SpecFit, #Gridlife´s Affordable Alternative To Time Attack Racing

Staff
By Staff Writer
Aug 20, 2021 | Honda, Fit, #GRIDLIFE, SpecFit | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2021 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by Tara Hurlin

Story by Tara Hurlin

It takes dedication to drive a slow car to its limits. There’s no room for error and no hidden horsepower to make up for a lack of skill. You can’t give up speed anywhere because you won’t get it back. Every twist of the wheel and pump of the brake pedal needs to be calculated down to the millisecond to keep up with the pack. 

But being the best driver that you can be isn’t the only thing that makes driving a slow car fast so fun. Don’t believe it? Then you haven’t met the guys and gals who race in #Gridlife’s SundaeCup series.

The first SundaeCup was served up in 2018 after #Gridlife event organizers observed the inaugural SpecFit series’ success the previous year. And if you aren’t interested in driving a Honda Fit, the SundaeCup offers alternative flavors: All vehicles with a factory power-to-weight ratio matching the first-gen Honda Fit are eligible to compete. 

Modifications are limited to certain bolt-ons and single-adjustable dampers. Of course, safety gear and improvements, including roll cages, are unlimited and encouraged. 

SundaeCup entrants are divided into subclasses. Four entries of any similar chassis–like SpecFit, MiniCup or FiestaCup, for example–automatically earns a subclass for that event. Drivers run within the same track time allocated for #Gridlife’s TrackBattle time attack sessions.

Fits Like a Glove

As far as Matt Williams and Kevin Head are concerned, the Fit is still the best platform despite the SundaeCup’s recent sprinkling of variety. Matt advanced into time attack right around when he was starting a family, but a modest budget wasn’t going to keep him away from the track action.

“It’s great to get on track with anything, but faster cars have their inherent struggles and expenses,” he says. “I could run an entire season of SundaeCup off a single event budget for what it would take to keep one of those unlimited-class spaceships running.” 

Kevin agrees, adding that SpecFit is astoundingly easier on the wallet than other classes: “An entire season of SpecFit will cost about the same as two events in my street-modified RX-7.” 

Matt Williams (blue car) and Kevin Head fly the Fit flag. The cars, they note, are reliable and inexpensive to put on track–and rewarding to drive, too. 

Matt’s fastest lap of 1:53.478 earned him first place in the #Gridlife Midwest SpecFit SundaeCup this past fall at Michigan’s GingerMan Raceway–about half a dozen seconds away from a top Spec Miata lap time. Kevin nipped at his heels across the checker, trailing by just 2 seconds. 

“A hard-fought weekend for a 0.020-second victory isn’t unusual on the SundaeCup podium,” Matt explains. “Brake zones and corner entry to apex are where our podiums are decided.” But Kevin didn’t have a fit about landing in second place. Instead, he was all smiles: “It’s for sure challenging. The car won’t get you on the podium. You have to be the best driver.” 

Fit and Trim

The biggest gains for the Honda Fit, our racers say, can first be found in the suspension and alignment, then brakes and tires. Get those sorted and you’ll have a daily driver that’s absurdly fun on the track. 

Kevin’s Honda is equipped with BC Racing coil-overs with custom top hats from Tailored Chassis Solutions. Falken Azenis RT660 tires provide the traction, and G-Loc R12 front brake pads teamed with stainless-steel braided brake lines provide steady stopping power. A DC Sports intake system increases efficiency, while an HKS axle-back exhaust makes shift points more audible. 

Matt’s setup is similar. His Fit uses a set of RedShift Competition coil-overs topped with those same TCS camber/caster plates. After testing three tire combinations, he concluded that a set of sticky yet long-wearing Falken Azenis RT660s mounted on 15x7.5-inch König wheels is the best way to go. 

For brakes, he says that the stock setup does well with good fluid, track pads and stainless lines. “I like Castrol SRF fluid with G-Loc pads on standard rotors,” he says. Matt also added a TCS steering wheel spacer to improve ergonomics and keep the car’s cruise control functions. 

