25 Dec 2013

Merry Christmas/Holidays, everyone.

Due to some very abnormal weather (80 deg F!), everyone was out this afternoon walking on the beach and driving their toys along Coast Highway. Ferraris, high-end Audis, and a few Cobras were just a few. A very nice Ferrari 458 Spider came up behind me in an apparent attempt to put me in my place (what place is that, that I hadn’t bought my car at a dealer?). I let him by and he did the obligatory pass to establish the pecking order, but I ended up behind him at the next light. So he took off with me on his tail, just to see if I could. I backed off early since traffic was so heavy, but it was very rewarding to see his eyes glancing in the mirror, as if thinking “wait, that’s not supposed to keep up” – that was good enough for me.

On the list of things to do is to take a handling class. My brother did that in a BMW class, where one of the tasks was to drive a figure-8 with the back end hung out all the way around. I can’t think of a better way to establish car control at the edge. I’ve had Midlana fairly sideways, and the good news is that it doesn’t have any nasty habits. Still, I’d like to take a class to find out just where the “edge” is. Anyhow, someone posted this video on a forum, as proof that a rear-engine car can be drifted, http://www.carthrottle.com/you-know-youre-a-sick-driver-when-you-can-drift-a-turbocharged-porsche-like-this/. While I’m not into drifting (way too slow around a track and way too abusing to tires) it seems like an awesome way to find the outer edge of a car’s handling envelope. To have the knowledge of just where the edge is and what to do when it’s approached would be very valuable… and make for some good videos :).

19 Dec 2013

The local gas station just installed an E85 pump. Why they would do so is rather baffling, given that there are so few flex fuel cars in SoCal, and even fewer that actually bother using ethanol. If anything I’d have thought that they’d install a second diesel pump, given that the number of cars using that fuel is definitely increasing.

Anyway, the only reason I mention this is that it is an evil temptation to have an alternate fuel map for ethanol. Why? It’s because turbos just love ethanol since it burns cooler and has a much higher effective octane. The end result is that I could – no kidding – have around 600 hp, just like that. What’s holding me back are several things: much worse mileage, hardly any stations carry the stuff (like, about six in all of California), and, what exactly is the point on the street having that much power. If anything, it makes a lot more sense to use the stuff on-track, where it helps protect the engine from detonation. However, thankfully I’m lazy enough, and busy enough on yard things that it’s just not a big deal. While it’s fun to dream, in the end, it’s just not what the car’s about. I want to do more track events to more fully understand the limitations of the both me and the car.

Oh, and I’m finally getting into the new century and setting up an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook account in order to better spread the word about Midlana.

15 Dec 2013

Yard work continues, retaining walls, shoveling tons of dirt, taking dozens of rotted railroad ties to the dump, only to have half of them rejected as “not rotted enough.” (Okay, so they’re still going to get them, several pieces at a time in the trash can… what did they expect?)<br>
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Anyhow, for the time being, I’m working on yard stuff (rebuilding wife points). In other news, I was into amateur radio a long time ago, then got out of it and let my license expire. As I was going through my father’s stuff, I ran across his license, and it made me want to take it up again, so that’s in the works.

A local car club has organized a Dyno Day (each car gets a couple free pulls). This should prove interesting because it’s been several years since it was last done, but more importantly, is on the far more common drum-type dyno. The numbers will be about 12% lower than on the other type, but then again, the car probably have about 10% more power, too. On the other hand, a couple people have questioned my claimed horsepower numbers, as in, why can’t I spin the tires in second gear (actually, when they’re cold, I can), and also, why wasn’t my top speed at Fontana faster? Anyhow, that’s not for another month or so.

Meanwhile, I check in often on the Midlana Forum, http://www.midlana.com/forum/, where there are currently two people building cars. Check it out.

