Toyota Jamboree 2021

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Having such a busy work schedule and finding time to work on the 86 so I can go racing next month, it’s hard for plan for camping trips. After work, I would work on the motor of the 86, and then start prepping for Toyota Jambo. In the end, its all about the experiences you have. Time doesn’t wait, and if you want to do something, you make it happen.

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For anyone that isn’t familiar with Toyota Jaboree, its an 4×4/camping event only for Toyota/Lexus makes. Free dinners, and venders showcasing products. Then you can hit the trails wheeling with friends, or join the group runs. The 4 day event is hosted at Barnwell Mountain in Gilmer,Tx. Northeast Texas is more forestry then the typical desert land in West Texas.

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I was looking forward to this trip, because I’ll be seeing friends whom I haven’t seen since covid started last year. A lot of events were canceled including Jamboree due to covid.

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The weather forecast showed it was going to be highs of 70s and lows of 60, with chance of rain. This was going to be another muddy weekend. My kind of party. I love the look of a dirty 80 series. Some people doesn’t like the cleaning their rigs, but I just wait for the next rain storm and it’s a free car wash.

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Originally we where supposed to leave on Thursday but had to finish some errands before we could go. My wife and I left Friday morning around 10am. The rain storm seemed like was following us. The drive was just rain. Our Land Cruiser was getting a good wash before the muddy trails. One gas station, I met a fellow attendee that drove all the way from California. I know how those long drives are, and props to him.

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We arrived at the check in gate, and thankfully we were the 2nd one in line. The event showed 300 plus rigs registered and glad I went before it got really busy. At the check in entrance, I was able to radio to my friends that arrived a day early where they set up camp. I installed a GRMS radio in my Land Cruiser this year. The range on antenna has been pretty impressive, and been able to radio my friends miles out.

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When I arrived at campsite, it was kinda tight with all the trees but most of the campsites were taken by Friday afternoon. I do love camping because I get to spend time with my wife, dogs, and friends. Just good times with great company.

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We set up our awning, and unpacked our camp gear. Once you start coming for awhile you have a routine on what to bring and leave behind. Since this was a 4 day trip with lots of friends coming, we didn’t pack a lot. I just made sure we have enough alcohol for the weekend plus recovery gear.

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We hit some trails on Friday afternoon, nothing to crazy. We did notice the park trails received some repairs from the last Toyota Jamboree event. Nice to know the owners maintain the park very well.

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After wheeling in the afternoon, it was time for Friday night dinner. Toyota Jamboree provides free dinner, and the night menu was Jambo-laya. Very fitting for the event name. I got two bowls. I was pretty stuffed. We walked it off by checking out the vendors.

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We eventually headed back to camp to get the party started. We made a campfire and started drinking. Some of my other friends that was camping at other spots came by. I was able to test out my snow peak camp oven for some wood fire pizza. We had an awesome night, drinking, then getting hungry from drinking. Hanging out with friends in the wilderness. I did get pretty drunk that night, and slept like a baby.

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Saturday morning, I woke up to a hangover, but my wife and I come prepared. I took some Motrin, and drank some coffee. By time my friend got done cooking breakfast, my headache was reduced significantly.

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Saturday we plan to watch the rock crawling, and stampede competition. Last time we didn’t get to see it because we wheeled during the events. The rocking completion got pretty rowdy, with one FJ almost flipping. In the stampede event another FJ got too much air and airbags deployed when it landed. Seems like the FJs owners love to send it. All in good fun, and no one got got injured.

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After the event, we headed back to camp and cooked a quick lunch. I was using my new dual burner stove. The wind deflectors was a nice touch that prevented the fire from dying. Tony brought over some sausages, and we provided the beers. German October fest going on here.

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I didn’t drink too much since I was going to hit the trails till dinner time. We did hit some traffic, and stuck vehicles but it’s all part of the adventure. Thankfully no body damage or broken parts. It’s always fun wheeling with friends because you can all help each other.

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Saturday night dinner was BBQ! My favorite Texas cooking. Fortunately we just made it right before they closed. Texas always makes good BBQ. Saturday night, Toyota Jamboree does the raffles, but I didn’t stay too long because I didn’t buy raffle tickets.

