Revolution Race Cars A-One: Track Testing A Wicked New Bit Of Kit
Tons of aero and power give this lightweight track monster GT class performance on a budget.
Making the jump from track day junkie to race car driver is no small feat, and not only does it take a ton of experience, skill, and money, there's also the acquisition of a car and the right team to support it. For ages, companies have tried to create a race car that bridges the gap for aspiring racers, but the ability to transition from a reasonably quick road car to race car is complicated and costly.
Based in Peterborough, UK, Revolution Race Cars may be an unfamiliar name, but it was started by Phil Abbott, one of the co-founders of Radical Sportscars (which DriveTribe has raced). After selling thousands of the popular pocket rocket race car to drivers on several continents, he wanted to take racers to another level with a new, more wicked product. With dealers and teams in several regions around the globe, Revolution is showing up at more tracks, competing in its own spec series highlighted by a support race during F1's 2020 weekend in Portugal.
The Austin, Texas-based dealer for Revolution Race Cars is Esses Racing, which manages several race cars and numerous customers for track day service and support. Being a regular at the track, and with a motorsport background behind the wheel and camera, I've gotten to know the Esses Racing crew over the years. The boss at Esses suggested I give this new A-One race car a proper test around my home track--Circuit of The Americas--and I would be an idiot to turn that down.
The Hardcore Specs
At first glance, the Revolution A-One looks like a Radical on steroids, and while it's definitely bigger than the Radical, its length and width dimensions are similar to a 911 Cup car. Revolution uses Finite Element Analysis (F.E.A.) and testing tools previously only used in Formula 1 and top-flight endurance racing to give pros and amateurs alike obscene grip and performance whether they're storming their local track day or entering a proper racing series. Underneath, Revolution starts with a carbon fiber monocoque, produced by DDComposites. The A-One's outlandish yet functional appearance is sculpted with carbon fiber body panels developed with more time in CFD than you spend reading car websites, producing levels of downforce that rival GTE class racers.
Powering the Revolution A-One is a mid-mounted 3.7-liter Ford V6, producing 400 horsepower, and offering a long service life of up to 10,000 km. To get the power to the ground, a bespoke six-speed pneumatic multi-plate transmission is supplied by 3MO, which also produces transmissions for World Rally Championship contenders. Running weight is a scant 795 kg, or 1,753 pounds, giving it a silly power-to-weight ratio.
The Revolution's suspension includes a pushrod and rocker setup, with 3-way dampers, and the unique ability to swap several components from one side to the other, greatly reducing the need and cost of spare parts. Anti-roll bars are fully adjustable front and rear, to suit any track condition or driver behavior. Wheels and tires are remarkably small and inexpensive for a race car, with 15-inch ultralight wheels wrapped with Goodyear slicks equipped for my test.
Pricing for the Revolution A-One starts at around $200,000, which is about as much your road-going track day hero Porsche GT3 RS, and is slightly more than a new Radical SR10. At that price, the longer service intervals and outright capability for this race car make it appealing to those making the leap to a more competition-worthy platform.
Getting Acclimated To The Cockpit
Revolution's cockpit options include safety cell seating for one or two occupants, and a roll cage or halo setup depending on the driver's preference. For my test, the A-One had the more open cockpit and a single-seat configuration, mounted as a right-hand-drive setup. Once you slide into the custom-molded carbon fiber seat, it's all business.
Controls are straightforward, with a multifunction carbon steering wheel, running an AIM system for data and telemetry that any good race team knows how to manage. Engine mapping, traction control, and electric-assist power steering settings are controlled by quick rotary buttons on the steering wheel, and brake bias is adjusted by a big knob in the center of the dash. Like any proper race car setup, the steering wheel has endless possibilities for configuration of the knobs and buttons, to make any driver comfortable and in good communication with the team in the pits.
I've driven a few single-seaters, a handful of different open cockpit machines, and plenty of sportscar series racers, and the Revolution's cockpit is surprisingly roomy and intuitive. I frequent COTA on at least a monthly basis, driving all sorts of fast metal around the 3.4-mile F1 circuit, so I didn't need any track briefing, and was able to focus on learning the car. The Esses Racing crew took plenty of time to ensure I was comfortable with how everything worked in the A-One, which made getting comfortable during my first session easy.
