Thursday, January 29, 2015

RS Revival: Gettin' Rumbly

A friend of mine working a corner at a local rallycross event made an interesting observation last year.  Thanks to the Gorilla Top-Mount Cold Air Intake, you can hear my RS approaching... but as it passes, it sort of disappears.  At this particular event, it was like my car was a ghost vanishing into a cloud of dust and dirt until, of course, the cloud settled and you saw a familiar RS trying to keep it together on a long banked turn.  Unlike most rumbly Subarus, my car's exhaust is very quiet.  Perhaps... too quiet!

This is because of a quick fix that still hasn't been revisited.  When this rust-bucket RS changed hands, it had a lot of problems.  Cracked windshield, down on power, mismatched wheels and tires, body rust, rotting suspension, bad wheel bearings and, the most noticeable issue when I first fired it up: missing 45% of it's exhaust.  In that first month of repairs, part of a 2004 WRX STI exhaust was welded on to the midpipe where the axle back had rusted and broken off.

This temporary fix is still in place, but now the system is leaking.  It whistles pretty loudly when on the interstate and it's high time something was actually done about the exhaust.  The plan is to repair and improve the entire system.  The great people at Russ' Garage are helping me once again with this, and I got some advice from the exhaust master himself.  After hearing his recommendations and ideas for it, we came up with a plan to bring some boxer rumble out of the RS.

I've decided to turn to Strömung for an axle-back exhaust and then repair and redo the rest of the stock exhaust.  To my delight, I found that there aren't many here locally that have heard of this system... which is great for someone like me who wants something unique.  Additionally, I've found that the Strömung exhaust has been embraced by many enthusiasts and GC owners.  One of the video clips I found featuring this distinctive exhaust note was on a car from, which I frequently use to find parts and get ideas from other 1st Generation Impreza owners.  The Strömung exhaust should be here in a week or so.  I'm excited to finally get the ball rolling on this!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You should Rallycross!

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Whether you know it or not, at the heart of the Subaru in your driveway is a heritage paved in dirt.  Rally and Rallycross have been the staple motorsport for these cars for decades, so why not bring that out of your car?  If you have even an OUNCE of interest in motorsports with your Subaru, finding a local Rallycross to attend is probably the easiest and most accessible ways to have fun and get dirty!

What's Rallycross?   It's the most widespread and readily accessible form of extreme dirt motorsport. Drivers dodge cones through a course on an unpaved open lot running against the clock.  The reason I say it's accessible is because, unlike a full-on performance stage rally, roll-cages are not required.  You can literally take your daily driver to a Rallycross, borrow a helmet, and blast through the dirt!

Pictures off my iPhone from the Rallycross on June 15thThere are different classes organized by how many wheels get power and what kind of modifications are on the car.  It's not how fast the car is... it's how good of a driver you are!  Runs are timed and end results are made up of the total of multiple runs, not a single-best run like Autocross. Garage Queens need not apply!  That doesn't mean you'll trash your ride, but it's certainly going to be hard for those who keep their All-Wheel Drive beauties locked away in the winter or who park in the boonies of the grocery store lot.  Unless you're getting ultra-competitive and getting after it like a bandit, you can still dodge those cones and have fun with very minimal risk of damage to your car.  The most I've broken on my car in rallycross was an end link, and it was old and gross anyways.  Of course there's risk with anything, but there are safety stewards on-site to make sure the track is safe and to help out if there are issues.

IMG_9321InLikeALamb (6)In 2014, I was able to make it to 3 NRSCCA Rallycross events with my 2.5 RS Coupe.  Not only is it a lot of fun to throw this car around in the dirt, but I try to improve with each pass and get better as a driver.  It's also a lot of fun hanging out with the drivers, getting help and advice, but also the camaraderie of being with fellow Subaru owners, as the field of cars is usually full of them.  Many of us meet up in the morning to drive down to the site together.  So it's not only fun for the individual, but it's also a blast because of the people that are there.

Subaru is also an Official Contingency Sponsor of the RallyCross National Challenge for the SCCA.   Eligibility of the Subaru contingency is specific and pertains to certain classes in Rally.  Simply bring your Subaru to an event, put 3 "Subaru" stickers on it, drive it like you stole it, and get a cash prize if you finish in the top 3!

Many programs don't even require membership, just a quick fee, a waiver, and off you go!  Actually, starting off as a non-member is a great way to start off with these groups, as they usually discount membership fees if you've attended an event as a non-member before.  It's very easy, very accessible, and tons of fun! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

'16 WRX Infotainment Upgrade?

Even with Subaru doing away with the hatchback option for 2015, the new WRX has seen record sales since it's release last spring.  Still, no icon of rally escapes unscathed from criticism from fans and enthusiasts.  Aside from the "it looks like an Evo" comments, I've also heard a groan from owners about the radio/audio/infotainment option.  Although you can get a loaded-up WRX with a fantastic Harman Kardon audio system in it, it comes paired with a Navigation Screen that makes a Nintendo 64 seem new again.

That's exactly why this picture intrigued me.  Subaru has been adding this newer, sleeker, and admittedly easier-to-use infotainment system in many of their new models.  This dashboard picture may even be from a newer WRX.  The Hazard Flashers button and upper-screen controls are in the same position and layout as the current offering while the new radio screen appears to be the same as the 2015 Impreza that was just released last fall.  Could Subaru be giving the new WRX a dashboard facelift after only a year of production in this new bodystyle?  

