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My Knox Story

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  • My Knox Story

    Hello everyone,

    As you were anticipating, here is my first ever Knox Mountain Hillclimb report.

    Thank You Part 1/5

    I will first start by saying thanks to a few people:

    Lowell Foo of for working day and night in getting the car ready.

    Tommy of for being our Chief Mechanic up at the hill and for also working day and night to get the car ready. There was no problem too big for him to tackle, truly a great mechanic.

    Frank Micucci of for getting all the OMP gear to us in time for the event and being so helpful in determining sizes, etc. He even went so far as to lend me a suit off the shelf when mine didn’t come in in time.

    Don Nimi of for getting us our wheels at the very last minute and for providing them at a price that no one else could touch.

    Richard Boyk who provided me information on how to tackle the hill from his vast Knox experience and for his help in diagnosing the engine problems we had on Saturday. My 2:03.9 run is truly attributable to his guidance and advice, I don’t think that run would have happened without his help.

    Karl Hunter for wrenching on the car selflessly and being there to support us. Darren’s 171km/h top speed down the straight is attributable to Karl helping us with the fuel map tuning. He came up with an ingenious idea of how to tell if our fuel map was right and it worked as can be evidenced by the car’s massive top end power.

    Thanks to the gate guy at Knox for being hilarious and always caring. He was just a great guy and an all around inspiration to go faster. Kevin Packer who helped me go faster through Turn 5 and Brian Browning for always looking out for us, making sure that we were having as much fun as he was.

    And finally, Darren Foo, my team-mate and car co-owner for busting his butt to get the car ready for the weekend and most importantly for pushing me to my limits during the weekend by his super fast runs. All weekend long, he was fast and even brilliant with his driving. It’s relatively easy for me to drive a new car because of all the years of experience, but for him to come out and set such a fast pace, it was really great to see. I was chasing him all weekend long!

    Continued in part 2 . . .
    Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
    HD YouTube track videos

  • #2
    Thursday and Friday Part 2/5

    On Thursday night, with so many parts missing, it didn’t look like we were going to make it. We were still missing our rear tires and the seat didn’t fit. Not to mention that the car needed an alignment. Darren and I took Thursday off and spent the day at Lowell’s shop coming in his and Tommy’s way

    One by one, they overcame problems to get the car ready. The two tires arrived by stopping the UPS guy and finding the tires in his truck (the address they put down only included the postal code so they would have returned it to the depot!). The seat was fixed by “borrowing” another customer’s OMP seat and sticking it in (it’s narrower). This still left us with no suspension because the car we were borrowing the suspension from could not get the rear suspension to come loose; the bolts were rusted on.

    Lowell ended up taking the rear suspension out of his car and sticking it onto our car. So, we had Suspension Techniques springs on Koni shocks up front and 250lbs/in Eibach ERS springs on GAB shocks in the rear!

    We still needed a window net so I went to Mopac and picked that up. I also ordered some magnetic numbers which came out to an astounding $120, but there was only one shop that could do it in three hours. Unfortunately, when I went to pick up the numbers, I realized why it was so expensive, they had made the numbers 10” tall instead of 6”tall and we had about six feet of magnetic material that had no hope of sticking onto the car. The also used the horrible Times New Roman font which looked totally out of character for our car.

    Darren ended up ordering new magnetic decals from a shop in Kelowna, we’d pick up the decals on Friday when we arrive there.

    Friday morning, Tommy mounted the fire extinguisher and net and we had the car aligned at this super hokey place that Lowell found in the neighborhood. The guy doing the alignment kept warning us about tirewear with running so much camber (only –2D!). Once Lowell started dealing with him, he actually became really cool and actually did a great job on the alignment. This Talon is the first racecar I’ve ever driven that actually tracks 100% straight when you let go of the wheel.

    Tommy loaded up all the tools he thought he’d need and we headed over to Knox. I was up all night packing and cutting out magnetic numbers in case our Kelowna contact fell through. I had only slept for one hour that night because we left Lowell’s at 2am!

    The drive up to Kelowna wasn’t so bad, although Darren kept complaining on the FRS about how annoying it is driving without a radio (factory delete option for you rule mongers ) and proper seating in the Talon. We ended up swapping half way so he could drive the 911 the last half of the way.

    Much to everyone’s surprise, we arrived in Kelowna at around 4pm. People (Johnny) were expecting us to arrive at 6am Saturday morning or something like that. We registered for the event and went on a walk up the hill. Once again, much to my surprise, everyone was so friendly. Campbell and others were genuinely happy to see us there. It was like we made it to a new level and they wanted to make it as friendly a welcoming as possible.

    We went up the mountain with Karl and Johnny. Both providing really good input. It’s interesting as you walk up the mountain; it’s a lot steeper than it looks. I was really concerned about engine reliability due to the load it would place on our turbocharger going up such steep hills. I soon didn’t care about engine reliability as I stood at the edge of turn 4. When you look down this valley, it’s really scary. I tried to visualize what I would hit if I went down and realized that there is no point in visualizing because you’d be dead if you went off there with all the boulders and crap hitting you at 120km/h. Maybe, the boulders may not be so bad because they’d slow you down before you hit the bottom

    Johnny was trying to tell us not to worry too much about lines, but he did note that what he learned about the mountain, he learned from Don. I wanted to know the lines so we pushed him into spilling his information.

    I was so tired on Friday night that I slept like a baby and had no nervous tension while going to sleep. In fact, I was full of confidence, the car was running well and I was really excited about finally doing Knox.

    Continued in part 3 . . .

    [ May 22, 2002: Message edited by: fc-racer ]</p>
    Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
    HD YouTube track videos


    • #3
      Saturday Part 3/5

      Saturday morning came and I’m still full of confidence, albeit a bit nervous about not knowing where all the corners go. What if I turn left and it’s actually a right? I guess I’ll be dead so no point in thinking about it Darren decided that he wanted to go first and it was better for us since he would likely take it easier than me so he might as well also warm up the tires and brakes.

      Our goal for Knox was to break into the 2:teens, so 2:13 to 2:19 would have been fine. Most people run mid 2:teens their first year up. My personal goal was to run a 2:09. Darren seemed very nervous in the morning and I was a bit worried about him so I asked some of the senior guys to chat with him to settle him down. I think it’s normal to feel that way, I was like that when I first started karting too. Darren’s first run up the mountain, he turned a 2:20 which is very respectable considering the car was missing quite badly up the long pulls.

      While sitting at the start line, I was very relaxed and confident. I felt good, the car felt familiar to me even though I had never driven it in haste before. I left the line with a fairly relaxed launch. The corners come up a lot faster than you think and the kinks and slight bends that I thought I could go WOT through now seemed a lot tighter. I rarely will take it easy in racing so I decided to go for it with a bit of a margin of safety and ended up pushing quite hard. My first run was a 2:10.0 but the brakes were cooked by the time I got to the top, but the missing had pretty much gone away. I noticed that the car’s power was really not that great. She didn’t feel very strong up the hills.

      Darren took the car out next and he also found the brakes were dead and now, the power was also way down. He turned a 2:12.1. I went out without brakes and with the engine missing badly and turned a 2:12.5. We’re supposed to be going faster, but instead we were going slower.

      For the last run, Darren gave up his run so that I would have a crack at breaking the class record of 2:10.5 in case it rained the next day. Since I had a 2:10.0 my first run out, we thought it’s possible. All this time, Karl Hunter and Richard Boyk were working on the car to determine what was causing the misfire. It turned out that we had the mixture too rich and fouled the plugs. Richard “Chickenman” Boyk and Karl Hunter convinced Tommy to change the plugs to one range colder and also to lean out the mixture on the computer. The car now had tons of power and didn’t miss a beat for the remainder of the weekend.

      Tommy and Karl bled the brakes in hopes of fixing the soft pedal problem. On my last run, the brakes were still dead, I resorted to throwing the car semi-sideways to scrub off speed. Using this method and with the tons of power on tap, I got it down to a 2:10.6. Still not good enough for a record, but I truly had given everything I had during that run and with so little confidence in the brakes, I did my best. I remarked to Pat at the top of the run that that was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life. I was shaking after that run, something that I haven’t had for a long, long time.

      We were not getting to the bottom of this braking problem and we had to do something, it was killing our times. Joe, who had been following our progress all weekend long, came over to ask what was wrong. We described the feeling we have in the brakes and he immediately diagnosed pads, even though nothing led us or any of the other smart car guys to believe that it was pads. We changed the pads out and the brake problem immediately disappeared. It turns out that the Wilwood pad we were using was just getting cooked up the mountain. Luckily I ordered a cooler running pad for Solo 1 days and brought it along with us!

