Ok, everyone asks me-"What happened to T-3?"  Well, T-3 never existed in full scale form!  My oldest son John bought a remote control Subaru WRX and painted it to look just like our rally car, light pod and all!  When I asked him what he had named it, he told me it was Steel Tulip 3!  Duh, I should've known.  Kids are so quick, and usually right.

So, We had T-1, T-2, a tiny T-3, and now a fullsize T-4!

She's a 2003 USDM Subaru WRX.  We bought it from CT.  A young fellow had damaged the transmission and didn't have the resources to fix it.

I'll share build/kit details below, but the car was built and fielded in 2006 with Co-Driver Erik Lee in the right seat.  First event was Rallye Perce Neige in Quebec.  Nearly 36 hours awake to get her to the start line.  Low on power and not nearly developed, we finished in the teens.  The car then got shipped to Calgary, Alberta Canada for the Rocky Mountain Rally.

CanJam ace tech Rich Wong knew something was wrong with the car from the outset.  Erik and I ran the first two stages and decided to park it rather than risk damage.  A very difficult decision after all that travel.

Car was to be transported back to CanJam's shop in Toronto, but was inexplicably mis-placed by the shipping company and ended up shipping a week late and to Montreal instead of Toronto.  The car was trucked back to Toronto by the shipper, but by then it was too late to make the next round of the Canadian Rally Championship, the Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs.  

Rich found the problem.  The tumbler valves in the intake manifold were stuck partially open, restricting the engine substantially.  These were deleted.

The car has been continually developed and campaigned since.  Receiving a new 2007 style nose after a very hard impact with a birch tree at the Team O'Neil Rally in the fall of 2006.

What's under the skin?!

2003 Subaru WRX
Version 7 STi engine with TD05 turbo(34mm restrictor)
Cheap exhaust headers from ebay
3" exhaust with catalytic convertor
Hydra EMS engine management system
USDM 6 speed STi transmission with DCCD and front LSD

RS+SP rally suspension from Rallispec, Inc
Q-Rack quick ratio steering rack

Ferodo DS3000 brake pads
Brakes converted to manual operation(no vacuum assist)
Hydraulic handbrake
Subaru 4 pot calipers in the front and 2 pot in the rear(gravel spec)
DBA rotors

Schroth HANS specific 6 point harnesses from HMS Motorsport
Cobeau side head restraint seats
Custom Cages T-45 FIA homologated multi-point rollcage
Peltor FMT-200 and 110 intercoms
Kenwood 2M ham radio

Various wheels:  Enkei, Compomotive, Team Dynamics
Michelin/Yokohama rally tires


Last Ditch Racing's 1998 TAD Motorsports Subaru Impreza

Steel Tulip 2, or Tulip 2, T-2 for short is our, 'new' Open Class rally car that we drive in Pro level events in both the US and Canada.
t2bridge_250.jpg Known as, "T-2," or, "Steel Tulip-2," this car is no longer with us. You can check out the video section for the gory details. A right 4, NO CUT at the 2005 Maine Forest Rally on the Middle Dam Out stage was the scene of the crime. I cut-just a little-but that was enough to catch the turned right wheel on a slab of glacial granite about the size of a grand piano. It bent the unibody badly enough that we didn't feel she was safe to repair.

The car started life as a 1998 US Subaru Impreza RS coupe and had a 1995 JDM Subaru WRX drivetrain grafted to it. The car was originally built by TAD motorsports.

Since we've had the car, we've changed/added a few things.

Engine: EJ20G, 2.0 Liter horizontally opposed, turbocharged(TDO5) with top-mount intercooler. GT Spec headers, cold air intake, custom downpipe and exhaust. Approx. 285bhp. Tuned by F-1 Dyno in Scarborough, Maine, who are unfortunately no longer in business.

Suspension: DMS 50mm gravel units. STi engine and transmission mounts.

