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FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Thought Import Tuner's annual shootout was dead? Think again!

Mar 30, 2015
Photographers: Sean Russell, Jofel Tolosa, Mike Sabounchi

It's been about a year since the media world was shook upside down. Import Tuner and Super Street were once competitors, and then became brothers before more titles took to the Internet. Our corporate parent had to make a tough decision, and in the end, one brand would keep its magazine while the other would become a website and lose its paper product altogether. Import Tuner, the magazine, bit the dust, but its website lives and so does FR Shootout.

Continental logo Photo 2/19   |   Continental Logo

2014 FR Shootout Photo Gallery

2014 FR shootout competitors 02 Photo 3/19   |   2014 FR Shootout Competitors 02

While we have our FF Battle (front engine, front-wheel-drive), we've always secretly watched FR Shootout (front engine, rear-wheel-drive) from a distance. The Shootout consists of only a track day with time trial competition that consists of a much faster crowd as opposed to our FF family. Which is maybe why we were happy to become involved and host the event during on the same day of our annual FF Battle at Streets of Willow in California.

For 2014, we had 13 entries boasting five makes and six models. Each car would have a full day to set the fastest lap on Streets of Willow's 1.6-mile, 15-turn circuit. Everything from Honda to FR-S/BRZ was represented, as well as six forced induction competitors. We can't forget title sponsor Continental Tire for setting up all the street-prepped vehicles with fresh rubber, bringing back its ExtremeContact DWs for everyone to thrash on (see sidebar).

2014 FR shootout meng tea 2013 scion FR S 03 Photo 4/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Conditions were fast and dry, and it quickly became clear which cars to catch—the Honda S2000s. Robert Walker's supercharged Evasive Motorsport machine, Graham Downey's naturally aspirated BlackTrax Performance roadster, and Jason Kim's blown privateer entry finished at the head of the pack. Fourth overall went to David Karner's supercharged FR-S, just missing the podium by less than 0.2 seconds. In fifth and sixth, Amir Bantatou had the fastest Bimmer with his '97 M3 lapping a 1:27.994, while Martin Choi had the best lap for a Nissan, orbiting in 1:28.217.

The 2014 FR Shootout was a kick in the pants, and you can believe us, we were among the relieved that Import Tuner and this event will live on. Make sure to keep logging in to our website for info on the 2015 edition of FR Shootout. Bring it if you think you can!

The Competitors

1. Robert Walker

'05 Honda S2000

Best Lap: 1:23.991

2014 FR shootout robert walker 05 honda s2000 04 Photo 5/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Simply untouchable at FR Shootout, pro driver Robert Walker brought out his personal S2000 that Evasive Motorsport helped prepare. We know Robert very well as the pilot for the Pikes Peak Evasive Scion FR-S, but he certainly owned the field at Streets of Willow in his blown S2K. Congrats, Rob!

Mod Highlights: HKS GT supercharger, Hondata K-Pro, EVS Tuning exhaust, Eibach R2 coilovers and sway bars, Volk Racing ZE40 wheels, Voltex aero kit, Mugen hardtop

2. Graham Downey

'05 Honda S2000

Best Lap: 1:24.736

2014 FR shootout graham downey 05 honda s2000 05 Photo 6/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

We were disappointed to hear Tom Tang, owner of the second-fastest S2000, wouldn't be able to come down for the competition. However, the car would still make it, and Tom commissioned Graham Downey to put in some remarkable lap times. Less than one second from the leader, we hear this all-motor S2000 is gearing up for wheel-to-wheel competition, as well as a possible Pikes Peak Hill Climb attempt.

Mod Highlights: Blacktrax Performance-built 2.4L long-block, cylinder head, competition valve job, bored throttle body; port-matched intake manifold; Supertech pistons; Brian Crower stroker kit, rods, cams; JRZ suspension; StopTech brakes; Volk Racing TE37SL wheels; J's Racing fenders (Good luck charm baby? —SD)

3. Jason Kim

'07 Honda S2000

Best Lap: 1:26.837

2014 FR shootout jason kim 07 honda s2000 06 Photo 7/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Jason's roadster rounded out the all-S2000 podium less than 3 seconds off the pace. When we hit him up about where he plans to go next with his S2K and his driving ambitions, he stated simply, "I am happy with the car." 'Nuff said. Great job, Jason!

Mod Highlights: Vortech supercharger; Hondata Flashpro tuned by Raceline, Buddy Club header, DC Sports exhausts, Competition clutch, Kaaz 1.5-way diff, Eibach R2 coilovers, Swift sway bars, Cusco rollbar, RGS big brakes, Volk Racing TE37 wheels

4. David Karner

'14 Scion FR-S

Best Lap: 1:27.012

2014 FR shootout david karner 14 scion FR S 07 Photo 8/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

David, who cites his day job as engineer on the world's biggest and most advanced super-yachts, had the fastest ZN6/ZC6 in the field. But when you show up to the track with tuner Shawn Church in tow, you kind of expect the car will do well! David's plan is to continue to develop his FR-S and overcome the limitations set forth by its design. Once the car is competitive, he hopes to enter it in high-profile time attack races.

