First track day recap

Last weekend (July 28 & 29) was the first time on track with the FR-S.  We went to buttonwillow raceway to run clockwise config 13 – the yardstick for lap times on the west coast.  We had a pretty ambitious schedule as we were not only putting the car on the track for the first time, but we also were testing incremental improvements.  Which meant crawling around under the car in the summer desert heat to make changes to the car. I;m not referring to myself in the plural 3rd person, I actually had help.  Big thanks to the folks at 949 racing for being track side to help make the changes and assist in set up.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all of the rounds of testing that we did if I was by myself.  They have a lot of interest in these cars, and have started carrying parts for them. Check out their racing blog: http://949racing.blogspot.com/

The timed results below were with Emilio of 949 driving.  He got more out of the car on this weekend than I did.  Hats off to him.  He’s fast and never put a wheel wrong with little seat time.  We recorded tire pressures, pyrometer readings, damper travel, gps data and timing.  We combined this with alignment and driver feedback to start building our own setup manual.

Test 1: Baseline – 2:12.1

We needed to know what the car did straight off the showroom floor.  The only change we made was brake pads before our first run.  We decided a stock pad test was pointless considering the ambient heat of the weekend.  I just wasn’t willing to trash parts we knew wouldn’t be up to the task.  We installed Carbotech XP10 (front) and XP8 (rear) before we got the the track.  I bedded them late at night on the drive out of LA on the way to the track.  Nothing like 80 to 20mph braking runs over and over until you can smell the melting pad material transferring material to the rotors.

Stock alignment includes an average of -.3 degrees camber in the front and it showed.  The pyrometer data shows that we’re destroying the outer shoulder of the stock wooden wagon wheels and the insides aren’t sharing the burden.  This is to be expected with this little amount of camber.  The car is fun to drive this way, and pretty well balanced, but mushes its way around the track.  Not sure why these tires were picked for the chassis from the factory.

coming through turn one stock, the car was a little loose

Tread squirm overheated the tires really quickly.  There isn’t very much braking feel coming through the pedal in this config.  I attribute this again to the non-track oriented tires and having way more brake pad than rubber on the ground.

The car has a pretty big tendency to oversteer stock when you get close to the limits.  Driving at 8/10ths the car does what you want it to. But if you are trying for the penultimate lap it is not very forgiving.  It never puts you in danger, but the car starts to rotate slowing you down.  Messing with tire pressures helped this some, but in our experience when you tune out the high speed oversteer, a low speed understeer starts to show up when the car is pushed. This criticisms are minor in light of how good the car is stock.  Out of the box, this is one of the most well balanced and fun cars to drive on the track I have ever driven.

Test 2: wheels, tires, and crash bolts – 2:07.1

In a previous post, I went through wheel selection for this car. We are using 17×9 hub centric Mach V wheels.  They weight 17.8s, and there simply isn’t anything else on the market that meets all these specs.  I’ve painted them blue instead of powder coating them, and may outline in another post how I did this.  We’ve mounted 255/40/17 Hankook RS3’s on them.  Sometimes hellafunctional and hellaflush cross over.  This is one of those instances. I noticed after we returned home that the rears just barely touched the rolled fenders.  Nothing dangerous – just enough to discolor the tire.

So you can visualize the difference, here is a stock strut bolt next to the smaller one that creates camber

We also installed factory crashbolts for the impreza (part # 20540AA090 at a subaru dealer).  All these are is a bolt with a thinner shaft diameter so there is some slop between the suspension upright and the damper.  This slop allows you to tilt the top of the hub and wheel inboard creating more static camber. These bolts gave us an average of .7 degrees of camber gain in the front (total of 1 degree). 1 degree clearly isn’t enough for the soft sidewall of the RS3s that really like to roll over, but it was a start, and helped us get the front tires to clear the fenders.

Just clears under compression with the 1 degree of front camber

The addition of the larger tires calmed the oversteer at the limit.  5 years ago, the fastest street tires were only good for a lap before they overheated.  the RS3s soak up as much heat as you can create on an almost 100 degree day lap after lap.

