with it.  I replaced both headlight bulbs with European-spec Philips Vision Plus +50 H1 headlight bulbs (which are amazing by the way – I’d say their light output is better than the Euro-spec Osram Silverstar bulbs) on Saturday morning.  I took the car for a quick spin to Wal-Mart and back on Saturday afternoon, but didn’t notice if the odometer backlight was on or not (it should be on anytime the ignition is in the on position).  It wasn’t until I was leaving church on Sunday afternoon that I noticed the odometer backlight was fully functional again.  Seeing it illuminated again was a relief!

For kicks, here’s a shot of my car’s instrument cluster using my camera’s nightvision mode and flash.  That’s right, folks!  With it, I can see you, but you might not be able to see me! j/k

Wanna be like Magnum, p.i.?

You, too, can be like Tom Magnum.  All you have to do is purchase Edmunds.com’s Long-Term 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole.  Sure, it would get smoked by a 2007 or later Toyota Camry with a 3.5L V6, but it would sound awesome while being served a slice of humble pie.

You can read Edmunds’ adventures with the car here – 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole.  It even defeated the mighty Kia Sedona in a head-to-head comparison test! =Ăž

Sure, rocking a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and a ‘stache would be easier and cheaper, but I doubt they’d be as cool as driving a Ferrari!

Ebay auction for our 1984 Ferrari 308 QV

Sail Among the Stars

Sail Among the Stars is the name of the first album of a young singer/songwriter named Kyle Lardner.  I met her at the end of March at the airport in Las Vegas.  I was waiting for my Southwest Airlines flight from Vegas to LA after I had flown the red-eye from Honolulu to Vegas.  When I got to the seats at the gate, I sat across from where she was sleeping hoping I could get some shut-eye as well.  A bit later she awoke from her slumber, stepped away, bought some breakfast, and returned.  While she was eating, I noticed she was left-handed like me.  That prompted me to initiate a conversation with her in which she shared about herself in a real down-to-earth manner.  It’s been cool to keep in touch with her here and there since then over Facebook.  I give her a lot of credit and admire and respect her for pursuing a dream career in music.

Kyle turned 21 yesterday.  I figured it’d be a good time to plug her music on my Xanga.  Before turning to music, she was quite a basketball player in high school and even played one year at the University of New Mexico.  To find out more about her, you can check out www.kylemusic.biz and www.myspace.com/kylelardnertunes.  If anyone out there has some good connections in the music industry, you’re more than welcome to try to help her!

Below is the music video of her “Blanket” song.  Enjoy!

Here’s another clip of her appearing on a local NY television show – MSGNY TV Appearance

In memory of Joe Drey

Although I never knew him, I was greatly saddened to learn on Tuesday morning that Joe Drey, 75, had succumbed to injuries sustained in a horrific crash at Willow Springs International Raceway, a.k.a. “Big Willow,” over the weekend.  When I read that he was driving a MINI Cooper, I put two and two together and realized he was the same person I had been on the track with when I was running at the Streets of Willow Springs in mid-April.

The realization went like this.  I read Joe was driving a MINI Cooper.  After the fun I had on the track with him at Streets, I looked for him in the paddock that day to no avail.  The people setup next to him said that the driver of the MINI Cooper was an older gentleman.  Another piece of the puzzle was the fact that Edmunds.com Associate Editor Josh Sadlier said he had seen the same MINI Cooper in my photos at Streets when he attended driving school.  He also mentioned the driver was an older fellow.  I then looked up the driver list from the track day I attended in April and saw his name.  Seeing his name helped me remember his license plate said, “JD MINI,” or something like that.  After hearing of the incident, my friend Louis shared he chatted with Joe when we were at the track in April, too.

This entry is dedicated to him and his family.  At least he left us doing the very thing he loved most.  May God be with him and all who knew him.

