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Four Seconds in a BMW M3 Race Car

This isn't what you think. It isn't about spending four seconds in a race car. That would be rather useless. Instead, it's about finding four seconds to take out of a lap time in a race car. More specifically, Rocket Racing's 1997 BMW M3 GT3 race car (link to the previous post here for more about the car!). I wasn't driving, of course. That would imply I lose four seconds in lap time around the track (ok, sorry John, that was a cheap shot). This is about John's acquaintance with his newly acquired 97 M3 GT3 race car. Don't worry though, although John (like I was just last year) is new to wheel to wheel racing, he is a true racer at heart. If you don't believe me, just read some of the world-class excuses he got:

"I had 7 months [off season]of rust to shake off."

"I hate driving with new shoes."

"it was cold and a bit damp"

"my tires still had the stickers on them"

Ladies and gents, that right there is proof John …

2014 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport Review

Post-refresh 2015 F30 3-series pictured. 
Which is better, an F30 3-series or an E46? The F30 has certainly taken its fair share of heat. But if you thought I was going to say the E46, you'd be dead wrong. The F30 3-series is better. Far better. It is quicker, faster, safer, more practical, more efficient, more refined, quieter.. the list goes on. A lot of reviews and people I talk to consider the F30 to be an abomination. Frankly, I don't see it. You'd have to be mad to think the E46 is better. Completely out to lunch. I don't know who in their right mind would prefer the E46..  Trouble is, since when were people buying sports cars in their right minds? Here, lies the real problem.

"Raw rather than refined in its noises, pounding ride, heavy clutch, 50 grand and cloth seats?"
".. and not at all shy about its performance compromises. It always acts like the automotive jock it is, every mile of every day."
"Raw and quite loud.. And sometimes ru…

Rocket Racing's 97 BMW M3 GT3 - The Prologue

If you've followed this blog, you'd know I started racing last year. I was fortunate enough to be involved with one of the best race team in the region - Vantage Motorsports (link: The Ram's Eye Goes Racing!). This year, my good friend John Drysdale, also fulfilled his dream of wheel to wheel to racing. That said, his start was much more dramatic than mine in the (excellent) IT-B '95 GTI race car. In his words:

"How does one become a race car driver? Maybe more importantly, what makes someone a good race car driver? Maybe I have the odds stacked against me in this game called racing. I started on track with true tarmac and rubber when I was 32.

To my benefit, I was imprinted, like a duckling, with cars from a very young age. My dads stacks of Road and Track, and Car and Driver, made an early impression. When I was seven years old I was drawing air cooled Porsche 911's (and in 2014, I got one). In the early 90's I was playing "Need for Speed" in …

2018 Ford Mustang Upgrades!

Ever since I bought my Mustang, I have been gradually growing loyal to the brand. I’m not sure why. I like a lot of different cars and never felt like picking a camp, but I guess when you buy a car, you start to have to defend its honour (and your decision) whenever someone takes a stab at it. For someone who is so into cars, I think only one of two things can happen: you are either convinced of what “foes” claim and start to regret your decision, or you find more conviction as you defend your decision and love the car even more. Count me among the latter and, needless to say, I was properly excited when I found out about the updates Ford is bringing to the 2018 Mustang.
For starters, the Mustang finally (probably.. hopefully) will get its horsepower mojo back. When Ford unleashed its 5.0 litre Coyotes to prey on the competition circa 2010, it was basically undisputed. The Camaro SS was usually slower in tests. You couldn’t say Challenger R/T in the same breath; you had to go up to t…

AMG GT R First Drive - A Closer Look

Motor Trend basically started the first drive review (2nd paragraph) by saying that the folks at AMG have a sense of humour for naming this car "the Beast from the Green Hell." Maybe I don't get German sense of humour, but the joke is completely lost on me. Of course, that's assuming there is a joke there to begin with.. You see, I highly doubt the response AMG hoped for is a chuckle. And if I'm right, I think they can rest easy, because beasts aren't funny, and those that come from hell are probably less so, whatever colour that hell may be. Now, fierce, brutal, menacing, loud.. those are the things you might expect a beast to be. And if that name alone doesn't conjure any of those beastly characteristics, play the video below and skip to 0:28.




What a NOISE! This will be one of those cars that, should it roll up next to you at a traffic light, you quiet everyone down and roll down the windows to hear it pull away. If you're tired of hearing about h…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 (Links: +Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1 & Part 2), I concluded that grip is where Chevys excel and decided to try and figure out how they do that by looking at test data from Car and Driver's Lightning Lap features. The first thing that stood out to me when the 5th generation Camaro 1LE came out was the wider tires compared to the Mustang Track Pack of the time and even the Boss 302. The tires on the ZL1 and Z/28 stood out as much.. only on those, they stood out compared to just about anything that isn't a supercar. So I decided to start looking there; tire sizes.

