Racing Like a Noob
Joined: May 2007
With the temporary motor in, I set in to removing the interior of the Impreza. I also began some intense research at several Subaru specific internet forums, including:
I still didn't have my overall vision, but it was beginning to gel. For the M1K, endurance and reliability are paramount. I also knew that I wanted some increased ground clearance. The Impreza Outback Sport is the tallest stock Impreza there is. And the quickest way to increase ground clearance is with a strut swap. Forester struts will bolt right up with very slight modification, so I picked up some new Forester Struts.
This photo shows the higher spring perch of the new Forester strut, of course I can't find the photo with strut rod extended as it is much longer. Yes I said strut rod.
I also picked up front and rear skid plates from Primitive Racing. The Pacific Northwest is a Subaru Mecca, and with the salt-less roads, they just last longer out here. Because of this, there is a whole local cottage industry surrounding Subaru's. So, instead of just looking at the skid plates online, I went to their shop and got a first-hand look at them – and a cash discount! I also got to pick their brains about some other stuff and gawk at their rally cars for more ideas.
This is one of their rally cars that I got some ideas from:
Just love this exploded Impreza on the wall:
Now, building your normal stage rally car is pretty straight forward, especially if it is a Subaru Impreza. Parts are plentiful, aftermarket is huge and its been done so many times, the information is widely available on the interwebs. Roll cage kits can be bought off the shelf, suspension components including sweet racing coilovers litter ebay. But this build was going to be different. It had to be.
First off, I am building a vehicle that will be driven from Oregon to Mexicali and then raced to San Jose Del Cabo. Then, if it stills runs, driven back to Oregon. That is a slight-bit longer than any Rally America stage. And because of this, I wanted to keep some of the creature comforts in the car, to make the traveling a little more, well, comfortable. I would also need to be carrying spares, tools, fuel, oil, etc. So, whereas in a Stage Rally car, you remove everything not essential in an effort to reduce weight, because comfort is not important, I was going to be leaving some things in, because weight was not my first concern.
Now some of the things that follow are going to make hard-core racers cringe, but bear with me; there is a method to my madness.
What I came up with is this: What we are building is more akin to a pre-runner or an actual expedition vehicle rather than an actual Baja racer. Something that is totally capable of traversing the terrain of the racecourse, just not necessarily at the speeds needed to be competitive against trophy trucks; if that makes sense. A good example of this is if you watched the footage of the officials of the Dakar rally laying out/pre running the course in South America. They were driving essentially stock 4x4 pick-up trucks, with the ac running and had few issues going anywhere, just not super fast. Now, I want to go much faster than that, so don’t worry, this will be a proper racecar!
While driving OSR rider Paul Jr.’s Toyota Tacoma pick-up last year while chasing a day, It would have been fully capable out on the M1K race course and it would have made it fine.
It might have been slow going in the tuff technical areas and whoops, but it would have made it. That is the genisis of my idea for the Outta Sight Subaru. This of course also plays into the mantra I say to myself when I am racing; “Go fast when you can, slow when you have to.” Don’t outride/outdrive your machine. That said, I do intend to finish and finish well. This is where the OSR strategy and planning come in.
So this is not a Subaru Stage Rally car; it is something else. It’s more akin to a rally raid vehicle than a stage rally car. Actually, I recently defined it even more precisely...but we are not that point in this story.
With the interior nearly out, I picked up some very sweet 2008 WRX seats. They were beautiful. I was in love.
That is, until Luke pointed out that the NORRA rules specifically prohibited OEM produced seats and required race seats manufactured by a recognized company. Damn. Well, I found some barely used Cobra seats, which were FIA certified and would exceed the NORRA requirement. Of course, they will not be anywhere near as comfy as those beautiful WRX seats, but they’d be legal and could accommodate the required 5 point harness and ball-pinching submarine strap. Pictures to follow
Ray and I discussed the cage a bit. Because it is my wife in the passenger seat, it is important that the cage be the best it can be. I also wanted the car to be able to be rally road booked so having a certified cage is going to be important. This will give you an idea of what we are talking about: Roll Cage.
I started to take a good look inside the car. It started feeling smaller and smaller for what I was going to be putting inside it. I also started looking at increasing clearance and travel and was basically scouring CL and the COPART auctions looking for another wrecked Forester. Honestly, a Forester would have been the better choice for this type of race. More room than an Impreza, and the undercarriage is completely compatible with most aftermarket parts as the Forester is basically a taller Impreza. But if I’m being honest, I think the Forester is one ugly car. Not the newer ones, but those original first few years...the ones I could afford....U-G-L-Y.
Finding wrecked Foresters is not an easy task. The Legacy Outbacks were plentiful though, and I decide that the suspension components and rear disc brakes I wanted could be found on the Outback too. I found one for $1000 bucks, but he said he’d take $800 if we showed up today. It was 2 hours away, so I called David and he ran down to take a look. I told him if he thought it was good to buy it. He did.
She had a reconstructed title, some body blemishes and some rod knock. I didn’t care about the title, or the blemishes, and David was going give me $300 for the motor to rebuild and sell, so $500 bucks later, the car was mine.
After Dave gave the Outback the once over he said to me, this looks like a pretty good car...maybe we should race this one. I thought about it and said, well, it already has the base suspension components I was wanting to mount on the Impreza...already installed...saving me weekends of work. It also had much more room for the cage and all of the other goodies. And let's face it, Impreza rally cars are a dime a dozen....Legacy Outback rally cars?? Not so much. Why? Because they don't make good rally cars. Much the same way that 1972 Honda SL350 dual sports didn't make good Baja racers.
I placed the Impreza in the classifieds on the aforementioned forums and within a few weeks, it sold, along with those beautiful WRX seats. I told my wife I felt silly having spent the money on the Impreza and the seats only to turn around and sell them and lose a few bucks. She laughed and said, how many bikes did we buy when you built up the motorcycle? I thought about it and realized I had done the exact same thing 2 years ago when I bought a CL350 to build the Baja bike. Then Sherry came along with the right bike. And the rest is history. I have learned to let these things work out the way they must. The right vehicle will find its way to the starting line. I also realized that I really love the process and it wasn’t a waste of time because that Impreza helped me to find my motor guy as well as others along the way. It was meant to work out that way. No use in fighting it.
Next up: 1st installment of David's motor build log. You'll get the behind the scenes look at the building of our Subie's powerplant, and I'm sure it will be nerdy and technical enough for those that like that sort of thing