Protection: Engine/gearbox skidplate. Primitive Racing rear differential skidplate. Kevlar underfloor and sill guards from Austex racing. Rear suspension protection courtesy of custom fitted Volvo truck mudflaps.Communications/Electronics: Yaesu YM-1500 2M ham radio and Terraphone Pro intercom. Custom radio console between seats. Set of four PIAA off-road lenses in bonnet mounted pod(one pair driving, one pair fog).

Safety: ATL fuel cell, Sabelt harnesses, SPA design fire system. Sill mounted jackstands. Rollcage is a multi-point cage updated to meet current requirements.

Tires: Michelin gravel rally tires

Appearance: STi hood scoop, Primitive Racing roof scoop(covering our fresh air vent) and rear wing.


Last Ditch Racing's 1994 Subaru Impreza-L AWD!

Our first and perhaps most loved Subaru AWD. 

The car is affectionately named, "Steel Tulip," or "T-1."  The name Tulip was given because of the reflective tulip decals on the car and her indestructable nature.  

She was sourced from a local wholesale lot and had a 1.8L, 110bhp engine.  I drove this car to a class win at the inaugural Targa Newfoundland.  The class was filled with supercharged Mustangs, a Dodge Viper and a twin turbo, AWD Porsche 911!  She now has a 2.5L engine from a later model Impreza RS with standalone engine management via a LINK ECU.

Steel Tulip remains a rally car and has moved on to a life with co-driver Dave Getchell.  He takes her out for a run on the stages every once in awhile!

* Gear-Here's what's on board
* DMS 50mm rally struts
* Primitive Racing front and rear skidplates and roof vent cover
* Revolution RSX wheels

* Sabelt harnesses
* Goodridge stainless brake lines
* Sparco pedals and co-driver footrest(Primm Racing).
* SPA fire system

* Alfa-Pro rally computer and Terraphone intercom/transit headsets
* Hella off-road lights from Susquehenna Motorsports are also installed. 
* The roll cage was completed by Brent Hatch of Hatch Manufacturing in Vermont.
* Impreza RS rear disc brakes

* Aluminum hood
* RS front bumper conversion and RS rear wing
* Lightweight front and rear bumper beams
* Kevlar sill and underbody protection
* 1999 Impreza RS SOHC engine with LINK ECU engine management(<a href="http://www.i-speedusa.com">i-speedusa</a>)

Very special thanks to the vendors who have helped supply us with product, especially Bill and Mike, Ken Cole  and Accurit Performance parts.

A very big thank-you to Tim O'Neil for his excellent instruction.



WRX Turbo on a ‘98 Impreza RS

Impreza Turbo Note, this is archival info only posted for informational purposes-the car is long gone!

It all started when I bought my '98 Subaru Impreza RS. I was already into the rally scene, having campaigned a Group 2 Honda CRX for a couple of years. I knew I wanted to turbo my RS, but how?! There were few kits at the time, and not a lot of information on the web. My goal is a quick car, but a reliable daily driver at a fairly low boost level.

I found out about the i-Club on the internet and it turned out to be both a blessing and a curse! There was lots of great information, but also lots of ways to spend cash. I got burned in a turbo group buy by a company named JC Sports, in Colorado. Turns out they took our deposits and never delivered product. Buyer Beware indeed! :-(So, I decided to turn to fellow i-Clubbers to help me turbo my RS. There are lots of great sources of information out there. Go to the i-Club and DO A SEARCH! :-)I bought my parts piece-meal. Here's what I'm used.

