Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rally Halloween!

Wishing everyone a Rally Halloween!  Or "Happy" Halloween, for those without All-Wheel Drive.  Time to give those Trick-or-Treaters the right-of-way to their local sugar-high suppliers.  Tonight, watch out on the road for little ones.  Or, if you're home, pass the time waiting for that doorbell to ring by catching up on Launch Control (which just concluded yesterday).

Have any of you dressed your car up for the occasion?  Tangerine Orange Pearl owners of the XV Crosstrek might have an easy costume this year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Launch Control: Season Finale!

Get your popcorn and sit back for this one.  You're not only in for the longest episode of Launch Control, but in for one heckofuh season finale for the first year of this series.  Not only that, but one rollercoaster of a ride for Subaru's Rally and Rallycross teams.  I won't spoil any of it.  Well... it's sort of already been spoiled on paper if you've been following these teams, which are about two weeks ahead of the Launch Control series.  Check it out for yourself below!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Functionality Fun

Most car enthusiasts I know would call a car with a non-functional hoodscoop (meaning it's probably just cosmetic) a "ricer" or something close to that effect.  In the United States, since we didn't have the WRX here with it's turbocharger until 2002, we got things like the Impreza 2.5 RS, Legacy GT, and Outback Sport with a nice looking hood scoop.  All naturally-aspirated engines with no need for that scoop.  However, in Japan, if it had a hood scoop, there was an intercooler in there tied to a turbocharger.  At this stage in the game with the RS, there's no funds for what most owners commonly do: a swap.  Take a turbocharged engine and, like Legos, drop it into the new car.  So, instead of using that hood scoop for a turbocharged setup with an intercooler, I decided to do some research for other solutions.

What I found was what I was hoping for: a top-mounted cold-air intake.  Instead of the common box-type air filter that most naturally aspirated engines have, the plan was to open up the hood scoop and relocate the air box to sit right underneath it, drinking in plenty of cool air for the EJ25 Boxer engine to feed off of.

The guys on had been using a coupler to connect the upside-down turned air box receiver to the exhaust manifold and re-route the air lines off of the air box to complete the setup.  However, the star of this mod is a 2.75" to 3.0" pipe with a 45­° bend... not exactly something you can find at a local hardware store.  So I took what parts I had and attempted to build my own solution to it.  

While it's not perfect (and I'll probably end up ordering that darned part anyways) the setup works!  I opened the hood scoop cover, mounted the panel air filter (which desperately needs cleaning) and took it for a spin.  Almost instantly, I noticed a change in response.  The EJ25 was breathing much easier and, as a result, had some nice high-end torque response.  So far so good!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Higgins/Drew take Championship!

Spoiler Alert for folks who have been on the edge of their seat for the last episode of Launch Control, but David Higgins and Craig Drew along with the Vermont Sportscar team for SRT USA have done it again!  

This is their third straight victory for the Rally America series with this team, but 2013 was no walk in the park.  Rival Ken Block returned this year and had a season-long dogfight with the Subaru team, but the wins were inconsistent.  At first, the Hoonigan team for Ford struggled with mechanical issues.  They came back strong in the tail end of the season, placing 1st on the podium time and time again.  Higgins and Drew kept things consistent while battling adverse conditions. From making up time with a mechanical issue at Susquehannock Trail Rally to getting run over by a medical team trying to assist him at Ojibwe, the season was far from easy.  A toe-to-toe battle in the last event of the season would decide everything.  In the end, Higgins found a familiar place at the podium to take the Championship.  Subaru Rally Team USA has won this event 3 times in a row... and to add to the Holy Trinity, all 3 of the winning vehicles for the Rally America series were WRX STi Vermont Sportscar machines.  October 20th wasn't just a good day for David Higgins, but for Subaru across the board.  It's all we'll drive ...and for good reason!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bye, Tribeca!

Subaru of America, Inc. has confirmed that production of the Tribeca model will cease in January 2014 with last deliveries to retailers in February 2014.

The Tribeca debuted as Subaru’s mid-size SUV in 2005 and has sold approximately 78,000 vehicles to date.  It was only released in North America (no JDM version) and later to a few other countries, including Australia.

Subaru has announced that it plans to return to the mid-size SUV segment with a three-row vehicle in the future.  It won't be a "Tribeca" as far as I know, though Japan does currently have a vehicle called the "Exiga" that is also a 7-passenger vehicle.  It could be carried over to the US Market, but we could also see a whole new vehicle.

There's a lot of "new" going on for the company in the coming years.  This spring, the all-new 2015 WRX will debut.  Later in the Summer of 2014, the new 6th Generation of the Legacy and Outback will hit dealerships.  Subaru's production facilities in Lafayette Indiana will also see the inclusion of the Impreza in 2016, which will likely be for the new model of that as well.  Since the Tribeca was built out of Lafayette, it's likely the new model will also be built there.  That will mean Outbacks, Legacies, Imprezas, and the new 3-Row Subaru will have domestic construction to help meet rising demand for this growing brand.

