Article by Nick Kouris. Photography by Nick Kouris and Jay Canter.
The full moon was still visible as the sun began rising, illuminating with an orange glow the three tracks set below the mountains. The array of cars that eagerly awaited entry through the gates idled coarsely because of the sub-50 degree temperatures. An otherwise serene and desolate part of California was about to be taken over by lots of horsepower.
The Global Time Attack ProAm series with Shift-S3ctor concluded Saturday (Oct. 19th, 2013) at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California. Suitably named "The Fastest Road in the West,” the Big Willow track consists of many long, fast, sweeping turns and a high-speed front straight, making it the perfect venue for the finale.
GTA Pro Am Competitor Spotlight
With such a wide variety of cars competing in GTA throughout the rounds, here is a small glimpse of the cars and those who drive them:
Stephanie Cemo is a regular at Shift-S3ctor events and no stranger to the site. She is most known as the driver of a blacked-out Corvette ZR1 with a big wing. Her most recent acquisition is a fully built and track-ready Z06 racecar with a spec sheet that would likely make an ALMS car blush. Although she is still getting used to the car after having been in it only four times previously, Stephanie still put down commendable lap times at WSIR, winning her class of GTA.
Perhaps one of the louder cars competing, all eyes were on the Corvette as it barreled down the front straight, seemingly soaring through turn 1 before the car was no longer visible and only the sound of that American V8 remained. Among the laundry list of upgrades the car has, much of which are race grade, highlights include a new LS7 block, forged internals, high-compression rate, race-grade brakes, pads, and discs, and tuned by Shawn Church of Church Automotive testing, giving the Z06 617 hp and 588 lb-ft of torque at the crank. "I am looking forward to more seat time! I plan on racing in NASA ST1 and SCCA (not sure [of] the class yet) in the 2014 season.”
Making their second appearance in GTA this season is Southern California Porsche specialists HRGruppe. After gaining much notoriety at Chuckwalla with the most deafening Boxster around, we anticipated their return at WSIR. Unfortunately, the Boxster experienced engine failure at a previous event and is currently under the knife for repairs and upgrades. In the meantime, HRG brought a fleet of vehicles, including two different Boxsters and a 911 GT3 cup car to test and tune for a client.
Co-owner of Hergesheimer Motorsports and driver Eric Oviatt tells us, "The GT3 felt great at WSIR this trip! Honestly, WSIR is not always one of my favorite tracks, purely because of the risk and commitment required to really get a good lap time.” The GT3 could be heard whining down the front straight all throughout the pits, often entering turn 8 at 140 mph, before coming into the bank turn leading up the straight and passing half a dozen cars. With upgraded slick tires, Eric states they were able to put down the fastest laps yet in the GT3 and set the quickest lap time in GTA for Big Willow on Saturday. "For next year, the GT3 Cup car will stay pretty much the same. This car runs in a stock cup spec class, so the modifications are very limited,” says Eric. Though no additional performance upgrades are needed, this GT3 makes a respectable 390rwhp and 275tq from its 3.8L, and weighs in at only 2,900 lbs.
Another member of HRG making quite the impression was Regan Steedman piloting her bright pink Boxster. A 1997, it packs plenty of power (210rwhp, 185tq) from a 2.6L while weighing merely 2,600 lbs. She has done her fair share of wheel-to-wheel racing in the POC (Porsche Owners Club) since early 2011, competing in the GT5 class and making her way up through the ranks. While time attack is not something regular to Regan, she is eager to have any seat time in her car and be able to sharpen her skills. HRG is looking to upgrade the Boxster before the start of the 2014 POC series, hopefully bumping Regan up a class, presenting her and her Boxster with a challenge they know she is capable of meeting.
Michael Jantz, a Shift-S3ctor driving instructor, competed in all rounds of GTA this year—a feat he achieved behind the wheel of his daily driver—a 2007 Subaru WRX STi. Tuned by Jon Drenas of 5150Racing and with a down pipe and exhaust being the extent of his power upgrades, Mike’s STi features 285whp and 330tq. Since it is still a street car, other modest modifications include Whiteline sways and links, anti-lift kit, roll center kit, oil cooling and pick, a surge tank, and upgraded tires with a square stance. It must be noted that before arriving at WSIR, the clutch was slipping, and during his runs Mike experienced major brake fade/failure.
