Article by Ryan Randels. Photography by Corey Davis, Ryan Randels, Joel Chan, Nick Kouris and Kevin Landers.
One hundred and sixty. One hundred and seventy. Stacy’s left foot pulls from a defensive position and engages the clutch. In what seems to be less than a millisecond, his motions are seamless, as he drives his Underground Racing Gallardo’s manual transmission into fifth gear and moves his hand back to the two o’clock position. One hundred and eighty, eighty-five, ninety. The AWD Lamborghini’s suspension compresses with the massive downforce and tracks the airfield pavement perfectly. Stacy’s eyes are focused on the road ahead. One hundred and ninety-five. His knuckles whiten as his fingers constrict around the steering wheel’s Scandanavian leather. He feels the RPMs climb as the half-mile finish line approaches. He knows he’s moving faster than he ever has before, as the massive line of spectators fly by out of the corner of his eye. As he crosses the finish line, the massive 8-pot Brembo calipers clamp down on the ventilated rotors and bring the vehicle to a slow roll just a hundred feet from the end of the runway. A permanent grin appears as Stacy realizes that he has absolutely no idea how fast he just trapped across the finish line. This is the emotion from which Shift-S3ctor was borne.
Just three years ago, such an event would only have been found in the South, where the likes of the Texas Speed Syndicate and the Texas Mile reign supreme. Founded on a need to bring high-speed, side-by-side roll racing to California, Shift-S3ctor’s Airstrip Attack was simply a natural evolution of the shared vision of two men—Jason Huang and Ryan Fisher—and the guys who come together as part of an enthusiast collective in Southern California. From partnering with Global Time Attack to bring you ProAm track events to the full-fledged roll racing competitions of their Airstrip Attacks, the friends, enthusiasts, manufacturers, shops, and sponsors that define Shift-S3ctor are nothing short of adrenaline junkies.
When Shift-S3ctor created their very first Airstrip Attack in October 2011, the theory was simple—provide a safe, legal, and competitive atmosphere where they could push their vehicles and themselves to the limit. Throughout the past three years, this event has grown by unsurpassed proportions. What once was a gathering of friends has snowballed into an event that attracts some of the most important names in the automotive performance industry. To many, Shift-S3ctor’s Airstrip Attack has become a proving ground to assert their dominance and to establish or reaffirm their place in this industry.
Team Revvolution rolled into the area late Friday night to find the entire Shift-S3ctor crew hanging out at the local Best Western, which would become the homebase for the weekend. We took the opportunity to check out the vehicles that were on display in the central lot while the competitors sized up the event’s talent.
As we walked through the lots, we came across groups of vehicles that represented every class of competition: exotics, domestics, Japanese, and European.
We were astonished (but not surprised) at the number of Nissan R35 GTRs present. Because of this vehicle’s robust AWD system and VR38DETT twin-turbo V6 platform, it is becoming a formidable competitor of the exotics and large-displacement domestics that frequent these events.
We couldn’t help but notice the lineup of vehicles that we recognized from all the goldRush Rally coverage. Particularly eye-catching was this Gulf livery Aston Martin V12 Vantage, adorned in the famous Le Mans Gulf Powder Blue and Marigold color scheme. Not only were they out to support the event, but they would also be running some of their vehicles on the tarmac the next day.
Day one of the two-day event began as soon as the California soft light peeked over the vast cherry plantations surrounding the New Coalinga Municiple Airport. As the competitors rolled in, they were individually assigned their appropriate pit areas. The Shift-S3ctor crew separated the daily competitors from the event sponsors who received their own plots of real estate where they could set up shop. Many of them had a direct view of the airfield that would become the focal point of the entire event in just a couple of hours.
Throughout the weekend, we saw a handful of sponsors and teams make their way out, bringing everything from full-fledged racecars to daily drivers to exotics that had just rolled off the dealership’s lot.
Lab 22 came out with a huge group of E46 and E92 BMW M3s. They literally had every color combination and build covered with their crew. Unfortunately, we saw a couple of their biggest builds (check out our "Fire & Ice” article) suffer from some mechanical issues, which prevented them from really tearing up the AMG/BMW classes. Nonetheless, it’s always amazing to see this support for such an event.
Team English Racing brought some serious firepower with their sleeved, built, and turbocharged B18C1 ’94 Acura Integra and their drag-prepped ’93 Honda Civic. But the entire field took notice when they rolled out their two massive R35 GTRs built by Extreme Turbo Systems (tuned by English). Both with upward of 1,500 WHP, English came out with one objective—to go toe-to-toe with Underground Racing.
With a couple of their twin-turbo Lamborghini Gallardos, Underground Racing showed up with something to prove. With several of their vehicles in the top five rankings at the Texas Invitational in Dallas, it was time to show their California competition what it means to take on the UGR heritage.