RS Revival - One Month Later

Change is in the air, and it's not just the colors of the leaves on trees.  There's been quite the transformation inside and out with this project car.  The list of fixes grows by the week, as does the list of folks who have pitched in to help bring this car back to where it should be.  While the list of needs is still long, it's great to see how far it's come in such a short time.

You can see some of the obvious work in these two pictures.  Matching wheels & tires, new windshield, JDM STi seats & Version 6 Grille, Duracon STi shift knob, new shift boot, replaced the drivers door with one that has a working window, even the spots of primer have been covered with a silver Rustoleum that matches the paint a little better.  Inside, there's a new clutch slave, KYB struts, new fuel filter, STi exhaust, new rear wheel bearings, new fog light bulbs, and we cleaned about 10 years off the interior panels.  There's a bunch of homeless spiders now, too.

The future is still unclear on this one, but one thing is for sure: it's making it's march back to being a great little RS.  There's adjustments, repairs, and more TLC in store for it.  Aluminium Control Arms, Fog Light Covers, a new back seat, just to name a few of the things lined up that haven't gone into the car yet.  It's been fun to work on with everyone and to share this experience with them.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Launch Control - In the End: Part 1

The story that has been unfolding during the first season of Launch Control almost seems scripted with all the drama and suspense it has entailed.  Subaru Rally Team USA and the Subaru/Puma Global RallyCross Team have been battling all throughout Formula Photographic's first series covering these two motorsports with rivals, mechanical issues, and adverse conditions.

In the latest episode, part of a 2-part Finale that will close out 14 Episodes of Launch Control's First Season, SRT USA is battling at the Ojibwe Forests Rally through extremely dusty conditions.  On top of that, their driver has injured his hand... and it only gets worse from there.  With a Championship on the line and Ken Block closing in to dash their hopes of a 5th consecutive win overall, you'd think this series had some great writers.  But this isn't acting, there might not be a big win at the end to close things out on a high note.  The battles fought in GRC and the Rally America series are very real, as are the people involved with them.  

This weekend (October 18th-20th), SRT USA will fight one last time for the 2013 season, so we'll technically know how this story pans out (at least the results) long before Episode #14 airs on October 30th.  On the one hand, it'd be a great way to close out 14 Episodes of Season 1 of Launch Control.  On the other, it's much more important to this team to pull off another win during one of the closest matchups in the Rally America series.

If you've missed any of it, I've got a full listing of this whirlwind of a season's episodes in the "Launch Control" tab up above.  Below is Episode #13, a piece of the 2-part finale.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rally Joyride!

October has really been a lot of fun for adventuring.  From the Gravel Express Cruise that I planned with the NSOC to discovering a new road in Iowa that has quickly become my favorite gravel/dirt route so far, we made a lot of Subarus dusty and muddy.

I was afraid drizzly weather would dampen our fun at the Gravel Express event, but the few folks who were brave enough to make it had a ball.  We nabbed some nice pictures, had some memorable moments (including driving the RS into a ditch), and had a great event overall.

After the cruise, one of the drivers told me about this road over in Iowa that he enjoys.  Once he told me how to get there, it didn't take me long to want to venture out and see what he was talking about firsthand.  A good friend of mine accompanied me as we discovered this fantastic road winding through the bluffs south of Glenwood, IA.  The views were spectacular and the roads were probably the most fun I've traversed in this area.  We're already planning another cruise to bring more cars with us to enjoy this route together.  Should be a lot of fun!

There are more photos of both adventures in my Flickr album.
Glenwood Glee
Gravel Express Cruise

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ponca Meet-Up

Met with some RS owners up in Sioux City, IA the other day!  It's great meeting folks taking care of their GC8s and doing some neat stuff with 'em.  I knew one of them through the NSOC, but the other guy I actually knew of on and realized it was him upon seeing his car.  He's got a distinctive rear-view mirror setup that I've yet to see on another Impreza.  We talked cars for about an hour or so and then went for a trip to Ponca State Park across the river.  Those have got to be the curviest roads I've ever seen!!  It was great getting a guided tour of this little slice of heaven.

