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Old 06-30-2003, 02:45 PM   #1
WAFlowers
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Default Help pick mods to autocross my 2.5GT

Yep, my wife and I were both bit by the bug. We took the GT to Lakeland Saturday, joined the SCCA and both ran the practice rounds, then on Sunday she wasn't available so I ran the competition. It was educational, a whole lot of fun and we both want to do this again!

I discovered that the mods I've done so far (adj. rear swaybar set at 21mm, front and rear strut tower braces) really make a BIG difference. I also learned that the tires that came on the car are snow tires in Florida and don't give much traction for autocross. However 16 runs on Saturday and another 6 on Sunday went a long way toward wearing them out, so new tires are first on the list of mods.

In an ideal world $$$ isn't an object, and I'd have dedicated autocross rims and tires. So let's pretend I won a lottery (I wish!) -- a SMALL lottery -- and help me spend some virtual $$$, not moving me out of STS.

First: rims and tires. Should I stay with 16", drop down to 15" (lower rotational mass?) or go up to 17" (bigger contact patch potentially?). What would be good dedicated rims? For tires I'll probably go with Falken Azenis like most people I saw at the autocross.

Next endlinks to compliment the suspension mods I've already made.

Then ??? I'm not unhappy (now) with the power delivery or the braking, probably because both are limited by how well I can stick to the pavement currently. Once I fix that, what am I likely to want to do next?

So people, what would you do if you had my car and some $$$?

P.S. Posted in the Legacy forum only because I wanted the unique perspective that Legacy owners bring to it. So many people are autocrossing WRX's and 2.5RS Imprezzas, but not many are running a Legacy.

P.P.S. The $$$ for the project will appear right after I sell my motorcycle (2000 Triumph Sprint ST ... cheap!). I already have one seriously interested person.
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Old 06-30-2003, 05:46 PM   #2
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Sounds like you're on the right track so far. For wheel/tire combo, I'd check into available tire sizes for each (in Azenis) before I picked a wheel size. They seem to be a little bit limited in size choices. I'm running 17's, but that's just because it's what I run on the street. I wish I still had my GT wheels, I'd mount some dedicated autocross tires and use them like that. If you go big, like a 17", just try to keep the weight issue in mind. Like Heather says in the other post, unsprung weight does make a difference. You'll have to spend more money to keep your 17" wheels light. The tires will probably yield your biggest improvement in all areas... acceleration, cornering, and braking.

Have you done springs and struts? All the stuff you've mentioned is good, and the tires will help a bunch, but then the factory struts and springs would be the weak link. I'm not sure what to recommend here. I've got H&R springs with STi V5 struts, which seem to work well, but I don't have the time or money to experiment with the suspension like others have. Nor can I afford coilovers (I suppose I could if I wanted to bad enough- but I have to keep the peace around here to a certain degree). I know there are others around here that have experimented with different suspensions.

Oh yeah, a good alignment. That was another one of the changes that made a huge difference in the car. I'm running about -2.1 degrees camber up front, about -1.5 degrees in back, and zero toe all around. Basically you want as much negative camber as they can crank in there, and keep it even on both sides. Some people use a little bit of rear toe out, like 1/16" or so, to get the car to rotate, but I drive mine daily and don't want the extra potential wear on them. With the alignment the way I've got it, I have had no problems with uneven tire wear. Even running up and down the highway. (Drove to Indianapolis last year, and Ft. Worth last weekend. No sweat.)

Mainly with the brakes I'd say stainless steel brake lines and a good set of front pads. I'm running Hawk High Performance Street pads (HPS). There are lots of good ones to choose from. Get several opinions. Like I said before, these are what I've put in, and I haven't experimented with any others, so I can't really compare. Slotted or drilled rotors are purely cosmetic for autocrossing purposes, although I've got them (for cosmetic reasons ). I don't think they hurt you any, but I'm not so sure that they help either. While you're messing with the brake lines, go ahead and flush and refill the brake fluid. Use some Motul RFB 600 or other synthetic fluid. Another case of overkill for autocrossing, but what the heck, you'll be doing it anyway if you crack the brake lines open.

