|Could you build an Alfa race car for $2002? |
Could you make it fast enough to compete in a drag race, nimble enough for autocross duty, and pretty enough for a concours?
That daunting task is exactly what Eric Storhok and a band of dedicated Detroit AROC members, including Ines Storhok, Ed Argalas, Nathan Fogg, Matt Gerhart, Charles Hailey, and Jeff Konocsol. undertook to participate in the Grass Roots Motorsports $2002 Challenge. In their maiden competition with the car at this year's GRM Challenge, the team's ingenuity and hard work were rewarded with an 8th place finish out of 60 entrants.
In choosing a car for competition, the team decided to go with the chassis they were most familiar with - the 115 series. They found a '78 Spider which had just had its body repaired and repainted at a local community college, and the work began. The team added it's own color scheme, emulating the white factory GTA jr racecars with a red nose and green side stripes, and finished the interior, although this was not required by the rules. This is but one example of the attention to detail that made this car stand out. They also stripped the car of its heavy rubber bumpers to save weight, and fabricated a mesh grille for the front.
Eric, who regularly campaigns a '73 GTV in autocross and time trial events, knew just the set up to make the car handle. The car received a set of Ward and Dean springs, Shankle sway bars, and fresh bushings all around. For rolling stock, Mustang alloy wheels with Hoosier race rubber were used. Many of these pieces were generously donated by supportive Alfisti which, combined with the sale of unneeded parts, allowed the team to keep the car under the $2002 budget limit.
So now the team had a car that would be competitive in the autocross and concours, but what about the drag race? A stock Spica injected spider '78 Spider with its 115 or so hp would surely be hoplessly uncompetitive in this competition. Their solution to this problem - turbocharging - put the Spider back in the running. Eric, who had recently helped the Besic Motorsports team with their Bonneville effort, enlisted the help of turbocharging guru Jim Steck, and was able to assemble a turbocharger system, complete with programmable fuel injection, while staying within the budget.
The competition was held on a waterlogged weekend in late February near the GRM headquarters in Central Florida. The drag race was rained out, but the team's strong showing in the concours and autocross earned them their 8th place finish. Eric reports that driving the Spider for the first time in anger, during the wet autocross was quite an experience! With a few improvements, count on this team to be a real threat at next year's $2003 Challenge!
Follow the team's progress in building the car through the photo galleries below.