Summer Wheels: BBS FI-R!

Seattle can get some freakishly late winter storms, but I decided to take my chances and have my summer tires and wheels put back on the car. The tires are the same Michelin PS4S summer tires that I love so much for the Northwest and the wheels I went with are BBS ultralight FI-Rs in exactly the same fitment as the Porsche wheels. These wheels not only look stunning, they save about 7 lbs per wheel compared to Porsche wheels. That, combined with the lightweight carbon brakes on the car significantly reduce the unsprung weight (weight not held up by the suspension of the car). Reducing unsprung makes the job of the suspension much easier. This helps the car handle better, recover from bumps better and makes the car more comfortable over our crappy roads. Did I mention that they look stunning too? Just look at that custom brushed clear finish that Supreme Power hooked me up with. Bling!

Here is the Right Away Tire crew doing their thing along with some quick shots in the garage…I had to get back to work:

With the workday over…I could take the car out for some real photos to showcase these new wheels:

Taking the Martini livery out for a spin

The sun was starting to set, I had just gotten the car back from Emwraps after having the Martini livery installed and I bolted out of the house faster than…well, something that bolts really fast. Since the bridge is out, I find myself taking more photos closer to home. When you have Alki as your backyard, that isn’t too much of a liability.

A set of late night photos and the last two are two of my favoriate photos lately. So moody…looks like a video game or something.

It’s Martini Time!!

Not that kind of martini…Meg and I stopped that almost 5 years ago! No, this post isn’t about my decades of late night debauchery at Tini Bigs, I’m talking about one of the most iconic race car liveries of all time. In full transparency, this particular livery was sponsored by Martini & Rossi, but I’m willing to look past my own hypocrisy for the sake of automative art. I’m willing to look past my hypocrisy for a lot less than that!

A racing livery is the unique visual design that adorns most race cars. Race teams and sponsors work together to create something eye catching that will hopefully keep the fans visually stimulated, as if 200+mph cars aren’t enough, and also sell some product. The race car equivalent of a pop-up ad but less annoying. Usually. Sometimes a livery will transcend its purpose of convincing you to drink a certain drink, or smoke a certain brand of cigarette, and become a permanent piece of racing history. In my opinion, the Martini livery is at the top of that list. The classic white, blue and red striping has appeared on just about all brands of cars across most race series. Instantly identifiable, timeless and beautiful. Here’s a totally random link that I googled for you with some guy’s opinion on the 25 greatest liveries in case my babbling isn’t enough.

I have always wanted to put a custom livery on my cars, but until recently, I didn’t feel I had the right car in the right color to pull it off. Perhaps I was also just a big coward afraid of what people would think. Age and a pandemic knocked that out of me…mostly. From the moment I ordered my 2021 718 Porsche Spyder in white, I knew it was destined for a Martini Livery.

To start the process, I searched millions of Martini livery photos and I found a great graphic designer, MF Design in the UK that had done some mock-ups of a Spyder with the Martini design. I worked with him to iterate a few examples based on the build for my car.

I worked with another graphic designer, Carl Fassberg, to have an awesome image made of my Spyder with a Martini background which is now framed and hanging in front of me as I type this. Carl had previously done an incredible job with my last car and I had to have another one of his designs to hang next to it. It’s cheaper to collect these than it is to keep the cars!

I spent countless hours searching for Martini designs on Instagram and Google, here are a few that were inspirational in my thought process. Apologies for not knowing the original photographers here (the first one is my own photo so no apology needed there):

I started a search for a local car wrap expert, we are lucky to have a few fantastic shops in the area. Everyone I talked to kept pointing me to Emwraps for the incredible attention to detail, the ability to custom design the solution, the printer capable of handling the job and the skills to install it perfectly. After our first meeting, I knew I was in good hands. When I told them I wanted Martini inspired, but to let their creative energy run free, their eyes lit up as well. We spent months in the design process. Going back and forth with photos, instagram chats, links to other cars, design iterations, etc. I’m not super creative and I have a hard time visualizing things without seeing them, so I made a terrible customer. At one point I suggested they fire me as a client, but they just kept coming up with better and better ideas. Here are a few images from the iterative design process:

They were all good…but neither of us were totally happy with them. The design had to honor the racing heritage but also fit the lines of this very modern car. We wanted it to look organic and give the impression that it was flowing around the car like air or water. None of the designs had quite nailed it. Then Emwraps sent me this:

At first I thought it was too bold. That side profile…there is nothing subtle about it. I sent it to some friends and it was Gary, who has a beautiful Porsche with the Hippie livery, that encouraged me to go big or go home. This design checked all the boxes. Bold, fun, modern, organic and still instantly recognizable as a Martini design. I dropped off my car and then started to totally panic! I spared Emwraps most of my panicking and just let them take this design from prototype to finished product…I could always take it off if I chickened out.

