Wednesday, February 15, 2006

350Z-R Assembly Complete

Valentine's Day was nice. Dinner out in nice clothes, the whole bit. No stupid Vermont Teddy Bear or Pajamagram for me. Those are gay, and intended for socially inept men trying to show that they're sensitive. Flowers, dinner, earrings, and a nice little something off the racks of Victoria's works just fine. I can get away with this because Lisa knows I am not sensitive. Also, I do not have a feminine side. I have a masculine side and a more masculine side.

The 350Z semi-race car--I've taken to calling it that because it's driveable on the street, although saying that is like saying a Corvette has off-road capability--is assembled. The engine will run...kinda. It'll run enough to get it out of the garage and onto a trailer so we can get it to a dyno. Basically, you have to keep the revs between 1750 and 2500. Otherwise, it dies. We have to figure out a fuel map that works.

But first, we have to get the suspension set-up. Right now, one wheel is actually lifted up off the floor of the garage because of the way the car's weight settled and how badly the ride heights were set. This is not all that bad; before, a brake fluid line snapped and it looked like the Z had lifted its leg to take a leak.

When all that's done, we need to run it on the track and get baseline "this is what the car likes" settings for everything--the adjustable clutch-type limited-slip differential, the 16-way adjustable suspension, downforce (front splitters and rear wing are adjustable), ECU map, timing, and probably a few things that I'm forgetting. Then we need to individually play around with each setting to see how it affects performance, so we know how to tune it for each track.

That'll take a solid week. Easily. And it'll be a pain in the ass because I'll be working with guys who are just sort of mechanics. In a professional team, the pit crew is made up of engineers who happen to know how to spin a wrench. Every single man is an expert in his particular field. I can pull into pit road and scream "r-camber +3, tire -2, ride +10, r-down +10, f-down -5", and everyone instantly knows that I want .3-degrees more camber in the back, two slots down the tire chart for lower-grip longer-life tires, a ride height increase of 1", ten more pounds of downforce in the rear (at 100mph), and five less pounds of downforce up front.

I cannot do this with my Moron Mechanic Pit Crew. Yes, I like and respect these guys, but I have to wonder about their competency when I walk in to find the car pissing brake fluid with one tire up off the ground.

In other news, I've got a gig for spring break. There is a certain car which I will be driving at Nurburgring Nordschleiffe for a certain company. Said car is a preproduction example. And if I read the nondisclosure agreement correctly, that's about all I can say. Oh,'s a sports car! No, they want racecar drivers to push minivans to their limit on Germany's God Track. I'm not allowed to say anything about engine size or type, power, drivetrain layout, styling, price, target market segment, or even how it performs on the track. To anyone.

Oh, and I'm working on another big list category for the page: performance bargains. I would try and list some new cars, but everything out there today is kinda outclassed by what you can get used for the same money. Examples: a Dodge SRT-4 offers the most power you can get for less than $25k, but for $25k, you can also get a clean 1993 Acura NSX. The new Mazda Miata retails for $20-$23k, but you can get a second-generation Toyota Supra for the same amount of money, and still have enough left over for a turbo, a wicked set of tires, and a big brake kit.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Open Road

Today, just a song for a friend. "Open Road Song", by Eve 6.

Tonight I feel ambitious and so does my foot
As it sinks on the pedal
I press it to the floor

I don't need a girl, don't need a friend
Cuz my friend lonesome's unconditional
We're flying forever bored

And for a moment
I love everything that I see and think and feel
I love my broken sideview mirror

Cuz it's so perfect, I'm so perfect
You're so perfect
You're not here
I hear the change in gears
My pile shakes as I hit eighty on the open road
This is an open road song

The night is beckoning
Although I have nowhere to go but home
Feels good to be alone

With every turn comes a new frame of mind
If I could frame my mind
Where would it hang?

My pile shakes as I hit eighty on the open road
My pile shakes as I hit eighty on the open road
My pile shakes as I hit eighty on the open road
This is an open road song

I crack a window and feel the cool air cleanse my every pore
As I pour my poor heart out
To a radio song that's patent and willing to listen
My volume drowns it out

Yeah, but that's okay
Cuz I sound better than him anyway, any day
Yeah, my voice is sweet as salt
I search for comfort and I find it
Where I've found it many times before
Times before can be forgotten

Aye, many a long, long night spent doing that. Including my stupid, 4-AM 185mph speeding ticket in Tokyo. Yes, I was pulled over doing 185. No, they were unable to clock me or even get a radar number. But they knew I was going damn fast, and I happily told them that I was doing 185 when they incorrectly guessed 150. If I got it up to 185, I wanted the goddamn credit for it. I think I may have set a speeding ticket record in Tokyo, if not Japan, and I spent a few hours in jail.