If you’re a petrolhead like myself, dreaming of taking a race car out for a spin on a track of your choosing is a daily activity. It’s up there with moaning about the weather, eating junk food and down shifting your daily driver through every tunnel on your work commute. Two ways you can scratch that itch! You could book yourself a “Track Experience” in a Lambo, Ferrari, Ariel Atom etc. the list is literally endless but I’m not sure this scratches the itch or just aggravates the sensation further. It’s a bit like tucking into your Sunday roast and half way through, someone in a race suit says ok that’s enough and walks off with your food never to be seen again unless you give him another £90 uhh! The other option is to fire up something like GranTursimo Sport or Forza, manoeuvre yourself into your worn sofa arse groove and waste away the hours furiously trying to beat everything on the internet on your favourite track with your favourite car as you reach for the third can of Monster Energy drink of the night. However, there is a third way! BUILD A RACECAR. Simple right? Well kinda…
Let’s roll back to last year, it’s September the weather’s turning grim and you have time on your hands so you start searching eBay and Autotrader for cars (obviously) and all of a sudden you realise you could pick up a bargain hot hatch and transform it into a track weapon! This is where Dan Woodgate found himself no more than 6 months ago! Ok, a bit about Dan. He’s a huge FORD guy but more to the point a HUGE mk1 Focus RS fan (he’s built two from the ground up) His current weekend warrior is a 420bhp animal with an insane 3 stage map allowing for an on the move Street/Track/Race setting for power delivery….yeh a bit like a Ferrari. So he knows a thing or two about these cars and how good the chassis is right outta the box. Only issue is the Mk1 Focus RS has had a massive resurgence lately and with rough ones fetching over 10 grand it’s not exactly a cheap starting point so where do you go? How about the smaller brother? The ST170 is naturally aspirated so the power is on tap and it still has that great “turn in” chassis. These can be snapped up for under a grand so sure enough one short bank transfer later and one very used very blue ST170 turned up on Dan’s drive.
With the car purchased Dan wanted to keep the engine pretty much stock as it already has decent power (as the name suggests around 170bhp) Instead he would chase lightness and a killer suspension/chassis upgrade to create maximum cornering ability and to help it get off the line as quick as possible. It’s already no slouch however weighing in at just 1208kg but Dan reckons with a full interior removal, spare wheel gone, lightweight wheels, sound deadening removed, air-con delete and half the dash cut out he can see that to just shy of 1000kg.
However he would also be adding racing seats and a full custom roll cage (built by himself) back into the car as safety is a priority for him incase well, you know….he bins it!
Wind forward 5 or so months and Voila! Here it is ready for it’s debut at Lydden Hill Race Circuit in Dover. Here’s the spec list of stuff Dan has added/modified over the many hours of late nights and weekends in the garage.
Engine: Standard ST170 Engine K&N Air Filter, Exhaust Manifold modified for better flow & a De-cat Scorpion Exhaust System
Transmission: 5 Speed Mtx75 Gearbox, Quaife ATB Differential, Focus RS Flywheel & AP Racing Organic Clutch
Suspension: Custom BC Racing Coilovers, Pillowball Camber adjustable top mounts, Modified front lower arms for a wider track, powerflex bushes throughout & Camber adjustable bushes on rear
Brakes: Standard ST170 Calipers, Ferodo DS3000 pads, ABS delete with a Bias valve in cabin so on the move you can choose to have more to the front or back
Body: Custom 6 point welded roll cage, OMP Bucket Seats, TRS 5 point harnesses, Odyssey Race Battery, Wiring loom stripped with the Dash & Shell re-trimmed also
Oh! Before we go much further Dan also asked if I’d like to apply some of my logos to the car, add a couple of stickers to the boot or something? Well of course I totally abused that offer and instead created a sort of livery for the car and covered the rear quarters in my repeat pattern logo! With help from the guys at Prestige Signs, Herne Bay and a mere 3 hours of applying time later we had something that looked this this….
I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! So here we are on the eve of the cars first track shakedown with Dan at the wheel! Wish us luck!
Check back next week for a blog on how the day went and to see if Dan crashed it!
Dan would like to say a huge thank you to the guys at Autocare Canterbury & CMF Canterbury with their help & assistance during the build!