On the scales with stock dampers. Out of the box the cross weights are really good.

The only weakness is that braking feel isn’t as good as traditional r compounds when they heat up, but way better than the stock tires. In this configuration, the car has way more grip than it does suspension control.  Its fast, but sways through corners in a manner that isn’t confidence inspiring when trying to go fast.  But to pick up 6 seconds in tires and a little front camber is pretty staggering.

Test 3: AST prototype dampers- 2:03.75

Not the rear top hats we ended up using, but everything else is representative here

AST has just released their newest damper technology – the 4150 series. (http://www.ast-usa.com/) Our test day included not only the first prototype of AST’s designed for the FR-S, but also one of the first examples of the 4150 damper internals in use in the US.  We sourced tophats from other vendors to get these dampers on the car in time for this weekend.  (Vorshlag adjustable ones in the front, and OEM WRX rear ones) Our goal was to ensure fitment and figure out what “works” on the track and street.

Vorshlag adjustable top mount

We installed them in the garage at Buttonwillow while the thermostat said it was 99 degrees in the shade.  Stock damper removal on this chassis is a breeze.  The front struts fall right out with the removal of 5 bolts (plus the sway bar endlink and disconnecting the abs sensor and brake line), and the rears don’t even require disconnecting the sway bar to come out.  Very refreshing compared to other small cars on the market today.

solid cross weights before adding the driver

The whole swap took less than an hour plus time to realign and corner balance.  We lowered the car about 3/4″ and got decent cross weights on the car.  For those that care about these things, the cross weight changed only about .1% when you add a 175lb driver.  We didn’t play with the alignment after the first install, and there is probably a little more time in the setup from getting this just right.

Out of the box, dampers and front alignment made about 3.5 seconds. My earlier complaints of unpredictability and lack of balance at the limit are gone.  Other dampers may have more adjustment knobs and other bells and whistles, but there is something really nice about simplicity that works.  You can actually tell a difference with each of the 12 clicks the AST monotubes make to the ride.  We were able to balance the chassis with these.  While it wasn’t the fastest way around the track, more than once we had a very controllable oversteer slide at 90 mi/hr through the riverside turn (high speed right hand sweeper).  It soaks up pavement transitions and imperfections in a manner the stock ride couldn’t.  You can hammer over most of the track bumpers without upsetting the chassis a huge amount. And while this was a track focused test, the spring rates we chose rode almost like stock when the damper valving was set to its softest settings.

The feedback document we provided to AST will be incorporated into the final design.  I think this will prove to be a competitive advantage for AST.  There were some things discovered through our testing that I don’t think manufactures could account for without real track testing and and data.  After this test, I’m a little skeptical of other dampers that are on the market that never saw the track before being released.  You can only fine tune a design so much from behind a computer.  After the AST design is finalized and on the market, I’ll point out some of those differences and talk about spring rates, etc.  Sorry for being cloak and dagger about it.  I look forward to seeing these on the market so that others can provide feedback as well.

Final thoughts:

Going to the track in this sort of heat really beats on cars and drivers.  The FR-S only has a water temp sensor that never moved from the safe zone throughout the whole weekend.  But I suspect there is a dead spot in the middle of the dial from which it won’t move until things get really hot.  I hope to get an oil temp sensor in the car in the near future to see what is really going on.  The car now turns hard enough that the stock seat isn’t really sufficient.  I left with a sore left knee from holding myself up against the door, which means a more supportive seat is needed.  I’m not quite sure how to handle this with the desire to keep the car street comfortable yet.

I posted a quick video in the previous blog entry, and will put another one up in a bit when I have a moment to edit.  Admittedly, the focus for the weekend was collecting data and consequently, the cameras weren’t always in the car, or always on, etc. Photo credit here goes to Vanhap Photography.  With little time to do more than take a shot with a point and shoot, its always good to have a local pro hanging around for beauty shots.

never got a still shot of the car at the track. Here is one back at home and cleaned up.

