Winter Fun Can Begin…Safely

I’ve written about past driving tours when the temps drop or it gets cold and wet and I feel nervous driving with my summer tires. My Michelin PS4S tires are the best spring to early fall tire you can run in the Northwest. They handle exceptionally well and stick to the road in the dry or the wet, as long as the temps are 50+ degrees. In the 40s you better take it easy and anything lower than that…stay in the garage. I want to enjoy the Spyder all year round, so it was time for some dedicated winter tires. What do you do when your car is trapped in the garage, you have 6+ inches of new snow and you want winter tires…you call Blake at Right Away Tire. He helped me select the perfect winter tire for my car, a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin 4 and he came over with his crew to get me all set up. They showed up on time, despite a packed schedule and terrible working conditions and did the job in record time. They have all of the equipment in their vans which is incredibly convenient and they do a ton of business at the various racetracks in the area swapping folks over from street to track tires. Maybe someday I’ll need that but for now, I just want to go play in the snow.

Last Cars and Coffee of 2021

2021 wasn’t a breeze, but with the kids back in school it was certainly a hell of a lot easier than 2020 was! We are still dealing with Covid, social distancing, masks, friends and family getting sick but we have been very fortunate all things considered. I’ve been able to enjoy cars and car culture all year and managed to squeeze in one last cars and coffee into 2021. It was a rare, beautifully dry and clear day in December, so I drove down to Lake Washington Cars and Coffee to meet up with some friends, drink coffee, eat donuts and have some fun.

I was there to socialize so I didn’t take many photos, but I did manage to grab a few shots of my favorites, starting with mine of course 😍 The yellow 911 GT3 (992 series) at the bottom was my other favorite. The perfect track car to compliment my road-focused Spyder…hey, a guy can dream!

Okay, so Lake Washington Cars and Coffee actually happened the next week as well, but I didn’t have my snow tires put on in time to join for this kind of fun, otherwise I would have been there for sure!!

These photos are not mine, they were taken by the very talented Mike Gatch (FB) / @MikeGatchPhotography (IG):

Northwest Toy Run 2021

Last year I had a blast joining some friends for the annual Northwest Toy Run, a toy drive to help ensure that everyone gets something special for the holidays. When a good friend of mine starting organizing the event again for this year, I was immediately in, regardless of the weather. When the forecast changed and we were going to have a sunny winter day, I was even more excited. A convertible on a cold but dry and sunny winter day is always so much fun. Top down, blast the heat and bundle up. I even talked Shep into joining me this time so we could both play Santa!

The morning started early so we could make it up to our meetup location in Alderwood Mall. We arrived with enough time to take some photos as the group gathered. Well, I took some photos while my co-pilot got some extra sleep in the warm car 😂

Our destination for the toy drive was Pacific Raceways and we explored some fun backroads on our way to get there. We were all running summer tires and the day was pretty cold, so we took it very easy to avoid becoming one of the many accidents we passed along the way. Once at the racetrack, we gathered our group, drove through the toy donation line and then gathered in the parking lot to chat for a while.

One of our fellow PCA PNWR members had arranged for a group of us to head out on to the track so we could take some photos for our monthly magazine. We had a few people orchestrate the location on the track and get everyone positioned and a few of us handled the photography.

Here is my favorite from the track photos:

Here are a bunch more:

It was such a fun day, Shep and I both had a blast, it was all for a good cause, and I cannot wait to do it again next year!!

Seattle International Auto Show

You know how cities like Miami and LA have these huge auto shows where all the top manufacturers bring out their coolest cars, announce innovations and show off exciting concept cars? Well Seattle isn’t like that. We get Ford, Honda, Nissan and Kia showing off their latest budget models and maybe one or two cool sports cars. That’s why I was so happy when I heard that our local car club, Avants, had made arrangements for a special display of cars and a members lounge to hang out in. I managed to talk Gabe and Shep into joining me and we ventured out on a rainy day to look at some cool cars. Both the boys were very impressed by the members only lounge…it could have had something to do with the candy and energy drinks they had for us 🙂

Gabe was able to get up close with his favorite car, the Honda Civic Type R and Shep was torn between the awesome DirtFish Rally car or the bro truck! It was so much fun to see other Avants member’s cars there including a very cool 944 race car with a custom livery done by EM Wraps. The rest of the car show was as boring as always but the Avants section more than made up for that!

Perfecting the Alignment

I’ve demonstrated a willingness in the past to ignore the decades of Porsche engineering excellence in favor of aftermarket mods and that trend continues. The 718 Spyder and GT4 are nearly perfect but I think Porsche had to make a few tradeoffs in the suspension setup, likely as a tradeoff of cost or compliance or time. Under hard braking and uneven surfaces, the rear end of the car can become…lively. In a way that doesn’t inspire confidence. The DSC Controller I installed previously is step 1 to taming this behavior. A more aggressive alignment made possible by TPC Racing toe links is step 2. The replacement toe links allow for more toe and camber adjustment in the rear suspension than you can achieve stock and the offset design TPC uses removes the instability I mentioned earlier.

