Last weekend, we took our Four Seasons Subaru WRX for a little spring warm-up at the first open track day of the year at Michigan’s GingerMan Raceway. When we took breaks from pounding the WRX around the track (check back soon to read how the ‘Rex fared), we checked out the wide variety of cars that showed up for track-day abuse. Here are some of our favorites.
Competition Datsun 510
Ike Keeler’s Datsun 510 oozes vintage-racing cool. Prepped by famed Datsun builder Troy Ermish in California, Ike’s 510 is fresh off the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca tarmac, and is now making its rounds in the Midwest. The car is great, but Ike’s no slouch either. When not leading his class in either of his two Datsun 510s, you can find Ike behind the wheel of his historic 1967 Trans-Am Mercury Cougar.
1978 Alfa Romeo Spider
Prepared for vintage racing in the early 1990’s, George’s 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider barchetta was the only vintage Italian sheetmetal at the track day. The Alfa sang its heart out on the track, competing in the Advanced class against Corvettes, Miatas, and Porsche 911s. The coolest part? The Spider is a rolling commemoration to the previous owner, whose name is emblazoned on the Alfa’s Kamm tail.
2009 Ferrari F430 Scuderia
It’s always nice to see Ferrari owners tracking their prancing horses, especially when it is a hardcore sports variant like the Scuderia. The car’s owner, Jack, upgraded from a 600-hp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and isn’t looking back. “The Ferrari is way, way better on the track,” he says. “Much more precise.” He chose the Scuderia out of a lineup of supercars, narrowing the list down to either the Scuderia or a Ferrari 458 Italia. “The 458 was good, but the Scuderia is much sharper and track-ready,” he said.
Porsche 997.2 911 Carrera 4S
John Stiefel’s Porsche 997.2 911 Carrera 4S is one of the most track-focused all-wheel-drive 911s in existence. “I looked at Carrera 4s during the 996 and early 997 generation, but was not that impressed,” he says. “They got this generation right. It’s unstoppable.” John has been a Porsche fan since 1967. The “JS” script on his 4S’ side are John’s initials, a personal touch to separate the Carrera “JS” from the rest of the Porsche pack.
We knew something was fishy about a stock-looking MINI Cooper S giving trouble to Corvettes and Porsches in the Advanced class. We figured the Mini was either highly modified, or the driver was a real hotshoe. The latter proved correct, as the Mini’s driver turned out to be a SCCA instructor who has been lapping circuits since 2007. Why a Mini? “Man, these things are little sports cars,” he says. “When the first generation came out, instant classic. Just something so cool about them.” Well, we certainly won’t argue with the results.
The only Lotus at the event sported some interesting aerodynamic modifications. The owner discovered the Elise’s front end becomes a bit light at speed on the track, so he added an aluminum front splitter he designed and fabricated himself. Well, that just made the rear end too skittish, so he devised an ingenious rear splitter and side skirts, also of his own design. The Elise is no garage queen, either. The owner bought it with around 17,000 miles on the clock, and has since slapped on nearly 50,000 more thanks to many track days and even a road trip to Colorado.
BMW E36 M3
Bob’s deep blue BMW E36 M3 caught our eye right away. The car is completely race prepped, from the moderately stripped interior to the inboard data acquisition system. He left the engine mostly untouched, except for upgrading the radiator, intake, and exhaust. Bob is in the midst of his Midwest track tour, shaking off the cobwebs of winter. Bob bought the E36 to start a new hobby three years ago, and has been racing it ever since.
Acura Integra type R
We never got the chance to talk to the owner in person, but this Acura Integra Type R was a true track-day weapon. Due to low production numbers, we don’t get the chance to see many Integra Type-Rs in the US, particularly those that are regularly tracked, like this one. The Type-R is already quite the capable sports coupe, and that performance is only magnified when owners begin tinkering with the suspension and tire setup.