The 2001 SEMA International Auto Salon (IAS) had a new venue, a new slant and a new feel. The new venue, the Long Beach Convention Center, was an overwhelming hit, giving the Salon a more professional look. The new slant was the association with NOPI and a full-tilt car show in the Pine Avenue parking lot.
The NOPI event was not as big as expected, but poor weather played a role in the showing. There is also a growth curve at work; NOPI is not as well known on the West Coast as it is in the East. We hope to see a bigger and better show in 2002.
The new feel materialized in the form of justification and legitimacy. Ford and GM were on hand with booths and a grip of concept cars to further illustrate domestic involvement in the scene and Honda's RASR program had a big presence.
The Salon has always been a haven for us to find new material for Turbo. One of the more notable items spied at IAS was the Hondata system. Although some of the tuning maps are a little limited, the system blew us away. The Hondata system allows enthusiasts an entirely new avenue of tuning, all by way of the stock ECU and stock wiring harness.
Something like the Power FC by APEXi, but for older model cars (Power FC is only available for the newer Civic Si and GS-R), the Hondata system works with all OBD-I systems, which is about 70 percent of the market. As much as the Power FC revolutionized plug-in stand-alone systems, the Hondata system gives the average enthusiast the capability of data-logging software, along with fuel and ignition map tuning at an affordable price. Look for a full tech feature in an upcoming issue.
Also of interest was the amount of roller rocker assemblies available for Honda VTEC engines. Hy-Tech exhaust and Crane Cams both had systems on display. FAL had Eclipse GS-T/GSX fan kits and announced the addition of a rear hatch to its Civic Flexite lightweight window kits. Innovative Turbo Systems unveiled its dual ball bearing turbos at the show.
The bearings have such low friction that a stiff breeze could spool them. In fact, we spun the wheel on a cutaway and when it finally came to a halt, the factory-balanced wheel backtracked to the heaviest point. Toyo Tires showed a 23-inch tire, Eshleman's Carbon Works debuted a carbon-fiber valve cover to join the intake manifold introduced at the 2000 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and Motegi Racing unveiled its Ro-Ja wheel line. A five-spoke gets the ball rolling and it will be followed by a seven-spoke offering and numerous other designs in coming months.
On the racecar side, there was plenty of action. Stephan Papadakis has a new sticker scheme for his hatchback, Abel Ibarra has landed Toyo Tires as a sponsor, Jojo Callos has a new look and JG/Edelbrock backing, Chris Rado's Celica engine internals were under glass in the TRD booth, Jeremy Lookofsky has a 2001 tube-frame Civic in the early stages of development, and last but not least, the Ferrea Valves/Duttweiler Ford Focus looks ready to attack the track. The yellow Focus is a wild twin-turbo V6-powered, rear-drive proposition that has been rumored to have made shakedown runs at Palmdale. We hear the Ford made a pass to half track, shut off and coasted through the lights with a 9.0-second e.t. What will a full pass produce? We can hardly wait to see. Out at the NOPI show, we saw a 3g V6 Eclipse from Doug's Dyno Power with a turbo kit on it.