The Texas Invitational Experience – June 2015
“Cut ’em loose!” A phrase only one can associate with perhaps the greatest automotive airfield exhibition of its kind, the Texas Invitational. Since its inception in 2010 TI has grown from a local battlefield between elite Dallas & Houston rivals, to the proving grounds for the fastest streetcars in North America. All across the country the top performance shops spend countless hours preparing their signature vehicles to showcase new technology and innovative engine modifications to test the limits in the “Super Bowl” known as King of the Streets.
The Texas Speed Syndicate was thrown a few curve balls this year battling the Spring weather with almost nonstop rain April though May. Forced to push the event back to June, drivers had to endure racing in the 90*+ summer heat. Fortunately with the cloudy overcast there was enough cover to ensure two great days of racing while beating the rain just in time! Normally a three day schedule is set to accommodate all classes, but Sunday’s RWD class was consolidated to Friday in preparation to dodge bad weather.
Day 1 – 8:00am
Friday morning kicked off with a short drivers meeting to explain the rules and operations for any first timers. Unlike other airfield events where drivers compete for the highest trap speed from a standing start, TI is a drag race with a rolling start. The concept is to replicate a “street race,” but in a legal, sanctioned, and safe environment. Drivers are able to take advantage of the first two hours for grudge racing and test & tune to work out any bugs or first day jitters. At noon speed indexing begins. With a local police officer operating live radar, racers are clocked and green lit in the pacing area from a 60mph rolling start. Depending when the driver catches the light, there’s a stretch of 1500-1600ft to unleash fury from the 1000-2000+ horsepower engines it requires to compete. Once every car has set an index, those speeds are used to seed each bracket for single elimination racing. The top speed indexes were:
1:00pm: 175 Trap Attack
This was a new class this year targeting 1200-1400HP vehicles and we hope it’s here to stay! The category replaced the 6 Speed class from years previous which was known as the “drivers race.” But with technology rapidly advancing, duel clutch transmissions, syvecs tricks, advanced traction control with ProEFI & Motec, and of course the ridiculous new benchmark in competition horsepower the 6 Speed differentiator needed to be reinvented. By setting a 175 speed limit with a 3mph breakout, the Trap Attack holds a highly competitive field of cars and drivers resulting in exciting photo finishes. The winner of almost every race comes down to whoever “trees” the light and makes a perfect pass without missing a shift. The brackets for the 175 Trap Attack were:
The finals races came down between TI veteran Todd Nall (known as Blackhorse Turbo) in his built 996 TT Porsche and rookie Carlos Guillermo in his 2JZ swapped Mazda RX7 built by Dynosaur Performance. Things got a little heated as the first two attempted starts were aborted due to the Mazda trying to pull a classic “slingshot” move in the pacing area. But Todd being an experienced racer (and possibly the inventor of this sneaky tactic) held his opponent accountable for an even 60mph start. As the saying goes, never bullshit a bullshiter. We think Todd made his point… Congrats on the first time 175 Trap Attack victory BHT!
Houston > Dallas
4:00pm: RWD Class
Last Fall TI of 2014 was the first time RDW Class separating the field from the AWD cars. When it comes down to psychics, the AWD Lambos and GTRs certainly have the edge when laying down 2000HP. The first time champion for 2014 was Nth Moto’s beautiful twin turbo, sequential transmission Gen 4 Dodge Viper. Unfortunately the Nth boys lost the clutch during speed indexing and had no choice but to skip out defending their title. They worked until 2am installing a new quad disc in order to compete in Saturday’s King of the Streets. The RWD field consisted of mostly Vipers, Vettes, and Supra’s, along with Flash’s monster WS6 Trans Am, and Ricky Crossley’s Dallas Performance TT Gallardo with the front axels removed. The bracket for the RWD Class were:
The Semi-Finals round came with a twist as Kelly Martin (Mr. Hollywood) edged out Ricky Crossley at the finish, and lifting a head in the process. Event though Kelly won, he would be unable to repair the car in time to advance.
Which made the finals race come down between Andy Nelson in his D3 Performance Engineering Gen 2 Viper and Chris Anderson’s RT/10 Viper from ARD Motorsports. With both cars appropriately sporting massive back tires, this race was going to come down to traction as each car was fairly equal in power. Andy’s ProEFI did the trick pulling just enough power at the hit to get the jump on Chris, who was making so much torque, hazed the tires almost the full length of the runway! Big congrats to Andy and D3 on their first RWD victory!
