I don’t think there’s ever been two cars that I’ve developed such a bond with.
For an entire season, the two almost identical S15s sat in front of our folding table, a makeshift media centre that we called home at each Formula Drift event, beneath the Worthouse and Bridges Racing canopy. Our shared workspace was compact; we would often rest our equipment against the stacks of wheels and tyres. I’m sure if we wanted to, we could raise or lower the jacks without even leaving our seats.
When the cars were first started in the morning, the smell of exhausted race fuel would be almost overpowering. When they came back from a session, the heat that radiated from both cars was often unbearable. particularly at the hotter events.
The cars were very much part of the team, a team that became more and more of a family over the course of the season. They had their own personalities, too, a reflection of their drivers and their contrasting driving styles. It’s only now that the season is done and dusted, that I’ve realised that I almost took these machines for granted.
We had tried – more than once – over the course of the season to shoot them. The original plan was to shoot them before Long Beach, while they were both box-fresh, but something (as always) came up. To be honest, their performance and maintenance took priority over everything else, which is only right. Luckily, there was time for one photoshoot of the two cars together, just before the action took place at Irwindale Speedway for the last time.
Considering it was the last event of the season, and that the cars hadn’t exactly been spared hardship, they were in remarkable condition. Part of that is, of course, due to the strict maintenance schedule that’s followed with both cars, along with a comprehensive arsenal of spare panels, bumpers and lights.
Had you been following this story for the last year, you should be at least somewhat familiar with the basic specification of both cars. They’re both genuine Spec-R S15 Nissan Silvias that started life as original right-hand drive cars. Now, the position of the steering wheel is the main differentiator between the two cars. In fact, it’s the only significant difference between them.
I’ve always maintained that to properly appreciate any build, you need to have consideration for their purpose, and these two are no different. Asides from being FD Pro class drift cars which needed to be competitive, there was also considerable consideration towards their maintenance, repairs, upkeep and the logistics of it all.
It’s one thing to build two cars (a couple of thousand miles apart at that) and ship them to the other side of the world to the compete, but it’s another thing to take care of them in a cost effective manner. Two contrasting sets of spare parts would never work.
There was also the issue of dealing with the unknown; competing in a new championship, at new tracks against new opponents. As such, reliability and familiarity needed to be factored into both cars, too. That’s familiarity for both the drivers and the mechanics.
It was a hugely complex puzzle that Piotr Więcek and James Deane started to put together last year, but how they overcame all of these problems is the most ingenious part of the whole story.
The ingenuity in the Worthouse cars is in their simplicity.Compromises
At their simplest, the two cars are 2JZ-powered S-bodies with quick-change rear ends and sequential gearboxes. It’s a recipe as old as time (relatively speaking, at least), but it’s proven. There’s no real risk involved other than the unknown of how competitive the setups would be in Formula Drift.
Both James and Piotr run 2JZs in their European cars at standard capacity, so they were keen to maintain that, but with added nitrous oxide to help the cars spool faster.
Starting with three brand new 2JZ-GTE blocks (there’s a complete spare engine) equipped with new Toyota crankshafts, the bottom ends were outfitted with Carillo connecting rods, CP 9.5:1 pistons and Titan Motorsport billet main caps.
Titan Motorsports Stage 3 heads were installed next, fitted with Brian Crower (BC) 280-degree camshafts, adjustable Tomei pulleys, 1mm oversized valves and Hypertune inlet manifolds. On the exhaust side, an ETS dual wastegate exhaust manifold with a BorgWarner EFR9180 is fitted to either engine.
Injector Dynamics 1,700cc injectors supply fuel into the combustion process from rear-mounted Radium Engineering FCST fuel cells. A 150hp direct port shot of nitrous is added to the mix by Nitrous Express., primarily to reduce turbo lag. Final power figures are somewhere around 820bhp at the flywheel, plus the nitrous.
We’re not exactly talking a small amount of power, but it’s not the 1,000+hp that other FD teams are chasing with their cars, which shows in the reliability of both Worthouse cars. Neither had engine issues all season. Management is handled by a Link Thunder ECU relaying to a Cosworth digital dash.
Converting the power to the ground is the next step in the process. Triple-disc ACT Race clutches are mated to Quaife QBE69G 6-speed sequential gearboxes, themselves sending power further rearwards via an aluminium prop from The Driveshaft Shop, into a Winters Performance quick-change differential and again to the wheels by The Driveshaft Shop axles.