The author and driver. Photo taken by Esses Racing team boss and former F1 team manager Dave O'Neill.
Initial Behaviors And Impressions
Texas was only a couple days into its recovery from a massive winter weather disaster, so the track conditions at COTA were still damp in some spots, with an ambient temp around 60ºF (15ºC), coupled with a stiff breeze. Getting the A-One's tires up to temp was a bit of a challenge initially. In the case of my test, the crew gave the car a hint of understeer to accommodate a couple potential customers with varied skill levels who also were testing that day.
Rubber in its operating range, fling the Revolution harder than you'd imagine possible, and feel the aero suck you into the tarmac. Slow speed corners required a significant amount of input, and there was a hint of snap if I tried to smash the throttle too early on exit. Unlike a Radical--which is easy to operate whether you're humming along at three tenths or slapping it around at seven tenths or more--the Revolution A-One has to be ripped around the circuit, and demands a high skill level to reach its true operating potential.
With loads of power at your disposal, shuffling from corner to corner is fast. The Ford powerplant and custom exhaust makes for a surprisingly quiet soundtrack, even when flogging the Revolution. Open cockpit driving is fantastic, with a rush of wind over your helmet as speeds increase, but I was shocked how calm turbulence was inside the A-One. Especially without a helmet more properly set up for being exposed to the elements.
Dialed in for maximum downforce, the massive rear wing on the Revolution was great for keeping the back end in check through COTA's faster bends, but compromised some top speed on the longer stretches. Still registering 155 MPH down the 3/4-mile back straight between turns 11 and 12, the Revolution wasn't exactly slow. Trim out that back wing a little bit, and you'll easily hit 165 before stabbing the brakes. Pedal feel during hard braking inputs was smooth and predictable, with wicked levels of stopping power that allowed me to dive super late into tight turns.
Photo: Dave O'Neill
Getting Into The Groove
A little Gremlin was chewing on a module in the electric power steering system, making my initial session go from making easy inputs to steer the Revolution to a workout. I was quickly reminded that I'm 41 years old, about 15 pounds above my old playing weight, and far removed from any gym routine. Once that part was swapped out, I had a chance to discuss setup with the crew, and I jumped back in for a few more sessions throughout the afternoon.
Bug sorted and calibrations complete, I exercised the A-One hard. Overall dimensions aren't small, but as your pace increases, the Revolution shrinks around you. In more open traffic, I settled in quickly, pushing the race car hard while feeling more stable lap after lap. Momentum is key, and smooth hands go a long way to keep the Revolution happy. Fortunately I'm a driver that looks after the tires, and this behavior allows longer stints at a good pace in the Revolution. Matching up nicely with my driving style, the Revolution's setup loves trail braking and slightly later throttle applications on corner exit.
After my first two sessions in the Revolution A-One, I became confident and comfortable behind the wheel. Lap times around COTA are in the 2:12 range in fast hands, which isn't much slower than IMSA GTD class cars. Each following session in the Revolution helped me find a few seconds per lap, and I think drivers with above average skills could settle into this car quickly if they wanted to invest in one.
Discussing setup with the car's engineer. Photo: Dave O'Neill
Absurd Levels Of Performance For The Money
Drivers looking to up their racing game will be blown away by the performance available in the Revolution A-One, particularly when dropping $200,000. Revolution supplies some seriously fun kit that will rip around any circuit as fast as plenty of proper race cars while providing one cool experience.
The A-One might not be for the driver transitioning from a road car to their first open cockpit. The move won't be challenging for a driver with a bit of skill, and some amateurs may want to try a Radical first. If you're looking to step up in class as a racer, and want a platform that will help transition to much faster cars, I can't think of a better car than a Revolution. Even if you aren't taking it racing, and are simply enjoying track days at your favorite circuit, that money is well spent with Revolution A-One.
Photo taken by Esses Racing team boss and former F1 team manager Dave O'Neill.