Let’s highlight things before things get a little “interesting.” I picked this S2000 up in 2012. It had 127k miles and some signs that it wasn’t up to par in maintenance, but it was $8,000 bucks, so it’s best to take small losses and do the maintenance myself. It is a Honda, after all. Side note: can we go back to those prices? I bought this thing to be my autocross car while I built my S14, known as NODRIFT. Fast forward a few months in, and it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t afford to have two track cars. The 240 had the pieces to a built SR and many quality parts. The combination would have made a lethal weapon, but when it’s in pieces, it’s hard to put the dream into reality. I remember opening the garage and saying, “Whichever one is running or can be running for the cheapest gets to stay.” I said, “I’m giving up on the 240. I’ve gone too far.” The part-out commenced, and to this day, I regret selling that car. Now, you would think that with the pain of going too far and getting over my head, I would calm down and not do it again. Well, you bet your ass I didn’t.
Bridging Dreams and Realities
I started chasing multiple things at once from 2013-2014. I still wanted to build a gnarly timeattack car to compete with Global Timeattack. Visualizing taking down the Evasive S2000 to claim “the fastest S2000 in the country.” On the other hand, I also had a local guy, Austin Cabot, who was super quick. He competed with NASA in what was called Time Trials C (It’s roughly TT4 now). Those are two drastically different builds. For Timeattack, you need all the power that the horsepower gods intended you to have. In TTC, you had to balance which modifications to do to stay in the class and run hohos (Hoosier Racing tires). I chose both, which leads to being subpar in both. I ran into real-life problems, trying to find where I fit career-wise, so the car and racing got pushed back. Austin had moved on to other racing when I was ready, so NASA didn’t seem that fun without chasing him. Plus, the big aero and turbos were calling me.
For 2015, I prepared to take things more seriously, a new local time attack series formed with everything I wish Global Time Attack had. A small organization called GRIDLIFE. I focused all my attention on their track battle competition and placed third in the season. By then, the car had some decent aero, 2-way coilovers, and as many off-the-shelf suspension components as I could afford. I blew up one diff and went through two engines, but I had so much fun and competitive. I never was very close to winning, in any case. There were some supercharged M3s and Corvettes that were just that tick faster.
Turbocharging the F20C
In the 2015 offseason leading into 2016, it was apparent I wanted power. That was the bait to make me go off the deep end. I spent a couple, a bunch of thousands of dollars on the S2. I ended up turbocharging the stock F20C. With a GTX30, it made some jam. It had one map at 14psi, making 400~ to the wheels. Mid-season, I upgraded to a GTX35, which produced 470~ to the wheels. Dealing with teething issues from a fresh turbo build was a headache. I wasn’t as competitive as I thought I could have been, but something awesome happened. Something Professionally awesome.
From Chat to Crew
On a trip back home one day in early 2017, I stopped to talk to Mike Lewin from Professional Awesome Racing. If you ever speak to Mike in person, you know you are in for a long but educational time. Hours later, I ended up asking a simple question. “Do you have room on your team?” He said, “I’ll talk it over with everyone else, but I think it’ll be a good idea.” Jump forward a few months, and Mike and the Pro Awe crew were my closest friends. We were so close that everyone felt comfortable talking shit about things I did in my car and how they were surprised I didn’t die. They were joking in a laugh-out-loud, but no, seriously, how are you not dead type of way. With their help, I ran a faster lap time around the Gingerman raceway than I ever had, which made me set a new goal. I wanted to be the fastest S2000 in the country again, especially around Gingerman—high aspirations, I know. Pro Awe boys also didn’t tell me that joining the team involves a spicy, firey initiation fee.
Fire and Fraternity
The boys didn’t tell me that being in the gang means you have to do certain things. A car catching on fire is one of them. The Pro Awe Evo has been on fire multiple times, so it’s a cresting similar to being branded by a fraternity. In late 2017, The S2000 caught fire at Autobahn. The fire was a packaging error I had made. I had placed the catch-can where the OEM battery used to sit, a seemingly convenient and out-of-the-way spot, making it easy to empty. However, I never anticipated how much oil it would collect during long sweeping turns coupled with each lap taking over two and a half minutes. During one fateful session, it overflowed and spewed oil onto the glowing orange turbo manifold. It’s much easier to understand the gravity of the situation if you watch the video Turbo S2000 Car Caught Fire!, capturing the ole shit moment from my Go Pro.
From Flames to Perfection
It fundamentally altered my mindset and the way I approached racing. I transformed into a bench racer, “meticulously” analyzing every detail and overthinking every modification. Before stepping on the track, I became obsessed with ensuring the car was fast and safe. I was determined to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again, and this desire for perfection took over. In racing, however, perfection is an elusive phantom. You can never be 100% prepared because too many variables and unforeseen factors are waiting to go balls deep; excuse me, I meant to disrupt your plans.
Looking back now, I realize that my relentless pursuit of perfection came at a cost. I stopped rewarding myself for the long hours spent wrenching and writing. Once a dynamic force on the track, Sheri started to exist mainly in my spreadsheets, getting faster only in theory, not in practice.
