Saturday, February 22, 2020

Learn high performance driving skills online

Here are 2 great resources for learning the skills of performance driving. They are both geared toward racing but most the skills they teach also apply to HPDE.

  • Racer360 is a collection of tutorials aimed at different aspects of driving.  Many are free but other require a subscription.
  • Driver61 has a great collection of video tutorials where a race driving instructor talks through car control and racing skills in a classroom setting with in-car video clips.  You can also find his channel and  play list on YouTube.
These are great to study now as track season is coming up soon.  If you are new to high performance drivers education, check out this blog post: https://ltrpca.blogspot.com/2018/02/high-performance-drivers-education-aka.html

Monday, January 20, 2020

Driving events on the calendar already

It's still January but car clubs are already busy getting driving events on their calendars.

Autocross

The biggest autocross club in Central Illinois is the Champaign County Sports Car Club.  Here is their autocross schedule they just posted.
The Central Illinois Region (CIR) of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) also hosts autocrosses in Central Illinois, including Mossville.  I have not seen their 2020 schedule yet though.

High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE)

Some of us LTR members have already signed up for the CIR PCA Spring Brake HPDE at Putnam Park April 24 - 26.  This is a great event for all from beginners to experts.

The dates for the St Louis Region PCA HPDE events at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway are:
  • April 24-26th - Registration opens 2/29
  • June 5-7th - Registration opens 4/4
  • October 16-18th - Registration opens 8/15


More clubs will be adding events soon so this is just the beginning.  You can search for driving events at Clubregistration.net and Motorsportreg.com too.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Leaderboard

As discussed in an earlier blog post, Las Vegas (and other places) has places you can go to drive high end sports cars and supercars on the track.  Generally normal people like you and me do 5 laps or more on their track with an instructor.  Exotics Racing times these laps and posts them all on their leaderboard here: https://exoticsracing.com/michelin-time-trial-world-challenge.html .  Notice what cars make the vast majority of the fastest laps.  The Porsche GT cars.  Right now the Porsche GT2 RS and GT3 RS hold the top 5 spots.
It took F1 driver Charles Leclerc to get a Ferrari to number 6.  Only 4 of the top 20 are not Porsche.  What this shows to me is how easy it is to drive the Porsche GT cars very fast compared to other supercars.  Even YouTuber Shmee150 can make excellent lap times in his first time out with these cars on this track.

I was really impressed that they were able to hold 1.49g cornering in a stock GT2 RS at this very short track.

On paper the GT2 RS sounds like a monster.  Yet several have taken them to the track for their first time and were surprised how easy it is to drive this car silly fast.  Consider this comparison between a GT3 cup car and a stock GT2 RS at Road America.


Listen to the drivers comments about the relative ease of making fast laps in the GT2 RS.

Next time you are in Las Vegas, see where you fit on the Exotics Racing leaderboard in the GT2 RS.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Car stuff in Central Illinois

Here in the Midwest we enjoy a rich car culture. Even in Central Illinois, away from the big cities, we have plenty of car related things to do. We also have many activities within a few hours drive from here as well. I wanted to share some key website to get people started. 

Social Events and Groups


Driving Events

There are 2 main websites to find and register for automotive events, Clubregistration.net and Motorsports.reg.  Most PCA, BMWCCA, SCCA, Audi club, and others use one of these two sites so they are a great place to find events. 

Autocross

The Central Illinois SCCA has the most autocrosses in Central Illinois.  As with many clubs, they use Motorsports.reg for their event registration. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Street Survival 2019

Several LTR members participated in the Street Survival at Cat Mossville AC this weekend.  The local newspaper printed this article about it too.  This was our 10th year offering this event and its going stronger than ever.  If you have never been involved in one of these I would highly recommend it.  At a minimum, all new drivers should go through it.  My daughter did it twice.  We are always looking for volunteers.  We will be doing this again in the Spring, generally May-ish.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Be All In with LTR

I have heard from several members off and on that they are not aware of what is going on in the region.  I decided to create this post so people know when things are happening, both LTR events, and other car events around the region.

