Street Racing Illustrated | SRMS: Cars, Coffee, and Racing 10.14.18

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | Gerry Burke and Phillip Pratt

Street Racing Made Safe’s 2nd Autocross event at AMR Motorplex in Homestead, Miami is exposing drivers to a whole new world of obsession.

Street Racing Illustrated | SRMS Cars, Coffee, and Racing 10.14.18Street Racing Made Safe’s (SRMS) second Autocross event hosted at the AMR Motorplex in Homestead, Miami, Florida, right outside the legendary Homestead Speedway, was a something of a culture shift. South Florida has always been a great place for auto enthusiasts. Probably why a private company is investing millions of dollars into a high-end driver’s club next to Opalocka airport. Year round sun, no snow, and very friendly emissions laws allow us to enjoy our machines day in and out. But for the most part, it’s always been about drag racing. Can’t blame anyone, it’s probably the easiest event to host.

Street Racing Illustrated | SRMS Cars, Coffee, and Racing 10.14.18Autocross has always been a niche kind of thing. Turnouts at parking lot hosted events generally have good turnouts. However, they are so few and far between, growing the event in terms of exposure was going to tough. When SRMS first teamed up with AMR and sold out all their tickets, I was impressed. It was new, and people trusted the SRMS name. It rained (or poured) that day, so it was hard to get a good read on what people really thought.

Street Racing Illustrated | SRMS Cars, Coffee, and Racing 10.14.18When they did it a second time under blue skies, I really took notice. Roughly 1/3 of their attendees were brand new. These weren’t the same hooligans from a month ago. All of a sudden the staging grounds turned into a hundred mini-pits with drivers jacking up their cars, rotating tires, comparing times, set-ups and exchanging tips. Tent’s and canopies were all over the place as families were settling in to spend the day. Autocross in Homestead isn’t fade, nor is it fly by night event. It’s growing and maturing into its own animal. There is officially more to Miami than just drag racing.

Street Racing Illustrated | SRMS Cars, Coffee, and Racing 10.14.18

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Bred for speed

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | Gerry Burke & Phillip Pratt

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

A large percentage of our genetic makeup comes from our grandparents. They say on average about twenty-five percent from each. Height, moles, complexion, eye and hair color can skip an entire generation and land smack-dab on an unsuspecting grandchild. Sometimes you get dealt a crown of raven-colored hair in a family of sandy-blondes. Maybe end up being a 6’5” giant with two 5-foot-something parents. Other times it’s not physical at all, and you get something completely different.  Like a love of cars and racing. That is exactly what 19-year old, third-generation, automobile enthusiast, Mattia Conte, was gifted with. Something his 2005 Subaru STI exemplifies from the front bumper to the rear.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

A resident of Miami Beach, Florida, Mattia, grew up surrounded by great role models. Other than having a mother that’s into cars herself, Mattia’s grandfather, Massimo, (a former Formula 1 driver, Rallycross vet and owner of a 2.5L STI swapped 98’ GC) kept the future Blob-eye driver steeped in the horsepower lifestyle. “I grew up watching him race…” Mattia remembers. “I rode in almost all of his cars, but the [Subaru] was my favorite, so eventually, I wanted to have one for myself.” After saving up, Mattia successfully sourced his dream-ride from a Craigslist ad. Over the next couple of years, he meticulously gathered a who’s who-list of trusted Subaru aftermarket part manufacturers. This resulted in a Blob-eye STI that was as far away from stock as it could be.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

The first thing you’ll notice about the STI is the color. Wrapped in battleship-gray it manages to both stand out among a row of cars and blend into the gray-asphalt below it. The color can be kind of low-key, so to break up any possible monotony, Mattia, installed AeroFlow V2 canards, a V-Limited front lip, C-Speed side-skirts, an Invictus Aero rear diffuser, Perrin wing-stabilizers and topped it all off with a 2007 WRX STI roof spoiler. The sheer amount of added aerodynamics might turn some tuners off but fret not. This isn’t an ‘all-show’-type of an Impreza.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

After suffering some unfortunate (but Subaru-typical) engine failure back in February, Matter decided to turn it up a few notches. With help from well-renowned tuners/builders, the WRXperts, he replaced his stock engine with an IAG Stage-3 closed-deck block, built out with Manley pistons and Toda rods. It was then matted to 2007 STI V25B heads. Assisting with the rise and fall of the Ferret valves, are springs and a set of Kelford Stage-2 272 camshafts.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

If you can get past all that sweet-sweet music, you’ll pick up on the whistle of the legendarily-consistent Blouch 3.0XT-R Dominator turbo. Making all that charged air more palatable for combustion, while not sacrificing response time, is a Grimmspeed top-mount intercooler. None of these fine pieces’ matter if the engine management isn’t on point. Luckily, that’s not an issue. Highly recommended tuner, Mike Botti, of Fat Botti Tuning, massaged Mattia’s built EJ25 to safely belt out more than 400 notes of horsepower utilizing the tried and true Cobb Accessport.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Attaching all this fine all-wheel-drive power to the ground are a set of 17×8 Enkei RPF1 racing wheels, wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE070 225/45 rubber. Raceland Ultimo coilovers help the Subaru flow over the pavement, while the factory provided Brembo calipers are lovingly stuffed with Hawk pads and are paired with a set of DBA drilled rotors, all the way around. The real beneficiary of Mattia’s excellent lineage is obviously his impressive Blob-eye. The end results of his build are definitely not reflective of his age. Sadly, these days many kids these days in the same position would be satisfied with an atmospheric blow-off valve, spiked lug nuts, and an obnoxious wrap-job. While Mattia admits to drawing inspiration from social media- it’s refreshing to see a tuner of this new-generation go down the right path.

