For those of you who haven't heard of Ryan Novak, here's a quick and simple breakdown. He is a hard-core automotive enthusiast, who spends the majority of his life doing just two things: building sick time-attack cars and drinking beer. A lot of the time the two occur simultaneously-although, he is actually quite good at drinking beer while drinking beer. Anyway, though, I'm beginning to digress from the reason why we are here, and that is the super sick Subaru GC8 you see before you.
Before I get into this build, though, let me take a moment to share with those who are unfamiliar with Ryan what he's built and what those vehicles have accomplished. He owned a '01 Honda S2000 that was featured in 2009 by our sister publication, Honda Tuning, when it was equipped with J's Racing aero and ITBs. He had a K20-powered '96 Japanese Honda Civic Type R that was also featured in HT in 2010, and he still has a K-Series-powered '96 U.S. Civic hatchback that was featured in HT 2011. Oh, and that '01 S2000 was rebuilt to a Garrett turbo-powered, Amuse-widebodied track car that was featured again by HT in 2011. Now, for all of the Honda haters out there getting agitated, make no mistake about it, these were not show cars. Ryan tracked every single one of them, and every single one of them was damn quick. The S2000 ran a 1:53 at Buttonwillow on R-comps, and the '96 Civic ran a 1:58 there on street tires. Yea, a FF Honda on street tires ran a 1:58 at Buttonwillow. If that doesn't impress you, go away.
So what made Ryan decide to utilize a Subaru GC8 chassis this time around? "I wanted a GC8 for the longest time. I used to have a '05 STI that I tracked back in 2006 and 2007. I missed the AWD platform, so I figured if I was going to do another one I would start off with the lightest of the WRX chassis. And you don't see many GC8s time-attacking in the States," he says. So, with his mind made up, Ryan set out to find a chassis to begin building. "I was looking for one for quite a while until I saw a well-known one for sale by Dave Mann aka MannSlayer." Seeing the parts that were on the car and knowing that particular build had a huge following, Ryan saw the potential to part it out and use those funds to build the car the way he wanted. Offering one of his retired race S2000s as a straight trade, the two talked it over, exchanged pictures and emails, and made a deal. Just two weeks later Mann drove all the way from Canada to drop off the GC8 and pick up the S2000. When Mann arrived Ryan looked the car over and realized that he had much more work ahead than he realized. "When it showed up I was seriously slapping myself in the face-the car was so haggard!" But Ryan didn't allow the unexpected surprise to deter him. "I had a plan and was going for it," he says.
It took Ryan just three weeks to completely part out the car and get it down to a bare shell. Although the teardown was quick, the remainder of the build took a whole lot longer than he anticipated. "The build took a year to complete even though I thought it was only going to take a few months. So much detail went into this car, it just took a lot of time to get things right," he says. As a time attack car, special attention was paid to the selection of aero components. One of the most unique features of the car is the widebody. "I was talking to a guy who told me that his partner had brought in a widebody from New Zealand a long time ago and it was sitting in his warehouse. He couldn't remember who made it, and I couldn't find the name of it, so as of now it is a mystery kit," he says. Ryan paired up the widebody with Laun Sport front and rear bumpers to complete the exterior of the chassis. A Special Projects front lip combined with a Novak Racing front splitter and air guards handle aero necessities up front, while a Renner Motorsports rear wing and brackets handle rear downforce duties. Ryan then had the entire chassis mounted on a rotisserie and painted Honda Championship White. While all of this was getting done, Ryan had AQ Motorsports build the EJ25 and pair it up with a Garrett GTX35R to handle induction duties. The interior is all business, with a Recaro Pro Racer SPG seat and Schroth harness utilized for safety duties. Ryan is big on suspension and has had great results with JRZ, so he didn't hesitate to utilize JRZ RS Pro dampers and Hyperco springs for suspension duties. And when the time came to wire this race car, Ryan once again turned to the one-and-only Rywire. "I always have Rywire do all my cars. He did a mil-spec engine harness, rewired the whole car, and made this crazy relay box that has a serviceable fuse panel. He is on a level like no other. He could be working on real race cars like those in JGTC or ALMS. The fact that he is accessible for any car is amazing!" With the car in a completed state, Ryan took it to Shaun Church and had the AEM EMS conservatively tuned to just a bit over 600 awhp and 600 pounds of torque, rock solid numbers that were more than what he wanted and needed.
"There were times when I wanted to stop the build because it was so frustrating, but I'm glad that I stuck with it because this car scared the hell out of me on the first test day at the track," he says. What would scare someone as experienced as Ryan? This GC8 ran a 1:55 at Buttonwillow on street tires on low boost its first time on the track. Yea, on street tires on low boost-its first time out. "Keep in mind nothing was adjusted yet, this was a go-out-and-see-what-breaks event. As it stands right now I think the car could be faster with less power and more aero, but only time will tell," he says. With Ryan's enthusiasm, drive, and ambition pushing the car forward, we can't wait to see what this beautiful beast is able accomplish in the future.
Behind The Build
Working on cars
1998 Subaru Impreza (GC8)
Engine: EJ25; Garrett GTX35R turbo, 4-inch intercooler; Cusco motor mounts; CP Pistons; Darton sleeves; Carillo rods; Port Flow special sauce head job; Aeromotive 1,000-lph fuel pump; Bosch 044 fuel pump; Garage Tuning -8 fuel rails; custom 1,600cc injectors; AQ Motorsports downpipe, up-pipe, race exhaust, surge tank, custom radiator; Tial 44mm wastegate; AIM Race cluster/data logger; AEM EMS; Novak Racing oil cooler, dual oil catch tank; Zero Sports oil cap; Rywire custom mil-spec wire engine and chassis harnesses
Drivetrain: Gear-X secret sauce transmission; Cusco differential, mounts; ACT clutch, flywheel; Cobb shift lever; Motul transmission fluid
Suspension: JRZ RS Pro dampers; Hyperco springs; Cusco camber plates, rear toe control arms; Whiteline 27mm front sway bar, 22mm rear sway bar, endlinks; '05 STI front LCAs; DRC custom rear subframe; in-house rollcage; Novak Racing front chassis reinforcement bars
Wheels/Tires: Rota 18x10; Hankook RS3 tires 275/35-18
Brakes: OEM STI calipers; Hawk DTC7 front pads, DTC6 rear pads; StopTech front and rear brake lines; Motul brake fluid
Exterior: Honda Championship White paint by Hudson Auto Body; custom body kit; Laun Sport front bumper, rear bumper; Special Projects front lip; Renner Motorsports wing and brackets; Pro Drive hood; Seibon carbon trunk; Novak Racing honeycomb front splitter with air guards
Interior: Recaro Pro Racer SPG front seat; Novak Racing seat rails; Schroth harness; AIM gauge cluster; Personal steering wheel; NRG quick-release; STI shift knob, pedals; Special Projects Motorsports air jacks
Gratitude: "AQ Motorsports, Renner Motorsports, Special Projects, Church, Rywire, BMA Autosports, JRZ North America, West End Alignment, Garage Tuning, AEM Mitch Pederson, Whiteline, Garret Turbo, Jamal Spec, and the best paint in SoCal by Hudson Auto Body in Gardena"