Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Subarus on the Mountain

For over 150 years, the Mt. Washington Auto Road has seen hundreds of competition race cars seeking the fastest time to the summit. Nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this historic hillclimb event pre-dates the iconic Pikes Peak International Hillclimb and has seen a recent battle between rally cars to claim the fastest time.  On September 8th of 2010, Travis Pastrana took the "Red Bull Speed Chasers" series name to new heights.  Armed with his WRX STI and codriver Marshal Clarke to guide him up the twisty road, they grappled the mountain and set their name in stone.  His timed run of 6:41.99 seconds bested the previous record by more than twenty seconds.

Fast-forward one year later.  Travis Pastrana had left SRT USA for pastures new driving a Dodge Dart and taking on NASCAR.  Enter David Higgins as the new face of the Subaru team, who strapped in and beat Travis' record with a 6:11.54 time on June 26th of 2011.  Higgins did it without a co-driver, which helped save weight in his Vermont SportsCar-prepped Subaru WRX STi rally car.  Both Pastrana and Higgins had similar setups with their cars, but their head-to-head faceoff would have to wait.

2014 would be a special year for the Climb to the Clouds event. Not only did it mean that David Higgins and Travis Pastrana would face off directly in nearly identical cars, but it also served as a special round of the Rally America National Championship.  This meant that certain guidelines of Rally America had to be observed.  Turbo restrictions and the requirement of bringing a co-driver along for the ride meant that they'd be down on power and up on weight... neither of which are promising things to add when you're looking to set a record.  David Higgins and Craig Drew were a winning pair and had several championships together under their belt.  Travis had just made his return to rallying and was with a new codriver, Chrissie Beavis.  While the battle was still close, Higgins and Drew came out on top not only to win the event, but set yet another record up the mountain.  Their timed run of 6:09.09 shaved almost 3 seconds off the previous run.  The pacenotes delivered by Craig Drew had sharpened David's attack up the mountain and made up for the extra weight and restricted power.

The battle won't stop there!  In 2017, the Climb to the Clouds event returns to the mountain and Subaru is bringing two of their most powerful WRX STIs with David and Travis to chase down the clock once again.  Higgins had mentioned before that he would "like to break the 6 minute mark" for an attempt.  With his championships racking up, that goal seems more attainable than ever, but with his teammate Travis Pastrana focusing more on rallying again, it'll be up for grabs once more!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Why use the Boxer Engine?

At the heart of the Symmetrical AWD cars of Subaru is the horizontally opposed engine: the Subaru Boxer Engine. They fitted this horizontally opposed engine for the first time in the Subaru 1000 and over the next 40 years have refined this extremely unusual automobile power plant. Subaru selected the horizontally opposed engine because it contains a number of elements that make it ideal for use with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

How much did the engineers who developed the Subaru 1000 know about the potential of the horizontally opposed engine?   With the help of, we can go back in time and find out what led to using this design.

Friday, December 16, 2016

PIAA Fog Lights on my STI

When I decided to upgrade my stock halogen fog lights on my 2016 WRX STI, I wanted something special.  With my focus on following Subaru Rally Team USA always at the front of my ideas for this car, it didn't take very long to think about the PIAA Light Pods seen on rally cars for those iconic night stages.  I didn't want to mount huge pods on my hood, but when I found out that PIAA made a drop-in LED Fog Light replacement for my car, I knew that's what I'd want to run.

These are a JDM option for the WRX and WRX STI and plug right in to the stock housing in the bumper on 2015-2017 models.  Installation was incredibly simple.  There are two screws holding the stock bulbs in.  After you move the liner under the bumper out of the way they're easy to get to and the housing unplugs from the harness and drops out.  Then just reuse the screws to install the new PIAA lights and plug 'em in.  It really couldn't have been easier!

The housings are really nice, too.  Compared to other LED housings, they're much lighter and have a nice clean look to them.  The projection is very nice and an easily noticeable improvement over the stock fog lights.  While they are pricey, the ease of installation and the obvious quality of these parts makes for a rewarding upgrade.  They look great with the LED Low Beam Headlights on the WRX Limited, WRX STI and WRX STI Limited.  My fog light housings also have the JDM Fog Light Bezels around them to match the main headlights and I'm really pleased with how they look together.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Turbo XV for Subaru?

