What is Time Attack ?
Time Attack (also known as Superlap) is a type of motorsport in which the races compete for the best lap time, and originated in Japan in the 80s as a proving ground for street-tuned cars built by highly respected tuning companies. With a quick rise in popularity, the event became well-known and tuner shops started developing race cars purpose-built for the event. Usually, Time Attack cars run a course by itself for time, typically with one warm-up lap, one timed lap and one cool-down lap.
There is no doubt that the dawn of time attack, in its purest form can be traced back to the Ibaraki Prefecture in the northeastern part of Japan’s Kanto region; more specifically the rather non-descript 1.27-mile Tsukuba circuit. While no one will argue where time attack originated the concept of when is a bit less concrete. According to Mike Garrett of Speedhunters, the very first time attack was the Rev Speed magazine “Tsukuba Super Battle” held in May of 1994. We tend to agree with Mike’s timeline given that he’s proven to be a rather credible resource for the JDM tuner scene over the years and also because we couldn’t find any other information on time attack’s birth date (Congratulations, Mike, we hereby decree you as time attack’s custodian of records!).
According to one of Mike’s Speedhunters posts, the Mine’s R32 GT-R won that first event with a 1:00.85 lap time no doubt driven by Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada given the close relationship he has with Mine’s big boss Michizo Niikura.
Over the years Japan’s top manufacturers and tuners became obsessed with setting fast time at Tsukuba. The track quickly established itself as a benchmark for tuning supremacy with everyone from small shops to large parts makers looking at Tsukuba as a race-on-Sunday-sell-on-Monday proposition. Video Option and others organized select invite-only made-for-media affairs but Rev Speed magazine’s annual event stood as the must-attend time attack each year.
Time Attack in the United States
In the United States, the Super Lap Battle is held at Buttonwillow Raceway Park since 2004. In February of 2019, a new event called Superlap Battle USA was run at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. The outright winner was Cole Powelson in the Lyfe Nissan GTR. An international event known as World Time Attack Challenge has been held at Sydney Motorsport Park, Australia since 2010 attracting the fastest time attack teams from around the globe to compete.
National Auto Sport Association Time Trial (NASA TT) series is a national auto competition program, utilizing regional series based on a time trial style format, with rules that establish car classifications to provide a contest of driver skill. NASA TT is designed to bridge the gap between NASA HPDE (High-Performance Driving Events), and wheel-to-wheel racing.
NASA TT provides a venue for spirited on-track competition with a high degree of both safety and convenience. NASA TT competition will take place during NASA HPDE-4 sessions or in separate TT run groups, depending on the event schedule and number of participants. In addition to having a set of National NASA TT Rules, the rules, safety guidelines, and driving requirements of the HPDE-4 program apply to NASA TT. These rules can be found in the NASA CCR (Club Codes and Regs).
Other events such as Gridlife offer a Time Attack event taking place in various locations across North America. The competition is divided into various groups based on car specification. The level varies from every day has driven vehicles to non-road legal race cars. Each class also has its own set of rules and regulations on car specifications as the higher class one goes the fewer regulations one is faced with. The top 12 competitors regardless of the class will participate in the Final grid event in which the driver is allowed one warm-up lap, one hot lap, and one cool-down lap. The hot lap, however, will not count towards the overall track battle event. There is also a seasonal championship with every class having a champion based on points earned throughout the season.