Wednesday, March 6
Destination-Amarillo, Texas. The Supra 7, fitted with a silencer in the exhaust system, was as quiet as a normal 862-hp Supra. I took the controls of the Supra 7 and got the triple-disc clutch to engage properly on the fourth try. About 15 minutes later, the car's lack of front or rear anti-roll bars and its tendency to wander got the better of me and I handed the wheel to Jason-after a righteous full throttle (straight-line) blast, of course. The GT3037S turbos sounded like a squadron of jet fighters during a full afterburner takeoff. Absolutely surreal.
On this leg of the Trek, we got to stop at the famed Cadillac Ranch where a bunch of classic Cadillacs have been buried in the ground with their fins sticking in the air. This place is a slice of automotive Americana. They stand in all their glory about an eighth mile from the frontage road in plain sight of the highway. Our timing was ideal; the sun was setting and the light was great.
Dinner was cool too. Ever hear of the 72-ounce steak you can have for free if you can eat it in an hour? There are signs from Arizona to Alabama touting the place-The Big Texan in Amarillo. That's where we dined Wednesday evening. You have to eat the entire meal, not just the 4.5 lbs of beef. Talk about artery cloggers. It is an intimidating place to eat; the dining room walls are decorated withhides and stuffed animal heads. Made me feel guilty. A 30-ounce boot o' beer helped calm the nerves. For kicks, we watched a rattlesnake eat a mouse in the gift shop.
Nitrous Express Route
Thursday, March 7
This was a busy day with stops at Nitrous Express in Wichita Falls and a Mazda dealership in Irving. Like a well-oiled machine, the Trek caravan pulled into Nitrous Express in unison-and on time. The Texas barbeque Nitrous Express put on was awesome and we had some good-looking cars lined up outside for dessert. We made good time to the dealership-lucky for us because the SP truck and the Supra 7 had the wrong maps and we pulled up to a dealership in Ft. Worth.
We arrived at Freeman Mazda at the right time but with 90 additional miles on the clock. At a gas stop, we took off the silencer to make a proper entrance. Again, the 7 drew a crowd big time. This was by far the best dealership stop; the place was jumping. There was a cool Protff,ff,,gff,ff,, 5 that had been turbocharged by Rotary Performance. We gave away a bunch of prizes and got some righteous radio coverage.
Friday, March 8
My anxiety level concerning the Supra 7 had been elevated since Monday. The car had no plate. It was properly registered and insured, but Alex had not driven the Mazda in eight years, so when he got the proper stickers he couldn't find the plate to put them on. We had run the gauntlet successfully so far and we only had one leg left. I got a big scare when a state trooper passed by the convoy. I was flush in the face. Luckily, he exited and drove off into the wilderness; perhaps there was a Krispy Kreme in the sticks.
One problem. Our map directions were for Baytown, the city, not the track. When all else fails, ask the locals. A guy named Henry got us there in 10 minutes. As we approached the Houston Raceway Park gates, a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. The 862-hp Supra 7 proved once and for all that stratospheric power and 2,100-mile reliability can go hand-in-hand. Major props to SP Engineering for proving it in front of the editors of three of the four major import titles.
We parked the car and trailer and I cracked what had to be the best beer of the Trek. Alex, Jason and Rex planned to play with the car, making some half-track passes on Saturday and while that scared me, I knew my Trek story was complete.
The Holy Grail of our Trek was getting a cowboy hat for Rex. Once situated in our hotel we moseyed down to nearby Cavender's Boot City. The results of that fateful odyssey can be gleaned from the photos on page 52. There was a late night party at Club Hyperia in downtown Houston. It was wild, but unfortunately no cameras were present when our fearless leader, Larry Saavedra, busted some moves on the bar with the go-go dancers. Oh, the extortion money we lost that night.
Saturday, March 9
The Supra 7 was tech'd for 12.00 seconds and I borrowed a driving suit from the guys at HP Racing. Thanks guys. The suit even matched the car. Team Bergenholtz supplied the air for the slicks and I scared up a container for the oil we changed in the 7. I was scavenging so much I felt like a hyena. But would I be able to laugh at the end of the day? The car's first half-track run ended with a big tail wiggle and I hoped the driving suit was not "soiled."
The second pass was an improvement but the wind and the car's pre-existing instability brought the show to a halt. I thought it was really cool the Supra 7 did more than commute to Houston, which is a feat in itself. It also took part in the action at the strip. SP Engineering learned a lot in the two runs, especially in the context of launching a triple-plate clutch. The team plans to add some anti-roll bars to the car, finish the tuning and apply these lessons at a Southern California. We will be there every step of the way.