After diving headfirst into the world of time trials with his unique GMC Syclone, Adam Auerbach grew all too familiar with the frustrations a complicated car can bring. Four-wheel drive, a turbocharged motor, plenty of one-off parts, and the weight in all the wrong places were major hurdles that he was happy never to contend with again. After all, a serious driver has enough to think about when driving is the only concern, so Auerbach looked for something simpler; he sought a purpose-built racing car which required minimal wrenching, was reasonably inexpensive, and was easier to service than his GMC.
A fan of Super GT and DTM, he always admired the “kind of cars that looked like sedans, but had the cornering speeds of open-wheelers.” Most importantly, it had to have a roof. However, even though dusty old examples of these cars can be found for the price of a used supercar, they’re not exactly user friendly. Going out for a casual trackday in one would involve a team of mechanics and complicated support systems that aren’t really within the means of most.
Plus, after hemorrhaging money with his truck, Auerbach was looking for the best bang for his buck. He wanted something that could be homologated for SCCA P2 (though the SCCA-awarded homologation for both P1 and P2), as well as something that would test his driving skills rather than his patience.
That’s a lengthy list of prerequisites that would keep most scratching their heads for a long time. Fortunately, it took Auerbach a month or two. During the usual late-night YouTube browsing, Auerbach stumbled across one hillclimbing machine that left him giddy as a schoolboy.
With the looks of a shrunken DTM car, the wail of a bike motor at 11,000 rpm, and cornering speeds that made him grit his teeth, the TracKing TT01 had piqued his interest. Once he ran the numbers he realized it was both cheaper and quicker than a Radical SR3, Auerbach was on the phone with the seller in less than 24 hours with checkbook in hand.
Meeting Auerbach’s Requirements
Bourgeon Concept, a small French outfit specializing in the TracKing machines, were happy to elaborate on their goals with this car. Their aim was to develop a purpose-built car able to compete against more expensive rivals while remaining affordable to run, reliable, and safe. So much of those criteria were met by keeping the car extremely light and small. Everything is quite tidily packaged within the compact dimensions of the car, which measures just 67″ wide, 150″ long, and 43″ tall—roughly the size of a Lotus 2-Eleven.
Meeting the stringent FIA certification, the TT01 sports a crashbox in front, which uses a honeycomb structure that offers rigidity in normal use, but is designed to deform and dissipate impact energy in a frontal collision. The stiff spaceframe is constructed of TIG welded 25CD4S alloy steel in accordance with FFSA regulations, and is wrapped in three main composite fiberglass body panels, resulting in a weight of just 1,050 pounds. Additionally, deploying the Life Line fire suppression system is a quick toggle away in case things go up in smoke.
Hayabusa Power Goes a Long Way
Weighing so little, the power from the 1,340-cc Suzuki Hayabusa engine is more than enough. The balanced and blueprinted motor benefits from upgraded connecting rods and pistons, resulting in 220 horsepower at the wheels and a linear delivery curve—as seen below. That thrust is sent through the gearbox to a pinion axle and then onto the limited-slip rear end, which helps deploy the power without much trouble. Though it’s a bike motor, the powerband extends from 5,000 to 11,000 rpm, and the low-end torque is enough to generate real wheelspin. “You’ve got to be careful to roll on the throttle very gradually,” cautions Auerbach.
The Suzuki powerplant is kept howling in the meat of its rev range with the help of a sequential gearbox, which requires a hand to leave the wheel occasionally. Though a paddle-shift system is available, Auerbach preferred the feel and engagement of a sequential shift lever.
Though there is a clutch pedal as part of the OBP adjustable aluminum pedal box, it’s only used for downshifting, starting, and stopping. Running up through the gears, Auerbach can keep his right foot pinned to the floor, and the resulting acceleration, devoid of any lull or flat spots, is startling. When braking, he does dab the clutch, but the small displacement means little engine braking to lock the driven wheels. Therefore, he doesn’t need to concern himself with heel-toeing. With a relatively shifting process, which becomes second-nature after a little experience, Auerbach is able to dedicate the bulk of his focus to the more challenging aspects of managing such an agile and grippy car.
Adding Personal Touches
Once he’d arranged the importation into San Francisco, he trailered the complete turnkey project back home to Reno, gave it some thought, and started making minor adjustments to suit his own aims. The fundamental issue with a single-purpose machine like this is: it’s a case of different horses for different courses. Three-minute blasts up a relatively short hillclimb don’t place the same sort of strains on the car that thirty minutes on track do. It might seem a car as focused as the TT01 might be able to handle anything thrown at it, but remember, it can only exploit all its performance if properly suited to the environment—and that means keeping anything superfluous off the car, since weight is everything.
