This past weekend was host to the Formula X/Redline Time Attack as part of the Formula Atlantic and Star Mazda race on the Thunderbolt circuit at NJ Motorsport’s Park. Even with hot and muggy weather soaking competitors in sweat, it didn’t prevent everyone from giving it their all to win a piece of the $7500 in cash that was up for grabs.
With only “Modified” and “Street” classes allowed we took our 2008 Subaru WRX sedan for “Street AWD” and we swapped the tires on our STi to R888 and put the passenger rear windows back in for “Modified AWD” and headed to the event.
We were surprised to hear that there were no separate run groups so I had to give up sessions so I could get time in both cars. The Thunderbolt circuit was really hard to master and it actually never happened as the carnage continued as it had a few weeks earlier at Summit Point. As I entered the carousel with Witt Staples driving the Altantic Motosports’ EVO in front of me I could see at the end there was a car off in the mud. I’m not sure what happened but Witt lost it at the end of the decreasing radius turn, went off, and hit the EVO X that was sitting waiting to re-enter the track.
Interestingly there were three flag stations within view of the first car off the track and I saw no yellow flags. It’s a new track and I don’t think the corner workers are up to pace yet. Even during one of my races they yellow flagged two laps instead of just the warm up. I’m sure they will get them up to pace soon but the performance for this event was unacceptable. This session was black flagged and the driver and passenger were sent off to the hospital. Luckily 3 cracked ribs and a sore neck was the extent of the injuries so we were all happy to hear they would be fine.
With one hot lap in practice session one, we learned nothing about the new tires or the track layout. As we headed out for practice session two a car blew its engine and drove around the track on line. OMG give me a break! With only 2 hot laps off the track we came for a 45 minute clean up before the Formula Atlantic race. I don’t think they were too happy about that. LOL!
Because of the shortened schedule due to delays they only ran the top 15 cars so our 2008 WRX was not allowed to run the final timed session on day one. In the end the track was so covered in dirt from the Formula Atlantic guys it really was tough to ring the cars out so we cruised around to a 1:33 which was good enough to keep us in 1st place overall with James Elterman following closely in 2nd place overall. At this point I was still not comfortable with the track layout or the car.
For day two things looked a lot better on track as the track crews were sweeping dirt off between sessions. Since all the delays and surprises on day one Redline decided that all sessions would be timed and counted for overall. With no time in our 2008 WRX we ran the first session with that car setting the pace for the “Street” class finishing with a 1:39 for 2nd overall in “Street” to an SRT4.
The 2008 WRX felt fantastic and was so easy to drive. We are running an Element Hydra 2.6 EMS, ET Hydramist, ET GT52 turbo, modified stock injectors, STi TMIC and intake manifold, header, ET FEW Uppipe, ET 3” DP with 3” high flow cat for power mods. The suspension is fitted with Element Tuning spec BC Racing Coilovers, front and rear sway bars, 6 Gun Ball Joint Extenders and Tie Rod Ends, and a camber adjustment kit in the rear. We are running STi Brembo brakes up front and Dunlop Z Star Spec tires.
We are running the STi bumper and front fenders also.
With the 08 WRX handling great there was no need for more time in that car so we ran the STi Time Attack car for session 2. We lined up based on qualifying time and I made hay while the sun was still shining and let her rip to a 1:30 lap while catching traffic.
Here is the video: FormulaX Element Tuning Fast Lap
The car was still pushing badly which you can hear in the video so we made some tire pressure adjustments to improve things. I felt like based on this run I could go another 2 seconds quicker without the traffic in full time attack mode.
For the final timed session it was double duty running the 08 WRX and then the Time Attack STi. As I headed out I pushed on the very first timed lap but as I came around the carousel the yellow flags were being waved so I slowed down only to cross the finish line with the green flag out. Ok, so I picked up the pace for the next lap and the car felt good but I knew I could go faster and then I caught traffic on the next lap. OMG, LOL! I pull into the hot pits and it was right into the STi.
As soon as I started for my first timed lap I knew something wasn’t right. The car was pushing horribly in the front. On my last session the rear of my car felt really good with only 34 psi of pressure so I dropped the front down to the same but this was the wrong way to go. I think the R888s needed the low pressure in the rear to build heat but in the front when I dropped the pressure the sidewalls were folding over and the tires were overheating. I normally run a Hankook C71 or C91 tire that can handle really low pressures due to the stiff sidewall so it appeared to be the right thing to do. Luckily for me I was able to slightly improve my time by a 1/10th of a second running a 1:30.83 lap.
Luckily for me one lap was all I needed in our 2008 WRX running a 1:39.092 good enough for 1st overall in “Street” taking home the $1000 purse. In Modified we held on to the win over James Elterman in our STi to take the overall win and the “Grand Champion” check for $1500.
This was one of those tracks that is not easily mastered so I’m looking forward to future events here and also the move back to a more familiar setup in the “Unlimited” class. $2500 goes a long way to making this event worthwhile and I hope Formula X continues with this type of event piggy backing off of other professional motorsports.