This Is American Time Attack
Back To Buttonwillow

The history of time attack in the United States has been a fascinating one. It was right around a decade ago when this Japanese form of motorsport first landed on American shores as way for tuners and sport compact builders to prove themselves on a level playing field.

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In the years since, the sport has seen a lot of changes. Grid sizes have grown and then gotten smaller while big name teams have come and gone. Australia, meanwhile has taken charge on the international level with its annual World Time Attack Challenge event.

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But time attack is very much alive and well in the US. I experienced this first hand at Buttonwillow Raceway Park recently, where Global Time Attack hosted its annual Super Lap Battle competition in conjunction with Super Street magazine.

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The November gathering has been a tradition among Stateside tuners and time attack teams, and I thought I was long overdue for a peek at America’s best event of this kind.

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Along with shooting a couple of car features, which you can expect to see shortly, I’ve also put together a collection of observations from America’s most established time attack meet. Let’s get to it then.

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Super Lap Battle has always been held shortly after the SEMA Show, with the idea that builders could follow up the hype with some quick lap times. There weren’t a whole lot of cars from SEMA at this year’s event, but the recently-debuted Mackin Industries FR-S was one such machine there to prove itself.

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The turbocharged, Rocket Bunny kitted FR-S was running in the Street RWD class where it turned in a best time of 1:55.8. That’s not bad for being fresh off the show floor.

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Sharing pit space with the Mackin car was Evasive Motorsports’ own FR-S, which was running in the Limited RWD Class. Two years on, this car is still one of the finest FR-S builds in America with success in both time attack events and a couple of stints at Pikes Peak. With Robert Walker behind the wheel, the car put down a new best lap time of 1:47.47 – good for second place in its class.

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Also joining the fun was Evasive’s well known S2000 time attack car – one which has now been immortalized in Hot Wheels diecast form. The car turned in a 1:51.77 lap, which was not only good for second place in the Street RWD class – it was a new record for any street-tired S2000 at Buttonwillow.

Many Shapes, Many Sounds
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Back in the day one of my favorite parts of attending Super Lap was seeing the Japanese time attack cars that were shipped across the Pacific to compete. Legends like the Cyber Evo, HKS CT230R and Zero Sports Impreza have all run at Buttonwillow over the years, but lately a soft economy has limited international participation.

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This year though, Japan was represented by the turbocharged FD2 Civic Type R built by Spoon Sports. The car is actually on an extended American tour in the hands of Go Tuning Unlimited, Spoon’s USA distributor.

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Even with a front splitter issue hampering lap times all day, Formula Drift star Dai Yoshihara was able to drive the car to a 1:48.06 – an extremely impressive time for a front-wheel drive car at Buttonwillow.

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If Evos and Imprezas are your thing, then Super Lap Battle is the place to see what America’s AWD specialists are up to. There were several examples spread amongst the different classes, from basic street cars to all-out time attack monsters.

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In terms of sheer presence it was hard to top Renner Motorsport’s Limited AWD class two-door Impreza RS and its 22B-esque looks. This car might be less than 20 years old, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t a ‘classic’ look.

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A relative newcomer to the scene, Fortune Auto brought out this very fast looking Evo VIII for its entry in Limited AWD. The car quickly backed up its serious appearance with a 1:44.06 lap time – a new class record. You can only count on it getting quicker from here.

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Now I expected to see plenty of Evos, Imprezas and S2000s at Super Lap, but I was surprised to see some real variety in the cars competing this year. Check out this little Fiat 500 Abarth that was out there squirting around the track.

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BMWs had a very strong showing too, and the entries included this 2015 M3 from Platte Forme Ag and Maxxis Tire, running in Limited RWD.

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We’ve seen how Platte Forme Ag likes to build their BMWs with a Japanese influence and this one didn’t disappoint in the appearance department with some cool aero touches and a fresh set of RAYS Volk Racing ZE40s.