To evaluate tire sizes, I calculated a weight-to-tire-section ratio for each car. Similar to the idea of power to weight ratio, where the number tells you how much weight each hp is burdened with, this tells you how much weight each mm of tire section is burdened with, so to speak. For example, a BMW M235i weighs 3,490 lb, as tested during the LL feature. It has 225/…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 2

GM, in general, is starting to build a very strong reputation for chassis engineering but Chevrolets, in particular, have very strong performance on track these days, not just good handling feel and fun to drive attitude. In Part 1 (link: Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1), I looked at different aspects and concluded that Chevys appear to have the advantage in grip. If you are still unsure that grip is where those cars excel, perhaps this number will change your mind: 1.11. That's how much lateral forces, measured in g, the 2017 Camaro SS 1LE generated in Turn 1 of Virginia International Raceway (VIR) during Car and Driver's Lightening Lap 2016 feature. 1.11 g also happens to tie the 2014 Viper TA, the 2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and even the 2016 Ferrari 488GTB. It gets more interesting too..


CarMax Lat-g2015 Chevy Corvette Z061.202017 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport1.192009 Mosler MT900S1.162015 Chevy Camaro Z/281.162015 Porsche 9181.162015 Nissan GT-R…

2016 Focus RS vs 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R - Track Video

While testing a 2016 Focus RS for the comparison test (link: Ford Focus RS vs Subaru WRX STI vs Mitsubishi Evo X MR), I caught up to a 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R and had a friendly head-to-head battle. Both cars were completely stock. The video doesn't capture just how good that car sounds. We had a chat afterwords and the owner was very cool about it. His rear tires were starting to look old and he told me it felt a little less grippy than he was used to, so they could have been heat cycled out. Our track is also short and technical, so high hp cars don't get much room to stretch their legs, robbing them of some of the advantage they'd have at a power and/or longer track. The Focus had the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Check out the video below for a couple of laps.





Ford Focus RS vs Subaru WRX STI vs Mitsubishi Evo X MR

All these cars have one common Achilles' heel. The engines sit entirely ahead of the front axles; a great family recipe for understeer. Then tell the front tires - already taxed from trying to keep that front engine sitting outside the wheelbase from going straight - to put some power down and you can only make matters worse. There are ways to mitigate the understeer with suspension tuning, of course, but the toughest part is power-on understeer. I don't want to get much into tires, but the thing to remember is that because tires have a certain "grip budget" - how much total grip they can hold/generate before they let go - when you get on the power in a car that sends power to the front wheels (FWD or AWD), you will rob some of the precious grip you were relying on to turn the car in order to put all or some power down. You'll run out of front lateral grip sooner than you would have otherwise, as a result. Worse yet, because of the unideal engine pla…






Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




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Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads.…

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R Track Review

For better or for worse, I have heard and read so much about RE-71R's. Everyone swears by the grip but complains about the wear. Generally speaking, the pros are:

1. They grip as well or better than most R comps.
2. They don't wear as quickly as R comps if driven occasionally on the street.
3. They work better in the rain than R comps.

The cons were limited to overheating quickly when used on track (being an autocross tire) and wearing too fast on heavy cars like mine.

In the popular 200 TW category, they are faster than the popular Hankook RS-4's and BFGoodrich Rival S's according to published Tire Rack Tests. According to plenty of reviews, they are also faster than well established R comps like R888R's (which don't seem to work too well on heavy cars anyway) and the venerable NT01's. But I was still hesitant for a while until I talked to a tire tech support gentleman at Tire Rack who has gone faster on RE-71R's than NT01s. In a Mustang (his own, not…

GTR vs Evo X vs STI: which has the best AWD system?

A few weeks ago, I made a post explaining mainstream AWD system types and how they compare, pros and cons, etc. including some simple diagrams to show where the power goes and how much. As promised, this post will focus on specific cars and what AWD systems they use, especially ones that that have more or less been defined by their AWD systems, and the best place to start may be with a bombshell; the Nissan GT-R.


Nissan GT-R (R35)

The GT-R has built a reputation around having monster traction and very approachable performance, thanks to its AWD system - Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) - and what it can do for you. But the GT-R doesn't actually use the most mechanically sophisticated type of AWD systems discussed in the previous article, namely a "true" AWD with a centre differential. Instead, it uses a clutch pack to transfer power.


The R32, R33, and R34 Skyline GT-R's used a system that looked basically identical to the traditiona…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…