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

Street Racing Illustrated | Mattia Conte’s 2005 Subaru STI

The Breaking Down| 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Engine| IAG STAGE-3 CLOSED DECK EJ25 BLOCKS, 07’ V25B STI HEADS, KELFORD STAGE-2 272 CAMSHAFTS, FERRET: VALVES, SPRINGS & RETAINERS, DEATSCHWERKS 850cc FUEL INJECTORS, BLOUCH 3.0XT-R DOMINATOR TURBO, GRIMMSPEED TMIC, MISHIMOTO RADIATOR, GFB BLOW VALVE, COBB AIR-INTAKE, INVIDIA: N1 RACING EXHAUST & CATLESS DOWNPIPE

Engine Management| COBB ACCESSPORT; TURNED BY MIKE BOTTI OF FAT BOTTI TUNING

Transmission& Drivetrain| ACT STAGE-3 HEAVY DUTY CLUTCH, KARTBOY SHORT SHIFTER

Suspension& Chassis Mods| RACELAND ULTIMO COILOVERS

Braking| HAWK HPS PADS, DBA DRILLED ROTORS

Wheels| ENKEI RPF1 17X8 w/ 45MM OFFSET, 15MM SPACERS

Tires| BRIDGESTONE POTENZA RE070 225/45

Body Mods| BATTLESHIP-GRAY WRAP, AEROFLOW V2 CANARDS, V-LIMITED FRONT LIP, C-SPEED SIDE-SKIRTS, INVICTUS V2 REAR DIFFUSER, PERRIN WING STABILIZERS, 07’ STI ROOF SPOILER

Street Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean Culture

Street Racing Illustrated | Clean Culture Ballpark Banger 2018

Clean Culture Ballpark Banger 2018 x Street Racing Illustrated

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | Kevin Zambrano

Clean Culture is no stranger to South Florida. They host two, sometimes three, shows down here every year. Even with their strong year-round presence and hordes of fans and crew members spamming the roads- it doesn’t change the hype, excitement or the buzz in the air leading up to a show… and most of the time, that’s just the night before! If nothing else, the Clean Culture crew has mastered the art of finding interesting locales to host their signature events. One of the most unique among them is dubbed the Ballpark Banger in West Palm Beach, Florida. With cars strategically staged around the FITTEAM Ballpark baseball diamond, the guys at Clean Culture do what they do best- set a bomb atmosphere that is both chill and excitement. Enjoy the photos from our coverage below- peace.

Street Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean CultureStreet Racing Illustrated | Kevin Zambrano | Clean Culture

Street Racing Illustrated | Unusual Suspect – Joshua Rodriguez’s Track-Bred CTS-V

Joshua Rodriguez’s ferocious 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | Gerry Burke & Phillip Pratt

Joshua Rodriguez's 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

The name Cadillac denotes visions of old-school American luxury. It’s the car that an entire generation of working-class Americans strove to afford. The prize that’s bought at the end of a long career, or after a big raise. It’s the trophy that’s loving parked in a garage and washed every weekend, whether it’s dirty or not, outside of a two-story house surrounded by a white picket fence. I’m envisioning a shady street or a cul-de-sac of some sort (stay with me). The last thing anyone expects to hear when a Cadi is fired up is a ruckus so violent, and sonically disruptive it drowns out just about anything and anyone within a 100-feet. While Joshua Rodriguez, the owner of a 09’ CTS-V admits that he originally bought his Cadi as a fun daily, if you’ve been around his car while it’s running, it’s no secret that he’s gone far beyond that intent.

Joshua Rodriguez's 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

It’s easy to forget that Cadillac, an automobile-line for the middle and upper class, is made by GM. The same company that produces Chevrolet, and in turn, one of the fastest production cars in America, the Corvette. I bring this up because the CTS-V shares something in common with it. The engine. Inside the bay of this luxury sports sedan lies the 6.2L, 556 HP, heart of an American supercar. The supercharged LSA V8 (a detuned version of the Corvette’s LS9) inside of Joshua’s CTS-V is similar to the one that powered the C6 ZR1, but with a few parts implemented to tame the beast; such as hypereutectic pistons versus the forged pieces found in the LS9. While the CTS-V is about 849lbs heavier than its Chevy cousin, coming in at around 4222lbs from the factory, the power provided by the LSA is more than enough to keep it faster than most other factory-tuned vehicles… but friends, Josh’s Cady ain’t stock.

Joshua Rodriguez's 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

The initial intention for Josh’s CTS-V was to keep it in its original state. I mean, who wouldn’t be happy with a 500+ HP car to drive back and forth to work? Josh… that’s who. “I was looking for a nice, powerful, daily driver…” Josh explained. “I had an Injen air-intake on the car within a week of bringing it home.” From the aforementioned noise, his LSA makes, Josh obviously didn’t stop there. Over the span of 3-years Josh dove headfirst into making his Cadi a firebreather. Not satisfied with engine’s stock levels of boost, he upgraded his factory supplied 1.9L blower to a ported Joker Performance Stage 5 unit. Allowing the greater volume of air to enter is a TPIS 102mm throttle body mated to a 5-inch charge pipe.

