2015 SCCA: First Impressions of the FR Sport BRZ

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2014 SCCA May event
When switching from a 3.5l, 6 cylinder, 287hp Nissan 350z with 275ft lbs of torque to a 2.0l, 4 cylinder, 200hp Subaru BRZ with 150ft lbs of torque, one’s expectations of the car would  be rather pessimistic. There aren’t many times in my life that I’d had to go for less, hence my eating habits and the belly to show for it. However, after watching the FR Sport BRZ evolve under the wings of the multi-time SCCA autocross champion Steve O’Blenes, Catherine Tran, and the FR Sport crew, I knew that I had to seize the opportunity of an open seat in the FR Sport BRZ.

2014 SCCA Regional Final - Fontana Speedway-046
I was able to first try out the FR Sport BRZ at Speed Ventures’ autocross event on the infield of Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in Fontana, CA last weekend Jan 10th, 2015. This was a perfect time and place to practice for the upcoming SCCA autocross the following Sunday, Jan 18th, 2015. Since the surface on the infield is relatively close to the surface on the outside parking lot(s) of ACS, we felt that we could get a feel for what we would be up against the following weekend. This was the peak of my skepticism for this blind date. After failing the brake-dance in an attempt to turn off the traction control and other non-friendly race modes, I took the FR Sport BRZ out for a spin around the 30 second course. When I say spin, that’s how my first lap went down, a generous spin. However, I was impressed.

2014 SCCA Regional Final - Fontana Speedway-088
I expected the car to either snap like a Honda S2000 or push like a pig, neither of which I felt during my runs. I ended up improving by 2 seconds throughout the day, which I was happy with considering the track was a 31-33 second course. The most impressive part of the FR Sport BRZ is how it would respond to each of my demands. Was there understeer? No, thanks to the RSR coilovers, Swift springs, and FR Sport alignment specs. What about oversteer? Hmm, it would seem that this could be possible, however thanks to the OS Giken Super Lock Limited Slip Differential, it was all up to my right foot. Nevertheless, I could stomp on the throttle at the apex of the turn without hesitation. This car was definitely well-balanced.

2015 SCCA Regional RD1 Fontana-043
With the first day in the car under my belt, I wasn’t sure if I could keep the muscle memory intact for the following weekend when competing in the SCCA autocross at ACS. I would say now that luck was on my side. Catherine Tran was able to dial in the car the day before competition during practice runs. She made a couple of small adjustments that enabled us to rotate perfectly around each corner. Even though our Hankook RS3s were 200+ runs deep, the FR Sport BRZ captured a victory at the first event of the year.

I never fathomed that I would have this much fun in a Subaru BRZ with almost 100hp less and nearly half the torque as my Nissan 350z. It’s relieving to know that not only were my expectations met, but exceeded. I can only hope that the FR Sport BRZ will once again be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.

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