Pikes Peak International Raceway Time Attack 2017 Season Recap
My first racing season with PPIR started a bit rocky to say the least. I am a rookie driver, at best, and out the gate I was handicapped by that “Flying H” logo in my grille. Veloster Turbo are not race cars. Or at least that is what my initial mindset started out as. Here we have a Korean built 1.6 liter 4 cylinder forced induction motor capable of very little power without a lot of work. Fully bolted and tuned we barely make 100 wheel horsepower over stock numbers, and that is if you were one of the ones who waited and bought a 2016 or newer model.
As the season began I was grouped into front wheel drive “B” class, which meant my power to weight ration was 13 and up. I was about middle of the pack in standings for the first two rounds, literally nothing to write home about. Between round 3 and 4 I was able to get a canned tune which gave me enough power to jump to “A” class and I started competing against cars and drivers much more capable than me. Class leader Jaryd Thompson was laying down times faster than most GT Class cars. I was out of my league, but I kept pushing. Late in Round 5 I had snapped my lower motor mount, causing my down pipe to crack on a bad weld from the fabricator and I called it a day early, which placed me 7th in class.
845 Motorsports sent me a new down pipe and a dump exhaust and I had swapped over to the Hankook RS4 at this point, so I was ready for the final 3 rounds, but only moving up one position in standings as I was still driving as poorly as I had started. I was lucky enough that some of my competitors had missed a few races so I was still climbing the standings with my poor performance.
Before Round 7 an opportunity had presented itself for me to obtain a Cusco limited slip differential from Pierce Motorsports, a 6 puck clutch, lightweight flywheel, and stiffer springs on all four corners. Install took a couple weeks but I was ready with time to spare and break the diff and clutch in. Sadly Round 7 was ruined for me by bad weather and cold temperatures. The tires took a long time to warm up and my inexperience driving a car with a race “clutch type” differential caused me to hit second to last place for the day with many off track and spin out scenarios. Yet my points standings allowed me to bump to number 4 in class.
Round 8 was by far the best driving experience I have ever had. As I was staging, SCCA Champ Hsun Chen was walking down the staging lineup and as he passed asked if I wanted him to ride along with me. As we pulled up to the start line he explained the course to me, offering some tips on the best line and approach to some of the corners. We launched with some wheel hop and ran the course with Hsun yelling “Full throttle!” I captured my best time and position of the entire series beating another driver for 4th place by a hundredth of a second! I ended up 4th in class for the season. I couldn’t be happier with my result.
With some light modification, and some more driving experience I believe the VT can be a serious competitor in amateur motor sport. I believe it has the same potential as the late CRX and EG hatch, it has just been waiting for a few drivers to give it the opportunity to shine. Next season I plan on competing in SCCA SMF class and continue to chase the podium at PPIR’s Time Attack series.