MEET THE GANGSTER OF DRAG RACING

I was in full Speedhunting mode when I attended March Meet last month, scouring Famoso Raceway to bring you the best the nostalgia drag race world had on offer. Of course there were gobs of old school dragsters and gassers, but I was looking for that one special car that stopped me dead in my tracks. I found it – but I hadn’t a clue how far down the rabbit hole it would take me (and a whole crew of my fellow Speedhunters too).

I spotted Randy Winkle’s ’57 Chevrolet gasser in front of one of the paddocks and was sure I’d just struck feature car gold. As I crawled all over, around and under the car Randy walked up and we made our introductions. I told him about Speedhunters and that I was looking for drag cars to feature, to which he responded, “Oh this isn’t the race car, I just built it to tow that one around the drag strip…” Wait. What?

Randy invited me to step into his personal garage space (on track premises I might add) to say hello to his little friend – a 1967 front engine dragster (FED) named O’ Black Betty.

I worked my way into the garage and slowly circled the baddest FED I’d ever seen. With each question answered it became apparent that this guy was legit.

He was there when it went down the first time around, and he’s seeing to it that history is preserved. This matched pair is the proof: FED racer and Chev gasser.

Specifically designed to complement each other, the combo just couldn’t get any more gangster. Can you imagine the intimidation factor when this set-up rolls through the pits?

Most race teams get by with a daily driver Chevy pickup to tow their race cars on the weekend. I think Randy’s level of commitment to keeping the scene alive is pretty evident at this point.

He’s even started an exclusive club for like-minded racers, called the Famoso Mob. They recently returned from a trip to New Zealand where they schooled the Kiwis on vintage American quarter mile machines.

As if that weren’t enough, Randy and his Famoso Speed Shop were consulted as nostalgia racing experts for the upcoming movie Snake & Mongoose. Randy and his good friend Stormy Byrd are even behind the wheel in several scenes, and O’ Black Betty makes a cameo appearance as well. I think we’ve found the right guy to show us what this scene is about.

I know it’s a strange way to start a car feature but we’ll begin with the FED’s tow hook, specifically the finish. Famoso Speed Shop isn’t just building period-correct race cars, it’s building them on a show-worthy level. I’m sure the chrome bill for this build is ample evidence of my assertion.

So let’s get the necessary stats out of the way: 179″ wheelbase, 800hp, 750lb/ft and 1300lbs. It’ll go 7.40 in the 1/4 mile…

…if you have the stones to strap in and hit the loud pedal.

That’s a 383 of 1971 vintage, stuffed with race parts and pressurized by The Blower Shop. The blower restraints are necessary by today’s rulebook, but notice he went with silver so they disappear against the chromed engine.

Sitting behind a blown small block running at full tilt isn’t the safest place to be, but the restraints and belt guard will keep parts from going airborne if something pops. There’s a reason dragsters are built with the engines in the back now – to avoid getting sprayed by stray engine parts, fireballs and hot oil mostly.

To be honest though, it’s the aesthetics that intrigue me most; like the matching cowls at the front of the engine and driver’s compartments, and the way the three ribs on the blower scoop match the three red stripes on the bodywork.

The visor on Randy’s helmet even echoes the shape of the cowls and has gold lettering too. It’s probably coincidence, but still cool.

I’ve always liked nostalgia dragsters with a little bodywork on them, especially since each body is hand-formed to its respective chassis.

Not only does the bodywork enclose the updated roll cage, it also shrouds the ‘chute and hides the mounting points for the wheelie bar.

Check out how the character line flows down and forms a nice angle of attack. I wonder if Famoso Speed Shop knew it was using car design tricks when forming the sheet metal.

The tail fin formed into the bodywork is what really grabbed me though. Famoso Speed Shop’s Mike Alspough put considerable effort into crafting a beautiful body for this nostalgia racer – and succeeded quite nicely.

That’s a handbrake to the left and a shifter on the right, custom built with giant ball bearings welded on the ends. Remember that chrome bill I mentioned earlier?

Inside there’s not much of a seat, but you don’t sit there long anyways. The green button on the steering wheel activates the trans brake and launch control.