Other than that, just learn how to go slow when needed, and go fast when you can. Most new people seem to overdrive the corners at first. I still do sometimes. You know, you're trying to go as fast as you can, and it's really hard to make yourself slow down enough for some of the corners. But your time will improve if you do.

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Old 06-30-2003, 06:45 PM   #3
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I love my AGX's I found them for 200 used and it like having 2 sets of struts. Full soft is like stock wrx. Full hard is unbearable on the street(for more than a day) but rules the autoX course.

Does anybody think forester steelies w/ stickys would hold up to autoX? That would help to keep costs down.
AutoX - my favorite way to spend all my money.
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Old 06-30-2003, 08:24 PM   #4
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You know, I've got a set of 15 inch steelies around here, and have wondered the same thing. The response I got from locals was that the steel wheels would flex too much under those conditions. Hmmm... who would've thunk it? I suppose that could be bogus. The other thing is, they are as heavy or heavier than my 17 inch wheels.

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Old 06-30-2003, 08:55 PM   #5
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I suggest to KEEP YOUR CURRENT WHEELS AND TIRES, but pick up some used WRX wheels and stick some 205 45 16 on them, or another similar size that is smaller than stock. Better gearing for better accelleration. These would be dedicated autocross wheels. That way you dont have to worry about purchasing tires with 120 treadwear

Then I suggest finding a performance alignment shop in your area. Ask on the board and the shop themselves about a good Auto-X alignment.

AGX are very nice, I second the suggestion.

Is your car an Auto or 5 speed?

Finding the right tire pressure is important. With your current sized tires I wouldnt doubt that 35 psi front and rear would give better results (could be more or less, just a starting point).

richeich: Unless you went to 195 40 15 (or something) a stock diameter tire on 15 inch wheels would give way too much sidewall flex. If you really wanted to go crazy though think of it this way, you would greatly improve the gear ratio, you would also lower the car quite a bit without loosing suspension travel! Just reinstall the stock wheel/tires when you are done and the car is back to normal height

I dont agree with the idea of having as much camber as possible. I feel that you would reduce traction this way, especially with 2 degrees of fron camber! When you turn the wheel the castor will interact with your increased camber and your inside tire will be running at a 30 degree angle. The outside edge of the tire will be doing nothing.

Last edited by ciper; 06-30-2003 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 06-30-2003, 09:44 PM   #6
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I disagree with you on the camber
When I was running stock wheels and allseasons I chalked the sidewall and ran spec. after the lunch break I chalked agian and went full neg. I got less rollover, less sqealing and more grip, most noticable in the slalom portion of the track. I dont think 2 degs. is enough actualy I'm looking to get or make some camber plates. my outside edges are going fast!
p.s. I change just for autoX, I know my toe is off when I go full neg but its only for those few runs and the way home so I dont care much.
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Old 07-01-2003, 09:10 AM   #7
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My suspension and my thoughts are the same a rich. I stuck with 16s though, and I don't have any brake upgrades besides fluid so far.

I switched from AGX to v5 and am a very happy camper. I liked the AGX at the time, but felt they kind of gave up the ghost a bit under the most extreme cornering conditions. The v5 is more stable and better damped, but at the (significant) expense of ride quality for passengers. Sayeth my wife: "I HATE riding in your car.....but I sure LOOOOOVE driving it!"

I too recommend an alignment. I don't have quite as much neg. in front; I'm running about -1.6 in back, -1.5 front right and -1.2 or so front left to compensate for the weight of the driver (I rarely have passengers). This made an immediate and pleasurable difference in the car's willingness to turn in, and had a direct effect on the perceived responsiveness of the steering.

I haven't autocrossed in over a year...going out this weekend for a 5 run event on Sunday. This will be the first event on the new suspension, as well as a set of Carbotech pads that will be going on tomorrow. Lastly, I will run GT rims with OEM sized Azenis (I use '00 RS rims for the street, and SP5000s).
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Old 07-01-2003, 09:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by richeich
Sounds like you're on the right track so far. ...
Thanks Rich. I'm aware of the unsprung weight (and rotational mass) issues and am continuing to give it thought.
Quote:
Have you done springs and struts? All the stuff you've mentioned is good, and the tires will help a bunch, but then the factory struts and springs would be the weak link.
Springs and struts are untouched so far. As I speculated, after tires and endlinks I'll probably find the next weakest component and wondered what to expect.

