There are few road racers who’re as comfortable driving quickly—and with as much slip angle—as Leh Keen. The Georgia-based racer made a big name for himself wrestling old 911s and GT-Rs in club racing, turning 911s into rally cars, running his own WRC Subaru, and winning two Rolex titles in a Porsche 997 Cup. His versatile nature gets him invited to drive just about anything under the sun, so when he was given the chance to drive a 660-horsepower Toyota Supra in the One Lap of America event, he didn’t balk at the opportunity.
His comfort with frightening turbo power has been demonstrated before, but the combination of 600 horsepower at the wheels (and likely at least 660 at the flywheel) and a mildly modified road car supporting that power make for an interesting experience. This car, known as the GSC Supra, is something of a legend in the Supra community, since few road-going Supras are driven to such a level on the track. This particular car finished third in the 2007 One Lap of America season in Keen’s talented hands, even thought it was dogged by mechanical issues towards the end. After witnessing how easily this car spins the wheels in fourth gear, you realize only a few drivers could be successful in such a car.
Mildly Modified—But Still Sporting 600 Horsepower
“We set the car up to understeer and turn with the throttle,” explained Greg Caloudas, owner of the GSC Supra and President at GSC Power Division. This was done with a soft Titan swaybar and the right alignment. A set of Tein RA coilovers, poly bushings, Titan swaybars are all that keep this 3,300-pound bruiser’s body in check. Some added rigidity from a six-point cage and more stopping power from a set of duct-fed 14″ Stoptechs are all it had to use against the dedicated Vipers and Corvettes which dominated these events.
Well, it had a fair mount of power to help level the playing field. The 2JZ-GTE isn’t heavily modified by standards for that motor. A set of GSC cams improve midrange power; a Titan fuel rail and 850cc injectors quench its thirst; and an AEM EMS, HKS DLi, and an Innovate wideband ensure the right mixture. The turbocharger is a Boost Logic 67mm, and its excess pressure is vented through an HKS blow-off valve and wastegate. Complemented by the rush of pressurized air, GSCs 4″ downpipe and an HKS 4″ Ti exhaust compose a sonorous soundtrack that must be heard.
Searching for the Ideal Setup Means Sideways at Speed
To turn that power into propulsion, they increased the rear rebound. Unfortunately, that and the heavy inline-six over the front axle have the effect of causing entry and mid-corner understeer, which can be seen and heard as Keen nurses the Supra’s nose into most corners.
Its agility is still impressive, which we can see from the way it rotates under the brakes (1:25). He can get the car pointed in the right direction, provided he doesn’t overwhelm the strained front tires. Even in some fourth-gear corners, the car pivots abruptly (1:55). It’s not forced into the road with tons of downforce, that’s certain, but nor is it an unwieldy pig.
Most of his focus is on putting the power to the pavement, the car deploys its power well in third and fourth gears, though wheelspin is only a half-inch of throttle travel away at all times. When the rear snaps, Keen’s able to drift the car out of most corners without sacrificing much, and even uses the torque to point himself in the right direction.
Naturally, this frenetic driving style overheats the tires, and the slides get wilder towards the end of the lap. His feathering of the throttle grows more pronounced (2:27), and the car slides more and more under the brakes. While trailbraking would neutralize the car through tighter corners earlier in the lap, it begins to put the car out of shape towards the end. Watch as the IMSA ace goes completely sideways through First Attitude and Bad Attitude (2:35-2:40), and, using the pendulum effect, pivots the Japanese muscle car through the middle like a WRC car. Managing the torque on fresh tires is one thing, but having the versatility to handle it as the rubber degenerates (especially in such a demanding car) is what makes Keen an exceptional shoe.