Tuning to the Max for Unlimited Success
Tuning to the Max for Unlimited Success
As an SCCA national program, Time Trials was created for motorsports enthusiasts wanting to compete on real race circuits without the pitfalls and costs associated with wheel-to-wheel racing. Intended to be accessible to a wide audience, Time Trials car classes are structure to include options for those only having access to “daily” vehicles perhaps used to get groceries, or other cars that have bolt-on parts that add moderate performance characteristics. But the program also has outlets for those who want to exhibit more creativity as far as automotive engineering. Those two classes are Max and Unlimited.
The Max category is for "Maximum" street cars, and this is where you’ll find dream cars, whether built or bought. That means a wide variety of vehicles from supercars to cars that have been modified with engine swaps, aftermarket or increased forced induction, suspension geometry changes, or even aftermarket wings and bodywork that greatly improve performance. The other category is Unlimited for production-based vehicles that are not street-going at all. These are pure performance cars perhaps with tube frames, giant wings, ground effects, stripped interiors, and an invitation to innovate.
Obviously, to be involved in Max or Unlimited classes you’ll need some sort of background in automotive engineering, right? Well, that would be an incorrect assumption, and 32-year-old Dallas Reed, of SCCA’s Indianapolis Region, is a great example of how a “can do” spirit trumps an automotive engineering background to produce great success.
An Escalated Acceleration
Only after completing electrical engineering technology studies at Purdue University did Reed get involved in motorsports. He took a Lotus Elise purchased during college and started wheeling it at autocrosses. That proved to be pretty fun, and Reed soon looked to enhance the fun by trying to make the car better.
“I started modifying that car. It became a slippery slope from there and kind of escalated,” Reed said somewhat sheepishly. “I got the Lotus and kind of went off the deep end with it. I realized I went way too far too quick. So, I bought a stock Mazda RX-8 and relearned everything on that car. I developed it from basically a D Street autocross car to an STX (Street Touring Xtreme) car. Then I ran it in DSP (D Street Prepared) for a year… then basically Street Mod I ran for a year. It became a purely Time Trials car that I ran in the Max class… and then I went totally overboard with it. Now it has a wing on the front, two wings on the back, and I run it in Unlimited.”
Indeed, things escalated quickly for Reed as he rapidly moved to track events, acquiring some additional vehicles along the way. Today his stable consists of a Lotus, four Mazda RX-8s, and a Lamborghini Gallardo whose future is yet undetermined.
Automotive Education Courtesy of YouTube/Google
Reed freely admits he knew nothing about automotive engineering when he started out in motorsports. He can do some wiring work on cars thanks to his electrical engineering background, but that didn’t help much when it came to upping a car’s track performance. So, he had to rely on others as he dove into the performance driving hobby.
“When I first started out, I paid a race shop to do a lot of the work for me. Then I kind of hung around the shop and saw how stuff was done,” Reed recalls. “Eventually, the cost was getting crazy. I realized if I’m going to do this stuff, I should probably learn how to just do it myself.”
“I was terrible when I started out,” Reed admits of his early attempts at car modifications. “I broke a lot of stuff. Eventually, you figure out what not to do. Now, I’m not afraid to do almost everything myself at this point. I do, far and wide, the vast majority of the work myself. I pretty much taught myself.”
And how do you learn to highly modify your Time Trials/Solo car? You consult with friends who have the know-how. Also, Reed suggests “a lot of watching YouTube videos and Googling stuff.”
Reaping Time Trials Rewards
Have Reed’s modification endeavors borne fruit? Well, he was the 2019 Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals winner in Max 3 at NCM Motorsports Park, and the 2020 Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals winner in the Unlimited 2 class. So, things appear to be gelling. But make no mistake, success comes with both work and focus, as well as a special mindset.
Just this past winter, Reed said he easily hunkered down for 20 to 30 hours a week in his garage working on car prep. Honestly, he said, “I probably do as much working on cars as actual work over the course of a week.”
Setbacks are inevitable, but not negative. Maybe things don’t go as expected, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still trending upwards as far as goal achievement. Just remember, patience is key.
“You have to have the mental fortitude to deal… and say, ‘OK, let’s keep trucking,’” Reed advised about missteps. “You just have to come to terms with that and understand that’s how it works.”
Mazda RX-8, the Weapon of Choice
Both of Reed’s Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals victories were earned in a Mazda RX-8. Earlier in 2021, he purchased another Mazda RX-8 now stored on the West Coast and first used a few weeks back during the Tire Rack Time Trials National Tour event at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California. And back at home in Indianapolis sits another Mazda RX-8 receiving “treatment” for Max 1 class competition at the 2021 Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals. We’ll leave the mystery around that build for its debut, but we’ll tease you with this fact: A turbocharged Chevrolet LS3 motor is involved.
“I’ve got a fleet of Mazda RX-8s at this point,” Reed said. “They make good power… and the chassis handles super awesome. You couldn’t ask for a better handling chassis. The last several years at all the Time Trials National Tour events I’ve run have been in a Mazda RX-8 that I bought a long, long time ago.”
Why keep turning to and tuning up the Mazda RX-8 platform? Reed states it’s because there are many quality RX-8s out there in junk yards, innocent victims of poor drivers who blew up the motors. Those cars are scrubbed and become prime targets for cheap acquisition and pretty reliable parts. And in competition situations for Reed, the Mazda RX-8 has proven to be his most dependable steed.
“The Mazda RX-8 I’ve ran… has been the most reliable race car I’ve owned. I can’t even tell you how many events I ran with the motor it came with,” Reed states. “Now I’ve got a fleet of them. Every time I’m wanting to build a racecar for something else, I start with an RX-8. On the RX-8 platform, I’ve seen it all at this point. If anything breaks, I know what to do.”
Keepin’ Busy with SCCA
Time Trials or Solo, Reed has found a “happy place” thanks to SCCA. Out participating every weekend he can, Reed has emersed himself in his passion. And to use his own words, “I don’t regret it.”
Wondering if Time Trials are for you or if you should come out to NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky June 10-13 for the 2021 Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals? Perhaps Reed can provide some insight.
“It’s awesome. It’s great. The atmosphere is great. Everything is great,” Reed says. “The first event they had at NCM Motorsports Park that I went to, I thought it was the best event I’d ever been to, for sure.”
Modify your life to the max and come join SCCA for the ultimate experience at a Tire Rack Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty event near you, or register today for the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty. Participant or volunteer, one and all are welcome!
Photo by ABI Photo