I think of Time Attack like I think of the USA and USSR during the Cold War… or was it Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd? One side brings out an axe, the next a pistol, the next a shotgun, the next a cannon, until you end up with a nuclear bomb. So how does this relate to time attack? The first year of the Super Lap Battle Time Attack at Buttonwillow was 2004. The best lap time was a 1:54 for an Unlimited class car, the Signal Auto Skyline R34, driven by the one and only Tarzan Yamada. Fast forward to modern times and a 1:54 is a great time for a Street Tire car and the Unlimited cars are talking numbers sub 1:40(!!!) to secure a victory.
That’s over 14 seconds faster…
Do you know what you can do in 14 seconds? In 14 seconds you can watch two Vine videos with plenty of time left over to Tweet “LOL #ROFLCOPTER.” In 9 years we’ve gone from fighting with sticks and stones to plasma cannons and dark matter bombs. Time Attack, with its modest budgets and open door policy, is one of the most efficient ways to improve car performance of all time. We should put these guys to work curing blindness with the promise of a Beer Time Attack as the reward. With that said, let’s take a sneak peak at the Global Time Attack Buttonwillow finale. It’s shaping up to be one of the most exciting Time Attack events of all time with top quality cars coming out in each class!
For the uninitiated, Enthusiast Class has the tightest limits on aerodynamics, engine, suspension, tire and weight modifications. The goal is having an entry level class, without professional drivers, for competitors and teams to get their feet wet in the world of Time Attack. But don’t for a second think this class of fully insured and street driven vehicles is slow. The current Buttonwillow lap record, held by Craig Peyron, for an Enthusiast Class car would have netted a 4th overall finish at the original, 2004 Super Lap Battle.
Peyron and his wife have had quite a successful first season and are looking forward to stepping up a class next season!
Speaking of Mr. Peyron, his is the first car we’ll cover in our preview. The Robispec/Yimi Sport Tuning 2006 Subaru STI is making the trek from Visalia, CA to Buttonwillow to defend its overall Enthusiast track record of (1:58.322) set earlier this year. This remarkable time happened to be the first Enthusiast Class car to break the 2:00 barrier and he also holds overall enthusiast track records at Willow Springs International Raceway (1:32.264) and Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (2:03.331). What makes this all the more remarkable is that this is his first year competing in Time Attack. Not resting on his laurels, Peyron has the car at Yimi Sport Tuning getting an E85 upgrade, with the chance of adding an upgraded turbo as well. His goal is to lay down one last sick lap time before stepping up from Enthusiast class for 2014.
Next up is driver Amir Bentatou with his StanceWorks Motorsports E36 M3 Sedan. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA Bentatou has also been competing for a year and owns the RWD enthusiast track record at Willow Springs International Raceway (1:32.243). Not being content with just one record to his name, he is eyeing the current RWD Buttonwillow record of (2:00.843). Modifications to the aerodynamics and basic chassis setup are all that Bentatou feels he needs to put the team “right where we need it.” Also mentioned was Bentatou’s interest in seeing what is up the other competitors’ sleeves, which leads me to believe, he has something up his sleeve. Time will tell!
The name “Street Class” has confused quite a few people over the years. Cars regularly have full roll cages, carbon fiber doors, completely gutted interiors and wings so large that even the most devoted hard parkers question to themselves “Is that wing too big to be tasteful?” To clarify a little bit, Street Tire Class might be the better choice of words as with this class there are rules for the engine, aero and chassis, but the limits are much less restrictive. It’s not unusual to see horsepower numbers north of 600 and exotic materials used to shed weight. The biggest limits are the tires. 140 UTQG treadwear with a 255mm width limit for AWD, 285mm for RWD and no width limit for FWD.
“BigRed” is sitting on the sidelines this year.
This year, Street FWD Track Record Holder, Ken Suen of Ontario, CA, is back to defend his lap record (1:58.921). The only thing is that his amazing Honda Civic SI, affectionately known as “BigRed,” done blewed itself up 4 weeks ago. He will be piloting the Godspeed Project/Sportcar Motion Acura RSX Type S, known as “The Dark Knight” instead. Little is known about this second car, but Suen tells me that a 1:56 is the magic number for the record in Street FWD. Suen also refused to send a headshot of himself along with photos of the cars, this leads me to believe he’s Batman… beware competitors, beware!