The smokey scent of roasted Falkens and thunder of jeering fans had barely effervesced from Irwindale, CA's "House of Drift" after Formula D's Pro finals, when the organization apparently decided they were bored, and invited drifters and fans alike to an unofficial encore of the weekend's festivities: Pro-Am finals at Toyota Speedway just weeks later. The traditional annual site of the pro league's "Judgement Day" (coverage last month), it went without saying that any amateur with intentions to drift the hallowed banked walls, violent switchbacks and high-speed hairpin had best bring his A-game. And this year's competition did not disappoint. Drifting the same configuration as the pro competition, Jeffery Abbott, Nikolay Konstantinov and Cyrus Martinez flowed the course better than many seasoned vets. Tsuiso battles between Roland Gallagher and Brad Hettinger looked as if they descended from professional Final Four competition, and the dedication of drivers who traveled cross-country to make the event, wrenched on their own cars during five-minute calls, and attacked the course with nothing held back made us respect how hard these guys fight for their keep. Engines grenaded, transmissions scattered, K-rails were moved by 2,100-pound S13s, brown Cressidas were nearly T-boned at 65 mph, Tommy Roberts' gold S13 was totaled for the 57th time, and at the end of it all, R32 Skyline-piloting Ian Fournier claimed gold, and 18 drivers were awarded licenses for pro competition.
World Cup Finals
Import vs. Domestic
Maryland International Raceway (MIR)'s 15th annual World Cup Finals, presented by the US Army, recently kicked off at the aforementioned track's quarter-mile strip, marking a huge rise in attendance and participation over previous years (it even outsold a filming of Pinks). Over 700 cars competed in the "Import vs. Domestic"-themed two-day event, in classes ranging from Street ET brackets with 120-car fields, to All Motor, Sportsman and Pro classes.
From the top, the Outlaw 10.5 vs Pro Import class was comprised entirely of 7-second domestics. But with near-open tech for imports, the Bergenholtz bros, Chris Rado or Brent Rau could've taken an easy win. The 16-car Outlaw Radial vs. Modified class was again entirely dominated by 7.5- to 8.9-second Domestics, with the exception of number-one qualifier Raul Acevedo and his freak 7.21-second Datsun, which retired early with mechanical woes. Jamie Carter's Supra (cover, Jan '10) held down the heavily domestic, 49-car Street Fighter class by qualifying Second and holding onto 7-second passes all day, until missing the light in the Semifinals, clearing a path for an 8.0-second Mustang to take the win.
The Rudy Story of the event was that of Steve Menman from Collegeville, PA, who qualified his '93 Civic with an 8.929 @ 124.81, letting off. Unfortunately he, too, didn't make competition, but watching him qualify ahead of 28 stupid-fast Mustangs, Camaros, Novas, and other assorted single-digit-ET muscle was a sight to behold. There was more of that in the Wild Street class, where the top three qalifiers out of 42 were 8-second Hondas. But once number-one qualifier Chris Miller redlit, Felix Medina's Civic called it quits mid-track in the first round, and Jonathan Reynolds failed to make the show, the Mustangs sucked up yet another win. In All Motor, however, the only contest was among the imports, with Loan Nguyen and his '95 Civic running consistently faster than his 27 competitors, smoking two Mustangs to take the win with a 10.616 @ 130.09.
We've seen imports run faster in all classes than the WFC's heavily domestic winners this time around, but mechanical setbacks and lack of preparation resultant of import drag racing's tumultous past few years kept most off the poduim. With more track-organized events planned next season, expect the imports to run more consistently than ever. And with classes open to virtually everyone, '10 might just be the best year in a decade to get in on the action.
Christian Rado Killing Spree
Just one year after destroying two transmissions at our Super Lap Battle finals at Buttonwillow Raceway in 2008, and failing to finish the event in satisfactory standings-the close of a season riddled with mechanical failures-Christian Rado and team Scion/World Racing now sit as undisputed champions atop the Unlimited FWD time-attack thrown. The crew scorched competition at this year's SLB finals, winning their class outright and setting a new 1:49.3 record for the clockwise-13 track configuration with their dual-winged, GT-Award-winning tC, earning what would be their first of two such major time-attack series titles. And if that wasn't enough, Rads blew the dust off his Pro FWD dragster for some Comp-class competition at NHRA Finals in Pomona, CA, and ran a 6.87 @ 197mph the second round of Qualifying, backing it up with a 6.97 @ 146 mph (letting off) the very next round, cementing the World Racing drag Scion tC in history books as the first FWD ever to run a six-second quarter-mile. Look to a future issue of 2NR for the complete feature.
