trackday @ SOW nov.7

it’s been a few months since i last brought the racecar out to a proper track for some spirited driving. since the beginning of the year, i’ve been stuck running redline time attack which took a lot of my time and money away from actually enjoying the sport. when i found that my teammate derek dicker [driver of the KINOD na8c] was competing at streets of willow for speedventures’ miata challenge, i saw it to be a great opportunity for us to finally have one track day together as a team.

we headed up on saturday evening to ensure we’d wake up refreshed for the long day ahead of us.

during my downtime, some minor setup changes took place. ride height was lowered approx 1 inch all around and the old toyo r1r’s were replaced with derek’s discarded 225/45/15 hankook rs-3 all the way around. rear swaybar was set to its softest setting to compensate for the extra front grip.

i switched back to the factory 00-01 celica gts ecu for the drive up to gather as much obd data as possible. since the event in las vegas, i haven’t been able to diagnose the problem behind the sluggish 6000-7500rpm. i did get a few codes out of the 80 mile drive, but none of it helped. for the event, the powerfc went back in.

right off the bat, the setup changes were incredible. i’m not sure if it’s the size or the rubber compound but they’re not sticky at all when cold. after the first lap of warming up, the tires were alive. because the car has been set up to have tons of aerodynamic downforce, i had always struggled with mechanical grip at sow but with the rs3’s it was all there. turn-in felt amazing everywhere. not a single ounce of front end grip had to be combated. it was a lot of fun and i got very comfortable very quickly.

the most notable moment of the day was at about 12:30pm. about 5 laps into the session i put down a 1:27.1 in this counter-clockwise configuration. i continued to lap the track once more. coming to the last corner onto the front straight, i pass a kraftwerks rotrex supercharged miata and hear the engine wind up past 10k rpm then heard a loud thud. frightened about what, i turned off the ignition and rolled past the skidpad and back onto the paddock. derek ran towards my car and yelled for me to get out and get the fire extinguisher. i knew this had to be bad. we got outside and opened the engine lid to find it smoking, but no flames. i was slightly relieved. a minute later, 949racing’s william chen found a hot piece of metal that fell out of my car. a hot piece of mangled up metal that looked as if it were the result of a nuclear explosion. it was a rod cap and part of the connecting rod. this 2zz-ge was finally done.

bought the car in 2006 with 68k miles and approx 30k miles on the engine. the car now has 123k miles. 90k miles of on and off hard beaten 8000 rpm miles. it was a sad day, but i can’t say i’m disappointed. the bone stock 2zz-ge off a salvaged 2003 matrix xrs had served its duty well and died honorably in line of action. r.i.p.

we’ll have an autopsy performed soon.

Thanks to KINOD, City Tire Online, J’s Graphics, Pho Broadway, V/T Engineering, BC Racing Suspension, Carbotech Brakes, LittleRocket, Erik @ JNZ Tuning, brian linga, all the don-t-hut guys, MR2OC, TrackHQ, everyone that i forgot the mention, and the extremely resourceful derek dicker aka dickerpedia.

photos by Jordan Yeh