From http://www.nasaproracing.com/news/2008/nasa-regretfully-announces-pas-1.html:

NASA regretfully announces passing of Joe Drey

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) regretfully announces that Joe Drey of San Juan Capistrano, CA has succumbed to injuries suffered in an accident on May 24, 2008 at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, CA. Joe was participating in a NASA event behind the wheel of his beloved Mini Cooper S and despite the best efforts of the rescue team onsite and the medical teams at the hospital, he has now left us.

Joe started racing at 15 enjoying street drags with his friends. He got into formal track racing with an early 60’s Corvette when he was in his early 20’s. He eventually transitioned into Porsches, owning several over 3 decades and racing them all over California with a trailer and his own crew consisting of his two sons. As he got older he pulled away from the sport and it wasn’t until the new Mini came out and he got the 9th one off the boat that his passion welled up in him again. He began immediately modifying the car and loading up on gear while frequenting his favorite track Willow Springs and taking courses including two trainings with Bob Bondurant.

Joe’s family has asked that donations be made to the Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Fund in lieu of flowers.  Donations can be made at  http://www.missionsjc.com/donations.html

Headlight hooliganism

Don’t you hate it when people drive at night with their headlights…

  1. Set to the high beam setting for normal night driving
  2. Off
  3. Off and only the daytime running lights (DRLs) are on

My question for all of you in Xanga-land is:

How do people who are driving not notice any of the above?  If a person is driving at night in any of the above situations, it should be obvious that the road isn’t being adequately illuminated.

If drivers aren’t observant enough to notice these situations, perhaps they may be a risk to fellow motorists and pedestrians.

Does anyone have any ideas how we can combat this?  I will usually get behind the person and flash my high beams.  Half the time, people still don’t get a clue.  The other night, I saw a Lexus ES (I think) without its headlights on.  I moved in front of it and had to turn my blinkers on twice (the first time was unsuccessful so I tried again 10 seconds later) to get its driver to realize I was trying to tell him or her the headlights weren’t on.

We can say good-bye with hope

Please keep the Chapman family in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve the loss of their daughter, Maria Sue (pictured in her father’s arms).



She’s such a precious and beautiful child.  She will be missed until we see her in heaven.  God will use this accident for His good and His glory.

Funk the Food & Fun Fair

I’m probably going to get some flak for this Xanga entry, but I’m not going to let the imminent onslaught keep me from telling it like it is.

Here’s some food (pun intended) for thought.

This summer, my church, First Chinese Baptist Church, Walnut, is going to have its third annual Food (& Fun – new this year ) Fair to raise support (prayer and financial) for its short-term missionaries.  There isn’t anything wrong with that.  Right?

I submit to you that people shouldn’t need to be fed or entertained in order to gain their support in sharing the great news of Jesus Christ with those who don’t have a relationship with God the Father through Him.

I believe that all that needs to be done is for people going on missions to ask for people’s support via written form such as a letter or personally in the flesh.

Wining, dining, and entertaining people just reinforces the consumerism that is rampant within the church, particularly mine.  Church isn’t about the people first; it’s about God first.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ll still help out with things at the fair.  I’m obligated to.  After all, it’s for Jerry’s kids. j/k  I’ll sincerely help because I want to help my fellow laborers in Christ.

EDIT: I am *not* saying that God can’t use this fair for His good and His glory.  What I am suggesting is that the fair isn’t necessary to begin with.

What might help me the most and possibly lead me to retract from my position is to know the truth why the fair was started in 2006.  Was it a “ploy” to get people to give because short-term projects were in desperate need?  Or was it a genuine idea to inform people of short-term missions trips and ask for their support?

If that’s the case, why not have a missions fair without food and games?  I’m totally down with that!  People could learn about where the short-term missionaries are going and the people that they will be trying to minister to.

But if you want my prayer and financial support.  Don’t feed me and try to get me to play games.  Just ask me for it.  That’s the way it should be (in my opinion).

He must increase and we must decrease.  More of Him, less of us.

If you smel-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l what The Rock The LORD is cooking!

