Sold: The Best Fiesta ST Ever

In 2017 I attempted to participate in both autocrossing and road racing in the same season.

That didn’t work out too well. The constant preparation for this event or another was enough to put my back/lumbar region out of commission for over a year. I tried chiropractic, physical therapy, lidocaine injections, heat, cold, icy-hot, TENS, massage, and finally acupuncture.

So in 2018 I concentrated on road racing, which involves a lot less physical work in a single day. I can prepare the race car and have everything ready to go a week ahead of time, as opposed to autocross, where a single day goes like this:

  • Load tires into car

  • Unload tires from car

  • Change all four tires

  • Drive four minutes

  • Change all four tires

  • Load tires into car

  • Unload tires from car

By August of 2018, my back was finally starting to feel better. But I hadn’t driven the Fiesta much at all since I bought my BMW i3 all-electric car. So it was just sitting around.

I tried selling it on Craigslist and in the classifieds at work, but the only people interested in the car were kids with no money to buy it. So I bit the bullet and sold it to CarMax in December 2018.

I’ll miss that car. It was good to me, even if it wasn’t all that good to my back. It never broke down, and it performed nearly flawlessly for over a hundred autocrosses and track events.

I hope it gets some love from its future owner. And I hope that future owner has a strong back.

small_fiesta.jpg

Goodbye, Niles

This morning we said goodbye to Niles the Beagle, a Nervous Little Dog. We don't know when exactly he was born, but within a year or two, he found his way into a rescue shelter, and from there he was adopted by an active family in Northern Virginia. Unfortunately within three or four years dad had to deploy to a war zone, daughter had to deploy to college, and mother wasn't a dog person. So at the age of about five, Niles needed a new family.

He found me through a workplace classified. He came to my house and immediately began to run around the yard. This made me happy. So I decided to fence it in so other dogs could run with him. And that, as we all know, took on a life of its own.

Niles was always the police dog of the dogpark. If anyone was having too much fun or showing too much aggression, Niles would jump in and break it up, no matter how big the dogs were. He loved to run with certain dogs (Beans, Clark). Others he swore he'd kill if he had the chance (sadly, Moby). And he barely tolerated Cousin Archie. I always said, "If it wasn't his dogpark, Niles wouldn't be invited."

Niles was protective of me... He had run-ins with certain friends of the family, as well as the odd real estate agent. He would get them in the calf from behind as if to say, "...and STAY OUT!!" In his later years he mellowed out quite a bit. But we never fully trusted him around strangers, especially when I was around.

Niles was above all a Good Dog... certainly as Beagles go. He didn't dig, chew, jump up, escape, run away, or bark excessively. He never had an accident in the house, at least not until lately. He sought out petting and he always checked on me when I wasn't feeling well. He accepted affection from others... usually. And he brought many friends to the yard.

Goodbye, Niles.

Niles_goodbye.jpg

#1 in PAX at WDCR SCCA Championship Event #2 !!!

Sunday was Washington DC Region SCCA's Championship Autocross Event #2, and it was wet pretty much all day. There were some breaks in the rain, but the course pretty much stayed wet all the time.

It was my co-driver Marshall's turn to go first, but when it's wet, you never know whose advantage that will work to. Marshall started off with some smooth driving (as always) and laid down a great time (70.399). I couldn't beat it on my first run (70.584). Then he turned up the pressure again (68.615), and again, I couldn't match the time (68.890).

On Marshall's third run, he put down a 67.659, which I thought would be impossible to beat. I went out and came in with a 67.198, which I was just amazed by. I was really happy with the drive.

Marshall had one more run to beat my time, but he was just off his own best. He thinks he pushed too hard and started to power-understeer in a few places, which took too long to recover from before he could get back on the power.

So I had the win, and a free fourth run just to see what the car could do. We figured a 66-second run would get us into the top-10 of the PAX index (where times are multiplied by a factor to compare different classes of cars).

