posted on July 31, 2013 13:31
Nerd's Eye View-a Look Inside Darren McNamara's Falken Tire Nissan S14
Falken Tire's drift team consists of Justin Pawlak, Dai Yoshihara and Darren "DMac" McNamara. Hailing from Ireland Darren has been doing well this Formula D season in a Nissan S14 built by Scott Dodgion of SPD Motorsports. Darren had a tough 2012 season which started off badly with a hard crash at the season opening round at Long Beach, breaking his foot and totaling his beloved Saturn Sky which had been his trademark car for several years. Nicknamed the Bullet, the Sky had the reputation of being one of the fastest cars in Formula D.
When there was no time to build another car, Darren moved to the Nissan 350Z vacated by Tyler McQuarrie at the end of the 2011 season. The Z was not competitive and suffered from handling issues so Darren once again moved cars to Falken's old S15 demo car. The car was given a hasty once over from SPD and rushed into service. Although the car handled well, it simply did not have enough power to be competitive.
After the problematic 2012 season Falken decided to give Darren a fresh start with an all new S14 constructed from the ground up by SPD Motorsports. SPD, the builder of Dai Yoshihara's 2011 championship winning S13 is probably the constructor of some of the most advanced S chassis cars competing anywhere. A lot of MotoIQ readers build S chassis cars so we thought you might want to take a close look inside this very competitive machine.
Although it is a V8 and a Chevy, it is not an LS engine. Darren's motor is a 410 cubic inch Sprint Car engine that is roughly based on the venerable small block Chevy, well it sort of is. The block is not a Chevy part but cast by Dart, a maker of race Chevy based blocks and cylinder heads. The Dart block has a high cam location to clear a longer stroke, and allowing for shorter, lighter and stiffer pushrods. This is a feature of the NASCAR SB2 race engines. The block is made of aluminum alloy with iron liners. Amazingly the SBC is a much smaller and compact engine compared to the LS which has the rep for being a small and compact V8! If you are used to modern DOHC import V8's, the engine looks positively tiny. It is also 40 lbs less than the LS engine! Long live the Chevy small block in its latest incarnations!
The 410 motor is fueled by Kinsler ITB's. These are beautiful, sound amazing and give exceptional bottom end torque and throttle response. The carbon fiber airbox is a K&N part.
This view shows just how small the SBC is. An LS fills the area in between the shock towers nicely. With the 410 SBC motor you can see there is plenty of room to spare, more than with an LS.
A Daily Engineering five stage dry sump pump is incorporated to the billet CNC machined oil pan. The oil pan is partitioned to reduce windage losses and also serves to stiffen the bottom end of the engine as the SBC is a shallow skirt block, not a deep skirt block like most modern motors. The block only extends to the main cap parting line. The thick billet pan encloses this open area and give the base of the block more structural integrity.
The billet pan and the dry sump also give plenty of clearance allowing the engine to be set lower in the chassis to reduce the CG height. Formula D rules allow for only slight modification of the front crossmemeber so this is helpful.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:23 PM
Great article I have been looking forward to the Nerd's Eye View on this car. One thing I noticed is that it says the handbrake is a wilwood/spd setup... however in the pictures it is a CNC product. just a heads up. Thanks for great article and keep them coming.
also who makes those dust boots?
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:31 PM
I am pretty sure SPD built the bracket for the lever and a Willwood hydraulic cylinder. The caliper braket is SPD and the rear caliper is Willwood. The lever could be a CNC buggy part.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 3:54 PM
Odd combination of Motec parts. The M880 is overkill and the original sport dash is a giant POS.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 5:16 PM
Some interesting stuff - I like how it looks like the shock reservoirs are wrapped in velcro underneath the clamps to tie them to things. How much of a difference do the roller bearings in the struts make? I mean I know the theory about less stiction compared to normal inverted monotubes, but curious to find out how noticeable it is in practice.
Weird on the SBC actually being smaller than the LSx motors, but now that I look up deck height and squint at the heads, I can see it a bit. Really like the lower control arms - probably going to have to copy those since it's not like anyone is going to make them for my applications.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 5:36 PM
Very thourough writeup!
