Sunday
Feb112001

SCCA Street Car Lapping

Sunday, February 11. 2001
SCCA Street Car Lapping
 

Our local chapter of the SCCA has initiated "Street Car Lapping" as a part of the Wheel to Wheel program held at Hawaii Raceway Park. This gives drivers a chance to sample speeds quite a bit higher than we usually achieve at an Autocross event. I have had a desire to take the Honda S2000 to the track for as long as I have owned it. For some reason, the opportunity has never properly presented itself. My desire for higher speeds is tempered by the fact that HRP has very little runoff areas. The turns are lined with tire barriers, guard rails, street lamps, and concrete barriers.

The other cars participating in the lapping session were two Miatas that are regular autocrossers, our RE in his Neon, and a VW Rabbit. We were released onto the course at intervals to keep us from bunching up, and the only allowable place to pass was on the main straight. Figuring the S2000 would be the fastest (the car not the driver), I was sent out first. As I worked my way around the track, I slowly built speed as I learned the line from my ride along instructor.

After a few laps we started to catch up with the other cars. The S2000 had a large horsepower advantage over the other cars, but it was still difficult to get around them on the front straight. In hindsight, I understand why. The two Miata's were running their "sticky" race rubber, whereas I was using my regular Kumho street tires. This traction advantage allowed them to carry more speed through the sweeping turn that leads up to the only passing area. Getting close enough to pass sometimes took two laps of following then through the slower parts leading up the the sweeper and then tucking in right behind them so the starter would give the car in front the blue flag.
I got by the Rabbit, Neon and one of the Miatas when the disaster illustrated on the left occurred. Quite simply, I got on the brakes too hard, too late and the tail just came around. There was no wiggle and very little warning when the back let go. It all happened fast, but I clearly remember actively steering to avoid the light pole and all the stacked up tires. It looks closer in the pictures than it actually was...but it as close enough that's for sure!
The start of a spin......

The point where realize that countersteering didn't help.....

The point where you realize you're just a passenger.....

This is when you learn to keep your mouth shut.....or it gets filled with dirt!

The ride is over.... Please keep your seatbelts fastened till the vehicle comes to a complete stop......
Before the event I changed the brake fluid to a higher temp DOT 4 and I think this helped me avoid brake fade. Unfortunately this did not prevent the rear brakes from getting very hot. In fact they were smokin' hot!
Hopefully a set of Porterfield R4-Ss will solve that problem for the next track event on the 11th. I can't wait!


Sunday
Jul232000

NSXCA Driver Training  

Sunday, July 23. 2000
NSXCA Driver Training

Jerry and I organized another NSXCA event for NSX and S2000 owners. This time the High Performance Driver Training was reserved for NSX and S2000 owners first. With cooperation from all the Honda dealers, we managed to send out 15 to 20 invitations to S2000 owners on Oahu. Our mailing list took care of the NSXs. When all was said and done, we had 4 NSXs with five drivers (one couple shared the car) and 6 S2000s with 7 drivers (Fran and I shared our car) plus one owner who came out but did not drive.
 
A complete listing of all the run times are posted here. The driver name is followed by the car they drove, followed by the four timed runs. Each run time column is followed buy a column showing the number of cones on the run. If this were a regular Autocross event and you received a DNF, you run time would not appear at all.
 

*If you see a time of 74 seconds followed by a 2, then the "raw" times was 70 seconds, but there was a 2 second penalty per cone, thus the 74 second time.

** In some cases an instructor took a timed run during the session, if this happened you'll see his name and the car he drove and the time for that individual run.
Frank brings his NSX throught the timing lights (below) John, at the start of the Emergency Lane Change maneuver. Look closely and you can see the flag man getting ready to signal the start (below)

Over the course of her four timed runs, Kristi would just nip Tom for fastest time in the Formula Red NSX by less than 3/10s of a second. (below)

Our four NSX participants gather for a "de-brief" after their turns on the Kidney Bean skidpad. This was more challenging than a regular skidpad because as the name implies, one side was a tighter turn than the other, and there was a kink in the middle. (below)

More S2000s on track...
 
Seven S2000 owners at the end of the day......

Sunday
Jun252000

Autocrossing the S2000

Wednesday, June 28. 2000

As I write this article, my car has just passed 9500 miles on the odometer and what fun they have been. It’s been several months since my last newsletter and we’ve had a number of autocrosses since then. I’m pleased to report that both the car and the driver are getting more used to each other. My results are more consistant, the times are quicker, and I feel like I’m getting more out of the car.