No details of the 2016 WRX or WRX STI have been released as of yet (this post written on Januar 18th, 2015), but it wouldn't surprise me to see Subaru quickly answering the needs of their customers as they have been more receptive to adapting more quickly in the past few years.  Maybe this also means those clamoring for a hatch will get what they want!  We'll see!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gravel, Dirt, and a little bit of Snow!

SnowDay (3)Last weekend a few Subaru diehards met up to go drive around some fun back roads south of Glenwood, IA.  Filling out the roster to brave the cold were a couple of Imprezas, WRXs, a Legacy GT Wagon, and an Outback XT.  We spent a good 2 hours zipping about these beautiful roads together.  Ever-changing grip levels made for a fun challenge for drivers, but none of us had any trouble staying on the road.  Ironically, a 4x4 Pathfinder that our camera guy drove was the only one who managed to get stuck until we pulled him out!

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The snow had just fallen the night before, but it wasn't very deep.  It had managed to drift on and off parts of the road, so one second you'd be sliding sideways on snow and the next, you were on dirt or gravel and the grip would change suddenly.  Our pack of enthusiasts managed to make playtime of these conditions and had a blast tooling around in these AWD machines.

The mixture of dirt, gravel dust, snow, and ice cemented the backsides of our cars.  We spaced the cars out most of the time for safety, but also to keep flying rocks away from windshields!

We've used these roads before, as I have yet to find another like it in the area.  The steep walls of dirt are like canyons carved through the hills.  The winding dirt roads in these secluded areas feel like a Stage Rally!  There's hardly anyone else around, so the hoonigan Subarus are free to enjoy the roads together.

Despite the bitter cold and conditions that would normally deter people from joining our pack of pretend rally drivers, we had great turnout and a wonderful time along the Waubonsie Trail.  Most of our cruise routes are on warm sunny days with nice clean cars, so it's fun to get out and get dirty once in a while.  Breaking the mold makes events like this stand out, even if there's only a handful of us who get to experience it.

New Spoiler for the '15 Hybrid

Last year, Subaru came out with their first Hybrid vehicle built around the XV Crosstrek.  For 2015, they've made minor changes to upgrade the infotainment system but they've also added an "aerodynamic rear spoiler" that supposedly improves gas mileage.  The new spoiler actually extends the current design of the hatchback with a glossy-black finish and a different center tail light design.  It's actually the same part found on the spoiler for the 2014 on up Foresters (XT, Limited, and Touring).

As this is the same hatch design as the current Impreza 5-door, this could also be applied to those models... Something I am admittedly interested in doing just for the look of a sleek spoiler.  I personally dislike the current optional spoiler offering, so I am slightly interested in potentially adding this to my '12 Impreza.  I've already got Hybrid LED Tail Lights on it, so why not continue the parts-stealing trend?  I'll look into installation options and post my findings later for those interested.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

LOTS of New for 2015!

It's 2015 and there's a LOT of new on the way!

To start things off, the dealership I work at has changed hands as of the New Year.  Stan Olsen Auto Group, after 63 years of business, has sold Volkswagen, Audi, Mazda, Hyundai, and Subaru to Baxter Auto Group as of January 1st.  Lots of changes come with that, but the team of service and sales men and women that I work with will remain.  I'm especially happy for that, as we've got a really great team together for Subaru.  We're all excited for the positive changes that are on the way, as there's a lot to look forward to!

imageComing up a little later in 2015 is another fun season of Rallycross.  Of course, the RS Revival is eager to hit the dirt once more.  More changes and improvements are lined up for this fun AWD Coupe but I'm also eager to improve as a driver.  In the last Rallycross event of the 2014 Season, I learned a great deal by co-driving with a fellow Subaru owner and rally enthusiast.  I quickly found out that this car is capable of much more if I get after it and attack each turn more aggressively.  Last year I was only able to attend four Rallycross events, so I hope to be able to make it to more in the 2015 season.

On the subject of Rally, Subaru is already jumping head-first into the Rally America and Global Rallycross seasons.  David Higgins and Craig Drew will continue to defend their dominating streak of Championships and Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis will be nipping at their heels every step of the way.  They'll kick off the season at Sno-Drift in January.  Global Rallycross will likely get more familiar with the podium as Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek get more competitive in this new sport.  All the while, the new 4th Generation WRX STI will be seeing lots of development as Subaru's new mainstay rally car.  Expect Season 3 of Launch Control to cover these teams in early Spring of 2015!

With the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club, there's more great events on the way!  We will kick off 2015 with a Gravel/Dirt cruise around some fun roads in Western Iowa.  As well as continuing our Weekly Meets at the dealership, we'll be planning another big meet in late winter or early spring.  The group continues to grow and attendance at meets has been growing steadily.  Should be another fun year hanging out with fellow owners and enjoying our cars together!

There's also more "new" stuff coming from Subaru.  Although there aren't any big redesigns like we had in years past, there are new Concept vehicles that are slated to be announced and all kinds of rumors circling around development of their 7-Passenger vehicle.  2015 will also see the last of the 4th Generation Impreza being released as a MY2016 model late in the Fall.  After that, the Impreza will be built in the United States at Subaru's plant in Indiana, so news of those changes may be trickling down the pipeline during the course of this year.

I'm as stoked as ever for all the new things coming for Subaru this year!  Should be a fun ride!