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I left the raffle a bit early and headed back to camp to start a campfire, because it was starting to get chilly. Ryan told me it was going to rain later in the night.

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As soon as I lit my fire starter, it started to rain, then pour. A lot of the people that stayed in the raffle were making their way back to the camp sites. My waterproof Northface jacket, putting in work and keeping me dry.

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It rained the whole night, but I wasn’t giving up on my campfire. I put my firepit under a tarp and the tarp was high enough, it wouldn’t catch on fire. That did the trick and got the fire going to where the rain didn’t douse the flame.

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Couple my friends had their birthdays this weekend, and we celebrated that night. We drank whiskey and had filipino BBQ. Pretty good combo. This time I didn’t get too drunk and I remember the night. The rain did stop around 1am, but the forecast called for more rain later in the morning.

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Sunday morning I woke up to a rainy morning. I was up at 8am, but I stayed in our tent till the rain died a bit at 10am. Our Roofnest kept us warm and dry. Almost one year and has been great. Worth the investment if you plan on camping often.

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When I got out of the tent, everyone was out and about. I came late to breakfast, and most of the breakfast tacos Allan cooked was gone. I love breakfast tacos and Allan fries his tortillas for the extra crunch.

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After breakfast the rain stopped and we started to pack up. Anything that was left outside got soaked. We didn’t have the time to let it dry out, but you made sure to do that when we got home. Number one rule after a wet camping trip is to let the tent or anything with fabric dry out. You want to avoid mold.

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Once everyone packed up we had a group photo and headed back to Houston. It was a great weekend, and thankful I was able to join. Work can get stressful and get too busy you don’t have time to spend with friends and family. Camping allows me for that, and I’m thankful for the experiences.

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Photo credit: Me and Ryan

Project AE86: Blown Motor Teardown

With a busy work week right after racing, I didn’t have a lot of spare time to work on the 86. I did make some good use of the little time I had to teardown the spare motor and get it ready for the machine shop. I am documenting that process on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEzkNYW0j2sywupuQ_jg85Q/featured

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I still had to pull my blown motor from the AE86 to figure out what went wrong. My hunch is the oil pump gear went out and caused a sudden drop in psi. Which caused the oil starvation and that small second in oil pressure drop caused the motor to blow.

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The one day I was off in the week I went to work on the AE86. I already disconnected the engine wiring, fuel lines, and all fluids drained. That day I had to hook up the engine hoist and unbolt the engine and tranny mounts. Having pulled out the 4age motor in the past, it wasn’t that hard after your first time. But I always double checked the motor wasn’t snagging on a line or wire.

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I pulled the motor with the transmission, because from the general conscesusons its a lot easier to put it back in that way then trying to stab the motor to the transmission. The transmission looked good on visual inspection and no leaks since I replaced all the transmission gaskets.

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The really nice thing with the motor and transmission out is the ease of access to all the bolts. Next, I separated the tranny from the motor and making sure I take pictures of the process, so I’ll remember on how to put it back together. The clutch looked kind of thin, but will make sure with when I measure the thickness. But then again, wont hurt to replace.

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With the motor separated, I was going to go back home to get my engine stand. But thanks to track friends at the shop, they had a couple of spare stands. I borrowed one of them and since the motor was on the stand, I had some time left in the day. I continued on and disassembled the motor. Having the spare motor recently taken apart, I knew from memory what I had to do with this motor, without the manual in hand.

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I took off the head and cylinder #1 looked visually good. The valves has some scratches from the aftermath but no cracks or gash marks. I’m hoping it will be useable but I’ll get confirmation from the machine shop. Then I continued on to the bottom end, to really see the carnage.

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As I flipped the block you could hear all the metal chunks from the oil pan. The bearing for cylinder 1 is nowhere to be found and its not fused to the crank. Once side of the con rod part of crank is burned, which I think is a sign of excessive heat from oil starvation. The piston broke in half and the con rod is bend in a bad way. Something failed and caused a chain reaction of unfortunate events.