  • EJ22T turbo block from Exeter Subaru
  • 2002 WRX stock TD04 turbo
  • Walbro 255lpm fuel pump
  • Saab900 Intercooler
  • Saab blow-off valve
  • Up/Down/Intercooler pipes from Unique Motorsports
  • Oil supply and drain lines from ISR
  • Performance Torque converter from ProTorque
  • Omori Gauges
  • TIAL 35mm external wastegate
  • Silicone hoses from Bel-Air Composites

wastegate.JPGturbobay.JPGstockturbo.JPGsetupb.JPGrotateftview.JPGrotatedhousing.JPGrearview.JPGImpreza Bay AlmostImpreza Airfilter

So, what are the difficulties in using a stock WRX TD-04 turbo? The compressor housing needs to be rotated counter-clockwise(looking at it from the front of the car), so that the Unique Motorsport intercooler pipe works. This is accomplished by removing the large circlip that fixes the housing. It's big and difficult to remove, but once off, the housing rotates freely.

When the housing is rotated, it needs to be rotated enough so that the coolant lines for the turbo can go back on. The upper and lower lines are connected to each other in the center, and I cut them so they can be rotated slightly.

In the picture below, you can see the Tial 35mm wastegate down below the turbo. The main engine harness connectors sit right above the turbo housing, so some heat insulating will be in order. Despite increasing the horizontal length of the uppipe about .5", the down-pipe still rests on the transmission.

The air filter, made from a cut-down cold air intake works well. The angle of the turbo is slightly off, causing the pipe to hit the valve cover a bit . The up pipe may have to be bent laterally a bit in order to keep this from becoming a problem.

Everything sitting where it should, but nothing hooked up!

Side view of the engine bay. Everything fits-just!

A big thank you to Eric Wages for helping wrench on the car, moral support, and humorous banter! :-) I hope to start the car by this weekend after we get the vacuum lines, coolant lines and electronics wired.

Honda Hybrid

posted in Cars by Last Ditch Racing


Honda on PodiumAffectionately known as, "Fireball," this Honda travelled to Iceland to rally, only to reportedly meet its demise in a lava field.  Long live Fireball!

When I completed the Acura engine swap, I wanted to start the car to make sure it ran ok.  The exhaust manifold was on at the time, but not the exhaust.  Little did I know that I frigged up some wiring and one of the fuel injectors was stuck open.  My oldest son, ten 5 or 6, shouted, "FIRE!!!!" and ran for the house.  After extinguishing the fire, I did what any man would do, I started it up again to see if it would happen.  Of course it did.  So, the bright red color and the incident led to the name pretty easily!  

Many thanks to Wes Grammer for his article on swapping in the Acura engine and support
throughout the process and Pete Mathewson(fellow CRX builder) for
moral support and humor! :-)
  1. 1987 Acura Integra 1.6L DOHC engine, Integra gearbox intstalled, Integra rear suspension and front disc brakes. Many thanks to
    Motorsports magazine
    for an excellent article on how to carry
    out the suspension swap!

  2. Autopower roll cage

  3. Alfa-Pro rally computer
  4. Battery relocated to right rear of loadspace using Moroso battery box

  5. Kuhmo rally tires
  6. Ground Control coil-over kit in the rear with 300lb springs and Tockico
    Illuminas at all corners. We have fitted 27mm. torsion bars from
    for increased stiffness and ride height.
  7. Lexan rear window
  8. Roof vents from the local trailer supply store
  9. Sparco Sprint seats with RCI 5-point harnesses
  10. 1/4"Aluminum skid plates under the engine
  11. Energy Suspension bushings for the suspension

  12. Perma-Cool remote oil filter kit and oil cooler. With the skid plate fitted,
    It made sense to have the oil filter someplace where we could
    change it along with a cooler. It also added two ports so we could
    hook up our oil temp and pressure sensors.
  13. Tilton brake proportioning valve with Performance
    pads up front.

  14. Phantom Grip LSD-please note that we NO LONGER run these in our cars.
  15. ATL fuel cell

  16. Rally Mudflaps and Hella driving lights and map light from Susquehanna MotorSports.

  17. The car was lightened as much as it could be. The dash remains, but all interior trim and soundproofing has been removed.
    We did not remove the undercoating from the car.