A new name in the game, Autosource Dallas, in conjunction with Dallas Performance, traveled all the way from the Lone Star State and brought some pretty amazing Lambos themselves. Dubbed "Project Yoda,” Autosource’s twin-turbo Gallardo was definitely a crowd favorite, cloaked in its special-edition Verde Ithaca. Flying somewhat under the radar was Dallas Performance’s TT Superleggera, affectionately known as "Vader.” While the shoe-polish badge read "1500” on the rear window, our sources hinted that this build just may be packing something more.
Weistec, a brand synonymous with Mercedes performance, showed up with a fleet that was more appealing than any of the other Euros. Their SLS and AMGs were menacing, and we couldn’t help but pay attention even if they weren’t the fastest in the field.
Another big name in the local Euro scene was Gintani right out of SoCal. Known for their "streetable” performance builds, these guys came out with a gang of new-gen BMWs built to compete.
Castro Motorsport, one of California’s most well-known BMW tuners, brought a bunch of track-prepped E30s, E36s, and the first of its kind, an LS7-swapped E46, owned and driven by Kalon Welch. With a custom-fabricated exhaust, the Kato Racing E46 sounded like something that belonged on an F1 track rather than the airfield.
European Auto Source and ESS-Tuning were present in full effect. They also had something to prove, as many of their builds were outfitted with their own supercharging kits. Without a doubt, they were a force to reckon with.
On Sunday, SonicMS came out with some extremely high-profile rides, including the Lamborghini Aventador and a Ferrari Scuderia.
In the domestic scene, two big names were present: Caliber Customs and Cunningham Motorsports.
Caliber Customs, a company that specializes in custom metal fabrication with a focus on automotive performance, brought a few big builds, including this 2001 twin-turbo Camaro.
Cunningham Motorsports, which specializes in EFI LS performance, was present with some of their Corvette projects that would compete in several classes, including Naturally Aspirated.
By 9:30, the organizers brought everybody together for the first round of mandatory drivers meetings. Ryan and Jason laid down the rules that governed the event and explained the grudge-style open runs and the daily activities. Saturday included the trap speed competition, and Sunday featured the main event with the bracketed roll racing competition.
Until this event, the primary way to define a winner of a particular race was "who crossed the finish line first.” To create a more professional and competitive atmosphere, Shift-S3ctor introduced a new trap speed scoring device that displayed the final speed of the vehicle as it crossed the half-mile finish line, with accurate measurements to one-hundredths of a mile per hour. Not only does it allow for a more accurate way to decide the winner of a particular race, but it also allows event organizers to establish a formal account of every race and, more importantly, official records. Never before have competitors been able to assess exactly how well (or poorly) they did on a pull, and neither have they been able to compare it with others. This sort of record keeping is becoming a trend in these types of events and could lend itself to developing a professional "airstrip event series.”
And the half-mile side-by-side roll racing had begun. . .
. . . But not without the aid of pit necessities.
To set the tone for the entire event, Team English Racing secured a trap speed of 213.06 mph in the half-mile, setting an official Shift-S3ctor Airstrip Attack record in their drag R35. This set the bar and set it high.
The UGR family couldn’t take this lying down. Stacy in his pearl black UGR Gallardo responded with a speed of xxx.xx mph just a few runs later.
Going back and forth for the FWD class was Team English Racing with their Civic and Integra. These two builds posted some hair-raising speeds with 178 mph and 177 mph, driven by Justin Nassey and Myles Kerr, respectively.
In major contention for the RWD class was a local favorite—the "Black Mamba”—a twin-turbo Ford GT putting down 1,300 RWHP. Piloted by Armik Aghakhani, the sound that this car made was astonishing (just wait for our event lifestyle video and you’ll see what we mean). Armik took home second in the trap speed shootout for the RWD class, second to the Caliber Customs Camaro.
While the Caliber Customs 2001 Camaro set the overall record for the RWD class at 193 mph, unfortunate circumstances couldn’t be avoided, as it spun off the tarmac post-chute deployment and collided with one of the airport way markers. Luckily for the rules (and Caliber’s superb metal fab), the roll cage provided a safe haven for the driver, Sean Cagle, who walked away from the accident unscathed.
At the end of day one, Cunningham Motorsports took home both first and second place in the naturally aspirated class with their C6 Z06 (168 mph) and their C5 Z06 (164 mph). It’s refreshing to see projects that stick to their roots without power-adders and rely purely on high-displacement, high-revving, and properly tuned platforms.