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I continued on and started to removed pistons 2-4. The con rod bolts wasn’t loose, so I don’t think the con rod bolts failed that caused the motor to blow up. But the con rod bearings looked scored. Signs of poor oil lubrication meaning oil starvation. Then I continued to removed the main caps for the crankshaft. The main bearing looked new and no scoring. This tells me the lubrication was good for the main bearing but since the bearings on the con rods looked scratched up and worn out. I didn’t feel gouging though.

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The hole in the block location means its the first areas to be lubricated from the pump. This makes me think oil pump failed or the sloshing of the oil caused a slight air in the oil pick up that I had brief moment in oil loss the motor went boom. To rule out oil pump failure is to open the oil pump and check the gears. The oil pump body didnt have any damage. But to make sure I took apart the pump to see if it the gears inside are broken. Well, the gears in the pump are not broken and its the updated toyota gears too.

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This tells me the pump is functioning properly and with no other damage. The conclusion: motor blew up because of higher cornering Gs, which caused the oil to slouch one side creating a air pocket for the oil pick up. This caused a drop in oil pressure soo low the protective film of oil was gone. The metal to metal contact made the rod bearing fail, and that failure caused a chain reaction which ultimately lead to demise of the motor.

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Things to learn from this is even with proper baffle pan and up pressure spring, you still get oil starvation. Having a gripper tire increases that chance. Upgrading the oil system is a must for any track car. For the next build I will add an accusump, and have additional oil drains from the head. The accusump will provided additional oil if it senses a dip in oil pressure. Adding an extra drain from the head will allow oil to drain quicker down to the pan.

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I do hope these measures will make my motor last more then 1.5yrs of track use. But if my 2nd motor fails then I’m going dry sump.

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Stay tuned.

Project AE86: Motor Ver 2.0

On my last post, I blew the motor right after placing 3rd on Race 1 and 2. My plan is to pull the motor and inspect what caused the failure. Currently, work has been busy and haven’t found the time yet to pull the motor. At least I can tear down the spare motor in my garage and just make sure I can use the spare for a rebuild ver 2.0.

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The history with my spare motor is it came off my AE86 originally, but once I got the motor running properly, it started to smoke from the tail pipe like a steam locomotive. Compresson test shown it was low on compression and needed a rebuild. Thats when I bought another 4age, which also needed to be rebuild. I found out that old motors just needs to be rebuild, and something I’ve come to accept.

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Thankfully, I kept the spare 4age, but wasn’t expecting to use it after 1.5 yrs tracking on the other motor. Something happened failed suddenly at the track. Thats I think right now, after looking at the oil log from the AiM telemetry. I had good oil pressure relative to the rpm. Then turn 5, I suddenly lost pressure at 16 psi, while it was at 6000 rpm. That split second is what made the motor blow.

Now it time to start the tear down on the spare and get it ready for the machine shop.

Thanks for reading and following along on this journey!

First Podium Finish

Last weekend I had a race at Eagles Canyon Raceway, with NASA. I got my car prepped and ready for the event. With new Advan tires, I was excited to try them out. I arrived on a Friday afternoon in anticipation for the 2 day races. With camp set up, and after eating out the friends, I called it a night.

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The next day, I woke to sound of cars running and I knew I had to get ready. Practice felt great with the car newfound grip. For my car, 32psi hot is the sweet spot for grip. Then in qualifying, I managed to get 4th place for grid. I was surprised becuase the last two race events I placed last or 2nd to last. So it was nice feeling to place mid grid.

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Race 1 I had some great wheel to wheel action. I had a close battle for 3rd place with 2 other drivers, all while 60 plus cars entry with 6 different classes. Two other drivers and I where switching positions, trying to get the 3rd place finish. I ended up passing the 3 place car on the last corner! I saw the checkered flag and was ecstatic. Here is the video:

Race 2 you grid where you placed on the last race. Since I got 3rd I want to keep that position hopefully. And I wanted to prove to myself the 3rd place win wasn’t just luck. I knew I had to keep my position or hopefully gain position in this race. It was anther great battle for 3rd place. I wasnt able to close the gap with the 2nd place car. But then the full course yellow happened and I used it to my advantage. With full course yellow, you can not pass anyone regardless of classing. Naturally the faster cars from the another class caught up to me while I was trying to chase the 2nd place car. Well the Spec Miata that caught to me was on my bumper and one corner he passed me. I didn’t really get mad since its from a different class. But the Spec Miata driver had contact with the 2nd place car in my class. Thankfully the incident wasn’t too bad but I can the 2nd driver was mad. We caught to the train of Spec Miatas in the full course yellow. Eventually the full course yellow became a waving green flag on the start finish line. It was back to racing! I tried to stay on the tail of the 2nd place car but I just couldn’t close the gap. Eventually the 4th place car was starting to catch up to me. I was getting worried. Then on top of that a spec miata caught up to our battle. I wanted to give the Spec Miata a pass but learning from past mistakes. The 4th place car will use the draft from the Spec Miata to pass me. I didn’t know what to do. Should let the Spec Miata pass or not? Well I ended just driving hard and if the Spec Miata wanted to pass me they will pass around my racing line. It wasnt going to be easy. Then on the last corner I carried a bit too much speed and did a tiny drift. The mistake allowed the spec miata to pass me on corner exit but I was still carrying enough speed that the 4th place could pass on checkered. Man sooo intense.

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After race 2, you have the award ceremony. Heard my name called, and got my 3rd place trophy! I was sooo happy, I couldn’t stop smiling. My first podium finish! Of course I drank hard and had some delicious tacos with the homies. It was great, and looking forward for tomorrow. I hope I could use the momentum to get another podium finish.

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Day 2 I woke up late, and bit hungover. I missed my early morning practice, but wasnt too worried. The car fit great and I didn’t feel like I needed to make changes.

On my qualifying session, everything was great till mid session. Coming out turn 5 I heard a bang then metal clanking. Immediately turn off the car and went off track to avoid spilling possible fluids on track. Here is the video moments before the big bang:

No warings, just went. The qualifying session ended and safety crew was able scoop me up with a flatbed tow. Props to the safety and corner workers. Without them, we would be able to have track event. So thank you.

The safety crew unload the car back into the paddock. I inspect the damage. I though it was the tranny since the oil drip on the flat bed smelled like gear oil. I jack up the car expecting to see a hole in the tranny. Turns out the tranny and driveshaft is fine. I noticed oil dripping on the front driver wheel. I popped the hood and see hole in the block.

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The motor blew and from the damage its probably a oil issue. I might oil starved, or oil pump failure. I could also be the con rod bolts failed. The motor did live its rebuilt life on track with 16 track events and 3 drift days. Plus it gave me a podium finish before it let go. Thats racing for ya.

My plan is to pull the motor, tear down, and see what might have failed. I have a spare motor that I will rebuild and hopefully make it last longer the 1.5yrs of tracking. I will be documenting the build process.

Since I’ll be using my spare motor, its time to find more 4age motors as spares. Thankfully the track and 4age community are supportive. I was about find some potential motors I might be picking up. With racing, it always good to carry spares.

My next race is in June at Hallet. By some chance the 86 wont be ready, I’ll do Spec Miata and borrow my friend’s spare car. I love racing and track days soo much, its hard not to stop. Just have to pick yourself back up and come out better.

Thanks for reading and hopefully see y’all at the track too!

Project AE86: Fitment

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Got my Advan A050 tires mounted on the spare track rims. The fitment is more aggressive then my TE37. On the initial test-drive, my car was rubbing very bad where I can see smoke coming off the tires. I gingerly drove it back home and went to work.

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I rolled and pulled the fenders that my friend let me borrow. I used the Power By Max fender roller because that is the only roller that is low car friendly. I initially bought an Amazon fender roller originally, but from trial and error, it was just too big to fit under the fender.

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After rolling and pulling the fenders, another quick test drive showed I was still rubbing. The next option is to raise the car! I’ve adjusted the suspension multiple times and figured how to adjust the preload right. You can see it in this video:

Then finally another test drive. No more issues! My spare track wheels all dialed and no more rubbing. Just in time for the next race! Ill be at NASA Eagle Canyon, and hopefully to see yall there!

