Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fog Lights? You bet!

One of my friends/co-workers at the dealership told me once that "Fog Lights complete the look on a Subaru."  I had planned on doing some sort of Fog Light solution on my Impreza for awhile, but never got around to doing it.  The whole reason I had avoided doing OEM fog lights was because I didn't like the chrome surrounding the light that the kit came with.  I preferred the look of the Impreza Sport where it was just the dark surround with the fog light in the middle.  But you can't buy an OEM kit without that chrome ring!

Turns out the solution was simple.  Install the Fog Light kit, pop out the black plastic covers in the stock light covers that were already on the car, install those over the lights instead of the chrome ones the kit comes with.  Tadaa!  They look great and I couldn't be happier with this simple swap!

Once I get the side-skirts installed, the only clue to drivers that my car ISN'T an Impreza Sport will be roof rails and the black side mirrors!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Russ' Garage

When I discovered the Subaru Community here in Omaha, I simultaneously discovered the great respect and praise nearly everyone here had for a certain shop in town for work on these cars: Russ' Garage.  At first, I just wanted to visit the shop to say "hi" and see what all the hoopla was about.  I had just gotten my car and didn't really need anything done at the time, but right off the bat, EmJay and Russ were friendly, helpful, and full of all kinds of advice and knowledge to share on these cars.

As the miles piled up on my Impreza and time grew near to do an oil change, Russ made time in-between projects to put my car up on a lift and change it out.  I had brought out my own oil (0W-20 still isn't very common) and they replaced the oil filter.  While we changed the oil, Russ was giving me quite the rundown of  where parts were located, how they worked together, and noticing things on my new engine design that were different from the older models they frequently work on.  I had a great time, learned a TON, and got more creative juices flowing as I thought about ways I could make my Subaru MINE... and if Russ' Garage could help!

Since the initial meeting and that first oil change, I've enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the great folks at RG.  Not just Russ and EmJay, but everyone who works there, folks who have work done through them, and of course their adorable shop dog!  In turn, they've also been supportive of what I do at the dealership.  I refer services to customers needing modifications and custom work done to their cars and they refer customers looking for new vehicles to me.  I've brought them some interesting ideas and they've always been supportive, enthusiastic, informative, and incredibly skilled.  I'll post more project details on the more extensive mods they've helped me accomplish, but across the board... I can't say enough good things about how fantastic it has been and continues to be when I get the opportunity to work with them!

Russ' Garage Website
Russ' Garage Facebook Page

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Week in a Subaru

The other day a friend of mine asked me how I manage to do so many things and keep up with normal life activities on top of it all... and while I can't exactly explain how I do it, I know my Subaru helps!  I took a moment and thought about all the stuff that I do and how this car has helped me (directly and indirectly) to keep up with them.

If you haven't figured it out by reading my other articles yet, I sell Subarus at a local dealership.  I also help organize meets and events for the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club (NSOC) and cruise around often with those guys and gals.  Sometimes I'll just go adventuring on my own or with my Fiance, finding fun new places, zipping around gravel corners, or visiting friends out of town.  All of those bits pretty actively involve my Impreza.

There's a lot my Subaru helps me do, especially in the "hauling all my junk around" segment.  Things start off on Mondays.  Every Monday night I'm playing in a 17 piece Big Band with Mike Gurciullo at the Ozone Lounge.  I literally go straight from work to the lounge on Mondays to finish out my day, so my King 2B Trombone is in it's case, along with a bag full of mutes, and a change of clothes all ready to go each week.

Wednesdays the NSOC guys show up at the dealership for a "Pre-Meet" before the weekly meet at J-Birds.  I usually nab my Canon Rebel T1i and nab some photos before they drive off.  In the wintertime, when the dealership closes at 6pm, I go with them and talk cars and enjoy the company of fellow owners.  I've met a bunch of great folks through these casual meetings.  Photography has kind of been a hobby that follows all the other things I do, so I keep most of my gear (spare batteries, tripod, etc) in my car at all times, ready for whatever I find interesting enough to nab a photo of.

