Of course sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you keep on coming back for more!
Not sure what Howard is looking at…
Stay tuned for more!
Of course sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you keep on coming back for more!
Not sure what Howard is looking at…
Stay tuned for more!
Recently after my track events… I haven’t been taking care of the car, cleaning wise. My M3 hasn’t been washed after 3 track events going into 2 months. I didn’t really make time, and cleaning can take hours. Instead I called up Brent, the owner of Active Auto Detailing, and scheduled an appointment.
I met Brent though tracking last year and he is very passionate about cars and tracking. He also owns a pretty fast white E92 M3. We have similar mods but it seems like I can never close the gap.
I dropped off my M3 and let Brent work his magic. Usually takes a day and well worth the wait. Active Auto Detailing offers three levels of detailing. My M3 recieved paint correction with sealant, and she needed it…. the M3 really popped!!! Better then when I bought the M3 at the dealer!
I did request Brent not to remove the rubber track battle scars, which he thought was unusual. Most people want their cars clean with no defects but I like that track patina. Hard earned tattoos is the way I look at em.
I really tried to capture just how clean the paint is. Even brushing your hands on the paint feels smooth. After I wash my M3 the paint would still feel grainy. Brent really did a good job!
I mean you could see the flakes in the paint!
The engine bay never looked this clean since the dealership.
The interior was just as clean too!
This lip has seen some better days. But looking clean this time.
The before… and then after picture. So impressed with the detail.
This was my first time taking my car to any detailer. I always figured I can do the same the job but turns out its a lot time and dedication. The way Brent cleaned my M3 is the cleanest it has ever been.
The next day after doing touristy things in LA, my brother and I woke up half awake and grudgingly prepared the truck and M3 for the 1hr and 30min drive to Buttonwillow Raceway. We actually missed the first session because two of the two straps came lose on the hilly roads of California! Thankfully nothing serious happened and we tighten up the straps up again.
When we got there, we only had 30 mins before my next session! Talk about last minute. Not wanting to waste my day, we unloaded the M3 from the trailer and I got ready to hit the track. I was placed in advance group with open passing. That was fun especially when it’s you first time at this track and knowing there are locals in less powerful cars will pass you. Thats a good thing, because I get behind them and learn the lines.
On my older post, I had taken a video with brother riding shot gun: https://natsukashigarage.com/2017/08/21/streets-of-willow-video/
It was a hot day in the desert but coming from Houston, it was business as usual. During the breaks my bother took some photos and mingled with the locals. I love the California track scene because a lot of the cars look like they could be in car show with legit parts but they choose to track their cars! I like all builds but whats the point of putting track oriented mods and not hit the track?
These group of Subaru owners was all Pinoy owned. I knew because all of them was speaking in Tagalog! California has a big Filipino community, from the early days of post world war 2 era having a large migration of Filipino families move to the States for a better life. I know because my grandparents and my parents moved from the the Philippines, and Im one the first generation American born Asians.
This Miata had a NASCAR style wing for aero. Miata’s are a go to choice for the track because its relatively cheap to maintain and parts are readily available.
This pair of RX7s was in my run group and both was blazing fast! The black FD was pushing 500hp on a rotary turbo!
J swaps are becoming more popular, than the usual K swaps. I think J motors came from the Honda Odyssey and Acura TSX. I don’t think there I much weight penalty either since this one is tracked. Im thinking J motors are cheaper too?
The California scene is the king of the Honda game… Houston has some good looking Hondas but overall California has just a lot better looking Hondas. Thats just my opinion. Loving the old school Mugen wheels on this EF Hatch
This was my favorite Hondas out there. Its owned by Chris, who happens to be a nurse too. If I had a CRX, it would be built like this…. Stripped out interior only having the vitals for the track, with high quality parts that can take the track abuse. The motor is a Type R B18C stamp on the engine block (if I recall). His wife was driving at E90 M3 at the track.
Met the driver of this E92 M3 and was his first time out tracking. We have some similar mods. Like we both was sporting Fortune Auto 500 coilovers. While talking about cars, I gave him a spare rag for the power steering resevour since they spill out at the track. Looking at his height, I do need to raise my M3… its too low for the track.
A boosted FRS… I wonder how these boosted cars do in the desert heat. The power gains are massive but the heat produced is like a double edge sword.
This was funny “Taginamo,” the majority of the drivers out there where filipino. Its like I never left the Philippines.
For those of y’all wandering, the orange box on the front the cars are transponders. Basically its a very accurate lap timer. They don’t measure data like g’s or monitor engine vitals. Transponders are mainly used for Time Trail races or any timed events. In some events it is required to have a transponder. There are other forms of lap timers that also measure vehicle data if you don’t want a transponder.
