For many years, Steeda Autosports has invited its customers out to run at Sebring International Raceway. Often the company partnered with Track Guys, which had run its own event on Memorial Day Weekend. This year, however, that event was cancelled and the Steeda team had to pivot. In doing so, they joined forces with Performance Driving Group for a Father’s Day at the historic track.
While this high-performance driving event is primarily geared toward drivers enhancing their skills and learning the limits of their vehicles. For the Steeda team, however, its Camp Steeda gathering serves many purposes.
Steeda was on hand with a full array of its project cars, including its latest 20 Car, a yellow S550 racer. “Racing either proves a theory or it destroys it. We are out here hardcore testing getting ready for our next race event. We went one direction this weekend and we found that we need to back off and go in another direction. Without being here, we wouldn’t be able to know that,” Dario Orlando said of this car’s testing.
It is important for Steeda to do events like this to connect with the customer… — Dario Orlando, Steeda
“It is important for Steeda to do events like this to connect with the customer and also to check the durability of our parts and see if they are working or not working to see if we are going in the right direction with product development in terms of handling and braking,” Dario Orlando, President and CEO of Steeda Autosports, explained. “This weekend we are testing two new control arms — a front lower and a rear lower with a radial bearing. With the new front control arm you can adjust some caster and camber, but it was designed so you can return the front roll center to its original position when the car is lowered to keep the geometry in check.”
“This is what separates those who are doing the research and development from those who aren’t,” Dario said. “For nearly three decades, Steeda has been doing this all the time. At this point we are doing it more than we ever have because this new car is a bit more of a challenge than the others were.”
In fact, the uneven surface that Sebring International Raceway is known for is an ideal place to test both the limits of component durability but the suspension tuning as well.
We know when we get done with the rear suspension, it is going to be spot-on for our customers. — Dario Orlando, Steeda
“In the rear suspension, with all the different control arms we have now, we are really fine-tuning them. We are changing them and finding what stiffness works for us, be it a bearing or urethane. With the IRS, because you have a lot more going on back there, it requires a lot of work changing parts and testing to find out what works,” he explained. “The S197 was a little bit easier to get the tuning right for road racing. The S550 is a little bit more of a challenge. It’s because you have a lot more moving parts in the rear to make the car more compliant on different road surfaces, so you’ve got to be really careful as to where you appoint the control in the rear suspension. We know when we get done with the rear suspension, it is going to be spot-on for our customers.”
Jarrod Pilone, the service manager at Auto Nation in Margate, Florida, was out enjoying his latest project. This 2001 Mustang GT is built to resemble a 2001 Cobra R and one day the Fauxbra may serve as his son’s track car. Jarrod recently became the fifth owner of this New Edge in just two years and he rebuilt everything on the car save for the Four-Valve 4.6 under the hood. He even swapped in a 2003 Cobra IRS under the back of the car. Having just finished the build the Friday before the event, Jarrod was pumped. “I am in awe or disbelief that I made it here and it is running so well,” he said.
Those customers were among the many Fords lapping Sebring on Father’s Day — from the latest Shelbys to several earlier models — until the afternoon rains put a damper on everyone’s fun.
Next up Steeda will host a drag-oriented event called the Pony Wars at South Georgia Motorsports Park on October 20-21. For more information on Steeda’s products and events, you can check out the company’s official site right here.
Siggy Reeves of Cocoa Beach, Florida, was out at his first track event in his new 2016 Shelby GT350 and he was loving every minute of it. The car was totally stock, but his impression of his first HPDE was simple. “What a blast,” he exclaimed.
Danny Hitson of Plant City, Florida, was out having fun in 1998 Cobra boosted by a Vortech supercharger. He says he had a series of SN-95 Cobras but always wanted a Chrome Yellow version and we definitely approve. He even went the extra mile and tracked down a set of period-correct Simmons wheels.
Robert Britton traveled out to the Boss Track Attack at Miller Motorsports Park and got hooked on corner carving. He picked up a 2016 Shelby GT350 just for track duty and he has definitely stuck with that plan. The car only has about 1,000 miles on the clock and over 600 of those were run up on the racetrack.
Steeda also had a pair of street S550s — and EcoBoost and a GT — out on the track. The GT (right) featured just a few bolt-ons and Steeda’s vice president of operations, Glen Vitale, was out testing the company’s new progressive-rate springs with good success.
Steeda has been testing its in-house vehicles frequently this year and it sounds like more products will result from all this on-track testing.