How I Got my Race License

Yes, getting into racing is expensive. Even at an amateur level, like me, its still expensive. But if you compared that at a pro level racing, that has a race team and media coverage. Amateur racing is pennies compared to pro. This is how I did it.

Tesla Camping

With summer upon us, that means Texas is going to get hotter. And hotter temperature makes camping for sweaty nights, or is it?

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One of the nice features of the Tesla, is camp mode. This allows the Tesla to be “on”, and turns off sentry mode to conserve energy. I would be able to sleep inside and tesla in full comfort regardless of the temperature.

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Wanting to see how camp mode works in the real world, I booked an RV campsite at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. I book an RV site because it has electrical and water hook up. Accord to the Tesla GPS, I would have arrived 15%, and for sure would need a place to charge up.

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Currently in 2022, rising gas prices is making travel expensive. In Texas is about $4.30USD a gallon for regular, and diesel hitting $5USD per gallon. Anther reason to take the Tesla since EV charging is significantly cheaper.

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The downside with EV charging is more frequent stops and some places required longer changing. The longest I had to charge was 50mins. The next supercharger was decently far so, had to charge longer to make it. But you have to guess how much you have to charge. Tesla will automatically let you know when you have enough charge to make to the next destination. It very accurate and that easies the range anxiety.

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The RV site has 50amp hook up meaning its the NEMA 14-50 outlet. The same one i have at home. The is also 30amp hookup which charges slower and you need an adapter for it. I do have that adapter just in case the 50amp didnt work. Thankfully I didn’t have issues.

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Surprisingly, the weekend we arrived, there was a cold front. Temps in the 40s at nigh with highs of 70s. The Tesla didn’t have to work to hard to maintain a nice 68F. We brought black out shades to block the sun rays and also provide more privacy.

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The advantage with camp mode is I don’t have to bring as much camping gear since I can sleep in my pajamas and not worry about freezing or sweating. Camping at establish campsites, you are provided with restrooms, showers, water, and shaded area with a table.

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We stayed for 3 days and was beautiful. Palo Duro is the Gand Canyon of Texas and felt like I was in Sedona, Arizona or Red cliffs of Nevada. We hiked 6 miles, and end up becoming a 5 hr hike. Kinda tough on the climbing the ledges but the views where wonderful.

Weather was clear sunny skies, but air was dry and you can feel the UZ rays beating down. I got sunburned from the hike. Our dog, Lambo, was happy to be inside the Tesla and rested temps set at 68 degrees.

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Our sleeping arrangements was simple and comfy. Wifey set folded the rear seats and inflated the mattress made for the Model 3. It took a little bit longer to set up compared to the rooftop tent on the Land Cruiser, but wasn’t an inconvenience for us. Once set up, the space inside the Model 3 is tight. I think of sleeping in those Japanese pods. I think car camping in the Model Y or Model X would be better.

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I think this is the future of camping. We drove a total of 1,314 miles, spent $94.03 supercharging and $52 for the 3 day RV campsite. If we drove the Land Cruiser I would have paid at least $500 on gas averaging 10 MPG. Not bad at all.

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Would I start camping in the Tesla more, then using the Land Cruiser? Probably not, and for one reason. The Land Cruiser will take me to places that cars or RVs cant go to. This leads to more private camping and better views that are less seen. To me, that the most important thing.

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Of course if Im going to established campsites, I will take the Tesla.

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Toyota Jambo 2022

Another Toyota Jambo in the books! Every year it’s family tradition, and this is our 3rd event. Always been a blast.

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My wife and I couldn’t make it on Thursday because of the work schedule. But we made it early morning breakfast on Friday.

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Tony was able to get in Jambo Thursday morning, and get us nice camp spot. Though it seemed Jambo was a full event, I didn’t notice much campers this year.

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Lots of Land Cruisers this year.

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My friend Kevin taking some nice action shots.

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My recent mod of going 35″ tires, and 5″ lift was a noticeable difference in wheeling. In certain sections, others were having issues, mine crawled over it like a mountain goat.

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Unfortunately Mike Jones was on a night trail and sustained a good amount of trail damage. He hit a rock and broke the spindle. Thankfully the other Mike, who wheeled his Tundra, was there and got a uhaul trailer to tow it back to Austin. Thankful for really good friends.

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I got some trail damage too. The AC belt snapped, thankfully I was able to fix it with a quick stop to Autozone before wifey, the dogs, and I made the trip back to Houston. Having AC in the afternoon summer is a must have.

