With power mods out of the way and done (for now), I was eager to see how well Project Super VIII would perform at the racetrack. However, as usual, there was one last round of modifications that needed to be performed.
First and foremost, the stock rolling gear had to go. I needed a worthwhile upgrade in the diameter and width departments because if anything's going to improve your lap times, it's a set of wide, sticky tires. Before tires can be chosen, you need a proper set of wheels.
My preferred wheel was the Gramlights 57DR in gloss black. Manufactured by Rays Engineering, these wheels utilize the latest casting technology that produces a high-strength design while keeping weight to a minimum. The 18x9.5-inch size I ordered weighs only 22 pounds and is still reasonably priced (around $400 per wheel) for a dual-purpose, high-quality, street/track wheel. Add the aggressive concave spoke design, and the 57DR is a great choice for any Evo owner.
I usually have a set of dedicated R-compound tires for the track and another set for street use, but this time around I wanted to stick with just one pairing for dual purposes. That meant finding a tire that would provide me the best of both worlds, and it didn't take long. Touted as one of the fastest street-class tires around, the Yokohama Advan Neova provides high levels of traction with very little compromise on the track. That's partly due to Yokohama's highly specialized tread compound (it carries a rating of 180 UTQG), which has been perfected over many years. That's why the Neova is able to withstand high lateral loads without becoming greasy or losing its bite even after many laps of repeated abuse. The steel-cord-reinforced sidewalls should also get credit for the tire's performance, and you would think because of these very racelike qualities, the Neova would be a loud and poor tire choice for street use, but I found it very civilized.
Veering on the aggressive side of tire size, I went with a 255/35R18, which, combined with the 18x9.5-inch +22 offset 57DRs, meant some massaging of the fenders had to be done.
I by no means am a pro with the Eastwood fender roller, but I've done it enough to feel confident about rolling my own fenders (without too much damage). Unfortunately, this time around was one of my worst attempts with the roller. Since I underestimated how much I really needed to roll the rear fenders, I ended up with a less-than-stellar-looking result; the sheetmetal has a few more waves than I'd like to see. It doesn't help that the Advan 255s run on the wide side, either.
Nevertheless, if you're planning on running this size (or bigger), I suggest finding a professional (Evasive Motorsports is great in the SoCal area) to do it for you, especially if you care about your paint. Mine is already a bit tired, so it's not the end of the world that my hackarific roll and pull isn't perfect. Thankfully, only the rear needed attention, because up front, aside from moving the fender liners up, there's no need to pull any sheetmetal.
With the tires and wheels addressed, my usual plan of action is to replace the rotors and brake pads with race-specific parts. This time around I had a different plan. I'll admit I was partly motivated by looks, because the Brembos on this Evo look appear to have had a serious skin disease and shed all their clearcoat in the process of fading to a much-less-than-stellar red hue.
The other reason to go with a bigger brake upgrade is to have more braking force available with zero chance of brake fade. I want to be able to brake at the very last moment, and to have the confidence to do so, I needed some serious stopping hardware.
StopTech's Big Brake kit for the Evo offers a six-piston caliper along with a massive, 14-inch two-piece, rotor and all the necessary hardware to install it. You're probably thinking my stock Brembos work just fine, and you're right, it's a good brake system, but if you're looking to push the limits of your car, then you'll quickly find deficiencies in it.
Because StopTech slotted AeroRotors are much larger, they increase heat capacity (and provide better cooling), which reduces brake fade and allows those six-piston calipers to clamp harder, improving stopping distances. But the key is in the entire system; it is properly matched to work with the Evo's brake torque bias, meaning you still retain the same brake modulation and control you would with the stock brakes.
What about weight, though? I'm always concerned with adding more rotational mass, but thankfully, the StopTech BBK weighs only 2 pounds more per side than stock, which for me is well worth the trade-off for superior braking quality.
I couldn't leave the rear alone, so a set of slotted Power Slot rotors along with StopTech Racing SR34 compound brake pads (good for track and street use) and stainless steel brake lines were added to the mix.
Installation of the Big Brake Kit couldn't be simpler. Remove the stock equipment and bolt on the StopTech parts. Flush your old brake fluid out and replace it with some track-ready, high-boiling-point (594 degrees F) StopTech STR-600 solution, and you're ready to put these binders to work.
I had every intention of explaining my experience out at Buttonwillow Raceway with these new parts, but sadly I've run out of paper real estate, so unlike on the Internet, where you get everything right away, you'll have to be patient this time and wait till next issue.