Terrific Teammates, and Their TT
Curtis Eames was running his Porsche 944 at the 1987 Bogus Basin hillclimb when he first
formed a bond with his future teammate. Curtis had been competing in various autocross
and Porsche Club of America events for about a year, gaining valuable seat time and setup
experience. But in the summer of 1987, Curtis was all set to run the Bogus Basin
Hillclimb in Idaho, when he suddenly realized he had a teammate.
It turns out, that the frigid mountain air was sending shivers through Pam, and instead of standing outside watching her husband, she decided she would rather be inside the car, with the heater on! By the end of the weekend, Curtis' new teammate had become the second fastest woman to climb the hill. "She got the bug for competitive driving" explains Curtis, one that has lasted until today.
In fact, both Curtis and Pam have become so experienced in the sport that they almost always come away from national events with a trophy. This includes Pam's recent first place finish in STSL at the Atwater National Tour, and Curtis' third place finish in the extremely competitive STS class at the same event.
But back to the eighties for a minute, where Curtis and Pam really started to get serious about their autocross. Pam entered her first autocross school, and with the help of a former National Champion level driver - Dorothy Raymond - she learned all about pointer cones, slaloms, and how to navigate through a see of pylons. Curtis was improving too, and since they were living in Colorado at the time, he made his first trip to Nationals in 1989, running his 944 in D-Stock, finishing 22nd out of 37 drivers.
Bitten by the speed bug, Curtis set out to modify his 944 for PCA Production competition, which placed them in SCCA's A Street Prepared category. By the end of the summer, Curtis and Pam had clinched the Colorado Region SCCA season championships in ASP and ASPL. In 1991, they had both started running Pam's Eagle Talon Tsi in B-Stock, which was a tough class considering the Toyota MR2 Turbo had set about to dominate the class. "We had a tough time that year" according to Curtis, "I think I was either last or next to last at Nationals."
A year later, Curtis upgraded his ride to a Porsche 944S2, which was also classed in B-Stock. According to Curtis, "the S2 was a wonderful car for both SCCA and PCA competition. After moving to Vancouver, Washington in 1995, I took the car to Nationals and finished 7th out of 16 drivers. I felt I had a good chance to trophy that year, but a broken front sway bar mount on the first run drastically affected the car's handling and performance."
In 1996 both Curtis and Pam ran in Pam's BMW 318ti in D-Stock. They abandoned that ride, in favor of Curtis' new Porsche 928GT, but after realizing that horsepower alone does not win autocrosses they both returned to the 318ti for part-time competition during the 1999 racing season.
Mid way through the year though, Curtis decided to buy a new Audi TT Coupe. The TT that they both still drive today, prepped to compete in SCCA's very diverse Street Touring S class. The TT wasn't always a street tire terror though, as Curtis first prepped the car to run in G-Stock, against the likes of Integra Type Rs, BMW 3-Series, and Subaru's WRX.
Curtis' pioneering setup - Curtis was one of the few campaigning the FWD version of the TT - must have worked, because they both managed to bring home trophies from Nationals. Pam earned a third place in GSL her rookie year, while Curtis brought home a tenth place finish last year, despite the somewhat hectic and confusing nature of the shortened event.
The little TT must have been considered to be a G-Stock over-dog though, because in 2002 it got kicked up to the newly re-organized D-Stock. Curtis would be stuck competing against the same machines that had dominated the former G-Stock for years. Luckily for Curtis, an interesting thing happened during the winter, as the SCCA and STAC (Street Touring Advisory Committee) had decided to add the Audi 1.8 turbo cars - front-wheel-drive TT included - to the inclusion list for STS. Curtis pondered, rubbed his chin a few times, checked the current prices of Falken Azenis, and decided to get some STS and STSL magnets made up for the 2002 season.
He hasn't looked back since. Well, he's looked back a few times; wondering where all the grip he was used to has gone. No matter what some people say, Azenis are not R compound tires, and both Curtis and Pam were used to the levels of stick afforded by their Hoosiers. Curtis has managed to make up some of that deficit however, since he was able to hot rod his little TT with all the suspension goodies allowed by the STS rules.
Curtis started out by re-valving his Koni Sport strut inserts, to better suit the feel and handling characteristics of the street tires. Speaking of tires, the little TT initially ran on beautiful and lightweight 17x7.5 inch BBS RC wheels, wrapped with 225/45-17 Falken Azenis tires. "The BBS wheels are roughly 12.5 pounds lighter than the stock wheels, combining for a 50 pound weight savings of unsprung and rotational mass" according to Curtis.
Just before the 2002 ProSolo Finale and National Championships, Curtis and Pam signed an agreement to run on Hankook tires, a major sponsor of SCCA's Street Touring categories. Hankook's Ventus K104 - in a 225/45-17 size - now resides under the TT. "The Hankooks took a bit of experimentation when it came to tire pressures, but we've managed to come up with a good setup now," according to Curtis.
H&R sport springs lower the car roughly 40mm in the front and 33mm in the rear, emphasizing the TT's already bull-dog style stance even further. A Nuespeed adjustable 25mm rear anti-roll bar helps to keep the car flat during hard cornering, and lend a certain level of adjustment for fighting front-drive push. Unfortunately, nobody makes camber plates for the TT yet, so Curtis has to settle for 1.5 degrees of negative front camber, and nearly 2.5 degrees of negative rear camber that came about from the lowering.
STS doesn't allow for many power mods, especially for turbo-charged cars. Curtis has fit a stainless steel Supersprint cat-back exhaust and a K&N air filter. Power is probably around the 190hp range, but one advantage the TT has over its naturally aspirated competitors, is that is doesn't lose as much power at higher elevations. Events like Wendover, Utah - held at roughly 5,000 feet - can give the little TT top dog honors in the all important drag race starts of a ProSolo.
Even though the TT is becoming a great ride in STS for them, Curtis and Pam are really the success stories. Curtis' continued determination to make whatever car he's racing that much more competitive comes natural for him. His Master's in Mechanical Engineering keeps his setup skills sharp, as does his logical thought process - gained from years of managing successful Research and Development programs for Hewlett Packard. Curtis continues to push the development of his car, which helps other TT racers to be successful too.
Pam's recent successes have been great to witness during the past couple years. The shear joy and excitement of her win at Atwater, and her fantastic third place trophy position in L1 at the Wendover ProSolo this year, were only signs of the continued success she would have later in the year. In fact, Pam almost proved SportsCar wrong, finishing a fantastic second place in STSL at the recently completed 2002 National Championships.
What a team these two have made. Throughout the years, they have managed to combine their passion for autocross racing into a hobby they both enjoy. One that they are both successful at too, in no small part, thanks to their pretty little Audi TT Coupe.