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RedLine TimeAttack 2010: Chris Rado And World Racing

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On: Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 2:25PM | By: John Welch


RedLine TimeAttack 2010: Chris Rado And World Racing

Before we delve into Chris Rado and his World Racing team’s disappointing weekend, there is a little story I have to tell. Standing in the paddock of Sebring International Raceway, wondering just how hot is was outside, I put down my Canon, wiped my forehead and simply observed the World Racing crew for a few moments. I had spent the last twenty minutes taking as many revealing images of Chris Rado's outrageous Scion tCs as I could, and had yet to actually see Mr. Rado himself. Out of the corner of my right eye I noticed a hauler door open and a fire-suit clad Rado step out into the unnerving Florida sunshine.
 
I've met a few race drivers in my time, NASCAR guys mostly, and it took all of my limited self-control not to strut right up to Rado and start yakking at the guy as if we had grown up on the same street. Rado inspected his "tame" Scion, the Super Modified FWD contender you see in most of the images accompanying this post; he displayed a scrunched forehead, a serious posture. I decided perhaps it might not be the best idea to bother him at the moment. After 30 seconds of discussion with a crew member, Rado, completely unaware that I was spying on him harder than a jilted Astronaut spies on her fantasy crewmate, displayed true sportsmanship like I have never seen in a race paddock, professional or otherwise.

Without touching either of his own cars, Rado walked over to one of his litany of air compressors and began assembling a hose and air chuck. A flat-black and red Honda Accord pulled up to the left of World Racing's pits, and it's driver, Sean Yearwood, threw the Honda into 'Park' (I know it’s a manual, how do you use that cliché without ‘Park’?) and gingerly climbed out of the Super Modified FWD-class Accord. That is the most important part of this entire story, Yearwood and his Honda compete in the same class as Rado and his be-winged Scion tC. Direct competitors . . . and Rado was actually helping Yearwood out, allowing the Honda driver to use his equipment and spending his own time and energy to make sure the compressor hose was long enough and that the tank was full of air. Never have I seen a racer help his competition out so thoroughly, going out of his way to make sure Yearwood ran his best time, and the fans were entertained. I decided that this act of selflessness had earned Rado a reprieve from my badgering, and did not approach him.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest, we can focus on World Racing's insane Scions, Rado's bad racing luck, and the images that accompany his trip to Sebring, Florida.

I make no bones about it, I dislike Scions. Frankly, I dislike just about any car that uses a front-drive transaxle, but I really dislike front-drive Toyotas. That is, before last Sunday. I've seen Chris Rado's ridiculous production-based race cars all over these innuhwebs for years, but I've never seen one in person, drag or time attack car. Now I have, and I am thoroughly impressed.

Reviving a concept originally used in Can-Am and Formula One, Rado's cars carry the most obnoxious aero-devices ever strapped to the hood or trunk lid of a (well, two,) passenger car(s). Obnoxious because of their size and mounting positions, but brutally serious in their execution. Rado didn't just fab up an aluminum wing, rivet it to the hood of a tC and then call it a day. No no, these wings are engineering genius, eschewing looks for face-melting downforce. The only thing I hate more than front-drive is the "all show and no go” tuning philosophy; these cars are completely the opposite of that.

Not that they aren't spectacularly turned out. Both of the World Racing Scions, FWD and AWD, are fantastically prepared with spotless bodywork and exposed carbon in all the right places. After a few minutes pondering these beasts one begins to feel like maybe those wings actually belong, that maybe they are even . . . beautiful? Without a doubt they are beautiful in their function, if not their pierced septum-looks.

The newer, lighter car is powered by a 2.7 liter fire breather of a Toyota four-pot. Just look at that insane exhaust setup!! Built by World Racing's Chief Mechanic and Engine Builder, Gary Kubo, (for those who aren't familiar, he is the cock-diesel, lap-top toting Asian fellah in the image gallery below,) this motor is out for blood. While observing the action in the World Racing pits it was impossible not to notice the sound of gigantic relays snapping to life deep within the engine bay of this monster, firing in order as Kubo tried to bring his masterpiece to life. It takes a lot of electrons to get this car running, and those relays reminded me of a pump-action shot-gun racking a shell. This car’s ignition system could power Florida's electric chair. Unfortunately the ignition troubles were nefarious and unyielding, I didn't get to see this tC run. I can't wait for my next opportunity to watch Kubo's Toyota-sourced art suck atmosphere in anger.

Though the AWD Scion tC was on the shelf for the day, the older and possibly more amazing World/Rado/Kubo creation ran just dandy, for a while. This car is front-drive, a serious handicap, yet it was able to turn a 2:16 lap time around Sebring during practice. One could hear Rado pulling out of the throttle as he closed in on the scoring trap at the start finish line, if it wasn't for brake issues and another ignition failure Rado could have taken a further 8 to 10 seconds out of his lap time easily. As I mentioned before, this is an astounding feat for a car that started life as a safe and reliable chariot for a college-bound cheerleader.

Looking over the rear suspension of this car is like staring FWD-Valhalla in the face. The tie-rods are thicker than most axels, the suspension pickups featuring geometry you would expect to see on the front end of a stock car. And those brakes, oh Lord those brakes look good enough to eat. It was so hot out I just couldn't stop writing down crazy, senseless metaphors like that.

Watching Rado consume MINI's and Evo's as if they were standing still on Sebring's front stretch was almost a "Come-to Jesus" moment for me. Never a fan of drag racing, I've neglected to learn just how fast a front-drive vehicle can be made to go. With the right engineering, the right support staff and the right driver, FWD beasts like these fantastic Scions can do anything their AWD and RWD rivals are able to do. In fact, in this case, they can do it better! The ignition problems encountered in the AWD car crept up in Rado's front-drive monster as well, putting an end to an otherwise astounding show of pure automotive muscle. I have a new outlook on Scion, if for no other reason than Toyota's sponsorship of this personable race team. What we have here is a couple of cars that must be seen; the world is better off because they exist.

Check back for severely broken cars that were able to return to the track, and win the whole she-bang, tomorrow . . .


Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


Comments

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roostercogburn | 6:23PM (Tue, Aug 17, 2010)

That is a very very sexy car. I think derick needs to do this to his scion. :p



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