Starter Post

Well, here it is, my first blog post. Others have been after me to create a blog for 2 years (I work in medicine and also in e-Prescribing, and I assume e-Prescribing will be next), but it took OG Racing (www.ogracing.com) to convince me of the value of a blog. I’m a typical middle-aged guy who works 50-70 hours/week, and relaxes during the summer by working on my car and driving on the track, and during the winter by working on my car and skiing. I bought a 12-year-old 911 Carrera Targa 13 years ago, and first got out to the track about 2 years later. Doing only 6-9 track days/year, I spent years in the green and blue run groups, finally making white (uninstructed) just before my son turned 18. Once he began driving on the track too, it qualified as “family time” so my track days went up significantly. I did about 16 days his first year, and 20 days last year, moving into the black run group. Last weekend I became an instructor for PCA.

In the mid-Atlantic region there is a strong contingent of D-I-Y Porsche guys who I fell in with (the implied “bad boy” nature of that statement is intentional), and went from doing nothing myself (despite having done top end rebuilds on Audis and Fiats several decades ago) to doing most of the work myself. It started (as most do) with brake pads. When I moved to track pads, I would swap out street pads between events. Ha–now I just leave in the track pads. I did some minor electrical work, but the big change was doing my suspension. The bushings were worn, and I wanted a little more stiffness. 10 years ago the stock shocks wore out so I already had replaced them with Bilstein Sports, and I upped the torsion bars to 21 and 27 mm diameter. I used polycarbon bushings (rather than polybronze) on the advice of Matt de Maria (Stuttgart Performance Engineering), and with lathing them to fit, they have been great and never squeaked. I also put in monoballs both at the top of the front struts and on the trailing arms. When I went to have the car aligned, however, it was quirky and would not align correctly. I had learned shortly after purchasing (through a well-known-to-me P-car mechanic in the Philadelphia area) that despite a clean PPI (by him), it had left front end damage. Well, turns out that although cosmetically great, the frame was not completely straight and had been welded that way. So it spent much of the winter of 2007-2008 at EuroPros in Gaithersburg, MD, getting the frame straightened. The shop was great in that they worked with me to do the job affordably on a car with decreasing value. After that, it aligned very well and now has -2 degrees and -2.5 degrees camber (F/R). Since my son was driving and I was going faster, I installed a Safety Devices 6-point roll cage and Recaro SRD seats (both purchased used at significant discount), with G-Force 5-point harnesses. 
Every now and then, I make a decision I regret for a long time. In this case, it was the torsion bar stiffness. If I had to do it over again, I would have gone significantly stiffer, but at the time I did not have a roll cage and didn’t want to flex the car at the expense of the suspension geometry. 
On the other hand, sometimes I make a small decision that makes me smile. In my first multi-item purchase from OG Racing, I chose the BSCI Dual Durometer SFI-rated roll bar padding. Small decision, but I have the safety and low profile of the high-impact core when I have my helmet on, and the soft foam outer piece when I drive on the street without a helmet (I guess it’s kind of late in the blog to mention I still drive to the track, including 4.5 hrs to VIR, 5.5 hrs to Watkins Glen, and 6.5 hours to Mid-Ohio). That purchase also included Halon fire extinguisher and Brey Krause mounting bracket, I/O Gear camera mount (see http://www.vimeo.com/1341378), and a Longacre 14″ mirror kit. Of course, all that was a fraction of the price of the HANS I bought 2 weeks ago. I hope I never have to use it. As I’m cheap, I considered the DefNDer (OG has both on display) – it just didn’t fit me as well.
So last year was a great year on the track for my son and I, and this year I was invited to the instructor candidate class for PCA Potomac Region – and passed. I’ve got another 20 days scheduled this year and have a couple of significant decisions to make:
  • Do I want to race. I’m middle-aged and not getting younger, and I’m not particularly fast (some of that is the car… 😀 )?
  • Should I increase stiffness of my suspension?
  • Should I bag my Targa and get a coupe – and if I get a coupe, stay with SC/Carrera which I know and can work on, or go to 996 for more power, more advanced handling, but less raw “sports car” feel?
I don’t need to question that whatever I get, I need to put in an LSD over the winter. But first, a summer of driving!

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