Caserta Racing:  STR S2000 Tech

STR S2000 Guide: So which mods are most important if on a limited budget?

Now that you know what you can do from the last post, maybe you’re thinking “Oh my lawd Jesus that’s a lot of crap I have to put on my car.  Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”   Well don’t you worry, you can go get yourself a cold pop (whatever that is) and I’ll help you make the right choices.

ain't nobody got time for that!

She knows what she’s talking about

Step 1:  Get your car into good shape

Absolutely the first thing you should do is make sure the car is in good running condition.  One of the biggest things to check is the bushings – make sure they’re in good shape.  If any are bad, replace.  Also check the tie rods and ball joints.  Pry at the arms around them lightly with a pry bar to make sure there’s no play and make sure the boots aren’t ripped.   Tug on everything in your suspension and make sure it doesn’t move in ways it’s not supposed to.

That all sounds obvious but problems like bushings and ball joints can cause some really insidious handling problems that are inconsistent and hard to diagnose.  This is absolutely the most important thing you can do before you spend money on mods.

Step 2:  Get some more grip and balance the car

Alright, car’s in good working order, so what do we spend money on?  The first things you need in my opinion are:

  • Nonstaggered 9″ wide wheels
  • 245 or 255 width, 200 treadwear tires for those wheels
  • Beefy front sway bar
  • Aggressive alignment
  • (optional) Play with rear sway bar for balance

The nonstaggered wheels and tires will give you more grip all around, but even more grip relatively in the front since from the factory it’s staggered.  To make up for this imbalanced addition of grip and also to stiffen up the car some you want to get a beefy front sway bar otherwise the car will be super tail happy.

For the alignment, a good starting point without a camber kit in the front will be as follows:

  • Front Camber:  Maximize it (will end up at 1.5-2 degrees most likely)
  • Front Caster:  Make equal side to side in the 6.x or 7.x degree range
  • Front Toe:  0 degrees
  • Rear Camber:  2 degrees (could try 2.5 if you want a little more rear lateral grip)
  • Rear Toe:  1/8″ total toe in

As for the rear sway bar, depending on your driving style you may need to leave the stock one in, disconnect the stock one, or go for a smaller one.  As a general rule, if the car is too tail happy soften the rear bar or stiffen the front.  The front bar from a NC Miata actually fits really well as a rear bar and is a nice middle ground – softer than stock but stiffer than nothing.  And it’s super cheap from salvage yards and the like, I think I paid $50 for mine.

Step 3:  Win

Bam!  Just like that, you have a really fast car.  With just this I’m confident a good driver could win STR in most regions.  Then you can start saving up for the next steps in making a nationally competitive car.


I’ll post in more detail about exactly what to do with each of these in later installments.


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4 thoughts on “STR S2000 Guide: So which mods are most important if on a limited budget?

  1. DavidNJ

    A few questions:

    1) How does that setup drive and ride like on the street?
    2) Does the camber lead to excessive tire wear on the street?
    3) Do the 255/40 tires fit without fender modifications?
    4) This setup is at the stock ride height (really +0.3″ if 255/40 tires are used). Are STR cars typically lowered?
    5) A higher friction brake pads needed? Are the stock pads up to matching the huge increase in grip from 200TW 255 front tires?
    6) This setup uses the stock shocks and springs? Is this adequate? Aren’t you running a Penske 8300 shock/spring package?



    1. DavidNJ

      Followup…how competitive would this setup be? In an event last year there 9 STR cars, the top 3 (you finished 3rd) where within .025 seconds of each other. Less than 1 second separated the top 5 and less than 2 seconds the top 7.

      1. Jon Post author

        Hi David,

        Oh man you’re quoting the event I want to disappear forever. My shocks were not working that event, big bump in the middle of the slalom and I was bottoming out every time. And they were hot lapping us so I had no time to adjust things. It was a mess.

        How about you talk about the event right before that where I won by 2 hundredths? Yeah I like that much better :). Or the one a week or two ago where I won by 6 hundredths? Wow I never realized just how competitive NNJR is, I see your point now. Another post to come…

    2. Jon Post author

      1) A setup like that drives awesome on the street. I would say better than stock.
      2) No the camber doesn’t give excessive wear, at least not on my car. Autocrossing you’ll generally wear the outside a little more, daily driving the inside a little more, overall it’ll equal out assuming you’re going both things relatively equally.
      3) The 255/40 tires do fit without fender modifications if you’re not lowering the car. If you are lowering the car you have to bend the tabs in the front – there are two tabs that the fender liner clips to that you can literally bend up with some pliers and a piece of rubber or something so you don’t mess up the paint. You can undo it later, it’s not like a full fender roll. The rear doesn’t need anything no matter how low you go if you have the right offset wheels.
      4) Yes, STR cars are typically lowered. Again this post is talking about if you’re on a budget which mods to do first.
      5) Higher friction brake pads are not needed. Stock S2000 pads are pretty awesome. I used them for a long time. Now I use Ferodo DS2500 just because they’re the same price and I think are slightly better. But stock is all you need for sure.
      6) Again we’re talking about how to be close enough to have fun without spending a lot of money, and/or which mods to do first if you’re staging your modifications into buckets. My car has a lot more than this – it’s generally prepped to the limits of the rules now. With this setup if you’re against me or someone else that’s trying for a national championship jacket this year you’re going to have some trouble. In most local regions you’d be able to win, and even in a crazy competitive region like NNJR you could at least be within trophy range or if some of the national guys have a bad day you’d have a shot at the win (for example at the event you’re talking about I was slower than normal…a well driven car with this setup could have beaten us). I ran with a setup similar to this for a while, actually won the NJ ProSolo in 2011 with basically this setup. But now things are a bit more competitive I think.

      If you’re looking for a time differential it will depend. For example if it’s a fast course then flashpro will really help an ap2 due to the low top speed in 2nd, but if it’s not that’s not a big deal. Same thing with slow turns with acceleration zones – power mods and flashpro will get a couple tenths there but many autocross courses don’t have them. I definitely think the next thing to do after this list is flashpro for these reasons.

      So you’re basically looking at a tenth or two best case and maybe 0.5-1 second worst case depending on course, if I were to make a educated guess. Driver can definitely make that up in many cases.

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