I pulled off a nice aggressive drive and somehow kept it clean. I felt like I overdrove the last couple turns, but they had lots of runout and it must not have hurt me much. In fact, it may have well been a better line, since I was able to keep up my speed while still applying power.

H-Street results

H-Street results

With the rain letting off, the last heat of drivers are heavy in the PAX index below. But I still had to drive the car through the course, I still had to drive it well, and I still had to miss all the cones. So I'll take it. This is my first #1 in PAX... the best I've ever finished at an SCCA event before was 13th.

pax_results.jpg

Thanks to Marshall for co-driving. I really think we push each other and we do better for it. That's four events this season, (practice, #1, ProSolo, and #2) and four times we've finished 1-2. I think if I had been driving alone, I wouldn't have been as proactive or as motivated to do my very best. Marshall is a great driver and instructor, and it's not a question of whether he'll beat me, it's just a matter of when. But we're definitely both better for the competition we've got going on here.

Thanks again!

2016 DC ProSolo WIN!

On Sunday a lot of drivers were able to improve their times, including my co-driver, Marshall Cone. He picked up about 0.6 seconds, which is a lot of time. I drove faster too, as long as you don't count the time I sat at the line...

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

I wasn't able to gain any time, because my reaction times all weekend seemed to just get worse and worse. I guess two red-lights the first day kind of spooked me. Here's a picture of Carson Garfield totally getting the jump on me off the line:

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Still, my times from Saturday held, and I managed to win H-Street class and qualify for Sunday afternoon's Super Challenge, which is a bracket competition of the top 32 finishers in the event. Unfortunately, Marshall was the 34th top finisher and didn't make the cutoff - just a tenth of a second out of the group.

This was my first head-to-head competition, and I am really happy with my driving, but again, I wasn't as happy with my starts. I must have done well in the first round, because I did hang on to make it into the second round: the round of 16. Here's a picture of the lineup of my first round victory:

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

My next competitor in the brackets was Sam Strano in his SSR Corvette. All I can say is that I drove clean, no cones. But my >1 second reaction times on both sides kind of killed me. I lost by just .25 seconds. Sam went on to the semifinals.

I had a fantastic weekend, full of surprises and challenges. And I can't wait to do it again with this experience under my belt. And with about 20 more practice starts, hopefully!

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Photo by Alejandro Aviles

Thanks to AJ Aviles for taking photos all weekend. They were fantastic!

2016 Tire Rack Washington DC Pro Solo: DAY 1

20160514_135938

I used to complain that I was the only Fiesta driver at the events I attended. But it appears the car has caught on. Today there were three white ones present, along with a couple Mini's and a Civic, all competing in the H-Street class.

Click HERE to learn about ProSolo

Today was just the first day of competition, but it was a blast. The weather held for all the runs in our class, and competition was fierce. Yesterday my co-driver Marshall and I did four practice starts each, and I felt a little like I personally could have used 20. But it was a good thing we practiced, because we learned a lot about the car in that short time.

One learning moment was that the hill-brake-assist function will not hold the car on a hill if you hit the accelerator. I thought it would hold until the car sensed it was moving forward, but it simply releases, so you can't rev the engine without rolling backwards. Since the drag start is on a hill, you have to hold the e-brake to keep you still until your launch. The four practice starts were enough for me to realize I needed a LOT more practice launching the car.

Saturday Results

Marshall's starts were consistently better than mine, but he drove somewhat conservatively, with consistent times, no Red-Lights, no DNF's, no cones. I drove a bit wildly, but fortunately I managed a clean run on each course, so it paid off. As of Saturday evening, I'm sitting in first, which was a huge shock to me. So we are currently 1st and 2nd in class, which is neat. Everyone in the class is running nice sticky Bridgestone RE-71R tires, which is the "tire du jour". I just didn't really imagine I'd pull this kind of result off among this group.

