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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just wanted to share my Evo "build" to the community and my support for the awesome guys at South Side Performance (both SSP and SSP-TX) and [email protected]

You might remember my car from such threads as:
http://www.evoxforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57194
http://www.evoxforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57236

After getting to see and help out with so many crazy Evo and GT-R builds, I've come to realize that such big builds have very little impact on the average, conversative Evo owner. Not everyone wants to go through the time/money with a 500+ whp machine for their DD; not everyone tracks their car frequently; most Evo owners auto-x at the most; and yet so many threads are still popping up asking what is the best bolt-on intake/exhaust/coilover/etc. I wanted to showcase a liveable and relateable Evo setup - in essence, what the Special Edition should have been.

To showcase this car's ability to perform, I will be competing in the Houston SCCA Regionals - one of the most competitive in the nation. This past sunday was Regional #1 for the 2012 season! :godance:

Hope you guys enjoy the read!

Major Mods:

SSP-TX Intercooler Piping
- SSP has shown me the downfalls and annoyances of having heat-soaked steel piping, so [email protected] prefers to make his own intercooler piping from high-quality aluminum. When the factory LICP is already well designed, David found no reason to build a wimpy 2.5" replacement, so he also goes a step further and makes a 3inch (rather than 2.5) LICP to help keep the air at it's coolest before hitting the throttlebody/engine.

AEM Intake
- Being an SST equipped car, there is always the problem of not being able to route a cold-air intake lower along the bumper. Eric and David @ SSP-TX showed me first hand with my Ralliart that heat-soak and intake design really DO matter. Despite some intakes out there coming from big brand names, one of the only intakes SSP-TX were truly happy with was the AEM.
- Maintaining the well-designed airflow route with the OEM snorkel, the AEM avoids many heat-soak issues, providing true cold-air from the front.
- The MAF sensor is placed in a much better location to avoid turbulence, making MAF calibration much more precise. Eric scaled my MAF a strong 17% for this intake after install.

ETS 3.5" FMIC
- Despite what some might think, the stock intercooler gets heat-soaked VERY easily and is pretty sub-par for even the mild daily driver. Even doing baseline pulls on the dyno showed consistent power loss from heat even in cold weather as you can see below

- Out of all the intercoolers available, the SSP crew found the quality and price of the ETS FMIC the top pick on the market. Other cheaper cores showed much lower-quality welds, and the more expensive options just didn't show enough to warrant the extra cost. ETS has also been a great help with SSP's other builds including Jeremy, Chen, and Eric's car, so ETS was an easy choice when it came to intercoolers.

Grimmspeed 3-Port
- SSP has shown me the many benefits to running an ECU controlled 3port, especially with SST's. With the SST working so closely with the ECU to put the power down, it just seemed absolutely silly to take boost control away from the ECU to do it manually. I just frankly don't see the point in MBC's. I recommend everyone get one and a tuner that agrees on its benefits.

Synapse DV
- This is hands-down one of the best bov's on the market. No intentions to be flashy or cool sounding - just pure reliable function. I'll never understand why people fiddle with "cool" bov's. The reliability and durability of the Synapse makes it cool in itself

SSP-TX Aluminum Exhaust


- Not being 100% satisfied with the market offerings for Evo X exhausts, David sets himself out to build a quality, lightweight, free-flowing exhaust system. Because they are hand-built, this exhaust flows in such straight lines with no weird bends you find on other popular exhausts
- Because of SCCA classing rules, I required a HFC. With such straight-flowing exhaust design, I only lost 3whp compared to other cars running the same exhaust without a cat. Very impressive imo!

SSP Pro Gold
- Honestly, I was nervous from the horror stories of SST temp sensor failures with aftermarket fluids, but Eric and David helped put those worries to rest. Being very un-biased of brand and focusing purely on personally seen results, I knew I could trust his opinion.
- As discovered in the early days of the SST, the break-in period is the worst thing the SST fluid can experience. Tons of metal shavings contaminate the fluid and float around, and the filter is completely trashed by 10k miles. Changing the fluid early is an absolute MUST for SST owners. Yes it's hard to swallow the cost, but the fluid lasts quite a while after the first change and getting rid of those nasty metal shavings
- The shift precision with the Pro Gold fluid is stunning. I didn't think S-Sport could be any better, but it's great how it feels now. The SST clamps with such precision and surefooted-ness it's addicting
- The fluid also handles heat better, and I've seen much lower SST temperatures just from the fluid change, before an upgraded SSP SST cooler

GTWorx Springs (on OEM Bilsteins)

