Road Trip: Global Time Attack PRO-AM style.
By: Wes Dumalski
Photograhps by: Wes Dumalski and BPhotography
So, as many of you may know, I am the dork here at MIQ who loves time attack. I attend these events and cover them as they are my passion. I was even a one-time competitor in our Project 200SX and truth be told, I just cannot stay away. After the latest Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta I returned home and thought to myself, “Shit…. I won't be heading to another time attack until November for the GTA/Super Lap Battle event.” This did not sit well with me and in fact, I knew I would not be able to stay away.
Traveling to these events on a regular basis allows you to develop relationships and even in some cases make friends (I know it's a stretch for an asshole of my caliber to pretend that these people actually enjoy my company, but please bear with me for the sake of this editorial). I will even offer that if you attend these things and you do NOT make friends then perhaps you need social help. I always thought it was the cars that drew me to these events. The speed, the builds, the sounds and smells; as it turns out that is not the case. The attraction for me is the people and one of my new friends is solely responsible for my trip to the blazing dissolve that is Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for the Global Time Attack/Shift Sector Pro Am events 2 and 3. Follow along, as I take you on a brief road trip, Time Attack style.
After Atlanta as I continued to work on my carpel tunnel I was having a chat with my boy Travis Barnes from Snail Performance. If you haven't met Travis and the guys from Snail you really should make it a point to do so. That southern drawl and baby face can charm just about anyone and his technique in all things Crown Royal will charm the rest. Our social network conversation went something like:
Trav, “You comin' to Chuckwalla, dawg?”
Me, “Nah, it's only like three weeks away and shit.”
Trav, “You should come, dawg.'”
Me, “Yeah, with my schedule that will be hard. I have quite a bit on my plate and my…”
Trav interrupting, “Shit, it's just a weekend, man, and flights are cheap for you… Like $240, mang.”
Me, “Really? That is cheap. Lemme…”
Trav, “Book that shit like a bauce.”
Me, “Okay, lemme check it out…”
Trav cuts in, “Shit, man, you can fly to PHX and ride out with us and sleep in our trailer… It'll be off the chain.”
Me, “Okay, booked.”
That's how a lot of this tends to work out. A little bit of the best (read: worst) kind of peer pressure and the wheels are greased and I am on my way to the land of swass (read: swamp ass). I packed my bags and jumped on a 7:00 a.m. flight out of Milwaukee to Phoenix. I leave the rain and 50 degree temperatures with my jeans and hoodie on and land in 105 degrees ready to disrobe. As I land I hit up Travis for a ride. Snail Performance is just around the corner from the airport so no sooner than I got off the phone with him he pulls up. He is easy to spot in his Black Chevy Diesel with the Global Time Attack banner across the front and our plan for the day is to head back to Snail, tune some cars, pack up, and head to the track. The Snail Performance team campaigns three cars in both NASA and Global Time Attack events, all of them owned, built and tuned by Snail Performance themselves. Travis Barnes has a 2004 WRX that is primarily an STi conversion. Taylor Wilson campaigns a 2009 WRX Hatchback, and Markos Mylonas a 2004 WRX. This is the group of young professionals with whom I have chosen to spend the weekend.
As we head back to Snail I get a chance to check out their shop and learn who does what. Honestly I love being a “nerd on the wall” in places like this as you get to learn so much through observation and shadow the guys that are passionate about not just speed but doing things the right way. Their advice to customers and potential customers is spot on and always in the best interests of longevity. They primarily specialize in Subaru performance yet work on a great many projects and as the day progress I get to observe these sapiens of speed in their natural habitat. Travis is the tuner and tunes with both open source and COBB AccessPort. Being someone who cannot sit still I begin helping Travis and check out how he does things. The first car on the Mustang Dyno is Taylor's WRX.
Travis works his magic on Taylor's WRX on the Mustang Dyno. No better way to break in a motor than on the dyno the day before a time attack event!
When I arrived they had just finished buttoning up Taylor's motor refresh and installed it back in the car. Travis wanted to break it in properly on the dyno with four different maps for the weekend. Hoosier Thief, F*&% You, and Come to Jesus were three of the four MAP names that Travis tweaked and perfected on Taylor's wagon with new motor and turbo. I cannot share the name of the fourth or I would have to kill you and/or you might get fired from work as it is NSF anywhere.
All told the car made well over 550whp and they were pleased enough to roll it off the dyno and move on to the next tune. As the other techs finished up with an STi downpipe install Travis would immediately move it to the rollers and put a pro tune in place. The final install of the day was a GV STi that had just undergone a bunch of upgrades which Travis spent a considerable amount of time to get the tune right.
What impressed me the most had nothing to do with the excellent numbers the car put down; but instead how he handled the customer. I happened to be in the office as the customer came in to settle his bill with the shop. Travis went over his dyno and how to read it properly. When he explained what the peak boost numbers were the customer came out and asked why he did not run more boost? Travis said “I can tune your car for more boost if you want to replace your motor, we chose this boost level to give you safe and reliable power especially given the high heat conditions in Phoenix.” The customer was clearly hung up on a certain figure, however all of the experienced people understand that running more boost is not always the answer, especially on EJ applications in the desert heat! Taylor is the brains behind the shop operations and spent the same time with other customers to explain why and how they do things. Simply put, they refuse to deviate from what they know to be the right thing for the customer and doing this keeps their customers happy for the duration rather than the customers' first three pulls on the street!