Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
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  • NCG Calendar Photo Shoot

    Posted on October 25th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    In a quest to get photos for the NCG Calendar, I organized a photo shoot in the Livermore area on one day’s notice. Most of the locations I have shot myself in the past, so I know there should be some good images… the biggest variable is just how many people are going to show-up.

    Sunday came about and after a great night sleep (spending the whole day drag racing really wore me out) I woke-up and headed out for the photo shoot. We met at the Livermore Harley Davidson dealership, 1) because it’s close to the freeway, and 2) it has several nice cinder block walls that should work well for photography. Three GTOs were present for the first location. After some quick shots (and a few minutes showing-off the G8 to a spectator) we headed out to the next photo location.

    I had spotted this location (a wall with graffiti) yesterday morning on the way to Tracy and figured it would make for a good background for panning shots. After trying to describe what I was after from my cars/drivers a few times, I was able to get some good shots. We were also joined by another G8 and one more GTO.

    I learned a few more things about logistics of photo shoots… like making sure everyone had a working radio. Also, people need to understand that I’m accustom to photographing cars traveling at racetrack speeds… so they don’t need to drive 10mph under the speed limit just for me. Honestly, the faster they go the easier it is for panning (being safe is still a priority).

    The third photo location was quite impromptu. We ended-up stopping at the Summit Garage, which I have since found out to be a historic landmark on the old Lincoln Highway.


    After a brief talk with the owner and Zeus (the guard dog, who is really a total sweetheart) I set about to getting some photos. We did a few two-car shots, which turned out nice… including a few shots with two G8s together. I’m really glad that I noticed the old cars that normally find a home in front of the garage were not present. A very cool location!

    When doing a photo shoot in the Altamont Pass one has to get some shots with windmills. Unfortunately we spent more time than I had planned shooting the other locations and the sun quickly ducked behind a hill. I was able to get shots of one car, and it happened to be the one I thought would look best at the location (and I was right). I guess sometime we will have to re-visit this location for some more photos.

    The last photo location I wanted to shoot was “The Top of the World” (at least that’s what I call it) on Patterson Pass Rd. I knew this location, being at the top of the world, would be one of the last places for the sun to set. I also figured the drive on Patterson Pass Rd. to the photo location would be really fun for all the participants. The shots from here really turned out well. The setting sun was getting a little low, but it made for nice contrasty images with very golden reflections. There was also an area where I could get shots looking down at the cars, which worked great for those with custom paint and stripes on the hood.

    The logistics here worked out quite well. With one person on each side of the bind corner with radios keeping an eye-out for traffic, we were able to have the cars park across the road. When cars approached they were slowed down and waved-by in a controlled fashion. This process really worked well, and should be used for future shoots on public roads (with low traffic volumes).


    Overall, the day was very productive. I believe we have several calendar shots in the bank from today’s activities. The biggest issue now is choosing which of the images to use… and how to use just one image from each car.

  • Sacramento Raceway Test & Tune

    Posted on October 24th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    After the drag racing experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I have been wanting to get back to the strip to see what the G8 can do now that I know a little more about what I’m doing. I was feeling slightly disappointing with my times/speeds from Vegas, but understood that the elevations and temperature really played a big part in how I ran. When the NorCal Goats planned a trip to the Sacramento Raceway for a Test and Tune, I knew I had to go along.

    Sacramento Raceway (elevation 30′) is a great facility to get the G8 out to. A group of us were heading-out from the Manteca area, so I drove the back-way over to Tracy to scout out the photo locations for tomorrow’s shoot. Several of us got together and then headed-up to the track. We arrived when the gates opened and had some time to relax and let the engines cool off from the drive. I also took the opportunity to empty my trunk of all non-essential equipment.

    When the track get hot I headed over to tech (which wasn’t really an inspection at all) and then into the staging lanes. Having spent some time reading about different launch techniques, I decided to just let the G8 do it’s thing. I turned off TCM, left the car in drive, and launched from idle… the resulting run was the quickest pass I made all day… a 13.53s @ 106.4mph (2.12s 60′, DA 1021′). The launch was perfect (no wheel spin at all) and I accelerated all the way through the 1/4 mile… holding 3rd gear through the end (without hitting the rev limiter).

