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Cars > corsa’s Garage > Blog


Winter is Driving Me Crazy!

By corsa

As I sit here looking out the window, it is once again snowing here in Nebraska. We've had more snow this year than we've had in a long time, and for a car guy, it is frustrating!

I'm counting the days until spring....

Sim Racing

By corsa

I started sim racing back in 1990 with "Indy 500: The Simulation" by Papyrus, and really got into it with "Formula 1 Grand Prix" by Microprose, both on the Amiga. Then, over the years, I drifted away from sim racing until a year or two ago, when a friend in the Porsche club re-ignited my interest.

Since then, I've been a sim racing junkie, mostly playing GTR2 and rFactor. This year I'm running in my first full season of league racing with Champion Motorsports and their ILMS series, which closely mimics the real-life ALMS series. So far I'm having a blast!

So I was just wondering: are any other Motortopians avid sim-racers? If so, do you run GTR2? rFactor? iRacing?

The Ultimate Drive

By corsa

Today over lunch, mohrt and I participated in the BMW Ultimate Drive. Each year, BMW partners with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and gives people the chance to get behind the wheel of a bunch of new BMWs. For each mile you drive, BMW donates $1 on your behalf to Komen. This is our second year doing the event.

This year, I drove the following cars: a Z4, a 135i convertible, and the mighty M3 coupe.

First up was the M3. The car I drove was equipped with a proper 6-speed manual transmission. Pulling on to I-80, I nailed the throttle and felt all 414 horses launching me down the ramp. Both the power and the sound were intoxicating. The M3 drove incredibly on the highway, and it was difficult to keep it below the speed limit. Alas, a bunch of State Troopers, obviously aware of all the BMWs zipping up and down the Interstate, were keeping a watchful eye, so we couldn't get too crazy.

Taking the exit ramp, the M3 really held the road. Pulling out on the highway, I got rubber in the first three gears, with traction control on! Did I mention this thing is fast? Pulling back into the BMW dealer, I definitely had a smile on my face. How could the next two cars even compare to the M3?

Next out was the 135i convertible. Unfortunately, it was equipped with an automatic. But, it was a nice day, and the top was down. Entering I-80, putting the shifter into manual mode, and nailing the throttle also produced incredible acceleration, but delivered in an entirely different manner than the M3. Whereas acceleration in the M3 is insane the instant you nail it, hitting the throttle in the 135i accelerates forward at a pretty good rate, and within a second, the twin-turbos spool up and the car just launches... not quite as briskly as the M3, but still pretty impressive.

You instantly notice the 1-series is smaller than the M3, and I really think the 1-series is a car I could live with every day... assuming it had a proper 6-speed manual.

Last up was the Z4, and I wasn't expecting much. I drove the 3.0 liter equipped with a 6-speed manual. And you know what? I was pleasantly surprised! The first thing I noticed was it just felt more "right" sitting in the cockpit. For some reason, the seating position suited me more than that in the M3 or 135i. The only weird thing was the steering wheel seemed to be cocked at a weird angle, with the right side sticking out a little bit more than the left... but that could've been my mind playing tricks on me.

The next thing I noticed is that the interior is just plain ugly. I do NOT like the dash in the Z4. But, as I pulled away from the lot, the gorgeous sound coming out of the exhaust more than made up for it. I don't know what it was, but that Z4 just had a sweet sound. Acceleration was brisk, but not as fast as the M3 or 135i. But I just loved the feel of the Z4 better than the M3 or 135i.

Handling was a little twitchy compared to the other cars, and not in the same league as the Boxster. But other than that (and the ugly interior and exterior) it compared favorably.

To sum it up, I would say the M3 lived up to my expectations as an amazing car, but compared to the 135i, it was a little "big" and actually felt like it had a little too many "luxuries" in it for me.

The 135i was great to drive, apart from the automatic, and I preferred it to the 335i I drove last year. Substitute a 6-speed manual for the automatic, and this would be a great daily driver.

But I have to say, I was most impressed by the car I expected the least from: the Z4. It just felt "right" and hit all the right buttons for me, at least as far as a driving experience.

All in all, it was a great time, and even better, it was for a great cause. If this comes to your town and you get a chance to participate, I'd highly recommend it.

Workin' the Grid

By corsa

I spent Friday through Sunday of this past weekend working the grid for the Great Plains Region Porsche Club of America's annual Club Race. This was my first time working the grid on a race weekend (I previously worked one driver's ed weekend) and I have to say, I had a blast.

