19th Feb2014

Meet Big Rhonda

by Michael Chandler

Supra Practicality Test cover

As some of you may know I bought a Supra.  And as some others have pointed out, it’s “the wrong one”.  The implication being that any Supra that isn’t a twin turbo, six speed Mark IV is inferior.  Let me tell you why that’s bullsh*t.  #1: Mark 3s, like my Rhonda (I’ll explain later)  used to race in Group A competition in Japan… Where it didn’t do too well.  The problem?  It’s the size of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, and weighs just as much.  AND it competed (mostly) turbocharged, which added a penalty.  It won it’s debut JTCC at Sugo, but never secured a title losing to Ford Sierra RS Cosworths, Sierra RS500s, R31 GTS-R Skylines and (starting in 1990) the now legendary R32 Skyline GT-R.

It also had in house competition.  The Celica WRC program was vacuuming up money, so the MA70 just kinda kicked around.  Frankly ALL Supras just kicked around until 1996, when the Castrol TOM”S Supra won a GT500 title in JGTC.  But that’s a Mark 4, and neither here nor there.  This is about MY Supra, and my basement that needed some sprucing up…

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But first, some pertinent information about the car.  She’s a 1987 Turbo.  Yes, that means there is a 7M-GTE lurking underneath all forty feet of hood.  The three liter, turbocharged straight six is stock aside from a Cometic metal head gasket and ARP head studs.  There are three pedals, because I’m a man!  And because I’m a man, and the kid I bought it from is a lying liar, there is an Exedy clutch master cylinder replacing the stock one the kid said he replaced.  There’s also a three inch stainless steel V Band exhaust that I have to replace because it is getting pretty rusty, and because it’s not what I want on the car.  She’s also burgundy, which led to some calling her Ron.  I am of the school of thought that important things like cars, boats or golf clubs she be given female names, so I declared her Big Rhonda.  And here we are.

It being a Tuesday I knew Dave was available for shenanigans to help out, so I made my way down to Endless Garage to grab him, and to look around Endless.  After the impromptu tour, and meet and greet, we hopped in Rhonda and made our way north to the bastion of Swedish flat pack furniture.

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The big girl has some quirks.  First: despite having a radio AND speakers, neither seem to work at the same time.  The radio turns on, but it only sends sound out to the right side speaker.  Singular.  And most of the time that speaker doesn’t work, so I bought a little bluetooth speaker and jam out on that.  She also decided to double down on boost.  From the factory these Supras made 8psi.  On a fateful trip to Idaho Rhonda decided to run all the way up to 15 and introduce me to fuel cut.  Instead of solving the problem I learned to feather the throttle to keep her in boost and under fuel cut.  The little speaker did it’s job, and I really didn’t need to dip into positive pressure too much.  We pulled in, found a parking spot that allowed for a good photo, parked, snapped a photo, then made our way into the steel crate that is Ikea.

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The pathway through the store makes for a great shopping cart drift circuit.  Being the red blooded, fun loving Americans we are we took full advantage of the opportunity presented to us.  I did well, Dave killed it, the staff and other shoppers gave us dirty looks.  Soon after the death glares and fun, we emerged victorious: two area rugs, a welcome mat, some weird mat thing and a roll of no slip material.  Now was the real test: will all of it fit?

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I folded the utterly useless back seats down while Dave snapped the cargo cover up, and moved my space age hood/hatch prop and shovel and salt.  And would ya look at that!  THERE’S SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!

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As you can see we didn’t take the cargo cover out.  We didn’t need to and we really didn’t have a place to put it.  So there’s that.  And the salt and shovel are in there because this beast was my only means of conveyance for about a month.  My brother was borrowing my Subaru while his was at Ziptie, and I still had to get to work.

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ANYWHO, with our bounty loaded we returned the cart and made off for our next stop…

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I needed drapery and I needed it cheap.  We drove a few miles up the freeway to a Target, because I’m willing to pay to not go to Walmart, repeated the Ikea parking procedure, and headed to the home furnishings section.  Supra Practicality Test (13 of 13)

And would you believe it?  We crammed MORE stuff in there!  AND THERE WAS STILL TONS OF ROOM!!!  JUST LOOK AT THE GAPING CHASM THAT IS AFT OF THE FRONT SEATS!!!  Shopping done, we got burgers and then got to decorating.  Rhonda proved extremely practical this day.

You haven’t seen the last of her on these pages.  She needs maintenance work (she’s twenty-six after all), and a better, more legal way to affix the license plate on the back.  We’ve also got to deal with the sudden boost increase, the amount of daylight visible underneath her, the rusty exhaust and a bunch of other things.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.