I mentioned a "STI" Crosstrek in my last article, but after rewatching an episode of Subaru's Launch Control YouTube series, there might actually be a production-based Subaru XV out there.  In Episode 5 of this season, "Made in America", David Higgins and Craig Drew are using a blue XV for their Recce car to check out the stages and make notes for the rally in China.  As they drive away you can clearly see a scoop in the center of the hood of their XV.  The interior shows a CVT shift knob, but I've yet to see a factory hood scoop on this generation of XV / Impreza.  Typically a hood scoop on a Subaru signals the use of an intercooler which would be used on a turbocharged engine.  WRXs, some Foresters, and other turbocharged models Subaru has made over the years have this feature... so it got me searching for more!

I can't seem to find any other information on this just yet.  A quick look around the Subaru-China website for the XV (called the Crosstrek here in the US) doesn't seem to bring anything up showing any models equipped as such.  Subaru Rally Team China fielded a turbocharged Crosstrek prepared by Vermont SportsCar to compete in this series, but the Recce car shouldn't have also been prepared unless there's something different with rally regulations in China I am unaware of.  Even the rally car brought over by Vermont SportsCar didn't have a hood scoop, so it's just been kind of puzzling to me.

I'll keep digging for info on this.  In the meantime, if any of you have more information on this scooped XV, leave a comment!  I'd love to find out more and share it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Manual: Not Quite Dead Yet!

While it's certainly more part of a niche market, Manual Transmission options have been in trouble over the last several years.  With fuel economy improving on Automatic transmissions, the reasons to drive a manual have been dwindling over time, leaving die-hards and enthusiasts to carry the flag for the 5-Speed.

For 2017, the Subaru Impreza is entering it's 5th Generation design with groundbreaking new designs ushering in the new sedan and hatchback.  Thanks to vague press releases and media assumptions, many had come to the conclusion that the Impreza would only be offered with an automatic CVT and ditch the manual option.  I am happy to prove those media outlets wrong with the release of new information for the upcoming 2017 Imprezas, slated to release later this fall!

The 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i retains a 5-Speed Manual Transmission in the base sedan, base hatchback, sport sedan, and sport hatchback.  Not only that, but Sport models also have the option to add a Moonroof, Blind Spot Monitors, and a Harman Kardon  audio system.  The manual is alive and well with the Impreza!

Stay tuned next week when we take the all-new Impreza for a run before they hit dealership lots!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hybrid: Dead or Alive?

In Fall of 2016, Subaru of America announced a few small changes for the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek. Among the news of Red and Black Special Edition models being released there was an exclusion. The Crosstrek Hybrid and Hybrid Touring models have been discontinued in the US.

Since it's original launch as a 2014 model, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid (later just the Crosstrek Hybrid) was a tough pitch.  While you could argue that the quieter smoother ride, nicer interior and exterior touches, and unique additions made it worth the price gap between itself and a normal Crosstrek, there was one Achilles Heel right from the start: Fuel Economy.  The driving force for a customer to purchase a Hybrid vehicle is to save on fuel.  On paper the Crosstrek Hybrid only delivered marginally better fuel economy figures compared to it's non-hybrid counterpart.  Before the customer could even start to appreciate the rest of the Hybrid's trimmings, it'd be easily dismissed from the unimpressive gas mileage figures.

For a full time All Wheel Drive system, the Fuel Economy in Subarus is already pretty impressive.  Mix in the fact that most Hybrid-minded consumers are looking for 40+ MPG in a car thanks to front-wheel drive offerings, and the Crosstrek Hybrid already had cards stacked against it.  Plus, the technology and extra trimmings that were once exclusive to the Hybrid models eventually made their way onto other non-Hybrid models, which further detracted from any sort of pull it would give customers to give the Hybrid a shot.  No matter how capable or how nice this tree-hugging Crosstrek was, the fuel economy figures just weren't enough to make it relevant.

