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  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Road Trip: Day 39

    Posted on October 6th, 2012 tcorzett 1 comment

    For a day spent mostly driving on the interstate, today was adrenaline packed!

    It started very late, as I didn’t really know where I wanted to drive. Since I essentially did my planned drive (Provo to Salt Lake City) yesterday, I had options. I was looking at drive “The Loneliest Road in America“, but didn’t like the 9hr 39min estimated travel time. I had made several hotel reservations for tonight, and even considered just staying staying in Salt Lake for another night, but decided to hit the road and drive I-80 to Elko, Nevada.

    View Larger Map

    When I first planned my trip, today was going to be spent in the Tooele area. I spent 6 months there for work a few years ago, and it’s always great to see people again. Unfortunately the restaurant I always eat at has closed and Miller Motorsports Park didn’t have any driving events available. Since there wasn’t anything to do there I just passed by the exit.

    The “only” exciting thing today was the mandatory stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Last year when I stopped at the Salt Flast it was early in the day and the place was deserted, but not this year. I noticed a few race cars at the gas station just off the interstate, then spotted several cars/trucks making their way off the salt. After stopping to take a few pictures, I spoke with some people about what was going on today, then headed out onto the salt!

    Turns out the past few days the SCTA was running the “World Finals“. The event wrapped-up earlier today, but there were still a few cars in the pits packing-up.

    The people at the main road (in a rental car) described the flats as a “free for all” where I could do anything I wanted, but I knew better than to believe that. I parked the G8 and walked over to one of the crews to ask a few questions.

    Since the official event for the weekend was over the “track” was being dismantled (timing loops, cones, etc.), so doing a run on the race surface was out. The 3 mile stretch from the main road to the pits was in good condition and more than long enough for what I wanted to do. Before setting-out on my run I took a few photos of the G8 out on the salt.

    On my way out to the pits I had scouted the section; slowly increasing speeds, testing what it’s like to stop/turn on the salt, etc. In preparation for a high speed run I checked tire pressures, verified oil/fuel pressures, watched fuel trims, etc. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be focusing on the speedometer during the run I reset the “max speed” history on my GPS. I also attached a couple GoPro video cameras for additional documentation of the run.

    When I saw I had several miles of salt to myself I headed out on my run. I slowly brought the speed up, getting a good feel for everything. After checking the G8’s vitals one last time I down-shifted and pushed the peddle to the floor!

    I’ve had the G8 up over 100mph several times on pavement, but the salt is an entirely different animal. On a road you have a clear definition of where you need to go, with lanes marked by bright colored paint. On the salt there is just a vast white surface. Any imperfections that can upset the car at high speeds are nearly invisible, it’s even difficult to see where you want to go since everything is so flat and landmarks are so far away.

    Above ~130mph I started to hear some wind noise from the driver’s side door, but it’s happened before… so I pushed-on. Above ~150mph I was starting to really feel the stress of the speed, and my mind was racing with the “what if’s”. My eyes were darting left/right in front of me trying to spot anything flying my direction that could upset the car. The sounds from the engine and exhaust had turned into a constant roar, but I’d not yet heard the rev-limiter. While I tried to hold-out a little more, I just couldn’t take it and backed-off the throttle. I had pushed to ~6200rpms in 5th gear and a top speed of 168mph!

    I pulled off the Salt Flats and and back onto the paved road… trying to comprehend what had just happened. I stopped at the local gas station for some water and Bonneville swag, but the adrenaline was still flowing. My mind was lost… I couldn’t understand what the cashier was saying (I asked him about where to find a car wash) and even left my credit card behind! Before heading back to the interstate I forced myself to stop and re-equilibrate to reality.

    The remainder of my drive was a bit of a blur, as I kept thinking about my run on at Bonneville. After checking into my hotel I made my way to a car wash to get the salt off the G8 and to get some dinner. Now I need to get some sleep; somehow…

  • Road Trip: Day 33

    Posted on September 30th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Yesterday when I checked into my hotel I was offered the option of a “late checkout”, but there was no way I was going to be sleeping late today… I had hours of twisty roads to drive!

