I was in the media center at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway reading the schedule for the NHRA Tuned By Matrix Sport Compact Nationals when a red blur caught my eye. It was the Easy Street WRX flying down the strip. I stood up to see the car go from about half track to the traps as the others around me noticed I was paying them no attention whatsoever. Then 10.57, 140 mph flashed on the board and I hurriedly excused myself. The chase was on.
I quickly learned a lot about the WRX and the force behind its world-record charge down the 1320. Easy Street Motorsports is the brainchild of Ali Afshar. Ali, an actor by trade, got into the drag scene in 1991 when he won a high school drag race at Sears Point, turning a 13.9 in his Camaro RS. He was bitten and built some mean domestics, including a grip of Buick Grand Nationals.
Ali's cars were fast. People started seeking him out to build speed into their rides, which kept him wrenching through high school and college. "Easy Street Motorsports came about because I was making too much money on the side," says Ali. "The bank called and said that the deposits would raise a red flag with the IRS, so I got my business license and things took off."
Fast forward to 2001. The WRX caught his eye because of its similarity to the GN (factory turbo, intercooled, EFI). Ali was hooked hard this time. "I used the same recipes that worked on the GN and the Subaru responded" says Ali. "We went from mid 14s to mid 12s and the exposure we got jumpstarted our WRX program."
Ali wanted to step it up so Easy Street contacted Tony Rigoli Performance (TRP) out of Australia to acquire one of its power-tuned EJ20 engines. In true import racing fashion, the engine arrived from Australia the night before the August 10, 2002 Battle of the Imports event in Bakersfield, Calif.
Luckily, the EJ20 also arrived with two Rogoli brothers handcuffed to it. Before you get visions of the Sopranos, remember these guys are from Down Under; twin Crocodile Hunters, if you will. Anyway, some crazy wrenching ensued and the Scoobie miraculously made the show. The WRX proved it was full of surprises as it bolted down the strip in 10.7 seconds at 135 mph and into the record books.
This brings us to the most interesting aspect of the Easy Street story--the ESX concept. Through partnerships and hard work Ali has developed a series of staged performance modifications that can be ordered, along with a brand new WRX through Big Valley Subaru in Van Nuys, Calif.
Of course, the packages can be ordered for WRXs already on the road. Under the ESX banner, customers can select handling, interior, exterior mods and three stages of engine tuning via TRP to meet their frenzied WRX power and comfort needs. The exact specs of the staged mods can be gleaned from the accompanying chart.
The red rocket pictured here is running in ESX 740 trim. The Tony Rigoli engine in the Easy Street flagship has been stroked and fitted with a Turbonetics T66 turbocharger, ESX front mount intercooler, Microtech LT-8 engine management system and a nitrous set-up from NOS.
Additional mods include an ESX exhaust system, a five-gallon fuel cell and a TRP Dog Box five-speed tranny. The engine runs stock headers but utilizes an ESX up-pipe to increase flow. Tony Rigoli Performance has power tuned a number of mean Impreza WRXs in its native Australia, generating numbers like 551, 521 and 499 whp on strictly street-going versions. So the ESX package has a stout engine program behind it.
At Sonoma, Ali was on a mission. His 10.57 run was at 30 psi and did not use the 60-shot nitrous system. The Sonoma run was also the first time the car ran BFGoodrich drag radials. Ali was planning to really swing for the fence by upping the boost to 32 psi, airing down the BFGs and pumping the laughing gas.
But the party was brought to a halt because the Subaru broke two axles simultaneously at the flash of the green. Oddly, the victims were one front axle and one rear axle. Remember the racer's credo: If you're not breaking parts, you're not trying hard enough.
Prior to the race build-up the Easy Street WRX was involved in an accident during a test drive at Big Valley Subaru. The crew took the opportunity to develop its line of styling components; this mishap changed the car's fate and eventually led it to the track.
The ESX body tuning program features a Gruppe-S JUN replica front fascia, proprietary ESX spoiler riser and reverse hood scoop treatments. The repair, body armor installation and coating of red paint was performed by Steve's Autobody, resulting in one eye-catching Impreza that is truly hard to catch. The ESX can be ordered custom painted red or yellow, both of which have substantially more visual impact than the Subaru factory offerings.
Having the looks is one thing, but having the moves to match is the difference between a player and a poseur. The Easy Street WRX has the footwork to play tag up a canyon road or catch-me-if-you-can down the strip. Golden-hued Volk Racing aluminum is joined by BFGoodrich drag radials at the corners while JIC coil-overs provide proper dampening. A Brembo GT-series brake upgrade reduces speed prior to turn-in and adds a touch of style with its bright red calipers.
Inside, a custom Rags-2-Riches suede-enhanced interior and ESX/Billetworks six-point roll bar adds rigidity, safety and style. The center gauge cluster has been swapped in favor of an Auto Meter-based, race-ready display complete with custom aluminum surround. A five-point RJ harness adds a race aura but all the stock stuff inside, including the factory stereo, confirms the Subaru's street car status.
No doubt this WRX is on the extreme side but it's clear that it is 100 percent street car. Ali plans to be back at the strip but with an automatic transmission. The slush box will allow him to pre-load the driveline and take some of the shock out of launching the car. The target is single digits on street tires in street trim. With that kind of potential, isn't it easy to see yourself on easy street?
|Car 2002 Subaru WRX|
|Valvetrain||TRP stainless valves, retainers, springs|
|Fuel Pump||Bosch Motorsports|
|Max Boost||30 -38 psi|
|Engine Management||Microtech LT-8|
|Transmission||TRP Dog Box five-speed|
|Tires||BFGoodrich drag radials|
|ESX Engine Tuning Packages|
|Ball Bearing Turbo Upgrade||Blow-off Valve|
|Injen Cold Air Intake||Piggyback Tuning|
|3-inch Exhaust||Performance Pulley Set|
|Top-Mount MRT Intercooler||Upgraded Inlet Hose|
|ESX 500||500 hp|
|TRP Stroked Engine||Front-Mount Intercooler|
|TRP Rods||Tranny Upgrade|
|TRP Pistons||Performance Clutch Set|
|MircoTech Engine Management||Fuel Pump|
|ESX 740||740 hp|
|Same as ESX 500 Package Plus...|
|Added Stroke||Cylinder Sleeves|
|Nitrous Kit||Dog Box 5-spd. Tranny|
|Injector Upgrade||Bigger Turbo|
|ESX Handling Packages|
|17-inch Alloy Wheels|
|ZR-Rated 225 Tires|
|Front/Rear Strut Tower Bars|
|Front/Rear Anti Sway Bars|
|Anti Sway Bar End Links|
|Brembo GT Caliper/Rotor||JIC Coil-overs|
|Stainless Steel Lines||Performance Pads|
|ESX Interior Package|
|Suede Seat Inserts|
|Suede Door Panel Inserts|
|Carbon Fiber Dash Inserts|
|ESX Body Tuning|
|Carbon Fiber Rear Spoiler Risers|
|STi Grille Insert|
|White Front Side Marker Lights|
|Canary Yellow Paint|
|Racing Red Paint|
Big Valley Subaru
Easy Street Motorsports
Tony Rigoli Performance (USA)