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The side step got damage. I unfortunately hit a tree root hidden in a mud hole. I guess its time for a new sliders.

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I had a really great time with my friends. We spent 3 days just camping, off-roading, and cooking good food. Its all about the experience, including the good and bad. What matters the most are the people you surround yourself with.

Finally Bump Draft, Then Not.

For the race at Eagles Canyon Raceway, I scored a USDM bumper for free. My friend, Danh had a bumper lying around, and was nice enough to give me is old bumper.

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The bumper bolted right up, and now I have a rear bumper so someone can bump draft me. The USDM sticks out, but extra protection too, right?

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The rear bumper was about 25lbs, if i had to guess how heavy it was. Not noticeable, but the 86 was a tad bit oversteer. Race 1, I was able to finish 3rd with no issues. But race 2 was a different story.

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Early on in the race, my bumper caught on fire!!!! What happened was my Buddy Club Spec 2 exhaust sits very close to the USDM bumper. During the race, the bumper got too hot that it caught on fire. Thankfully from my racing friend, Carlos, he got my attention. We were battling hard, and then I noticed he was pointing at me in the rear view mirror. At first, I was thinking that Carlos was messing with me. But then I noticed the corner workers quickly picking up their radios. I didn’t see a flag, but I knew it was probably bad, and was for me. My instinct told me to pull over ASAP.

As soon as I stopped, I saw smoke in the rear. My gut feeling was a fire, and sure enough the rear bumper was on fire! I have fire suppression system, but it only sprays in the engine bay and cockpit. Thankfully I have a portable extinguisher, and was able to put out the bumper fire in time. Saving the car.

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I removed the rear bumper and was able to race again. Thankfully no issues after that. Some tips for the readers: If the exhaust sits close to the bumper, its better to remove the bumper, or reroute the exhaust away from the bumper. Always have a fire extinguisher handy. Most cost about $20, and good insurance to have.

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Im thankful it wasn’t worse. Just cosmetic damage. I’ll be able to race next event!

AE86 Mesh Screen

In my race at Eagles Canyon Raceway, I had a friend that blew the head gasket due to a small radiator leak. He was telling that debris caused the leak in the radiator and needed a mesh screen. That got me thinking I should probably do one for the 86.

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I bought this aluminum screen on amazon for $14. The screen was big enough to cover the front of the 86. The opening seemed more fine, then chicken wire screen. The screen looks too restrictive, but Ill find out next race if I have cooling issues. Its zip tied in 4 places. Seems secure enough.

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I think this screen should prevent debris from coming in, and busting a hole in the oil cooler of radiator, hopefully.

AE86 Timing

Back in January I had my race at Motorsport Ranch Houston. The last race, I was in 2nd place, but coming out of diamonds edge, my car started to blog all of a sudden. Felt like it was low on power, and wouldn’t rev past 4k.

The car ran, but just terrible. I had to pit in and loose my spot for the race. The good thing, is the car ran, and no smoke or obvious serious issues.

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After the race I get back to shop and started to figure out why it was running like crap. The motor was getting fuel, spark and air. But still ran like crap, I was thinking if the timing was off. Sure enough the timing was off! The timing marks didn’t line up. Thankfully the motor is non interference, and the internals was spared from damage

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As I was resting the timing, I noticed a tear on the timing belt. Then I found out the culprit. A bolt for the rear timing cover came loose during the race, and cause the timing to slip! My adjustable cam gears also went out of timing.

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To avoid future issues, I went to back to stock cam gears, replaced the timing belt, and added MRP N2 timing tensioner. This made the belt more secure to the constant redline.

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To avoid this issue from happening again. I added loctite to the treads, and marked the bolts. This makes it easy for me to tell if the bolts are starting to get loose. Lessons learned in racing. But thankful it was worse. Thanks for reading!

Land Cruiser upgrades

Since the trail damage I had a couple years ago. I was driving with no bumper and it did fine, but I wanted to get a rear proper bumper. Luckily 4×4 labs was selling a built bumper that was ready for shipping. Since covid, lots of aftermarket companies are dealing with shortage or shipping delays. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity, and I bought it

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The 4×4 Labs I got is a dual swing out with dual receivers for a motocycle hitch. The left side is for tire mount, and the right side is available for adding on accessories.

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You do need to cut some parts of the frame. You loose a couple of inches in the rear but the bumper came with instructions. Wasn’t too bad. Just need a sawzall, or circular saw makes work easy. Here is link for cutting instructions: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jut30zw69vhukqn/80install.doc?dl=0.