    After the first pass I wanted to see how Sport mode would work, and to my surprise the run was slightly slower… a 13.64s @ 106.1mph (2.168s 60′, DA 1021′). I think the slower time came from the chirp that was caused when shifting from 2nd to 3rd. While it sounds cool, the loss of traction doesn’t seem to make for a faster time.

    I then spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with different launch techniques, but was never able to better my first run. The last run of the day I used the same launch technique as the first run, but had aired-down the rear tires to 30psi (they were at 40psi to start). The temperature had increased a little, resulting in a DA of 1247′, but I was able to pull-out a 13.62s @ 106.9mph (2.224s 60′). I think that if I would have run the same PSI with the colder air from the morning I could have squeezed out a tenth or two.

    Spending time working over the numbers, I was really surprised to see that my times were very consistent. When correcting for the DA run, my best from Vegas was within a tenth of a second and 1mph of what I ran in Sac. Given there was nothing changed with the car, it’s expected.

    I am content with the 13.53s @ 106.4mph (I even put it in my signature on the message boards), but I think if the temperature gets a little cooler I will be able to run in the low-13s. I don’t think I have been bit by the never-ending faster ET bug (yet), but spending time at the track with the rest of the GOATs is a blast.

    After the day at the track, a group of us headed-out to Sacramento for some photography. The goal was to get a few shots for the NCG Calendar I’ve been working on, and I think things worked-out well. I’d share some of the photos, but they are a secret until the calendar comes out!

  • Bluetooth Upgrade

    Posted on October 21st, 2009 tcorzett No comments


    One of the downsides of getting the 2009 G8GT, rather than the 2009.5 version, was the lack of factory Bluetooth. There have been a few different options out there for adding Bluetooth to the G8, but none of them were really a ‘factory’ option.

    The first phone option is to just use the OnStar phone service, but that requires paying a per-minute rate for the car. While I played with this on my free trial, and really liked the quality, the cost is totally prohibitive. I pay for a cell phone minutes, why pay for my car to have more?

    The second option would have been to get the Garmin 765 GPS unit (rather than the 755) that has Bluetooth. This would allow me to use my cell phone hands free, but it doesn’t allow me to use my car’s phone related equipment/controls. I would have also needed to modify the dash pieces to allow the GPS unit’s mic to clearly hear my voice.

    A near-factory option is BlueStar, which replaces the factory OnStar box with a new piece of hardware. This system would connect with my phone and allow me to use all of the factory hardware (mic, speakers, steering wheel controls, etc.). The biggest downside of this option is the removal of the OnStar box (and functions). I don’t really use many of the OnStar features, but I do want to keep the door unlocking and CEL/maintenance abilities.

    So, what is the solution? A factory 2009.5 Bluetooth/OnStar box that is re-programmed for my VIN. Unfortunately, GM is not allowing people to order new boxes unless they already have a 2009.5 vehicle. Some people have been able to find these from wrecked/scrapped vehicles, but they are very hard to come-by. Today White Automotive & Media Services was able to obtain a very limited number of brand new VCIM modules (they are already sold-out), which they re-programed to plug-and-play with my G8!

    It will be very nice to no longer need my sucky Bluetooth ear piece to be ‘hands-free’ when driving. I really can’t wait for this to show-up!

    UPDATE: Due to technical difficulties, the order was canceled. Oh well, maybe something like this will come-up in the future. I know that it is a mod that I really want to get done!

  • A Day of TLC for the G8

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Today turned into a day of tender loving care (TLC) for the G8. I started by getting the oil changed (Mobil 1 of course) at the Dublin (Pontiac) Buick GMC. It was a nice change from having to drive all the way to Hill Top for service. I don’t know if I’ll be doing all my work there, but the oil change went well (so far as I can tell).

    Shortly after the oil change I re-tuned the ECM and TCM (I flashed them back to stock before heading to the dealer just in case). The TCM tune I loaded was a custom one I requested from Vector Motorsports. I went with 75% traction management (more than even the Stage 1) in Drive mode with the Stage 2 TM settings for Sport and Manual modes. This tune should work great for when I want to keep things mild (daily) and when I want to get a little wild (like this weekend).