An axle-back muffler delete doesn’t add any power, he admits, but it’s easy to swap trackside so he can hear when it’s time to shift gears. Cool air is ducted from a fog light opening to the factory airbox. The stock 135,000-mile engine produced a staggering 96 horsepower at the wheels during a recent #Gridlife dyno test.

“These cars can carry an entire setup for a track weekend,” Kevin says. “Grab your camping gear, make new friends, and try to take our trophies! I’ve driven my Fit over five states, three days on track, and comfortably slept in it each night. It’s like a tiny RV.”

Fit for Fun

It’s not just the affordable fun that makes the SundaeCup series appealing, our two Fit racers say. According to Kevin, it’s also about the other competitors and the smiles that the SpecFit class brings to spectators. 

“It’s cool to see how much everyone enjoys the slow cars,” he says. “The competition in SpecFit is fierce, but we always make time to do ‘buddy laps’ for fun and have a good time before everyone goes home.”

Kelley Blue Book says that a first-year Honda Fit–that would be a 2007-’08 model–in good condition is worth about a grand. Honda offered them with manual boxes.

Matt agrees wholeheartedly, adding that they have entirely too much fun on and off the track. “If I’m having trouble, another driver will be the first to offer a helping hand. I may have joined for the competition, but I keep coming back because of the friends.”

Who should race in the SundaeCup? “Everyone!” Kevin and Matt declare in unison. “These little cars will make you faster, smoother and more aware of your limits and development.” Plus, you’ll get more tracks, more laps, more travel, more friends and more fun per dollar. After all, the racing season is too short to not have a backup car.

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/15/21 8:37 a.m.

As much as I love my Fit, nothing would bring me greater joy than for it to live on as a racecar.

Making a mental note for when I'm ready to sell it...

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/15/21 8:46 a.m.

This article has generated a TON of positive traffic and interest to the group on book of faces.

Big thanks to GRM and Tara for this article!

 

petegans
petegans New Reader
1/15/21 7:08 p.m.

Brilliant write-up, thanks for sharing the especially-slow-car-fast gospel. I wish Sundae Cup and Spec Fit were here in California. I own a Mazda2 and have tracked the hell out of it; it's bomb-proof reliable, so much fun, easy on consumables, light on its feet, and has a ton of grip.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/15/21 7:59 p.m.

I hope the concept as well I just hoped it isn't ruined like so many spec series are.

ojannen
ojannen Reader
1/15/21 8:15 p.m.

How far is this series from B-Spec which allows similarly prepped Honda Fits?

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing Dork
1/15/21 8:22 p.m.

As the owner of a GD3 Fit. I approve this article.

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
1/15/21 10:47 p.m.

 

I'm psyched about it... Hoping to join in the Gridlife Sundae Cup fun in August at Mid Ohio. laugh

TimM
TimM New Reader
1/16/21 4:05 a.m.

I drive a 2008 Honda Jazz (Fit) in Europe and it is great fun when the 'fun' car is put away for the season.  Even at 1.2 liters...full chat puts a smile on my face (@ 39 mpg).  Great car...

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
1/16/21 5:12 a.m.
ojannen said:

How far is this series from B-Spec which allows similarly prepped Honda Fits?

It might depend on the B-Spec car, but it'd probably be easier to get a B-Spec car into SundaeCup, than it would be to get a SundaeCup car into B-Spec.  This is, imho, just because of the approach SCCA has gone to "approving modifications".

That said, only a couple of non-GD3-Fit cars have run in SundaeCup; so, I don't think the 'pwr/weight' balance has been tested that hard in GridLife?

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
1/16/21 10:13 a.m.

Rules are here:

https://www.grid.life/eco-cup

Technically if the B Spec car meets the power/weight requirements it could be allowed. It's not exactly in the spirit of the rules in my opinion since it's moreso meant for bolt on daily drivers, not no-compromise race cars. 

Now they DO have a clause about how if you have 4+ vehicles of a similar type they get the their own aub-class(4 Fits = Spec Fit for instance)... Get 4 legitimate B Spec cars and it would be cool to have them run against themselves.

