The Texas Mile – An Ultimate Journey

To say the least I had an action packed weekend and it is still going strong two weeks later! For the past couple of weeks I have been hanging out with Boost Logic, a local Toyota Supra shop who are known for making high horsepower street/strip cars, as well as being some of the best turbo/intake/exhaust fabricators in the world.
Boost Logic’s Work Space

As I found out the weekend of the Texas Mile, their work is recognized around the world by all types of car enthusiasts. The way I became involved with Boost Logic is through Marc, their fabricator. I met him at a local Round Rock meet almost a year ago where he had just built out his 86′ 300ZX with a 2JZ (Toyota Supra) motor and I believe a 67mm turbo. To say the least Marc is known around town, not only because of his cool car, but because of his friendly personality, kind instincts and enthusiasm for helping others succeed in making their rides perform well. Here is a short video of the first time I saw Marc’s 300ZX, I had no idea who he was, I just happened to be picking up some footage of the meet:

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So one day I asked Marc about his job and he told me about Boost Logic and that I should come by and check it out sometime. He asked me what I did for work and I told him about my dissertation work on car culture in central Texas. He was really interested and again encouraged me to come by. So one day when I was driving around Lime Creek Rd, I ended up right next to Boost Logic and decided to stop by. Mark started showing me what he was up to and I just got out my camera and took photos.

Here is Marc with his 1986 300ZX in front of Boost Logic

Marc at his work station fabricating a custom exhaust for a 911 Turbo

Since then I have been known around Boost Logic as “the Mohawk guy with the camera”. I met the rest of the crew and they have all been very welcoming and inviting. I would go by randomly to say hi and snap shots of them at work. Each time I would go it seemed I was meeting someone I had not previously met and getting to know the people I had already met that much more. Each employee there seems to have a pretty well defined roll while also being able to fill in for someone else at a moments notice. Whether it was giving a car a wash down or pitching in to rebuild an engine in time for an event, their synergy is something I have found to be impressive. It actually reminded me very much of my own ad-hoc groups I work with in the ACTLab.

Marc and Kean working at 1am to prepare the Boost Logic Dragster for an event.

Chris of Boost Logic working on a 2JZ motor for his Lexus SC300 w/custom compound turbo kit

One day in the spring of 2009, I was hanging out at Boost Logic watching Justin of Tuning Concepts prepare a car for the dynometer. He mentioned that he and some other people from the shop were going to the Texas Mile in Goliad, and that I should check it out.

Through research I had already done in an online forum, I was familiar with the idea of the Texas Mile. Held every March and October, the Texas Mile is an event that brings tuners and races from around the country to the Goliad County Airport. There, one at a time, they race down the runway for one mile to see what speeds they can trap.

Boost Logic was making the trip with Sriyantha Weerasuria (known as S.W.), the owner of Elite Motor Sports. He’d had Boost prepare his 1995 Toyota Supra for the race. This car is the fastest six-speed Supra in the world (and, as I would discover, the record-holder for the Texas Mile).

I thought about Justin’s suggestion and, a day or two later, asked Mark about following along. He said it would be cool, but they’d be leaving at 5:30am from Boost Logic. At four that morning I was awake and preparing to head out. I went to a 7/11 and picked up water and snacks and arrived at Boost around five; no one was there yet. I used the time until we left (which turned out to be around quarter past six) to shoot video and pictures of the preparations.

S.W. preparing the trailer and his mobile home for the trip to the Texas Mile.

Chris of Boost Logic, preparing the truck and go-kart for the Texas Mile.

Chris and Marc left Austin ahead of us to stake out a space. I followed S.W.’s mobile home. As we drove through the early morning East Texas landscape, I was reminded of all the trips I had taken out on these roads, going to the coast or to Goliad itself. I drove and the memories flowed.

The air was damp and foggy. As we drove, I wished I could wash my car so I could take really sharp photos at the track. Before I knew it, S.W. had parked his mobile home outside a small town and joined me in my car to go pick up some washing supplies. Evidently I wasn’t the only person who wanted things to be perfectly clean!

What happened next revealed a very significant side of S.W.’s personality. As we pulled into an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, a group of schoolkids and an adult who held up a sign reading “CAR WASH” greeted us. S.W. commented, “We should have them wash the rig.” I smirked and thought to myself that it was a great idea, but I assumed he was joking. However, after we got our supplies, S.W. asked me to drive past the children. He rolled down the window and asked them if they’d like to wash the rig. They agreed, and soon they were washing away on the rig, the race car, and my car. It was a hilarious experience for everyone involved.

