Bodywork and Protection
For the track portion of this GSX-R's life, we wanted it to have special clothes. A set of Cheetah Racing's fiberglass race skins were fitted and then sent off to Apex Moto in Southern California for paint. Because the bike was intended to look close to stock and retain the original ABS bodywork, we kept the standard fuel tank scheme and incorporated elements of it in the new race skins.
We hoped to make the change to race bodywork a fast and painless process. For the most part, we succeeded. The GSX-R mounts the instrument cluster to the back of the headlight module, so we had to fabricate a sheet-metal bracket to carry the unit in race mode. Because the race bodywork is intended just for the track, there's no provision to keep the sidestand. No worries--we simply trimmed a section of the lower left fairing for clearance. We made the rear turn signals quick-detachable and did what we could to simplify the changeover from street to track, but it's still a two-hour job.
Race bodywork gives you several advantages. It's light and easily repairable, and a lot cheaper to replace than the stock items. You get to leave the expensive headlight assembly safely in the shop, and most aftermarket fairings have an enclosed bellypan racing organizations require. (Most track days do not; however, it's nice to know that if the bike springs a leak it won't immediately hose down the track.)
Crashes happen, so we supplemented the frame and swingarm sliders that were on the bike when we bought it with Factory Pro billet engine covers with integral sliders. They're very nice pieces that can be left on for the street. However, the sliders foul the race bodywork and have to be removed for the track. Sometimes all the pieces go together like IKEA furniture. Sometimes not.
So How'd We Do?
We knew going in that few of the four-wheelers would pose any kind of challenge. And despite the chest-beating of the Harley guys, we were skeptical a '92 FXR, even with nitrous and a 103-cubic-inch engine, could seriously take on the mighty GSX-R. But we were worried about the dragster.
As such, we decided to take a day off and work out the Suzuki's kinks at an extremely well-attended Hyperclub (818/988-8860, www.hypercycle.com) track event at the Streets of Willow just two days before the big eBay shootout. Except for a noise we hadn't noticed before--a kind of low groan we finally put down to reverberations from the all-fiberglass bodywork--the Suzuki ran flawlessly. We made a couple of small suspension adjustments, scrubbed in the tires and called it good. Murphy's Law says that when you make the time for prep days like this you never need them. But if you don't, all hell will break loose at the event proper...as many of the Editors' Charity Challenge teams discovered.
The day dawned indistinct and hazy--standard meteorological conditions for Fontana, home of the steel mill and big-rig repair shop. As we went into round one of coffee and fresh Krispy Kremes, it was obvious many of the teams had been up all night flogging away, hoping just to have a running vehicle at the event, much less looking to win. Our GSX-R? Hadn't been touched since the track two days before. We all got a full night's sleep.
We walked the pits assessing the competition. The Harley looked a lot nicer and more purposeful than we expected. Then we heard, "Yeah, the clearcoat is barely dry. I was up waiting for parts at 5 a.m....haven't even tested the nitrous on the street." OK, then. One down. Motor Trend's Volkswagen Golf looked like an outside threat, with a four-wheel-drive system from an Audi pushed along by a turbocharged V6. Even if it wouldn't give us fits in the quarter-mile, it might make up enough distance in the braking and skidpad events to be trouble. Have to keep our eyes on that one.
The Deadly Viper Assassination...
The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad's Acura Integra
The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad's Acura Integra looked mean enough, as did the immaculate Bow Tie Boys' '72 Chevy Nova in stunning orange with massive brake discs showing through the spindly wheels.
Then we saw the rail. Hot Rod takes the Chutzpah Award for building a dead-serious rail dragster. When we last talked to the HR boys, they were planning an out-of-the-crate 383-cubic-inch engine for the rail, which gave us some hope the Suzuki's reliability and Kent's intense competitiveness would give us a sliver of a chance. But then we were informed that, naw, the little engine wasn't in there. Instead, Hot Rod's team found a 413-cubic-inch small-block Chevy that put down 650 horsepower. Hmmmm. That one might be trouble. When asked how fast it could go, Hot Rod's Matt King said, as nonchalantly as he could, "Oh, mid-8s." Gulp. But as they were still furiously swinging wrenches on an unproven vehicle, we could still hope for them to DNF.The motorcycles were up first for the dragstrip. These performances would count as two of the four scores in the competition: quarter-mile and 0-60. Kento laid down four superb runs back to back, with Motor Trend's radar gun showing us with a best of 9.95 seconds at 143.15 mph and a best 0-60 of 2.7 seconds. Not as good as we'd hoped, but probably strong enough to vanquish all but the dragster. We'd gone for sticky tires and a compromise setup, but the bike was still very hard to launch.
