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2017 Show Car Shootout - Learn to Walk Before You Run

Two of North America's most recognized race car drivers take our class of show car owners to school

Jan 18, 2018
Photographers: Luke Munnell, Jofel Tolosa

What is Show Car Shootout?

A competition in which we seek out enthusiasts who typically attend shows and meets with their cars, but have little to no track experience under their belts. These cars have performance parts and nice styling but might not have ever been tested or proven on the track.

2017 show car shootout andy lawson Photo 2/29   |   The day started off with basic chalk talk and track rules from Andy and Lawson.
2017 show car shootout sam du sheri herrmann Photo 3/29   |   Discussing what happens if it all goes bad with Continental's Sheri Herrmann. Luckily, no incidents to report!

The first shootout took place at Auto Club Speedway in '15; however, the last two have been at the 1.6-mile, 14-turn circuit of the Streets of Willow Springs in Rosamond, California. Continental Tire has been the title sponsor for all three Show Car Shootouts and has provided the control tire. The last two competitions relied on the ExtremeContact Sport, the company's latest UHP tire that was developed in conjunction with five pro IMSA drivers.

Champion Retired

2017 show car shootout marco svizzero BMW 135i Photo 4/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Marco Svizzero BMW 135I

The '15 and '16 shootouts were huge successes as we witnessed vehicles we'd typically see at events like Wekfest and AutoCon put to the test on the road course. Even our own Ratchet Bunny Scion FR-S project car, which many had only seen at local shows, SEMA, and Targa Trophy rallies, was able to take part in the first competition. The reigning and repeat champ was Marco Svizzero's V-8-swapped BMW 135i, a former SEMA booth vehicle and european car magazine cover car. But we simply couldn't invite him back to dominate the field again. It was time for a change...

No More Ringers

After the first two years, we began noticing a huge disparity in lap times and driver experience among the field. Half of the competitors frequented the track or brought professional drivers while the other half were in fact "all show" and "no go."

2017 show car shootout competitors Photo 5/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Competitors

So for the '17 Show Car Shootout, we tweaked the format. Instead of allowing hot shoes and regular track guys to take part in the competition, we sifted through more than 100 applications and invited only the enthusiasts who daily drove or garaged their project. They also had to have minimal track experience, plus the passion to take their driving skills and own project car to the next level.

All-Star Instructors

2017 show car shootout 240SX Photo 6/29   |   After a ride along with the instructors in the first session, it was time for lead-follow laps in which each driver would get a chance to be nose to tail with an instructor to see the best driving line firsthand.

With the help of Continental Tire, we were able to bring in Andy Lally and Lawson Aschenbach, two of the most decorated IMSA drivers around, to put this year's class of competitors through a crash course in road racing. Andy and Lawson were two of the five test drivers used in the development of the ExtremeContact Sport control tire. Andy is a three-time Grand Am champ, five-time Rolex 24 hour winner, has raced NASCAR professionally, and was one of the drivers behind the Acura NSX GT3 race car for Michael Shank last year. Lawson is as accomplished as Andy with more than 35 professional wins and six championship titles, and he is one of the new drivers for the Michael Shank NSX team for '18.

New Format

It came down to nine drivers, each with either zero experience or perhaps a couple of track days under their belt, all brand new to Streets of Willow. The cars ranged from rear-wheel, all-wheel, and front-wheel drive, low power and lightweight to high power and high top speed, but it all wouldn't matter as everyone was in the same boat and wanted to improve their skills on the track while pushing their car to the highest limits.

2017 show car shootout rowie landicho mitsubishi evo x Photo 7/29   |   Rowie and his Evo X passing in the front straight. Little did we know he'd be the fastest of the day by a whopping 4 seconds!

We ditched the dyno portion of the competition to focus more on the learning process. Having the highest power doesn't mean a thing if you can't understand and control your car properly around a track. The instructors started out with basic chalk talk to teach our students the rules, what the flags meant, the proper procedure of getting on and off the track, how to pass, and so on. After the classroom session, it was time for ride alongs with Andy and Lawson in SUVs to get a feel for the correct racing line. The next session would be lead-follow laps in which each driver would tail the instructors in their own car, so they could recognize the line and braking points while behind the wheel. The next four sessions would be hot laps on their own while Andy and Lally watched from different corners of the track, taking notes and giving the drivers feedback after each session.

2017 show car shootout JT teng civic Photo 8/29   |   Our props to JT Teng, who trailered his Civic all the way from from Texas to partake in this year's Shootout.

