Work that EVO VIII. by Alex Butti

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By now most of you have heard that the Sierra Sierra Enterprises has broken the record at Buttonwillow a couple of weeks ago. It was a feat, considering how many cars have been trying to chase the record but always fell short.
What is more impressive is not the actual-official lap time (1:43.430, although they ran an unofficial 1:43.200) but the fact that it took Sierra Sierra Enterprises only a year of development to achieve this goal. Taking also into consideration that HKS had been working on their Lancer EVO’s since 2002, you gradually start to understand what an achievement SSE accomplished. I said 2002 because HKS developed the EVO TBR-02 around that time (hence the 02). HKS spent countless amount of time doing R&D, collecting valuable data and they ended up destroying the car at Tsukuba (thanks to Nobuteru Taniguchi). All that work was not wasted though, because the information gathered through the TBR-02 was used toward the CT230R. For years the CT230R had been breaking records left and right. Most of you recall what happened in 2007 at Buttonwillow. HKS came, conquered the track and left a bold statement on the US soil (with a lap time of 1:43.523). That was until March 28th 2010.
Let’s take a closer look to this EVO VIII.
First of all, the SSE EVO does not sport a dry carbon fiber bodykit like the CT230R, but wet carbon panels thanks to Kaminari. Wet carbon fiber is heavier and more fragile than dry carbon fiber, as the resin and the hardening are not distributed homogeneously. This means that the car weights a bit more than the CT230R. Roughly 2750lbs. (the HKS CT230R weight about 2370lbs.).
What it lacks in “silhouette” though it makes up in aerodynamic. As you can see from the picture above, the car resembles very much a DTM racecar. Under the SSE EVO’s belly, there is a sheet of carbon fiber (dry) that runs along the car, from the front splitter to the rear diffuser, which in term it helps to keep the air-turbulence to a minimum. The carbon sheet helps to speed up the air underneath the car helping the chassis to be more stable at high speed. It is a very basic aerodynamic concept.
Here is a closer look at the front end:
Much like the CT230R, the SSE EVO lacks front lights and blinkers (for obvious reasons). The square-looking holes seen above provide fresh air to the oil coolers, while the canards ensure more front bite on the front tires (again, simple aerodynamic concept). Speaking of tires: this EVO wears Hankook C91 DOT tires (275/35/18) wrapped on Advan RS wheels. Although the cars also runs on Volk CE28n’s and TE37’s.
I know some of you are curious to know what’s under the hood. So here it is:
The long block was entirely built by Cosworth, using their 2.2L forged-stroker kit along with Cosworth headgasket, head-studs and valvetrain, with of course bump sticks (280 duration for the intake and 272 duration for the exhaust. Unfortunately I do not know the lift of the cams).
Other bits of the engine are: Full Race exhaust manifold, Garrett twin-scroll turbo (I do not know the spec of the turbo sorry), a Kansai Service intake manifold, dual TiAl wastegate, TiAl BOV, C&R radiator, custom I/C, and lots of Wiggins clamps. (Wiggins clamps are expensive but provide the best seal possible and are tested to support up to 125 PSI of pressure). Along with the Wiggins clamps you also see that all the vacuum lines have been swapped with AN fittings to increase reliability.
You can also see that SSE/ Cosworth used gold foils throughout the engine bay to isolate the heat produced by the 560 hp engine from the ECU harnesses. Mil-Spec wiring was used throughout the car along with Raychem DR25 tubing to ensure insulation and protection; again, for reliability.
Here is where all the magic is orchestrated together. Cosworth’s very own Pectel SQ6 ECU, Pi GPS beacon, and Pectel EDC differential computers; yes, you read that right. This EVO’s differentials are tuned by separate computers.
What’s more to say? There is a NACA duct on the rear passenger’s lexan window that is connected to a 3” silicon hose which draws in fresh air to the electrical fan underneath the EMS, which helps to cool down the ECU’s. Cool eh?
Last but not least, the suspension and chassis tuning bits: the shock towers have been reinforced with steel plates, along with a FIA-approved rollcage, while 4 way Dynamic coilovers have been replaced the stock Bilstein struts. Surprisingly the stock control arms have been left alone aside from the spherical bushings and custom rear toe-arms.
As the picture shows, the rear (and front) stock swaybars have been ditched in favor of these custom mounted units. Very tricky pieces I may say. They can be controlled in the cockpit thanks to adjustable levers, which stiffen or soften the swaybars based on track layout.
Brakes duty is taken care of by Brembo GT magnesium calipers (6 titanium pistons up front, and 4 pistons in the rear). Of course there is an adjustable brake bias knob in the cabin to control the clamping force.
So the SSE EVO broke the record at Buttonwillow, but we all know that HKS has been working on their latest project; the CZ200S. Not to forget also is the Tarzan/ Tomei STi. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
That’s all I have to say for now.
If you want to see more pictures of the SSE EVO, check my link:

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The little Fit that could by Alex Butti

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J's Racing

A couple of years ago I was in Japan at my friend’s house, on the outskirt of Osaka. My trip was scheduled to last 2 weeks before coming back to the US. For those of you that have been to Japan before, you know how short two weeks are. Most people would schedule in advance where to go, what to visit, hang out with friends, sightseeing, tuning shops to check out, or business-related meetings to attend; not me.

Over the past decade I have visited Japan several times, scheduling hardly anything ahead; this trip was no different. While my trip was supposed to last only two weeks, I ended up staying in Japan for five weeks; so why rush? I did manage though to visit few coveted tuning shops; one of them being J’s Racing.
J's Racing
J’s Racing is located on the far west side of Ibaraki-ken, about 20 minutes north of Osaka. Like many other Japanese tuning shops, it is very small, and easy to miss. Upon my arrival I was more excited to meet Umemoto san, (owner and president of the company) than checking out his cars. Although I must say the cars he had at his facility were built with incredible attention to details.
J's Racing Honda Fit
One of the car that caught my attention at the shop was this Hot Version Queen Honda Fit. This Fit as many of you know, went through a lot of modifications.
J's Racing Honda Fit K20
This proven K24/20 engine features Toda ITB’s, Toda connecting rod, a knife-edged S2000 crankshaft, and J’s Racing 13.X:1 pistons among other things.
While I was talking to Umemoto san, I knew this Fit was capable of making close to 320 hp, so I asked him about the exact compression ratio; he smiled and said: “juu san ten dou…” (juu san means “13” in Japanese, while ten means “.” and dou means “something”)… I laughed. He clearly didn’t want to reveal the exact number. We can speculate all we want about the exact compression, but at the end it doesn’t matter. Japanese are also fortunate to have higher octane fuel at the local gas stations. For us using race fuel would be mandatory with that compression ratio.
In the picture above you will also notice the custom engine mounts with white inserts. Those white inserts are made of Delrin. Generally you would see aftermarket engine mounts equipped with polyurethane bushings. J’s Racing did not want to use polyurethane because it would flex too much for their application. While solid billet aluminium mounts would cause a lot of vibration on the chassis and on the transmission. Thus the Delrin choice.
J's racing honda fit
My first reaction when I saw the 10 point roll cage in this Fit was: “why welded so low?” The main loop, along with the a-pillar tubing have been welded very low in the car. Umemoto san explained that since the Fit is a high vehicle in standard trim (measuring about 60 inches of height), he wanted to keep the center of gravity as low as possible, thus welding the cage low enough to keep the driver safe while adding stiffness to the chassis. As you can see from the picture, there are gussets everywhere; even on the roof between the a-pillar and the b-pillar. As you notice the doors have been gutted only in the rear, while the front ones have been left alone. I’m sure that a set of carbon fiber doors would help to trim down the weight of this Fit even further.
This Fit also sports lexan windows all around except the front windshield; while a Recaro SPG seat and Takata harnesses are all you’ll find in the interior.

On the outside aside from the front flares, the Fit wears 17 inches Volk TE37 all around wrapped with Advan 048 tires: in the front 235 width, and in the rear 205 width. Brembo 4 pot calipers are found up front, using Seidouya N1 brake pads, while the rear drum brakes have been swapped with Brembo disk brakes mated with Seidouya N1 pads as well.
j's racing honda fit rear diffuser
The Fit also uses Crux coilovers to drop the static height, and as seen in the picture, the bumper has been cut quite a bit to reduce drag while it features a one-off carbon diffuser to help the Fit with the not-so good aerodynamic. If you look closely, you can see the one-off titanium exhaust system and its tail pipe cut flush with the diffuser to help create less drag under the car.

That’s all I have for now. I did however take more pictures about other cars while at J’s Racing. I will make sure to cover them in the future.
I am sorry for the lengthy article.

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The German Batmobile by Alex Butti

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Mercedes CLK GT-R

That’s what came to mind when I first saw this car in flesh. It looked like a German version of the Batmobile.


So a couple of years ago I got a phone call from my brother, while I was visiting my father in Switzerland. The call was quite stark. All my brother said was: “You GOT to see this!” Knowing how much I love cars, I wondered if what he saw would meet my high expectation.

Mercedes CLK-GTR
I would have never thought I would see a Mercedes CLK GTR in my life time. The car was primarly built for the FIA GT championship and later on for the Le Mans race and it saw the light in 1997 all the way to 2002, and it was produced by AMG with the help of Iimor Engineering. For those of you that don’t know Iimor Engineering is responsible to design, fabricate and assemble F1 engines.
Anyway, only 35 CLK GTR were built. 9 used for racing (CLK LM), and the rest 26 were the street version.

Mercedes CLK-GTR

Underneath that polycarbonate rear windshield sits the pride and joy of Ilmor work: a 6.8 liter V12 that puts down 720 hp at the crank and 572 ft/tq.

Mercedes CLK-GTR
Exterior-wise there are few subtle differences betweet the road version GTR and the race version LM; the main one being the rear wing. While the GTR has a fixed unit, the LM has an adjustable wing that attaches directly onto the chassis. Another aerodinamic enhancement is the longer front splitter.

Mercedes CLK-GTR

Unfortunately there isn’t much to see underneath the car. The whole belly has been covered with a sheet of dry carbon fiber extending from the front splitter all the way to the rear diffuser.
The round carbon piece you see in the picture above is the hydraulic jack.

Mercedes CLK-GTR
What surprised me the most though is the mechanical grip this car has. In front you will find 295/35/18 tires, while in the rear, there are 345/35/18. When was the last time you saw a supercar featuring 295 tires up front? As you can see from the picture above, 6 pistons AP Racing calipers takes care of the stopping power, while in the rear there are 4 pots.

I consider myself very lucky. A big “thank you” goes to my brother, if it was not for him, I would have never been able to witness such master piece.

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The KTM X-BOW by Alex Butti

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Honestly I don’t even know where to start with this post.
I have seen quite a few exotic cars on here lately, so I figure why not add one more to the list? I thought the KTM X-BOW should fit the bill.

The X-BOW is a very exotic car; you don’t see that many around, and not many people have much info about this go-kart on steroids, so I figured, why not share some light?
We all know that KTM has never produced any car in the past. So they didn’t have much R&D when they wanted to produce a car for their lineup. So who did they call to take care of the chassis? Dallara.
Yes, the same Dallara company that used to race F1 cars back in the day. The X-BOW features a full dry-carbon fiber monocoque chassis, making it ultra stiff and very very light; 1738 lbs. light !

So the next step was to take care of the engine. In this case, Audi was called and the 2.0 liter, 240 hp engine from the Audi TT was shoehorned in the back of the X-BOW. What’s more impressing though is its torque; 310 ft/tq. A lot for such a light car.


The brakes as shown above are from Brembo. The same exact brakes that are available on the Lancer EVO. 4 pistons in the front and 2 in the rear. You can only imagine how quickly this thing stops.


The cockpit is very simple; maybe too simple. There is no dash, no air-bags, no radio no heated seats, no nothing ! I love it.

What KTM did though, was putting the money where it counted, on the performance aspect of the vehicle.