    This afternoon I was headed out for some lunch when I noticed that the G8 was sounding different. It started out just a little off, but quickly it was obvious that something wasn’t right. I figured by the sound (almost deafening at times) there was a major exhaust leak somewhere. I pulled-off the road and took a look under the hood and out back. The passenger’s side exhaust tips were no longer in the correct spot and there didn’t seem to be as much exhaust coming out. I looked under the car and found that the rear portion of the mid-pipes had come un-clamped and was hanging down.

    I knew that this needed to be fixed, and without a floor jack and stands (and the place to work on a car) I needed to head to a shop. I thought it a little weird that this would happen shortly after visiting the dealer (like they loosened the clamp?), but it has also been raining the past few days and I have read about people having issues with the Corsa exhaust being too smooth and moving when wet. Before I did the install myself I had researched a few exhaust/muffler shops in my area, so headed over to Tri-Valley Muffler to get everything fixed-up.

    After 30 minutes of work the G8 was ready to go. I had the shop re-clamp the point that had come undone and checked all the other clamps for tightness. I also had them check out why the driver’s side exhaust wasn’t sitting straight (something that I neglected to do myself when getting things ready for GoatRun). Once everything was positioned correctly they put a little tack weld on each of the joints to make sure noting moves around in the future.

    I’m really glad that I was able to get everything buttoned-up before this weekend’s trip to Sacramento Raceway. I should be ready to make a few more passes and try to better my times from Las Vegas.

  • Full-Sized Spare Tire

    Posted on October 12th, 2009 tcorzett 2 comments

    One of the really weird things about the G8 GT is that it does not come from the factory with a spare tire. Seriously, there is no spare tire! While there is an air compressor with ‘foam’, I’ve not been too impressed with the idea. It’s a bit hard for foam to repair a tire that goes out at speed on the freeway.

    I purchased a used OEM 19″ wheel and tire to use as a full-sized spare. I’m also getting a space saver jack/tool kit that will all fit into the rear tire well. While the added weight isn’t going to help fuel economy, there is something about having a REAL tire to use as a spare.

  • Racing Helmet

    Posted on October 10th, 2009 tcorzett No comments


    It hasn’t taken long, but I’m going to be heading out to the drag strip again… and given I’m trying to run under 14 seconds, I’m going to need a helmet. I wanted to get something that wouldn’t be too cumbersome, yet still meet all the required certifications for drag and road racing. The G-Force Pro Phenom is SFI (what the drag strips require) and SA2005 (what the road courses require) and doesn’t break the bank. I also think the open face design will work well with my glasses. Hopefully my big skull will fit in the XXL!

  • GoatRun’09: Wrap-up

    Posted on October 6th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Total Distance: 1,355 miles
    Average Fuel Economy: 21.3 mpg (Including the trips down the drag strip!)
    Speeding tickets: Zero (for anyone who was driving in my proximity)

    I’m so glad that I decided to go on GoatRun. There is really no way to explain just how much fun it was. I’m already looking forward to next year!

  • GoatRun’09: Day 4

    Posted on October 5th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Monday was a day for relaxing… if you consider an over 500 mile drive a relaxing day. Before setting off on the long drive home, we had a stop at the Bellagio for a great buffet brunch. The group with GoatRun got an incredible deal on the meal (and didn’t even have to wait in line). After not eating much bread (or any carbs for that matter) for a few months, the food was just incredible.

    After breakfast I was able to get a few photos of NorCal members in the location that I scouted-out the day before. I tried to park my car to block the spots, but I couldn’t keep the whole area clear. I think it still worked out well.


    Once everyone had finished saying their goodbyes the NorCal GOATs headed for home, but not before giving Las Vegas a nice send-off. Once on the freeway I pulled-up to the #2 spot again and kept an eye out for highway patrol officers. The trip out of Vegas was highlighted when the heard came across a Prius… with racing stripes! After saying ‘hello’ to the brother ‘sports car’ we made our way out into the desert towards California.

