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Super Lap Battle Buttonwillow - Defining Fast

Scene: Super Lap Battle Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Buttonwillow, CA

Sean Klingelhoefer
Feb 1, 2009
Photographers: Wes Allison, Jonathan Wong
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When heading out to my first ever Super Lap Battle event I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would my Civic make it to Buttonwillow and back without blowing up? Would the Motel 6 live up to all of its horror stories? Was the Cusco car really as fast as it was rumored to be? I had no idea when leaving LA that the SLB finals would be far beyond what my imagination had conjured.

As my little stock Civic did all it could to keep up with JDMWong in his loaner 350Z the miles went by. When we had finally arrived at the dilapidated Motel 6, I realized that when Jon told me the place came with "courtesy fly swatters" he might not have been joking. Little did Jon and Terence know they were in for a big surprise at check-in. The only rooms left, they were told, were single bed units. It became apparent that there was another blunder made by whichever Source Interlink employee scheduled the room. As soon as I had feeling in my cheeks again from all the laughter, I realized that the same was probably true for our room, which was to contain Charles, my lovely girlfriend Veronica who decided to stick it out and see what Super Lap was all about and myself.

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After Jon and Terence pulled away in the red Z, Charles approached the check-in counter and began working his magic. With his boyish good looks and the charm of his Chilean chullo-knit cap, he began working himself into the good graces of the 50-something year old woman on the other side of the glass. Although I'm not sure what promises were made, we left with keys to a two-bed room and immediately informed the others of our good fortune. After a brief initial inspection the room didn't seem as bad as I expected. This was not entirely accurate. Once we really looked around the following was found: turd skids in the toilet, crazy god-knows-what stains in the bathtub, tap water that was slimy as hell, Charles' bed contained blood stains and an unidentified white crusty puddle on the comforter among other things yet to be found. To put it briefly, Charles got the shitend of the stick.

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After unpacking, in our newly grossed-out state, we prepared to go out to dinner. A BBQ joint all the way on the other side of town, about a half mile, was supposed to be the happening spot. Once the doors were open there were lots of familiar faces, and some not so familiar, packing the place to capacity. The roaring voices of the restaurant would set the tone for the event. Camaraderie filled the air, second only to competitive impulses. Once everyone ate their fill we decided to head back to the motel and try to get a good night's sleep since we had to be at the track near the break of dawn. One quick detour to purchase a blanket at a truck stop and we were off to the motel.

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Now I realize that buying a blanket just to avoid touching the motel sheets might seem a bit extreme, but that's only because you haven't been to this motel. As Charles readied his bed for sleep he had to have wished he picked up a blanket himself. "Dude...my bed is so gross" he chuckled. "I'm contemplating sleeping with my shoes on!" I was laughing, in horror, so hard I could barely breathe. Chuck then decided to attempt to possibly clean up his bed a little. While amidst the cleansing Charles sighed "Aww... there are a lot of pubic...hair, right there." Upon closer inspection he verified, "It's curly...and white!" When Charlie was done dusting off his pubic congregation we turned on the television and watched "Extreme Loggers" until we couldn't stand it anymore.

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While lying in bed, uncomfortable as hell and fully-clothed, the thought of the track cars kept running through my mind. When my girlfriend leaned over to ask me a question I realized I wasn't the only one having trouble sleeping. After agreement Veronica turned to confirm with Charles how his situation was. "Charles" she asked "are you... itchy?" we laughed, "I never should have come here!" Hilarity ensued. Aside from the semi-trucks that sounded like jumbo-jets doing touch-and-gos, that's the last thing I remembered before I dosed off. I woke up some three hours later to the sound of fully-built time attack cars firing up in the parking lot. Before my eyes could open I announced sleepily "race...cars!"

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After I woke up I went outside our motel room and watched the teams preparing the cars for the day's event in the parking lot. As part of a stipulation for the street class, the cars have to be started and driven from the motel to the racetrack. It gets very cold out in the desert and my hoodie combined with a flannel and a jacket wasn't enough to keep my teeth from chattering. Meanwhile some guys on one of the race teams, probably from somewhere up north, were prepping a car in nothing more than a tee shirt and shorts. Once everyone else was ready to go we made a stop by Starbucks and then headed over to the speedway.

