My First Track Day : The Pretty Much Sorrowful And Glorious Mysteries

Alright, so after creating a new blog site, I’ve actually sat down to attempt to write something down. Not that I have been very busy as of late with anything interesting that I do. And yes, working at night works very well at eating up the time to write anything down, and to think of smart things to say. One of the more interesting things I have done as of late though – going on a trackday. Specifically, my first trackday.

One day last April of this year, I found an announcement on our club board looking for five participants to join a trackday. It was apparently being sponsored by Yokohama, the famous Japanese tire manufacturer  and will be held at Clark International Speedway in, of course, Clark, Pampanga. I saw the ad and I immediately wanted to sign up because I’ve always wanted to go on a trackday. But a plethora of things flashed through my mind – it’s sponsored by Yokohama, Aska’s wearing Toyo TR1s – stupid I know but I really thought of this. The track is at least 80 kilometers away, can it handle the trip to and fro and the track in between? My brakes suck, my alternator is pretty much dead, the rear is still stock height, my front shocks are shot, my fuel pump is still mounted in the engine bay always close to death, my battery is starting to raise the white flag and my engine is prone to overheating at prolonged high RPM usage. These are just some of things that crossed my mind before I signed up.

I let the idea sit for a few days and considered my situation. I’ve been raring to go to a trackday since forever and here it is, with the added bonus of having to go on track  for Php 1,500, which is as far as track days apparently go, dirt cheap. Well not really dirt cheap, but it is cheap nonetheless. A day or so after, I thought that I can work on the car bit by bit everyday, and hopefully come up ready for the track day. I got springs to cut for the rear, a new pair of shock mounts and a newly acquired velostack for my stock carb. My brakes were bad in the back, and I keep having issues with the wheel cylinder in the rear, passenger side. I bought new FG wheel cylinders from Bestcolt in Banawe. Installed them like a boss – now I had working brakes.

The alternator took me quite a while to get. I first thought of having it reconditioned with new parts. Then one of my forum mates, Phil, suggested that I change to a new alternator instead. He told me that his car uses a new unit. He tagged a pic on Facebook and I took an immediate liking to it. Unlike my Mando alternator which had a newer, more ‘modelo’ design, the alternator he was suggesting had an external fan. It had old school spelled around it, however this unit is also an IC type like my Mando. Oh yeah! My friend also told me he can order one for me from a store near his place. So I ok’d his suggestion and waited about a week or two for word from him. Apparently the store near him was out of the stuff but he had someone look to get one for me. Hmmm at this point it was taking a bit longer to work on the car, and also I can’t go out at night out of fear that I run it out of juice with my heavy-ass 90/100W headlights. This wasn’t very much of an issue as at the  time, the only time I needed a car was to go to band practice, and my friend’s place where we jam is just a few minutes’ drive from home, and it’s not like I have a choice – a keyboard is pretty hefty stuff to lug around.

But this became a bigger deal as Gael’s mom was coming home and wanted to meet the gang. I thought my car had enough juice in it for the probably forty minute drive her place at night. I had asked an officemate to cover for my shift and I will come in for her shift later that night. But alas, come Friday night, the car won’t even turn over. I was ready to crush it to bits – I just slept it off for a bit then made dinner and got ready for work that night. The week after, I was tried my luck at looking around Pasay for an alternator. Many months prior, I actually wanted to look for one but all the shops told me they had nothing for me.

With the trackday about three weeks away, I was ready to try just about anything. So off I went to Pasay and first tried European Auto Supply – no luck. ATCO, MitSquare, Dyna Ace…everyone had nothing. While walking back I thought about what the problem was – everyone I asked from raised eyebrows at me when I told them what I needed – an alternator for a 4G32 / 33 engine with built-in IC regulator and cranks out 70A. There was no such a thing they said – this wasn’t new to me, the shops I asked in Banawe said exactly the same things.

“There is no such thing.  Your engine takes a 45A alternator with voltage regulator stock.”

When I was ready to put my hands up in defeat and take back my reserved slot at the trackday, I passed by a corner shop which sold alternators and starters, RBM Auto Supply.  I was like, meh fuck, let’s ask. After all, the store looked like a flea market than a legit auto place but what the fuck. The guy at the counter actually listened to me, and he says he remembered having sold such an alternator about a few months back. He retrieved a notebook from under the counter, and looked up some invoices he issued. True, about three weeks before I came, he did sell one as the invoice had the notes : “Alternator 70A IC ND Boxtype 85”. The guy had me wait in my high seat as he remembers he still has one on him.

