Tuesday, December 29, 2015

SnOmaha 2015

It took awhile, but winter finally showed up in my area.  After mild weather through November and most of December, snowstorms finally made their way through Omaha on Christmas Eve and again on the 28th.  While most loathe the mere sight of a snowflake, my Subaru friends and I embrace it!  Owners from every corner of town gather in local parking lots and spin donuts through the day and into the night. 

I wasn't able to get out Christmas Eve to join my fellow hoonigans, but I did manage to sling some snow around yesterday with two other Subies after work.  I took my '00 Impreza 2.5 RS and joined a '05 Legacy GT Wagon and a '14 XV Crosstrek at a nearby parking lot.  I'll let the rest of the photos tell the story of all the fun we had!  Enjoy!
SnOmaha 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RS Revival: The Next Stage


The dust has settled on the 2015 NRSCCA Rallycross season.  Between podium finishes, champion codrivers, and de-beaded tires, it was an exciting run for my first complete season of Rallycross events with the RS!  There was also a lot of sharing the wheel this season as three other drivers had a chance to whip this coupe around the course.  This 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS Coupe managed to gather up 36 points in Prepared All-Wheel Drive (PA) to take the 2015 Overall win in it's class.  I'm proud of how far this car as come and what it's able to do around the dirt track.

There are still improvements in line to take this car even further.  Improvements for suspension, reliability, and power are waiting in line during the off season in preparation for the 2016 NRSCCA Rallycross season that will start up next spring.  With grip improved thanks to the new IndySport SG tires, there's more speed to tap into by making these adjustments.  The next stage is literally "Stage 2", which will tie the Gorilla Top-Mount Cold Air Intake, Stromung Exhaust, and headers all together with a tune.  The car will exclusively run on 91 Octane once the tune is in, which is fine since that's all I run anyways! 

I'm excited to finally get this Stage 2 Tune going.  The exhaust parts have been sitting around for awhile so it'll be good to finally have things together.  While we've got the car up in the air, we'll be checking out some suspension components that will likely need addressing.  Some bushings or bearings are going bad so I want to get it all nice and solid.  The car is understeering a bit to the drivers side under hard braking on dirt and gravel, even when there's two people in the car.  It was a little noticeable at the last two rallycross events which were a bit more difficult.  Making the necessary adjustments and repairs will make the cars handling more predictable which will help make the car easier to drive through technical rallycross course designs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2016 WRX STI Higgins Edition

It might not be an "official" version available from Subaru, but for all intents and purposes, this is my 2016 Subaru WRX STI "Higgins Edition".  Adorned on both sides of the rocker panels of my Series.HyperBlue WRX STI are black "Subaru Rally Team USA" decals as well as two "#75" decals on both sides of the rear spoiler.  It seemed fitting to celebrate Higgins & Drew this year for their relentless work this year in the Rally America series.

In the late 90s, when Subaru was reeling in award after trophy after title with their championship-winning rally cars, they released several special edition Imprezas to celebrate those accomplishments.  They released the Impreza P1 with their rally partner ProDrive, the iconic Impreza 22B with a special wide body, and a handful of others.  They also created two limited-production versions for their winning drivers.  Both the Series McRae WRX and the WRX RB5 were released to celebrate Colin McRae (who won the WRC in '95) and Richard Burns (who won the WRX in '01) respectively.

As such, when David Higgins drove his Vermont Sportscar prepared WRX STI to sweep the Rally America Championship and claim a Perfect Season, I couldn't think of a better way to adorn this limited edition Series.HyperBlue WRX STI than with David's number on the wing.  This eye-catching color is spot on to the blue color on the championship car that took home the Gold in all 8 Rally America events.  While this similarity is probably just a coincidence, it seemed like a great way to celebrate this incredible feat.