    View Larger Map

    It was 40°F when I went out to the G8, so it took me a little while to warm everything up. I made my way to Carbondale before stopping for gas and breakfast, and with my tanks full I started down Highway 133. It was early for a Sunday and the road was almost empty, which made for a great drive.

    The road followed a river, so again I found myself surrounded by Aspens with color-changing leaves. There were a couple other cars pulled over with people taking photos, and I didn’t want to look like a tourist, so kept driving. At first the road was at the bottom of the canyon, but at one point it turned sharply and climbed steeply up and out through McClure Pass.

    My favorite part of today’s drive was Highway 92 around the Black Canyon and the Morrow Point Reservoir.

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    The roads were empty, speed limits reasonable, and the scenery was spectacular. How good was it? I drove it 3 times! The first time through I was enjoying the roads, trying to think how I could share the experience with others… when I remembered I have my GoPro!

    After driving the route with the video camera I made another pass taking a few moments to stop and take photos.

    After returning to civilization and eating lunch I made my way towards the Grand Mesa. The climb up the mesa was great, as I was chasing two motorcycles. I would have liked to push a bit harder, but I didn’t want to crowd the bikes (the second rider seems a bit timed). Unfortunately the bikes pulled-off to take some photos, so I had to go play on my own.

    I know I’ve taken a ton of photos of the golden leaves, but the views from the top of the mesa was just too good to pass-up.

    The last portion of today’s drive was at the bottom of a meandering canyon carved by the Colorado river; the walls must have been at least 200 feet straight up! Traffic had increased, but at this point I wanted to get to my hotel to look at the photos and video from earlier today.

    Tomorrow I’ll be doing a mix of mountain climbing, interstate cruising, and national park exploring. It’s going to be a long day, but I’m looking forward to seeing some of the landmarks that make Utah famous.

  • More than meets the eye…

    Posted on July 29th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    I headed-out this morning to get some video footage of the newly rebuilt G8.

    Now, more than ever, the G8 really does have a split personally. Someone has even refereed to my G8 as a Transformer, so I wanted to highlight the two-sided nature of the car. Hopefully I got my point across.

  • G8 at Laguna Seca Raceway!

    Posted on April 9th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Today was the first time I’ve taken taken G8 out on-track, and I couldn’t think of a better place in the world to do it on than the iconic Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterrey, California.

    I had originally planned on attending my first track day at Thunderhill Raceway, due to the lower risk of damage due to off-track excursions (aka. the walls are farther from the racing surface). When I heard that the Checkered Flag Racing Association (CFRA) was inviting guests to a Laguna Seca track day (and for only $99 after 50%-off) I just couldn’t resist!

    I have a very long-standing relationship with Laguna Seca Raceway; attending races there since before I was born! I’ve been told the story of how my Father helped my Mother (7 months pregnant) up the hill to The Corkscrew. When I was a child I was running around the paddock checking-out all the historic race cars… including a memorable experience with Sir Jackie Stewart. I attended my first professional race at Laguna Seca in 1993 where I saw Paul Tracy win the race and Nigel Mansell win the CART Championship. Laguna Seca Raceway was also a track I photographed on a regular basis (23 different events between 2003-2008).

    CFRA is a “members only” group who got together to organize and attend, not-for-profit, track day events. One of the primary goals of the group is to maintain a safe and courteous environment for driving/racing on-track. They have three run groups (resulting in 2.5hrs of track time each event) at various levels of competitive ability/desire.

    For this event CFRA was not taking any drivers who had not previously been on-track before. Group B (point-by passing) was for drivers with fewer than 10 days experience and Group A (open passing) was for those with more than 10 days experience. There was also a Group R for those with lots of experience and who wanted to do wheel-to-wheel racing (aka. not me).

