When the smoke settles, and motorsport gets back up to speed later this year, we can properly welcome a new team into the 2020 Trans Am Championship. Recently, the New York City-based F.A.S.T. Auto Racing has taken the leap from NASA ST2 and SCCA T1 into the grand world of Trans Am. Remaining at the sharp end of the pack there requires a little help.
I say “properly welcome” since the recent outbreak overshadowed the team’s auspicious maiden race in SGT. During the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, team owner and principal Adrian Wlostowski rounded the 3.74-mile track in an impressive 2:10.853 before finishing Third.
Considering their lack of experience in the series, strong pace, and the promising podium in Florida, it’s likely they’ll be joining the group of front-runners when the racing world restarts later this year.
Finding the Most Stick
Part of the impressive pace is due to being able to pare their Mustang closer to SGT’s minimum weight of 3,400 pounds. This car, which is based on a production ’17 GT, has had several hundred pounds trimmed thanks to a carbon hood, trunk, doors, seat, lightweight battery, and lighter Forgeline wheels. As it currently sits, it’s only 80-pounds heavier than the minimum, and that’s with Wlostowski sitting in it.
For the season opener, the wheel of choice was Forgeline’s GS1R in the standard 18 x 11-inch size — incidentally, the same wheel used on the Mustang GT4. Since then, Forgeline used this unfortunate interlude to build an even better wheel — one which showcases its ability to cater to a client’s needs.
To generate a little more stick, Forgeline tailormade a GS1R wheel with an additional inch of width and a custom offset. “Getting an 18 x 12-inch wheel to fit in the Mustang’s wheelwell was not simple — it’s a pretty tight squeeze. But, our offsets made it all possible to clear the Mustang’s massive AP Racing brakes,” Schardt said proudly.
Grippier Pirelli DH slicks, a rigid chassis, and plenty of power increase the chance of tire slip. To battle this, Forgeline designed these wheels with a knurled bead to minimize said slip, as we can see below.
Perfecting Braking Performance
That monumental grip, compounded by the vehicle’s weight and mild aero, puts quite a lot of strain on the brake pads. With Hawk Performance aiding their efforts, F.A.S.T. Auto Racing put their brakes through rigorous testing procedures to find the right combination of pads.
The undisputed choice for the front axle is the DTC-70: a high-temp, high-torque pad that can withstand the abuse of long, hot races. However, because they run with the factory ABS for the time being, the choice of rear pad varies based on the circumstances. Much like the Miata TURNology tested last year, F.A.S.T. Auto Racing had to tune their brake balance with the correct pad selection.
During the three or four laps of qualifying, when the rear tires won’t get overheated, they opt for the more aggressive DTC-60. However, as the tire performance fades over the course of the race, they’ve found the rear tires struggle with that much pad torque.
To keep the rears from locking under heavy deceleration, they’ve been using Hawk’s trust HPS 5.0, proving a punchy street pad is enough for a heavier racing car. In the coming months, Hawk Performance plan to design a new DTC-30 to fit the Mustang’s rear calipers, which ought to offer a considerable bump in stopping power, feel, and reassurance.
The Special Ingredient
Having a detail-oriented driver and a great team who are willing to put in the extra testing time is what makes the most significant difference at the end of the season. “Wlostowski is so committed to continually exploring ways to improve, both in the garage and on the track. And that’s why he’s such a perfect match for Hawk Performance,” noted Hawk Performance Product Group Manager, Malcolm Sedano.
“It’s the testing opportunities that come with collaborations like this that provide Hawk with the real-world benchmarks needed for our own continued improvement, not only in on-track performance but for tow and chase fleets, too,” Sedano adds.
Let’s hope the season restarts soon to give this team another chance to shine.