In a similar way the owner of a Series McRae WRX must be proud to represent the winning legacy that Colin left behind, I am proud to cheer for SRT USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew in their accomplishments, especially with their incredible performance in the 2015 Rally America Championship every time I drive this car.  At the very least, Mr Higgins himself seems to like it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Perfect and Podium-less

3rd and 4th Generation WRX STIs together
Last year when Subaru Rally Team USA started their RallyAmerica and Global Rallycross schedules, uncertainly was in the air.  2015 marked the debut season for the 4th Generation WRX STI platform, the new face of the team.  After years of success with the previous generation and implementing design concepts learned from competition in rally and rallycross, the new car was only proven in testing, not on the course.  There's always risk involved with a change like this and with trying new things.  It can be a game of dominoes, strengthening one part and transferring stress to others is a gamble that can either find a lot of speed or can cause unforeseen issues when you least expect it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Welcoming the Newest Color

The Nebraska Subaru Owners Club hosts 3 big meets every year: spring, summer, and fall.  This year, for the 2015 Fall Meet, we decided to gather for a bit of a photoshoot before going out to weave our Subarus through scenic roads covered in fall foliage together.  We started lining up the Subarus by color and made 3 nice big rows with a total of 50 cars.  There was one more to add to the group, my Hyper Blue WRX STI.  Someone suggested "why not put the new color out front so the rest of the colors can give it a proper welcome?"
NSOC Fall Meet 2015

That's exactly what we did!  Satin White to Sonic Yellow.  World Rally Blue to Lightning Red.  Champagne Opal Gold to Plasma Blue Pearl.  Of the 50 cars present, there were 23 different colors represented.  To make it even better, we all stood by our cars while someone climbed atop mound of mulch to grab a photo.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Lawn-Mower Bowl (10/18/15)

The Project car lives to fight another day!  I managed to pull another podium finish with my '00 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe!  October 18th marked the 5th NRSCCA Rallycross of the season with nice temperatures, dry conditions, and a challenging course.  My RS was in Prepared AWD (PA) and had a few hiccups right from the start.  When I arrived at the event, my coolant overflow tank had thrown up because of a backup or clog somewhere in the system.  Thankfully, after it let through on it's own (magically), and after topping off the coolant, we had an issue-free day of racing.  Well... until we de-beaded a tire.  Turns out the pressure in my gravel tires was a bit too low and we knocked it off on a long left-hand turn.  Very minimal damage to the car and we were able to limp it back to the pits and seal it back up for the rest of the day thanks to some help from fellow drivers.

The event originally didn't have a name, whereas all the other events have been "Tornado Bowl", "Chili Bowl", "Mud Bowl", and so on.  Since there were no rallycross events from June until October, the site had plenty of time to overgrow with prairie grass and weeds.  As such, the first round of races were essentially mowing down the grass until, by the end of the event, there was nothing but dry dirt with grass cleared off to either side.  I dubbed the event the "Lawn-Mower Bowl" as such.

My RS managed to finish 1st in PA and 3rd overall!  Very proud to have such a great result despite the early issues we had.  I've got two weeks to sort out the coolant problem before the last rallycross event of the season, so I'll need to act quickly in case we need to order any parts.  Looking forward to the next one, but for now... I'm just gonna enjoy these nice photos from GotCone.com


Monday, October 19, 2015

Hyper Blue = Higgins Blue

A few weeks ago I picked up a 2016 WRX STI Series.HyperBlue.  The color is undoubtedly unique for a Subaru, but many others have pointed out how similar it is to Ford's Grabber Blue or Volvo's Polestar Blue.  Regardless of the comparisons, I think there's another link that might be a little more significant to a recent achievement.


Like the dozens of "special edition" Imprezas that Subaru made in the 90s to commemorate their success in the World Rally Championship, I think this "Hyper Blue" is more of a "Higgins Blue"... as in Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins.  He just reeled in a Perfect Season in the 2015 Rally America Championship, a feat which has not been seen since John Buffum did it in 1987.  The Hyper Blue color on these 700 WRX STIs and 500 BRZs (also to be a regular color on the '16 Crosstrek) is spot-on to the blue used on the #75 WRX STI that has made it to the top of the podium for all 8 events. 