Every Thursday, I run an outdoor laser tag group.  We've been doing this for 8 years now over the summer between mid-May and early August.  There are 30 sets of gear that we loan out each week, so I need room to pack it all in.  It's no contest for the room in the back of my Impreza.  The 5-Door design lends itself well to easily loading and unloading all of that gear.  Generally, when folks show up for the games, they line up outside my car, I pop open the hatch, and start handing it out directly from the storage crates.

Weather can be unpredictable sometimes, so it's also nice to have a dry place to run back to if it starts raining during a game.  It keeps all that gear dry to use another day.  Regardless, my Subaru has helped us a lot more than folks realize.

Speaking of weather, this thing is a tank.  It doesn't matter if it's a frozen tundra outside or if you could fry eggs on the sidewalk.  My Impreza manages to keep the elements under control and make me comfortable.  It manages to do all of this as a mere base model, entry-level car.

Most weekends my fiance and I go out exploring, visiting friends, just having a good time.  Recently we've been house hunting and planning stuff for our wedding, so we do a lot of errands around town.  It doesn't matter what the adventure is, though.  I chase down sunsets, escape light pollution to find starlit skies, track deer through the woods, all while sipping fuel as I average 33 mpg.  I manage to do a lot of things, haul a lot of stuff, and see a lot of people with this car.  All it does is confirm the reason I got this car in the first place:  To help me do more, not make me settle for less.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Riding shotgun has never been this much fun.  Went to my first Autocross event this weekend and BOY oh boy did I get whipped around the track!  Not in my car, of course... but there were several great drivers who let me ride along as they took a shot at the track the Nebraska Region SCCA folks had laid out.  I got quite an introduction to AutoX and rode along in a Miata, Focus ST, Mustang, and a couple of Subarus, so there was a mix of FWD, RWD, and AWD in there to feel out how each car did on the course.

The most surprising thing to me was seeing so many FRS and BRZ owners there.  The Toyobaru has certainly been well received by the racing community and these new owners are already having a lot of fun with these Miata-killers.  I was impressed seeing how well even the stock ones were doing around the track.  With control they had in the turns and slalom portions, t was clear that this car was born for these kinds of events.

While I'll likely not run my Impreza around the track (at least not anytime soon), I definitely want to make it to more of these events.  Seat time was quite the learning experience, figuring out how to approach turns, how to read the cones, and general feel for the control you can have if you're doing things right.  The Impreza L, WRX, and WRX STi I rode along in were especially helpful with their AWD giving me insight on how to make the most of the grip you get on all four wheels.

There's a Rallycross event coming up soon, too.  Regardless of whether I ever run my car competitively, the stuff I'm learning from these drivers and their cars is just fun to take in!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I'm a bit of a Plan-a-saurus Rex, so when it comes to organizing cruises for the NSOC, I tend to go a little overboard.  On the one hand, it's just kinda fun for me to plot things out.  On the other, it's helpful to those who are along for the ride to have an issue-free drive.  That's why I've gone and taken this a step further with the "Growlers".

This was an idea that stemmed from talking about furthering our efforts to organize and help run cruises as efficiently and smoothly as possible.  It's an idea that's slowly been coming together that, with the help of a few fellow cruise-aholics, we plan to utilize for larger turnout events.

The goal of the Growlers is simple: run the cruises smoothly by designating a scout, lead, middle, and tail end car to communicate with eachother to keep the group together and keep watch for possible issues.  Cell phone or Radio communication between cars is a key role in keeping the group together.  I try to plan routes with minimal road changes to simplify things, but when we get more than 10 cars lined up behind the lead car, often times you can lose a few cars at a light or a busy turn.  If that happens, the Growlers either in the middle or tail end of the group give the lead car a call and inform them of this.  Arrangements are made to either wait up for the rest or to continue on and have the other cars catch up.  If needed, the Growler with the group that has been separated from the rest can lead them along the rest of the route, since they are familiar with the route we've plotted out.  Having radar detectors on the Growler cars can be helpful too if we want to open up the throttle a little bit.  The scout car can move out ahead of the group and report back to the lead car to make sure the stretch of road ahead is clear.  Sometimes in rural areas there are farm equipment moving on or near the road or a speed trap, so sending a car ahead to check for that can make things safer for everyone.