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NASA March Madness 2021

A week after camping, I had a track event with NASA. This was the same weekend as Super Lap Battle in Austin, Tx. I was contemplating to attend the Super Lab Battle event, but unfortunately I decided not to. The main reason was because I would be out classed in my group. Super Lap Battle classes the cars based on mods. My car is caged and fully stripped, only retaining the stock dash. The cars are modded this way, have a lot more horsepower and aero then me. No point to bring a knife to a gun fight.

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With that in mind, I ended up attending the NASA event. I’ll be driving with cars that are in the same class as me because it is based on HP to weight ratio. I’ll be getting quality seat time and do some wheel to wheel action.

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I recently bought a trailer from another 86 friend. I’m glad I did because this will save money in the long run, instead of renting a haul trailer for the weekend. All the NASA events will be out of town, and I plan to put some good use of the trailer.

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Friday I loaded up the trailer and headed to MSR Cresson. I convoyed with some other track friends, and left in the late afternoon. Perfect time for the afternoon traffic rush. The 4hr drive ended up becoming a 5 hr drive. When we arrived, it was dark and cold. We unloaded the cars, and had to go at Whataburger. My friends stayed at a hotel near the track, but I camped. I was dropped of back at the track, and ate my dinner in the tent. I watched a movie on Netflix before calling it a night.

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Saturday I woke up to the sound of cars rumbling. The weather was sunny and cool. Perfect for a track day. For racers, we don’t have drivers meetings. We just show up and do our stints. 8am was practice, I quickly got ready to make it to grid. When I was on the out lap, my car started fuel starving after every corner. The 2nd lap I pitted in and drove to nearest gas station. Only to forget my wallet. By the time I filled up and got back, practice was over. Great. Last time I was at this track was 4 years ago. Next session would be practice and my lap times was super slow compared to the other at least 5 seconds off the next driver.

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Well, racing is about getting podium not the fast time. Im still slow but I was battling it out for last place. What a rush. It’s fun to have wheel to wheel action regardless of position. I managed to shave a lot of time to be able to keep up with the back pack. Pretty proud of that.

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Then Sunday came along and the race director changed it up with longer race. The sprint races are 20 mins long. This race was 45mins. A long race, and I was kinda hesitant. I was worried if I, as a driver, and my car can take that abuse. I did the usual practice and qualifying, and getting more comfortable with the track. My fastest time was 1.5 seconds off the 2nd place car. I knew that seat time was making me a better driver.

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The 45min race started and it was fun! The longer race taught me to not over drive the car. I didn’t want a fast lap then at the end of the race I’m trying to fight the car for traction. Granted I did make mistakes and had some offs, but I was learning how the car behaves. The long races allows you to think, and make adjustment on the track in order to catch up to the leaders. In the end I placed 2nd from last in my class but I got a faster time then the driver that was ahead of me. This meant I can be a fast driver, but Im not consistent enough. Probably becuase I would make mistakes on the next lap. Learning about race craft is diffenent, then just all out fast times.

The race came to an end, and I wanted to join my other friends on a DE session but the drive back to Houston is a long drive. One of the other things I love about racing, are the racers finish early from the DE people. I was able to load my trailer and pack out sooner then my other friends. If I didnt have work the next day I think I would have stayed longer to join in on the DE fun.

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Thankfully I didn’t incurs any race penalties. Next race is in April at Eagles Canyon Raceway! Thanks for reading!

Project AE86: New Grip

For over 1 year I’ve been tracking on Nitto NT01 very heavy. The NT01 has 80 plus heat cycles, with 15 track weekends of abuse. It’s a very durable, and fairly consistent grippy tire. I am surprised I haven’t corded the NT01 yet, but its getting close to end of it’s life.

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I looked around for slicks and semi slick tires in 14″ sizes. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of options. After endless nights of seaching I decided to go with the Advan A050 medium compound tire. I choose this tire because for the price point, its the cheapest tire available for semi slicks. They are bit smaller at 185/60/14 compared to the 205/55/14 NT01. But I since the Advan is a semi slick tire, I think it will still provide more grip then the wider NT01s. Next race is at Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Tx. Will post a review after my race, stay tuned.