Not to us, O LORD, but to Your name be the glory.

Street Fighter

Here are some photos of the on-track action from the Streets of Willow Springs.  Enjoy! :o)

The full gallery of photos can be seen here:

Playing in the middle of the Streets

Here’s the video of my first session at the Streets of Willow Springs (SOW) on April 18, 2008.

I tried to take it easy in the beginning and still spun on my second lap in the left-hander after the chicane. If you start watching at 3:25, you’ll see my spin shortly thereafter. As you can see, the car broke away from me suddenly. Does anyone have any ideas what may have induced the spin? I wasn’t getting onto the power yet nor was I entering the turn at an aggressive pace.

Here’s the video of my second session at the SOW.

This was the most fun session of the day as I had a great tussle with a R53 MINI Cooper S. First, he courteously let me by. When I saw I wasn’t able to draw away from him much, I let him by. He wasn’t able to pull away from me, either. He pointed me by a second time shortly before the camcorder’s battery died. I didn’t get to talk to him to find out what he’s done to the car, but I know he was on Nitto NT-01 R compound tires.

Here’s footage of my third session at the SOW.

I had a great battle with the driver of an E46 M3 Coupe until I ran out of talent around 9:45 into the video. I got loose exiting the chicane either from a bump or from trying to apply too much of my car’s 187 whp. I almost saved it, but ultimately lost.

You can also learn how not to drive a Porsche 911 on the track. The gentleman in the black 911 (997) was driving it too slowly for the fast intermediate group. He approached me afterward saying he didn’t like how close I was to him in the corners and was letting up on the straightaways so I couldn’t pass him. 🙄 Perhaps he is unaware of how much more powerful his car is than mine.

My best (timed) lap of the day (1:34.728) was during this session some time after the spin. The organization running the track day forgot to charge their AMB transponders on Thursday night. Because of that, timing was unavailable for sessions 1 and 2 and the transponder I ended up with ran out of juice between sessons 4 and 5.

Here’s my fourth session at the SOW.

I began this session with Barber Volkswagen/Subaru’s Alvin Tolosa riding shotgun to give me some feedback. After a couple of laps, I brought the car in and picked up my friend Louis who was participating in his first track day with his 2006 Lexus IS 350.

Here’s video of my fifth and last session of the day.

The driver of the E46 M3 Coupe I was chasing in the third session apparently got a lot better by the end of the day as I couldn’t hang with him anymore. In this session, my new friend Chris rode along with me. Chris was participating in his second track day with his 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan.

I tried to apply some of Alvin’s advice of using up more of the track and going deeper into the chicane in this session. It’s too bad the transponder’s battery died before the session. It would’ve been nice to see what effect his feedback would’ve had on my lap times.

For those wondering what the vibration/sound is from the third session on, it’s my car’s left front wheel bearing throwing in the towel.

Hybrid hype?

Are hybrids the real deal or overrated?  What say you?  I think a lot of this debate depends on how much driving is done by the vehicle’s owner(s).

Note to self: I’m no Josh Jacquot

I like to think of (Senior Road Test Editor) Josh as Edmunds’ “Drift King.”Unlike Josh, I lack skill and experience when it comes to driving a car sideways.At my fourth visit to Buttonwillow Raceway (Configuration #13 Clockwise) last Saturday, I was unable to catch my car in a slide—something Josh probably could have done while holding his kid in one arm and changing a diaper. Thankfully, my day didn’t end there as I was able to enjoy a full day at the track.

I spun in Turn 1, a.k.a. Sunrise, on the third lap of my first session.Setting the rear Koni strut inserts too stiff was what I believe did me in.Running at the track with Japanese STI springs (257 lb.-in. front/217 lb.-in.) and Koni adjustable strut inserts for the first time, I erred by setting the front and rear strut inserts to almost “full firm” states.I incorrectly assumed stiffer settings would be the optimal ones.In hindsight, I probably should’ve started with a “full soft” setup and stiffened the inserts up according to how things went on the track.