Actually the next weakest component is likely to be the nut behind the wheel (aka the driver). I plan to follow the road to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice!
Quote:
Oh yeah, a good alignment. ...
That sounds like a worthwhile idea. Cheap too.
Quote:
Mainly with the brakes I'd say stainless steel brake lines and a good set of front pads. ...
Until I can learn to carry more speed (and get the car to handle it) brakes aren't a weak point. But I can see that after suspension mods and tires, improving the braking would likely be the next thing on the list.
Quote:
Other than that, just learn how to go slow when needed, and go fast when you can. Most new people seem to overdrive the corners at first. I still do sometimes. You know, you're trying to go as fast as you can, and it's really hard to make yourself slow down enough for some of the corners. But your time will improve if you do.
Tell me about it! Knowing how to drive at the edge without going beyond the limits of the car is clearly the biggest thing I can do to improve my times, and that will only come with practice.

I'll have a chance to do that this weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Practice runs Saturday and timed runs Sunday.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by biggreen96
I love my AGX's I found them for 200 used and it like having 2 sets of struts. Full soft is like stock wrx. Full hard is unbearable on the street(for more than a day) but rules the autoX course.
I'll definitely keep AGX's in mind. They sound ideal for me where the car has to be able to be detuned for daily driving but still be able to autoX.
Quote:
AutoX - my favorite way to spend all my money.
I think I'm learning (or about to learn) what you mean. I've got a long list of items I'd like to get as Christmas presents ... but I don't think I can wait that long!
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by ciper
I suggest to KEEP YOUR CURRENT WHEELS AND TIRES, but pick up some used WRX wheels and stick some 205 45 16 on them, or another similar size that is smaller than stock. Better gearing for better accelleration. These would be dedicated autocross wheels. That way you dont have to worry about purchasing tires with 120 treadwear
I like this suggestion (except keeping my current tires -- they are a POS). I hadn't thought about WRX wheels. Do they have the proper offset for my BD Legacy? (Not sure what offsets are required.)
Quote:
Then I suggest finding a performance alignment shop in your area. Ask on the board and the shop themselves about a good Auto-X alignment.
It won't be difficult to find a shop if I ask around.
Quote:
AGX are very nice, I second the suggestion.

Is your car an Auto or 5 speed?
Two votes for AGX.

I have a 5-speed. Both my wife and I prefer manual over auto.
Quote:
Finding the right tire pressure is important. With your current sized tires I wouldnt doubt that 35 psi front and rear would give better results (could be more or less, just a starting point).
Did the white shoe polish trick and ended running 42 psi front and 40 rear (tires rated to 44psi).
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Old 07-01-2003, 04:38 PM   #11
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WAFlowers: The WRX wheels are perfect for your car. Im running them on a couple first generation Legacy (90 and 91). I wonder if 205 40 16 is an available size, imagine the increase in accelleration

PLUS the WRX wheels only weigh 16 pounds. That is a very respectable weight. Check around for aftermarket wheel weights and you will be very surprised. You should be able to get brand new WRX wheels with less than 10k miles including tires for 250-350, usually with lugs too.
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Old 07-01-2003, 07:28 PM   #12
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WRX wheels with 215/45R16 Falkens, KB SS and bushing, and better brake pads.

JC
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:20 PM   #13
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Default two more cents to add ...

The wrx wheels are correct offset, light and make a perfect extra set of wheels ... and I'd stay with stock 16's ...

tires ... the Azeni sport in stock size 205.55.16 is very well suited for autocross and very popular ... I am very happy with mine ...

next ... stainless braided brake lines, better front pads and upgrade brake fluid ... just these changes will make a BIG difference in every day driving as well as any performance driving ..

improving suspension ... stiffer springs, struts and/or coilovers will reduce body roll ... choice is one of $$ and what you want from your gt ...

tire pressure makes a BIG difference ... I run fronts between 38 and 40, rears between 32 and 34 for autocross and get no rolling over with Azeni Sports or Firestone SZ50 EP's ...

you will want to experiment with tire pressures ... I have an 18 mm rear sway bar and DMS 40's and with this setup my gt is very neutral

alignment ... I still run stock alignment ... guess I could shave some time adapting alignment for autocross ... but as it is .. car handles very well and instructors consistently say they enjoy driving it ...

and yep ... we simply cant go into corners too fast ...

one more suggestion ... consider a set of wrx seats ... much more supportive and do a much better job of keeping driver in position than the stock seats ...

have FUN

Charlie
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Old 07-02-2003, 12:32 AM   #14
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I think 205 45 16 would be your best size. Still somewhat large (only 6.5% reduction) yet easy to find tires in that size (at a good price) and perfect width for the rim.


