Taxi wins title at 2013 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship finale.

Sebring International Raceway proved the ultimate challenge for man and machine on the weekend, November 22-24, as the 2013 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship concluded. Particularly tough on the machines, two of the top class championship contenders, Troy Messer and David Santillo, were sidelined prior to the first competition run. For those that did survive the pace was grueling as lap records were crushed and titles decided, even by a taxi.
“Philip Grabow is likely the first man in history to win a national Championship in a taxi. The car was developed by BC Racing for an upcoming viral video.” Photo by NARRA

Hail that cab!

Philip Grabow may have used both Element Tuning’s Hydra EMS powered Scion FRS and Subaru STi during the season and led the points heading into Sebring, but he was without a car.  With only days to go he struck a deal with long-term sponsor BC Racing to borrow a 700hp supercharged BMW M3. However BC Racing had other ideas, and seizing the opportunity they converted their M3 into a taxi-cab dubbed the ‘Seb-Ring Taxi’ for an upcoming viral video, playing on BMW’s Nürburgring Ring-Taxis.

Complete with taxi roof sign, Grabow’s ride set a solid 2:30.074 but was no match for Mansen Way’s Hero Reward Charity sponsored Viper SRT-10, which won the round with a 2:25.199. Nevertheless, Grabow became the first driver to clinch a Whelen USTTC title with a taxi.

Second in the championship, David Santillo (BSM Corvette Z06) had expected to take the fight to Grabow, but spun a bearing in his Vette on Friday. It was a tough break for the North Cup and double round winner, who had trekked all the way from New York to compete for the title. Allen Stieg (WolfTech Manufacturing Viper SRT-10) finished third in points. Ajay Gaalla (Viper ACR) was awarded the South Cup.

Philip Grabow of Element Tuning to race 700 HP BC Racing BMW M3 at NARRA Whelen Championship Finale

BC Racing Supsension North America to support Phil Grabow’s championship efforts at Sebring International Raceway with their 700 HP supercharged Stage 3 Active Autowerke BMW M3. The North American Road Racing Association’s Whelen US TT Championship has been a cut throat battle all season long and the Sebring FL round will be the deciding factor in which driver comes out on top for the national championship.

David Santillo in the CSS Construction Corvette Z06, who is leading the Northern championship, has to pull out all the stops at Sebring against Southern championship leader Phil Grabow from team Element Tuning for the national championship. With Element Tuning’s STI taking the Watkins Glen round five win, and David Santillo in his Corvette Z06 taking two second place finishes at the Glen while Grabow DNFed Sunday, the battle continued at New Jersey Motorsports Park for rounds 7 & 8. Element Tuning successfully debuted their BC Racing Suspension Hydra EMS Scion FRS race car with back to back wins while Santillo struggled scoring two 2nds. Phil Grabow continued to stretch out his championship points lead with their Scion FRS by taking the win at Virginia International Raceway round 10 but David Santillo came back with vengeance at Pittsburgh International Raceway taking two wins to stay in the national championship hunt. With David Santiallo scoring 2 Unlimited Class wins plus 4 second place finishes vs. Element Tuning’s Phil Grabow scoring 4 Unlimited Class wins, the Sebring finale’s double points single round could have either driver coming out on top for the national championship!

“I’ve been honored to have BC Racing Suspension on our championship winning cars for years and I plan on piloting this Bavarian missile to the Whelen TT national championship in Sebring,” says Philip Grabow

Lap records set around exclusive Monticello during Whelen US TimeTrial Championship (Video)

Lap records set around exclusive Monticello during Whelen US TimeTrial Championship.

Monticello Grabow.

