Track Maintance


A good rule of thumb, at least with me, is to do oil changes every 4 track days or every 3k miles, whichever comes in first. Another good thing to do that is often overlooked, is to do brake flushes once a year. I visited my buddy Fernando that owns Backyard Auto for my oil change and brake flush.


Brake fluid is corrosive. Eventhough the brake lines are a closed system, they do get dirty and can significantly impair brake performance. If you don’t track your car its still a good idea to do yearly brake flushes. Its maintenance that will keep your car running forever and avoid serious complications later.


I use Motul dot 5.1 brake fluid for my M3. Motul dot 5.1 does the job for the track abuse and normal city driving. My experience from the track, is the Motul performs exceptionally well and never had them boil. The brake pedal feels consistently firm and great bite. I can modulate the brake pedal nicely to adjust my braking distance. Only at COTA is when I had brake fade issues but I think that track exceeded the stock brake system. If I had race brake pads and fluids then it wouldn’t be an issue. Motul dot 5.1 is little more expensive than normal dot fluid but its way cheaper then higher temp brake fluids. For me its the perfect match for track abuse and city driving.  The M3 only required one bottle for the stock brake system.


While I was doing waiting, I notice within one week I managed to crack my lip. Comes with the territory when tracking. Unfortunately during TX86 Day, there was a cone in the middle of course and I was unable to avoid it. The lip is still intact but you can see the crack is visible. Battle scars.

Texas 86 Day

86 DAY-01

Soon after coming off from a 12hr shift I headed straight to HPD training academy for TX86 day. I was pretty tired but my tiredness soon went away when I arrived.

86 DAY-08

TX86 day was a event hosted by the people from NST on August 6, hence 86 day. That day celebrates the Toyota AE86 and the newer Scion FRS, and Subaru BRZ. TX86 didn’t allow non 86 owners to participate, but they did offer a pre screening for some slots. Luckily I was one of the few that was allowed to drive at the track.

86 DAY-10

When I arrived there where already a lot of 86 owners that was getting ready for the driving event or the car show. I was contemplating if I should grip or drift, but after seeing the famous Taka Aono do a drift session I made up my mind to go drifting. I brought my spare wheels with brand new Nexin N9000 rubber and slapped them on the rear.

86 DAY-02 86 DAY-10

It was super hot and humid that only got worse in the afternoon. Regardless, people stayed for the show and grip/drift event. From past experiences at that track, its always a good idea to bring drinks for hydration.

86 DAY-03 This Lexus IS300 fitment was spot on. One of the few non 86s that was allowed to drive at the track. 86 DAY-04

It even has an old school Nardi wheel and roll cage for tandem drifts. They didn’t allow tandem drifts at this event and kinda glad becuase Im not at that level.

86 DAY-05 This yellow FRS is rocking Volk TE37RTs with Advan Neovas, and dressed in TRD accessories. Most the cars drifted the course but this car looked well planted focusing on grip. Seems like with this chassis you can tune it for grip or drift, it does both pretty well. 86 DAY-06

86 DAY-07 86 DAY-09

A right hand drive AE86 that was in the show section. Sporting some very deep dish Work wheels and sticky Nitto NT01s.

86 DAY-11 Looked like a work in progress but headed in the right direction. 86 DAY-12

86 DAY-13 A FRS/BRZ rocking the Varis body kit in the show section. The aero looks soo aggressive that it could do a time attack.

86 DAY-14

The Volk and Brembro combo looking nice.

86 DAY-15 86 DAY-17

Slammed BRZ in the show section. I remember when I was about that life.

86 DAY-29 Simon Chan’s TSX. 86 DAY-31

86 DAY-32 Neon interior light for JDM. 86 DAY-16

Simon setting up the drift course for the RC cars.

86 DAY-30 RC drift action. 86 DAY-34

86 DAY-28 86 DAY-19

86 DAY-20 The NST booth that hosted the event. The black AE86 with the NST logo is actually Taka Aono old drift car in the OG days. 86 DAY-21

86 DAY-22 86 DAY-26

The AE86 with the red wheel is Taka Aono current drift car that competes in the Formula Drift series. It produces 700hp!