The Harley, we have to confess, gave us a decent run. Its first two tries showed the effects of last-minute wrenching, as the nitrous caused the engine to pop and snort and just generally sound like an ill-tuned Harley. For the last runs, the team elected not to use the nitrous, yet still put in a decent 11.03/126.47 run. Its best 0-60 was 2.9 seconds, which should have shamed all the car guys. (In fact, we heard grumbling from the other teams that they shouldn't have to compete with bikes. Just not fair.)
Mechanical mayhem played with two of the car teams. The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad's Acura broke a constant-velocity joint exactly three feet into its first run and spent most of the morning with its snout proudly in the air as its crew rushed around to find a replacement. Then the Motor Trend Golf arrived and promptly broke something in the drive to the rear wheels. Later, one of the team members borrowed a bunch of our safety wire to keep the now-disconnected rear half shafts out of the way. Yeah, cars are great. Easy to work on, too. We lounged under our Qwikshade tents and sipped from bottles of ice-cold water, admiring the handiwork of Karel Kramer's CR80R fitted with an XR200 motor.
Finally, well after lunch and hours late, the Hot Rod dragster made its first pass. The car went proudly sideways at the launch, but its vigor could not be denied. Even loafing through the lights, it put in a high-9-second. Later--much later--the car tried again and put down a 9.14 second/139.61 mph run. By the terminal speed, the driver had come out of the gas well down the run and basically let it coast through the lights. Had the dragster been in top form, we'd have been toast. Crispy, charcoal-black toast.We moved to the braking tests, which we knew would be our weakest event. (A motorcycle may be light, but it has far less contact patch, and the penalties for overdoing the deed are much more severe than in a car. Kent, ever the smart man, wanted to keep it all in one piece.) Short story: We placed fourth, behind the Golf, the Integra and Team Euro Trash's heavily modified, steamroller-tired BMW M3.
Hot Rod Front Engine Dragster 9.14 sec. @ 139.61 mph
Sport Rider/Bipolar Suzuki GSX-R1000 9.95 sec. @ 143.15 mph
Lane Splitters 1992 Harley Davidson FXR 11.03 sec. @ 126.47 mph
Motor Trend 2000 Volkswagen Golf 12.48 sec. @ 115.27 mph
Got Boost 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra 12.64 sec. @ 110.90 mph
Deadly Viper Assassination Squad 1994 Acura Integra 12.77 sec. @ 116.80 mph
Euro Trash 1995 BMW M3 13.44 sec. @ 107.31 mph
Bow Tie Bad Boys 1972 Nova 13.46 sec. @ 104.92 mph
Custom Truck 1997 Chevy Silverado 15.95 sec. @ 86.2 mph
Hot Rod Front Engine Dragster 2.2 sec.
Sport Rider/Bipolar Suzuki GSX-R10002.7 sec.
Dirt Heads 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 10.9 sec.
Custom Truck 1997 Chevy Silverado 8.0 sec.
Bow Tie Bad Boys 1972 Nova 5.1 sec.
Euro Trash 1995 BMW M3 5.0 sec.
Deadly Viper Assassination Squad 1994 Acura Integra 4.7 sec.
Got Boost 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra 4.2 sec.
Motor Trend 2000 Volkswagen Golf 4.2 sec.
Motor Trend 2000 Volkswagen Golf 109 ft.
Euro Trash 1995 BMW M3 118 ft.
Deadly Viper Assassination Squad 1994 Acura Integra 122 ft.
Sport Rider/Bipolar Suzuki GSX-R1000 132 ft.
Lane Splitters 1992 Harley Davidson FXR 134 ft.
Custom Truck 1997 Chevy Silverado 140 ft.
Got Boost 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra 142 ft.
Bow Tie Bad Boys 1972 Nova 158 ft.
Dirt Rider Honda CR80R 180 ft.
Lane Splitters 1992 Harley Davidson FXR 79.3 mph
Sport Rider/Bipolar Suzuki GSX-R100080.8 mph
Euro Trash 1995 BMW M3 68.5 mph
Motor Trend 2000 Volkswagen Golf 68.4 mph
Deadly Viper Assassination Squad 1994 Acura Integra 64.1 mph
Got Boost 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra 60.5 mph
Dirt Rider Honda CR80R 59.9 mph
Custom Truck 1997 Chevy Silverado 54.5 mph
Bow Tie Bad Boys 1972 Nova 47.7 mph