Buttonwillow, California-it's an interesting little town, not a lot more than a small truck stop off Interstate 5 near Bakersfield. If you blink, you might miss it. The people are nice and friendly; however, the food is bad and the hotels are worse, so you can imagine why it's not much of a tourist destination. But don't be fooled, there's a secret here. Well, maybe not a "secret," per se, but something unexpected if you don't know to look for it. Here in the middle of the desert, many miles away from pretty much anything besides farms and freeways, sits a racetrack where some of the fastest cars in the world come to compete.
The Super Lap Battle series brings together teams from across the globe to compete in time attack by U.S. rules. The point of time attack is to get the single fastest lap time in your class (the best run of several heats throughout the day is your winning time). At this year's final event of the season, we saw some familiar cars and some fresh meat ready to get on track and run the gauntlet against the tried-and-true tough guys. As always, the Super Lap Battle runs in different classes: Street, Limited and Unlimited. Within these classes, drivetrain categories separate competitors into groups of FF, FR and AWD.
For a car to qualify in the Street class, it must be currently registered, drive on street tires and make the journey from the hotel to the track under its own power-no trailer queens in this class. The cars in the Limited class (sometimes referred to as "Modified") are allowed to have more race modifications. Things like welded-in rollcages, grooved racing slicks and extreme weight reduction, as well as allowing teams to trailer the car to the track, are allowed in the Limited class. The most heavily modified race cars fall under the Unlimited class. Major chassis modification, drivetrain modifications and basically anything else that disqualifies for a lighter class bumps the car to Unlimited. Racing slicks are not allowed in any class in the Super Lap Battle Series, and tires must have at least two vertical grooves to qualify.
The fastest time of the day came courtesy of the Unlimited AWD Sierra Sierra Enterprises EVO VIII, clocking in at a blisteringly fast 1:45.061. They were followed closely by Billy Johnson and the FX Motorsports NSX at 1:45.247, with the Crawford Performance STI clocking in a 1:45.552. Chris Rado piloted the World Racing Scion to the podium with a record-breaking run for Unlimited FF-the time of 1:49.703 beat GM's previous record by more than 1.5 seconds. At a track like Buttonwillow, even a single second is a lot of time and can mean the difference between victory and sad trip home.
While the Unlimited category showed us the fastest overall times, we can't forget about the rest of the field. Some of the most exciting and entertaining racing of the day came from the Street and Limited classes. The WindSpeed Motorsports Dodge SRT-4 sponsored by Continental Tires set the track record for Street FF with a time of 2:00.256. Evasive Motorsports managed an impressive 1:56.762 in their S2000, fast enough to set a new track record for Street FR, and they did it in style. Their bright-blue S2000 sports the first AP2 Voltex kit ever. It was very cool to see them race a car with such rare expensive aero, and considering the results, it was worth it. By simply upgrading the aero on the car, changing out a few suspension components and updating a few bolt-ons, the guys managed to shave almost 2 seconds off their time from last year.
All in all, the event was a great success. Everyone had a good time, records were broken (along with a few cars) and no one got too sick from the BBQ restaurant. With new things learned at each event, there are sure to be plenty of refreshed and rebuilt cars for next season. We can't wait to see what's in store from all the teams for the future of the Super Lap Battle Series.
Sierra Sierra Enterprises may be the new kid on the block when it comes to time attack, but they mean business. With a history of aeronautical engineering, SSE and Raphael Matos won the Formula Atlantic Champ Car series in 2007. Their knowledge of open-wheel racing and many combined years of experience working on high-powered machines has helped secure their reputation as the team to beat in Super Lap Unlimited AWD.
Team 5Zigen's Accord Euro R is a familiar car on the time attack circuit. Making appearances in Japan as well as the U.S., this car has gone through a few changes lately. The most notable major update for the 2009 season is the change from a 2.4-liter NA powerplant to a turbocharged 2.0-liter, upping the power output to right around 360 hp. The car also sports a fresh paint and vinyl scheme, as well as the unmistakable new "devil wing" front air spoiler that helps keep the front end planted firmly to the tarmac.
|1.||David Empringham||Sierra Sierra Enterprises EVO VIII||1:45.061|
|2.||Tarzan Yamada||Crawford Performance STI||1:45.552|
|3.||Paul Gerrard||AMS EVO X||1:46.829|
|1.||Billy Johnson||FX Motorsports Development NSX||1:45.247|
|2.||Kip Olson||Driving Ambition NSX||1:48.072|
|1.||Chris Rado||World Racing Scion||1:49.703 (NEW RECORD)|
|2.||Tage Evanson||HASport/KSport Civic||1:53.002|
|3.||Katsuyuki Hiranaka||Team 5Zigen||1:53.422|
|1.||Ryan Gates||Gates311.com/AMS EVO X||1:49.805|
|2.||Tim Kuo||Evasive Motorsports EVO IX||1:49.977|
|3.||JC Meynet||Harmonmotive STI||1:50.202|
|1.||JC Meynet||JHPUSA S2000||1:55.024|
|2.||Matt Andrews||Fair Enough Competition Miata||1:55.763|
|3.||Manly Kao||Buddy Club/APR Elise||1:56.640|
|1.||Matt Andrews||Fair Enough Competition Eclipse||1:58.027|
|2.||Darin Nishimura||Team SCS Civic||2:01.139|
|3.||Michael Dylan Huig||Honda Tuning Civic||2:02.884|
|1.||Tarzan Yamada||Tomei-GT STI||1:57.188|
|2.||Jon Drenas||Cobb Tuning/Robispec EVO X||1:57.630|
|3.||Stephen Ruiz||StopTech EVO X||1:57.699|
|1.||Robert Walker||Evasive Motorsports S2000||1:56.762 (NEW RECORD)|
|2.||Jeremy Croiset||NASA MR-2||1:59.768|
|3.||Tyler McQuarrie||TEIN/Import Tuner 370Z||1:59.829|
|1.||Douglas Wind||Windspeed Morotsports SRT-4||2:00.256 (NEW RECORD)|
|2.||Elton Lo||Raceline USA Civic Si||2:05.733|
|3.||Gabe Ortega||HASport Civic||2:07.298|