Thursday, October 31, 2013


I ran Dunlop Z1 Star Specs all of 2010 but Dan ran Hankook RS-3s. He really liked them for their lateral grip and slight give so I decided to give them a try as well. I also needed proper 17x9" wheels. The 949 Racing 6ULR wheels that I wanted weren't ready to be produced yet so I just got a set of TSW Nurburgrings with the RS-3s mounted.

Hankook RS-3 255/40/17

TSW Nurburgring 17x9 +63 offset
Dan said he liked the grip of the RS-3s best when they were relatively new so I put them away in the garage and we planned to start scuffing them in 2 events before the ProSolo so they'd be at optimal.

Hankook RS-3 255/40/17
Hmm...flames on the tread pattern...must mean they're fast right!?

Racing Seats

It was time to add proper racing seats. I really wanted Recaro Pole Positions because I heard they fit the S2000 really well but they were at least 6 months backordered everywhere. I ended up ordering Sparco Pro 2000 seats because I had them in the RSX and they fit me well but I knew it would be a tight squeeze in the S. The seats finally arrived but they screwed up my order and I got Sparco Pro 2000 Plus seats instead. In some ways this was good because it actually fit my fat ass better but not so good was trying to fit it in the car. I could've sent them back but I was starting to get pressed for time so I had to make them work. I don't know how I managed to get them in but I did. Even with the Buddy Club sliders, I could barely adjust them.

Sparco Pro 2000 Plus seats arrived
Buddy Club Super Low Down rails
The other problem with having the extra wide seats was that I couldn't get to the seat belt buckle. I found these seat belt extensions that at least go the buckle past the bolsters. It worked ok for me but it really sucked for Dan since he's a skinny guy and the seat belt didn't even touch his body when he's in the car. I did a pretty bad job installing these seats and the wings touched the door panel so they left an indentation where it hit but it was too late to fuss around, the season was starting soon and I needed to have the car ready.

Generic seat belt extension
Both seats installed - 3/5/2011

Shift Beeper

I always liked the idea of an audible shift warning so I could focus on looking ahead and not trying to spot a light. Modifry makes a shift beeper ( that works perfectly for this. While pretty much not needed for autocross it was a nice to have item that I could put in for now. Works great, set your shift point, set the increments you want to be warned by before you get to it and off you go.

Modifry Shift Beeper Control Unit

After installing it, I went to Ocean Parkway to see if it would be loud enough and sure enough it was pretty ear piercing. I was playing music just to see if the video just to see if the beeps could even be heard over it. You can even see how rough driving around on 1000lbs springs can get.

Modifry Shift Beeper Test

Incidentally, I also cracked the OEM lip a few months before going into an unfamiliar driveway. It was driving me nuts so I replaced that too with a new one.

New OEM lip - 3/1/2011

STR doesn't give you wings!

One major change in the Street Touring rules between 2010 and 2011 was the ban on non-OEM aero. At the time I was against this change but realistically I understood why it was done and in general it was probably a good thing...but I personally wanted it. It made the car look more aggressive but more importantly for me I really didn't want to do a track day with a twitchy S2000 without rear aero. This sealed the deal for me to leave STR as soon as we were done with the Devens National Tour that year. I probably would've left the sport altogether at that point were it not for the scheduled ProSolo in NJ in May and my general excitement to finally attend a "big event".

Wrapping the wing for protection before removal
Reluctantly I wrapped the wing and took it off. I used these color matching S2000 keyhole covers made by to cover up the holes since the wing was going back on later anyway.

Wing off  - 2/23/2011
Keyhole covers used to plug the holes - 2/23/2011
Wingless - 2/23/2011
I have to admit, having a wing was a love/hate thing. I loved the aggressive look but it also attracted a lot of unwanted attention. It was nice being able to drive around again and be under the radar...well at least as "under the radar" as you can get with a bright yellow sports car.