Camping to Vegas

February isn’t a big season for camping because most campers don’t enjoy the cold and some established campsites are closed for the winter season.

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My wife and I wasn’t into winter camping becuase of those reasons too, but since Lambo gets a bit too hot in the warmer months camping. We figured lets do a camping trip more for Lambo. He has seen snow before and out in the 30F winters of Houston, but never a multi day camping trip.

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Well, Texas weather is a bit wild and the day we were supposed to leave was ongoing a big winter storm. The coldest Houston has seen in years, and lasted for 5 days. We had to delay our leave because we wanted to make the house has no issues from the winter freeze. What was supposed to be 6 days camping became 4 days. Thankfully our home survived, and gave us a peace of mind when we started the trip.

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First stop was Lincoln NF in New Mexico. Passing through Texas, all the roads were clear of snow, but you can see how much snow accumulated on the land. Houston got a light dusting compared to rest of Texas. Some 12hrs or so later, it was night time when we started driving on the forest roads. The mountains still had snow that was probably from the same winter storm that hit Texas. The dirt trail was muddy and icy but nothing the Land Cruiser couldn’t handle.

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Around 8pm when we made camp. My wife and I have this system where I set up the tent and campfire, and my wife sets up the bathroom and washing station. We had a quick dinner and just enjoyed the night till is was time for bed. Later in the night, the wind gust became strong. My wife mentioned earlier the wind gust forecasted to be 25mph. I didn’t think much of it because 25mph is slow driving, soo the wind wouldn’t be an issue. I was very wrong. Late night early morning, the wind howling and hear the trees rustling in the wind. Our Roofnest was solid and was kept safe from the cold wind gust. I did wake up to an orange glow, and saw our campfire was still going! Soo I ran out in my underwear and quickly doused and soaked the campfire. A lot of forest fires are due to unattended campfires, so make sure your fire is out before you sleep.

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Then next morning, the bright sun rays woke up. The weather was about 30F and I made breakfast from the leftover bread and hotdogs. Packing up was pretty quick, we are loving the easy set up and take down of the Roofnest. Next was slight detour to White Sands National park.

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This was our first time at White Sands NP and was super beautiful. The white sands reminded me of the beaches at Boracay, but without the ocean. You are surrounded by desert, then you have this area that is just white sand dunes. Soo cool, and I highly recommend to visit. Its unfortunate you cant camp currently at white sands, due to covid, regardless would make a nice day trip.

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After White Sands NP, we drove to our campsite at Gila NF. The drive was about anther 4 hours from White Sands NP. We came on the forest road and drove till we found a nice little dispersed campsite. We made it before sunset and had time to cook a nice steak. We watched the sunset while drinking our whisky. This night was a lot colder then yesterday, but no wind gust. Lambo loved the cold nights. We chilled by the campfire till it turned into embers. Then we started to really feel the cold and headed to the tent. We brought our Mr. Buddy space heater and it quickly warmed up in seconds. We were very comfortable in the tent, and watched a pre downloaded movie on Netflix. We turned off the buddy heater, and drifted into sleep.

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The next morning, the brightness of the sun rays woke up. I love sleeping and waking up to the day. You dont have a sense of time but you know when to sleep and wake just how the sun sets and rises. Once I climbed out of the tent, I realized how cold it was. I felt the sharp cold bite, and layered up. Our wash station nozzle froze from the cold! We had quick breakfast with left over steak and added rice to the meal. Then I made quick video of our camping set up. Eventhough it was cold, the weather was perfect. We hiked some trails nearby for our exercise and then got ready to head to Grand Canyon.

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The drive to the Grand Canyon from Gila NF was soo pretty. I felt like was in the Alpine Aps in Europe. Driving in the forest roads, surrounded by trees and snow. Some areas where the sun was shining, the snow was melting and made some of the trails muddy. That was pretty fun, and you definitely needed 4×4 for those areas.

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We arrived at Grand Canyon, and during the winter season its not as packed or crowed. But I’m also sure covid has a part in it too. We actually enjoy the less crowds because, the park felt more private. During the winter season, you can drive on the road that is only for busses during the busy season. This meant we could explore deeper in the Grand Canyon and get some nice views.