It was a combination that proved relatively reliable throughout the course of the season, especially considering the hardship imposed upon the drivetrain by the 850bhp 2JZs trying to spin the tyres and the 295/40R18 Falken RT615K+s trying to maintain traction.
Sitting in the rear of the car, the fuel cell, dry sump tank and rear radiator setup are located ideally to keep weight over the back wheels. This setup evolved slightly over the season, with the fuel filler neck being raised to make refuelling easier.
You can see the raised section peaking out on the right-hand side of the cars’ rear bays in this photo.
Differential guards were also fabricated trackside at Orlando, as the the housing was being ground down by the abrupt transition from the bank to the infield. It’s just another one of these small things that needed to be learned about and reacted to as the season progressed.
It would seem that the Falkens were the tyres to be on this season, having featured on the winning car six out of eight times (James x4, Odi x1 and Piotr x1) and to have made the podium at every event. The Nexen-equipped car of Fredric Aasbø was the only other car to make it to the top step.
On a semi-related subject, the issue of tyre smoke is a huge factor in Formula Drift. It’s also been a major talking point during the formative months of the new FIA series, where they’ve even gone as far to speak about requiring the drivers to wear respirators with fresh oxygen tanks in the cars. It’s a drastic action, but one that we’ll no doubt hear more about.
It’s also an issue that both Worthouse drivers take seriously. From the early stages of the build, the shells were welded in places where smoke might enter the car, along with both cars running door glass, which makes them the only two cars in Formula Drift that I can recall with fully closed cockpits. It does keep the smoke out, but it also introduces another problem in the form of in-cabin heat.
Even by the Irwindale round there was no solution for the heat, only for each driver to get on with it and stay hydrated. With outside temperatures creeping past 100 degrees at certain events, it’s something that will no doubt be addressed in the off-season.
With regards suspension, again, they’ve relied on the well proven Wisefab setups at the front and rear, partnered with Feal 442 and 443 coilovers, front and rear respectively.
Wheels are 7Twenty Style 46s in Hyper Black, measuring 18×9.5-inch at the front and 18×10.5-inch at the rear. The lesser changed front tyres are, again, Falken RT615k+ items, but in a narrower 235/40R18 fitment.
As we’re in the area, braking is controlled with Wilwood 6-piston front calipers with 12-inch two-piece front discs, with a dual 4-piston rear caliper setup mated to a custom hydraulic handbrake with a Wilwood master cylinder.
One of the curious things that often goes unnoticed is that Piotr’s left-hand drive converted car also features a left-hand drive S15 Silvia dashboard. It’s a custom item, created by G Garage in Poland, which was flocked before being installed. Both cars run custom trimmed carbon fiber Corbeau seats proudly wearing the national flag of each driver on the back.
The seating position, along with subtle exterior colour differences (James’ roof is blue, Piotr’s red) are all that separate the two cars. Every other part on either car is shared.
Okay, there are a couple of small differences, but only the absolute eagle-eyed will notice them, and usually they have to be pointed out (the breathers on the rocker cover are different, to get you started).
We didn’t have much time to shoot – around 30 minutes – as the cars needed to undergo final checks before the long Thursday practice session. Still, it was enough time to capture the Worthouse pair as they’ll likely be most fondly remembered.
Each of the small scars (the ones that are left anyways) tells its own story, ranging from abject misery to absolute bliss. When the two cars rolled out of the parking garage in Long Beach, no one could have predicted the impact that they would have.
I’m (now) fondly recalling memories of fans telling us that they would be sent packing by the Formula Drift veterans, and that they certainly wouldn’t handle the banked circuits. One outlet explained James’ first victory as him having an advantage due to his car being right-hand drive, and that the likes of Road Atlanta would sort the men from the boys.
While neither driver pays much heed to these kind of comments, I think in some ways it goes to show that Formula Drift wasn’t prepared for how much fight that the Polish-Irish team would bring. Which brings us neatly to the 2018 season.
Already, the cars are on their way back to Europe to be stripped, inspected and rebuilt for 2018. Yes, the Worthouse cars are coming back to Formula Drift next year for certain.
The question this time is, will Formula Drift be ready for them?Cutting Room Floor