The term nostalgia dragster might make some of you think these guys are running outdated technology, but really it refers more to the layout and the spirit in which these machines are built. Randy said they have updated a few things for the sake of staying competitive, like the MSD distributor which allows them to use launch control by omitting spark to certain cylinders while the button is pressed.

The Wilwood brakes hiding out inside the 16×12-inch E/T rear wheels appear to be late model as well, but disc brakes have been used in drag racing since the mid ’60s so they get a pass.

No brakes on the front though, since it barely has tires anyways. I love the juxtaposition of the massive slicks out back with front tires that are barely suitable for a bicycle.

Randy lists them as 17-inch spokes. I’m guessing they’re 2-inch wide, maybe. Check out the typeface on the sponsor logos too.

All of the logos were applied by hand using period-correct fonts. That’s real gold leafing, edged with hand-painted pinstripes, then finally sealed under plenty of clear coat. Pretty good for a race car, eh?

Let’s not forget that badass ’57 gasser that got us here in the first place though.

Despite Randy’s claim that it was just built to tow O’ Black Betty we think it’s a feature car in its own right, so stay tuned.

I have a hard time choosing a favorite between these two, as each is amazing in its own right. We’ll let you be the judge once we show you the ’57 gasser in greater detail.

It does a pretty fine job of pulling the FED around though, doesn’t it?

 

Words by Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith
Email: keith@speedhunters.com

Photos by Sean Klingelhoefer
Instagram: seanklingelhoefer
Email: sean@speedhunters.com

Additional photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
Email: larry@speedhunters.com

 

Randy Winkle’s 1967 Front Engine Dragster – O’ Black Betty

Numbers
Max power – 800hp, max torque – 750 lb/ft, weight – 1300 lbs, ET – 7.40 sec

Engine
1971 Chevy 383 ci, 8:1 compression, AFR head machining, Scat camshaft, Manley valves, springs, push rods, retainers and lifters, ARP head bolts, copper head gasket, double roller timing chain, Crower connecting rods, ARP connecting rod bolts, Scat crankshaft, Famoso Speed Shop engine mounts, The Blower Shop intake manifold and supercharger, Enderle fuel pump and fuel rail, Lemons headers, NGK spark plugs, MSD spark plug wires, coil and distributor, Excel battery, wiring harness and cosmetic modifications by Famoso Speed Shop

Driveline
Powerglide transmission, Ford 9″ differential, SFI flexplate, gearing: “I will never tell!”

Suspension/Brakes
Solid mounted rear suspension, chrome front suspension links, Wilwood rear disc brakes, parachute

Wheels/Tires
17″ spoked wheels with Avon tires (front), Rear – 16×12 E/T wheels with M/H Racemaster slicks (rear)

Exterior
Famoso Speed Shop customized chassis and hand-formed bodywork, paint by Mikey and the Paso Boys, graphics by Jamie and the Paso Boys

Interior
DJ Safety harness, unknown vintage steering wheel, Kurtz steering hub and quick release, Famoso Speed Shop shift and brake levers

 

 

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A 1500HP GT-R STREET CAR THAT RUNS 8S

Getting a 3700lb (1675kg) Nissan Skyline GT-R down the strip in eight and a half seconds flat on its very first outing since an intensive, yet short lead build, is not any way, shape or form an easy proposition. But behind the wheel of MGAWOT II, New Zealand-based but internationally-renowned Nissan RB-series engine builder Robbie Ward has just made it look effortless.

If you know anything about GT-R drag racing you’ll probably recognize Rob’s name. If not, you should recognize his company’s, because for the last decade that modest workshop in a small city at the center of New Zealand’s North Island has been turning out some of the quickest and fastest Nissan RB-engined street and drag cars on the planet – many of them for international customers. The Bayside Blue BNR34 – unofficially dubbed MGAWOT II – is arguably their greatest work yet. It’s certainly the most powerful Skyline to have ever emerged from the RIPS (aka Rotorua Import Pro Shop) lair.

I caught wind of the Skyline-based drag project earlier in the year, not long after RIPS blew everyone away with its original MGAWOT machine – the company’s own Nissan Stagea station wagon which ran a 9.0-second pass on its very first pass down the strip and high eights ever since. MGAWOT II promised that and more, and during the course of last weekend RIPS delivered on its word in more ways than one. Not only did it a turn an 8.64 ET and a new NZDRA national class record on its debut run off the trailer, but it backed it up with a succession of 8.60s, then an 8.57, and finally an 8.51 at 162.5mph for the IHRA drag national class record too.

