Sneak Peek - Matt Coffman's 2015 Formula Drift Nissan S13

by Mike Kojima

21 year old Matt Coffman is currently in his second year of Formula D competition.  The second youngest driver on the Formula D circuit, in his freshman year Matt campaigned his S13 to 33rd in points.  Lacking experience Matt had a tough time on his first Formula D tour and didn't qualify for 3 of the 7 rounds.  For his second time around, Matt and his team have attacked the season with renewed vigor, building a new car and having an aggressive pre season test schedule to enable Matt to become more familiar with his new ride.

Matt's team consisting of Crew Chief Bill Conway, Nick Byatt, Jeff Mailley and Spike Chen has worked really hard in the off season to put together a strong program for Matt and the team is truly one of the best privateer teams in Formula D. 

Growing up driving sideways on the dirt roads around his Medford Oregon home and starting his competition career in rally has given Matt a good base to build on.  He has rapidly made the transition to drifting, rising from the level of just messing around at local drift events to getting his Formula Drift Pro license in a very short amount of time.

Matt's new S13 really caught our attention on media day.  Since we know a little about the S13 chassis we can say that Matt's new car shows a high degree of build quality and technical sophistication.  It is perhaps one of the nicest S chassis cars to run on the Formula D circuit. Let's take a close insider's look at Matt's new ride.


The Coffman Racing crew run a tight ship and we were impressed by their professionalism even withon a small privateer's budget.  You will not find a nicer bunch of guys either.  Matt's car is very cleanly built with topline parts and set up well.  With good support, look for this young driver to do much better the second time around!
The Coffman Racing S13 is not powered by the typical Chevy LS or small block but instead by a Roush Yates Ford FR9 410 Sprint Car engine.  At least it started life that way before it was reworked by Matt Rodgers at Rodgers Racing Engines for a broader powerband and more torque.  The engine was switched over to Thunderbolt E99 bio ethanol fuel and it runs an extremely high compression ratio of about 14:1 and a cam with a tighter lobe separation angle and less duration for more bottom end and midrange torque.  A huge Mishimoto black series radiator dominates the front of the car to keep things cooler than cool.
The Ford engine was chosen because it has been extensively developed by Roush Yates and simply makes more power than the Chevys in an off the shelf package. The Ford engine features Kinsler ITB injection, the minimal runner volume and 8 throttle blades make for very fast throttle response with excellent mid to top end power.  The ITB's feature 60mm  throttle bodies and huge 1100 cc ASNU injectors.  The ITB's are responsible for the car's unique engine note. 
The Ford engine is a much bigger package than the compact LS Chevy engine and is positively huge compared to a Small Block Chevy.  The Ford cylinder heads are much wider and the deck height of the Ford block is about an inch taller.  While an LS or Small Block Chevy is considered to be an easy fit into an S chassis the Ford takes a little more doing.  The custom stainless headers bend tightly around the exhaust port  for clearance and have to be dimpled a bit around the shock towers to make room in the tight confines of the S13 engine bay.  For this year the headers have been modified with longer primary tubes for better mid range.  You can see each cylinder has individual EGT probes which allows for individual tuning of the MoTeC M150 ECU for each cylinder.
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Monday, May 04, 2015 2:53 AM
A great article on a well-engineered car!
I especially like the engineering and adjustability on the handbrake. I've never seen anything like that except in drifting.
Good job, guys!
Nick B
Nick Blink
Monday, May 04, 2015 7:57 AM
I met Matt and his team at All Star Bash back in 2013, they were running a well put together program. I think he's going to do well at the top level.
Monday, May 04, 2015 8:54 AM
Very cool and good looking car. That Rocket Bunny kit must cost some coin to replace. I don't know all of the rules, but it looks like the front track is even wider than the rear. I know there's a weight/tire ratio, but can you push the track out to fit your needs as long as you don't alter the suspension pick up points? I'd be interested in Mike's thoughts on this suspension geometry issue.
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:03 AM
Ok, I have kind of a dumb question. I'm always reading in these drifting articles how hard idling for long periods of time is hard on the cars. So, why not turn them off while waiting.

I understand not wanting to turn off the car just to start it again 5 seconds later. But, if you know it's going to be a few minutes isn't it better to shut if off than to continue to get hot?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:30 AM
Jeffreyballs, The wide front track is something that our team pioneered in around 2010. We did it to help front grip and to help the car turn in better with a spool.

Burninator, If you turn a hot car off without idling it down it flash heats even more.
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:43 AM
I guess I knew that turning off a hot car before it cools would cause the temp to continue to rise. I just misunderstood the issue. I thought that they were being required to sit idle and the engine was getting hot due to that. Typically without being able to drive and move air around cars get hotter while idling. But they'd be hotter than an average car due to having so much power and just being run extra hard, and I guess driving around to cool the car is not an option here.

So you're idling to cool the engine, not that the engine is getting over-hot from being required to idle, and it's the other parts that are soaking in heat while it's idling that suffer. Is that essentially right?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:50 AM
No, the car is run super hard, probably the equivalent of two full quarter mile passes with the heat exchangers getting pretty poor flow due to the angle of the car, there is a tremendous amount of heat left to be rejected, lots of hot oil in the dry sump tank, a huge radiator so fans are running full blast to try to remove the heat. If you shut off the coolant and oil flow things would really get hot. Additional heat created by the idling engine is miniscule. The only thing you have to be careful of is vapor lock. We run a lot of idle bypass and a cool can to try to combat that.
Monday, May 04, 2015 11:57 AM
So considering how competitive a 25 year old chassis can be made, what would be the dream chassis for FD? Most FD cars start as cheap RWD chassis that were known for decent handling when released (S, FRS, M3) but it all comes back to replacement parts and availability when something goes wrong on race day. Assuming these limitations weren't in place, is there a better starting point on the market today?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, May 04, 2015 12:43 PM
We are finally getting a handle on how to make the FR-S/BRZ work and so are the other teams like Ryan Tuerck and Greddy. That car is very difficult to get the handling right but we are starting to understand it. Unfortunately there are no commercially available parts to fix the front end on the market so getting one of those chassis right is expensive. The 370Z is more than viable now as well with the Voodoo 13 front end and the years of development the Chris Forsberg has done.
Monday, May 04, 2015 6:09 PM
Good article, always fun to see how wacky and different drift cars are compared to the cars of my daily grind. Title needs some spell checking though.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:23 PM
What spelling error in title?
Monday, May 04, 2015 9:55 PM
Mike, Wisefab actually makes an FR-S front and rear kit. While not cheap, it's a well thought out piece of engineering.
Ryan Tuerck is running the kit on his FR-S.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, May 04, 2015 11:20 PM
Ryan isn't running the Wisefab kit anymore. It is actually very difficult to execute because it involves extensive subframe modifications.
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 3:55 AM
Sneak peek. The title suggests a mountain is creeping around. :-)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 8:01 AM
Isnt that peak?
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 8:08 AM
This peak has piqued a sneak peek! :-)
Headlines aside I've noticed only one downside to drift motorsports; its driven the prices of every clapped-out 240SX into the ridicules levels. Excellent peek at Coffman's car by the way.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 8:12 AM
Oh now I see it!
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 8:23 AM
@ Hydrolastic: We (my circle of friends) call the 240SX price inflation "drift tax".
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 9:04 AM
Great build and Great article! @Hydrolastic my prediction is that soon the earth will run dry of s-chassis cars and the e36 chassis will replace it in popularity for the cheap drift machines.
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