Marc's Public Blog - Cars


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Below is a recounting of various car events I've attended along the years, from car club meets, autocrosses, track events, and enthusiast drives.

Table of Content for cars:

More pages: March 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 July 2016 June 2016 April 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 November 2014 September 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 February 2014 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 September 2011 July 2011 June 2011 April 2011 March 2011 October 2010 August 2010 July 2010 April 2010 February 2010 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 November 2008 May 2008 April 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 June 2007 April 2007 December 2006 November 2006 May 2006 January 2006 July 2005 May 2005 April 2005 January 2005 December 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 February 2004 October 2003 May 2003 April 2003 March 2003 November 2002 October 2002 July 2002 May 2002 April 2002 March 2002 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 July 2001 June 2001 May 2001 April 2001 March 2001 February 2001 December 2000 November 2000 October 2000 September 2000 August 2000 July 2000




2017/03/19 First FC Drivers Outing of the Year: Skyline to the Sea
π 2017-03-19 00:00 in Cars
We had one day without rain at the right time, so we went for a drive. A few people too many on the roads, but still fun:







2016/12/30 Bruxelles Autoworld
π 2016-12-30 00:00 in Belgium, Cars
While in Bruxelles, we went to check out Autoworld, which turned out to be a really good. Two floors filled with cars, mostly European, some quite rare, some unique. I spent a couple of hours there while Jennifer was waiting for me, and it was time well spent.













double tire, interesting
double tire, interesting








This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph
This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph

















pretty colors :)
pretty colors :)




fancy futuristic car :)
fancy futuristic car :)


lamborghini
lamborghini










damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed
damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed





pretty
pretty

The belgians, kings of comic books, even had comic strips portraying a race car driver.



Bruxelles Autoworld, if you're anywhere close, go see it.

See more images for Bruxelles Autoworld
2016/11/10 DroidnFriends6 TH 3mile
π 2016-11-10 00:00 in Cars
[izu:title:Droid and Friends, 5 miles of Thunderhill Record:

This was my 3rd day trying out my new 458C at thunderhill. I'm still not used to driving slick tires properly, so I needed some help from Robb to be more efficient with them but I still managed to destroy an expensive tire. On the plus side, I got down to a 1:51 for a single lap and got some improvement tips from Rob that hopefully I'll be able to apply next time for a 1:50 or lower even.


Robb from BRRacing but a nice sticker and wizard logo on the car :)



And I didn't have much time to spend with him since he was being coached all day, but this was Daniel's first day. Cool to run into him:



And Dito was there taking nice pictures as always. I ordered a set from him since I didn't have any of my new car:






Dito even managed to get me passing my own 650S :)
Dito even managed to get me passing my own 650S :)

:
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See more images for DroidnFriends6 TH 3mile
2016/10/11 Another TTS Day: Trying My Ferrari 458 Challenge GT3 again at Thunderhill, and trying the 2 mile track CCW
π 2016-10-11 00:00 in Cars
I had just flown back from Germany 2 days prior, so I was up bright and early, and landed in Willows by 07:00, just as the run was rising, and got this sunrise over Thunderhill:

early morning in the bay area
early morning in the bay area

I realized as I was arriving that it was good that the sun was rising on the unlit willows runway :)
I realized as I was arriving that it was good that the sun was rising on the unlit willows runway :)


For my 2nd track day with TTS this year, it was my 2nd time trying the 458C, this time most of a day:



But I also ran a couple of sessions with my 650S, doing the 2 mile track CCW, i.e. reverse from normal, and the jump (yes it's really a jump) and wondering if after you land you'll have enough braking power to slow down from 110mph+ to whatever is necessary to make the super sharp turn, is just terrifying. As expected, I ended up going out:

All in all, I'm not a huge fan of that 2 mile track, way too much time spent on the edge of tire traction, and if you have a fast car, you then have that jump of death on the straight where you hope to land in time to stop and turn. Fun to try, but too destructive on the car in my opinion ;)

in the morning, we did some parade laps
in the morning, we did some parade laps



The rest of the day, I used the 458C around the main track, and thanks to coaching from Robb, got my times down to 1:51 on the best lap of the day:



2016/09/28 BMW Welt, Museum, and Factory Tour in Munich
π 2016-09-28 00:00 in Cars, Germany2016
For our 2nd day in Munich, we went to the BMW Factory and Museum, and while we were not able to secure a factory tour spot in English when we enquired 2 months early, due to Oktoberfest, we were lucky enough to get one the day of, by coming in early, asking, and coming back just before 11:30, when the tour was due.
We started by visiting the showroom that opens early, but sadly it didn't have many science/technology interfactive displays, so we then mostly waited for the real museum across the street to open at 10:00. Anyway, a few pictures from the showroom:







By 10:00 sharp, we went to to the museum for its opening:











Between 10:00 and 11:20, we just had enough time to visit the right part of the museum (the part that goes up), and we had to go back across the street for the factory tour starting at 11:30. Sadly, as per all such tours, no pictures. This was the most interesting and complete factory tour I've done amongst Telsa, Toyota in Nagoya, Mazda in Hiroshima, Ferrari and Lamborghini in Maranello. They actually showed us multiple points of the assembly line, including:

  • welding with an amazing robot setup where they were carefully welding around one another without hitting, but only barely
  • painting (the whole body of the car being dipped backwards in primer
  • assembly line bits where robots and humans were mixed in a way that the robots could not crush the humans :)
  • seeing how due to lack of horizontal space to expand, they had to build more floors and the cars go on elevators to other floors after being carefully inspected by a camera system for defects
  • people doing wiring
  • assembly of windows by humans and robots
  • and the final bit where the cars are driven onto a dyno for final testing indoors
  • None of the other tours we did showed some many parts of the assembly line. Kudos to BMW for doing so.



    The factory tour lasted around 1H45, so after it was over we went back to the museum to visit the bottom/left section, which was more a collection of all kinds of cars, bikes, engines, even aircraft engines, and various technology panels. Also quite interesting.
    In the end, we were there until 14:30 or so, much longer than planned, but it was worth it:

















    beautiful prototype
    beautiful prototype








    2016/09/19 Germany Day 04: Driving My First 6 Laps of Nurburgring in a Track Renault Clio
    π 2016-09-19 00:00 in Cars, Germany2016
    After our first night in Trier, we went to see what we didn't have the time to see the previous day, but being sunday, most museums were closed (hence our rush to see them the previous day), and we were done by 15:00 or so. This gave us (well, really me) the opportunity to go to nearby Nurburgring and drive 6 laps there on the famed killer circuit :)

    Sadly, due to other time commitment, I had had 0 time to practise the track on a computer beforehand, so I just showed up with 0 idea of how the turns were going to go, blind crests, or anything, but to save myself, I booked a private coach who rode with me during those sessions. I got lucky to be assigned to Winnie and he was absolutely awesome, he gave me the instructions I needed during each lap so that I would not drive off the track, and at the same time allowed me to drive as fast as I thought was safe (and I'll freely admit that I drove to the edge of my comfort level for a track I don't know at all). I was really impressed that he didn't keep telling me to slow down or asked me to work my way up slowly, which wasn't going to be possible with just 4 laps or so (in the end we were quick enough that even with a refueling stop, and him driving one lap to show me, I got 6 laps and he got one).

    Incidently, the way to Nurburgring was when I got to drive on an Autobahn, and barely managed to get our Renault Mégane to reach 200kph (that had to be downhill). The 1.5l diesel engine couldn't go past 190kph-ish when level. Obviously I've driven much faster in the past in better cars, but that was the fastest I've driven legally on a public road :)


    I only got 200kph for 2-3 seconds and wasn't fast enough to get a clear picture
    I only got 200kph for 2-3 seconds and wasn't fast enough to get a clear picture

    Needless to say that generally driving in Germany has been a pleasure, people have lane discipline, roads are good, and even when there are speed limits on freeways, many drivers don't seem to be overly worried by them :)

    Eventually we made it to Nurburgring, I checked in at Hotel Parc Fermé to sign my live away and allow a 7000 euro desposit from being taken from my credit card in case I didn't bring the car back in one piece :) Given that I was driving with Willie, I wasn't overly worried that would be a problem :)


    the renault RS cars were well built with a half cage and paddle shift (although on top of a slushbox it seems)
    the renault RS cars were well built with a half cage and paddle shift (although on top of a slushbox it seems)

    nice stitching for a race car :)
    nice stitching for a race car :)


    public driving was only open for 2h15, the plan was that I'd get at least 4 laps and each lap would cost 60 euros extra (ride ticket plus wear and tear on the car)
    public driving was only open for 2h15, the plan was that I'd get at least 4 laps and each lap would cost 60 euros extra (ride ticket plus wear and tear on the car)

    I got to see a bunch of other cars that had just come off a track day:



    and then came time for our turn
    and then came time for our turn

    Jennifer was a trooper and got a few pictures of me when I got in and out
    Jennifer was a trooper and got a few pictures of me when I got in and out

    As expected, the track was a handful, but a lot of fun. Random impressions:

  • anyone can go, with just about any car. That alone is scary
  • no helmets. My instructor even said they prefer no helmets because otherwise it's harder to talk (at least the Renault car had a full roll cage)
  • More blind turns and crests than I can remember about everywhere, one crest I had to brake before and after the jump so as not to plow off the road in the next turn
  • however the part that scared me the most was passing people who were too busy driving to give me a "you can pass" turn signal, and not knowing if they were total tourists that never saw me and were about to close the gab or run into my passenger door (you can only pass on the left at the ring)
  • Yet, with the awesome help of the coach I had rented for the 2H (for a not cheap 300 euros), it was an awesome experience. I'm impressed how he let me go that fast without fearing for his life and shouting at me to slow down, especially since there were clearly turns that I wasn't doing quite right and never really had time to improve much in just 6 laps. Given that, this was the best 300 euros I ever spent for 2H of someone's time :)