For the sake of anyone wondering, MGAWOT is a play on megawatt, which in power terms equals 1000 kilowatts, or 1341 horsepower. Truth be known, MGAWOT II has a little more than that, and more impressively makes its power on off-the-pump E85 biofuel. Equally remarkable, just seven short weeks ago the GT-R was nothing more than a rolling body fitted with a roll cage and a parachute. It arrived that way from the UK, but now, a couple of days after its debut racing weekend, it’s locked up in a shipping container and on its way back.

It’s not the first Skyline that’s been sent halfway around the world for Rob and his team to work their magic on and it’s unlikely to be the last. When it comes to RB engines – custom-engineered RB30s to be precise – RIPS has an enviable reputation. But it didn’t come by chance. Rob isn’t the sort of guy to ever shy away from a challenge, and he certainly doesn’t do things by halves. Too much power is seemingly never enough for this guy, and if that custom humped vent on the hood doesn’t speak volumes in that regard, lifting it up certainly will.

Like all of RIPS’ high-power builds, MGAWOT II’s engine is RB30 based. In this instance though, it’s pushed out to 3.2 litres courtesy of a Nitto Performance Engineering stroker kit featuring a 4340 billet steel crankshaft, 4340 I-beam rods, and a set of JE/Nitto forged T6 2816 alloy pistons. Not only do the upgraded internals give the engine the strength it needs to handle high horsepower loads, but they also allow to it to rev more freely, and to a 10,000rpm-plus altitude.

Of course, to achieve those big numbers you need a cylinder head that’s equally up to task. RIPS’ close associate Kelford Cams got that job of delivering a race-prepped and fully-flowed head from a brand new RB26 casting. On the subject of flow just look at that beautiful hand made intake plenum that the compressed air blows through.

Then there’s the turbo: a Garrett GTX47-series compressor sitting on a custom-built tubular manifold and running a pair of Turbosmart PowerGate60 wastegates. To give you some reference for size, that heat-wrapped pipe running out the back measures five inches in diameter. Large? Yes. Scary? A little…

If the engine was methanol-fueled and not destined to be street driven, the package could have sufficed without the need for an intercooler, but seeing as it’s designed to run on E85 and will soon be put back on the road in the UK (yes, you read that right!), a custom-built water/air charge-cooling system has been employed.

The set up pumps ice cold water stored in a custom designed and fabricated 50-litre boot mounted tank, through hoses to the ARE intercooler behind the front bumper. According to Rob it’s working perfectly to keep the intake temperature in check. The 18-litre tank on the left-hand-side hold the fuel, with a trio of Bosch Motorsport 044 pumps feeding the supply to the engine through six 2500cc injectors.

That’s not the only fuel the engine feeds on, though.

RIPS has always been a big fan of N2O, and while the Nitrous Oxides Systems set-up has the ability to deliver multi-port shots in the future, it currently only operates a small fogger nozzle for a 75hp hit that’s primarily used to bring the engine up on boost.

Remember what I was saying about attention to detail? It’s evident wherever you look, right down to CNC engraving on most of the custom-made items. The Tali Lomu insignia came at the request of the car’s owner – a huge rugby supporter with an immense respect for one of the sport’s most revered players of all time. New Zealand All Black great Jonah Tali Lomu, himself the owner of a couple of fast GT-Rs, was well known for his ability to steamroll anyone who got in the way of his 6 foot 5 inch, 280lb frame, so it’s a fitting name for a car that’s been designed to mow down the competition on the 1320.

With a conservative 1500hp on offer the RB32 definitely has the credentials to get the job done, but what surprised me the most though is how civilized the overall package is. Off the trailer all it took was one twist of the key to fire the engine into life from cold start before settling at a raspy, but even idle. Maximum effect, but minimal fuss.

