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Lexus IS300 - Analyze This

By David Pratte, Photography by Mike Wong,

Unlike improving a street car, where you can bolt on some high quality performance parts and satisfy your need for speed, to be competitive in the SPEED World Challenge ordinary production-based vehicles must undergo Michael Jackson level reconstructive surgery in order to make dramatic improvements in areas like suspension geometry, chassis stiffness, and power production. To make things even more complicated, all of this super trick (and in most cases top secret) racecar engineering must be done within the limitations of the rules. Normally, regular Joes like you and me would never get a glimpse at what’s truly involved in converting a 4-door people hauler into a professional Touring Class race machine, but that’s all about to change thanks to our friends at Auto Analyser Racing.

After qualifying 7th at the 2006 Mosport stop on the series in just their second ever World Challenge start and catching everyone including the track announcers off-guard by leading for part of the session, Auto Analyser Racing and their #64 Lexus IS300 have already shown incredible potential. Keep in mind, cracking the Top 10 on the starting grid in a series as hyper-competitive as the World Challenge is never easy, not even for established teams and veteran drivers. So for the AAR team to run so strong with a rookie driver and a freshly rebuilt race car in just their second World Challenge start is truly remarkable. Seeing the Auto Analyser IS300 grid next to Pierre Kleinubing in his famous RealTime TSX at Mosport left a lot of people wondering, “how’d they do that?” Read on my friend, you’re about to find out.

For Andrew Wojteczko and his father Andy, the dynamic duo behind Auto Analyser Racing, it all started with their radio-controlled car racing hobby, but once Andrew got his driver’s license in ’98 everything changed. Going from performance driving schools to lapping days to Solo 1 (time attack) to competing in a local Touring GT road racing series in a Porsche 944 Turbo they built from the ground up, the Wojteczko’s rise through the amateur motorsports ranks was a quick one. Shortly after graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree and participating in the Formula SAE program at university, Andrew was setting records in the Auto Analyser 944 Turbo thanks in large part to his father’s diverse fabrication skills, learned during his 25 years of running Auto Analyser Services repairing automotive diagnostic and test equipment.

In fact, the Porsche the AAR boys built was so fast that none of the local racers could keep up, so they went in search of a new platform and a more competitive playground. Killing two birds with one stone, AAR was able to affordably acquire two SPEED World Challenge Lexus IS300s from a disbanding team. It may sound like they simply bought a competitive package, but nothing could be further from the truth.

When they first picked up their ‘new’ Lexii, they quickly began to realize they were in for a lot of work – the bodies were banged up, suspension pieces were bent and the previous team drivers were unhappy with the handling. After having sponsor Discovery Auto Collision work out all the bumps and bruises on the body, massage the fenders for a bit more tire clearance, and spray on a new paint scheme, both the #64 and #65 cars were ready to undergo an extensive AAR re-engineering program.

Although the existing roll cages were acceptable, changes were made to improve upon the original design. A new harness bar was added that would allow for better seat clearance and provided a mounting system for the series-mandated rigid seatback mount, attached to both the Racetech RT 4009HRV seatback and the chassis. In typical AAR fashion, where engineering comes first and implementation follows, they built a torsional testing rig that allowed them to test improvements made to chassis stiffness from adding new elements to the roll cage as well as reinforcements to both the front and rear subframes. If you get a chance to check out their ’07 cars in person, look for an all-new roll cage design using innovative lightweight reinforcement that you’ll have to see to believe.

Where Andrew’s engineering training and Andy’s world-class skills as a fabricator really paid off is with their custom engine mounts and subframe modifications. The biggest complaint about the Lexus IS300 is its tendency to oversteer unpredictably when pushed to the limit and its poor handling characteristics in general. To address this, the Auto Analyser team did an extensive redesign of their IS300’s suspension, starting with physical testing to locate the car’s center of gravity, a piece of data required for computer simulation and suspension geometry calculations.

By David Pratte
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