- This is the one that surprised me the most. I wasn't ready to plunge into higher-level $4k+ coilovers, yet I wasn't very impressed with the lower-end options like BC's (had them on the Ralliart, they never felt right)
- Then Andrew at GTWorx showed the release of the GTWorx Springs. I was wondering - why release springs so late into the Evo's market lifespan when so many options are already available (swifts, eibachs, etc) - many of them that they sell themselves.
- After extensive discussion with Andrew, I learned that we shared a lot of the same goals for suspension setup - allowing us to carefully pick what was needed and what was not. Many others just dive into a coilover purchase (be it low-level or high-end) and end up with a mess that they think handles better. More on this later
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Regional #1 at Royal Purple Raceway

Despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to have everything ready for the first event of the 2012 season. My vid camera wasn't working, my evoscan didn't like my cable for some reason, and a few other exterior pieces didn't make it. Nothing major though and still was excited for a fresh season to start!

Except Mother Nature seems to hate me. My luck has given me 70% of my previous auto-x events in the rain. I haven't gotten much practice with the new parts in the dry yet. With the stock Yoko's all worn out, I slapped on brand new Nitto NT05's and thought I'd hope for good weather. Except this is how the weather looked...yes for an auto-x event.




I can't begin to describe how thick the fog was. Despite the weather, Houston's huge and competitive car scene still made for a big turnout. Tons of cars of all classes were lined up on the grid.





After tech inspection, we all headed out to walk the track. More pics of how damn foggy the weather was - this was definitely going to make it more interesting.




Me walking down the finish line. Thanks Jeremy for the wacky green SSP shirt from TX Mile! Many might ask Jeremy, why green - his answer? "everybody wears a boring black shirt at track events to look cool. it helps to stand out!" and it definitely does! :rock:


SCCA is always open and helpful to newcomers. Each event has a "rookie walk-through" that not only explains the track layout to newbies, but also explains key points and techniques to use while driving the track. Anybody reluctant to try auto-x'ing should have nothing to worry about - go ahead and do it! :thumbup:


I was really excited for the course layout. At first it looked very short and bland, but after walking the course, I found lots of technical points and the second half was a very high-speed sector.

My photo-taker decided to ride along the first two runs, so these pictures are afterwards. My only real worry were the new NT05's, which more experienced drivers seemed to dislike it's heatcycling quirks. With such a damp/foggy track, I was wondering how much grip I would have both on the cold first lap or by which run they would be up to temp.

Third Run, coming up to the start-line.



Luckily, the start was relatively straight, so I could utilize the SST's awesome launch control. My buddy Brett, pictured above, was definitely not ready for it (despite already grabbing the oh-shit handle :ghey:)

So the first run gave me about average grip levels. The high-speed sector was a bit slippy, but I just focused on checking if my apex predictions were correct and warming up the tires the first run. After pulling into the grid, I was very disappointed to feel them still pretty cold.

Launching on the third run


I can't describe how fun the high-speed sector was for an auto-x. I was taking the slalom in 3rd gear, almost entering 4th by the end (though a sharp late apex corner hindered that). The last two sweeping corners were taken in high-rpm 3rd gear, entering 4th as I neared the finish line. Didn't check my speedo, but I'm sure I reached 75+mph by the back straight


Overall I did fairly well - being beaten only by a Porsche Boxter who got to run in the second heat, when the sun had come out and dried up the track: -1.3s. My biggest frustration was getting the NT05's up to temperature as well as the weather I had to deal with. I'm still testing some lines, tire pressures, and alignment settings out, but I think sway bars are needed as the rear tires just could not stay warm enough or grip enough for the high-speed sector. Part of it might even be a lack of downforce in the back from not having the wing - I guess I'll put it to a true test next event whenever my CF wing comes in! Overall I'm pretty happy with the results, and I have a full year ahead of me.

Here are a few more pics from the event until the battery died. Will def be more prepared for Regional #2 :rock:

Hope you enjoyed the read.

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I had done nearly all of my previous auto-x events completely stock, making sure I got a good understanding of the OEM suspension setup. I had plenty of tinkering with my Ralliart and the BC coils and whiteline rear sway bar, but it all felt like a mess with just stiff springs giving an illusion of good handling. I wanted to make sure I did it right this time, and [email protected] definitely understood my goal-focused intentions.

The OEM suspension setup is/was fantastic, but I just could not stand the body roll on the soft spring rates. Slaloms destroyed my times. I even had 3 seasoned SCCA officials/instructors ride along for input.

They urged me:
"Kevin, you're taking these slaloms perfectly, just go faster. You and the car can do it"
"I can't. This silly AYC will spin me out"
"Just try"
Afterwards, I spun out by the last few cones.