With the title of the AMG/BMW class on the line, it was a fierce battle back and forth between Lab 22, Weistec, Gintani, EAS/ESS, and Castro Motorsport. At the end of the day, Gintani walked away with a top speed of 173 mph in their E92 M3 SC Stage 3 followed closely by ESS Tuning in their E92 M3 supercharged VT-750.
With a couple of serious speeds posted, Dallas Performance decided it was time to run their TT Superleggera and just barely cracked 200 mph. However, according to the new rules that Shift-S3ctor implemented, any vehicle traveling at a speed above 200 mph is required to have a fully welded cage. Unfortunately for Dallas Performance, they couldn’t finish their cage prior to departure. So at the end of day one, DP made an executive decision to push the envelope, regardless of the consequences. When they trapped a speed exceeding 220 mph, the whole field was awestruck. The newcomers just trumped ETS/English and UGR with their in-house build, which had previously gone unnoticed. However, due to their inability to conform to the event rules, Shift-S3ctor was obligated to deny them the record.
With some impressive times posted, English/ETS felt the urge to really push their R35 to the limit. Just a couple of more pounds of boost they said. And potentially it would’ve been all they needed to push it into a new record-holding spot. Unfortunately, during their run, it blew a head gasket, and they had to settle on their "modest” 214 mph from before.
It was clear that UGR wouldn’t take this lying down. Stacy would become the primary representative with the opportunity to set a new record, and his sights were set.
Right before you taxi onto the runway, a driver will naturally slip into the zone. Your heart rate will start to increase as the adrenaline starts to take over. Respiratory rate increases, while all your muscles start to contract, making you sit just slightly taller than ever before while you grip the steering wheel. Your pupils dilate and focus on the tarmac ahead. You turn up your sound system to a level that drowns out all other ancillary senses, followed by triple-checking that your AC is off. You blip the throttle to ensure the expected response is still there. Your brain goes blank and becomes clearer than ever before, as if you’re experiencing nothing but the present. Breath by breath you wait as the cams regulate your idle. You feel the moment getting closer. You take a look to the right as the commencer verifies that you’re ready. He raises his arm as you prepare for the impending drop, the go signal.
. . . Stacy feels the rpms of his UGR Gallardo climb as the half-mile finish line approaches. He knows this is faster than he’s ever been, as the massive line of spectators fly by out of the corner of his eye. As he crosses the finish line, the massive 8-pot Brembo calipers clamp down on the ventilated rotors and bring the vehicle to a slow roll just a hundred feet from the end of the runway. A permament grin appears as Stacy realizes that he has absolutely no idea how fast he just trapped across the finish line. He turns the corner into the return lane and approaches Team Revvolution for a quick interview. He gets out of his car with an air of anticipation, as he still doesn’t know his trap speed. A few moments later, his UGR team come running from the timing booth, with their arms thrown in the air. "225” they shout, and Stacy and the other two gentlemen are exalted. They had just set a new Shift-S3ctor record with an official trap speed of 224.99 mph.
Official Shift-S3ctor Airstrip Attack IV 2013 Results
Saturday (Trap Speed Competition)
1. Stacy Barnett Underground Racing TT Gallardo (215 mph)
2. Lucas English English Racing GTR (213 mph)
1. Sean Cagle Caliber Customs TT Camaro (193 mph)
2. Armik Aghakhani TT Ford GT (The Black Mamba) (188 mph)
1. Justin Nassey English Racing Civic (178 mph)
2. Myles Kerr English Racing Integra (177 mph)
1. Stu Welch CMS C6 Corvette Z06 (168 mph)
2. Matt Gallagher CMS C5 Corvette Z06 (164 mph)
1. Alex Marukian Gintani E92 M3 SC Stage 3 (173 mph)
2. Drew Johnson ESS Tuning E92 M3 SC VT-750 (165 mph)
Overal Champion: Stacy Barnett Underground Racing TT Gallardo (215 mph)
Sunday (Roll Race Competition)
1. Al Villanueva Dallas Performance TT Gallardo (Project Yoda)
2. Taylor Simms Dallas Performance TT Gallardo SL
1. Armik Aghakhani TT Ford GT (The Black Mamba)
2. Joel Feingold C5 Corvette
1. Justin Nassey English Racing Civic
2. Myles Kerr English Racing Integra
1. Ryne Cunningham CMS C6 Corvette Z06
2. Stu Welch CMS C6 Corvette Z06
1. Alex Marukian Gintani E92 M3 SC Stage 3
2. Arno Marukian Gintani E63 M6 SC Stage 2
Overall Champion: Al Villanueva Dallas Performance TT Gallardo (Project Yoda)
As the success, exposure, and following of this event continue to grow and embrace the scene, we’re going to start to see this event explode. As the official social media partners of Shift-S3ctor, we’re excited to be part of such an event and can’t wait to see where this will take us and the enthusiast collective. Until next time!