The day before as I was loading the car up, and had the realization that I would be going to streets, likely outgunned as street mod has no HP limits, be greeted with bad weather throughout the day, and to top it all off, it was Superbowl Sunday, which may hurt attendance.
The weather was beautiful, and it being streets, HP wasn’t as much of a factor as I anticipated and Superbowl had little effect on attendance, they were completely sold out!
This day was looking to be a day to remember, I looked at some of the competition, some having 100-200 more HP then my S2000, and honestly, I was just stoked that Gridlife was able to make it out there. And was fully anticipating not getting on the podium. I was most looking forward to the track battles, that is what makes this event so much fun, but before we get into that, lets break down the class rules.
STREET is intended for vehicles with minor bolt-on modifications only. This is our enthusiast class and is intended for advanced HPDE drivers and vehicles that are daily driven street cars, or daily-driveable. This class is limited to naturally aspirated 4 and 6 cylinder vehicles, and forced induction 4 cylinder vehicles. (MSRP limit of 70k)
Street class seems to be aimed at low budget and low modification, but if you see the rules, there is no HP limit, and engine swaps of the same cylinder count are allowed… so a K24 swapped Integra or civic would dominate the class, kind of a bummer in a class aimed at the budget racer. Fortunately , there were no setups like that at streets, and the street competition remained true to the idea that Gridlife had imagined
Street modified and Street GT were mixed at this event, as only a few street GT cars arrived.
Street GT is made for turbo 6 cylinders and v8s with a MSRP of under $105,000, no aero, tires up to 315! It actually sounds like a fun class, though unfortunately they could not hang with the street mod cars, and did not podium.
Street modified exists for street driven vehicles that have extensive off the shelf bolt-on modifications. This class is for advanced HPDE drivers or those that have previously participated in recreational competitive racing.
This is my class, and the rules seem to be similar to street for Global time attack, which means you can stuff as much power into a chassis as you would like, as long as it: Retains stock motor or a motor swap of plus or minus 2 cylinders, (so a LS swapped 240 would be fair game “gasp”), suspension is limited to 2 way adjustment, I had to actually put on Feal 442 coils on the car in order to fit into class, so thank you to Feal and Rockstar garage for loaning me a set so I could compete. Tire max size is 285 with a min UTQG rating of 200, I was on 255 A052’s for the event.
Another interesting classing rule is that there is no distinction between FWD, AWD and RWD classes, so it makes for some fun battles that you may have never thought of before.
So my S2000 fits decently well in this class, even more so if I had forced induction. which I do not.
Track mod is pretty damn close to unlimited, 3 way adjustment of coils/unlimited tire size/min UTQG rating of 60 for tires.
Unlimited is just that, anything goes but cars must be closed wheeled and have a VIN.
Now that we have covered the basic rules, (for a full list of rules, please visit www.Grid.life ) lets get into the competition from my perspective:
I was able to set a qualifying lap time of 1:23.8, which I was very excited about. Turns out these A052s mean the business, as that was the fastest N/A s2000 lap time I have ever seen on a “street” tire, and it put me in 2nd place behind Hyunchul Hong, who was able to lay down a 1:22.x in an early session in his turbo and caged 240 SX. And just behind me was the talented Michael Hillo in what seemed to be a well prepped 350z with aero and some used 275 Re71R.
My first battle was actually canceled due to the competitor blowing an engine in qualifying, a major bummer, but I didn’t think much of it because I was over 10 seconds faster then he was in qualifying.
Jump to the next battle, the first of many that made me sweat in 59 degree weather, was against Robert Robles, who was in Street GT class in a track prepped 997 911. He was running low 1:26’s in qualifying so I knew I had to be on my A game if I wanted to advance.
First run out, I gave it my all chasing him in that 911, I gave a ton of space because I knew that his 911 would destroy me in every long straight, so I wanted to be able to maintain speed through the corners in my 216 WHP Honda. And my strategy paid off with a new Pb of 1:23.460 vs his 1:25.246. when I saw the laptime on my aim solo I knew that it was my all and quote happy with the time, we now had to switch places and he had to chase me.
On the outlap, his strategy was get as close to me as possible and hopefully force a mistake, but as soon as the lap started I flipped my mirror up and tried my best to forget he was even there…
As it turns out, in the first corner exit while attempting to take my same line, he tank slapped, unknown to me, I kept going and managed a 1:24.289 vs his 1:27.243. we managed to claim victory and now have to fight the winner of the battle between friend and fellow S2K driver Mike Kang, and 350z hooner Michael Hillo.
Michael took the win Vs Kang and moved forward to battle me for a shot at the podium.
This is where I knew I had to bring my A game, Michael was consistently in the 24’s and was faster then me in a few of the qualifying rounds. This dude can drive. We line up, this time I take the lead run, I gave it my all, car handled beautifully consistent and I laid down a 1:23.459 vs his 1:24.739…. yes my lap time was 1/1000 of a second faster than the last round 40 min earlier in the day. Talk about consistency!
The next session we swapped places and I got to chase his bumper-less butt around SOW, it was a close race, but I could tell I caught him in the last ½ of the track, and just past the bowl. ( fun fact, I actually take a different line on the out-lap as to not share my super-secret line through the bowl 😉) but I was able to maintain my laptime once again for a 1:23.554 Vs Hillo’s 1:24.850
Now on to the final bracket for street mod, Me vs a very fast driver that also happens to be driving a very fast 240 hatch on 275 surf4G tires. I had walked up to my crew and after getting topped off with some oil I talked strategy, as I was fully expecting to lose. But when Rockstar garage owner, Justin Taylor had told me that Hong had actually slowed down thorough the day, and laying down high 1:23’s now. Most likely due to a flat spot he got while braking down the front straight ( or the celebratory drifting in the skid pad he did after every victory)
What ever the case, we head out, him in the lead. I give myself a very healthy gap, but only realize at the end of the lap, I was dealing with a very good strategist…. I caught him just after the bowl, and he seemed to be going very slow…. Like purposefully slow, I didn’t think much of it, but then we exit the last turn (into a long straight before the finish line) and he catapults out with speed that I could not touch, he was 10 car lengths ahead, the car had to have nearly double my horsepower to accomplish that gap. And in that moment I knew, that was his plan all along… now this last battle is what makes Gridlife so amazing, Hong had a strategy, and knew he had a power advantage, but not a grip advantage so he used that against me. This is something you would never see in other types of racing!
Results came in, and I was a mere 2/10 of a second ahead of him with a 1:24.900 vs his 1:25.146
We now switch places, I do the same move I learned from the 911, and flip my mirror up as to not worry about him behind me, I had no idea where he was when I got on the last straight, but I saw, in the distance my friend and safety chief Christine wave the checkered flag looking very happy, then I knew. With a last lap of 1:23.649, I took the win. unfortunately Hyunchul had a boost issue and pitted after losing boost towards the end of the lap.
This was a great event, and it is so different then any other time attack event in North America, it rewards strategy, skill, and build quality, it isn’t just “ build a car that can go fast once and then park it” it takes a certain amount of endurance for both you and the car. And I absolutely credit my Sponsor Rockstar garage for building a kickass car with me, and making sure it can be beat on over and over, and still comeback for more. it was consistency and reliability that won the West coast Gridlife event this year, and hopefully it will be enough to win the next one as well.