  1. Make sure your email is up-to-date on the PCA national website!  We used this with our emailer to send notices out to the members.  You must have an up-to-date email in the PCA national website in order for this to work.  Go to the website: https://www.pca.org/, login [Member Log-in], select the [Edit] tab, and update your information.  If you change email addresses make sure to update this.
  2. Connect to our calendar.  I created a blog post for this a while back.  It explains how to connect the LTR calendar with your Google calendar so you can see LTR events.  http://ltrpca.blogspot.com/2018/02/add-ltr-calendar-to-your-smartphone-or.html. I believe you can connect this to other calendar types as well.  
  3. Connect with us on Facebook.  I know, I am not a big fan of Facebook either but it is the most popular social media platform.  The LTR has a page and a private group.  Lets use this to share events around the region, tips, etc.  Start here: https://www.facebook.com/ltrpca/.  I have a link to this right on the LTR website for your convenience.
  4. The LTR website.  This is our main place to connect with our region.  I have links to all the above on the website.  I also have an additional calendar showing other car events around the region and in nearby regions.
Please take advantage of these so you are aware of what is going on and can hopefully participate in some club activities and get the most out of your LTR membership.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Next time you are in Las Vegas...

... spend some of that gambling money on a great driving experience. I visited Speed Vegas recently and drove a Ferrari 488 on track.  The whole story is here: https://jimroal.blogspot.com/2019/03/driving-speed-vegas-in-ferrari-488.html.

If you are interested in cars that Speed Vegas does not have, or you want to try a different track, there are another places very similar at the Las Vegas Speedway Commerce Center North if Las Vegas.  For instance Exotics RacingDream Racing, and Vegas Supercars.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Street Survival June 2019

The PCA and BMWCCA both support Tire Rack Street Survival schools to help teach new drivers car control.  The goal is to create better drivers by developing skills that will help them avoid accidents.  Here in Central Illinois the Illini BMW club sponsors a Street Survival school at Caterpillar building AC near Mossville.  There are actually 2 schools, one per day, on June 22nd and 23rd.  This event is run by all volunteers and we need more volunteers to support more students.  We need all sorts of volunteers such as people helping with registration, course workers, in-car coaches, and in-class instructors.  If you would like to help improve new drivers, please go to this site http://illinibmw.com/events/trss/ and follow the instructions to contact the Street Survival team.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Drivers Education (Track days)

I wanted to make a brief post for those interested in performance driving.  Last year I posted this blog about it to give information and videos explaining what they are all about. One of my personal favorites is Central Indiana region PCA Spring Brake which is now open for registration. I hope to see many LTR folks there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Porsche at The Revs Institute, Naples Florida

I was recently on vacation near Naples Florida and a friend told me about The Revs Institute.  We spent about two and a half hours there enjoying their car collection.  Not only did they have cars on display but they also had engines on stands out where you can see all the details.  They have a whole section dedicated for Porsche. 

I took copious photos (almost 200) but they actually have the whole collection in great photos online.  They had both race cars and street cars including the original 718, 356, 911 of course, 917, and much more.  I posted a few photos below but if you go to their website you can see much more of the collection.








  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Maintaining your Porsche

Modern cars intimidate most people into avoiding even attempting basic maintenance on their own.  It should not be that way actually.  While modern cars are certainly much more complex than older cars, many things are actually easier now.  I was a professional mechanic (or service technician) from '83 through '97.  I worked at a Ford dealer in Eastern Washington and specialized in the highest tech stuff that cars had back then, electronics, engine performance, and air conditioning primarily.  I also did alignments and other repairs.  I maintain my own cars still today.  Everything from general maintenance to a complete engine swap on my 2007 Jaguar a few years ago.

I encourage most people to give some of the basics a try.  It's good to know more about your car. This article is intended to give some useful information about maintaining your own vehicles.

Where can I get service information?

As it turns out, this is better than it has ever been.  Back in 1996 when On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) regulations were mandated coast-to-coast in the US, and finally spreading to the modern world, the regulators realized that just making low emissions vehicles was not enough as nobody would maintain those emissions systems and often they would even remove them when the car was fairly new.  So along came OBD2 intent on making sure people maintained emissions compliance and eventually easing the emissions inspection programs.  As these OBD regulations matured they also realized that the high costs of the dealer monopolies was driving big incentives for people to not fix their cars when emissions failures happened. So, along came the Service Information Rule to make service more readily available by enabling 3rd party service providers access to the same emissions related service information that the dealerships had.  Then in 2012 Massachusetts passed a Right to Repair law covering on-road motor vehicles basically extending the SIR type regulation bumper-to-bumper.  Right-to-repair laws are spreading more. So, what does all this mean for you?  It means you have a legal right to access the original manufacturers service information and training for a "reasonable subscription fee".  The government helps manufacturers determine what is reasonable.  