    Time really flies when driving with a group of people. 537 miles is a long drive, but the constant chatter on the radios was just great. There was lots of reminiscing of the previous weekend’s activities. Eventually we reached Mojave, where the group stopped to re-fuel and eat a quick lunch. The drive through Tehapachi was really enjoyable, not just because of the road, but because everyone was listening to the same radio station… even going as far to singing along to “Born in the USA”. It was just another example of just how much fun traveling with a group of people can be.

    As we got further North the trip started to end as people began to break-off from the heard when their turn-offs approached. I don’t think any of us wanted the weekend to end… but it didn’t take long to be leading a group of three people towards the East Bay, where I finally had to break-off to head home.

    Thankfully I’m taking tomorrow off from work to recover, this was seriously a fun and eventful weekend!

  • GoatRun’09: Day 3

    Posted on October 4th, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Day 3 of GoatRun started with a nice breakfast buffet at the Palace Station. When we arrived there were several other NorCal GOATs in front of us in line, making the breakfast very enjoyable. We had some good talks about the previous day’s events at the drag strip, the car show, and the BBQ.

    Sunday was cruise day… and for the early risers (those not nursing a hangover)… the first cruise left the Palace Station at 9:30am.

    View Larger Map

    This cruise headed out towards the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop. A great little park with a one-way road that wound through one of the more picturesque valley I have seen. There were loads of interesting red rock (hence the name) formations. Part way around the loop the group stopped to admire the view and I took the opportunity to climb-up a little hill (avoiding any rattle snakes) to take some photos.


    The remainder of the cruise was very enjoyable… a long line of GTOs winding its way through the park. When exiting the park the group became a little separated, and I found myself getting passed for not going around slower traffic, but it was still fun. The group gathered at the Red Rock Casino to wait for the party animals who were able to sober-up enough for the late cruise.

    View Larger Map

    While the roads used for this cruise were great, the way things went down was less than enjoyable. The group headed out of the Red Rock Casino and, much like the drive from Barstow to Vegas, everyone just took-off. I was really glad that I had the route programed into my GPS, so I at least knew I’d not get lost, but having to drive excessively fast just to keep ahead of the last car in line was not much fun.

    Like the other day, I understand it’s the desert and the roads are acceptable for higher speeds, but the cruse was more about ‘keeping up’ rather than enjoying the drive. It really gave me a greater appreciation of the group of people we have in the NorCal GOATs. When we go on a cruise we keep the pace fun, but not so extreme that people are left behind.

    At the top of the hill we stopped to talk and enjoy the views. The weather was quite cool compared to Vegas, and it didn’t take too long for people to get cold and want to head back. I took advantage of the scenery to take a few more photos.


    I would have loved to rotate some of the NorCal GOATs into the prime photo locations, but there wasn’t time (and I couldn’t find the owner of the car that was in the best spot). The drive back to the Palace Station, like the one out, quickly turned into playing catch-up. I didn’t worry about trying to stick with people (and I don’t think I even saw another GTO for quite some time).

    At this point I had to say goodbye to my Dad and dropped him off at the Bellagio. I took the opportunity to take some practice shots from the top of the parking structure where the group will be tomorrow morning. I think the view is going to be really impressive tomorrow! I then headed-off to the Palace Station to meet-up with some NorCal GOATs for an early dinner and then a night on the strip.

    Dinner was incredible. We went to the Hofbrauhaus (a great German place) where people were drinking 1 liter beers. If the beers were not enough, when people would get a shot… they would get spanked with a wooden paddle. I don’t know what the obsession was with getting spanked, but I’m sure it had to do with the waitress (who had HUGE tracks of land).

    After dinner we walked across the street to the Hard Rock Casino and then made the “short” journey to the strip. I don’t know who’s idea walking to the strip was, but it was a little farther away than anyone thought. It did lend to a nice 1.2 mile expedition with several intoxicated individuals. Once on the strip the group headed from one end to the other getting into all sorts of fun shenanigans… I would go into more details, but… what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

  • GoatRun’09: Day 2

    Posted on October 3rd, 2009 tcorzett No comments

    Saturday was spent at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (elevation ~2,100ft). There was a ‘test and tune’ at the drag strip that allowed me the first chance to take the G8 out and see what it can do. We showed-up early (way early compared to the other NorCal folks who were recovering from hangovers) and registered for the day’s events.