There is hope in the world my mind shouted – Hallelujah!!!

But then he came back, and said there was nothing in the store, however there might be one in their storehouse. So we waited for someone to phone him back, ten minutes, twenty minutes. Finally the phone rang – nope, there was nothing in their place either. I looked so down, and got up to leave. The man took out his business card and left his personal number, saying he’ll order for me and I could probably give him about a week to get it. It was Thursday anyway, and I thought that it should take another week or so.

Flash forward to Monday the week after. I gave the auto supply guy a call, and I couldn’t believe it – he was saying some new units had just come in. So off I went to Pasay and there, after about thirty minutes of frantic running to the train station, sat a box. On the box was a label, ‘Mitsubishi 4G32 70A ALT outer fan wih IC’. Inside was the alternator I saw on Phil’s Facebook.

[this is Phil’s engine, see the alternator with the outerfan]

At last! A new alternator!

I paid the man, hurried home and immediately set work to have it installed. Alas, the belt on my current set up is too short. See, the Mando alternator is actually smaller than this new one. Hah, nothing a new, longer belt can’t fix. The one I was using then was an 875, so I thought something like 925 should fit. I got one, it didn’t fit. I returned it, exchanged it for a 940 belt – too loose. Then my local auto store took out a 935 belt, and I was like, dafuq somethig like this exists??? He knew us fairly well so he knew that what I wanted wasn’t always dictated by the car I drive. Tried it on and it fit like a glove in the position I wanted the alternator to be! At last I no longer have to worry about my car’s electricity needs.

The weekend that followed found me in Sucat, where at Phil’s suggestion, I took my car to have the radiator overhauled and the block descaled via Lav’Ra’Mon. The shop, Sammy’s did a pretty swell job of overhauling the radiator – they opened it and took it apart and cleaned each tube. After putting the whole thing back together, they had it sprayed flat black. Then they moved to descale my block, and out came many years’ worth of muck. To test the newly replenished radiator, I gunned the car. Usually, my car starts to heat up quickly at speeds about 100 kph. But there was the car, running at 140 kph – and breaking the law, like it was 40 kph. It was awesome stuff, only being forced to slow down before coming into Magallanes.

[this is a Lav’Ra’Mon machine. it magically cleans the gook from your water jacket]

A few days later, my father and I worked on getting the fuel pump transferred to rear. For some background, my car uses an electric fuel pump. Previously, we had it in the front. My forum mates have always suggested it be transferred to the rear where it will do less sucking and more pushing, which is good for an electric pump. My father was against the idea as he said it will be harder to maintain and that there is no gain to it. But after destroying two brand new Mitsubishi pumps along with the one I had when I got the car, I knew something had to be done. I had one of my uncle’s electric pumps lying around, and a few pieces of flat steel bars – it was time to move that to the back, where it will be safe from the heat of the engine, and where it can easily suck out the fuel and push it to the front. After laying new wires from the engine where the pump’s socket was and laying new hoses, it was time to up the pump beside the tank. It was a pretty simple job actually, and the car runs great with it.

One of the last issues I wanted to address on my car was the suspension. See my old front shock mounts are already shot up and literally pieces of shit pieced together after the morons at a shop in Banawe took out on of the studs while getting my car lowered.I had a pair of new mounts on hand, then bought new ball joints. I bought my car over to AutoDoctor in Cainta to have the guys there work on my front suspension. I had new bushings installed up front, along with the ball joints and refilled my front shocks too. Lastly, we had the present rear springs cut a little to lower the rear. After all the work was done, I drove the car around the empty lot and did a donut, to the shop guy’s delight, and the ire of the sari sari store owner where the gravel stones ended up.

My old man and I drove back home to Mandaluyong like we were being chased down. No overheating issues, no more ‘kalampag’ up front, and the rear felt a little more stable. Overall, I felt my car was ready to go to Clark for some premium track action. Tomorrow, I shall set foot where only in Gran Turismo had I done so – and hopefully come home to tell about it.

[originally posted on lifeinadreamlessworld.blogspot.com]
[http://lifeinadreamlessworld.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-first-track-day-pretty-much_24.html[

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