The racing has taken it’s toll on the Bridgestone S-02 tires that came with the car, last week we replaced all four with new RE-730s. The new tires are also made by Bridgestone, but they are a less expensive model, sort of the “little brother” to the S-02. On the road the feel about the same, but on the track, I can feel more flexing in the sidewalls. This results in slower steering response, and slightly less cornering power. All in all, I think it’s a fair trade off ...especially considering the price.

After each autocross (held on the second Sunday of the month) I write a review of how my weekend went. You’ll find these, and some action shots like the one to the right on my web page www.satoauto.com. From the home page, scroll down to the “what’s new” section and select the autocross you want to look over. You can also see some great pictures of the last NSX Club Meet we held, and the SCCA High Performance Driver Training event we had in February. So please stop by my site for a visit!


Sunday
Feb062000

SCCA Z-Club Driver Training

Sunday, February 6. 2000
SCCA Z-Club Driver Training
 
The Z Club had a Autocross Driver Training event at our Barbers Point location on February 6th. It was really nice of them to let us tag along! Invitations went out to all our NSXCA members and friends and several took us up on the offer.
A newcomer to the islands, Sam brought his Black '91 out to sample the fun and did well. If you can drive the NSX without spinning you're doing well!

Fran took advantage of the day to get more familiar with her GS-R, but more important, she is getting better at giving me feedback on how the car is handling so I can adjust the tire pressures better.
 
Reid and their family brought their new 2000 Integra Type-R out and experienced first hand "cone killing" During the four timed runs, he
did well, driving four clean and error free runs.

Saturday
Jan222000

Life with the S2000

Friday, January 28. 2000

The most common question asked of me lately is, ”so how’s that Honda S2000?” Since the purpose of this newsletter is to share information, and to give you insights to me and my interests, I couldn’t think of a better place to answer that question! First of all, I’d like to say, I feel fortunate to have the car at all. Over three years ago, I decided that if Honda produced the SSM (Sport Study Model) I wanted to get it to replace my MR-2. At that time I asked Alan Pflueger if I could get one, he enthusiastically replied “you got it!” Later, as we realized how few cars we would get (only 5000 will be built for the US ), it seemed my chances for getting the car were getting slimmer and slimmer. Although it was difficult, Alan found a way to keep his word, and I want to say thank you!

For those of you who need an introduction to the S2000, it’s an all new 2 seat roadster built to celebrate Honda’s 50th anniversary as a car manufacturer. It has an amazing 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, that produces an impressive 240 horsepower at 9000 RPM. The new rear wheel drive chassis uses many new technologies to save weight and provide a rigid, stiff body for the fully independent double wishbone suspension to mount to. Suffice to say, all the mechanical bits and pieces have been seamlessly blended into a wonderful little 2800 pound convertible.

I’ve had the car for three months now and this is the best car I’ve ever owned! The driving experience is wonderful, every control seems to be an extension of your body. Flick your wrist, it changes gear, twist the wheel and it changes lanes. The clutch is light, and engagement is very quick but easy to modulate. Braking performance is so stunning, I’m always worried about the car behind me not being able to stop as fast as me. When I put my right foot down…

The digital speedometer counts off the numbers very quickly and the tachometer arches across the top of the display, the engine passes 6000 RPM and the VTEC switches to the “hot cam” and then the excitement begins. Within about 2.8 seconds I’m at about 40 mph and need to shift to 2nd gear. Flick. Another 2.5 seconds and I’m passing 60 mph, and a split second later I shift to 3rd. Another Flick. 3rd gear tops out at 90 mph and I’ll need 4 gears to get through the ¼ mile on my way to a mid-14 second run.

On the road, if I’m not using all the 9000 RPM Honda has given me, I’ve been getting about 25-27 miles per gallon! The ride in the car is stiff, but not uncomfortably so, but maybe a bit stiffer than I expected. One thing I never expected was the reaction I get from everybody. Everyone is enthusiastic, “shakas,” “howzits” and “thumbs up” all the time. Unfortunately, there a few guys who want to race, and I prefer to do my racing on the track (so come on out to our Autocross, you know who you are!).

