Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Hello to all my Hittin’ the Apex devoted followers all around the world and any new petrol head joining us for the first time. I mean that sincerely, welcome to all! This month I’m going to start this entry with a quote, “Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail”. This might sound like a cliche, and you’re right, it is, but it is an important one. In every fact of life there are certain consequences to not preparing properly. You don’t study for a test in school, likely you won’t do well. If you are’t prepared to be in a real relationship, likely you will do, or perhaps not do, something that will screw it up. If you weren’t prepared for your grown up job, you are the one to blame for searching Indeed or perusing Craigslist for a new job. Like life, racing requires a ton of detailed preparation. This is why it is vital, for any racing that you want to do, from HPDE events and track days to full on road racing, that you have a very specific idea of what you want to accomplish, and when it needs to be done. I am going to spend this month giving tips  If you are mechanically inclined enough to perform your own prep, this time frame is easily assessed. You know your schedule, your ability and what is needed parts wise. A good idea is to shake down your car immediately after the last event you did. You can check wheel bearings, fluids, brake pads, filters and overall condition, and plan on what needs done before the next event. Those items fall into two categories. This first category is the more vital repairs or upgrades needed. Worn bearings, joints and friction surfaces cannot go through the next event, so they must be planned for now. Get a list together and get parts ordered today. Take this opportunity to make upgrades you have been considering. Have you wanted to improve on your brake system and now the pads are worn? Make it happen now. Is the car in good condition, just need to change the oil and put it in the trailer? Great, now go a little deeper into the car in a “maintenance mentality”. This is category number two. You didn’t break anything, congratulations! Peruse your spare collection and make sure you are ready for anything that could come up. A little low on spare fluids? Order them. Forgot that two events ago you put on your spare drive belt? Get one. Have you had that nagging feeling you should have a backup spare ignition system because you saw that one guy replace his at the track on his car that is completely different than yours and you decided you don’t want to be him? Research and order it. You have no control over how long parts take to get in. Order them now and put them in your spare parts tote, and once that tote is filled, seal it with masking tape. The masking tape serves a purpose. If you seal it once you fill it, you know that it is ready to go on the trailer. If you can, put it on the trailer now. The more you can do today, that you don’t have to do the days before you leave for the track, the better. Now lets talk about if you have a prep shop do all your repairs and prep for you. This is obviously much easier on your schedule, you are letting the pros do it! Some prep shops even deliver the car to the event for you! All you have to do is show up, give them a big check, and hop ion your car and drive. Pretty sweet deal right? In those arrive and drive set ups, they have everything ready to go and down to a science, making it quote literally the easiest form of track activity for you. it also is easily the most expensive. But what about when you are responsible for transporting the car and orchestrating what you want done? This is where courtesy and setting clear expectations for both the shop and yourself falls on you. You are the one who is enjoying you r car on the track so it all is up to you to set expectations. When you will get the car there, what you want or need done, and when you need to have the car back. Understand that you are not the only customer they have and as a reputable shop, they likely are prepping multiple cars for your event. Understand that they may have difficulty in getting parts, and getting the job done in a truncated time table if that is what you have given them. A good prep shop will be up front with you to help you manage expectations. If they cannot match your needs or desires, try to understand why, and change your expectations accordingly. Most HPDE or track days require a simple inspection. Don’t wait until a couple days before or worse yet, the day before a track day to schedule this. Shops are in the service business and will do everything they can to get you taken care of but you have to give them a fighting chance. If anything is needed to pass the inspection it is unlikely and unreasonable to expect them to get it done with the time frame you allowed the. Putting a car on track is inherently dangerous, and any responsible prep shop will not rush a job that cannot be done appropriately, so please be mindful of that. Schedule out inspections and repairs at least a week. They will really appreciate it. All this leads to the main point. You and only you are in control of your racing schedule. Do whatever you need to to bring a safe car on the track. And at the track, before you turn on to pit road, before you strap in to the car, make sure your wheels are torqued, gas and oil caps are on, and the hood pins are inserted in your car. It is embarrassing as hell to have stupid stuff happen on the track that is easily preventable, and more often then not it will also ruin someone else’s day as well. 

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!

How to Organize your Car for Back to School

School is right around the corner! For some of us, it has already started. To make life easier for moms and dads, here are some ideas on how to organize your vehicle to make sure pick up and drop off are a breeze! 

Car organizers are great to have on hand. In these organizers you can keep snacks, changes of clothes, diapers, wipes and other things you need close at hand. With little ones, you never know what they’ll come home looking like (Jell-O everywhere!) so having wipes and extra shirts can come in handy! Snacks are a good idea, too! Rushing out the door in the morning, you may forget to pack a snack for the kids and sometimes you forget to pack something for yourself. Throw in some granola bars, dried fruit and even trail mix. 
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Sometimes traffic dictates your entire afternoon, and no one likes being stuck in a car for very long, especially your little ones. Have some activities ready to keep your kiddos engaged and busy so time flies! In one of the car organizers, keep some art supplies like crayons, washable markers, and dry erase boards handy. Activities are also a plus! 