When the new 2015 WRX STI was unveiled at the 2014 NY Auto Show, they showcased a "Launch Edition" model limited to 1000 units.  While it celebrated Subaru's rally heritage in the iconic World Rally Blue paired with Gold BBS Wheels, it also marked the last time Subaru would release a vehicle donning this traditional rally livery.  At the time, I was personally a bit saddened to see Subaru buttoning up this look for good.  However, after seeing what these new cars are capable of and the achievements they have made, it's clear that they're not attempting to rest on their laurels from nearly 20 years ago.

Spearheading the latest chapter in Subaru's rally racing heritage is David Higgins alongside his codriver Craig Drew.  They have stood atop podiums for several years now, backed by their Vermont Sportscar-prepared WRX STI and the excellent team that built it.  For the 2015 Rally America Series, they were going in with a completely new car.  To finish all 8 races with 1st Place finishes isn't only unheard of, but it's also an extraordinary feat considering the circumstances of working with an unproven car.  From unexpected snowy and icy conditions in Missouri to World-Class lineups fighting for the win in New England, SRT USA didn't just beat the odds in a brand new car... they managed to shake off every possible threat to this perfect season that came their way.  This success came in the way of a Subaru that didn't look a whole lot like the car that McRae, Burns, or Solberg claimed victory in.  This is a new era for Subaru... and at the front of it is Higgins Blue.

Sure the Series.HyperBlue car was released before ever knowing if this milestone could be reached, but David Higgins has seen so much success with this car and this team.  This bright blue, gray, and white livery has certainly made a name for itself with SRT USA and everyone involved with it.  In the same way that owners of WRXs with World Rally Blue can identify with the success of rally championships back then, I am proud to pilot my Higgins Blue WRX STI that identify's with the current and future success that David Higgins, Craig Drew, and their devoted team achieve with each race.  I wouldn't be surprised if the number "75" ends up somewhere on my car to further celebrate this team!  Still, it'd be nice if "#HigginsBlue" caught on with the other 699 owners of WRX STIs.  It's a Celebration car in my books!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Carving through Canyons

There's a road that literally cuts through the hillside that is absolutely breathtaking.  It's even more fun GETTING there, too!  That's why we rounded up a bunch of Subarus and set off to go find it before the sun set.  Some WRXs (new and old), two XV Crosstreks, a Legacy GT Wagon, and my RS Coupe weaved through gravel and dirt roads through the Waubonsie Scenic Byway south of Glenwood, IA.  When the dust had cleared, we were caught walking through these canyons of dirt carved into the side of the hill.  It's an incredible place, even for someone who has been here dozens of times.  There's something special about this road.

We also managed to get some fun running shots of our Subie friends gunning it through these awesome roads.  We drove in and out of the canyon until it was too dark for photos and called it a night.  What a wonderful time getting Subarus dirty in this jaw-dropping place!

IMG_9109 IMG_9154 IMG_9115 IMG_9219

See all of our adventures through the Waubonsie Scenic Byway in this Flickr Album!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Goodbye, Hatchback!

On Saturday, October 3rd, I picked up a WRX STI Series.HyperBlue... but not without some help.  That help came financially from my 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Hatchback which I have been upgrading and working on since I bought it 3 and a half years ago.  Performance-wise, there's really no comparison between a N/A FB20 with a CVT and a Turbocharged EJ25 tuned by STI with a 6-Speed Manual, but I must admit: I do miss the hatchback!

There's been a lot that has changed on my little base model econobox from when I rolled it off the lot in March of 2012.  2010 WRX STI Rear Sway Bar, 2011 WRX Wheels, 2012 Impreza Sport Side Skirts, 2013 modified BRZ Exhaust, 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid Tail Lights, and 2015 WRX front seats... all Legos that made my Hatchback unique.  I've had a lot of compliments over this time about what I've done with it.  I've even fooled some people into thinking it was a WRX!  And, while I've loved how it handled and responded, the gas mileage and the storage capabilities are still the strong suits I will miss.  After all, I am going from a car with 27mpg City and 36mpg Highway using Regular Unleaded to a sportscar with 17mpg city and 23 Highway using Premium.  Having that power under the hood comes at a cost, but I still sort of wish it were a hatchback.