In order to ensure manufacturers were obeying these laws, the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) was formed.  Their website at https://www.nastf.org houses links to this government required service information that the manufacturers would prefer to hide.  There you can access the service information for your car.  Each manufacturer has it's own unique website of information, and each has a pricing menu based on how long you need information access and how many vehicles of information access you need.  Porsche's is here: https://techinfo2.porsche.com/PAGInfosystem/VFModuleManager?Type=GVOLangSelection&lk=ELSE.  Notice the cryptic link to find it.  Of course it is one of the most expensive too with a 1-day subscription costing $140.  For comparison access to the service information on my 2007 Jaguar was in the $15 range for 3-day access to partial info for one vehicle.  

So that factory information is too expensive?  There are 3rd party alternatives.  One of the biggest is Alldata.  They have a DIY service information website that is geared towards folks like us.  I used this for my Cayman S and it was around $30/year.  Much of their information is derived from the manufacturers information.  

Where can I get parts?

Many repair parts are only available from the dealer networks but most maintenance parts are available from other providers.  Of course, be careful on aftermarket parts as many are not as good as the manufacturers original parts.  Here are some places I go for Porsche parts:
  • Vertex Auto.  These guys specialize in Porsche, although they have expanded to others now.  
  • Pelican Parts.  Another Porsche specialist. When I renewed my PCA membership I got a 10% coupon here. 
But what if you need those factory parts?  If you walk down to your local dealer you are likely to get sticker shock.  The parts can often be silly expensive.  However, there are places that sell original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts at a discount.  Some you can even look up in online catalogs.  One example of a Porsche dealer selling parts online, sometimes at a discount is Sun Coast PorscheAutohaus in Peoria also has an online parts store with good discounts.  Remember also that our LTR PCA club does get discounts on parts at Autohaus (Porsche of Peoria) and Isringhausen if you show your PCA card.  See this blog post for more details.

For some things such as fluids, you can get these from local parts stores.  I actually buy Mobile One (Porsche preferred) oil from Walmart. You can also get filters, belts, some hoses, bulbs, etc.,  at local parts stores such as Autozone, Napa, O'Reilly's, Pep Boys, etc.  

Where can I get help if I get stuck?

Here is where the internet has really helped.  Crowd-sourced information is abundant.  There are many forums that specialize in Porsche too.  Here are 2 of the bigger ones:
Most common questions have probably been asked already and you will find information posted from other Porsche folks like us.  If it has not been asked before, go ahead and start a new thread with your question.  You might be surprised the help you get.  Of course with all this crowd-sourced information you have to sift through it a bit.  It's not all good or even accurate but there is also a bunch of great information out there.

Another place to look is YouTube.  Here is a list of results when I searched for "how to remove a Porsche 997 door panel" for example. Videos can be much more informational that a manual.

Don't I need a hoist and a whole bunch of tools?

I don't have a hoist and it rarely is even an inconvenience.  There are certain things that are much easier with a hoist but most of the time a hoist is in your way.  If you were puling the engine out of your 911, sure a hoist is extremely helpful.  For normal maintenance a floor jack and jack stands, and a set of ramps cover most tasks OK.  However, if you really want a hoist you can get them for home.  Some are as low as $1500 or less.  Here is an example of one.

As for tools, I still happen to have my tools from when I did this for a living.  However, when I need new basic tools a trip to Sears will fill many needs.  There are some common tools you will need for Porsche's.  First of all, a set of Torx tools.  You can get drivers or sockets, or just get both.  Some things on Porsche's use "triple-square" or "cheese-head" bits.  You can find these at places like Tooltopia.  Some can even be found at local tool suppliers like C&H in Peoria.  Be careful of going too cheap on tools.  That is a recipe for damaging things including you.  Get a good torque wrench too.  In fact, get both a 1/2" drive and a 3/8" drive so you can cover the spectrum of torque you will need.  

What do I do with my used fluids?

Engine oil can be recycled at the place you bought it from.  Some other fluids can also be returned at auto parts stores like Autozone.  Others like brake fluid and antifreeze are harder.  Often your local parts store can point you in the right direction.

