Hey guys, I’m Nick – I’m a Fiesta ST enthusiast and I help come up with the photos and video you see on our social media channels and add new parts and products to the site over at ModBargains.com. Late in 2013, I finally saw the need to retire my 1999 Volvo V70R AWD (great when it works – which isn’t often), selling off the last used car I’d ever owned and bought myself a brand new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. It’s been a while since I’ve been to school, but when I bought my Fiesta ST, I heard about a new performance driving school, provided free to anyone who bought/leased a Ford ST performance vehicle – and I knew I had to enroll in the Ford ST Octane Academy class while it was still available, and got my spot as soon as it was available. The School is held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT – meaning an opportunity to race on a track I’ve only played in Video Games – in a Fiesta ST – totally gratis. There’s just one catch – how you get there and where you’re staying is on you.
The program sounds like a car enthusiast’s dream – driving school provided free by the manufacturer, in a car just like yours, on a proper road course and with the added bonus of stunt instruction. With course curriculum created with input from Professor of Hoonage Ken Block, in addition to the usual suite of HPDE exercises, the school also teaches E-Brake Parking like you’ve seen in movies and commercials, J-Turns and a unique UrbanX course that draws its inspiration from Ken Block’s world-famous GYMKHANA videos which also feature a Ford Fiesta (albeit the $330,000 AWD Rallycar version)
So like I was saying, in addition to the Hoonigan stunt driving, there will also be Classroom Instruction, Skidpad Excercises, braking, Timed Competition, On-Track Lead/Follow, Instructor Ride-Alongs finally progressing into hot-lap sessions. But this is just what’s happening Saturday.
Friday, we’ve been invited out to a special reception at Hoonigan Headquarters out in SLC, a top secret location hidden away in a non-descript industrial park, to get a look at some of the Hoonigan magic firsthand. There’s racecars, and of course, tons of Monster Energy gear and Ken Block’s unique sense of interior decor.
Many of you out there may be wondering – Do you drive your own car on the track? No. Can you drive your own car on the track? No. But what you will be driving is your choice of a Focus ST or Fiesta ST from a fleet of Ford ST vehicles specially modified with safety equipment specifically for race duty.
But of course, there’s just one little problem – geography. As some of you may be aware, ModBargains is located here in La Habra, CA – a good 9 hours or so from here. Driving long distance alone is never fun, but it’s good to have friends with similar cars. Fortunately, my long-time friend Kevin owns a Focus ST and we registered for the same Octane Academy session. Which means not only is it a trip to a free couple days of Racing School, it’s also a getaway from the rigors of the usual workweek for a weekend of auto-centric fun. What could be more fun than a road trip with a buddy to go racing? It’s a recipe for a great time.
The Car – We opted to take my 2014 Ford Fiesta ST as the car to drive to Utah and back. Being the smaller car with the smaller engine, it made sense to choose it. While Kevin’s Focus ST is the more powerful car, sporting a Cobb AccessPort V3 for Focus ST with a ProTune map, coupled with a Cobb Intake System and Cobb Front Mount Intercooler with Chargepipes, making it quite the torque monster for a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. It is hilarious in retrospect to think about the days when 150lb/ft of torque was “good” for a 2L 4-banger. The Fiesta ST‘s plucky little 1.6L EcoBoost turbo engine churns out more than 240lb/ft at the wheels stock (the factory “crank” tq numbers are underrated) – and even more than that when combined with a Cobb AccessPort for Fiesta ST and an Injen Short Ram Intake System.
All that power in an FWD car can be hard to control and nasty to drive with wheelhop at WOT, which is why we made it a point to upgrade the Fiesta ST with the brand new Cobb Rear Motor Mount for Fiesta ST (available at ModBargains) before we were going to put 1200+ miles on the car in one go. It’s been several days since fitting the Rear Motor Mount, and it’s worth noting that it almost completely eliminated the wheel hop, traction is dramatically improved and you can get on the power mid-corner. While there is a slight increase in vibration at idle, it’s not that bad and actually has decreased over the last few days as the mount has “broken in”.
So now that the car’s ready, Kevin and I have our road trip planned to a T – an overnight stay in Vegas, followed by driving through some of Utah’s beautiful scenery and iconic landscapes, and of course, because we’re car guys, this means the car guy form of selfies – tons of photos of the car… (My lady complains there are more photos of the car on my Facebook page than there are of her… though to be fair most women will find it creepy if you’re just snapping pics of them without being asked) A few ST guys might join us a long the way – and we’ll be sharing our experience – what we saw, and what we learned with you guys out there in internet land. I hope you’ll stick with me through the journey.
Here are a few more gratuitous photos for good measure.
As we make our way across the Southwest to our destination, we’ll be sharing our experience with you guys in photos, text and video to give you an idea of what the whole experience was like.
Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you later for Part II.
Story and Photos by Nick Gregson
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