With those dismal figures I imagined that this was it for the Crosstrek Hybrid, but it appears the Japanese have been drinking something different... to the point where the Hybrid is going in the opposite direction.

Behold!  The 2017 Subaru XV Hybrid tS!  This STI-packaged Crosstrek tots lots of extra bolt-on goodies as well as a "heart-thumping" orange interior.  While no performance upgrades find their way under the hood, this XV Hybrid has upgraded suspension and handling to go along with those flashy exterior aero parts.  In the US, it would have had a MSRP around $32,000 (3,326,400 Yen) making it the most expensive XV on the market.  Still, it's interesting to see the US market drop the Hybrid while it gets STI treatment overseas.

With Subaru's future plans looking towards Hybrid and Electric designs going into the next generation, the Hybrid's exit from the US market could only be temporary.  Still, it's odd to see such a split between success and demise with the same Hybrid system under the hood.  As the door closes on the current models, the Global Platform coming for the 2017 Impreza could give this technology new avenues to explore.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Custom Screen Image on your Subaru

If you haven't been following my blog, you should know that I'm a big fan of rally.  Racing to the limit on tarmac, dirt, and gravel roads is an awesome test of both car and driver and I enjoy following rally teams pursuit of perfection in these demanding conditions.  One of my favorites to follow is Subaru Rally Team USA and every time I watch in-car videos I see that logo on the dashboard.  So when I found out I could do the same thing in my 2016 WRX STI (or any Subaru with a 7.0 inch Touchscreen) I was pretty stoked.

All you've gotta do is download this image to your computer and follow the instructions in this short video I made.  You can do this with any picture, but it works best with images sized in 800x480 pixels or 1280x782 pixels for use on Subarus with the 7.0 Inch Multimedia Plus or Multimedia Plus Navigation systems.

Check out the video below and follow along to add this to your Subaru!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Chapter for an Old Car

For the last 3 years I've been working on resurrecting a beat-up 2000 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe.  It's had quite the transformation from rust bucket to rallycross champ.  I've really grown attached to the car in that short time, but I've come to slowly realize that I need a cleaner car.  By clean, I mean not 16 years of rust and rot and neglect and patchwork body repairs.  However, finding a suitable replacement here in the midwest has been nearly impossible.  These older Subarus have not survived the harsh winters and even harsher chemicals put on roads here in Nebraska.  Rusty quarter panels seems to be as sure of a thing as leaky head gaskets on these old Subies.

However, I've managed to find a suitable replacement to swap a few things over and continue to grow and improve with.  Hidden away in Washington State I managed to find a 1999 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe... same color and everything, just no rust.  In fact, the car is in awesome shape and is more than ready to take up the mantle of my previous project car.  However, the story of this RS Coupe has a more interesting start than that.

I've been following Agatino Fortunato since the beginning of the 2016 Rally America Series back in January.  Tino and the All Fours Rally Team have a Super Production WRX STI that they compete with and I was lucky enough to meet them at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood earlier this year.  Instead of trucking the Impreza here and fixing the head gaskets on the '99 Impreza, I got in touch with Tino.  By some strange force of nature, they're going to button it all back up and drive it on it's maiden voyage to Ojibwe Forests Rally next week!  Now all I've gotta do is quit geeking out, make some plans, and meet them there to drive my new rally car home!

I wish I could attend the whole rally, but I have to work that Saturday.  I'll be hitting the road, driving through the night to make it there, get some rest, check out some of the rally, get the car, and head home with it.  What an adventure I've got coming!  I'm pretty stoked to have this cool of a story linked to a car I'll be picking up.  What a way to start a new project!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Subaru Generational Changes

I work in Subaru sales and a common question I am asked is "When is the bodystyle changing?"  Knowing what I know about the cycle most Subaru bodystyles take, this can be a pretty easy question to answer... but all of that might be up in the air with the new "Global Platform" that Subaru will be going to in 2017 starting with the new Impreza. 

Confused already?  Here's a quick rundown of what Subaru currently does with their lineup.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Colorado Bound!