First Alignment for the 2011 Season

New suspension setup means new alignment time. I ran all of 2010 on a backwards alignment and it was time to fix it. The J's racing S1 camber joints allows a lowered S2000 to get up to 4 degrees up negative camber up front so it was surprising when the alignment guy came back and said he could only get -1.2 from the driver side. We looked at the joint for a bit and realized that I must've installed it backwards so we reversed it and were finally able to get the alignment I wanted.

Alignment at Camber Toe in Lynbrook
Alignments are guaranteed to have to be redone again during the racing season so as a starting point I went with Dan's previous alignment but with a bit more rear camber to keep the rear more settled. At this time I still preferred a tighter car. The final alignment specs were:

-3.1 camber
0 toe
6 caster

-2.7 camber
1/8" total toe in

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Suspension Makeover

Part of my deal with Dan was that he'd help me install all the suspension pieces on my car so a couple of week later (2/19/2011) we went over to Joey's house to install it. This was a bit painful since I wanted the rear external shock canisters inside the trunk so we had to drill holes in the otherwise mint body.

Before the carnage
After the carnage
Dan checking me out through the hole
This was supposed to be the hardest part, the Motons just slipped right in but taking the camber joint off Dan's car proved to be a total PITA and we wasted an hour or two trying to take it out but we eventually succeeded thanks to the good 'ol BFH!

Dan working on the car. So much!
Rear shock in. Rear stock sway bar out. 
Front shocks, Gendron bar with ball bearing mounts and
J's racing S1 camber joint in
Front canisters
Proof that I didn't always just pay someone to work on Bumblestook
We used some plastic grommet stuff to seal the hole once we got the rear canisters in and used some rubber coating to prevent rust.

A few layers is fine
Rear canisters zip tied in place
It was pretty late when we finished and of course to make things more awesome it started snowing and I was still on the Z1 star specs. Oh well, took it easy  and got home safe. It really surprised me how incredibly well the Motons controlled the 1000lb springs. It didn't feel nearly as rough as you'd expect it to be. The most important part of the STR suspension makeover was done. Money shocks are awesome!


In the December of 2010, Dan posted this video of him de-Moton-ifying his car for the winter. He had bought his Motons from StinkyTofu on S2ki and had spent the year getting his car set up around that.

Dan de-Moton-izing for the winter in 2010
at his friend Joey's house

This was my chance to fast track my STR build. I offered to buy his entire suspension setup which included Moton double adjustable shocks, 1000lb Swift and Hyperco springs all around, J's racing front offset camber joints and the Gendron front sway bar in exchange for a 98 Dodge Neon R/T (which really only covered the front sway bar...yeah isn't that sad LoL), cash and an offer to codrive with me until after the Devens National Tour.

Moton club sport with 1000lb springs all around
Gendron front sway bar
It was a win/win for both of us. He was leaving the sport (well at least not owning his own prepped car anymore). I needed a set up that was ready to go and by having him as my codriver, he could help get my car set up faster, I could learn from him and be a solid benchmark for me to improve against.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2010 Racing Season Ends

My last event for 2010 was with the NNJR Porsche Club. It was a sunny day but incredibly cold. It wasn't going to stop me from racing. Mark hopped back in as my codriver for this event for a final attempt to try and beat me but I was able to take him by 0.2 seconds.

NNJR PCA - 10/30/2010
Meadowlands, NJ

Overall, 2010 was a bit of a life changing season. Bumblestook really taught me a lot...far more than I had ever expected...and it made me appreciate the sport so much more. I was eager to get back to doing track days but after so many autocrosses and the promise of attending my first "big event" in 2011 in my home region, the track day plans would go on hold. The excitement of running STR sunk in and I was determined to transform her into a fully competitive STR car and compete in the NJ ProSolo and the Delaware National Tour in 2011. The off season build would begin...but where to start? I wanted to still say focused on improving my driving and not get caught up too much in car setup. Was there a way I could fast track the build?

Sensei Dan and Perry's Lunch

After a season of watching Dan kick ass in his S2000, it was time to put him in my car to not only get feedback and instruction but to also do a benchmark in the same vehicle. This was the last event for NNJR SCCA in 2010 and also the last time the club would run at Englishtown. It was also the point where Dan and I started toying with the idea of codriving in 2011 as it was announced that the NNJR SCCA would be hosting a ProSolo at the Meadowlands the following year.

