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95 Impreza L AWD
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I ran my first Autocross today, and I finished dead last in my class! I had fun, but I need to do something about my car if I want to be competitive. I know that a lot of it is the "nut behind the wheel", but my car just won't go unless the engine is over 4000 rpm. I don't have the power I need in the straights. I'm also running on stock suspension, and I know I need to change that to help in the corners, but I don't get anywhere too quickly in the straights. I basically have two choices: do some serious upgrading or downgrade. I was in STS with my sorry L. Here is my car and my modifications:
1995 Impreza L AWD
1.8 liter engine, rated at 110hp and 110 torque

K+N panel filter
stock 16" WRX wheels and tires
SubySports lightweight pulley set-alt, p/s, crank
Ractive muffler on stock piping
stock 2.5RS cat-backexhaust
MRT short shifter

That's everything I can think of. I have two different exhausts; I ran on the Ractive today. Basically, my choices are to go back to my stock pulleys and 14" wheels to try to get into stock class, or else figure out how to cheaply get more out of my car. My best time on the course was 46.918 seconds and all of the class winners were in the 40-42 second range. My first run was 54 plus 1 cone, my second was 52, third was 46.918, fourth was 47 plus 2 cones, and last run was 47 something with no cones. I realize that I am just beginning so please don't flame me for that. All I'm asking for is some advice on what to do. Thanks.

As a side note, there were some WRX's that were running near the times I had. :D
 

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95 Impreza L AWD
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Discussion Starter #2
One thing I forgot to say is that I have a used Weapon-R intake on the way and I'll be putting on an RS front bumper cover and wing. :D At least it will look fast!
 

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overdeveloped beater
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What about springs?

Are you on stock springs? If so, that's probably where alot of your time went. You don't have a swaybar mount in the rear, so short of adding arms from an RS or somehow adding the lower link brackets so you can add a bar, you'll have to run a super stiff spring to control the roll. The 16's are also hurting your acceleration tremendously! Ditch them for 15's or 14's. I know where there's a set of 14 Neon wheels with next to new Kumho Victoracers mounted for $300 OBO. You might want to consider that since they'll fit just fine and even add just a touch more track front and rear to further ward off leaning.

You have to adjust your driving to conserve as much momentum as you can. You know you don't have the balls to accelerate like the other cars in the class, so don't brake as hard as they are. Just adjust your line so you can take it with as little braking as possible. You should also be able to get back on the gas alot sooner than the other more powerful cars can. Get your alignment done so you have as much negative camber up front as possible, then go as far as you can in back too without crashbolts. That should be just enough to balance out the handling.

I ran my 1.8 in DSP all last year and I did pretty good considering the car and it's setup. I even managed to stay within .076 sec of a 98RS at the Nationals. Yeah, I had race tires to his street tires, but still....I made that car scream as if it had more power! Keep the RPMs up and brake late and get back on the gas early! You'll be alright.

Was this today in Toledo? It was raining too much for us to come play. We plan to get out there and pick on a certain DSP Integra!
 

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dude, no offense, but i suspect its driving that needs to be improved first. look at your times. they are highly variable (though they're going in the right direction ;) ), which means that at this point its not the car. just work on staying smooth and concentrating on your line. this means looking way ahead and the old cliche of slow in fast out, which is oh so true. i won't tell you how horrible i was at my first few events, but thanks to some good adivce from others, reading a couple of driving theory books, and lots of practice, i've gotten better, though i'm still not as good as my car. the only thing i would say for now is that if you are on RE92s or some other POS tire, get some real tires (please note that the Victoracers and other R compound tires are not STS legal). anyway, don't take this as critizism and have fun!
 

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95 Impreza L AWD
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the input.

Storm-this was the one in Toledo. The weather was horrible but it was a lot of fun, especially since this was my first time ever being at an autocross! My suspension is completely stock. I had Whiteline front and rear strut bars, but I sold them to James. I am kind of kicking myself for that now, but oh well. I was reflecting on the day last night, and I decided the struts and springs are where I am going to start. I am probably just going to get the KYB AGX struts and the H&R springs from tirerack.com. I will have to keep the WRX rims and RE92's for now, because the tires on my 14" rims are much worse than those, and one is a slightly different size! I know that is bad, but it was the best I could do at the time! However, I will probably end up getting some Kumho Ecsta's for my 14" steels and just use those for autocrossing, as I love the look of the bigger rims on the car. I also know that I will progressively get better and I can't expect to go out there on my first day and win my class, but I wanted to ask for advice. Thanks for your advice. I think I have seen a kit somewhere for mounting a rear swaybar to my car, but I'm not certain. They are holding another autocross next weekend in Toledo at Northtowne, so let me know if you will be there! What does that Integra look like?

10th Warrior-I appreciate your advice and I know I need to work on myself, but my car needs a little bit of work, too!
 

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I_H8_1.8 said:
I had Whiteline front and rear strut bars, but I sold them to James. I am kind of kicking myself for that now, but oh well.
Which I just finished installing last night! :D I'm ready to race now!
 

