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Launching :

Everyone is always asking how to Launch a Subie, so take this for whatever its worth....

The way you launch your Subie is based mainly on two variables--the type of transmission in your car (manual or automatic), and the all-wheel-drive.

With a stick shift, the main aim is to avoid excessive wheelspin by pressing the throttle too much, but also avoid bogging down the motor by pressing the throttle too little. You have to get the throttle input just right. Each car engine has a different rpm range in which it will produce the most power. The trick is to keep the engine in this sweet spot from the moment you cross the starting line all the way to the finish line, without any of this peak power being wasted. Launching a car hard from a dead stop is accomplished by slipping the clutch and spinning the tires, both within reason. Power is lost here, but most engines have narrow power and torque bands, so the fastest launch will include wheelspin and slipping the clutch. The only way to find out how much slipping would be just right is to experiment at the track, holding the throttle at various rpm levels at launch to see how much juice is needed for the quickest start.

Some people may say a manual benefits from powershifting during a race, which is to keep the throttle floored between shifts. It is not a good idea for the beginner, since a ill-timed shift can cause your engine to over-rev and kill your car.

In general, automatic transmissions are known as being more useful for lazy drivers than for serious racers. But it may be surprising for some to know that many pro drag-racing cars have heavy-duty auto gearboxes. That's because the brake-torque launch is an automatic specialty. This launch involves keeping the car stationary by flooring the brakes with the left foot, while using the right foot to rev up the engine against the torque converter. In technical terms, this preloads the entire drivetrain with the stress of a launch, allowing the engine to rev closer to its power and torque peaks at the starting line. Brake torquing is also beneficial for turbocharged engines as it allows boost to build up before the launch, reducing turbo lag. The only problem is that there is a lot of stress on the transmission, and the consequent heat build-up can destroy your automatic gearbox. Unless your car has too much power for the tires to handle, a brake-torque launch usually will not spin the wheels. This is because the automatic transmission absorbs the shock by design, and brake torquing actually reduces stress on the rest of the drivetrain. Instead of a sudden massive load, the drivetrain has the torque applied slower instead of one huge jolt. If you use a hi-speed stall converter you are able to apply power quicker, at a pre-determined rpm, making wheel spin is easier.

Subarus have more traction than they can use, so higher-throttle launches are possible before a hint of wheelspin. Generous throttle application is needed since bogging down the motor is even easier. But these perfect-looking launches are very hard on the clutch and drivetrain. These cars actually last longer for drag-race duty when equipped with an automatic, and the easiest of all to launch, but the most hardcore of these rally-bred cars only come with a manual in keeping with their corner-carving tradition.

Depending on your skill level, here is one way of launching a Subaru (*follow at your own risk, see below for details) :

1. Set DCCD in auto, if a STi.

2. Raise your tire pressure to at least 42 psi. This will assist in better wheel spin and save your shafts from snapping.

3. At the light, after staging, pulse the throttle from around 4 to 6 K. It's a quick rev, or "feathering" the throttle as I call it. This allows the turbo to keep spooling as it responds to the throttle input. Also, if you can remember, spray your intercooler now, if you have an STi.

5. Try to time it so you are on an upsurge at the last yellow light. When the last light hits, go to WOT and at the same time, release your clutch. Do not sidestep your clutch, and do not slowly release it. The objective is to be increasing throttle at the same time you are releasing your clutch. This provides turbo spool, and in combination with the higher tire pressures, will assist all 4 tires in breaking loose.

6. Be ready to shift to 2nd gear almost immediately. Basically, once the revs settle down from the spinning tire launch, you will be ready for 2nd gear.

7. The rest requires concentrating on nailing your shift points, and not getting into the rev limiter.

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