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Supra adds bite to Import racing

 

It has recorded a 7.8-second 178mph quarter-mile in US drag racing, and now Carl Jensen is about to launch the Venom-built Toyota Supra on to the New Zealand scene.

American nitrous oxide performance brand, Venom, built the Supra which was the second car in its five-car import drag race team. California-based Kiwi Grant Downing races the Venom Toyota Tundra pick-up truck which made history by becoming the first import racer to run a six-second pass.

Jimmy O’Connor, son of the family-owned Venom team's founder, raced the Supra from 2002 to 2004 in the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Modified class.

It took only one phone to Carl at the Auckland's C&M Performance workshop fpr him to decided to buy the car.

C&M Performance specialises in V8 performance, nitrous injection, and right-hand drive conversions.

The Venom Supra arrived in New Zealand in November 2005 with no engine fitted. But it was accompanied by a two-metre square crate which contained the unassembled nitrous snorting, twin turbocharger, ethanol-fuelled Toyota 2JZ-GTE 3.0-litre straight six motor.

Carl and the C&M Performance crew pieced the set-up together, and also modified a few areas so that thee engine was easier to work on.

The Toyota was prepared for its NZ debut at the Drag Racing Nationals season-ending meeting on April 9, but first, Carl had to renew his drag racing licence.

He lined up with the street cars at Champion Dragway for the final Night Speed Drag Wars event in March, for a half pass observation run. The brand new tyres' stiffness shook the Supra and rattled the left-mounted driver’s door off its hinges. The door went flying and luckily hit no one. It was refitted back to the car and Carl made the half-pass run and obtained his licence.

Disappointingly, rain caused the postponement of the NZ Nationals to April 27 when Carl gave the Supra its first full New Zealand quarter-mile run, just before rain cancelled the event.

The start to that run was slow. ““I didn’t have my head in gear,” says Carl. Reaction time was 0.821-second and the Supra took 1.447-seconds to reach the 60-foot mark . But it was an 8.1347-second run at 170.43mph. That time was 0.10 seconds quicker than Andre Simon had run in his DOCILE Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3's. And it was 0.32 seconds slower than New Zealand’s quickest import title holder Reece McGregor has recorded in his Heat Treatments Nissan Skyline GTR.

It was huge achievement for a first quarter-mile pass.

“For every tenth of a second taken off the start, two tenths of a second are taken off the (elapsed time),” says Carl. “It does 1.1-second 60-foot times in the States, so there’s four tenths that can disappear off there. At the top end (elapsed time) that’s eight tenths of second.”

Carl also said the speed can be improved.

The Toyota Supra and Carl could be the latest members of the exclusive seven-second import drag racing club, and may even be in with a chance at ttaking the New Zealand quickest import title.

 

Intoxicating

 

1. Custom was Carl’s initial response to the internal specification of the Supra’s 2JZ GTE engine. But subsequent study has unlocked its secrets.

The block has been race prepared: the water galleries are hard filled, surface area is honed for improved oil circulation, the gasket has been swapped for an O-ring set-up, and a Morosso dry sump has been installed.

The conrods are custom billet aluminium GRPs, the crankshaft is a specially modified JE, the bolts are ARP race items and JE custom created the six pistons.

The gas-flowed cylinder head houses titanium valves and retainers, hardened springs, and high-performance Crower camshafts.

 

2. Ethanol provides the punch behind the mega powerful 2JZ. A byproduct of wheat, ethanol is environmentally friendly.

It burns cooler than petrol, is cheaper, and produces more power. But ethanol needs more room for complete combustion.

Carl's 2JZ has 12 1700cc/min fuel injectors backed up with a Waterman fuel pump. An Aeromotive fuel regulator is fitted, and the ethanol is delivered from the rear-mounted fuel cell by braided lines with alloy fittings.

“I want to show people with this car how much power you can make with 100 percent ethanol,” says Carl.

 

3. The turbochargers, combined, are nearly bigger than the 2JZ’s head. They’re precision ball bearing Garretts, and each is connected to its own three cylinders by a stainless tubular manifold. A massive 60mm HKS wastegate dumps gases more quickly and protects the turbos from overboosting.

