Limitless Speed and Thrills with Time Trials Unlimited
Limitless Speed and Thrills with Time Trials Unlimited
Eric Cartman, the cartoon character from TV’s popular South Park program, kind of summed up the philosophy of SCCA’s Time Trials Unlimited Category when he said, “Whatever, I do what I want!” The freedom to do whatever you want in the quest for ultimate speed sits at the very core of the Time Trials Unlimited Category ruleset.
The Unlimited Category is for production-based vehicles that are not street-going, are pure race cars, or are on DOT tires with less than 200 treadwear or non-DOT racing tires. This is where you find tube-frame race cars, giant wings, ground effects, stripped interiors and the fastest of the fast. This Category features a great deal of creativity, a wide array of vehicles, and multiple paths to get involved.
If you’ve got the technical expertise, passion or fiscal wherewithal, you can build a car for Unlimited competition. That’s what Kyle Carrick, 33, of SCCA’s North Carolina Region did. Today he wheels a 2015 Nissan GT-R that is a monster on the Time Trials circuit. It’s fast, it’s flashy, and it was the overall winner at this year’s Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty.
Carrick bought the car “used” in 2020, and it came with a safety cage along with a bunch of aftermarket goodies since the vehicle had been utilized previously at track days. But last winter Carrick decided to go “all in” and worked on the car so it would be crazy quick.
Because the GT-R is relatively heavy, Carrick focused a lot on weight reduction. He has installed aftermarket subframes front and rear, carbon fiber body replacements wherever possible, and removed the air conditioning along with radiator fans and even the wipers. He’s also been continually working on aero upgrades by deploying different wings, splitters and diffusers.
The list of other upgrades made to the vehicle includes a motor swap, aftermarket turbos, upgraded brakes front and rear, and fully adjustable suspension front and rear. The end result is a car tuned to produce just short of 1,000 horsepower, but Carrick keeps it running at around 820 horsepower when on track.
“I have a shop do the majority of the work because I’m not hugely mechanically inclined myself,” said Carrick, who owns a remodeling company. “I’ve got more into this car than I’d like to admit. It’s deep six figures.
“When you look at this from a ‘normal’ person’s perspective, this is really just a big waste of money,” Carrick went on to admit with a chuckle. “But other people just don’t understand the passion. Half the passion for me is creating the car of my dreams.”
Have no patience for building a dream Unlimited Category car? You could just buy a car ready for Unlimited competition, which was the path Scott Lloyd chose. In fact, the 47-year-old member of SCCA’s North Carolina Region found a way to wheel one humdinger of a vehicle previously raced by NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott.
Time Trials results sheets list Lloyd’s vehicle as a 2019 Chevrolet Camaro. In truth, the car is a Hendrick Performance Track Attack vehicle − which is a “decommissioned” racecar from the NASCAR Cup Series. It weighs in at 3,150 pounds, and produces around 625 horsepower − with 585 ft/lbs. torque − from the 454 cubic inch LSX cast-iron engine.
Procuring such a car today would run just short of $200,000 − but that purchase price delivers some very attractive benefits. The car comes with a slew of nifty perks that produce a remarkably safe, reliable and nimble road course racer.
“The car is dead consistent. It’s exact every time. The platform itself is the most amazing, stable thing I’ve ever driven,” said Lloyd, who uses the deep-blue colored chariot to raise awareness and donations on behalf of the Racing for ALS charity. “With how they have it engineered and how they have it geared, my best description of the feeling of the car is refined raw aggression. With no computer controls to counteract your inputs, it is the purest driving experience out there and I love it!”
You’d think upkeep on a high-performance steed such as Lloyd’s would be an issue. But that’s not the case. He has a checklist to go through before getting out on track, and delivers the car back to Hendrick Performance for routine care once or twice a year. But he doesn’t show up to Time Trials events with a full team of mechanics because he can easily manage the car all by himself.
“I change tires, check the oil, make sure all the bolts are tight,” Lloyd said about his at-track prep work. “And this car is the safest thing you can drive. Sadly, I pushed too hard last year and just plain messed up. I left the track at 150 miles per hour at VIR, hit a wall and flipped over. I was 100 percent unscathed. As for the car, I thought it was totaled for sure. But the Hendrick guys said it was fine. After doing a complex review of the chassis, they hung a new body on it and I was back on track in two months. Same chassis, same motor … just a new body. It was amazing!”
And perhaps that is the best reason to commit monies to a well-engineered, well-built, well-prepped Time Trials Unlimited Category car.
Do Whatever You Want
Retired Army Lt. Col. Chris Ingle is 56 years old. A member of SCCA’s Chattanooga Region, he competes in the Unlimited Category at Time Trials using a 2014 Dodge Viper GTS. The car is street legal, so he could theoretically drive it to events. It’s plenty fast, gives him lots of thrills, and still carries both air conditioning and the original sound system with 18 speakers. Why? Because Ingle does what he wants.
A former wheel-to-wheel road racer, Ingle is enjoying a different SCCA experience today thanks to Time Trials. He’s hoofing a car with 640 horsepower and 600 ft/lbs. torque thanks to an 8.4-liter V10 engine. He’s got ACR sway bars, and for handling he plays with a self-designed front splitter and some diffusers. Then there’s the car’s rear wing. Long, wide and high; it’s practically big enough to hold a Time Trials party buffet.
“I didn’t change the shocks. I didn’t change the springs. I left the engine alone for the longest time,” Ingle said. “Year after year after year, it’s been very reliable. I’ve had no issues.”
Six-point seatbelt harness, a roll cage, some Hoosier Racing tires; Ingle has done what he’s felt like doing to be part of the SCCA Time Trials Unlimited Category. And overall, he echoes the same sentiment for Unlimited Category involvement as Lloyd and Carrick.
“My idea of fun is NOT working on a car at the track at all,“ Ingle said. “My passion is driving and racing. The only reason I want to raise the hood is to check the oil. I keep up with tire pressures, I make sure the brakes are good … but other than that, I’m there to drive and not work on the car.”
A few routes into the Unlimited Category have been shared above. It’s a community hankering’ for pure speed, pure performance, pure freedom, and lots of #funwithcars. But if that category doesn’t quite fit your “pocketbook,” SCCA Time Trials has other options.
There are three other Time Trials base categories to get people involved: Sport, Tuner and Max. The fiscal commitment is usually far less than running in the Unlimited Category, and what you can do to a competition vehicle to make it faster expands from one category to the next. The Sport Category features minimally modified cars, the Tuner Category enables bolt-on modifications allowing for tuning and adjustments, and the Max Category permits engine swaps and suspension geometry changes. You can learn more at the SCCA Time Trials homepage.
Photos by Tradd Slayton/Tradd’s Photos