86 DAY-23 The 700hp beating heart. 86 DAY-24

86 DAY-25 Taka Aono and Yoshie Shuyama offer drift school in California. I feel pretty thankful that they came from California to Houston to celebrate 86 day. The VIP drivers got an opportunity to get lessons, which I felt like I missed out on. I didn’t get a chance talk to them personally but I could tell they made their passion into a career and thats something I want to work towards too. I like nursing but my passion has been racing. Untitled

Simon Chan was able to get a dope picture of me sliding and kicking dirt up.

Untitled Another shot by Simon Chan. Untitled

After 24hrs of no sleep, a day of just drifting and catching up with friends the tiredness caught to me again. Next thing I knew, it was 4pm and was hotter than an oven.I had a great time but I was feeling the heat. So I switch to my Volks, packed my gear, and headed home. Till next year, I hope I can join TX86 day again!

Simplicity is the key to perfection #m3 #bmw #te37rt #modecarbon #v8 #e92 #trackrat #abrhouston #natsukashigarage

A dope shot of Thaisons black edition AE86 by Simon Chan

I think its only appropriate to end this coverage with my homie Thaison and his newly acquired AE86 Black Edition. Thaison just slapped on Work Equips and really gives that Hawaiian/Cali look to it. Dope photo taken by the famous Simon Chan.

SCCA Track night: MSR Cresson

Another fun day at the track. This was my first time racing at this track and was pretty far drive from Houston (4hrs). I racked up about 800 miles part of which was because I stayed overnight in Austin. Even though I track once a month I joined the novice class becuase it is my first time here. I was thinking the track would be pretty empty since its was 102 degrees outside. Surprisingly I counted 11 cars in the novice class, and was actually less drivers in the intermediate and expert class.

MSR cresson-02 When I got there, the covered garage was filled! Grudgingly I unloaded all my tools and tires in the Texas sun. I did leave my tires and tools in the shade, at least there was room for that. Untitled The silver Lexus IS300 is actually pretty fast in the straights, I later found out it was LS swapped! The track day included 3 sessions, each being around 20 mins. On the first session, I was behind the IS300 when it started smoking bad with the smell of burning metal. Soon afterwards it smoked very badly and pulled over to the side of the track. Then session was black flagged and required everyone enter the pits. We waited roughly 10 mins for the track workers to clean up the spill and I found out the IS300 blew a power steering hose. Thankfully we were able to get back on the track to complete our first session. MSR cresson-03

This Jaguar was just cruising on the track top down. Not that Im saying its slow at all but you could tell the guy was just out there to have a good time. Its about the experience.

MSR cresson-04 Mini Cooper on Bridgestone RE-71R. I’ve seen a lot of people run RE71Rs on the track and autocross. They say its better then the RS3. I need to try those out. MSR cresson-13

The 2nd session went through without problems and I got in a friendly competition with the Mustang Shelby GT350R. These days you always see jokes and memes how bad mustangs handle. Even on YouTube, just a simple search and you can find videos of drift and burnout fails of mustangs. I got to hand it to Ford making a track oriented car. The GT350R could never pull away from me but I couldn’t pass it either. We were evenly matched and pushing each other to the limit. This was the hardest I pushed myself and the M3. The last couple laps my tires got too hot and grip fell off. I had to back off and let my tires cool but thankfully the checkered flag was waving. After the session we shook hands on a great race. Unfortunately, which seems to happen often, my memory card was full by my 2nd session and the epic battle wasn’t recorded.

MSR cresson-20 This was the GT350R I had a friendly battle with. Definitely sounds like a roaring V8, and the owner recently bought it! Still has the paper plates! For those of you that don’t know the Mustang 350R here is a little info:

After such an adrenaline filled session, on my last and 3rd session I just played it chill and didn’t go to hard on the M3. I was shifting early and using 3rd gear on 2nd gear corners. That session went on without incident and was great. The 350R did catch up to me but I let him pass, I know he probably wanted another duel but sometimes if you go over the limit that when bad things happen. After the 3rd session, the sun was setting and was just that perfect lighting to take a picture.Happiness eludes those who seek it. True happiness is the by product of the journey. #abrhouston #bmw #m3 #hankooktires #te37rt #tracknight #scca #natsukashigarage MSR cresson-12

Lady driven Porsche boxer was in our run group.

MSR cresson-18 MSR cresson-05

Lots of V8 today.