A liquid-to-air intercooler is used instead of the more common air-to-air unit, because it cools from start to finish instead of cooling just when air is being delivered more quickly. Cold water is circulated from a rear-mounted icebox.

Air travel is improved with a large cylinder-shaped plenum, a 70mm throttle body and HKS plumbing with a sizeable Tial blow-off valve.

The nitrous oxide is used to spool the turbos more quickly on the startline rather than to make extra power.

The nitrous set-up is a single-fogger 50-horsepower wet shot, which is created using a mixture of NOS and Vemon nitrous oxide equipment.

 

4. 1185 horsepower and 968lb/ft or torque drive the 33-inch diameter, 17-inch wide rear tyres. Tuning was performed by a FAST (fuel air spark technology) engine control unit on C&M Performance’s dynamometer. The management system allows the car to be on the dyno in New Zealand and be tuned live in America, using the internet.

For diagnostic and race review a separate Race Pack data-logging computer has been installed.

It can also be viewed live from outside the car. The front-moubted distributor is an MSD Pro-Billet.

Power of this magnitude snaps factory engine mounts, so solid plates hold the motor in position.

 

Back-half

 

1. Bought for $US30,000 as a road car, the Toyota Supra was driven directly to Grant Downing’s Parallax Racecars workshop which specialises in building drag racing Funny Car chassis.

The car got what the drag race community calls a back half chassis modification, so that massively high and wide tyres could be fitted.

From the driver's seat back, the floorpan and trusses were cut. Grant designed and fabricated a chrome-moly tube chassis that embodies high levels of safety, optimal straightline drive characteristics, and can accommodate the massive wheels, differential and rear suspension.

To increase safety a small cage was fabricated around the driver's position.

 

2. A two-speed powerglide FB transmission made of billet alloy and rated at 2000 horsepower was fitted behind the 2JZ motor: a B&M shifter does the single shifting. The differential is a Strange Engineering and to keep weight to the minimum a housing was pieced together using titanium.

With the change of gearbox, and differential a alloy driveshaft was custom-made to suit, and 40-spline Mark Williams axles, among the most robust money can buy, were installed.

 

3. Accelerating to 290km/h then stopping with only a couple hundred metres of road left puts big demands on a disc and calliper brake set-up. Two parachutes have been mounted on the rear and are both deployed at the end of the quarter-mile.

Goodyear 33-inch high, 17-inch wide slick rear tyres are fitted.

Rears distort in a drag race. At launch they crinkle under force and increase in height with speed.

The rear wheels are Weld Alumastar alloys measuring almost 15 inches high 14 inches wide. Rear brake discs are carbon composite and the callipers are four-piston units from Strange Engineering.

Koni coilover shock absorbers suspend the rear.

The Volk Racing GT-P front wheels are seven inches in diameter. With smaller tyres to slow front braking is more minimal - two-piston callipers and alloy rotors. To comply with American NHRA modified rules, front suspension has standard shock absorbers with only rebound adjustment.

 

4. To stop the Supra from flipping backwards at launch, titanium bars with little wheels extend from the rear half chassis.

 

Python purity

 

1. Where does the Supra's python snake paint scheme come from? Well, Venom Racing is a subsidiary of Python Injection and venom is a poisonous fluid that snakes inject into their victima, though the python isn't venomous and skills its prey by crushing.

And legend has it that a python snake is a longtime resident of Venom’s.

 

2. No fibreglass or carbon fibre body panels are used on the Supra. The bodyshell is factory-issue steel and alloy.

That doesn't necessarily result in a high final weight, because all other areas have been under a highly strict material diet. The racer weighs 1275kg. That’s not as light as the Rod Harvey-driven Rayglass/Tactics Racing/Terry’s Chassis Shoppe Datsun 1200, but the Supra has more power. It doesn’t have as much power as Reece McGregor’s Heat Treatments GTR Skyline, but the Supra has the advantage in traction, being rear-wheel drive compared to the GTR’s 4WD.

However, the Supra’s race team have can fit lighter panels when racing becomes neck-and-neck.

 

3. The minute vertical blade at the back of the Pro Stock dragster spoiler controls the Supra's aerodynamic downforce at high speeds. The vertical plates on the sides of the spoiler are there to adjust the car's stability.


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