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Old 08-28-2013, 02:40 AM   #1
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Vortech Finale Review Video | Track Testing | Part 4 of 4

Americanizing the FR-S |Vortech Finale Track Review | Part 4 of 4

Previous Videos in Series:


0:00 - 1:10 Intro
1:12 - 4:50 Automobile Magazine Test Drive
4:56 - 5:40 Wheels and Brakes
5:40 - 8:12 One Lap with Turbowski
8:15 - 12:13 Track Impressions with Peter J and Turbowski
12:15 - 13:05 Final Impressions on Perrin Tuning and Support
13:05 - 16:30 Post Track Fluids and Maintenance Checks
16:33 - 18:33 Final Thoughts on Vortech
18:44 - 19:30 Chasing Down Problems and Final Thoughts
19:32 Credits

[ame=""]Scion FR-S BRZ Supercharged Track Review Finale | Part 4 of 4 - YouTube[/ame]

Scion FR-S S240

Testing began in April and after nearly five months of we have concluded evaluation on street driving, auto cross and track. We have met most of our goals. Americanizing the FR-S has mostly been a success. We have attempted to help the community by providing transparent details, videos and general information about the FR-S and BRZ with little bias. We are not and will never be vendors and have no interest in selling products or services. All we want to do is to help produce meaningful content, reviews and help other enjoy the ownership experience for years to come. This approach has been successful in garnering support from owners and vendors in terms of support that would not have been possible otherwise. We are grateful for this and thank all who are involved.

  • To design a street car that was fully capable on any track with very little compromise in daily operation.
  • To create a serious sports car that would delight the hardened driver and delight those who expect practicality.
  • To retain and allow for 4 seasons operation with little sacrifice.
  • To increase power output, improve grip and technology features while still retaining near OEM fuel economy.
  • To retain the spirit of the original car by keeping the intended balance and fun factor in place.
  • To keep stock fuel system in place allowing vehicle to operate in any state using 91-93 Octane with no anxiety.

Planning for the Finale

Work with Vortech Engineering and Brian to address any final fitment issues with the kit.

∑ Work with Jeff Perrin and Chris Cone to make sure our Perrin tuning was setup in a safe state for some of the hardest driving the car will face.

∑ Discuss brake options with Jeff Ritter at Essex / AP Racing about solving brake anxiety.

∑ Coordinate with Peter Jankovskis on private track sessions at Autobahn Country Club for durability testing.

∑ Schedule and work with Automobile Magazine for testing and review for November issue.


We knew that the car was running well and with our v11 tune revision from Perrin installed, the car finally felt refined in drivability, something that was critical. We received our AP Racing Spring Kit from Essex and performed the install. We knew that for the Automobile Magazine Review we needed to address any and all brake anxiety. After owning and operating a Lotus Exige and Ariel Atom with AP Racing brakes we knew that what we wanted was something designed by brake experts that were track focused but were not obscene to replace or service.


We bled the brakes and bedded the Ferodo DS2500 pads in preparation for the Automobile review on a Saturday in Michigan. We changed the wheels to Enkei RPF1s at 17x8Ē mainly because Essex designed their brake kit using these wheels and we were after only weight savings and not much else. This allowed us to switch to 235/45/17 Hankook Ventus RS3 tires. We were running the 225 RS3s and loved them. Despite knowing from the track guys that 235 width appeared to be slower our extra power output forced us to switch to them for stability.

The Trip to Automobile Magazine:

From Illinois to Ann Arbor Michigan we stopped for an alignment check and then at Tire Rack to have them switch the tires on our new wheels. Typically I have switched to Discount Tire for these services but they have longer lead times on tires. Of course this choice proved annoying as when Tire Rack was finished they had wrote in sharpie the wheel location on each wheel which would not come off and they wheels were not filthy with the tire lube. Normally I could care less but since the car was going for a photo shoot it pissed me off I had to stop and clean them.

After arriving in Ann Arbor one thing was clear, the hotel they put us up in was quite nice which made up for the long drive.

Michigan Roads:

I have been in Michigan plenty of times and never understood why people always said their roads were bad. Well lets just say the closer you get to Detroit and Ann Arbor towards the center the more it was like entering a third world country. It was the only area in the Midwest I had been where 4 on ramps in the town connecting to major interstates were closed because of road conditions. The car was on a stock suspension, clearly Toyota and Subaru never tested the car here. It made me realize why so many people around me were in monster trucks and SUVs. This was not the place for any sport car or firm suspension setup.

Automobile Magazine Test Drive with Chris Nelson

We met and I took a tour of their office, learned about the different teams involved in producing the articles and photos for e-readers and physical media. They then showed me how they lay out new issues using a white board. The entire time I thought to myself how this was my dream job when when I was in my 20s. Now that I have my own career, cars work better as a hobby. And letís face it working for a big publication means one thing: you canít be honest without losing your job.

