Living with a G8 GT

Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
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  • Fire Extinguisher

    Posted on August 10th, 2014 tcorzett No comments

    For years I’ve had a fire extinguisher bouncing around in my trunk, but I was finally able to get it mounted securely in the cabin of the G8.

    A few weeks ago a G8 owner from Reno made the drive to the Bay Area for a G8 get-together and we got to talking about the Mojave Mile. For the longest time they’ve had a requirement that cars needed to have fire extinguishers mounted (with a metal mount) within reach of the driver. I’d never been able to find a good solution, but turns out he had… by producing a bracket CNC machined from 6061 T6 aluminum!

    I asked if he’d make me one and today we met-up and installed it… the quality of the bracket is impressive! Installation (or removal) is simple and only requires loosening two nuts (no modifications to the seat are required). Definitely a better solution than a few zip-ties, and much more accessible than having to run to the trunk.

    Update: The fire extinguisher mounts are now available on eBay!

  • Track Day Prep: New Brake Rotors

    Posted on February 25th, 2014 tcorzett No comments

    People always wonder why I have dirty wheels… Maybe it’s because the G8 is my daily driver and I don’t detail my car every time I park? Or maybe it’s because I’m running a track capable brake pad that is very aggressive for the street?

    Well, I’m leaning towards the latter, since I need to replace my front brake rotors… because they are no longer slotted. What? Yeah… I’ve removed enough material from the rotors that the slots are no longer there!

    I’ve also used-up a set of front brake pads in the last year, so they needed to be replaced as well… I guess track days take their toll on these sorts of components! So in preparation for the coming year, and hopefully a few track days, I brought the G8 into Synergy Motorsports to get things replaced and for general service.

    As always they took good care of the G8 and got me back on the road quickly. They were even able to service the transmission, which required converting to a Camaro filter/pan.

  • Five Years… Still Running Strong!

    Posted on February 15th, 2014 tcorzett No comments

    Today marks the fifth year that I’ve owned my G8 and the odometer is approaching 63,300 miles. So much has happened in my life over that time, and while it all hasn’t revolved around the G8… the vast majority has. It is impossible to pick-out a favorite moment, but I know I’ll never be able to forget all of the friends I’ve made… and those we’ve lost.

  • RIP Charlie… it’s been GRRRR8

    Posted on November 14th, 2013 tcorzett No comments

    CHARLES E. VAN WORMER, JR., 46, passed away at home on November 14, 2013, following a year-long battle with cancer. Throughout his adult life, he purchased and modified several Chevys, Ford Mustangs, and most recently, a Pontiac G8. His enthusiasm for this vehicle, and his desire to help other G8 owners, led to his involvement with the GRRRR8 website, to which he provided technical expertise and support. Through this site, Charlie made many friends throughout the United States.

    While I didn’t have the chance to met Charlie face-to-face, through many hours of chatting and reading of forum posts he had a significant influence on me and my G8. One of the other GRRRR8 Board members is producing a commemorative coin to help remember all that Charlie has given us.

    My coin will be finding a home in the glovebox of my G8, and hopefully a little piece of him can come along with me on my adventures. Thank you for giving us G8 folks a home… RIP Charlie.

  • Owner Spotlight

    Posted on October 3rd, 2013 tcorzett No comments

    Today I was honored as the first to be covered on the‘s new “Owner Spotlight”.

  • New License Plate

    Posted on July 30th, 2013 tcorzett No comments

    It’s been a long four months, but I finally have my new license plate!

    I’ve been wanting to get a “vanity” plate for a while now, but just couldn’t think-up something that would properly represent my G8. I saw someone with one of the new California “Kid Plates” that uses symbols (heart, plus, star, or hand) and really liked the concept. I was thinking about something to highlight my performance modifications, like “6L+PSI” or “I<3BOOST", but didn't want to drawing too much extra attention. Once I decided what plate to get, I had to wait for the DMV... I submitted my order at the end of March, and after waiting 10-weeks, I received a notice from the DMV that my license plate had finally arrived! I tried to make an appointment to pick-up the plate, but the first available slot was two weeks away! Not going to wait that long, I braved the non-appointment line... and after nearly 4 hours of waiting, was called to the counter to get my license plate.

    Oh great… WTF DMV! To make matters even worse, the attended couldn’t even figure out how to remedy the situation. He tried to reorder the plate, but given it’s a special one (because of the “hand” symbol), there was no way for him to fill-out the forms in his desk. After speaking to the branch manager there was some progress, but there seemed to be an issue with the state system… saying that the plate had been printed as ordered (which it totally wasn’t). With nothing else I could do at that time I went home to wait some more.

