Birth of a new DMCC Nissan S14 Drift Car and a Tour of AVFAB & TK RaceHeads


Today, I made the trip North of Montreal to a small shop in Laval called: AVFAB, where I had arranged to meet with P-O, who's been building a competition car for the upcoming season. As I pulled up to the shop I knew I was in the right place - the parking lot had a few interesting cars around. So I parked, and walked to the front door.

I was greeted by P-O (Pierre-Olivier) who's been hanging out at AVFAB quite a lot lately, trying to get his car finished in time for the start of the 2011 DMCC Pro-Am drift series. Last year, P-O was part of the pit crew for Marc Landreville, and is now finally ready for a taste of the action himself.

USDM 1997 Nissan S14
1997 USDM S14
He purchased a USDM 1997 S14 from Atlanta, with a stock RB26DETT swapped in and did some minor modifications such as; new wheels, a fender roll and a few other bits here and there to help him get into drifting and really develop the techniques necessary to compete.
Slammed Nissan S14
By day, P-O is a Train Conductor for C. P. Rail, but in the evenings he found himself at the drift track in Ste. Eustache, warming up to the sport, as he became more familiar with his car and pushed forward, ugh I mean sideways through the various hurdles associated with entering into the world of drifting.
Drifting S14 RB26DETT
Drifting 1997 S14 RB26DETT @ Ste. Eustache
He managed to have only a few minor bumps and scrapes, but with no engine failure or frame damage, he moved forward onto the next logical step, sponsorship. P-O's race team: Drifter Toyz, features 2 competition cars for the 2011 season; his 240SX and Stevie Jacksons' RPS13.
S14 Body Kit
Pierre-Olivier's Full body kit S14 
P-O arranged sponsorship with T. K. Race Heads who, to help squeeze more power out of the RB26, did a full work up on the head, including porting and flow-benching. Matched with a fully forged

bottom end, and an RB25 transmission, he'll surely be able to lay the rubber down now. We actually got to meet TK Race Heads, but more on that in a little bit (further down).
Pierre-Olivier also arranged a deal with Ardo from AVFAB, who's handling pretty much everything else the car will need, in order to compete this coming season. AVFAB does everything from A to Z but where Ardo's work really shines is with the custom stuff. Heres a couple shots of his work to give you an idea of the quality we're talking about:
SR20 Custom Turbo Exhaust Manifold
AVFAB Custom SR20 Exhaust Manifold (front)
This is a custom exhaust manifold thats been paired with a turbo and Tial waste-gate, which is going to be mounted to a motor later on, the exhaust manifold was hand built by Ardo, and then ceramic coated.
SR20 Stainless Turbo Exhaust Manifold
AVFAB Custom SR20 Exhaust Manifold (rear)
The quality of workmanship on a piece like this is second to none, you can just imagine the time it must take to make each weld perfect, and have everything fit nicely together as it does, just stunning, a real piece of art. While I was talking with P-O about the story behind AVFAB, Ardo could not be stopped from working.
Ardo measuring and test fitting a door bar for P-O's car
He continued to measure, grind and cut as he finished up the door bars on the FD/DMCC Pro spec full cage. They felt it would be better to over build the cage to the Pro standards, as thats where P-O hopes to be soon enough anyways. He explained that AVFAB opened their doors five years ago, and while he still does general mechanics for anyone who needs it, he really likes to do race-prep, cages, manifolds and custom work.
I snapped this shot of his work bench which reminded me of a sticker I used to see on one of my Physics prof's walls, "A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind". From the look of things, I'd say he's pretty healthy!
AVFAB shop from Above
I snapped this pic to give you an idea of the tight quarters these guys have been working in, with a customers car on the lift already, it left only a small space for P-O's car in the shop. Finally getting to the car, he walked me through each part and explained what the plan was for the car.
Although still in a rough build state, this car is loaded with character, just look at the front bumper; zip-tied scarface style repairs tell the story of past mishaps, and this clever little sticker made me laugh a little, I love it!
Friends don't let friends apex early
Friends don't let friends Apex early
They made the move to a full tube front end frame to help make things a little easier in the future, and add more strength to the front end:
Full tube Front end S14
I asked him to lift the hood, and I was a little surprised... usually you can't see wheels in the engine bay can you?
RB26 in S14

"Where's the rest of the body?" I thought to myself, P-O quickly explained they needed a lot more room to fit the bigger wheels, and more clearance so he could go full lock without worrying about rubbing.
RB26 swap in to S14
"This is getting pretty serious!" I again thought, Theres actually not a whole lot left of the original car body! But thats a good thing explained Pierre-Olivier, the less weight the better! Moving in for a closer look I found the massive Greddy intake plenum. Which is a rare item to find on any Skyline, let alone an S14 that happens to have the heart of one.
Rb26 Greddy Intake Manifold
The adjustable top plate suspension mounts help them keep the wheel geometry in check as they dial in the camber on the wheels, and the strut tower brace helps to fight against body roll in the corners.
S14 suspension coil overs strut tower bar
Continuing with the walk around of the car I noticed these D-Max vented fenders, which make the car wider.
S14 Dmax Vented Fenders Wide
With the wheels being so big, and so far out, they added the wide body kit to make the car a bit more aerodynamic and make everything a lot more aggressive, also more baller for sure. Around back we could see the muffler from the Trust exhaust system.
While we were at the back of the car, P-O explained how they made a full rear fire-wall, which although not necessary at this point (because they are using the OEM fuel tank at the moment), would be essential to meet the safety requirements when they move to a complete fuel cell set up in the future.
This is another piece fabricated right here by Ardo, and what a job he's done! It's at this point I really started to see the beauty of his work, as Pierre-Olivier started explaining to me the complexity that is the roll cage.
S14 Roll Cage
This roll cage is just awesome, I felt safer just standing near it! I can't imagine what kind of forces this thing must be under during a race though, and I'd be glad to know I was protected by it with out a doubt in my mind for the structural integrity. Grade A+ work here.
S14 Racing Steering Wheel
The view from inside the cockpit is really bare bones, as the cage isn't completely finished yet, but you get a feel for how things will be.
S14 Racing seat
I thought this was a real "no-nonsense" picture, imagine how it must feel to be going sideways down a track in this thing, the very thought makes my legs wobble! To give you an idea of what the instrument panel is going to look like they have it mocked up here.
This car and driver are very clearly going to be a serious contender in the upcoming 2011 DMCC season, the car leaves the shop Wednesday for some extra work. P-O couldn't be too specific at this point but he did say they plan on using a red paint scheme. I can't wait to see it when its done!
This was one of my favorite shots I took of the car, theres a few words I'd use to describe this thing, words like: mean, angry and aggressive based solely on the appearance, but then I remember this thing has the same engine that I have in my car! and he's running it in rear wheel drive only, producing more power than mine! It must be an absolute bomb to drive, who knows maybe in the summer I can convince him to take me for a lap or two and get some in car video to show you all.

