"I can't believe I've been doing this for 11 years!" stated a stoic David Buschur as he watched his latest creation (a 1988 Mitsubishi Starion) blast down Norwalk Raceway in a mere 8.8 seconds. But it's true. A little-known get-together amongst fellow DSM owners has become the legendary Diamond Star Shootout. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people from around the country flock to this annual event.
The most popular car amongst DSM enthusiasts is by far the Mitsubishi Eclipse. With a vast array of aftermarket parts and turbo tweakability, it is easy to make these cars go fast. And there were classes for various states of tune from stock to the "run what you brung" quick class, where turbos and nitrous propelled most entrants to sub 10-second passes. Hardcore owners will say Mitsubishi let them down over the years with the last retooling of the Eclipse. V6 power replaced the forced induction four and ease of tweaking went out the window.
DSM owners should be writing letters of gratitude to Subaru for bringing the WRX to the states. But Mitsubishi couldn't let Subaru gain the majority of the market share, so it introduced the EVO VIII.
The Shootout weekend was Buschur's debut of the new EVO class. With the car being so new, you wouldn't expect many on hand, but there were enough EVOs racing to make a full eight-car field, plus keep a few in the pits for the car show.
With the help of Pruven Performance, Allan Friedman was running in the 11-second range with his EVO VIII. Screaming down the strip almost a second faster than the class, Friedman had the EVO class wrapped up. However, in the final round, a poor launch cost him the race to newcomer Tom Newkirk. Newkirk, who has never been to a racetrack to even spectate, walked away with money and a trophy, exclaiming to Dave Buschur that he would definitely be back next year. Based on this turnout, you should expect the EVO cars to give the Eclipses a run for the popularity vote.
What's really special about the Diamond Star Shootout is the friendly camaraderie between DSM owners. It's truly what keeps the attendees coming back year after year. Sure, there is competition on and off the track, but a good amount of people plan for this two-day event months in advance, typically taking their families along.
If you own an older Eclipse, Talon, Laser, 3000GT, EVO, or any hybrid creation that has an inkling of DSM in it, you should plan on coming to next year's DSM shootout in Norwalk, Ohio. Even if you just want to spectate, DSM owners would welcome you with open arms. I warn you, however: Come once and you just may go home dreaming about what to do for the next year's event. And the year after that. And the year after that...