Growler cars are designated by an easily identifiable logo applied to the rear of the car.  The logo is actually taken from an F/A-18G Growler, an ECM-equipped version of the Navy's popular Hornet fighter aircraft.  I thought this name would be appropriate given the kind of role our cars have that is similar to that of the F/A-18G as well as representing the distinctive "growl" that boxer engines in Subarus are known for.

This Friday, I've planned out a cruise for the NSOC that should include about 15 cars.  While the route is quite simple with minimal road changes, a group this big can easily be spread too far apart and separated.  I'll need to recruit some help to get this rolling.  The "Growlers" idea is still new and I've officially only got a couple of cars that have helped me out before.  We'll see if I can grow our ranks!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The World is Flat

Christopher Columbus was wrong.  The World is Flat.  Or at least, my world.  Horizontally Opposed Pistons are the name of the game around where I work.  Not just one type of engine.  Not just in one car.  Everything, it's the Subaru Boxer Engine.  So when BlipShift came out with this shirt design, it was tough to pass up.  As evidenced by the photo to the left, I jumped on it and have been feeling so much more... balanced today!

For those that don't know, a bit of a lesson in engine design.  This is really one of the things that amazed me about Subaru when I first started looking for cars.  It's efficient and simple.  The lower center of gravity helps with balance that the AWD feeds off of.  The way Subaru has paired this engine with their Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive just makes so much sense!

This isn't the salesman in me trying to pitch a product.  I sell these cars because I love them, not the other way around.  This is the enthusiast that latched on to Subaru the more I learned about it that led me to purchase one, believe in the car, and now I help others discover the same love for driving that I did.  At the core of all of this is that iconic Flat 4 engine.  I eat, sleep, and breathe Subaru... so my world is flat.  And now I've just got a shirt that makes sure you know.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Phenomenon's Legacy

This was my first car that I sold to a very good friend of mine.  It's a 2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i with a 6 speed manual transmission.  He goes by "Phenomenon" on forums, so I thought I'd share some recent photos of his ride on here.  Every now and then he swings by the dealership to say hi, talk cars with us, and then I usually run his car through the wash.  Took some photos after it was freshly detailed in our service drive.

We've done just a few aesthetic things to it since he got it in September of 2012.  The most obvious change would be the wheels, which are '05 WRX wheels that have been powdercoated charcoal.  It's actually kind of a funny story.  Originally, I had bought these wheels to put on my Impreza.  I had sent them to Lincoln to powdercoat and, while I was waiting for those, a friend let me borrow a set of 2011 WRX wheels.  I fell in love with that look so, after tracking down a pair of THOSE to put on my car, I thought "well what the heck am I gonna do with the '05 wheels now?"  They were already powdercoated and ready to go.  Phenomenon's car had 16 inch steel wheels on there, so we decided to keep the stock Turanza's on there and swap out the steelies for the '05 WRX wheels.  They looked great and he's had 'em on there since then.

Like me, Phenomenon has more extensive future plans for his Legacy.  Some are quite lofty, others are more reasonable (much like MY plans).  He's been active with the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club for meets and events and helps run cruises and take photos during routes.  Often times he'll ride shotgun with me and take pictures from out the window while we're running around.

He's also helped me start up the "Growlers", which I'll touch on in another post eventually.  It explains the wolf logo on the rear panel of his Legacy (and the ones in my rear windows, too).  It's always great having friends like him to tag along with at events around the area and I take great pride in the fact that his car was the first I rolled off the lot!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June Storm Chasing

This fun storm kinda came out of nowhere and moved quickly!  Thanks to my fiance's smartphone and my Impreza's nimble handling, we were able to navigate around quickly to find some great spots to take some fantastic photos!  The storm rolled in over the Omaha area but stretched as far south as Nebraska City.  We were in Bellevue and headed south to Plattsmouth, then back again.

