With a blistering 1:55.43 (Buttonwillow CW13) under its belt, most would expect Rob Walker's S2000 to be brimming with the latest in power-producing hardware, perhaps taxing the local dyno as force-fed air is crammed into Honda's F22C powerplant. Not to be the daydream crusher, but this AP2 couldn't possibly stray any further from that fantasy. Not only does it lack a turbo or supercharger kit, it puts down a very conservative 204 whp on Evasive Motorsports' Mustang Dyno. Furthermore, the car passes California's stringent smog testing obstacle course with flying colors, contains every plastic interior panel installed by the factory (including a deck and speakers), and is driven quite comfortably to and from the track. So, what's his secret? The truth is, there is no secret. It required plenty of hours behind the wheel, countless hours of research and development, and good old-fashioned trial and error.
As a child, Walker's family moved to Japan for a six-year stint; a slice of time that included heavy exposure to tuners and the automotive lifestyle in the land of the rising sun. He adds, "My first exposure to real track driving was when my Japanese friend showed me a video of Kurosawa Motoharu (aka Gan-san) driving a 930 turbo in the rain. The video was not about the all-out speed but focused instead on controlling weight transfer through the tires in the rain. Watching Kurosawa slide an '80s 911 Turbo around the track inspired me to start tracking on my own."
In 2005, as Walker once again stood on U.S. soil, he purchased an S2000 and wasted no time in taking part in grassroots time trial events around California. The hobby quickly morphed into obsession with Walker attending at least one track day per month, sometimes more. He began a website, Maxrev.net (see sidebar), which was used to log and review any modifications done to the car in order to evaluate their effectiveness on track performance. "The purpose was to show the benefits of each part as considered in regards to the overall balance of the car. I tried various track-oriented parts during that time and I learned a lot from it." The constant research and hands-on testing paid off when Walker became the first S2000 owner/driver to break the coveted 2:00 mark at Buttonwillow's CW13 on R-compounds. Not long after that, in 2008, he repeated the performance, but this time using mere street tires.
Having found great success in his own research and development with his S2000, Walker received some news that would basically put him back to square one. "I found out my good friend was selling his S2000. I always had a soft spot for white colored Honda cars, so I jumped on it. It was also a good opportunity to start fresh on a lower mileage car with the knowledge that I gained from building my first S2000." With two roadsters now in his garage, Walker began transferring carefully selected parts from the donor car to the newly acquired chassis. Along with a new car came a whole new challenge and objective: "build a street-driven S2000 with full interior that could match or beat the lap times being posted by track-dedicated cars." His list of guidelines offered little in the way of compromise.
1) Simplicity: Nothing is one-off fabricated. Everything is bolt-on and can be replaced when needed.
2) Experts: I relied heavily on experts and custom-spec parts from Evasive Motorsports.
3) Emissions: The car had to pass California smog inspection with ease. OEM intake is retained but cold-air ducting is used to keep the stock ECU from pulling timing.
4) Reliability: Honda put a red valve cover on the F22C for a reason. Entire long-block is OEM stock, except the addition of a Mugen oil pan.
5) Full interior: All OEM panels; the car is driven long distances to the track, so it had to be comfortable for a long drive. Also have aftermarket deck and speakers.
6) Safety: Track safety is key, so a Cusco four-point rollbar with Schroth harness was installed. I also started using a HANS device as well to minimize the risk as much as possible.
7) Quiet yet high-flowing exhaust: The car has to pass 92db days at Laguna Seca and have very little drone. I have a separate Laguna exhaust to meet sound requirements.
Walker credits Evasive Motorsports' Mike Chang as an integral part of his car's success. A number of Evasive-spec parts under development made their way to the S2000 and Walker notes that his car would not have been able to achieve the stellar lap times without the knowledge and parts that Evasive Motorsports supplied.
"The last thing I touched on my car was aerodynamics. I made sure that my car extracted as much mechanical grip as possible before adding any additional downforce." The first piece of the aero puzzle included a Voltex wing, one that he's had since 2006. Testing and datalogging showed a higher top speed when compared to another manufacturer's wing. Though they both created similar downforce, the Voltex piece reduced drag and in turn, increased top speed-more than enough to sell Walker on its merits.
When Voltex announced the release of its complete S2000 aero kit, Walker wasted no time in sourcing the kit and having it, along with the rest of his car, smothered in legendary Championship White paint.
Rob Walker is living proof that sometimes, less really is more. Rather than throwing parts and power increases at the car in hopes of finding faster lap times, he focused on wringing every bit of performance out of an already stout performer. In closing he adds, "I think my car is what an S2000 GT3 RS (following Porsche's GT3 RS theme) would have been if Honda decided to make one. The S2000 taught me to be a better driver as it's probably one of the best cars out there for the track. The car is reliable and teaches a driver all of the right fundamentals of performance driving."
Bolts & Washers
K&N replacement filter
EVS Tuning 70-SSP exhaust
Test pipe (track only)
KAAZ 1.5-way differential
EVS Tuning driveshaft spacers
EVS Tuning differential mounts
Eibach Evasive-Spec Multi Pro R2 coilovers
Eibach ERS springs 16 kg/mm
Eibach adjustable antiroll bars
J's Racing camber joint with roll center adjusters
Comptech shock tower bar
Evasive Motorsports custom alignment
Spoon monoblock calipers
Project MU Club Racer pads
Project MU G-Four brake fluid
Wheels And Tires
Volk RE30 Clubsport 17x9.5 +40
Maxxis RC1 DOT-R 255/40-17
ITR Championship White paint
Voltex Suzuka Race Version bumper
Voltex side step Version II
Voltex Type I GT wing
Kel's Garage wing stays
Seibon dry carbon trunklid
Recaro Profi SPG seat
J's Racing seat rails
Schroth Racing Profi III-6 harness
Momo Mod 78 steering wheel
Racepak G2X datalogger
Cusco 4-point rollbar
Building Hondas how long?
my 4th Honda
Mint condition Zanardi Edition NSX
Inspiration For This Build
Porsche 993 street build
In order to keep a running log of his track experience, endless parts testing, and his personal progression, Walker started maxrev.net, his personal website to share his findings on track. He adds, "I started a website which logs and reviews all of the modifications done on the car and how they effected the car's track performance. The website's purpose was to show the benefits of each part as considered in regards to the overall balance of the car. I tried various track-oriented parts during that time and I learned a lot from it. For coilovers, I tried over six different types over a span of 4 years, ranging from custom-valved motorsport Bilstein to double-adjustable JRZs. You can say I was addicted to track driving as I started to attend at least one track day a month."