Although Leroy wasn't quite ready in time for this year's Super Lap Battle finals, I was. In this section I'll go over the basic necessities for getting on track, what makes each item special and why I chose them. Not only is each item totally functional but they're very stylish and 100% JDM to boot!
Arai GP-6S Helmet
When it comes time to choose a helmet I can't encourage enough that no expense should be spared for your safety. A helmet isn't like other parts where you can go back and replace them once you find out they don't meet your needs - once you "test" your helmet it's already too late. Too many times I've seen people purchase a used ill-fitting "knockoff" helmet from Craigslist for $100 just so they can get out on track. Sure you might save a couple bucks that you can spend on brake pads, but isn't your life worth more than one hundred bucks?
Arai is known for making some of the best helmets on the planet and as their infamous tagline boasts "There's only one Arai." Unlike all other motor helmet companies Arai is a family owned and operated business. Every single helmet Arai makes is 100% handmade and the quality is instantly revealed the moment you hold one in your hand and place it on your skull. Arai is also the only helmet maker that builds their competition-level helmets in house; all other brands have their flagship models outsourced to another facility capable of meeting the strict demands and tolerances of premier motorsports associations.
Before any helmet leaves the factory it must undergo no less than three separate quality control departments: one after the shell is made, one after painting and one after final assembly. Unlike other brands they don't perform a quality check on a sample of the helmets they make but every single unit. Thus the fitment and tolerances of Arai helmets are held to a higher standard and each unit is made to exacting precision. Attention to detail like this certainly isn't cost-effective from a business standpoint but it's not something Arai is willing to sacrifice which probably partially explains why they have won the JD Power award for helmet customer satisfaction for twelve straight years.
The GP-6S is a new helmet replacing the GP-5K that benefits from a trickle-down of experience gained in top-level motor racing by Arai including Formula 1, Nascar, Super GT, IRL and Karting. The shell design is an identical replica of Arai's top-of-the-line $5000 carbon-fiber F1 helmet. Another trick new feature on the GP-6S is the Positive-Lock mechanism, which securely latches the shield closed, but can be operated with a single finger for quick opening. Topping off all of the obvious benefits is a 5-year warranty making the GP-6S a no-brainer.
After giving Arai my skull measurements I patiently awaited my new helmet, which arrived sooner than I had anticipated. Upon opening the box the quality I spoke of previously stood out like a sore thumb. The fit and finish of every last part was amazing from the shield pivoting mechanism to the Positive-Lock to the interior padding, everything was top notch. My old helmet, which shall remain brand less, seemed very Mickey Mouse by comparison. I was amazed how well the helmet fit after only giving Arai some basic information; it really spoke to the consistency of Arai's products. If you're in the market for a helmet or even a replacement do yourself a favor and try on an Arai, you won't look back.
Snell-approved for motor racing
Wider eye port
Large closable intake vents
Replaceable cheek pads
Strengthened chin bar
Seats for HANS device
Source: Arai, araiamericas.com/#/helmets/auto
Moving down from the head the next stop are the hands. Driving gloves are often overlooked but when designed properly they can really add something to the driving experience. Take for example ARD's newest glove the ARD-272. As seen on the hands of top drivers in Super GT, ARD has been making FIA approved safety gear for years and has now released the worlds first ever FIA 8856-2000 approved asymmetrical glove. Made with fire resistant material, the backside of the glove is accented with a stylish JDM design, while the palm area receives a Pittards leather treatment. These lightweight breathable gloves offer a superb fit and super-grippy driving experience without sacrificing steering feel.
Source: 5Zigen (ARD), 5zigenusa.com/english/products/racing_item/index.html
ARD/Asics TQA-032 Roadmaster Ride limited-edition shoes
Thick sole for comfort and durability
Cool metallic "fox" design
A good driving shoe should be thin, lightweight and offer excellent pedal feel and that's exactly what you get with the TQA-032 shoe despite its lack of FIA certification. The Roadmaster Ride shoe has been designed as a driving shoe as opposed to a race-only design and as such offers enough comfort to be worn all day. Unlike typical race shoes that have to be removed after getting out of your car the thicker rubber sole on these allows you to put the shoe on in the morning and wear it through the paddocks all day. The hip metallic-flake design (also offered in silver/red) makes these shoes cool enough to be rocked away from the track as well. The next time you go to hit your local touge lace up a pair of Asics TQA-032s and really feel like you're part of a Hot Version video!
Source: 5Zigen (ASICS/ARD), 5zigenusa.com/english/products/racing_item/index.html
Review: Ingersoll Rand 2135QTiMAX Impact Gun
Believe it or not, before I worked for Super Street, I used to be an automotive technician. When you're working on cars full-time your livelihood relies on your tools and how effective, durable and efficient they are. Ingersoll Rand (IR) pneumatic tools have always been praised among mechanics for delivering insane performance at a reasonable price. But there is one product IR has always been especially well-known for, their 1/2" impact guns.
Having owned the 2135Ti for several years I can tell you that my old gun has been through hell and back - used and abused, but still functions perfectly even today. With its state-of-the-art torque ratings it made waves when it was released and is still a great gun even by today's standards. But IR certainly couldn't leave good enough alone and has developed the 2135 line into the 2135TiMAX line, now offering an additional 80 ft-lbs over the previous version.
Using the gun it was instantly clear that IR is still at the cutting edge of air tools. The 2135QTiMAX made short work of removing most any nut or bolt I could find on a rusted parts car laying around the shop. With 1,100 ft-lbs of what IR calls "nut busting torque" there's virtually no piece of hardware located anywhere on a car that this tool can't remove - except for the occasional warped or seized bolt - in which case the gun will likely sheer it off.
Although my old 2135Ti could probably have used a greasing it was still pretty impressive just how quiet the 2135QTiMAX was. If you haven't guessed by now the "Q" in the gun's name stands for quiet technology and operates at a lower decibel rate than the 2135TiMAX while sharing the same specifications. To be honest, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't buy the quiet version. Ergonomics are very simple to use, even with thick gloves on, and are unmistakably IR. Using this gun is sheer gearhead pleasure and I look forward to putting this baby to work as I finish Leroy!
1,100 ft-lbs of nut busting torque
780 ft-lbs max torque in reverse
50-550 ft-lbs torque range in forward
9,800 RPM maximum free speed
4.05lbs very lightweight
1,250 impacts per minute
Feather touch trigger
Patented four-position power regulator
Patented one-hand forward/reverse switch
Free two-year warranty with registration
Source: IR Ingersoll Rand, ingersollrandproducts.com