On my daily morning commute, I usually see one to four Subaru Impreza WRX Wagons driven by women on the 10 East as I crawl along the westbound Santa Monica Freeway’s “fast” lane. What surprises me about this is that they never notice me in my WRX for a friendly exchange of Scooby waves to take place. Seeing them also makes me wonder how many women are out there driving WRXs as in what percentage of WRX/STi/STI drivers are female.
Pictured above is Jamie “Subie Gal” Thomas in “Burnsie,” her 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon. “Burnsie” is named after the late 2001 FIA WRC drivers’ champion, the late Englishman Richard Burns. Jamie has competed with moderate success in the Rally America series Production GT class, taking class wins on multiple occasions. You can check out her web site at www.subiegal.com.
My Auntie Karen has her 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan (not pictured above). Despite the fact that it has a four-speed automatic transmission and is bone stock, I think it’s simply cool that she has it.
Above are a few photos of Krysten’s 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan. I met her at my last track day at the Streets of Willow Springs. She also enlists the services of HB Speed to tune her car. Jon from HB Speed is the same person who tuned my car back in January 2008.
A few days ago, I heard the funniest radio commercial I’ve heard in awhile. It was a Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” commercial. In it, there was a salute to “Mr. Overzealous Touch Football Game Player.” The lines in the jingle are hilarious! Those of you over 21 years of age can listen to it and other funny “Real Men of Genius” commercials at budlight.com.
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.
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
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:
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.
After busting the left front strut of my car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in November, I was presented with the
burden privilege of upgrading its suspension. I was hoping to have the upgrade done before I went to Laguna Seca, but the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) STI (Subaru Tecnica International) springs I ordered in late July. The problem is that they didn’t arrive from Japan until after I had to get the car ready to go to Monterey. I ordered Koni adjustable strut inserts a little before I ordered the springs. They came within a week and sat in the house for the next four and a half months.
The springs that were on the car previously were Prodrive lowering springs. Prodrive is the U.K.-based company that prepares and runs the Subaru World Rally Team in the FIA World Rally Championship. The Prodrive springs are actually Eibach springs that are manufactured to Prodrive specifications. Prodrive has never released the spring rates for their springs. The closest they’ve come is saying that they’re 25% stiffer than stock. The stock spring rates for a 2002-2007 USDM (United States Domestic Market) WRX Sedan with a 5-speed manual transmission are 163 lb./in. front and 119 lb./in. rear (there’s a great list of spring rates on NASIOC.com (North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club) here). 25% stiffer spring rates translate to roughly 204 lb./in. front and 149 lb./in. rear. They supposedly lower the car 20 mm, but I’m pretty sure that number isn’t accurate because they lower the front more than the rear to create the “even” fender gap look.
Those, my friends, are the JDM STI pink springs. They have spring rates of 257 lb./in. front and 217 lb./in. rear. Compared to the Prodrive estimated spring rates, they’re 26% stiffer in the front and 46% stiffer in the rear. For reference, stock 2004-2007 STi/STI spring rates are 224 lb./in. front and 195 lb./in. rear. They lower the car 1 inch in both the front and rear from the stock (STi/STI) ride height. As a result, my car now has a saggy butt look. But that isn’t nearly as important to me as it being able to handle better!
Because the car got stiffer springs, it would be a bad idea to couple them with the stock struts. The stock struts don’t provide enough damping for the springs. This is where the Koni adjustable strut inserts come into the equation.
The part laid flat in the above image is the Koni Sport adjustable strut insert. The item positioned in an upright manner is an actual strut assembly, which is not available for the WRX. To install the Koni strut inserts, Suby Specialties had to remove all four struts, cut and drill into them, remove the original cartridges, and then install the new strut inserts. Because of their adjustability, a broad range of strut damper settings are now available to me. Out of the box, I believe there were set around 40-60% firm. At these settings, most of the body roll the car would previously exhibit in turns had been eliminated. The tradeoff was the ride was annoying on bad (read: pothole-ridden) roads. Wanting to soften up the ride, I adjusted all four inserts to an almost full soft setting. The car feels like it rides better now than when it was on the Prodrive springs and stock struts. Then again, that may simply be all in my head. The beauty of the ability to adjust the inserts is that I’ll be able to firm them up the next time I take the car to the track!