MSR cresson-08 Mustang Cobra is supercharged with pullies and tune. The car is mainly used for drag racing but the owner still had a good time at the track. MSR cresson-07

This truck was a complete custom build, tube chassis, modified frame and with a supercharged V8. Unfortunately it only did one session becuase trucks are not allowed on the circuit. Look good though, like the rat rod look.

MSR cresson-06 You get a good mix of cars in the run groups which makes things more interesting. MSR cresson-09

Four bangers were also out too.

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I thought this S2000 was on Hankook TD but its was rolling on Ferderal tires… I wonder how they feel at the track.

MSR cresson-16 Big Wang. MSR cresson-17

Harrys Lap timer was working seemlessly and I managed to clock 01:31.53 seconds, which I have no idea if thats fast or not. But it felt good just being out there.

MSR cresson-19 Heat cycled Hankooks did a really great job. They only over heated once because I pushed too hard on my 2nd session and grip fell off. It handled the abuse in the 102 degree heat.


MSR Cresson consists of high speed long sweepers, late apexes with a few tight twisties (aka the rattle snake). The track isn’t terribly fast, but I managed to hit 100mph on the straights. With shorter straights and longer sweepers, the track isn’t harsh on the brakes compared to COTA or Harris Hill. You can with the amount of brake dust after my last sesson. What I really did like was how smooth the track was. The track is well kept and very close to gas stations, some even offering racing fuel. I’ll be back again. MSR cresson-23

MSR cresson-22

SCCA track night Harris Hill

Ever since my first track day at COTA, I’ve been going to track events once a month. But this will be my first time at an SCCA track night event, and I wish I knew about these events sooner. Its like HPDE except its a lot cheaper, with fewer sessions and you learn at your own pace without an instructor.

Track day 🏁 #m3 #bmw #herrishillsraceway #te37rt #hankook #natsukashigarage Harris Hill is about a 30 min drive from Austin, with elevation changes and long sweepers. My friend Jason, with his track oriented Miata was able to join in on the action. It was our first time at this track, so we joined the novice group. Thankfully there were only 7 cars in the novice class. Probably the Texas summer heat might be to blame for low number of cars but I wasn’t complaining. I hate to race in a crowed track. What a great way to end the day #miata #m3 #herrishillsraceway  #natsukashigarage

SCCA track night is $150 which includes three 20 min sessions. The novice class also gets paced laps before the beginning of the first session, and drivers meeting between sessions. Luckily SCCA does offer discounts and I was able to get $25 off. The people are pretty chill and its about having fun in your car. You get to experience what a track day in a chill atmosphere. You don’t get an instructor, but in the paced laps, the lead car shows you the preferred line. I still like HPDE becuase they offer instructors and more track sessions (5),  but the price sometimes is too much for some people. SCCA track night just makes it more affordable to the general public.


Unfortunately my lap timer was acting up and I wasn’t able to time myself but I still had a blast. My first impression was this track is slow but its decently fast. I was able to hit 110 mph on the straights with no brake fade! The stock M3 brakes are more than capable for track use. The only time I had brake fade was at COTA with stock brakes, Im pretty sure if I get track pads and higher boiling point brake fluid then it wouldn’t be an issue.  I can really feel the g forces in the long fast sweeper. Harris hill is mainly a 2nd to 4 gear track. The only thing I didn’t enjoy so much was how bumpy the track was. My suspension isn’t super stiff, but if you are not careful the bumps could upset your car and lose control. I didn’t run into any issues, but it was a rough ride that my helmet would occasionally hit the roof. During the drivers meeting, the SCCA track host gave us pointers around the track which did help avoid some of the bumps. By my third session, I was pushing the car harder and I really enjoyed the capabilities of the M3. I will be back again.

The Impractical Daily


It has been also a long time with any updates with my Miata and a lot has happen after only owning it for one year .


I first bought the car May 2013 for a cheap deal. The Miata came rims, coilovers,  bucket seats, and other bolt on parts but NO ac or power steering. Kinda weird because this car is my daily while the GTI, which has AC, is a special occasion car. The thing was, the Miata is a convertible roaster, and if you haven’t driven one, then you are missing out on life. The car was already upgraded and looked nice, but soon the bug bit me and I started changing things to make it more of my own car. First thing I did a complete maintenance overhaul, because I wanted the car to last for a long time and be reliable. The car when I bought it only had 130,000ish miles on it.


