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Updated: Project BlownZ 275 Drag Radial Project Update: 2014 Edition

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We finished 2013 on a high — winning the NMCA WEST World Finals in 275 Drag Radial and also making the quickest run in class history with a 7.353 at 190 mph. Our team was extremely proud of that accomplishment, but we wanted more for 2014 as we fell short of the championship by just a few points. Despite our solid progress on the racetrack, we knew we were in for some heavy lifting to get serious in NMCA Street Outlaw in 2014 and beyond, as well as competition in PSCA Wild Street and potentially WCHRA 275. It was time for a serious overhaul. Below are all of our 2014 updates to our build. If you’d like to check out the 2013 updates and history of our racing click here.

Click Here to SKIP to the Latest 2014 Update Pictures

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Our first Wally – plus we ran the quickest ET in class history. A great 1-2 punch to close 2013.

When we used the term, “serious overhaul” — we really weren’t kidding! Our goals are much higher this year – an all-out assault on the 2014 275 championships out West, plus select East Coast events. That means a new 25.3 roll cage/chassis, a new suspension setup, drivetrain, and engine. Essentially, everything is new in the pursuit of 7.15-7.30 performances in the 1/4, and 4.60′s in the 1/8 mile with 1.13-1.14 60-foots.

A New Team

One thing that’s also new in 2014 and beyond the car is our relationship with fellow 275/Outlaw 8.5 racer DJ Reid and his crew chief Eric Kvilhaug. DJ, Eric and our team (led by Crew Chief Sean Goude, Dave Lukason and Dean Jigamian) are creating an informal partnership to campaign our two 275 Drag Radial Camaro’s together during the year.  The idea behind the relationship is simple: we will be able to take our programs to the next level by effectively doubling the data gathered in a given session and double the brain cooperative in analyzing that data. Essentially, the relationship will unify the efforts, resources and data of two capable teams into a singular machine with one goal – winning. In addition, we will use the off-season to unify the two programs in race-day processes and hardware as much as possible. 

Eric and DJ in the winner's circle. A place they'd like to get to again in 2014.

Eric and DJ in the winner’s circle — a place they’d like to get to again in 2014.

Our 2014 Combo – The Basics

Engine:  Our 2014 combination is fresh to make the horsepower needed to compete at this level. We’ve got an LME-built 400ci LSX, with a Chevy Performance LSX Block, Callies Billet Crank, GRP Rods, Diamond Pistons, Total Seal Rings, Jesel Lifters, COMP Camshaft, Curtis Boggs-ported Edelbrock LSR heads, and a Wilson single cast intake. Boost will come from a Procharger F1X with Holley EFI. We will also have a 427ci LME-built LS as another option with similar components with JE LSX Pistons and slightly higher compression.

Drivetrain: The team will be utilizing 3-speed Turbo 400′s for 2014, and we will be testing a Neal Chance NXS torque converter.

Suspension: Racecraft’s 46″ Pro Series Torque Arm, Fabricated 9-inch housing with Moser Axles, Santhuff rear shocks, Strange Brakes, Racecraft Control Arms, Sway Bar and a Wishbone will be under the rear of the car this year, with the front featuring the Racecraft front suspension setup and Santhuff shocks we ran in 2013.

Chassis: A complete new 25.3 roll cage and chassis by PMR – Phil Mandella Race Cars will keep us safe as we run 190-195 mph consistently, along with Tim McAmis mini-tubs, a Racetech seat, and lots of bits and pieces from Jerry Bickel Race cars. The chassis build team will consist of Phil & Tony Mandella along with lead fabricator Charles.

Phil is handling all of the major design, layout and engineering of the build process – Charles will be doing a lot of the tubing, fab work and welding along with some design implementation. Tony will be doing the sheet metal fabrication and also have some input in design implementation. “We are very excited to be working with the Dragzine.com Team on their BlownZ project,” explained Tony. “We know that they had a lot of choices of places to take the car and are excited about getting this new and improved car back on the track. The project has evolved quickly in the first few days due to the fact that the existing 25.5 chassis structure was not sufficient to build a 25.3 car out of it. That meant we had cut out the existing cage and start over.”