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Once in the gates there were racecars as far as you could see. The trend this year seemed to be EVOs, STIs and S2000s. There were also some interesting makes like a Lotus, two Porsches and even a Mercedes. But you could tell that anyone that was really serious about setting some records was piloting one of the aforementioned three. I'd like to fill everyone in on what, exactly, Super Lap Battle is. SLB falls into a category of automotive racing commonly referred to as "time attack." In time attack events drivers are competing for one goal, the fastest single lap of the day (or weekend etc. depending on the event.) In this case, the fastest recorded lap during hot sessions on the final day is what counts. The cars are broken down into categories based upon drivetrain configuration and level of modifications. But being that this is the final event the teams had to qualify or receive a special invite to get here.

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The majority of the field participated in qualifying rounds in other parts of the country to receive a ticket to finals. I would also like to point out that even if you aren't in Southern California, there is a chance that your town may have a SLB qualifying event. Furthermore spectators aren't charged a fee to go and watch any SLB qualifier and the finals are free of charge as well. What does that mean for you? Well, besides bearing witness to what is possibly the best free automotive spectacle of our time, it would at least get you out of the house for the weekend. We make this event happen to help bring our community together and we strongly encourage people to attend these events. If you haven't attended a Super Lap event yet don't worry, I had never been to one prior to the finals myself, but I can tell you after going to this one it certainly won't be my last.

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The action on track was pretty much non-stop. With all the big names out on the track it was time to make history. The big buzz was about the Cusco STI driven by Tarzan Yamada that had it's sights set on the track record held by HKS/Taniguchi which was set at last year's Super Lap Finals. The arguments for each car having the potential to go faster were constantly being thrown around. The HKS car was lighter, but was driving on grooved tires with stock suspension geometry. The Cusco car had modified pickup points and racing slicks on its side. The cars were basically evenly matched as far as power output. The remaining factor on everyone's mind, was that NOB had only driven the course once, while Tarzan has become very familiar with it. A new track record was imminently possible.

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But the Unlimited AWD class wasn't the only segment lapping for records. The undeniably bad-ass all-carbon C-West/BC S2000 beat the Unlimited FR record by over a second from what the Twins Turbo FD RX7 had set. Chris Rado came out to Buttonwillow with his World Racing TC and only one thing in mind... annihilating the unlimited FF class. While he was unofficially the fastest FF clocking a 1:54.344 during practice, he was only able to post a 1:56.126 during counted sessions landing him in second place behind the 5Zigen Euro R. But the most amazing story of the day was Tim Kuo piloting two cars in different classes to top position. On top of that, both classes he drove in he set the new record. While driving the Evasive Motorsport Evo IX Tim laid down a lap time of 1:50.003, destroying the previous track record (also held by the same vehicle) of 1:53.916.

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In the other class Kuo participated in he upset last year's champion Tage Evanson who fell subject to bad luck. In the first session going all motor and using none of the 75 shot of nitrous he had on board, Tage clocked his fastest lap of the day with a 1:56.186. In the second session a maladjusted brake bias sent Evanson off course sideways into a curb resulting in a broken right rear wheel and rear upper control arm. Evanson scrambled to get his car back together for the third and final session but the alignment was off and he was unable to put power down, resulting in the Limited FF Class victory going to Kuo with a time of 1:55.948, beating Tage's old track record.

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But Tage wasn't the only car to experience mechanical demons. While on pursuit of overall track record and the Unlimited AWD title, the Cusco STI had a catastrophic transmission failure. During the middle of the second session Tarzan pulled the car into the dirt just after the main straight. The whole crew sprinted out onto the track to confirm if it was as bad as they thought. Huddled around the car the team watched as Tarzan demonstrated how unwilling the car was to move. After a quick rev up and some horrendous metallic banging the team had him shut the vehicle off so they could push it back to the pits. The fastest lap the Subaru would make was the fastest of the event at 1:44.327, but not quite good enough for Buttonwillow's overall record.

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When all was said and done I had definitely made some great memories. From sleeping in the scariest motel I've ever seen to eating more track hot dogs than anyone should, I loved every minute of it. My driver's side seat ended up going out as a loner to a Civic that couldn't pass tech with the bucket it had equipped. I met Tarzan Yamada, the legendary Japanese wheel-man. And I got to take some great photographs to document it all. I've got to admit, I have one hell of a job.