I'm not having buyers remorse at all!  In fact, I'm quite attached to my new ride just 3 days after taking it home.  I would just like to thank this little hatchback for being awesome about everything I asked of it.  It was it a versatile car, being able to load up everything from moving boxed to crates of laser tag gear.  Being an automatic meant that if I had to trade cars with my wife or relatives that they'd have no issues driving it.  Many times they would compliment how it drove after having to return it to me.  It still managed to be a great adventure seeker, too!  That AWD got me in and out of some sticky situations that other compact cars would've struggled with.  It was my everyday driver that did everything.  Pretend Rally car, pack mule, economy car, snowplow, weekend getaway car, literally everything.  I've made a lot of memories in a short time and it's been great through it all.

Best of all, since it was affordable, I managed to pay it off early.  I
never imagined I'd need all that value to trade it in so quickly, but when that Hyper Blue STI showed up... I knew I had to trade in my hatchback and move to the next stage of my life: piloting a rocketship.  It'll be a great car for the next owner and hope I still get questions about what I did or how I found parts or what tricks I used to get things to work they way they did in this hatchback.  It'll make me remember what a great car it was and bring back all those fun memories.

I feel like I owe more to this Hatchback than just thanks for the memories.  I need to thank it for being the catalyst that got me to where I am now.  When I bought it, I loved it enough to recommend it to friends and family.  I recommended so many people, I started working at a dealership for Subaru (my first full-time job).  I was successful in Subaru sales and managed to make enough to get my first house.  I continued to be successful and married the love of my life, got her a Subaru, got us a puppy, and have been working happily with a sales team I look forward to seeing every week.  It all started with this little hatchback.  I'm so thankful how things have panned out since that rainy day when I took it home.  Thanks, Impreza.  You've been awesome!

Monday, October 5, 2015

2016 WRX STI Series.HyperBlue

In late 2015, Subaru released a special edition WRX STI and BRZ in a striking new color: Hyper Blue.  Aptly named "Series.Hyperblue", these featured the namesake exterior color accompanied with distinctive styling on the interior and exterior exclusive to 500 BRZ Limiteds and 700 WRX STIs.  I am proud to announce that one of the 700 WRX STIs is mine.

I work at a Subaru Dealership and, when the Hyper Blue color was announced for the BRZ and WRX STI, I was pretty curious how it would look.  Photos of this were inconsistent as some made a striking appearance while others washed out the body lines.  So, when this machine finally arrived and I had a chance to see it myself, I quickly realized not only did it exceed my expectations in the jaw-dropping department... but I had to have it.
IMG_8991After figuring some numbers out, I decided to part with my 2012 Impreza Hatchback that got me hooked on Subaru and made me want to work here.  It was bittersweet saying goodbye to my first new car, but the sappy music was quickly drowned out by the rumble that turbocharged 2.5 Boxer made when I clicked that start button.  Up until now, I had imagined the STI to be an unattainable machine... and I've driven them before, but this one is special. 
The colors and features on this Series.HyperBlue WRX STI feel like they were made for ME.  Black-on-Vivid Blue is probably one of my favorite color combinations ever.  I almost purchased the 2015 Launch Edition WRX STI just because of the interior.  However, this Hyper Blue one has exactly the equipment I would want.  Alcantara instead of full leather (don't ask me why, I just prefer it!).  Push-Button and Keyless Entry with the Harman Kardon Audio and Navigation WITHOUT the moonroof (more room for a helmet for track days!) and all the special bits on the exterior with the black wheels, mirrors, and logos.  I've always enjoyed making my Subarus unique, but someone in Japan decided to do it for me.  Right out of the box, I have a machine like no other in this area.  Sure there's like two other owners around that have them, but there's a good chance if you see a Hyper Blue WRX STI around the Omaha area, it's gonna be me... with a smile from ear to ear.

Friday, October 2, 2015

RS Revival: Breaking Brakes

After two years of ownership and extensive repairs, improvements, and adjustments, I've worked on just about every part of this car... except the brakes.  So, in anticipation of the last two rallycross events for the 2015 season, I decided to order some Centric Brake Pads and Rotors to retire the older set.