    I’d never been down a drag strip before, but I have been reading-up on the basics of what to do. After going through tech inspection (which really wasn’t an inspection as far as I could tell) I headed directly to the staging lanes. My dad was in the passenger’s seat and it turned-out that he didn’t need to get out of the car, so made the first pass with me (it was his first trip down a drag strip as well).

    I was lined-up next to a fellow NorCal member, which was somewhat nice (the fact that he was in a 10-second car didn’t help my ego though). I spun the rear tires quickly (didn’t do a burnout with the stock tires, but just enough to get any dirt off) and pulled into the staging beams. I was in Drive mode with the Stage 1 VMS TCM tune (the mild one), traction control off, and revved the engine up to ~1,100rpms. When the light went green… off I went!

    Run #1:

    ET – 14.561s
    MPH – 98.16

    Not as quick/fast as I was hoping, but not bad for having a passenger and a trunk full of stuff. The G8 went straight down the strip and was very stable all the way.

    For the second run I was alone and used Sport mode (still the Stage 1 VMS TCM tune). I again turned traction control off and loaded up to 1,100rpms.

    Run #2:
    ET – 14.083s
    MPH – 96.83

    While this was my quickest ET of the day, I didn’t drive all the way through the end of the 1/4-mile. I didn’t know where the finish line was (and was too far behind the other car to feel like I needed to push hard) and let-off early (hence the 96.83mph speed through the trap). I wonder if I would have been able to break into the 13’s if I’d gone all the way through the the finish on the gas.

    For the next runs I wanted to load the more aggressive Stage 2 VMS TCM tune. The re-tune went quickly and I was able to get back to the staging lanes. This run was much closer to the car in the other lane (only lost by 0.1794) and was therefore much more exciting.

    Run #3:
    ET – 14.199
    MPH – 99.97

    I was only planning on doing three runs down the strip, but after being so close to a 100mph speed through the trap I just had to do one more run. The last run I tried to push things, and the track wasn’t working in my favor. Unlike the previous runs, loading up to 1,100rpm was just too much… and I left the line with a noticeable squeal in the tires. I think that a lower rpm (or maybe having traction control on) would have helped the ET a little.

    Run #4:
    ET – 14.225
    MPH – 101.44

    I thought about one last run, but after watching some of the other cars go down the strip I knew I wasn’t going to improve on my best ET. Cars that were running high 13’s were now in the mid-14’s.

    Spending the day at the drag strip as a competitor (rather than a photographer) was definitely learning experience. I think I will need to go out an try the G8 at a strip that is closer to sea level, as people were talking about how the 2,100ft elevation was robbing some power. Not having a trunk full of bags, water, cameras, etc. would have probably also helped. Using a Density Altitude (DA) calculator for the time of my quick ET was like running at 4569ft… and a corrected ET would have been around 13.3 seconds. I’d really like to get into the low 13’s on the stock tires with this setup, so I’m sure this is something I’m going to have to do again!

    After the test and tune, there was a BBQ and car show. I had really hoped to take some photos of cars as the sun was starting to set, but the location for the car show was less than photogenic. Also, by the time the light was right, my car was blocked-in and everyone else was enjoying the show… I felt that it wasn’t the best time to pull people away for photography.

    After the BBQ people started to vote for their favorite cars and I went around getting some detail shots of NorCal cars. There was a raffle with some really cool prizes (like break rotors, a clutch, etc.)… while I didn’t win anything, several NorCal members did so that was cool. At the end of the night there was a ‘best sounding exhaust’ competition, which was taken hands-down by BillyGoatGruff (another NorCal GOAT).

    After the BBQ and car show a group of us headed over to the enterence to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There are a set of tunnels that lead into the infield, and at night they are lit-up nicely (good thing I brought my tripod). I got my chance to be photographer and took several shots of several different cars. I think a few of the guys gained a better respect about the difficulties of being a photographer… we were constantly having to move cars around because of traffic, and the lighting conditions were difficult at best. While I’d have rather been at the same location shooting ~4 hours earlier, I think I came away with a few decent shots.


    After the photo shoot I needed to drop my Dad off at the hotel, at which time I also crashed… it was almost midnight anyhow and I needed to be up early in the morning for the cruise (wow I sound like an old man).