I wish it didn’t have to end. The Time Attack season comes to a close, as the Global Time Attack Super Lap Battle finishes off the year with a very memorable one. Days before this 2 day event at the ever popular Buttonwillow Raceway in the middle of nowhere. I had some personal matters that took me off path, a break-up, and more financial issues that brought me down bad, I almost didn’t have the heart to go, I ended up selling more of my camera equipment and car parts that I could buy again in the future. But I know I needed to be there, I had to move on and get taken back to what I love about this sport so much. So I grabbed my only camera left, an old trusted 5D MK2, with 2 lenses and headed out.
Day one was already great from the start, it was the best weather to date for the Super Lap Battle event, for as long as I’ve been attending. The clear skies made the mountains in the back of the track more apparent which I haven’t seen since 2013, and what you’ll notice in some of the photos in the gallery especially around the Phil Hill section of the track how much backdrop there is at Buttonwillow. Moving around the pits and garage spots, I already noticed some race cars I haven’t seen yet, and ones that I have with much more additional mods and serious equipment. Like Moti from Blackbird Fabworx who stopped me in my tracks and said to check out “Creampuff” his miata that has gone under some facial changes by lowering the front nose several inches. Made my way around, and ran into Clint of “Clint Boisdeau Racing” running a Porsche GT3 for the event, a platform he’s already too familiar with since he drives and instructs for Porsche North America. Then someone I normally see behind a lens, who I haven’t seen in a while, Aaron Hiar who I last saw at GTA Road Atlanta 2014, he brought out his latest rendition Miata to play and shoot for that Sub 2 goal. The more I looked around, the more I saw, and my expectations from certain cars like the Spoon Sports Honda Civic piloted by Dai Yoshihara got me wondering if it was his day, even though it was in Limited FWD that car just brings a lot of attention. Or would it be Mr’ James Type-R (Houghton) himself, or the other Canadian William Au-Yeung, who just returned from WTAC, but not with his trophy winning Civic, but with his Acura RSX that again hasn’t been seen on this side of the soil since SLB 2014! But wait, it didn’t end there, I mean other than the slew of GTR’s chasing Roy Narvaez in the Limited class, there was the battle in AWD between Professional Awesome’s EVO and Jager Racing’s STI that seemed to be the talk of days before. Then there was the other cars, a Mini from the Bocchicchio Camp that was Carboned out and looked like something out of a Pikes Peak Paddock, the cool gray Honda S2000 out of Design Craft Fabrication showed up to play, and how could I forget the VW Golf GTI from Remark x Greddy Performance being piloted by an ex-Formula 1 Driver Scott Speed. There was just so much more cars, drivers, teams and everything you heard about, it was there. This year’s GTA Super Lap Battle was looking to be epic. Shit the night before Team Sally and Record Breaker Markos landed in late and the Snail Performance Family, had to swap out a Clutch in his car, just in time hours before the first session of the day.
Well to put this story in a short format and not bore you with what you already know and heard of, the first day caught a lot of drivers and their cars off guard. First in the top tier level, legendary driver Jeff Westphal piloted the Professional Awesome EVO for some laps and met fate early with a blown engine. In secondary fashion Mark Jager in his STI followed suit too, blowing his engine. Then it was James Houghton’s turn in his Acura Type R that after breaking the standing Unlimited FWD Record with a fast 01:42.288 ended up blowing his motor also. His Canadian teammate/friend Chris Boersma I heard either blew his clutch or had some issues, even Moti and his Miata some how lost boost, and had to convert his car back to NA. But no one wanted to quit, matter of fact Jager and the Yimisport Tuning crew left early in the day to drive back to the shop in Santa Clarita to pop in another motor and get ready to battle for Day 2. Moti and his team headed out themselves also back to their shop to get some parts. But the best story was the fact that even after breaking the record already, James Houghton and his crew were dismantling and rebuilding his motor. Why you ask? Because this is Super Lap Battle! Only once a year and this is the Super Bowl of Time Attack in North America. It was crazy because the parts he needed was in Cerritos or somewhere far enough that he had to get an Uber Driver to pick up the parts and drive all the way to Buttonwillow and deliver them. Through the night I was pacing back and forth from the Snail Garage to the other garage’s, and see Moti’s progress, the Pro Awesome’s rebuild, and the K-Tuned Acura Integra being worked on. After some fun and chow at the one and only Willow Ranch Restaurant I called it a night.
Day 2 was big, none of the Unlimited AWD’s from Jager or Westphal was ready or done. But Andy Smedegard in the same class from 365 Racing hailing all the way from Wisconsin was out, and locked in some fast times already. He ended up winning 1st in class and getting the fastest overall with an astonishing 01:40.051! In Unlimited RWD Emilio Cervantes and Dan Howard got their Super Miata in 1st with a 01:44.984. In Pro-Comp even with only 2 cars, a beautiful Porsche GT3 Cup Car of Savvy/SP Motorsports being driven by Elliott Skeer got a 01:41.853. Of course James and his Integra who already pinned the record still went out after his rebuild and was sparking up some pavement with them titanium blocks on the bottom of his car. Trailing not to far in the same class was William in the Vibrant/PZtuning RSX who miraculously got close enough with a 01:43.923 and also stated based on pace was almost there to beat his even faster Honda Civic. But unfortunately for him, he had a little fire in the engine bay and called it quits. The other Canadian Chris Boersma took Limited FWD and broke the record also with a 01:48.424 in his class. Of course Record Breaking Markos Mylonas took his #555 Subaru Impreza WRX to a record setting 01:49.353 in Street AWD, followed by Johnny Hernandez in his Subaru STI. Some notable mentions was Cooper Pierce who was one of the several that drove miles away to do #gtaslb2017 got 1st in Street FWD with his Guess Work Civic and landed a 1:56.300, I know he’s been trying to lower that time, but maybe next year Cooper. There was so many cars and not enough time, but that’s Time Attack right, you go there to set records or break them. For the remaining and all the official results and times please go to globaltimeattack.com.
After the champagne and fun laughs at the podium, it came to a close and I didn’t want it to end. It was kinda like something that you just never want to stop, and that’s coming from someone who hasn’t been behind the wheel of race car since 2010! Lol. But the Global Time Attack Super Lap Battle wouldn’t be great as it always was if it lasted to long or forever. In the end we leave the year with another set of memories, and most if not all of us went straight back to the drawing board. Preparing in our minds already for 2018 and continue to make Time Attack even better. All I want to say is that all of you guys should add titanium scrape blocks under your cars for a nice show for next year. 😉 -Rommel Estrada #takemeback #gtaslb2017