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It was raining too much for us to come play.
Yeah the weather was horrible, but damn it was a fun course! Very fast and wide open, and we got 5 runs! I was bouncing off the limiter in 2nd in multiple sections of the course. I too was running on the stock suspension and it killed me on that course. The body roll got me on my last two runs. I ended up skidding off line, and did a 180 the other time as the weight just wouldn't transfer quick enough.

His times were fine for his first event, he'll improve with seat time. The most important thing to do would be to hit a driver's school and get some seat time. Don't mess with the car too much at first, you want to get used to it first. That's hard to do if you're adding parts every week.

We plan to get out there and pick on a certain DSP Integra!
I don't recall any DSP Integra's. I saw a fast one in SM though. (white, JDM front end...? Is that the one?
 

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95 Impreza L AWD
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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, I have some more questions, but first I would like to thank everyone for their input-keep it coming! Also, it was good seeing you again, craig, and great job! I have done some more reflecting, and I think a lot of my problem was getting the car to go where I tried to get it to go-traction was not an issue so much as roll. That said, here are my questions:

1-As far as tires go, I can see how the 16" tires would hurt my acceleration compared to the 14" tires, but what about the handling? It seems like the handling would be better on the 16" than the 14".

2-I priced some 14" tires today from tirerack.com; they have 185-60-14 Pirelli P7000 summer tires for $49 each. They are out of stock, but does anyone know if these would be any good for autocross? Also, would I be better off getting a different size 14" tire, such as a 185-55-14, for example? My stock size was 175-70-14, but I had one 185-70-14 on there(see above) and it worked okay.

3-If I do the struts, springs, and tires, would I be better off doing it all at once? I was thinking of getting some tires first, since that would be cheapest. But I could probably do all three at the same time if that would be best.

I will take any help I can get. Thanks! :D
 

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When you start doing struts and springs all at once, you end up with a whole new car and suck all over again.

I should know, I did that last week. New struts, tires, strut tower bars, sway bar, and brake pads. I hit a combined total of something like 18 cones. I've never hit more than 2 cones in any event. So there is a huge difference. I was not any faster than normal either, just skidding out of control. :eek:

So, yes, tires are a great first mod. Can you afford two sets of rims? If so, and you continue to run STS, get the Falken Azenis. They may not come in 14" sizes, but they have a few in 16" and 17". I got mine for around $100/each. If you run stock class, get some R-Compound tires like the Kuhmos or Hoosiers. They are really expensive, though! Like almost $160+ each!!

Then, learn this:

Sometimes slower means going faster.

I can't stress this enough, especially on long, sweeper corners that have decreasing radius turns. If you are skidding like crazy, you're going too fast.

Remember, your tires only have so much traction. So, for example, they might hold you at .8g on a skid pad. Well, if you are turning at .8g, and you hit the brakes.... well, the tires simply can't hold any more than .8g, and braking adds force. So you skid.

Basically what I am saying is that you can accelerate, turn, or brake at the full limits of your tires, or mix and match percentages (like .4g turning and .4g braking at the same time) but you can't do two at once or you will skid. So learn the fastest you can corner, then slow down to be going that speed.

Also, along the lines of accelerating, braking, and turning, you should always be either:

1. Accelerating as quickly as possible
2. Turning as quickly as possible
3. Braking as hard as possible
4. A combination of accelerating/turning or braking/turning.

Don't brake just a little, like you are coasting to a stop sign. Wait until you are just about to go through the corner and SLAM on the brakes!!! Make sure you can control the next corner, of course!

Accelerate FULL THROTTLE every chance you get! Then slam those brakes on again!

Or TURN as hard as you can! Don't skid though... that wastes lots of time.

I am either on the gas, turning like crazy, or slamming on the brakes. I NEVER coast, except through corners. :D

So hope that helps some with technique, and a little hardware. Get new tires. Those P7000's - check the traction rating on TireRack.com - if it's not in the 9's, it ain't gonna be great on the track. :)
 

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overdeveloped beater
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Yeah, I forgot about improving the driver. It kinda goes without saying that you're always looking to improve your driving. The Azenis does come in 14". I think 185 or 195 at somewhere around $65/tire. That ain't bad considering you can still use them on the street daily. The strut bars are really only going to let the suspension do it's job when things are really stiff or really bumpy.

To get your car to go where you want it to, realize that regular tires will take longer to change direction due to flex, slip, slide, etc....so you have to turn that much sooner. If you're looking ahead far enough, you can aim for cones way off and nearly run over those you're about to go by - but miss because it takes so long for the tires to actually change the direction of the car.

If you went with a 60 series 14" tire, it may look small on the car, but you'll pick up alot more acceleration and braking, along with keeping the same turning response. It's most important to look good....in the standings....

I would suggest getting springs and struts together just for the installation work alone. You're going to have to relearn to drive it anyway and it won't take any longer to do with both upgrades at once. I'd be happy to help you install struts and springs when you get some.