    I was kind of happy when I barely managed to get 200kph out of our crappy renault mégane 1.5l diesel (!) on the autobahn, that took a good downhill, but that was nothing compared to going pass 200kph on the Nurburgring for a few short seconds :)

    Sadly I was not able to properly record my last and fastest lap (09:22), but here is my previous lap (09:28). Considering my first lap was a 10:13, I was definitely getting faster with each lap, but 6 laps weren't enough of course:

    For comparison, my instructor did a nice clean lap (except for the yellow flag we got at the end):

    2016/09/14 Droid and Friends, 5 miles of Thunderhill Record: 3:30 Flat
    π 2016-09-14 00:00 in Cars
    It was nice to be back at Droid and Friends again. It had been a while since I had ran the full 5 mile track (as opposed to 4.3 miles with bypass) and I had forgotten how tough it is on the car and tires if you are truly pushing to be fast.






    my brand new pads have been working, but still get too hot and turn white
    my brand new pads have been working, but still get too hot and turn white

    The good news is that I had fresh tires and that my brakes did not misbehave for a change. My only issue were my tires that were eventually overheating, and my catalytic converters that were doing the same. I was however soon able to match my previous best time of 3:33 before my tires got greasy. By the afternoon, the track got more greasy and I started getting slower, as usual.
    And like I've done at some other days before, for reasons I can't explain, on my last session out, I just got my best time of the day. Somehow on my 2nd lap I shaved a full 3 seconds off my best morning time, both because I was driving better and deeper in some corners than I was in the morning, and because probably the track got just a bit cooler and my tires were still cool for the 2nd lap (my subsequent laps were 3:31).
    This was an awesome way to end the day, 3:30 for a (admittedly fast) street car on (admittedly good) street tires is not bad for me. I'm sure with a better line still, there are still a couple of seconds I left on the table, but I was happy enough with this for that day :)

    2016/09/07 Trying my new Ferrari 458 Challenge GT3 at Thunderhill
    π 2016-09-07 00:00 in Cars
    My friend Arnaud got himself a sweet F458 race car, and because he was driving it just a few times a year (just like I would), he offered me a half share in the car, which I happily bought from him. This coming day with 3 Stooges was a perfect day to try the car.
    Being a race car with 5 point seat belt, I had to get a hans like device for my neck and attach points to my helmet, and learn the functions of the car. After that, I went out for some laps and it didn't take long for me to beat my best ever time from my McLaren (I went down to at least 1:57 without even trying too hard).








    you jack it up by throwing compressed air in the back
    you jack it up by throwing compressed air in the back

    After that, being a race car, it started throwing some codes, so I had to get in to get it inspected and get the codes cleared, and when I went back out after lunch, sadly I probably was a bit tired and in food comatose, as well as not used to how wide this car actually is, and I dropped a wheel in turn 8. The car instantly hooked and went out, ruining the tires and putting combustible grass all over, including around the engine and exhaust. There was no real damage to the car, but having to clean all that up took a while and then Kevin found that one body bracket (a small cheap piece) had to be replaced, and then that a tire was ruined and had to be changed. By then, it was late enough that the day was going to be over anyway, so I headed home.
    Given that, it could have been better, but it was a nice introduction to the car.

    2016/07/25 Mazda Museum and Factory Tour in Hiroshima
    π 2016-07-25 00:00 in Cars, Japan, Japan2016




    nice new miata
    nice new miata






    Sadly the museum is inside the factory, so you cannot visit it at your own leisure, and we were rushed through it. I had to take pictures of the displays to read them later, kind of sad. I hope they find a way to fix this later.



    the original miata, I had the second generation of this
    the original miata, I had the second generation of this


    The RX7 gen2 was a beautiful car
    The RX7 gen2 was a beautiful car




    Mazda is of course famous for using rotary motors in several of their cars
    Mazda is of course famous for using rotary motors in several of their cars


    I didn't know about lock up automatic transmission
    I didn't know about lock up automatic transmission



    Then, we got a tour of the assembly line, where as usual no pictures were allowed, and on the way out, we got to see a few technology demo cars:


    dual fuel: hydrogen and gasoline, interesting...
    dual fuel: hydrogen and gasoline, interesting...

    dual fuel system
    dual fuel system

    hydrogen RX8, cool :)
    hydrogen RX8, cool :)






    And after 90m, the tour was over. It was a nice visit, even if (again) it was a shame that the museum tour was rushed due to being part of the guided tour where you wouldn't wonder off or stay longer:


    2016/06/25 FC Drivers South San Jose Loop
    π 2016-06-25 00:00 in Cars
    Nice little loop south of San Jose, with mostly clear roads:












    See more images for FC Drivers South San Jose Loop

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