Category Archives: Updates

Track Day Experience

As much as I love working on the car, there is nothing quite like taking it out on the track and pushing it to the limit. It’s a good measurement of how the car performs, and it’s an opportunity to become a better driver as well. Since I’m not a professional driver, and my car is not prepared for sanctioned track events (no cage, harnesses, etc.) the next closest thing for me is an HPDE (high performance driver education). It’s essentially a track day with a catch – you get an instructor that works with you to improve your driving and you spend about an hour and a half in a class room talking about general driving techniques and the track itself. You typically get 3 sessions at about 20-30 minutes each session to go out on the track and run your car at full speed. You can pass other people with some restrictions based on your skill group. So it’s not truly racing, but it kind of is. If you’re faster than the other person then you will pass them, but typically in a controlled manner.

This is my third year doing HPDE events, and I really like the Putnam Park road course outside of Indianapolis. It has grass runoff around the entire track except for the pit entrance area, where there is an armco. This means that if you screw up somewhere on the track, chances are you’ll just spin out in the grass and not do any terrible damage to your car. This past weekend I had a spin and all that happened was a dent in my splitter, although I did experience some significant other damage that was not the result of the spin (more about that in another post). However, this is a good time to mention that if you aren’t comfortable with ruining your car then don’t take a chance on a track day like this!

Here are some beginner tips for HPDE:

  • Bring some tools to the track, especially a torque wrench for your wheels and a tire pressure gauge to bleed off excess psi
  • Make sure you change your brake fluid and bleed your brakes before a track day.
  • Good tires are a must. I really love the Nitto NT01, but as long as you don’t go on bald tires you should be relatively ok as a first timer.
  • Bring lots of water/gatoraid and stay hydrated. It’s exhausting racing at high speeds even for 20 minutes at a time. When you are exhausted and dehydrated you make mistakes.
  • Make sure you have adequate brake pads and rotors. You don’t want your brakes failing at the end of a straightaway doing 130mph or more.
  • Don’t drive with aggression or angry. Everybody is there to have fun and if you aren’t the fastest then learn from it and get better without being a jerk
  • Record your driving if you can and watch the video later to understand how to improve your lines. (This really helped me)
  • Try to ride with an instructor to see how they drive and learn from it.

There are a lot of great tips typically provided with the information packet on a per school basis, so make sure you read those tips as well as any specific information you can find out about the track ahead of time.

Here are some specific tips for Putnam Park road course (please keep in mind I’m no expert!):

  • You can carry a lot more speed through turn 1 than you may initially think. I can brake at the 300, 200, or 100 just fine. Tap the brakes and get off of them, don’t ride the brakes or you will overheat them quicker. I think a good average speed through turn 1 is 90mph for reference. So I brake from 130mph to 90mph very quickly and then take it.
  • I like to downshift from 4th to 3rd at turn 2 when I brake. It feels better than downshifting from 4 to 3 at the brake point on turn 1.
  • I hit turn 4 as a late apex.
  • I turn in late on turn 5 and try to make 5 through 7 feel like a straight line
  • I brake and downshift to 2nd gear and turn in early on turn 7. This is the slowest turn on the track. I use a little controlled oversteer to push me through this corner quickly.
  • I turn in early on turn 8 and ride the inside line up.  Lots of fun!
  • Hit the curbing on 9 & 10 to set up for a good launch on the straight. Don’t lift here or you’ll potentially loose control and hit the barricade. Feather the throttle until you’re ready to go flat out.

Lots of good information on Putnam Park can be found here:

Here is a video of my second heat. The battery died before I finished. The first lap is to warm up the tires and is at about 50% speed. The second lap had a caution flag as a car went off, but then we get rolling after that.

C-West Aero Kit

Last year I bought a C-West body kit for my S14. It arrived in two shipments due to some delays with Japan and the Tsunami that hit. My plan was originally to install it over the winter but we ended up moving. And then it was Spring and I didn’t want the downtime that may come from it since I had to do some modifications to make the kit fit.

C-West Aero Kit S14 240sx

Well, after several delays I finally got the kit installed. Installing a body kit can be relatively easy if you’ve done it before, but if it’s your first time it can be quite confusing. Let me explain a few of the steps that made my life a little easier the second time around.