The 2016 Tire Rack Washington DC Pro Solo is being held at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland

The 2016 Tire Rack Washington DC Pro Solo is being held at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland

 

Sunday is a New Day

Tomorrow will be dry, but cold and windy. The Bridgestones should perform well in the cold temps, but we'll see if the group can improve on today's times. If the others can, I only hope I can as well.

Sunday also features the Super Challenge, and I honestly don't really understand how it works. From what I gather, it's some set of complicated rules that reward consistent driving (which is not my strong suit). If I qualify for the Super Challenge, I'll line up where they tell me to and drive as well as I can, I guess. This is my first ProSolo in at least 15 years or so, and they didn't have Super Challenge way back then.

 

 

 

Numbers

Yesterday, a fellow driver asked me where I bought the numbers on my car.

 

On my white Fiesta, I've been using numbers cut out of black magnetic material that I purchased in a big roll. Well, that doesn't show up too well on my black 944.  But the silver paw vinyl does...

IMG-20140903-00678

So last year I used some of the silver "repositionable adhesive vinyl" left over on the roll from the dogpark livery. I've been cutting out different fonts for each event. My last event was kind of art-deco:

At the VIR event I did a futuristic, hastily done font:

2015-10-15_08-20-09

At my first event I used the Porsche font which might have been used for the numbers "911" and "GT3":

20150912_084858_HDR

This year I bought some golden yellow vinyl which matches the yellow track wheels I have. This font is called "Clockwork Orange".

20160313_155050_HDR

Numbers are so simple to make, I don't know why more people don't make them. They certainly look cooler than painter's tape, and they don't cost much more. Here are links to the products I picked up on Amazon:

It's really simple to pick a font, and print out each number as big as it will be printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet. Transfer the outline to the vinyl either by scribbling the back side with pencil or by using extra pressure to make an imprint on the vinyl. Then just cut it out.

It's actually one of the more fun and relaxing things I do to prepare for a track weekend, particularly if I'm not rushed.

Make a Carrying Case for your Stuff!

Hey everyone.

I just picked up a GoPro Hero 4 Black from OG Racing with the discount they've offered to Rennlist folks:

http://rennlist.com/forums/racing-an...a-blowout.html

And I thought I'd share the carrying case I made to take my camera gear to the track and to stay organized.

First I took a case from an old cordless drill that my brother was about to throw out, and I cut out all the separators and support fins with a wood chisel (could have used a dremel, it's tough stuff though).

Untitled


Then I took some packaging foam from a big server crate and cut it to fit. I cut holes all the way through for everything with a sharp knife, and cut a slice of each of the cut-out pieces to line the bottom of each hole.

Untitled

The swim goggles case is great for keeping track of really small stuff like media.

As you can see, I've cut a new hole for my new camera, right next to my original GoPro 3+ Black edition. I also carry my gps receiver, gopro remote (came with my first cam), and a couple tools including a stubby philips for tightening the mounts.

You can also tell that I could add at least four more gopros, but I'd probably have to make another case just for all the mounting stuff at that point. I'd also have to take out a second mortgage, and at some point I'd have to admit to myself that I'm not Ken Block.  <-- that's a youtube video about a pro gopro production worth checking out...

Untitled

I keep charging / USB wires in the little drill compartment with its handy door, which I retained when I cut all the other stuff out of the case. That compartment doubles as the lid for the big opening for mounts.


I've been using this case for a couple years now, and it's been awesome knowing exactly where all your camera gear is. This organization makes it easy to prepare for your track day, too.

Untitled

 

I'm just posting in case this provides some ideas you can use. People throw this sort of thing out all the time.

Re-use!

Building a Quick Pot Rack. Plus: Railing Details

One of the projects that got put off for quite a while was a pot rack above the sink. We're spatially challenged when it comes to storage in the kitchen, and with a recent purchase of some proper wine glasses, something had to give.

That something was that the pot rack had to be built. Fortunately, this was a simple and easy project because my materials were already chosen and I've got lots of experience with them.