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Under the skin

A couple days ago, I took the nose off the car, and took the intake system out.  I did this for measurements for future projects.  I wanted to take a look at different intake routes to free up space between the engine and the radiator, and I wanted to look at practical mounts for oil coolers and splitters.  I figured others might want to see the pictures so they wouldn’t have to take their car apart to see under the skin.  I won’t be writing a big story, just posting up the pics.

For those that want to take the nose off themselves, its really pretty easy.  you have about 7 10mm blots on top and bottom of the nose, and a bunch of little plastic push rivets which you need a flat head screwdriver to remove.  The only tricky ones are the ones inside the corner marker housings.  Not sure why they are designed this way, as they were a pain to get out.  But if I were to do it again, now that I know how I think I could have the bumper off in 10 mins.

as a point of reference, here is the fully dressed engine bay. I know those resonance chambers are there for a reason, but there is a ton of plastic taking up valuable space between the engine and the radiator.

similar shot, just no intake plumbing. Lots of room. Subaru already leaned the top of the radiator forward, so there is more space at the top than at the bottom.

Here is a better angle to see the lean of the radiator.  Fans are relatively slim lined.  No idea on the CFM they push, but as you’ll see in later pics, the radiator is pretty well sealed from the front, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

Better shot of the radiator and the air intake.  You can see if going over the radiator on the left side.  Any shop out there want to collaborate on an intake tube that uses the same passageway?

nose off the car. The crash beam looks really light. And the nose is supported buy Styrofoam.

up close shot of the intake snorkel from the front side of the radiator. Lots of thought went into this. But if you want all the mess from behind the radiator to be tossed, I think this has to go.

Here is the opening where that intake snorkel was. The airbox is on the other side during this photo, so you can see the paper filter.

For reference with a tape measure…

from the drivers side without the nose. You can see how far the bumper beam extends. Looks like a great place to suspend the splitter from in the future. And water weighs what? 7lbs/gallon? looks like there is 7 pounds of windshield washer fluid to come off the nose of the car when it comes time to try and remove the lbs…

really nice plastic shrouding of the radiator. The bottom panel especially. You can see the sides that keep the air from escaping around the radiator here as well. I’ll be curious to see water and oil temps at the track in 2 weeks…

here is the inside of the nose. Looks like the plastic rock guard will just snap right out if we wanted to remove it. The upper 3rd doesn’t even let air through, so if we need better airflow, that might be the answer.

That’s it for now.  If you want to follow the progress:

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Waiting for track time

It’s been two weeks since my last update.  A lot of planning has taken place, but not a lot of activity on the car. I refuse to change anything until we’ve had it on track to understand how it works stock.  The end of the month is the first track day I can find at Buttonwillow running clockwise configuration 13. In this entry I’ll highlight the way I made my wheel choice for the car.  Admittedly not a lot of analytical information this time, but progress is progress, right?

From my previous entries, it should be relatively self-evident that my requirements for a wheel for the FR-S are:

  1. 17×9 – wide as we can get without risking the wheels ordered not fitting
  2. Light weight – call this under 19 lbs for the size – unsprung weight is the enemy
  3. Good fitment – hellafunction, not hellaflush
  4. Good price – No wheels that cost 18% of the value of the car

What is the age old adage for race car fabrication? “Fast, Cheap, reliable – choose two”  I think the same applies to wheel options for the FR-S.  combine the 5×100 bolt pattern and my list of requirements made for few choices.  And apparently to make things worse, in Japan, all the track oriented consumers are looking for 18’s, so the the supply of 9” wide 17’s isn’t likely to change.  The only options I could find without going with a custom made wheel were:

  1. Rotas –There are a couple styles that are the right size, but luckily, as they don’t fit criteria #2, I don’t have to face the “rota debate”.
  2. Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 – they come in 40mm and 45mm  offsets, but are also about 20 lbs/ corner.  Not to mention they are not available in country right now so they are special order from Europe.  A rock solid wheel, but heavier than I want, even though the price is fair.
  3. Mach V Motorsports “Awesome” wheel. – 17×9, 17.8lbs, 42mm offset, $250/corner.  They come with a center cap, but no valve stems. Bingo.

