Friday, July 26, 2013

Gaither Bead Bazooka

After burning my face and loosing some hair when stretching a tire a week before Proving Grounds I decided it was time to look into a cheetah bead seater.  That's when I discovered this puppy!  The Gaither Bead Bazooka.

A facebook friend had posted up a video of how well it worked on semi truck tires and I knew this was the way to go.  The trigger setup and over all design made it clear just how much better this would be to use then a normal cheetah.

Just watch the video and see for yourself how awesome this thing is, I know this is on a small rim and tire but I've seen it used on semi truck tires as well and if it can handle those without a problem it can easily handle whatever stretch I'm looking to do.  So I'm proud to say I just placed an order for one this morning and it should be here next week!  I can't wait to give it a go!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Backwards Entry Practice

Yesterday I had some time to give backwards entries a try.  They really weren't all that hard to initiate, just really difficult to come out of.  While driving I couldn't really tell what I was doing wrong but now that I've had a chance to see it from the outside on video its clear that I need a lot more speed and the car could definitely use more power.  Aside from that I'm rather pleased with what I was able to do for my first time trying them.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Proving Grounds 2013.1


Yes, that's right.  Crazy and ridiculous.  I think this event marks the most stressful event I've ever gone to.  To start things off I had spent 2 weeks putting the car together trying to get it ready in time.  If you've read my last post you'll know what all I was dealing with.  On top of that I wasn't exactly in the greatest financial standings I've ever been in either.

So the plan was, finish the car up on Tuesday/Wednesday then Thursday I would pack everything up, load the car on the trailer, and have it all ready to go for Friday so we could leave the second I got off work.

What really happened was this...Wednesday came around and the car wasn't ready.  Then Thursday came which I spent the entire day after work working on getting the car ready.  It wasn't until 1am on Friday that it was finished up and I took it for a quick shakedown drive around the area.  Test drive went down well, the car drove straight as an arrow with great steering response.  It also proved it's ability to perform backwards entries!

At this point, I was a day off schedule, nothing too major, it doesn't take long to pack or load a car on the trailer, plus I was also told I could leave work a few hours early which would put me right back on track.  Again, this isn't how things went... Instead I got off work to find my car wouldn't fit on the trailer because it wasn't wide enough...Next problem was the other trailer I had in plan to use was being used by someone else.  I quickly found myself without a trailer and renting a Uhaul one proved to be more expensive then I wanted along with rather difficult because they didn't have any available in town...  My resolution?  Well screw it, I had a friend Alec who was going to be riding up with me so instead of riding he ended up driving. That's right, my solution was to have him drive my truck which was packed full of wheels, tires, tools, etc.  Then I drove the 240.

With all the running around dealing with figuring things out I had wasted way more time then I wanted and was now behind schedule.  Good news was we were on the road and we had everything we needed.

The drive wasn't nearly as bad as it was last year.  The sun was up most of the way and the weatherman's predicted rain had been holding off for us.

It wasn't until over 4 hours in that it began to rain, it wasn't that bad either.  It rained for maybe 20min then stopped.  Then after a while it would rain quickly again and stop again.  The only time it sucked is once the sun went down and I couldn't see for shit.  Just to give you an idea this is what it looks like behind the wheel of my car on a dark highway at night.

We ended up making it to Brainerd, MN just before midnight.  Alec took the truck to the track and setup his camp while Becca and myself checked into a cozy little hotel.

The next morning we got up and headed out.  Got to the track, paid our entry fees, switched out wheels/tires, and unloaded everything from our cars.  We were a little late and missed tech but the guys running it were nice enough to look our cars over and get us in line for some drifting.

After a run or two I had the layout mapped in my head and my line figured out.  It didn't take too long to start pitching some good angle.

After a quick session Becca's turn came.  I jumped in the car with her and helped her out with learning the track layout and deciding what sort of line she should work on taking.  She did rather well considering this was her first time really drifting her car.  Yeah we had done a couple donuts in it and a quick manji or two in a parking lot but never really "drifted" it.  She was quick to get things figured out and after a few runs I was really happy with her cars performance.  The tire selection turned out to be great and the angle rack spacers were doing an awesome job at giving her some good angle.

Towards the end of the first day I jumped in a few tandem runs with the Angle Junkies guys.  It was a blast driving with them, having them all be friends that fear of making a mistake and hitting someone wasn't as bad, plus I know their driving styles to an extent so it was fairly easy to follow them... except Brett who was working on his "Technick Kill" move which consisted of a really twitchy entry that would keep messing with my head and I had trouble following.