That mantra follows through to the driveline, where alongside reliability, ease-of-use and driveability are key design traits. Unlike previous builds where OS Giken OS88 six-speed sequential gearboxes have traditionally been RIPS’ transmission of choice, MGAWOT II benefits from a ProMod-style two-speed, manually-shifted automatic that’s been significantly modified to integrate with the GT-R’s four-wheel drive underpinnings. The idea behind the auto transmission, which was initially developed in the Stagea, was to remove driveline ‘shock’, where immense torque loads plus a hard launch can equal expensive breakages. In a complete turnaround from the accepted norm, this GT-R catapults off the line smoothly, and even more surprisingly with just 6psi of initial boost pressure.

Getting the car out of the hole and on its way to a eight-second slip is a simple proposition Rob tells me. Looking at the left side of steering wheel, the top button purges the nitrous system while the bottom one engages the transbrake. On the right-hand side the top button activates the Leash Electronics Bump Box, while the bottom button triggers the N2O.

To heat the rear tyres before a run, a manual torque split controller alters the drive from full four-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and can be adjusted to anywhere between.

After the burnout, the lever with the blue button is pumped back and forth to reinstate pressure back into the system and four-wheel drive for the launch.

That Bump Box I mentioned a couple of pictures back is a useful device in a set-up like this. To trigger the second set of staging lights, a driver normally has to be off the gas pedal to inch forward and fire the beam, which only leaves a split second to rebuild boost in time for the lights to drop. With the Bump Box, a microprocessor in conjunction with the transbrake does all the work, allowing the car to ‘bump’ into stage without the engine having to come off boost.

On the subject of boost, this is the first time RIPS has employed a CO2 system in one of its cars. The technology, which utilizes air regulators, is perfect for this application where boost control is critical, and pressure needs to increase as the car makes it way down the strip.

That said though, with its current Link G4 Xtreme engine management system tune the big RB’ is only operating at around 85 percent of its ability according to Rob.

It doesn’t take a genius then to work out that this car has a lot more in it yet, and that’s before you even start thinking about removing weight, like its heavy electrics-equipped steel doors and factory dashboard from the equation. It’s also running old circuit-spec coilover suspension, and the list goes on… Seven second potential? Without a doubt.

In the meantime however – if its debut performance is anything to go by – the Skyline should be at the top of the game when it hits up the Street Class of Santa Pod’s Jap Drag Racing Series, which coincidentally just kicked off for the 2013 summer season at the same time MGAWOT II was being shaken down in a far away land.

Given New Zealand and the United Kingdom’s geographical divide, chances are I’ll never get to see this car run again, and that saddens the inner GT-R worshipper in me. At the same time though, I know for a fact that this won’t be the last fast Skyline from RIPS, and that said, I can’t wait to see what Robbie and his team cooks up next. MGAWOT III? Watch this space…

 

Brad Lord
brad@speedhunters.com

 

New Zealand Sport Compact Drag Racing on Speedhunters

Other Skyline stories on Speedhunters

 

Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR34 ‘MGAWOT II’

Numbers
1500hp; 0-400m: 8.51 @ 162.5mph

Engine
RIPS RB32 build, Nitto Performance Engineering 3.2-litre stroker kit, JE/Nitto forged pistons, 4340 billet steel I-beam rods, 4340 billet steel crankshaft, RB26 DOHC 24V cylinder head, Kelford Cams cylinder head race prep/flowing, Kelford Cams camshafts, custom tubular exhaust manifold, Garrett GTX47 turbocharger, two Turbosmart PowerGate60 60mm wastegates, five-inch exhaust, ARE air/water intercooler, custom boot-mounted ice box, 18L custom fuel cell, three Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pumps, braided fuel lines, RIPS plenum, RIPS throttle body, RIPS adjustable fuel rail, Turbosmart adjustable fuel pressure regulator, 2500c injectors (E85), RIPS/Ross Performance dry sump system, NOS nitrous oxide system, ViPEC engine management system, CO2 boost control system

Driveline
RIPS modified ProMod 2-speed automatic transmission, adjustable torque split, transbrake, limited slip differentials (front/rear)

Suspension/Brakes
Tein adjustable coilovers front/rear, Nissan BNR32 GT-R calipers/rotors, parachute

Wheels/Tyres
15-inch Advan RG alloys, Mickey Thompson 26.0/10.0-15 (front/rear)

Exterior
NISMO front bumper, Do-Luck rear bumper, custom turbo vent

Interior
Full rollcage, Jamex drivers seat, harness seat belt, Sparco steering wheel, B&M Pro Bandit ratchet shifter, Leash Electronics Boost Leash boost controller

 

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RUN WHAT YA BRUNG: DRAG MEET 2013

As you saw in our Nostalgia Immersion: March Meet 2013 coverage, there were plenty of mega-buck Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars at the March Meet, but they were far outnumbered by the hobbyist drag racers and their production vehicle racecars. These are cars that we mere mortals might have a chance at owning and racing. Larry and I chose a few different models with the idea of showing the range and variation in which they are built for the purpose of quarter-mile racing.

