720 WHP @ 32 PSIVictor Caputis is one of those larger than life personalities who brings next-level excitement and passion into this hobby. Residing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Victor, known as "Big Valley" in the Subaru Internet community, has taken the U.S. tuning scene by storm with his Big Valley STi. While his efforts have culminated with a most impressive victory at Englishtown's Evo vs. WRX Street Wars event, its beginnings are far more humble.
Big Valley is the name of Victor's chain of used car dealerships in Puerto Rico. Before his now famous journey into the world of Subarus, Victor throttled a Dodge Viper GTS with nitrous collecting high 10-second timeslips and a Ferrari 360 Modena Spyder. When the Evo craze hit American and, later, Puerto Rican shores Victor noticed the rivalry between the STi and Evo starting to heat up on the strip and decided to get involved in the import drag racing scene. At first he was torn between the two cars and could not make up his mind on which one to buy. In the end the good looks and stylish interior of the STi won out over the more spartan Lancer-based Evo.
In the summer of 2004 Victor jumped into the fray. At that time, the fastest STis in the States were running mid 12s. Victor decided he wanted to go fast, real fast with his STi while maintaining its daily driver status. He had no idea of what to do or how to do it so he started asking around to find a tuner to help him reach his goal.
Word was starting spread around the island about a young tuner named Gadiel who was at the tip of the tuning spear when it came to four-cylinder all-wheel drive vehicles. Victor called Gadiel and the two hashed out a plan that would take the STi into uncharted territory. At the time, tuning the STi's EJ25 engine was in its infancy. Some of the problems were due to Subaru's decision to use a drive-by-wire throttle and cast pistons for the USDM STi. Up until then, only Easy Street Motorsports was able to make the STi fast. They did it by utilizing a JDM-spec 2.0-liter engine and an automatic drag transmission.
Gadiel relates the state of the scene in Puerto Rico at the time. "At that moment everybody preferred the Evolution because it had huge aftermarket support. But I have always liked to rise to the challenge and I know that the extra displacement of the EJ25 carried with it great potential. I decided to drive both cars to see which one I liked for everyday driving. At that moment, I decided to buy an STi and started testing every single part available. Only five weeks after we received the first STi in Puerto Rico, I had the first USDM STi to run 12s. For months I waited for any plug-and-play style ECU for this car. Finally after 10 months I got my hands on an UTEC for the STi. Four weeks later we went 11.8 at 119 mph with the Big Valley car. That next week we reached 504 whp on the stock motor and a few weeks later we improved to 11.2 at 128 mph on the stock motor without NOS."
When the STi came out there were many so-called "guidelines" being floated about in the U.S. STi community about how much power the stock STi engine could hold. Many people were saying 400 whp was the limit. Gadiel used his engineering background to work out the limits on his own and paid no attention to the Internet gossip.
Ultimately, after reaching 500 whp on the stock internals, Victor's hunger for power was still not satiated and Gadiel decided to seek the advice of Crawford Performance who has a reputation for building indestructible Subaru engines.
To fortify the boxer four for big boost Gadiel chose the Crawford 2.65-liter short block (R3) package which consists of Crawford Performance replaceable wet cylinder sleeves, Crawford-spec pistons, Crawford-spec billet 4340 rods, a 2.65-liter closed deck short block, forged stroker crank and piston squirters. Bill Craddock Engineering (BCE) reworked the cylinder heads with a CNC port and polish regimen and custom valve job.