As we dug in and started taking apart the old brakes, there were two things we noticed.  The first was there still seemed to be a good amount of pad left over, but the rotors were warped and had heat imprints on them from not being broken in properly.  We came to the conclusion that they were just a cheaper quality of brakes combined with the fact that they had probably been on the car for awhile but not driven on much.

The other bit we discovered was that the brake caliper bolts were rusted and frozen on the front calipers.  It was too late in the evening to run to a parts store and pick up replacements, so we finished the rear pads and rotors with the time we had left.  Once the front wheels had rotors on 'em, we put all 4 tires back on, rolled it into the garage, and called it a night.

Once the front calipers get the pins removed and de-rustified, I'll put the new hardware in and finish it up.  Just another snag in the progress we continually make on this car, but I'm glad we're doing it right.  I keep getting people asking if this car is for sale or how much I'd take for it or if I'll trade them cars.  I've come to the conclusion that, even if I added up all the money that has gone into it or if I did a "Kelly Blue Book" value on it that no sum of money would be enough to pry this car from me just yet.  When we started work on it, I was inheriting so many issues right off the bat... but the guesswork goes away when you've done the work.  Aside from all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this car, it's very satisfying to drive something this FUN and to also know every corner of the car and what has been done.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RS Revival: Getting a Grip!

It's been proven.  On paper, on websites, on YouTube, on the road.  It doesn't matter if you've got power on all wheels or on just one if you don't have the right grip.  And to put that grip to the surface, you need the right tire.

In the case of my project car, a 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe, it needs to grip on the dirty stuff for Rallycross.  As both the car and the driver have made improvements, there's always a drive to get better times and a big key to that is GRIP.  However, the tires I've been using to get grip are old and heavy, so when I set my sights on the next improvement for my rallycross build, I may have missed the mark initially.

My original plan for improvement for the next stage of my RS was Stage 2.  A ECU from Delicious Tuning was supposed to tie together my Gorilla Top-Mount Cold Air Intake, Stromung Catback Exhaust, and tuned headers to make more power to spin those big heavy rally wheels faster.  Clawing my way out of corners with my current tires had proven to be a cumbersome task for the stock 2.5 liter SOHC Boxer 4 in my RS, so my focus was on making more power to make up for those heavy stage rally puncture-proof Michelin Gravel Competition Tires.

I may still go with tuning for the Stage 2 setup that I have, but I've learned through this summer that, if I can lighten the load and maximize grip for the grassy dirt clod that the NRSCCA uses for rallycross events each year, I don't need to really go that route.  What I need are lighter tires with grip designed for these kinds of conditions.  Thankfully, I've found one.

These are Indy Sport SG Rallycross tires.  They're designed for conditions that often arise at the rallycross site here in Nebraska.  These are dedicated rallycross tires that excel in wet and loose conditions. Whether it's grass, mud, or loose gravel, this tire ensures grip from the start thanks to a soft compound.

I ordered these tires from Rally.Build based out of Colorado.  The tires themselves are from Germany and are being shipped in.  They should be here in the next week or so.  These will replace the Michelin Gravel Tires and be mounted on my Speedline Corse Type 2118s.  These will hopefully arrive and be mounted in time for the last two events of the 2015 NRSCCA Rallycross season.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Start Right in Rallycross

When I first started doing rallycross with my '00 Subaru Impreza RS Coupe, I found it much easier to get into thanks to support of fellow drivers that were there.  The guys and gals there were eager to answer my questions and help out with things and it was a very inviting atmosphere.  Combine that with the rush of adrenaline felt in the first event and I was hooked.  As I continued to attend events, I found that the help extended beyond driving advice and tips.  They were co-driving with me, helping from the passenger seat to get a better idea of how to go through the course.  They were lending a hand with tire changes and on-site repairs if needed.  They were making me want to come back again and again.

I know others that are new to this sport could use that kind of support, so I'm spearheading something to help promote our local rallycross program with the NRSCCA with fellow Subaru owners.  For the next two events (October 18th & November 1st) members of the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club (NSOC) will take rallycross veterans and newbies alike together to finish out the 2015 schedule strong.  The plan is to help make things easier for newer participants with necessary advice, tools, and equipment.  By cruising to the location together, new drivers will be more familiar with where to go and park and set up.