After the maintenance part was done, I started changing things. The first thing on the car to be changed was the seats. The car came with the red racer boy seats. Personally I didn’t really like the seat because on long journeys the seat would become uncomfortable and the quality was alright. I was getting back aches and having to pull over at gas stations to stretch. I had to change that immediately. Since I have a Status seat in the GTI I wanted one the Miata. Status Racing is a brand of quality, safety, and good looks. There are no knock offs of Status Seats and its FIA approved so you know they are legit for racing. Luckily, being in the car culture, I met someone that was selling a seat and got the homie hook up. I paired my Status Racing seat with Garage Star seat rails.




The installation was a breeze. The Status Seat looked perfect and the Garage Star seat rails hold it in. I sold the the red seats and to this day I still have no passenger seat. Main reason is because putting in a stock seat won’t compliment the car and I didn’t want to buy knock offs either. Then it just so happens I  have a Grip Royal steering wheel lying around, for quite some time, and replaced the old eBay steering wheel. I also bought NRG hub adaptor too for the steering wheel, the blue hue matches well with the blue paint job.


Later on, I noticed the factory seat belt would randomly detach itself and the 4 point eBay seat belts wasn’t much good either. The back harness was incorrectly installed, WHICH is scary. The last thing you want during a crash is your seat belt to break. I was honestly scared to drive this car for that reason.



^^^ The top pic shows the 4 pt eBay harness wasn’t wrapped  around a harness bar, but instead it was laid over a style bar which is the wrong to install a 4pt harness. Style bars are not used as harness bars. The rear harness was attach to the seat belt, along with the side harness, and that has putting too much stress on the stock stead belt bolts. This car was a death trap to happen.


I wanted to make my car safe to drive just and know my safety equipment wont break. I bought an OMP 4 point racing harness which is FIA approved and a Hard Dog harness bar. I choose OMP because not many people in the States use them, but FIA approved, and I want to be different from the others. The correct way is to the wrap the rear harness straps to the harness bar and not the seat belt mounting points. Here is the link on how to wrap a harness on a bar: After searching craigslist, I manage to score a cheap deal on a Hard Dog roll bar. I noticed this also improved chassis stiffness and race car looks.



Starting to get tired of the XXR, I wanted to find legit rims. The good thing about the Miata is legit 16-15″ rims are relatively cheap compared to  legit 18″ rims. I found rare set of Advan SA3R rims with the center caps for cheap!! I sold the XXR to my homie and I bought the Advans. I loved the look of the style. The Advans matches the era of the car well and had the tracked functional fitment. Surprisingly, the Advans are heavier than the XXR but the Advan SA3R was made in the 90s and the forging technology was different back in the day. But I rather have legit wheels over fake wheels any day. I have nothing against fake wheels but please don’t put “Volk” “BBS” or other name band stickers on rep wheels or say its a legit wheels but actually its a rep. Its just tacky when people do that.


Then I was pulled over twice in one week for no front plates. Felt like it was a dumb excuse for the cop to stop you, so they can check if you have any outstanding warrants or give you a ticket with something dumb. I got away with a warning but that was annoying and a bought a Garage Star front plate holder. Till this day I haven’t been pulled over by a cop.


After a while, I wanted to be ricer and I changed the stock muffler to a lightweight Apexi muffler. My set up is super loud, like it literally will make your ears ring. I do like the ricer fly bys this car makes. Never gets old.



Made my own custom piping with the classic jdm angle. Car gives a mean growl and sounds fast too haha.


Then the stance bug hit me hard. I love the functional track set up but I really miss stance and yeah my GTI has that but I wanted it also on the Miata. I was browsing the wheel forums and came a across a nice set of BBS RM with really aggressive specs. I wasn’t sure if it was going to fit but I wanted it and determined to make it fit. I contacted the owner and bought the rims the next week.

IMG_2046 IMG_2103

Even with maxed stock camber and a lot of fender pulling it was a wide load. I had two options, I can go over fenders or more camber. Noticing over fenders is popular this year (2014) with rocket bunny kits and liberty walk kits, I wanted to do something not soooo popular. I went for demon camber. With the amount of poke i had, I knew I needed extreme camber. Demon camber or ONI camber is something very controversial in the car community. People really love it or people really hate it. I know most track or Miata purist would be mad but I don’t give a damn.


