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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii: Evolution Racing School, Day 2

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

Day two started out about the same as day one, but with even more rain. The track was completely covered in water by the time the first cars were going out.

Rainy track


In addition to the rain, which for the most part didn’t let up all day, we were running more difficult courses. The courses were tighter than the first day and the instructor changed it throughout the day.

The rain was a great teaching tool. Because I had so little grip (wet track and nearly bald tires) every mistake I made was amplified. If I was too aggressive with the gas, slide. Brake too hard, slide. Turn too hard, slide. You get the point.

I did a lot of sliding.

I was able to get more runs on the second day because there were only four of us. I did over 60 runs on the second day for a total of over 100 during the two days. I was exhausted.

I was more focused on racing on Sunday and didn’t take too many pictures. Here is some video instead.


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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii: Evolution Racing School Day 1

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

Hawaii weather


The day started off like it often does here in Hilo, wet. The above picture is what the weather looked like just before I took my first run on the track.

Having never done auto racing before, I was a little nervous and didn’t quite know what to expect. My first lap was spent between figuring out where I was supposed to be going and sliding around the course. After a very full weekend and around 100 laps later, I can say that this is one of the funnest and most useful things I have ever done.

Hawaii Autocross

Obviously, the focus of the school is to make you faster, and without a doubt I am certainly a much faster driver on the track. More importantly though, I am also a much better driver on the road. A wet track and very worn tires meant that I had the chance to control the car past the limit. We all learn the basic principles of driving. Handling a car that has lost it’s traction that has lost it’s traction is so counter intuitive that you probably won’t make the right choice if you lose it on a regular road. I had the chance to control understeer (car doesn’t turn enough), oversteer (car turns too much) and lost traction again and again.

Autocross should be required for anyone who is getting their license. I really think it makes you a better driver.

After a couple of runs by myself I started to get the hang of it. After a couple of runs with the instructor, my times started getting better. After several runs more runs, I looked at my temperature gauge and realized my engine was overheating. Apparently, one of my fans had stopped working. Leaving the heater on while I was racing took care of the problem. Not the most comfortable solution, but it worked. You’ll notice in the picture below that my hood is up to help cooling.

hawaii race


Below is the full lineup of the cars that attended. The other Miata is just barely in the picture. All together there were six cars: my 2002 Miata, a Mazdaspeed Miata, a 350Z, a Lotus Elise, a BMW M3, and a Porsche Cayman (two drivers were sharing this car).

car lineup


My car on the course later on in the day after the track had dried out.

autocross driving


We spent most of our time on the track getting instruction while driving or while in the passenger seat. This was the really great part of the class. I got to spend so much time behind the wheel. We did have intermittent breaks to discuss what we had learned.

Autocross Class


At the end of the day, I was exhausted. My car was dirty, and I couldn’t wait to come back for more the next day.

dirty miata



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Racing on the Big Island of Hawaii

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Cars and Racing, Enjoying Life | 0 comments

2002 miata

It’s been a while since I have posted on Simplistic Thoughts. Moving from Japan back to the US, and then moving again to Hawaii meant a lot of changes. We have been here for just over a year and things are going well. Enough about that….onto racing.

For quite a long time now, I have been wanting to get into auto racing. After a bit of searching, I found there is a small racing track and an autocross group. Autocross is a race where a small track  is setup using cones and a solo driver drives the course trying to get the best time possible.

I went out to see the group several months ago. At the time I only had one car and didn’t want to risk anything happening to it. With racing in mind, I picked up another car. It’s a 2002 Miata LS 6 speed. I have been slowly taking care of everything that needed to be fixed/serviced and tomorrow I have my first day of racing.

2002 miata.jpg

As timing would have it, there is a high performance racing class that is taking place this weekend and I signed up. It was quite expensive, but I figure it’s a great way to get started.

I am taking along my cameras and will be shooting as much as possible. I’m really not sure how much time I will have to shoot video since I am supposed to be learning.

Below is a picture of me sporting my new helmet. I was going for “The STIG” pose. Anyone who watches Top Gear will know what I am talking about.

racing helmet.jpg

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9 Days in Taiwan: Day 8-9

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Enjoying Life, Travel | 0 comments

This is actually going to be a short post, because for the most part, it was just travelling.

The last day in Taiwan we took a bullet train from Kaohsiung back to Taiwan. And then a bus from the train station to the airport. I was really bummed to be leaving Taiwan and I was already missing it. I decided to get one last tapioca tea, which wasn’t near as good cost double the price. I would miss Taiwan!

Our flight was delayed by a couple hours and so we didn’t get back to Okinawa until about 9-10pm and it was nearly 11pm by the the time we got to our hotel. The next day the weather was great though (all the pictures are from Okinawa). We enjoyed a little bit of shopping before we headed back to Miyakojima.

Luckily, my friend from Taiwan is getting married this coming January so hopefully we will be able to go back. I’m already thinking about all the great food and tapioca!


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9 Days in Taiwan: Day 6-7

Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in Enjoying Life, Travel | 0 comments

View from the Restaurant

On the sixth day of our trip, we woke up early to catch the train to Kenting. Kenting is the ocean, touristy part of Taiwan where everyone goes for their summer vacation. After several hours on the train and an hour long bus ride, we finally arrived.

Kenting Hotel

We figured that this would be the part of the trip where we would just relax at the hotel and the beach, and take it easy. We opted for a 4 star hotel that had it’s own restaurants, three pools, a water slide, and a view of the ocean. It also had an activity room that included an arcade, ping pong, pool, and bowling.

Hard to look cool with a swimming cap, but apparently it is Taiwanese law!

The hotel was nice, but neither I nor my wife were impressed with the service. On several occasions we felt that there was a lack of professionalism.

Hotel Restaurant

We spent the first day in the pool and enjoying the hotel. The second day we rented an electric scooter for about $30 and drove around the coast town. I think my favorite part was the go-karts, but we went to several beaches, a park, some restaurants, and then came back to town to enjoy the night market.

Go Karts in Kenting

Kenting park

I had fun in Kenting, but to be honest, it really wasn’t my favorite part of the trip. The beaches were pretty crowded, even though a typhoon had recently passed and swimming was not really an option. Things were more expensive and the shops seemed to be more pushy than they had been in the last two areas.

Kenting beach

The next morning we took the hotel shuttle to Kaohsiung. This was our last destination in Taiwan, but there was a lot to do. First we checked into our hotel and were given a complimentary upgrade to the executive suite. That put our room on the 44 floor and gave us an incredible view. Lunch the next morning would be served on the 45th floor. How cool is that?

Kaohsiung night market

We had lunch at a small food court inside the building and then went to explore the city.

Formosa Boulevard Station

Our first stop was the market. This was mostly just food stands, which we weren’t too interested in since we had just eaten. We did come across a really cool stage with a pretty good singer soon after though. I don’t know what she was singing, or what the event was for, but I was impressed.

Traditional Taiwanese Singing

Our next stop was the train station. Yes, that’s right, the train station. The main hall of the station has been fitted with a skylight of colored glass and is absolutely beautiful. Add to this the live piano performance and singing, and it was moment to remember. We sat there for some time just listening and taking in the view.

Pool on the 13th floor of the hotel

Arriving back at the closest station to our hotel, there was a traditional Taiwanese dance concert in in full motion. Once again we pulled up a chair and took it all in. I was very impressed with all of the performers and it was a great last night to spend in Taiwan.

Our Final Day in Taiwan from the hotel room


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9 Days in Taiwan: Day 5

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in Enjoying Life, Travel | 0 comments

Hualien is famous for it’s ocean view and it’s mountains. There are beautiful mountain landscapes with steep cliffs and rivers running through them. The best part is that a ticket to a day pass on the bus was less than $5. We purchased our tickets and waited for the first bus.

The first place we got off was Buluowan. Buluowan has a few nice shops, and some great views of the mountains towering over you. They also had some very friendly staff who were excited to speak Japanese with us. There was a large field and tables that would have been great for a picnic had we brought lunch. The next spot was  only a kilometer away so we decided to walk. We had to go down a lot of stairs and then wait for the road to open up (it was only open 10 minutes every hour due to construction), but we eventually got to Swallow Grotto.

Swallow Grotto is a tunnel that has been cut right through the mountain. It was very mystical and beautiful, but also very scary. There were signs all over saying that a rock slide might occur and to walk fast. The view was amazing though. Since the road doesn’t really connect to much I was surprised they would have gone through the work to make the tunnel, but it was quite impressive none the less. After walking through the Swallow Grotto we caught the next bus to Tiansiang.

Tiangsiang is a small tourist area with a hotel and some restaurants near the top of the mountains. We had lunch, and then headed across the bridge to see the temple that was even higher up the mountain.

The temple was pretty interesting and had two sets of stairs that spiraled up to the top. It didn’t have much support underneath, which made me a bit nervous. We climbed to the top anyways and looked out over the river and valley. At this point we were pretty beat and took the bus back to the station. We slept most of the way.

Since we had so much fun the night before, and because we didn’t have anything else to do, we went back to the night market to play some games and do archery. Shortly after leaving the night market it started pouring rain. Luckily we still had our rain jackets. Riding a bike down a street with heavy traffic in pouring rain was a bit scary and on top of that we really didn’t know where we were going. After riding several kilometers we stopped at a grocery store to get out of the rain and see what it was like.

When we came back out the rain had let up, so headed back to our hotel to find a place to eat. We couldn’t decide, so we walked around and looked at what other people  were eating. Finally deciding on a small shop that sold dumplings and fried rice. We could only read some of the characters so we mostly guessed at what we were ordering. It turned out pretty good though.

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