  • Meet up at Fantasy's Food N Fuel (7828 S 123rd Plaza La Vista, NE 68128) at 8:30am
  • Drive together to I-80 Speedway (13909 238th St, Greenwood, NE 68366) at approx 9:00am
  • Prepare vehicles - change tires, check fluid levels, make necessary adjustments
  • Walk the Course - veterans will help new drivers familiarize themselves with the course
  • Co-Driving Opportunities - new drivers can ride along with seasoned veterans to gain advice and experience
  • Mid-Day Evaluation - At the lunchbreak, new drivers can assess their progress and pick up more tips to improve on their times before the second half of the event
  • Teardown Assistance - gather up cones and flags, help swap tires back and load gear back up before departure.
Most of these sort of things already happen, but most people that are new to rallycross don't know what to expect.  I think more people would participate knowing that there will be support and assistance to make the day great.  Technically, it's what we already do, but by promoting this event and spreading the word about what we do and going through what they can expect, it's much more inviting to new drivers.

The aim is to get more drivers to attend and help grow the program, but we can't do that without retaining participants.  I think that by providing a supportive environment to everyone that we can get more people to return event after event for rallycross.

Friday, September 11, 2015

'16 Crosstrek Changes

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!  David Bowie lyrics or not, it's time for the refresh for the Subaru Crosstrek.  The changes start right there: the name.  Subaru has dropped the "XV" name for the 2016 model, which seems a bit odd to me since this vehicle has been advertised internationally as simply the "XV" anyways. Still, the Crosstrek's changes are abundant.

All 2016 Crosstrek models feature a new front fascia and grille, with redesigned headlights and chrome fog light accent trim. 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, and 2.0i Limited Crosstrek models also feature new machine finish 17" alloy wheels, while the Crosstrek Hybrid and Hybrid Touring trim levels now include a gloss-black painted front grille.  The lines in general are very similar to the 2013-2015 models but take some cues from the new front end seen on the 2015 Impreza.

The interior for the previous 2015 year had an infotainment upgrade but there's an aesthetic facelift inside, too.
"Interiors of all models, except the base Crosstrek 2.0i, receive orange stitching on the seats, door armrests, center console, shift lever handles as well as the redesigned steering wheel. For 2.0i Premium models, both the steering wheel and the shift lever handles are now leather-wrapped. Ivory interiors add visual excitement by updating the monotone interior color to a "high contrast" design with a more modern and dynamic-looking ivory and black color combination. The 2.0i Limited and Hybrid Touring models add gloss black and silver dash trim for a more upscale feel. On models equipped with Keyless Access with Push Button start, PIN code access is also now available."
2016 also adds Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard equipment on 2.0i Limited and Hybrid Touring models. These features are included with optional EyeSight on 2.0i Premium models. Additionally, SUBARU STARLINK™ Safety and Security packages make their way onto 2016 models on the Crosstrek 2.0i Limited, Hybrid Touring, and on 2.0i Premium models equipped with Eyesight.

At the end of the day, the changes only add $100 to the sticker price on these.  Below is running footage of the new exterior changes made.  The footage also reveals one of two new colors for the 2016 models: Hyper Blue!  This is an exclusive color for the BRZ and WRX STI for 2016 that is only available in limited numbers for those models, but it is a standard color available for the Crosstrek.  Jasmine Green (from the Impreza and Forester) also gets added to the lineup which replaces the Plasma Green Pearl.
Check out interior, exterior, and optional equipment photos in the Crosstrek Digital Brochure!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

STI Invasion!! Focus on the US Market

Subaru Rally Team USA is ready with new liveries for their four rally and rallycross drivers that are headed to Red Bull GRC Los Angeles presented by Subaru Tecnica International on September 12th and 13th. The new liveries (with the exception of Pastrana's) feature large "STI" logos on the drivers and passenger sides in their traditional Cherry Blossom Red colors.  Their drivers, Bucky Lasek, Sverre Isachsen, David Higgins and Travis Pastrana with support from Vermont SportsCar and Subaru Tecnica International will take on the LA double-header event to be held this month.  This will represent the biggest lineup Subaru has ever had at a racing event in the US.  Tuner cars, show cars, and everything in-between, Subaru is sure to put on a great show at the Port of San Pedro!    