All of that fear totally disappeared when I saw it for the first time…I’m in love! Sure, it is bold and not for everyone…but I think it makes the car. Perfect and better than I ever could have imagined!

Painting with Light

Late night drives through the city are so much fun. Empty roads replace traffic jams and the city never looks more beautiful than when it is all lit up. There’s something therapeutic about driving alone at night, listening to some great music and chasing the green lights. Here are a few photos from a late night escape a while back where I unintentionally did some light painting. I wanted to grab some photos from Kerry Park in Queen Anne, but it was still a bit busy. The passing cars made for some fun photos. These also happen to be the last photos of the car when it was still all white…more on that in the next post.

Driver Skills, Winter Edition

PNWR.org runs a lot of great driving programs. From social tours, to track events and everything in between. One event that I recommend to all drivers, young or old, newbie or experienced, Porsche or Toyota, is Driver Skills. These all-day classes happen 7 or 8 times a year and cover the fundamentals of high performance driving. They let you see how you and your car will respond close to the edge of performance, or beyond, in a very safe, closed course where the only thing you really risk hitting are some orange cones. The instructors are patient and give you expert advice throughout the day as you move from course to course, practicing various high performance driving skills.

Throughout the day you move between the following exercises:

  • Slalom course – Can you keep your eyes well ahead of you and find the rhythm that allows you to zip cleanly through the cones at speed?
  • Small and large diameter wet skid pads – Can you intentionally induce over-steer or under-steer and recover from it? What does your car feel like when you disable all of the traction control nannies and then rip around a tight circle at speed?
  • Braking and accident avoidance course – It may be true that you can solve more problems with the gas than you can the brake, but here you learn to use both. Can you fly down a straight, brake hard and late, and maintain braking control through a turn? Can you respond to obstacles jumping out at you at the last second?
  • Autocross – How smooth and controlled can you be making your way around a very mini-autocross setup? This is much more about car control than speed.
  • Figure 8 – One of my favorites of the day because you get a sense of real speed, late braking, late apex corners and then back on the speed. I could have done this exercise all day and was finally ”dancing with the car” after two or three attempts. The backend of the Spyder is very lively but the car responds to throttle steer really well.

You don’t have to be a Porsche club member to go to Driver Skills and you don’t need a sports car to get the benefit. We had everything from a track ready Porsche GT3 to a jacked up Jeep Rubicon with a 3” lift and giant tires. That was fun to see on the skid pad!

PNWR Winter Waters Tour

Meg and I have always loved long drives together. It started with our epic cross-country camping roadtrip when we were just “kids” and she was moving out to Seattle after graduating from university. We packed up everything she owned in a rented SUV, and made our way from Newport to Seattle, staying mostly at campsites and national parks along the way (with a few luxury stops to clean up). We talked, listened to music and planned the rest of our life together.

Fast forward many years, and we still love jumping in the car and heading out for some adventure. I remember when our 2016 Targa arrived, we took a five hour roundtrip drive to get lunch in Leavenworth. That’s a long way to go for a hotdog….even a great hotdog.

One of my favorite ways to participate in the PCA PNWR club is to go on tours. Tours are usually one day drives, although we do have a few multi-day tours each year, where 40 to 60 cars come together and go on a beautiful drive. Plenty of stops, usually good places to eat, and always beautiful back roads with a lot of twists and turns to keep it fun. Most of our tours are in the summer, the peak sports car season, but we run winter tours as well.

Meg recently joined me for an all day ”Winter Waters” tour. It was 12 hours door-to-door and we covered over 300 miles. About half of that was highway getting there and back and the other half was some of the most beautiful back roads our area has to offer. The plan was to meet up in Snohomish, right by the downtown riverfront. Meg and I got there a bit early and went to Jake’s Cafe, a local diner, for some breakfast and coffee. We then went northwest along the Snohomish River and then to Lake Stevens. Lots of fun roads, farmlands, and typical northwest scenery. We drove the east side of Lake Samish and then we completed the trip on one of my favorite roads, Chuckanut Drive on the way to end the tour in Edison. Meg and I have done Chuckanut and Edison before as a solo trip and were excited to get back for more tacos at Mariposa. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived in Edison it was more early dinner than lunch and Mariposa was closed. We grabbed some food in the Longhorn, took a few sunset photos and then started our trip home.

