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All #FSBletters translated as of August 14th, 2022 - Chronological Order - Look Inside

Before reading these #FSBletters from the #WindofChange, please watch/listen to the following audio for the origin & context of these le...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Departing for Mid-Ohio

So, here we are, just a few days away from leaving for the 4th race of the series, held at Mid-Ohio. Something tells me that God, or maybe it's just the Weather Channel, is not on our side.

Now look at this and consider that our race is scheduled on Saturday, May 20th, and we are the only all-wheel-drive car entered into the race. My current emotional state is mixture of wanting to cry while at the same time wanting to laugh.

I have talked to a-many people about this and all have promised to privately conduct a rain dance for our cause. If you can, please join us in doing the same.

O Poseidon hear our cry
The Godzilla loves to swim
And your mood seems rather fine
But your scheduled rest on fateful day
Is most inopportune for our plan
So may we suggest
You kindly rest another day
And thunder with all your rage
Just this one time
For all to see your might and glory
And let Godzilla do its thing

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Willow Springs Onboard Camera Footage

We did a quick edit of the in-car footage we got from the Willow Springs test day with Buddy Club. It's a single flying lap, with a time of 1:28.

Launch in external player

Buddy Club Media Day at Willow Springs

On May 2nd, we went out to Willow Springs Raceway for Buddy Club's 2nd Annual Media Day - an opportunity for the company to showcase its new ATCC (Asian Touring Car Championship) Honda RSX race car piloted by Jun San Chen - the head of Buddy Club and also a long-time veteran and multiple Championship-winning ATCC driver.

Buddy Club is not as widely known in the United States just yet, but it has an incredible industry-leading presence in Asia - especially Taiwan and Japan. They primarily make aftermarket parts for Honda and Acura vehicles, but also step out of that realm every so often. This is a true motorsports driven company, with an array of race cars from small Honda cars such as the Integra Type R and the RSX to 4-door sedans such as the Toyota Chaser... and what a looker that one is.

They product line has a wide range including: body kits, wheels, exhausts, suspension parts, wings, seats, miscellaneous racing accessories, and some electronic gizmos.

We recently dynoed Buddy Club's Racing Spec Condenser - an electrical grounding system with a battery current and voltage stabilization control unit. I have to maintain anonymity of the race car, but it showed a 3% increase in torque throughout the rev-range that is used on the track (3500 RPM and on). The driver of the race car was taken by complete surprise that such an electronic gadget could do this, as we ran multiple dyno runs with the same, consistent results. We disconnected the condenser, and it was back to previous torque curve, reconnect it, and it jumps back around 3%. The driver was a bit more than excited as he thought he had done most of the tricks for horsepower including expensive processes such as polishing the gears to aid reduce loss of power due to friction.

I had previous experience with a good grounding system during the days of tracking the Nissan 350Z and recall the positive results I saw on the dyno just with the ground wires, but this technology is taking that one step further, by increasing and stabilizing the voltage to eliminate any inconsistencies in the supplied voltage as is usual even with brand new cars' electronic systems.

Something that we also use on our race car are the Buddy Club aluminum lug nuts - they're so light, that when I was first handed a pile of them, as an expectation, I tensed my hand to recieve the weight, and once they were put in my hand, my hand jerked up and almost spilled them. Lightweight is the best thing we look for in motorsports. With less weight, the car can accelerate, brake, and corner better as well as consume less fuel, put many of its components under less stress, and allow the tires to last longer. Lightweight is the true golden bullet in racing. Of course, it always has to be balanced with reliability - oftentimes, the weight gets taken out of the wrong places of the race car that cause much larger problems. But with lighter lug nuts, you can't go wrong, it's a no brainer for us. In all, we probably saved over 2 pounds when you consider all 4 corners of the car - and that's unsprung weight. That almost makes up for the weight we've gained by going to a wider wheel to accomodate the 305/35/18 Toyo tire.

