System by System
Everything learned from the red #35 5-door was applied to building the new WRX STI Sedan, with emphasis on increasing reliability and reducing weight. Many of the components and systems carried over, while others were modified.
Andrew Aquilante recalled, “The first thoughts about what we could do differently was probably when we placed the order. So August was when we started talking about, ‘OK, we want to do this differently. We have to build that differently.’
“The car arrived at the shop in September when we were at Miller [Motorsports Park – for the last GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge event of 2010]. We raced Miller, flew back Sunday, got home, and started tearing it apart. So that’s when I pretty much started.
“Since I wasn’t involved in any of the previous builds, I needed to take things apart and see where things went – label what wires we could cut out, and that sort of thing. I did most of the delicate disassembly, where stuff would be going back in, but in modified form in the sense of, ‘We’ve got to save these wires because they’re for the cluster, but we can get rid of these because they’re for the radio.’ I familiarized myself with what control boxes are where and that sort of thing.
“Since we were taking the car to the SEMA [Specialty Equipment Market Association] Show, we had to get it done pretty quick. That was September 14, and it was on the truck October 20-something.
“It had to be disassembled, caged, painted, and rebuilt in five weeks.”
Disassembly included stripping the car to its unit body. Seats, carpeting, headliner, door panels, engine, transmission, suspension – everything was removed, including sealant and insulation.
Roll cage fabrication as well as engine building are done on the Phoenix Performance premises, in space rented out by Phoenix. That saves time in the preparation and building/rebuilding processes. Phoenix also houses a full body shop, 4-wheel dynamometer, and alignment stations.
Andrew Aquilante continued, “The outside of the car was black. We painted the inside and the underneath red. That’s just how we prepare our cars – they’re black on the outside, and they always have a red interior because it stands out. It makes the car pop. It’s different.”
The black exterior was made even more distinct by a full body wrap that includes pinstripes along with yellow accents.
Although he didn’t do the fabricating or the painting, Andrew Aquilante did most of the assembly, modification of the wiring harnesses, reassembly of the dash, fabricating of the fill-in plates, and the auxiliary wiring for the extra fuel pumps, transmission coolers, and fans. He helped prepare seat mounts and reassembled other stock parts.
The completed race car met the 3,050-pound minimum limit set by GRAND-AM.
Concerning major changes between last year’s red #35 and the new sedan, Andrew Aquilante commented, “Some of the major changes were attention to detail in the build and small changes that may or may not have too much of an effect. For instance, the car ended up probably 50 pounds lighter from being more attentive to wiring and other stuff going into it that didn’t need to. We had a different fuel cell arrangement inside the tank to make sure we get every last drop out of it, different fuel pumps, different ways of wiring and cleaning up the stock wiring, and usingdifferent seatbelts. We were just trying to look at it and saying, ‘Where can we save weight?’
“We’ll be at minimum weight, even though the Subaru with stock body panels is challenging to get under 3,000 pounds.”
At SEMA in Las Vegas the first week of November, #35 was approximately 90 percent finished. (Read more about the car at the show in the Editor’s Track Journal entry for November 5, 2010.