      I drove the car to the restaurant on Saturday night and after stopping the car a few times, I was cheering from inside the car because I knew we could once again, attack the mountain with confidence, we had brakes back again. I was now anticipating what time I wanted to run. Outwardly, I told people that I wanted a 2:08 now, but inside I wanted to get down to a 2:05, mainly because it would be good enough to get Johnny

      I took a 1hr shower that night thinking about how I could run the course better, thinking about the corners and how to better take them.

      Continued in part 4 . . .
      Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
      HD YouTube track videos


      • #4
        Sunday Part 4/5

        Sunday morning came quickly and I was at the track pretty relaxed and again full of confidence. Luckily, Chickenman found me and spent about 40mins going over the fast lines around the mountain. This would end up being the best piece of information I got all weekend long.

        Darren went up for his first run and was hoping to get down to a 2:08 by the end of the day. It was a huge surprise to him when he came in with a 2:08.6 on his very first run. I was a bit surprised too, wondering if I’d be able to catch him. It was actually very exciting for me because I really enjoy the pressure of a fast co-driver. It pushes me harder and reminds me of the old days racing against Paul Buchmann and Rich Hoffman.

        Right before I was about to run, six of the eight cars ahead of me crashed, five in a row at one point! No one was sure if there was something on the track or not. I ended up basically going for it, although I did go into turn 1 and 8 a bit easy to ensure that the brakes were truly working. I ended up that run at 2:06.9. There was something that happened in this run though that really, really scared me. I turned into six and lifted a bit too late (while turning). The car started to rotate and I countersteered. It stayed sideways for what seemed like an eternity. I saw this from my front window: tree, bush, bush, tree, tree, tree, tree, bush, tree, grass, tree . You can’t really apply hard throttle to correct oversteer in an AWD car at those speeds. If the front tires catch, it does bizarre things, you can only apply a certain amount and wait it out. When the tires do catch, your front tires have to be pointing in the right direction or your doomed as the car accelerates off the track the other way. Turn 8 did seem to have something on the ground as it was extremely difficult to stop the car. I ended up sideways in 8 and had to pitch the car to not hit the tires.

        Darren and I were now fully engaged in combat All bets were off and the gateperson had the right idea when he told us both to drive it like we don’t own a bolt on it. Darren went for his 2nd run of the day and nailed a 2:05.5!!! My jaw was on the ground. I was actually quite happy with my 2:06, well I was happy.

        On my final run, I basically treated it exactly how I used to treat my karting qualifying and the start of the race. Totally relaxed, but very focused. I tried to remember everything that Chickenman had said and also what Kevin had said about turn 5.

        I needed all the time I could get so I did a proper drag race launch which was actually very strong. I tried to only momentarily lift through the kink. Everywhere in the run, it wasn’t too bad, although there were some areas that I definitely could push harder next year (kink going into 1, turn 6 and going into 7). At the end of that run, I was really shaking and both Pat and I were remarking how our cups of water were shaking at the top. Pat asked how I thought I did; I said that was now the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I told him that I think I went 2:05. In actuality, I was trying to hide my emotion and ended up telling Pat that I thought it felt like a 2:04, but in case it isn’t, I don’t want to look like an idiot.

        By now, we had a sign language developed with the gate guy. If I beat Darren and my previous time, he gives me two thumbs up, if I didn’t beat Darren, but I beat my personal best, then he gives me one thumb up, if I don’t beat either, then I get two thumbs down. I saw two thumbs up and was relieved. When Darren stuck up three fingers, I was floored, I had run a 2:03.xx. I later found out that it was a 2:03.9.

        Darren was now under massive pressure and it showed. He really wanted that win. He had tasted it all day long. On his last run, he bogged his launch, which pretty much ended his chances and he had a mishap going into turn 1. The good news is that on that run, he absolutely flew down the straight getting the 3rd fastest speed of the event at 171km/h, a full 6km/h faster than my quick run.

        Continued in part 5 . . .

        [ May 22, 2002: Message edited by: fc-racer ]</p>
        Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
        HD YouTube track videos


        • #5
          Conclusion Part 5/5

          Knox is an amazing experience. If you watch F1, this is Monaco, if you watched the old CART races, this is the Indy 500, if you watch endurance racing, this is LeMans. You MUST do this event in your life if you are a true racer. It takes everything you have to go up that mountain fast, you need a great car, you need driving ability, you need to think, you need to listen and most importantly, you need the courage and confidence to really push hard.

          Knox is the only event I really care about now, everything else is just practice. We’ve already started planning for what we’re going to do for Knox 2003 and our target is to reach 2:00 flat and drive the car to and from Vancouver.

          Thanks to all of those that helped us throughout the weekend (there were so many kind, helping hands) and thanks to OASC for putting on a World Class Event.

          To all the racers in VCMC Motorsport Club, YOU MUST DO THIS EVENT!!! It's that good!


          [ May 23, 2002: Message edited by: fc-racer ]</p>
          Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
          HD YouTube track videos


          • #6
            Great story!

            One day!


            • #7
              aw man...and i thought i was finally going to start saving money...sigh..ok ok i'll do it! (may still be a while though)
              Swift DB1 Formula Ford - trophy collection machine (co driver)
              2006 Lotus Elise - daily driver
              2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 - cycling racer
              1/4 of a Dodge Neon Chumpcar - because I didn't want to risk saving money.
              1992 Acura Integra LS - for those other days (or when I need a trunk)

              2014 Knox Mountain Hill Climb - King of the Hill
              2012 Knox Mountain Hill Climb - New record FF1600, 2nd Overall
              2011 Knox Mountain Hill Climb - Record holder FF1600, 3rd Overall.
              2011 SCCA National Championship - 3 cars, 2 classes, I have no idea...
              2010 SCCA National Tour - 1st CM
              2009 SCCA National Championship - 2nd CM
              2009 SCCA National Tour - 1st CM
              2005 Canadian National Champion - CSP


              • #8
                <blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Yarko:
                aw man...and i thought i was finally going to start saving money...sigh..ok ok i'll do it! (may still be a while though)<hr></blockquote>

                Yes Yarko. Start saving money.... for your Knox entry fees and many expenses!

                Farz, great writeup. Congrats to you and Darren for such a good showing. It's terrific to see VCMC represented so well.

                You should submit your writeup to Rod for publication in the next Fastlines.
                Steve Kibble
                Now residing in Victoria.
                My mobile marketing blog:


                • #9
                  Great re-cap Farz. Glad everyone had such a great time. Karl and I truly had fun helping you guys out. Mind you...after that 2.03 it's likely the last time you'll get any help, particularily if they talk about class re-alignment and you get bumped to SP3 Just kidding of course.

                  Resistance is futile. You have now been assimilated

                  [ May 22, 2002: Message edited by: Chickenman ]</p>


                  • #10
                    Great story Farz!

                    I'm really glad I wentup to see Knox first hand it's an awesome event!


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the excellent write up Farz! Congrats to you and Darren on doing so well first time at Knox!

                      Lisa Chen
                      B-Spec - 2011 Ford Fiesta
                      SS - 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
                      EP - 1985 Honda Civic Modified


                      • #12
                        I should also take a moment to congratulate some other VCMC and BCMA members on their drives up the mountain. When Darren and I were watching Pat Ma's video from his run's on Sunday, it was easy to see that he was truly racing the mountain whereas Darren and I were drag-racing the mountain.

                        For Joe to go only two seconds behind Haftner and to do that with limited straight line speed is truly heroic. In addition to those two, you have to give credit to Peter who worked through Saturday to get his car running for Sunday and then Johnny for having enough courage to continue to race.

                        I also have to make mention of Campbell and Chris. Campbell for being so damn fast and Chris Beere for having to put up with a 400hp Talon all weekend long. Just imagine what he has to do to pull the times he does, truly amazing stuff.

                        Next year, when I use all the road and all the potential of the car, things should get very interesting

                        Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
                        HD YouTube track videos


                        • #13
                          <blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by fc-racer:
                          ...It takes everything you have to go up that mountain fast, you need a great car, you need driving ability, you need to think, you need to listen and most importantly, you need the courage and confidence to really push hard.
                          Well said Farz. John Haftner, at 61 years of age I might add, has been the living proof of that for the last 30 years.

                          "...I recommend books. People who don't know what they're talking about are less likely to write a book about the subject...."


                          • #14
                            Red 997 GT3 / 993 Turbo gone but not forgotten.
                            HD YouTube track videos


                            • #15
                              Wow Farz,
                              I'm strictly a bench racer right now and have never personally met any of you, but I have to say if those 5 posts don't get a person's blood pumping they must not have a pulse! Sounds like an amazing time!