2012 Audi TT RS
+AWD class winner in Dyno, Drag And Track | Overall GP Winner
034 Motorsport... What more can we say? These guys show up each year, driving all the way from Fremont, CA, and are ready to destroy the opposition.
You can't blame 'em. They simply love racing, and seem to be better prepared than any other team for every aspect of the competition.
There's a proven formula here. Light weight, small chassis, all-wheel drive and gobs of horsepower: 034 brought a car that seemed to hit each area perfectly.
Although their 2012 Audi TT RS appeared relatively stock, it had an extraordinary amount of work done to it. Starting with its 660hp 2.5-liter motor boosted by an APR stage 3 turbo kit, intercooler and fuel pump, 034 downpipe, exhaust, clutch and flywheel, plus a Wavetrack limited-slip to get the ponies to the ground.
The chassis had Ohlins TTX coilovers along with an 034 rear sway bar, billet end-links and spherical trailing arm bushings. This was all the TT needed to dominate the Streets of Willow racetrack. Even the TT's factory brakes were up to the job, although 034/Cobalt race pads were used along with a 13" rear rotor upgrade.
Keep in mind, the car still had a full interior, but it didn't stop Christian "Birkenstocks" Miller from trouncing other drivers on the road course, or company owner, Javad Shadzi, from launching it hard at the drag strip. As before, the 034 team was again unbeatable.
2013 Audi S4
San Luis Obispo, CA
AccuAir is in the business of slamming cars while attempting not to compromise drivability or ground clearance. They do it with air suspension kits and, in addition to considering stance, the company is focusing on increased handling performance and ride quality.
So we persuaded them to enter the same Audi S4 that was used in our "Air vs Coilovers" story (EC 11/13). Prepared by TAG Motorsport, the S4 would be the poster child for AccuAir's new Sport suspension kit.
To be competitive, the car was also fitted with an AWE supercharger pulley, intake, downpipe and exhaust. The S4 also had StopTech big brakes and was a strong competitor, thanks to its overall balance and adaptive suspension.
With seasoned racer Jim Pierce at the wheel, the Audi was awesome to witness, especially as it remained relatively flat through the turns thanks to its air suspension. And that was despite it having a full interior and slightly skinny tires.
2013 Audi S6
Eurocode prides itself on having a hunger for competition and the desire to dominate whatever they're involved in. This year, by default, they showed up with an Audi S6 - affectionately known as "the boat" - after its chosen vehicle developed last minute transmission problems.
Many people speculated that such a large car wouldn't be a threat, but they were wrong. Although there was no special tuning or preparation for our event, Eurocode showed up and battled against smaller, more agile cars.
The S6 was equipped with APR software, Eurocode front and rear sway bars, spherical end-links and a front drivetrain stabilizer. But thanks to enormous OEM brakes with Brake Factory pads, stainless lines and fluid, the Audi looked surprisingly nimble on the road course in the hands of driver Jeremy Croiset.
Thanks to the immense 4.0 V8 biturbo powerplant and quattro all-wheel drive traction, the S6 was a force to be reckoned with in all disciplines and came surprisingly close to winning several events.
1985 Porsche 911 Carrera
Huntington Beach, CA
Joey Seely owns and daily drives this 911. It was, hands down, the most beautiful, and one of the best sounding, cars at the event. It was taking part at our request after BBi had initially withdrawn from the event after Continental was unable to provide tires big enough for the tuner's 1000hp Porsche Turbo.
Rather than lose BBi entirely, they agreed to enter Joey's 911, although they knew it would be significantly down on power, even with its 3.6-liter flat-six from a 964 RS America. However, the 911 was extremely light and had KW Motorsport dampers with ERP control arms and mono-balls.
Fitted with Brembo big brakes and a rigid rollcage, the car was well equipped for the track. It also had a Guard LSD, which meant Michael Essa was able to drift it after the final event.
The Carrera competed without a hiccup. In fact, Joey admitted he was driving at his limit, but felt the car had more in it if a pro got behind the wheel.
Like many other cars in ECGP13, no major changes were made to the car before it competed and Joey drove to the track each day on his own.
2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe
+RWD class winner in Drag and Track
EAS is well known in the BMW tuning world, having created some mean Ms. After retiring last year's E92 M3, ECGP13 would see the arrival of the company's BMW Z4 M Coupe - a wise choice.
The Z4M benefits from being lightweight and having a rigid chassis. Thanks to AST coilovers, Volk TE-37 wheels, StopTech brakes and APR spoilers, the "clown shoe" was glued to the road.
Recaro pole position seats kept driver, Jordan Yost, in place on the twisty track. He enjoyed reliable performance from the ESS VT2-525 supercharger kit that produced linear power, making it ideal for the track. It also sounded good through Macht Schnell headers and a lightweight Arqray titanium exhaust. Thanks to Aqua Mist water/meth injection, the S54 powerplant remained cool.
Jordan was instantly comfortable in the car, only playing with damping and rebound settings to better suit the Continental tires. On the drag strip, the team softened the rear damping but increased the rebound to keep the car squatting off the line. On the road course, the setup was softened to avoid overworking the tires.
2003 BMW M3
El Segundo, CA
+RWD class winner in Dyno
Senior Features Editor Alex Bernstein has an obsession with making huge horsepower in his RWD coupe. So we've transformed his M3 into a great magazine project with a slew of performance parts that, on paper, meant our Bavarian beast could be competitive. It used a Maximum PSI stage 1 turbo kit, Performance Friction BBK, KW Clubsport coilovers and a handful of Bimmerworld parts, among others.