First, make sure you test fit the kit before you paint it. You will most likely need to cut and sand the kit to get it to line up properly. The cheaper body kits will not match up very well at all without some work. They also don’t typically come with the holes drilled, so you’ll want to do your best to match those up with the OEM holes (and you’ll probably need to drill a few of your own as well). Go ahead and mount your lights in the front bumper to make sure they fit (they usually don’t). When you’re doing your front bumper, you may actually have to notch your bumper support depending on whether it’s USDM or JDM. The JDM vehicles don’t require the front crash bumper so you may run into fitment problems here. I used a circular saw to notch my bumper. It’s easier if you go ahead and remove your front headlights while mounting the bumper. You may also want to jack up one side at a time and remove your wheels for easy access to mount the side skirts. The C-West kit itself would have fit perfectly if I didn’t have a FMIC or USDM bumper support. The bolt holes were pre-drilled and everything lined up nearly perfect.
Once you have test fit everything and it matches up pretty good you’ll want to paint the kit. Make sure you sand and fill as needed, because most kits will have pin holes or seams from the molds used to create them. After the kit is painted you just reinstall it on the car very carefully. I like using a mixture of bolts and OEM style push plugs. The bolts are mounted in discrete locations but help keep it firmly attached, and the push pins are for more obvious locations that give it more of an OEM look. On the S14 you have some holes for mud flaps in the rear wheel well and you can use the fender cover screws in the front wheel well, but the side skirts will need two holes drilled in the rear wheel well closest to the front of the car. You’ll need to remove the wheel to do this of course. It’s also a good idea to use double sided tape along seams, but make sure that you position it so that it doesn’t show through when looking at the kit from above. You’ll want it off the edge just a bit.

When you’re all done and lowering your floor jacks, make sure you don’t crack your side skirts. If it’s going to hit the jack, just slide a piece of wood under your tire and then lower the car down.

There aren’t many tips on the web about installing custom body kits, but I found that it’s relatively easy once you’ve taken the time to learn how to do it yourself.

New Walbro 400lph Fuel Pump

Walbro 400lph Fuel Pump

At our last dyno tuning session, I maxed out the Walbro 255lph fuel pump around 25psi. The car had more to give, but the pump was the limitation. Enter the Walbro 400lph pump! This pump should give me the fuel pressure I need at higher boost levels without requiring a secondary, in-line fuel pump. The installation seems pretty straight forward, especially since I already have a Walbro pump installed. I’m hoping that the wires and plugs match up, meaning that this can be a 10 minute swap. Here is a good writeup on installing the Walbro in an S14. This is a nice video for installing the pump in a 240sx as well (it’s part 1 of 2).

New Nitto NT01 Tires

New Nitto NT01 Tires
New set of Nitto NT01 tires for the track season

My new tires finally arrived! I ordered a set of Nitto NT01 tires for the 240sx in hopes that this will be a step up from the Dunlop Star Spec tires for my track days this summer. the Dunlop’s were great for Auto-X, but they fell short on the track in my opinion. I’m not quite ready for racing compounds, but I feel that this is a step in that direction. Perhaps next year I’ll get a second set of wheels to swap at the track like most of the other guys do?

I’m going to remove my wheels and have these mounted tomorrow. I don’t want anybody using an impact wrench to tighten my lugs! =)

Next Project is A/C

For my next project I will be reinstalling A/C in the car. After the RB20DET swap went awry, I disconnected the entire A/C and sold off the motor set. I sourced an RB25DET compressor and mounting bracket from RAW Brokerage. My lines are already modified to work with an RB20DET compressor, but they are slightly different (appear to be backwards). So I’m going mock up the new lines with the help of a local shop once the compressor and condenser are in place. I’m shooting for a custom discrete A/C line look. The engine bay is crowded enough with my ABS module.

I’ll be sure to snap some photos and explain the basics. It seems to be a fairly straight forward process if you have somebody that can modify the lines. We’ll see…..

New Wiring Harness

For the past week I’ve been working on replacing my upper and lower wiring harnesses. While my original harness worked, there were a few items that I wanted to tidy up, and I always had a slight random hiccup with the vehicle. I could never determine if that was because of the AEM EMS not cooperating with my CAS wheel or if there was an electrical gremlin due to the hack job from an auto-5spd RB20 and then the RB25 swap.

I purchased a wiring harness with the ABS sub-harness and Auto->5spd from Wiring Specialties through RAW Brokerage. The harness arrived with an instruction manual, and it was super clean. All original plugs and wires, properly loomed, and basically ready to install.