Holding the lion’s share of work on the powerplant are the ported cylinder heads, with all it’s valvetrain pieces sourced from Brian Tooley Racing, along with a Stage 3 PDS Camshaft (the culprit responsible for its rowdy idle). A 2.38 upper pulley and a 9.1 lower pulley on an ATI Super Damper help complete the set-up while Injector Dynamics 850cc fuel injectors and a JMS pump booster ensure the LS is supplied with ample amounts of E85. At the time of the writing this piece, Josh hasn’t made too many passes with this set-up, but prior to upgrading the supercharger and related pieces, the CTS-V did a 10.24-second pass at 135 MPH on around 715 WHP. On the current set-up, we’d assume the car is quite faster and will probably break 9-seconds on the next trip to the track.

Joshua Rodriguez's 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

With the firepower available to him Josh was able to rise to as high #4 on the SRMS Top 10 List, which is no simple task with the amounts of fast cars that come out for the monthly event. However, the success didn’t come without its pitfalls. At an event, last fall, Josh’s tranny broke “I only had a few weeks to source a built transmission and carbon driveshaft…” Josh recalls. “I also had to get the car to Fastproms in Tampa to have it tuned. Finished 2-days before the event!” Luckily, most of the work on the Cadi is done in-house by himself and his crew known as “Theory Garage”. So, some labor and time are saved there. The Pitbull-like stance of the Cadillac is aggressively complimented by a staggered set of Weld RT-S wheels wrapped in luscious Mickey Thompson Street Radials.

It’s amazing what we gearheads do when a project falls into our laps. Within 3-years of owning it, Josh’s Cadi went from daily driver to being amongst the fastest street cars in South Florida. The itch for velocity coupled with the satisfaction of building a machine up with your own hands can be all-consuming. Might even classify it as an obsession. Even with the neck pains, raw knuckles, and dirty, broken, fingernails that come from wrenching on cars; I don’t think there are many other things that Josh would rather spend his nights doing.

Joshua Rodriguez's 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Instagram: @blazin07ss

Tiny sensor and Battery "married" to the tire with unique adhesive | Photo Courtesy of Pirelli Tires

Street Racing Illustrated | Pirelli develops the world’s first truly “smart” tire system.

Are you ready for a Pirelli “smart” tire?

Story | Phillip Pratt

 

Pirelli P-Zero that may carry new technoology | Photo Courtesy of Pirelli Tires

Pirelli P-Zero that may carry new technology | Photo Courtesy of Pirelli Tires

 

Everything seems to be connected to the net these days. TVs, air conditioners, cameras, even wrist watches and refrigerators. Cars, however, have been linking to the web for years, but now Pirelli Tires has taken this to the next level. Getting information on tire pressure is nothing innovative. Most modern cars have the option. The Italian company is circumventing the need to invest in a $20k automobile to experience this luxury by installing a sensor in a tire they are dubbing “Connesso” (translates from Italian to English as “connected”). And get this; all this data can be available on your phone via Bluetooth. In hopes that manufacturers will also be interested in offering this to their customers they are also selling another version of it by the name of “Cyber Tire”. Catchy. The sensor will provide drivers with more than just tire pressure data, however. Everything from the vertical load and temperature will be the driver’s fingertips. This easily accessible information will allow folks to more accurately dial in suspension set-ups and better predict braking based on the situation, all without adverse effecting tire performance… and probably adding another ten-minutes of downtime between races at the track.

 

How it all works | Photo Courtesy of Pirelli Tires

How it all works | Photo Courtesy of Pirelli Tires

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Street Racing Illustrated | Behind the Wheel with Ricky “Disruptive” Alduen

“Dream big and be disruptive. If you are doing the same thing as everyone else, you’ve already failed” – Forbes

Interviewer | Clifton Hernandez

Photos | Rafael Gabaldon

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

Passing judgment is easy. Look at something, and make your mind up about it. It’s human nature in many ways. What separates the small minded from those that think with a bit more nuance is the ability to look deeper and appreciate the subtle (and not so subtle) aspects of a person or place. Ricky “Disruptive” Alduen’s RX-7 is probably one of the most eye-catching FD specimens in South Florida, heck, probably the entire Eastern Seaboard. At first glance, most would brush it off as a trailer queen. A vehicle that goes from garage to trailer, to show floor, and back to the trailer. Not the case. As many natives of the SoFlo area can attest, Ricky actually drives this thing, and with enough power that even he admits makes him nervous, his FD is no primped-up princess.

 

Street Racing Illustrated: So your car… it looks like a bunch of fun.

Ricky Alduen: Yes! It definitely is!

 

SRI: Not to go off topic, but you’ve got a matching Slingshot… What gets you more looks?

Ricky: Believe it or not, this one [gestured towards the RX-7].

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: The RX-7 gets more attention?

Ricky: With car people, for sure. With the general public, you know, everyone’s going to be like, yo look at that thing, especially when I drop [the Slingshot] down to the ground. But car people give the RX-7 more attention for sure.

 

SRI: Looking at everything in your garage from the Slingshot to the FD… you custom make a lot, have to admit.

Ricky: I like custom @#$%. [laughs]

 

SRI: What’s your favorite piece on here?

Ricky: The one you cannot see… my headliner. I have a carbon fiber headliner.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Ricky’s custom carbon fiber headliner isn’t visible in this shot but… it’s there.

 

SRI: Nobody has that…

Ricky: Nope. My wheels too. Custom order from Japan, hand assembled, made to order by Mackin Industries. I typically stick to Rays when I buy wheels.

 

SRI: So we’ve got a lot of “first time” @!#$% on this car, I see. So what originally got you into an RX-7?