My first three months of ownership have been very trouble free, the only problems I’ve had are a rattle in the roof latch, and the scratched rear window. The roof latch should be easy to fix, it only requires a tension adjustment. The scratches on the rear window are another story. There is no doubt in my mind that it is simply a poor design on Honda’s part. The window folds into a tray that is made of a hard plastic, dust and vibrations cause this surface to seriously scratch the rear window. I’ve fashioned a towel to line the tray, but unfortunately the scratches are already there. I’m waiting for my Zymol Screen Clean kit to arrive, this should enable me to polish out the scratches.

The CD player hides behind a cover in the dash, this keeps dust out of the internals of the CD. Auxiliary audio controls are located on the instrument pod right at your fingertips. So far so good, but Honda seems to have forgotten the car is a roadster! Roadsters have a lot of road, wind and engine noise. These conspire to overpower the stock audio systems ability to put out sound that can be heard with the top down. In addition to the lack of power, the sound quality from the skimpy 6.5 inch speakers would have been poor by 1980’s standards much less 2000! I’ve already replaced the speakers with separate component speakers (see my web page for pictures of the installation in progress) and an amplifier is planned soon.

These few “problems” are so minor, they all fade when the top in down and the tachometer is showing 9000 RPM! Please remember I can sell Honda’s at our Pflueger Honda store so if you’re interested in learning more or acquiring this stunning car, please give me a call!


Sunday
Jan162000

Acura - Honda Meet, January 16th 2000

Sunday, January 16. 2000
Acura - Honda Meet, January 16th 2000
 
Our second event on January 16th started at Kakaako Waterfront Park. Unlike our last event, the day started bright and sunny and we had far better turnout this time. We started with 4 NSXs, an Integra GS-R, Integra Type-R, and 2 Honda S2000s. We made quite a scene at the park. I guess most people don't get a chance to see a bunch of Honda's finest all together.

Our route took us down Ala Moana towards the Ward Ave. freeway onramp. This proved to be that hardest part of the whole drive since the lead group of 4 NSXs got separated from my group of Integras and Hondas.

We finally got reunited on Kalanianaole highway just before Koko Head. From there it was off through the twisty sections around Hanauma Bay and the Blow Hole.

We made a stop at Sandy Beach park to stretch our legs and snap a few pictures for the folks suffering through winter snow storms. :-) Since it looked like we might run into some rain, Frances and I decided to put our tops up.
From Sandy Beach we drove through Waimanalo and into Kailua for lunch at Pizza Hut. As an added treat, Pflueger Acura picked up the tab!

Our return trip to Honolulu was via H-3, the sound of the cars echoing through the tunnels was pretty amazing (especially Keene's Comptech exhaust system)! We wrapped up at Moanalua Park, the perfect end for a fun day of socializing and driving. As the summer draws closer we will surely plan more events.


Saturday
Nov271999

2000 Honda S2000

Saturday, November 27. 1999

It seems like a dream, the one car I've anticipated for several years now is finally parked in my garage! Despite the high demand, Mr. Pflueger kept his word (made two years ago when the car was still called the SSM) and made it possible for us to get this wonderful roadster.

For the last few years I've had my eye on a new sports prototype from Honda that would be the company's first rear wheel drive car since the NSX debuted in late1990. Initially this new car was code named the SSM (Sport Study Model). Some of the first examples were powered by the 5 cylinder engine from the Acura 2.5 TL with a twincam VTEC cylinder head. Later the internal Honda designation would change to SSX, and speculation was the new sports car would be an addition to the Acura lineup.

Here inside the Diamond Head Crater the Federal Aviation Administration makes its home. There are hiking trails to the ridgeline where you can enter old W.W.II bunkers overlooking Waikiki (below)

Early this year it was announced that the new car would be sold worldwide as the Honda S2000. The first car Mr. Honda built was a small, high tech (for its time), 2 seat roadster called the S500. The new car was conceived as a birthday present to celebrate Honda's first 50 years as an automaker.

The S2000 is designed to be a sports car for the next millennium, it's normally aspirated (non-turbo) VTEC 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder engine puts out an amazing 240 horsepower and redlines at 9000! Despite these impressive credentials, the car meets strict standards for exhaust emissions and is classified as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) .

The chassis of the car was designed to be a race car for the street. The steel backbone frame provides a sturdy mounting point for the NSX inspired suspension. This double wishbone suspension and 4 wheel disc brakes give this car remarkable handling and control. This instills in the driver a feeling of confidence few cars can match.

