Racing Porsches And Raging Trucks:<br/>Keeping It Cool With CSF
All your supercars are here…

I love getting the inside scoop on things, don’t you? It’s what attracts me to automotive journalism and it’s certainly the best part about working in the aftermarket industry. As enthusiasts, we naturally can’t wait to see what’s coming next. That’s why we couldn’t turn down Ravi Dolwani’s offer to take Larry along for not one, but two shop visits while he was going about his business in California last month. Ravi is founder and manager of the Racing and High Performance division at CSF Cooling, his family’s fourth generation manufacturing company. 

You may have noticed CSF’s name on Speedhunters since we partnered with them at the end of 2013; the fact that they were already working with a whole bunch of top end shops and teams really interested us. Formula D 2013 champion Mike Essa? Yep, he runs a CSF radiator. With the meetings lined up, Larry grabbed his cameras to see how it all goes down. Because of course, there’s a whole load more to this than just bolting up a replacement radiator…


The first stop was Global Motorsport Group in Santa Ana, California. GMG have a wide customer base but they are possibly best known for their Porsche race programs. Ravi and his team have been working in this market for a while now, having put together solutions for the 996 Carrera and 986 Boxster with GSR Autosport. What I didn’t realize was the importance of an aluminum version for these water-cooled boxers, until Ravi explained it.


Besides the obvious cooling advantages, he’s been able to address a mechanical shortcoming too. When you track any car, you’re subjecting it to constant vibration, jarring track excursions, jumps over chicanes, and even sometimes door-to-door contact with other cars. Due to the low mounting location of the radiators in the front bumper, water-cooled Porsches are especially susceptible to damage. It turns out the stock plastic end tanks just don’t last long in a track environment.


The same holds true for the intercoolers that come on Turbo 997s. Today’s high horsepower builds can produce enough boost to break the plastic tanks and blow the hoses off the ends, or even shred the thin sheetmetal inside the intercooler. So CSF solves this by employing a stronger bar and plate core along with a cast end tank that won’t crack under high pressure.


It’s not all Porsches at GMG though. Larry found this Ferrari Modena waiting to be serviced. Prancing horses have their own particular problems and that’s what was so interesting about the day – not only were we getting to see the end result, but also the real process behind performance tuning.


Nearby Ravi was holding this strange device. He tells me it’s a Ferrari gearbox cooler that mounts inside the transmission, and they’re still made the old way from cupronickel cooling tubes inside a brass casing. They work by gear oil running through those tubes while coolant circulates in the jacket around them. Of course, a lot of Ferarris don’t get driven much and when oil isn’t circulating through the cooler, it goes dry and corrodes. By 30,000 miles they dry out and crack, coolant mixes with gear oil, and the transmission is ruined. At US$12,000-$15,000 to repair the transmission, you can get into trouble real quick. Oh, and did I mention they’re on backorder from Ferrari too? So what do you do?


Find an expert to solve the problem of course! To reproduce the factory gearbox cooler would require old tech that almost nobody has any more – except for CSF’s original factory in India that still has the capability to work in copper and brass. They used to make marine coolers for Bombardier in the ’60s there, and now they’re going to make an original-style replacement for the Ferrari, plus a modern performance version. Because if you’re going to break something, then you might as well upgrade it, right?


The variety of vehicles at GMG is outrageous; everywhere you turn, race hardware is being tuned, tweaked and maintained, and it’s in this dream garage environment that Ravi has to make things work. As Larry snuck around the busy shop he came across the familiar Pirelli World Challenge Audis.


Which is why Ravi was here at GMG in the first place. You can make a radiator or cooler for your buddy’s street car and tell the world how good it is, but high-end motorsport is serious business and if these guys use a component or solution, it has to work. As he grows his Race and High Performance division, he wants to align himself with the best of the best, so that means coming up with cooling solutions for these race cars too.


It hasn’t happened just yet, but Ravi has a specific goal in mind to cool these Audi Factory Team cars for GMG.


To this end, Ravi has sought out people like Fabryce Kutyba, one of the founders and owners of GMG. The feedback you can get from just one team or workshop like this is invaluable and all kudos to Ravi for going down this route. Hardcore demands mean there’s no messing around and product development is right on the cutting edge.