1 Dec 2013

As promised, http://www.lulu.com/shop/kurt-bilinski/midlana/paperback/product-21323272.html

Being self-published means using a Print-On-Demand (POD) service, sort of an automated Kinko’s copy center. I use Lulu, the same POD printer used with my previous book, Kimini.  An author sends Lulu a manuscript, which they store on a server. When an order comes in, it’s printed, bound, boxed, and shipped. It’s a decent deal for authors that are unable (or unwilling) to deal with “real” publishers. Once the manuscript is uploaded to Lulu’s store front, the process is completely hands-off; Lulu handles sales, shipping, and any customer issues. The downside is that because they aren’t printing thousands of copies at a time, the cost per page is a lot higher, but for many writers, that’s an acceptable overhead to get a book to market. Also, since Lulu has printers located around the world, your book is automatically printed at a regional facility, including Europe and Australia.

The question comes up, “why can’t I buy it on Amazon?” Long story short: book stores don’t like dealing with PODs because they expect a huge discount, and expect to be able to return unsold inventory at the end of each month; neither of these conditions work well in the POD ecosystem. The question also comes up, “Can I get an eBook version?” Short answer: not at this time.

With this enormous task complete, I’m going to start on the backlog of home projects!

24 Nov 2013

By working on the book all day, all corrections have  been completed! This frees up a week I didn’t expect to have, so one more test copy was ordered as a “last chance” check. Even with express shipping, it’s unclear if it’ll arrive next Friday, Saturday, or the following Monday. This means that assuming nothing terrible is found when it arrives, the book will likely become available in about a week.

One think I’ve not discussed is price, which will be $100. As far as I know, there is no book out there that so fully covers the construction of a mid-engine sports car (or any car for that matter). Sure, a few books have plans but they’re light on actual construction guidance. Midlana is 393 pages of meaty detail, explaining why things are being done a certain way, the best way(s) of doing so, yet offering up many options along the way. It’s very doubtful that a Midlana owner will ever seen another car exactly like his (or hers), and that’s a good thing. Anyhow, I guess I felt the need to get out in front of any commentary regarding price and to explain the reasoning behind it.

23 Nov 2013

Received the last set of corrections from my copyeditor buddy. We were both shocked at how many “new” errors we found; we can’t figure out how both of us missed so many the first time through. In at least a few cases though, we were suspicious of TeX, the editing software used to create the book. Case in point, searching for the repeated-word phrase, “the the”, in order to find and correct my goof of repeating the word. Even though I had an example on the page right in front of me, the TeX search could not find it. Trying different search filters didn’t work either, so who knows what was going on. Changing the search terms to non-repeated words showed that it was working.

Anyway… the book is on schedule for release next weekend.

18 Nov 2013

Okay, here’s the video of Midlana at the Fontana event, taken from outside the car, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJUHfOcqU9Q. It gives a good idea of what shows up at track events, and it’s why I enjoy it so much. No rules (other than safety gear) so there’s a huge variation on what shows up, from Radicals, to near-stock Datsun 510s, to older NASCARs. Be sure to turn it up 🙂 I like the spitting and popping of Midlana on throttle overrun 🙂

17 Nov 2013

The week was spent fine tuning the book and adding comments regarding the track experience. My buddy is still checking his copy over for grammatical issues, which means I’ll have about a week to implement his fixes before the book goes live.

Forgot to mention that at Fontana last week, oil temperature got up to 126 deg C (258 deg F). For synthetic it’s “okay” for a while, but the high temperature also caused the oil to thin and oil pressure dropped to as low as 48 psi. I could either “fix it” by going with thicker oil, or do it the right way and get a larger cooler. The new one’s on the way.

When we were there, my brother recorded Midlana from outside with a handheld camcorder. It gave a good chance to see how the car sounds, and though it’s not edited down yet, I’ll post it sometime this week. One downside to Fontana is that from the infield (where everyone was) there are very few places to see much of the track. Anyhow, check back in a day or so for some cool engine noises 🙂

12 Nov 2013

Okay, a belated update for Saturday’s trackday event. There were multiple events going on at Auto Club Speedway: our trackday, a short demo session by – no kidding – Mazda GTP cars, a street racer/poser sort of show, and an autocross.

The trackday went very well. My windshield got cracked, not by rocks, but because the center support padding got compressed (by wind loading, no doubt) to the point that the edge of the glass contacted the bracket – instant crack. In addition, there were a surprising number of rock pits – the consequence of everyone running chewing-gum soft tires. (After the event, there were many impact marks where balled-up sticky tire rubber kicked up by cars ahead hit Midlana.)

