The Trek 2 Texas has become an annual pilgrimage to Houston for the World Import Challenge drag race. In the first go-around, the caravan consisted of editorial staff from Turbo and Sport Compact Car as well as advertising hounds from all of Primedia's International Group. The Trek is a five-day automotive adventure that covers about 2,000 miles in five days; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a hotly contested drag race.
The inaugural Trek was a blast, but the payoff was ruined by hurricane Allison, an oddity of nature that drenched Houston, floated out to sea, picked up steam and looped around to hit Houston again. It was a disaster.
To add insult to injury, Allison moved up the East Coast and rained out an event in the New York/New Jersey area two weeks later.
Last year's Trek had nine cars in it; Turbo was represented by our Lexus IS300, a car in which I pulled a Joey Chitwood and became airborne in while in the Ft. Worth area.
This year I asked Alex Shen of SP Engineering to join the Trek-and bring our December 2001 cover car, SP's Supra 7, along for the odyssey. This year's adventure would include six magazines and 11 cars.
A lot of wicked stuff can happen in 2,000 miles of open road. Turbo, Import Tuner, SCC, Honda Tuning, Car Audio and Auto Sound & Security made up the mags and Team Bergenholtz tagged along too. Ron Bergenholtz joined us with the Team Bergenholtz CRX and the A'PEXi EK Civic in his hauler. Jensen Oda from A'PEXi also made the Trek. Falken Tires tagged along as well with its truck and trailer combo. We had quite an impressive fleet.
Fleetwood RV Route
Monday, March 4
I met the crew at SP Engineering at 7 a.m. Shen, Jason Reinholdt and Rex Kieu were ready. (The tuning sessions conducted on the Supra 7 before and after the Trek will be chronicled in a "Dyno Cell" article next month). The Supra 7 fires to life and the SP dually, which is serving as a support vehicle for shakedown passes the car will make in Houston, is primed to chase it across the Southwest.
The 7 has a wicked grumble at idle and a mean growl as it pulls away from a stoplight. We hit traffic en route to Irvine Mazda and since parking is at a premium, we wait for the Trek posse at a nearby Park and Ride lot.
Reinholdt is driving the 7 and I'm riding shotgun. Thank goodness the stock seats were installed. Lunch is scheduled for Blythe, Calif., right on the border. We arrive at Steaks & Cakes right on schedule. Many noted the meals got better with each day of the Trek. I'll say this: We started from as low as you can go.
The Supra 7 is beastly loud, even at cruise. Part of "The Experiment" is the 7's use of a Supra engine and tranny with a Mazda RX-7 rear end. Problem: The Supra runs a 3.23 final drive, while the RX-7 sports a 4.11. Result: Sixth gear, 75 mph equals 4,200 rpm.
That meant little rest for the engine and a mean drone for the eardrums. The car has no air conditioning, no fan and no radio. Outside, it wasn't too hot, but I found cool air vents in through the door handle area, cooling me off nicely. I enjoyed my discovery all the way to Phoenix.
We gathered for our first PR stop, Earnhardt Mazda in Chandler, Ariz., and entered in formation. Two hours later, we hit the road again to our evening layover in Flagstaff, Ariz. As we climbed to 7,000 feet, I cursed the door handle area for letting in frosty late night air. I lost the feeling in my upper legs and my right leg was numb to the ankle.
The engine loved every minute-staying cool as the Supra 7 scales each peak like a champ. Arriving in Flagstaff, I hurriedly checked in and once in my room, I stuffed the hair dryer down my pants. My ears ring for two hours before I finally fall asleep.
Direct Hits Route
Tuesday, March 5
Target-Gallup, N.M. for lunch. We arrived at the Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch and the Supra 7, though covered with bugs and road grime, was running like a top. After the meal, we hung out in the parking lot with four or five locals who have gathered around the 7.
Amazingly, they knew the car as the Supra 7-in Gallup! After signing T-shirts and Turbo calendars, we're off to Albuquerque.
We stopped at the Hinkle Family Fun Center where Direct Hits reserved the go-kart track for us. After a quick detail of the cars and an impromptu car show with some of the local imports, it's off to the races. It becomes readily apparent the number 17 cart has a big power advantage and the number 10 is the runt of the litter. Alex dominates in his heat taking a first place. I get the 10 kart. 'Nuff said.