Mach V Motorsports “Awesome” Wheel

The Mach V Motorsports wheel is specifically made for Subarus.  Its hubcentric for the FT86 chassis, and comes drilled for both 5×100 and 5×114.3 bolt patterns.  So if we ever do end up doing a hub conversion on this car, we can continue to use the wheels.  The Mach V wheel is a form flow cast 5 spoke design wheel.  While forged wheels are generally deemed to be lighter and more rigid, they also are way more expensive.  Dan at Mach V talked me through their design process as I am concerned about damaging wheels on track.  I wasn’t as concerned about “if” they would fail, as all wheels will with the proper FUBAR’d corner entry, but I was concerned “how” they would fail.  Cast wheels have a reputation for cracking, not bending like forged ones do. Dan assured me that during their design process, they actually added material to the spokes to increase the sheer strength and ensure safety when in use, and the form flow casting process is more reliable than the simpler casting ones used in the past. I just wanted to make sure that when damage occurs, that the barrel doesn’t leave the hub leaving me to 3 wheel the car to a stop.  These wheels fit the bill for that.  All of this, and at a price of $249 a corner, I don’t really see anything else remotely close to the performance per dollar ratio on the market.

I ordered them in flat black, but they come in a couple other finishes you can see here:

http://www.fastwrx.com/mavawwh.html

Mag Blue on the right, Brilliant Blue on the left.

I don’t do much for aesthetics for my cars, but I am considering having these wheels powder coated.  I am pretty dead set on some shade of blue.  Somewhere between Volk’s “Magnesium Blue” and “Hyper Blue”.

Here are a couple sample colors I picked up locally.  Not sure any of these are right.  I also considered a bright color, like Porsche’s Mexico Blue, but not sure.  Vote on the poll, or leave a comment.

what do you think of these color choices? Not sure if any of these are right.

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The First Rule of Fight Club.

Today, I took the car to 949 Racing in Lake Forest, CA.  From my deep roots in the miata community, I’ve known Emilio Cervantes, owner of 949 for a long time.  He has developed a reputation as a racer, manufacture, and curious mind.  He is the miata community’s Tyler Durden from Fight Club.

Tyler Durdan himself

The first rule of 949 is you don’t talk about 949.  So while we took a ton of measurements, and Emilio filled up a pad of paper with notes and took pictures, he won’t talk about his plans for the chassis. But he clearly is fascinated with this new car.  I appreciate the way he approaches product development, and look forward to whatever he ends up releasing. But because of rule #1, I’ll strictly be discussing our findings and measurement with wheels/tires/and brakes, and very little about 949’s plans.

Wheel & Tire fitment

949 made a small run of a 17×9 +48 wheels in a 5×100 bolt pattern.  They had one on the shelf with a 255/40/17 Nitto NT01 mounted on it.  This tire has a 10.35” section width on a 9” wide rim.

949 wheel mounted with a 255/40/17 Nitto NT01

Not all 255’s are really the same size – an important point to remember when you are cramming so much tire under the front fender of these cars.  This combination initially hit the spring on the +48 offset.  We added 2 3mm spacers, essentially creating a +42mm offset wheel.  This was enough to allow the 255 tire to clear with all stock components in their stock location.

checking stock camber

Stock camber will make this a tight fit on the wheel well. Stock, our front camber is -.4° on the driver side front while -.2° on the passenger front.

The 255s would hit the fender at this setting as the strut doesn’t camber in under compression like other geometry configurations.

Stock crash bolt vs the one available from Subaru

By replacing the front crash bolts in the upright with Subaru crash bolt part # 901000394 you can pick up another degree of camber making the tire tuck under compression.  For reference the Subaru bolt is a M14x60. All it is is a slightly smaller diameter bolt to allow some slop in the upright.  Not the most eloquent solution, but for $5 each, they should get the job done.