Here's the niche that will house the pots:

The design is a simple 1" black pipe between two floor flanges across the space. This follows the design of the other railings in the kitchen and stairwell areas, and it really ties the room together, Dude.

I already had a length of black pipe, threaded on one end. I took it in to Home Depot, where I had the other end cut to length and threaded. They didn't charge me for that, but the flanges for the ends were surprisingly expensive - almost $7 apiece. I don't remember them costing nearly that much last time. I also bought a packet of 8 #12x1" wood screws to fasten them to the cabinets for about $1.50.

I also happened to have some primer and a rattle can of "Hammered" finish black paint left over from the renovation. So all I had to do was clean the pipe with a wire wheel on the right-angle grinder, wipe it down with acetone, prime it, and paint it.

While I'm on the subject, I should share why this really ties the room together, Dude.  Earlier this week, I realized that I never took any pictures of the railings in the house after they were installed. So I took some pictures of the banister, the newel post, and the railing to show and tell.

The railings are mostly threaded together with pipe-fittings at the wall to give it an industrial look, but to maintain a cleaner look, I welded the joints on the railing, the top corner of the newell, and the overlook bends. The overlook bends were tricky because they aren't 90 degree bends.

The railing is pushed out into the opening a bit for maximum space on the upper level since the entrance from the porch is rather narrow. The gaps between the bottom railings and the floor opening are less than 4", which passes the letter of the code, but the inspector didn't like it. Fortunately he let it go.

The glass was purchased from Consolidated Glass Corporation along with the other glass in the renovation. I bought the stainless steel glass clamp fittings directly from C.R. Laurence which is a fantastic resource for all kinds of hardware. I put some weld beads down where the glass clamps were mounted to build up the sides a bit. This is because the radius of the CRL hardware was larger than the radius of the pipe (the CRL hardware was designed for that big 3" radius stuff you see in hotels, I guess).

You can see it best in the picture of the top rail of the newel post.

I'd like to highlight some of the incredibly detailed planning and forethought that went into the railings and their placement.

I had the designs in mind very early in the process, and before the walls were covered up in stone or drywall, my excellent foreman Bill Machande was careful to ensure there was adequate blocking and support wherever the railings would likely attach.

For example, from a few pieces of scrap spacer plates that came with the steel support columns, I fabricated these standoffs for the newel post. They are anchored securely into the brick and then drilled and tapped with threads to hold the flanges. They aren't going anywhere, ever.

24046304982_5fc34e99b6_z.jpg

Both sides of the opening at the kitchen feature studs that face the drywall to give plenty of support to the overlook railings. Bill also made sure additional blocking was placed at predetermined points all the way down the staircase to support the stairway railing there. The railings should handle anything a parkour enthusiast might dish out.

TRACK DAY RECAP: The Porsche 944 at VIR

This past weekend was my second track weekend with the 944, and it was just about perfect, all things considered.

The car performed heroically. It hauled itself, me, four race tires, a 10'x10' canopy, jack, stands, tools, and a duffel 350 miles to the track. Then it went eight 20-25 minute sessions on track without a complaint, and then 350 miles home again. I am once again pleased with my purchase.

Here's a picture of my steed in the paddock that I took with an 80mm prime portrait lens, which makes the car look 100x better than it does when you're standing next to it:

21933466538_6de7fefd62_z.jpg

I guess portrait lenses are as good for cars as they are for people.

Driving VIR in the 944

Anyway, I had a great time building up confidence, gradually re-learning each turn in a RWD car. I didn't have an instructor this weekend, but I did capture all but my first session on my lap timer / gps recorder. I'm looking forward to evaluating the data in the off-season, comparing it to the Fiesta.

Speaking of the Fiesta, it is still the faster car even at VIR. My best times in the Fiesta were 2:25's. In the 944, I pared it down to a 2:28 by the end of the weekend. But I'm sure I can find three seconds out there, because late on Sunday I realized I wasn't flooring the gas pedal in many places that I could have been. I guess I thought I was being smooth, but the fact is, I could have been smooth and still gotten the pedal all the way down!