USGT logo large

Whelen US TimeTrial ChampionshipPhilip Grabow set a new Whelen USTTC track lap record at Monticello. © NARRA

The challenging twists and turns of Monticello Motor Club are usually off limits. The private resort-like country club for motoring enthusiasts rarely opens its gates for anyone but its members. However competitors in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship were lucky enough to grace New York’s exclusive 22 turn 3.6mile circuit as part of the North American Road Racing event August 24-26. Not only that, they redefined speed around the track, setting four new class records, including a new TT-Unlimited lap record of 2:24.961 by Element Tuning’s Philip Grabow.
The response was amazing, creating what track officials called the biggest motor racing event in the track’s history with the likes of Brian Redman, Eric Curran and Ralph Gilles looking on as over 80 competition cars took to the track in the US GT Championship, SRT Viper Cup series, Radical Challenge and Rounds 9 & 10 of the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship.


Philip Grabow returned to his winning ways in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship, setting Round 9’s outright fastest time to win the TT-Unlimited class on Saturday. Grabow’s Element Tuning Subaru STi lapped America’s most exclusive circuit in 2:26.811.

Saturday’s TT-Unlimited podium was completed by Michael Greenberg (Viper Comp Coupe) and Kaizen Tuning’s Scott McIver, driving a Mitsubishi Evo X.

Winning TT-1 was the only other driver to break into the twenties, Richard Startare (Dezigns Constuction Viper GTS). He was also the only other driver to see his name at the top of the overall timesheet, faster than Grabow in the morning session. Going faster in the second session, Startare took the TT-1 win with a 2:29.291 from Steve Katz (OnTrackInsurance Viper ACR) and Barry Dickson (Viper SRT10).

Also particularly impressive was a pair of Vettes, driven by Scott Mandel (1st Class Alignment & Repair Corvette Z06) and Ben Lesnak (Corvette C5). Respectively, the pair took the TT-2 and TT-3 classes by storm, each more than four seconds clear of their nearest rivals.

However a technical infraction for Mandel (2:33.934) bumped fellow Vette driver Marianelli up to first, giving Ignition Ready / JMR Garage driver the win in TT-2 with a 2:40.044.

Marianelli had already stolen the show away from the Nissan GT-R of Ray Cocoziello (2:40.547) by half a second. Alan Cohen (Cadillac CTS-V) was third.

In TT-3 Cristian Stanescu ( Porsche Turbo) kept plugging away to edge out Jordan Levitt (Mitsubishi Evo) for second. However, their times of 2:36.358 and 2:36.537 were no match for Lesnak’s 2:31.607.

The technical nature of the stunning private circuit meant competitors spent much of Saturday’s morning runs learning the layout. Many of the fastest times came in the third session, and times were expected to drop still in the fourth and final session, but an extended clean-up due to a massive oil spill in a support category race cancelled the session.

Completely caught out was Kevin Ferguson (TT-U, Craftlogic Software Viper ACR), who was also competing in the US GT Championship. He had only planned to run the final session and was left without a time.


Determined not to suffer the same fate on Sunday, USGTC competitor Ferguson focused more time on his Whelen USTTC effort, and pushed in session one to set the fastest time of the morning, a 2:26.838.

Monticello Ferguson
The times were much closer in TT-1 Sunday morning, with Startare and Dickson only separated by half a second after session one, and Katz only another few tenths down the road. Amazingly Startare’s time of 2:29.133, a new TT-1 lap record, came after his front splitter and underbody sustained damage after collecting an exploded rotor from Alan Cohen’s Cadillac CTS-V. But yet again the standouts were the Vette duo of Lesnak (Corvette C5) and Mandel (1st Class Alignment & Repair Corvette Z06). TT-3’s Lesnak was 6th fastest outright during the first session, and Mandel 9th fastest in a TT-2 car.
A great battle was also shaping up for the second and third steps of the podium in TT-2, between the Mitsubishi Evos of Thai Diep (2:37.040), Marc Cantor (2:38.538) and Mark Forenbaher (2:40.385). Ray Cocoziello wasn’t far behind in his Nissan GTR either (2:40.666), but was fighting a glitch with the car’s sophisticated computer.

The biggest surprise of the morning was the lack of pace from Philip Grabow, 3rd in class and only 8th outright. Reports of a fuel starvation issue circulated from the Element Tuning camp.

