Element Tuning Takes on 2009 Grassroots Motorsports Ultimate Track Car Challenge

The Grass Roots Motorports Ultimate Track Car Challenge (UTTC) is at VIR (Full Course) this year. I’ve been invited and will be running the Varsity Shop category. I’ll be posting updates from the track on Friday so please check back if you would like to know how practice and the actual competition is going.

So far an overall win isn’t looking too good but I hope to uphold the Subaru honor. Here are mostly likely the fastest cars running at this event.

Michael Skeen: Muscle Milk Trans AM series Corvette (Grand AM and Trans AM series driver)

This tube chassis car is no joke and has lapped VIR Full at 1:48. I believe these are 2600 lbs 650 whp cars.

Danny Popp: Corvette Z06 650 HP (Multiple SCCA and NASA championships)

This car finished second overall in the first VIR UTTC. With 650 hp now he should be in the 1:55 range. He has run 1:59 at VIR with just under 400 hp.

Bill Riley: Riley Technologies Track Day Car (Basically a Daytona Prototype with 500-650 HP)

I don’t know what this car will run buy DP cars can run 1:46 laps at VIR.

Phil Currin: Dodge Hemi Charger

This car has lapped in the 2:01 range.

Phil Grabow: Element Tuning 2006 “Unlimited” Time Attack STi (you know me)

We have about 600 whp but I have never been able to let this much power loose at VIR. At the Redline event last year our DBW throttle failed but I ran 2;00 in practice with 400 hp. I’m gunning for a 1:56-1:57 this year at 600 hp as we’ve improved the suspension and aero package on the car.

There will also be a Porsche GT2s, Ferrari 430s, GT500s etc. It’s going to be an awesome event. I actually wish I could spectate but I know we’ll be very busy!

Stay tuned for updates!


What a great time and thank you NASA Mid Atlantic and Grass Roots Motorsports for hosting such an awesome event.

I think there ended up being 56 cars on track for GRM UTTC practice prior to the groups being split and it was nearly impossible to get clean laps. I managed a 2:07 in traffic securing me a spot in group 1.

For timed session one nobody new each other’s lap times but we had a grid order and I was about 14th from what I remember. After timed session 1 the Element STi was now 6th overall with a 2:00.X. Things were looking promising given I was running a lower boost setting and worn out tires. The DP car was 1st followed by Skeen’s Trans AM Corvette, Challenger, Popp’s ZO6, another GT vette, and Element Tuning STi. Fast company indeed! More to come.


With temps in the mid 90s it was really tough on all the competitors. During timed session one I did only a few laps, ran two cool down laps, and then tried to do a hot lap at low boost but the tires were just wasted. When I pulled off there were chunks missing!

I was getting a little too much compression coming out of “hog pen” entering the big bump into the main straight and a little wheel hop exiting turn one. For timed session 2 we bumped up the compression a little and a little more rebound dampening in the rear on our custom BC ER Series coilovers. We also installed a fresh set of Hankook C91 compound tires and planned to run at maximum power.

As I staged for timed run 2 it was almost an odd sight. You had the Riley DP car, Skeen’s Trans AM Corvette, Currin’s Challenger (which by the way I found out does 0-150mph in 7 seconds ), Popp’s Corvette, another GT Corvette, and the Element STi. As we took off it was so cool to see those cars in front of me and they were so loud parts on my car were rattling from the sound! I so wanted to stay tight on them so the speed would be caught on film but since the Corvette in front of my was within a few hundredths of a second and I was planning on gaining two seconds I had to hang back for my timed runs. After a 5 min first lap (DP driver was going 25 mph ) it was full on!

The brand new tires were pushing really badly on the first lap but started to come to life on lap two. As I enter “Oak tree” I miss a shift really badly and over rev the engine (how bad? All the way around ) and as I hit the back straight I know something’s wrong as the Hydra has gone into the backup safety map. Thinking I might be able to reset the ecu and continue on I turn the car off and back on….too bad I forgot that drops my power all the way down to about 400 ish until the E-Boost is turned back up. Even after turning the car off/on and running the lower boost I lap at 2:00.197 but that would be the end of it. As I entered turn one I could feel something was wrong with the engine and as I was putting around it shut down but I was able to pull off in a safe area so the race could continue. Initially we thought everything from a head gasket to oil starvation but late in the day we found evidence that the ARP rod bolts broke. How do we know? The rod cap was sitting on top of the block (but bearing surface looked perfect). It’s looks like it was the person behind the steering wheel’s fault.

In the end I wasn’t able to improve my time much and was also under my goal. After talking with two of the fastest teams they were running 1.5-2 seconds a lap slower than they normally run due to the extremely high temps. We’ll have to wait for cooler weather in October to really push the car to my goal of 1:57. Here’s how it finished out.

1- 1:44.956 M. Goosens Riley DP

2- 1:50.474 M. Skeen Trans AM Corvette

3- 1:53.652 P. Currin Challenger

4- 1:54.165 D. Popp Raft Corvette

5- 1:59.128 C. Gelston Corvette

6- 1:59.717 B. Watts RRT M3

7- 1:59.727 I. Steward Porsche GT2

8- 2:00.197 P. Grabow Element STi

9- 2:00.742 S. Bennett Ferrari Challenge 430

10- 2:00.881 N. Goldrich GT2

11- 2:01.873 M. Swain Ariel Atom 3 (this thing was fast on the straights!)

12- 2:02.288 P. Faessler Paul’s Automotive Eng Mustang (featured in GRM)

Ok this goes on 57 places but to the Subarus:

22- 2:10.916 B. Miller Rev-Tech GC8 STi (600 hp, dog box, 35R, blown head gasket)

26- 2:11.628 J. Mathews 04 STi (ET built block, 300 hp, ET custom BC Susp)

54- 8:23.891 L. Keen Top Speed 08 STi (500 hp, Hoosier, suspension component failure)

57- A. Palmer GC8 (Shop Varsity but I don’t know anything about this car or what happened).

Here is some in-car video of timed session two where you’ll be able to see some of the sickest track cars in the US!

http://www.elementtuning.com/GRM UTTC/Element GRM UTTC Web.wmv

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply