11th Dec2017

When Worlds Collide: Old Meets New

by Gavin Pouquette

After the leaves on the trees have changed color and fallen, some of my favorite canyon roads to drive in the summer shut down  due to the fact that they aren’t maintained in the winter. Thus, making the next 5-6 months, from late fall into late spring, a tad grim for those of us that consider canyon carving a favorite pastime. East Canyon, Guardsman’s Pass, Wolf Creek Pass, closed until the winter snow thaws out in May of next year. Kind of a bummer, I know. But this gives us true addicts an excuse and reason to get out of our bubble, and discover even more of this beautiful state that we call home.

The MK 7 Golf R isn’t exactly an old car, but with the release of the MK 7.5 facelift, and the fact that I have driven various renditions of MK6 and MK7 Golf Rs, makes this platform somewhat familiar. For those who don’t know me or my background, I work as a photographer and videographer at Integrated Engineering; a Volkswagen and Audi tuner shop in Salt Lake City. I tried to keep a level head and an unbiased opinion going into this project. But thinking about driving a fun and engaging road that is a 2 hour drive from home, I figured “What a better car to be in than a comfortable and luxurious car on the freeway, while still being fun and engaging in the twisties?”

Okay, so the road and the commute. UT-199 is a quick and twisty road that resides in the Stansbury Mountains overlooking Skull Valley. It sounds intimidating, but there’s really just not a lot out there. Lots of flat terrain with straight roads… Oh yea, and not a police officer, Sheriff, or Highway Patrolman for miles. The perfect place to pull over to the side of the road for an impromptu photo shoot, or to *potentially* test out the aerodynamic properties of the Strafe carbon fiber rear diffuser. The road in question is in a place that isn’t really well known for driving or any kind of recreation, seeing as it is so far from anything of real interest. It’s roughly a 2 hour drive each way going around the north side of the Oquirrh mountains, and then southbound to the end of the Stansbury mountains. Quite the trek I know, but worth the drive to experience something new. With a drive this long to a place so desolate, it’s always wise to bring a co-pilot. So, what better co-pilot to assign to this adventure than my gearhead girlfriend Brooke? She’s one of very few women I’ve met that actually likes me driving fast up canyon roads, and is also a sucker for new Volkswagens. Match made in heaven, amirite?

Another note about UT-199: this is the place where Tim Stevens of CNET drove the 2017 Ford GT supercar for on road testing, to show how the car rides on surfaces that aren’t a perfectly smooth racetrack, such as Utah Motorsports Campus. Packed with tight sweepers, S-curves, and canted corners, it’s unlike many other roads that we have access to here in Utah. The only other place I’ve experienced such a combination is in the hills of Malibu where it is almost impossible to go wrong on picking a fun canyon road. I was enjoying myself in a 320 hp Golf, I can only imagine what that road would be like in a 600 hp, mid-engined supercar, purpose built to handle such corners.

Let’s talk about the car. 2017 Volkswagen Golf R with a Cobb AccessPort V3, and Whiteline lowering springs that are (at this point of me writing this article) still a prototype product. The Accessport is simply running a Stage 1 Tune, putting it at 320 hp and 340 lb ft torque at the wheels. With a boost gauge as one of the many features of the Accessport, the highest number for boost that I saw was roughly 24 psi, which is about par for the course for the power output in cars such as this. That power is put to the ground via 6 speed manual gearbox, and a trick Haldex All-Wheel Drive system. For those that are unfamiliar, the system used in the Golf R is Front-Wheel Drive for 100% of the time under normal driving conditions. When the system detects loss of traction, or any potential for understeer, the rear wheels are engaged via clutch pack to help rotate the rear end of the car. The steering inputs feel electronic, but is still weighted nicely for a premium feel. Not necessarily a bad thing for daily use, or commuting to and from work, but I would have definitely appreciated more information from the front wheels while flying through corners on UT-199.

So, how did the car do on the UT-199? With swooping esses, and smooth pavement with no traffic, it felt like my own personal race course. With the sheer fact that the road is so desolate, it’s imperative to keep the sticky side down and to stay in the lane. I have to admit, I only kept to the former. With open curves and the ability to see around corners two or 3 corners ahead, cutting over the line and hitting apexes is only inevitable. The Golf R does what most Front-Wheel Drive based VW products do best. Super fun and engaging in the high speed kinks, but easily shoves if you enter a sharp hairpin on the quicker side of fast. Considering I had never driven this road before, and being in a car that isn’t mine, I felt fairly comfortable pushing the envelope more and more. I almost got a little carried away and Brooke had to tell me to reel it back a little (which never happens). The car always felt planted and secure; even hitting S-Curves nearing triple digit speeds.

With Brooke being a fan of all things Volkswagen, she is an absolute fan of the car. She loved the layout of the interior controls, she said that everything was laid out in a very coherent manner, and that the car has a very luxurious feel to it. Gathering from her giggles and her laughter, I can tell that she also loved the way the car delivers power and takes corners.