Day 2 – 7:30am
The day started early with looming clouds on the horizon. It was a good call to run a compressed schedule as the rain seemed to be approaching by midday. Racing kicked off with a short set of test passes and last minute speed indexing.
10:30pm King of the Streets
With a full roster of 32 cars the field was heavily stacked. With the exception of the first round race with Omega vs a bone stock C6 Z06. (Screaminchevy had to jump in at the last minute to complete the KOTS bracket and prevent any bye runs) While that race wasn’t even close, it just goes to show how staggering the difference between 500 and 2000 horsepower really is!
King of the Streets got about 6 races deep in round 1 when a light rain shower began to come down…
The rain kept on for 20 minutes or so, just enough to slick down the airfield. However since the sun was still out and the runway still hot, the TSS crew was able to dry off the surface quickly using an industrial track dryer along with the help of a few spectators lapping their cars up and down the strip. Less than an hour KOTS was back on.
11:45am KOTS Continues.
Racing ensues to almost the end of round 1 completion. With only 3 races left to finish the first series of eliminations a large storm cell moved in, and this one wasn’t letting up. It poured hard for the next hour. The airfield was soaked, water was puddled in numerous locations, and the only thing left to do was wait for the small storm to blow over. Trying to look on the bright side, we took a break for lunch as everyone headed into the main hangar. Although the rain was concerning and delaying everyone’s fun, the masses came together to eat and socialize, and soon acknowledged how cool it really was to enjoy one large social gathering under the same roof. Within an hour the sun came out and the rain stopped.
The TSS crew had their work cut out for them. The air was thick and humid at this point and the blazing sun wasn’t going to dry the track alone. Just as the track was dried before with spectators making parade laps, the audience kicked it up a notch and brought out their tow rigs from the pits. Luckily in Texas huge pickups are a dime a dozen. After solid 90 minutes of monster trucks spraying rooster tails of water off the airfield, the 4000ft of concrete was dry and ready to rock.
KOTS was back on and the last three pairings made their pass to finally complete the first round. There were a few upsets consisting of Nth Moto’s Viper falling victim to a BL1500 GTR, along with a couple breakdowns of two TT Lambo’s winning their race but unable to advance. The field had quickly shrunken to 14 cars for the next round.
3:00pm KOTS Round 2
7 Lambo’s, 4 GTRs, 1 Supra, 1 R8, and 1 Viper were left. Everyone was on kill and most every race was within a car-length finish. Ricky’s RWD converted TTG beats Bob Helms half-mile record holding Lambo in an unexpected upset. Felipe Amrenta loses in a close race against Tag in Sebastian’s R8. But despite the loss, Felipe still manages to crack a 196.5 through the traps, setting a record for the fastest 6 speed car in competition at TI!
3:45 Round 3
K.C. Howeth in the Underground Huracan receives a bye, to leave just 3 runs left until the Semi-finals. Andy Nelson takes down Gideon’s 2R Lambo by jumping out hard once they were green lit. Gidi still manages to trap an astonishing 195mph through the flags. Keven Howeth’s 2R TTG took down Ricky’s RWD Lambo at the hit. With fairly similar platforms the AWD was able to capitalize on the advantage. Finally Tag’s R8 vs. Ivan piloting the Omega GTR was anticipated to be a close race. However the R8’s transmission malfunctioned and shifted into neutral at the hit, which resulted in a win for AMS.
The three winners took a few minutes to cool down and ice up before hitting the grid. Tech crew from AMS Performance, Underground Racing, and D3 Performance Engineering prepped as fast as they could since the large storm clouds were once again approaching in the distance. The next two races were unbelievably close. Andy and Ivan both took down the fastest two Lamborghini’s in the competition, while pulling their chutes just before the traps. It was down to D3 and defending champion AMS.
With the rain getting close there wasn’t much time to waste. Both teams quickly re-packed their parachutes, made some last minute adjustments and headed down to the starting area. The cars lines up, waited for the arm drop, and got on the anti-lag once pacing at 60mph. Andy’s car came out hard but it wasn’t enough to drive around Omega. The defending champion Ivan Phipps drove the 2100HP GTR through the traps without mercy and put up a trap speed of 204.9mph! The event wrapped up not a minute too soon as the rain moved in within 15 minutes of the final race. In true “streetcar” fashion, AMS drove their infamous Alpha Omega GTR back to the hotel to celebrate their victory.
Congrats to all the winners at the Spring 2015 Texas Invitational!
Also Special thanks to GOBI band from Austin Texas for their music in our videos. Subscribe to our Youtube channel for more airfield racing action!