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It was joined on the track by this 2015 BMW M4 from GSR Autosports running in the Street RWD category. Tuners have certainly wasted no time digging into BMW’s latest.

Big Guys & Little guys
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Let’s not leave out the USA now. There were several entries representing good old American horsepower, including this Z51 C7 Corvette from Platte Forme Ag. A 1:51.08 lap time was good enough for a new record in the Street RWD category.

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Another ‘Vette that was getting things done was this mean looking C6 from Excelsior Motorsports. When all was said and done, this car set a new Limited RWD record with a blistering 1:44.45 lap time. Crazy stuff indeed.

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Hillbank Motorsports is a Mustang specialist out of Orange County and they recently got their hands on a brand new 2015 GT project car.

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Aside from a cat-back exhaust system, the Mustang was bone stock and the idea was to get some baseline numbers before the real fun begins. I’m still getting used to watching the movement of Mustangs with independent rear suspension!

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While Super Lap Battle has long been a place where big-name tuners and aftermarket companies come to prove themselves, the efforts of the privateer entries are not to be overlooked.

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Take Amir Bentatou and his four-door E36 M3 for example. He was out there ripping it up all day, and when the dust had settled he’d put down a 1:58.23 – a new record in the Enthusiast RWD class.

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We saw John Lazorack and his LS1-powered Chrysler Conquest in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, and he was back at it again running time attack the Limited RWD Class. You can expect a full feature on this hand-built beast coming up soon – it’s been long overdue!

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We also ran into our old friend Yuta Akaishi who was driving his four-door EK Civic in the Street FWD class. Look for more on this car in the future as we take a deeper look at what it’s like to be a circuit fiend on a budget.

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The Mazda MX-5 is a track day favorite around the world, but it’s probably not the first car you think of when it comes to time attack. There were a few Miatas running this year, including this heavily-modified NB from Blackbird Fabworx.

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You can always count on seeing some cool cars hanging about in the paddock, and this Legacy wagon with ZG-style fender flares was one of my favorite cars of the day – on track or off.

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Every Super Lap Battle will have a few big guns – the machines that everyone stops to watch when they head out onto the track. The Lyfe Motorsports GT-R out of Salt Lake City was very much one of those cars. It turned in a scorching 1:40.4 lap time, taking home second place in the Unlimted AWD class.

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That of course means there was one car faster: the GST Motorsports Impreza L driven by Jeff Westphal. This is one of the most established cars in the American time attack scene, and its record 1:38.967 was the fastest time of the day by a wide margin. I remember back in 2007 when everyone thought the HKS CT230R’s 1:43 record was untouchable. Boy how things have changed!

Time attack in America will probably never be the spectator powerhouse that some thought it was going to be, but that’s fine with me. From radically engineered super-builds to gritty privateers, for gearheads it really doesn’t get much better than this.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

More Time Attack stories on Speedhunters

Cutting Room Floor
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Pete the perfect pilot

Where where the mazda rxs?


that last evo rear diffuser thought hahahaha!


Nice photos Mike. What did you shoot this event with?


I love these Time Attack posts! I just wish we could see more of the "heavy-hitters" like Under Suzuki's S15, the Valtonen RX-7, the Project Nemo Evo, La Supra and Kai Bakken's Audi... You know, stuff like that. Absolutely BONKERS aero additions and wild engine builds. I remember the feature you guys did on Suzuki's S15 car back in 2013 when he broke Tsukuba's record or something like that.... I still go back to those features randomly and just admire.... *Stares into space* Good times... Good times :)


Am I the only one who always think of mighty car mods' "gramps" when i see that kind of legacỳ ? :p


What times were the Mustang and the NB Miata running? How many people show up to these events? Nice photos and some really cool cars, looks like fun.


The Blackbird Fabworx NB ran a 1:59.60 best lap.
Chassis, suspension and aero are modified but engine is stock, pushing ~115 RWHP.
Video of one of the laps posted on the facebook page -


Pete the perfect pilot All in the shops getting LS swaps or apex seals?