From a styling standpoint, the car exhibits the classic roadster proportions of a long hood and short tail. Viewed from the front, the most striking feature is the High Intensity Discharge headlights. Powerful and slightly blue in color they project farther down the road that conventional halogen lights can. Viewed from the back, the car has large round brake lights, with the turn and reverse lights sharing another round pod: the amber half-moon turn signal over the half-moon reverse lights. I hope you enjoyed more pictures from around Oahu, I sure enjoyed the driving it took to get to these places!

On the way to the Pali lookout I took this shot in front of Queen Emma's Summer Palace.
The road to the lookout twist and turns its way up Nuuanu. Before the tunnels were built, this was the way to the windward side of the island. (either that, or you went around the island)


Thursday
Nov181999

1994 Acura Integra GS-R

Thursday, November 18. 1999

We bought our '94 Integra GS-R almost immediately after the sedans became available in early '94. We couldn't believe the value and technology the car represented. I thought my '88 Supercharged MR-2 had a high redline at 7800 RPM, but the GS-R had it beat at 8100 and there was no doubt that the Integra was much smoother above 5000 RPM.

One of our projects for the new car was to build an audio system that would be representative of the years I'd spent in the consumer electronics business. With that in mind I had several goals for our system:

    * High output with as little strain as possible on the stock electrical system.
    * Excellent bass response, but most important, accuracy.
    * Imaging with a good front-center-stage and realistic rear-fill.
    * Stealth, as little equipment showing as possible.

A Nakamichi TD-500 cassette deck, Nakamichi CA-101 Pre-amplifier. The digital display / infrared receiver for the Alpine CD Changer is mounted where the ashtray used to be.The subwoofer array used 8 Audiophile 6" drivers mounted inverted in a custom enclosure under the rear shelf. A black grill cloth cover concealed the woofers (left) and the swivel halogen lights replaced the stock trunk light. The acoustic bass energy was channeled directly into the passenger compartment though the original rear speaker 6 x 9 grilles (the speaker removed of course).

The job of providing rear fill was handled by a unique speaker made by Imminent Technology. This bi-polar, planar-magnetic design radiates sound equally front and rear and that is what made the setup so effective. The rear wave reflected off the rear windshield and created the rear staging I was looking for. The front wave (which in this type of speaker is very directional) shot forward towards the center of the windshield enhancing my front imaging. The output was mono (L + R) so when it reflected off the glass it combined with the left and right front speakers to give me a wide soundstage (L + C + R)

The three pictures above show the left, center and right sides of the trunk. On the left I've got the dual Soundstream SX-2 electronic crossovers. One crossover handled the subwoofer to mid/high change with the output staggered to reduce the 70hz "boom". The second crossover ran from 300 hz up for just the rear speaker. The right side housed my custom built Monolithic amplifier (made by the owner of Monolithic himself). Rated for a modest 20 watts x 4 channels, this beauty was stable into .5 ohm. By careful wiring, the 8 6" subwoofers were getting about 160 watts and the front Audiophile 5 1/4" speakers about 80 watts.

The final result exceeded my wildest dreams. All the elements came together smoothly, my installer Roy Kuroda seamlessly integrated all the extra equipment into the Integra without making the audio system stand out (see two shots of the installation in progress). Definitely the finest system Fran and I had ever indulged ourselves with.

(below) The Kimber Cable I wanted to use for speaker wire, required removal of the doors.

Some of the components in the trunk prior to installation

Thursday
Nov181999

1988 Toyota MR-2 Supercharged

In '88 Toyota debuted the Supercharged version of the MR-2. This utilized a small blower to pump the 1.6 liter engine up to 145 hp and 145 lb. ft. of torque! The engine redlined at 7800 RPM and could sprint through the 1/4 mile in about 15.5 seconds. I kept this car for over 7 years (a personal record) and before I sold it, I had made several important modifications. I used an HKS Overdrive pully to speed up the supercharger, HKS Power Flow air filter and Exhaust to improve engine breathing. 15" Fittipaldi Indy wheels and Bridgestone RE-71 tires worked in concert with Eibach springs and KYB shocks to improve the handling of the car.

When all was said and done, the car was good for a best of 14.9 in the quarter mile and quite a bit more grip in the turns. I sure miss that car!




Thursday
Nov181999

1987 Toyota Celica GT-S

Our '87 Celica GT-S was considered one of the finest coupes of its time. It had a 2.0 liter twin-cam 16 valve engine that made 135hp. I realize that seems tame by today's standards, but if I remember correctly, a contemporary Prelude had about 110, the RX-7 had 100, and a Sciracco had 125. Not bad Toyota.