Last weekend, I was in middle-of-nowhere Coalinga, California for an exciting half-mile drag racing event on the small local airstrip. I didn’t quite know what to expect before I left, but I knew it would be an interesting event, and some very high speeds would be reached. The weather at home in Reno was cooling off a bit, so any excuse to venture into some 80+ degree weather was enough to convince me to go. Once I pulled into the parking lot, I knew I’d made the right choice. There were a whole lot of really fast cars at the event, and I think they could be broken down into about 4 categories; Exotics, Engine swap-cars, Muscle cars, and Big-power Turbo cars. There is a little bit of bleed between the four categories, and for the purposes of categorization, I’m going to call GT-Rs “exotic”, even though there were perhaps as many as 30 of them in attendance. Of the four categories, it was probably the swap cars that are most hoon-worthy. The fact that every single car to hit the track was tagged and street legal was certainly impressive, and a lot of the home-built monsters were capable of some extremely high speeds.
Turbo LS powered FD RX-7 –
This car was wickedly quick, and had a blow-off valve that sounded like a shotgun going off. It carries a completely stripped interior, massive sticky tires, a parachute, and Texas tags. At the risk of sounding cliche, ‘everything is bigger in Texas’.
2JZ-GTE powered Datsun 280Z –
Having started life as a bog-standard early Datsun 280, this car has been given 3000 cc of Toyota displacement and a Turbonetics turbo the size of my head. Of all of the cars at the event, I think this is the one I’d most like to own. The copper-mica paint certainly looked the part, and the car sounded absolutely amazing. With looks this good, and a proven powerful engine, this 280Z is hard to beat.
English Racing-Built Acura Integra Turbo –
Using a sleeved B17 block, an extremely lightweight rotating assembly, stock Integra Type-R camshafts, E85 fuel, and gobs of boost, this is the little Integra that could. It’s lightweight, it’s aerodynamic, and it is FAST! It was one of the only front-wheel drive entrants, but it knocked down some impressive speeds, beating some truly impressive machinery. English claims an impressive 745 horsepower TO THE WHEELS! Check out English Racing’s video from the event. Two runs from the little Teg’ can be seen between the 2 minute mark and about 4:10. It’s certainly an entertaining little bugger. You’ve got to admit, 187 miles per hour in a 20 year old car is pretty impressive. The best part of the video is watching the tach sweeping past 10 grand with every shift.
English Racing/Extreme Turbo Systems Nissan GT-R –
English Racing brought a gaggle of cars to the event in California last weekend, but this one was the most extreme, and was also featured in the video above. In aims for the overall top-speed title, this GTR has received several modifications. It was one of the only cars with serious drag-racing rear tire equipment, having downsized the rear brakes in order to clear only a 15″ Weld racing wheel. With 1300 horsepower, and custom pretty-much-everything, this car really hauled the mail. Final half-mile trap was just a tick over 219 miles per hour. In contention for the overall high speed all weekend, they eventually had to settle for second.
OB Prestige Racing Lamborghini Gallardo Heffner Twin Turbo –
This Lambo was absolutely the most spectacularly presented car in attendance. With a declared 1600 horsepower, this car certainly isn’t lacking for forward motion. After a bit of trouble on Saturday that included a spin off-piste at about 100 miles per hour (video below), the car managed to clock an astonishing 222 miles per hour in just 1/2 of a mile. Between its high speed prowess, the look-at-me chrome red wrap, and the fact that it’s a 1600 horsepower turbocharged Lamborghini, it was the eye-catching car of the weekend, garnering a ton of attention.
Weistec Engineering Supercharged Mercedes SLS AMG Black-Edition –
How many people are insane enough to take a brand new SLS AMG Black and strap on a supercharger? Weistec has engineered just that, and then brought it out for some top-speed racing. Even at 750 horsepower, this was one of the lower level cars in terms of power output. The supercharged V8 sure sounded amazing, though, and it was probably one of the most beautiful beasties in attendance as well.
Lab22 Turbocharged BMW E46 M3 Coupe –
This unassuming BMW managed to take second place in the Rear-Wheel Drive Unlimited class, just behind a 1000 horsepower Heffner Twin-Turbocharged Ford GT on Sunday. It’s wearing one of my favorite BMW colors, and it doesn’t look like much more than a stock decade-old BMW M3. In fact, outside of the intercooler peeking out from behind the front bumper, there are no exterior cues to indicate that it has received a lot of additional power courtesy one of those hairdryers.
Castro Performance LS7-Powered E46 M3 –
With the Lab22 car as context, this 500 horsepower M3 looks a lot more performance-oriented, but doesn’t quite have as much in the power department to back it up. Those huge fender flares and wide tires really give the car a menacing appearance, but couldn’t keep up with the turbo M3s that dominated it in terms of top-speed. In traditional 1/4 mile drag racing, the big-cube torque would probably help it from a launch, but in this roll-racing half-mile event, it just wasn’t enough. It sure looks mean, though. For the rest of these photos, I’m going to go into a “stream of consciousness” type of commentary. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments!
Spotted on track –
Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Ford GTs, etc. Muscle cars were well represented at Shift-S3ctor Airstrip Attack 5. One of English Racing’s other cars, this Evo clocked somewhere in the 170s. One of many M3s, this Gintani tuned car was also pretty quick. The burnout box.
Spotted in the parking lot –
Gorgeous car, this M3. I even liked the wheels. Gorgeous 993. Never saw it move, though. It had participant numbers on the side, but it parked in the lot and stayed there the whole day. This GT3 has had some serious track modifications. Sticky tires and a Mezger engine? I’d be happy to give that one a workout. One can never go wrong with a 944 Turbo. Guards red and two-piece cup wheels make it even better. If the driver of this car doesn’t hand out cards that say “Yeah, it’s a kit. No, I don’t care.”, he’s doing it wrong. I cannot explain the PacMan livery. It’s like one of those themed “donks” you see in the hood, but on an NSX. If someone understands what’s going on here, please explain it to me. This 991 Carrera 4 was all tarted up for a Gumball event. Certainly looked better than Mr. PacMan over there. Does this really need explaining? I laughed my head off for about 10 minutes after I saw that. Ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang, baby. I have rarely seen such a nicely done Z4. Were it mine, I’d probably lose the APR wing, though. Widebody turbocharged Nissan Z. Super cool, for sure. Sure to be a hoony favorite, this GMC Sy’ was wicked fast for a truck the shape of a brick. While the thing under the hood was turbocharged, it didn’t carry its original turbo V6, preferring a high-boost GM V8 engine instead. Like I said, wicked fast. You’ve got 50cc of fury, what are you going to do with it? Wheelies, of course. If I had to describe this event in one sentence, I would say that it was a bit like this. “Shift-S3ctor has all of the hot-rod ingenuity of Bonneville Speed Weeks mixed with all of the chrome, big wheels, and douchebaggery of the SEMA convention.” And, that’s a pretty accurate statement. It was a pretty neat event, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly. You can only watch a mostly stock GT-R go 160 miles per hour so many times. All images ©2014 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.