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After doing some site seeing, we were thinking if we should camp nearby at Kaibab NF for free, or pay at Mather Campground inside the Grand Canyon. I heard that camp spot gets packed quick and first come first serve. We ended up paying for Mather Campground, and was $15 a night. Relatively cheap and you get a restroom and running water. Mather Campground is nice, but the whole experience wasnt for us. We are used to dispersed camping, which is free, and we have all the things we need to camp in the middle of no where. Mather Campground felt too crowed even with vacant spots next to us. But you can hear the generators of the RVs. The veiws are okay, but nothing too spectacular. In the morning we had an elk come near us and that cool. Mather Campground is for those that want to have people visibly near by, and dont want to pay for a hotel to visit the Grand Canyon. For us, it was a one time deal. It just reaffirmed that we like to do dispersed camping over paid campsites.

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Then next day, we got ready for our drive to Vegas. We stayed in the Cosmopolitan for 4 days and was looking forward to a shower. At the time its very cold to shower at camp, even though we didn’t sweat, we felt dusty. 4 days of not showering is the limit my wife and I would do. We also packed enough clothes for 3 days and needed to head to laundry mat.

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When we arrived at the Cosmopolitan, the rig was too big to fit in the garages, so the valet people parked in the front! Nice and convent parking. I loved how dirty the LC looked pulling up in the Cosmopolitan, you can tell we had a great time camping. The hotel suite we got was super luxurious with wrap around terrace and veiw of the Vegas strip. Felt like condo living, and didn’t want to leave.

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During the stay in the Vegas, things are a lot different with covid. A lot of the Vegas shows are canceled, and the casinos are 50% capacity, with every other slot machine marked off. It felt weird, but we been to Vegas before for the shows and gambling. This time we did it bit different, and went to sight see the National Parks and trails around Vegas. The weather in February was very pleasant with highs of 60s and lows of 40s. We hike in the morning and by the time its lunch Lambo is tired and we ate the restaurant outside the Vegas strip. Prices are alot cheaper outside the strip. Then come night time and we would check out the restaurants in the Cosmopolitan and do a bit of late night drinking. Life is good.

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Then our stay in Vegas had to come to an end and back to the real world. We did the two day drive back to Texas and camped at Las Cruises KOA. This is a more fancy paid campsite. Very nice staff and our campground was neatly arranged. This was just quick overnight stay and the last day we arrived home.

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We had a great time and experience doing this trip. This wasn’t our first time winter camping but it was a first camping comfortably in the winter. We tested our 0F sleeping bag and it kept us nice and warm. The Mr Buddy space heater we used to heat up the tent and turn it off right before sleeping. The Roofnest tent held up in the wind and cold, and protected up from the elements. Lambo enjoys the cold weather. We can tell from the long hikes and was keeping pace. The number one thing we really like about camping in the winter is there are no bugs! I think we will be doing more fall and winter camping in the future.

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Rookie Driver for 2021

Having recently attained my NASA competition license, this allows me to join in some wheel to wheel action. This is a lot different then DE or TT. DE sessions are for fun, no competion, and passing with point bys. TT is competition but you are racing against the time. Wheel to wheel, you competing with other drivers in your class for position.

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Driving lines are different compared to TT. In TT you take the fastest line to get the fastest time, and cars are spaced out according to time, and you might not pass a car. In wheel to wheel, you change lines consistently during battle with another car in your class. Its all about not giving a passing advantage to the competitor or vise versa where you have to find a line to pass a competitor. While being being able to control your car at speed with other drivers next to you.

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In the classing, the cars are evenly matched especially in the spec classes. The super touring class, there is some leeway, and you have different types of cars in super touring. But for the most part, its really based on driver skill.

