It takes a little more than an hour to get from one side of Oahu to the other. With such a small surface area in the middle of the big blue Pacific, one would think it's impossible for the import scene to make a splash in the 50th state. On September 2, 2000 the IDRC gave the small island of Oahu a taste of mainland drag racing and the islanders were up to the challenge. Track officials tabulated that 2,000-plus spectators and 80-plus racers came through the gates. This was actually very impressive. One thing we found strange was the fact that the race didn't start until 2:00 PM and ended at 10:00 PM. It later made sense because the smart locals wait for the sun and humidity to go away before taking on the quarter-mile.
A few of the cars that shipped out to the Aloha State included the first two Nissan Skyline GTRs to ever go heads up against each other, Vspec's S15 Silvia, Donnell Branch's CRX and the 9-second Venom Civic coupe.
Considering that the Skylines are both daily drivers the e.t.s were quite impressive for the Toyo Tires Street VIII class competitors. The R-34 Skyline was an APEXi-sponsored vehicle, utilizing an arsenal of over the-counter APEXi parts. Running Nitto NT555R's, the white GTR collected numerous low 12-second timeslips which gave Owner Toshi "Big Baller" Hayama bragging rights.
The Import Tuner magazine-sponsored R-33 Skyline was down a few ponies compared with the R-34 model but was still able to run mid-13s throughout the day and eventually make it as far as the semifinals. One interesting fact was the car was able to roam the island freely once the racing was over.
The V-spec SR20-powered 240SX had its share of problems starting in California. On the way to the transport, an intercooler pipe blew completely off and was run over by the vehicle's 18-inch Enkeis. The Nissan would spend the week in Hawaii at Hypersports Racing, where a new intercooler pipe was fabricated. The Silvia competed in a car show the weekend prior to the Nats.
Donnell Branch made the trek out from Golden, Colorado. He informed us that either a clutch or transmission problem kept the car from shifting smoothly from first to second. The W.A.R CRX qualified third and did an admirable job, making it to the quarter finals but fell victim to Kazu Yamaguchi's 10-second Civic.
The Venom-sponsored Civic arrived in the islands just in time for the IDRC event. The Civic was on a mission to give Hawaii Raceway Park spectators a 9-second pass but after a violent Jimmy O'Connor burnout the Civic snapped an axle. After a quick swap, the Honda ran a 10.20 at 150 mph on its first test pass. Unfortunately, problems arose which made it impossible for Venom to give the crowd what they wanted. The good news is the 10.20 pass was the quickest and fastest run ever at Hawaii Raceway in a front-drive Honda.
In the Quick Class hometown heroes at the event included Lanny "Kid Sensation" Higa, Paul Umholtz, Kazu Yamaguchi and Wade Segawa. The two Hypersports cars owned by Lanny Higa and Paul Umholtz pulled last minute efforts to run at the event. By Friday Lanny's engine would drop a cylinder on the dyno and Paul's car experienced blow by in the radiator. Just as the fat lady was about to blow her horn Lanny pulled a frenzied, late-hour wrenching session-assembling a second motor which was ready by Sunday and Paul fixed his problem by Friday. It should be mentioned that neither Honda had a motor in it the Monday before the event.
The Aloha Nationals was a success on many fronts. According to track officials the event ran very smooth and the attendance was outstanding. Furthermore the action was feverish. The draw of the tropical atmosphere may entice more racers to island jump next year. Already Turbo's entire staff is lining up to cover the Aloha Nats 2001.
The Turbo Magazine TouchOne thing you might not be aware of is the fact that every Turbo staffer has, or used to have, some behind-the-wheel experience in import drag racing. Ask any of us to give up the camera and keyboard for a chance to pilot a race-car and there would a scramble for the keys. Whether the car is a 15-second bracket racer or a full race-spec 9-second screamer, rest assured someone would answer the call.
At this event, I noticed one of the cars shipped out from California was on display and not racing at the Nats. The car was a 240SX with a V-spec S-15 conversion motivated by a fairly stock SR20DET. Why? I asked IDRC director Wayne Kiang what the deal was. "The intercooler pipe blows off at 9 psi and the engine is tuned to 22 psi. Phi Phung (Dynamic Autosports technician) spent the week prior to the event trying to resolve the problem but decided to give up." After hearing that, I wanted a crack at the problem for a chance to drive and compete the vehicle in the Toyo Tires Street VIII. Wayne paid the $45 racer fee, giving me the green light to run the car if I could revive it. I set up camp in Nitto's tent.