This week my wife and I are taking a much-needed vacation.  Work has been busy for both of us and we haven't really had a breather since January, so when our friend from Colorado invited us to their wedding... we decided to turn it into an adventure!

We'll be taking our trusty 2015 Subaru Forester XT along for the journey.  As much fun as my STI would be on these scenic roads, the Forester is the smarter pick and still delivers a good amount of fun.  Between the better fuel economy, added space and comfort, and the massive sunroof to help us enjoy the scenery as we weave through mountain passes, we're excited to jump head-first into this adventure with our Subaru!

On our to-do list is the Rocky Mountain National Park.  I've visited the park twice, but both times were quick pass-through visits that really didn't do the park justice.  We're planning on spending most of our Thursday there, so it'll be nice to take it all in without being on the clock.  Friday we might have some more time to visit other parks before wedding commitments come into play, but we'll make the most of it regardless!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Boxers @ Baxter is a BIG success!

The 2nd annual dealership-sponsored "Boxers @ Baxter" kicked off at 6pm on July 9th.  With well over 200 Subarus and over 300 attendees, the event marks the largest Subaru meetup held in Nebraska.  This event was hosted by Baxter Subaru in Omaha, NE in cooperation with Subaru of America and Vermont Sportscar.  Fans gathered with their Subies to check out the Subaru Rally Team USA display and rally car, got free food and giveaways, and enjoyed the company of their fellow owners on a sunny Saturday evening lining the lot with their cars.  From brand-new WRXs to 70s classics, there was a wide range of models present for people to check out.

Below is a full archive of photos from the event plus a short video walk through of the meet!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Season 4 of Launch Control Begins!

Subaru and Formula Photographic have teamed up again for a 4th Season of their "Launch Control" series that follows their motorsports programs.  Earlier this year the film team was spotted in the snow with David Higgins just before the RallyAmerica National Championship kicked off at the Sno*Drift Rally in Altanta, MI.  After the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, they mentioned that Season 4 would return in late spring.  Today the wait is over!

While it might be July today... the series starts in mid-March as Higgins and Pastrana battle it out at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood (which I was at) in Missouri!

As usual, if you follow Subaru Motorsports already, you know what the outcome of each race will be.  However, Launch Control has been a sought-after series to follow for enthusiasts because of the stories that emerge from each event that don't show up in the results at the end.  They deliver once again with their 4th season kicking off today, so fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks as the series continues.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

RS and STI Rallycross (Video)

I have been working on my 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe since September of 2013.  As I have repaired it, I have also been building it up for use in our local NRSCCA Rallycross events and it has been a fantastic car for the job!  I've shared the wheel dozens of times... but never really quite like this last weekend.  Usually I have a co-driver tag along with me and we'll take turns driving my coupe through the dirt course, but on June 26th things were a little different!

A bit of a perfect storm allowed me to have a little more fun at this event.  I had two friends who wanted to drive the RS with me, and I couldn't really say no to either of them.  Having a 3-Driver car would be a bit hectic.  However, this time around I was the Event Master (EVM) so I decided I'd have a little fun of my own.  While both my friends competed with my RS coupe, I decided to get my other car a little dirty. 

I competed with my 2016 WRX STI Series.HyperBlue at this event!  As Event Master, I didn't really technically have to "compete" to gain top points for this event... so it was the perfect opportunity to just have FUN with this weapon of grass destruction and take it easy as needed.  A few rougher portions of the track could've wreaked havoc on my front bumper with the longer approach angle the 4th Generation WRX STI has if I had been pushing like I usually do.  That didn't stop me from getting sideways rockin the number "75" of my rallying hero David Higgins.

I had long thought that the WRX STI had become more of a street machine than a out-of-the-box rally car like they used to be.  However, the dinosaur EJ25 under the hood and incredible AWD system reminded me this car still has rallying pedigree in it's 5W-30 blood.  This Hyper Blue head-turner was absolutely amazing to drive... even with all-season tires on it!  The steering and suspension and power worked great together as I slid and sped through turns!