Unfortunately, the car was completed only days before the event, so was still suffering issues with its electronic boost controller as well as high water temps from the extra heat of the turbo. We managed to solve one of the problems when 034 shipped a manual boost controller to the track overnight.
While the Maximum PSI turbo performed well on the dyno, the load from 499 lb-ft and 647whp put massive strain on the Spec clutch, causing it to slip during the drag racing.
With Michael Essa at the wheel for the road course, we were concerned about the clutch and were unsure about the suspension set up. Minor damping adjustments were made to the front in an effort to reduce body roll, but water temp issues meant the car could only complete one fast lap at a time - a problem we've since tried to rectify.
Paired with inconsistent power from the boost controller, the M3 wasn't easy to drive. Yet we're happy to have competed in our own event and it helped to show the difference between a shop car and a magazine car!
2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe
Lake Forest, CA
Home to a number of amazing projects, unrivaled craftsmanship and fabrication, GSR co-owner Michael Essa also happens to be the 2013 Formula Drift champion. The company will attempt anything from V10 swaps into M3s, to bolt-on installations and racecar preparation.
For ECGP13, GSR entered a track-tuned, street-driven C63 AMG Coupe. Part of its spec included bolt-on fender flares fitted by GSR to accommodate massive 275/35 front and 295/35 rear tires. These would help the coupe transmit its 500whp and equal serving of torque.
KW Clubsport coilovers were a key handling component, but the car was also gutted, adding lightweight RaceTech seats and a GSR roll-bar. Combined with six-piston AMG brakes, a custom GSR front lip and rear spoiler, the C63 looked more race-ready than most of its competitors. It also performed flawlessly throughout the event, even allowing Michael to demonstrate some of his drifting prowess after the timed laps.
2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe
The Los Angeles-based European tuning facility has more than a decade in racing and tuning, specializing in race prep. As a result, whatever they bring to the GP should handle above all else.
With seasoned driver Clint Doisdeau at the wheel, Platte Forme had high hopes of taking the overall win this year, or the RWD class at the very least. However, minor problems would ultimately cost them the title.
Fortunately, the ESS VT2-525 kit performed well but the car suffered a mishap on the dyno and an oil leak would later lose them road course practice time. Even once the car was rectified, oil on the tires meant Clint couldn't use the dialed-in suspension properly.
The suspension was more advanced than the similar EAS car, consisting of JRZ RS Pro coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, shock mounts, weight jacker, camber arms and sway bars. Along with lightweight HRE wheels, StopTech big brakes, APR spoilers and a custom roll-bar, the Z4M was a leading contender.
The Tuner GP was the car's first track outing, so the team had managed to dial-out some of the understeer initially experienced on the tight track. Platte Forme owner, Toan Nguyen, is confident that without the oil spill, his Z4M would have turned a competitive 1:26 time after the adjustments. There's always next year...
2008 BMW M3
Trinity Autosport opened its Tustin, CA doors in 2008 with owner Joe Yang at the helm. Specializing in BMWs, Trinity builds some well-sorted cars for SoCal drivers.
Joe daily drives the shop mule, a 2008 M3 six-speed, fitted with a VF620 supercharger, CKS struts, Swift springs and an APR wing.
Joe has plenty of track time and made zero changes to his car over the course of our GP. The car was bulletproof but up against pro drivers, Joe was at a disadvantage on the track. There was probably more speed in his car in the hands of somebody with more racing experience.
With some aftermarket brakes and weight reduction, Joe's M3 might have been more competitive, but the good news is, he plans to return next year!
2013 Ford Focus ST
A branch of VW tuner, Euro Sport Accessories, the Ford-based FSWerks division was established in 1999 to specialize in vehicles like the Focus and Fiesta. And after helping to create our SEMA project Focus ST, we thought it'd be great to see what the Euro/American could do in combat. Additionally, the Euro Sport Mk1 GTI racecar had been stolen earlier in the year, so the team's options were somewhat limited.
FSWerks fitted its own Cool-Flo intake, 3" downpipe-back exhaust, H&R coilovers and a Cobb V3 AccessPort with a custom FSWerks tune. And while it's a healthy options list, the ST was disadvantaged by only having basic bolt-ons. Randy Robles from FSWerks admitted "We brought a knife to a gunfight," and the results reflected that...
The ST had never even been driven hard on the street, let alone a track day, so it was an interesting experiment for everybody concerned. With company owner Raffi Kazanjian driving on the road course and brother Vik taking care of the drag racing, the team gave it everything they had and were pleased with the performance. With a better set up and another 100hp, the results would be interesting, to say the least.
2012 Volkswagen GTI
Summit Point, WV
+FWD class winner in Dyno, Drag And Track
Known for its software tuning, Revo also has a range of hardware that was showcased on the only VW in the event - an astonishing turnaround from when GTIs and R32s used to dominate the GP.
The car was shipped from WV for the event and was both prepared and drag raced by Calibration Engineer Robin Roemisch. On the track it was driven by experienced wheelman, Jon Miller who seemed to have exactly what he needed to get the job done in the FWD class. Without much competition in the class, they dominated proceedings and suffered no reliability issues.
The Mk6 GTI was fitted with a Revo Technik K04 turbocharger upgrade as well as the company's stage 3 software and cold-air intake. It also had a Eurojet front-mount intercooler and 3" turbo-back exhaust system.
The six-speed manual had a Wavetrak LSD plus a Sachs clutch and flywheel. The little hatch handled extremely well thanks to Eibach Pro-R2 coilovers with custom Revo valving as well as a bigger rear sway bar. All the way down to its Revo/Alcon big brakes, the GTI was strong where it counted and got the job done.