While the kids were washing the vehicles, I spoke to the woman in charge of the car wash. She told me the students were raising money for a trip to Sea World in San Antonio. This reminded me of my own childhood, when going such places for the first time meant so much to me.

S.W., Justin, and the washing crew clean up the mobile home and race car before going to the Texas Mile.

Once we arrived in Goliad City, we headed to the county airport. At the airport, I was struck by how remote a location it was, and also by feelings of anticipation. I began to realize what a big experience this might turn out to be. When I drove up to the entrance gate, I was in my car alone. The person working the gate asked me why I was there, and I replied that I had come to take photos, so he just waved me along.

As we drove down the runway’s taxi lane, I observed the immense number of people present at the event. I felt like I was in the opening sequence of Grand Prix. I watched people loading and unloading cars, and people under their cars making last-second changes. What differentiated this from any other event I had attended thus far was the sheer scale and variety of people present, everyone from guys who’d driven to the event in the cars they planned to race to full-fledged racing trailers with a series of race cars accompanied by a mobile home.

After parking, the Boost Logic crew quickly unloaded the race car, cleaned it, and prepared it for its first run. Everyone appeared to have a job to do, and displayed feelings of both competitiveness and pride in their work and in themselves. It was pretty amazing to watch the team work.

Boost Logic unloads the Supra.

A look down the taxiway at the Texas Mile.

The crew were also quick to greet the trailer next to us, which, to my surprise, turned out to be American Racing Technology and Hennessey, world-renowned high-end high-performance shops located in Austin and Houston respectively. Hennessey is one of the first tuners I ever read about, in Motor Trend magazine’s tuner F-Body extravaganza issue. I believe I was fourteen years old when I began to discover the lore of Hennessey, and now I discovered that Boost Logic was great friends with them. I was also surprised to learn that one of the 850rwhp Ford GTs parked in front of ART’s trailer belonged to S.W.

S.W.’s ART modified twin turbo Ford GT
S.W. cleaning his Supra up for the race.

After some preparation, Marc suggested that he and I go down to the pit lane to see some of the action. We made our way down the taxiway and looked at all the various cars and people. The eclectic groups present were amazing to see. Some had just brought themselves and their car, while some had brought full motor homes and trailers for their crotch rockets, and still others were in beaten-down station wagons using them as a homebase for preparations.

Marc checking out a diesel-powered Ford Mustang

We walked passed these nice rides on the way to the pit lane: a Ford GT and Lamborghini Gallardo convertible

As we walked along, we ran into an older man working under the hood of his custom turbo Mazda Miata. Marc walked up to the man and asked him how he was doing. The man explained that he was trying to change out his spark plugs, but in one of the spark plug holes, a rubber bung was stuck. He added that he’d left his tools at home. Appearing to not even think about it, Marc asked if the man had a key ring. The man replied that he did and pulled it out of his pocket. “Oh, you only have one,” Marc said, “I’ve got two; we can use mine.” Marc then proceeded to create a makeshift hook out of the key ring, and after a couple of adjustments and some tuning he pulled the rubber bung right out. The man was amazed, and so was I.

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This unspoken cameraderie was a theme that resonated throughout the day. Everyone was there for each other. As we continued to walk down the taxiway Marc stopped and talked to various folks about their bikes or cars, asked questions, and complimented them on their setups.

Marc taking a look at a turbo Suzuki Hayabusa

As we finally made our way to the pit lanes, we saw a Bugatti EB110. Like Hennessey, this was one of the legendary machines of my childhood that I’d read about in magazines and had seen on television shows about exotic street cars. So when Marc said, “Hey, that’s Tanner Foust from the Speed Channel’s Supercars Exposed,” I knew exactly who he was talking about, and we walked up to the Bugatti and checked it out. Marc began asking Tanner questions, and I pulled out my cameras to shoot some photos and video. I especially liked shooting video of the Speed Channel shooting video of us; it felt very postmodern in the midst of a very traditional setting. It was interesting to listen to Marc and Tanner talk; there was an ease to their conversation that conveyed admiration for one another’s work.

Marc and Tanner chatting it up about camber settings

Soon it was time for S.W.’s run, and his Supra came roaring into the pit lane, prepped and primed to go. Initially the track officials decided he would have to wait until after lunch to run, but then they changed their minds and allowed him to be the last car to race before the lunch break.

I readied my camera and went to work. Marc stood to the side and watched while Justin helped S.W. stage the car. Finally the car took off, captivating the attention of everyone gathered. Silence descended after the car’s distance exceeded an audible range.