Both cars were fantastic for this event!  The driver and co-driver in my RS clawed to 1st and 3rd in their class and even a 3rd-place overall finish.  My "Higgins Blue" STI managed to complete the event in 4th overall.  I imagine with some decent rallycross tires and a will of iron would've even yielded stronger results, as the car was only 3 seconds off of my rallycross-prepared RS.

Enjoy the GoPro footage of both of these cars running through the course below!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why there's no Levorg in the US

Every now and then someone see's a picture of the "new WRX hatchback" and goes crazy in the hopes that the Hatch has made it's triumphant return.  It ends up being either a photoshopped WRX STI or a picture of the US-soil-avoiding Subaru Levorg.  Most fans in America don't know much about this Impreza-based wagon with a turbo, so it's easy to assume that it's headed for a dealership near you.  However, the Levorg is not destined to reach our shores.

First, a few interesting things most people don't know about the Levorg... mostly because they probably didn't know it existed in the first place!  This car is actually longer than the current Hatchback offering for the 4th generation Impreza.  That means the Levorg is more of a traditional station wagon than a shorter hatchback like the WRXs offered before they switched to a sedan-only platform (the last year for a WRX hatchback was 2014).  Each Levorg comes standard with a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission and have either a 1.6 liter or 2.0 liter flat-four turbocharged Subaru boxer engine.  Currently, the Levorg is only offered in Japan, Europe, and Australia. 

The main question most ask once they learn of the Levorg is why this car isn't offered in the United States, and there's a couple of reasons for that.  The first is in the cultural taboo of what this car is classified as: a Station Wagon.  For the same reason you go to the organic sustainable produce aisle at the grocery store, not the "Fresh Fruit" aisle, American consumers like the name "Crossover" more than the "Station Wagons" they loved before... but the Levorg would be hard pressed to be pitched as such.  The Outback and Forester have thrived in the Crossover segment of the US and both of these lines lead Subaru sales in the US.  However, the Forester reigns supreme thanks to it's boxier SUV-ish looks where the Outback can still give the appearance of a Station Wagon.  Subaru's very own Legacy wagon was discontinued after 2009 due to falling sales and an increase in interest with the Outback, further strengthening the idea that Americans like Crossovers instead of Station Wagons. 

As much as enthusiasts would swear that a wagon would do well here, Japanese brands in general have not seen much interest in this area.  The Camry, the Accord, and other Japanese sedans used to be offered with a wagon option but have since dropped those offerings over the years.  However, it seems the people buying wagons in the US are European-minded and tend to go for Audi, Volkswagen, and BMW instead.  Add in the fact that the Levorg fell short in the initial sales goals when it was launched in Japan and there's not much of a pull for Subaru to risk a blunder in their largest market.

This also technically hampers any hopes for a WRX Hatchback making a return anytime soon, as the Levorg fills that absence for those still looking for a sporty wagon in the other markets.  In fact, the US buyer has further written out the WRX Hatchback... or a Levorg even just by the sales numbers.  Subaru sold more 2015 WRX and WRX STI sedans than they sold 2014 WRX and WRX STI sedans and hatchbacks combined.  That sends Subaru a message that the hatchback isn't as important to our market, driving the nail in the coffin for those hopes even more. 

Add in the fact that the mere name of the car might not appeal to US buyers (LEgacy, reVOlution, touRinG is supposed to be how they named it) and the deck is stacked against it.  Would I buy one if they made it available?  Absolutely!  Would a handful of enthusiasts and loyal WRX Hatchback owners pick one up?  You bet!  But Subaru wouldn't bring it over just for those reasons alone.  I'd be tickled Cherry Blossom red if I were proven wrong, but the market isn't favorable in the US for the Levorg to succeed like it should. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Boxers @ Baxter 2016

As an enthusiast who happens to work at a Subaru dealership, I do my best to connect our store with fellow owners in the area by hosting events here for them to enjoy.  Last year Baxter Subaru let me throw the LARGEST Subaru event Nebraska has ever seen... and it was a ton of fun!  The community was just as ecstatic about it so naturally, we had to throw another one!