    Fortunately the DMV got their act together and I received a phone call from the branch manager a few days later. They were able to get the plate remade and said it would even be mailed to my house (so I wouldn’t need to go into the DMV and wait in line again). Thankfully it didn’t take another 10-weeks for me to receive the corrected plate.

  • Camaro’s & GTO’s: Folsom Lake Meet

    Posted on April 6th, 2013 tcorzett No comments

    Today was the first, of hopefully many, GTO and Camaro get-togethers. The meeting location was at the Folsom Sports Garage around 1pm, which was nice for those who were making the drive from the Bay Area.

    The turnout was good, with a total of three Camaros, four GTO’s, and a G8. Most members were from Sacramento or the East Bay, but the diehard award goes to the member who drove from Tracy to Dublin, to Concord, to Folsom!

    After car and driver introductions, and the involuntary drooling period, we headed-out on the cruise.

    View Larger Map

    The route around Folsom Lake was excellent! Despite being later in the afternoon, with a bit of weekend traffic, the group was able to stick together. The road was smooth and had plenty of turns/elevation changes for those who wanted to partake in spirited driving, but was also relaxed enough for a Saturday afternoon cruise to take-in the scenery.

    After the cruise we returned to the Folsom Sports Garage for food and happy hour pitchers. The Camaro and GTO owners all did a great job mingling as we ate; sharing stories and talking about cars/modifications.

    Today was a great success! It was nice to make some new friends and the cruise was a reminder of all the beautiful and fun roads that are to be had around the Sacramento area. The phrase I heard most often at the event was, “We have to do this again soon”!

  • G8 at Sonoma Raceway!

    Posted on February 10th, 2013 tcorzett No comments

    Last April I had the chance to take the G8 out on-track at Laguna Seca Raceway. While it was lots of fun, the event ended early on a sour note when my engine started making disturbing noises. Shortly after the rebuild I headed-out on my 2012 GONE Road Trip, so have not had a chance to return to the race track in nearly a year!

    Determined to return to the track, I’ve spent the winter trying to organize a group of G8 and GTO owners who want to participate in track day events. My goal is to help facilitate the process for those who have never done it before, so have spent many hours checking calendars and putting together guides/checklists. After careful deliberation I decided that I would attend a two day track day event with the Northern California region of the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) at Sonoma Raceway (aka. Sears Point).

    In Northern California NASA is one of the largest groups of driving/racing enthusiasts and typically have a weekend event every month at the various tracks. Most event include both High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) events as well as full-out racers. The HPDE drivers are broken down into four groups based on experience:

    • HPDE-1: Novice – Instructor assigned, passing on main straights only
    • HPDE-2: Solo – Runs with HPDE-1, passing on main straights only
    • HPDE-3: Intermediate – Passing areas more liberal and increasing as day progresses
    • HPDE-4: Advanced – Open passing

    Sonoma Raceway (previously known as Infineon Raceway and Sears Point Raceway) is a tricky track. While there isn’t anything as extreme as “The Corkscrew”, the track is not a bunch of individual corners connected by straights… rather every corner flows into another. Making a mistake on the entry to one corner results in a cascade of problems through half the track. When you do things right you can really feel the rhythm of the track, and that’s extremely addicting!

    Having never driven with NASA, or at Sonoma Raceway, I decided to take things slow and run in HPDE-2. I’m sure I would qualify for HPDE-3, but didn’t want to overstep my abilities and make a bad first impression. It also gave me a chance to help the new HPDE-1 drivers who had never been to a track day event before.

    The week before the event I took the G8 into Synergy Motorsports for routine service (oil change, etc.) and a thorough once-over to make sure everything was ready for the track. After a year (and ~15k miles) I also had the brake fluid replaced (with more Castrol SRF)… the brake pads still had 50% of the material remaining. I also had replacement OEM front LCAs installed (I had reinstalled the original ones after reports of failures with the aftermarket ones).

    Given the event was both Saturday and Sunday, I decided to get a hotel close to the track so I could avoid the hour-long drive to/from the track each day… with the gates opening at 6am I figured the little extra sleep would be nice. It was also fun sleeping in a room with posters of Ferrari’s on the wall and a track map above the bed!

    I took Friday off so I could prepare for the weekend event. I took advantage of a gorgeous “winter” day in California to wash the G8 before heading-up to the hotel. Most of the day I had a nervous feeling in my stomach, but I knew it was just anticipation.