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2008 SUPER LAP BATTLE RESULTS
NAME NO. NAME DRIVER MAKE CLASS BEST TIME TIRES
1 11 Team Tarzan Eiji Yamada {{{2007 Subaru Impreza}}} WRX Unlimited AWD 1:44.372 Hankook
2 16 C-West/BC* Tyler McQuarrie {{{2000 Honda S2000}}} Unlimited FR 1:46.893 Hankook
3 2 Crawford Performance Tanner Foust {{{2008 Subaru Impreza}}} STI Unlimited AWD 1:47.052 Hankook
4 14 JIC Magic USA Paul Brown 1996 {{{Porsche}}} GT2 Unlimited FR 1:47.868 Hankook
5 18 Factor X Motorsport Development Billy Johnson {{{1991 Acura NSX}}} Unlimited FR 1:47.965 Yokohama
6 1 GST Motorsports Gary Sheehan {{{1996 Subaru Impreza}}} L Unlimited AWD 1:48.038 BFG
7 15 {{{M}}}-Workz Steve Mitchell {{{2003 Nissan 350Z}}} Unlimited FR 1:48.471 Hankook
8 888 Evasive Motorsport** Tim Kuo 2006 {{{Mitsubishi}}} Evo IX Limited AWD 1:50.003 Toyo
9 19 Driving Ambition Kip Olson 1991 {{{Acura NSX}}} Unlimited FR 1:51.847 Hoosier
10 112 Speed {{{Element}}} Andrie Hartanto 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 8 Limited AWD 1:53.229 Toyo
11 113 MFQ Motorsports Robispec Dieter Heinz 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 8 Limited AWD 1:53.981 Toyo
12 5 5Zigen K. Hiranaka {{{2004 Honda Accord}}} Euro-R Unlimited FF 1:54.987 Falken
13 145 N1 Concepts Andrie Hartanto 2000 {{{Honda S2000}}} Unlimited FR 1:55.067 Toyo
14 146 Sportcar Motion*** Tim Kuo {{{1995 Honda Civic}}} Limited FF 1:55.948 Toyo
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15 3 World Racing Chris Rado {{{2006 Scion tC}}} Unlimited FF 1:56.126 Hoosier
16 17 HASport/Kaaz Tage Evanson {{{1995 Honda Civic}}} Limited FF 1:56.186 Nitto
17 136 Robispec/Flying {{{Miata}}} Matt Andrews {{{1995 Mazda Miata}}} Limited FR 1:56.187 Nitto
18 12 Science of Speed Brady Dohrmann {{{2002 Honda S2000}}} Unlimited FR 1:56.268  
19 125 Eastside Muffler Joe Santiago 2006 {{{Mitsubishi}}} Evo 9 Limited AWD 1:56.288  
20 101 Factor X/Robispec Nils Leufven 2004 Mitsubishi Evo 8 Street AWD 1:56.672 Yokohama
21 311 Gates311.com/AMS Ryan Gates 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X Street AWD 1:56.726 Nitto
22 120 AMS Martin Musial 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X Street AWD 1:{{{57}}}.067 BFG
23 135 UMS Tuning Anthony Szirka 2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII Limited AWD 1:57.134 Nitto
24 111 E- Autosports Toshiki Yoshioka {{{2006 Honda S2000}}} Limited FR 1:57.169 Nitto
25 108 Harmon Motive JC Meynet {{{2006 Subaru Impreza}}} STI Street AWD 1:57.372 Yokohama
26 114 Yokohama/Boost Logic Matt Andrews {{{1995 Toyota Supra}}} Street FR 1:57.711 Yokohama
27 6 Mishimoto/Motorworld Hype Andy Hope {{{2002 Acura RSX}}} Unlimited FF 1:58.098 BFG
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28 131 Evasive Motorsports Robert Walker {{{2006 Honda S2000}}} Street FR 1:58.364 Dunlop
29 149 Robispec Robert Fuller 2005 {{{Mitsubishi}}} Evo VIII Street AWD 1:58.542  
30 143 trackHQ.com/APR Performance Manly Kao {{{2005 Lotus Elise}}} Street FR 1:58.752 Dunlop
31 118 TEIN USA Robert Walker 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9 Street AWD 1:58.989 Hankook
32 121 Ksport Brady Dohrmann 2005 {{{Honda}}} {{{Integra}}} Type-R Unlimited FF 1:59.481  