Ricky: I’d have to say back in 19[Redacted], I was walking out of High School on my way home like I normally did and out of nowhere I hear this engine idling [makes the signature “brap-brap-brap” rotary sound]. It was a 1984 GSL-SE, a burgundy first-generation RX-7. I just stopped and listened to it. It belonged to a classmates’ father. Every day he’d come to pick his daughter up and I’d just stand there and listen to it idle. That sound… you know, it’s different than any other car. Completely different. I fell in love with it. From the first generation.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: Takes me back to when we used to visit the track down here. Back when it was called Moroso. There used to be this guy in the stands we’d call “Rotary-Man”. He had this bull-horn, and he’d just be losing his mind anytime a car pulled up to the line with a rotary engine. So much fun to be around that kind of passion, you know, for anything. But that’s how I got introduced to the sound of that engine, what made me take notice.

Ricky:  Yeah man, it’s that sound, I fell in love with it. And the look, it’s so sexy even back then. It was right then, I was done. I had to get me one of these. But I couldn’t afford it. Obviously, I was still in High School. I saved and I tried to buy one, but then I looked at insurance for it and was like, what?

 

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: How many RX-7s have you had, so far?

Ricky: Three. Two first gens, and this one. There was a point when I had this one, a silver FB, a gold FB, my Veilside 350z [points towards a photo on the wall], and my Spyder Can-Am. All here, in the garage and outside.

 

SRI: How long have you had this one?

Ricky: Six or seven years?

 

SRI: So which one was favorite out of them?

Ricky: This one. This one, for sure.

 

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Be Disruptive

 

SRI: Why?

Ricky: Man, what’s there not to like? I mean, I tore it apart. I took every single bolt out. I wanted to take my time and build it the way I wanted. For two and half years it wasn’t drivable. Engine out, front off, seats, interior, roof… a complete shell. We painted the shell-

 

SRI: Awesome paint job by the way.

Ricky: We painted it in a storage container…

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: Sounds like a story by itself. Where did you find this color? Were there any other experiments or was this the color you always wanted?

Ricky: Because of my line of work, I’m used to planning things out way in advance. I had this color in mind before I even had the car. I found it while I was still with my Veilside 350z. A friend of mine, a painter and body-guy, Frankie, pulled up one day with an orange Civic. I told him how much I loved the color and asked if he had the code, and he said “nope, its custom”, but of course, he knew mixtures. The first thing I actually painted this color ended up being the Spyder Can-Am, then the RX-7 and finally the Slingshot.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Ricky’s color-matched Slingshot

 

SRI: You’ve said this a few times in passing since we’ve been here. That you want to be the ‘first’ or ‘only’ with something…

Ricky: It’s not to be the “only one”. It’s a bit different. Like a lot of people do wide-body [with this car], I don’t like wide-body. I like to see, and I respect what they do, but this kind of car you have cut into the body to get more space to roll. I don’t like it. You’re screwing with a car that has perfect body lines. Perfect. I think it was ahead of its time [in terms of styling].

 

SRI: I remember back in about 2003, Super Street Magazine had this feature, a red RX-7 with like 800HP. I just thought a car that beautiful had no business having that much power.

Ricky: Yeah, you can get a lot of power out of these little engines! Not everyone has a rotary these days. Like even the wheels. Everyone has those Ray Engineering Ts. Not saying that doesn’t look awesome, but I wanted something a bit different.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: What other cars have you owned?

Ricky: I’ve had two 350zs, I had Toyota Corolla 1.8- you had to have a Toyota Corolla 1.8. I had a twin-cam GT-S. I fell in love with the Celicas. You know how it was back in the day. You had the club and the events… I had a friend, who I used to swap cars with sometimes. I’d give him mine, and I’d take his. He had a red convertible. I loved it, so I went and got my own. I got a white convertible and put white seats in it with a bangin’ system (of course). Super-super dope, that was like the pantie-dropper!

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Ricky Alduen

 

SRI: What’s the show scene like for you with the RX-7?

Ricky:  I do it for fun, the love. Tell you a funny story. I was on my way back from my shop Pettit Racing. I got on Commercial Blvd approaching i95. On the left, I see Elite Roads doing what they used to do all the time, hosting a car show. I was going to get gas and head home but I wanted to see what was up. Soon as I tried to pull in the crowd just went ‘whoosh’, all around the car, I couldn’t get out… After I was able to park it finally, an hour passed (because the show was ending) and I won first place.

 

SRI: Just like that? By accident?

Ricky: Just like that, man [laughs].

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | The Elite Roads trophy front and center

 

SRI: You said you were coming back from Pettit Racing?

Ricky: Pettit Racing, yes. They built my engine, built my block. One of the things I did… people do swaps. I don’t believe in swaps for this car, I don’t. I respect whoever does it, I’ve got no problem with a 2JZ or an LS swap but my thing is; this car is unique. It has a unique engine. Everyone else has pistons, this is rotary, keep it rotary. So what I did is, I took out the old engine, and threw it in the garbage and told Cam to build me a new one. Everything in here is new, rotors, housing- everything.

 

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Engine built from the bottom up by Pettit Racing

 

SRI: Where are you in terms of building a show car, versus a race car?

Ricky: I’m right in the middle. I can’t say this is all race, because you’d see me drag racing, but at the same time look at this $#%&. It’s about a balance… got another story for you. I was at an event at Moroso (now called Palm Beach International Raceway), and this kid comes up talking; saying I was “all-show no go” or whatever. I smiled. I really don’t care what people think or whatever. I don’t get into that really. On the way home on the Turnpike, the same kid pulls up next to me. He’s in a Nissan 280. Of course, he starts jumping and revving. Now I’m just cruising; my windows are down, I’m relaxed, not looking for anything. Then he says it again. Yells “Yep! All-show!”. I’m doing like 80 MPH in 4th [gear]. I drop down into 3rd and just like that, I’m doing 140. He couldn’t catch up; disappeared. A couple months later at another show, the same kid comes up to me; says he blew his engine back then! To be honest, the car scared me that day. It just kept pulling. It was really dangerous and I was doing something really stupid! Note to self: Never do that $#%^ again. Ever.