It was also kinda funny lining up the cars "raising the bar".  From wingless to the sedan wing to the taller coupe wing, it's the largest collection of GC8s I've seen so far... and I'd like to change that.  There's a few other 1st Generation Imprezas around town and it'd be neat to get 'em together for a meet.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

RS Revival - Update #3

Just shy of a month into this and the 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe has come quite a long way.  Thursday we put a desperately needed suspension into it.  It's a bit of a mix of old and new.  The struts were shot to kingdom come, as were the top hats.  However, the springs were still good so, to keep the original ride height, we went with KYB Excel-G Struts.  Top those off with Group N hats, and it's riding like it should.  The struts and top hats were quite impressive to see how far gone they were.  One of the strut pistons moved freely with no resistance and the top hats, especially the rear ones, were literally disintegrating as we took them out.  Needless to say, the improvements were instantly noticeable. 

This continues the trend of this car's immediate needs: neglect-induced maintenance.   Often times folks have suggested "do a swap", as the RS platform is a popular candidate for such a project.  However, there are leagues of work that need to go into this car before something like that is attempted.  Stopping the spread of rust, re-doing exterior and interior portions, and pinning down worn-out parts before they cause a problem is the main focus for now.  

I think, once the work has been done for the "save-the-car" portion of this project, there will be a clear path as to what direction to take things from there.  Regardless, the work going into the RS now is coming along nicely.

If you've missed it, see the other updates to this project in the links below!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sparks Fly

Both Subarus saw sparks today, though they were from very different sources.  The first was the project car: this 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS that's been getting all sorts of TLC from the community.  Among it's recent list of repairs, a new exhaust was welded on to where the previous one had... well... just fallen off in a parking lot.  Got a neat shot of Tony at Russ' Garage putting the work into get that finished up.  It's an older exhaust off an STi, so it's still got a little attitude to it, but for now, it's just something that was needed on the RS.  Other work was completed on the car today too that I'll get into later.

Later that night, I had my 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Hatchback out doing some storm chasing.  Usually I focus on the lightning and getting neat shots there, but I figured I'd sneak one in of the Impreza that turned out pretty neat.  Thunder roared overhead as a severe thunderstorm, possibly packing a tornado threat, moved over the area.  Needless to say, both cars took shelter in the garage overnight to avoid any unpleasant outcome this storm could've brought.  Still, even when I was driving through the bands of torrential rain, that Subaru drove like it was 72 degrees and Sunny... with the windshield wipers on for some reason.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wrapping it up!

Since it started airing online, I've been following Launch Control.  It's a great series put together by Formula Photographic that covers both the RallyCross and Rally Team for Subaru.  Featuring a behind-the-scenes look at these two similar, yet very different motorsports, it's looking at more than just the cars and their scores.  The drivers, technicians, and the families involved in supporting these highly competitive disciplines all play a role in achieving the highest levels of success.

The last two episodes of this 14 part series are coming up this month, as I mentioned earlier.  Regardless of the outcome, it's been a fun series to follow and I'm excited to see how things finish out!

If you haven't already, check out the full listing of Launch Control videos linked directly from this blog.
Launch Control: Season 1

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Subaru Season

October!!  It's finally here!  Trade secret, fall is my favorite season.  The leaves get crunchy, the air gets crisp, and hills get painted red, yellow, and orange.  It's also the time of year people start thinking "I don't want to suffer through another winter in my front-wheel drive carpool-lane sedan", so work at my dealership tends to pick up.

There's a lot coming up this fall that I'm looking forward to.  For starters, Subaru is releasing it's first Hybrid, available on the XV Crosstrek platform sometime in November.  I've had a lot of customers at work who are interested in this vehicle.  My sister and brother-in-law are among those who have their eyes on this development, so I'm personally excited to see what this Hybrid can do.

There's also quite a bit going on for Rally sport.  On the larger scale, Subaru Rally Team USA looks to nab yet another Rally America Championship for the 2013 season.  However, rival Ken Block is right on their tail headed into the final event coming up in a couple of weeks.  October 17th - 19th, SRT USA will battle one more time at the Lake Superior Rally in Houghton, Michigan.  Only a handful of points separate the standings, so I hope Subaru can pull off another win!

Just a week after that, there's the "Stronger than Dirt" Rallycross event in Greenwood, NE.  At the very least, I'll be attending the event with some friends, but I hope our RS is ready enough to jump in and have some fun on the course.  There's been steady progress as folks pitch in and leave their mark on this project car.

But before we get to all of that, I'm starting off the month with a fun event for the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club!  The "Gravel Express Cruise", being held October 6th, is not for Garage Queens. We're taking a fun set of Gravel-paved roads that follow along the eastern bank of the Platte and trace the southern edge of I-80 in a Rally-style Pace-note-directed cruise!  Cars will depart one at a time to give ample space for the rocks to fly and dust to settle down.  This will avoid the cracked glass and chipped paint issues most gravel cruises have and give the event more of a Rally-sport feel in general.  I don't think anything like this has been attempted before by this group, so if all goes well, I hope to make this a regular event.

There's a lot going on that I'm pretty stoked about!  Should be a fun season!