This year I made sure to make the event bigger and better than before, and the best way to do that was to invite Subaru Rally Team USA to join us!  Vermont SportsCar, through a partnership with Subaru of America, is bringing their Rally Display Trailer and a rally-prepped WRX STI for fans to check out at this event!  It's so great to finally bring rally to Nebraska as many fans only get to watch YouTube videos and scroll through photos.  We're bringing rally a little closer with a Super Production WRX STI on-hand for fans to see, touch, and even take a seat in!

Like last year's event, Baxter Subaru will be providing free food, drinks, prizes, and hosting the car show right on the lot.  Space will be cleared for owners to line their Subarus up and show off their cars.  From street machines to off-road crawlers to rally-prepped dirt slingers to rare vintage cars, there's always a great mix of cars representing the wide variety of ways that owners choose to enjoy their Subarus.

So if you're in the Omaha area and want to jump in on the fun, meet your fellow Subaru owners at Baxter Subaru at 6pm on Saturday, July 9th!  It's gonna be a great event so hopefully we'll see you there!

Boxers @ Baxter Facebook Link

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

No PPIHC for Subaru this year

Earlier this year I reported that Subaru Rally Team USA would slingshot David Higgins up Pikes Peak in his WRX STI for the 2016 event.  As the event date neared, I noticed that name disappeared from the list, so I did some digging to find some answers.

According to David, the team had signed up earlier to meet the deadline for registration.  However, with a busy Rally America National Championship schedule ahead, the Rally China event in early June, and increased focus on development of their GRC program, SRT USA and Vermont SportsCar would have a difficult time preparing for the hill climb event in Colorado.  In order to participate, the team would've needed to skip some of the Rally America events instead.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb celebrates it's 100th Anniversary race for 2016.  SRT USA just wrapped up two rallies last week and is preparing for the New England Forests Rally in July.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Excitement on Hold - BRZ Series.Yellow

This past weekend saw the largest gathering of Subaru Enthusiasts in the United States in Stafford Springs, CT.  The "Wicked Big Meet" isn't just a car show for the New England area Subaru owners, but also a huge opportunity to showcase rare and historical cars from Subaru.  Colin McRae's WRC-prepared Impreza, the Iconic Impreza 22B, and something new for Subaru fans.  Last year it was the Series.HyperBlue WRX STI and BRZ.  This year, Subaru has the Series.Yellow BRZ for the new 2017 redesign. 

While this new exclusive color on a track-ready BRZ is exciting, fans will have to wait to get their hands on it.  Limited to 500 Units (an average of less than 1 per dealer), this yellow-clad tire slayer won't be available until next spring.  Currently the production, allocation and pricing plans are still being ironed out for the Series.Yellow BRZ by Subaru of America.  I had expected the release time to be similar to the 4-month time frame that the Series.HyperBlue models received last year.  However, retailer delivery for the Series.Yellow is expected in March 2017... by which time the new 2017 model will be nearing the end of it's run anyways.  A 10-month wait will truly test the patience of fans seeking this rare color.  Or, if you're too impatient to wait for a Yellow BRZ, Toyota already built one for you two years ago.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rallycross Tire Longevity - a lesson in sharing

I love rally.  Stage Rally, Rally Sprint, Rallycross, it's all awesome.  So, when I have the opportunity to let others experience how awesome it can be, I'm all over it!  I've been sharing the wheel with veterans and newbies alike in my 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe that I've been working on for almost 3 years now and they all seem to love it.  However, sharing the wheel has taken a noticeable toll on my once-new super-soft compound rallycross tires.

I picked up these meaty mud tires from Rally.Build last fall and fielded them on my rallycross car in November.  Since then, I've attended 6 events, which doesn't seem like much.  However, at each event I have had either a veteran co-driver showing me how to be better or a novice driver that I've been instructing myself.  At each rallycross event with the NRSCCA, cars get 8-10 runs through the day (depending on how much time we have).  So, at each event, the car has seen anywhere from 16-20 runs.  One of those events also included a rallycross school where we tacked on another 15 runs of testing.  If we add it all up, that equates to about 70 laps covered so far.

