Every year after the SEMA Show, our company comes together for a one-day balls-out track day. Together with sister magazines Super Street, Import Tuner, Modified and Honda Tuning, a field of highly-modified cars battle it out for the fastest lap time on Buttonwillow Raceway in California.
The format is simple. Each team has multiple sessions to make their fastest lap. There's no need to run every session; you simply go all-out until you're satisfied with your time.
To make the event fair, classes are divided into front-, rear- and all-wheel drive categories, as well as by tire compounds - there's also a street class for competitors with minimal modifications on street tires.
In this year's field of 42 cars, only four had European roots. Fortunately, two won their class and another team came second. This was a great success considering the Euros were outnumbered 10-to-1 and that the last four years ended in defeat.
Based in City of Industry, CA, Rennspec is a dealer for brands such as BBS, Brembo and Volk Racing. Its shop project was an '01 BMW M3. The E46 had done a few track days in the past but remained a daily driver. However, they saw the lack of Euro competitors in SLB and decided to prepare the M3 for contention.
Before the event, Rennspec installed an ESS Tuning supercharger and dialed-in the chassis with Moton/Ground Control suspension, Brembo brakes, Volk wheels and Nitto NT01 tires.
The team started the day with a 1:55 lap but noticed its tires were fading. In the spirit of SLB, Ryan Gates from AMS Motorsport came to the rescue, donating a fresh set of Nittos.
After one heat cycle with driver Charles Ng behind the wheel, the M3 put down a 1:53.481 lap; fast enough to beat the Toyota Supra they'd been battling all day in the Limited FR class for the win.
"We had a chance to prove we can build a quality race car with off-the-shelf parts," explained Toan Nguyen from Rennspec. "Our S54 engine had 100k miles on it when it was supercharged and still gave us a good dyno along with impressive reliability and spectacular results. It's things like this that makes BMW special."
The last time we saw 034Motorsport at SLB was in '07 with their Audi A4 VR6T. They finished 16th overall with a time of 1:57.216. Since then, the tuner had changed the balance of the car by removing the VR6 motor for a lighter 2.0L 20v turbo. "That change alone removed 150 lb from the front of the car," explained Javad Shadzi from 034.
You'd imagine a smaller engine would handicap 034 but this wasn't the case. "We were running around 650hp in the VR6 and the four-cylinder is about 600hp," Javad told us. "We lost power below 3500rpm but the car never sees that on the track anyway. It's always revving higher so it made sense to go with the smaller motor."
034 was prepared for the Limited FR title. In the first session, they were testing a bigger front sway bar to improve turn-in. "It upset the balance, so we'd have needed to make a bunch of fundamental changes to make it work. Since it was a short day, we reverted to our previous setup," he explained.
034 dropped a couple of seconds, running a 1:49.875, but needed another 1.5sec to beat the Subaru STI in the lead. Unfortunately, the A4 suffered a mechanical failure and went home early. "We only had five full laps on the track all day. When the car felt good, it broke," Javad complained.
034 was resigned to second place, but assure us they'll be ready next year to take the title.
VW tuners Euro Sport Accessories has a Ford division called FSWerks that modifies Focus and Fiesta models. Since these cars were designed, engineered and built in Europe, we have a soft spot for them, including this '05 ZX3 raced by owner Clint Boisdeua. He's a loyal FSWerks customer who briefly worked for the company.
It has a FSWerks big-turbo kit, rollcage, suspension, camber plates, clutch kit and aerodynamics to make it more competitive on the track. At one point, the car had a built 2.0L with pistons and rods but it spun a bearing so the original 2.3L was refitted. Without forged internals it now runs less boost but was still rated at 260whp.
At SLB, Clint ran a 2:01.699 lap to beat a Dodge SRT-4 and win the front-wheel drive Street class.
|Top Five SLB Finishers|
|1. Sierra Sierra Enterprises||David Empringham||2005 Mitsubishi Evo||Unlimited AWD||1:41.046|
|2. FX Motorsports Development||Billy Johnson||1991 Acura NSX||Unlimited FR||1:41.949|
|3. GST Motorsports||Jeff Westphal||1996 Subaru Impreza L||Unlimited AWD||1:44.586|
|4. AQ Motorsports||JC Meynet||2006 Subaru STI||Limited AWD||1:48.550|
|5. 034Motorsport||Christian Miller||2001 Audi A4 Quattro||Limited AWD||1:49.875|
|5. 034Motorsport||Christian Miller||2001 Audi A4||Limited AWD||1:49.875|
|11. AE Performance||Jeff Westphal||2008 BMW M3||Unlimited FR||1:53.079|
|13. Rennspec||Charles Ng||2001 BMW M3||Limited FR||1:53.481|
|29. FSWerks||Clint Boisdeau||2005 Ford Focus||Street FF||2:01.699|