One Perfect Lap

7/7/2016

A Quest for Excellence Drives the Time Attack Addiction

Taylor Wilson, Motorsports Manager for Snail Performance
Taylor Wilson, Motorsports Manager for Snail Performance

“One lap and I promise you will be hooked!”

This is what I say to friends and customers alike about time attack. Not everyone makes the choice to attack the track, but those that do are always eager for more.

Time attack, as the name suggests, is an adrenaline-charged race against the clock where drivers test the limits of their concentration, nerve, and ability. All drivers tackle one circuit of the track alone, each attempting to set the fastest possible lap time. While the sport is relatively new to the United States, over the past 15 years it has steadily grown in popularity. And with good reason: even when compared against other motorsports, time attack is flat-out addictive.

Total Conversion

Eight years ago, local Arizona tuner and founder of Snail Performance, Travis Barnes, made the same promise to me. He encouraged me to hit the track with him to experience a side of the car world that was vastly different from the usual car show scene I was accustomed to. I took his advice and signed up with National Auto Sport Association’s (NASA) Arizona region for High Performance Driving Events (HPDE). After my first session, I was an instant convert. I traded in my 2004 WRX for the then-latest 2009 WRX, and eagerly began my road course career.

In 2011, I entered my first time attack event at Infineon Raceway (currently Sonoma Raceway). Upon arrival at the track, I was overwhelmed. Surrounded by top-level vehicles, such as the LIC Motorsports WRX STI and the GST Motorsports Impreza L, I was suddenly rubbing shoulders with the best. Not only were these vehicles backed by years of research and development, I was also facing a track that I had only experienced through playing video games. As I walked the pits for the first time, however, l received support and encouragement from other racers and teams that quickly restored my calm so I could consider the challenge before me. Infineon Raceway combined elevation changes, tight turns, and high-speed runs unlike any Arizona track I had ever experienced. Was I ready?

Global Time Attack race at Willow Springs International Raceway.

Ready or Not

When I first started participating in track days, laps were not timed. Consequently, I wasn’t exactly sure how fast my times were, but I was enjoying myself. Maybe feeling a little cocky, I’d look at other drivers’ times and think, “I can beat that.” My first timed lap was a bit of a wake-up call – turns out I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was.

As with any skill, mastery is only achieved after years of practice. You’ve got to put the time in if you want to truly learn car control and improve your lap times.

Having participated in both wheel-to-wheel and time attack racing, it is hard to say that one is more fun or competitive than the other. For me, however, nothing compares to the motivating rush of going out for a time attack fast lap and knowing that one mistake could cost you a precious tenth of a second – and a podium finish.

Get Involved

If you are interested in developing and testing your own driving skills in time attack, research local racing organizations, check out an event, and get that all-important seat time. At any raceway, you will find a friendly community of competitors, all pushing the limits of their vehicles in search of that perfect lap.

Time Attack Divisions

Time attack is set up with four racing classes that range from street cars to all-out setups.

  • Enthusiast class: Set up with strict rules to encourage drivers to run cars with little to no modification.
  • Street class: Designed to showcase modified vehicles competing on street tires but does not require that all modifications must be street legal.
  • Limited class: Allows more aggressive aero, performance, and tire modifications while still enforcing specific limits on those changes.
  • Unlimited class: Vehicles are required to pass a mandatory safety inspection and tracks are designed for all-out race-prepared vehicles.

Examples Of Global Time Attack Class Modifications

Class Vehicle Aero/Exterior Engine/Drivetrain/Fuel Suspension/Brakes/Tires/Wheels Interior/Roll Cage/Safety
Street Class 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX Carbon-Fiber Hood Canards − 5" Front Splitter − Aftermarket Wing not exceeding the OEM Roofline − OEM Glass E85 Fuel − Active Catalytic Converter − STI Transmission Swap Hankook RS3 Tires with 255 Max Width (AWD) and 200 UTQG Limit − Fortune Auto 510 Series Coilovers Driver Rear Interior Removed − Sparco Race Seat / 5-Point Race Harness − Valid Vehicle Registration / Insurance Paperwork
Limited Class 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Carbon-Fiber Hood / Fenders − Unlimited Splitter Extending to Front Axles − Unlimited Rear Wing − Front Door Glass Removed − Overfenders E98 Fuel − Driver Rear Exiting Exhaust − STI Drivetrain Swap Nitto NT01 Tires with No Tire Size Limit and 100 UTQG Limit − Fortune Auto Dreadnought 2-Way Adjustable Coilovers − Forge Motorsport Brake System Interior Removed Less the OEM Dashboard Skin − Bolt-In 6-Point Roll Cage − Sparco Halo Race Seat / 6-Point Harness
Unlimited Class 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX Carbon-Fiber Hood − Unlimited Splitter / Flat Bottom − Unlimited Rear Wing − Lexan® Windows − Overfenders − Modified Floor Pan E98 Fuel − Straight Through Exhaust − STI Drivetrain Swap Hankook Z214 C91 Tires with No Tire Size Limit / UTQG Limit − AST Mann Engineering Coilovers − Forge Motorsport Brake Kit 6-Point Roll Cage with Side Impact Door Bars − Sparco Race Seat / Hans 6-Point Harness − Fire Suppression System
Unlimited Class 1996 Subaru Impreza L Modified Fiberglass / Carbon-Fiber Exterior Skin − Chassis Mounted Splitter / Flat Bottom / Rear Diffuser − Unlimited Rear Wing − Lexan® Windows − Chopped Roof Ethanol Race Fuel − Side Exit Exhaust − STI Drivetrain Swap − Geometry Corrected Suspension Hankook Z214 C91 Tires with No Tire Size Limit / UTQG Limit − JRZ 3-Way Adjustable Coilovers − Ksport Brake Kit 6-Point Roll Cage with Side Impact Door Bars − Sparco Race Seat / Hans 6-Point Harness − Fire Suppression System − Driver Relocated 11" Back − Dry Sump Oiling System − Rear Mounted Radiator / Power Steering
 
Subaru WRX STI racing time attack.