Those laps are taking a toll on this soft compound retread tire. These are Indy Sport SG Rallycross / Mud Tires that excel in wet and loose conditions. Grass, mud, and loose gravel bow to their bite... which is perfect for the conditions usually found at the site where we race.  They are only available in a soft compound to ensure grip from the start and greater performance in rallycross, but after all those laps, the tires are getting incredibly worn. 

Now I need to figure out how much more life I can get out of these tires.  Long-term plans for Rallycross need to be considered if I keep running tires like these.  I need to determine if the shorter lifespan of these softer compound tires are worth the cost of replacing on a much more frequent schedule than I anticipated.  I may try out a different set with a harder compound later this season and see if my times suffer enough to warrant destroying more of these Indy Sport SG tires.

Friday, May 27, 2016

2017 models add more "New"

Subaru has been releasing information over the last month about changes for upcoming 2017 models that have the community buzzing.  New information on the Forester was released earlier this month, but now the Legacy, Outback, and BRZ have added some features fueling the hype going into this summer.  Here's a quick run-down of the changes on the way!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Spring Fling 2016

The Nebraska Subaru Owners Club held the annual "Spring Fling" this weekend under sunny skies and comfortable temperatures that made turbochargers happy.  Around 60 cars and 80 people made it out to the event which featured a car show, scenic cruise route, cookout, and prize giveaway for the 4-hour event.  Subaru owners gathered at the Florence Mill and lined the lot with cars.  The usual run of WRXs and WRX STIs saw some unique beauties sprinkled in.

Owners from all around met up for the car show before lining up for the cruise.  Mid-May proved to be a perfect time for lush trees and flowers lining most of the 70-mile Scenic Route led by organizers of the event.  These twisty turny roads in Florence, Fort Calhoun, and Blair are a favorite among local enthusiasts.  There were lots of compliments on the route afterwards... and for good reason!

The route finished at NP Dodge Park where Subies lined the parking lot again and gathered for freshly grilled food at the cookout.  Owners mingled, played games, and ate food together before lining up for giveaway prizes at the end of the event.

Great turnout, cool cars, and a fun event overall left everyone with smiles.  This is the largest event the NSOC has had for a Spring Fling event so the bar has been set high for future events!!  The next big event in the area is the Boxers @ Baxter event in July, so there's a lot of good momentum going into that event this summer with the great feedback from the Spring Fling.

NRSCCA Rallycross Points #4

While the regular site for the Nebraska Region SCCA Rallycross program is getting some much-needed attention, our program continues to march further into the 2016 calendar!  We'll continue to use I-80 Speedway this week, as the RPM site is too wet from recent rains.  Below are all the details you'll need to know to race or spectate at this event!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Which WRX should I buy?

"Should I get the WRX or the WRX STI?"  Since I work at a dealership, I get asked this question on a weekly basis.  There's a myriad of other questions I usually ask to help determine what the potential owner is looking for, so I thought I'd help nail down some facts and clear up misunderstandings that most people have about these two cars.  In this article, I'll be using information based off of new WRX models (generally 2015-2017).  Lets dig in and take a closer look at these two turbocharged sedans!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Battle of Teammates

"There's nothing better than battling your teammate." - David Higgins

I remember hearing him say that at one of the rallies when Travis Pastrana made his return to Subaru Rally Team USA in 2014... and it couldn't be more true.  Need proof?  Just look at the results from the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and Oregon Trail Rally from the 2016 Rally America series!  Both rallies have been hard-fought nail-biters with two identical Vermont Sportscar prepared WRX STIs going head to head all the way to the end.  David Higgins and Craig Drew made quick work of their Perfect Season last year and have been a force to be reckoned with since this dynamic duo started driving for SRT USA in 2011.  Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom also have an impressive history with SRT USA but have been out of the fight until recently.  The recent battles between them have been close, and are getting even closer in recent events.  It's Subaru vs Subaru, teammate vs teammate, and it couldn't be any better! 