Negative 12 camber. No rubbing and no issues. I like this look a lot, its something different and unique.


Tired of the red, white blue colors I painted the finish panel blank for the JDM look and less subtle. then the red finish panel. People used to call this the smurf car but not anymore.


Added stickers to the interior for my personal touch and I had to rock Cambergang of course.



This dog seems to love my car.


Tired of the weak factory headlights, I came across a group buy from Top Miata. I bought Jass Performance low pro headlights!!! Its worth the money and big light upgrade too! The headlights are upgraded to H4 bulbs which is more brighter than the factory sealed bulbs. Plus the look of the headlights matches the car perfectly, slim and low proflile. Not many people have these lights and kinda glad they don’t, because I want to be different.



I rocked no fenders for a while because I got into a wreck. Don’t want to talk about that. But I did like the no fender look, reminded me of the rat rods.



I did by new fenders but not factory ones. I got fiberglass D1 style fenders. Something different that you don’t see everyday. The rubbing did go away after cutting the inside of the fender a bit.



Yep its daily driven and static.




Thats pretty much of what is going on with the Miata. Next major upgrade would be replacing the coilovers to BC Racing or 326 power. We had our ups and downs but I very much like this car and way it has turned out. I daily this car because I like the persona this car gives, the way it drives, and the character it has attainted over this past year. I know my car is not everybody cup of tea, Ive seen and heard people say crap about my car, but I don’t care. You don’t build cars to get people’s approval, built it to your taste and style. The car is a blank canvas and you are the painter.


Lam Photography BTS (Behind the scene)


What all started out as a joke ended up becoming a legit photo shoot. When I got my GTI back from the shop I would joke to Lam to do a shoot of my car because the Miata shoot was soooo bad ass. I recently got my camber arms and dialed the stance on my GTI with the Work Kiwami. My car was looking really good and happy the way it turned out. I gave the GTI a full detail, and noticed she never really got a good proper shoot. I txted Lam that night about shooting for fun and decided to do the shoot that weekend. I never really thought it was going to be serious one till he told me the photo shoot would be for a possible magazine feature.


When I heard that, I was really excited and hope I can get the feature. I put a lot of hard work and dedication on this car and if someone can also appreciate it enough to be a feature I would be stoked. I literally didn’t drive my GTI for the rest of week until the last day before the shoot. Unfortunately when heading back home, Texas weather likes to play tricks and it rained hard. The wax on the car did a good job beading up the water but it seemed to collect in the rear trunk. Hatchbacks always have this problem.


The day of the photo shoot arrived and was going to do a quick wash of the car in the morning but I wanted to workout. I went ham on the worked out with my homie Marc but when I got home I was crashing hard on the pre workout. I was laid out, lying on the couch, just waiting for my friend Manny to come over since he wanted to chill at the shoot. On a side note, look for a upcoming feature of Manny’s bagged TSX on the blog soon!


As usual Im on Filipino time and the last one to arrive at the meeting spot. I just like to be fashionably late.  Then we all headed out to the secret photoshoot location. Sorry Lam doesn’t want to give out his locations on where he shoots.


My other friend Bun also came to do BTS for Modelsta Mag and his own photography business Invisible Rabbit Photography. Bun came prepared and brought all of his camera gear to shoot. I forgot to bring my camera so I used iPhone.





Lam is such a playa he even know models. Sally was cool enough to model for the shoot, without being nervous surrounded by guys.


Umbrellas are not just useful in the rain but also when using flash on your photography


Tony and Manny were mainly the human tripod, better flash angles.






It was a good day, chilling with your friends and just doing cool things. Even if I don’t get the magazine feature, Im still going to take the photos, make it into a collage and frame it, because memories.


Natsukashi Garage repping.

Tire Shop Needs: USA Tire and Wheel


Living in Houston, the 4th largest city, it wasn’t hard finding tire shops but the problem is would you trust them with your expensive wheels. Or if you are about that stanced life, who would be willing to stretch your tires and not bitch about it.


When I first moved to Houston, I took my tire needs to NTB and the guys there took 4hrs to stretch 205/40/17 tires on the 17×9 rims. Then I took a my tire needs to local mexican shop and they stretched my tires no problem. BUT messed up my RPF1s while mounting the tires.