33 122 SPEC Clutch David Norton {{{1995 Nissan 240SX}}} Limited FR 1:59.667 Toyo
34 107 Stop Tech Steve Ruiz 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X Street AWD 1:59.853 Yokohama
35 132 Renspec Ryan Hampton 2007 {{{Porsche}}} GT3 Limited FR 2:00.568 Toyo
36 4 {{{Canyon}}} Motorsports Bob Scheer 2002 Mini {{{Cooper}}} S Unlimited FF 2:00.605 Hankook
37 141 Endless USA Murata 1999 {{{Nissan}}} Siliva {{{S15}}} Limited FR 2:00.798 Yokohama
38 104 Kel's Garage Kelvin Yong {{{2003 Honda S2000}}} Street FR 2:01.027 Dunlop
39 116 M1 Fabrication Russ Warr 2005 Mitsubishi Evo 8 Street AWD 2:01.154 Yokohama
40 105 Robispec/EDO Performance Scott VanderHeide {{{2005 Subaru Impreza}}} STI Street AWD 2:01.541 Yokohama
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41 8 Toda Racing USA   {{{2006 Acura RSX}}} Unlimited FF 2:01.617 Yokohama
42 133 WRD Paul Bonaccorsi 2006 VW {{{GTI}}} Limited FF 2:02.652 Dunlop
43 127 K&N/Autocannon Dennis Caco 2006 {{{Mitsubishi}}} Evo IX Limited AWD 2:02.705 Toyo
44 7 Top Setup Charlie Rhyu {{{1988 Honda CRX}}} Unlimited FF 2:02.708 Toyo
45 119 Import Tuner/TEIN USA Tanner Foust {{{2008 Lexus IS-F}}} Street FR 2:02.738 Yokohama
46 139 Project Car Magazine Jeffrey Hosee {{{1994 Sentra}}} SE-R Limited FF 2:02.811  
47 148 Seat Time Performance Driving Jon Krolewicz 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X Street AWD 2:02.971 Conti
48 9 Nitto Tire Dan Gardner 2007 {{{Scion}}} tc Limited FF 2:03.132 Nitto
49 142 Evolution Racewerks V.J. Mirzayan 2008 {{{BMW}}} 135i Street FR 2:03.393 Yokohama
50 103 Evasive Motorsport Michael Chang {{{2008 Honda Civic}}} Si Street FF 2:03.557 Dunlop
51 {{{100}}} Berk Technology Jeff Tyler 2008 BMW 135i Street FR 2:03.964 Toyo
52 147 JHP USA Tom Liang {{{1991 Honda Civic}}} Si Limited FF 2:04.256 Nitto
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53 106 Crawford Performance Tanner Foust {{{2008 Subaru Impreza}}} STI Street AWD 2:04.579  
54 130 Boxer 4 Racing/{{{Continental}}} Steven Rankins {{{2006 Subaru Impreza}}} STI Street AWD 2:04.722 Conti
55 129 Windspeed Motorsports/Continental Douglas Wind {{{2004 Dodge SRT-4}}} Street FF 2:04.912 Conti
56 10 Special Projects Jeff Owen {{{1996 Acura Integra}}} DCZ Unlimited FF 2:05.050  
{{{57}}} 110 Cobb Tuning Eric Bizek 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 Street FF 2:05.254 Dunlop
58 126 HB Speed Matt Andrews 2008 {{{Mitsubishi}}} Evo X Street AWD 2:05.875  
59 128 P/1 Auto/Continental Don Hill {{{1992 Honda Civic}}} Street FF 2:05.907 Conti
60 124 AP Boss USA   {{{1999 Honda Civic}}} Street FF 2:05.991 Falken
61 138 S Hubinette Racing Stina Hubinette 2003 DodgeSRT4 Street FF 2:06.711 Michelin
{{{62}}} 137 Autocannon.com Dennis Caco 1992 {{{Honda Civic}}} VX Street FF 2:08.608 Falken
63 140 Hasport Bob Endicaott {{{1988 Honda CRX}}} Street FF 2:10.115  
64 134 Yokohama Matt Johnson {{{1991 240SX}}} Street FR 2:10.669 Yokohama
65 13 HG Motorsports Dieter Heinz 2008 Mercedes C300 Street FR 2:12.892  

*New Unlimited FR record, beat Twins Turbo time of 1:48.597**New Limited AWD record, beat their old time of 1:53.916***New Limited FF record, beat Tage Evanson old time of 1:58.366

By Sean Klingelhoefer
211 Articles

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