Four Friends, One Summer, & An Evo
Dave, Billy, John & I

For my friend Dave, the 2016 racing season ended on a high note – five wins in the Forced Induction Sport class, 230 overall points, and an Import Face Off series national championship.

Dave is the type of person, though, who always wants to push himself to the next level. Because of this, going into 2017, he had one goal – to do better than he did the previous year.

He knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Successfully defending the IFO national championship title has only been done once or twice in the past, and, unlike the west coast and southern states, the racing season starts late the midwest and ends early. On top of that, the competition, which was fierce already, was only going to get more challenging.

Dave came up with an ambitious plan: Ten races. Eight states. Over 12,000 miles of driving. For this plan to be successful, it was obvious he was going to need some help. That’s where the rest of us came in.

Dave, Billy, John and I have all been good friends for a long time. We are all involved in the local import scene (or, as much of an import scene as there is in the middle of Michigan). We really enjoy each other’s company, make each other laugh, and, above all else, want to see each other succeed. When Dave told us his plan, the three of us immediately committed to doing whatever we could to do to help our friend achieve his goal.

Each of us had our own “position”on the team. Dave was “The Race Car Driver”, for obvious reasons. John was “The Transit Driver”, since he had experience driving trucks; he ended up putting in many hours, both day and night, in good weather and in bad, helping us get to the tracks and back home safely afterwards. Billy was “The Chef”, cooking us oddly-shaped (but tasty) pancakes for breakfast and hamburgers or hot dogs for lunch. Lastly, I was “The Photographer”, for reasons that should be pretty obvious at this point.

We headed out on the road; to Alabama, Kansas, Maryland, New York, Chicago, Columbus, Saint Louis, and Detroit. We drove thousands of miles. We passed through mountains and drove over plains. On some trips, it seemed as though we drove through every season in one weekend – leaving winter in Michigan for spring in Kentucky, which changed to summer in Tennessee and finished as fall in an unseasonably cool Alabama. We cooked dinner outside on a small propane grill, and spent nights sleeping in the trailer while parked in Wal-Mart parking lots. Life on the road wasn’t glamorous, but it was still fun.

Often, we’d arrive at the track the night before the race, and, with the parking lot and stands empty and the air quiet and still, we’d grill dinner outside, drink a few beers, play Mexican Train or Contra II, and just joke around. These times were truly special. Times when the race didn’t matter; the points didn’t  matter; the car didn’t matter…just four friends hanging out. The calm before the storm.

On race day, the mood shifted dramatically. Once we had driven past the gate and found a place to park, we shifted into work mode. We each had a purpose – unloading and cleaning the car, setting up the generator, checking tire pressures, preparing tech cards, adding fuel, setting cameras, and making last minute adjustments to the tune. We knew what we each were responsible for, and we worked together to get it done quickly and efficiently.

The actual races were always intense. Every time Dave made a pass, whether it be in qualifying or in the final round, we held our breath and prayed for a good ET and a clean run. Seeing that win light come on in your friend’s lane is about the best feeling in the world, especially when you know he has worked so hard to get to that point. That win light is everything.

Sometimes, however, things just don’t go your way. That’s drag racing – when you’re pushing mechanical parts to the absolute limit, sometimes things are going to break. It was always hard, though; it was heart breaking when something failed. I think we all knew it wasn’t our fault…that nothing we could have done would have prevented that part from breaking – that sometimes, it’s just the way things go. Still, we all wanted to see Dave win.

When we weren’t racing, working on the car, cooking, eating, or making jokes at each other’s expense, we would spend some time walking around the pits and the car show. These events really do embody the import car scene, and you can see everything from stanced cars with impossible camber to full-on race builds and rare exotics. Each section of the country seems to have their own mini car culture, and being able to experience so many was an interesting experience.

In the end, after nearly seven months of racing, Dave met his 2017 goal, earning 10 more points and one more win than he did in 2016. This was also enough to successfully earn a second consecutive IFO national championship. It was such an incredible feeling to see a plan that ambitious come to fruition, and to know that we did it together as teammates and friends.

