UBC Sports Car Club – Show & Shine

Zip ties were used to repair this damage. Creator made them look like stitches. Nice touch.

I’m making my way slowly through the parking lot.

I’m heading towards the UBC Sports Car Club Show & Shine which is at the top of the North Parkade at UBC. The weather has been looking skeptical today to signal the end of summer. The concrete jungle that this parking lot is doesn’t help things; the shades of grey mirroring what is appearing in the sky.

I continue on as thoughts of driving through a parking lot quickly conjures up memories of “Fast & the Furious – Tokyo Drift” and I gag as I think about cars doing e-brake turns in a parking lot in Tokyo. Add in some stupidly named characters like “DK” and a supporting role by (Lil’) Bow Wow and you have an absolutely horrific movie. And a good way to give driving enthusiasts a bad rap.

It is because of crap like this that people automatically assume that just because you are young and like cars, that you are some sort of street racer. I hate this sterotype.

And that is why I am here today. To validate that there are enthusiasts out there that respect the mechanical complexity of cars, and can appreciate a car on its fundamental level regardless of how humble it is. To show that there is community amongst drivers, and to encourage people to participate in it – promoting improved driving technique, raising awareness around vehicle maintenance, fostering a greater respect for the act of driving cars (i.e. not something that should be multi-tasked or abused), and encouraging car manufacturers that apathetic cars are not accepted. I like to think that being around other people who are passionate and enthusiastic about cars accomplishes all these things. Do we still like fast cars? Yes. Do we like driving? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that we put lives in danger. It doesn’t mean we are reckless. It doesn’t mean we are bunch of idiots that stare at our passengers while driving forward as fast as possible (a la the Fast and Furious series) – What a crock of crap.

Ok enough ranting.

Pride is not in the badge, but rather the care found in these cars.

I finally make it to the top of the parking lot and am greeted by host of mostly modest vehicles (with the exception of a fairly new Audi A4). Most of the people in attendance here are students remember, and for me this is an exciting show – for these are car enthusiasts in the purist form. They don’t (for the most part) have large sums of money to spend on exotica, but rather purchase modest vehicles and spend their time, sweat, and whatever money they can scrounge together to upkeep and upgrade these cars. They appreciate their car.

Part of the cars on display.

I say “hi” to Graeme first – who is one of the organizers of this event. He is a tall, gangly 4th year mechanical engineering student and highly passionate about cars. Graeme tells me that he is holding this event to A. promote the UBC Sports Car Club, B. make the club more accessible to the “casual” car admirer, and C. add a more social aspect to the club. I think it is a great idea – and one I hope they continue to sustain in the future. And apparently he has organized some dancers to come join us? More on that later.

Graeme doing some modelling in the back of a Freelander. Wait…when he said dancers, he wasn’t referring to himself right?

Wheel of a gen 1 Impreza. Love the old school rally wheels.

Cool foglamp covers…

My eyes are drawn to a 1994 British Racing Green Mazda Miata. British Racing Green holds a special place in my heart due to its history; green was chosen to represent Britain’s country colour in F1 when colours were associated to specific countries.

Green is a strange colour to associate with Britain, as it does not appear in the Union Jack. The Union Jack colours were already taken – Red – Italy, white – Japan (Honda Type R cars have traditionally been offered in “Championship White” as a homage), and blue – France. And although there are conflicting stories as to the exact reason why it was chosen, they all seem to break down to Britain honouring Ireland for its contributions to their F1 campaign. Some say that Ireland helped fund a very broke English team at the time, and others suggest that Ireland offered to host a F1 race on Great Britain’s behalf when it was unable. Regardless of what the reasons were, this British Racing Green now appears on this 1994 car made by Mazda of Japan. Huh?

1994 Mazda Miata in my favorite colour for this car – British Racing Green. Yes I capitalized the colour because it is THAT IMPORTANT.

That is when I meet Ryan – the owner of the car and another gangly university student – who has probably been wondering why I have been staring at his car in such a creepy way.

I was hoping that Ryan would have some epic story on the car – how his father had lovingly taken care of it and had passed it to him to show he cared about him. And how Ryan had made some upgrades since then, but was careful to not upset the inherent balance and personality of the car.

It’s not really a Mazdaspeed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fast.

Back in the land called Reality however, Ryan had only had the car for two months and had not had much time with it. He is, however, able to tell me that the tires bottom out when he goes over bumps. And while he is rattling off additional technical details, I am still admiring the vehicle and how absolutely pristine it is.

non-standard steering wheel. And is that a titanium shift knob?

