We’re dropping the mic and letting Cody Miles tell everyone about his #lifeonair as he embarks on another winning (and now record setting) year on the track with his 2007 Subaru STi fitted with our Subaru STi air suspension kit and the latest Air Lift Performance 3H control system:
“With temps set to reach 106 degrees at Buttonwillow Raceway, going into round 4 of Redline Time Attack, we knew it was going to be a rough weekend. For those that don’t know, heat is the enemy of speed, so hunting for track records becomes much more difficult. Brakes, turbos, and tires really aren’t huge fans of Southern California summers. Watching water and oil temps was certainly going to be a priority for this event. However, regardless of the weather, it was once again time to go racing!
“We headed to the track on Friday night in order to get everything unloaded and ready for the scorchers we knew were right around the corner. Plus, it’s always nice when time is on your side heading into an event, that way you can actually relax a bit. I got the car, BMX bike, tools, and extra tires unloaded and posted up in the paddock by 10:30pm, which meant it was finally time to shut the eyes and turn the brain off.
“Saturday morning came with a slew of Miata’s, S2000’s, hatch Civic’s, STi’s, Evo’s, M3’s and many more, all with the shared objective of kicking some ass and having fun. My goal for the day was a little different, since Saturday for me was nothing more than a practice day to prep for timed sessions on Sunday. I needed to get a line figured out, and keep the car in one piece. So after registration it was time to climb into my gear and get out there for the first session of the day.
“As I headed out, I immediately felt right at home with a body hugging bucket seat wrapped around me, five-point harnesses firmly reminding me that I couldn’t move if I tried, high-top racing shoes with a snug support resting gently against the pedals, and externally stitched gloves creating a seamless stream of sensory feedback from the wheel to my fingertips.
“As I began to cruise the track, feeling everything out, I noticed that I was getting large amounts of smoke entering the cockpit between each shift. It began to raise concern after it continued, and seemingly got worse the more I drove. I decided to bring everything down a notch and pull in to see what was going on.
“Here is where I need to stop and share with all of you how glad I am that I decided to pull in exactly when I did… The second I parked the car, the white smoke that was previously entering through the firewall was now black smoke that was raising straight through my hood louvers. I must say, I’m used to seeing white smoke, but black is a much more terrifying animal. I quickly popped my hood and immediately saw flames surrounding the turbo blanket and heading upward on the firewall. I propped the hood and grabbed my fire extinguisher from the car as fast as I could. I pulled the safety on the extinguisher and let it go to work on the flames.
“Once the extinguisher did its thing, it took no time at all for everything to be under control again, and for a normal blood pressure to once again pulse through my veins… All I have to say is, if any of you enthusiasts out there are tracking without means of fighting back against an unexpected fire, please go do yourself a favor and get that taken care of!
“Once things under the hood cooled down a bit, I quickly figured out what had caused my issue and was on my way to fixing it. As it turns out, my air/oil separator was spitting oil all over the turbo blanket. Oil has a flash point – once it reaches a certain temperature, it catches fire instead of just smoking – and, as you all know, turbos create ridiculous amounts of heat! All I needed to fix my problem and ensure that I’d be free of fire in the immediate future was a water bottle, tape, and a couple feet of half inch rubber hose. As soon as I got my hands on those three items, I rigged up an additional oil catch can that was safely away from the turbo. Simply put, I was back in action! I continued on through the rest of Saturday driving at a relatively mild pace, making sure engine temps were staying in a safe range as I worked on getting my line figured out.
“Due to how solid the car felt on Saturday, my only alteration going into competition on Sunday was swapping to the new tires that I had standing by. Driving on brand new tires is an amazing thing, something that never fails to put a smile on my face. The sudden increase in grip just never gets old.
