What’s the cheapest way to race wheel to wheel on a road course without being fully sponsored? What’s the best way to learn what a high speed spin feels like, what bumping and jostling for turn 1 position is, and how much tension there is when waiting for the waving green flag for a standing-start race? As I’m sure you astute Mediocre readers have already guessed by the title, the answer is Karting.
(Karting is like MarioKart, but with real people and fewer Donkeys)
Rental Karting is when you jump into the track’s rental karts that are all spec’d the same and go out for some super fun track time with up to 20 other karts at a time. The league I recently ran with as a fill-in driver was an “enduro” league which allowed for 20 karts with teams ranging from “ironman” single driver teams up to the 3 driver team that I was on. Everyone is on the same fundamental mechanical level when it comes to the karts, so just like any other spec series it really comes down to driver skill and experience. Both of which I lack…
(Pro-level karters. Serious business…no seriously, sponsors and everything!)
It may sound a little silly to tough guys who think they’re too good to get into a “kiddie go-kart,” but that’s only because those people are one of three things: Retarded, full of themselves, or have obviously never done it before. I was blessed to meet a fellow who fell into all three of those categories at the track yesterday when I was talking to a fellow competitor and we turned to ask a question to some nearby person. We asked a simple: “Have you raced here before” and received the very snooty and obviously insulting response: “No, I’ve done all my driving on the street with people who have had sex before.” Considering this guy looked pretty nerdy and didn’t explicitly say that HE has had sex before I wasn’t too miffed, but you could tell when he hit the track that he just thought he was ‘better’ than the rest of us for some unknown reason.
(Calm down, Nerd. We’re just asking if you’ve been here before, no need to start talking about things you don’t understand)
Aside from the obvious toolbox mentioned above, the rest of the people there were very cool and very willing to explain some theory and basic mechanics to a novice like myself. Everyone was really just there to race and while it was certainly competitive on the track, off track conversations were jovial and well intentioned.
Couple things you need to know before you go Karting, especially in an “enduro” league. Number one: Karts have no need for power steering and so the only thing turning the kart and your fat ass are your arms. You WILL be tired in the arms, wrists, and hands at the end of your stint. (End, middle, two laps in…whatever) Number two: The seats are not custom fit to you and they need to accomodate you, and your other teammates so there is a lot of tolerance. Also, because there is no suspension in these things you slide around under the g-loading of the turns. The only thing stopping your from sliding are your ribs and while your ribs are up to the task, they get a little unhappy after 30 minutes of non-stop pounding.
(Not my ribs, but pretty much how I feel right now)
In the end, this was the cheapest and most accessible way for me to get out there and wheel-to-wheel race in a safe, cheap, and fun environment. Karts are totally different from driving a car and it’s an interesting learning curve to make them go fast consistently, but it’s rewarding and well worth the struggle.
– Steve is beaten up, bruised, and sore…but still smiling ear to ear
So it’s been a while since my last post. After coming back from my awesome vacation up in Boston and then Bermuda I’ve been working doggedly trying to get caught up on work, not drive my girlfriend insane, and just generally get back to a semblance of a balanced life. The car has been lower on the priority list as of late due to the fact that so much time was invested into it over the past few months; time to start focusing on other things in life.
(Balance…important in life)
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not done at all with the modding world or talking about cars, or racing at all…I’m just saying that there are things that need to be addressed that I’m sure I wasn’t even thinking about while the car was down.
(Yea, I might’ve neglected my vacuuming duties. The dust bunnies have formed a coalition)
Infact, over the past weekend I went and spent a day over at Jeff’s house with Alex for a car day. I sometimes forget how much I appreciate being in the company of like minded individuals all focused on the same hobby for a day. While Jeff changed his Audi’s rotors and pads, Alex; found out how to remove his Mitsu’s sunroof, installed his Cusco rear strut tower bar, and promptly destroyed (with my help) a brand new mechanical oil temperature gauge as well as the gauge mounting bracket he already had broken one time before. While this was going on I just sat around in a folding chair, drank cheap beer, and read an issue of Excellence magazine that Jeff lent me. Man, it was nice not needing to do anything to the car.
