Chat with Edo Stepanyan

25 Apr

Edo Stepanyan is a racer with a history of success in sport compact road racing, having secured multiple championships in NASA Honda Challenge. One of the more exciting road races I’ve had the pleasure of watching and being involved with was the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships event at Willow Springs in July 2011. His battle during that race with Andy Hope was one that had fans talking for weeks following the checkered the flag!

Needless to say, I was SUPER stoked to learn that Edo planned to focus his racing efforts within the MPTCC for the 2012 season.  It speaks volumes about the MPTCC when a seasoned champion like Edo makes a concerted effort to increase his involvement with this series.

This past weekend at Buttonwillow, Edo was involved in some close battles with Andrie Hartanto in the Tuner Under class of the MPTCC. Edo was able to secure the victory on Saturday as well as a 2nd place finish on Sunday, putting him in a tie for 1st overall in the MPTCC Championship standings after the first event of the year.

Check out the chat I had with Edo below:

 

Team Name: Edo Motorsports
Vehicle Make & Model: 92 Acura Integra
Sponsors: Sav-on Driving & Traffic School, Mirage Auto Body, Hondata, Motul, 5zigen, JE Pistons, Joe’s Tuning, Speedvision Motorsports, Mfactoy
Tires: Hankook/Toyo – Depending on series and availability

 

 

Nikolas:  For those who may not be familiar with who you are, can you give us some background on how and when you began your racing career?

Edo:  I originally got into cars when I was 12 yrs old in Armenia and my dad would tought me how to drive his Russian made Lada 06. When I got my driver’s license I had an 86 300zx which I learned to wrench on and I did mostly drag racing with. A friend of mine introduced me to road racing when I took my Eclipse GSX to WIllow Springs in 2001 and was hooked off tha bat. That’s when I decided to build the Integra that I still have now. We started out in SCCA ITA but quickly moved to NASA Honda Challenge 4 as the car count was higher and the series had lots of potential. That’s were I grew the most as a driver as we won 3 consecutive championships.

Nikolas:  What are some of your accomplishments in racing that you are most proud of?

Edo:  I think our biggest accomplishment as a team was winning the Honda Challenge 4 Socal regional championship 3 years in a row from 2004, 2005,2006 and in 2008. Each year we beat someone different and it came down to the last weekend of racing in November at Buttonwillow race park.

 

Nikolas: You come out of this first weekend of races tied for the points lead in Tuner Under with Andrie Hartanto, with whom you had some very close racing with at Buttonwillow. For rounds #3 & #4, the series heads to Auto Club Speedway, a track that is vastly different than Buttonwillow. What is your strategy for adapting to Auto Club Speedway?

 

Edo:  The Buttonwillow race was a lot of fun racing with another great driver like Andrie. Our cars were pretty even overall since Buttonwillow does not have any long straightaways. My car is low on power compared to my weight and Andrie’s TSX has more horsepower but more weight. Since we’re on the same tires I was able to stay behind him on Saturday until his tires gave away towards the end of the race. Auto Club Speedway is a horsepower track and therefore we will need more power to keep up with the higher horsepower cars.

 

 

Nikolas:  We’ve seen you post on Facebook that you’ll be making some changes to the car that will make it closer in speed to Andrie’s TSX. Can you give us any hints as to what that might be? Or do you just want to keep it a surprise for all of the MPTCC fans? 🙂

 

Edo:  Based on the weight of the car, we have some room to increase the horsepower of the car which will definitely help at Auto Club Speedway. We’re going to weigh our options and make some modifications to help our chances.

 

Nikolas:  We’re expecting a field of up to 15 cars in the Tuner Under class at Auto Club Speedway, a huge increase over the Buttonwillow field. Does this change your approach to the next race?

 

Edo: That’s some great news and increased competition always makes it more fun. It’s good to see the series grow and evolve and have already seen the commitment and involvement from the guys running the show.

 

Nikolas:  Notably absent from the opening round was the defending series Champion, Dai Yoshihara. We know that he will be at Auto Club Speedway in July. The Nissan Sentra he secured the Championship with became notably faster by the end of the 2011 season. What are your thoughts on having to face him come July?

 

Edo:  It was great racing with him in July 2011 at Willow Springs and am glad he will be back for the next round. It’s always good to have more cars in the class.

 

Nikolas:  Is there anyone you’d like to give a special shout out to that may have helped you prepare for this past weekend?

 

Edo:  I’d like to thank my Brother and Dad who are always helping me prepare and the support I get from family members and friends.

 

Nikolas: I’m really excited to have you racing in the MPTCC this season! 🙂 I’m looking forward to watching you battle with Andrie, Dai and the other top drivers in the series! Is there anything you’d like to say about your involvement with the MPTCC in 2012?

 

Edo:  I’m excited to be a part of MPTCC in 2012 because I can see what the organizers are doing to promote the series and make it better along with the news of the car count increase for the next race. Thank You.

 

That wraps it up for my chat with Edo Stepanyan. Keep an eye out for an upcoming chat with Michele Abbate, driver of the GruppeS Scion tC in the MPTCC tomorrow or Friday. She was able to secure back to back 3rd place finishes this past weekend at Buttonwillow.  She is another driver I am very excited and happy to see involved with the MPTCC! 🙂

 

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