Also, because of the large groups in HPDE-2, I was usually right up behind a train of cars by the time I reached Oak Tree, so I really didn't get a lot of practice taking that turn properly. And it's the most important turn on the course for a momentum car, carrying into the longest straight on the circuit.

Brake Pad Success!

Before the first session on day 2, I changed all the brake pads to Performance Friction PFC-08's, which are an endurance racing compound. When I took them off at the end of the day, they looked like they hadn't been used at all! Wow. When I was installing them I filed down the rough edges where they ride on the caliper guides, and I think that made a huge difference in letting them float where they needed to. I saw no evidence of a "lazy piston" or uneven wear. Finally, some brake pads that perform like they should! I have high hopes that these pads will last me quite a few weekends, if not a whole season.

Marathon Drive

The drive home from VIR is a trial, though. First of all, they load up all the DE group sessions late on Sunday afternoon so the racers can go home early. (It's not really fair, but the argument is that racers need the extra time to manage impound, protests, and other activities that the DE groups don't. That's a bunch of hooey, but that's the way it is.) So at 5:40 PM I can start to put my car back together- changing tires and brake pads back to street ones. And third, loading the car is a Tetris exercise that really can't be pre-staged, since so much stuff is needed to do that re-assembly work. Fourth, the car's muffler is shot, so I had to stop and buy some earplugs (I couldn't find the ones I used on the way down) Even with the ear plugs, the car drones along the dark 2-lane highway, which tends to hypnotize and sedate an already-exhausted driver. With some breaks for 10-minute naps to prevent death-by-guardrail, I arrived home at 1 AM this morning. I was a zombie today at work.

So there you have it. A great weekend at VIR, beautiful cool fall weather with only a spritz of rain on Saturday, and no issues with the car (or the brakes!).

 

My Porsche 944 Build Thread

I have begun my build thread over at Grassroots Motorsports. But I caution you, the build threads on that site are somewhat addictive. Don't visit on a school night or you could find yourself at 2am reading to find out what Burrito decided to do about the exhaust on his Fiat 128 Sedan.

I'll continue to post here about the joys of driving. I'll post there about the details you're not interested in. But if you are, then just go to my build thread at grassrootsmotorsports.com.

I did post there about my first track day in the Porsche at Summit Point main circuit. I'll say it here too, that was one of the most rewarding weekends I've had at the track.

The reason I post all the technical stuff at GRM is because the readership there is full of really talented car people. They have a lot to offer in terms of advice and ideas for just such a project. So I look forward to that sort of feedback there.

Turn 1 (I'll let all those other guys pass me before turn 3)

Turn 1 (I'll let all those other guys pass me before turn 3)

As I explain in the post on GRM, my Fiesta is actually faster around the track than the Porsche.

You read that right. Ford Fiesta > Porsche.

I'm hoping to change that situation eventually, through better driving, a stronger engine, and possibly lighter weight. The GRM crowd is full of help that way too.

Making Tire Caddys from Salvaged Medical Equipment

My neighbors are doctors, and they had a couple anesthesia machines that they intended to leave out for scrap. I thought the wheels on them might make perfect dollies for my new-to-me Porsche wheels and tires.

20150830_120957_HDR.jpg

The equipment was heavier than I expected, which was good, because those wheels really seemed to be built for the task. They also rolled really easily across asphalt, all the way from my neighbor's driveway to mine.

It took me a while to figure out how it was put together, but once I had one of them taken apart, I found that four nuts and a single cut of a metal brace would free my wheels from the whole apparatus:

I cut out some scrap plywood into circles to distribute the load on the tire. I wouldn't want to damage the sidewalls by storing them stacked four-high on four square inches of surface.

They roll around so nicely in my garage and driveway now. Way better than any Harbor Freight piece of crap could. I'm pretty happy with this little project. Eventually I'll attach the plywood to the cast aluminum frames with four carriage bolts, but for now they just sit on top. Which is what they do most of the time anyway!

