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There turned out to be more entries than we had originally anticipated but the USCC is over (for now), the letters have been checked, and one reader has been selected as the winner. Ryan Bosking of Houston, Texas was the first entrant this year to correctly pick the AMS Evo X as the 2008 USCC champ. As laid out in the November and December 2008 issues, he'll be taking home a G-Tech Pro EGS gauge system, Password:JDM EG/EK carbon air intake, Cobb Tuning WRX springs, and a PowerBass USA 10-inch subwoofer. To follow in Ryan's footsteps, send us your feedback to email@example.com, or to Sport Compact Car - Inbox, 2400 E. Katella Ave. - 11th Floor, Anaheim, CA, 92806.
Ultimate Green Car Challenge
As always, the two issues covering the USCC are my favorite each year. While I already understood the scoring, the graph provided this year made it even easier to understand and calculate scores.
Then I got to thinking about the future, specifically how you would score cars that do not run on fossil fuels in the fuel economy category. Say, in three years, you select someone with a Chevy Volt, a Honda FCX Clarity, or Telsa Roadster to be in the challenge. All three of those cars can run without using any gas. This would put their fuel economy at infinity and make the line on the graph a horizontal line (slope of 0). Then the issue is how to award points. One option could be to award the alternate fuel car 110 points and all others 10, but that wouldn't be 100% fair to the other cars. Granted, we are still years away from performance oriented alternate fueled cars, but it is better to think of a solution now than be hit with a surprise and have to come up with a quick solution that may not be the best.
[We're all about being green and would love to see an alternative fuel vehicle tear through the drag strip in 11-seconds or less. We'd even take a fire-breathing hybrid entry. But the reality is that we're performance first and green cars in the US have yet to reach truly sporty levels. Once they do, we'll brainstorm about how to best re-structure the Fuel Economy test of the USCC. But until then, that's our story and we're sticking to it. - JL]
Junk In The Trunk
What would it take to put a 2JZ-GTE or a 1JZ-GTE in the back of a 1st-gen MR2? That car had an optional six cylinder so it should fit. Could an adapter plate be made to use the stronger 2nd-gen MR2 transmission? I'm thinking that that big motor in the back would keep the rear tires planted with all that power.
[The first-gen MR2 was never produced with a six-cylinder option, just a naturally aspirated four and a supercharged four. Many have successfully swapped V6 engines into their MR2s though, with a little bit of work and not a lot of cash. A turbocharged straight-six engine is a whole other project altogether. The 2JZ and 1JZ engines won't fit into the back of the MR2 either longitudinally or transversely and you'd have to cut out large portions of the chassis in order to fit one if you were so dedicated. Our suggestion is to find an engine that doesn't cost more than the chassis, such as an old Camry or Lexus V6, and go from there. That 2nd-gen MR2 transmission you're eyeing will even bolt up to the Camry V6. - JL]
We Like Ace Combat
Thank you for a great November issue. The "Rumble Strips" section was one of my favorite articles ever. It was eye opening to see the various career paths of several successful drivers. The way they handled opportunities and downfalls on the way to greatness spoke volumes; not only about the determined character of successful drivers, but also successful people. It helped put my own life into perspective.
I would also like to say that the probability density functions on pg 79 in Project Integra should be implemented more often, as well as other statistical analysis. Most of the readers of SCC should understand them. The octagonal chart above it was also a great idea. It reminds me of the Ace Combat video games. One suggestion would be to group the values that are related closer to each other. Such as switching the braking and weight values to keep weight next to the power/weight (which could use a note saying which values it's comprised of, hp to lbs. I'm guessing).
I'm looking at getting out on track but have limited resources. I've been doing a lot of research but am not sure which route to go. What is the best deal for around $10,000 to start learning track racing? I know I'll need to get a used car with some mileage, but I have to start somewhere.
[If you are seriously committed to going racing, your best bet is to buy a used racecar. That budget won't get you very far though, especially if you don't already have a trailer and tow vehicle. If you just want a lapping day car that can be driven to the track, there are plenty of great cars for well under $10K.
Weather you go with a caged racecar or a streetable track car, we'd recommend starting with a model that is already popular for racing. For example, a Miata would be a great choice. $10,000 will only get you about half way to owning a competitive Spec Miata racecar. But there are some great trickle-down effects that come from such a popular series. From a learning perspective, tracking a popular car will provide you with benchmark lap times to shoot for. On the mechanical side of things, there are lots of people at the track that know how to make Miatas go fast. Most of them will happily help you with set up advice. They'll also probably have the mechanical know how and spare parts on hand to fix your car between sessions should you break something.
Another advantage to tracking a common car is that there are plenty of cheap used parts available. Competitive racers only want the best performing parts. Race tires with two heat cycles on them may not be capable of qualifying a car on the pole, but they are fine for a track day car. The same goes for everything from dampers to headers.
A Miata is not your only option. There are several other models that are very popular for racing. Civics and Integras dominate just about every class in the Honda Challenge series. On the East Coast you'll find swarms of Spec-E30 BMWs. You may want to head out to a couple of local track events and see what the people in your region are racing. Go with whatever model you like, but avoid oddball turbo Volvos and the like. They may cost less to get in, but once you're on the track you'll be out on your own. -AH]
Warning: Cars Gone Wild
You guys should check out a couple of Hondas we got here in Puerto Rico. Enclosed are a couple of pictures of them. Enjoy.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
[Check we have and we are liking what we see. Cool engine swaps, turbo power, and a S2000 actually doing a burnout. There's some good and fast machinery lurking down in Puerto Rico and Staff Photographer Henry DeKuyper just returned with some good ones. Stay tuned. - JL]
Wife Approved Speed
My wife just gave me the thumbs up to get a project car for the 1/4 mile. My last car was a 1993 Mustang GT and the total cost of upgrades, after it was complete, kinda made my wife not too happy. The Mustang went out the door when the kids came and I have since opened my eyes to imports and can see a real chance to have fun with one. Is there a cheap way to go fast with an import? I'm really looking for something with a low cost since I want to spend the money upgrading the car over the next couple of years. Any advice would be greatly appreciated both by me and my wife (since any left over money will most likely be spent on her shoes).
[The cheapest way to go fast with any car is to pick a solid base platform and then boost it. Taking a clue from our Puerto Rican friends, turbo B-series Hondas are very popular choices for street drag machines. You'll save major bucks if you can fabricate, weld, and source junkyard turbos and intercoolers yourself. Also, the lighter the car that you pick, the less power it will take to go fast. If you don't feel like picking through old Thunderbird Super Coupes and Volvos, many off-the-shelf turbo kits and parts exist for such cars as the Talon, Civic, Integra, and 240SX. Factory turbo platforms are generally easier to turn the boost up on, but not everybody can afford an Evo or WRX. If you're not dead set on an "import", maybe a Dodge Neon SRT-4 is in your future? It can make big power, hold the kids and wife while cruising, and prices are coming down. - JL]
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