October, 2003

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Charging up the ranks

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

I was fairly pleased with my results from the BMW-CCA autocross, where I placed fourth out of nine in the “non-BMW class” against more experienced drivers, and did quite well overall. I can only hope to do as well at this weekend’s SCCA event.

I’m also looking forward to being able to record some in-car videos, assuming I receive the camera mount I ordered by the end of the week…

Haven’t lost the touch

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

Wrote my traffic school exam tonight.

True to form, I was the first to finish the fifty-question exam, after fifteen minutes, and scored a perfect 100%.

The need for speed

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

(If you’re thinking this is another car-related entry, you’re wrong.)

Attended Click2Asia’s (an online dating site for asians) speed dating event in San Francisco last Thursday. I’d heard about speed dating before—as part of some human-interest piece on CNN I think—but much to my annoyance, Match.com never seems to organize such events for people of my “tender” young age (under 30). So when I saw the ad for Click2Asia’s event—and given my positive attraction bias towards asian women—I lept at the chance.

The only unfortunate thing about the evening was that despite stating that dating would start at 7pm “sharp”, the organizers ended up kicking things off over half an hour late. As a result (I think) they shortened the “dates” to just four minutes… barely enough time to get introduced, I found. Nevertheless most of the ten women I met were intelligent, charming and attractive, and overall I was quite impressed.

The greatest difficulty came at the end when I had to check yes/no for each woman—whether or not I’d “like to get to know them better”. (If both people say “yes” then the organizers will forward their E-mail addresses so that they may contact one another.) I’ve never been good at putting names to faces of people I’ve just met, and coupled with the sheer information overload from meeting ten women in forty minutes, I had a virtually impossible time remembering who was who. I ended up checking “yes” for a couple whom I remembered, then “yes” on four others that I chose randomly—leaving my fate to chance, so to speak.

I haven’t received the results yet but I think things went well enough that I’ll be doing this again in the near future. It’s hard to argue with the fact that I met more (attractive, available) women that night than I had in several months.

Showing those bimmers what an Evo can do

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

Took the Evo out to a BMW Car Club of America autocross on Saturday and did reasonably well. In the interest of targeting a more specific audience—and not cluttering this blog with autocross talk—I’m documenting my autocross experiences in a member journal entitled “EvoX – My autocrossing adventures” at the new Evo enthusiast site, NorCalEvo.net.

Out with “old”…

Sunday, October 12th, 2003

I’ve been sitting on this piece of news for a couple weeks, figuring that when my parents found out they will surely disapprove. But in the absence of anything else more exciting to talk about here it is: last Tuesday (i.e. the day before California’s car registration rate tripled) I traded in my Eclipse for my dream car, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII.

Reaching 60 mph in around 4.8 seconds and handling like almost no other car—certainly none in its price class—I’ve been eyeing this car for almost a year now, since initial rumours of its coming to North America. Though priced about the same as my 2001 Eclipse GT, it’s a huge performance upgrade over the latter. Whereas the Eclipse was (in my view) a decidedly “prettier” car, it was mostly beauty with little mustle to back it up. The Evo is somewhat opposite, looking like a modified economy car with only the vent in the hood, huge carbon fiber wing, and (to closer observers) large front intercooler to hint at the 271 turbocharged horses it packs under the hood.

From a practical standpoint it’s also a much better car, with four doors and real-sized rear seats for passengers, a bigger trunk, and much better visibility for parking and maneuvering in traffic. (Backing up in my Eclipse was always something of an adventure, as the low seating, high tail, spoiler and two wide rear columns made rear visibility less than ideal.) One amusing fact is that my insurance actually went down by a dollar… and more after I had the LoJack installed.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been driving the “Evo” (as it’s called by car enthusiasts) extra to run up miles and finish the break-in period (a thousand miles), so that I could race it at autocross this weekend. For example, I took a scenic drive down Highway 1 and snapped a few photos while I was there:

[scenic photo of my Evo against the Pacific coast]

By driving to and from the dealer (in Hayward, about 30 miles north) a few times, over the San Francisco Bay Bridge and back, and taking the “extra long” way to and from work every day (eleven miles over two freeways, instead of the usual two) I managed to accomplish my goal, putting it over a thousand miles yesterday morning, whereupon I changed the oil (a rather messy affair that required a half-roll of paper towels to clean up) and adjusted the tire pressure.

The first few days driving the car were something of an adventure, as I was still learning how to drive a manual transmission and stalled and bucked the car numerous times. In fact, in attempting to roll the car out of the dealership I stalled it three times. My friend and “backup driver” Jason finally noticed that this was because I was in third gear; after switching to first things went much better.

I took the car to autocross for the first time today and though my results were less than spectacular, it was a lot of fun to really push the Evo to its limits. (Clearly the results indicated that I was far from “car-limited”.) Here’s a photo of me posing with my car and my masking-tape lettering; “ASN” stands for “A-Stock, Novice” though one of my friends quipped that it stood for “asian”.

[me posing with my Evo at autocross]

Once again the Evo demonstrated its practical aspect, as we were able to use the spoiler as an improvised picnic table:

[Nick lunches on my Evo's spoiler]

Obviously buying a new car every couple years is a rather expensive habit so it may come as a relief (to my parents, and myself as well) that I’ll likely be sticking with the Evo for quite a while longer… The reason being that a car that can significantly outperform it would have a pricetag likely running into six digits (say, a high-end Porsche or Ferrarri) and therefore wouldn’t be something I would consider unless my stock options suddenly took off vertically. Well, one can dream but at least with my Evo, I can live a bit of that dream.