Mod Highlights: Jackson Racing supercharger, AEM water/methanol injection, P&L Motorsports header, Kaaz limited slip diff, HVT coilovers

5. Amir Bantatou

'97 BMW M3

Best Lap: 1:27.994

2014 FR shootout amir bantatou 97 BMW m3 08 Photo 9/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

While Amir had the fastest BMW of the day, this could just be the beginning of the E36's rise to prominence. The service manager for Avus Autosport plans to take his M3 to compete at our annual Super Lap Battle in the Enthusiast RWD Class. After that, the car will be torn down and turned into a Street Class time attack machine with a new turbo engine built by Avus, plus a new aero package by Marvelous Tune.

Mod Highlights: Avus Autosport motor build, ported and polished head; VAC Motorsports fuel starvation kit and rear control arms; M50 manifold; KW Clubsport coilovers; VAC Motorsports rear control arms; WP Pro big brake kit; Forgeline RS wheels

6. Martin Choi

'12 Nissan 370Z

Best Lap: 1:28.217

2014 FR shootout martin choi 12 nissan 370Z 09 Photo 10/19   |   2014 FR Shootout Martin Choi 12 Nissan 370Z 09

This commercial real estate manager and owner of Ugly Cases had the fastest Z of our Shootout, which may not be too much of a surprise considering his was the only forced induction Nissan out there. Martin has on tap for his car a four-point rollbar, new front splitter, chassis-mounted rear wing, and Enkei RS05RR rims. He hopes to be running in this year's Global Time Attack season.

Mod Highlights: GTM Rotrex supercharger, Berk Technology high-flow cats, Soho Motorsports single exhaust, OS Giken limited-slip diff, JRZ RS Pro coilovers, Godspeed sway bar, SPL Pro Suspension bushings and endlinks; Project M Club Racer pads; Enkei NT03 wheels

7. Jeff Ringer

'91 BMW 318is

Best Lap: 1:28.261

2014 FR shootout jeff ringer 91 BMW 318is 10 Photo 11/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Jeff hit the track hard in his little E30, but we'd expect nothing less from this part-timer for Speed Ventures and owner of Inkface Marketing. In one role, he does private coaching behind the wheel and setup for customer cars; in the other, he produces custom promotional merchandise for all types of companies. Future plans are to swap in an S54 E46 M3 mill into the 318. The E30 is ready and waiting, as it probably took the hardest and longest beating of the day with the most laps out of any car.

Mod Highlights: S52 E36 M3 swap, custom engine mounts and tune, JMP Autowerkz exhaust, OBD1 conversion, S50 manifold, Ground Control coilovers, PFC race pads, APEX ARC-8 wheels

8. Tony Jackson

'02 BMW M3

Best Lap: 1:28.333

2014 FR shootout tony jackson 02 BMW m3 11 Photo 12/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Perhaps no one in the field knows suspension as good as Tony. He works at Eibach during the week and brought out his daily driver to see how far he can push the naturally aspirated M3 on street tires. He finished with a great time but plans to do more on the car in the future shaved seconds, including a few extra bolt-on upgrades and more weight reduction. From there, it might snowball into an all-out race car, but Tony admits to us that he loves this chassis and wants to develop it quite a bit more.

Mod Highlights: Magnaflow exhaust; Eibach Pro R2 coilovers, ERS springs, front sway bars; Ground Control camber plates, rear shock mounts, bushings; VAC solid subframe mounts and reinforcement plates; adjustable lower control arms, Auto Power rollbar; Hawk pads; Volk Racing ZE40 wheels

9. Mike Kang

'14 Subaru BRZ

Best Lap: 1:28.650

2014 FR shootout mike kang 14 subaru BRZ 12 Photo 13/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Mike is a freelance driving instructor and car setup consultant—basically one of the coolest jobs in the world! He test drives and gives feedback to several shops, including CounterSpace Garage, which provided him with the BRZ for this event. The car is designed to be a sleeper—street driven, completely docile (as shown by the stock exhaust), and not draw attention to itself. Wouldn't want to mess with this BRZ driving home!