It must be pretty cool to come in to the office each morning and see a different kind of hardware like this on the shelves. You can’t argue with the winning history at GMG; how could they not be of help?


Larry found these Audi diecasts near the trophy case. Bryn saw the real IMSA cars at the Audi Forum last year, but parked nearby was the next best thing.


Not a diecast, but a 1:1 out in the shop! This short wheelbase Audi Sport Quattro conversion will weigh 2500lbs and pack 750hp when it’s finished. This kind of build in North America is quite rare and I bet it’s going to be an absolute blast to drive.


It’s not all race cars here though, and it’s worth remembering that although CSF may be developing product for harsher applications, the benefits will trickle down to street applications too. Among the other customer cars, Larry spotted this clean GT3 and a green Lambo that I’m told belongs to MMA fighter Rampage Jackson. More top down rather than smackdown…


It’s really quite interesting that GMG does everything from full-on race car prep to service and modifications for regular customers. Racers drive road cars too.


They’ll change your oil, upgrade your suspension, or build you a complete motor from scratch.


Then they’ll even strap your car to an AWD dyno that can handle 2500 horsepower.


I thought maybe this was a cool waiting room with a racing game, but Ravi corrected me. It’s actually a very expensive racing simulator. Yes, GMG also offers virtual driver training on site.


I could talk your ear off about all the cars at GMG, both street driven and track ready, but I’ll leave you with this custom lime green 997 GT2.


Apparently it’s a complete one-off, with every exterior panel made from carbon fiber.


If that wasn’t good enough, it’s also serial number 001 and GMG installed a twin turbo 4.0L engine that makes over 950hp. I think we might need to head back to GMG at some point to check out the completed project, but at this point Ravi had to drag Larry out of the shop because they had one more appointment to keep, with a very different type of shop…

Up and out there…

It might seem obvious when you say it, but the cooling needs of performance vehicles of any kind are pretty similar. But if the demands made by track work are arduous, the next level up must be the absolute pounding that a radiator will take off-road. Add some rocks, sticks and random debris, and you start to see why a performance option is a must. That’s why Ravi went and found Outlaw Offroad. Quite simply, he saw them as being at the top of the game and wanted his parts to be on their builds.


Outlaw was established back in 1999, but has since become central to the booming Ford Raptor market. I guess that’s why they have this as their mascot in the showroom.


Out front, the guys found a Raptor named Yeti. This is as close as you can get to a street legal trophy truck, with Alpha1 long travel, King coilovers and a one-piece front end. Yeti is running the first prototype CSF Raptor aluminum radiator too. Ravi figures there’s no better platform for testing than a truck like this, and with the heat and terrain of the inland California deserts nearby, this is a great place to be located to trial a cooling product.


Since he’s also based out of southern California, Ravi is able to walk into shops like Outlaw Offroad and work directly with them, as opposed to simply copying a stock radiator in aluminum and sending it off hoping it will work. Given that they are still at the prototype stage, Outlaw’s head technician Marvin pulled Yeti into the shop and they removed the fiberglass hood to review some improvements that would be made for the production CSF radiator.


While the guys talked shop, Larry once again took the opportunity to sneak off with his camera to see what he could find. I just love how much bigger everything is when you’re working on trucks, like the huge stock of u-bolts the guys keep on hand.


Among the hardware was this multitude of King smooth body shocks waiting to be bolted up. There’s probably about a mile of combined suspension travel in this one picture. Maybe.


Like GMG, Outlaw’s shop area is pretty spacious. The Jeep and Raptor market is huge and Outlaw like to keep ahead of the game when it comes to product development.


Also like GMG, they cover the whole spectrum of vehicle modification – suspension being one of the most popular areas. I guess the biggest difference is these kits make the trucks further away from the ground instead of closer.


Ravi tells me aluminum Jeep radiators are some of CSF’s most popular and they cover YJ, TJ and the new JK models. In case you don’t speak Jeep, that means they’ve been fitting radiators to Jeeps since the ’80s.


