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Sport Compact Car Magazine – The Ultimate Streetcar Challenge 2003 : The Guru Panel

Reprinted with permission from Sport Compact Car, June 2003

While we were out in the sun having fun, making dyno pulls, taking Grandma for a ride, our panel of engineering gurus was locked in HKS’s shop, picking nits.
From the June, 2003 issue of Sport Compact car Magazine
By Dave Coleman
Photography by SCC Staff

Our assembled panel of automotive know-it-alls consisted of three aftermarket powerhouses: John Concialdi of AEM, Oscar Jackson of Jackson Racing, and Mike Welch of Road Race Engineering; and two engineers: Dan Ehrlich of The Aerospace Company, and Mike Kent of Bell-Everman, Inc.

The incessant buzz of a defective overhead light, which rang through their heads the entire day, would have driven any sane person mad, but engineers have an almost inhuman endurance in the face of tedium and monotony. Anyone else would have taken out their frustration on the last few cars with crushing scores and harsh criticism. The last car that passed by our panel actually won.

Judging was focused on six areas of the car, each with a different number of points available, reflecting that area’s importance for performance. The engine was worth 40 points, the drivetrain 15, the suspension 20, bodywork was worth only 5, and brakes and interior modifications were worth 10 points each. The judges focused on modifications, looking for logical changes focused on improving performance. The fact that the Laminar Viking was built from scratch, essentially making it one giant modification, was surely crucial in overcoming the judges’ days’-end grogginess.

The Laminar’s turbocharged rotary wowed the judges, as did the Penske shocks and, of course, the featherweight tube frame clothed in carbon fiber. The judges were disappointed only with the rotary’s oil leaks and the exposed terminals on the fuel pump, which they deemed far too likely to start a fire should the Viking be rear-ended. But really, who can argue with 1,700 pounds and 360 hp? Mike Welch’s evaluation was, as usual, straight to the point. “He built the whole damn car from scratch and did it well. He wins.”

Paul Mumford’s Viper was only three points behind the custom-built featherweight. Credit the fact that it was built for the track by people who really know what that means. Penske shocks are a sure way to get the full 20 suspension points, and the Caldwell engine is a no-brainer for a high engine score, but it was the details that really impressed our weary judges. Details like carbon-fiber brake ducts, small air deflectors ahead of the front wheels, and the fact that the cold air duct in the hood was blocked off because the stock duct doesn’t actually work at speed. The wear and tear of countless track days, like the massive StopTech brakes that had clearly been cooked, also gave our panel a tantalizing glimpse of the outside world they’d been longing for all day.


Looking farther down on the finishing order tells you just how picky our judges can be. Deric Massie’s 384-hp Integra Type R was tagged by several judges for the fuel pump wiring. Too small a wire gauge, they said. Poor installation of the bolt-in roll bar and harnesses also drew the wrath of the geeks, leaving the Type R with a negative interior score from several judges. In fact, the Type R’s interior was deemed unsafe for our track tests, so the generous folk at Sparco stepped up and gave Massie new seats and belts so he could continue with the competition. The Type R’s engine, however, scored well. John Concialdi was especially fond of the AEM cam gears and fuel rail.

The Skyline’s eighth place finish seems odd, until you realize the car was mostly stock.

As good as a stock Skyline is, the judges were looking for modifications.


1 Laminar SRX-7 100 Who can argue with 1,700 lbs and 360 hp
2 Dodge Viper 97 Built for the track in every little detail
3 Toyota Supra 92 This car’s an engineer’s wet dream
4 Subaru WRX 81 Nearly show car execution on the engine
5 Mitsu Eclipse 71 You don’t make this much power without doing something right
6 Datsun 510 59 Everyone loves 510s
7 Toyota MR2 52 High concept, evidence of a rushed execution
8 Nissan Skyline 40 Good, but stock good
9 Acura Type R 36 Don’t use small wires in front of our judges
10 Mitsu 3000GT 0 Blue seats in a tan interior? Oh wait, engineering…

Read more: http://www.modified.com/uscc/0303scc_uscc03/index.html#ixzz1WJWWli00

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