    While I’ve never done a track day, each of my driving schools counted for several days of experience, and I was invited to join Group A for this event. While I’m sure I would have done a good job in Group A, I decided that I wanted to take things a little slower… especially for the first time out in the G8. As a result I didn’t get the 50% discount (all the discount spots for Group B were already filled), but I felt being in the right group was worth a couple extra bucks. In the end I made the right decision, as I took things slow and probably would have been getting in the way of the faster drivers of Group A.

    Another really exciting thing about this event was that Dito Milian of was photographing the event. Dito and I have shot quite a few events together, so I knew I was going to get some really great photos!

    CFRA events are not really focused on teaching someone how to drive on a track (there are other groups/schools for that), but they do offer “mentors” to ride-along with other drivers. During my first session I requested a mentor, as I wanted to make sure I could quickly get up to speed.

    The first couple laps on-track I took things really slow, really focusing on trying to drive the proper line around the track.

    Most of the corners at Laguna Seca are late apex, so really make you be patient on turn-in. Fortunately most of the corners are also banked, letting you carry a bunch of speed through them. Building on what I learned at Miller Motorsports Park, I made sure to get my braking done early… so I could get the car turned-in… and back on-power as quickly as possible. There were only a few times that I found myself carrying too much speed into the corner without the ability to get the car turned.

    Unlike the tracks I’ve previously driven on, Laguna Seca has huge elevation changes and many blind corners… making navigating the course quite difficult. Every driving school I’ve been to has really focused on vision and keeping your eyes scanning where you want to drive. At Laguna Seca I found that 7 of the 11 corners had some sort of “blind” element…

    The ultimate example of this is “The Corkscrew” (Turns 8 and 8a), which is a left/right turn combination that drops 59 feet in elevation (the equivalent of a five-and-a-half story drop) over only 450 feet of track. As you drive up the hill towards Turn 7 all you can see is sky until you crest the hill. To the left at Turn 8 there is a wall/fence and corner worker station that makes seeing the rest of The Corkscrew impossible. After slowing the car down (in my case to ~30mph) you turn into the apex of Turn 8… with absolutely no view of the right hander (Turn 8a) to come. It is not until you have already committed to a line, and dropped into The Corkscrew, that you have any idea if you’re on the proper course.

    While I’ve driven Laguna Seca many times in video games, watched lots of in-car videos, even walked-up/down the track… there is absolutely nothing like doing it from behind the wheel of a car. The first time I entered The Corkscrew I made sure to slow way down, and even turned-in more than I thought I would need to… only to find my two right wheels on the rumble strips through Turn 8a. While it was an awesome line, it sure was a surprise… especially when I thought I was being conservative!

    As the session progressed the speeds increased and my lap times decreased. Unlike the driving school, this time I had my Race-Technologies DL1 running… and gathered some really great data (click images to see them full-size).

    Lat. Acceleration (Left/Right)

    Lon. Acceleration (Front/Back)

    Looking at the data I’ve been very impressed with how the G8 performed. Lat. acceleration was more than I was expecting (especially for a street tire) with several sustained periods each lap over 0.75 G’s with peaks as high as 1.25 G’s. While the Lon. acceleration wasn’t as extreme, under braking I was experiencing 0.4-0.6 G’s and ~0.25 G’s while accelerating. I can only imagine how this numbers will compare when I get more experience (and a 275/35-18 Hoosier slick)!

    For the second session I was on-track without a mentor… without anyone to guide me around the track… on my own!

    Driving solo was actually kinda relaxing… I didn’t have the pressure of needed to “show-off” or drive “perfect”. I felt like I kept things slower, again to perfect the driving line, but the the data actually showed I was within 1 second of my fastest first session lap after only two laps!

    Between session… after I had double-checked the tire pressures, oil levels, etc… I decided to put a camera on the front of the car to record some video. Here is a video of a typical lap around Laguna Seca.

    As the second session progressed I felt I was really getting a hang for the driving line, as well as feeling-out how the G8 handles on-track. I found myself being able to put together several laps without having any major “oops” moments. My lap times were in the ~2:00 range, which wasn’t great, but for only my second session at Laguna Seca wasn’t too bad. I also knew that while I gained a feel for the G8/track I wasn’t pushing 100% down the straights and was taking it easy in the braking zones.