 

SRI: So you have fun with the car, you’re not afraid to mess around.

Ricky: I like to push it. I don’t trailer it; I drive it around. All the way up to North Carolina. Not a problem. I did that ‘Tail of the Dragon’, it’s the place where you can really just abuse this car. I built this car to have fun on the road. I built it for road racing. I might lose to a car with a big turbo in a straightaway, but curves? Nah.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD | Custom built carbon fiber door panels

 

SRI: You go by Disruptive. It’s written on the car; you reference it on social media. Where did it come from?

Ricky: It’s simple. Disruptive… it’s not about being rowdy or doing stupid things on the road. Disruptive is about expressing our passion for cars in an individual way. The idea is to create a positive impact and try to change the general idea that associates our passion with a negative connotation due to some few that are killing the scene by doing stupid $@#% on the streets.

 

SRI: You did a sick spread with Super Street Magazine a few years back, how did that come about?

Ricky: One of my sponsors, Apex’i contacted me and said they’d like to install one of their suspension sets on my car. My contact Masaki recommended this set they use for our drift cars. 100% bolt-on and already dialed in, ready to install right out of the box. I put them on and send the pics to Apex’i. After that, Masaki called me and told me he wanted to introduce me to, an editor at Super Street, Sam Du (@duspeed). Turned out, he was going to be here in Miami and wanted to see the car while he was in town. We met up down on South Beach, took some test shots and asked if I wanted to do a spread. Just like that.

 

SRI: How often do you drive the RX-7?

Ricky: I used to drive it all the time. Now, not as much. Maybe once or twice a month, to make sure everything is working. I built it to enjoy it. If I go to a show, I drive it. Definitely not a trailer queen.

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

SRI: So… is this your dream car?

Ricky: Yes. This is it, right here.

 

SRI: Do you understand how rare that is? Just about anyone else I’d pitch that question to would go on these long rants about what they’d been chasing, and what they’d do to it-

Ricky: This is a little boy’s dream come true. I was a teenager in high school, in 9th grade, you know, an earlier model, but I saw it and fell in love with. To be able to have this, x-amount of years later? It’s a dream. And it’s not done. It’s not perfect, I’m still dreaming of rotary perfection.

 

 

Ricky's fully built-out FD

Ricky’s fully built-out FD

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Street Racing Illustrated | We, the “unsavory” – TX2K18

Harris County officials attempt to sully the intentions of the annual TX2K racing festivities.

Story | Phillip Pratt

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Zachery Muddiman for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

Before we start, we’d like to set something straight about what we’re about here at Street Racing Illustrated and subsequently SRMS. We do not condone, promote, or try to justify, illegal street racing of any kind. Our primary focus is and always has been to journalize our culture in its many facets including the drivers, builders, tuners, cars, bikes and legit events where our talents and passion can be safely put on display.

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Zachery Muddiman for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

TX2K is an annual event that is currently held at the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, a city that resides in both Harris and Chambers Counties. The massive event draws in racers for hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Like other events of its ilk, TX2K provides enthusiasts with a safe outlet where they can go W.O.T. (wide open throttle) without worrying about something or someone getting in between them and the finish line. The latest iteration of the event was held this past weekend from the 15th through the 18th of March. It’s also the same weekend that law enforcement in the area decided to launch an operation which netted at least 42 arrests of people participating in illegal street racing activities of various degrees.

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Joshua Hopson for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

Now, this isn’t an article defending anyone that found themselves in trouble. If you got roped, you know what you were doing. It comes with the territory. The larger issue with this is the connotation some choose to pin to the entire culture. Prosecutors involved with the cases claim; “the TX2K drag racing at Royal Purple Raceway brings in an unsavory crowd into our area…” This is what we call throwing the baby out with the bath water. Instead of praising TX2K for attempting to provide an option, they are demonized and accused of creating the problem.

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Joshua Hopson for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

In the Channel 13 report that broke this story, it’s said that the event attracts participants from “as far as Ohio”. Something I do not doubt. But to say TX2K “brings in an unsavory crowd into our area” infers that this crowd doesn’t exist year-round (I’m not calling our kind “unsavory”, chill). Let’s be honest, even if a track was open every day and every night of the week, there would still be some form of racing happening in our streets. It’s an activity that’s been around since people began using engines instead of horses to get around. Despite what doomsday screeching, Fast and Furious watching, news anchors would have you believe, it’s not some kind of new fad that started in the early 2000’s.

 

This is the official response from Peter of TX2K Enterprises:

Royal Purple Raceway and TX2K have always been committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment [for] racers and fans alike. TX2K is a track-focused event that gives racers a chance to race one another at the most premier race track in the country. Neither the track nor the event condone street racing and plan to continue to offer a street car event in the [safest] place possible…the race track.

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Zachery Muddiman for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

Problem is; tracks are disappearing around the country. Most drag strips are built miles away from residential areas. Even then, they have strict ordinances placed on them in terms of what hours and days they can be in operation. More often than not, what gets tracks shut down isn’t the street racing that happens around the area, as we saw in Texas this past weekend, but the noise it creates for nearby residents… which is the reason they are built so far into the sticks, to begin with. This problem only presents itself once developers start to buy up land near these establishments, and then build multi-million-dollar homes for people with deep pockets that have the resources to apply pressure to officials to have the nearby noise machine closed for what they eventually cite as, “safety reasons” (yeah… right).

