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


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.