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Building Power: Behind The Scenes At Full Race Motorsports
If you've been following the progress reports on my R32's restoration and build the name Full Race Motorsports should sound familiar. On the recommendation of several knowledgeable people I decided to pair my new Nismo Fine Spec motor with Full Race's BorgWarner EFR twin turbo kit. Although my car's still got the power output of a paperweight right now and I've yet to actually try out the kit the experts I talked to highly recommended the system for its improved response over more conventional turbos from HKS, Tomei, Garrett, and so on.
Central to the kit are the BorgWarner EFR turbos of course which are described by BorgWarner as a ground-up rethinking of turbo design. I asked Brett Mayes, general manager at Full Race, what the biggest advantage of the EFR turbos were and he quickly responded with "faster spooling". Thanks to a lower inertia center section and ceramic ball bearings the EFR turbos are designed to spool up and build boost faster than competing systems and this result has been corroborated by various tuning shops and import magazines.
Located in my home state of Arizona, Full Race has been designing turbo kits since 2002. With their kit getting high praise from the people I talked to and their company located just a couple of hours drive away it seemed like a no-brainer to go with their twin-turbo setup for my R32 build. Their proximity turned out to be a godsend when we ran into some fitment issues with my kit (no fault of the kit, my car had some peculiar mods) and Brett's team at Full Race was quick to help out and give the car a thorough inspection to make sure the kit worked out.
I was curious about the inner workings of a top-tier turbo kit company and Full Race very graciously allowed me the run of their shop to have a look and take the pictures I'm sharing with you today.
At first glance Full Race's shop near downtown Phoenix seems fairly non-descript with only the sign on one corner and the modified cars parked out front hinting at what's inside.
When you first enter though you immediately get the sense that this is a serious performance shop with a variety of turbos and parts lined up on the counter including this monstrosity! That's my iPhone 6 in front of it to give you an idea of how huge that snail really is. No, it's not part of one of their kits and instead is an industrial turbo but it's still a very cool conversation piece. It's certainly not something you see lying around your average office building.
Beyond the front office you get into the shop proper that's divided into two areas. The front part in the foreground is the manufacturing area while the back half that you can see through the large door has storage, shipping, and a fully-equipped auto shop with multiple lifts to handle Full Race's shop cars as well as customer cars that need some fettling. Where that Mustang is now was where my R32 spent a couple of weeks while Full Race worked on it.
Ever wonder how all that piping in a typical aftermarket turbo kit gets made? Well, it starts with metal tubing getting bent into the right shapes and then placed in jigs like these for assembly.
The tubing is welded at several stations in Full Race's shop where skilled dudes use the magic of high temperatures and molten metal to take simple pipes and turn them into beautifully welded pieces like these:
At other stations those various pieces get polished to ensure the best possible airflow. Airflow is king in turbo systems, whether it's an intake charge or spent exhaust gases, so the care that Full Race takes to polish those channels pays dividends in the form of more power and better response from the turbo kit that ends up in your car.
At other stations various parts get sanded down to fit.
Some of those parts no doubt end up in Full Race's intercoolers which they offer for applications ranging from 240SXs to Evos to Ecoboost-powered Ford F150s.
Of course all of their parts get the styling machine cut logos you see above.
While wandering around I saw this written on one of the shelves and couldn't resist taking a picture of it. I didn't find any random tits (the bird or the body part) lying around while roaming the shop nor did I run into Rick, whoever he is, which may explain why I'm still around writing this blog post for you guys.
After getting my fill of the manufacturing area (and trying not to get in anyone's way there) I wandered to the back section and passed by this cool hardtail chopper with a Buell front end.
Custom Full Race exhaust pipes, natch!
Beyond the bike I ran into two Nissans that are very important to Full Race. Can you guess what they are from the above pic?
If you guessed S14 for the one in the background, well you're half-right. It's actually Full Race's R14 shop car. What's an R14? It's basically an S14 chassis with the guts of an RB26-powered Skyline bundled in for fifty times your daily recommended allowance of testosterone. The engine sadly was out of the car at the time of my visit. Still cool though. As for the other Nissan, well...
It's a forklift! Still vital to Full Race's day-to-day operations though.
Here's that Mustang we glimpsed earlier. It's another of Full Race's shop cars. Ford's ever-expanding range of Ecoboost models has been a boon to Full Race and this Mustang is just one of the cars Full Race has kits for. The Focus RS has them particularly excited - just like I am. AWD, four-pot turbo, rally-special hatch - what's not to like lol?
Ignoring braking after adding power is a fool's errand so this Mustang had some very natty Brembo's fitted along with Volk's classic TE37s.
It wouldn't be one of my posts without me trying to sneak in one more Nissan at the end and so here's a pic of another car getting attention from Full Race: an S13 with an S15 front end conversion and 300ZX wheels. Simple looking on the outside but this being Full Race what's under the hood is probably pretty special although sadly I didn't get a chance to confirm that guess.
After touring the shop I sat down to chat some more with Mr. Mayes and he filled me in on some more tidbits. Encouragingly for us import fans, despite the recent onslaught of turboed vehicles from the domestics (particularly Ford), Subaru kits are still their biggest seller. Nissan fans can appreciate that they offer a range of products for SR and RB motors to soothe your power cravings. The Evo may be dead for the foreseeable future but the used market will surely be happy to see an EFR kit still on offer. With Honda getting into the turbo game with the latest generation of Civics Full Race is looking forward to designing kits for those cars as well.
The tour of Full Race's shop was extremely interesting for a car nut like me and I hope this post was just as fascinating for you. Hopefully I can bring you more shop tours in the future!
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