(While looking for folding chair pictures I found this. I kind of want it, but it also looks like a torture device)
To be fair, I DID need to do things for the car, but they weren’t really high on my motiviational list and there weren’t critical to the operation of anything so I wasn’t super inclined to jump into the car and start getting frustrated or sweaty. Was high 80’s and my car was sitting in direct sunlight making it something between blast furnace and a sauna.
(This was actually cooked entirely in my car that day…)
At the end of the day, I cut the mounting panel and the cubby hole to get the boost controller mounted right below my ScanGauge II, ran over my stupid broken soldering iron (Woohoo! I get to buy a new/better one!!), and left the Boost and A/F gauges un-mounted and still wired up crappily in my passenger side footwell. Job well done if you ask me.
-Steve is happy to be writing again
This is going to be a boring week here on Mediocre as I’ll be taking some very much needed vacation time away in Bermuda.
(I belive the proper term here is: “In your face”)
I’ll see all you Boston-area Mediocre fans on the 11th when I come back. Give me a buzz if you want to come to a BBQ!
– Steve is the REAL reason the Bermuda Triangle is so dangerous
Well, we’ve hit two important milestones this month and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate our 100th post here on Mediocre Motoring as well as the return of The Prodigal Scion. I believe scientists refer to this type of overlapping of events as a “Double Whammy!”
(Search “100” on Bing image search and you end up with a LOT of boobs – not sure why – not complaining)
The tuners finally got my car up on the rollers and got some time to work on the tune for the car. After some heart pounding updates and some soul crushing delays (not their fault, just part of life) CarbConn gave me a wonderful and horrible call letting me know that the tuner had made some excellent power, but the boost controller wasn’t working so he couldn’t get it past the WG’s spring pressure of 6lbs of boost. I gave him the go ahead to work on it and promptly drop kicked the door of my office to go meet up with Jeff and Alex (who were already there for some strange reason) while they watched the car be tuned.
(The tC finally off the jackstands and onto the dyno for some tuning)
I got there in time to see some more high power pulls and was able to talk to the tuner while he was on the dyno to let him know what I wanted for a high/low setting on my boost controller. (He got it working…obviously) He was really impressed with what the kit and the car could handle continuously praising the turbo’s capacity and the car’s smoothness, but we both agreed we wanted a pretty reasonable setting for both street and track.
(Nels the superman of tC tuning over at CarbConn in Kirkland, WA. Sorry for the suprise shot buddy!)
The car finally came off the dyno and into my waiting nervous hands. The only thing I can relate it to would be the feeling you get when you have a baby and someone puts it in your hands for the first time. Here’s the difference…babies are stupid and smelly and slow…my car was fast and awesome and loud, a little smelly, but super awesome. Way better than stupid babies. (I can practically hear the comments section about to explode with both Jeff and Alex extolling the value of spawning crotchfruit…)
I had the tuner set my boost controller (a GReddy Profec B spec II) so that I’d have a distinct High/Low setting so that I could control the car’s power electro-mechanically. I’ll be running it off of the wastegate’s spring pressure when I’m at the track and for most of the street work that I’ll be driving and then use the high boost setting when I feel like going super mega hyperspeed, which won’t be too often.
(First hour back from the tuner, could barely hold the camera still I was so excited!)
Ok, now to the big important part that everyone cares about and has been suffering through my words to get too. How much power it made. Well, let’s just say that the power is MORE than enough to make this thing into a little missile.
Peak power: 304hp / 284tq
High boost setting: ~290hp
Low boost setting: ~230hp
(134 to 305? yea…that’ll do nicely.)
So there you have it. After many long nights, exhausting days, stressful afternoons, and enough beer to sink a battleship…the Mediocre tC is finally back on the road. It was a long and tedious road, but I’m absolutely in love with the car and am very happy that it’s where it is. Thanks to everyone for the support, guidance, whip cracking, and garage storage space (along with delicious meals) that got me through this build.
– Steve has a power boner…and it is magnificent