12th Feb2014

Bad Luck Brendon

by Michael Chandler

Lap Battle HPDE3-1

Hitting every light on the way to work and showing up half an hour late. Parking seventeen miles away from the mall entrance, and coming out to see that not only has someone parked next to you BUT they have completely ignored the lines and are millimeters from your car’s door. Running out of gas. All of these are considered bouts of “bad luck”. Brendon Stewart laughs at your bad luck. Why does he laugh at your pain? Because while you were sitting in traffic he was in his garage replacing his second transfer case pinion gear. While you were contemplating teaching that fellow a lesson, he was missing ANOTHER race weekend because his Evo decided to not want to work. What was he doing while you were trudging to the gas station, readying your body for the gouging you were about to receive? Well, let’s just say it was worse than that…

Despite all of the problems, Brendon is hopeful for the 2014 season. He sat down with me to talk about last year’s problems and this years plans.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-82

What happened last season?

In general what happened?

Yeah, in general what happened.

Oh man, last season was tough. I had a lot of really unfortunate situations with mechanical failures in the car. Just seemed like every single time I went out I didn’t ever have a very successful day, until the very last race of the year; so I was always working the car and everything was always not right.


The most spectacular failure that we all saw was the fire. What happened there?

Umm, that was incredibly unfortunate because that was a brand new engine. So my stock engine spun a rod bearing after 5000 race miles, which is not really that unusual. It was probably time for a refresh, but because it happened I ended up building an engine. Thought I’d spend the money and make it nice, not cut any corners, and it ran really, really well. It was a really good engine, first day.

It was too good to be true

Second day unfortunately, just kinda down the main straight it spun another bearing and started knocking. And I just tried to limp it around to get back to the pits, and it didn’t even make it another half a lap. It seized, shot a rod through the block and everything caught fire, and that’s that.


So you said that was a new motor, but was that the original transmission? Did you have to replace that?

I believe that was the original transmission, which has been rebuilt a few times. New synchros, maintenance stuff. There’s never been any catastrophic transmission failure, which is good… yet.

Yet *knocks on wood*

But I have blown through two transfer case pinion gears, two engines in this car now. Umm… I think that’s the extent of the really big problems.


The really big ones that have sidelined you. Was this your first year doing door to door or your second?

First year doing door to door. I was just working on doing all my individual rookie races done so I could get my full competition license. Unfortunately I was only able to complete two full race days, which actually count, so I still need to work on that. Gonna be an interesting 2014.

Did you have to change anything going from TT (time trail) to ST (door to door)?

Umm yeah, the biggest changes were safety items in the car so I really didn’t have to change a lot of, really anything for rules other than safety cause the power to weight ratio rules and stuff like that were all the same.


So nothing mechanical wise, just safety stuff.

Exactly. I had to get an updated harness, I had to add either a new seat or a seat brace and I added a seat brace. Window net, fire suppression system. I had to change my roll cage a little bit cause it was uncompliant. But other than that…


The car is for sale, and all I heard was that you want something V8 and rwd for your next platform. But the car hasn’t sold…

The car has not sold, but I do have an interested person potentially … So we’ll see what happens with that, but if it doesn’t go through then I’ll continue to just race this car through next year. Hopefully work on making it more reliable, and be able to finish developing the car because I still don’t feel that I’ve been able to reach its full potential in its current state.

What were you going to be getting? If the Evo sold you’d be getting…

If the Evo sells, or sold, it’d be an S13 240 chassis with an LS1 V8. Pretty basic, reliable.


I don’t want this to happen, but I gotta ask: if last season’s events start to repeat (this year) will you just hang it up or will you keep trying to get out there?

I don’t know. That’s a really tough question honestly, because it’s been really difficult to keep going and I have so much passion for this sport that I really want to keep going. But at some point. I don’t know, something needs to change for me to keep being able to do it. If I keep having bad luck, or if there’s a really big problem then it’s going to be tough.

Lap Battle-1

Hopefully you can get back out there! And I noticed something. When the car was orange you had the sock monkey hanging from the riser on the spoiler, and everything was kick ass. Then the next year you didn’t (have the sock monkey) and everything went wrong.

It’s true.

Can you have the sock monkey on the spoiler? Or…

Umm… I’m not sure because I got a lot of grief when it was on the spoiler previously, but they let it slide cause it was actually sewn on and they were afraid it was going to fall off and cause debris. But that was also before we moved into the NASA rule set, so they’re a lot more strict now. But maybe I can put it inside the car now.

Kinda like Mumphrey, with Ryan Gates and his Evo.

One extra horsepower!


Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler, Trent Bray and Michael Wells.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
07th Feb2014

Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour: How to Spend Your Saturday

by Michael Chandler

CAM goes to COTA 5 19 13 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-19


Guys, gals, pets, I’ve found how you will be spending your Saturday afternoon.  You, like me, will be watching the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 hour race.  Why?  Because where, outside of Forza or Gran Turismo, will you see Fiat 500 Abarths pairing off against SLS AMG GT3s?  Focus Global Touring Cars (tube chassis, V8 powered, lots of awesome) hunting down a Ginetta G50?  Exactly.

There are six classes:

Class A is comprised of current GT3 spec cars.  AF Corse (essentially Ferrari’s sports car team) will be challenging last year’s winner Erebus Motorsports and their pair of SLS AMG GT3s for the class win.

Class B is ten 911 GT3 Cup cars ganging up on two R8s and two Lamborghini Gallardos.  This class has the best team name running in it: Racing Incident, which is running a Gallardo LP520.

Class C is three GT4 class cars: a Ginetta G50, a Lotus Exige Cup R and an Exige S.  Tiny?  Yes.  Awesome?  The Ginetta handles that, and then some.

Class D is 3001cc engines and up, and resembles something you’d see at a track day… in Europe: two SEAT Leon Supercopas, an E46 M3 GTR, an E92 M3, a Daytona Sportscar Coupe (an Australian Shelby Daytona Coupe), and a WRX STi thrown in for good measure.  This will be a fun one to watch.

Class E is full of Fiat 500 Abarth’s run by the same team.  Three adorable little Fiats will try to avoid being killed by everything else on track.  This will be the most adorable class to watch.

Class I is the afore mentioned Global Touring Car spec Focuses… Foci…  Focus?  Whatever.  It’s a lot like Class E, except more fearsome than adorable.

The Race starts in a little less than twenty-four hours from now (at the time this was being written) and you can/will watch the live stream on the race’s website, which features commentary from Radio Le Mans.

UPDATE 1:51PM MST: HQ Holdens race happening for the next hour http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/live/ Old Holdens!

Words and photo by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
06th Feb2014

Genuflection: C4 Corvette

by Trent

C4 Corvette

/ˌdʒɛnyʊˈflɛkʃən/ [jen-yoo-flek-shuhn]
an act of bending the knee or touching it to the ground in reverence or worship.

I may catch some flack for this one, but it’s another car I truly did love growing up. It’s a car our late friend Johnny even had for a period of time.

I’ll set the tone. I was young and impressionable, easily distracted by loud, shiny things. Well, a red, loud, shiny thing just happened to be on my walk home from elementary school each day. From as young as I can remember walking home from school in the early 90’s, there was a house that beheld a Red C4 Corvette in the garage. Many times the garage would be open as I walked past. Occasionally, I’d get to hear it burble to life and drive off down the winding residential road. This late-model C4 was more refined to my eye than the early-model cars and more desirable.

It struck a chord in my young mind that this car was cool. Never mind the owner who was graying, it still made the right noises and looked the part. This was before critically thinking about soft-touch interior panels and high gas prices. It was a car and a motor. Before everyone cared about what brand of wheels they rocked and air vs. static. It was pure, innocent fun without hatred or bias. Simple, but the short list of things I wanted in a car at that age were all there.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Corvette Museum a couple years ago and rekindle my Corvette flame. And despite the rear end that still bothers me a little, a C7 Corvette is something I wouldn’t turn down. Chances are, I will never own a C4 Corvette, not because I don’t respect them anymore, but because I am often fighting for space in my garage and driveway as-is. However, in the early 90’s, my heart wanted a red Ferrari, a red Lamborghini, and a red Corvette. For now, a red Viper will suffice. More on that another time.

-Trent Bray

[Source: Genuflection: genuflection. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved August 23, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genuflection]

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05th Feb2014

Someone Stole Guy Fieri’s Lamborghini 3 Years Ago

by Michael Chandler

And he did it like a bad ass.  Then things went south for Max Wade in a big way, but that’s not what this is about.  It’s about this:

At sixteen Max repelled into British Sports Cars, picked the lock, hot wired the thing, jammed up the Lojack and drove away in it.  He also accidentally turned on the windshield wipers, but nobody’s perfect… As Max proved when he shot at a girl he “desired” and her boyfriend FROM A MOTORCYCLE.  (The boyfriend and girlfriend were only slightly injured by flying glass thankfully).  This was after he began his career making fake IDs.

The story gets better: he was arrested at the storage unit he was renting.  The unit contained fake IDs, burglary equipment AND THE LAMBORGHINI HE STOLE A YEAR EARLIER.  He’s now facing a life sentence, which is probably for the best because super-villainy was a major possibility for this kid’s future.

Words by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.