Ardos' Car
AVFAB - Ardos' Personal Project car
P-O showed me around the shop a little more, in a nook under the upstairs portion we found Ardos' own car he's been working on, popping the hood I was again shocked!
VQ35? yep, from a 350Z, he's been working on the swap in his spare time. Going in for a closer look, I again was greeted with the T. K. Race Heads logo....
With so much centered around T.K. Race P-O asked me if I'd like to see their shop, which I thought was odd at first, until he pointed out they were actually less than 50 feet away!

So on our way across the alley P-O stopped to show me some of AVFABs' customer cars...
Mazda Rx8 Turbo
They're working on this Mazda, converting it from twin turbo to a big single, they'll probably also V-mount the intercooler, which they plan to custom make.
Mazda Rx8 single large turbo

Then this oh-so-familiar Honda Prelude, which I see at meets pretty much every time I go to one....
Although it looked rough at first sight, it did have a surprise as well, he popped the hood, and the excitement began...
It looked like a brand new engine inside!, as though it had seen literally zero km's! pristine condition, and a well built motor. Then P-O explained the custom manifold and turbo I'd seen earlier is actually for this car! wow, it would definitely be impressive when finished.

T. K. Race Heads
We went into the shop where I was introduced to Tom, the man behind T. K. Race Heads, I also recalled that this is the guy who recently built my buddy Mitch's head for his GTR. He had the whole nine yards done for his head, and after being taken for a lap around Sanair Track last summer in Mitch's car, I can honestly say I've yet to see another GTR in person that has the kind of response and power that Mitch's car does, he thrashed my insides in a matter of 3 or 4 laps, which at 9 AM forced me to take a few minutes of break time in the outhouse at the track.
Engine builder shop
The floor had a couple of engines sitting around, waiting for work to be done and then get re-assembled. As I looked around further I noticed this SR20 in pieces on the work bench:
Engine Crank
Tom explained how it all began in 1979 where he was building engines for a small shop. Between 1987 to 1992 he worked with Ray Barton on high power Super Stock Hemi's for drag racing, specifically the '68 Barracudas and Darts, and thats where he learned all about porting and the very specific art of making heads flow more air for more power.

In 1996 he started TK Motion with a few partners, but to break out on his own he opened T. K. Race Heads in 2001, where he now works and specializes in anything four-stroke, any brand, as he showed me the porting table and setup with all his various grinding tools.
He told me the story of a Professional hockey player who owns a Ferrari dealership and competes in the Ferrari Challenge, who kept on coming middle of the pack each race and wanted to be winning a little more, so Tom flowed the head of the Ferrari F430 engine and performed his magic on it which resulted in a dyno proven 55 Wheel horse power gain. This was measured on the Dynapak dyno at Synoptic tuning on the south shore. I asked him to sum up his work in a phrase and he said:

"More pricey than usual, but they're podium finish motors, and they're reliable"

On the bench, he was currently working on the head from a 700 something horsepower Volkswagen, which to me is a little non-kosher, hahah! Regardless, of the two weird words together "700 hp" and "Volkswagen" he showed me the actual flow-bench, which is used to perfect the airflow through a head.
Engine Head Flow Bench
There's a very specific science to making a good flowing head, although it can attempted by anybody with a Dremel grinder, it can hurt the motor if its not done correctly. This Flow machine is key in refining the air flow through a head.
Bent valves
Bent Valves
As we wrapped up our conversation I snapped these pics of some carnage he'd removed from engines.
Destroyed pistons
Melted piston and a valve embedded in a piston.
I sort of ran out of time with Tom, as theres just so much to talk about when we got into things, he's kindly invited me to come back and we can make a video of the whole flow benching process and really get an inside look at how porting works, in a few weeks, so keep an eye out on the site for the next time we go back there! 

I think this coming season will be very exciting for Pierre-Olivier, his team and all his sponsors, it seems like things are taking shape in a serious way, hopefully we can get out to the track to see him in action and see how that monster of his performs!
Best of luck to Pierre-Olivier, Ardo from AVFAB and Tom from T. K. Race Heads! I highly recommend these shops to anyone looking at getting some work done, so don't hesitate to contact them!

Comments

  1. Pierre-Olivier belisleFebruary 17, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    If some of the readers would like to follow us during the build of my and partner cars and latter on in the DMCC season !!! Just check "drifter toyz team" on facebook or www.driftertoyz.com

    ReplyDelete

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