Tire wear was very even, no complaints about suspension geometry 🙂

This being my first event ever at this track, in a car that I’ve never driven this fast, I was intimidated by The Wall around turn one and two. What I didn’t know was what Midlana would do if I got the back end out at speed. The concern was that it “might” step out, catch, and whip the car back to the right, up toward the wall. We were told that if our cars started to spin in that turn, to NOT counter steer, to instead, steer to the left, down the inclined turn. I don’t know about other drivers but I think it would be very difficult to undo what’s been engrained into our driving habits for decades, being able to suddenly steer the opposite direction that our reflexes dictate.

I was told that I should have been able to take that curve at around 130 mph, but was simply unwilling to find out what would happen. Of course, this means the question remains, what WILL Midlana do? When I first started driving at trackday events, it was back in the 1980s at Riverside International Raceway. Turn Nine there was similarly intimidating, and it took several events before I got to the point where I was okay with the back end of the Datsun 1200 stepping out slightly. Of course in that car, the speed was a lot less, and the weight distribution was far different. In a car with nearly 70% on the rear axle, it takes some getting used to.

The only “moment” I had (pointed out in the video) was while under hard braking for a turn and was about to heel-and-toe downshift. What happened was – from my perspective – the car didn’t slow. I didn’t panic because there was a ton of runoff, and simply drove straight off instead of attempting to turn. At about the same time I saw the front tires lock up, so I knew the brakes were working, so why didn’t the car slow? It was because I’d adjusted the brake pedal to be just above the gas pedal under braking… but under HARD braking, the brake pedal was lower, enough that my shoe caught the edge of the gas pedal. As a result, I had 400+ hp helping me continue straight, and that’s just what happened. This was a good learning experience, because had it happened with someone immediately in front of me, it would have required some quick thinking to not hit them.

Something I’d been wondering about was confirmed to have happened – Midlana spits flames under deceleration! Cool! Unfortunately I didn’t think to put the GoPro back where it could record it, and as far as I know, no one caught a picture of it. It’ll certainly be something that I’ll have to get some footage of 🙂

My brother found some footage from another car at the same event running in my group, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8CnfEjfo5E. Sure enough, there Midlana was, passing at 19:03 in his video. No exhaust flames, though…

At several times during the day, Mazda (yes, the factory) brought out a few of their “old” GTP cars, the ones with the four-rotor rotaries. Man, I wish I had more time to walk around (as a participant, your day is fairly busy). Anyway, I just loved the way the cars looked and sounded. As one idled through the pits, the doors were open (it was fairly warm) and I got a good look at the driver, who was a big guy. I was later told that it was Mazda’s president… nice perk!

Lastly, there was an separate event held in the pit area that I just couldn’t understand, a pseudo street racer car show. It consisted of a long row of cars on static display, showing off their visual awesomeness (enormous turbos, crazy camber, and little suspension travel), while cars that were heading out to the real track passed by. In any other context (read: away from a real track) I could better understand it. But here, at a real track, surrounded by real race cars, it just seemed absurd to pretend to have a bad-ass fast car, yet not drive it. Kind of like Hollywood impersonators hanging out at the entrance to the Oscars, hoping to be mistaken. Surreal.

4 Nov 2013

Thanks for all the notes of support during this week of helping mom cope. We found – as I’m sure many have found before – that it takes a surprisingly long time for a cremation to actually happen, what with licensing, permits, backlogs… seriously? Makes me wonder what they’ do in an emergency…

During my down time, the book cover art was finished and two draft book copies are now on order. That’ll take about ten days, then we have one more chance to find everything that we missed the last time through. So far, so good for a first of December release, maybe even earlier.

27 Oct 2013

My dad passed away peacefully on October 25. If you’re a regular reader you know that this has been a long time coming, so it wasn’t a surprise. Okay, enough of that.

The format editing of the manuscript is nearly done. Next, the front and back cover art must be created. Once that’s done, it’s time to get a few test copies made up for the final review. There is a quote early in the book that has proven to be very true: `Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant.” – Winston Churchill. It means by the time you’re done writing and editing the thing, you never want to see it again!