“So here I was, Sunday morning with fresh tires and a sweet secondary catch can water bottle setup all ready to rock. We headed out for our first qualifying session and I tried to work through the pack but just never got a lap that I was happy with, due to traffic. Not to mention the fact that I missed a corner and took a nice long trip through the weeds at just over 90 mph during one of those laps. Either way, I now had only one more chance to get a good qualifying run completed in order to get a proper spot on grid. I rolled back to my pit, removed the extra 10 lbs of weeds that I had gathered on my little off-road adventure, emptied my water bottle catch can, added a couple gallons of E85, drank as much water as I could, and sat ready for the next qualifier.
“At this point I was simply doing my best to beat the heat and keep my brain from frying in the sun, since from here on, I would need a clear and functioning mind. Once the announcement came through for our final qualifying session, I strapped up and headed out to make it count. I got lucky and ended up with a relatively clear track ahead of me and I was able to put down a lap that I felt confident in. The new tires felt great and I was really able to charge much harder than the previous day. That lap ended with water temps reaching some alarming numbers, so I immediately put it up a gear and backed off to allow things to cool off. I used that next lap as a cool down and proceeded with exiting the track to give the car a break.
“The ambient temp at this point was somewhere between 103 and 106 degrees. It was safe to say that breaking track records in these conditions just wasn’t going to happen. I ended up running a 1:52.5 for a qualifying time. I was really happy with this, since it was by far the fastest time I’ve ever set at Buttonwillow Raceway. This lap time not only put me in overall grid spot number two, but it showed that there looked to be a large gap between myself and second place for my class. I felt pretty good, and was confident going into timed sessions.
“I let the car cool down and checked over a few things before timed runs. Everything was looking good and I was all set to get out there and let it rip for the upcoming Time Attack session. A brief time later, the announcement was made and it was time for us to head over to grid. With the heat doing its best to break us down and show us who’s boss, we moved into position and sat patiently while the track was cleared. This always proves to be a mental battle for me, as I sit strapped in with zero air flow and sweat creeping at every possible location, just waiting for the ‘ok’ to move out. After what seemed like an eternity of sitting stationary, wiping the burning sweat from my eyes, it was finally go time. That first lap out always brings an instant relief as the moving air quickly brings the temperature down to a much more manageable state.
“Regardless of temps, it was now time to charge for the perfect lap. The second you start focusing in and really driving with everything you’ve got, everything else literally exits your brain. There’s no such thing as craving water or being uncomfortable due to heat. To quote a movie that anyone reading this has hopefully seen way too many times, ‘Everything else just disappears’. So, I hit the next lap with everything I had. The car felt fast and was more than up to the task of handling whatever I could throw at it. Apex after apex, berm after berm, the car would simply respond with ‘What’s next?’ Despite the heat, the engine didn’t once hesitate at ingesting the 30psi that the turbo was so eagerly producing.
“I had a couple mistakes here and there, but, overall, crossed the checkered with a definite feeling of accomplishment. From that moment on, I was perfectly content with the entire weekend. Not only had I just completed what was sure to be my fastest lap yet, I was pulling off and into the paddock with a car that saw no real failure or issue all weekend. This was especially nice, being that I witnessed several competitors go through failures that unfortunately ended their weekend early. Sometimes just being able to get through the weekend without breaking anything is a win in itself.
“After the first Time Attack session was complete I ended up calling it and began packing up. I saw the time I ran during that session, which was a 1:51.5. Being that a 1:51 was my target goal for the weekend anyway, I was stoked about it and decided not to risk the car any more in the heat. I sat the second session out and played the cheerleading roll for fellow competitors from the sidelines.
“Overall it was a great weekend and I ended up winning the Street Class overall, on top of finishing first in my class by 16 seconds! I’ve got about 2 seconds to drop for the Street Class track record, which I will surely be back for as long as, fingers crossed, weather conditions improve.
“For now, I begin prep for the next event at Willow Springs International Raceway in a few weeks, for round 5 of Redline Time Attack. Can’t thank everyone enough for how well this season is going. To all the sponsors that keep me on top with solid products, thank you! Most importantly, thank you to my family who never hesitates to encourage and support all of my efforts to keep pushing and pursue my never-ending dream of elevating my racing program to the next level.
“Stay tuned enthusiasts!”