Track Time – Toyota 86 GT

TrackTime_Toyota86 (15)Back in June 2012 Any Given Reason managed to be one of the first motoring outlets to publish a drive story on the just released Toyota 86, a hotly anticipated little sports car that was set to take the world by storm. After a few weeks of badgering via email, and more as a result of the generosity of an old friend who happened to be a Toyota dealer rather than AGR being viewed as a preeminent and worthy publication, I ended up with one of the very first 86’s in Adelaide to drive for a few hours.

TrackTime_Toyota86 (4)That drive was exciting but it came with added stressors – the car was Adelaide Hills Toyota’s only demo, there was a figurative queue of customers with actual money in their pockets waiting for a legitimate test drive and there was at least a seven month wait before the dealership would see another one. I really didn’t want to be the first guy in Adelaide to crash an 86 and I was being so careful that I didn’t learn a whole lot about how it truly carved up the corners. What I needed was a racetrack.

TrackTime_Toyota86 (17)It’s now been almost two years since the 86 joined the market and AGR was recently invited to Mallala Motorsport Park to have a faster drive, once again courtesy of Adelaide Hills Toyota.

TrackTime_Toyota86 (14)As a general rule stock street cars aren’t usually very good on the track, however I had high hopes for the 86 because it was designed from scratch as a sports car for purists. In a world where cars are increasing in complexity, mass and cost, it was a gutsy move for Toyota to buck the trend and give one man complete autonomy over the project to build something light, cheap and fun that would shape the future direction of one of the worlds biggest auto makers. There were no committees or focus groups on the 86 project; just one engineer dictating the creation of the sports car the world needed. The car had to be engaging on the road, but the 86 had to be competent on the track as well. During its development the engineering team consulted grassroots racers; they made sure it could be easily drifted; they ensured the boot was big enough to carry a full set of spare wheels and they designed the headrests so that they could be flipped around to accommodate a helmet. Continue reading

AGR Readers’ Rides – Show us your wheels!

ReadersRides 1261It had to happen, didn’t it? But that’s okay, because people who read blogs like Any Given Reason tend to drive the kinds of cars that feature prominently on Any Given Reason, which means that all of you reading this right now are probably keen to see what everyone else drives, right? Right. Well get to it then!

Email the best photo of your car to andrew@anygivenreason.com along with your name and a single sentence best describing your pride and joy before next Wednesday April 2, and we’ll get them online in a post in the near future!

Andrew

Retrogarage Track Day Mallala

DSC_0057Fierce competition is good, and from motorkhana to Australian GT it’s often the tick of the stopwatch and the heat of the moment that provides that last bit of drive and incentive to shave every last tenth. Strong competition breeds the best and whilst there’s a definite joy in competing to your limit, it’s often far from relaxing.

DSC_0612That’s where a bloke named Roger Dutton – barbeque extraordinaire and mechanic for Adelaide based Formula 3 and Carrera Cup outfit Team BRM – comes in. Roger is involved in motorsport at a far higher level than most, but also knows the value in relaxing and enjoying it from time to time, and has pretty much built his own personal Mk1 Escort around this ethos. Through his sideline business Retrogarage, Roger has started organising track days at Mallala where the focus is very much on enjoyment.

DSC_0030Any Given Reason was invited to join the fun by longtime reader Tom Gilbert, so with instructions to meet up with the gang at the BP on Portrush at 630 on a Wednesday morning, I threaded my way through the dawn of peak hour traffic, knowing something far more interesting than a desk would be waiting for me at the other end. These suspicions were confirmed when an immaculate 356B and a throaty 964 Carrera 2 pulled onto the forecourt as if on cue.  Continue reading

The Aston Martin DBR9 Sports Sedan

DSC_0282I’m sure I’m not the only one to watch with interest last year when six times Australian Sports Sedan champion Kerry Baily launched his latest challenger – an Aston Martin DBR9. Sports Sedan, the category where basically anything goes, has always (for me, at least) been a slightly comedic racing class, where teams would aim to build the fastest tube frame racer with the biggest possible engine, and then shell it in the most unlikely bodywork. The whole class functions around the simple preposition of ordinary, everyday cars racing wheel to wheel at astronomical speeds you’d never expect.

DSC_0548So I was initially a little confused when I first saw pictures of the DBR9. Imagination is the only limit in Sports Sedans so it could be a home creation, but then again a genuine DBR9, Aston’s just superseded factory international GT racer and Le Mans enduro challenger, would theoretically fit within the Sports Sedan rules.

I was recently at the Shannon’s Nationals at Mallala shooting a story for popular Australian car blog Downshift Aus (you can see the story here), so I found time to check out Bailey’s Aston in a little more detail.

DSC_0358So the short answer is that it isn’t a real one. Several years ago Kerry was traveling in England and saw the factory DBR9’s racing and fell in love with them, deciding that a DBR9 would have to be his next Sports Sedan. He investigated building one out of an actual DB9 road car, but determined that it wasn’t worth it as “the only things that would be retained would be the badges at either end”.

