If you're not impressed with 900-hp daily drivers, you wouldn't have enjoyed it. If you don't enjoy watching tire-shredding road-race action, you would've been bored stiff. If 9-second quarter mile passes in street cars don't push your buttons, you'd be wasting your time. However, if these things raise your blood pressure and get your juices flowing, then the National Supra Meet in Houston would've been the place to be on March 22-24.
The 2002 gathering (or TX2K2 as it is better known) was a perfect showcase for the formidable capabilities of one of the best performance cars of the last 20 years: Toyota's big gun, the JZA80 Supra. Some of the nation's top tuners were in attendance and with a varied program of events that included a dyno-test day, road racing and drag racing, organizer Peter Blach gave everyone a chance to shine.
Two hundred bad-ass Supras arrived from all points of the map for the Texas showdown that started on Friday morning with a horsepower shootout on the Dynojet at MTI in Houston. It's no secret the venerable Supra can be persuaded to give up extreme power levels with the right kind of massaging and the dyno was proof that even with a stock bottom end, big-time horsepower is just a few modifications away.
Plenty of cars spun the dyno-drums up to 500, 600 and even 700 hp, but to make the top five at this event, you had to be packing at least 800 at the tires. More than a Winston Cup stock car, more than an IRL Indy car and about the same as the best of the CART series hot rods produce. (And the Supra also seats four people, has air conditioning and in-car entertainment.)
Top dog of the day was Jesus Rivera who made the trek from Florida to Texas before strapping his Supra on the Dynojet and blasting to the number one spot with a blistering 858 hp. Close behind Rivera was local Houston Supra specialist Tommy Banh with 851 hp. The third spot was the property of Darrin Strunk with 844 ponies and Supra event organizer Peter Blach claims fourth place with 840 hp. Interestingly, all of the top four cars run stock bottom end assemblies. Proof indeed that Toyota builds a truly bulletproof engine.
With dyno bragging rights established, the assembled Supra freaks headed into downtown Houston for a night of cruising and general debauchery. Despite having way too much fun on Friday night, almost everybody managed to drag themselves out of bed on Saturday morning.
Day Two: Road RacingIt was time to find out who could use that horsepower on the racetrack. Peter Blach gave all of the drivers a real challenge in the form of a highly technical road course laid out on an old blimp base just south of Houston. The course had a couple of fast straights and a variety of fast-, medium- and slow-speed corners. Horsepower alone wouldn't win the day. The prerequisite for the win was a car that handled in the turns, had strong enough brakes to get into the turns as late as possible and, of course, a skilled driver in the hot seat was a definite advantage.
The morning sessions gave the drivers plenty of time to get familiar with the layout of the track-highly entertaining stuff. A rented Lincoln Towncar in the hands of a complete nutcase provided some amusement as it boiled the tires in every turn and eventually spun out...several times.
Andi Baritchi behind the wheel of his CTC-tuned '98 single-turbo Supra gave a first-rate drifting display and even gave rides to those who felt brave enough to do a couple of laps sideways.
SW from Austin, Texas also pushed the limits in his Supra, smoking the tires on the exit of every turn as he flew around the track.
After a brief lunch break, it was time to get down to the serious business of establishing who was the king of the hill on the road course.
The drivers were all given a couple of warm up laps to get their tires up to temperature, then it was hammer down time for three flying laps. The average of the three laps would decide the winner.
Baritchi set the early pace with an average lap time of 48.462. This was getting serious. In contrast to the earlier tire-smoking fun-runs, Baritchi was very smooth and very, very fast.