With the issue fixed Grabow bounced back in session 2 to claim the top spot in TT-Unlimited with 2:24.961- the fastest time-trial lap recorded for the weekend and a new TT-Unlimited lap record. Amazingly he admitted he achieved the time without even winding up the boost on his Subaru STi.

Craftlogic Racing’s Kevin Ferguson responded in the third and final session but remained seven tenths shy of Grabow, cementing 2nd in class with a 2:25.625. Michael Greenberg’s 2:30.137 (Viper Comp Coupe) from the first run of the day remained his fastest to claim third in TT-U.

Katz closed the gap to Dickson’s best in session two, the pair’s pace clearly worrying Startare, who returned to the track in the final session. Finding another two tenths he locked in another TT-1 win from Dickson and Katz with a new class lap record of 2:29.133.

With a lap record setting 2:33.203, Mandel found another second in the second session to put him well clear of the competition in TT-2, or so he thought.

Behind him Forenbaher was now only two tenths from eclipsing Cantor, and in the final session he did, extracting another nine tenths to finish with a 2:37.883.

But the real shock was Cocoziello, who rocketed up the charts from the forty second bracket to a 2:33.529 to be just three tenths behind TT-2 class winner Mandel, takeover second place and relegate Diep to third.

Jay Rudolph (Nissan GT-R) picked up the pace in TT-3 in session two, but so did Lesnak, to remain six fastest overall, six seconds clear of his competition and reset the TT-3 lap record to a 2:30.275. Cristian Stanescu completed the podium with a 2:38.618.

The Whelen US TimeTrial Championship next heads to Texas World Speedway, September 21-23, before returning to New York for the final double-points round of the championship at Watkins Glen International, October 19-21. The Watkins Glen event will also feature a stand-alone NARRA World Championship time-trial competition, and the final rounds of the SRT Viper Cup. Both events will feature the US GT Championship and the US Performance Driver Education program, allowing all high-performance car owners to take to the track.

Take a splitter view ride with Phil Grabow around Monticello for the first ever laps.
The winning lap with Phil Grabow.  You can hear the engine cutting out about 3 turns from the finish line.  A loose fitting/worn pin on the DBW throttle connector was the culprit.
We have much more in the car but we had to nurse the brakes throughout the event.  Running at NASA TTU trim we set the fast lap with 495 whp but when we finally turned up the power we had to abandon the run due to the emergency vehicle on the track. We’ll step it up next year.

Corvette, Lamborghini, Porsche, Subaru and Viper win during Whelen US TimeTrial Championship at VIR

Philip Grabow set the fastest time of the weekend

The state motto might be ‘Virginia is for lovers’, but over the past weekend, surely it was for lovers of all high-end and high performance sports cars, as Virginia International Raceway (Alton, VA) played host to rounds 9 and 10 of the 2011 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship.

Sunday also saw George Whelen match his father’s Saturday performance to take the top step of the GT-Unlimited class podium- his first ever win in the US GT Championship’s premier class.

The weekend was expected to be a battle between two different breeds of horsepower- that of boost four-cylinder turbos and big American made cubic-inches. However, a surge of late entries not only gave the VIR rounds of the Whelen USTTC a record number of competitors, but another type of contender. Exotic European thoroughbreds joined the large contingent of American muscle and fast-fours that usually make up the Whelen USTTC ranks, and they certainly made their presence felt.

The bright orange Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of Jim Booth wowed spectators and competitors alike as the V-10 screamed around the challenging 3.37 mile VIR circuit.
Booth dominated both days of competition in the TT-1 class, posting a 2:06.77 on Saturday before turning up the heat on Sunday to set a 2:04.172.
Interestingly, Booth also participated in his V10 Viper on Sunday but could only manage a 2:05.666, confirming the Lamborghini’s superior price tag over the Viper is indeed warranted.
Booth’s nearest rival was Doug Wind. Given that Wind’s weapon- a Modern Performance tuned turbo Dodge SRT-4- couldn’t be further from the Lamborghini in every way, shape and form, it was impressive that his times were only just over a second slower around one of the longest and fastest tracks in North America.
And while Wind could only manage second place on both Saturday and Sunday, he stamped his authority- albeit only by two tenths on Sunday- on TT-1 championship rival George MacDonald (Viper Competition Coupe), who finished third both days.