With Subaru Tecnica International presenting the event and a large showing for the company in general, perhaps this is the beginning of the direction Subaru intends to go with promoting STI in the United States.  You'll remember that, at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Subaru of America President and COO Tom Doll along with STI President Yoshio Hirakawa stated that the US will be STI's Top Priority Market.  In the Press Conference, Hirakawa stated that "Going forward, we intend to bring complete cars to the US as well." The conference focused on how STI fits into Subaru's new "Prominence 2020" vision as one of 3 areas of emphasis for future growth.  

With that in mind, the GRC event in Los Angeles is more than just Subaru showing off their cars.  This is a clear step forward in promoting Subaru as a performance brand in the US spearheaded by STI.  The rallycross event will likely be one of many more promotions with STI to propel that third pillar of the Prominence 2020 brand further along.  As a business, Subaru Tecnica International is setting up a great way to reach the fans they already have and make their intentions known to the rest of the racing community by entering four of their best prepared rallycross machines at this GRC event.  Stacked deck?  Sure is!  Ready to make an impression and get more people thinking Subaru?  You bet!  It's an excellent strategy and a great way to continue to promote STI and Subaru.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What Happened in August?

So I realized I didn't make any posts for the entire month of August... until NOW!  Here's a condensed version of Subaru-ing from last month.

My wife and I drove our 2012 Impreza Hatchback to Lees Summit, MO to pick up our newest member of the family.  Meet Daphne!  She's a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who loves to play and socialize!  Daphne has been a handful, but she's no stranger to our family of Subarus.  There are nose marks on the passenger windows of our '12 Impreza, our '15 FXT, and our '00 RS Coupe.  She's been a lot of fun so far!

When I first started selling Subarus, my very first sale was a '13 Legacy 6MT to one of my best friends.  He decided to trade that in for his first WRX (a 2016 no less) in July.  In August, his Girlfriend-now-Fiance came in and got her first Subaru: a '15 Impreza Hatchback!  I'm proud to serve friends and family and excited to get them both great deals on these amazing cars.

Members of the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club, Siouxland Subaru Club, Iowa Subaru Club, and Tri-State Subaru Club got together in Sioux City, IA this month.  Together we drove our Subarus through the Loess Hills Scenic byway, twisting and turning through every bend!  Around 40 cars made it out to this event to enjoy fantastic weather, great scenery, fun roads, and good food at a cookout provided at the end of the route.

During this event, my wife and I managed to enjoy her new '15 Forester XT in it's first Subaru Cruise.  This is also the first time I've piloted a turbocharged car at an event like this, so being able to keep up with WRXs, STIs, and other quick Subarus was relatively simple with an eager direct-injected boxer with a twin scroll turbo that's got 250 on-tap.  However, even with a sport-tuned suspension, the 8.7 inches of ground clearance made it feel like the Leaning Tower of Forester in tight turns!  Still a great first cruise for the FXT and we enjoyed our time in it and with our fellow owners.

That's pretty much everything that has been happening this month!  It's been busy, but a lot of fun!  Stay tuned in September as I prepare the RS for round two of the NRSCCA Rallycross schedule!  This summer has been spent researching and cross-checking information on how to further improve the RS for Rallycross.  The original plan was to go Stage 2 with a tuned ECU from Delicious Tuning but those plans still hinge on getting headers that would clear the skidplate used to protect things in Rallycross applications.  However, we've found that a major source of lost time is in the weight of the rally wheels and tires we currently use.  The plan is to switch from heavy stage-rally hard-compound tires to a lighter mud tire with a softer compound.  All that is in the works for next month so we'll see how that goes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

RS Revival: Rally Livery

It's still not complete, but this 2.5 RS never really will be so long as I own it.  That's the thing with projects like this... but that's also what makes it fun.  The ideas keep flowing and the bar keeps getting higher.  However, there are certain stops along the way where you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  In this case, it's the first time this car has looked good in awhile.  The "Rally Livery" actually makes this car look like it's right out of a Special Stage in the Rally America National Championship.  ...okay well maybe not THAT convincing, but there's something special about the car right now.

When I took it to work today, I had compliments from co-workers who have watched this car transform from a rusty bucket to a work-in-progress to something that's noteworthy.  Not only that, but two customers at work asked to take a closer look at it in the parking lot.  One of them even took a picture of it and sent it to his friend.  "He's gonna love this!"

I love it, too!  Not so much the attention.  That's just a nice after-effect.  But having the car in this state right now makes me smile ear to ear.  It's funny how this change that isn't even performance enhancing is making the car that much more satisfying to drive.  I can't see the outside of the car when I'm driving, but since I KNOW it looks good, I'm proud to be  out and about.

This new "Rally Livery" features the logos for parts that make this RS work the way it does.  They're not on for show or in a sticker-bomb fashion.  Each represents a piece working together with the others to make this a great little rallycross car and I'm proud to "fly their banner" wherever I drive.  Some are also lesser-known brands, so I hope this car acts as good exposure for them as I take it to meets, races, and other events.  Just as there is still space on the sides for more, there's also still room for more improvement.  As I said from the start, this car will never really be completed as long as I own it, but it's certainly making it fun!

Today, as I took a minute to be proud of the work done thus far, I decided to take a look at everything that has gone into this project since it's start in 2013.  Here's a short video covering all the repairs and improvements made just under two years so far.

There's more in store for this car.  Not just for looks, but for wringing out more performance.  By October, I'm hoping to have this car prepped and ready to kick ass at the next NRSCCA Rallycross event!  Got some time to get it there and more room to improve!  Still, I'll probably take a little vacation from the busywork for a week or two and just enjoy the car as it sits.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

RS Revival: Livery Progress

It's been performing like a rally car for awhile.  Now this RS Revival is starting to look the part!  With body work finished up on this 2.5 RS Coupe, the vinyl rally livery is starting to take shape and make it to the car.  Parts of this were completed before the rallycross a month ago, but the big parts are finally done.  The dark gray vinyl stretches from the side marker lights on the front fenders to the edge of the rear bumper.  This design strategically covers the repaired portions of the body in an asymmetrical to both sides.

It took awhile to get it completed as we had run out of vinyl to use about halfway through the application over a holiday weekend.  The major portions were recently completed and now the "sponsors" are making their way onto the car.  Obvious accolades to this blog that I run plus Nebraska-Subaru logos to support our local group.  Other upgraded parts that are on the car will make their way to the car as well.  GrimmSpeed, Perrin, Primitive Racing, STI, Whiteline, Gorilla, and others will make their way to the gray rear quarter panels in white font.  The upper portion of the fender will eventually adorn a large Subaru logo.  There are also emblems for the SCCA and an additional Nebraska Subaru log on the front fenders.

They white-on-gray look happened to remind me of the apparel that Subaru Rally Team USA uses right now, so I may toss some blue in there to complete that sort of look if I can find the right shade.  Otherwise, the Silver/Gray/White look will do just fine.

I'm really happy that this car is starting to look as good as it has been performing.  While adding vinyl to a car has not yet been proven to boost horsepower, it's certainly putting a smile on my face!

The Twenty Two Dream

It's inevitable.  Every car guy (or girl) has a "dream car" that they have pinned inside their garage.  Some love American Muscle from simpler times.  Some go weak in the knees for European Supercars.  Some have that incredibly rare import car that they only made a handful of and are impossible to find.  Yup, you guessed it.  I fall into that last category.

For me, the dream car is a 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B: the widebody rally car for the street built as a celebration car in limited numbers.  With a closed-deck 2.2 liter turbocharged flat four at it's core, boasting a wider stance to make better use of the limited slip differentials supplying power to four gold BBS wheels, in a light and nimble chassis, it's a far cry from the 1st Generation Impreza Coupe that it's built around.  There are reviews upon articles upon videos covering this iconic car all over the internet... so instead of adding to that growing list, I thought I'd explain why I should never have one.