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
1/16/21 10:45 a.m.

"Safety gear (rollcage, etc,) is unlimited, and encouraged. "

 

Does that mean you  don't have to cage/roll bar/harness?

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
1/16/21 10:46 a.m.

In reply to flatlander937 :

So if I bring out 4 of my BG chassis, spec BG chassis would become a thing. That is excellent to know. 

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
1/16/21 10:56 a.m.

I'm dumb, it's a time attack class. I thought it was wheel to wheel.

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
1/16/21 11:34 a.m.

We're trying to get a good 4-5 Mazda2s out there. Some won't have the experience for TT but will hopefully still come out to run HPDE.

This is the Facebook group for anybody interested:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/gridlifesundaecup/

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/16/21 12:00 p.m.
fatallightning said:

"Safety gear (rollcage, etc,) is unlimited, and encouraged. "

 

Does that mean you  don't have to cage/roll bar/harness?

correct.

I ran at Road America on wheels and tires with new pads. everything else on my car was bone stock.

The whole idea is Time attack that turns constant laps and puts people on track with cars and consumables that are affordable.

Everyone currently running the class is on the Falken RT660, and the cars turn CONSTANT laps. Matt Williams car was out on almost every session at Mid Ohio. 

They literally don't stop lapping the car, they pull one driver out after a session and put another one in and they just kept going.



 

Benjamin_Casto
Benjamin_Casto New Reader
1/16/21 1:58 p.m.

Where can I find the event schedule/locations for 2021?

 

Cheers

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
1/16/21 3:06 p.m.
Benjamin_Casto said:

Where can I find the event schedule/locations for 2021?

 

Cheers

Right here:

https://www.grid.life/news/2020/12/15/gridlife-announces-2021-competition-schedule

Claff
Claff Reader
1/16/21 4:43 p.m.

Are the manual transmission Fits significantly peppier than automatics? We have an automatic '08 and it is an absolute stone.

Also trying to reconcile "Spec" in the name when the two cars in the article have different suspension and stuff.

malibuguy
malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/16/21 4:59 p.m.

I am all about this.

Just waiting to be approved on the Facebook page to ask questions.

2 of my cars are out due to having LSDs...but I have 2 more....

BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter)
BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/16/21 6:26 p.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to flatlander937 :

So if I bring out 4 of my BG chassis, spec BG chassis would become a thing. That is excellent to know. 

I’m in for spec ZX2 :D

Benjamin_Casto
Benjamin_Casto New Reader
1/17/21 12:01 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Thanks mate!

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/17/21 12:08 a.m.
Claff said:

Are the manual transmission Fits significantly peppier than automatics? We have an automatic '08 and it is an absolute stone.

Also trying to reconcile "Spec" in the name when the two cars in the article have different suspension and stuff.

In the GD# (First gen) the stick has A LOT shorter gearing in 3-5th 1st and 2nd are close.. but still taller..

Manual Gearing

 

Automatic Gearing








my fit was CRAWLING up the front straight at Road America, even being at peak power at the top of 3rd going up the hill to start finish the car literally stopped accelerating up the hill.

 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
1/17/21 1:06 a.m.

I've found manual Fits to be more peppy than auto Fits. Is there an aftermarket rear sway bar for the newest Fits? (Have a 17 LX)..

malibuguy
malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/18/21 6:00 p.m.
dxman92 said:

I've found manual Fits to be more peppy than auto Fits. Is there an aftermarket rear sway bar for the newest Fits? (Have a 17 LX)..

My wife has a 18.  I did a plus 0 tire up front.  I would consider a rear bar for it maybe one day

hunter47
hunter47 New Reader
5/2/21 12:57 p.m.

I've been looking at Honda Fits for a track rat, and this just makes me want one more! 

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
5/2/21 2:51 p.m.

 

I bought my ticket a few days ago for Sundae Cup at Mid Ohio Aug 6-7-8 along with 8in wheels and the spec tires... can't wait!

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