Going in Deep

The difference between a magazine build and a typical race car build is that in a magazine build we spill the beans and show the readers what we’re doing. For those of you ‘in the know’ – our chassis build process is standard/typical for a top 275 Radial 25.3 build today. That includes things like removing the floor pans to do the 25.3 chassis and frame rails and then re-installing them, removing the rear frame rails to get them dip-stripped and cleaned up, and then re-installing them as well. It includes re-jigging up the stock suspension points so that we can place them back in the stock locations, but with greater adjustability in the suspension geometry.

The hard truth is that building a 25.3 stock suspension car is dramatically more complicated, difficult and expensive than building a 4-link car. The process that we’re going to show you may be surprising, but the final product won’t be – it will be fully finished and carpeted. Once the stock frame rails and floorpan are re-installed –it will be a complete, class-legal 275 stock suspension car.

February 15, 2014 Updates:

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It was time to start mocking up the F1X-12A supercharger with our new RPS 5-inch blower tubing for 2014. We moved to all 5-inch tubing. Race Parts Solutions has a great selection. You can see our front tree taking shape.


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Now that the Camaro’s floors have been tacked back in, PMR began work on the removable transmission tunnel that will house the Hughes Transmissions 3-speed Turbo 400s. We won’t be removing the transmissions from the interior of the car, but this will make access to the bolts much quicker making for quicker transmission and convertor swaps.


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A nice shot of the final rear tree of our 2002 Camaro prior to working on our Tim McAmis carbon fiber 34-inch drag radial wheel tubs.


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Mock up of our new ride height with our new VFN Fiberglass nose. We needed to mock up the front bumper, hood and fenders because we will have a 1-piece removable front end (with removable hood) for 2014. We also needed to mock up the bullhorn header exits that will tuck down behind the front tires.


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PMR started the rear tub process by mocking up a cardboard rear tub. We are using 34-inch “mini-tubs” that Tim McAmis sells specifically for the 275 Pro and 315 Drag Radial racers. They are about 75% of the size of a regular wheel tub.


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Mock up of the driver side – you can see the factory frame rail here. This really drives the width of the tubs – there is no point in having a wider tub than the frame rail.


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You can see PMR transfers the cardboard cutout template to the carbon tub.


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The tub being fitted against the factory frame rail.


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Another angle/fitment of the carbon tub.


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Both tubs are installed, but have not had final rivets installed. This also shows the rear sheet metal work. The factory frame rails are intact (you can’t see them in this shot because they tuck next to the wheel tubs), but in reality, we have built a second set of  frame rails which are what the chassis relies on for integrity.


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Mock up on the front nose.


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Funny car roll cage coming together.


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Installing and mocking up the windshield.

 

February 9, 2014 Updates:

We worked with our friends at Optic Armor on a new windshield since we we broke the old lexan when we removed it.. Optic Armor windshields combine the lightweight, strength & safety of polycarbonate, with the optical clarity & scratch resistance of glass.  What's cool is the poly window form matches the factory glass

We worked with our friends at Optic Armor on a new windshield since we we broke the old lexan one when we removed it.. Optic Armor windshields combine the lightweight, strength & safety of polycarbonate, with the optical clarity & scratch resistance of glass. What’s cool is the poly window form matches the factory glass – but they offer pre-formed windows in a wide variety of applications.

 

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PMR did final mock up on the 400 CI LME LSX Engine with fitment on the front frame rails, motor plates, etc. We needed to get an idea of where to trim the window and what we needed to do for the induction trimming since the supercharger tubing would have to run straight in to the engine through the firewall.

 

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Charles @ PMR is an artist and this shows how and why.

 

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We left the OEM firewall in place and decided to do a sheet metal overlay to make it look clean. This will also address the strange overhang in the F-Body since our new firewall overlay will go straight up to meet the window.