When I used to live in Humble, because the hospital I worked at was 5 mins away. I found this little tire shop called: USA Wheel and Tire located at 2415 FM 1960 Rd E Humble, TX 77338. Unfortunately one of my rims debeaded on my GTI and I took it to that little tire shop.



The guys at USA Tire and Wheel did a great job with my wheels. I found out the tire had a small leak on the sidewall, which was unrepairable. I ordered new pair of Federal 595SS tires from the shop, and arrived in the afternoon. Gabriel is the guy that mounted and stretched my 215/40/18 tires on a 18×10 rim. He made sure not to scratch my rims and stretched the tires no problem at all. I told them not to go too hard on the impact gun so I can torque the the lug nuts and they did just that.



Satisfied with the work, I take all my tire needs to their shop. When I brought in the Miata, they stretched 205/50/15 Nitto Neo Gen tires on my 15×10.5 BBS RM! I wouldn’t really trust anyone to mount my rims except for them.



If they don’t have the sizes in stock they can usually get you one by the afternoon or if they cant, it would come in the next morning. They are really chill people and they hook it up on the prices, especially if your ride is nice.





They even mounted the tires on my Advans SA3R rims back when I was squared and fictional fitment.



I recently had my tires replaced on the my Work Kiwamis. I was still rubbing when I had 4 people the car even with the camber. I was embarrassed with all the rubbing and my friends making horrible noises when I rub that I wanted to change my tires. I had 225/35/18 tires which did better then the 225/40/18 but the 225 tire width was a tad too wide. I called up Gabriel in the morning and was able to get a pair of 215/40/18 tires and would arrive in the afternoon.



Now that I live in Houston, driving to Humble was kinda of a distance, a 45 minute drive without traffic to be exact. But other tire shops near my place was charging me an extra $100 just to mount my tires because of the stretch. Not worth it, since Gabriel is real homie, and can stretch my tires with no complaints. He actually enjoys the challenge.



Getting the tire to bead to the rim did take a while because its was an aggressive stretch. More than I had done before or even driven on. We were mounting 215/40/18 tires on the 18×10.5 Work rim. After the 7th attempt we were able to get the tire to bead on the rim with the help of me and the cheetah. The 2nd wheel we got on the first attempt, since we knew what to do. Also the Delinte Tires are really easy tires to stretch just like Toyo, Nankang, and Federal. No sticky, gunky bead sealant was used, just good ol tire lube. I kept the tire pressure to 50psi because with this amount of stretch the last thing you want is the tire to debead or deform. I like the look of it, is just cool in my opinion.





I only paid $150 for everything and that is really cheap for those tire specs and what we did to get the tires to set on the rim. I don’t rub anymore with a full load!!! In matter of fact, I think I can even go lower.



I like to keep the stickers on tires just to show the camber. I like it, and I think this trend is going to catch on especially with the stance cars. Any of you readers are in Houston, come to USA Tire and Wheel in Humble, Texas. They stretch tires, or do track fitments, or 4×4 truck fitments and can get you any size tire by the afternoon or first thing in the morning. What matters the most are, the people are chill and laid back. Check em out next time you need tires.

Shop info:
USA Tire and Wheel
2415 FM 1960 Rd E
Humble, TX 77338

MK5 GTI updates


It has been a very long time since I have made any updates about my GTI. The main reason is because it has been down for almost 6 months. The month of October is when I took my GTI to the dealership because I had a CEL I noticed, at the time, the engine took a tiny bit longer to start but the car felt faster and pulled harder for some weird reason.


Naturally I took it the dealership in Austin because a couple years ago, I had the head completely replaced at that dealership because some idiot drove my car, and miss shifted which over revved and practically ruined my engine. The dealership took care of me and the work was spot on. Thankfully the insurance company paid for it and the dealership said I didn’t need a new engine. Well fast forward to two years later I got my CEL and I took it to same dealership.



I did Vag Com my car before I drove to the dealership to see what caused the CEL. The Vag Com showed engine speed error. Well that could mean the sensor was going bad or my timing chain skipped a tooth or timing is off. I was hoping for the sensor, but that was not the case. Come to find out the engine balancing shaft seized, the timing chain skipped a tooth. The engine balancing gear popped out and caused the timing chain  to ride on the shaft. This was making the timing chain eat into the tensioners. My motor was dead. As in, I need a new F***King motor.