DSC_0379Gold Coast bodywork experts Dennis Bedford and Rob Sarvo were consulted, and it was decided that the easiest way to replicate the DBR9 would be to simply up-scale a 1/18 model. This Minichamps 1/18 was purchased, in full Le Mans trim no less, and the careful measurements began. Continue reading

The Easter Historics at Mallala

DSC_0021Easter. A time of year with different significance for different people. Dedicated churchgoers will find themselves at the altar, while most of us spend the break with family or away on holiday. But for hardened motorheads, Easter brings an entirely different tradition – the Easter historic race meeting at Mallala.

DSC_0107DSC_0367Run by the Sporting Car Club of SA, the Easter historic race meeting is the highlight of what’s known as historic ‘speed week’ – several days of dinners, shows, the race meeting and a historic hillclimb at Collingrove on Easter Monday. The race meeting is considered to be one of the last true picnic style historic meetings left. Its very relaxed, very low key and the emphasis is really on camaraderie and enjoying some fine old cars.

DSC_0333So with this in mind, at about 5am on Easter Sunday I put the top down and hit the deserted hills roads, with some Donald Byrd playing to get me in a ‘classic’ frame of mind. Despite some early morning showers, it was shaping up to be a good day.

DSC_0418The day wasn’t purely one of spectating, as I was helping out as pit crew for Brenton Griguol who was racing his 1968 Lola T124 Formula 5000. I use the term ‘helping out’ and ‘pit crew’ very loosely, as I’m sure I probably just got in the way more than anything. But thankfully, and like he did at the recent Clipsal 500, Brenton was happy to have me along for the greater good of Any Given Reason readers!  Continue reading

2013 MSCA Sprint Round 1 and why I like driving slow cars fast

DSC_0137The first track day of the year is always an exciting affair. New cars, new modifications or just simply a chance to blow the cobwebs out, the heart always skips a beat as you drive through the entry gates for the first time.

DSC_0185First there’s the nervous wait for scrutineering, and then the ugly pause before the first session begins. It’s been four or five months since some of these cars have had a decent scoot, and the mind wanders to all of the little things that need re-checking. Everybody just wants to get on with it!

DSC_0177Drivers briefing has never been a more painful affair. ‘C’mon, just let me on the track already!’.

DSC_0070It was the first time out for Garren in his new NB MX-5.

DSC_0010Garren is usually found behind the wheel of a Fiat, and was a longtime competitor for many years in his quick 124 BC. Life and family and kids etc got in the way and he was forced to give it up for a while, and this was his first event back in over 7 years. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face! Continue reading

LMP for the rest of us – a closer look at the West racecars

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012In concept, there’s certainly nothing new about motorcycle engined racecars – for as long as people have been racing cars, home workshop types have been stuffing high revving motorcycle engines into them to great effect. But what separates the new generation of West racecars from the rest is just how effective they are. Mechanically speaking there’s nothing especially groundbreaking about a West and this is a case where the whole is definitely worth more than the sum of its parts. However it’s the careful design by extremely talented racecar engineers, and the gradual testing and refining of the concept that makes West’s as devastatingly quick as they are.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012So how quick are they? A properly sorted West will run around a 1.05/1.06 lap time around Mallala, which is pretty impressive considering the current F3 lap record is 1.06.4, and the V8 Supercar lap record is 1.08.1. That’s only 3-4 seconds slower than the outright lap record, 1.02.6 set by Paul Stokell in a Reynard Formula Holden.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012But the real kicker is the price – you can pick up a new West for under $100,000, with competitive used cars trading at around $50-80,000. That may sound like a lot for a motorbike engined car, but just compare its performance – you’d be lucky to get a 1.10 out of a Carrera Cup 911 for $150,000+. Paul Stokell’s Nations Cup Diablo GTR only managed a 1.08 back in the day, and god knows how much that would cost you. Essentially, you’re talking serious racecar speed for Lotus Exige money. You can live out all your Le Mans fantasies for about what a lot of people spend building a decent WRX.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012There are two models of West – the silver one above is known as the West WR1000, and is powered by either a 1000cc Suzuki or Kawasaki bike engine producing 175hp at 12,500rpm. The WR1000 weighs 395kg, and will get you from rest to 100km/h in 2.8 on the way to a top speed of 255km/h.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012The model we’ll be taking a closer look at is the West WX10, which was driven at Mallala by multiple British F3 champion and former Indy car driver, James Winslow. The WX10 is powered by a 1340cc Suzuki Hayabusa K10 crate engine making 197hp at 10,800rpm. It’s slightly heavier at 403kg, but it will see 0-100 in 2.5 seconds and top out at 275km/h.

DSC_0331The true brilliance of the Hayabusa engine is its bang-for-buck reliability. Other than a West developed dry sump lubrication system and engine management, the Hayabusa engine keeps entirely stock internals, which means you’ll easily get two seasons of racing between rebuilds. Now the true value of the West is beginning to show. Continue reading