The Integra in DSP (at least last year he was) is red and the driver is Mike Quinn. I look forward to getting out there sometime. Not this coming week though....Hometown points are becconing. I can't afford to let up!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I ordered a set of Falken Azenis in 195-60-14 for my steel wheels this morning. I hope that doesn't qualify me for RSP(Rice Street Prepared)! :D I should have them by Thursday, and I hope to get them mounted on Friday. The next autocross is Sunday, so would it be a good idea to run on them for a few days or just wait until Sunday? Also, with an autocross-only tire, would it make sense to get the lifetime balancing or just the 90 day deal? It's only about $20-25 difference depending on where I go, but if I won't really need it, why buy it? Also, I got a really good price on Eibach springs; are these any good? Thanks!
 

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I've never even considered a lifetime balancing... how often do those little weights come off? Never in my experience.

Drive them first? Probably a good idea. I drive mine to the events.

Eibach = good stuff from what I hear, although I just got a set of H&R springs myself.

BTW, Discount Tire mounted my loose tires on my loose rims for $24.96, so check them out if you have one local to you.
 

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how often do those little weights come off? Never in my experience.
you need to hit more rutted gravel roads :)

SLAM on the brakes!!!
james is right in that you need to get on the brakes hard, but never, ever slam on the brakes. you want to be smooth. yes, you're going to be getting on the brakes hard, but the transition from gas to brake should not be abrupt. the same goes for steering imput. turn the wheel quickly, but don't jerk it around. be smooth. and don't turn it more than you have to.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I don't think I'll worry about the lifetime balancing; I need to save all the money I can! Being that I am located in the armpit of the world, there is no Discount Tire! :curse: The best price I have gotten is $50 mounted and balanced-my old tires are still on the rims. I am going to call around to those used tire places to see if they will buy my old tires so I can make up some of what I am spending. Plus, I'll save myself the $1 disposal fee or whatever it is. :D Besides, I think I need some better brake pads; I just replaced mine a month or so ago, and the only thing they do good is get dust all over the wheels!
 

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Darrell,
So you will have the Weapon-R soon? The intake, bumper, and suspension we can tackle...so saving you some cash :D
Now for the 14", it will be nice to have a narrow sidewall to produce less roll. It will screw up your speedo, but if you are using that for Auto-X then I don't see any problem with it ;)
Argh...exams exams, maybe we can hang out after all my freaking exams.

Gotta go to lab now, zya!
 

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If you're looking for brake pads, check out the 10% discount on the KFP Magnum Blues - announcement at the top of each forum, and on the www.rs25.com homepage.

Those things grip like CRAZY.

There have been (unconfirmed) reports of them eating the rotors a bit, but I will be able to tell you in a few days when I re-do my springs and put anti-squeak lube on the back of the set I just bought.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Benson-
The stock wheels are 14" so my speedo is screwed up now with the 16"! My Weapon-R intake should arrive soon, but I haven't heard back from the guy yet. I'm not looking forward to my exams, either!:curse:

I briefly considered the KFP brake pads, but I need something cheaper; I am a poor college student.:( I saw some on NOPI or somewhere that were about $50 or so; much closer to my price range. I have spent a lot of money recently on my car so I am going to have to start working a lot more as soon as school is done. Ah, the life of a college student. :curse:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Benson-
The stock wheels are 14" so my speedo is screwed up now with the 16"! My Weapon-R intake should arrive soon, but I haven't heard back from the guy yet. I'm not looking forward to my exams, either!:curse:

I briefly considered the KFP brake pads, but I need something cheaper; I am a poor college student.:( I saw some on NOPI or somewhere that were about $50 or so; much closer to my price range. I have spent a lot of money recently on my car so I am going to have to start working a lot more as soon as school is done. Ah, the life of a college student. :curse:
 

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Darrell,
Good thing thing you will need only the front set for pads :) Hope you will get your intake soon; if the filter is K&N, then you should be fine.
Well, if you follow the rule to upgrading wheel size combine with tires, your speedo shouldn't screw up a whole lot...I meant your stock 14" with narrow sidewall; this way you need less rotation inertia, while having the less flex and that's great for auto-x. It doesn't look good though :)
I know what you meant by the exams thing, plus having no money for upgrades; I am hoping to have enough for my project...just pray for me everything will work out smoothly...

Maybe I will zya at the track Sunday :)
 

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195/60R14 should still be plenty stiff enough since there isn't alot of width to start with. Plus, I hear that the Azenis has some of the stiffest sidewalls of street tires around. You're gonna LOVE the newfound traction and accelleration! Now you can slowly look for a deal on cheap, light alloy 14's(early90's Legacy).

I would go for the balancing if you're gonna drive them daily. You can skip the lifetime balance. They might charge you a buck or 3 to do a tire later, but that's beer(or gas or insert need here) money NOW.

Maybe I'll donate a set of Intrax springs to you later this month if my setup works out as planned. I have a couple sets of stock RS springs if you're interested. Since I'm poor too....child support and all....:curse:
 
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