Track days are too much fun. This only the safe way to enjoy your car at its potential because on the street you can’t enjoy them the same way.
This white Fiat was a interesting…. To be honest it didn’t look the greatest but looked purpose built of one thing. Totally stripped interior with more holes in the hood, bolt on fenders. I spoke to the driver and he said the wider stance he said it made the car more stable, but didn’t like his Falkens too much though. I also wondered why would anyone spray paint their numbers but I found out it was plasti dip. I guess if you are in a rush to put on numbers, then plasti dip works.
Fastest lap of the day 1:32.563. Not bad for my first time here and being too low which killed my fender liners and tires. Streets of Willow is a slower track compared to other tracks I’ve been to. Mainly using 2nd and 3rd gear with occaional 4th on the main straight. I can tell the corners are rhythmic and if you mess up one corner then your lap times are killed. It definitely a track, to visit at least once! Motor Trend test their cars, so that is saying something.
Here’s a fun fact, Willow Springs International Raceway has serval race tracks…. some for dirt, some autocross, and others for drifting. Pretty cool to have a one stop venue. The next day I’ll be at Big Willow “The Fastest Track in the West.” Stay tuned for that!
Itching for a track but don’t want to spend a lot of money? The friends at Driven and Blessed have you covered! Some of my track friends started a track event company, because most track events are expensive. Average prices ranging $350-$1200 depending what track you go to and how many days. Driven and Blessed want to offer track days that are cheaper, but also safety in mind. The only requirement is you must have at least one track event experience prior to joining. That way, people are familiar on how passing and flags work. Once the track bug hits you, then you’ll be itching for the next events!
To sign up checkout:
After the two day drive to California, I had a couple of days to do some sight seeing things before my track event. So the first day I thought I would hit up some iconic car scenes. This is LA and the car capital of the word. That morning I drove my M3 to Angeles Crest Highway.
Its a popular road for driving and car photoshoots…. Matt from the YouTube channel The Smoking Tire often reviews cars there. The views are nice and not much traffic depending on what time you go.
There was mutiple spots where people used the overview as a skid pad. Makes a cool back drop for pictures.
I also brought my dog Lambo with me, and probably his first time in California. I adopted him 2 years ago.
After driving around Angeles Crest, we hit up some famous Fast and Furious locations.
The famous “Tuna no crust” shop. I bought a couple of lotto tickets here because if I won, I can say I won it from Torretto’s shop! Unfortunately I didn’t win.
Then not to far from the grocery store was “I live my life a quarter mile at time” scene. Got lucky with parking because they had street cleaning going one meaning, it was illegal to park on the side of the street.
Next stop was Mooneyes. For those you that doesn’t know Mooneyes, its Japanese owned shop that specialized in the 1950s era of hot rodding. They sell anything related to hot rodding, and they participate in some races too. It kinda has the 1950s vibe walking in. I don’t own a hot rod but the culture is cool. Since there wasn’t any M3 specific part, I bought some stickers for my garage.
EAS (European Auto Source) is a shop more tailored to my M3. Unfortunately we came at a bad time, and no cool cars in the shop. I didn’t come empty handed though, I got more stickers!
Lambo was pretty much tired and slept once we got beck home. My wife was arriving that night but ended arriving early morning because of several flight delays. But finally I picked her up 2am at LAX airport. We where too tired to do anything just wanted to sleeping because we had more touristy things to do later that morning.
First stop of the day, we went to this little dog friendly cafe shop. The coffee and food were great! We bought some treats for Lambo and our other dog friends back in Houston.
First tourist stop was the Hollywood sign. Now if you put the Hollywood sign on the Google maps or any other GPS, it will take to Griffith Park. But you won’t be close to the sign. Its set up like this because the residents that live near the Hollywood are tired of the tourist passing in the neighborhood. Here is the site that helps you getting closer to the Hollywood sign:
If you are lucky you find a parking space you can park close the sign with a short hike. But if you are not able to, then be prepared for a long hilly hike. There is actually another trail that would take behind the Hollywood sign but it was getting hot and I didn’t want my dog to suffer a heat stroke.
The next stop was Griffith Observatory. This was where La La Land was filmed at also. I’ve been to LA a few times before, but its actually my first time visiting the touristy parts. Im usually at the beach, or checking out car shops haha.
The LA skyline, you can see the smog too. But comes with the territory when living in a big city.
We the made our way to Malibu. The roads going was just beautiful and the weather was significantly cooler with the sea breeze. It a good place to get away from the LA congestion.
Another famous film spot is Neptunes Nest. This was where Brian said to Dom “I don’t need handouts….” Awesome food but not dog friendly unfortunately. We ended up ordering take out and ate the beach. Couldn’t really complain.
