K-PAX Racing's attempting to turn an off-the-line Volvo C30 into a world-beating race car in 60 days. Driver Robb Holland's going to give us weekly project updates. Part one: why racing a Volvo isn't that crazy. —Ed.
Years ago the tagline for the World Challenge Pro racing series was "The Cars You Wish You Could Drive, The Way You Wish You Could Drive Them!" While that is certainly true of the GT class, which is populated by Porsche GT3s, Viper Competition Coupes and CTS-V Coupes. The average person has as much chance of racing one of these as they do getting a date with Paris Hilton (although, Paris is probably more fun than most of those cars, but far more expensive in the long run).
The tagline for the Touring Car field however, should read, "The Cars You Drive, The Way You Wish You Could Drive Them!" Reason being, the Touring Car field (TC for short) is composed of cars like the Mazdaspeed3, Honda Civic Si, and the Volkswagen GTI. Cars that you probably drive or at least have some hope of driving before you get married and your significant other makes you buy something sensible like a Prius.
But just what does it take to turn one of these "Grocery Getters" into a full blown pro-spec, racecar, how much of the original car is still left, and at the end of the day how much better is it than the original stock car? Geeze you guys ask a lot of questions! But you definitely clicked on the right link, for answers.
Stay tuned to Jalopnik as I'll be giving you weekly updates on how K-PAX Racing goes from stock "Grocery Getter" to front of the World Challenge field in time for the first race in St. Petersburg, FL in a little over 8 weeks!
So what's the "Grocery Getter" that we'll be using as the starting point for our race car? This year we'll be racing Volvo's C30 T5, which is more "Hot Hatch" than "Grocery Getter." Yes, you sharp-eyed readers, I said "Volvo" and "racing" in the same sentence. For all those who haven't been paying attention, Volvo has a long history in racing.
They may not have been into motorsports at the same level as say Ferrari or Porsche, but Volvo has been supporting racing at the top level over in Europe in both Touring Car racing and Rallying since the early 70's. Who can forget the awesome 850 Estate from TWR that ran in the 'British Touring Car Championships in 1994?
Seriously, who else but those crazy Swedes would run a station wagon in a major international race series! More recently, K-PAX Racing's Volvo S60 AWD beat the Vipers, Porsches, and Corvettes to the top step of the podium consistently enough throughout the season to sweep the 2010 World Challenge GT Driver's, Manufacturers' and Team Championships!
Now, World Challenge GT cars do have some notable differences with their road going namesakes but with the Touring Car rules, OE stock is the name of the game. Other than wheels, shocks, brakes, and a few other miscellaneous bits, our racecar will use almost all of the same parts you'll find on the street car. It has about the same level of modification that most owners of this type of car have done, or would probably like to do, to their rides.
In fact, some of the modifications that we'll be doing to our World Challenge C30s will be used as the basis for K-PAX Racing's Performance Package that will be available directly through Volvo Dealers around the country later this year. What better arena to test the function and durability of a product than flog it around the racetrack for a couple of hours a weekend in front of 100,000+ fans? Bringing it back to what motorsports used to be about: "Race on Sunday and sell on Monday".
Which also brings us back to the build itself. The first thing that you need when you start a racecar build is ….. anyone?….. Bueller? Yes, that's right: the car. So K-PAX Racing dialed up the powers that be at Volvo Cars North America and low and behold a few weeks later a couple of C30 T5s show up at our doorstep.
Now is when the fun begins. Tune in next week to find out why race mechanics are far more efficient than Ukrainian car thieves when it comes to dismantling a car and why you never put the button for the fire suppression system by the door...
Robb Holland is a professional racecar driver with K-PAX Racing and 3Zero3 Motorsports. When he is not racing in World Challenge, Holland works as a performance driving instructor and owns a travel company that takes US clients over to Europe to drive the Nurburgring. You can follow him on his Facebook page.
Photo Credit: K-PAX Racing, Volvo, STCC