I only have two legitimate issues with the Golf R. I’m in no way a fan of the clutch and the shifter feel of the manual gearbox, and I also don’t care for how the car rotates around corners. As far as driving dynamics go the shift linkage is rubbery and vague, and the clutch is equally uninformative. The “catch point” of the clutch is vague, and not as defined as I would like. These can easily be fixed in the aftermarket with a different clutch, pressure plate, and a short throw shift kit. When it comes to vehicle rotation, I understand that the platform is based on Front-Wheel Drive architecture with a transversely mounted motor and transmission so I have to take that into account. But objectively regarding handling dynamics, the sheer fact that the Focus RS exists somewhat kills the appreciation of the Golf R for me. On the RS, the rear end just wants to pop in for a little visit. Ya know… Just a little meet and greet. Maybe have a spot of tea, and then carry on its merry way. The rear end on the Golf R just stays in its room and looks at memes all day, while the front dives and digs into the road, clinging on to any and all grip it can find. I mean, it doesn’t understeer like a Subaru at least… But it sure as hell doesn’t rotate like I want a canyon carver to.

Everything else about the car I appreciate. The sculpted exterior, the exquisitely refined interior, the way the engine produces power, the value per dollar on the aftermarket for bolt-ons. It’s all there. The car just needs a little more coaxing in the dynamics department, and then it’s quite the perfect car. Spacious, comfortable, reasonably quick, engaging, and also practical with having a hatchback and All-Wheel Drive. And for a mini road trip with the person you love, I feel that’s all you really need.

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17th Aug2017

CAMcast: SUPER DOUBLE BONUS EPISODES

by Michael Chandler

Hello everyone, and welcome to this special SUPER BONUS DOUBLE EPISODE!  We have two great interviews for you today, and the first one is with up and coming Global Time Attack driver Jamie Moreno!  She sat down with Mike and Dave, got on the tangent train, but still managed to talk about how she got into GTA, climbing up the HPDE ladder in NASA Utah, sponsors, and being a lady in the modern world of racing.  She also talks news, and agrees to be the hot shoe in our Panther platform racer.

SPEAKING OF THAT, we’ve got a contest for you!  You can win yourself a The Racing Chica hat and shirt if you come up with a name for our new team!  We’re driving a Crown Vic, and it’s Mike, Dave, and Jamie.  Use that information, or freestyle it.  Best name gets the gear!

Follow Jamie on her social media, check out her blog, and buy some gear and help her out!

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The Racing Chica Merch!

Part two of our Super Double Bonus Episode features someone who has climbed the mountain, and is making a living turning wheels.  When you think of a racing driver, you probably think of the robots in F1, or the NASCAR drivers who thank every sponsor when they get asked any question.  Well, Ryan is a driver unlike those guys.  He’s just like any of us, except he happens to get paid to drive one of the RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3s in Pirelli World Challenge.  He sat with me for an hour, which I didn’t expect, and we talked about his podcast (Dinner With Racers), the Bad Boy of Sportscar PR, kei vans, friendship, and how Spencer Pumpelly maybe killed a guy.  

We also talked about his charitable efforts, most notably him raising money for Neurofibromitosis research and awareness.  He does the Cupid’s Undie Run to raise money for it, and you should kick him a few bucks.  He’s a great follow on social media, which is also a great place to see when and where you can donate!

Ryan on Twitter

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And buy an Acura!

Download either episode wherever you find this lovely podcast, or right here and here, and leave us reviews and comments!

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
10th Feb2015

La Flama Blanca

by Michael Chandler

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag

If you’re familiar with RallySport Direct, then you’ve undoubtedly seen this car.  If you think that this is the company’s car and I had to twist a bunch of arms to be able to take pictures of it, then you’d be wrong.  All I had to do was ask Dallin Felton, because he’s the guy who drives it and has been molding it into what you see here.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2

Dallin is a regular guy, just like any of us.  The biggest difference is that he happens to work for RallySport Direct, whereas we do not.  That, and he has a history of building some awesome cars.  He had a Daytona Violet M3 and a Voltex Evo VIII, so having him take the reigns of the Evo X project wasn’t that huge of a stretch or risk.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-7

White is the color of choice for the Evo, as it is for the rest of the RSD fleet; however, this one is accented not with blue, gray and pink like the rest of the cars.  It’s strictly white and red, aside from the windshield banner of course.  For everyday use the car rolls on a set of 18×10.5 Volk Racing TE37RTs, covered by a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE760’s.  The Potenza’s measure in at a healthy 275/35.  Behind the red Volks you see the factory red Brembo brake calipers and the Stoptech slotted rotors they clamp down on.  The slotted rotors are part of Stoptech’s Sport Kit which comprises of the slotted rotors (front and rear), stainless steel brake lines and their Street Performance brake pads.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-3

The car has an aggressive stance, but not crazy like a Bond villain.  The Ohlins Road and Track coilovers allow for the height adjustment, while a lengthy list of Whiteline components (ball socket end links, 27mm sway bars, control arm bushings and rear control arms, and roll kit) round out the rest of the suspension set up.  Why the high dollar coilovers and half the Whiteline catalog?  Because La Flama Blanca goes and gets it on the autocross course in the Street Mod class.  That’s also why there’s a set of 18×10 Advan RZ’s with Hoosier A6s sitting in the garage.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

There is a healthy amount of APR Performance products on the car.  From the front splitter to the big GTC-300 wing.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-5

Even the Vortex Generator is an APR piece!  The short antennae is from Cusco, and calling it short is very generous.

