Big Willow Unlimited AWD: A new record that even the elements couldn’t prevent

The event was rather unusual for Southern California, as we showed up and unpacked the car it began to rain. This instantly began to dampen (pun intended) our hopes. We headed to Willow Springs Raceway to attempt to break the long standing GST Motorsports AWD Time Attack record of 1:19.397. The last time we were at Big Willow we were able to break the long standing record from another legendary Subaru Time Attack driver, JC Meynet in Modified AWD.

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Even though the weather wasn’t in our favor we decided to go out and see what we could accomplish. The first thing we noticed was that grip was way down on the track, which was to be expected, but then we noticed that our boost pressure was definitely down as shown on the AEM Electronics gauges. As the weather continued to roll in, we went through everything in an effort to fix our issues and increase grip levels by adding wing angle to our APR Performance wing element.

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We were lucky enough that the rain stopped and the track received a bit of that so cal sunshine just in time for the first time attack session. With hopes coming back, we set out for the session although with the lack of grip we experienced in the previous we did not feel the most confident. I was able to set a new PB with a 1:19.1 and new AWD record, but our transponder had died…so technically that time did not count. But then that made us think… would it be possible to break the Overall Time Attack record that Billy Johnson holds in the FXMD NSX with a 1:18.555?!?

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So now we had to wait the long 3 hours before the final time attack session (if you don’t know, RTA only has 2 timed TA sessions). This was one of the longest waits between TA session I have ever experienced based on having to watch as the large storm came rolling in. To make it even more fun, the wind picked up and spontaneous small showers but we continued to wait. At one point as I watched the clouds mount and sprinkles show up on the windshield, I was about to say that we should pack up, but thought we are already here so why not just wait.

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Once again luck was on our side; as we got closer to the TA session the weather seemed to be in a holding pattern. As we readied the car, we were still trying to figure out our boost issue and luckily Paul was able to find a failed diaphragm, and through our preparation, we had a spare part ready to go. With the new part installed, Paul of Yimi Sport realized that it was likely failing previously on the dyno, so he worked some tuner magic and dialed the car up to a more adequate power level.

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We headed out into the session and I could instantly tell power was back giving me confidence and encouragement to really push the car. As I set out on the first hot lap, I was able to recognize the vast differences in the car based on grip and power thus running a 1:19.0. Immediately I said over the radio that another lap was in order, the tires were grateful for the added temperature that the first lap gave them. With more tire temp and more confidence in the car a second flyer was ran. Oh and it ran that’s for sure, pushing as hard as I ever have into T8 not ever being below 150mph! The lap finished with a 1:18.742!!!

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Without a doubt it was one of the most satisfying feelings I have ever experienced. This track is where it all started for our team setting our first ever record in Street Class which interestingly enough was a 1:28.360– dropping almost 10 seconds since 2013. Another bonus for our team is that now we currently hold the TA records for Street, Modified and Unlimited classes, a feat which not many can say they have accomplished.

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Now here is where I would normally put a team picture standing next to the car, but a small time after the TA session it began to downpour, so we quickly loaded the car and got all our equipment out of harms way. Nov-20-2016-ExtremeSpeed - Orange - Turn 6 - WSR_1257_Nov2016_by_FAB-CaliPhoto.jpg

A huge thank you to everyone who is and was involved in this program we continue to strive to push the boundaries to what others and even we believe to be possible.


Photos provided by Cali Photography

2 thoughts on “Big Willow Unlimited AWD: A new record that even the elements couldn’t prevent

  1. That’s incredible. Well done!

    You’re the only other car I’ve seen where the data shows you not dropping below 60 mph anywhere on the track. And your corner speeds and lateral Gs are just amazing.

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