Right off, I noticed the intercooler pipe had a very harsh bend right into the throttle body and the silicone connector was double clamped at both ends to keep it from coming off. I figured the only way to fix the problem would be to wire the intercooler pipe to a secure part of the engine to keep it from coming off. The closest thing I could find to resemble safety wire was a coat hanger from the IDRC booth; I wrapped it around the blow-off valve flange and a steel coolant hose. I was able to twist it like a trash bag tie until the hanger was tight enough to keep the pipe from falling off.
My next mission was to find a helmet and some race gas. Kazu Yamaguchi let me borrow his helmet and I was able to scrounge up enough C-16 by borrowing about a quart from each racer to make a little over a gallon. By the way, thanks to Lanny Higa, Donnell Branch, Kazu Yamaguchi and Toshi Hayama for lending enough fuel to make the competition. My job. How could I shoot the race while driving? The best thing I could do would be to switch off driving the car with another person; that happened to be Sean Holloway from APEXi. Both of us took our shot at driving the turbo 240SX.
Much to my amazement, the trick worked and the engine held 22 psi; however, there was now an over-boost problem. Thankfully, the over-boost protection mode on the car's HKS boost controller was set at 23 psi. The over-boost mode reverts boost back to stock when activated. While over-boosting in every gear, the car ran a 14.9 so I knew it was capable of running faster if I could fix the boost problem. I played with the boost controller and made it to the first qualifying round, running a quicker 14.5 but the 240 was still hitting over-boost protection.
That's when I found out the controller was programmed wrong-and reprogramming it would take too much time. I wouldn't make the last two qualifying rounds for the Street Class. I decided to bypass the controller and figure out another way to boost the car. Donnell Branch from the W.A.R CRX was nice enough to lend me a vacuum tee I used to bleed off wastegate pressure. Cautious of bleeding off too much pressure and over-boosting, I decided to restrict the tee with a vacuum line air filter from the HKS controller. The second round with the vacuum tee and filter locked in a 14.1 e.t at a steady 11 psi. I needed to figure out how to squeeze a few more psi out of the car so I decided to take the vacuum line filter off the tee which would bleed off much more pressure. The scary part was not knowing what the car would boost. On the last round of qualifying, the 240 boosted exactly 22 psi and took the number three spot in the Street VIII with a 13.1-second e.t. All I had to do was pull up to the line for the quarterfinals to win $100. The 240 ran a 13.2, taking the win light to enter the semifinals.
A quick check of the coat hanger revealed it was working, but was also getting stretched out because there was a lot of play in the hanger. I loosened the clamps, pushed the pipe back in and gave the hanger a few more twists. Problem solved.
The next run would be against a Skyline that was running consistent low 12s; all we had to do on this run was pull up to the line and we would come home with $250 and a big-ass trophy for bragging rights. Of course, we lost to the Skyline but the 240 was still able to make a complete pass, turning 13.4 in the quarter.
With the help of some from the racers, I was able to re-live an experience I thought I never would again. To be behind the wheel of an import and competing in a heads-up event made me realize how much fun it is to be one of the racers-and even a pit crew member. Not only was it a blast for my adrenaline glands but this experience reminded me what we are all fighting for-pushing the limits and having fun. I love the smell of race gas in the morning!