"Racing is always filled with problems. It’s always hard to get the ‘perfect’ day; this GTA session just so happened to have a slipping clutch and no brake pads . . . It is always scary to go from 110 to 60 with no brakes as late as you can. I never went off, which made my day,” he says with a big smile. It was his first full season driving his own car, and he couldn’t be happier for the experience.
Andrew Nier has also competed in all rounds of GTA with his daily driver, a Lava Red 2012 Mustang GT 5.0. It was Andrew’s first time at Willow and he says, "The track is not for the timid. Very high speed and [it is] very important to keep momentum up. I can see myself really enjoying the track once I get a good feel for it.” With electronic aids intervening even after being shut off, Andrew says he’s far from achieving what he knows he and the Mustang are capable of. "It was hard to get into a rhythm, as I dealt with computer issues all day. The stability control system kept re-engaging itself. This meant the brakes were applying on their own . . . it’s very hard to set a fast lap when the car is braking on its own!” Already making 400whp and 380wtq, Andrew says his next major upgrades before next year will be aero, which will allow him to take the corners significantly faster, especially when he fully disables his electronic stability control and not have to worry about the computers braking for him.
The GSR Autosport C63 has been transformed from daily driver AMG to pure track beast over the course of this GTA season. Driver Jason Sharek says the car is almost where he wants it to be, with the most pertinent upgrades being a significant weight reduction. "Replacing the doors and hood would save hundreds of pounds. We stripped the interior, saved the dash, and putting in race seats was the first thing we did to it,” he tells us. "The guys from GSR have been great, custom-fabricating several parts, turning the C  into a one-of-a-kind AMG track car,” Jason says with a smile.
Such custom parts include a roll bar, front splitter, and oil cooler; other aesthetic features include the unmistakable carbon fiber wing, fender flares for wider rubber, race brake pads, and underneath they installed a limited-slip differential. With the addition of custom-fabricated headers from Josh Ogle and tuned by Weistec, it’s making over 500whp and 450wtq, which are significant increases over a stock C63. Look out for this monstrous AMG next year, as GSR looks to make serious upgrades in hopes of delivering a serious contender.
For their first season collaborating with Shift-S3ctor, it was clearly a successful one for GTA. Each event had different cars competing, with some having competed in all four rounds of GTA and receiving many upgrades of all kinds along the way. Over the course of this season, Team Revvolution has noticed a level of professionalism not seen at many other racing events. Members of GTA are always organized, the stewards keeping track of competitors’ lap times and promptly posting after each session. If this year was any indication of how future events will be, we cannot wait to see what is in store for Global Time Attack and Shift-S3ctor next year.
Global Time Attack GTA Pro Am Presented by Shift-S3ctor 2013 Big Willow Results
GTA Enthusiast AWD:
1) Michael Jantz: ’07 Subaru STi—1:34.252
GTA Enthusiast RWD:
1) Powei Hang: ’03 BMW M3—1:34.563
GTA Limited AWD
1) Alex Lewandowski: Mitsubishi Evo—1:31.137
2) Roy Nevarez: Nissan GT-R—1:31.173
3) Jason Huang: Nissan GT-R—1:31.548
GTA Limited FWD
1) Craig Utter: Honda Civic EG—1:35.337
2) Craig Utter: Honda Civic EG—1:38.767
GTA Limited RWD:
1) Clint Boisdeau: Nissan 240—1:32.569
2) Jason Sharek: C63 AMG Coupe—1:33.146
3) Steve Eguina: Porsche WC GT2—1:33.705
GTA Street AWD:
1) Mark Jager: ’06 Subaru STi—1:27.569
2) Taylor Wilson: ’09 Subaru WRX—1:31.291
3) Matt Dennison: Mitsubishi Evo—1:33.577
GTA Street RWD:
1) Will Wattanawongkiri: ’91 Nissan 240—1:28.189
2) Matthew Lambrecht: ’04 Ford Mustang—1:37.434
3) Andrew Nier: ’12 Mustang GT—1:39.262
GTA Street FWD:
1) Thomas Smith: ’96 Honda Civic—1:36.744
GTA Unlimited AWD:
1) Travis Barnes: ’03 Subaru WRX—1:26.820
2) Tony Szirka: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution—1:29.195
GTA Unlimited RWD:
1) Eric Oviatt: ’09 Porsche Cup—1:22.648*
2) Stephanie Cemo: ’09 Corvette Z06—1:30.995
3) Regan Steedman: ’98 Porsche Boxster—1:35.896
4) Evan Fullerton: Porsche Boxster—1:38.221
*Eric ran exhibition, and his times do not count toward the GTA competition.