Here they are in action, handily carrying the two sets of "phone dials". My garage is beginning to look like a Tire Rack warehouse.

Here they are in action, handily carrying the two sets of "phone dials". My garage is beginning to look like a Tire Rack warehouse.


Porsche 944: On The Road!

I love Maryland. Yeah, I said it. I work in Virginia, and there are actually people there who despise all things Maryland, to the point that they will not cross over the Potomac River without a good reason, whatever that might be.

Well, here in Maryland, we've got something called Historic tags. You pay just $51 for two years of registration, and you don't need to have the car inspected or pass emissions testing. As long as it's an occasional use car that's at least 20 years old, you can get them.

As a result, I was able to get tags for this car in 1 hour flat. I paid my sales tax on the car, a $100 title fee, and the $51 registration good for two years. On a really busy day at the MVA. I was impressed!

Someday I'll get some personalized ones that say something clever. But not until I'm more comfortable in our relationship. I want to see if this is real before I commit to something serious like that.

Purchased: 1988 Porsche 944 Track Car

I have been having a blast driving the Fiesta on the track this year, but the faster I get, the more I think it's important to have more appropriate safety gear. I'm approaching Spec Miata lap times in a car that has no roll cage, standard shoulder belts, and no rescue features like tow hooks or engine kill switches.

I've come to the realization that if I ball up the Fiesta, I'm down at least $20K, my daily driver, and not least, hospital bills. If I ball up a reasonably priced track car with track-appropriate safety equipment, then I'm out the reasonable cost of the car, I would likely walk away from the incident, and drive to work on Monday.

So my friend Mike said I should consider a Porsche 944. They're relatively inexpensive, easy to work on, and there are lots of them out there on the road and on the track. Eventually he sent me a link to one for sale, and I think it was the perfect thing for me. Yes, parts are still Porsche expensive. But at least I can do a great deal of the work myself without a lift, as opposed to just about any task you'd want to undertake on a Porsche 911.

So here it is: a 1988 Porsche 944 naturally aspirated coupe. It has been built up as a track car by a guy in Northeast Ohio. He had much of his work done for him by professionals, and I've got the receipts. Quite a lot of money has gone into this car. I bought it from a guy in Buffalo, NY, who had bought it for his wife in the hopes that she would take to track events. I guess she didn't take. So the car basically lived in a garage for a year before he got around to selling it.

Here it is on the trailer. I dragged it home from Buffalo, NY on August 23, 2015.

Here it is on the trailer. I dragged it home from Buffalo, NY on August 23, 2015.

The car has 87,500 miles. I was skeptical, but the CarFax report corroborated the number. It has been fairly heavily modified for the track, but it's still street legal. It had been safety inspected and registered in New York in 2014.

The good things:

  • Full bolt-in cage
  • Momo racing seats (expired for racing, but great for DE's)
  • 5-point cam-release harnesses (expired for racing, still ok for DE's)
  • A/C delete
  • Bigger brake swap from a 968
  • three sets of wheels (street tires you see, two sets of yellow phone dials with Nitto NT01 racing tires)
  • Momo steering wheel
  • 500# front springs
  • Kokeln front and rear anti-sway bars
  • Timing belt / balancer belt / water pump replacement within 5K miles
  • Aftermarket clutch
  • No oil leaks
  • No coolant leaks
  • No interior leaks
  • No rust
  • It drove up onto the trailer under its own power.
  • Everything seemed accurately represented in the advertisement. Many good things were actually left out!

The bad things:

  • It had been sitting a while. The condition of the fuel and fuel system was unknown.
  • The paint is in poor shape... the clearcoat came off with decal removal by the previous owner, and any forward-facing paint surfaces look like a starry sky from rock dings.
  • There was a missing bolt connecting the front driver-side lower control arm to the very fancy anti-sway bar end link.
  • It's a pain to get in and out of because I'm such a big lump.