    Day #1
    Compared to my previous track day, NASA was definitely “strict” when it came to the rules. This isn’t a bad thing, especially since there were quite a few people who had never driven on-track before. After taking some time discuss basic information they went over flags then broke-down into the various HPDE groups for more in-depth discussions before getting out on-track.

    During the first 20 minute session of the day I started near the back of the HPDE-2 drivers, but in front of the HPDE-1 group. One of the nice parts of NASA events is that while HPDE-1 and 2 are limited to passing on the main straights, no point-bys are required. While this resulted in some sketchy passes by impatient drivers, I found it nice to feel like I wasn’t ever holding-up people.

    After letting one person by I had nearly the entire session to work on learning the driving line. I’d spent quite some time reading track guides and practicing in video games, but there is nothing that can replace the experience of driving around a corner. While I’m sure my line was far from ideal, I felt I was starting to develop a good sense for where I needed to be.

    Towards the end of the first session the flag stations started to display a black flag (“Black Flag All”) meaning we were to proceed (with caution) around the track and return to the pit lane. As I rounded Turn 7 I spotted a standing yellow flag and a white flag (slow moving vehicle on-track). As I entered Turn 8 I could see a vehicle sitting off-track at the apex of Turn 8a, but it appeared to have damage on the driver’s side door. I kept thinking to myself, “How did you do that there? There’s nothing to hit…”. Then I spotted a Porsche with front-end damage hiding behind a safety truck.

    After each HPDE session on-track NASA has a group “download” session where we discuss things. Needless to say there was quite a lot of discussion about the car-to-car incident (which is nearly unheard of). It was obvious to me that people were driving too fast/close for their ability, especially for the first session (of the first event of the year). It was a bit surprising to hear the instructors comments about who was “at fault” in the incident… and that as a driver you are responsible for being able to control/stop your car if/when the vehicle ahead of you has an issue (like a spin).

    There wasn’t much time after the debrief before we were back out on track for the second session of the day. I again tried to position myself towards the end of the HPDE-2 group, giving myself lots of room to work on learning the track.

    Like I did in the driving schools I decided to keep in 4th gear and just focus on the line. I found that I was picking-up things fairly quickly, but knew I wasn’t pushing too hard. While I started going WOT on the straights, I tried to be consistent with my braking/turning points. Just when I was getting in the groove the session came to an end.

    At lunch NASA runs a session called a “Hyperdrive”. This is designed to give people a taste of track driving without all the requirements of a full HPDE-1 run group. Many people would consider a 45 minute track session at a maximum speed of 35mph torture, but with no previous experience/instruction at Sonoma Raceway I took this as the perfect time to really learn the driving line with one-on-one instruction. Unfortunately the debrief from the second session ran long, so I missed half of the Hyperdrive, but I came away from it with a much better understanding of the track. I would highly recommend it for anyone really looking to learn to drive a new track.

    Before the third session I needed to fill-up my tank with fuel. With the G8 tuned to run on 91 octane pump gas there isn’t a need for race gas, but during long sessions engine/intake temperatures can get high. Running higher octane fuel is cheap insurance to protect against detonation (or the ECM pulling timing due to knock). After 12.424 gallons of 96 octane (at $7.999 per gallon) the final “blend” in the tank was 94.8 octane… perfect for an afternoon of track driving!

    In the third session I planned to apply what I’d learned during the Hyperdrive and really work on driving the proper line. I came up-to-speed more quickly and soon found myself starting to push things harder down the straights and through the corners.

    Just when I was starting to get a feel for the track I entered Turn 10 something went wrong…

    As I looked into my rear-view mirror to check on the car I was going to let pass me I noticed a bunch of smoke coming out the rear of my car. At first I thought I might have lost traction somehow, but I wasn’t on the gas. Fortunately the entrance to pit lane was just to the left, so I quickly exited the track.

    In the paddock I checked the G8’s vitals. Oil pressure and temperatures both looked good, oil level was good. Unlike last time I had issues on-track there were no strange noises. The engine seemed to be OK, but I wanted to find a cause for the smoke. I remembered that I hadn’t checked my catch can prior to the event… and sure enough there was quite a bit of oil in there. At that point I figured I’d found the problem (some oil had been picked-up from the catch can and been sent into the intake, resulting in smoke). In hindsight I really should have crawled under the rear of the G8, as I would have noticed that hadn’t been the case.

    Despite thinking I’d fixed the reason for the smoke, I didn’t want to push things and drive in the fourth session for the day. I took a trip out on the ring road to see if I could see any more smoke and to double-check that everything was behaving. I wasn’t experiencing any issues, so after watching the Group C race I headed back to the hotel for the night.