JC and cfwdfw: I dont agree on your suggestions of tire sizes.


215/45R16 Small reduction in diameter but the tire is too wide for the rim. The falkens in that size (and other tires) are meant for 7 inch wide rims. Bigger is not always better.

205/55R16 No reason to use the stock size. He has 5 gears, why not use them? With the stock size tire and any random autocross course he will never get out of 2nd gear!!!
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Old 07-02-2003, 12:52 AM   #15
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Ciper:

good point ... yet I have only been on one autocross course here in NW where I could use and take advantage of third gear ... I dont think the small change in gearing and using third gear would make a big difference based on courses I've driven ...

why ... shifting costs one time ... fewer shifts means more time on the gas and or on the brakes ...

but I certianly do spend some time on some of the courses in the upper rpm ranges on 2nd ....

and ... ... I could be wrong...

Charlie
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Old 07-02-2003, 01:50 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by ciper
I think 205 45 16 would be your best size. Still somewhat large (only 6.5% reduction) yet easy to find tires in that size (at a good price) and perfect width for the rim.


JC and cfwdfw: I dont agree on your suggestions of tire sizes.


215/45R16 Small reduction in diameter but the tire is too wide for the rim. The falkens in that size (and other tires) are meant for 7 inch wide rims. Bigger is not always better.

205/55R16 No reason to use the stock size. He has 5 gears, why not use them? With the stock size tire and any random autocross course he will never get out of 2nd gear!!!
I must say I disagree. A 215 is hardly too big for a 6.5" wheel. What makes you think that it would be? I know plenty of people running the 215/45 or wider on WRX rims, not one of them unsatisfied.

JC
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Old 07-02-2003, 09:33 AM   #17
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ciper, JC and cfwdfw: I'm enjoying reading the debate. Keep it coming!

OK, once my bike sells (hoping to get $6K for it, but I'd settle for $5.7K) then I'll be snapping up a set of WRX wheels and putting some good tires on them.

There's a guy in NC selling a set of WRX wheels with slightly used Falken Azenis already mounted for $525 IIRC. Too bad I'm a bit far from him, and my bike hasn't sold yet. :-(

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Old 07-02-2003, 11:02 AM   #18
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Hi Bill,

$525 ... thats a fair price .. and how I picked up mine ... ... even with shipping .... ... beg, borrow ... but go for 'em ... and may your bike sell quickly ....

hee, hee ... my only other response to discussion ... 215's should fit without a problem .... easiest way to check ... go to tire rack and or manufacturer specs for guidelines for fitting tires to rims ...

Have a gr8 day!



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Old 07-02-2003, 12:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by WAFlowers
ciper, JC and cfwdfw: I'm enjoying reading the debate. Keep it coming!

OK, once my bike sells (hoping to get $6K for it, but I'd settle for $5.7K) then I'll be snapping up a set of WRX wheels and putting some good tires on them.

There's a guy in NC selling a set of WRX wheels with slightly used Falken Azenis already mounted for $525 IIRC. Too bad I'm a bit far from him, and my bike hasn't sold yet. :-(

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That doesn't sound like a bad deal considering it's already got the Falkens. I wouldn't pay more than $200-250 for stock wheels w/ stock tires though. When you start looking, just throw a post in your local forum. You should'nt have a problem finding them.

I stand by my size recommendation. Even if they aren't intended for that size wheel (which I think would be fine) you are only talking about autocross here. I know there are people running 225s on 6" wide wheels for crying outloud.

JC
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Old 07-02-2003, 05:07 PM   #20
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I'll second the seat swap. GC6 2.5RS seats are a good choice too. Not quite as supportive, but lighter without the airbags. Generally a lot cheaper also
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