 

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We worked with the team at Quarter-Max Racing Components to outfit us with some of their VERY trick bits and pieces. We are going to be upgrading to dual Stroud parachutes this year – and so we used the Quarter-Max  Dual Parachute Mount Kit Part #209104-1 to get that done with PMR handling the fabrication. The QM Dual Chute Mounts will accept any brand of parachute and offered pre-welded pack mounts..

 

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A little of artwork from PMR and Quarter-Max.

 

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You can see the ugly OE firewall behind our new overlay firewall. Ick.

 

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The finished sheet metal overlay. Much nicer looking.

 

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Final mock up before headers.

 

 

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Greg designed the Kooks Bullhorns to tuck out of the way at the rear of the engine/firewall.

 

The boys at Kooks hooked us up with a complete Kooks Bullhorn Stainless header kit that Greg Holman at REF used to build our headers. The Kooks kit from Chris, Jr. and the race experts in NC comes with pretty much everything you need to build the system - from the collector to the 2-1/4 and 2-1/8 tubing and flanges. We will have a complete gallery and story on the header assembly but this is a cool shot of the final product (all except the bullhorn itself). The muffler and bullhorn is 4.5-inches.

The boys at Kooks hooked us up with a complete Kooks Bullhorn Stainless header kit that Greg Holman at REF used to build our headers. The Kooks kit from Chris, Jr. and the race experts in NC comes with pretty much everything you need to build the system – from the collector to the 2-1/4 and 2-1/8 tubing and flanges. We will have a complete gallery and story on the header assembly but this is a cool shot of the final product (all except the bullhorn itself). The muffler and bullhorn is 4.5-inches.

 

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Shot of the driver’s side of the Kooks headers.

 

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Rear End, Torque Arm, and Racecraft wishbone are mounted up and tacked in position.

 

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Our hope is that with our power levels, the stiffer chassis, cage, and suspension will produce a more reliable race car handling wise.

 

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Final mock up on the front of the chassis. We still need to build the front tree, body mounts, and mount the dry sump and oiling hardware. Finally – the new blower inlet tubing will need to be fabricated for the F1X-12A supercharger.

 

January 19, 2014 Updates:

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We are working on the front of the car this week a little bit. This gives a nice shot of the Racecraft bolt-in K-member. You can see the car up on the chassis jig at PMR.

 

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Test fitting the LME 400 with the Wilson 123mm V-band throttle body. Single we’re using a single 4-barrel intake we need to get the cowl situated to get the 5-inch blower tubing through the firewall.

 

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You can see the amount of triangulation in the rear tree that Phil Mandella Racing is incorporating in the back of the car.

 

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More of the rear tree

 

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Nice shot of the LSX money maker. PMR is mounting the engine and working on the crankshaft centerline for optimum weight distribution.

 

January 12, 2014 Updates:

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Work began on the rear frame today. PMR is engineering a back “tree” similar to what you would find in most top x275 or Outlaw Drag Radial class cars. This is an important and often overlooked part of a race car because of how much stress and torsional forces are applied through the rear tree. You can also see our Funny car cage is coming along.

 

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This provides a nice bird’s eye view of the OEM F-body rear frame rails and how our rear tree rails run next to each other.

 

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The two down bars where the top hoop meets up with the rear tree.

 

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X-brace in the rear tree/rear down bars. Our Anti-roll bar, wishbone, and shock mounts will be to this critical bar. Avoiding twist in the chassis in this area is paramount.

 

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More progress on the rear tree. Triangulation of the rear tree will be incorporated throughout.

 

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This is where we stopped for the day. There is still quite a bit of work to do back here, more updates will come next time!

 

January 8, 2014 Updates:

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Work at PMR Race Cars continued as we progressed on the roll cage and with mounting our Racetech seat. Below you can see the mounts that PMR designed to allow the seat to sit down low in the car. Pretty nice work if we do say ourselves. The Racetech seat is a full containment seat – nicely styled, well padded and have a great look to them. We chose a containment seat for the best of protection since we believe the faster the car, the heavier the car, the stronger the seat needs to be.