    Day #2
    Yesterday was an exciting day, but after the mechanical issues from Session 3 I was apprehensive about how the day would go. I’d driven to/from the hotel without issue, but I wanted to take things slow on-track so arranged to be one of the last cars out for the first session.

    I started out of the pits and everything seemed to be OK. I made my way around the track on the opening warm-up lap slowly increasing the speeds, but just as I started around Turn 10 I knew something in the drive-line was not right.

    As I tried to accelerate out of the corner I could hear the engine RPMs increasing, but there was zero power going to the rear wheels. I had another car on my bumper, so quickly dove into the pit lane while I tried to find a gear that would work. After trying a few different gears with no luck, I knew my weekend was over. I coasted into the paddock and quickly located an empty area to park. I pulled-off my helmet and crawled under the back of the G8 to figure out what had happened.

    At this point I could clearly see it was something major that caused the smoke yesterday, not just a little excess oil from the catch can. Fortunately one of the steps I’ve taken in preparation for track driving is upgrading to a Platinum AAA membership which includes up to 200 miles of towing per incident.

    It didn’t take long for the tow truck to arrive and get the G8 loaded-up. After swinging by my spot in the paddock to pick-up all my stuff (tools, bags, spare tire, etc.) we headed-off towards my mechanic’s shop.

    Getting the G8 up on a lift, it’s was obvious there is something wrong with the rear differential.

    The driver’s side axle had separated from the differential and that allowed fluid to drip onto the exhaust (causing the smoke observed on-track). Fortunately it appears there was no damage caused to the axles or the differential and after flushing the fluid everything went back together and seems to be driving fine.

    Overall it was a fun weekend. It was great to drive at Sonoma Raceway with NASA and I was glad I could help some friends get out on track for the first time. While I would love to get back out on-track soon, finishing on a tow truck wasn’t how I imagined it ending. I said after my previous track day, I really think I need to look into a dedicated track car!

  • Toys for Tots

    Posted on December 1st, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Today the NorCal GOATs headed-up to Able Chevrolet in Rio Vista for their annual Toys for Tots drive. Car clubs (G8/GTO’s, Corvettes, Camaros, etc) from all over the Bay Area get together to hang-out and to donate toys to a worthy cause.

    Unfortunately the weather forecasts for this weekend are full of rain (something called an ‘Atmospheric River’) so the number of participants was far fewer than expected. At the first meeting spot there were only four cars (including a Volvo), but we met-up with a dozen or so other cars at the second meeting spot.

    While the roads were wet from rain earlier in the morning, the weather was very cooperative and only had a few sprinkles throughout the rest of the day. I spent much of the day talking with Corvette owners about track days, but it was also cool to catch-up with the GTO owners as well. I didn’t spent much time checking-out the other cars, but there were a few really impressive vehicles!

    Everyone at the event seemed to have a great time at the event, and in the end we helped to raise over 300 toys and almost $1400!

  • Post-Rebuild Test & Tune

    Posted on November 3rd, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Having recently having my engine rebuilt, which resulted in a 21% increase in power, quite a few people have been pestering me to get to the drag strip. I’ve been avoiding it since I couldn’t get traction on my street tires before the upgrade, but since the NorCal GOATs were going to Sacramento Raceway for a Test & Tune I figured I’d go have some fun.

    The days leading-up to the event I wasn’t sure if I was going to run the G8 or not. Towards the end of my road trip I developed a nasty “shimmy” in the front-end between 70-80mph, and wasn’t going to race if it continued. Fortunately the new tires fixed the issue (I still think there might be some LCA issues to fix) and I felt comfortable taking the G8 down the strip.

    The weather today was good, but not as cool/dry as I had hoped. By noon, when they started to run, the DA was up to 478′ and it progressively climbed thorough the day to 914′ by the final runs. Not bad for California, but not great.

    My best run of the day came just leaving the G8 in “Drive” with the traction control turned on. I rolled into the throttle from idle and just let the computer do the work. The result was a 12.007 @ 116.10mph… not bad for a 245-series street tire!

    My 60′ time was 1.934sec, five-hundredths of a second faster than launching in 2nd with TC off, but I could feel the traction control pulling timing in 1st gear and between the 1st to 2nd gear change.

    I’m very happy with my results. Would it have been nice to run in the 11’s? Yeah, but I’m not going to go crazy searching for a time. Looking at my trap speeds there are still a couple tenths left in the car… if I was ever wanted to get serious about drag racing.

    My favorite part of all of this is just how “well rounded” my G8 is. I can run 2 minute lap times around Laguna Seca, 12 second passes down a drag strip, and drive 11,000 miles across the country without changing anything!