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

There’s no massive diffuser, or uber rare bumper on the back of the car.  It’s almost entirely factory save for the APR spoiler, a La Flama Blanca decal, and the tip of a Tomei Titanium cat-back exhaust.  Ahead of that is a Tomei test pipe and Big Mouth down pipe.  There’s also a Tomei upper intercooler pipe made of Titanium.  Aside from the shiny pipe and the TurboSmart Dual Port blow off valve, there’s nothing screaming performance about the car.  The AMS front lower motor mount and shifter bushings are hidden down under the motor, and the Exedy twin plate clutch is a piece that never sees the light of day.  Even the interior is deceivingly pedestrian, save for the AEM UEGO, AccessPORT V3, Fat Perrin shift knob.

All of that go fast stuff you don’t see, or don’t notice because you’re used to seeing EVERY Evo X with parts like that, adds up.  The numbers they add to are 293 horsepower to the wheels and 289 lb/ft of torque.  That ain’t bad, but it’s also subject to change.  If you owned a company that sells parts for a living, wouldn’t you want to throw a bigger intercooler or turbo or cams or whatever else suits your fancy at your shop car?  Stick around.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

04th Feb2015

Converted For Duty: RWD Subaru Forester

by Michael Chandler

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

Every kid in Utah at one point wanted an all wheel drive vehicle.  Back when I was in high school the choices were simple: Eclipse/Talon GSX, Lancer Evolution, WRX, or STi.  Those were the options if you wanted to boogie and didn’t want to blow the bank.  Now it’s different.  Now rear wheel drive is the go to form of propulsion, but with the more popular rwd chassis fetching stupid prices (thanks drift tax!) sometimes you have to get creative if you want to slide.  And that creativity is what brings us Jackson Brundage’s Forester.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag

This Forester used to be slightly different.  By that I mean it was stanced out, was automatic and had a basket affixed to the roof rack.  But hard parking can only satiate someone for so long.  Soon Jackson was reading up on RWD conversions, and having everyone on Drift Utah tell him to talk to Derrick Lopez or Nate Omana, two other rwd Subaru pilots.  Soon he had a plan.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-7

And that plan was fairly simple: use the fact that he works at Despain Automotive, and follow the blueprints laid out by many others before him.  The car rolled in powering all four wheels, and rolled out powering the right ones.  Voila!  RWD Subaru!  While things were being removed, the front swaybar was tossed on the pile, and the coilovers he had on the car were swapped out for a set of Stance Pro Comps.  The auto was thrown very, very far away in favor of a 5 speed manual box out of a 2002 WRX.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

There’s a welded R160 differential in the back, and Whiteline bushings are holding it securely.  The old control arm bushings have been replaced with fresh ones from Super Pro.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-12

A Miro 563 wheel sits on each corner, and they are all 18×9.5 +34.  The only difference is in the rubber front to rear: Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs.  Out back is whatever fits and is available.  The clutch has also been upgraded to an Exedy unit, which will take the repeated clutch kick abuse in stride.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-8

The interior is… an eclectic mix of things.  The center console looks like a lumber jack that has been stabbed with a #2 Snap On screwdriver, which thankfully it isn’t but a Snap On #2 screwdriver serves as Jackson’s shift knob.  Hanging about that are some Hello Kitty fuzzy dice, because kawaii.  That glossy steering wheel is an NRG piece, with an NRG quick release sitting on a Sparco hub.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

Stage 6 Motoring makes the seats he and his passenger strap themselves into.  They’re the Chaser 1 Neo seat, which means sweet ass leopard print on the front and sparkly silver on the back!  Both seats are on Planted Technology bases, and while the passenger is stuck with the factory three point, Jackson has himself a Takata four point harness.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-5

Seeing this car from the back would reveal absolutely nothing about the conversion it has received.  It looks like any Forester that’s been lowered and fitted with after market wheels; however, approaching from the front tells a different tale.  Seeing the bash bar, which was fabricated by his friend Walter, instantly says “business”.

Kawaii RWD Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

In the end, Jackson will have hopefully drift missile’d this thing out: hit everything with it at every possible angle, straightened various things with tow straps, and used it and his misadventures in drifting as a foundation to build a prettier, more competition oriented car.

Either that, or he slides this thing around and keeps adding kanji stickers and Hello Kitty stuff to it and has the most kawaii car at all the local events.  Either or, so long as he watches those videos I told him to watch.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.