There's a new trend in Puerto Rico; and no, it's not downloading music for free from the Internet! Rather, it's that people no longer want to depend on someone to extract every drop of power out of their car. Bragging rights no longer depend on high dyno numbers, fast e.t.'s in the quarter-mile, and winning shows. Now it's best to do all of that on your own, and the more you can do yourself the better. Enthusiast tuners are the new trend.
With technology developing almost as fast as gas prices are rising, car enthusiasts have all they need to modify their car as if they owned their own shop. Flashing an ECU no longer needs the local guru. Now you can simply go to the Web, download the software, order some cables, and voil. And if you need help there are forums where all the other nerds go to discuss experiences and share knowledge.
The Web has revolutionized the world, and the automotive industry is no exception. Now someone in England can exchange fuel maps with someone from Puerto Rico within seconds, so if you're smart enough to read and follow instructions you might be able to tune your own car.
Upgrades and bolt-ons are becoming easier and easier to install and with the knowledge readily available it's no mystery or dark science to make 11 seconds. Now tuners need to be able to create 9-second cars or risk themselves being beat by some unknown private car owner. Of course, tuning is more complex than basic bolt-ons and there'll always be a place in this world for the pros-like Gadiel, Norman, Pepo, Carlos, Creative, and Monroig, to name a few. However, by putting that extra know-how into the equation you'll end up saving a lot of time and money.
Back in the day when old Corollas and RX-7s invaded the tracks, beating cars twice their size and double their cylinder numbers, tuners had to be much more inventive than the new generation. There were no wideband knock sensors or dynos readily available, but that's not to say it's easier today. Nowadays the end user wants to pass emissions, retain all the power accessories, drive the car to work everyday, and still drop 10s at the strip. The highway and byways in Puerto Rico are full of street-driven race cars and for that we have to thank both the old generation who laid the foundation and the new one for taking it to the next level.
The history of Puerto Rico's automobile scene is full of part-time tuners who eventually turned pro, from tuning their own cars to tuning international stars like the Big Valley's record-breaking STI, Eddie Procco's Evo, or the unforgettable Honda Civic from Pepotech, "La Fea Mas Bella." Some of these tuners started upgrading their own rides in their own home garage when tuning was more of an art than a science-mystic tricks performed by blessed people who knew things no one else did. Technology, however, has brought those tricks into the hands of people like myself.
What will be the next goal? Eight seconds on street tires or perhaps 10 seconds on a stock turbo? God only knows what we'll achieve next. Puerto Ricans get bored easily and records don't last long.-Johnny
Editor's Note: Johnny Fargas is neck deep in the Puerto Rican tuning scene with his Web site, carrito.net, and his own Mitsubishi Evo, which was featured in Turbo a few issues back. His enthusiasm for turbos and tuning and the long-standing respect Turbo has had for Puerto Rico led us to create this Puerto Rico Connection column. Stay tuned as Johnny continues to tap the pulse of Puerto Rico, bringing the island's enthusiasm and innovation to our readers.