If the white Raptor named Yeti is as close to a street legal trophy truck as you can get, then this fully tubed version definitely crosses the line. Once you’ve pulled all the glass and cut off the front end, it’s probably time to load your rig on a trailer. It might look like a dually at first glance, but that’s just a spare tire sitting by the rear axle.


The back is fully tubed too and based on the massive fuel cell, dual spare tire mounts, jack and fire extinguishers, I’m guessing this is either built for racing or a very serious pre-runner – the latter being a truck you run the race course in to make notes and get a feel for the terrain before jumping in the race truck.


I imagine this is about the point where you make the decision to go all out with your build like the one we just saw. This customer launched his truck off a cliff, and the full Outlaw roll cage allowed both the driver and passenger to walk away.


In the showroom sat a much shinier Raptor, although I’m sure it will have its day in the dirt soon too. Ford have done a killer job with the functionality and looks of this machine, but they really lend themselves to an even wider track and bodywork.


Back outside, Larry spotted this huge International MXP belonging to the owner of Outlaw Offroad. It too sits on King coilovers, but being a big rig for the street, it rolls on 22.5×12-inch Alcoa wheels.


There’s something that really gets me when I see plain-looking trucks with performance to rival a sports car and suspension travel measured in feet, on the street. Larry watched on as another satisfied Outlaw customer drove away in his fully-prepped desert truck.


Back in the workshop, Larry caught up with Ravi and Marvin as they were looking over a stock Ford radiator and discussing the weak points that need to be addressed in the performance version.


Larry also snagged a spy shot of the prototype Raptor radiator that they’re currently testing.


It’s not all about water and antifreeze though – oil needs to relieved of temperatures too, so the last item on the agenda for the day was an oil cooler that wasn’t able to stand up to rugged off-road use.


Marvin pitched the idea of a dual circuit cooler for power steering and transmission fluid, and Ravi tells me he’s going to make it happen. You gotta love the role reversal taking place here. Instead of Ravi approaching Outlaw with a product that he thinks they need, it’s all about working together, identifying problems, and then simply solving them. So today he’s left with a challenge to create a new product that directly addresses a need. That’s exactly why he’s in this business.


The best part about collaborations like this is that we as enthusiasts and consumers get to reap the benefits. Think about it: you have one of the foremost off-road builders and one of the most widely experienced race-prep workshops talking directly to a guy with four generations of cooling experience at his disposal, to make a radiator you can bolt into your own vehicle. And when these are just two of the many meetings involved in Ravi’s day-to-day business, how can we possibly lose?

Next up I’ll be fitting one of CSF’s offerings to my own supercharged FRS project. With Arizona heat on its way, I might be the perfect candidate for a CSF radiator!

Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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Did you guys get to KOH this year?


Derelict Yup, Larry was there and got back over the weekend. Coverage coming your way :)


Gotta love group b era cars, lancia delta s4 and audi quattro also rs200 evo


Speedhunters_Bryn Derelict  Hell yeah! Best motorsports in the US...


This article made me drool...


I want a Raptor.


Fantastic article. Love the contrasting styles here. Awesome awesome awesome


Wildcardfox  Hmm me too!


ChrisPBacon  Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.


ZaidSayeed  Too much goodness in one place? Make that two places.


Derelict  Larry's been posting pics and video to @thespeedhunters and @driftfotos instagram accounts. I can't wait to see his coverage!


Derelict Speedhunters_Bryn  It really is an amazing evolution from the slow paced early days of rock crawling.


Scratch that. Larry posts under @larry_chen_foto on Instagram.


Hey I drive by Outlaw Offroad almost every day haha.  Pretty cool to be able to see inside that place for once.


KeithCharvonia  Dont do the twitter thing but just checked it out. Pretty decent shots. Cannot wait to see full format photos of what he saw. I watched just about all of the coverage live. Making it out there next year is on my list.


KeithCharvonia : Metal Casting the end tanks is better then the stock plastic ones, but still far less then welding/forming or forging the end tanks by a long shot. It's cheaper and quicker in the long run though.... Furthermore, it's not a 1:1 copy of an Audi Quattro: I grant you it's shorter, but it still has a different roofline compared to the real thing: The A pilar's usedon an Audi Quatro are not from an Audi 100 but from an Audi 80 and have a different rake. The prototypes only had the original 100 pilars....