To end on a high note, my videographer buddy compiled a 10-min video of Midlana at the autocross, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJXmuqNGO4s. The video doesn’t seem all that exciting, but for autocross, unless you’re really into it, or inside the car for that matter, it’s hard to get a sense of the dynamics at work. In a couple places you can see where the back end came out and instead of backing off, I kept my foot down to see what would happen. No smoky burnouts or huge lurid slides though, which is promising since it means that there’s nothing terribly wrong with the design. The video might also illustrate one reason why I’m now more into trackday events, but that’s just me.

21 Oct 2013

First things first, Midlana was run at a practice autocross last Saturday, and I’ve been hounded with “So how did it do?” The car did fine; nothing broke, overheated, fried, melted, or shorted out. As I was waiting to go out on the first lap, I realized that it’s been thirty years since I’ve been into this sport since trackdays grabbed my interest. Back then, it took several years to get good at autocross, and of course, nearly all that skill is gone, never mind me being a lot older.

So how did it do? About as expected for a high-powered mid-engine car that, frankly, is a little outside its environment. In low speed steady-state sweepers, there’s a lot of understeer, as expected with 30% weight on the front tires. Of course, how much time does the car spend at a steady speed around a turn? Well, in an autocross, it seems like a lot. Anyway, after a while I started getting back into it, using the fact that trail braking causes weight to be transferred onto the front tires, greatly increasing front grip (just like when driving a kart). Doing so helps both the front tires stick and the rear tires to let loose, starting the car rotating into the turn. Then, off the brakes and onto the gas, using engine power to position the rear as desired.

The good news is that the car isn’t easy to spin (I never did find the oversteer angle that it couldn’t hold). That’s been the biggest question ever since it was designed – what would it do when the back end comes out. Some cars have a nasty habit of sliding the back out, then catching and snapping back the other way faster than the driver can catch it. And, like most mid-engine cars, getting on the gas hard does bring the back end out, but the key is to not let off the gas. Midlana’s rear tires say put or tuck back in – good! Tire wear at the back looked great, I’m not changing a thing. Tire wear at the front, meh; autocross requires a ton of camber and I’m just too lazy to dial in a lot, then take it back out for the street. Right now it has about 0.5 degrees, which is obviously not enough, but for the street it’s fine. For the upcoming trackday event I may add a bit more. The tire pictures below are arranged front left, front right, left rear, and right rear. There is also some in-car video we’re editing but that’ll take some time.

Cars handle much different at trackday events than when on an autocross course. In autocross, it’s all about getting the car to rotate quickly, which means a lot of front camber and a large rear anti-roll bar. Take that same car to a trackday event and it will likely go off the track backwards in a big way. Back when I had the Datsun 1200, the rear bar was completely disconnected for trackday events, which transformed it into a mild-handling car around high-speed turns. What’s nice is that with no bars on Midlana, there was no understeer, which indicated that the native handling of the car is neutral at higher speed, just the way I wanted it. We’ll see if that’s still true on the big oval in a few weeks – though, see below.

In other news, the grammar editing of the manuscript is done! Now, another pass starts; “zooming out” and looking at formatting issues instead of spelling. That’ll go much quicker, and then it’s time for test copies. The final manuscript ended up just over 400 pages, though it may inch up a bit more with the autocross and trackday pictures and comments. As a teaser, the Table of Contents is included below.

And finally, someday within the next several weeks, I’m going to get a call that I know is coming but don’t want to hear, that my father’s passed away. It’s been a long time coming; he’s currently between worlds, simi-comotose, aware that people are around, but that’s about it. It’s not easy looking at him, he who raised me, and realizing that we’re all here just for a while. It’s really driven home the fact that time is ticking and that we have no idea how much we have left, at the same time we think about how we use our time. I can say that it really makes watching TV or YouTube seem like a much bigger waste of time than it used to!

Midlana is signed up for a trackday event in three weeks, but we’ll see what the Universe has in store.