 

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PMR’s lead fabricator Charles finished with the front of our roll-cage including the A-pillar bars and the top of the front of the hoop. All the bars were tucked up into the roof line as much as possible. To be 25.3 compliant, we will need an “X” in our roof structure.

 

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The 4th Gens rear frame rails came back from dip-strip and are being re-welded into the factory location.

 

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A nice shot of the new 25.3 PMR funny car cage surrounding the seat. This hoop is only about 40% complete at this stage.

 

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The completed, stock rear frame rails fully in tact and re-welded into the frame/chassis. The frame rails had to be mildly clearanced for tire clearance and rear end clearance (vertically).

 

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This gives a nice current snapshot of where we are build wise. We’ve made alot of progress but there is a still a good chunk of welding and finish work before we reinstall the floorpans.

December 28, 2013 Updates:

PMR engineered the Racecraft 46-inch torque arm front mount into the 25.3 Floor X-Brace. Plenty of adjustment here.

PMR engineered the Racecraft 46-inch torque arm front mount into the 25.3 Floor X-Brace. Plenty of adjustment here.

 

A lot of 4130 chrome moly tubing. Some of this is to gusset the suspension mounts, but in reality most of these bars are dual purpose serving the 25.3 frame.

A lot of 4130 chrome moly tubing. Some of this is to gusset the suspension mounts, but in reality most of these bars are dual purpose serving the 25.3 frame.

 

This is the front section of the frame rails and intersection of the frame rails into the roll cage and 25.3 chassis. This is the firewall you can see forward.

This is the front section of the frame rails and intersection of the frame rails into the roll cage and 25.3 chassis. This is the firewall you can see forward.

 

This shot probably gives you the best view of the engineering PMR is putting into our 25.3 275 Camaro. The frame rails (as part of the 25.3) actually tie directly into the front and rear frame rails of the stock Camaro chassis. The x-brace - also 25.3 required - ties into the torque arm. The rear control arm mounting locations tie into the stock frame, stock frame rails in rear, and to the 25.3 frame rails and #1 bar. It's a tightly integrated package. You can see better now how the floorpan is going to get back reinstalled. The frame rails will go below the floorpan, the #1 bar and the rocker bars will go above.

This shot probably gives you the best view of the engineering PMR is putting into our 25.3 275 Camaro. The frame rails (as part of the 25.3) actually tie directly into the front and rear frame rails of the stock Camaro chassis. The x-brace – also 25.3 required – ties into the torque arm. The rear control arm mounting locations tie into the stock frame, stock frame rails in rear, and to the 25.3 frame rails and #1 bar. It’s a tightly integrated package. You can see better now how the floorpan is going to get back reinstalled. The frame rails will go below the floorpan, the #1 bar and the rocker bars will go above.

 

Our trusty frame rails are back from the stripper. PMR is set up to reinstall the frame rails next week.

Our trusty frame rails are back from the stripper. PMR is set up to reinstall the frame rails next week.

 

Racecraft's newly redesigned 4th Gen F-Body k-member just arrived from chilly Minnesota. This k-member is chrome-moly and is designed for the lightweight Stiletto rack.

Racecraft’s newly redesigned 4th Gen F-Body k-member just arrived from chilly Minnesota. This k-member is chrome-moly and is designed for the lightweight Stiletto rack.

December 22, 2013 Updates:

Here is BlownZ getting stripped in preparation for getting dropped off at PMR Racing.

Here is BlownZ getting stripped in preparation for getting dropped off at PMR Racing.

 

One of the major objectives for 2014 is to loose weight. That means cutting off all of the heavy front sheet metal, core support, and extra steel that was unneeded either for function or because of the rules.

One of the major objectives for 2014 is to lose weight. That means cutting off all of the heavy front sheet metal, core support, and extra steel that was unneeded either for function or because of the rules.

 

At PMR - one of the first things Tony, Phil and Charles did was mount our chassis on their jig at our specified ride height. That ride height is LOW.