I got up Friday morning at 4:30 am so I could drive the hour-and-a-half to get to the track by 7. When I got there, I found out I was going to be the only person working grid until about 11:30 am. Nothing like jumping in with both feet and seeing if I could swim! But luckily, I remembered my experience helping out on grid with the Driver's Ed a few weeks back, and after checking in with race control to get my headset and to clarify exactly how they wanted me to communicate with them about cars entering the track, etc. I was set.

Luckily, Friday was conducted under basic Driver's Ed rules, so I just had to get the cars lined up, make sure they all had tech inspection stickers, and make sure all the cars were ready to go out on track, such as helmets and gloves on, proper attire, windows down, seatbelts on, doors shut, etc. Then I just needed to release the grid, direct them on track, and stay in communication with race control. It went very smooth.

Saturday and Sunday was a bit more intense, as that was the actual club race weekend. Lots more to check on the cars, had to make sure window nets were in place, check for mechanical problems like oil leaks on the grid, and more. On top of that, the national PCA stewards were also on hand, watching everything. Luckily, we had three people working grid and it went pretty smoothly.

Starting mid-morning, we actually had to grid the cars according to the lap times they achieved during the previous sessions. This made things a lot more intense and active, as we had to move cars into position, park cars between other cars that had arrived earlier, make sure there were no accidents, etc. Again, everything went well.

We had one hiccup in the afternoon during the first actual race, when we had 3 or 4 empty slots, people who didn't make it to the grid on time and had to start from the rear. It caused some confusion when releasing the cars from grid onto the track, but a solution was come up with later in the day, and every other session went perfect.

Sunday was the real workout, because that was the enduro race. We had at least 35 cars to grid for that race, and luckily we had a fourth person to help out, since the grid was so long.

Overall, I had a great time. Most people don't like to volunteer to work the grid, and I admit, after watching others do it in the past, I was a little worried. But it went great, and I can't wait to do it again.

Of course, the temptation to turn my 944S into a dedicated track car keeps gnawing away at me, and given the choice between working the grid and racing, it would be racing hands-down......

Hey Formula 1 Fans!

By corsa

You can win prizes this season if you participate in the forums on the Motortopia Formula 1 group!

The 2008 season is underway with this weekend's opening round in Australia. Head over to the F1 forums to talk about all things F1 with other Motortopia F1 fans.

And this season, just by participating in the forums, you can win free prizes, including ING Team Renault hats and flags, and some really cool posters from F1 Prints.

Click here to go straight to the forums!

Is it Spring yet?

By corsa

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Ahh yes, winter is here... and my Corvair sits under its cover... under a pile of snow. We're supposed to get another 1-3" on Saturday and another 1-3" on Sunday. Convertible season is officially over, and the next few months will be spent driving the Bimmer (with its snow tires, it'll go through about anything) and the 944S when the roads are dry.

Now, how many days until I can put the top down again?

Rear-ended today

By corsa

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The 944S was rear-ended today over lunch. Hopefully there isn't too much damage, my main concern is whether the bumper got pushed in at all.

I was stopped at a red light and the next thing I know, I felt the impact and looked over and saw a black '95 Nissan Maxima flying up over the curb and into the yard next to my car. The driver said his brake pedal went to the floor (it was on a downhill slope) and he tried to head for the curb to avoid hitting me, but he caught the right rear corner of my car.

The good thing is that there were no injuries, and he was insured.

Off to Indy!

By corsa

It's my favorite time of the year -- US Grand Prix weekend!

I'm leaving bright and early in the morning to drive to Indy for my 8th USGP. After a wild Canadian Grand Prix, this weekend's race should be a good one. Will Hamilton's dream rookie season continue? Will Alonso be able to overcome the mistakes that plagued him in Canada? Will Ferrari be on-pace this weekend? And, most importantly, will Sato put the Super Good Friends into the points again?

I can't wait to find out!

p.s. Catch Friday's practice and Saturday's qualifying live on SpeedTV, then tune in to Fox on Sunday to watch the race live.

Best Handling Car in America

By corsa

Ahh, handling. I have always loved cars that handle. In the 80s, the Porsche 944 was considered the best-handling car you could buy. In the 90s, the Acura NSX claimed the title. In recent years, the Porsche Boxster, Lotus Elise and then Lotus Exige have had legitimate claims to the title.