Only problem with this configuration is that by leaning the upright in closer to the strut, a tire this big would rub against the stock spring and perch.  So the real long term solution is either run skinnier tires, or run an aftermarket coilover with a thinner diameter spring coil. If you do this yourself, remember you will need to reset the toe in the alignment as that will change if you re-angle the upright.

clearance of +42 17×9 with a 255 on stock camber. You can see the bolt that is replaced with the subaru unit at the top of the upright in this photo. If you lean the upright in toward the spring to get more camber, they’ll hit. So answer is smaller diameter springs or thinner tires.

255/40/17 clearance on a 17×9 with +42mm offset and .2 degree of camber.

Same wheel/tire combo on driver’s front as photo above. With a practical front camber number, this will move from hellaflush to hellafunctional.

We then test fit the wheel in the rear.  There is definitely plenty of room here.  I assume the car will like the square set up more, but if for some reason it oversteers, we can add more wheel in the back pretty easy.  The challenge in the rear will be adjusting for camber.  There doesn’t appear to be room for offset ball joints.

Sorry for publishing a blurry picture. I didn’t realize it would come out this way when I took it. You can see a little of the cast upper control arm here, and the stamped lower one.

Unless there is another solution already on the market for another Subaru, the best way to get camber to adjust looks to be an aftermarket control arm.  The upper one is cast and scalloped for clearance, and not one I’d try and replicate, but the lower stamped piece looks easily copy-able.  A quick modification to the toe link would then give us adjustable toe.  If there are already solutions that translate from other chassis for this, please reply in the comments section.

Brakes

I have had great experiences with Carbotech pads on my miata, So I’ll be using them again on this chassis as well.  I wanted to test fit pads before the first time the car went to the track as I wasn’t completely sure the info we were finding online was correct.  The FR-S will wear XP10s in the front, and XP8s in the rear.  This is a common S2k setup, so I expect it will be a good place to start.  The operating temp range starts at 200°F and goes all the way to 1650°F for the XP10 and 1350°F for the XP8.  They don’t chew up rotors, even when cold.  And while they do dust a lot, it isn’t corrosive dust like other pads that eat the finish on wheels or paint.  I’ll likely keep these pads on for the street as I am too lazy to change them over for the street.  They will make noise and dusty, but I don’t think it will bother me.

The slight inconvenience of these pads is you can’t swap back and forth with the stock units as the transfer layer of brake material from the carbotechs isn’t compatible with that of the stock pads.  So you either need 2 sets of rotors, or you need to turn them every time you want to change pads. If I find a cheap source for rotors in the next couple days I’ll just have 2 sets.

front pads on the left fit the car. the pads on the right don’t.

Short version of our findings are as follows: Front pad is properly listed on Carbotech’s website as the CT929.  If you are looking at other brands of pads, just look for what fits the ’04 WRX as these cars share pad design. There is some info out there that says the rear WRX pads fit this car as well.  They don’t.

The shape is right, but the tab that slides into the caliper is shaped differently.  They would fit, but the pad would slide around.

You can see if you look closely at the difference between the stock pad on the right and the one ordered. A quick call to Carbotech has corrected the issue.

The proper pad, while I have not personally fit it, comes from the 2010 Legacy GT.  This is the CT1124 on the Carbotech site.

The Coming Test

The next stop is the track. This is the test procedure we plan to use.  If there are any other suggestions on things you want to see, drop me a note:

  1. 100% stock
  2. Upgraded pads and rotors
  3. Legacy front crash bolts for added front camber and realignment

I suspect that will be all we can cover in that day.  Depending on the wheel/tire combo I end up with, maybe we will test that as well.  But I am a little worried that a 17×9 with a wide tire won’t be accommodated by the change in crash bolts, so that may need to wait for dampers.