NNJR SCCA - 10/16/2010
Photo by: Miatamight

Working timing and scoring...haha ;-)
Photo by: Bruce Bellom

NNJR SCCA - 10/16/2010
Englishtown Road Course, NJ

Dan's feedback was that I needed much more front camber and much stiffer front bar to make the car transition faster and get more front grip. Bumblestook was more difficult to drive than his car. He also insisted that I work on getting smoother with my steering inputs as I was shocking the tires a lot. I managed to be 1.5 seconds off his time in the same car which would now be my official 2010 benchmark from him.

Of course people couldn't resist doing more funny things in front of the GoPro. This time it was Perry showing me his lunch.

Perry on the "goof cam"

More seat time

As the season started to wind down, it was all about getting as much seat time as possible before winter. First was a trip back to Warminster for more slalom and offset training. I sucked at this event too and I guess I didn't realize at the time that I competed against Jon Caserta for the first time here and beat him. He'd keep destroying me though in subsequent years when we would go head to head in STR cars.

Philly SCCA - 9/26/2010

Philly SCCA - 9/26/2010

I don't know how I lasted this long running those ghetto looking class numbers and letters...not very steguis-like. It finally got to me so I ordered proper snazzy magnetics for my next event which was with the NNJR SCCA at the Englishtown road course. Fun venue but with little to no runoff, it did make you pucker up a few times if you got loose.

NNJR SCCA - 10/2/2010
Photo by: Perry Aidelbaum /

NNJR SCCA - 10/2/2010

Next up I decided to go to the PCA event and codrive with Mark again to let him take a crack at beating me...he didn't! The GoPro attracts some pretty strange behavior. If you do silly things in front of my camera, you will end up on YouTube...hehe.

Mark being a goof

NNJR Porsche Cub - 10/2/2010

Pro Class Index

By this point I was getting comfortable wins in STR locally with NNJR SCCA but mostly due to lack of competition and could've taken the season championship if I just stayed in the class but with Dan Cheung constantly killing my times in Pro class index, I decided to run in Pro class as well. Dan would be my benchmark for improvement since he's very consistent and I was at least good 2 seconds behind at every prior event. The new goal would be to keep closing this gap which I knew wouldn't be easy as he had both better prep on his car but more importantly was a much better driver.

Makeshift rear Koni adjuster
Up until this point I was also just focused on my driving and wasn't making any changes to the car other than a few adjustments early in the season. Now I needed to start fiddling with the shocks but the way the Konis are mounted in rear of the S2000, the left rear adjuster was actually directly under the fuel filler neck and was hard to get to so I had to create a makeshift adapter to get in there using a sawed off adjuster knob jammed into a ratcheting wrench. I could finally now make the car a bit more loose (though I still had my wonky alignment specs)

Another event with the NNJR SCCA and my first time switching to Pro indexed class. Ended second to last out of 26 drivers but the position didn't matter here. I was going toe to toe with Dan and was now within 1.5 seconds of his times. The gap was shrinking so that must mean improvement right?

NNJR SCCA - 9/18/2010

Climbing the PAX ladder

Another event with the NNJR SCCA but this time my goal was clear...start moving up the PAX ladder since that was the only way I could see how I measured up against the fast drivers. I took yet another win in STR at this event but what really got me excited was breaking the top 20 in PAX for the first time at NNJR (out of 122 drivers).

NNJR SCCA - 9/11/2010
19th out of 122 in PAX
NNJR SCCA - 9/11/2010
Driving at the limit....then going too far...spin baby spin
Photo by: Rad Tatis
It was this event that would eventually plant the idea of trying to put a truly competitive car together at some point in the future. I still had a long way to go but the progress in just the past 4 months was very encouraging. I was really taking the sport seriously for the first time since I had started many years before.