While the goal of Show Car Shootout is to teach our young Padawans, there were four criteria that our instructors scored each driver on to see who would take home first and second place:

  1. Lap Time—The all-important element of speed.
  2. Mistakes—Not going off track, spinning out, and hurting their personal project cars.
  3. Consistency—Hitting apex and brake points and staying consistent through the entire day.
  4. Most Improved—Seeing what they can do at the beginning of the day and just how far they'd come at the end.

Final Thoughts

"I took away quite a lot from this experience. I wanted to see what they could learn. Half of them had zero track experience, and I saw an amazing progression. They started out really slow, really cautious. It's their own car on the racetrack and first time at speed at 100 mph with their helmet on flying into Turn 1. And to see them progress from a tentative person at the beginning of the day, then at the end of the day see them attacking. It was really gratifying." —Andy @andylallyracing

"Everyone started out on the tentative side and eased their way in. It's a tricky place to come for your first time, especially when you haven't been with your car on this track—a lot of areas where you can go off and create a lot of problems with areas of low grip, a lot of elevation changes, off camber, on camber, heavy brake zones. And the fact that these tires performed at this level on a track like this is a testament to all the hard work put into the ExtremeContact Sport. At the end, they put down some pretty hefty lap times—definitely surprised us! It was great to see that progression because that's what we're here to do. Coach these guys a little bit, mentor them, try to get them pointers here and there." —Lawson @lawsonaracing

TOP DOGS

1st Rowie Landicho
'14 Mitsubishi Evolution X

2017 show car shootout rowie landicho Photo 12/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Rowie Landicho
2017 show car shootout rowie landicho mitsubishi evo Photo 13/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Rowie Landicho Mitsubishi Evo

Mods: ARC front-mount intercooler; ID1000 injectors; M7 intake pipe; custom test pipe; Spec-D Tuning titanium exhaust; KTMotoring boost controller and E85 tune; Ohlins R/T coilovers; Whiteline sway bars, control arms; 18x10.5" Advan RG-D2 wheels; Project Mu pads, R1 Concepts rotors; C-West Type 1 aero; Voltex rear wing

Experience: 3 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:28.409

Notes: Rowie was slightly more experienced than the rest; however, we didn't expect him to be 4 seconds quicker than the next fastest car, especially for a stock turbo, 290hp Evo. He didn't seem like a clear-cut winner, as he wasn't flying down the straights like some of the higher horsepower cars. But as the only all-wheel-drive car and with smooth driving execution, he killed it for only his fourth time out on a road course.

Reflection: "My main goal for the day is to stay on course and not go off and break something. It's really difficult to push the car too much because, after all, it's a show car and I can't afford to fix it if something breaks! Lawson was my main instructor. He was very helpful and took the time to go out to the track to point out the good and bad just by looking at how the car rolls through turns. Before he awarded me first place, he said I improved throughout the day and saw that my lines and braking points were getting better each session."

2nd Lloyd Morales
'96 Nissan 240SX

2017 show car shootout lloyd morales Photo 14/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Lloyd Morales
2017 show car shootout lloyd morales 240SX Photo 15/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Lloyd Morales 240SX

Mods: SER20DET swap; Garrett GTX3076R turbo; DOC Race topmount manifold; Tomei 270? Pro cams, valve springs, rocker arms, test pipe; polished GReddy intake manifold; 850cc injectors; A'PEXi exhaust, Power FC; Exedy clutch; Zeal Super Function coilovers; 335mm Project Mu front big brake kit; 18x9.5" front, 18x10.5" rear Work Emotion 11R-FT wheels; Vertex body kit

Experience: 0 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:33.447

Notes: Lloyd's 480hp S14 looks as if it belongs on the track; but truth be told, it was always a show car. We featured it back in '15; however, he has always been dying to actually take it on the track. He made the six-hour trek down from the Bay Area to participate in our Shootout, and we couldn't have been more pleased. Each session he improved consistently, starting from 1:37.675 to 1:36.859, then finally hitting his fastest session with a 1:33.447 lap time.

Reflection: "I have no track experience; this was my first with the car on track. My expectations were to get some track time and hopefully come out learning enough to be good enough to place. Andy and Lawson were excellent teachers. Everything they taught and showed us worked very well for me. I came in knowing nothing about racing and came out a winner!"