Let’s kick it off with a Kaiser: the Henry J model to be more precise. Being a ’50s American compact, drag racers have always been drawn to them, making this the Kaiser model most car guys know. This one has a fairly stock body, and we know it runs in the nines because it’s in the C/Gas category. Obvious mods are bumper removal, a heavy rake and some interesting rocker panel aero that incorporates an exhaust cutout.

With a driver behind the wheel you get a sense of the car’s scale. Notice the headlights and glass are still in place, evidence that this could be a pretty quick street-driven car…

…but not as quick as this purpose-built version. Here’s a dedicated race Henry J. It reeks of Funny Car, with the wedge-shaped body and exaggerated rear quarters.

With a custom-built fiberglass body inspired by a Henry J, surely there are no Kaiser parts left. This type of build reminds me of a toy R/C car, where you can swap on your body-style of choice. Notice the headlight stickers and painted-on grille, also the wheelie bars, wide open headers and chopped roof.

Moving more towards the mainstream we have another American compact: a Chevy II Nova. Have you ever had a daily driver that slowly turned into a project car, to the point that one day you realized it was no longer street-worthy? The Currie Enterprises Nova appears to be right on the cusp. On one hand it still has lights, bumpers and door handles, and the four-inch cowl hood looks pretty street too. That Lexan windshield is getting hazy though, and peeking through the grille we can see that the front wheelwells have been gutted. It’s hard to say whether this one gets driven or strapped to the trailer.

This one’s a little easier: it’s gotta ride on a trailer. The Dzus-fastened, six-inch cowl hood is probably hiding a BBC, and the open exhaust and stickered-on headlights would make it rough to go more than 1,320 feet. The lack of door handles suggests the door shells have been swapped for lighter fiberglass versions.

Drag racers value speed over glamour, so an unpainted one-piece composite front-end is entirely acceptable. Check out the engine set-back and tire-to-fender proximity.

Even if drag racers don’t prioritize aesthetics, it’s hard to argue with the profile of a slammed and raked Chevy II. Form follows function.

Now we’ll go full mainstream with the token hot rod, a Tri-5 Chevy. D/Gas means he runs tens, which is very quick for a completely steel full-size car. It still has all the glass and trim, a dashboard and a license plate frame. I’d call this ’56 pro-street.

C/Gas is one second quicker, and nine seconds means a ’chute. The big wing and Lexan windows also mean business.

The lift-off fiberglass hood is held down with Dzus fasteners. I was a bit surprised at the mag-style front wheels on such a quick car though.

As they get faster we see more attention to aerodynamics  Since B/Gas cars can break 150mph it starts to count. The one-piece front end on this ’55 has a definite slant to it, and this time even the bumper is painted on!

This is supposed to be a nostalgia race though, so we better check out a gasser ’57 too. From the nose-bleed stance to the white fenderwell headers this machine absolutely nails it. Radiused rear fenders make room for slicks and the solid front axle suspends the nose in the air for faster weight transfer off the line. At least that was the theory when these cars were built in the ’60s.

Not only does it look the part, the craftsmanship is show quality. All the lettering and decals were hand-painted and then sealed under the clear coat. Look for a feature (with an extra twist!) as soon as Larry can get back out to Bakersfield.

I have a thing for oddball hot rods, so we’ll close out with the UK-built Ford Anglia. Anglias were true econoboxes in the late ’40s and early ’50s, so naturally drag racers dropped in big engines and took them to the track.

We found this one in the car show, although it looked ready to race with a blower, cage and tilt front-end.

A more stock version was sitting in the pits. This is the commercial model with a squared-off, windowless rear.

