Alphabet Soup Racing

As the title suggests, this post is a bit haphazard. There’s so much going on that I can’t manage a complete, comprehensive narrative for a single in-depth topic, so I figured I’d touch upon a few things that are happening.

Let’s start off with the most important one…

Our First Tech Day!

I’ve already put some feelers out in a few places online to gauge whether or not there’d be interest in a Tech Day, and the response has been fantastic. We have people coming from all over Florida and even from a few other states to attend. But that’s not all - the furthest participants are coming all the way from England!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been working with James Hawkes-Reed of Aston Installations and he has agreed to fly across the Atlantic to be our guest expert at the Tech Day! He’ll be joined by his associate, Lenny Knox, who himself has 30 years of experience in the industry.

My plan is to have Tech Days that each address a different aspect of our Aston Martins. This first Tech Day will focus on the infotainment systems of the Gaydon-era cars. So if you have a DB9, DBS, Vantage, or other modern Aston Martin, this may be of great interest to you. We'll cover front parking cameras, backup cameras, updated navigation systems, iPod integration and more!

Not only will we be learning from one of the best in the industry, he’ll also be sharing installation tips, going over the various options and modifications available, and even doing installations. To get a taste of what James and Lenny can do, here’s a review of their work.

The Tech Day will be held on a Saturday in late April or in May. It will take place in the area of Tampa or Orlando. (UPDATE! It'll be April 28th in Tampa.) I’ll be posting more information as we get more plans locked in place, including what installations will be available during the Tech Day.

If you plan to attend, please send me the following information:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • City, State
  • Vehicle year and model
  • Current infotainment options
  • Desired infotainment upgrades/modifications
  • If you want installation done

For example, here's mine...

Richard Seidlitz
rich@redpants.lol
208-555-5555*
Dover, FL

Vehicle:
2007 V8 Vantage

Premium Audio
Navigation
Aftermarket iPod connection

Interests:
Front parking camera
Backup camera
Streaming music via Bluetooth

I want both cameras installed, but not the Bluetooth.

*I rarely have my cell phone on me so it's pointless to give it out - more than likely I'll have no idea you tried to contact me until it's too late, so email is by far the best method to get in touch.

NOTE: The information you provide will ONLY be used for this event. It will NOT be used for any other purpose. Your personal information will not be shared with anyone outside of Redpants (so, only me and Clare). Vehicle information will be given only to the experts we're bringing in so they can better prepare for the event to make sure the information they provide is relevant and meaningful to attendees.

We'll have a full list of available services soon, and that will be posted once ready. You're more than welcome to change your "interests" after the service list comes out, so don't worry about sending in the info above beforehand.

What's in a Name?

Now that our horrendous relocation is starting to wind down, I can take a moment to catch my breath and do a little writing. Well, not really. There’s still way too much to do. But at least sitting down and hacking at my keyboard lets me include a mimosa or seven. (Author's note: Since starting to organize this blog post, I've also needed a glass of wine and a couple Citron Moscow Mules. It's been over the course of three sittings, don't you judge me.)

It struck me the other day, as it very often does, how absurd the name of my company is. I was writing an email to a guy explaining various wheel options and was going over the differences between my two preset sizes, the “Redpants” and “Widepants” fitments, and I had to stop and chuckle. I mean, how silly is it to use terms like that in a serious, semi-technical conversation? It’s like saying, “You can get a doohicky or a thingamabob,” and really meaning it. Believe it or not, there’s a method to my madness. While the absurdity of saying “Redpants fitment” and “Widepants fitment” doesn’t escape me, it’s with good reason that I chose these terms.

Based on the names of the myriad of vendors and shops out there, it seems half of them chose their names by reaching into a grab-bag of buzz words. It’s like Chinese restaurants. Pick two or three of the following: Golden, Jade, Palace, Wok, Dragon, Great Wall, China, Chopstick, Garden… You get the idea. I didn’t want to be another of the same - the name just wouldn’t mean a thing to me. And, had I gone that route, what’s to differentiate my company from any other? I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be competing on price. Anyone that’s ever heard of Walmart or Amazon knows there’s always someone else able to undercut a competitor. I wanted to go a different route and make something meaningful, something people wanted to support not for prices, but for what it was and the value added.

Another option is the ever-present initials approach. To name a few: TRG, TGM, GMG, and RRT - all of which are great outfits that I highly respect. There are a few reasons I didn’t go the same route. First is that my initials, RS, are simply too common in the automotive world. Second, any initials added to a list of other initials-based names quickly lose their meaning to anyone that isn’t already familiar with them. This makes standing out as a new business extremely difficult. Third, if not my own initials... then what?

So I don't have to retype it, here's the copy/paste from the About page:

It all started a couple years ago when I was out shopping in Boston with my good friend Blade Kotelly (yes, that’s really his name – he’s an incredible guy, fellow Aston owner, design guru, and teaches at MIT). We came across a pair of red pants that I never thought I could pull off wearing. I was far too shy and reserved for such attire. Blade gave me one of the best “peacock” speeches I ever heard and, needless to say, I bought the pants.

My friends back in the DC area immediately started with the commentary the first time I wore them. I think the pants became far more popular than I am, because they would (and still do) always ask if I am going to wear them whenever I planned to go out with them. Soon enough, they started tagging me in pictures of anyone they saw wearing red pants. The pants – the red pants – had become something of my calling card. Not only that, but they also broke me out of my reserved style, both with fashion and with life in general. The red pants empowered me.

While I tossed around ideas for the name of this site, it dawned on me that I should use the one I’m already known for. Thus, Redpants was born.

YOU USED A .LOL DOMAIN? SERIOUSLY?
Yeah, seriously. Besides, the .com domain was already taken.

...lol.

One thing I was desperately keen to avoid was getting into a pissing match over what's the "best" or "fastest" thing to do. There are already enough egos in the automotive world and I didn't care to join that pissing match. My goal - my mission statement - is to make Aston Martin ownership reasonable. That's it. I couldn't care less who has a faster, or more expensive, or better handling, or whatever else car. I just want to enjoy mine, and I want to help others enjoy theirs. That's it.

In the end, I hope when people see the name of my company, they'll realize that I'm not just another Go Fast Cars Shop or Alphabet Soup Racing Garage - I'm just a guy doing something he loves and is trying to help others do the same.

Fun fact: The title of this section is a line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and is followed by, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I just realized a fun little connection: The N24 Vantage prototype was also named Rose. (By the way, the preceding link takes to you AstonMartins.Com, a website run by the incredibly knowledgeable Tim Cottingham. It contains a wealth of information, which I often find myself relying upon. And Tim is a fantastic guy as well, so do take a moment to check out his website!)

Pirelli World Challenge, St Pete, FL

It’s with no shortage of irony that I’d like to give a huge thank you to TRG, LaSalle Solutions, and Adobe Road Winery for hosting me at the Pirelli World Challenge / Grand Prix of St Pete race yesterday.

TRG 007.jpg

I got to meet Steven and Violette, the President and Client Service Manager, respectively, of LaSalle Solutions. They were fantastic hosts, and I got to chat with Violette for a while about what it's like being a sponsor of a race team.

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go well. There was a collision in Turn 1 at the very beginning of the race, and the 007 Vantage GT3 was knocked out with irreparable damage to its suspension. I saw the car in the paddock after it was pulled off track and it was pretty rough. From the outside, it didn’t seem too bad. The front splitter had a pretty nasty split between the upper and lower layers of carbon fiber, but otherwise the bodywork looked okay. The real damage was underneath. The front right upright was sheared off and the strut was broken completely in two.

I was going to go back the next day for an actual interview with Violette, but I found myself dealing with a series of odd emergencies all morning and my plans for the day got ruined. Still, she was kind enough to extend the offer beyond that day so I'm looking forward to having a conversation again when our schedules line up.

My Workhorse Has a Limp...

I mentioned during my rather-lengthy relocation story that my 4Runner was sounding pretty rough. I finally got around to doing an oil change on the thing and I’m happy to say a huge heap of metal shavings didn’t drain out of it as I had expected to happen. I do have an oil catch can on it. In fact, it’s the one I was using as a prototype when developing my V8 Vantage oil catch can kit.

I drained it and… well… it was full of super-sticky goop. The goop is what you get when you mix coolant with oil. To be clear, I didn’t mix coolant with oil. Rather, a failing head gasket did. I think that’s what happened at least, since I haven’t taken anything apart to confirm it. And to be honest, I haven’t checked for a long time. I noticed the problem a while back and even have a video showing it on my YouTube channel.

This is what came out of my 4Runner catch can...

Coolant-Oil Sludge.jpg

I should have dumped the catch can into a measuring cup like I usually do and I'm mad at myself for not doing it when it would have been so valuable to see. Regardless, this was A LOT of sludge. Way, way more than you saw in the video from a year and a half ago. Obviously, the problem is getting much worse but I have to think that maybe - just maybe - the oil catch can is the only thing keeping my 4Runner alive at this point.

Sadly, Ol' Yota probably isn't worth the money to warrant much work to get him fixed, so I'll likely just keep driving til it dies on me completely. I'm not sure, though. It's been a while since I worked on a project like this, and I wouldn't mind tearing into it. Eh, we'll see.