Weirdly enough, a label maker is a great idea! Out of all the lunch boxes and backpacks in the world, there are bound to be at least 3 of the same ones bouncing around your child’s room. Put their name on their backpack and lunch box, this way they always come home with their items and not their friends stuff.

The easier it is for mom and dad in the morning, the easier it is for the kiddos! Lets make this school year the best yet! 

Don’t Forget to Schedule Routine Maintenance on Your Car!

Regular maintenance and service allows us to diagnose issues before they become severe and possibly more expensive to repair. We specialize in European auto repair, but we also provide expert service on all major domestic brands including service and repairs on Ford, Chevy, Buick and Jeep. Give us a call or shoot us an email, we’re more than happy to make you an appointment today! 

Best Songs to Drive To

Sometimes people need to get away from the city and go for a drive in the country or even on a road trip! Clear your head and get some fresh air! 

What’s is the best way to blow off some steam while driving? Listen to some awesome music! 
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Here’s a list of the top road trip songs so you can sing your heart out, play the air drums and go back to your head banging days – 

“Little Red Corvette” – Prince
“Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey 
“Life is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane 
“I Drove All Night” – Cyndi Lauper
“Scar Tissue” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Every Day Is a Winding Road” – Sheryl Crow
“Shut Up and Drive” – Rihanna

Roll down your windows, crank the volume and let the wind whip your hair back and forth! The summer road trip is alive and well and now you have a playlist to make it even better! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Women in Motorsport

We here at Hittin' The Apex take all Motorsports very seriously. Well, almost all. Drag racing and circle track racing are largely boring and silly to me. To anyone hating that statement, I have been in both of those arenas, and I make my judgement with first hand experience. Also I say this with a moderate amount of sarcasm. All venues of Motorsports have their value and help further the sport along, so I tip my hat to those boring events and their respective drivers. Getting back to the matter at hand, we take Motorsports very seriously. From safety to car prep, every aspect is vital down to the most minor of details. This includes the general overall image of Motorsports. Let's face it, if there is any negative image, be it stereotypes, or bad behavior my the sports "faces", it will turn people away, and we do not need, want or can we afford that. One of the biggest stereotypes and negative images we have is that Motorsports is a "man's sport" that "women should not be participating in". I use quotations because I have actually heard these statements a few times. What a load of bullshit. Like it or not, and it will be easier for everybody if you learn to like it, women are more than welcome, scratch that, needed in Motorsport. From officials (we in Motorsport call them Stewards because we are fancy) timekeepers, grid patrol, tech inspectors to most importantly, drivers, women keep the sport going. The first time I took my wife and step-kids to a race, it was at a 2015 SCCA Majors race at Mid-Ohio.in the third or fourth race of the day, right in front of us, a small formula car was spun out into the tire barrier and subsequently too damaged to continue. To my wife's and step daughter's shock, when the driver jumped behind the corner worker barrier and removed their helmet, a flowing lock of brown hair fell out and my step daughter asked "girls can race too??" My response was a simple "yes" and " why not?", to which there was no answer but a shrug. It was just assumed to someone who was never immersed in the culture that it was a male dominated sport. I cannot say this clearly enough, THIS IS A PROBLEM. Let's break down the argument that women do not belong on track. Is getting into a race car so complicated that women need male guided assistance to get in and out of? That would be a ridiculous statement to actually make. I hope no-one thinks like that. Are race cars harder to start? Some do not have keys but I am confident that any person male or female who cannot flip a series of switches and push a button should not be getting in a race car anyway. Are race cars harder to shift and steer? Well, yes, they are, but again to insinuate that a woman cannot perform these tasks is completely asinine and idiotic to even think about. Can a woman keep up the stamina to endure the hardships of a 45 minute race? While grueling depending on weather and other factors, anyone prepared enough health wise to operate a race can withstand these hard ships, regardless of gender. So that leaves mental capacity. Here we go, here is where I believe anyone who has a problem with women in Motorsport believes women are inferior. I am going to say this as clearly as I can. WOMEN ARE NOT MENTALLY INFERIOR AND THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS TO MAKE THAT GENERALIZATION. I apologize for yelling, I wanted everyone to hear that, even those in the back. Any example of any idiotic move on a race track that a woman driver made, I can show ten very similar moves made by men. Trust me on this, it will only benefit EVERYBODY if more women were to come out and play with us. I don't care if it is autocross, HPDE, time attack, road racing circle track or drag, whatever course you are on is and should always be a gender neutral playground. On a final note, to ANYONE who is afraid to "lose to a girl", you have already lost so much more than a race. 

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!

What You Might Not Know About the History of Lincoln and Cadillac!

Cadillac Service Ann ArborArborMotion lives on the domestic side, too! Not only do we love our Ford and Chevy customers, but we also love our Lincoln and Cadillac customers. 

As the luxury division of Ford Motor Company, Lincoln makes upscale luxury vehicles and was founded by Henry M. Leland in 1917. Ford bought the company, named after Abraham Lincoln, in 1922. 