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I signed up for NASA season opener to start out the 2021 tracking season. This is my first time doing wheel to wheel in my AE86 and also getting my 86 inspected for wheel to wheel. I recently added door bars to my 6pt autopower roll cage to make it compliant with NASA tech. The people that inspect your car for NASA racing, makes sure the car is safe to go racing, and I am glad I went with autopower for a cage. Its not the best fitting cage for my size, but on a budget it works just fine. The guys are NASA that techs your car are supper strict and follow the rule book to the tee. They will not let you race if they find an safety issue with your car, until you fix it. I’m glad they are strict, because at least you know your car is safe to race once it passes tech.

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Doing this wheel to wheel event has showed me that I still have a lot to work on as a driver, and grow more with the 86. The car definitely has room to modify and be more competitive in its class; like lose 200 lbs and run stickier tires. But right now, Im going to keep on racing mostly the way it is. I’ll just fiddle with suspension dampening, and tire pressures. I want to grow more as a driver, then when its time, I’ll start to mod the car to be competitive in its class.

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I wil be posting some of the racing footage, on youtube. Keep an eye out. Thanks for reading!

Sulpher Springs

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We camped in the hill country 2 weeks before this trip and when our friends were planning a trip, we had to join. Camping in central Texas around January-April is perfect, to enjoy the outdoors. The Texas heat isn’t beating down on you. The chilly night is perfect for the campfire to warm you up as you sip on whiskey.

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My friends and drove from Houston. I met up with them later in the morning in Llano, Tx. We planed for an overnight stay at Sulphur Spring, Tx. This camp site has 5 sites, and nice views of the Texas hill country with the Colorado River in the background.

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When we arrived, we were bummed to find out that only one camp area was available to the public. Unfortunately, the recent rains washed out the trail leading to other campsites. The owner wouldn’t let us go to the other sites, and that is understandable. If one of us got stuck or if a another vehicle followed us and got stuck, it wouldn’t be fun.  There is no tow, or recovery after the 1st campsite.

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We made the most of the situation, and camped in secluded area further from the other campers. The spot was big enough to accommodate all of the rigs. The trail to the campsite was pretty easy, and splashed around in a few mud puddles.

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Last weekend, it snowed here, and I was thinking how nice that must have been. But a nice clear day is also hard to beat.

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Lambo was too excited around the campsite, and took him for a walk. Lambo explored around, and marked his territories. After a bit of walking, he calmed down and was good bear for the rest of the day. My wife and I continued on to check out the trail that was blocked off to vehicles.

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Kinda wish the rest of the trail was open becuase the views got better. Another reason to come back.

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We walked about 1 mile into the trail, but I was told it about 5 miles long. The trail looked like some part would be tough for 2wd vehicles. More of the adventure.

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We walked back to camp, just as the sun was starting the set. Lambo, chilling in his cover, because no one wants a dirty dog in the sleeping in the sleeping bag.

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My snowpeak grill putting in the work gilling up fish, and toasting bread. Mike was cooking some vetnamiese dishes. We always eat good when we camp with Mike.

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As the sun started to disappear, you could start to feel the cold coming in. I looked at the forecast prior to the trip, and expected lows of 33F in the hill country.

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I’ve been always a whisky guy and I think it the best liquor for camping. You can drink it neat, or on the rocks. Plus you don’t need chill whiskey before you drink it. Have you drank beer when it warm?

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Whiskey and campfire kept me warm.

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I prefer to camp with friends, a bit more, then camping solo. The solitude is nice, but with friends it makes it feel like you’re not too alone.

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Ever-since we got the Roofnest, we have been camping almost once a month. I think Im getting my moneys worth.

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We recently bought a 0F sleeping bag, and its thick! The size sleeping bag can comfortably fit 2 people and a dog inside. We bought this bag becuase the other 50F sleeping bag wasn’t rated for the cold very well. The 0F bag kept us nice and warm. I only had my thermals and had a great night sleep.

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We woke up to warmth of the sun’s rays and flow of the Colorado river. This one my favorite parts about camping. No sense of time, you know to wake with the sun rises, and sleep when the sun goes down.

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Lambo enjoying the morning, and his new camping scarf from our friends at Sewmuchswag. https://www.etsy.com/shop/sewmuchwag. Thanks Cathy and Branden!

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After a big brunch, it was time to head back to the city and jobs so we can do it all over again!

Thanks for reading!