The brake pedals are courtesy of Tilton. Since the seats are one piece molded with the chassis, KTM/Tilton had to get a bit creative. The whole pedal assembly is bolted onto a rail, so that the brake, clutch and gas pedal can slide back and forth allowing any driver to drive this kart; but the truth is, KTM wanted to keep the weight distribution of the X-BOW 50/50; thus the pedals on the rail.
The X-BOW is not available in the US-only in Europe, and in some countries in Europe it requires an helmet to be driven on public roads; kind on a given considering there is no windshield.
The base model starts at a little over $75.000 all the way to $125.000
Different choices of coilovers are available, as well as different types of LSD, wheels, body panels, and sequential transmission.
If you ask me, this car is a bargain for the track. And yes, it’s much faster than an Atom Ariel.

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The Fontana Nissan 350Z by Alex Butti

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Time attack might not have started in Japan, but Tsukuba Circuit certainly helped the sport to grow tremendously. On the other side of the pond, here in the US, many folks have taken notes. In this post I would like to focus on the “unlimited” class; more specifically about the Nissan Fontana 350Z. Last year Nissan Fontana showed up with an immaculate Z chassis and very competitive car built originally for GRAND-AM usage. I think this car needs a spotlight !

Fontana Nissan 350Z

You won’t find crazy aero on this Z. A simple front splitter, a proven rear wing are pretty much the only aero visible added to the car. What you will find though, are tons of details.

Fontana Nissan 350Z

In the picture above the first thing that catches people’ attention is the unique intake manifold. The VQ35DE is known to have problem with lack of air supply in the cylinder 1 and 2. Companies like Fontana Nissan started to do some R&D using CFD (Computation Fluid Dynamics) analysis results; and a bigger plenum was fabricated allowing more air into the first two cylinders.
Another detail seen in the picture is the radiator breather tank. When the coolant raises in temperature due to the high workload of the engine, air-bubble start to appear in the cooling system decreasing output performance. The breather tank helps to avoid this issue and keep the cooling system free from bubbles.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Behind the shock towers you’ll notice the fire extinguisher nozzles. The nozzles are attached to light-weight aluminium brackets to keep the weigh of the car down to a minimum. Also notice the 4 way JRZ remote resevoir as well as the DR-25 Raychem tubing that isolates the heat of the engine from the wiring harnesses.

For those of you that are interested: this Z sports a fully built Cosworth long block using its stroker kit that bumps the displacement to a healthier 3.8 liter. The Fontana Nissan Z puts down roughly 420-430 hp to the rear wheels. Not shabby considering a stock VQ35DE dynos at about 230-240 hp at the wheel.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Like I said earlier, details. The X-Trac sequential transmission can cost around $45.000-that’s not a typo. Clearly this shows how bad the Nissan Fontana Team wants to win. Of course the transmission’s gears can be swapped depending on the road course and the setup of the car. Take also a look at the dry carbon fiber dash. (all the exterior body panels are made of the same material as well).

Underneath the switch panel you see a red Tilton knob. This knob is a manual brake bias that allows the driver to adjust the amount of brake force applied on the front vs. the rear. A must for any serious race car.

On the right side of the stick shift there are two small levers. A red one and a black one. They are responsible to adjust the front and rear sway bars respectively; again, a must.

A mandatory MoTec M800 ECU controls the engine’s vitals and makes sure everything runs properly.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Look how clean the Woodward steering column clamp with the MoTec data aquisition SDL monitor. I am sorry for the lack of words, but I don’t have much to say in regard. Just top of the line components here. The three white cups on the right are the Tilton remote brake-fluid resevoirs.

Fontana Nissan 350Z

You might ask why, the Tilton brake pedals are mounted on a rail?
The reason being, the bucket seat is bolted onto the chassis, and can not be moved forward or backward. Nissan Fontana wanted to keep the weight distribution of the Z at 50/50. The driver is the second heaviest “thing” in a car after the engine. Moving the driver’s seat forward would upset the weigh distribution. So what Nissan Fontana did was to mount the pedals onto a carbon fiber platform that can be moved forward or backward if necessary. That way different drivers can drive the car; clever.

Anyway, I have a little bit more to share about this car. I will do another entry in the near future, as well as more coverage about time attack.

Thanks for reading.

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A Ferrari 430 GT3 by Alex Butti

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Ferrari F430 GT3

A while back Ben shared with us some pictures of the ASI Ferrari F430. A very clean car I may say. After that post, I felt compelled to show you guys a Ferrari 430 GT3. In the past I have several times seen GT cars up close, but never bothered to share their specs or info; that is, until I saw the ASI Ferrari F430.

