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Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

Social Media Specialist turned weekend warrior puts the Evo project to the test

Oct 16, 2019
Photographers: Jonathan Carassco, Ryan Belville, Bob Hernandez

Written by Rodrez on behalf of Ceso Bagay, Super Street Social Media Specialist

Going from a barrage of constant Instagram and Facebook posting duties on the daily in my role as a Social Media Specialist for the Super Street Network is a far cry from blazing down the half-mile at Never Lift, then bouncing off of turns at M1 Concourse, all in someone else's car. That's exactly how the last few months have gone down for me, as I volunteered to pilot the Motovicity Project Evo 8 at two different events based on two very different formats.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Design Craft Fabrication Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

The Motovicity x Super Street Evo build was originally supposed to be two cars rather than one. The idea was for Super Street to pick up a car and get it prepped for the Motovicity Never Lift Half-Mile event in April. Then, a second car was to be purchased and prepped to do battle at the Motovicity Speed Ring event in September. A tall order for a very small group that never seems to have enough hours in the day. During initial discussions, the group's Content Director suggested putting together just one car, but making adjustments in between the events in order to make it a dual-purpose affair. If the goal of events like Never Lift and Speed Ring are to mix professional-level classes along with your average streetcar classes and everything in between, it made sense to approach the task like an average enthusiast who would build a single car, often for multiple purposes.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Gary Castillo Sam Du Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

Finding an Evo 8 in respectable condition at a price that doesn't rival a used Porsche is tougher than you might imagine. We found a handful of potential cars that ran the gamut from rust and corrosion to sketchy modifications and blurry mechanical resumes. After getting uncomfortably close to April's Never Lift event, we finally found one that seemed suitable. We brought it over to Design Craft Fabrication where Gary Castillo would hustle to add a few bolt-ons along with some safety equipment as a video crew recorded the process and, unfortunately for Gary, required some stops for lighting and camera adjustment along the way, which slowed progress. Miraculously the car was ready for its trip down the half-mile just a few days before it had to leave and somehow managed to get its Motovicity-designed livery slapped on at the 11th hour.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Sam Du Ceso Bagay Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

The great thing about half-mile racing is you can really put any car you want, within reason, to test. Safety measures should of course be taken but apart from the basics, it's a blast to see just how fast your car really is and without a violent start or any harsh turns to contend with, the chances of breaking anything are reduced pretty dramatically. Behind the wheel, the car rolled out well and was smooth shifting, we definitely felt secure with the Sparco seats and harnesses keeping us in place. Our only hiccup of the event is when the factory blow-off valve committed suicide and we ran into an overboost issue. To remedy the BOV, we went full MacGyver and replaced it with shift knob and a worm clamp. Hey, whatever works. By the end of the day we managed just under 120mph with a bolt-on set up that would soon be joined by more upgrades.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 KW suspension sway bar bracket Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel
Project Motovicity Evo 8 Forced Performance ballbearing turbo Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

With more time separating Never Lift from Speed Ring, we brought the car back to Gary at Design Craft to make more changes. KW coilovers and ST Suspensions' rear sway bar are far superior to the factory components, and we were going to need some additional handling for Speed Ring. New intercooler piping, downpipe, intake manifold with throttle body, and ball-bearing turbo and exhaust manifold were added to the mix. With the help of AEM's Infinity ECU and some additional fuel, the Evo belted out 525 horsepower to its 4 hubs.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 front bumper Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

As you might imagine, going from mildly massaged Evo power numbers to over 500hp is a massive difference. Add to that stiffer suspension and it's basically a completely different car. After tuning, the power is instant and carries strong all the way through the gears, and the fun factor is through the roof. Having AEM's fail-safe was definitely a relief, especially knowing that the abuse we'd be putting the car through. Though I've been on a few tracks behind the wheel of various makes and models, Speed Ring would be my first ever timed race event and I have a completely different perspective now, after having been in the mix. What some might suggest is boring for an audience, for competitors, the adrenaline of giving everything you've got against another competitor in a touge Time Attack format is beyond exciting and very addictive.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Driver Side Front View Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

Due to the turbo upgrade, the Evo was bumped up into the next class comprised of a much faster run group (Street Modified). There were some serious competitors with all-business builds that looked far more like full-blown time attack machines than our Evo 8. In the end, I couldn't get through to the next level due to being outrun by a pro-amateur driver that really put in some work that day. Regardless, it was incredibly fun getting to push the Evo through its paces on track and test out the various mods we added. The difference between the half-mile race and the time attack event is significant, and that type of multi-phase build is what we expect most enthusiasts, especially those on a budget (like the majority of us) would do with their car.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Sam Chaysavang Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

My only complaint about the entire process was a lack of seat time. Since the car isn't mine, I only had the chance to drive it during the actual events. Going to M1 Concourse completely blind for Speed Ring was intimidating and a little frustrating, being that I was constantly worried about breaking something or even putting a car that I didn't own into a wall. Going back to the AEM fail-safe that I mentioned, it saved the day when a wastegate hose popped off in the heat of competition. Thankfully nothing was damaged and the car still ran perfectly once we rectified the hose issue.

Project Motovicity Evo 8 Mishimoto FMIC Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel

In the end of all this, we definitely made the right decision both in choosing the proven Evo 8 platform and also in using just one car to tackle both events. Starting simple and then eventually upgrading rather than just throwing a bunch of parts at a car and trying to make big dyno numbers seldom translates into fun on the track, not to mention actual progression. You're most likely building your car little by little, as time and your bank account allow you to progress, and that's the angle we wanted to take with this project. If there's one thing I learned in all of this, and hopefully you did, too, it's that events like Motovicity's Never Lift and Speed Ring are absolutely accessible to all drivers and build levels. Yes, there are some pro-level teams out there, but they're in the advanced classes. If you're looking to get started, these are two perfect events to cut your teeth on and learn what you and your car are capable of, and at the same time fully experience just how much of a difference those expensive upgrades did or didn't make, in a controlled environment amongst your peers. We'll see you at the next one!

Project Motovicity Evo 8 passenger side profile Photo 20/20   |   Project Motovicity Evo 8 - Behind the Wheel


By Rodrez
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