The K Series Saga
Bring in 2018, and the K series has entered the chat. To be specific, the big block K series, the K24A2. Outside of not wanting an engine that caught on fire, the rising prices of the F series engine were another concern. Knowing that eventually, I would blow one up, it would make more sense to sell it while it had all the connecting rods intact.
The swap was completed before the 2018 season. It was making a modest 400hp and 400tq. It was ready ish for some events, including the Ultimate Track Car Challenge (UTCC) and Gridlife Midwest Festival. However, I ran into blowing a head gasket at UTCC and a drivetrain problem that no one can figure out to this day. The easiest way to explain the problem is that the car wouldn’t go into gear while the car was on the ground. I changed the clutch, flywheel, adapter plate, slave cylinder, and clutch master, and nothing, which made me think it was my transmission. Which I knew was hurt from the F series days. This problem persisted for three years. That’s the main thing that held it back from 18-21. Well, also COVID-19, but that’s a minor deal in global economics.
At the end of 2022, I found a K to T56 trans swap, but something else on the website got my juices flowing. T56 swap for an S2000 with a 2JZ. I started thinking, what the heck have I been doing? I’ve always wanted a 2JZ car, and I need power now for time attack and drag racing. This K swap had me debating if I even liked my car anymore, but the JZ, oh man, that got the juices flowing.
Now it’s 2023. What’s the grand plan for Sheri’s future? My 2JZ engine, a long-cherished dream, is inching closer to completion. A 2JZ-powered car has always been on my automotive bucket list despite the potential drawbacks of a time-attack setup due to its weight. Unfortunately, my builder hit a few snags along the way, and life’s adult responsibilities have made it harder for me to travel down there for documentation.
Nevertheless, I’m determined to see my vision through. By the close of 2023, you’ll find a Garrett turbocharger strapped to the 2JZ engine residing in Sheri’s engine bay. But that’s not all; I plan to pair this formidable powerplant with a BMW DCT transmission, specifically the GS7D36SG sourced from an E9x 335i in 2024. Some may argue that going with a sequential gearbox would be ‘easier,’ but I’ve crunched the numbers and believe that the running costs of a DCT will ultimately be more cost-effective despite the weight and complexity trade-offs.
Collaborative Aero Odyssey
And it doesn’t end there. I’m embarking on an extensive aero makeover for Sheri, and it’s not a solo endeavor. I’ve teamed up with the experts at Verus Engineering for this ambitious project for some collaboration stuff between us. Verus Engineering, in particular, is one of the few names in the industry I trust to provide honest and valuable feedback regarding aerodynamics. They employ a fundamental and precise process for gathering data from their CFD models, ensuring that their solutions deliver upfront and tangible results.
I want Sheri to be the fastest S2000 in the country ever. That’s a fucking bold statement, Devin, but here we are. Not for the notoriety or recognition, although that’s rad, but because that’s something I’ve always wanted. Let me take you back to when racing wasn’t about specific classes and records but rather about raw passion and pursuing automotive dreams.
Back in the day, before the car scene got cluttered with class distinctions and records like ‘first 5th gen Camaro, stock block, made in 2011, with 19 lugnuts in the 9s,’ I fell in love with the S2000. It was a mainstay at the track, embodying the spirit of true enthusiasts. When I bought my S2000, I envisioned more than just another racecar; I aimed to infuse it with JDM hot boi styling and make it the fastest S2000 in the country.
Over the years, however, my goal was to be competitive within a specific racing class. I became absorbed in the minutiae of classes and lost sight of my initial, audacious dream. But what’s the point of living life without pursuing something truly extraordinary?
So here’s my declaration: I’m bringing back that audacious dream. It might require extra money, time, and effort, but in the grand scheme of things, what else is there to do with my life? Settle for mediocrity? I think fucking not. So, I’m putting it out there for all to see. I’m committing to developing the fastest S2000 in the country, and I’m determined to document every step of this audacious journey.
Rest assured, I won’t be hoarding any secret sauce. You’ll get an all-access pass to the trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Yes, I realize this might sound like a dumb mission statement when uttered aloud, but you know what? Let’s fucking go! Together, we’re going to push boundaries, break records, and chase down dreams in the name of pure automotive passion.
Revive Your Drive
This article serves as a public service announcement, encouraging you to look at that car sitting idle in your garage and find the motivation to bring it back to life. You may have made mistakes, like cutting your firewall or selling your powertrain prematurely, but those experiences have taught you valuable lessons. It’s important to remember that there’s no perfect time to start; no need to wait for all the right parts before hitting the track. On the other hand, some things are non-negotiable, like changing your brake fluid for safety.
The key is to make a plan and stick to it. I’m writing this not just for you but also as a reminder to myself, a timestamp of my journey. To those who’ve read this far, I invite you to join me on this adventure as we work towards our goals, whether that leads to success or setbacks. Through it all, there will be valuable lessons to learn.