I thought: ” why not share the pictures I have, and see what people think?” So here I am.

A Ferrari 430 GT3 as you can see from the first picture above resembles very close the street version; that is partially due to the strict FIA regulations.

A while back Ben shared with us some pictures of the ASI Ferrari F430. A very clean car I may say. After that post, I felt compelled to show you guys a Ferrari 430 GT3. In the past I have several times seen GT cars up close, but never bothered to share their specs or info; that is, until I saw the ASI Ferrari F430.  I thought: " why not share the pictures I have, and see what people think?" So here I am.
The front-end of the car is very similar to its sibling. For aerodynamic purposes, the front splitter and the vented-hood are added and changed respectively. Along with these two body panels, all the other exterior body panels are switched to dry carbon fiber for obvious reasons.

In the picture above you can see the rear wing’s stanchions which are mounted onto the chassis through the rear hatch. They have been engraved with numbers and degrees to facilitate and speed-up the aerodynamic changes done in the pit area. This clever method is only useful when the car is properly balanced on the scale, and all the corner-weight has been done.

Ferrari F430 GT3

Cooling as you can see, is a very important issue while racing; that’s why this Ferrari has two L-shape massive-radiators sitting right behind the front bumper, one on each side of the car, and an additional third radiator located right in the center. This approach has to do with the fact that many GT3 race-cars have a RR layout, and cooling could pose some issues.

Ferrari F430 GT3 Sachs 4 Way Coilovers

Suspensions duty are taken care by Sachs 4 way coilovers, and as you can imagine all the polyurethane bushings have been replaced with spherical bearings to give the driver a more precise feeling of the car while racing; a given I must say.

Ferrari F430 GT3 Brembo Titanium Monoblock Calipers
Ever wonder what a “big brake kit” looks like on a GT car? Those monoblock Brembo GT brakes feature six titanium pistons up front, and 4 pistons in the rear. What’s tricky about those pistons is not their size (which are designed this way to allow more modulability with the brake pedal), but the fact that they are drilled to allow heat to escape better. With this type of design, the pistons stay cooler and provide better clamping force throughout the race.

There is A LOT more to talk about GT3 race-cars. If you guys are interested, I will cover more of it in the future.
Here are more pictures of this Ferrari GT3: (page 34,35,36)

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Toda at work by Alex Butti

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I am an avid reader of Japanese tuning magazines and anything related to the JDM scene. Every weekend I go to the local Kinokuniya to check out what’s available on the shells and what’s new. Several months ago I ended up buying the usual issue of Option Magazine, the most recognized-mainstream Japanese tuning mag. Many of you know that like every other magazine out there, Option Magazine showcases what’s coming up on the Japanese market as well as what Japanese companies are working on. As I read along, I ran into a tiny-little article displaying what seemed to be a Toda prototype coilover. Some of you might shrug your shoulder and say: “so what?”

Well, Toda has a lineup of coilovers named Fightex, which are thought to be excellent coilovers by many.
It’s no secret that Toda produces only high quality parts, and spend several months before releasing anything on the market. Reason being is testing and developing; on and off the track. What they came up with this time was something that I have never seen before on any coilovers out there. A coilover that incorporates a lower bracket made out of carbon fiber as well as the main shaft also made out of carbon fiber.

My first reaction of course was: “wow !!!” There was something so cool about this idea; not just the blig factor, but the fact that carbon fiber is a very stiff material and can withstand a lot of shock if done right. The weight savings of the lower bracket and the main shaft help lowering the sprung weight of the vehicle while providing a more precise input in the handling department.

At this point I started wondering: “what’s next?” My mind started dreaming about taking this Toda prototype a step further. How about a pillow mount also made out of carbon fiber? Could it be done? How about using titanium springs instead of generic steel? I recall Amuse testing titanium springs on their coilovers a while back. Titanium is very resilient and it’s an excellent choice for this type of usage; unfortunately it is also very expensive to manufacture. I’d like to think my idea is feaseble; although not for everyone. However, if this is the future, we are likely to see other companies stepping up their game with new technologies and new resources. I can’t wait this to happen.

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