The Arms Race

A couple shops in SoCal have gotten FT86’s.  And I’ve talked to more than one that is quietly targeting the 2 minute mark at Buttonwillow Raceway in config 13 clockwise.  It might not be the brightest thing to do considering I don’t even have a baseline stock lap time for the car, but I am publicly stating that is my goal.  I want to be the first person to pilot a naturally aspirated FR-S to the 2 minute mark on this track.  Not sure yet what it will take to get there, but that is the goal. Let the race begin.

Premature Delivery

New car at home

This blog entry isn’t like most will be.  It’s less about suspension geometry, performance driving, and tuning, and more about the process of buying the car and first impressions.  If you don’t care about that stuff, then here are the cliff notes:  For an enthusiast’s car, the FR-S appears to be an amazing daily driver – which likely means on the track, it’s a step above a butter knife as far as aggression goes.  Long term goal will be to turn this into more of a prison shank on lapping days, which you won’t have to wear ear plugs and complain of spine compression when you drive it on the street.

Since the beginning of the year, my wife has been accusing me of “nesting” in the garage.  I had been planning on the arrival of a new toy, even though I didn’t know exactly what it would be or when I would get it.  I insulated the space, put in new GFI electrical circuits, dry walled, taped, mudded, sanded, and painted over the period of a month.  I won’t detail the process, but I learned a lot.  Mostly, that next time, I’m paying someone to do it.  I then purchased new shelving units to organize all my tools, track side equipment, plus the stuff normal people keep in their garage that is always in the way when you have a car spread out in pieces across the floor.   I then decided on the FR-S.  I was pregnant with anticipation – only thing missing was the crib mobile to hang next to the garage door opener.

On Friday, I got a call from Jeff Chang, my sales rep at Longo Toyota.  He said my allocation was on a truck, headed to Longo Scion in El Monte, and I could pick it up the following day.  This is a lot sooner than I was expecting, and I hadn’t really made final preparations to become an owner.  I spent the next couple hours putting lipstick on the pig of a trade in I have – a 2004 Chevy Tahoe.  I hate this truck, yet I have owned it longer than any other car I’ve ever had.  It has towed race cars around the country for me for almost 5 years.  It burns petrol so inefficiently that every time I start it, dinosaurs cry.  It’s never had any major issues, so in reality, after 130,000mi, it’s likely the most reliable car I’ve ever owned.  It’s like the smelly, ugly dog that is extremely loyal, even if you wish it would just run away.  At the end of the day, I decided that the FR-S, while a daily driver for now, will likely require a tow vehicle at some point, and if the car is used for part development, I’ll need something else to drive.  So while my neighbors are likely happy that the Tahoe they stare at out their windows has had its annual bath, unfortunately, it’s not being shoved off a cliff – its sticking around.

Taking delivery at Longo Scion

I wasn’t planning on talking about my purchase experience, but after dealing with Jeff and the folks at Longo, I thought I needed to.  I drove by 7 dealers to get to Longo.  I did so because I was doing business with someone who is an enthusiast, knows his product, and deals with his customers in a straight forward, honest manner.  He also happens to work for the dealer in SoCal that is getting the most FR-S’. I got what I asked for with no surprises.  Jeff communicated with me throughout the entire process; he was a good steward of both of our time.  Jeff has more deposits for cars than most dealers get in their annual allocation of FR-S.  (North of 30 I believe) This means he knew everything about the car, including details on available interest rates, lease terms, and likely lead times on colors.  He gave me all the information I needed to make intelligent decisions on how to pay for the car, and moved me through the process.  If anyone in Southern California is considering putting a car on order, I would encourage you to contact him.  Jeff is a professional, and you’ll leave very satisfied.  Jeffrey.Chang@longoscion.com

If you want a FR-S, go see Jeff Chang

During delivery, Jeff pointed out that this car does have some of the minor issues I have heard about from others – the trunk lid gaps aren’t exactly even, the tail lights apparently get condensation inside them when washed, and the tow hook bumper plug appears to be a different shade of white than the rest of the car.  None of these are a huge deal, and I don’t think I would have noticed if Jeff hadn’t proactively shown these things to me.