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Cody Carey for TX2K and 1320 Video

 

Allowing words such as unsavory to be associated with racers and legitimate, structured, events like TX2K, damage the entire culture and makes it easier for lawmakers to take away the very tools that help prevent what they claim to be fighting. While there were 2 deaths attributed to street racing in 2016 (unrelated to TX2K), there has never been a death on the streets during a TX2K event. A simple Google search of DUI deaths in the same area and you’ll wonder why lawmakers are not more concerned about that statistic.

 

Photo: Harris County Precinct 8 Constable's Office

Photo: Harris County Precinct 8 Constable’s Office

 

In fact, in 2015 Harris County ranked among the highest in the state for substance-related deaths while driving (149). This is not to diminish someone losing a loved one to street racing, but it puts in perspective what this is truly about; quite frankly, it’s about noise, not public safety. Which leads one to wonder why officials don’t just partner with TX2K and present a united front instead of threatening to shut it down. There’s nothing wrong with shining a light on something that is a legitimate concern, not just in Texas but across the country, but to denigrate something that is actually helping to stem the tide is short-sighted and ultimately, irresponsible.

 

Photo Courtesy of TX2K & 1320 Video

Photo taken by Cody Carey for TX2K and 1320 Video

Street Racing Illustrated would like to thank TX2k for sharing their thoughts with us and 1320 Video and all their gifted contributors.

Street Racing Illustrated | The WRXperts

Rodrigo and Juan of the WRXperts turn adversity into opportunity.

Story & Photos | Phillip Pratt

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts

 

There’s an old saying about ‘opportunity’, well there are several dozen, but two stick out the most to me; the first being “When Opportunity knocks, you’d better answer it” and the next “Opportunity knocks but once”. While I unequivocally agree with the first, the second isn’t always true. Sometimes opportunity doesn’t just show up once and then walk away. Like a Jehovah Witness on a Saturday, it can be persistent and either bang on the door until someone answers, or just keep coming back. Both of these proverbs describe the journey of South Florida’s WRXperts, Subaru Specialists, to the proverbial “tee”.

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts | JC of The WRXperts

 

Individually, the two halves of the WRXperts, Rodrigo Ruiz, and Juan Cardentey, were already accomplished mechanics before they decided to work together. It wasn’t until Rodrigo needed a job done, using a particular set of tools he didn’t possess, did the two meet through a mutual acquaintance. After the work was completed, Juan and Rod found themselves continuously running into each other on the street. Turned out they lived within just five minutes of each other. After fate pushed them together on several occasions, they finally exchanged numbers at a local supermarket, of all places. A little while later, Rod injured his hand and was unable to complete a job he’d begun. During a couple of all-nighters, Rod and Juan decided to join forces and pool their talents to create what would later be called WRXperts… I say “later” because for the briefest of moments they were going by the hilarious moniker “FAH Q Motorsports”, a holdover from Rodrigo’s solo days.

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts | Rodrigo Ruiz and Juan Cardentey

 

After being a mostly mobile service, and when necessary doing work out of Rod’s Pembroke Pines home (which was becoming a hassle with HOA and the City applying pressure for them to “cease and desist”), in late 2013 the two were able to secure a space in a body shop in Miami called Perfection Paint & Body. “We were busy. Every day of the week, and then the weekends. It got so busy I ended up quitting my job of fifteen years” Juan recalled, “We needed somewhere to wrench”. The workload was consistent enough that Rod too left his employment. Eventually, they even brought on other mechanics, JC and then Andy. With just enough space to squeeze in two lifts and their tools, they made it work for over four years. A tribute to their reliable and fast work, the WRXperts built-up a steady clientele, despite not being in the most convenient of locations. The best route to their shop was via a multi-lane, perpetually under-construction highway named the “Palmetto”. A notoriously slow-moving route during the day, aka business hours. “We’d get photos sent to us from customers stuck in traffic, but they’d still make the trip, and we’re grateful for the loyalty.”

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts | Multi-generational knowledge base

 

For those not familiar with the layout of South Florida; the area the WRXperts relocated to after leaving Rod’s house in Pembroke Pines is roughly twenty-three miles South, in the heart of Miami. Twenty-three miles may not seem like a big deal, but once morning traffic kicks in, a customer could easily be in for a forty-five minute to an hour of driving, and then some! And that’s assuming they were coming from the South Broward area. There are customers that routinely made the trip from as far north as West Palm Beach. Now that’s loyalty.

 

Photo Courtesy of Rodrigo Ruiz' Facebook Page

The WRXperts | The WRXperts and friends moving out of their starter home in Miami

 

Even with a steady stream of Subies coming in and a rock-solid rep, the WRXperts were bound to hit some tumultuous weather. The owner of the shop they occupied sold the building to a land developer who had plans to level it. With only nine-days’ notice, they had to move out whilst in the middle of projects ranging from oil changes to full engine builds. “Even with offering mobile services and finishing builds at customer residences, we lost a lot of business in the transition…” Rod lamented “probably around four to five [thousand dollars] of work.”