George MacDonald finished third both days in TT-1.

And while the strong points haul extended Wind’s TT-1 championship lead, MacDonald has now fallen behind Tanya Mazyk (Dodge Viper) who, all season, has been quietly building a solid points tally.
European might also proved too strong for the turbo fours and American muscle in the TT-2 class.
Alex Reznikov set a blistering 2:04.164 pace on Saturday afternoon in his black Porsche 997 GT3- a time that beat that of Booth’s Lamborghini on Saturday.
It was too much for David Tenney’s Dodge Neon SRT-4, who finished second, and Tim Jelle’s Dodge Viper GTS, who was third fastest in class on Saturday.

Reznikov didn’t match his Saturday pace on Sunday, however it was still enough to fend off the competition. Jelle, however, found nearly two seconds to close the gap, leapfrogging Tenney to take Sunday’s second placed trophy. Tenney finished third.

The SpeedSouth Corvette of David Leonard won Sunday’s TT-Unlimited competition. © NARRA

Again though, the fastest times of the weekend came from the TT-Unlimited class.
Philip Grabow and team from Element Tuning again threw down the gauntlet to the nation’s top tuning houses. On Saturday their heavily modified Subaru STi was the only car on Saturday to break the 2 minute mark, setting a 1:58.890. The fast-four was a staggering 6.5 seconds faster than the V10 might of TT-U championship points leader Carl Kafarowski’s Dodge Viper ACR, who set a 2:05.682- his personal best of the weekend. John Weigel, in another Viper ACR, finished third.

However all was not lost for American muscle, as a new contender entered TT-Unlimited for Sunday.
The Leonard brothers David and Tom, from SpeedSouth Active Power Racing, had brought their Corvette all the way from Pelham, Alabama to compete in the Whelen USTTC’s sister series, the US GT Championship. After blowing a transmission on Friday evening, their weekend looked bleak. However, the hard work of sourcing and overnighting a new transaxle to the circuit, and installing it with their backs in the Virginia dirt, paid off. Not only did they score two podiums in the USGTC, but they took the time-trial series by storm.
With brother Tom racing,

SpeedSouth’s Leonard brothers pose with their Whelen USTTC and USGTC trophies from VIR. © NARRA

David took the helm of the Corvette in the time-trial competition on Sunday morning. In a salute to the might of cubic-inches he ran over one second faster than Grabow’s Subaru, to set a 1:57.643. The time not only meant SpeedSouth was the new top-dog in town but would also take home the first place trophy in Sunday’s TT-U competition.

With over-heating and electrical issues plaguing Grabow’s Subaru, he had to settle for second place, while Carl Kafarowski took the third step of the podium.
And while by 4pm the competition runs had come to a close, Element Tuning had not given up in their quest to extract more from the STi. With the issues fixed, but on a far from perfect heat-soaked afternoon track, Grabow went out for the final session. While slightly bitter-sweet, Grabow showed what the Subaru was capable of, running a staggering 1:55.996- nearly two seconds faster than Leonard’s Corvette.

So while SpeedSouth’s cubic-inches may have taken home the trophy, one could argue the boosted four-cylinder of Element Tuning’s Subaru still reigns supreme in the Whelen USTTC.
All the action from the weekend was captured using GoPro cameras by the Internal Production Group and will be broadcast later this year on, hosted by motorsport television personality Tom Hnatiw. The battle of the countries best engine tuners, and some of the world’s fastest cars in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship will continue next month at Motorsport Park Hastings, Nebraska as part of the 2011 Super Sports Car Weekend.

Event images, commentary and results can be found at .

Philip Grabow and Subaru dominates in New Jersey as Whelen US TimeTrial Championship heats up

Philip Grabow won the TT-Unlimited class setting the fastest outright time in the Whelen USTTC at New Jersey. ©

Subaru has been added to the list of manufacturers to win the country’s newest national time-trial series, the Whelen USTTC.

