Members > Member of the Month

February 2004 - Rusty Ragan

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ColoradoB5:
Wow.  Where else but RMCB5 could a Newbie be Member of the Month? *grin*



Where to start... How about way back in grade school, and my Dad's Esso Service Station in Chattanooga, Tennessee?  I grew up helping out around the place, hanging out after school waiting for my Mom to get home from work, doing simple stuff like cleaning and sweeping and the occasional spark plug change.  When I was 13, I had saved up enough money for a down payment on a dirt bike (Yamaha 125 Enduro).  Dad put me to legal work, earning $25/week during the summer to make the monthly payments on the bike.  At the end of summer, I didn't want to go out for football - I wanted to keep working, 'cause I loved cars and the paycheck.  So I kept working for him all the way through High School, and later worked through college at Big Orange Exxon in Knoxville (TN).  All those years my "mechanic" skills grew.  Within days of getting my driver's license, the dirt bike started collecting dust.  Four wheels was everything - I just loved to drive, and the twisty-turny hills of East Tenne!
 ssee was the BEST place to learn!  My first car was a perfect-condition '66 Mustang, off-white with red pinstriping and red interior, straight-6 with automatic (where I first learned to left-foot brake and speed-match an auto tranny while downshifting for a corner) that I bought off one of my Dad's customers for only $400!  I always wanted to put headers, a manifold, and Holley carb on it, but never did.

Ah, but even in Chattanooga, my dad had a few customers that had MG's, Triumphs, and even a BMW 2002tii.  Oh, my god, whenever I got to drive those - I was instantly hooked on sports cars in a musclecar town.  In a NASCAR world, I loved Formula One.  I subscribed to Road&Track when everyone else was reading Hot Rod, and my very first issue was February 1976 with a Scirocco on the cover.

The years went on and in college (1979), I was driving a '6570 ChevroLord Pickup named Gertrude (front half '65 Chevy, back half '70 Ford) with a 283 V8 that ran like a sewing machine. (The Mustang is a sad story. Don't let drunk girls at a party drive your car...)  But Dad's Jeep blew up for the third time, and he needed a "road service" vehicle, so he confiscated Gertrude and made up for it by helping me buy a new car.  It had to be about $7000.  I narrowed it down to the '79 Mustang and '79 RX-7.  Then I remembered the Scirocco on the cover of that first R&T issue.  Decision made, without even a test drive.  The history of that decision is chronicled elsewhere.  I still have it - 25 years and 266,000 miles later, with original engine and original clutch! Happy 25th Birthday to my Scirocco!



So when it came time for another car, I wanted VW again.

First time, 1988.  Still $7K criterion.  New Golfs and Jettas were $11K!  The Fox was $7K, but it seemed cheaply made, and not enough legroom.  So I got a new Civic.  My 19-year old son is now driving that car (modded, of course, but not ricey!) with 165K miles.

Next time, 1996.  I went looking for a Jetta at a used car lot - but found my absolute dream car instead - a Mazda 929.  I had always thought that the 929 was the most beautiful car on the road - and I got one!  Then, in 1998, VW came out with the new-style Passat.  WOW!!!  I had to do a double-take, and I kept going back-and-forth as to whether the 929 was still the most beautiful car on the road, or if it was the new Passat.  I was wishing I had the money to trade the 929...

Next time, 2001.  Wifey totalled the 929 in December 2000 (not her fault).  Still having the 'rocco to fall back on enabled us to avoid buying for awhile.  In the meantime, we inherited a puke-purple 2-door Neon from her Mom - lots of fun but not the best family car.  By October 2001, it had developed mechanical problems, so we had an excuse to trade.  Again, looking for a VW.  Again, a Jetta (thought I couldn't afford a Passat). We found several - but then wandered over to the used Passats.  SO much bigger - vitally important for those long family road trips.  And then we spied the stunning '98 Elegant Green one, with the Tiptronic - so perfect - auto for her, Tip for me.  We arranged purchase on-the-spot, wifey agreed to pay half. Whee-haaa! I FINALLY had my second VW, and it was one of those gorgeous, long-lusted for Passats!!!



The first thing I did was order a Neuspeed catalog... ugh.  Not much for Passats.  But I was searching on Google for how to replace the doorlocks (someone stole the keys out of the car - but not the car!), and came across ClubB5.  Wow.  What an incredible resource. And then Boris posted up his "Colorado Outlaw Airbox Mod".  I was hooked.  My first post on CB5 was a review of what that mod did to my car.  Since then, two really big things have happened to me, car-wise.

The first was discovering "open track days" at racetracks.  My first track day was here in ABQ July 2002 - OMG, I was HOOKED!.  The next was Watkins Glen in May 2003, meeting up there with NY-area CB5ers Ken Rabbers (vw20v18t), Andy Chen (AJChenMPH), and Justin Wasik (JROO-VW).  Watkins Glen was a dream-come-true, for it has always been my favorite track (I'm getting chills just writing this) - it was the only Formula One race in America when I was growing up in NASCAR-land, and in the year of the last-ever F1 event there, I was in upstate NY visiting West Point friends (yes, I did a year at West Point) when the F1 teams were doing tire-testing two weeks prior to the race.  I drove in, acted like I was supposed to be there, and got to take lots of pictures and help around the pits, meeting Mario Andretti face-to-face.  Later in the day, I snuck the 'rocco onto the back part of the course and did a hot half-lap!!!  So both my VW's have touched "The Glen's" hallowed ground.



And the next track day was at Second Creek at the '03 CO GTG, where I finally got to meet the RMCB5 contingent, which leads to the second big thing...

...discovering that I have friends all over the country - even the World.  The relationships I have developed through the Internet are very special. The very first inkling I had of this was when I was a newbie on CB5 and Chas sent me a pair of A4 caliper carriers - gratis!  He didn't know me from a hole in the ground, but he wanted to help me out - he even paid the shipping!  In any one location, there seem to be so few of "us", but there's LOTS of us over the Internet. Ken Rabbers came into ABQ and we saw a minor-league ball game together.  I can't wait to go back to Watkins Glen and hang out with Ken, Andy, Justin, and Jimmy (Stealthx32), although money problems are going to kill that this year *cry*.  Jess (CRD99) popped into ABQ on one of his pilot stopovers, and we hung out for awhile and he took some great pics of my Cartech setup.  And look at the great pic that Natalie took of me and Boris in the CB5 calendar, from the September GTG!   I can't wait for the next Natio!
 nal GTG which I hope will be back in CO this year! I can't wait to head up to Minnesota and do the "Fall Tour" with Kenny Payne!  Hey, small world - Kenny grew up in East Tennessee, in Etowah, not far from me!  I can't wait to do an "out west" track like Parhump and meet up with the B5er's there! I can't wait for you guys to come down to ABQ for what will hopefully be the first annual ABQ GTG this spring! The time that wifey and I spent in Denver with "y'all" was one of the best, if not the best, weekends we ever had. Pat (Denver Pat) opened up his place for us, making total strangers feel right at home. DiÚdra had a blast, and loves the growing circle of friends from my "car-nuttiness", including some from work, especially Gabe.  God Bless You All.

OK, OK, now I'll get to the CAR stuff. The Passat is perfect for me as a family/roadtrip/track car.  It's far from a race car, but you can drive it to the track in comfort, and embarass the crap out of unsuspecting snobs in higher-priced iron. "What, (sneering) a PasSAT?" "Oh, crap, he just passed me!" LOL! No, not really - most people I've met at the track are totally cool and appreciative no matter what you drive.

Here's my Mod List:

1 bar boost with stock ECU - I'm proud of that.

Engine:
Removed snowscreen
K&N air filter
Hyperboost DV
180 degree thermostat & fan switch
Colorado (Boris) Airbox Mod
Hose Techniques silicone 3.5mm vacuum lines (red)
Audi S4 I/C vent
MY2000 I/C duct
ECS crank pulley
Greedspeed snub mount
Port Matched Intake Manifold & Head, AEB PowerGasket
Dawes MBC 15 psi
310cc Bosch "Ford Racing" Injectors
Cartech FMU @6 bar max
OEM-style adjustable base-pressure FPR @2.5 bar
MAF screen and MAF housing mods
Random Cat
Heat shielding (a constant work in progress...)
 -- Turbo oil supply line
 -- Exhaust manifold/Turbo
 -- Intake, throttle body to I/C
 -- Intake, turbo outlet to DV
 -- Airbox
 -- Fuel lines (in engine compartment)
 -- Water pipe across top of Intake Manifold
 -- Fuel Injectors



Transmission:
Recoded Tip from 00000 to 00010 - tremendous improvement to "Auto" mode, does nothing for Tip mode.
Disconnected kickdown switch

Chassis/Suspension:
P&P Strut Tower Bar (red)
AndyA6 Lower tie-bar
H&R OE Sport springs/Koni Sport dampers
Neuspeed 28mm rear anti-roll bar adj. to middle position
15" Rondos
225/50x15 Yokohama AVS ES100

Brakes:
Mintex Pads
Neuspeed SS lines
ATE super blue fluid
ECS Brembo Slotted Cad-plated front rotors
HAWK HP+ front pads for Track Days

Instrumentation:
Autometer dual A-pillar pod
-- Boost gauge - VDO
-- Oil Temp gauge - VDO
Double-DIN conversion w/Nordskog digital "Street Series" gauges
-- Oil Pressure (red)
-- Fuel Pressure (green)
-- Volts (amber)



Body/Lighting:
Clear corners
Smoke sides
Osram Silver Stars
Jack Pads
Enfig S2000 Antenna Mast
Debadged rear end


I almost apologize for the pics.  I had the car beautifully detailed and had just received my "CB5 RKT" license plate.  I took great pics on a beautiful autumn day -  but they were all blurry because my camera's focusing mechanism broke.  So the attached pics are all I have - but they are at the track, which is my favorite place to be, so I guess that's appropriate.

Thanks everyone! - Rusty

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