Kevski Style KeithCharvonia  I would put the best to worst for endtanks like this: Best is forged, then cast, then fabricated, and obviously plastic as the weakest option. I think cast is better than fabricated for repeatability and accuracy. When you're building them from individual pieces of sheetmetal you open up all sorts of fitment and sealing issues that rely solely on the weldor's capabilities and how alert he is that day.


KeithCharvonia Kevski Style  : I can agree on what your sayng, but on the other hand: Casting leaves higher stresses in the metal. Since the radiators tend to vibrate quite a bit that's an unwanted side effect. Therefore I rate fabricated higher then cast. Sealing usually isn't that much of in issue: Al metal thats fabricated tends to be stamped. Repeatability becomes more of issue if the demand gets high enough and when there is no pressure testing involved. Something I demand when raccing cars and bikes anyway.

BTW: I honestly don't understand why people think that radiators have a harder life on the circuit? The asphalt is way better and smoother on a track then it is anywhere else, the heat cycles are way lower on track (it usually tends to be either hot or cold, depending on racing or not racing). The only thing that goes against it is damage. 

And you may find copper low tech, but it has a way better heat transfer rate then aluminum. It's between 1,5 tot 2 x as efficient. And it's solderable, which is allowed in a paddock where welding (aluminum) usually isn't. On high performance cars miles usually aren't that much of a concern, since they will probably be maintained at regular intervals. As far as racing goes the cars are stripped after every season or after every/ couple of races....


Kevski Style KeithCharvonia  I have a feeling I'm talking to another engineer? :)

Fair enough re. casting. However if the threshold for failure is higher than what the part experiences in the real world then it's a moot point. I'm speaking from a design for manufacturing perspective, you're speaking from an optimized, cost is no object, perspective. Also, when we say fabricated end tanks I'm picturing a guy using his shear and brake to form the end tanks which will then be welded together with more seams than a one piece cast part, more of a one-off approach. Neither is right or wrong, and the circumstances of each project will determine which path to take.

As far as sealing, Ravi showed me the pressure testing rig they use at CSF. I'm planning another story where we get to see their facility.

The circuit issues Ravi found were from Porsche rads being mounted so low in the front bumper, plus at each corners instead of up in a core support like most cars. It only takes one hit to destroy them.

Good point about aluminum versus copper. No doubt it conducts heat much better, that's why our houses use copper wiring instead of the old aluminum stuff. I would bet that the industry has moved away from copper due to soaring prices. They found aluminum to be effective enough and at a lower price for the raw materials. When you use this much of one material a price shift can destroy a company or even an industry.


KeithCharvonia Kevski Style  : That feelingis correct :D As for the Porsches: Most race Porsches have the front support totally removed and replaces by a couple of lightweight aluminum bars, so I can only second that. Doesn't make much sence though, as from a performance standpoint i would place them farther away towards the firewall to get the same cooling properties and make it sort of crash resistant. Turn's a very little bit better too.

Besides the price of copper there are other things to keep in mind: Electrics and fuell. Old cars have belt driven fans, which makes them somewhat inefficient compared to electrical fans. Therefore they need better cooling blocks to keep them cool. Since electronics came into the picture they could cool on demand, in stead of all the time. The rise and fall in temp is greater in copper then it is on aluminium, which would require a lot more "computing" power for a fan. all cars would benefit from using copper vs aluminum except for pricing and longivity ( copper causes just slightly more corrosion in engine blocks compared to aluminum, but the same corrosion in the radiator itself). 2 big factors in the normal driving life of cars, but not so much in the performance industry.
The second thing is fuel: Olf leaded fuel tends to work best at around 75 degrees Celsius (Sorry, other side of the pond ), Where today's fuel tends to work best in the 90 degree Celsius range.

The thing is: Looking at it at a markething/business perspective it all makes sence. Looking at it at a carlovers perspective it doesn't....


KeithCharvonia Wildcardfox Me three, let's make a team!


I love all cars, but the things I'd do for a pre runner. You don't want to know…….