Mod Highlights: Jackson Racing supercharger, Tomei equal length header, tuned by Shawn Church, CSG-spec Tein SRC coilovers, AP Racing/Essex Endurance big brake kit, Project Mu 999 front pads, Winmax W4 rear pads, TWS Motorsport T66-F wheels

10. Sky Chan

'02 Honda S2000

Best Lap: 1:29.698

2014 FR shootout sky chan 02 honda s2000 13 Photo 14/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Built as a true street car that he drives every day, Sky also takes his S2000 on the road course when he can. The aftermarket parts salesperson will at some point refresh the motor and hopefully turn the Honda into one of the fastest naturally aspirated S2000s in Southern California.

Mod Highlights: Skunk2 70mm throttle body with port-matched intake manifold; Mugen header; Pit Garage 70mm exhaust, rollbar, splitter; TEIN SRC coilovers; Eibach front sway bar; Energy Suspension bushings; Cusco strut tower braces; Alcon/Paragon B Type front big brake kit; Forcewerkz front bumper, side diffuser; APR GTC250 rear wing

11. Kevin Lau

'10 Nissan 370Z

Best Lap: 1:30.836

2014 FR shootout kevin lau 10 nissan 370Z 14 Photo 15/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Kevin's a mechanical engineer and, not surprisingly, a bit of a tinkerer. In his off time, he designs parts for the Z34 platform, including the diff cooler kit currently on his ride. He's also working on developing a widebody kit for the car, plus improving oil temperatures by adding a secondary cooler on each side with his own custom-designed carbon-fiber bumper ducting. Kevin has his sights set on upgrading to JRZ Pro coilovers, in addition to winning the 2014 Speed SF Challenge in Northern California in the FOF (Flat Out Flat) class. Good luck, Kev!

Mod Highlights: Stillen intake; Fast Intentions test pipe and exhaust; UpRev engine tune; OS Giken limited-slip diff; Nismo 4.08:1 final drive; KW V3 coilovers; SPL camber arms, bushings; Hotchkis sway bars; TC Design rollbar; WinMax pads; DBA rotors; Enkei PF01 wheels; NISMO body conversion

12. Meng Tea

'13 Scion FR-S

Best Lap: 1:35.116

2014 FR shootout meng tea 13 scion FR S 15 Photo 16/19   |   FR Shootout 2014 - Battle of RWD Front-Engine Tuners

Meng and his brother Young are sorta FR-S celebrities in SoCal, having founded FRS86, an online retail storefront, and AutoTuned, the sibling's shop. Meng is also a tech for Toyota and has years of experience as an enthusiast. He has much more plans to get lots of seat time on the track in order to dial in his blown FR-S.

Mod Highlights: Jackson Racing supercharger; Milltek sport exhaust; RS*R Black-I coilovers; Hotchkis sway bars, front strut brace; Cusco rollcage; Brembo STI front big brake kit; Vertex lip kit; Rocket Bunny rear diffuser; VIS Racing carbon-fiber hood, trunk

13. Henry Vasquez

'10 Nissan 370Z

Best Lap: 1:50.503

2014 FR shootout henry vasquez 10 nissan 370Z 16 Photo 17/19   |   2014 FR Shootout Henry Vasquez 10 Nissan 370Z 16

Henry is a mental health counselor from Moreno Valley, California, and is brand new to track events. He's still learning the ropes, but with the help of his supporters and under the guidance of Club 4AG's Motohide Miwa, Henry aims to improve after each race. His priorities for the Z are to balance daily-driven comfort with functional performance for his inner weekend warrior. He'll be looking into upgrading to a limited-slip and a few other odds and ends, but the main focus of the car will remain reliability.

Mod Highlights: UpRev Osiris tuning; Motordyne M370 intake manifold, ART test pipes and exhaust; M7 Super Street Performance coilovers, Motordyne sway bars; Winmax W2 pads; Rays Gram Lights 57Xtreme wheels; INGS+1 N-Spec aero kit

Continental ExtremeContact

If your goal is to go fast, tires are one of the most important yet most overlooked aspects of tuning. Continental's ExtremeContact DW ultra-high-performance tires are designed with performance in mind, but to also be mannered enough for street duty. They feature "chamfered edge" technology for dry performance and a high void-to-tread ratio, which improves water evacuation for wet handling. The company's dry road surface technology promises greater acceleration grip, handling, and braking traction in the dry using solid outer shoulder and chamfered pattern edges, delivering maximum surface contact for optimal traction. Continental also uses treadwear indicators on all tires that alert drivers to their tire's performance level in dry and wet conditions. When indicators disappear, the tire is no longer tuned for the best performance in that particular road condition. The ExtremeContact DW is available in a wide range of sizes from 16 to 21 inches to fulfill your daily driver or weekend warrior needs.

2014 FR shootout continental extremecontact 18 Photo 18/19   |   2014 FR Shootout Continental Extremecontact 18
2014 FR shootout robert walker 05 honda s2000 17 Photo 19/19   |   2014 FR Shootout Robert Walker 05 Honda S2000 17
Bob Hernandez
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