Surprisingly there was another Anglia in the car show. This is definitely built more as a street rod, but it still has a drag-inspired stance and wheel choice.

And finally, the full-blown race version of an Anglia. We’ve seen the same treatment on the other cars we looked at: no lights, fake grille and giant hood scoop.

The lightweight Ford Anglia can haul the mail with a big engine, but their short wheelbase also makes them a handful to get down the track.

In no particular order, and chosen just because we like ’em, these are four completely different models that racers have embraced over the years.  Cars like the Anglia are favored for their size, but guys will still race a heavy Tri-5 Chevy simply because it’s such an icon of hot rodding.

These are cars with full bodies and doors that latch. I think what I like most about them though is seeing the different approaches to building the same car for the same purpose – blasting down the quarter mile.

 

Words: Keith Charvonia

Photos: Larry Chen

 

 

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A 900WHP DATSUN DRAG UTE

Big engines and big cars are kind of obvious huh? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good V8 and have owned more than a few. An Audi R8 with that V10 sat behind my head? All day, every day my friend. Yet if I’m honest I think my ego gets in the way sometimes. For years I craved big engined hot rods and large capacity BMWs, but often they were unsatisfying – aurally muscular but lacking in go. So when I see a diminutive truck like Brad McIlroy’s Datsun, I get a kick. It’s inoffensive, approachable yet devastatingly effective. Can you imagine covering the quarter mile in seven seconds in a handyman’s runaround? The deeper and wider I delve in to car culture I think it’s the unexpected that now attracts me. This Ute eats tarmac like a vacuum cleaner sucks up a piece string, and it cannot be ignored…

It always makes me smile when I talk to a drag racer like Brad McIlroy, because it’s usually the same story you hear. He never meant to go this fast – it kind of got out of hand. It’s like going out for a kick around with a football and ending up at the Superbowl, almost without realising exactly how you got there. Except this is all about going fast, really fast, and there’s something very pure and honest about that.

At Willowbank Raceway Brad is pitted alongside the Mazfix 6 that I featured last month. His Datsun ute runs on methanol and I’m sat right in the wash of the fumes as the guys fire it up. It’s a rookie error. As my eyes start to stream a little it strikes me that this kind of sums up drag racing itself – you do things that might hurt a little because the rewards are so temptingly close.

My reward for today is denied though. The rain that’s been looming starts to spatter the track by lunchtime, and I don’t get to see Brad and the Datsun run. As achingly annoying as it is for me, for a crew like Brad’s with days and months of dedication and hard work in this build it’s very frustrating, but all part of the process. Thankfully for me, fellow Speedhunter Brad Lord was stood exactly where I am now for the Brisbane Jamboree last September and got some shots of Brad and the truck in action.

So a couple of days later I find myself at the Mazfix workshop to take a closer look at the little truck. The basic facts? Small and powerful, the wheelbase is a factory-stock 90 inches and it has around 900hp at the rear wheels thanks to an extended port 20B rotary motor.

As ever, the real story is Brad’s though. The parts are laid out for us to see but I want to know why we’re not looking at a Ford or a V8 or even talking about train spotting? So it comes as a surprise when Brad tells me he got in to drag racing through a neighbour when he was a kid. Not the usual route, no parental input aside from ‘yeah you can go to the drags’, just a healthy interest that grew and grew.

For Brad it always had to be a Datsun Ute though, and the ute part I get. This is Australia and I swear they’d use one for a state funeral if the opportunity arose. They are such an integral part of the culture it was a natural choice. The design is a classic choice, beloved as much in South America and Africa as it is here, although the single headlight grille is relativly clean it’s got a hint of aggression to it when you look at how the centre tucks in at the top either side.

Brad was attracted to the clean look they have, which he’s kept with some simple debumpering but incredibly no aero aids at the front given the potential it has.

It’s a different story at the back though, the game is up. I personally like the detail where the cab joins the rear bed, it looks considered and not separated like so many others. According to Brad they’re a great base to start with, as you can do so much with them. Small and compact, they can be made fast with off-the-shelf conversion parts for not much money given great aftermarket support.

He also said something about them being cheap and keeping it road legal… Yeah, I didn’t believe that bit either, Brad.

Sure a few of the modifications could be true for a road car. But it’s gone way beyond that now.