NNJR SCCA - 9/11/2010
STR Class Win

Monday, October 28, 2013

Applying the Evo School Training

The day after Evo Phase 2, I headed off to Warminster for another Philly SCCA event. Surprise surprise...coned every single run and spun a few times but my driving was getting more aggressive and I was pushing the car harder. The confidence was definitely building up but I was still struggling to tie everything I had learned together.

Philly SCCA Autocross - 8/29/2010
Photo by: Perry Aidelbaum -

Philly SCCA Autocross - 8/29/2010
Warminster, PA

Determined to keep my momentum going, the following weekend was another back to back autocross. First was with the NNJR SCCA where I took the win in STR but by this time I had already started to change my attitude about the sport. Our local STR competition that year was fairly weak and Dan Cheung was running Pro Class index and was smoking my times in his STR AP1 so this win felt empty. On the bright side though, Evo School was paying off. You can see much more movement in my head in my videos as I started focusing on looking ahead.

NNJR SCCA - STR Class Win - 9/4/2010
Meadowlands, NJ

The day after, it was off to Nassau Coliseum to run with the NY BMWCCA for even more seat time where Joe "The Mouth" was more than happy to beat me in his little miata.

NY BMWCCA - 9/5/2010
Nassau Coliseum, NY

Evolution Performance Driving School Phase 2

2010 was all about trying to get as much seat time as possible to improve in the shortest amount of time so when the Evolution Performance Driving School ( offered a Phase 2 school at the Meadowlands, I was quick to sign up. I was lucky enough to have Mike "Junior" Johnson and John Winchester as my instructors and they really helped me learn a lot that day. Phase 2 is the natural progression from Phase 1 is all about cutting the course into manageable sections, coming up with a game plan, car placement and of course more looking ahead. The really tight sections of a Phase 2 course are super annoying especially in a zero torque car like an AP1 but it's a really good way to learn about patience and the effect of too much speed on understeer.

Evolution Performance Driving School Phase 2 - 8/28/2010
Photo by: Perry Aidelbaum  -

Evolution Performance Driving School Phase 2 - 8/28/2010
Photo by: Perry Aidelbaum  -

Evo schools are really the most cost effective way to get better faster quickly and I hope to take Phase 2 again in the future as a refresher. Seat time is very valuable and if you can get critical feedback from better drivers at the same time and apply those effectively into your driving then it's a sure fire way to cut down on driver development time. Oh, and I added a Modifry camera mount (  so I could get some internal view shots.

Evolution Driving School Phase 2 - 8/28/2010
Meadownlands, NJ

Sunday, October 27, 2013

First Rain Event

Two weeks after the Meadowlands event with NNJR SCCA, the NNJR Porsche Club became the first club to actually run at the Meadowlands Lot E. We were all excited to try the new grip but were instead faced with torrential downpour and very slick conditions. It did end up drying a bit in the afternoon but there was plenty of standing water earlier in the day. I had autocrossed in the rain many times before but this was my first time doing this with a rear wheel drive car and it took a lot of smooth inputs to keep her pointed in the right direction. I was very happy with how well the Dunlop Z1 Star Specs performed in these conditions. They were definitely quite manageable even with about an inch of water covering the surface.

Torrential downpour
NNJR Porsche Club of America - 8/22/2010
Eventually it stopped raining and things got better
NNJR Porsche Club of America - 8/22/2010
It really sucked getting this wet but the lessons learned in car control during these conditions would prove to be immensely useful later on. Braking earlier and smoother, applying just the right amount of throttle with no help of traction control, having a lighter touch on the wheel for quicker responses and feeling the car as it was about to hydroplane were all crucial skills to have even outside of racing. I had Mark codrive with me to give me some pointers which were very helpful and I ended up going faster than him. I think that's the way it's supposed to go...eventually students have to becomes faster than their instructors or we all just get slower with every generation :-D

