You ﬁnally did it. Everything came together in the end and your Subaru WRX STI sits in your driveway. It is beautiful and sounds sweet but it is like a blank canvas just the same. What improvements will you make ﬁrst? After all, what real improvements can be made for ﬁve hundred bucks?
Well, before you take that credit card out, here are some things to think about. The car you agonized about and carefully chose is more than a pretty package, isnʼt it? After all, you got the real deal. So with that in mind, why not ﬁrst tune the driver?
What ?!? Does the suggestion of this bruise what women call the fragile male ego? After all, this car was chosen because you have an appreciation for how it should be driven. While you may be discriminating in your car choice, that doesnʼt mean you really know how to get the most out of it. To prove this to you, consider this: do you think Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton would turn faster lap times than you on ANY given course? While it is true you are not likely to be the next Michael Schumacher, just about anyone with a scintilla of sense would rather have the skills of a back marker real race driver than a top 'performing' Fast and the Futile driver.
The fact is that driving a high performance car is so much more than just stomping on the far right peddle and going through the gears. Sure, what can compare to the feeling of your car's torque range spread over a few gears while you are blasted into the future? But in this vein it maybe helpful to think of your new ride like you would your woman. Mind you, ladies, this is not a misogynist rant and you will likely be grateful for your manʼs consideration of what follows. Isnʼt there more to her than just the few seconds of ecstasy generated between you? I should hope so!
And so I encourage you to enjoy the foreplay that your car could be feeding you. What you will ﬁnd in doing so is that having a nice ride is exponentially more enjoyable than you ever imagined and doesnʼt involve compromising your carʼs reliability. A lot of time has been devoted by some very smart engineers to your car for your pleasure. Once you thoroughly know how to use what theyʼve done, you will swear that the car is enjoying it too. So that ﬁve hundred bucks could in most cases cover a two day DE (driverʼs education) event at a local race track. The kind of events put on by SCCA, SCDA, BMWCCA and many other organizations run by and for performance car enthusiasts.
Driver education sounds boring?
Only if you are opposed to turning laps at what could be race speeds. There you will ﬁnd others with cars like yours and even some actual race cars. You will be assigned an experienced instructor. He or she will be in the car with you showing you how to enjoy the nuances of corner entry, throttle steering and modulation and so much more of what we will call driver/car foreplay. And you will be doing so in a SAFE environment. Yes, no tickets and a full compliment of corner workers to let you know what lies around the next turn. You will learn that all the carʼs potential lies in just a few square inches of tire called the contact patch. Additionally, youʼll gain skills in situational awareness that will make you a much safer road driver.
Maybe the exhaust mod and chipping the car will be in your future. But bang for the buck and overall enjoyment of your car come from YOU as its driver knowing how to wring the mph out of it.