We’ve all seen Superlite SL-C cars on the pages of, well, how about Speed News magazine? It’s almost guaranteed to attract a photographer’s attention because the cars are so stunning.

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For NASA Southeast member Jon Bridges, he first caught a glimpse of the SL-C on television. Stacey David was building an SL-C on his program “Stacy David’s Gearz.” Bridges was so taken by the car, he wanted to build one himself.

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“So I got intrigued by it and I started looking around for one, and I was discussing with my wife the idea of building one,” Bridges said. “She asked how much time it would take, which is about 200 hours. She said, ‘Forget it. You better find one already built.’ So I started looking for one that was already built.”

But where do you find a car like that? It’s not like you can get one off your local Craigslist. You can, however, find one on RacingJunk.com, which is where Bridges found a good prospect. But before he could get there, the guy had sold the one in the listing Bridges had seen. Turns out the seller knew someone else who had one. It wasn’t actually for sale, but Bridges persuaded the owner to sell it. So drove from his home in Peachtree City, Ga., to St. Louis and brought it home.

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The car was complete, and it had only a few track days on it, but Bridges had to go through it and replace a number of items to get it to where he was comfortable and confident in it.

For example, he replaced all the QA1 shocks with Penske 8760s. He also added a brake bias controller and replaced the oil cooler, which brought air in the side vent in front of the rear wheel. It didn’t work that well, so he put a water-based heat exchanger and that works a lot better. He was able to drop his oil temperatures from 265 to a more manageable 220. He also had to replace the throttle body controller. In the unit that came on the car, the spring wasn’t strong enough to close it under hard deceleration. He also has added the racing tail since these photos were taken, which hinges at the back and doesn’t require removal for access to the engine and transaxle.

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Once he got the car dialed in to his liking, it was up to him to drive it. Bridges has had a number of track cars, including a Ruf 911 turbo, an E30 he raced competitively, an E36 M3, and E39 M5 he uses for daily driving and a Porsche 997 Turbo, which makes about 650 horsepower. The SL-C was something different altogether.

“The biggest issue is trusting the grip of the car, trusting the downforce,” Bridges said. “It’s got such huge downforce I’ve had to get used to going beyond what the Porsche can do. My best time in the Porsche at Road Atlanta is a 1:32. I’ve run 1:32s in the blue car, but it can run much faster easily. There’s a couple of points where you’ve got to push through the fear — like coming down through Turn 12 — and the grip will be there. Basically, you can use all the engine you have. You have to kind of lift a little bit and feather it through 12, and you’re still doing 110, 115 mph through that corner.”

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The engine is a GM LS376 crate motor, which makes 470 horsepower at the rear wheels. That’s a fair amount of horsepower in any car, but the SL-C weighs just 2,500 pounds without a driver. It would weigh less, but Bridges’ car is outfitted with air conditioning. The transaxle is lifted from a Porsche 911, and Bridges puts all that power to good use in TTU class in NASA Southeast.

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“I like Time Trials because it’s passing where you want to and it’s good drivers you trust,” he said. “So you can just go out there and go for it. An ideal situation is to have a Friday test and tune day to knock the cobwebs out, then have Saturday and Sunday where you can go as fast as you want to. That’s fun.”

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He doesn’t get passed much, which is good because he can’t really point anyone by. He said he might consider using the car for endurance racing because the car is fast enough to win overall — and if he gets too hot he can run the air conditioning.

Bridges also added a passenger seat since the photo shoot. He plans to put it to good use by getting some coaching this season. As he puts it, the car is a lot more capable than he is. He just needs to try to bolster his skills so he can take advantage of all that power.

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“The car does not need any horsepower. It needs driver talent because it’s a really serious car to drive,” he said. “When you first go out with cold tires, it’s very easy to spin it. I’ve had several track cars, including a Porsche turbo with 650 horsepower and I’ve never spun it and I never really lost it. But the blue car, I’ve spun it a couple of times. With cold tires, you make one little mistake and there’s no forgiveness. That big engine behind you will just snap you around. But once it gets warmed up and you do things smoothly, the grip is tremendous. I have yet to really find the limits of the car.”

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Owner:

Jon Bridges

Year:

2012

Make:

Race Car Replicas Superlite

Model:

SL-C

Weight:

2,500 lbs. w/o driver

Engine:

LS 376 crate motor, 470 rear wheel horsepower

Suspension:

Front: double wishbone, Penske 8760 pushrod shocks w/coil overs

Rear: double wishbone, Penske 8760 pushrod shocks w/coil overs

Tires:

Front: Dunlop 285-70R-18 racing slicks

Rear: Dunlop 310-70R-18 racing slicks

Brakes:

Front: Stock Brembo calipers from 2010 Camaro SS, Hawk blue pads

Rear: Stock Brembo calipers from 2010 Camaro SS, Hawk blue pads

Data system:

DigiDash, Traqmate

Sponsors:

none
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Image courtesy of Brett Becker