Last year, Vermont Sportscar proved how epic of a stage monster they have built with their new VT15r when Higgins and Drew drove their WRX STI to a perfect season (the first since 1987).  While performing a busy schedule with his Nitro Circus series, Travis Pastrana also competed in select events during the 2015 season, but in the previous generation car.  He showed great potential, especially considering how little seat time the X Games Legend had accrued through the year.  Still, the few races he participated in showed impressive speed and ability with Chrissie Beavis as his Co-Driver.

Subaru Rally Team USA has one hellofuh situation fitting both of these drivers with matching weapons this year, but it's also good to note that Travis' co-driver from his victories in the early 2000s has come back to the team.  Christian Edstrom had left rallying after his 2010 season with Travis, but adding that familiar face in the shotgun seat of the #199 car shows that this duo is as sharp as ever.  It's as if the two just picked up where they left off!

In the #75 car, David Higgins and Craig Drew have established themselves as a dominant force in US Rallying, winning a seemingly endless stream of championships.  Since 2011, when they started driving for SRT USA to replace the seat left by Pastrana and Edstrom, they've won every Rally America National Championship.  Even when Ken Block and Antoine L'Estage were fighting for the top, Higgins and Drew proved their consistency and strategy to reign in the championship year after year. 

This brings me back to that quote at the beginning.  It's always good to have competition to make you better and get you to sharpen what you already thought was a sure thing.  I've learned through my own competition with Rallycross in my Impreza that I'm always challenged to improve when I share the wheel.  If I win, I know I've managed to apply what I've learned and feel a great sense of accomplishment.  If I lose, I know that there's room to improve and the desire to keep racing is strengthened.  Whether I win or my other driver wins, it's that competition that raises us both to the next level throughout the race.  And, while I'm sure Higgins and Pastrana are on a COMPLETELY different level of racing than I am, I know they're both growing and learning and improving because of each other.

Naturally, combining the rocketships that Vermont Sportscar has built with these competitors who have been so successful before makes for an exciting battle.  Mere tenths of seconds have separated their times on the stages, but either way, it's the best kind of battle.  Higgins and Pastrana are good teammates and friends.  They can only grow and improve more in this competitive environment.    Both #75 and #199 are pushing their limits to inch out the top spots, and it only looks to get MORE fun as the 2016 Season continues. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

RS meets Prodrive

When my car isn't working the way it should, I buy parts to fix and improve it.  When my car IS working the way it should, I buy parts to dress it up!  Recently, my RS Project Car was absolutely brilliant at the NRSCCA Rallycross Points #3 event, landing 1st in Class and 3rd overall times at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, NE.  To celebrate how epic this car has been, I decided to go find something... fun!

I managed to track down a rear spoiler from a Subaru Impreza RB5 Prodrive!  I've always loved the look of the factory wings on the WRX STIs in Japan and the UK, but the RB5 wing is a little different.  Plus, there's that cool inset "PRODRIVE" logo stamped on each side that help distinguish it from other Version 5 and 6 WRX STI wings.  As an added bonus, mine had already been repainted in Silverthorn Metallic (the color on my RS Coupe).  The bolts all lined up perfectly with the original mounting points for my old RS wing after I removed it.  The wiring for the 3rd brake light hooked up flawlessly so I went out and took it for a spin.

For those who don't know, the "RB5" was released to celebrate the return of British driver Richard Burns to the Subaru World Rally Team competing in the FIA World Rally Championship.  The Prodrive versions of these limited-edition cars featured a distinctive rear spoiler.  Originally, the wings were dark gray (as all the RB5 units were) but the previous owner of this wing had it painted to match his silver WRX that it was on.  I'm not sure how many times this wing changed hands, but it's in very good shape and compliments the car nicely.  Fitting for a UK part, it was misting when I put the wing on... so I went out and got sideways on some "B Roads" for some fun.  The wing was nice and solid and didn't leak anything from all the wet gravel and dirt I was throwing around for a nice haul through the back roads.  I'm really happy with how it looks now and can't wait to hit the rallycross course again with it!