    Unfortunately, late in the second session, as I crested the hill on the front straight I heard my engine start making a strange “ticking” noise. As I exited Turn 2 I heard the car beep, indicating a check engine DTC. On my run up the back straight I again heard the noises, so I backed-off and made my way into the pits. Here are clips from the front mounted video camera, where you can clearly hear the “ticking” noise.

    Once I made it to the pits I checked/cleared the DTC (P0300 “Random Misfire Detected”) and tried to replicate the sounds/DTC. I was unable to, as there is a 4,000 rpm limiter in park, but when got the engine over ~4,500 rpms in 1st and 2nd gears I was able to replicate the noises and the DTC. Rather than risking further damage to my engine, I made the decision to park the car for the remainder of the day.

    Despite only having two sessions on-track, I drove ~50 miles and used half a tank of fuel… yup, I was getting ~6.25 miles per gallon!

    While I didn’t get a chance to spend the afternoon out on-track, I took advantage of the rest of the day to talk with the other drivers about all sorts of things. The main topic of conversation was typically tire selection, as I know I’m going to need some different tires if I’m going to be spending more time on-track (so I don’t eat-up the tires I need to drive to drive around town).

    This whole experience emphasizes the reason why people have dedicated track cars… it’s hard to get to work the next day if you damage your daily driver on-track. Hopefully the noise I’m hearing from the engine isn’t anything major, and the G8 will be back in action soon!

  • Mt. Tamalpais & Rouge et Noir

    Posted on July 14th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Ever since watching a video from a fellow G8 owner, I’ve wanted to get out to Mt. Tamalpais in the North Bay. I finally found myself at home with some time to get the G8 out for some “spirited” driving, so met-up with “The Yeti” and headed up towards Mt. Tamalpais.

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    Since “The Yeti” has driven these roads before, I let him lead. Not having to lead a cruise was a nice change after the past few weeks. The drive was very enjoyable with a decent pace for such tight roads in a national park. Of course, we had to setup some GoPro cameras to record the fun!

    The road up to Mt. Tamalpais is really a jewel. The climb covers almost 2400′ and is quite steep (up to 9% grade). The roads are twisty and quite “tight” (the trees and brush is close to the road), but the road quality is quite good. I’m sure on weekends you might get stuck behind slow traffic, but mid-week the roads were virtually empty!

    On a performance note: I was really happy with the way the new Bridgestone RE-11 tires performed on the tight roads. The speeds were not too high, but the heavy weight of the G8 put the tires to the test. A few times I heard them squeal a little in the corners… and even once had the right front start to lock under heavy braking into a corner.

    One of the best things about this drive were the scenic views of the Bay Area.

    It isn’t often that I make it over towards the Marin Headlands, so the view was one I had to stop and admire. Another thing I haven’t done in a long while was visit the Marin French Cheese Company (aka. Rouge et Noir). I didn’t have anything else going on, so I figured this would be a great time to make the drive up Highway 1!

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    The drive along the coast was great… the sun was out and the views were incredible. Having been away from California for so long, it was really great to get to the coast.

    People always ask me why I live in California… and I think I can sum it up with an image…

    Great weather… great roads… What more could I want? California Cheese!

    The drive up to the Marin French Cheese Co. was very enjoyable. The roads were fairly empty, but I did get stuck behind one car that was quite frustrating. It’s one thing to be stuck behind a Prius or a minivan, but to be stuck behind a Jaguar XFR (with a 510HP Supercharged engine), is just unacceptable! While I would have loved a spirited drive chasing a Jaguar up the coast, I was forced to crawl along 10mph UNDER the posted speed limit… Ug! When I had the chance to make a pass, I was sure to let the slow driver know my disgust with a loud whine from my Maggie.

    I arrived at the Marin French Cheese Co. just in time for their afternoon tour of the “factory”. They produce soft ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert, which are two of my personal favorites. Everything is done by hand in small batches. I happened to be the only one on the tour, so was able to ask all sorts of questions about the cheese making process. After the tour I headed to the gift shop to pick-up some of their harder to find cheeses.