I vow never to own a car that squirts around anything. Rad photos, really diggin' that first shot of the Mackin FR-S; cool perspective.


@Moti at BFW Thats pretty impressive when you consider Andy Kern and Jack Fried in Lotus 211s with 230whp and Hankook Z214s are running 1:59s.

Checked out the facebook page. Pretty cool.


You're right Mike. Time Attack will never be a powerhouse spectator sport but damn I love it! Thanks for the pics and write up.


I see R-comps, S-tires and street tires in different pictures.  I can guess what the rules/tire specs are for each class based on their times, however it's fairly poor reporting to not note these points in a competition for readers to have a general base for comparison.  I'm also curious as to which tires the HKS CT230R used in 2007 clocking that 1:43 vs the leaders now who are in the high 30's.


I have but one simple question, why are those m4's 2015 models, if they've been released (sold and modified) in 2014? surely that makes them 2014 models.


JakWhite Model years and the calendar year can vary wildly. It's been that way for years :)


@Paul Hurr hurr hurr...


QuocAnNguyen You can find a detailed break down on the individual class/tire breakdowns on the GTA site here -
As for the CT230R, it was on Advan S-tires if I recall, Would be awesome to see what it could do on full slicks at Buttonwillow, same with any other the current fast cars from Japan.


The One Otaku Thanks much. Glad you enjoyed it!


Tinj Thank you!


@Moti at BFW That is wild. Perhaps a new "totally stock" motor class is needed, just to see how much people can push aero and suspension setups.


@Chris GTA site should have a complete lap time breakdown for every car entered.


@KeithCharvonia Thanks Keith. All of these shots, I used my 24-105F4L 70-200F4 L. Nothin' crazy ya know.


Thank you for the great write up and coverage Mike Garrett!! Time attack lives on!


You're Awesome Mike and thanks for share & gorgeous picture with Rolloface Performance. 

Super Lap Battle RWD street class 3rd place x Rolloface Performance (BMW E92 M3 new record in Buttonwillow CW13 )
1" Rolloface 2 ways RT2 coilover 
2" Rolloface SR-C big brake kits
3" Rolloface Dry-carbon intake system
4" Rolloface carbon race seat
5" Rolloface Front carbon spolier 
6" APR Performance swan neck mounts spolier 
7" Hankook RS-3 / instagram rolloface_usa


That Starion article might just plain f*#k up the price and availability of all Starquests shortly thereafter, and there are about a billion reasons why I'd pick one over the cleanest 240. .. I must find a way to stop Garrett, get all T101 up in this bitch...


That C6 looks mighty fine..

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Ha ha Yeah!


Limited AWD winner is Fortune Auto sponsored privateer Professional Awesome based in West Lafayette Indiana. Perhaps still relatively new, but hold quite a few class lap records with the old car in Street AWD Class.

Operation Safe Canyon

Tinj But when they squirt you know you're doing it right Tinj.


Thanks guys!
Mike Garrett - engine is getting major upgrades for next season, so new class is out for this car already.


Mm perhaps, but here in the uk they will have 64 plates on if sold today making them a 14 model car. I think someone should inform watchdogs about this massive deceit! With regards to production year that should be inline with registration year. I noticed it a lot earlier in the year when car reviewers and modifiers were all raving over the "2015 Impreza wrx" that people had in June, it's false advertising plain and simple. I'd get arrested if I did the same.


I like the tiny Abarth 500 givin' it all despite all those downforce breathing monsters


The Spoon FD2 Type R.. *drools*


ok i love the LS lumps much as anyone but god... not in a conquest...


KyWRC I like to think of Professional Awesome as the American version of Under Suzuki.


Mike Garrett QuocAnNguyen Time Attack in general has always ran some sort of DOT-approved tire, never slicks. In the US (Global Time Attack especially) classes are largely split up by their tire tread wear ratings. The lower the rating, the stickier the tire, the higher the class.


Thank Mike and SH for the coverage of Time Attack. I look forward to it all year.

