If you're not impressed with 900-hp daily drivers, you wouldn't have enjoyed it. If you don't enjoy watching tire-shredding road-race action, you would've been bored stiff. If 9-second quarter mile passes in street cars don't push your buttons, you'd be wasting your time. However, if these things raise your blood pressure and get your juices flowing, then the National Supra Meet in Houston would've been the place to be on March 22-24.
The 2002 gathering (or TX2K2 as it is better known) was a perfect showcase for the formidable capabilities of one of the best performance cars of the last 20 years: Toyota's big gun, the JZA80 Supra. Some of the nation's top tuners were in attendance and with a varied program of events that included a dyno-test day, road racing and drag racing, organizer Peter Blach gave everyone a chance to shine.
Two hundred bad-ass Supras arrived from all points of the map for the Texas showdown that started on Friday morning with a horsepower shootout on the Dynojet at MTI in Houston. It's no secret the venerable Supra can be persuaded to give up extreme power levels with the right kind of massaging and the dyno was proof that even with a stock bottom end, big-time horsepower is just a few modifications away.
Plenty of cars spun the dyno-drums up to 500, 600 and even 700 hp, but to make the top five at this event, you had to be packing at least 800 at the tires. More than a Winston Cup stock car, more than an IRL Indy car and about the same as the best of the CART series hot rods produce. (And the Supra also seats four people, has air conditioning and in-car entertainment.)
Top dog of the day was Jesus Rivera who made the trek from Florida to Texas before strapping his Supra on the Dynojet and blasting to the number one spot with a blistering 858 hp. Close behind Rivera was local Houston Supra specialist Tommy Banh with 851 hp. The third spot was the property of Darrin Strunk with 844 ponies and Supra event organizer Peter Blach claims fourth place with 840 hp. Interestingly, all of the top four cars run stock bottom end assemblies. Proof indeed that Toyota builds a truly bulletproof engine.
With dyno bragging rights established, the assembled Supra freaks headed into downtown Houston for a night of cruising and general debauchery. Despite having way too much fun on Friday night, almost everybody managed to drag themselves out of bed on Saturday morning.
Day Two: Road RacingIt was time to find out who could use that horsepower on the racetrack. Peter Blach gave all of the drivers a real challenge in the form of a highly technical road course laid out on an old blimp base just south of Houston. The course had a couple of fast straights and a variety of fast-, medium- and slow-speed corners. Horsepower alone wouldn't win the day. The prerequisite for the win was a car that handled in the turns, had strong enough brakes to get into the turns as late as possible and, of course, a skilled driver in the hot seat was a definite advantage.
The morning sessions gave the drivers plenty of time to get familiar with the layout of the track-highly entertaining stuff. A rented Lincoln Towncar in the hands of a complete nutcase provided some amusement as it boiled the tires in every turn and eventually spun out...several times.
Andi Baritchi behind the wheel of his CTC-tuned '98 single-turbo Supra gave a first-rate drifting display and even gave rides to those who felt brave enough to do a couple of laps sideways.
SW from Austin, Texas also pushed the limits in his Supra, smoking the tires on the exit of every turn as he flew around the track.
After a brief lunch break, it was time to get down to the serious business of establishing who was the king of the hill on the road course.
The drivers were all given a couple of warm up laps to get their tires up to temperature, then it was hammer down time for three flying laps. The average of the three laps would decide the winner.
Baritchi set the early pace with an average lap time of 48.462. This was getting serious. In contrast to the earlier tire-smoking fun-runs, Baritchi was very smooth and very, very fast.
Next to run was SW in his bad-to-the-bone Supra. His first lap was a blistering 48.468 seconds. The second was uncharacteristically slow (for SW) as he tripped the timer at 49.157 seconds. It was obvious SW had a problem. The third lap was never completed as SW pulled off before the finish with a severely damaged tire carcass.
"I felt a pretty bad vibration on the second lap," he says. "I just didn't want to keep pushing that hard when I knew the tire was on its way out. It just wasn't worth the risk."
With SW out of the overall picture despite having posted the fastest lap of the day (48.138), Baritchi was handed the win. Shane Duvall finished the event in second place with an average of 49.954 and Jay Brown rounded up the top three with a time of 56.229. The unlucky SW finished the day in fourth place with an official DNF on his last lap.
Andi Baritchi was ecstatic with his first place result. "CTC only installed the HKS single turbo system a couple of weeks ago. I'm still getting used to all that extra power," he comments. "I guess I could've pushed harder if I had installed autocross tires, but I decided to run my normal daily driver rubber, I'm sure that slowed me down a lot on a technical track like this one. Still, it's good to grab first place at the end of the day."
Day Three- The drag stripDay three's drag race action took place at the River City Raceway near San Antonio, so most of the Supra crowd made the 175-mile drive from Houston early on Sunday morning. The pit area was packed with high-horsepower Supras of every vintage, so it was obviously going to be a good day's racing.
Up until the lunch break, it was every man for himself as the entrants were given unlimited runs to dial in their cars. The real competition started in the afternoon with each driver allowed two qualifying passes to establish the pecking order for the eliminations.
The cars were divided up into three classes. Class one was for stock twin turbo cars only with no power adders allowed. Class two allowed the use of nitrous with stock turbos or a single-turbo conversion without the laughing gas. Class three was run what ya' brung; no holds barred, unlimited modifications.
The crowd was treated to some excellent racing action and after the preliminary rounds, everybody was trackside to witness the finals.
In the stock class, John Hein was the victor over Mark Mitias by a narrow margin: Hein posted a 12.343 at 115.23 mph against Mitias' 12.852 at 116.82 mph.
Class two saw a much-anticipated battle between Augie Hidalgo in his CTC-prepared Supra against Joe Calabrasi from Houston. Calabrisi jumped the gun and triggered a red light on his way to a firstname.lastname@example.org. Hidalgo took a gift-wrapped final round win and cruised through the beams with a 11.533 at 137.02 mph. Hidalgo was having a great day at the races; "I ran a personal best of 10.7 seconds earlier in the day so I was already very happy. The track was really hooking up good all day. I backed out of it in the final when I saw Joe had red-lighted. It looks like the margaritas are on me tonight"
While Augie started celebrating, the indomitable SW and Stacey Barnett lined up for the unlimited class final. Both drivers launched hard and both drivers had problems finding the gears. Barnett tripped the beams with a 13.795 at 62.31 mph after having major problems engaging third gear. SW blasted down the track, missed fourth gear and still managed to run a 10.592 at 119.36 mph. Despite the problems, SW was a happy camper: "It wasn't the fastest ever final, but I managed to grab a win so I'm happy." SW also ran the quickest and fastest pass of the day in his Supra in one of the preliminary rounds. How about a 9.8 at 154 mph-not bad for a daily-driven car.
At the end of the day, everybody went home happy. Not only was the 2002 Supra meet a huge success in attendance, it was also a lot of fun to watch these potent cars doing what they do best-haulin' ass.
Props must go to Peter Blach for handling the organizational duties so well. The whole event ran as smoothly as a Swiss watch-not an easy feat with three different events taking place at different locations over a three-day period. Final word goes to Blach; "This event was a huge success and I have a long list of sponsors to thank for making it possible. MVP Motorsports, my corporate sponsor, was on call 24/7 during the meet. Dusty Womack of MVP, you did one hell of a job. I would also like to thank Powerhouse Racing, RPS Performance Products, Wheel Kinetics, Jay Marks Toyota, Protech, Suprasport.com, Sound Performance, TurboImports and Elite Motorsports as well as Titan Motorsports, Blitz, and HKS."
|Jesus Rivera||858 hp|
|Tommy Banh||851 hp|
|Darrin Strunk||844 hp|
|Peter Blach||840 hp|
|ROAD RACE RESULTS|