The stock seats have great lateral support.  They would be comfortable for long drives.  I wonder how the material will wear overtime.  It seems like a cheaper felt.  I admittedly haven’t been in many cloth interior cars recently, so maybe it will be fine.  The stereo appears to be something out of the 90’s and looks like the head unit from my old Supra.  But I was pleasantly surprised that while it may look retro, it has all the modern features we’ve become accustomed to.  It has bluetooth for hands free as well as to stream music from your iPhone or similar device wirelessly.  It also can activate the hands free features of your phone directly from the head unit.  The steering wheel has no controls on it, which is a plus to me, and it moves on a 2 dimensional plane.  The overall wheel diameter is relatively small and the grip is thick and feels good in your hands.  I got the seat setup, and then the steering wheel moved far enough forward and down so I had the eerie feeling I was in my racing simulator in my office.  I really appreciate how minimalist the rest of the interior is.  It has everything I want, and nothing else – with the minor exception of a built in garage door opener.  I thought all cars had these now days.  Kind of a bummer the FR-S doesn’t.  The traction control isn’t my speed.  I wish there was a way for it to be defeated by default, instead of having to turn it off every time you get in the car.  I guess that is a reminder of how I should be driving, not how this car wants to be driven.

I’m a lot more domesticated now than I used to be.  Before purchasing, I was curious if I would actually be able to take my 2 racecar-drivers-to-be for a ride in the backseat.  A full size human wouldn’t fit back there.  And actually, it is a challenge to even get the car seat through the door opening.  The rear seats do have anchors to properly attach kid seats, but if you have big people in the front seats, your kids can’t have legs.  I did however use it this weekend with the 2 kids, and the seating position for those in the front is a little unnatural, and I didn’t let the kids have their shoes on, but we were able to manage for 20 mile rides.  For perspective, I’m 6’1” and 175 lbs and my wife is 5’6” and slim.

To give you a perspective on passenger size, this is my 4 year old in his Recaro booster seat

This is his legroom with the front passenger seat in place

In the next couple days, I am hoping to make some decisions about running gear for the car.  There has already been a car posted with 17×9” Rotas with a 245/40/17 Hankook RS3 fitted.  On stock suspension, there appears to still be a little room for a wider wheel.  And while I am very conscious of unsprung rotating mass, I’ve usually found that the more rubber you can put on the ground the faster the car will be around the track.  I am betting that a 17×9.5” wheel can be run with a 255/40/17 tire on all four corners as long as a coilover with a smaller diameter spring is used.

a little room to spare with the stock spring. An aftermarket coilover spring will have a thinner diameter allowing more room.

The problem is that the bolt pattern of 5×100 makes wheels hard to come by.  In a 9 or 9.5” wide wheel, the only options I can find are heavy, or cost over 10% of the value of the car.  The car will be on a lift this week as we consider our options to potentially swap the car to 5×114 bolt pattern.  If we can make this happen simply, we’ll have better choice of wheels.  But then, we’ll also have to address brake rotors.  (Does anyone else see the slippery slope of no return approaching fast?) I think we could use STi rotors, and STi brake calipers will fit. It looks like even though the calipers if unchanged would have the bleeder valve on the bottom, there is a simple plug to be replaced with a bleeder that would correct this problem and make this a relatively easy swap.  My understanding is the front hubs are unique to this car and not shared with any other chassis.  The rear ones are supposedly shared with 2008+ STi’s.  Or maybe I’ll do the smart thing and just find a good compromise of the wheels that are available and avoid some of these complications.  More to come here for sure.

Realistically, the next stop is track brake pads, a quick suspension nut and bolt, and then let’s put the thing on track stock.  I would like to find a well priced data acquisition device so I can get people that are interested quantifiable data on performance and the effect of future modifications.  All of my experience up to this point has been with Motec and AIM stuff.  If anyone reading has ideas on the data acquisition or the wheel bolt pattern conundrum, let me know.