Originally, our plans were to go see the fireworks at the College World Series' opening ceremony downtown.  However, dark stormclouds were too inciting to pass up.  It was nearing sunset, so it was difficult at first to get any shots of the active cells tossing lightning about overhead.  Our first stop was in a church parking lot that faced the southern edge of the storm.  Bolts cracked through the edge of the storm as a huge curtain of black followed.

I'm still quite the n00b when it comes to photography, so it took a little while to fine tune what I was doing.  Lightning bolts were all over the place, so it was tough to find one spot just to sit out and wait for the best ones.  I think we did a good job nabbing some nice looking ones.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New WRX: Throwback?

Rendered by JaiMak
With automakers like Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge playing with their sports cars having "modernized" or "throwback" designs to their old favorites like the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger, I can't help but think Subaru might be taking that same cue with the new 4th Generation WRX, rumored for a MY2015 release in spring of 2014 (same schedule the new 2014 Forester was on).  I had pondered that thought until JaiMak did this fantastic render from a spy photo of a car being tested in Europe, presumably the new WRX.

The more I look at this, the more I see the first Impreza WRX.  The "face" of this car, the way the headlights are shaped, the scoop further near the back, the turn signal/fog light cluster, there's a lot I see in this new design that says "we remember the first WRX" in there.  The grille shape shares characteristics of the older one, but still generally is a little larger like current Subarus.  With the exception of the BRZ, all of Subaru's new front end designs have a larger grille shape than what we've seen before and all share some kind of chrome or lit "surround" that looks a little like something from an Audi LED strip.  To me, and this is if this is what it will end up looking like, it's like Subaru is acknowledging the history the WRX has made for itself while still sticking with where Subaru is going with their current lineup.

Regardless of what folks think it looks like, whatever comparisons are out there, I'm just a fan of what I've been seeing with the exterior, but I'm really excited to see what it's like on the road.  I don't think Subaru will disappoint.

Weekly Wednesday Wheels

Seems like every Wednesday around 6pm, the dealership I work at gets surrounded by all kinds of noisy cars.  Wastegates chirping, engines revving, and exhaust growling... oh wait.  I invited all these folks here!

The Nebraska Subaru Owners Club has a Weekly Meet at J-Birds Food & Spirits (96th & Giles) every Wednesday at 7pm.  I thought it might be fun to invite them to "Pre-Meet" up at my dealership a 6 so they can cruise down together, show off their Subaru pride along the way, and then chow down and drink up at J-Birds.  Without fail, each week we get to see some of the coolest Subarus show up, chat for a bit, and then roll out together.  WRX, Legacy GT, BRZ, Forester XT, even an SVX occasionally, they're all here!

On the one hand, it's nice to have a little driving time with fellow enthusiasts before heading over to J-Birds.  It's also a great opportunity for our sales staff here at the dealership to connect and get to know these guys a little better, something I've wanted to strengthen since I started here at the dealership in September of 2012.  Sometimes when a customer comes in looking for something rare like a WRX or BRZ, if we don't have 'em in stock, we recommend they come Wednesday around 6pm to see them along with their owners.  It's a unique opportunity that really seems to benefit everyone.

After we've rounded everyone up, the Subarus line up and head on over to J-Birds for great food and wonderful service.  The staff there have always been great to work with and often we've used the area for other events outside of our Weekly Meets.  Once folks have eaten their fill inside, they head back out, talk cars, and then disperse from there.  It's really a great way to get to know people in the group and get a feel for what's important to core enthusiasts.  My first exposure to the NSOC was at a Weekly Meet that a friend invited to me long before I ever even OWNED a Subaru, and it's been great ever since!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Double Trouble!

Had a cruise this weekend with two lookalike BRZs in attendance!  Both white, and even the owners had the same first name!  I know both of 'em personally, good guys.  It's just funny to see two Satin White Pearl BRZs in one cruise, ya know?