Motor Trend decided to find out who the current champion is, so they gathered up some of the best:

Honda Civic Si
Mazda Mazdaspeed3 GT
MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works GP
Mitsubishi Evolution IX MR
Honda S2000
BMW 335i
Porsche Cayman S
Lotus Exige S
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Porsche 911 GT3

They evaluated the following:

* Ultimate grip and cornering power: The familiar skidpad g-force performance.
* Transitional behavior: How the car behaves when turning the steering wheel, especially while accelerating or braking.
* Path accuracy and directional stability: How well the car goes where it's pointed and how faithfully it tracks straight ahead.
* Steering and brake feel: How well the controls convey what's happening where the rubber meets road.
* Chassis composure and control: How confidently the suspension absorbs and reacts to bumps, dips, and changes in the road surface.
* Cockpit ergonomics: Control positioning and function, and the seat comfort and support contribute to good car control.

Read the full article at to see who came out on top

(Hint: the winner is revealed on page 8 if you don't want to read the entire article.)

Were you surprised? I have to admit I was expecting a different car to take the crown. But I was pleasantly surprised by the winner. :)

New winter shoes for the Bimmer

By corsa

A couple weeks ago, I came across a set of BMW "bottle cap" wheels with new Winterforce tires on them for a great price. I bought them and put them on my car last week, and anxiously awaited snow so I could try 'em out. That snow finally came this weekend, and the Winterforce tires are AMAZING.

In my 22+ years of driving in Nebraska, I've never used winter tires on my car. Let's see how crazy I've been:

* Opel GT - ran a set of cheap Goodyear Corsa GT tires all year round. I assume they were all season tires, but not sure. Rear wheel drive, no weight at all, seemed to get around okay all throughout high school.

* Toyota Supra - had a set of (literally) bald no-name tires, 235/60 R 14. Rear wheel drive, no weight, but at least a limited slip rearend. Amazingly, took that car on a ski trip to Colorado with the bald rear tires. Actually made it down the mountain alive in a blizzard, having to stop in a small town for the night when they closed the roads. Got the last motel room. No clue how we didn't die, although we did do a 360 around one curve.

* Porsche 944S - Rear wheel drive, no limited slip, but the transaxle is in the rear, adding some weight. First few winters had Eagle GT+4 all season tires. Not too bad in the snow. Next few winters ran Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. Definitely a summer performance tire. No clue how I got around in the snow, but somehow I did. Drove through many blizzards with the Eagles. It currently has Pirelli P7000 Supersport "high performance all-season" tires on it. Not too bad in light snow, but that's about it.

* Honda Civic - Front wheel drive, skinny tires. I ran whatever all-season tires came from the factory. This car did great in the snow, thanks to the skinny tires and front wheel drive.

* BMW 528e - Rear wheel drive, no weight, no limited slip. I think it was running Goodyear GT+4 when I first got it. Up until last week, I was running Bridgestone Touranza LT all-season tires. Good in very light snow, but anything above that, worthless. In fact, this car has always sucked in the snow.

Which brings me to the Winterforce tires on the BMW. Wow. I have them on all four wheels, and I feel like I can go almost anywhere. I feel more confident than I did in the front-wheel drive Civic now. If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, and you have been debating getting a set of winter wheels/tires, don't wait any longer. Do it, you will wonder how you ever drove in the snow without them. :)

I Won! Autoblog Reader's Ride of the Week

By corsa

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

I forgot to mention, but my Corvair won the Reader's Ride of the Week! There were 2,715 votes cast, and I won by 20 votes. Thanks to everyone who voted!

Apparently I'm not eligible for Reader's Ride of the Year!

See the article here!

Autoblog's Reader's Ride of the Day

By corsa

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

My Corvair made Autoblog's Reader's Ride of the Day during "forced induction" week and, coincidentally, on my birthday.

Read the article here.

Hopefully I get enough votes and win!

A wise man once said...

By corsa

"A Porsche will get you through periods of no women better than a woman will get you through periods of no Porsches."

Driving In the Lake

By corsa

Note: Check out the pictures on the left.

This past Sunday, I attended the 34th Annual Lake Afton All Wheels Show in Wichita, KS, with the rest of the Motortopia crew. This show is billed as the largest free open-air car show in the United States. Among the 3,000 or so cars that were there was one lone Amphicar.

Those of you not familiar with the Amphicar, they were built between 1961 and 1968. In all, less than 4,000 were built.

I found the owner of the 1964 Amphicar that was in the show and asked him if he ever took it out in the lake. He said "of course" so I asked him if he was going to take it out that day. He said "sure," and when I asked him when, he said "how about right now?" I said "sure!" and we hopped in the car.

We drove down to the boat ramp, and after a 30-second "pre-flight" check, we drove right into the lake. It was surreal!

We cruised across the lake, and let me tell you, does that car get stares! I mean, come on, what would you think if you saw a car cruising through the lake?

It was a total blast! After a short while, we turned around and drove right up the boat ramp out of the water.

That is one ride I will never forget.

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