I found it odd I had to replace the motor because I drove the car with CEL from Houston to Austin without any problems at all, except it just took a tiny bit longer to start. The car felt it pulled harder with the CEL, but Im guessing that was due to the skipped tooth on the timing chain. The engine sounded normal not showing signs it was on a bad health decline. But after seeing the damage, I guess it was just one drive away from being on the side of the road with a pool of oil and engine bits.


I don’t really know how the dealership didn’t see this before, even when I come in to get it serviced. I asked the service advisor what could have caused this and said “overrevving.” WELL I know how to shift and never in my life, miss shifted and overrevved any car. Except when 2 years ago some idiot drove my car and that person miss shifted. I was hoping the dealership or the insurance would cover the damage because this was do to that incident. But after talking and reasoning, they just said its not covered under warranty and the insurance wont cover it. The main reason is because I did drive my car for 2 years before the CEL came on and they can say the car was driving just fine when I took it off the lot. Since my car is modified the insurance company automatically labeled me as a “streetracer.” But some parts could have been severely weakened and fail prematurely from the stresses of being over revved at that point. The dealership and insurance didn’t want to hear it. To them, its just money lost because the dealership was quoting me $10,000 to replace the motor with labor!!!


I was in a deep hole and probably one of the lowest point of my life. This was my first car I bought after college and needed a heart transplant. I still owed $8,000 at the time plus a possibility of paying $10,000 for a new motor. Oh, I also had to pay $600 labor fee when the dealership took out the timing chain. This is risk of upgrading a car and still owning money, and the same reason why my parents said to pay off the car first before modding it. I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me but it did. I did have the Miata and thats all paid up but still the GTI was my first car I ever bought. Its was a present to myself for graduating college.


After a lot of thinking I decided to screw the dealership, drop the old insurance because they suck and switched to a new one. I went to my good friend Joe and we go way back since middle school. Back in the day Joe and I would go to his bother shop and help around and just learn about cars during the summer. I was serious gear head before I could drive. I still remember when front mount air intake was the in thing and R34 GTR headlights on Hondas. I called my friend Joe to let him know I’m bringing the GTI to the shop and towed my car to Active Motorwerks in Austin Tx.


I decided to keep my GTI and not sell it or part it out. I had memories in that car and I couldn’t let it go. I knew I had to rebuild her and come back harder. I worked over time at my hospitals. The last thing I wanted was to be a financial burden on my parents. After looking for a couple of months of searching, I found the right motor from Eurospec Sport, thanks to a friend who showed me the website. I could have bought a used motor but a brand new long block was just $1000 more and I want this build done right the first time using quality parts. I ordered the new long block and within a week the engine arrived. The shop is a two man team and they were working on a couple of cars before they could do mine. I ended up waiting a couple of months but I didn’t mind because that gave me time to save more money for the build and I didn’t want them to rush on my car.


I bought Defi BF gauges with the controller about one year ago, and I wasn’t sure when to install it but since the car was going in for a heart transplant, that would be the perfect time to install the monitors. While the engine was out, I replaced the factory clutch since it was slipping due to the tune. I got the Excedy clutch which could handle my tune with the flywheel too. I even got BSH stiffer engine and transmission mounts so I can feel the car more. I bought the BSH oil catch can because I saw my old engine had a lot of oil build up on the intake due to the blow by from the turbo. Later I found out the engine that I bought is for the newer model GTIs but it bolted on perfectly to my car. I would say that was a good surprise.


Mario and Hass from Active Motorwerks really did a great job. Honestly, it took a while for everything but I wasn’t complaining. They take the time to make sure everything is done right and very thorough with the work .  All the gaskets, fittings, lines where replaced and was nice enough to do a 50,000 mile transmission service. They wire tucked my Defi gauges, and used MOTUL oil on my engine and transmission. They cleaned the engine bay before putting the new engine in. Even though it was their first time changing engines on a GTI they are not new to modifying cars. Active Motorwerks is a shop that does OEM and aftermarket installs mainly specializing on BMWs. The shop gets the exotic cars like Lambos and Ferraris for tune ups or repairs. GT3 Porshes come in for modifications and rotary powered cars for engine swaps. Every time I come in, the shop is always clean and organized with a lot of different style cars.