Then Ryan tells me he actually previously had an Audi. That he sold (and threw in a modification which involved a tin can), to get this much older, Mazda Miata. He is telling me about future autocross events that he plans on attending when a Kia Rio arrives with pizza. Having been a hungry (and poor) student once, I completely understand when he runs off mid-sentence to satisfy his stomach.

Mmm Pizza….

A tuned Scion FR-S vs. a Kia Rio. Which is cooler? Well the Scion FR-S may have looks and sporting pretensions, but which one are the girls flocking to? That’s right – the car with the capacious boot holding all the pizzas – the Kia. Take that Scion.

I then move onto meet Richard – another Miata owner. Today he has brought out the VCMC Scion FR-S that is competing in the Scion “Tuner challenge”. Richard is a little less lanky than most of the other two I have met previously, and with his pumped up muscles and head banger t-shirt I’m not sure how to approach him at first. As it turns out – a bit awkwardly.

The stripped out cockpit of the tuned VCMC FR-S

Despite this and given Richard’s racing pedigree (he has competed and succeeded in autocross at a national level), he is a humble and friendly guy. We start chatting about his competition.

Bucket seats used in the VCMC FR-S. Race-spec tires in the back. Just in case.

Essentially, he is competing against two other teams to determine who can “tune” the new Scion FR-S more effectively. Competitors are given a Scion FR-S to tune however they wish along with $15,000 to upgrade the car. Additional sponsorship would be the responsibility of each team.

Each car will take place in a variety of challenges and awarded points for success at each round. At the end of all the challenges, the winner gets to keep the Scion FR-S. Somewhat expectedly given Richard’s experience in Autocross, they recently won the first Autocross challenge.

Although Richard doesn’t attend UBC, he still comes back for the UBC Sports Car Club events to help out and provide driving instruction on auto cross days. Richard encourages me (he would do this multiple others as well) to come to one of these classes – Autocross 101.

Some parts of the Scion are left unchanged.

Richard then tells me the philosophy of his team is to test. Whiteline is one of his sponsors and is currently providing parts for the VCMC team to test. As the FR-S is relatively new, many of these parts have come to market yet, and Whiteline is using team VCMC to test some of their products, so it is a good partnership.

Doing the installation of the car is a local garage called Shift Autosport – a shop that originally started modifying European cars, but are using this as a business opportunity to broaden their horizons to other makes as well. Richard tells me that enough time has been spent together with Shift that he now considers them part of his team.

Richard isn’t able to tell me everything he has done with the car, but is telling me that he spends all his time outside of his day-job working on the car. Shift had just installed a new competition clutch, which he is bedding in at the moment. Speaking of which, by day Richard is a data analyst and somewhat ironically despite having five cars at home, walks to work.

As team leader of Team VCMC, some of the many challenges that Richard faces on a daily basis are the lack of time to do what he wants and availability of parts. Time – as there are ongoing challenges that Richard has to participate in while trying to further develop the car and test multiple parts and setups. Parts, because the Scion FR-S is still new to market so aftermarket parts are limited. Team VCMC has even had to resort to modifying existing Subaru parts to make some of the upgrades that they want.

Sister car to the Scion FR-S – the Subaru BRZ. Basically the same car, some minor tweaks to the chassis and different badging. Looks good with the spoiler though!

Graeme then makes an announcement that some dancers are here from the UBC Thunderbird Dance Team. As the event is attended by primarily university males (some in engineering), gawking ensues…

UBC Thunderbird Dance team lining up about to get started…

Going through the routine…

Aside from the music blasting from the speakers in the Land Rover Freelander it was eerily silent….

The gawking continues…

Proof of gawking

Well…did you like it? Ummm yeah.

With the sun gone, I’m about to leave when a group of S2000’s arrive. Looks like the night kids have arrived…

So – did I find what I was looking for?

What I found was a bunch of group of people with varying backgrounds and ages, getting together to talk about their cars, share stories, and gawk at a dance performance. I met a legitimate racer who had taken valuable personal and testing time to give back to his community by coming out to this event, and encourage people to get into the sport further.

Hell yes.

Thanks to Graeme and the rest of the UBC Sports Car Club for graciously inviting me, and best of luck to Team VCMC in the Scion FR-S Tuner Challenge.

You can find out more about Team VCMC and the Scion FR-S Tuner Challenge here:
http://www.teamvcmc.com/2012/07/2012-scion-tuner-challenge-fr-s-edition.html

http://www.tunerchallenge.ca/

The UBC Sports Car Club also frequently puts on driving events – you can check out what is going on here:
http://www.ubcscc.com/

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