 

Photo Courtesy of Rodrigo Ruiz' Facebook Page

The WRXperts | WRXpert Andy doing some in-home service during their transition

 

After searching many of the industrial areas of South Florida from Bird Road all the way up to Opalocka, Juan finally came across an online listing for a shop in West Park, a city just north of Miami-Dade County. He was unfamiliar with the area despite the fact it neighbored his city of residence, Miramar “I didn’t know where the hell West Park was! I never heard of it” Juan remarked with a laugh “It was right off Miramar Pkwy and 441! I was like, ‘sweet, its close by!’” Sweet indeed. The shop is in between all the major highways, a few blocks South of a Subaru dealer, and even has an auto parts store immediately next door.

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts | All four lifts getting some love in the WRXperts new home

 

Opportunity didn’t just knock on these guy’s door; it kicked it down and ground its muddy platforms on their white couch. With help from friend/customer/Realtor, Michael Liming, the guys jumped on it and struck a deal. With more room than they ever thought they’d have, the WRXperts have five lifts at their disposal with space to spare, including a room dedicated exclusively to engine builds and get this… a waiting room. With chairs! Only loyal customers will under the ramifications of that. With a new centrally located, larger space and a base of faithful customers at their backs, there is only room to grow for the guys. As far as their relationship with good old opportunity, well, I doubt that this will be the last visit.

 

The WRXperts

The WRXperts | (left to right) Juan, JC, Rodrigo and Andy

 

 

Instagram: @wrxperts

Phone: 786-985-6094

Address: 5642 SW 25th Street, West Park, FL 33023

The Center of Rotation

There’s more to the name COR Wheels than you know

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | Phillip Pratt & Gerry Burke

 

 

Have you ever picked up a car magazine and found yourself staring at the finished product of someone’s blood, sweat, tears, and money? Letting the finely crafted lines of the metal beast just envelope your every thought? Of course, you have, we’ve all been there. Heck, we probably frequent there more than we do our jobs (which isn’t a good thing if you want to build one yourself…). A lot of work goes into completing a project, some would say it’s never really “done”. One of the biggest components of such a build is the rolling stock that’s chosen for it. The size, width, offset, color, style, and even the number of spokes; it all matters. It can make or break any set up, and not just in terms of looks, but how the car responds and even moves down the street or track.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | Custom center caps that can be made to order by the customer

 

With that said, how often have you paused for a moment and thought about where and how on earth these are made? The time that’s put into CAD designing it, choosing materials, and testing stress levels. So much more goes into making a set of wheels beyond choosing the color and size. For partners Christopher Robles and Robert Herrera at COR Wheels in Miami, Florida, the process has been ongoing for more than 20 years. Starting their careers with notable wheel companies such as AVUS Wheels and OZ Racing, Chris and Robert took their experience and passion and created COR Wheels. The name COR came from a collaboration of their two minds as they tried to figure out what described them best as a brand.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | The face of wheel before it’s assembled in house

 

From a machining standpoint, the term “core” refers to the center of rotation, but that’s not exactly where it came from “We were always at the center of other wheel companies we worked for in the past, that we helped build” Chris remembers. “We went through a series of horrible names, but we kept coming back to say that we were always at the core of things. That’s when we looked at each other and agreed on ‘core’”. Of course, that got shorted to simply ‘COR’ before everything was finalized.  They wanted a streamlined approach to their brand and that’s also how they decided on their logo. The three hexagons; “its car related because it looks like a lug nut or tire tread pattern. It’s really dynamic, taking a wheel and adding sharp edges, kind of like what we did here [at COR Wheels]”.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | Examples from their beautiful collection

 

As for the product itself, COR only deals with the best quality available which is ‘forged product’. What exactly is forged product, you ask? Well, to understand that we need to go into the other type which is ‘casting’. This process is similar to baking a cake, but instead of pouring cool batter into pan or tin, we’re talking about molten aluminum! With this process comes imperfections and impurities within the mold including air pockets which can lead to breaks and cracks. There are different methods and levels/grades of castings but in general, this is the least expensive way of making a wheel and is generally considered a second-rate product. Might want to look into how your wheels were made.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | Stock on its way to becoming something unforgettable

 

The forged product starts with something that is akin to what in Christopher’s words, looks like a giant hockey puck. To be exact, a T6061 aluminum disk with a 9-inch diameter and a 7 to 8-inch rise (size depending on the size of the wheel being made). The disk is heated and taken to a forging press where pressures around 25000 tons are applied to it. The process can be painstakingly complex. To give you an idea of just how much goes into something like this, there are only four foundries in the US that can do this and of those four, only three actually produce these products for wheel manufacturing. All companies that work from a forged product get their material from a handful of suppliers. The difference in the product is the amount R&D that’s put in by each company.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | How your typical high-end wheel starts out as

 

Once that process is complete the forgings are transported. From this point on, all work is done in-house by the skilled hands at COR Wheels. The forgings are then heat treated, this process gives the wheel its tensile strength. It’s what makes them strong enough to hold the weight of a car. Once it’s sufficiently protected against bending and deflection, the wheel, is placed into a CNC mill, weighing in at about 60 to 70 pounds. By the time the excess material is finished being cut away, and the wheel is somewhat resembling its final form, it weighs closer to 19 or 20 pounds!

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | What’s left-over after the milling process. Don’t worry, they recycle.

 

Having four machines in-house, the crew at COR can run on a twenty-four-hour basis, if necessary. This kind of productivity isn’t just for their line of awesome wheels but many around the country and in some instances, the world. “We pioneered private-label manufacturing…” Christopher reflects. “Any real wheel brand that is manufactured in South Florida, we had something to do with that company at some point.”