So, not too many bad things, actually. That I've come across yet.

My plans for the car are to drive it at HPDE events (aka Track Days), and to drive it to and from HPDE events. I don't intend to modify it much further at this time. I bought it because it's ready to drive, and I hope to get some considerable quality track time with it before I would consider any mods.

944 N/A cars are known to be great handling, but on the slow side. That's ok with me. I'm looking forward to gaining a lot of RWD experience with this puppy, and I am not out there to break track records. In any case, it should be a lot of fun to drive on the track.

My Fiesta ST Mods

People always ask me at events, "What have you done to your car?" Well, it's kind of hard to explain in a short amount of time. I tend to rattle off the short version:

  • Wheels & Tires
  • Shocks
  • Drop-in K&N air filter
  • Seat harness (for autocross only)
  • Brake pads (for the track)
  • Brake ducts (for the track)

And that's about it.

But some of those mods were pretty involved, I've documented them pretty well on a couple websites. But it was hard to tell people how to find those links.

So it's really nice to be able to say, "just look on my website, www.dogparkracing.com!"

Autocross Build

My "2014 Fiesta ST G-Street Autocrosser" Build Thread on GrassrootsMotorsports.com.

- Includes wheels, tires, shocks, harness, graphics, and a trailer hitch.

Brake Ducts for the Track Build

My Brake Ducts Build on FiestaST.net.

Brake Pads for the Track

My Hawk StreetRace Brake Pad Review on FiestaST.net.

My Hawk DTC-60 Brake Pad Review on FiestaST.net.

Modifying the rear shock tower mount to accept a shock that was made for a VW Beetle.

Modifying the rear shock tower mount to accept a shock that was made for a VW Beetle.

I'll probably just do the rest of my mods here and link to them from other websites, unless I do a massive car project. I like doing the build threads on GRM because it's such a great resource. I get feedback from a lot of experienced gearheads.

GARLIC!!!

Kendra and I just dug up all the garlic that Ed planted last year, and they look awesome! Ed has been planting successively more and more garlic since the first year of the garden, and except for the initial year, it has always been from the biggest and most prolific bulbs from the season before.

We're drying them out on Mom's porch, and later Ed will braid them into hanging strings for storage through the year. Mom says she wants a string of it. She complained that she's been buying garlic from the store... so common!

Here are a few shots of them drying, and one that broke off. We'll use it right away.

That's my hand holding one of the larger bulbs. Just so you know that this is one pretty impressive crop!

VIDEO: Summit Point HPDE with NASA-MA

NASA Mid Atlantic HPDE-2 group was a great bunch to run with. I wanted to do something a little different with the video so I compiled all the passes together, in order, no exceptions. Whether I was passing or being passed. They're all in there.

I made this video just for fun.. Not everyone had nice sticky tires like me. Not everyone was out there to break personal land speed records (nor was I). The point is, it wasn't a competition. Just driving on a closed course at a high rate of speed. So nothing here really means anything, except that if you have a track-prepared Ferrari, you can probably get by a Ford Fiesta if you really want to.

Turn it up! The music is great, licensed under Creative Commons licensing. As such, this video is also licensed the same way, CC NC.

http://luziusstone.com

Still Photos from Watkins Glen

In late April, I took off on a Monday and Tuesday to drive to upstate New York and participate in what is on many a car enthusiast's bucket list: Driving the famous Watkins Glen International raceway.

One of two road circuits on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour season, "The Glen" is one of the most revered, and respected, road racing circuits in the country. It is huge. But there can be a hefty price to pay for the slightest off-course excursion. Just a few feet from anywhere on the track, the bright baby blue steel Armco barriers loom.

Here are some pictures I took with my still camera while I was there. I also took quite a bit of video, and I look forward to distilling that footage into something short, sweet, and entertaining.

For now, the pics:

I got my own garage space, just like Ricky Bobby! Shake n Bake!

I got my own garage space, just like Ricky Bobby! Shake n Bake!