|High-Tech IV |
|1 ||Ernest Lum ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Aiea, HA || |
|2 ||Michael Hinkle ||email@example.com ||Pearl City, HA || |
|3 ||Leonard Barboza ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Mililani, HA || |
|4 ||Vivian Barboza ||email@example.com ||Mililani, HA || |
|1 ||Ernest Lum ||firstname.lastname@example.org || 1.064 r/t || |
|3 ||Vivian Barboza ||email@example.com ||.699 r/t ||$100 |
|2 ||Michael Hinkel ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||1.027 r/t || |
|4 ||Leonard Barboza ||email@example.com ||1.066 r/t ||$100 |
|1 ||Ernest Lum ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||1.307 r/t ||$500 |
|2 ||Michael Hinkel ||email@example.com ||.661 r/t ||$250 |
|Nitto Tires/Turbo Magazine Quick VIII |
|1 ||Paul Umholtz ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Wahiawa, HA || |
|2 ||Wade Segawa ||email@example.com ||Honolulu, HA || |
|3 ||Donnell Branch ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Golden, CO || |
|4 ||Lanny Higa ||email@example.com ||Mililani, HA || |
|5 ||Lance ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Honolulu, HA || |
|6 ||Kazu Yamaguchi ||email@example.com ||Honolulu, HA || |
|Quarter Finals |
|1 ||Paul Umholtz ||-Bye Run- || || |
|4 ||Lanny Higa ||-Broken- || || |
|2 ||Wade Segawa ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.793 r/t || |
|5 ||Lance ||email@example.com ||.648 r/t ||$75 |
|3 ||Donnell Branch ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.528 r/t ||$75 |
|6 ||Kazu Yamaguchi ||email@example.com ||.915 r/t || |
|1 ||Paul Umholtz ||-Bye Run- |
|2 ||Wade Segawa ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.790 r/t || |
|6 ||Kazu Yamaguchi ||email@example.com ||.721 r/t ||$250 |
|1 ||Paul Umholtz ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.875 r/t ||$750 |
|2 ||Wade Segawa ||email@example.com ||.694 r/t ||$375 |
|Toyo Tires Street XIII |
|1 ||Toshi Hayama ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Irvine, Ca || |
|2 ||Brandon Nasu ||email@example.com ||Honolulu, HA || |
|3 ||Gary Castillo ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||San Diego, CA || |
|4 ||Michael Ferrara ||email@example.com ||Huntington Beach, CA || |
|5 ||Michael Ji ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Honolulu, HA || |
|6 ||Car #03 ||email@example.com || || |
|7 ||Kimo Han ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||Honolulu, HA || |
|8 ||Cedric Smith ||email@example.com ||Honolulu, HA || |
|Quarter Finals |
|1 ||Toshi Hayama ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.886 r/t || |
|5 ||Michael Ji ||email@example.com ||1.463 r/t ||$100 |
|3 ||Gary Castillo ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||1.196 r/t || |
|7 ||Kimo Han ||email@example.com ||.725 r/t ||$100 |
|2 ||Brandon Nasu ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.763 r/t || |
|6 ||Car #03 ||email@example.com ||.712 r/t ||$100 |
|4 ||Michael Ferrara ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.724 r/t || |
|8 ||Cedric Smith ||email@example.com ||.694 r/t ||$100 |
|1 ||Toshi Hayama ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.926 r/t || |
|3 ||Gary Castillo ||email@example.com ||1.174 r/t ||$250 |
|2 ||Brandon Nasu ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||.800 r/t || |
|4 ||Michael Ferrara ||email@example.com ||.919 r/t ||$250 |
|1 ||Toshi Hayama ||firstname.lastname@example.org ||1.062 r/t ||$1000 |
|2 ||Brandon Nasu ||email@example.com ||.597 r/t ||$500 |
|IDRC $21,000 Bracket Packet Series 2000 |
|Super comp (7.49-to-12.99) |
|Winner ||Frank DeSantos ||Honolulu, Hawaii ||11.71 dial ||$500 |
|R/U ||Kary Book III ||Honolulu, Hawaii ||12.71 dial ||$200 |
|Super Mod (13.00-to-14.99) |
|Winner ||Michael Wong ||Aiea, Hawaii ||14.85 dial ||$500 |
|R/U ||Jeffrey Ching ||Pearl City, Hawaii ||14.40 dial ||$200 |
|Super Stock (15.00-and-slower) |
|Winner ||Shea Barboza ||Mililani, Hawaii ||17.97 dial ||$500 |
|R/U ||Emerito Guillermo ||Ewa Beach, Hawaii ||17.90 dial ||$200 |
This old-school 510 ran numerous mid-10s. The Datsun relied on a fuel injected turbocharged 3TC powerplant.
The Venom Civic made it all the way from the mainland but was only able to complete one run, a 10.20 at a blistering 150 mph. This was the quickest and fastest car at the event.
Kazu Yamaguchi qualified in the number 8 spot by turning in a less than par 13.49 e.t. He was able to click off a 10.73 at 142 in the quarter finals.
Even if Lanny rubbed Buddha's belly for good luck, that still wouldn't have fixed the dropped cylinder in the Hypersports Civic.
This Sonic VW has one trick set-up. The crew spent the day fixing a driveline problem to make one exhibition run.
This Speedline Civic was painted and reassembled the week before the IDRC event. It was all worth it because the driver, Lance, made it as far as the quarter finals.
The first ever Skyline match up in Hawaii kept the crowd in awe.
Quite a change for Donnell Branch and the W.A.R CRX team. Going from their normal Mile-High Colorado track to a sea-level atmosphere must have had an effect on crew and car alike.
That's Mr. Kid Sensation Lanny Higa piloting the infamous Alphanumeric/Hypersports-sponsored Civic. We were told that the car will now stay in California for the IDRC season finals and all of the 2001 season.
This coat hanger rig made me $250 richer!