Japan Ousts Hyundai
Despite increased sales and a projected 19% growth for the '10 year, Hyundai Motor Company announced that it will discontinue sales of new passenger vehicles in Japan, indefinitely. The news comes on the heels of the company's decision to withdraw from the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show ("411", Feb. '10), and through the numbers, should come as no shock; Hyundai sold only 15,000 passenger cars in the staunch JDM over the past seven years, failing to move even 800 this year, while rivals Toyota, Honda and Nissan sold 21,000 cars in Korea last year alone. Company officials blame the numbers on Japan's weakened economy, high tariffs for imported cars, low demand for mid-sized sedans, and garages too small to park them. "We (will) focus on more promising markets such as the United States . . . , " a Hyndai official said. Translation: JDM Genesis bits are about to become uber-rare!
Tricks Of The Trade
Helping You Wrench
Permatex copper gasket spray is a popular seal enhancer that has been used by engine builders when applied to a head gasket before assembly. The sticky, metallic copper spray helps to dissipate heat and improve heat transfer, while managing to fill minor surface irregularities. Spraying Permatex on a single-layer head gasket is considered a no-brainer but what about if you're using a multi-layer gasket? 2NR has found that spraying between the layers helps improve the seal before assembling the cylinder head. But don't be overzealous and spray a can's worth onto the gasket; four to five coats on both sides and in between should get the job done.
Subie Invasion 2009
As Las Vegas' SEMA shenanigans came to a close, one of the west's largest gatherings of all things Subaru-related, in joint effort with Subaru of America, Subaru of Las Vegas, Las Vegas' Flat4 Subie club, and others were quick to re-kindle the tuner flame. Forty-some-odd cars and a Tarzan Yamada autograph session kicked off the unofficial start to the annual Subiefest event on a Thursday night at a Vegas In-N-Out lot, and by Saturday, over 500 Subie buffs gathered at Subaru of Las Vegas for the judged main event, raffle, DJ performances, lunch, hand-outs from Endura-tech, Invidia, DC Shoes, and more. Nevada SPCA even showed up to give away free puppies to good homes. Needless to say, we didn't get any. Festivities ended with two group photoshoots organized by mysubie.com; half pounding the Las Vegas Strip, and half carving the twisties of Mt. Charleston. Attendance (and festivities) is expected to double next year.
Bergenholtz Brothers In NHRA Museum
The import/sport compact racing world got another piece of the mainstream pie, recently, when Ed and Ron Bergenholtz officially had their '89 Honda CRX Pro FWD dragster included in the NHRA Museum's "Four Brothers" display, making them the only two-brother team to receive such an honor in 50 years. The Bergenholtz' CRX stole the drag racing spotlight from traditional domestic dragsters in the early '90s, in much the same way as Bob and Dick Pierson's '32 Ford Coupe stole the land-speed racing game from traditional convertible roadsters back in the '50s, each car/team re-shaping the motorsports game in their wake. A project originally started by their late friend, Robert "Sap" Sapinoso, the Bergenholtz bros overtook the CRX in his memory in 1995, and built it to became the first FWD unibody to run a nine-second quarter-mile, running a 9.875 @ 147 in Pomona, CA, in May of 1999-two months after the duo debuted the world's first FWD-adapted "wheelie bars" on the car, that have since become a staple to today's fastest FWD racers. The 950hp B-series CRX had gone on to run a fastest competition time of 8.76 @ 172, before being retired in favor of the Mazda 6 the bros built to run 7.25 @ 198, earning them back-to-back NHRA Pro FWD championships in '05 and '06, and the same car that held the title as World's Fastest FWD until very recently.
By The Numbers
The amount of dollars Christian Rado estimates has been spent getting his 7-second drag tC to break the 6-second barrier.