Driver Blog: Mike Bonnani – GTA Shift-S3ctor Pro-Am


Fiat abarth

Under the hood is where you will find the most modification to the HGMS Abarth.  The stock 1.4L turbo 4cyl has been retained but HGMS has added a handful of prototype bolt-on parts that we were out at the track testing. The HGMS prototype parts list includes a front-mount intercooler, intake, cat-less downpipe, and plug-n-play tuning module. The car is also equipped with a custom downpipe-back exhaust which they integrated a 100 cell metallic high flow cat into to comply with Enthusiast Class rules. With the high flow cat installed the HGMS Abarth makes 154whp and 165wtq at 18psi on HG Motorsports’ Dyno Dynamics dyno, an increase of nearly 30 horsepower and torque at the wheels over stock baseline numbers run on the same dyno.  The HGMS Fiat Abarth runs on good 'ol California pee water grade 91 octane fuel in order to keep costs down and retain its ability to pull into any gas station around town to fill up.  The 5-speed manual gearbox remains unmodified as does the rest of the drivetrain.

fiat abarth interior

Inside, the FIAT is still very much a street car with the only modifications being a pair of Sparco R505 reclineable seats, Sparco harnesses, a prototype HGMS harness bar, and some aesthetic upgrades like the vinyl wrapped dash.  Perhaps the most important piece of the interior however is a small black box that controls a PA system which emits your choice of animal sounds, sirens, or the crowd favorite ice cream truck song through a speaker mounted behind the rear bumper cover.  I had a lot of fun driving through the pits watching people try and figure out where the cat noises were coming from.  With full interior and driver the HGMS Abarth weighs in at around 2,900 lbs. giving it a power to weight ratio of 1 horsepower per 18.8lbs so momentum is the key to getting a fast lap.  Any speed lost through the corner is not easily made up like it is for cars with quicker acceleration.  This is the biggest challenge when driving a car like the HGMS Abarth.  Small mistakes and track conditions seemed to have major effects on lap times making it one of the more challenging cars I have driven in a long time.  The HGMS FIAT 500 Abarth is a true driver’s car; it’s twitchy, it punishes you when you make mistakes, and rewards you when you don’t.  I have had the luxury of driving many different cars of all makes, models, and levels of modification and although the HGMS FIAT 500 Abarth was not the fastest I have driven, it certainly was one of the most fun.

Mike Bonnani GTA

The HGMS crew and I ended up taking home a 2nd place finish in the Enthusiast FWD class with my quickest lap being a 2:13.322.  It’s one of the slowest laps I have had around Buttonwillow in a car that wasn’t broken and limping back to the pits, but at the same time I am extremely proud of my lap and the crew at HG Motorsports.  The HGMS FIAT 500 Abarth was both fun and challenging, the two things that are at the top of my list of reasons why I love driving in time attack.  For me, it’s not about having the fastest car it’s about having fun and trying to go faster and faster each time out regardless of where you fall in the standings.  I think the HG Motorsports FIAT is a perfect example of that.  I didn’t care where my lap time fell in relation to my competitors, I just cared that I kept making progress.  The crowd didn’t seem to care about the lap time either as the mighty little FIAT was a fan favorite!  Maybe it was the animal noises.

Here’s a video I put together from the weekend.  My quickest lap of the weekend is shown toward the end.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed driving it!


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