The Forged Performance Motorsports team has returned home after a very successful TX2K12 event in Houston Texas. TX2K started as a small gathering of local Supra owners in the Houston, TX area but quickly grew into one of the country's largest and most infamous GT-R, Supra, and Lamborghini meets. Infamous is a fitting word and undoubtedly putting it lightly. As the sun goes down, the streets of Houston are transformed into an illegal street racer’s heaven with impromptu racing and burnouts happening on just about every corner often within earshot of local law enforcement.
Our 14-hour road trip from Atlanta started Wednesday morning at 7am with me sitting shotgun in our Ford F-450 tow rig. Our 48ft goose-neck was loaded with two very potent R35's including the legendary Forged Performance Time Attack GT-R and a customer's FP1-R GT-R packing 1000hp+. While these cars are modified for two very different purposes, they both would be heavy hitters in their field of competition. With such precious cargo aboard Alex, our Motorsports Crew Chief and I traded off the task of burning off 65 gallons of diesel at a time. Ryan had also joined us for our journey across the lower southeast toward Houston. Sharif opted to remain at the shop for an additional work day so he could assist the staff that was holding down the fort while we were gone. Our drive was entertaining yet pretty uneventful, which is a good thing when hauling 20,000 lbs of Nissans and gear. We arrived at the Omni Hotel shortly after sunset and managed to maneuver our massive rig into the parking lot, which was already quickly filling up with groups of high horsepower cars. Within seconds of exiting the truck, I could already feel my jaw starting to drop as I attempted to take in my surroundings. I instantly saw multiple turbo LSx cars, Evo's on drag radials, big turbo Supra's, and many other high end, tastefully modified cars north of the 600whp mark. Ryan quickly informed me that this was the "slow night" and I could not help but laugh. Ryan notified me that Doug, our customer that owns the black beast keeping our Time Attack car company, had just arrived at the hotel as well. Doug and his family met us at the Omni Restaurant for dinner and then we returned to the parking lot to check out all the horsepower where we met up with Sharif, whose flight had landed an hour after our arrival.
For the Forged Performance Motorsports team, the event started bright and early on Thursday for the 45 min drive to the country club setting of Motorsports Ranch Houston (MSR).
With Peter wrapping up the driver's meeting and safety discussion, we looked forward to tackling this gorgeous 2.2 mile circuit which offers a wonderful variety of corners, elevation changes, and challenging terrain to test even the most skilled drivers.
Sharif proclaimed that it felt great to get behind the wheel in competition mode again with the GT-R that marked our entrance into the GT-R world!
Given this was Sharif's first time laying eyes on Motorsports Ranch, he went out for some sighting laps during the first session and quickly discovered that the track was incredibly bumpy, making it impossible to brake deep or accelerate early coming off the corners; combined with the very technical layout of the track, that meant we had our work cut out for us to dial in our GT-R. The team went to work to soften up the suspension significantly and adjust tire pressures. Next session out, the car was feeling much better and our lap times came down almost 10 seconds per lap. The big laptime reduction was mostly the result of getting familiar with the track layout, but things were looking better. With a comfortable lead on the other GT-R's Sharif set his sites on the very fast GT1/SU class tube frame Camaro of Paul Costas. This was our same nemesis from last year that ended up winning by default, since he had the fastest laptime prior to the event being canceled due to a bad wreck. Paul and Sharif never had a chance to compete against each other, so we were looking forward to the chance to put Godzilla back on top!
Throughout the day, Paul and Sharif were within a tenth of a second of each other or less. After our second “hot” session Sharif felt our setup was about as good a we could achieve that day, and rather than wearing out our tires, he decided to sit things out until the official Time Attack session. He knew that the Forged Performance GT-R still had a little more boost, and Sharif still had a little more anger to unleash on Motorsport Ranch.
Running 18psi and 650whp on the original OEM engine, the Top Five fastest drivers made their way out to click off their fastest lap. The rules were simple. One warm up lap, 3 hot laps, and the fastest single lap wins. When the green flag dropped, Sharif was full throttle entering the short front straight then dive bombed into the super tight double apex right-hander exiting in 3rd gear, then a short shift into 4th gear at WOT hanging onto the track...barely...which lead onto the quick right left chicane and onto the first sweeping straight. We had a feeling this would be his fastest lap of the day and it was.
In Sharif's words:
"Getting overly confident in road racing/time attack is always a bad signal, and as I began my 2nd lap I pushed it just as hard, but this time with the benefit of full heat in my tires. As I charged towards the first hard braking zone at about 145mph, I stabbed at the brakes just as I had done dozens of times before and then, for a split second, my foot slipped off the brake pedal. With no margin for error, I knew I wouldn’t be able to slow the car nearly enough to navigate the blind entry, decreasing radius off camber nasty right hander but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying! So I tossed the car to the right, drifted sideways over the hill and then bailed straight through the grass and then back on the track. I don’t think it even cost me any time! Quick check of gauges and mirrors and I was back at full throttle without missing a beat. Unfortunately, with my now wet tires I got a clutch overheat warning and car went into a temporary limp mode. I slowed, and pulled to the side to allow Paul in his GT1 Camaro pass by. And then something magical happened. As if Gozilla was reawaken by this fire breathing Camaro’s exhaust, the AWD clutch overheat light went off and I was back at full power! Now Paul and I were separated by about 100 yards and I attempted to chase him down. Let me tell you, his car is very fast but the GT-R was a bit better on the brakes, and at corner entry which allowed me to just barely pass him on the inside of Turn 1 right in front of the Grand Stands. Wheel to wheel action isn’t usually something you see in Time Attack because the competitors are separated by 20 seconds as the event begins. But the rules dictate that if for any reason you encounter traffic, then it’s wheel to wheel and open passing. Paul is also an experienced racer, and I knew the he’d probably make some room for me…as I would for him. After the pass in Turn1 we continued pushing hard throughout the lap with the two cars very evenly matched. I was faster on corner entry, but with his big slicks and downforce, he was faster off the corners and much faster in the straights. On the longest back straight, he was able to pull even with me so I made a bit of room for him and we were side by side at 120mph into the long fast sweeping left and then nose to tail for the final 4 corners leading onto the front straight. On the final lap, we were separated by an unbelievable 3 one thousandths of a second! We ended the event with a mutual thumb’s up…sure beats the other finger!"