While I was having this work done, I went ahead and added a Rennline stud conversion kit. Rather than secure the wheels with bolts, this kit uses studs/nuts. This makes tire maintenance easier in general but also act as guides when removing a wheel which protects the somewhat fragile and ridiculously expensive PCCBs (carbon brake rotors). This is peace of mind when someone else is working on the car and I also happen to think they look cool 😎 I went with 45mm but I think 35mm would work better up front with the more narrow wheel and I may swap them at some point.

I had what I think is the best shop in town, Tru-Line, do the install and alignment. I’ve had them do wheels/tires and alignments on all my cars and they always do an excellent job.They dialed in a setup for mostly street, occasional track and in hopes of preventing too much uneven tire wear. They also dropped the tire pressure to 30 front, 32 rear.

As an unexpected bonus, they found and removed a transport block that was still on my front right spring!! My dealership somehow missed this during their delivery prep! I put 900+ miles on the car and it still had a shipping block on it. These blocks are designed to keep the car from bouncing around during transport and they keep the spring from compressing. That explains some of the noise I heard as well as a few ride quality issues I had written off to our terrible roads. I think they were left on both sides and the left side flew off on my first tour. I remember going over a big bump at speed and hearing something ping and then a noise under the car. I thought I had scraped the diffuser but I bet it was a shipping block flying off. I’m glad it is sorted now.

The car feels better than ever and I can immediately feel the positive impact of lower tire pressure and the transport block being gone. Having exercised it for another few hundred miles, I can now say that the suspension is perfect for what I’m using the car for.

Sunset at Alki

Living so close to Alki, a beautiful beach neighborhood in West Seattle, has a lot of benefits. High on that list for me is that I can take a quick drive, bike ride or walk down Alki and watch a beautiful sunset. In this case, it was a quick drive to capture some photos as the sun was setting and soon after.

This one was my favorite…as you can tell because I made it the header of the blog now 😍

After the sun had set, I wanted to capture a few skyline photos but this was just a quick set. I need to go back and have some real fun.

“Once in a Lifetime Event” – Hurley Haywood

I’ve been a member of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) since I was still a teenager and bought my first 911, an old SC Targa in need of a lot of love. I’ve belonged to my local chapter, PNWR, for many years. I’m active in the club, even serving on the board as the Secretary and unofficial photographer whenever they let me. As they say, membership has its benefits and in this case, the benefit was getting to meet a true American endurance racing legend, Hurley Haywood. Hurley is an accomplished driver with a long list of victories. He’s also a great story teller, and it was a fantastic experience to hear his stories of racing, and of his personal life, directly from the legend himself. Hurley is one of the few openly gay race car drivers and in 2019, Queerty magazine named him one of the Pride50 “trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people”.

As if the countless stories, a million autographs and lengthy Q&A wasn’t enough…there was a surprise guest that we all got to get up close and personal with. A Porsche 962 race car…a very rare treat indeed!

Avants Tour of Highway 2 to Leavenworth

Avants is an awesome car club that I’ve written about before with an inclusive, “Drive Everything” motto. It started locally but is quickly growing nationwide…like Fight Club but with less blood. Long drives in a convertible with summer tires become rare as we get into the fall and winter. Heading over our local mountain passes becomes the domain of the AWD vehicle. When I saw that some Avants members had planned a tour across Highway 2 to Leavenworth (cool Bavarian style town), on a weekend where the weather looked warm enough to not die, I was in.

The plan was to meet up at Tulalip Casino early in the morning, drive Hwy 2 over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth, grab lunch and then head back. Temps were going to be in the 50s and it would be dry…no problem. Problem. When I looked at the weather, I forgot to factor in the time of day. Temps would be in the low 50s in the afternoon, but in the morning, as Shep and I started our drive, temps were in the low 30s. It was dry fortunately, but I was a bit worried about traction and we took it easy the whole time. Still, getting over Stevens Pass felt sketchy so on the way home, we made a loop instead of a u-turn and drove to Cle Elum and back to Seattle on I90…it was warmer and dryer coming over Snoqualmie Pass.

We had a great collection of people and cars show up pre-sunrise to meet each other and talk about the route. The pup in the orange Lamborghini convertible was a big hit!

We stopped along the way for a bathroom break and a photo opportunity. I was digging the artistic wrap on this Lexus:

Shep was hungry so we split off from the big group and found a cool diner off Hwy 2 for lunch and some milkshakes. A well deserved reward for a great co-pilot. Shep insisted it was top-down for the rest of the day and we drove over Stevens and Snoqualmie passes, with temps in the 30s and 40s, top down and the heat blasting. A perfect day by my measure.