What are some typical costs?

Oil Change

Let's start with a basic oil change on a modern Porsche sports car.  You can get the factory recommended Mobile One 0W-40 oil at Walmart for under $25/5quart container.  My 2006 Cayman S takes 8.5 quarts.  I just get 2 jugs because my Mercedes also takes the same oil and about the same capacity.  The OEM filter is from Mahle and can be purchased from Vertex for $11.95. I can change my oil for under $60 using the factory oil and filter.  I back the car on to ramps.  I takes about 30 minutes. The used oil goes back in the jugs the new oil came in and I drop it back off at Walmart the next time I go. The only tools are a ratchet and socket for the drain plug, ramps, a drain pan, a funnel, and a filter wrench that can be purchased at any parts store, or even Walmart.  

Brakes

There are 2 very important things you should never go cheap on: brakes and tires.  There are many things not to go cheap on of course but these 2 are the main things that are critical for avoiding accidents.  On a high performance car like Porsche, the factory pads are a great choice for most people and uses.  I know many people that even run them on the track. Vertex sells many great brake pads for my car including the OEM pads.  In my case the fronts are $209 for the set, and the rears are $119.98. You will need to check the rotor thickness when changing pads as they wear too.  The manual will have thickness specs.  Lets say you do need rotors as well.  In my case I do track days so the factory drilled rotors should really be upgraded to slotted rotors to avoid the cracking issues. I did not find what I want at Vertex so I looked at Tire Rack and Pelican.  Pelican had Sebro slotted rotors for a reasonable price.  The fronts are $128 each and the rears are $130 each.  You should always change the brake fluid when changing pads and since I do track days I use Motul 600 which I can get right here at Hoerr Racing for $19 per 500ml container (I use 2).  So, for under $1000 I have new OEM pads, upgraded rotors, and new performance fluid.  It takes me about 2 hours to change these parts and bleed the brakes in my garage with just a floor jack, basic tools, and a pressure bleeder.  I also have a vacuum bleeder that I use to replace the fluid in the reservoir before beginning the pad swap. Warning: brake fluid is destructive and will eat car paint!  Use caution and cover areas that could get a drip on it. I will go through many sets of pads before needing rotors again so the next pad swap will be less than half that cost.

Spark Plugs

The Cayman S is mid engine and you can't even see the engine without removing panels.  This can be intimidating and make it seem like changing spark plugs would be very difficult.  In actuality, this is one of the easiest cars to change plugs on.  You start be removing the rear tire and a small plastic panel behind it (3 screws). At that point you can see all 3 coils in plain sight.  Here is a video on YouTube showing this.

I prefer factory electrical parts including spark plugs.  Sun Coast sells the OEM spark plug set for $108.  You can get the same brand and type of spark plugs for less elsewhere.  It takes me about an hour and a half to change them.  Always use anti-seize on the threads and make sure the gap is correct.  


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Parking Surprise

Considering egress from a Carrera can be a task in itself for a “big”guy like myself, I tend to park in areas where I can fully open my door.........let alone parking in such a manner whereas I can reduce door dings from other cars. Imagine my surprise as I was leaving an establishment in Bloomington this week as saw this, sandwiched between two vehicles......... When I went in, there were only a few cars in the parking lot and none around me.  All I could say was why? I knew a Porsche attracts attention, but this is a little overboard...... Am I the only one this happens to?



Monday, August 27, 2018

Cars & Coffee in Springfield

Isringhausen Imports, a Porsche authorized dealer in Springfield, held a Cars and Coffee last Saturday, welcoming Lincoln Trail PCA members to join in a car-lovers dream. Lincoln Trail PCA members had a strong showing as evidenced in photos snapped by local paparazzi (which really included just me.).



















Sunday, June 17, 2018

Detailing and PDR Tech session


We attended a tech session for car detailing and paint protection at Detail Peoria (http://www.detailpeoria.com/) this weekend on Knoxville in Peoria.  We started by discussing paint restoration, prep, and protection.  They also discussed some products to use to maintain a clean car.

Then we saw a demonstration of paintless dent repair (PDR) using both the tool from behind the dent method as well as the glue method by "the Dent Guy" Scott Shinn (309-208-3932).  We also discussed wheel curb rash repair that The Wheel Guy (Kevin Duncan) does (309-231-2591).