So, in order to suit its new environment, Auerbach added a larger oil cooler, a larger radiator, cooling vents to evacuate heat from the engine bay, and replaced the original softs with medium Avon slicks for longevity and consistency. Additionally, he installed a set of brake ducts, since the speeds and arrangement of a track generally test brakes more than the a narrow mountain road does.
Fortunately, the AP Racing single-pots at each corner provide the sort of deceleration that “literally makes your eyes pop out,” Auerbach exclaims. That’s because, in conjunction with the low weight and the absurd amount of mechanical grip, the car enjoys plenty of downforce.
Offering Aerodynamic Grip Without any Downforce Downsides
Though the car predominantly relies on superb mechanical grip and overall balance over downforce, it’s clear that it sticks better with speed. The DTM-esque bodywork is flowing and fairly easy on the eye, but those striking aerodynamic elements make it clear that it’s meant to provide grip and not win awards at the Concourse.
The flat underbody and massive DTM-style rear diffuser pile on the grip as speeds increase. Even with the aero grip offered by his Syclone, Auerbach was astounded with the way the TT01 simply stuck like it had been epoxied to the pavement. With peak cornering forces of 2.5 G and peak braking forces of 1.8 G, he was tested in ways he never had been before.
Fortunately, the transition from grip to slip is still relatively friendly, as the TT01, despite its appearance, is not an aero-dependent car, and the balance is made to be manageable for mere mortals. This made the prospect of exploring the limit less nerve-wracking for an initially apprehensive Auerbach.
“The slip angles are pretty similar front to rear, and the breakaway is more predictable thanks to the bias-ply tire,” he begins. A generally neutral balance helps too. In fact, the TracKing is manageable enough to be danced at higher speeds, provided the driver has quick hands and plenty of courage. However, in his fifties, Auerbach prefers to take a smoother and more sensible approach, as we see below.
Thunderhill West’s high-speed sections test the aero grip, while the multiple hairpins stress mechanical grip.
Thankfully, he was physically prepared for the challenge through karting—one of the most physically demanding forms of motorsport. “My shifter karting experience helped a lot with this car,” he begins. “In fact, it’s quite similar to my shifter kart without the ride harshness. The TT01 feels like a giant shifter kart with suspension and a roof!” he elaborates.
The lack of power steering, short wheelbase, and the stiff suspension means weight transfer happens quickly and trail braking isn’t crucial to finding a quick lap. Furthermore, it’s a physical machine, as one might guess. Auerbach’s competitive weight lifting background helps keep him from getting fatigued on hot Californian afternoons, but driving the TT01 is still a demanding exercise. Fortunately, his body is held snugly by the carbon-Kevlar König seat, and his neck is buttressed by the halo extensions, and an inline fan with an ice-filled cold air box keep the cockpit from becoming a sweat lodge.
As forgiving as it is, it still requires a special touch. “Smoothness is all-important in a car like this,” he says. Not only must the steering inputs remain soft and progressive to keep the car from sliding, but the throttle needs to be depressed slowly. Provided the driver gives the car some respect, it’s compliant over bumps and cambers, but in trying to maintain a constant airflow underneath the car and keep the elements working, Auerbach avoids the steeper curbs.
That combination of benign balance, responsiveness, aerodynamic grip, and manageable breakaway characteristics make the TracKing a regular winner in European/FIA hillclimbs. In fact, Fabien Bourgeon, one of the fastest shoes in a TracKing and son of the company’s owner, is routinely faster than Porsche Cup car—some five seconds faster at Mont Dore, France’s most prestigious hillclimb, in 2016. Considering the Porsche costs five times as much, the TracKing’s speed is staggering.
Practical and Purposeful
Despite it being so quick and capable, the main aim was to be headache-free. “I didn’t want to spend all the time at the track wrenching on this after my experience with the Syclone,” he groans. “On any given weekend, I just run through a short checklist and then drive. After checking pressures, lug nuts, and fluids, I warm the car up and go.”
That means a minimum of wrenching time—and the cost of consumables and maintenance are also low. Oil changes are only necessary every other race, and thanks to the low weight and relatively low power, tires and brakes last most of the season. How many cars with this level of performance manage to be as usable, affordable, and approachable?
It’s probably safe to say it checks all the boxes.