May 2, 2015, a day full of some of the best sporting events we’ve seen this year. Taking place was the 2015 NFL Draft, the Kentucky Derby, Clippers / Spurs game 7, NHL Playoffs, and, of course, the Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Fight. Now while the MayPac fight may have looked more like an episode of Dancing with the Stars, a real fight was taking place at the Redline Time Attack event at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway near Palm Springs, CA.
With our 2015 WRX STI packed with everything but the kitchen sink, we got an early start on the day and left the ADV.1 Cali Headquarters on a two and a half hour journey East to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Shortly after taking off, we made a quick pitstop at a Starbucks for Coffee. While in the drive-thru we were asked by the barista if we were in a Gumball 3000-esque road rally. Its funny how a few sponsorship stickers can take an ordinary daily driver on wheels to a cross country race car in the eyes of some people. With Caffein in our system and gas in the tank we continued our journey, passing by the Coachella Valley Windmills and two story high Dinosaur Statues made famous by the Pee-Wee Herman Movie.
When we arrived the sun had risen and it was rapidly becoming apparent that we were only a rocks throw away from the Mexico and Arizona Boarders. By this, I mean it was hot… really hot, and it was only getting hotter. We began unpacking the car pulling out the full size EZ-Up tent, chairs, tools, a car jack, jack stands, filming equipment, and much more. Once everything was set up, it was time for our first practice session to begin. We fired up the onboard AIM Solo DL unit and Replay XD cameras and set off.
Keep in mind we’re new to this and I’m not talking about AWD Time Attack Racing. I’m talking about track driving in general. This would be our driver Casey Adamo’s second track day EVER! With a race the next day he needed to be out there getting as much experience as possible learning the handling and technical set up to his new STI and and each and every turn of the race course. He promptly learned what NOT to do when he overshot turn 9 and went off in only his 3rd lap out. Remaining level headed, Casey quickly calmed down and finished his remaining laps without drama, with his fastest time at a 2:16:10.
After a long intermission, we proceeded to run our next couple of practice sessions. In the first, Casey shaved a second off of his time, though this small amount of time savings didn’t come easily. Struggling with the quicker traffic Casey went off the track again coming out of turn 2 and then again at turn 7 in the same session. It was much more intense than the last off. Again, Casey had recovered from the dirt, but this time maybe a little rattled. The over 100 degree weather certainly played its part in slowing down the car, but having just gone off in his two previous practice sessions, Casey took it easy this time around setting a lap time of 2:18, two Seconds slower than his first time out. Having made it back to the ADV.1 Paddock in one piece, we packed up and left the track for the night wondering if our top 5 finish at the last race was just beginners luck.
The next day we arrived at the track determined to redeem ourselves. Everything we did was fast. We ate breakfast fast, we unloaded the car in record time, and we even showed up to grid early and eager to lay down some fast times. Our first session out was a qualifying round so every millisecond mattered and our previous time of 2:18 the day before wasn’t going to cut it. We set off surrounded by a mixture of high horsepower muscle cars, modified imports, and even an Ariel Atom. When the flag was waved the ADV.1 STI finished with a time of 2:14:9. About 4 seconds off our previous time the day before and about 2 seconds faster than our quickest time the day before putting us in P7.
With another top 5 finish within our reach we proceeded to push the car in our first official Race session. Feeling confident in the corners thanks our newly installed Swift Springs, Casey was able to pull out a P5 Finish at 2:12:9. Incredibly happy with how he did we had a small celebration at our paddock. Unfortunately the celebration was cut short as the wind began to pick up and it bought a friend… rain. It poured hard for a half hour straight, drenching the track and making some drivers apprehensive to go out again.
When the clouds had finally cleared it didn’t take long for the desert sun to dry the track. We patiently waited, prepping the car and cameras while the first group of racers took to the track. After only a few laps we heard over the intercom that the track would be closed due to a accident that occurred during qualifying. It turned out that a Honda S2k had hit a cement wall entering the front straight, less than 100 feet from where we had set up our paddock the day before. The track was cold for over an hour and half while the track workers attended to the driver and towed the totaled vehicle to the side of the track. Luckily the driver was ok just shaken up and incredibly saddened by the loss of his car. A sight that really makes you remember just how dangerous what we were doing is. But we couldn’t let that go to our heads. We had a qualifying session that we needed to be one hundred percent focused on to maintain our top five position for the final race.
With all the time we had waiting for the track to be cleared from all the wreckage, Casey had taken some time to study his data he pulled from the AIM Solo unit. By doing this and reviewing some on track video, Casey was confident that he could further improve his time. He lined up for grid, noticing that a few of his fellow racers were missing. Whether it had been because of the rain or the wreck, less drivers on the track meant less traffic. Casey made a quick adjustment to the differential hoping to further improve his corning speed and set off. When he got back we got the news… 2:11:9. He did it again, saving over an entire second from his previous fast lap. Unfortunately the competition was also speeding up! He maintained his top 5 position but going into our final race we knew things were heating up figuratively and literally.
This was it, our final time out and our last race that would determine whether or not our top 5 finish at Willow Springs was a fluke. We lined up and when the flag was waved Casey hit the gas propelling the 2.5L Subaru through turn one. At the rate that the competitors we speeding their times up he needed to shave over a half a second off his previous fast lap if he wanted to place in the top 5 of his class. Having confidence in the Hankook RS-3 tires that had performed flawlessly throughout the weekend, Casey pushed the car more than ever before.
The checkered flag waved signaling the end of the race and the end to our weekend. When Casey made it back to the ADV.1 Paddock the first question we asked was “How’d you do?” He looked back and said “I’m not sure, but it felt fast”. In all the excitement before going out, he forgot to start his lap timer, leaving us in suspense. We left our paddock and met up with the rest of the Redline Time Attack attendees and racers to hear the results. We’d have to wait until the top 3 was announced for them to share the results for the remaining positions which is where we had hoped to be. It was then we heard “In third place is Casey Adamo driving the ADV.1 Wheels Subaru WRX STI”. We cheered as if we had won the Indy 500! We might have gotten a few weird looks but we couldn’t have been more proud.