WILD CARDS

Gabriel Flores
'90 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

2017 show car shootout gabriel flores Photo 16/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Gabriel Flores
2017 show car shootout gabriel florez 300ZX Photo 17/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Gabriel Florez 300ZX

Mods: 3.2L JUN stroker kit, cams, cam gears; 1mm oversized valves; HKS GT2530 turbos; 3" Specialty Z exhaust; StopTech four-piston front big brake kit; JIC coilovers; SPL control arms, tension rods; 18x9.5" NISMO LMGT4 wheels

Experience: 3 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:32.986

Notes: Gabriel came to the party with the most power, summoning 500+whp. But with great power comes great responsibility. He found himself having issues controlling his Z32 each session and suffered a handful of spinouts. Despite his mistakes, we do give Gabriel props for his progression throughout the day from his first session with a 1:35.692 fastest lap time to his final session with a fastest lap of 1:32.986.

Reflection: "I have some track experience, but I haven't tracked the car with this horsepower so it's a little different. Tons of crazy things happened. On my first session, I took it pretty fast. When that happened, my car spun almost 720?. It was pretty chaotic and ultimately didn't hit the dirt. Luckily, it happened early and I learned this is what not to do. With the support of Lawson and Andy, I was able to improve and get some pretty good times."

Dennis Houth
'03 Nissan 350Z

2017 show car shootout dennis houth Photo 18/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Dennis Houth
2017 show car shootout dennis houth 350Z Photo 19/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Dennis Houth 350Z

Mods: Revolver R Track coilovers with Eibach 10K front and 8K rear springs; Brembo Track Edition brakes with EBC pads and slotted rotors; 19x10" front, 19x11" rear Work Meister M1R wheels; Mercury GT3 widebody kit

Experience: 4 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:33.801

Notes: If it looks like a drift car, it's because it's mostly a drift car. Dennis is a fan of going sideways and enjoys street drifting. He came to Show Car Shootout to improve his road course skills and put down an awesome lap on his last session; however, he had the wildest spin out of the day, which broke one of our Super Street flags. RIP flag...

Reflection: "Doing a one-on-one with Lawson gave me a ton of driving lines to follow and master. I could only push the car so much though because I still have to drive up to NorCal five hours away to make it back home safely. But my improvement was great and I wish I had a lot more track time."

Ryan Ferrer
'93 Acura NSX

2017 show car shootout ryan ferrer Photo 20/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Ryan Ferrer
2017 show car shootout ryan ferrer NSX Photo 21/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Ryan Ferrer NSX

Mods: six-speed swap with OS Giken twin-disc clutch and Comptech 4.23 final drive; Brembo Gran Turismo front and rear brakes; ScienceofSpeed exhaust; Comptech intake, headers, ECU; KW suspension; 17" front, 18" rear BBS LM wheels

Experience: 2 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:35.175

Notes: Not even really track days, Ryan has only participated in a couple of Exotics Racing experiences prior to our Shootout. He's never pushed his NSX harder than on the street. We were surprised to see how aggressive and consistent he was throughout the day. During each session, he stayed within a sixth tenths window from his fastest lap.

Reflection: "I thought it was just going to be a couple times around the track and not as competitive. I improved from start to finish and was able to understand more on how my car handles and how it responds to certain situations. With the help of Andy and Lawson, they were able to show me things that I did not know I was doing."

JT Teng
'94 Honda Civic

2017 show car shootout JT teng Photo 22/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout JT Teng
2017 show car shootout JT teng honda civic Photo 23/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout JT Teng Honda Civic

Mods: D15B7 bottom-end with D16Z6 head; 1320 Perormance 4-2-1 header; 2.5" exhaust; 275cc RC injectors; Walbro fuel pump; Hasport mounts; Exedy clutch and flywheel; Hondata S300; Skunk2 coilovers; Hardrace camber kits; rebuilt Civic Si spindles; StopTech rotors and pads; SiR fenders, rear spoiler, side moldings; Toyota Cement Gray paint; gutted interior; Recaro SPG seat

Experience: 7 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:35.822

Notes: This isn't the first time JT has crossed paths with Super Street. He hails from Texas and his previous Civic Si project was featured in '12 after we met him at a Wekfest show. This EG is his new toy and he made the 1,500-mile journey to LA just for our Shootout. He was definitely the most seasoned driver in the field but also the lowest in power. The instructors raved about his consistency and we give him props for hanging with cars nearly double his horsepower.