Through heading to the track to get his straighline fix, Brad met up with a whole crew of guys. Drag racing the world-over has always shown me a healthy social scene, because when so much rides on so little time spent doing the actual racing, everything around it grows.

Buying a bare Datsun 1200 shell, Brad met ‘Jerry, Dan and all the boys’ as he calls them. These guys then guided, helped and pushed him through the build, with the original plan being for a 10-second legal street car with a 13B. So what happened? “Build it once, build it right,” states Brad.

Because like I said, Brad is the same as every other normal-on-the-surface-methanol-burning-drag-racer. They just want to go fast. Pure, unadulterated speed delivered in a kick-to-the-brain kind of way.

No prolonged endurance racing here. Explosive forces, combined with friction and propulsion, designed to get the job done as quick as is possible.

It’s a real pleasure taking a look around the truck as it all looks so methodical, which Brad puts down the experienced team and thinking four or five steps ahead in the build stage.

I love the Liberty shifter atop the Lenco transmission; it’s almost reason enough in itself to get a drag specific car. You can show me stripped down quickshifts or VW Motorsport shifters, but this bad boy will win every time.

Just as I saw on Mazfix’s six-second drag car last month, the Weld Racing rims have that gorgeous anodised and machined finish to them.

A skinny 4.5 inches up front…

… And an almost square 15×12 inches at the back.

Twin parachutes mean that stopping really isn’t a problem, which is good because since I was with Brad he’s set a new personal best of 7.79 seconds at 178mph. Talking to him you can hear it hasn’t quite sunk in. “It just felt good off the line, I listened and it went straight. Everything fell in to place.”

 

That time is well-deserved with Brad having raced the Ute for roughly two years now. Although there’s been a few mishaps along the way, hopefully the good times are here to stay.

Just stop for a second and imagine how that must feel? That’s a crazy-quick time for a vehicle of this size, surely? Well maybe not, but I for one love it that it’s even possible.

Maybe better times are yet to come, because Brad wants the Datsun to run reliable and consistent 7.30-second quarter mile times.

Ultimately though the Ute’s days might be numbered with Brad. Like all of us he just wants to go fast. Really fast. So a six-second, full chassis car like Mazfix’s 6 might well be on the cards. One thing is for sure, my eyes are being opened small car after small car by their potential.

I don’t how this is going to end up for Brad or I, but I need to shake it up a bit and smaller, harder, faster is the way forward.

 

Bryn Musselwhite
bryn@speedhunters.com

 

Brad McIlroy’s Rotary powered Datsun 1200 Ute

Numbers:
Max Power (current) – 900whp / potential for 1500bhp
Engine:
20B, extended port, dowelled and drilled, bolted through ports, Series 4 rotors/balanced and lightened & CNC machined, Garrett 55R turbo, MoTeC M84 with Racepak dash, M&W Pro Drag 6 ECU to control ignition x2 (one for trailing and one leading sparks), PWR 600x300mm radiator, one boost pipe straight to intake from turbo, 60mm blow-off valves plus wastegate in front of boost pipe 60mm Turbosmart, one 45mm wastegate on each exhaust outlet for turbo manifold (three in total), 12 x ID2000 injectors
Driveline:
Lenco ST1200 5-speed air-shifted transmission, Direct Clutch twin plate cltuch, full-floated rear end, Race Products fabricated 9-inch case, Race Products chromoly axle 35-spline shafts, Strange diff centre, 5.1:4 ratio
Suspension/Brakes:
Koni double adjustable rear shocks, ‘Mad Dat’ front strut conversion kit for 1200 Ute, Wilwood brakes all round, 4-pot callipers
Wheels/Tyres:
Weld Racing 15×4.5-inch front with 22×4.5-inch Mickey Thompson tyres, Weld Racing 15×12-inch rear with 31×13-inch Mickey Thompson tyres
Exterior:
All steel panels with carbon rear deck cover, de-bumpered, custom mix colour based on standard RX8 hue
Interior:
Kirkey alloy seat, Stroud Safety harness
Chassis
Three-quarter drag chassis (standard from firewall forward, tube back from this point)
Thanks
Dan from ProMods, Jerry for the extended guidance, Brad for the wiring, Archie and the boys from Mazfix, Justin from HPS

 

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source: speedhunters

ANATOMY OF A DRAG CAR: MAZFIX MADE ME A BELIEVER

It’s a fact I’ve never really been a fan of drag racing. Hang on though and stick with me, because I am now – and I hope that you will be too after reading this. Drag racing is not something I’ve just discovered either: I’ve been regularly visiting dragstrips for over 15 years. From Santa Pod in the UK to the National Trails in Ohio, Bakersfield in California, the Perth Motorplex and now Willowbank Raceway near Brisbane. The Mazfix Mazda 6 is what made me a believer, and this is why.