We had a good time, hugging turns that weaved through some nice scenic parts north of Omaha.  We met at my dealership, cruised up past the North Omaha Airport into Fort Calhoun, through some superfun roads into Blair, and then back.  They really are some of my favorite roads in the area, so I take whatever excuse I can to head up there.  Most of the folks had been on some of those routes, but I showed 'em a few new ones I managed to work in.

It's a much more extensive route that I usually do, but we had time and folks seemed up to it.  One of our guys in an '04 STi is making the switch to E85, so he had some 91 he wanted to burn off which helped fuel the idea to go for a longer route than usual.  The route took us about an hour and a half to complete.  This route pretty much covers all of my favorite roads in this area.  There's one REALLY fun branch that's a "one way trip" for us because it ends up turning into gravel, so we turn back around and hit the highway again.  It's worth the small detour, as many of our drivers will attest to.

This route, when combined with an Iowa route that I also have, is pretty much the longest continuous cruise route that I have plotted out.  Maybe someday I'll find a group brave enough to do both the Iowa and Nebraska side in their entirety!  I'm tempted to map it out someday just to show how crazy I can get with cruise routes when they're all linked together!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Night Light Trails

Last night my fiance and I decided to go stargazing, so we found a nice spot just west of Springfield to set up and admire the clear sky.  Far enough away to escape most of the light pollution from the city, we managed to get some cool pictures too.

We tried out some different long-exposure shots and messed around with some other settings on my Canon Rebel T1i.  Just using a stock lens and a Wal-Mart tripod, we were able to get some nifty night photos.  Playing with light in the absence of light has been something I've enjoyed recently.

The picture on the left is using the "Bulb" capture function.  My awesome fiance drove my car while I set up the camera and watched her abandon me in the middle of a cornfield.  T'was fun, not to mention interesting watching my own car drive away.  I don't often get the chance to actually see my car driven from the outside!
Managed to get a pretty cool shot with my Impreza while I was at it.  I really need to get the Side Skirts installed on it, but every time I've got a day off, I'm busy getting other things together.  I'd really like to get that finished up soon, as I've had the parts for well over a month.

Regardless, it was a fun night and it was good to get a few good Subaru shots in there as well.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sharing the Wheel

It seems like since I got my Impreza, Subaru fever has caught on with many of my friends and family.  My fiance is even interested in one, so I decided to go on a bit of a road trip with her.  Whenever I take a corner a little too quickly, she gets nervous.  I figured it's not because she's a wimp, but rather that she's not used to the control you can get from AWD and a lower center of gravity.  We drove out to my favorite road just south of Blair, NE.  After a quick Chinese Fire Drill, she was in the drivers seat.  I wanted her to feel confident behind the wheel so, the next time I took a corner with a little more gusto than she's used to, she'd know the car could handle it.

Turns out not only did she have a good time, but she got a little greedy and kept driving!  The route has plenty of twists and turns and, once she was comfortable with it, I started giving her a few tips for approaching corners and such.  After dodging a gigantic turtle and a few more corners, she turned the wheel back over to me and we headed back into town.  I think she's ready for a Subaru, now.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Northern Run #1

This is a route I've recently put together that combines some of my favorite roads with a few new ones I've managed to find.  It's not quite as smooth of a route (turn-wise) as others that I've planned, but it ties in a few tidbits of routes that in general were tough to integrate into their own routes.

It starts off at the North Omaha Airport, which is just off of the 72nd St exit for I-680.  Hang a left on Omaha Trace Rd and then wrap that along the top of some rolling hills all the way up to Fort Calhoun, NE.  A short drive through their "downtown" area and then you're back on the "fun" roads through more rolling hills.  The route works it's way south through some back roads, all still paved, onto 133.  Just when you thought the route was over, there's just a little bit of Bennington Rd through some more country roads, and then back out to 133 via State St that finish it out.