That engine and drivetrain setup is ridiclous, probably costs arms and legs
A few questions tho
1) Why has the lower pivot point of the rear upright been lowered? This decreases instant centre length and increases cambergain.
2) Why is the subframe tilted so that front side is pointing more down? This reduces anti-squat, which is already negative on lowered S14/s15 chassis.
Suspension looks pretty basic considering what could be bought:
Wisefab Rear suspension kit
Wisefab front suspension:
GKTech front knuckle:
TrackdayPerformance front suspension kit:
Since driftworks ones have already been mentioned on this site, I'll skip those
Thanks in advance!
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:03 PM
The headers look like they are made by John at JSPfab, the best in the business!
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:07 PM
I'm not going to pretend I know exact costs, but I would be willing to bet that part of the reasoning behind the 410 specifically and that 4-speed specifically revolves around the ability to pick up used dirt track parts (it's basically a sprint car motor) for a song if you keep your eyes open at the right time of year or have contacts who know when someone is trying to turn spare parts into money for whatever reason.
As for suspension bits... look at the attrition rate of this stuff. Why have a billet aluminum knuckle when a steel one is less likely to bend and can be welded up in an emergency (those ones are 7075 which aren't weldable)? Why go to a suspension setup that you can't get spare parts for and uses a bunch of proprietary bits for all the stuff that's going to get damaged when you bang into a wall or whatever?
I really can't imagine that even a sponsored pro car is going to have anywhere near an unlimited budget, so saving money on expendables is pretty reasonable.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:32 PM
John did build the headers.
The reasons why the suspension is what it is, is, well my secret but some of your assumptions that you have from looking at the pictures under full droop on a rack are not correct. Some of the photo angles are taken so not to show the whole story.
Most of the other parts you mention were looked at, but I don't agree with the design methodology, which is very different from how I design things. It doesn't mean I am right and they are wrong, it's just what I prefer. Some of the parts are not FD legal.
The mix of Motec parts is the result of raiding Falken's spare parts bin. This car was built on a amazingly tight budget. Nearly all of the parts on the car are used. In fact all of the parts except the cage, chassis fab and some fasteners are used. Most of the parts were salvaged from Darren's wrecked Sky and other surplus or obsolete cars in Falken's inventory.
We decided to use the 410 small block because of the weight (40 lbs less than a LS) and when we were looking at it, we were like wow this thing is small! Falken also had several in the motorsports department inventory so we could have a primary motor and spares.
We typically have 3 full sets of spares with us for the entire suspension at an event so commonality of parts is important. The reason why we didn't run some of those other parts you mentioned is that I didn't like the geometry. We run mostly off the shelf suspension parts, most are pretty common and inexpensive but if you know what you are looking at, they are massaged to improve function.
Not all of the cars secrets are shown. In fact nothing that I consider secret or a big performance advantage over other teams is shown at all.
Thursday, August 01, 2013 10:05 PM
Pretty sure it's a CNC unit. Might use a Wilwood MC, but it's almost identical to the one on my buggy:
Mine's just got a red knob (hehe), is dual side by side (for L/R turning brake, buggies use open diffs), and is angled like shown in the link (DMac's is the straight version).
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 6:15 PM
Pretty interesting that linear ball bearings are used in the inverted monotubes. There aren't a whole lot of standard linear bearings out there that can take much load while still being thin enough to work in such an application.
Friday, August 23, 2013 11:55 PM
Interesting - I've been looking at 'full race' style SBC's for awhile. Was looking around Summit's catalog and saw some all-aluminum, 427ci SBC setups, and were MUCH cheaper than LS7s from GM, despite having some advantages.
The LS has much better heads on average but I'm interested in seeing an LS/SBC shootout - I'll bet you can have streetable heads on the latter that'll flow within a decent margin of LS7 heads based on the earlier structure.
The SBC gets panned by a lot of 'import' enthusiasts, but there's a reason that it's been in production as long as it has - it's obviously still not gone away, despite the choices available nowadays. Still has a lot to offer, especially when it's race day and tailpipe emissions/fuel efficiency are less of a concern.
I used to be really interested in 302DZ style SBCs, but you can rev bigger cube motors to similar speeds and have more power at all engine speeds, so aside from the original impetus - class rules specified 305ci or less - there's little reason to pine for something exotic when a 350, 383, or 410 in this case will go just as high and hard, all else being equal, of course. How high do NASCAR engines rev? I've seen 9600rpm quoted for ~2009 era engines, and they're not all that different from what we're looking at in this article.
Any non-secret specs to that engine? Like horsepower/torque ballpark, redline rpm, etc? I'll bet with all the upgrades LS7 shaming engine speeds could be had, but then, with the torque coming on like it does, are probably unnecessary. Still, one has only to look up the 'special' 302DZ spec cam that came with the race-spec dual carb intake, I believe power peak is ~7200rpm with ancient, horrible 60's era heads. What would modern valvetrain components and heads achieve?
The 4 speed, while not exactly a garden variety pulled from the junkyard Muncie, is also something I've been looking at - for an obviously track-focused car like this, little point in a pair of overdrive gears that'll likely not get used ever. For a race team where this is the case, lots of 4 speeds to choose from that will be overlooked by folks building street focused cars.
This is a match made in heaven - the motor with every part you'd ever want in the world (want DOHC heads? They make a swap! 454ci small block? Can be yours, sign on the dotted line, etc), and the chassis that has had everything in the world done to it, again, pick the part and swipe the card.
This is exactly what I was talking about years ago at the rx7forum. Nice to see folks are opening up, back then it was 'why would you want that lump in such a great chassis' haha. Specifically, I picked Coleman's Silvia as a bogey - he was nice enough to post a cost sheet for the SR20DET, and while it was a great motor for the time, ~10k for 275rwhp was a bit hard to swallow from my side of the spectrum (broke!).
I proposed that a LS6 (at the time a hot little go-to motor, with all 405hp/400lb-ft) with a T56 would not only likely be smog legal and obviously 125hp to the good, but serviceable at any GM dealership or at least by anyone familiar with the LS/T56, no one-off or rare parts, etc, and could likely be done for around the same price.
I was considering it as a street project - this is what the race version would be. Why not take what NASCAR and other racers have tinkered with for nearly 60 years, and be assured that you'll ALWAYS have build options, parts available, etc. The SBC will NEVER be an 'exotic' motor but that's entirely the point, isn't it? I mean, I love the 914/8 article posted after this one, but I'd never be able to own a piece of that flat 8 - I could probably build a replica of McNamara's engine and do a swap on a 914, including price for donor chassis, for the price of the engine, and then one imagines replacing anything on a vintage race-only engine...here, it's simply ringing up Jeg's or Summit or even going down to the local speed shop.
There are advantages to not changing the basic engine structure for so long - better than having a succession of 2.0 DOHC 4V I-4s that almost no interchangeable parts.
And for all of the 'keep it all Nissan' crowd, I doubt very much building a SR20 or VQ engine to this output, and what all that entails, would be easier to accomplish, cheaper, or more reliable and effective.
Hmmm...must find a locality where S13s are 'vintage' cars and/or smog laws are lax :D
Always loved a S13 240SX with the red paint and stock appointments, think one with an engine like this or an LS1/LT1 swap would be a great 'modern Scarab', classy enough for a more mature owner not interested in looking Boy Racer and getting pulled over constantly, and easy enough to accomplish for a reasonable sum. Stock LT1 output of 285hp still beats Coleman's old build, 330lb-ft to boot, so if you lived in fear of the smog nazis, once swapped the engine could be kept stock and you'd have plenty of motor to keep you happy. Of course, mods are plentiful, too, so that's not likely.
Looks like 'Dad's Engine' ain't so bad after all :D
Sunday, August 25, 2013 9:01 PM
The high cam small blocks look better all the time.