The 2017 Ultimate Track Car Challenge, hosted by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, is one of the coolest events on the time attack schedule for any TA racer in America. The invite only event is held every year during the annual HyperFest motorsports event at Virginia Intl Raceway. The rules are simple; there are no rules, there are no classes and there is only one day to put down your fastest lap to see who has the ultimate track car in North America. Every year the fastest street cars share the challenging 17 turn, 3.27 mile, VIR course with some of the fastest purpose built racecars in the country. With cars from every genre included, its an amazing site to see prototype cars racing old NASCARS, classic European cars, current professional GT cars and of course some purpose built time attack cars. With over 50 people invited to compete, this year was the first year that a large percentage of the field was traditional Time Attack cars, with familiar teams from GTA and GridLife joining the classic racecars in an effort to go as fast as humanely possible around one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world.
The unique lack of rules for this event allowed us to do something we don’t normally do; run racing slicks, whereas in GTA and GridLife we are limited by our class to run 100treadwear tires. With the option of running whatever we want, we looked to the great guys at Toyo Tires and they supplied us with some amazing new tires in their Toyo Proxes RR Racing Slick. We would be the first people to run their new 315 size RR, fresh off the boat and shipped too us just in time for us to wrap our new BC Forged RS43 wheels before the race. Having not run slicks on the #44 BC Racing Infiniti G35 since 2012, I was more than excited to feel the grip that I knew would be confidence inspiring and fast as hell. I wasn’t disappointed.
This was our first time racing at VIR and only our second visit ever getting more than just a few laps. We had first visited VIR in 2011, but a broken transmission in our first session allowed for only a few recon laps, and it had been an eternity since that day when we finally came back to test at VIR earlier this year. At that event though we had only been in the HPDE group and never got to run full race pace, but it had served its purpose in shaking down the car and giving me a refresher on the line as best I could.
After arriving Thursday afternoon, we got the car unloaded, setup and ready to race for the very few sessions we got on Friday, knowing each session would be crucial. Dark and early on Friday we woke up, and got to work. In the first session I went out and learned the track and stayed out as long as I could, getting a feel for the line, trying different things and quickly learning how much I loved the new Toyo Proxes RR slicks! The overall grip was amazing and confidence inspiring. The difference between feeling the slip angle in a 100 tread-wear street tire vs the RR racing slick was amazing. The car felt great and planted more than it ever has before, with the fast parts of the track feeling stable thanks to the aero and the perfectly running tune charging hard in the corners backed up by ungodly amounts of mechanical grip. To say I had a smile on my face after each session would have been an understatement, this track and these tires were no joke. And after a rough two events to start the season it was nice to have a genuinely fun day of going fast.
Each session I got faster and faster as I altered my line, adjusted the setup and learned the limits of the new slicks. By the time the 4th and final session arrived, I had gotten most of the track and setup figured out and knew this last session would be my fastest. By this point we had just barely broken our goal of a modest 2:05.00 for our first time racing VIR, and was hoping to get lower in the 2’s before the event subsided. (Given our pace, if we come back next year, and I learn a few more things about the track, a sub 2-minute lap time is surely possible.) After a fast first two hot laps in the mid 2:04’s, I decided to do something I normally don’t do in time attack and I took a third hot lap since I kept getting faster. After getting through turn 1-4 fast and flying through the esses, I made it to oak tree and had a bit of an overzealous moment and cooked the corner trying too hard to get more entry speed onto the back straight. Before messing up our predictive lap timer on the AIM was telling me were on pace to do a low 2:02xx but by the time I got the car sorted and to the end of the back straight the predictive had bumped up a bit and we crossed the finish line with our fastest time being the lap before at a 2:04.688.
The event was awesome and a great way to kick off the weekend of motorsports action and entertainment that is HyperFest at VIR. The Ultimate Track Car Challenge was a great experience and we learned a lot about the track, the car, the tires and had a great time doing it. Our fast lap was good enough to put us 18th overall out of 50 cars in the event, amongst some really impressive purpose built racecars. We know we have a lot of time still left on the track and look forward to coming back next year, and for many years to come in search of a sub 2 lap and to see how well we can fair in the final results. In the meantime check out our fast lap footage above and be sure to look out for us at our next race in a few weeks at Gingerman Raceway for the GridLife MidWest Festival in South Haven, Michigan!