Eric ‘Dewey’ DeWitt has been competing in the Gridlife StreetMod class in Time Attack USA
Eric ‘Dewey’ DeWitt has been entering Time Attack events with his modified Subaru Impreza WRX for some time now.
At the start of the 2023 season, DeWitt turned to EBC Brakes Racing and the firm’s sintered endurance racing brake pad – SR-21™ – to help with braking performance and consistency to bring his lap times down.
He’s had an incredible season within the Gridlife StreetMod class off Time Attack USA and various other series, accumulating various wins and lap records along the way.
Coming into the final round at Laguna Seca Circuit at the top of the pile, it was a weekend of thrills and spills for DeWitt, as you can read below in his own words.
“Laguna Seca is one of those tracks that even if you aren’t a total track nut, you know of it. It’s iconic. It’s been in basically every racing game since forever, hosted basically every iconic racing series ever, and hasn’t changed much in the past since 1957 when it opened. So when Gridlife announced it was going to not only be on the schedule for ’23 but it’s also going to be noise restriction free, the decision was made. Come hell or high water we ARE GOING TO BE THERE!
“Thankfully, our plan panned out to tie up the #GRIDLIFE TRACK BATTLE – Time Attack StreetMod Championship before we got there, so we could go in with only one real goal: set a blistering lap time. Winning the event was secondary.
“Contrary to what some were propping me up for, my goal for this weekend going in was to go sub-1:32. That was by all accounts a VERY fast lap around this track. I based this time off what I learned from iRacing and watching videos I could find online. That felt like a more realistic goal, especially for a track that has historically given me issues in the sims/games I was messing with.
“So, when we went out for the practice session, never driving this track in real life, and busting out a 1:32.7 ‘off the trailer’, I was pretty stoked. iRacing practice paid off and years of basic track knowledge from Gran Turismo and Forza meant that there wasn’t much ‘getting up to speed[ needed. The Corkscrew was wild the first couple of times, but the recent repave seemed to help with traction and walking the track the night before REALLY clued me into some of the issues I had had on the sim and how to avoid them.
“The car felt pretty decent but it was still having some bouncing issues in the rear we needed to work out and there was a LOT of time out there with just me driving better. Thankfully, we are on the west coast and a hero of mine is in attendance and down to help get this sorted. Mike Smallberries (Kojima) from MotoIQ.com lent a hand with getting the Fortune Auto two-ways playing ball the way we needed it to.
“The next practice session really worked out. I was pretty far up in the order, the drifters haven’t been out shredding yet, the sun came out to warm the surface a bit but it was still nice and cool. Honestly it was a perfect session. The suspension changes Mike suggested worked great and thanks to some data, some thinking, a bit of bravery, and a very much appreciated tip from Tom O’Gorman I went out and popped off a 1:31.1. Under my goal and we still had a LOT left.”
“Q1 was the last session of day 1. A few more small changes to the car and we were ready to rock. We went out and while we didn’t go faster (1:31.2) the car did show potential in some areas and gave us confidence in the morning we could really put something together though. What we DID find out is Subaru ABS REALLY hates the top of the hill just before the corkscrew. It totally freaked ABS out and I ended up making some inadvertent tire smoke. Still, the car felt good and we were well in the lead for qualifying.
“Q2 was going to be another prime session. The temps were cool and it was boost weather for sure. The car felt ok other than I was having an ABS issue. Usually a quick key on and off will get it done but she was fighting it. I decided I needed data. If I was going to have to run podium sprint without ABS at all, I needed to see what that felt like so I ran a lap with just braking as smooth as possible which… really didn’t work well unfortunately. On the cool-down lap I did another key cycle and my warning light finally went off and ABS was back so I decided to run one more. The car was MOVING through the first part of the lap. I was still being a bit cautious as I was worried about ABS but the car felt great. We were way up on time coming up to the corkscrew and was really hoping this was going to be the sub 1:30 which was now the new goal. Unfortunately coming up to the corkscrew the ABS threw a code again and turned off. I was still up on time though so I decided to finish the lap. Coming out of T9 going into T10 I unfortunately had a REALLY nasty miss shift. The car felt like it was fine and I needed to do a cool-down lap anyway so since again I decided to finish the lap. All my time went away on T11 since I was scared of the ABS unfortunately.
“As I finished that lap I went through the Start/Finish line and heard a pretty good sized bang under the hood. Never good. I knew our day was done. Whatever happened during the miss shift finally let go is the theory. I just wanted to get off the track ASAP to keep oil off. I had no idea I was on fire until I slowed down. Engine oil from a hole in your block ignites pretty fast on a red-hot header. It’s really that simple.
“The car had a pretty nasty engine fire. The Laguna crew got there pretty quick but I don’t think they realized the extent of the situation as they pulled up behind me. I was out of the car so they knew I was ok so I think that was a major part of the lack of urgency on their part in the beginning. After they saw what was up they hurried and put it out before it got any worse which could have happened REALLY quick if it had went on much longer. For those wondering also, I DO have a fire suppression system in the car. It unfortunately didn’t spray quite where the fire was in the engine bay. Something we will fix in the off season.
“We got the car back into the pits to assess the situation. Honestly I was so mad at myself that I basically went and hid for a while. Thankfully Dylan and Ian had their heads on straight and cleaned up the engine bay and assessed the damage which honestly…was minor for how bad it looked. I think I’ve done more damage in the Gingerman pits than I did during this. The wiring is cooked on that side. The hood got pretty cooked too. I lost a Professional Awesome vent on the fender and some of the gaskets and timing covers got a bit melty but for the most part, that’s it. We were already planning an overhaul of the wiring, I was thinking about another hood, and the engine was going to get a refresh anyway. It sucks but honestly that engine was great to us and it died totally due to my actions. I just wish we could have taken it apart still totally intact for the data.
“Since we were out, it was pretty wide open to who was going to win Street Mod. When the dust settled in the end and we got to see our boy Kal Fortner on the top step, securing his first win it was still the best. Carrying him to the podium was great and if we can’t win it, it’s awesome to see someone/a team who’s been trying like hell the same way we have get a W, especially at such an iconic track.
“So we end the most insane season ever there. 2023 netted the IAG Performance Pirate Crew 1 Championship. 5 wins, and including this one, 5 records! It wasn’t easy by any stretch on the imagination.”
SR-21™ Race and Endurance Pads
A variation of SR-11™ that offers ultra-high friction and is targeted for the front and rear of race cars with bias controls only. SR bites harder and lasts longer.