The Lincoln brand has always been popular among Prime Ministers, Presidents and even gangsters! John F. Kennedy was driven in a 4-door Lincoln Continental when he was assassinated and you can actually visit that very car at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Did you know that Al Capone’s Cadillac was the first bulletproof presidential limo? It was a 1928 Cadillac Sedan that was fully armored to protect against rival gangs. This vehicle was impounded by the Treasury Department when Capone was sent to Alcatraz. 

The founder of Cadillac, Henry M. Leland, (yes, the same Henry who founded Lincoln) worked as an apprentice for gun maker Samuel Colt. 

Leland also reworked the single-cylinder engine from an Oldsmobile and tripled its output from 3.7 to 10.3 horsepower! 

Cadillac and Lincoln have come a long way and have been transformed into powerful car brands in the automotive world; ArborMotion would love to service yours! 

Schedule Service on Your Cadillac or Lincoln Today!

Regular maintenance and service on your Cadillac or Lincoln allows us to diagnose issues before they become severe and possibly more expensive to repair. Contact Us to schedule an appointment today!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Racing to a No Win Situation

As I sit to compose this month's entry of Hittin' the Apex, I am in the middle of preparation to head out this weekend to Grattan Raceway, providing technical support for the local Porsche Club's weekend long HPDE event. What is HPDE you ask? That's a great question! HPDE stands for High Performance Driver Education. There are many forms of HPDE events, through many sanctioning bodies, with the basic idea is that anyone can drive their own race or, in most cases, non-race prepared vehicle on a race track in an organized, controlled environment, broken up in run groups based on your experience. Before a Novice or Intermediate-grouped car hits the track, these drivers attend a mandatory class room session to provide the necessary "law of the track", then are always accompanied, at least for the first session, with individual instructors. Novice drivers always have instructors with them on track, while intermediates may get sessions by themselves once signed off by the instructors. As I mentioned, when run well, it is a very controlled environment. The purpose and goal of these style events, is to give people a chance to improve their driving skills in a performance setting. No one is competing against anyone, which brings me to the whole point of this blog today. You cannot win an HPDE event. I am going to say it again for those in the back. YOU CANNOT AND WILL NOT WIN AN HPDE EVENT. There is no race to be won. Many experienced drivers go to these events to hone their skills, test modifications made to their cars, break in a new or rebuilt car, or just go out to have fun. Some, however, take these events as an opportunity to live out their dreams of winning the Indy 500 or break the Nurburgring track record. There is a problem with this specific mentality however. No one else on the track has or shares this mentality. When you are on track racing people who do not know you are racing them, it is inherently dangerous. And by the way, the people running the event and operating the track are aware of you and are paying very close attention. Before I get off my soap box let me make myself very clear. At these HPDE events, you SHOULD be pushing yourself to be a better driver, a faster driver. If you are an experienced driver with a race car and are using these events as cheap track time, this is absolutely fine. And if this is the metaphorical dipping your toe in to test the waters of track life, HPDE is a fantastic, cost effective way to do so. I think HPDE events are fantastic, essential places to nurture Motorsports and I urge anyone and everyone to check them out. It is my job at these events to make sure that cars are safe to be on track, and safe to keep on track. If I am not busy looking at problems or shaking down cars that went off the track, then everyone is having a good time. I prefer to not be busy for that reason alone. Here is the bottom line. If you set tire on a track at an HPDE event, play by the rules. That's the only way its fun for everybody an keeps events like these alive. Don't be that guy....or girl. Hittin' the Apex is an equal opportunity read. 
Til next time!

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!

Best Places in Michigan to See Fireworks!

Summer is here and you know what that means … fireworks! 

Summer festivals and firework shows are already starting to pop up! Who doesn’t love watching fireworks after spending a hot day in the sun stuffing your face with elephant ears and riding carnival rides?! 

Here’s a list of the best firework shows in Michigan, and you can even watch them from your car! 

Bayshore Park, Munising MI
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This Upper Peninsula city not only has world-class outdoor activities, but you can also catch live music, food and fireworks right on Lake Superior.

Waterfront, Grand Haven MI

Waterfront has one of the world’s largest Musical Fountains! When you’re there watch the multicolored jets dance with music and afterwards, stay for the fireworks! 

Mackinac Island, MI 

Mackinac Island speaks for itself! Step off the boat into a world where cars don’t exist, fudge rules all and the canons blast! While you watch the fireworks, the Mackinac Bridge provides a dramatic background.

Hart Plaza, Detroit MI

Embrace Detroit and the River Walk! Detroit hosts their firework show one week before July 4th but it’s so worth it! Not only do you get to see a great display but the fireworks reflect off of the Renaissance Center, providing a fantastic light show! 

ArborMotion will be closed on July 4th but we hope all of our customers can experience a great firework show! Whether you’re in your car away from all the bugs (ick!) or squished onto a blanket with friends and family, ArborMotion wishes you a Happy 4th of July!

We specialize in European auto repair, but we also provide expert service on all major brands including domestic service and repairs on Ford and Chevy. Give us a call or even shoot us an email, we’re more than happy to make you an appointment today!