Like I said, there's a few more fragmented turns in this than I'd normally like, so this cruise route tends to work better with smaller groups, as it can be easy to lose parts of the group at the tail end of the route.  Other than that, it's convenient for most Omaha-based drivers to get to and there's some nice spots in there that would lend themselves well to a few sunset photos, too!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Route Searching

Of all the stuff I do with Subarus, from meeting people, selling cars, working on my car, etc... I would have to say I enjoy cruising on fun roads the best.  I'm a fan of those yellow signs with a curvy arrow on 'em, as it's usually a sign of a good time soon to come.  The adventure of FINDING new roads is probably my favorite part of cruising in general, and I do a lot of exploring on local roads, highways, and byways to find routes that'd be fun to plot out a good cruise route on.  Having a CVT means I get better gas mileage too, so I can afford to make a wrong turn here and there trying to work the errors out of a potential route, so I'm not getting punished at the Gas Pump in my adventures.

The majority of the routes I find are in rural portions of the state.  I try to keep as close to the Omaha Metro area as possible to make possible events with these routes more accessible to other local Subaru owners.  I've found quite a few roads north of here, between Fort Calhoun and Blair, that weave through the Ponca Hills area.  There's also some great roads just over the river in Iowa along the Loess Hills Byway.  I've found bits and pieces West and South from the Omaha Metro too, but stringing them together into one cruise route is a little more difficult.  On top of that, I try to make sure I find routes that can be pieced together without too many road changes and to keep away from gravel and dirt roads.  While I enjoy a romp through the mud, sometimes there are Garage Queens in my midst on cruises.  I wouldn't want to upset them hitting some not-so-clean roads.

Many times I'll use the dealership as a launching point for cruises.  Our location is right off the interstate, so it's easy to get to wherever we need to go for the route.  On the one hand, it's nice and easy for me to go from work directly into leading a line of Subarus into a cruise route.  On the other, it's nice to see a showing of Subaru Pride at the dealership.  Plus, with WRXs being so sought-after and tough to find at local dealerships due to their high demand, sometimes it offers an opportunity to show a customer what they're like.

I'll be sharing a few of my favorite routes in the next couple of posts for anyone who's interested in taking 'em for a spin.  Whether you're with a group of Subarus or just out for a solo cruise, these roads will be sure to make you and your car happy.

Monday, June 3, 2013


In just over a year, I've managed to go on some fun adventures with my Subaru.  All those curvy-swervy roads around the area, local and state parks, and pretty much any excuse I can figure to drive my car have amounted to over 21k Miles on my car since I purchased it in 2012.  My companion and soon-to-be-wife has been alongside me for many of these miles.  

I have also accumulated many miles FINDING fun roads to traverse with the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club (NSOC).  Not only have I attended events and meetings with this group, but I've also organized many cruises myself.  I'm always trying to find new and exciting routes to take with my Subaru-loving buddies and enjoy their company as well.  Nothing makes me more proud to drive a Subaru than looking in my rear-view mirror to see a line of Subies!

In the coming days, I'll go over some of my favorite cruise routes I've taken with the NSOC, sharing a few roads and byways I've managed to find in the area!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

BBQ & Cruise

Had a great time last night with the NSOC with a KILLER showing of Subaru-ness at local weekly car show.  After destroying some fantastic tasting BBQ, we rounded up those rumbling boxers into a cruise that I led that wrapped around a portion of the Platte River.  It's a nice easy route and it was only about a mile or two south of where we were eating, so it worked out great for everyone.

Pretty nice assortment of Subies at the cruise too!  The usual newer-model WRX and WRX STi showing with a few 2nd Gen Bugeyes, Hawkeyes, even a Legacy GT.  I had fun taking a few pictures (as I always do) and handed the camera over to my shotgun-riding buddy while I led the rest of the cruise route.

We enjoyed beautiful weather that evening, too!  For a week that had dumped rain on the area literally every day of the week, it was dry, sunny, and PLENTY green outdoors!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have another cruise route to plot out!