13 Oct 2013

Here are the findings of last week’s fuel pressure failure – educational, and very humbling:
1. Installed new Bosch 044 pump, which is much larger than the Walbro – still zero fuel pressure!
2. Kinked the fuel pressure regulator return line to see if fuel pressure would increase – still zero.
3. Attempted to empty tank by rerouting fuel hose to regulator into a fuel can instead – still no flow.
4. Assumed FOD plugging up tank outlet – wrong, full flow at outlet of tank.
5. Assumed FOD plugging up 40-micro inlet-side fuel filter – wrong, full flow out of inlet filter.
6. Connected outlet of pump directly to fuel can – full flow.
7. Disassembled 10-micro outlet-side fuel filter to examine filter element. Filter element was in good condition, but noticed that flow direction arrow on filter housing was opposite how I had it connected (so what, right?).
8. Examined filter element for signs of deformation – nothing. The only notable difference was that the spare had a flat end (second picture) and my filter had a rounded end (third picture).
9. Installed new filter element, reversed filter plumbing, turned on the pump – full pressure, engine started.
10. Couldn’t figure out how the filter element could prevent the car from starting, since it was neither clogged nor collapsed.
11. Then, it hit me. Running the filter as I had it, fuel entered the filter on the inside of the element (see fourth picture), flowed through it, then down to the other end of the housing, and out. Apparently, the filter element finally developed enough pressure drop for it to be pushed off the end of the inlet housing, hitting the other end of the housing, where fuel pressure deformed the filter element end cap into a perfect plug – and presto, zero fuel flow!

It could have happened anytime, anywhere, and it was a bitter pill that it happened on lap four of a race weekend. My guess is that it was due to the higher than normal fuel flow giving it that extra push; a bitter lesson, that. I don’t know how I managed to install the filter backwards; it must have been during final assembly that I either forgot (or never noticed in the first place) that it was direction-sensitive. So I have to take back all the bad things I said about Walbro pumps; there was apparently nothing wrong with mine.

In other news, I’m pretty sure where the banging noise is coming from. The front engine mount is very close to the chassis, close enough that it is likely hitting it when getting on or off the gas hard.

During assembly of the new fuel lines I experienced something that I’d only read about. After the hose was assembled I blew through it and it seemed to have poor flow. Looked into the end of it and, sure enough, there it was, the infamous “flap.” Very good to catch it now because it could have caused all sorts of odd problems if it closed only under high fuel usage, very likely causing the engine to stumble or run lean.

There’s a local radar trap which hadn’t been active lately, but it was today as I was returning from checking out the new fuel system. I think the only reason I didn’t get “rewarded” was because the cop had just taken a reading on the guy in front of me, and he seemed so surprised to see such an unusual car that he momentarily lowered his radar gun, giving me time to slow down. Close call.

Lastly, progress on the book manuscript is moving right along. The final editing is about half way done, so another couple weeks for that. Then there’ll be one more pass through to check on physical layout of the pages, such as figure placement, dangling paragraphs, and mis-sized pictures. After that, several draft copies will be printed, with a final “fan through” to check for anything really bad, and then it’s time to go live. So for now everything is still on track for a late November release.

7 Oct 2013

“The Fasted Road in the West” – for some people.

The Willow Springs trackday event was this weekend, but unfortunately my fuel pump failed (probably) after four laps. Finding a spare Walbro 255 lpm unit turned out to be impossible; no car parts store, offroad outlet, or Honda go-fast shop had it, so my weekend ended early. Obviously the pump must be used in <em>some</em> cars, I just don’t know which ones. In hindsight I have no one to blame but myself for not bringing a spare pump; I thought that parts stores stocked them, nope. I’m lucky that it was a clean failure instead a slow decrease in pressure, as that’s seriously bad news for a turbo engine. The pump still ran but sounded odd, and there was zero fuel pressure, so it seemed to be the pump. That aside, I learned that:

1. The car is fast as hell, 132 mph down the front straight (GPS speed, so it’s accurate), and that was just getting started. I can almost hear Walter White saying, “*I* am the one who passes!”
2. Never did find the braking or cornering limit. The hotter the brakes and tires got the better it worked.
3. The small amount of tire wear was very even.
4. Probably the best news is that drop-throttle testing showed no oversteer, the biggest concern of the suspension design and rear weight bias. Of course, since the car never reached the limit of adhesion, it’s hard to know how much margin I had.