I like to tell friends and family that ask what time attack is, I usually reply "It's like heads-up drag racing, only around a circuit. Fastest car wins."


Would so love to do time attack one day, but just dont know how to start


FunctionFirst I liken it to a day of qualifying sessions!


Wish I could have made it :(


LukeEVOVIII Get good in a kart. You can find a good used TaG 125cc single speed for around $1500-$2500 these days and the cornering forces puts race cars to shame. You'll get everything a top level time attack car will give you in a package that is easier to work on, cheaper to compete with and will teach you much more for a fraction of the cost. 

Once you're comfortable in the kart I'd go into an entry level street modified class where the budget isn't crazy and there are rules that prevent people from out spending each other. The time in a kart will give you a serious leg up on your competition. 

I used to autocross which is a form of time attack in and of itself. After I went to karts and came back to autocrossing I was placing much, much higher even after not competing for a few years. Everything happens faster in a kart, if you want to learn start there. I'd easily say 25-30hp in a kart feels equal to 400-500whp in a car in proportion to the track. A 50hp kart is on par with an unlimited time attack car IMO. Here is a video of Paolo De Conto in a ~42hp KZ2. He won SKUSA super nationals this year and will probably be in F1 in a short amount of time.


LukeEVOVIII Actually I'd like to retract what I said. A KZ2 kart is much faster through corners than any unlimited time attack car I've seen. There's really no comparison to the physical endurance you have to have and the sharp ness in steering corrections and throttle / brake manipulation.


@Chris LukeEVOVIII Alternatives to karting: NASA HPDE days, SCCA HPDE days, SCCA auto-cross. SCCA rally-cross, or any number of other track day organizations like Shift Sector, or Global Time Attack, etc. The two largest/most well-known organizations are NASA and SCCA in the US.

You can also look up regions and dates of the various sanctioning bodies and see when and where events are being held, or you can go to your local track's website and see who is hosting what, when and go from there.

Just start with the desire and research it from there.


WestphalRacing MikeGarrett Global_TA Cheers Jeff!


Feature the GST please thank you?


FunctionFirst LukeEVOVIII FunctionFirstLukeEVOVIII  IMO for someone getting into the sport cost is a huge factor and track days are a joke compared to lapping a kart. You pay $30 at most kart tracks and you can lap all day. 

By comparison most " track days " are $100 + and you get 60 minutes on track at best. I instructed at a few of these and they treat most people like grandmothers who have never driven anything. Kart tracks are much more free flowing and you don't have the hassle of someone telling you what level you're at unless you choose to go into a novice group or are an obvious danger to people. 

I can recall a few times at kart tracks where the organizer just got up and left leaving me and my friends the keys to an entire race facility. "Back in an hour, if you leave before just lock up and leave the key under the gate" were his words. We ran clockwise for 20 straight minutes, took a 15 minute break and then ran counter clockwise for the remainder of the hour. 

Track days are a business, often poorly run (in my experience) and there is a lot of ego involved with a huge expense that covers very little track time. You can get into a 100cc to 125cc kart for $1000-2500 dollars and spend $30 for an entry fee where your machine can pull 2G sustained cornering forces and peaks of 2.7 to 3.0G. 

If a track day cost $125 and I spend $30 going karting, by the time you attend 2 track days I have already purchased a new set of tires for my kart AND if my body can withstand the G force, I could be on track 3, 4, even 5x longer than you. If we did 10 sessions at this pace and then switched, guess whos going to be faster in the opposite person's car? 

Name a car that can do those numbers (cornering force and entry cost) for that cheap where you can rebuild the engine in your garage for $400-500 dollars if you're inclined to learn how to do so. Time attack / track days are something I'd get into after a few years in karting and I've been racing sports cars competitively since I was 15 years old. Like you said though, desire has a lot to do with it. Can only lead a horse to water, you can't make 'em drink. 

Just my .02 take it or leave it.


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JakWhite  cause Merica


love the foglight delete on the evasive motorsports FR-S