Things were going rather well, my entries were fucking awesome and I was having a lot of fun.  Then things sorta went to shit...  After every run I was constantly getting bitched at by one of the workers.  I mean every run too.  I would throw down a killer run that was damn near perfect and he would have nothing but negative comments towards me.  He was also doing the same with the Angle Junkies.  This was really annoying and got under my skin quickly.  I had spent the last 2 weeks busting my ass doing everything I could to make this event just to get bitched at???

I don't know about everyone else but I'm not the greatest driver when shit like this happens.  I get all sorts of pissed off and instead of focusing on driving I keep thinking of how much I would like to run that track worker over instead.  He's lucky he was in a safe area because my last run of the day went really sour.  I threw the car into a heavy feint entry which turned out to be a little too much... I found myself off course in the grass and tagged the k barriers with my rear bumper.

Such a stupid mistake to have happen, normally I wouldn't be upset with a dent, scratch, or whatever on my car.  However with it happening this way it was just stupid.  I will forever have this scar remind me of what happens when I start to get hot headed and lose focus.  I guess I shouldn't be too upset with myself, things could have been worse...I could have wrecked like this gold S13 had.

Thankfully that happened at the end of the day so I took the car to the camp site and shut her down.  Then it was off to the hotel for a much needed nap.  Then back to the track for some late night drinking and parting at the camp sites!

The next morning it was back to the track, switch out tires, then hit up the drift course!  I had put out a rather unhappy rant on Facebook which I think paid off as one of the track workers had seen it.  I didn't get bitched at once the second day.  I still got the occasional mean mug look, but at least the bitching was said and done.

The track was wet from the rain and it was now time to see how the car handles in these conditions.  Not what I was expecting.  Lots and lots of understeer.  Something that's never fun to deal with, especially with the power over feint entries I had been doing all day yesterday.  I was now having to clutch kick and hand brake a lot more.  Becca in the Z32 on the other hand was going great!  No understeer issues there and her driving was just as good as when the track was dry!

After a little bit longer it was time for the beginners competition portion.  Becca ran a great run in the Z32 and if the guy in the Supra who clearly wasn't a "beginner" wasn't there she would have taken home the win!

Up next was the advanced group competition.  First qualifying run was a mess, then at the start of my second run a valve stem on my right rear blew apart and I made the run on a flat tire.  Luckly I managed to do well and qualified 6th!

First match was against Luke Stilley in his Camaro.  I had been sliding in sessions with him all yesterday and that morning.  With his car being what it is I had found myself with a handling and angle advantage.  This however doesn't matter if you make a driving error...  First corner in I was way off line and pushed super wide and almost spun as well.  Luke dove up under me then spun on the last corner where I passed him back.  So we were looking at an even run.  Both of us making a major mistake that the other took advantage of.

Second run in was my turn to follow.  This is where I really underestimated the Camaro.  Half way through the first corner he started pulling away from me and was able to get his car to the outside, while I found myself too far on the inside which forced me to straighten out.  Came into the switch back and then into the last corner like a pro.  Sucked up right behind him with some good proximity but like before found myself too far on the inside and clipped the inside clipping zone with my fender/wheel.

I lost right off the bat in the top 16.  From there I cheered on my friends and watched from the side lines.  Brett's run went really well and he won, then the final match of the top 16 was Matt Hines turn against Eric Moen.  The first run Matt was following and he had a little bit of trouble.  Then for his lead run he came in really hot making the same mistake I had made only worse... His car found its way into the wall...

And he hit hard, so hard that it dented the other side of the car...

After that Brett went on to win his second battle, while Luke lost after being paired up against Moen.

Bretts next battle turned into a one more time, which then went sour.  It was a clear win for him but the judging favored the other driver and gave the other guy the win...

It was a really bad way to end the weekend.  Knocked out right away, Matt wrecking his car, then the horrible judging against Brett.  Not exactly how I pictured the event going down, considering how awesome and amazing it had been last year.  We packed everything up, helped Matt with getting his car on the trailer, then headed for home.

A little over halfway home things went bad again as the left rear tire on my truck decided to blow out on the interstate.

This wasn't anything too terrible, until it came time to get the spare wheel.  In order to get it the trunk has to be opened and you lower it with a supplied tool... This of course isn't anything hard to do, unless of course your trunk latch decides to take a shit on you.  A normal 10 min tire change turned itself into a hecktic hour long tire change where I had to take apart the interior panels of the rear hatch in order to get it to open.

We aren't the type to let things like this get us down.  It was a fun little challenge to work out, plus I needed new tires anyway so this turned into a reminder to get some damn tires.

If I were to sum the event up I would have to say it was definitely an adventure.  One I'll gladly make again.  I just hope next time it isn't as stressful.