They say this is a 15 minute job, and I think if you’ve done it a few times before then it quite possibly is a 15 minute job. My situation was a little different…

First I had to remove the original harness, which took longer than I had hoped, but that was simply because I was paying attention to where things were plugged in so that the install would be a bit easier. The original harness came off in about 30 minutes for me. pulling it through the firewall was surprisingly easy.

The new harness was a little more difficult. Various forums/posts on the internet suggest having two people work the harness plugs through the firewall and I can see why. That would have probably saved me 10-15 minutes easily because I had to keep going back and forth from under the dash to the engine bay to work the harness through. Where I started to run into trouble was matching up the plugs. Some of my OEM plugs have been removed, cut, spliced, changed, etc. and it wasn’t a direct fit. I expected this, and while I probably pestered RAW Brokerage, Wiring Specialties, and the various forums on the internet more than they would have liked, in the end we figured it out.



A quick list of my troubles:

  1. My OEM Oil Pressure Sensor used a different plug than the one provided. I probably don’t have the factory RB sensor. I just re-pinned the proper plug for the solution here.
  2. My ABS power plug was hidden in the wheel well and wasn’t where it should have been. It took me awhile to find this.
  3. My clutch switch (or Park/Neutral sensor)  was cut/removed and connected together so the vehicle would start after the auto to 5spd swap. I need to get a new plug for this to finish cleaning up.
  4. My S14 wiper amp is missing and I’ve been rolling with an R33 wiper amp for the past few years. I’m sourcing an S14 wiper amp just to be proper here.
  5. My fuel injectors are not OEM and I never knew that my injector subharness has been custom since day 1. The plugs didn’t match so I used my original harness here (It’s in fine shape).

Despite my few dilemmas here, the car is in surprisingly good shape having gone through 3 engines.


Here is the difference between my injector subharness plugs (Tomei plugs for Denso Injectors) and the OEM.

Wiring Specialties uses quality parts. Here is the main ECU plug.

New Harness

Old Harness

If you’re considering doing a swap and aren’t an electrical genius, do yourself a favor and buy the harness. You might also consider picking up a patch connector for the harness. It goes between the harness plug and the ECU (in my case the AEM EMS). You just find the wires you want to tap into and do it on the patch connector so you don’t damage your harness wiring in things like a boost solenoid or AFR sensor. It also lets you move your standalone a little further out of the way so it’s not right under your feet on the passenger side.


New Additions to the Car

After many months off, the 240sx has been updated again. I installed new KW V3 coilovers, new Hawk HP+ brake pads, Tein Camber plates, and a GReddy front tower bar. It was all relatively easy to do and let me break in my new garage a bit. I had the car professionally aligned at the Winning Formula in Louisville, KY. The car has never handled so amazing. I can actually power through corners without oversteer. The car is almost ready for the track season. Next up on my list of upgrades are SPL front and rear LCA (when they are available), and a set of Nitto NT01 tires. Should be a fun year!

Mini-Update: Installing New Coilovers

It’s been a bit since my last update, but that’s largely because I bought a new house and moved. Now I have a four car garage that can technically hold 6 cars! I have plenty of room to work on the 240sx now. In the future I hope to install a hydraulic lift. We’ll see…

Last weekend I began installing the KW V3 coilovers on the S14. The process was fairly straightforward, thanks to numerous write-ups on the internet. Removing coilovers is a bit easier than removing the factory suspension since you don’t need a spring compressor tool to do it. However, I ran into one small problem. The KW v3 did not come with camber plates and I no longer have my factory Top Hats. After doing a bit of reading, it appears that the K-Sport coilovers I have now can be of some use. I can take the camber plates off of the K-Sports and put them on the KW. I will be doing this procedure over the weekend. Hopefully it works out!

Since I had the car jacked up and the front wheels off, I went ahead and replaced the brakes with some new Hawk HP Plus pads and changed out the oil for some new Royal Purple 10w30. I’ll be posting some photos of the coilovers as well. Stay tuned.

KW V3 Arrived

My new KW V3 coilovers arrived while I was out of town. I came home to a fancy box. Looking forward to unpacking and going through everything in preparation for a possible install as early as this weekend. Thanks to Dynosty for getting them here so quickly and at such a great price.


I’m purchasing a new set of KW V3 coilovers this week. This is going to be a nice upgrade from the K-Sport Kontrol coilovers. I will be posting a nice review of the new set, and snap a few pics of the installation as well for a simple write-up.