By night time my brother was tired driving in LA traffic and called it a day. My wife and I went out to catch up with Francis, our old college friend. He took us to this cool Ramen place. I forgot the name but the place was packed.
After dinner, Francis took us to “Urban Lights.” Its located near the art museum and best time to go is late at night to avoid the crowds. The setting made a perfect place for portraits.
Francis took us to another beach where Chester from Linking Park lived at. Unfortunately is was too dark and too cold to take a photo. By that time we where all tired and headed home. I had to get some rest because the next day was track day.
Last year I won a track pass from PPCE (Pinoy/Pinay Car Enthusiasts) at one of their car meets. It was a track pass for Topak Racing in California, hahaha. Being from Houston, I didn’t really actually think I was able to use this, but thankfully my wife allowed me go. Just so happened the track weekend event I signed up for was on my birthday. So last month my brother and I went on a epic road trip to California. This was a bucket list I’m glad I was able to do. Thank you Revo and the guys at Topak Racing the opportunity to come track with y’all!
The issue was how would a get there? I was thinking maybe I can make the arduous drive in the M3 and stuff all my track essentials in the back, but then I got worried if something bad happened along the way. Thankfully my friend, Mervyn, was kind enough to let me borrow his newly acquired Toyota Tundra… Special shout out to him because without the truck I would have driven the M3 on a 4k mile journey. Thanks again Mervyn!
The hardest part, in the beginning, was how to load up the M3 on to the trailer…. The trailer is low car friendly but Im slammed and the ramps was too steep. Thanks to my friends Jon, Mike and William for letting me borrow their ramps and blocks of wood, I was able to get the M3 loaded up.
I also want to thank my buddy Nate for letting me borrow his axle straps and tie downs. First time loading a car into a trailer was a lot of trial and error. Most the time was just trying to figure out how to properly load the weight and strapping the car. I think it took me about 2 hrs to get the M3 loaded and secured on the trailer. But it does get easier after your first time.
First stop on the California road trip was El Paso. My brother tagged along as my co-driver. Making a trip to California is tough on your own and I recommend having another person to share the driving hours. To give some perspective on how big Texas is, it took us 14hrs to reach El Paso from Houston! The Tundra was just a beast towing my M3 and ate the miles like nothing. We where pretty decent on fuel economy averaging 14MPG.
We stayed overnight at El Paso in a little cool AirBnb spot. Tired from driving we walked to a pizza restaurant and filled our appetite. I noticed El Paso is really cheap, Im guessing because of the desert life?
The next day we woke up super early to drive the rest of the way to California. I would say the most difficult part was passing Texas, because it just soo big and felt like you are in the twilight zone of a never ending road. Once you start passing state lines then you feel like the trip is shorter. New Mexico was a quick trip, then Arizona, and finally California.
When doing road trips, especially long journeys, it best to fill up and find a station when the fuel tank is half full. There was parts of the highway where you won’t find gas for miles. The Tundra has 25 gallon capacity and averaging 14mpg, it wasn’t too terrible.
Props to the guy driving this air-cooled Beetle. The morning was cool but by the afternoon it would get over 100 degrees hot.
Some of the hills in Arizona and New Mexico got hillier but with the Tundra 10,000 lbs towing capacity, it pulled the M3 like it wasn’t there. Such a great tow rig for a 1/2 ton truck.
Finally crossing the California border, just another 3hrs before we hit Los Angeles.
California is geographically an awesome place. California has desert, mountains to ski, and beaches to surf. You could experience all of this in one day if you wanted to. I thought that was pretty cool.
We finally hit Los Angeles and made it to our AirBnb spot. I chose to stay in the LA then somewhere near the race track, because I love the city life, and my wife would be flying in from Houston. I know she wanted to check out all the tourist attractions. That will be for part 2.
In the meantime…. when in California, you got to have In and Out burgers.
Yeah I know its not a great shot, but its about the experience and journey.
This was my only video I had at Streets of Willow. I left my Go Pro on between the session which died because of the desert heat. I had a spare battery but only to find out it wasn’t charged. As the sessions went on I managed my quickest lap on the 3rd session with 1:32.5xx. For a first timer, I would say that is a decent lap time. But, just for comparison, MotorTend timed a 2015 Mustang GT (stock) and managed a 1:24.29 with Randy Pobst as the driver. The pro level difference is high and one day I hope to achieve that driving level. You can only master proper technique with seat time.
This video I gave my brother a ride along, and it was his first time attending a track day. Let’s just say he was impressed, shocked, and scared at the same. After the first session, he didn’t want another ride along. But he sure made a great pit crew helper. Brother: “Man, I didn’t know you can drive like that.” Me: “I was only going 70%, I’m still trying to figure out the course.” Im no Randy Pobst but hearing words like that makes me want to focus more to master my craft.