Chris and the photographer led me to an abandoned GM plant for the photos. Either they were going to tear my clothes off and leave me for dead or actually shoot the car. In this case although I have a stellar body severally oiled up, they started photo shoot of the car which was perfect for the ďAmericanizingĒ concept. After about 2 hours of driving in circles and doing lead follow the process ended and it was time for Chris to drive the vehicle.

He took the wheel and started his initial driving test to familiarize himself with the car. It was then onto the highway to test some acceleration and braking.
After about two hours of tooling around he started to get ballsy and wanted to launch the car which I allowed but was not very keen on. This car with super sticky tires requires a high RPM launch to get anything going. Since ECUtek has a pseudo launch control program set, I instructed him to hold the car in first with clutch down and floor it to activate it. There was clearly some communication issue as his first attempt was a rev to redline and release the clutch. The result was glazing the disk and a stench like someone burned ET with a propane torch.

Exactly what I did not want to happen but letís face it this is to be expected when someone else goes and tests your car. His further attempts worked better but it was clear to launch the car you need clutch damaging levels of revs.

After he completed the performance tests and impressions we sat down to eat and discuss the project and article. He asked me why I was doing this, and it hit me as much as I hated modifying cars it was exactly what I was doing, and I was strangely annoyed by it all. But I felt in this case I had some purpose here maybe something to prove. At the end of the day I had no idea where this would all end, but the end game in this project was to learn and help others. Chris will be writing about the tuning obsession in the November issue, but his impressions overall were simple it was a car that he would drive every day and not be embarrassed.

Track Testing with Peter J. Ė Autobahn South, Joliet, IL

The car was driven from Ann Arbor Michigan back to Joliet Illinois for our private track day with Peter J. After 4 hours and countless additional hours behind the wheel I was tired. But once Turbowski arrived at the garage packed with all the cover your ass tools we needed, pulling into to Peterís private garage that holds his SRF fleet and Lemons BMW was a relief This garage was more of a shop/house, with living quarters upstairs, lifts and all the supplies you would need. Scott met Peter working with Elite Motorspors as a crew mechanic and from his help in World Challenge. I met Peter in Karting and he is one of those guys you rarely meet, a great guy, fast driver and very successful.

However, in karting it was a love hate relationship. He was a chess player, deadly consistent with the seat time and skill to make you pay for any mistakes. His driving style is metronome consistency. In racing, I struggled with consistency.

There were times where my focus and speed were dominant but overall, I was always settling for 2nd or 3rd. Peter and Turbowski were constantly at the top. Even as Turbowski battled in the spec classes, I was always struggling to get ahead and stay ahead. But the point was we all have had seat time together and can basically run the car and come to some solid conclusions.

At the end of the day this was a street car, not a race car and that is where things are much more difficult.

Our first three sessions were getting a feel for the car, learning the limits of the suspension, tires and braking thresholds. I made it clear this was a durability test not a ball to the wall sprint. We discovered a vibration we had only under left hand turns. We looked at everything and thought for sure it was wheel rub. After listing to our chassis/floor mounted mic it was definitely something vibration related. Problem is you canít re-create it on the street only under full load.

We spent plenty of time in the shop and we believe the vibration is related to the engine moving under load causing the Perrin over pipe making contact with the Stranoparts Sway Bar. The Strano bar is probably a great choice for a stock car only doing autox. But honestly I had rubbing noise and issues from the get go. Sam the designer of the bar has 14 national championships in autox and I am on the same page with him in terms of setup. But, his bar has issues and so does his attitude about it. Itís coming off for our next track test.

Other than that for the last two sessions I sent Turbowski out so I could focus on video and data logging. His last session was open ended almost solo. After about 40 minutes on the track I was wondering if he was ever going to pull in. Finally he told me, ďHoly shit, I almost ran out of fuel or I would not have come in!Ē The car is thirsty, blowing through roughly 10 gallons of race 93 Octane in 40 minutes.

Final Track Impressions:


We had zero issues with knock or performance degradation after over 2 hours on track. Performance was consistent. Turbowski wanted more power but he felt overall the car was about as perfect as you could get for a street car on track with plenty more left on the table even on stock suspension. Peter mirrored that by saying the Vortech was perfectly suited for the track as the high end was always pulling. The Perrin tune did the job here providing that safe operating window and everything felt consistent lap after lap.



Our AP Racing brakes were amazing. We could not get the brakes hot enough to use our full race pads from Counterspace Garage @CSG Mike.

We stuck with the hybrid Ferodo DS2500 and had zero fade. We drove them to the track and left with them. We only had to add a small amount of brake fluid back in the system.


The oil cooler worked well up to 30 minutes, after that the temps went from a fairly solid 240F to 255F. After talking to Jeff Perrin he said if we were going to run frequent 40 minute sessions it was best to upgrade to a bigger core. As the coolant was now running at 210F constant. This could be the efficiency of the Koyo or just the fact the engine is generating more heat than the small oil cooler and radiator can handle. However as a work around our next test Jeff will be sending us a flash revision that cycles on the cooling fans at 200F instead of the factory 212F to see if that improved efficiency. So our 30 minute tests showed the cooling systems working well. Past that oil and coolant start to rise past stable levels. We had burned through some coolant as well due to evaporation.