At PMR – one of the first things Tony, Phil and Charles did was mount our chassis on their jig at our specified ride height. That ride height is LOW.

At this point, we've got part of the 25.5 roll cage cut out, but we've still got the rear frame rails in the car to check fitment on the rear end housing and take all of the measurements that we need.

At this point, we’ve got part of the 25.5 roll cage cut out, but we’ve still got the rear frame rails in the car to check fitment on the Racecraft rear end housing and take all of the measurements that we need. The frame rails will come out soon just to be cleaned and dipped, but they will be put back in soon.

 

We are going to build strength and adjustability into the stock suspension setup. We needed to get a very precise location for the stock suspension mounting points so we started with a detailed mock up and took tons of pictures and got our tape measure and plumb bobs a time or two.

W’e're going to build strength and adjustability into the stock suspension setup. We needed to get a very precise location for the stock suspension mounting points so we started with a detailed mock up and took tons of pictures and got our tape measure and plumb bobs a time or two.

PMR is mocking up the main hoop and getting some of the initial bends in place.

PMR is mocking up the main hoop and getting some of the initial bends in place. You can see the rear frame rails are gone temporarily here..

 

This is our new main "1" bar which span the width of the car and be incorporated both into the 25.3 chassis/cage but also serve as the primary mounting points for our rear lower control arms. This is setup in the exact stock location but allows upward and downward movement of the front suspension mounting point.

This is our new PMR main “#1″ bar which spans the width of the car and be incorporated both into the 25.3 chassis/cage but also serve as the primary mounting points for our rear lower control arms. This is setup in the exact stock location but allows upward and downward adjustability of the front suspension mounting point. It is also tied into the cage and 25.3 frame rails so that it will transfer all of the power from our engine properly into the chassis.

 

This mock up shot gives you a better idea of how this is engineered. To the right of the control arm mount is where the stock frame rail will be once the rear frame rails come back and get re-welded into the car.

This mock up shot gives you a better idea of how this is engineered. To the right of the control arm mount is where the stock frame rail will be once the rear frame rails come back and get re-welded into the car. We left the stock frame rail ‘stub’ in so we could get a precise location on the lower arms and for the re-welded rear rails. You’ll also see our stock floorpans are out of the car. PMR cut them out and will re-weld them back into the car once the 25.3 is complete.

This is a shot of the front frame rails and how our 25.3 frame rails will intersect into the front frame rails.

This is a shot of the front frame rails and how our 25.3 frame rails will intersect into the front frame. You can see the stock firewall in this picture. We are required to keep the stock firewall complete and intact.

 

Mocking up the wheels and tires for fitment is critical at this stage. This shot shows actual ride height and placement of the tire in wheel well. We will be using Tim McAmis Race Cars 36-inch mini-tubs in this build specifically designed for drag radials.

Mocking up the wheels and tires for fitment is critical at this stage. This shot shows actual ride height and placement of the tire in the wheel well. We will be using Tim McAmis Race Cars 34-inch mini-tubs in this build specifically designed for drag radials.

 

Safety is critical and the folks at Tim McAmis strongly recommended we work with Racetech and utilize one of their containment seats. We hope to never wreck, but if we do - better to have a seat like this that is engineered to save your life in a high-G impact.

Safety is critical and the folks at Tim McAmis strongly recommended we work with Racetech and utilize one of their containment seats. We hope to never crash, but if we do – better to have a seat like this that is engineered to save your life in a high-G impact. TMRC’s Justin Spencer told us that Racetech is the recommended seat in ALL of the TMRC race cars.

How can we end our first update without a shot of the moneymaker. All we'll tell you at this point is that our LME 400 made in excess of 800 horsepower naturally aspirated. We are allowed to have some secrets, right?

How can we end our first update without a shot of the moneymaker? All we’ll tell you at this point is that our LME 400 made in excess of 800 horsepower naturally aspirated. We are allowed to have some secrets, right?

Stay tuned for more weekly updates.

 



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