240sx, s13, land speed, salt flats, bonneville, chuck johnson

Project 240SX Land Speed Racer:  Flat out on the Bonneville Salt Flats

By Chuck Johnson
Photos by Joe Lu
It’s really easy for people to discredit going fast in a straight line.  Hell, I myself have been guilty of snickering at the thought of "run what you brung" night at the drag races.  I mean how much skill could it really take to hold a steering wheel straight and mash on the throttle for a ¼ mile?  The truth is though, it doesn’t matter if it’s driving in a straight line or around the same damn circle for hours.  
240sx, s13, land speed, salt flats, bonneville, chuck johnson
Any type of racing requires skill.  However, even more so, racing requires balls.  And, there is a positive correlation between how fast you go and the size of your balls.  Think top fuel dragster.  A top fuel dragster is capable of accelerating to 100 MPH in less than a second and traveling the distance of a ¼ mile in less than four seconds, reaching speeds well over 300 MPH.  Does that require skill?  Yes!  How about Balls? Definitely! OK, that’s enough talking about balls for now, let’s get to the point.
By our third day at Speed Week, I had completed all of my licensing passes and was now determined to make an unrestricted attempt at the record.  In other words, take Project 240SX LSR as fast as she could possibly go with roughly 330 WHP.  At the time, the blown, gas, coupe (BGC) record for a 1.6 to 2.0 liter turbo engine was just a tick over 200 MPH.  
I don’t mean to over dramatize things, but I cannot recall ever having a time in my life where I thought to myself, "OK, if shit goes wrong today I could seriously die."  The concern on each member of Team MotoIQ sure wasn’t helping either.  Racers like Doug and Miriam MacMillan of Team Hondata, who regularly make passes over 200 MPH, might laugh at this.  Keep in mind though, the first time Project 240SX LSR ever started or moved under its own power was just four days previous.  Before getting to Bonneville, I had driven Project 240SX LSR a total of 20’ and that was onto the trailer we towed it with.  There was simply no time for shake downs runs let alone adding any type of aero to the car. 
This is where all that talk about "balls" comes into play.  I’m not saying that I have a pair of watermelons harvesting between my legs.  What I am saying though is the thousands of dollars, the hundreds of hours of sleep lost, and the efforts of a few dedicated team members all came down to this moment.  It was simply time to "sack up."  To see how our top speed pass went, check out the in-car video of Project 240SX Land Speed Racer below.  



5523 Motorsports

Project Land Speed Racer Nissan 240SX




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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:04 AM
I thought the motor was a bit stronger than that. plans for next year? more power or better aero?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 1:00 AM
Wow! 180+ MPH seems like a lot of speed for only 330 WHP. It looked really stable too. Well done! If you guys play with the aero a bit and push the engine closer to 400 WHP you should have the record in the bag. Great run and good luck with all those to come.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 4:54 AM
Man, not sure if I ever thought a 20 year old Nissan chassis cold hold up past 150 mph let alone 185. That video was awesome and it should be no problem for you guys to destroy that record.

Since you are at 330hp now and you need another 15ish mph to break 200mph do you have a target hp number that will get you there? Top speed seems to require exponential growth of hp sometimes for a small increase in speed.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:38 AM
Back of the envelope calculations in Excel suggest that if 330hp is good for 185mph, 200 needs about 420 horsepower; horsepower requirement goes up with the cube of speed. Again assuming all else being equal, 220mph would need around 550hp and doubling the horsepower to 660 would only get you to about 233mph.

Well, "only". As someone who's never driven on the salt, all of that seems pretty fast to me.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:45 AM
@ Protodad: I would assume as much as possible. I think Chuck wants the record, but I also think he wants to see how fast it'll go. Since mid-upper 400whp is fairly easily attained on an internally stock SR20DET, I would think mid-upper 500whp range coule be reliably (well, at least reasonably reliably, he is flooring it for 2 minutes straight) attained on Chuck's build.

Chuck: Is there a spec fuel for BGC, or is it any gasoline formulation that's allowed?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:54 AM
Fastest I have ever gone was 160mph maxing out my rx7, I was pretty scared. Going 180mph, I would shit my pants.

The 240 looks very stable, definetly needs more power to hit 200mph. I wonder what the Cd is on the 240 :)
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:15 AM
Prodding some calculations and using a frontal area of 19.6 square feet (internet found, not measured) I'm getting a Cd of 0.3ish for 330hp. Insert whatever qualifiers about approximations you think appropriate. ;)
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:41 AM
180 on pavement is fun, i cant even imagine on salt. I did 100mph once on slightly packed sand, car wouldnt go any faster from the rolling resistance and it squirreled all over the place.

is oxygenated fuel allowed? internets arent telling me anything
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:33 AM
Sized out the new turbo a few months ago ;)
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:53 AM
@kenku, the power numbers to accomplish the relative speeds that you listed are in line with our estimates. The published CD averages at .30. One of the reasons we picked the S13 hatch chassis to begin with.

In terms of fuels, we are limited to "event fuel" in the class that we run in. There are only a couple of different types of ERC fuels that we can run. If you run nitro methane, ethanol, nitrous oxide, or any other type of fuel then you are put into a "fuel" class where I'd prefer not to play.

We are currently building a rather unorthodox engine combination with 5523 Motorsports. It's too soon to release the details on it, call me paranoid. I will tell you though, that there are little to no aerodynamic mods in the plans due to the class we are going to be running in.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 9:36 AM
Does taping up gaps between panels count as aerodynamic mods?
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:00 AM
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 1:40 PM
Very cool. I was excited for some results with this build. Seems impressive considering the whp used. I can't wait to see what it can eventually do.

Can not even use some tape? Wow, that seems very restricted. It sounds like you will be using the same car/aero with more power? There are no more legal aero mods you can do for your class, or is there some more aero you could do, but are not planning on it at this point in the build?
Friday, March 29, 2013 3:47 PM
I think I've read all the updates on this build and don't recall anything about transmission or gearing changes. Is that speed using OEM gearing? I'm specifically curious what final drive and 330WHP gets you a drag limited 186 MPH.
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Friday, March 29, 2013 5:26 PM
Yeah, we haven't covered that yet and i'm surprised that no ones asked. To answer you question, we are running a 3.133 final drive and a 5 speed silvia/180sx transmission.
Friday, March 29, 2013 8:37 PM
Well are you going to get into it? I can't believe a factory designed drivetrain for that car would stretch to 186, not with the relatively meager output it came with back in the day.

I find it fucking shocking that a Tesla Model has as Cd. of .26, I'd bet money that alone would have put you within kissing distance of 200, if not over.
Friday, March 29, 2013 8:40 PM
"Spitting distance".. I just got back in touch with an ex-girlfriend and it's apparently having it's weird affect in some Freudian way, everybody put in a little prayer for me I need a win here.
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