Who's really the fastest?
Since SoCal R32 and HPA had rented out the Streets of Willow for the track portion of their shindig, we tagged along to do some quarter-mile testing and hot laps on the same day. Being the control Nazi that I am, we again arranged for everyone to be on the same pump gas as on the dyno day. For added assurance, we also slapped the same Dunlop SP Sport Maxx max grip summer tires on each and brought along our own drivers for the quarter mile and the track. We knew who made the most power, and know that NA cars suffered more at altitude than the types of forced induction cars we were testing. So what does our radar gun tell us? The NA car, at a roughly 40-whp disadvantage and at best a 200-pound weight advantage (no back seat or forced induction hardware) pulled off the fastest e.t., almost a tenth faster than the best runs by the forced induction cars.

Yeah, that's what I said. And since our driver, John Kiewicz, quarter-mile jockey of our sister publication Motor Trend, has unquestionable driving abilities, and each car used the same gas, the same tires and the same infallible radar gun, we were left with the verdict that heat and weight make a big difference. Considering it was only 73 degrees outside at 20% humidity, I'd hate to see what a real summer track session would do to these cars. By the time Kiewicz shifted into third on the quarter mile pull in each force-fed car, the effects of heat and knock could already be felt. We even let the non-intercooled turbo car have a lengthy cool down time for the benefit of the doubt so that it could post its best e.t. of 14 seconds even-almost three tenths faster than its hot runs-to make sure the thin air had not gotten to all of us.

Apply all the correction factors you want, but like the cop said, radar doesn't lie. I will point out for reference's sake that the stock R32 we tested that day under-performed compared to Motor Trend's stock NHRA elevation-corrected e.t. by 0.4 seconds. Next time I'll make sure to datalog each car's OBD-II output to better report what each car is doing down the quarter mile. Yeah right, I'd be working for a race team and not a magazine if that were the case.

Point for the NA car without back seats and its lightning-fast short shifter and flywheel.

Settling The Matter Like Real Men
With no solid answers, we took the battle to the Streets of Willow in its full 1.7-mile configuration with a coned-off chicane on the straight after turn eight. With James Hickerson of Eibach Springs as our hot shoe, we ripped off some timed hot laps to see which form of power delivery best fit the track. We gave each car five timed laps total, including warm-up and cool-down, but it was pretty clear that by lap three the brakes were cooked and the compressors were blowing hot air.

Probably the biggest difference between the cars was suspension setup, which wasn't our main concern in testing. Wheel travel was the key to fast times, and keeping all four contact patches well planted. Unfortunately, the slower R32s all rode too low and could not take advantage of the grip offered by the SP Sport Maxx tires. The quick-boosting turbo car stood out here, with its on/off throttle steering and aptly tuned suspension. Even the supercharged car, fitted with the Neuspeed/Haldex performance upgrade, couldn't make up for the instant torque advantage enjoyed by the turbo car in the tight corners of the Streets.

Point for the turbo car with its instant torque and broad powerband.

Poring Over The Data
With nothing conclusive, we probably have the best results we could hoped for. Each car came away showing off its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and no one really walked away a loser. I spent the better part of a week scanning the data, burying myself in old thermodynamics and turbomachinery text books, consulting MAHA along with various turbo gurus, and scouring the Internet for NHRA correction factors and meteorological data to offer the best explanation I can. I still have none. So, I'll leave you with the numbers to sort out among yourselves.

CAR E.T. TRAP ELEVATION CORRECTED SEA-LEVEL E.T. ELEVATION CORRECTED SEA-LEVEL TRAP 0-60 LAP
Motor Trend Tested (Fontana, CA; 1232 ft) 14.2 97.6 14.02 98.86 5.9 n/a

stock(Rosamond, CA; 2326 ft)

14.81 92.25 14.41 94.86 6.65 1'39"64
VF 14.06 96.21 13.68 98.93 5.72 1 '37"40
HPA 14.00 100.98 13.62 103.34 5.81 1 '36"01
SOURCE
AMS VF Engineering
Dunlop Tires HPA Motorsports Inc.
7561 134A St. Surrey
B.C.
Ca  V3W 7B3
SoCal R32
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