When I actually saw my GTI start up for the first time in 6 months, it was like a seeing a old friend you haven’t seen in years. It just felt soo good and you remember the memories. The deep burble of the exhaust, seeing the Defi opening sequence, the familiarity of the Status racing seat, and gripping the leather steering wheel. I took the car on a test drive, and made me really miss the power. Hearing the spool of the turbo build up boost just brought smiles. The Miata is fun in its own way but the power and acceleration is something Im not used to in a long time.


After getting my car back with a brand new, zero miles motor I immediately started putting some miles on it to make sure everything was working right. Just before my GTI called it quits, I bought a set of Work Kiwami. After many months of just sitting at my crib, and letting a good friend borrow them I finally got a chance to mount up my Kiwami. They were more aggressive spec then the Rotas but I was tired of rep wheels and I wanted real wheels again. I know the fronts will be perfect but I was worried the rears would be too aggressive for the maxed out rear stock camber.


The front specs are 18×9.5 et5 205/40/18 with -3.5 degrees of camber. I just like how lightweight but strong these wheels are. Did I mention its deep concave specs too.




As I suspected, the rears didn’t fit like a glove. I had to get smaller 225/35/18 tires because the tire shop had a super hard time fitting 215/40/18 on a 10.5in wide wheel. I ended up raising my coils to the max height and it still rubbed enough to burn my fenders. Stock camber was maxed to -4.5 but I needed camber arms. The picture above and below shows my fitment before camber arms with the coil overs at the highest setting.


Some people say this is Mexi poke but its not. Just hella poke and hella stretch. You can still see the groves of the tire is still within the fender. Mexi poke is when the groves of the tire go past the fender. I could have gone with over fenders or went crazy and have a body shop widen the rears. But I like aggressive wheels with aggressive camber. I ended up purchasing Innovative Design and Fabrication (IDF) control arms from Bag Riders. The IDF is a better quality build then the eBay counterpart.  The bushings are quality Energy Suspension bushings which can easily be replaced if worn out and stiffer then OEM. The install is straight forward and a direct bolt on.


IDF adds serious camber, if you are about that stance life. At the alinement shop,  the max camber is -12!!!! The camber arm is designed  so you can really lay frame without having the camber arm hit the frame. Don’t buy eBay ones, they suck period. You can never go wrong with quality that is backed with design and research. The eBay camber arms wasn’t a direct bolt on and I had to do some drilling for the factory bolts to fit. While drilling to make the holes bigger, the bushing literary broke off the camber arm. I didn’t even get a chance to ride on the eBay one because it broke during installation. Thats better then having it fail on you at highway speed. The thing with eBay products is the the quality is not there. Its a hit or miss, sometimes you get lucky and the part works but most the time the part fails and you are back to were you where in the first place.


My main shop in Houston, is One Stop Automotive located on Bissonet and Hwy 6. The shop is dump friendly and have a chill shop owner. Ask for Fernando or Alex, they know to work on cars properly and are car guys too. This would be the second place to go to if I can’t make it to Active Motorwerks in Austin.


With my camber arms installed I dialed the fitment to -8.5. I could tuck the 18×10.5 et0 rims but I wanted the slight poke of the fender to rim. This is static, and still had enough clearance if I hit a bump the rims would tuck under the fender.


No place for hate. But let the haters hate. Stance is something you either like it or hate it. Some people respect it, some other people just don’t get it. I just build my cars for my satisfaction and enjoyment.


Stay tilted.


This car has brought me ups and downs kinda like life. I was really down when I found out the motor was dead. I was seriously thinking of just cutting my loss and just sell the car as is with a broken motor and pay off the rest of the car. But I felt that was worse then trying to come back harder and rebuild her. I did not to give up. I took my time finding the right engine, I towed my GTI to a shop that I trusted. I saved the money from the overtime and paid for everything. I wanted to do things right the first time and no short cuts. No matter how tough life can get, if there is a will there is a way. Hard work and determination gets you where you want to go in life, and not just in cars but everything you do. Taking shortcuts, laziness, and making excuses wont do you good. Every problem has a solution. Its what you do about your problem determines what kind of person you are. We all have downs in life, what matters is how to deal it. Don’t let the down get the best of you.