Then the officials announced that the car had gone 244.6mph (later corrected to 246mph). Marc jumped in the air and howled. Camera in hand, I watched through the viewfinder as everyone around us congratulated him. We quickly made our way back to the motor home where we joined the rest of the crew. I let Marc run ahead of me so I could take videos and photos of the moment:

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S.W. got out of the car and Chris and Justin got to work. Chris checked the physical points such as the oil and temperatures of the car while Justin examined the data log of the run. S.W. and the rest of the Boost Logic crew were quickly surrounded by racers, tuners, and spectators, and’s correspondents arrived soon after to interview a very excited S.W. about the race.

I found the alacrity with which the news of S.W.’s run traveled very interesting. In the relatively short time it took him to go from the track back to the mobile home, he was already receiving congratulatory text messages. People from all over the country were contacting him to give him a virtual pat on the back. The Boost Logic crew were also sending and receiving texts.

It was a very interesting moment where the “meat” (in a Gibson way) and the “cloud” (i.e. the internet) literally pushed an event that happened in the middle of no where into the forefront within seconds of occurring. What I have yet to tell you is that the Speed Channel themselves not only neglected to record S.W.’s run, but even if they had, they had no ready way to upload such an event into the “cloud”. I personally even wished at that moment I still had my 3G AT&T wireless card to upload the event to the net. The “aura” of the event while irreplaceable, is something that even over a youtube squished video gives certain viewers chills and grins.

S.W. fielding calls after his big run.

Marc texting about S.W.'s run.

After the run, S.W. and the Boost Logic crew broke for lunch. S.W. fixed up some roast beef sandwiches, and when I popped my head into the mobile home to tell them I was going to go get lunch, they invited me to stay and eat with them. I obliged and really enjoyed the roast beef sandwich which, I have to admit, was the first time I’d ever had a roast beef sandwich. As we sat together, eating, we reflected on the run and began talking about the next one and how soon we could be ready for it. Chris told me to make sure I was at the finishing line so that I could record the run from a vastly different perspective, since at the finishing line, you can see the car running at full speed.

So after lunch, Chris, Justin, and I went down to the finish line to wait. Eventually we got a phone call from up at the pit saying S.W. was up next. By this time, all the media people were ready and waiting with their cameras. I sat on the ground, almost on the grass, so as to be out of everyone’s way, but also so that I could have an unobstructed view. Waiting for S.W.’s run to begin, I peered through my lens. The sun was now high in the sky, and there was a quality to the heat of the dry Texas coastal plain landscape around us seemed to burn with more than just heat. The anticipation as to whether or not S.W. would succeed in breaking the record he’d set earlier that day filled the air.

Then, through my lens, I glimpsed the Supra, just a black speck accompanied by a distant thunder. As it got closer and closer, I was reminded of a jet taking off, but somehow the car seemed to be moving even faster than that. As it approached the finish line, engine roaring, there was a sudden POP and white smoke began to billow out from the front underbody. Everyone around me gasped and someone cracked a joke about the tune since Justin, who had tuned the car, was standing right next to me. As fast as they could, however, Chris and Justin got in the golf cart and drove to see what had gone wrong.

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I decided to walk back to the mobile home with a man I’d just met. As we walked, we discussed the various cars we’d seen that day as well as his car-related interests. When we were about two trailers away from the mobile home, the Supra caught up with us. S.W. drove and talked on his phone. He was followed by Marc, who sat on the front of the golf cart and propped his feet up on the back of the Supra, and finally, by Chris, who drove the golf cart. It was quite a sight.

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Once everyone had arrived back at the mobile home, Chris and Justin went to work and quickly realized that one of the rods was defective and had thrown itself. In the meantime, S.W. fielded questions from spectators.

Marc texting about S.W.'s run.

S.W. explained that as soon as he heard the engine pop, rather than letting off the gas immediately, he stayed on it and let it off gradually, then applied the brakes and released the parachute. It was incredible to learn that, even with engine failure, he crossed the finish line at 228mph.

Once the commotion died down, I realized how late in the day it had become. I was still due back in Austin for a meet of the Porsche Texas Coastal Club of America at the Harris Hill racetrack in San Marcos early the next day. I began to pack up and prepare to leave, telling everyone goodbye. When I went to make my farewells to S.W., he asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking a few pictures of his Ford GT, and I said sure. The photos ended up making S.W.’s wheel supplier, H.R.E.’s car of the month.

I left for Austin, tired in every way. On the drive home, I reflected on the day’s events. It was a tremendous experience.