Subaru Head Gasket Rant

How much sealing do you need?  Subarus are known for blowing head gaskets.  Let’s accept it and move on.

So, you upgraded to ARP2000, but if you want to play on Ethanol with the big boys (400+ whp, track use, etc), you will probably want to spend the extra $450 to get the 625 studs.  I learned this empirically tracking my GD and GR.  I had fresh rebuilds on both of them, and they were both pushing coolant out the overflow.  These cars were not crazy (430WHP, 550WHP), but I would take them out for 10 laps at a time in SoCal summer weather.  Rarely saw temperature issues, but the heads would lift and push coolant out the overflow tank.  We went to SEMA (2014?) and asked all the motor experts (sleeved motors, head gasket manufacturers, etc).  Common response was “you need to retorque the heads,” which is a tall order for a Subaru.  We tried it on both cars anyway.  We did get a quarter turn out of the ARP2000, but cars still pushed coolant at the track.  No signs of deformation on the headgaskets, just coolant leaking past.

This kept me off the track for a while and ultimately led me away from sleeved motors, which both cars had.  I upgraded one car to 1/2″ head studs and the other to ARP 625 head studs.  Based on 2 years of track abuse, I have no reason to think the 1/2″ (more expensive) upgrade is necessary.  My EJ22 putting out 550WHP exclusively used on track with ARP 625 has run two seasons now without refresh (though I’m likely jinxing myself for this year).

IAG’s website hits on one very important issue.  If you’re going to start playing with fasteners, you run the risk of distorting your mains.  Increasing the clamping load creates all kinds of weird distortions in the block; so, spend the extra money to line hone the main journals of the case halves while bolted together with upgraded case studs.  Maybe with the headstuds/heads too?  I’m not sure.

Lastly, O-Rings create new issues as they tend to leak with common MLS head gaskets.  I have yet to hear of a solid track build using o-rings that didn’t have a leaky gasket.  Maybe spraying copper all over the head gasket would work?  That copper O-Ring needs something to bite into. I simply don’t have enough empirical data to opine on the use.  I do still believe sleeved motors can be used if built correctly from the ground up, but, again, extra machining is not optional.  Put all your fasteners on and machine.  I tried to build a sleeved motor that had seen better days last year.  Machined a bunch of stuff, but didn’t do it in the proper order.  The cylinders would go three thou out of round when everything was clamped together.  Sadly, pistons are not egg shaped.

Just some thoughts.  I’m probably 20% accurate at best, but what do I know?  I was raised with girls.

Speed Ring is Coming

Anyone else looking forward to this event?  I hope it is as much fun as last year minus all the beer and electrical problems.  Clever sabotage HKS.  I hear Ken Kasitz will be bringing the heat in his Feal Suspension, Yimi Sport-Tuned STi this year +250 whp.


Kevin’s Car Before He Started A Massive Build

2006 Mitsubishi Evolution IX SE


  • Oem 4g63  bottom end with no modification
  • 1600 cc Precision injectors
  • Custom RRE 4″intake (speed density)
  • Kelford 272 cams
  • Custom  RRE lower intercooler piping
  • ETS upper intercooler piping with TIAL bov
  • Oem throttlebody
  • Oem intake manifold
  • BBK full turbo unported
  • Oem exhaust manifold unported
  • Buschur ported ebay 02 housing
  • RRE modified skunk 2 downpipe
  • Custom RRE side exit stainless exhaust with exhaust wrap
  • Custom oil cooler
  • Custom power steering cooler
  • Nisei 4″ intercooler
  • AEM ecu with custom RRE tune
  • Accusump oil accumulator with auto valve
  • E85 fuel — 475 hp/428 tQ


  • Full 8 point custom roll cage
  • DMS 50 coilovers with custom spring rates
  • Cusco spherical bearings front control arm(front and rear)
  • Cusco spherical bearing rear upper control arm
  • Cusco spherical bearing rear trailing arm
  • Whiteline rear bumpsteer bushings
  • Progress 25mm rear swaybar
  • Whiteline roll center adjusters
  • Muellerized competition rear diff
  • Oem front swaybar
  • Custom brake ducts and ducting
  • Stoptech ST40 front big brake kit
  • Raybestos ST 43 brake pads front and rear
  • Enkei 17 x 10 RPF 1 +18 rims with NT 01 275/40 17


  • Schroth 6 point HANS belts
  • HANS sport device
  • Bell BR 1 SNELL 2010 auto racing helmet
  • Sparco Profi 3 layer fire suit
  • quick release fire extinghuisher
  • Sparco gloves
  • Alpinstars shoes
  • Traqmate data system
  • Gopro high def camera with external mic with remote control
  • Schroth head net
How did you make the transition from driving on the street to attacking the track?
I bought a Mini Cooper JCW back in 2006, my friend drove an STi and another drove an Ariel Atom.  They asked me if I might go to a track event with them at Streets of Willow, Haha the rest is history.  I got the bug.  Sold the Mini after getting tired of waving Evo’s by all day.  So I got an Evo 9 SE back in 2007.
Where do you draw the line between dedicated track car and weekend warrior DD?
To be honest the Evo was never a daily driver for me.  I bought it with the track in mind.  I bought it in 2007.  Drove past a dealership near downtown while out working and seen it on one of those revolving turntable things.  Talked to a salesman and put a deposit on it and went back and picked it up later that day.  It had 6000 miles.  Here we are in late 2012.  My car just turned 14,000 miles at the last track event.
What has been your favorite track day event format?  
I actually really liked the last event i done with Extremespeed at Big Willow.  I liked the Extreme Time Attack format at that event.
You run some aero on your car.  Is it form or function?  
A bit of both i think.  The front splitter is definitely functional adding downforce for front end grip.  The big rear wing does help with rear grip, but that isn’t always a good thing in an Evo.  I’ll be making some adjustments in the aero department in the coming months.
Does your personal life get in the way of track time?  Vice versa?  
Not really.  I missed one event this year because of my wife’s birthday, but hey what you gonna do!
What is your biggest goal for your driving in 2013?  
My biggest goal is really just to get better every time I put the car out at the track.  If I get a little better every time out, the laps will take care of themselves
Any wisdom for the would-be track hero just getting his feet wet?  
Yes, get some instruction.  I never have but I’d still like to as there is always stuff to learn.  Start out slow and work your speed up.  Don’t go out on your first event and go home with a wreck like I’ve seen happen a few times.  If you want to slide all over the track then go to a drift event.  Driving fast on a track is about grip.