The famous blue barriers. And sponsors everywhere.

The famous blue barriers. And sponsors everywhere.

There weren't a lot of spectators present to watch me master the course.

There weren't a lot of spectators present to watch me master the course.


Beekeeping Update

We installed a package from Georgia in one hive in April. Then in May we installed a "nuc" from a local breeder here in DC.

Today we opened up the "Dixie Chicks", and they have been aggressively building out their comb and brood. They are so populous we're actually thinking of splitting them. Today we put on a super with a queen excluder, so we can take some honey. Our goal isn't to get honey... our goal is survival of their first winter. So we don't want to take too much. We didn't go in too far, because we really liked what we saw. Sooooo many bees. The two deeps were packed full of them!

We didn't even look for a queen... there's plenty of evidence that this is one really vigorous, healthy, productive hive. It was chock full of bees.

In this picture you can see the honey in the upper left, and larvae pretty much everywhere else. You can see them curled up in their cells in various sizes. The really little ones might be 3-4 days old. The ones that are nearly filling the cell&nbsp;might be a week or so old.&nbsp;As they get large enough, they're getting capped with the white toasty stuff.

In this picture you can see the honey in the upper left, and larvae pretty much everywhere else. You can see them curled up in their cells in various sizes. The really little ones might be 3-4 days old. The ones that are nearly filling the cell might be a week or so old. As they get large enough, they're getting capped with the white toasty stuff.

Second, we opened up "All Mighty Pollinators" (the locals). They have been slower to build out comb, but we saw the queen, and we saw brood actually hatching. They were trucking along but they didn't seem to be as concerned about expanding into the nearby frames. Our hives are 8-frame langstroth bodies, and the nuc was 5 frames. They had built up comb on maybe 2 of the 3 frames we added.

Here is a picture of the queen of the All Mighty Pollinators. She's busy laying eggs in this frame. You can see the little teeny eggs standing up in the bottom of the dark cells below her The eggs are hatching into larvae where the cells appear wet and shiny on the lower right. The really shiny cells on the left side of the picture are full of honey.

Here is a picture of the queen of the All Mighty Pollinators. She's busy laying eggs in this frame. You can see the little teeny eggs standing up in the bottom of the dark cells below her The eggs are hatching into larvae where the cells appear wet and shiny on the lower right. The really shiny cells on the left side of the picture are full of honey.

Jen inspects one of the nuc frames with quite a bit of capped brood. This hive should be growing much more quickly in the next couple weeks.

Jen inspects one of the nuc frames with quite a bit of capped brood. This hive should be growing much more quickly in the next couple weeks.

The Bellevederes @ The Windup Space: Memorial Day, 2015

I wish it hadn't been a school night, because I really wanted to stay for the last band, but I'm always stoked to see The Bellevederes.

First  I took some pictures of the tools of the trade:

The Bellevederes were particularly good, with several new songs and of course, the BOOM BOOM:

Sandaraa had an awesome sound. I really enjoyed them:

I only wish I could have stayed to see the Raya Brass Band.

Here's a taste of what that might have been like:


VIDEO: Dogpark Jan/Feb 2015

I've been gathering video over a couple dogpark sessions in the front yard, and we've really had a lot of fun in the late snows here in the neighborhood.

When I do a video, I start with the music. I find something interesting  and distinctive on Soundcloud, Free Music Archive, or some other site that features lots of creative commons licensed music. Then I think about what story would go with that music. Usually, what comes out in video doesn't quite match up to what I had in mind, due to lack of the exact footage I'm looking for.

Nancy is always pleased with her&nbsp;stick.

Nancy is always pleased with her stick.

It takes patience to find all the footage, to isolate the good parts, and to time it with the music. And I've learned a couple other techniques - slowing the frame rate, for example, that can really help fit the action to the beat. But that takes time and patience, and sometimes I run out.

So here you go. Enjoy my hasty job. I think it's fun all the same.