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Took one day doing the cutting. Most of the time was spend double checking the measurements. Once the cutting is done. The easy part it next, but will need some help from a few people. You lift the bumper and slide along the frame rails. You use the factory bolt holts. The bumper is held on buy 10 bolts. Very heavy duty.

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I like how the bumper sits high and tight to the 80 series. A lot better departure angle then before.

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Then a month later, I ordered the 3 jerry can holder for the right side of the swing out. I did this, because I was carrying the 3 jerry cans on the roof before. I didn’t like how you could feel top heavy. This jerry can holder will make filling up gas and fueling the LC a lot quicker and easier. A nice is the holder came with bottle opener.

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Next recent mod, I bought my friends 5″ used OME comp springs. I was on a 3″ lift, but when I was fully loaded, I would only get 2″ lift. With 35″ tires, I get some rubbing on full lock. Im glad I went with the 5″ lift. I gained more clearance and the heaver spring rates provided less sagging.

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With the lift and bumper, I had to get a 7″ drop hitch for the trailer. But I like how the combo looked.

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Thanks for reading!

Updates!!!

Last time posting was back in October 2021. A lot has happened, and been pretty busy in work when the Omicron variant came out. I didn’t have time to update the blog. But here we go: In November, I went on Thanksgiving camping trip in the Ozarks.

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Did a 10 day trip with some friends, and had a fair share of water crossings. Nothing too deep thankfully.

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Then in December, the last race of my rookie season, I got my first 1st place trophy!!!

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January 2022 was the NASA season opener!!! I didn’t place till race 3 and 4. I managed 2nd and 3rd place. Team Garcia in the blue Miata was super fast. This was Motorsport Ranch Houston and sadly the track isn’t that well maintained. Super bumpy track, that I ran into few issues. The first one, I almost lost my slave master cylinder due to a bolt backing itself out. Then in the last race of the weekend, my timing was off because of loose bolt getting into the timing belt. Thankfully the AE86 motor is non-interference. I still survived to race.

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In February 2022, I went to vacation in the Philippines! This was my first time flying since covid, and the rules for traveling has changed. Mainly, you need a negative covid test, 2 days prior to flying, and must be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantine. Mask are required in the Philippines, even if you are outdoors. The trip back, was memorable, and wish I was still living in the Philippines. I flew business class the first time and attended 2 weddings that month. I will be back again next year to travel more.

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In March 2022, I missed the NASA March race unfortunately. My flight back to the states was cutting it close to make the race. I did manage to attend my homies bachelor party. Booked a ticket to Vegas last minute and enjoyed my 36hr stay!

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That same month, I went camping in Barnwell Mountain. March weather in Texas is too nice, and would be a shame if I didn’t camp.

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Finally catching up to this month (April), I had my NASA race! I was able to get two 3rd place finishes and two 2nd place finishes.

Very busy year so far. But we are all caught in my life’s journey of cars! This year Im planning to make it NASA championships in Laguna Seca in September! I made in enough points to make it, but I have one more race before Laguna Seca. The cases of corona virus is going down, and should have some more time to update the blog. Thanks for reading!

Hill Country Camping

In August, I had couple weeks off for my birthday and I wanted to go to the West Coast to camp, but unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and had to stay in Texas.

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That didn’t deter me from camping, in Texas a majority of land are privately owned. You have to pay for campsites including dispersed camping. The price varies on amenities, and how remote you want to be. Just be nice, and make sure to pack up after yourself.

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For the camp spots we hit, we made sure to be near the Llano river. The August summer heat makes you want to stay cool.

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The cool river was definitely refreshing and relaxing.

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We didn’t bring our dogs this trip just because how hot it got. I know with Lambo, he wouldn’t like sleeping in 90F nights.
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This was a good time to do some testing of our dual zone refrigerator and solar set up. Im happy we did the upgrade, and I don’t think my wife and I can back to coolers. We can have ice cream in the summer and not worry about getting soggy wet.

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I had great time camping and seeing the Texas hill country. Thankful I live in Texas.

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AE86 Up and Running!

Been a over a month since I blogged here but covid in the hospitals has been very crazy this past months. I have some time to do a quick update on the AE86.

I plopped my 2nd motor sometime in July, and thankfully she started right up. I then added an accusump to help fix my oil starvation issue. After 1 week, I took the AE86 to AE86 matsuri track day. Thankfully all was good and no issue! She is ready for the upcoming race season this year! I do hopefully plan to track often, and maybe even hit up an endurance race. Thats it for now. Hope y’all stay safe and have fun too.

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