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The October issue had a nice article on Archie Santo’s EVO (“Second Time’s the Charm”) up to the point where there was a picture of the back of the front seats. There’s no worse way to anchor seat belts. In a front end wreck, they’ll crush his spine before the wreck kills him. Seat belts should be anchored as close to in line with the direction of the expected hit. Archie’s will do nothing to prevent forward motion, but will pivot off the floor, swing in a smaller radius than the driver will and crush the spine in the process. —Rick Neale
We’ve covered this topic just recently in another reader’s letter and agree that running harness belts without a harness or rollbar is unsafe and dangerous. It’s great to read that there are a lot of you out there who understand safety and how to properly install belts. We also realize running photos of belts on cars like Archie’s isn’t a great representation and could lead people astray. We’ll do our best to correct any future feature cars with improperly installed belts, but there are times where changing a belt setup isn’t possible, meaning photos are taken with the belts installed improperly. —Ed.
Track Day Action
Hey, Modified, I’ve been reading your mag for a while and was always interested in the issues where you talk about the track and spending some time with your car burning some rubber. I’ve been wondering if you can tell me what I would need in order to take my car to the track and do a few laps. Also, what are some good tracks in So Cal and some good websites that I could look at to get information about the tracks? What do me and my car need so I can race safely? —Sacsovann Yos
There’s a common misconception that you need to do a lot of modifications to make your car track-worthy, but the truth is, whether your car is bone-stock or heavily modified, it’s capable of hitting the track. However, we recommend having a proper set of brake pads and tires for the track to ensure you can have a worry-free day of lapping. Most stock brake pads aren’t designed to handle the high-friction temperatures and abuse at the track and will typically fade, resulting in poor braking only after a few laps. A proper set of pads from manufacturers like Hawk or Project Mu will continue to provide consistent and effective braking throughout your track day.
Same goes for tires. Get yourself a high-performance set that can provide ample amounts of grip, and we guarantee you’ll have a blast at your first day at the track rather than feeling nervous and insecure about your driving skills without these two simple yet very effective upgrades. For track days in the So Cal area, we recommend visiting the following sites: speedventures.com and speedtrialusa.com. —Ed.
Grind Those Gears
Last year I found myself the proud owner of a free ’02 Honda Civic LX. The only downside was that the previous owner virtually never washed the car and it had more than 165,000 miles on it (now it’s close to 192,000). My friend and I were talking about it, and he said the transmission has to be close to going, and if we add anything more than my cold-air intake, it will just speed up the process of wrecking it. I recently drove stick for the first time in my life and loved it! Obviously, auto/manual transfers aren’t a common thing to do, but I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only gearhead who has dreamed about it. I would like to know what are the advantages of having an automatic transmission and a manual transmission. I know you can’t really beat the auto’s split-second shifting, but there has to be a reason why most car enthusiasts have manuals instead of automatics. Also, in the future (after college), I was considering making my car just a fun daily driver/track play toy (I’m not sure if that helps you explain the differences to me or not). —Pat B.
Automatic transmissions are great when you’re stuck in traffic and don’t have to push a clutch in and out over and over, but otherwise they’re more prone to failure than manual gearboxes and have a higher drag on the driveline, resulting in less horsepower to the wheels. That said, they’re the best and most practical choice for most of the general public, but it sounds like you don’t fit that mold. Simply put, manual transmissions are much more fun to drive because they put you in control; they’re essential for any performance-oriented driving, whether it be on a racetrack or through some winding roads.
As for your automatic Civic, it can be converted to a manual transmission without too much hassle. Sourcing the parts new or from a junkyard shouldn’t be too difficult. You should have some good mechanical experience when performing this swap — if you don’t, leave it to a shop. Lastly, your automatic trans isn’t going to fail if you add an air intake or other minor performance mods. Honda transmissions are known to virtually last forever with proper maintenance. It’s only if you added, say, a turbo kit, then the large increase in torque could shorten its lifespan, but an intake or exhaust won’t hinder its lifecycle. —Ed.
First off, I’d like to say I loved the article “Think Before Posting” (Editorialisms, Sept ’11). I think you were exactly on point with everything you said, but I also believe you missed one huge aspect. What about the people who get bashed for their car choice? I find it ridiculous that people get made fun of for the car they drive; if they like it, why can’t people let them be happy with it and be original? I know I catch a lot of heat because I drive a Miata, but, hey, a Miata slammed on Tein coilovers is a damn fun car. Just some thoughts, guys. —Austin Nimphius
We couldn’t have said it better. There’s no need to bash anyone for his or her choice of vehicle. Drive what you want and don’t get caught up with what other people think. —Ed.