NNJR PCA - 8/22/2010
Meadowlands, NJ

The Rise of The Meadowlands

In early 2010, it was announced that Perry (NNJR SCCA/ had secured access to the new lot being constructed at the Meadowlands. It was going to be over 1 million square feet of pure awesome asphalt designated as Lot E for the stadium. This was the most incredible news for us because for many years NNJR SCCA only had access to the rather small lots at Englishtown (or the tight road course there). Finally, we would have a proper nationals-sized lot with high grip easily accessible from the tristate area. August 14, 2010 was supposed to be our first event on what would eventually become home turf for us. Unfortunately, some last minute construction woes prevented us from running at the big lot that day but they did give us access to the smaller adjacent lot which was paved with the same material. The surface was terrific as we expected and we got a taste of what was to come. This was my first event after Evo Phase 1 and as what happens to everyone that takes this school, I found myself coning almost every run as I worked to get closer to the cones. This isn't a bad thing. After all, if you aren't hitting cones, you probably aren't trying hard enough. I think I got one clean run in with the video below.

NNJR SCCA - 8/14/2010
First event @ Meadowlands, NJ

Coincidentally this guy (Palsomedia) was there making a video of this event with a proper camera and audio equipment which was pretty sweet even though Bumblestook didn't make the cut.

NNJR SCCA - 8/14/2010
by Palsomedia on  YouTube

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Evolution Performance Driving School Phase 1

Evolution Performance Driving School ( is probably the best investment you can make at improving your driving more than any mod to your car. I took Phase 1 several years before in the RSX and decided to take it again in Bumblestook as a great way to get lots of seat time and let it sink in again. Took another trip down to Warminster, PA as the SCCA Philly Region was hosting the event.

The course is pretty much the same for every Phase 1. Insanely long slalom going up, a 180 around a tight skid pad, 90 degree turn into a chicago box then a final sweeper into the finish. Great way to practice looking ahead, slalom timing, being patient, understanding the grip of your car, car placement and not getting psyched out by seeing tons of cones at a corner. I dropped 2 seconds off my baseline run by the end of the day but more importantly it was a good refresher for "looking ahead" which is such a fundamental skill for the sport it's really funny that it's one of the things I actually have to remind myself to do even to this day. Regardless of what car you drive and how you mod it, seat time, seat time and more seat time...only way to improve.

Evolution Driving School Phase I - 8/8/2010
Warminster, PA

Little Details

After coming back from Philly, I did a little more work on the car. Minor cosmetic things so nothing really special here. Got hood dampers because I hate hood props. Hood dampers should come standard on all cars as far as I'm concerned.

Password:JDM hood dampers
Didn't like the flat black AP1 radio door cover. Prefered the silver AP2 version that had "S2000" written on it so that was swapped in.

AP2 radio door cover
I also have a thing about big round shift knobs with some heft to it. Installed the Moddiction shift knob with red lettering. Who doesn't like to feel a big round ball in the heat of racing ;-) It's a very well made piece but in all honesty it got a bit annoying as it would sometimes spin off center if I was shifting hard and the lower position actually made shifting a bit more difficult so this would eventually go off the car. For now it was a nice decorative piece.

Moddiction Shift Knob
In the engine bay I added the AUT carbon fiber cooling plate. I liked the bling and it's actually functional IF you remove the plastic cover that's normally underneath it but I didn't to stay STR legal so this was all show and only a potential for go. 

AUT Cooling Plate
...and lastly she got her first car wash at Ultra Sonic Car wash in in Bellerose. It's really the only "quick" car wash I'd go to since they have that conveyor belt that clears lowered cars and nothing mechanical touches the car...just people.

First car wash at Ultra Sonic Car Wash

Friday, October 18, 2013

STRRRRrrrrrrrrrr - Pirate Class Debut

The only real way to improve as a driver is by putting yourself up against much better drivers and work your way up. I used to remember how Philly/DC drivers would occasionally show up at NNJR SCCA events at Englishtown with a big can of whoop ass so my next order of business was to take Bumblestook to Philly to see how I stacked up. It was July 25, 2010 and I drove out to Warminster for the Philly SCCA event. It was the first event with her having at least some setup and also the first event running in STR trim. Total of 9 drivers in STR that day but I don't think anyone was fully prepped yet as STR was still slowly growing in the Northeast.

Philly SCCA - Warminster - 7/25/2010
1st place STR
Finally got over my music overlay phase :D

It was your typical Warminster course...slalom/offset up, turnaround, slalom offset back but somehow between the new wacky setup and having another 7 weeks of generally driving the car to get a better feel for it, I took a pretty convincing win in STR on my first run. This was pretty encouraging, only my third event in Bumblestook and I was getting more confident. She felt pretty good (in hindsight it was probably pushy which is why I liked it because it felt "safe") and I wasn't driving like a drunken kungfu master.

Philly SCCA 7/25/2010
Photo by: Christine Warren
Philly SCCA 7/25/2010
Oh how cute, I used painters tape to protect the paint.
I was still lightyears away from the speed I needed to be but I'd be lying if I didn't feel pretty happy with myself winning that day. I still had the "local hero" driver's mentality back then so this was a big deal to me. It was the much needed confidence booster I had to have to keep going. I was sucking less. Yay!

Hardtop and Aero

At this time I wanted to get some mods that I'd use at the track that were still within the rules of STR. In 2010, wings were still legal in Street Touring so I added an APR GTC-200 wing so I could keep the back planted during high speed corners at the track (when I eventually go). I got the standard S2000 mount for it,  added the gurney flap and started with a mild 5 degree angle of attack which I think was listed as 150lbs of downforce at 80mph on the APR spec sheet (don't quote me on this). Why 5 degrees and not any other angle? I don't know! I had to start somewhere so I figured 5 would be an ok starting point and I could tweak it from there. You've gotta love my tuning by guesswork by now, not exactly what you'd expect from someone with an engineering background but my approach to car tuning (which isn't my strong suit) is to do things the way of old scientists...learn by experimentation and observation. Not the fastest and cheapest way to get set up correctly but you learn a lot doing things the wrong way too. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don't learn from them.

APR GTC-200 Wing with Gurney Flap

5 degrees Angle of Attack
A lot of tracks and clubs on the east coast won't let you run a soft top at the track even in the rain since you could get impaled by one of the soft top cross bars in a rollover so I figured while hard tops were still relatively affordable on the used market, I'd try to nab one (it's insane how much these things are nowadays...highway robbery if you ask me). I scoured craigslist to find a black OEM one but couldn't find any. Eventually I found someone in PA selling a white one which came off an AP2 S2000 he had sold (he moved onto a BMW Z4...sucka!). He only had the hard top so I ordered the hardtop catchers from Hard Top Guy and installed that myself. I scored a sweet OEM hardtop stand too with this deal which I sold right away. 

Hardtop Catchers

Hardtop Catchers (trim installed)
I was finally ready to go and pick up the hard top. Dan "the man" Cheung helped me out. We drove there to pick it up and drove home with the white hardtop latched onto the car. Looks super silly and we got some looks but it's all good. I asked around if anyone wanted to trade me for a black hardtop since this one was super mint but there were no takers so reluctantly I decided to get it painted.

GPW OEM hardtop on Bumblestook
Took it to the body shop and a few days later, she was ready for a new photoshoot. Added an OEM front lip too to help protect the bumper and improve the lines of the car. Bumblestook went from a relatively fruity yellow stock AP1 to an aggressive, sexy looking race car in less than a month. 

Initial transformation complete!
A lot of people wonder why you'd get a hardtop for a convertible but here's the deal. While I like being able to take the top off once in a while I found out that driving around with the top down really wasn't for me. I'm very allergic to pollen and I generally burn easily from the sun and I hate the heat. I love the look of the S with a hardtop, it gives greater rear visibility (at least with the OEM hardtop) over having the soft top up, it reduces road noise and well, it's kinda special. The best part is that you can still take the top off when you're racing to save the weight or working on the car for easier access so it's really the best of both worlds.

I also noticed that the air coming from the vents was kinda musty. I figured the previous owner probably never replaced the air cabin filter so I went and replaced it. Nassssttyyyyyyy!

New cabin filter [left] | nasty old one [right]
It would be another month before the next autocross but with Bumblestook looking the part, she was ready for her debut event in STR trim...