Speed: the elusive feeling, that utterly satisfying sensation of fastness. It's the number one reason so many of us are drawn to this automotive pastime.
You could deny it, sure, but then you wouldn't be entirely honest with yourself, would you? Whether you lust to drive a 500-hp Lamborghini or prefer a 50-hp Austin-Healy Sprite, the end game is usually the same: pursuit of that sensation of rapid motion, speed (whether or not you're actually going fast is a different matter entirely).
There's just one problem: the posted speed limit. Given, you don't have to deal with them if you live on the Isle of Man, the one place on Earth where there is no generally accepted speed limit, or if you're blessed with access to roughly half the German autobahnen that remain unrestricted at the top end. Otherwise, you're a gambling man (or woman). And speed, as it happens, can be detrimental to your good standing as a responsible motorist. Don't ask me how I know.
All things considered, driving a fast car fast in any one of the fifty United States of America could be one of the more frustrating and frightening proposals you're likely to face as an automotive enthusiast. But what if you could, nearly literally, fly under the radar? See speed traps coming before they see you? Listen in on big brother as he attempts to listen in on you?
Enter the Performance Outfitters Group R8 Raptor. This car is purpose- built to drive fast-really fast-and stay utterly off the radar while doing it. The car's owner-a shadowy individual who we'll call Mr. R-had it assembled for one specific task: taking the top spot and requisite bragging rights in that exhibition of speed, excess and debauchery known as Bullrun.
As I type, with the event still two weeks hence, we have no idea if he'll be successful. But given the tools at his disposal, I'd say nobody has got a better chance. And even if it all goes south, Mr. R has certainly stirred things up. The R8 Raptor has become something of a legend by now on the East Coast.
Performance Outfitters Group out of Stamford, Conn., got the nod when it came time to do the work. An unknown number of man hours have been invested into the project to date.
At first glance it may look nothing more than your basic R8. You'll note the lack of a contrasting "sideblade" panel; move in a little closer and you'll note the paint is a custom matte-finish black. Outwardly, this car is probably about as subtle as an R8 can get.
To accomplish the paint job, every exterior panel was removed and the interior was gutted. The latter was a necessary step anyway to make room for the host of electronics modifications planned for the project-more on that in a minute. The panels were also stripped of their R8 badging, and the side markers and all three taillamps were smoked.
Reportedly, when the time came to decide on an entry for the 2009 Bullrun rally, Mr. R had narrowed the field to two vehicles: the R8, and a Ferrari F430 Scuderia. While few would doubt the 430's on-track prowess, the R8 won out mainly over comfort and ergonomics, as well as the option of reliably supercharging the R8's 4.2-liter FSI power unit. At the time of the initial teardown, the R8 wore white paint and no other performance modifications outside of a Milltek exhaust.
Performance Engine Software, PES, out of Shouthampton, Penn., was tapped to provide a means of forced induction: supercharger assembly with integrated intake manifold, intercooling provisions, and the requisite support software. PES claims, unofficially at this point, an approximate 103-hp gain over the stock peak power figure. With the free-flowing Milltek pipes in place, Performance Outfitters Group estimates this R8, only the second such supercharged example in the United States, to put down around 558 hp and 437 lb-ft of torque (corrected for measurement at the crank).