What was amazing here was even with the wider super sticky RS3 tires the chassis still have plenty of overhead on the stock suspension. We do have camber kits with street safe alignment levels but it was clear this car could takes so much more power than what we were feeding it. Now could we improve lap times with a properly setup suspension kit, probably. But we were left questioning why even bother when this was primarily a daily driver. The stock suspension performs so well that itís actually something we are afraid to touch.

Plenty of the track guys claim this car is faster on 225 rubber. We canít quantify that but the 235 tires made this car much more stable feeling which improved confidence. Turbowskiís complaint was it was too stable almost too predictable. The 235 setup however definitely slows steering response, my bet would be that a staggered 225 front and 235 rear would be optimal but at the expense of tire rotations. Sacrificing tire rotations for slightly quicker turn in response is not worth it.

Post Track Analysis:

We knew for a street car over 2 hours on the track is extremely high wear. We decided to change the supercharger oil, engine oil, trans oil and diff oil as well as bleeding the brakes and refilling coolant. Our alignment did not go off which was excellent news for once and all of the fluids changed without drama. Tire wear was excellent as well the car provided itself to be as reliable as we hoped.

Our Radium catch cans were working as we captured a good 2oz of unspent fuel and blown by oil from the track day. Another reason for those with FI to seriously look at this.

We decided to send out the engine oil for analysis to Blackstone and also the trans fluid after seeing how horrible it looked and smelled. As it turns out our engine oil after 3000 Miles with 2 hours track 30 minutes of autox and long test drives looked as perfect as it could. Our catch can was working, no wear materials and our Redline TBN was looking extremely well. It seems this motor is happy and reliable with the Vortech Kit and Perrin Tune.


The transmission on the other hand is a caution area. After the track day the shifting was noticeably different. Gear changes felt smooth, no binding or hesitation but going into 3rd and 4th were definitely slicker. Itís possible we just finally got the co-webs off or just wore the fluid down. The oil looks grey as it poured out, the fresh fluid was a near amber color. Based on the Blackstone report they said it could be from the case, or bearing wear. They donít have enough data from these transmissions to know. But suggested we send another sample to monitor the aluminum levels.



This project for the most part started with my contact to Jeff at Perrin. I explained what I wanted to do and he supplied me almost everything that was needed to see the project through. During the speed bumps Chris Cone supported my weekly questions in terms of issues with Vortech and the tuning process. Their customer support and reputation as a tuner and manufacturer are very good. Initially their responses to my tuning questions were slow but again this is because they have a full shop.

In terms of Vortech Supercharger there is not another major tuner who has been more involved than Perrin since the start. This is exactly why I chose them. They actually own a daily driven Vortech BRZ. What you get is a safe stable tune that has proven to work without any drama or damage to the motor thus far. If all you care about is max power you may have to go elsewhere.


We started the drama with the Vortech kit. And we stand behind our impressions that documentation was poor and some of the components were rushed to market. But letís end some of that here by saying after our video we have talked directly to Vortech including engineering about documentation to improved parts. Thus far they have been following through on all the recommendations. We are going to finally recommend this kit as the top supercharger solution for the following reasons:

  • OverheadĖ Given the kit is intercooled and logically designed the ability to make more power on 93 octane and E85 is much higher than any other readily available supercharger. On 93 octane with the stock fuel system 250HP is a safe reliable target. For those with upgraded injectors, pump and with smaller pulley 300HP is easy to reach.

  • Made, supported and engineered in the USA with large vendor network.
  • Easy to tune compared to Innovate and Turbo setups due to the linear power delivery and stable charge temps.
  • Support is excellent and online presence is always there, these guys will try and make it right.
  • They are listening and fixing items like intake tube, air box bolts and documentation.

Now of course not is all golden, the install can and will be a bitch for first timers until documentation is updated there are plenty of holes in instructions with room for error. The washer fluid tank is garbage bin quality, including brackets. This needs to be improved or offered as an upgrade. Vortech never intended to include it so basically they half-assed one together just to say they tried. No offense Vortech but thatís the truth.

The oil change interval sucks. (7500 miles), itís one of those fine print items you learn after the fact. Granted after your first few oil changes itís quite easy to do and cost is low however itís another item you have to deal with. The big question remains that remains is winter weather performance. For those who donít stow the car away itís an unknown whether we are going to destroy bearings on cold weather starts.


There are a few other issues that we have detailed but we stand behind our choice to use Vortech and they have proven that they are serious about supporting this car and have went above and beyond for our project. We are confident in the kit now after testing. And now recommending it if you want a supercharger. In fact until Innovate decides to intercool and offer a proper IAT solution the Vortech is the only supercharger to consider if you plan on daily driving and running at the track reliably without making fuel system changes and adding other cooling solutions.

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