The body roll would progressively build each cone - nearing the end of the slalom, there was just too much yaw and body roll. That combined with the steering input to go the other direction, the AYC would over-correct and spin me out. I spent countless days to adjust my driving for this, but it was hopeless - I would be stuck driving the slaloms much slower than I could be. I needed a stiffer spring to control this body roll.

Andrew highly recommended having the OEM Bilsteins re-valved to match the GTWorx springs, but because of time (and somewhat budget), I decided to just try the springs. The Bilstein is a quality shock already.

Fast forward to now - and I was amazed that I accomplished everything I was aiming for. With an accurate alignment, GTWorx Springs, and great driving finesse, the car handled 100000% better. Infact, I'm not finding a need to re-valve my Bilsteins yet - yep, these handle better than an equivalent, low-end coilover

It might sound silly that just springs were able to do this, but GTWorx really put some thought into building the right spring. The absolute crucial element that everyone else missed was suspension travel and stroke.

With their suspension experience (sister company being Race Comp Engineering, a favorite in the Subaru community), they knew that they needed exactly this spring rate at this exact length to make the Evo handle better. They didn't give a rat's ass at what the drop ended up looking like aesthetically, and they openly stated that on the evom forums when released - I respected that statement and knew these springs would be different.

These springs feel like OEM - and no, I don't mean in a comfort sense. These springs still hold everything that made the OEM suspension handle so well, just with more firmness. The car rolls just the PERFECT amount for the AYC to kick-in and rotate the car perfectly - just like OEM. The amount of suspension travel that these springs allow feel 100% perfect. There is just enough travel with just enough stiffness to control and utilize the weight transfers much better - and the AWC loves to work in tandem to give amazing results

The problem I had with driving other Evo's were it's ignorance of the AWC and AYC. Since the AYC does heavily factor in yaw into it's torque application, driving Evo's on other coils/springs that were too stiff just would not let it cooperate. In some poorly setup cars, the car would almost tripod, confusing the AWC even more. The owners all thought it handled better with the stiffer ride, but all I could feel is a heavy weight being tossed around, without it's crucial AWD component helping it rotate anymore - some of them almost felt like they were tripoding like some FWD Honda
 

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Discussion Starter #4
More Pictures from Regional 1:
Because Race.......Kart?


This speed6 was seriously fast. and a super loud bov


The CRX's at the event were sick and sounded amazing at 8k+ rpm's on the final straight. Sadly, this blue one blew it's motor :(



This would have been an awesome picture if that stupid pole didn't get in the way :mad::mad::mad:







 

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I really like how this was put together! Great stuff, can't wait for more.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Whereabouts in Houston?
me, I live in NW (Cypress area). This regional was at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown. Some might recognize it as the place they did Forum Wars. Just one of the many places they use for auto-x events; another popular one being the Houston Police Academy

glad you guys enjoyed it so far! There is also a bmw-scca auto-x event coming soon at the Houston Police Academy. Even the bmw events are pretty big (we actually have 3-4 1M's here; one owner flew out to Germany to test drive it, then ordered one to be shipped back to him apparently). It's great to have more events inbetween each SCCA regional :D
 

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sub'd. Can't wait til my money's right and I can get to TX.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Even when the NT-05's get heated up they still suck. They are not good tires.
they seem pretty hit or miss with people, though not a lot seemed to hate them 100%. the price is very competitive (~900 installed), so I thought I'd try these first. budget allowing, I'll be upgrading to a wider wheel/tire later in the year anyway

of course testing out all the tires is something I plan on doing over the season. too many random opinions on the forums without real input or insight. :waiting:

here's a few more pics:
My buddy Joseph doing his first auto-x ever


WRX's are getting extremely popular in stock class - many regional/national champions have switched over to them







this frequent black miata is a serious machine

 

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Even when the NT-05's get heated up they still suck. They are not good tires.
What are you running? I was actually about to buy these for spring track sessions. I agree that the reviews are love/hate. I want to run Federal, but they don't fit my stock MR rims.
 

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I run GTWorx too, and love them. But you MUST get the RCK kit from Whiteline. It sometimes is suggested that they are optional when installing lower springs, but I disagree. I ran a with and without Whiteline RCK, and it was night and day. Highly suggest you get the RCK and RSB.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I run GTWorx too, and love them. But you MUST get the RCK kit from Whiteline. It sometimes is suggested that they are optional when installing lower springs, but I disagree. I ran a with and without Whiteline RCK, and it was night and day. Highly suggest you get the RCK and RSB.
yes forgot to mention

if I could run a RCK, I would. but unfortunately Street Prepared class does not allow for it :(
 
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