Anyway... back to the test day at Willow Springs. We had a nice chunk of track time to help us sort the car out for the upcoming World Challenge race at Mid-Ohio (May 20th - be there!). Mike Kojima, an engineer at NISMO USA, was kind enough to help us in the suspension setup. With a few clicks on the shocks, a few pounds on the tires, and a minor adjustment to the swaybar per his recommendation, the car felt like a completely different animal - and a great one at that. The behavior went from huge plowing characteristic with an enormous understeer to an almost-neutral balance at all segements of the corner - turn-in, mid, and exit. Thank you Mike!!

Unfortunately, Mike Kojima was involved in a race incident this past weekend at Willow Springs, which has landed him in a hospital with a few broken bones in his back. He is going to make a full recovery, and appears to be doing a lot of sleeping on morphine. The young stallion that he is, I am sure he will be better than before when he comes out.

We finished the day off with a photoshoot of the race cars, including our very own Skyline GT-R, and I was greatful for Jun San Chen to consider me among the ranks of the championship-winning ranks of Buddy Club factory drivers to attend the event on behalf of Buddy Club.

So, check it out: Buddy Club - US Website

Looking at the weather forecast for Lexington, Ohio, where the Mid-Ohio track is located, it appears that there is nothing but rain for the next 10 days. We are racing on the 11th day from now, so if you can, please, get up and do a quick rain dance for us, to ensure that we can show 'em what a GT-R can really do in the rain.

We're leaving this coming weekend, and we can't help but feel good about the promise of rain, and the condition of the race car.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Long Beach Grand Prix

We left St. Petersburg on Sunday to arrive in Los Angeles 46 hours later. Thursday was already load-in day at the convention center.

The format for this venue was rather.. unique - the entire World Challenge GT paddock was inside the convention hall nearby the loading dock and only 6 race rigs were allowed to be parked at the loading dock outside. Luckily, ours was one of them.

During the first practice, I experienced what felt like a slipping clutch, which was odd as our Tilton carbon clutch was brand new since the St. Petersburg race. The crew looked over the clutch and cleaned any debris and fluids out of the housing, but the 2nd practice the following day proved to show the same problem. It was a broken left rear axle. With that fixed and continual setup adjustments, we prepared for the qualifying session on Sunday morning.

On the first hot lap, I am going around 140 mph into the braking zone for turn 2. I press the brake pedal down, and all of the sudden I feel an incredible lockup, with white smoke from burning tires everywhere. The ABS failed. As ABS is part of the GT-R's 4wd system, I had never driven the car without it, and not having it here was a complete surprise. That one braking zone toasted the tires to show metal around the flat spots. I barely made any laps in qualifying and with the problem worsening, was forced to brake earlier and softer.

We qualifying 24th. The race was the last of the day, after Champ Car, and to our surprise, an incredible amount of spectators were still all around the grand stands, ready to watch World Challenge. Apparently, hardly anyone left after the Champ Car race at 3 pm as the public awaited our race to begin at 4 pm.

With our past track record with World Challenge of not finishing either of the first 2 races, my objective was clear - finish the race and nurse any possible technical difficulties we may have.

During the warm-up lap, I hear Sean over the radio - "Take it easy on the standing start." And so with 5 seconds to go before green, I revved a bit less than at St. Petersburg and slipped the clutch a bit more. The all-wheel-drive launch gave me 7 positions at St. Pete. Here, I gained 4 positions going into the first turn. Nissan Skyline GT-R - The beauty of all-wheel-drive.

During the first part of the first lap before the back straight, I gained a few more positions in the traffic, but once the back straightaway came, I knew what awaited me, just like every straightaway at Sebring and St. Pete - the other cars blew by us.

As the race progressed, we again had not a single full course yellow... a true surprise for World Challenge. I was slowly but surely picking up pace through the race, as this was my first real opportunity to get to know the track and push the car.

When the leaders came around to lap me, their gain at the straightaways was absurd - the power those cars put down. We are the heaviest and down by 150 wheel horse power compared to the competition.

I finished the race in 17th place, ahead of the factory sponsored WRX STi, which is most comparable in trim to our car.

Tamura-san, aka Mr. GT-R, aka product planner of the R34 Skyline GT-R at Nissan, attended the event between meetings at Nissan in Gardena, and was present for the entire race. I am sure he flew home with a smile on his face - having seen the GT-R made of his own work and sweat compete in a race series in the United States.