Reflection: "Ah man, it felt good and I did better than I expected. All these guys are high-powered and I was afraid they were just going to leave me. Surprisingly I kept up. And being from Texas, this was my first time at this track. My instructor Andy was very detailed, straightforward and a super cool guy. I learned a lot."

Allen Pham
'02 Lexus IS300

2017 show car shootout allen pham Photo 24/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Allen Pham
2017 show car shootout allen pham IS300 Photo 25/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Allen Pham IS300

Mods: Rotrex C38-81 supercharger; Brian Crower 264? cams; ARP head studs; Toyomoto modified transmission, cooling system, headers, Y-pipe; Veilside exhaust; Stance XR-1 coilovers with Swift springs; Cusco chassis braces; Hotchkis sway bars; TRD big brake kit; 18x9.5" front, 18x10" rear SSR SP1 wheels; Gialla Sport aero; Voltex rear wing

Experience: 2 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:38.446

Notes: Allen's Lexus is definitely a car you'd expect to see at a show, but he's fitted a decent list of parts to give it a bit more power and tighter handling which makes it capable for weekend warrior duties. With only a couple sessions at Auto Club Speedway prior to this, he started out timid with a 1:43.092 in his first session, but after some coaching and more practice, he was consistently in the 1:40 zone.

Reflection: "I was a bit nervous because I didn't know all the cars I was going up against and didn't know how my car was going to stand up. I just wanted to learn more about driving this technical track and see where I can improve to achieve a better time. Bringing in professional drivers Andy and Lawson to coach us was a huge surprise. From the beginning to the end of the day, the instruction from Andy and Lawson helped me get more comfortable and helped me get faster lap times."

Tiffany Miller
'06 Honda S2000

2017 show car shootout tiffany miller Photo 26/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Tiffany Miller
2017 show car shootout tiffany miller s2000 Photo 27/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Tiffany Miller S2000

Mods: J's Racing exhaust, rear diffuser; Password:JDM intake, canards; Invidia test pipe; ACT clutch, flywheel; Koyo radiator; Hondata FlashPro; TEIN Mono Sport Dampers; StopTech pads, rotors, lines; Buddy Club seats, roll center adjuster; Seibon hood, hardtop

Experience: 1 track day

Fastest Lap: 1:45.606

Notes: This was Tiffany's first time taking her S2000 on the track. It doesn't have a whole lot of power at 212hp, but it was still more than enough to get into trouble without much experience. She had a scary spin in her first session but after calming down and some coaching from Andy and Lawson, she improved from a 2:03.511 to a 1:45.606 by the end of the day. A huge improvement!

Reflection: "From start to finish, I feel like I improved a lot considering I did spin out in the first session. By the last session I felt much more comfortable and was having a lot of fun. Andy and Lawson were very helpful. One of the most helpful exercises was being able to ride along with them beforehand and get guidance on braking points, line selection, and throttle control. It was also very helpful that they made themselves available after each session for suggestions on improvement for upcoming sessions, tips, and encouragement."

Will Ibarrola
'04 Mazda RX-8

2017 show car shootout will ibarrola Photo 28/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Will Ibarrola
2017 show car shootout will ibarrola RX8 Photo 29/29   |   2017 Show Car Shootout Will Ibarrola RX8

Mods: 13B-REW engine swap; streetport; Garrett single turbo conversion; ArcWerkz downpipes, twin-scroll manifold; 1,000cc and 850cc injectors; Racing Beat mid pipe, exhaust, swap bars; ACT clutch and flywheel; Powertrix coilovers with Swift springs; 18x10" front, 18x11" rear Work VS-SS wheels; VIS carbon-fiber hood and trunk; APR wing; RE Amemiya carbon-fiber front lip; FEED carbon-fiber side skirts; EVO-R vents

Experience: 0 track days

Fastest Lap: 1:53.279

Notes: We weren't sure if Will was going to make it because his car caught on fire the week before. But the 13B-powered RX-8 showed up ready to rock. It was a bit of a nail biter to watch, especially since he'd never driven on the track before. The RX-8 was the most stance-themed vehicle in the field also; however, props for improving from the 2:00+ range to a fastest lap of 1:53.279 on the last session.

Reflection: "I wasn't sure what to expect. Building a show car I never imagined I would put it to the test. Andy and Lawson were great instructors for my first time. They showed me the layout of the track and optimum place to be for the best time. Didn't improve too much but I was limited by the car since I had some issues and the tuning wasn't finished."

Sam Du
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