    One of the things that really gets me about soft ripened cheese is that it needs to age to obtain the full flavor. Unfortunately, most of the time I want to buy cheese in a supermarket it is too young to eat right away… so you have to wait to enjoy them properly. By going to the source I was able to buy some cheese that was at it’s peak flavor and ready to eat… I was also able to get some varieties that are not sold in stores, like their 50% goat milk cheeses.

    Overall the day was great… and much needed after being away from California and the G8 for so long. I can’t wait to get out and drive these roads again… I think a cruise up Highway 1 with the NorCal GOATs would be great!

  • Hoonage & New Tires

    Posted on July 11th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    I’ve been driving my G8 for the past two years with the tires that came with the car. The Bridgestone RE050A “Summer Only” tires have served be well over the past 22k miles, but they were getting really “long in the tooth”. After all of the “spirited” driving that I’ve done, the shoulders of the tires are all getting really worn-out. I’m actually impressed that with a vehicle that has more than enough power to roast the tires, I have to replace the tires because of the too much cornering. Other than a few trips to the drag strip, I’ve never actually done a burn-out before!

    Since I needed some new tires anyhow, what better way to send-off the the old set than some good old fashion hoonage!

    As I’m sure you could tell from the video, turning the tires into smoke was fairly effortless. The torque from the Magnacharger paired with the 3.45 gears just makes traction impossible when trying to go wide open throttle (WOT) from a stop. Fortunately, since I like driving on twisty roads, I don’t worry too much about WOT from a stop (like drag racers).

    When searching for a replacement tire for the G8, I had many options to choose from. I wanted an “Extreme Summer Only” performance tire, but didn’t want to have to worry about driving in the rain (like those with drag radials might have to). I looked into several tires by Nitto (specifically the NT-05 and the Invo), but decided for my “everyday” tire I wanted the Bridgestone RE-11 in a 245/40-19.

    I have been hearing incredible things about the RE-11 from other car owners. Even the Pedders Camaro is running them (granted in a 305 on all four corners). The RE-11 has a very unique tread pattern that is designed for maximum performance in dry weather, but still has the ability to work in the wet. For a daily driver like mine, that is critical… I can’t be switching tires just because it is raining!

    The first thing I noticed about the RE-11’s after install is that the sidewall is much more square than the old R050A’s that were removed. Since this was the area that I was wearing-out the fastest, I’m hopeful that this different design will work better for my driving style. I’m not expecting to get 22k miles out of them, but I fell the potential performance benefit is a worthy trade-off.

    Time will tell how these tires workout for me… check-back time to time for updates on how these tires are performing.

  • CHC: Gene & Jude’s

    Posted on June 12th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Well, it was the last weekend for me in Chicago where I would be able to hang-out with the guys from the Chicago Holden Connection. Over the past several months has been really great to get to know another group of G8/GTO enthusiasts. I know I’ve had a bunch, and even picked-up some mod ideas!

    After some hot dogs and fries from Gene’s & Jude’s (you don’t want to ask for ketchup!), we headed off to a local park for an impromptu “show & shine”… followed by a cruise and some donuts. I put together another teaser video for the CHC guys, hopefully I’ll have some time soon to work on the final video from all the events I went to!

    I really have to thank all of the Chicago Holden Connection members for allowing me to be part of their club for the past few months. I’m sure people wondered what the heck an SUV (my rental car) was doing hanging around with all the G8’s/GTO’s!

  • CHC: Tsukasa of Tokyo

    Posted on June 5th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Another week in Chicago, and another meet with the Chicago Holden Connection. I seriously have no idea what I’d do with my time if I didn’t have a group of car guys to hang out with on a regular basis… especially being stuck in a Ford Edge rental car!

    This week everyone met for a cruise around the country side, followed by lunch at Tsukasa of Tokyo. Not only did we get some great food, but also a great show (and some singed eyebrows!).