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Heavy Metal Affliction -- Track Time Audio

John Schommer
Friday, July 20, 2012


Simply put, Heavy Metal Affliction is a passion for cars. How each of us demonstrates that passion to the outside world is often a very personal thing. Some of us buy and fix cars, some do almost anything to immerse themselves deeper in automotive history, and some attend cars shows and make car culture an ever more consuming part of their life.


For Forza community member Chippy569 (aka David of Minneapolis, MN), it has been about refining his particular passion for automotive sound. As a child, David would sit on his parent’s front porch and listen to the cars and trucks roll by. It became his habit to try and guess the passing car by the sound alone. The neighborhood was diverse, where American-made models mixed with Honda’s, Subaru’s, and Harley’s. The first vehicle sound David could pick out was a GMC truck.


As David grew up, he maintained a love of cars, despite having parents who were not car enthusiasts. His love of sound somewhat transferred to music and he learned to play piano, later switching to drums in high school. Even though he was adept at playing, he really preferred recording. When David grew older and went off to Michigan Technological University, he enrolled in the sound design program. Here, among his studies, his car passion was reborn. A buddy invited him to watch the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, by the end of the race, it was on.


David played racing games with friends and kept current with the racing scene --DTM in particular--through SPEED in his down time from studies. With the dawning of Forza Motorsport 3 some friends copped a junk car seat and constructed a makeshift simulator; later David was involved with the school’s Formula SAE team, whose goal was to build an open-wheel race car and learn engineering in the process. Initially he was filming the process, but in the end, was drawn into the program. Their racecar took top honors out of 17 entrants. As the film shows David is a talented artist and the build was a fun process.




After graduating, getting married, and trying to find work in the field of audio engineering, David began reading tons of car blogs, and then decided to start his own, which evolved into Track Time Audio. The site is full of audio tidbits, sound projects David has been a part of, and several interviews with audio pros, including Turn 10’s Creative Audio Director Nick Wiswell. Here are links to part one and part two of that interview.


While working on his blog, David’s Pontiac Grand Pix was getting old and it was time for a new ride, so he began thinking of what kind of car he wanted that would fit in his budget and serve his needs. Having followed DTM racing (German Touring Cars) he had a preordained fondness for the European sedans of the 1980s such as BMW E30’s, Volvo 240’s and, of course, Mercedes. He wanted something sporty with four doors and something that was not just off the shelf. Having lived in David’s neck of the woods I can attest these types of cars are not very abundant, and most are rusted out, if available at all. Minnesota and Wisconsin have long cold winters and they salt the roads; furthermore, American-made cars are overtly predominant.


Despite these challenges and thanks to the magic of Craigslist, a lot of persistent searching, and certainly some luck, David found the car of his dreams about 20 minutes away: a pristine, well-kept, and fully documented 1985 Mercedes-Benz 190E-16V. He called immediately, test drove the car, found it to be superb, and bought it on his birthday the following day.



This particular 190E has a cool history too, having been originally owned by a Mercedes Gullwing collector with the unique title of Colonel Hines. The gentleman imported the car to the states (the 16V version wasn’t available in the states until 1987) and used it as a daily driver in California until his passing. His collection was purchased by Mercedes Benz USA’s museum and the 190E was sold to a Twin Cities car dealer who kept it in a showroom next to an BMW E30-M3 until David bought it. Talk about a find! David’s patience and persistence paid off. After taking delivery and driving it in the beautiful Midwestern autumn, he promptly put the Benz in storage to protect it from the car-eating Minnesota winter.


For those that don’t know the car’s history, the 190E 16V is no standard-fare Merc. It was a car created to accommodate homologation requirements so Mercedes could race in the DTM series. It is powered by a Cosworth racing engine and is not only fast, stiff, and luxurious but quite rare. Bone stock, the car can do 0-60 in seven seconds flat and has a top speed of 144 mph. Respectable, if not awesome, for a mid-eighties saloon.


Here is where it gets even more interesting and where David’s automotive eclecticism collides with his education and predisposition for sound. He decided to do his own dyno-recording session, utilizing his audio skills and the excellent sound of his 190’s 16-valve motor.


Such things don’t come cheaply, so upon the advice of a friend he utilized Kickstarter (a project-funding site).  Fortunately, he raised the needed $1,500 and booked a hub-dyno session with Devoted Autoworks of White Bear Lake, MN. The session went very well and David even had a film crew capture the event in this cool documentary:




Since then he has gone the next step and built his own frequency-aligned sound simulator program seen here:




Now that is the way to take your love of cars and turn it into something special. The development of this tool is as significant to David’s career and audio engineering progression as firing up the motor for the first time in a car build or ground-up restoration.


Congratulations to David for his accomplishments and living his automotive dreams through technology. The creativity and determination to create something that is truly his own, through Track Time Audio and the sound simulator, is impressive and worthy of recognition. That Mercedes is pretty darn sweet too.


Check out these shots of the car:







If you’re interested, here are a couple cool comparison videos that show the 190 Cosworth’s abilities:



If you have or know of someone who has a unique story to tell about their car, a build in progress or how their love of cars resulted in the creation of untold awesomeness, post about it in the request for community rides thread.


If you have comments about this week's feature or questions about how David does what he does or how sweet his car is post about it in the HMA Thread.