A Bosch “044” pump is on order. A reader said that he suspects that the Walbro died due to sucking air. I can’t completely discount that theory because I don’t know for sure what happened, but why was it able to last 1000 miles of street driving but only four laps on-track? The tank has a built in accumulator to which fuel is returned from the fuel rail. The tank was nearly full, about a 10″ head on the pump. The tank has a lot of baffling along with one-way mouse doors all leading to the accumulator. So while I don’t know for sure what killed fuel flow, it’s hard to blame air.

The Web rumors about the Walbro pump not being reliable “seemed” true and the initial thought was, “once asked to provide real flow it just couldn’t.” However, after thinking it through it seems unlikely. I think that the pump <em>always</em> provides full flow and the fuel pressure regulator decides how much to choke off the return line in order to provide a given pressure. Curious about how the pump failed, it was disassembled and to be honest I was impressed with its quality. Everything looked fine other than some discoloration on one set of commutators, though resistance of the motor was constant regardless of position. The rotor wiring was not broken or burnt, the gear pump components looked fine, and the one-way valve on the outlet was functional as well. This has me a bit worried; maybe the problem is somewhere else, but where? A failed fuel pressure regulator? It read zero psi with the pump on and the engine obviously wasn’t getting fuel, so maybe it was passing 100% of the fuel back to the tank, which might result in no indicated pressure? Or, could there be a huge blob of aviation fuel tank sealant used during construction that broke free and plugged up either the outlet port or the inlet fuel filter? Of course, playing devil’s advocate, maybe that blob of tank sealant just floated away from the outlet port and will return on a future date. It could also be that one of the one-way fuel doors broke off and ended up against the fuel exit port, though that seems less likely. The engine quit under braking going into Turn 3, so if the door broke loose I’d expect it to slide forward, away from the pickup.

Oh well, what’s done is done and a Bosch 044 pump (which is claimed to be far more reliable) has been ordered. While replacing it, the inlet fuel filter will be examined for massive clogging (though it’s hard to believe that it could instantly plug up like that). The Bosch will be plumbed in and we’ll see if fuel pressure returns, and if so, great.  It should be in and running next weekend and we’ll see what’s what.

As for the cars that showed up, there were Miatas, Porsches, Corvettes, a few Alphas, BMWs, five original Mustang GT350s, and a supposedly authentic aluminum-bodied Cobra. The Mustangs sounded like they were going about 180 mph, getting about a 1:35 lap time. The Cobra was slightly faster with a 1:33, but the big surprised was the 10-yr old BMW M3 and its 1:32! Very impressive. I didn’t bother timing myself (thinking there was plenty of time for that later) and didn’t even start the GoPro, figuring I’d recorder the later faster laps. Uh huh.

Lastly, on Saturday night we were up late taking time exposure shots of the car (more on that later) and a desert fox came walking by—no kidding. It looked like a small dog with a huge bushy tail. I suspect he lived somewhere near the track and survived off leftovers he found in the trash cans. Anyway, he came to within 10-15 feet of us and just sat down! I started to reach for the camera and he ran off. That would have made a cool picture. Anyway, there’s another track event in about a month at California Speedway. That’s about the latest possible timeframe for getting observations into the book. The only downside, if you can call it that, is that the track is very fast, not really what I wanted for an initial handling checkout. Of course, no one says that I have to go 150 mph through the fast bits.

29 Sep 2013

Went to the local last-Saturday-of-the-month car thing and driving to it, learned about how cold weather affects Midlana: the engine makes more power due to a denser charge, being turbocharged, the intercooler works better, which means even more power, tires don’t stick when they’re cold, and with the straight pipe (for the upcoming trackday) it’s even more power. Result: wheel spin on-demand in second gear, which is good to about 75 mph). Good to have safely become aware of this trait!

There were maybe 70 cars at the event, most slightly customized Porsches, BMWs, and Audis. And then there was this Nissan 240SX, notable only by its large rear tires. With the hood up you can see why; a stock LS engine is around 400 hp, and with that ginourmous turbo it’s probably 600-700 hp. Very nicely done sleeper car! And no we didn’t “do anything.”