Some photos from the journey:

Before we took off, we just had to grab a few car photos with the stunning sunset:

Meg is the best co-pilot anyone could ask for, and our drives together are a constant reminder that life is about the journey and not the destination. I’m already looking forward to the next one. Maybe we’ll bring the kids along this time…but likely not 🙂

Jones family day at The Shop

My Dad has always been one of those guys that can fix anything, build anything and if he doesn’t have the right tool for the job, he can probably make one on his lathe or forge one out of some steel he has laying around. The hands of a master craftsman, the mind of an engineer, and a constant need to learn new things made for a lot of hobbies and one hell of a well equipped garage. For example, here he is with the custom race car he built…using the dining room table for a workbench if the stories are true 😂

While I may have inherited the engineer’s mind, and I certainly got a full dose of whatever causes one to obsess about the next cool thing, I’ve never been the “do it yourself” master that my Dad is. As car obsessed as I am, I’ve always outsourced anything beyond the basics. One of my favorite memories was the time my Dad and I worked on my 78 SC Targa which was in need of some major engine work. We decided to do the work ourselves and he was going to show me how. We had an absolute blast prepping everything, dropping the engine, etc. but in the end, I chickened out on the hard stuff and got a shop to do the top-end rebuild. I regret that decision and wish I had pushed through my fear and finished the job with him. Still…we managed to have a lot of fun!

As I’ve gotten older, a bit of that DIY mindset has taken hold. Maybe my patience has increased, my fear of failure has decreased or some latent gene finally kicked in.

We have a tradition in our family where over long breaks, each person gets to pick what the whole family does for a day. I love this tradition. It’s the reason I’ve done flips at a trampoline house, enjoyed my first pedicure and why I know what a cat cafe is. When it was my turn, I asked the family to join me for a day at The Shop. I’ve been wanting to get a new exhaust installed on the Spyder and instead of paying a mechanic to do the work, my plan was to enlist the help of Gabe and Shep for the install while Meg captured the memories as only she can.

The 718 Spyder is almost a perfect car. The one area that is a small disappointment is how it sounds. It doesn’t sound bad, but for a glorious 4.0 liter engine and the exotic looks, the exhaust note is just a bit anemic. Porsche does what they can, and they even give you a button to make it a bit sportier, but with noise restrictions around the world and cost considerations, I think the exhaust is a compromise. After a ton of research and countless hours spent learning from other owners on sites like Rennlist, I looked to Kline for the solution and to Eric at Supreme Power for the best price and support. Kline makes some of the best exhaust systems for the most exotic cars in the world. Their fit and finish is perfect, they sound great without being too loud and they are half the weight of the factory exhaust which makes a big difference. For something that lives hidden away under the car, they are also a thing of beauty (this photo is taken from the Kline website):

The plan was to get there at 10, get the car up on the lift and then let the exhaust cool down while we enjoyed brunch at Derby. It’s pretty sweet to have a car club with lifts, all the tools you need and an on-site restaurant! After brunch, we got to work. Gabe and Shep were a big help and Gabe was by my side, doing at least half the work if not more, for the entire day. We had fun with power tools, pretended we were a F1 pit crew with the impact wrench, bloodied some knuckles, laughed, sweat, swore and worked through challenge after challenge. It’s pretty simple job if you have the skills and you know what you ‘re doing. We had neither of those advantages and I was reminded of a joke my Dad says a lot, “I’m slow, but I make a lot of mistakes”. In a few cases we had to phone a friend and ask some of the other folks in the shop for some advice. Thankfully we got a few pointers along the way. With a crew of three and a professional photographer onsite, we managed to take a 2-3 hour job for one pro and turn it into a 5-6 hour job. It was a perfect day.

All of the photos below were taken by the wonderfully talented Meghan Jones. A photojournalist and artist that we are lucky enough to have capturing all the wonderful moments in our lives! I can’t thank you enough love for spending all day taking photos of three wannabe grease monkeys 🐒 .

“Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.”

Some other cool photos Meg took while at The Shop:

I can’t thank my family enough for being willing to spend an entire day working their butts off helping me customize the car. Having you there helped give me the confidence to tackle the project and made it 1000% more fun. Dad…I don’t think you have to worry about me challenging your status as the King of DIY…but I’m starting to work my way towards Prince 🤴

Updated 1/21/2022 – In our original install, I skipped an important step of removing the exhaust mounting bracket from the Porsche muffler and re-using it on the Kline muffler. Oops! I returned a few days later and fixed it all up. I really just wanted to excuse to go back to The Shop and keep working on the car!

For reference, here is the step by step process we created for installing the exhaust – Kline Exhaust Guide

Here’s a quick video after the install on the way home. Low quality but it gives you an idea of what this sounds like.

This whole experience ended up being turned into an article for our local PCA magazine, The Spiel, including a cover shot! You can see the digital version of The Spiel here: