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End of an Era - Mike Speck Signs Off

Mike Speck
Feb 7, 2010

I suppose that in time all things eventually come to an end, and that adage is also true for my monthly column here at Modified. After five years of having the chance to drive and write about some of the best-tuned and developed rides here in Phoenix, the vehicular pickings have become sparse, and the time has unfortunately arrived for me to close this chapter in my writing career. I have enjoyed my time with the Modified group and am more thankful than you know to have been given the opportunity to do this for as long as I have. I can only hope that all of you have been able to enjoy perusing my column as much as I've enjoyed the process of writing it. And as we all know, the readership support is what ultimately lets people like me do stuff like this for a living, so you have my true thanks.

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I also recognize that none of this would have been possible without the guidance and support of the terrific editorial staff at Modified. So to Dave Drimmie, Dave Pratte and especially Peter Tarach, thanks very much for all of your help. With print media having admittedly faced some hard times over the past several years due to struggles in the economy and the growing encompassment and reach of the Internet, Modified has stood strong-as a quality title should. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to write for such a substance-backed title, and I know that Modified will continue to bring you all the hard info on the most innovative mods and the best cars around.

The Bondurant School, which helped set me up with this gig in the first place and allowed me access to the circuit whenever I needed it, made my job easier, and I will continue to be one of its instructors as I have been for the past 15 years.

And then there were the cars. Seriously, when Modified asked me for some technical articles on how to get the most out of the driving equation, I had no clue that it would morph into a chance to drive some of the hot rods that I've wheeled. From our first evaluation that featured Honda guru Brian Gillespie's supercharged Hasport CR-X (pictured, top) all the way to our most recent test of a beautiful UMS-tuned R34 GT-R V-Spec II [1], I've enjoyed just about every one of the 20-something cars I've driven for this little slice of heaven that we call a column.

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Of course, there were a few cars in the group that really stood out, like the aforementioned Honda and Nissan products, and I can pretty much guarantee you that I'll never forget the Warp Factor 11 acceleration from the technically brilliant STI of Richard Garcia and Dynocomp. Then there was the super-clean and incredibly quick-spooling Mitsu EVO from Mynes, which retained all the attributes of such an already great car and simply enhanced them. The Full-Race-supported time attack Subies that I drove to two second-place finishes overall in the Modified Tuner Shootouts were a highlight for sure, as much for the cars themselves as the success we had with them.

But, really, as I think about it, there were actually two cars that stood out the most-two cars that I truly miss thrashing for the short time I had access to them. Two cars that I would be happy to drive again and would be proud to own as track machines.

You wouldn't think that a station wagon would be at the top of my list for track cars, and to be honest neither did I. Had I not driven Erin Morely's Goodspeed-prepared, would-be WRX grocery-getter [2], I never would've thought a family truckster could make its way around a circuit with such confidence. Maybe it was the Cusco diffs, the rippin 2.0-liter JDM motor or the fact that the wagon had a proper cage, but it was a terrific car to drive hard-tons of grip, decent power and just plain fun.

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And then there was the ScienceofSpeed NSX [3] that I drove the week after Phoenix racer Brady Dohrmann hustled the car to the RWD class win at the Modified Tuner Shootout. To this day, that supercharged Hoosier A6 slick-shod Honda stands as the single best track car I've ever sat in. It's a bit of a shame that SoS front man Chris Willson has decided to park the pristine white '91 rocket ship because I think it would make a killer 25 Hours of Thunderhill entry. At any rate, that car did everything right. In my mind, the SoS NSX represented all that is good about Modified and the tuner industry in general. It represented the art of taking an already well designed and well built machine and making it definitively better in just about every sense of the word.

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You may see me continue to submit a small article every now and then in Modified, and I'll definitely be reading it each month to keep up to date. Keep those project cars going and keep working to make sure you can wheel that machine you finish building-and wheel it right.

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By Mike Speck
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