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.