Some people said maybe my tire pressures were too high or my tires weren’t warm yet.The tire pressures were the same as what I usually run at the track. Regarding the tires not being up to temp yet, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires seem to produce my best laps on the second and third laps of each session.In addition, when I spun, I didn’t even enter the turn at a full clip.

As the car initially broke loose, I thought it would regain its composure with minimal steering correction.Once I realized the slide was becoming more pronounced, I cranked in some opposite lock, but it was “too little, too late.”I even laid into the gas hoping the power to the front wheels would pull the car out of the slide.Unsuccessful in my attempt, the car spun about 270 degrees without any major drama.

After the first session was over, I removed the rear seat from my car using a 12mm ratchet wrench to undo the two bolts for the lower seat and four for the seat back.Seat removal was necessary to access the top of the rear struts where adjustments could be made to the Koni strut inserts.I changed both of the rear Konis to a 50% firm setting hoping that would provide the car with more rear grip and thus, keep it from breaking away from me.

The car handled much better in the second session, but I never got fully comfortable with it.It was still a little too skittish in Turn One and slid more than I’d like exiting the right-hander while descending the hill out of Cotton Corners.To remedy the former situation, I softened the right rear a little bit more.I stiffened the left rear to try to reduce the slipping and sliding through the latter situation.

From that point on, I didn’t need to make any more adjustments to the car for the rest of the day.In the fourth session of the day, I turned a lap at 2:11.745, which was 0.470 sec. better than my previous personal best of 2:12.215 on April 29, 2007.I honestly don’t think there’s much left in the car (maybe a ½ sec at the most?), but wouldn’t mind if Chris or Josh would like to prove me wrong one day.

Full photo gallery here: http://s79.photobucket.com/albums/j121/USCTrojan4JC/03-29-2008%20Buttonwillow%20Raceway%20Track%20Day/?start=all

For your viewing pleasure, the in-car videos I recorded may be watched below.

Note: There’s a lot of wind noise because the organization running the track day required all windows to be down to minimize the amount of glass that would shatter in the event of a rollover.

Video of my first session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on March 29, 2008. Because I had set the Koni strut inserts too stiff, the car was looser than what I’m accustomed to running on the track. As a result, I spun in Turn 1 at around 5:00 into the clip.

Best lap – 2:25.804

Video of my second session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on March 29, 2008. In-between the first and second sessions, I removed the rear seat and softened both of the Koni rear strut inserts. Because of the number of cars, it was difficult to get a clean lap. I was glad I was able to get one in this session. I still wasn’t fully comfortable with the car in Turn 1 and Turn 5. In T1, the car wasn’t as stable as I’d like. In T5, the car was sliding too much, which slowed my exit out of that turn and into the “bus stop.”

Best lap – 2:12.917

Video of my third session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on March 29, 2008. I was late getting onto the track because I got gas late. During the lunch break, I asked to transfer from the “regular” intermediate group to the fast intermediate group so I could get more clean laps. This was my first session with the quicker group. In an attempt to improve the car in Turns One and Five, I softened the right rear strut insert a little and stiffened the left rear strut insert. That was the last change I made to the car’s setup that day. :o) The lap time didn’t show I was happier with the setup, but I felt more comfortable pushing the car with the new settings.

My new friend, John Reynolds, who owns a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI and came to the track with a bunch of Mk IV R32 people (he used to own one), rode shotgun.

Best lap – 2:14.027

Video of my fourth session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on March 29, 2008. This was my best session of the day as it provided a lot of clean laps. As a result, I was able to record a new personal best lap time.

Best lap – 2:11.745 (New personal best – previous PB was a 2:12.215 on 04/29/2007)

Video of my fifth session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on March 29, 2008. I got held up by a few cars in this session. At the same time, it’s a good video of how “passing” works at an open track day. I was really suprised I turned a high 2:11.

Best lap – 2:11.879