Motorsports fans, I have a question for you: when was the last competitive rear-drive rally car?
Remember that guy who built a Subaru powered race car from a VW floor plan and a Wartburg? Sure you do. He won the car with an essay, beating a future TTAC contributor in the process. Still no? Well too bad, his name is Jim Thwaite and you should get to know him. He knows a thing or two about having fun with beaters, and he wants you to join him.
As America’s favorite pastime grapples with a cheating scandal involving its biggest stars, I can’t help but imagine motorsports devotees are looking on with jaded amusement. Cheating, along with exorbitant costs and tobacco sponsorships, is part and parcel of the fabric of motorsports, no matter the geographic location or formula. But few have cheated like Toyota. Who else has been accused of, or caught red-handed, at cheating in NASCAR, CART, Formula 1, and WRC? In each instance, Toyota’s machinations were always subtle and ingenious, nothing like Smokey Yunick’s 7/8th scale Chevelle or any of the famous “bending the rules” yarns. Take for example, the car you see above.
Group A cars were required to be fitted with a specific turbo restrictor that served to limit engine output. Toyota was able to engineer a special bypass valve that could not only defeat the restrictor without creating any evidence of tampering, but was designed to conceal itself when FIA technicians dismantled the turbocharger for inspection. Max Mosley himself called it “…the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA’s technical experts have seen for a long-time.” By bypassing the restrictor, Toyota could get as much as 25 percent more airflow into the turbocharger, allowing the GT-Four to put down as much as 350 horsepower in a field where cars were limited to 300 horsepower. According to Toyota’s own specs, my friend Rob’s GT-Four puts down about 255 horsepower, but it sure feels like there might be a bypass valve in there somewhere.
I wasn’t five minutes before my friend and I had gone to inspect TTAC’s Project G-Body Grand National that we began discussing the next foray into fiduciary stupidity. My friend Joey, not content with his cream puff 1986 Grand National (with a verified 38,750 miles on the odometer) wanted to know how we could “get in to rallying”.
It may not be sanctioned by the FIA, but Group B Rallying is back in the UK, as more than 60 entrants have signed up for a competitive rally event taking place this August.
Bill Caswell, of the $500 Rally E30 fame, may not have “beat $400k rally racers” as Jalopnik’s headline, but the original feature by Sam Smith is definitely one of the “classics” of automotive journalism. Sam’s look at Mr. Caswell and his efforts at rallying now have an equally important corollary – an interview with the man himself, conducted by a journalist who is no stranger to rally racing.
Let me be frank: I’m not a very good driver. Now, I don’t mean that I careen from lamppost to lamppost like a drunken pinball, nor that I have to spend my afternoons picking teeth out of the bumper and pressure-washing old-ladies and kittens out of the undercarriage; no, I’m merely pointing out that I’m not a racecar driver in real life, only on the podium of my own imagination.
I’ve had some professional driver training, so I know how to position a seat, how to set my mirrors, how to use peripheral vision, how to look through the corners and so on, but the fact remains that my driving skills are fairly average. At best.
My fingers are of purest butter. When clenched, they form fists of finest Virginia ham. My right foot is composed of an amalgam of the entire bottom row of the periodic table of the elements, alloyed with lead for extra heft. All these appendages are fastened by spindly arms and legs to a buffoon with a block of wood for a head and a pea-sized amount of cotton wool for a brain.
Luckily, none of these considerable drawbacks matter, because I am currently the greatest driver in the history of the universe, better than Senna, better than Vittel, better than Zaphod Beeblebrox. Ladies and gentleman, the Mitsubishi EVO.
Yesterday was a long, long day on Pike’s Peak. Above 10,000 feet, the Colorado sun bakes the will to live right out of you, while the lack of oxygen starves lungs and engines alike. Constant wrecks and breakdowns shut down the course for long periods, but all these things were just minor irritants, forgotten as soon as the next racer came fishtailing up the hill. The big news, of course, was the demolition of the 10-minute barrier by Monster Tajima, but every entrant got plenty of cheers from the thousands of dust-huffing hillclimb fans lining the route to the summit. Make the jump for some of my photo highlights from the day. (Read More…)
History made on the mountain just a few minutes ago: Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima just ran 9:51 and change in his run to the Pike’s Peak summit. Sayonara, 10-minute barrier! (Read More…)
I moved to Denver over the summer and am now experiencing the joys of proper snow driving for the first time in the 29 years since the State of California saw fit to give me my first driver’s license. With just a ’92 Civic and a ’66 Dodge A100 in my personal motor pool, I figure it’s time for me to start shopping for something with four driven wheels. In fact, I need something that can do four-wheel burnouts on dry asphalt! (Read More…)