28 February 2012
|The Red Dragon: Daijiro Yoshihara’s Discount Tire/Falken Tire S13|
In recent years, Formula D cars have increasingly pushed the limits of technology and complexity in an effort to maximize the grip of the tires they run on. Daijiro Yoshihara’s Discount Tire Falken S13 is refreshingly simple, utilizing one of the oldest chassis in the series and a slew of off-the-shelf parts to build a simple yet effective drift car.
With the right minds on the team and one of the most experienced drift car drivers on the grid, the car has proven to be one of the best cars on the grid in the past two seasons, scoring four event wins and three additional podiums. Interestingly enough, the car was initially pieced together with a slew of parts from the Falken Tire race car warehouse.
Back in 2009, Dai Yoshihara was driving a V8-powered IS 350 which was the epitome of technology in drift cars. The car featured a fully-built high horsepower V8 motor sandwiched into a modern chassis with rear-mount radiators, an elaborately engineered set of custom suspension arms, yet would finish no higher than the top 32. Unfortunately, the car had an untimely meeting with the wall (the wall won), which left the team with just eight days to find a replacement car to finish the season. Back in Los Angeles, the team resurrected the former S13 coupe chassis from Ross Petty, snagged anLS2 crate motor which sat in Ben Schwartz’s Saturn Sky during the 2007 season (before the car was totaled in a crash), and put together enough parts to get the car running and FD-legal again. Amazingly, after nearly no sleep for anyone on the team during those eight days, the car arrived in Sonoma, California and was competitive right out of the gate. Yoshihara went on to earn a top 16 and top eight in the final two events, proving the car was competitive.
Over the past two seasons, the car has evolved into its current form, and is now two full rebuilds removed from the eight-day wonder. The only things left from the original build are the VIN number and driver’s name on the door. Over the winter, the car was stripped to bare chassis, mediablasted, seam welded, and rebuilt from bare metal. Scott Dodgion of SPD Metalworks is responsible for all aspects relating to the build of the car, having been a crew chief on Formula D teams since the first year of the series in 2004. Due to the tire-to-weight rule introduced this year, the car had to actually gain several pounds in order to be legal for the 275mm wide Falken tire. Dodgion used that as an opportunity to beef up the roll cage and build additional protection into the tubular trunk and front end supports to prevent damage in a car-to-car collision.
A GM LS2 crate motor (which had been replaced with an upgraded motor in 2010) was ditched for a fully-built LS7 motor from Redline Performance in Anaheim, which pushes out well over 500 horsepower from the 13:1 compression 427 cubic inch naturally-aspirated motor. The motor is mated to a FAST intake manifold, 102mm throttle body, and custom intake with K&N filter. Spent gases are spewed out custom headers and thru the 5” ovular exhaust. All engine vitals are controlled by a Motec MLS ECU. Cooling is managed by the massive Griffin dual-pass radiator. Next to the radiator, a pair of coolers- one for oil and another for power steering- keep everything from boiling over. Putting the power to the ground, a G-force GSR transmission is mated to a McLeod twin-disc clutch, and power spins thru the Winters quick-change rear diff which is equipped with a spool for traction control.