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The Flames & Pops of Two Step Backfire Competitions

That may not be fireworks you’re hearing. It could be some tuner’s two step generating backfire out of the exhaust. Learn more about two-step in cars.

Purposely Making Cars Backfire

A car backfire refers to a mistimed explosion in the car’s cylinders or exhaust. This happens when the air to fuel mixture combusts and the result is usually a loud pop followed by a burst of flames, if not something worse. Usually if a car is backfiring it can mean there is an issue within the system like too much fuel going into the cylinders, a bad ignition, or a bad spark plug.

However, there are those that make use of a car backfiring in a somewhat beneficial way. Two step is a method in which a second rev limiter is added, allowing the driver to hold rpms at a certain point for better launch control. While manufacturers typically use a fuel cut for their launch control, aftermarket two step mods make the process a little louder.

Mitsubishi Evo - Cars Across Texas on YouTube.com
Mitsubishi Evo - Cars Across Texas on YouTube.com

An aftermarket two step utilizes an ignition cut rather than a fuel cut, so fuel flow continues resulting in excess fuel in the system. When the ignition comes back on, backfire occurs in the system resulting in a loud pop with flames shooting out of the tailpipe (depending on the amount of excess fuel). But this resulting backfire doesn’t just happen once. Instead, as long as you keep the pedal on the floor, you’ll experience a repeating succession of pops and flames.

This aftermarket two step mod has led to competitions across the US to see who has the best two step setup. The louder the noise and the bigger the flames, the better for these competitions. Let’s check out how these events work and look at a couple of backfiring crowd pleasers.

Winning Two Step Backfire Competitions

When it comes to winning one of these two step showdowns, there’s some criteria you have to meet to win. First, those pops better be loud. Second, if it shoots flames out of that exhaust, you’ve got the upper hand. Third, if you can make it repeat quicker without degrading the pops or flames, do it. And lastly, be a crowd pleaser. Don’t just hit the pedal when it’s your turn. Interact with the crowd and encourage them cheer for your two step car the most. In the end, these competitions come down to what the people think. As far as the cars that are continually winning, there’s a few ridiculous rides that come to mind.

Toyota Supra

Toyota Supra - BLACK WIDOW SUPRA on YouTube.com
Toyota Supra - BLACK WIDOW SUPRA on YouTube.com

The Mk 4 Toyota Supra is essentially a classic at this point, but it shouldn’t be surprising that their owners aren’t keeping them stored in a garage. Examples like the Black Widow Supra continually show up to two step events and almost always wipe the floor with the competition.

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Mitsubishi Evo

Mitsubishi Evo - Stay Tuned on YouTube.com
Mitsubishi Evo - Stay Tuned on YouTube.com

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes from a history of rally car racing, so two step launch control is in its blood. The Evos at two step competitions typically have large diameter exhaust pipes, and there are even some that redirect flames straight out of the hood.

Mazda RX-7

Mazda RX-7 - BLACK WIDOW SUPRA on YouTube.com
Mazda RX-7 - BLACK WIDOW SUPRA on YouTube.com

Piston engines aren’t the only flame throwers out there. The Mazda RX-7 has been known to make its presence known by dropping some loud pops from its rotary powerplant. That unique engine type in the RX-7 makes for a different kind of two step presentation. Flames are almost always guaranteed and it’ll spark in a quicker iteration.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic - Zosh on YouTube.com
Honda Civic - Zosh on YouTube.com

Whenever there’s a tuner trend you can expect a Honda Civic to be there. These Hondas with two step setups may not always beat the cars listed before it, but they’ll make sure to run that thing till it’s red hot. Most of the Civics that show off their two step end in one of two ways. They either leave that tailpipe glowing and blowing flames, or they blow the motor. So, if you see a Honda Civic pull up and it pops from the two step, stick around for the show.

Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen Jetta - 717 Tuners on YouTube.com
Volkswagen Jetta - 717 Tuners on YouTube.com

The Jetta may have found its niche in two step backfire competitions. Somehow it became a great platform for showing off two step. When this Volkswagen’s 1.8T engine is tuned, adds on an aftermarket exhaust, and installs a part called a WOT box, it can really make some noise and shoot some fire. Since it carries some of the same components, the Golf GTI also makes for a good two step backfire competition car, but either work as an unassuming sleeper for these events.

Who Knew Cars Could Put on a Fireworks Show?

Two step’s main purpose is launch control, but these tuners have found a way to make the aftermarket modification into a more interesting part of their car. Setting up a car for just noise and fire isn’t practical and generating repeated backfire isn’t great for a vehicle’s internals, but the loud pops and shooting flames can really put on a show for car crowds. Although, it’s no wonder the police get reports of gunshots or fireworks in the area when these modified cars are around.

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Jesse McGraw

Jesse's life-long car obsession began when he started collecting Hot Wheels as a child. He’s constantly keeping up with the latest car news and diving deep into automotive history. His automotive journey began with a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, only recently replaced by an impeccable 2014 Kia Soul. You can find him modifying and racing cars in video games when he’s not playing paintball or writing about cars.

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