My brother advised me to reserve about 15 minutes for getting into my race gear and into the car; yup, he wasn’t kidding. Good to know how far ahead of time I need to start “the process” at the track. Related to this was discovering just how close I cut it for clearance to the roll cage. There’s several factors at work here: the helmet obviously has a big fin on it, I’m not belted in, and I’m slouching a bit. What it means is that it <em>just</em> clears when the belts are cinched down. As long as I keep my head back it’s fine, but looking down at my seatbelt buckle results in a “bonk” if I’m not paying attention.

Somewhat related, my wife was up to no good in the car and it was pretty funny how much headroom she has!

Speaking of sketchy traction, there’s an excellent YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jF__B1xpJY of a very good driver circling Goodwood this year in an authentic Ford GT40, on a wet day. It’s very impressive how he can go lap after lap right on the edge. Many drivers can pull this off for a few turns, but not likely for this long. Another Goodwood video is the 1950’s sedan event, just like how they used to race – very entertaining, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXb243vn0jY. I need to go to a Goodwood event at least once.

Got the first fifty pages back from the copyeditor and it’s another harsh wake up call regarding poor grammar. It’s a long painful process; every single page has multiple issues, but such is life as an amateur writer.

22 Sep 2013

Still around, just not much to report. Spent time with my elderly folks; I’m no longer my dad’s son but someone my dad apparently grew up with. Short of losing a child, I think this is about one of the most painful ways to lose a relative, powerless and watching them slowly drift away.

Back to the book; currently working on getting the “front matter” squared away, copyright statement, disclaimer, dedication, intro, and page numbers where they’re supposed to be, that sort of stuff. My copyeditor buddy is working his way through the manuscript and will hand over the first installment this week. That makes the most sense because I can start making changes while he continues the editing.

Picked up my brother’s enormous ice chest, lantern, tire temperature gauge, and a bunch of other stuff in preparation for The Big Trackday Weekend that happens in two weeks.

8 Sep 2013

Instead of working in the hot garage or having fun driving along the beach, I forced myself to “do my homework” and finished the first editing pass; the manuscript will be handed to a real copy-editor this week. I absolutely agree with Winston Churchill when he said: “Writing a book is an adventure; it begins as an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, then a master, and finally a tyrant.”

In other news, a trackday has been scheduled for early October. It had to be later in the year to avoid the heat but early enough to not delay the book release in mid-November. Real safety equipment has been purchased: multi-layer suit, underwear, socks, shoes, gloves, helmet, and HANS. The reason is the realization that I’ve built something that can do me very serious harm if it all goes wrong…

My photographer/video buddy will be on-hand and I expect that we’ll get some awesome material: stills, track video, and what will likely become the promo video for Midlana. After the event, driving impressions and pictures will be added to the manuscript, the last additions before it’s moved to the last phase before release, draft copies.

2 Sep 2013

Took Midlana to a local car show but amongst the Porsches, Ferraris, Corvettes and Audis, she was a bit out of her element (whatever that is). During the show there was a homeless guy inspecting the cars and referred to mine as a “jalopy”, fair enough. Watching him lean on the Ferraris and Porsches I couldn’t help but think, “Well at least he didn’t pee in my car.” Now before anyone gets after me I’ll be the first to admit that the line between us and homelessness is a lot thinner than most of us think. All it takes is some bad luck and, boom, there it is, and having mental makes it all the easier, so my remark was for comedic effect only.

Pushing ahead with the book means getting photos for the front and back cover. I have a buddy who’s a very talented photographer and who wanted to help out, so we did a photo shoot. He forwarded the photos he felt were suitable for the cover, then surprised me by also including what he called “an assemblage of B-grade video and stills.” I thought it was very well-done! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdpbLVzQXrQ Oh, and I kept stalling the car because I was trying to avoid revving it too much and bothering people at our shooting site – not sure I succeeded.

Meanwhile, work on the book continues, implementing red-lined corrections into the manuscript. Like the car, it’ll only get done if I keep at it.