When is a Street Sleeper Quicker Than a Full-On Race Car?

Uncategorized Feb 03, 2018

When is a street sleeper quicker than a full-on race car?

When it’s Steve Haydon’s 97 EL91 Toyota Starlet Turbo, that’s when.

He races Street Sprints at Lakeside Park and he won the street series in Road6 category for 2017 with best time of 1 minute 02 secs.  That’s quicker than a lot of the Group C full-on racing touring cars of the 1980’s!

And Steve is so laid back, he hasn’t even got a photo I can show you of the car on the race track.

If you were thinking about beating him in 2018, you might bring any atmo 6 cyl or 4 cyl turbo (as long as it is road registered).  So, you’d think any sort of 6 cyl Porsche or BMW, or MR2/180/200SX/MX5 turbo and you’d beat him, right?  Well, you’d better bring a good one, because he’s already flogging a lot of those.

Steve is a foundation member of our training course “Get More grip and Better Balance” from 2016, when we where first putting our training programs together. 

In his own words,

“I applied your course principles at the beginning of the 2017 season and have gone from 4th to 1st overall.   I am a keen supporter of your material, however don't get too much time to apply it.  It is changing as my young family gets older and I look forward to upgrades in the 2018 season.  Shortly I will measure out my geometry and send you a completed Weight Transfer Worksheet™."

Steve says,

“I’m a DIY backyarder, developing my car for track days and some street.  I do all the work myself for education and enjoyment.  The reward (fun and results) is speaking for itself!!!”

I have owned the car for about 6 years now. My main reason for selecting the Starlet was simply cheap, everyday practicality and power to weight.  I don’t have a large budget and wanted something strong and turbo charged that I could learn to tune and develop for fun. Realistically, it’s disposable.

My ultimate aim is to learn about car cornering and performance while having some (a lot) of fun driving it.  I only started track days at Lakeside Raceway in Brisbane 3 years ago. Since then I have moved my attention away from the engine to suspension.

When I started 3 years ago, my best time was 1m17s and no placings throughout the season.  I started your course with the foundation offering and since then I have gone from strength to strength.  Last year I won the Road 6 cylinder class with fastest time and overall points with a 1m02s time.  The majority of the changes were increased spring rate, ARB, camber, caster, tyre pressures and damping.  With these simple changes I have gained significant cornering grip and overall confidence in the car at speed.

Plans for this year are to look more closely at geometry, balance and further increasing spring rates.  I’ve recently gained access to corner weight scales.  I will measure out the geometry, and find the roll centre height etc using RA’s calculator.  So, I am getting close to submitting an accurate Weight Transfer Worksheet™ for your help and assistance as to where to go with development for 2018.”

Steve has thoughtfully developed the car so far...

Engine delivers approx. 200bhp ATW, 5 speed C51 gearbox and TRD mechanical LSD.  Bigger front brakes, disc brake conversion rear, BC racing coilovers and aftermarket ARBs front and rear. 

A big feature, for mine, is the bracing Steve has installed in the car – strut braces front and rear, front fender braces and lower chassis brace joining front and rear lower control arms.

Stiffening of the standard car can add to heaps to response and the feedback you feel from the car.  The chassis needs to be torsionally stiff enough, especially with big anti-roll bars.  Otherwise, the front vs rear roll stiffness distribution won’t work, and you won’t be able to balance the car.

You would not want to install a roll cage in this car, even if it was street legal to do so.  It would add too much weight.  However, for race cars where you must have the roll cage, then make sure it’s the lightest and stiffest you’re allowed to run, and weld in for greatest rigidity.  Then you can lose some of the bolt on bracing, if it’s not contributing.

Steve’s General Comments on Our Course “Get More Grip and Better Balance”:

“The course has been invaluable in understanding suspension theory, configurations and operation which enables an educated approach to car setup and modifications.

I did not have significant experience in suspension before starting the course, but with a desire to learn and understand the practical advice has made me more confident in making adjustments. 

With selection of the right components, and some simple adjustments, I've made a significant difference to my track day times.  By the end of last season, I dropped my best time by 6 seconds with more confidence in the car.  The difference has been understanding what is happening at different points in cornering, and making smarter choices of equipment.  I look forward to working through the Weight Transfer Worksheet™ early this year, to refine the suspension even further.”

We have brand-new free training videos in suspension set-up, that'll show you all about our procedures, and what's in our training course "Get More Grip and Better Balance".

Check out our new E Book:

"7 Little-Known Hacks - Your Pathway to Suspension Set-Up Mastery."

The "7 Hacks..." are seven little known insights into race car handling.  A unique overview of handling that could transform your understanding of what’s required to do your own suspension set-up.

We take a deep dive into how race car handling actually works.