Philip Grabow convincingly won both days of competition in the TT-Unlimited class at New Jersey Motorsports Park (Millville, NJ), which saw record entries in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship.

His Element Tuning prepared 670 horsepower 2006 Subaru STi, running Hoosier Tires, set the overall fastest time Saturday and Sunday. Grabow’s times of 1:26.072 and 1:26.333 were a staggering three seconds clear of his nearest rival, Steve Katz (Viper ACR), in the TT-Unlimited class.

Philip Grabow proved once again you don't need a Viper to win in the Whelen USTTC. ©

Commenting on the win, Grabow said:

“I really enjoyed running with NARRA. It was really nice for a change to run against some really fast cars [such as Viper ACR-Xs]. We took our very different Subaru, [which] somewhat seemed out of place initially but once the lap times kind of settled out clearly it was a car that belonged there.

It didn’t go perfectly for us. We did win, but the goal was really to set the fastest time of the weekend, period. But we had some electrical issues so it didn’t look like we’d be able to touch some of those Viper Cup car times.

This was a really well run, well organized event. The [class] rating was fair, the competition was good. The whole package was a top-notch event. It felt good to be a part of something bigger.

I’m definitely looking forward to running the next event at VIR [Virginia International Raceway].”

George MacDonald (Viper Competition Coupe) and James Booth (Viper ACR) shared the wins in TT-1, while Tim Jelle (Viper GTS) won both days in TT-2, giving Dodge the top step of the podium in every class apart from TT-Unlimited.

George MacDonald finished on top in Saturday's TT-1 competition. ©

TT-Unlimited championship points leader Carl Kafarowski, who won the class at both Chuckwalla and Sebring, could only manage fourth fastest both days.

The Canadian suffered from brake issues throughout friday’s free practice, and by his own account felt he was a day behind the competition, which he conceded was the strongest he had faced in the Championship since the inaugural round at Road Atlanta.

Kafarowski set his fastest time on Saturday and couldn’t match his effort on Sunday. Both days he was trumped by Steve Katz and Michael Von Quilich (Viper ACR-X).

Von Quilich was on ‘double-duty’. The North American Road Racing sanctioned event also featured the Dodge Viper Cup presented by Pennzoil, in which Von Quilich was also driving, along with the US Performance Driver Education program and the US GT Championship.

The biggest field of cars was in the TT-1 class. On Saturday a close, ‘david and goliath’ styled, battle played out between championship points leader Doug Wind’s four cylinder SRT-4 and George MacDonald’s 10 cylinder Viper.

MacDonald and his green “Lolly Girl” Dodge Viper Competition Coupe managed to take the win by just over a tenth of second, setting a time of 1:33:543 to Wind’s 1:33.647.

John Weigel (Viper ACR-X) completed Saturday’s top three in TT-1.

On Sunday James Booth (Viper ACR) stepped up to take the TT-1 class win, while John Weigel stepped up to out pace the Modern Performance sponsored Dodge SRT-4 of Doug Wind, who finished third.

Doug Wind finished second in Saturday's TT-1 class. ©

Tim Jelle topped TT-2 timesheet both days. On Saturday Scott Barton was second fastest followed by Canadian Michel Prevost. Sunday saw Edward Werry take second place in TT-2.

Tim Jelle won both days in TT-2. ©

Winners in each category are eligible for contingency prizes from Hoosier Tire and Cool Shirt®.

All the Action from the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship at New Jersey was captured using GoPro cameras by the Internal Production Group and will be broadcast later this year on, hosted by motorsport television personality Tom Hnatiw.

Event results, images and news can be found at .

The next rounds of the Whelen USTTC will take place next month at Virginia International Raceway, July 8-10.

James’ Element-tuned STI in Maxx Tuning Magazine

The 2006 STI owned by Element Tuning customer James “MULE” Mulherin Jr. has a short feature in the September 2010 issue of Maxx Tuning Magazine.  You can view the article by clicking on the image above, or by downloading the 9.1MB PDF here.  This is just a preview feature though, so stay tuned for the full feature with dyno numbers once his car is retuned by Phil!