And now, as we sit and freeze in the Michigan winter, we all continue to talk about how badly we just want to get out on the road with the Evo and do it all over again in 2018. Race season is creeping up; there are a whole set of new challenges, new goals, and new memories to be made just on the horizon.

Editor’s Note: The following gallery is, as always, best viewed on desktop.

Alabama
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (10)
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (24)
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (32)
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (40)
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (45)
01 Alabama IFO 3-7-17 (58)
Maryland
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (2)
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (5)
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (9)
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (20)
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (26)
02 Maryland IFO 3-28-17 (27)
Kansas
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (1)
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (5)
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (11)
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (12)
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (21)
Kansas IFO 4-11-17 (41)
Chicago
Chicago IFO 4-29-17 (1)
Chicago IFO 4-29-17 (15)
Chicago IFO 4-29-17 (21)
Chicago IFO 4-29-17 (23)
Chicago IFO 4-29-17 (26)
Detroit
Detroit IFO 8-10-17 (1)
Detroit IFO 8-10-17 (12)
Detroit IFO 8-10-17 (19)
Detroit IFO 8-10-17 (22)
Columbus
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (4)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (9)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (14)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (19)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (28)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (29)
Columbus IFO 9-4-17 (38)
Chicago
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (1)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (8)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (9)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (13)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (15)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (16)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (21)
Chicago IFO 10-28-17 (22)

“We choose to [do these] things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard… because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”
– JFK

Tyler Witt
Instagram: autoeuphoria

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14 comments

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1

Great article Tyler. Congratulations Dave and the team on a ridiculous defense of your title in an extremely fast grouping.

2

Thank you! Above everything, it was an amazing experience. Can't wait to do it all over again this year!

3

Thanks!

4

Lots of interesting cars and pictures! I enjoyed the feel of the article as a journey with the people behind the car. It is also interesting to see a glimpse into this side of drag racing in America. One thing that comes to mind though is I wish there was some more about the car build, or times it was running, and some basics on what "Forced Induction Sport Class" means. Just so the reader can better understand the context of the challenge and what the car was achieving, due to the wide variety of people who read speedhunters.

5

Hey guys, My name is David. I’m the builder/driver of the car.

Its a 2004 Mitsubishi Evolution, with a 2.2 Slowmotion spec motor and a 6466 Precision turbo. It makes about 950hp and my best E.T. to date is 9.13@159.

FIS class is for full streetcars, full interior, no cutting, full exhaust, and a 64mm turbo limit.

6

Maybe Tyler might chime in and give us some added details?

7

Great article, and awesome pics. Being from Maryland, usually all of the pictures are from MIR, it's nice to see Capital Raceway in a post, gotta give the local tracks some love!

8

Thanks! It was my first time out there, personally. I liked the layout, how the parking lot was right along side the track and slightly elevated. Gave a great view.

9

I like the track but they get lots of rain every time I go! haha

10

I like the format of this post. A little more on the Evo would be great though. What are some of the pros/cons of taking an awd car to the strip?

11
Nolan Christian Lohmann Bjorn

Nice photos. Really cool to see some shots of David Meredith and his H22 powered Civic as well.

12

This post has everything.
Cars on fire! RWD Civics! Black Hawk helos! Tubbed Beetles! Wheelstanding Darts! Contemplative sunglass reflection pics! Rainbow images! Pew pew stickers! Beards!

Look at all those CT9As... when the post opened, I really thought you guys were talking about autoX or road-racing, as the car cleans up in those... but color me surprised when it was 1/4 mile drag racing. Even cooler. Is there anything an Evo can't do well?
Yes, yes there is.

It can't suck.

13

That car burning beside the road perfectly represents Alabama.

(I live in AL)

14

I live in Alabama as well and yea, burning car on the side of the road...totally Alabama. Part of the charm of living here I guess.

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