So CSF rads are produced in India?I Uh! 

What's wrong with good ol' Made in the USA radiators? (Griffin or C&R rads just to name a few). Too expensive to manufacture?
Hey, then people complain the unemployment rate here in the US is on the rise, and the economical crisis is worse than ever.
Keep buying Made in Foreign Land, so you can save up a penny or two.


JDMized didn't realize this was a "buy American" themed post. All the parts on your cars are from America?  Doesn't it get boring coming to a site you clearly don't enjoy?  Or do you just have a giant spoon that you can't help but stir (hope it was made in the USA).  Why not spend the time making your own blog to feature the types of things you want to see?  Or starting your own firm to manufacturer widgets in the USA?


We actually have 3 manufacturing facilities around the world, as well as a headquarters and 3 distribution centers in N. America. We are an American company with a global footprint that employees 50+ Americans. Have you ever tired to manufacture something in the US, especially in California where we are headquartered? We tried to 30 years ago, and it was impossible to then... Imagine now.
For the scale of our business (over 600,000 units), It would be impossible to manufacture in the US and stay competitive against cheaper off-shore product (we already are experiencing serious pricing pressure), especially with the economy in the US. We do however do all of our engineering, R&D, and assembly when needed in the US.


CSFrace  The companies I mentioned above do it. "Impossible"? Cost? How do the companies I mentioned above stay in business?

I guess when you are going after quantity vs. quality some corners have to be cut (and employ cheaper labor, cause I'm sure as hell those Indian won't see the same wages the Americans would see). 
I don't wanna stay here and argue, but there are quite a few companies (motorsports companies) here in the US that do an excellent job and keep the quality second to none. 
Other ones that come to mind: Burns Stainless Steel, Adel Wiggins, HRE, Wiseco...the list is long.
Anyway, good luck with your endeavor.


@reallyknt JDMized  It isn't a "buy American" theme. No, the parts on my cars are from all over the world. Reputable companies that have been in business for a LONG time and focus solely on producing one particular product.
You gotta ask yourself, why enter a particular market where the competition is fierce and stiff. Why re-invent the wheel if it already works?

To stay afloat IS hard because other well-known companies are doing one heck of a job already, and bringing into the US market a product made overseas is NOT easy. Quality ofter times lacks.

Does it get boring to come to this site? No, I enjoy some articles on here, and dislike others.

My spoon are all biodegradable and made here, in the US :)

Blog? I have my own Flickr account, you should check it out:

I was left a bit appalled when I saw GMG Racing partnering with CSF rads. I am NOT saying CSF rads are garbage. I can't comment on that. But there are PLENTY of great American companies who do outstanding jobs in their little niche. 
Contracting a company that does manufacture overseas to me = cost benefits. No different than Mishimoto or Megan Racing.

You are entitle to your opinion :)


JDMized Guess you missed the history shown on CSF's site.  I read it.  Maybe you should ?  I've never once used their products, but I certainly know better than to wax poetic on subjects I know little about.

Ever stop to consider that CSF's R&D and main offices being located in CA, serves GMG and some other clients better than another firm could (or has in the past?)

The US based rad manufacturers I'm aware of are all east coast based.  Even PWR's (Australian firm) US office is east coast.  GMG surely isn't constrained by budget, but at the same time, if R&D and prototyping on a product can be done closer to their backyard, with a company that has a passion for motorsports as well, then why not?  

Think every one of Wiggins components, raw materials (or Volk for that matter) is sourced and made in their respective domestic market?  The little you seem to know about manufacturing is surprising considering the strength of your opinion.


Holy cow, a tube and shell heat exchanger.  Those go back a few years in automotive technology.  They're still one of the best ways to do closed-system marine engine cooling though (Cummins and others currently use them), but suffer from the same problems when coolant (seawater in this case) is low.  A less-than-full tube and shell exchanger is soon to have lots of ionic and galvanic corrosion problems.


So. Many. Raptors.  And I thought the stock Raptor was amazing--these are on such a completely different level.  I know I'll never have one but it certainly is fun to dream.  Sick trucks!


Cool article.Love the Outlaw shop as well, those Raptors are crazy