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | In-house CNC machine

 

Once finished on the CNC machines, the wheels are then taken to the second of their two facilities for the final touches; hand-brushing, painting, baking, and in the case of multi-piece wheels, assembling. Christopher, by his own admission, is a car enthusiast and wants to put out a good product that enhances whatever it’s bolted onto. “I love making something cool looking, look even better, unique or personalized. I also think there’s a very fine balance between making it look good and overdoing it”. An approach he doesn’t just institute for himself and his personal projects, but for COR itself.

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | Custom wheel going through the hand-brushing process

 

COR Wheels

COR Wheels | Wheels are assembled by hand on-site

 

“My favorite part of working in the wheel industry is when I see a young person driven by their passion for cars, that may not necessarily have the means to afford a set of quality wheels, work hard and sacrifice themselves in order to see our wheels on their car. It’s very humbling to know that our product can create such drive as well as make someone fall in love with their car simply by adding COR Wheels.”

 

Website: www.corwheels.com

Ph: 305-477-5850

Instagram: @corwheels

Street Racing Illustrated | “Chasing the Rabbit”

Chasing the Rabbit

John Garcia’s sick daily driven 2013 FR-S

Story | Phillip Pratt

Photos | John Garcia

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

The time-honored practice of the daily driver seems to be less and less embraced these days. It’s becoming increasingly rare to see neck-breakers during commutes and parked in grocery store parking lots (Scratch that last part. Grocery store parking lots are breeding grounds for dings, dents, and fender benders! Stay away from those). Trailer queens are starting to infest the scene. Many of the more awe-inspiring builds we see at shows, meets, and even the track, rarely experience the calming sensation of an empty avenue and cool, clear morning.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

I get it. Everyone doesn’t want to take the chance of some idiot smashing into their pride and joy and no, there aren’t too many full-race clutches out there that are all that traffic friendly. I’m not impractical. I believe everything has its place, but really, what’s the point putting that much time and loot into a project you’re only going to enjoy twice or thrice (yes, it’s a word) a month? See, you agree with me. It’s nonsense and U.S. Army Infantryman, John Garcia, is a soldier after my own heart. And his widebody, supercharged, daily driven, 2013 Scion FR-S is exactly the kind of street machine we can all appreciate.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

The transition from factory trim, to what we see now didn’t happen overnight. John has owned the FR-S a little under five years now, purchasing it new, back in 2013. He did this shortly after he returned home from deployment in Afghanistan. Subsequently, it’s also about the same time he acquired his license here in the states, originally hailing from the Dominican Republic. If for some reason, it’s gone unnoticed by you up until now, let me make this clear; the ZN6 chassis cars are popular. Whether it’s because of its sporty styling, affordability, or near 50/50 weight distribution; it has plenty of selling points that attract young and seasoned enthusiasts alike.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

Having as many model names as it does manufacturers doesn’t hurt either. This created a rich environment and has made aftermarket parts plentiful, and in turn, affordable. Herein lies the problem. A big part of our culture is building something that stands out from the crowd. With only so many available factory colors, sometimes it takes more than a nice set of wheels and spoiler kit to ensure that a row of 86’s, BRZ’s or FR-S’ at a car meet, doesn’t look like an overflow lot from a neighboring dealership.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

To address this dilemma, some enthusiasts can spend up to three-thousand dollars on a wrap, coil-overs, some rims and then call it a day. That’s typically the case for a lot of builders out there. But that wasn’t enough for John. It’s the reason why when he decided to change up the look on his FR-S, he spent days combing the internet. “I went through every widebody kit available for the car” John recalls. “There were days in which all I did was look at widebody 86’s to see which was the most attractive to me.” That search came to an end when he came across the Rocket Bunny v1 Pandem kit. Choosing to go with the version II, John sourced the kit from none other than the legendary performance parts manufacturer, GReddy. At the time of purchase, John was one of only five to make it stateside through the company.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

Now, this isn’t a couple of flared fenders and a truck lip attached with 3M tape. This kit, or what I like to call “a full body overhaul”, has more than twenty-five pieces! It may not be to everyone’s taste. In many scenes, our culture has transitioned from ‘wild’ and ‘audacious’ to more of a ‘tastefully conservative’ mood as of late (thankfully). Right now, clean is king. However, John’s decision to keep his FR-S a pearlescent white, tones down what many might perceive as “too busy”. It’s a pricey addition to the car, and having the work done through a professional shop can cost almost as much, depending on what your relationship is like with them. This is probably why John chose to tackle the job personally. “I’ve done all the work to the car. The first thing I purchased for it was a GReddy CAI (cold air intake).” John explains. “[When I first started out], installing an air intake seemed like something impossible for my skill level. Since then, my skills as a mechanic have greatly improved.”

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S | Kraftwerks Supercharged Boxer Engine

 

That they have. Installing the Kraftwerks C30 Supercharger is a far cry from a CAI! The blower bumped the base power of the flat-four motor from 200HP up to what John estimates to be between 270 to 300WHP. Not earth-shattering by any stretch of the imagination, but just enough to have fun with and offset any additional weight, while making sure that infamous boxer engine stays reliable. Connecting the car to the road are a set of staggered 18×9.5/ 18×11 Rays Volk Racing TE37V Mark-II forged wheels, wrapped in Michelin tires. John’s hard work, patience, and good taste have paid off in the way of an eye-catching machine. If by chance you see him on the streets be sure to do more than compliment him on his creation. Wish him well and thank him for the sacrifices he’s endured so that we may continue to pursue our passions and enjoy our many freedoms.

 

John’s 2013 Scion FR-S

 

Instagram: @john9207