The past six months have been dedicated to getting the car ready for the track. I didn't want to be the guy who blew up his motor or cooked his brakes, so I took some preventative steps and added an extra layer of safety and performance in my previous blog entries. I still had two things to do before the day came: Add my lowering springs and get some tires for the track.
A few weeks before track day I took a Saturday and installed the Tein S-Tech springs onto the stock struts. The install took about 3 1/2 hours. Not too bad, it helped that I had done more than my share of suspension installs on previous WRX's. While springs on stock struts are not the most ideal suspension set-up for the track, I don't drive on the track most of the time. The lowering springs lower the center of gravity of the car making more stable in turns as well as adding a higher spring rate so the car doesn't roll as much. The S-Techs lower the car about 1.5" in the front and about 1" in the rear making the car very low. I have to be careful as the front bumper will no longer fit over curbs, but the ride is acceptable and the benefits in the corners with the springs working together with the upgraded rear sway bar is tremendous. Lowering the car also gives it a more aggressive stance and reduced the amount of "wheel gap", or the distance between the top of your tire and the fender of the car. The downside of the lowering springs is that they put extra stress on the struts and can contribute to failure of the strut. With my luck on the stock struts I didn't expect them to last very long anyways. When the time comes I will either buy a set of coil-overs or buy an aftermarket set of struts that can handle the lowered springs.
I also needed tires before the big day. The stock RE-92 Bridgestones are much better than previous versions of that tire, but still are pretty poor in terms of dry handling. My original plan was to buy a set of rims and summer tires and use those for the track day. But, the bills started piling up and we need to pay off our Europe trip, so I decided to buy just a used set of STi tires. The tires that come on the Legacy are considered all-season, meaning they were designed to work in the snow and the rain and the dry. When a tire is designed to work in every kind of weather, it must make some compromises. All season tires are not the best on dry pavement. The WRX STi models come with a summer only tire as the factory equipped choice. These tires are very expensive to replace, but they are very good on dry and wet pavement. Still, a lot of guys upgrade their wheels and tires to something else and sell off the stock setup. I didn't have a lot of cash plus I didn't really want to ruin a whole set of tires in one day, so I found a guy that had a set of very used STi take off tires for cheap. They were basically bald, but I just wanted them to last through the day at the track. They are also a wider size, helping to increase grip.
I now had the tires I needed and the suspension all set. I thought I had everything covered and was ahead of the game with a few days to spare. Yeah right! In the next installment we will cover the really-last minute problems that occurred and track day itself.