One of the first things I do when I’m planning a trip is to scan the internet and see what I can find along my route. The immediacy of the available information and the level of connection I can feel from a simple web search never ceases to excite me. So it was late one evening in January that I found the video above, only recently posted by the guys at Mazfix in Brisbane. Watching it I realised that prior to 1 minute 40 second point in that video I could take or leave drag racing. After that it all changed… Watch it now and come back with the same buzz I got.The incredible sensation I got in the pit of my stomach when I saw the 6 launch from inside the cockpit, it just pulled me in. I wanted to know how that felt, how you did it and who was doing it. The ‘why’ part had disappeared… That infectious celebration at the end? I wanted know who those guys were. Four weeks and 12,000 miles in cattle class later I saw the 6 in person, and the header photo was taken by me at the dragstrip I’d seen in the film. This is Speedhunting.Realising that I’m now a drag racing fan, it makes me wonder why I’d never really previously connected with it as a sport. I’ve ridden in really quick drag cars, but never on a strip; I have friends who race down into the sevens, but I’ve never crewed for them – instead occasionally watching from the sidelines. Then I think again about the times I’ve driven the quarter mile and felt like ripping the back seats out for weight saving as I crossed the line, or got excited about commentating on a jet car run – and suddenly it’s clear: I’ve just been in massive denial.Archie Kajewski (pronounced kai-eski) was the first person in the world to go over 200mph on the dragstrip using a rotary; he was also the first in Australia to run a six-second quarter using one. He’s the man behind Mazfix, the Brisbane-based rotary tuner. Although he’s quick to point out it’s not just rotaries – but we’ll talk about that another time. As I stood at the strip, it was the definition of frustration as the rain started coming and racing was called for the day. The guys got one run earlier on in the morning and that was it… Game over. You see those speckles on the rear window? Their millions of friends arrived minutes later. Take another look at the rear profile of the body and you see just how it’s formed to flow air – not obvious from a cursory inspection.So what was I going to do? No racing meant everybody was going home, so I made a plan with Archie to visit the Mazfix HQ and get under the composite skin of this drag car. It’s odd, but I was really gripped with the need to know more, as though my sense of guilt at not having paid more attention before at countless strips had fully kicked in. The Mazfix Racing 6 was just the thing to satisfy my need for knowledge: gorgeous details abound, even though purpose is paramount.A few days later and I was in a spacious and busy workshop, and hidden in a back corner behind its large trailer was the 6. Partially stripped and raised on air jacks it sat like a sedated panther, allowing me access to analyse and understand. That table is where the guys have their breaks, lunch and chew the fat on a daily basis. The other side of the car is the microwave and water taps, so the 6 really is part of the fabric here and constantly under discussion.It’s here I could take a look around and try to understand just what it takes to go that quick. As I said, Archie is a seasoned drag racer with masses of experience and previous six-second runs – he’s been at it for years. So the first step was to start with a proven chassis and body package (albeit originally intended to have V8 power) bought in from the States, fabricated by Jerry Bickel Race Cars Inc.For a start this gives you an idea of safety measures in place: the carbon in-fill panels acting as a barrier if the door falls off. The tapered chassis is designed to distribute the force of an impact through the frame as that force moves rearward, whilst obviously allowing the body to be as slippery as possible. As I moved around the car Archie tells me everything is chromoly aside from the front suspension arms; they’re titanium, he tells me with a smile.Wheels are obviously small at the front: they need to provide minimal steering and as little wind resistance as possible. You can see here how few runs they’ve done with the bobbles still present on the Goodyear Eagles. Spindle-mounted wheels are so simple in design, and I really like the machined details on these forged Weld items.

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source : speedhunters.com