The Homemade FD Pro2 Smoke Machine

The last few weeks have been madness for Dalton Gernhart as he’s finished trashing on his Formula Drift Pro2 Nissan Silvia S15. He says the car is finally running “okay-ish,” but getting the build to this stage has taken its toll on him. In his own words, he’s dead.

While many professional drift cars are created under the guise of heavy sponsorship, the majority of those in the sport get started exactly where Dalton is now: earning his license in the lower division with a car he built himself in his own garage. When I asked his dad how it was building the car themselves, he said that I would have to ask Dalton as “he was the one who did all the work on this thing.” Building any car is always a project, but when it has to meet long and strict specifications and run against teams with loads more experience and sponsored parts, the task becomes exponentially more daunting. Still, Dalton’s finally approached the point where it’s starting to pay off and last month he finally had the thing ripping around sideways.


During the private day at Pat’s Acres in early April, I had a chance to spend some time with the Nissan before any hint of a livery was placed on its bodywork. While not 100% complete it was cool to see the car this way, before any vinyl or battle scars find their way onto the S15. It will never, ever look like this again.


But it wasn’t all roses during the test day and early on the team found they weren’t getting good compression from the engine – an LQ9 block running LS3 heads and intake. At this point the V8 had only been fired up a handful of times.


It turned out that the pushrods in the engine were too long, a mistake that you can’t just live with. Someone ran back to the shop and the parts store to procure the appropriate spec to get the motor running properly. Of course, setbacks like this are just part of the game when you’re putting everything together yourself.


Regardless of the detour, after a day of wrenching the motor was where it should be and Dalton hopped on the course.


As the sun dipped behind the trees I realized the sense of accomplishment Dalton must have been experiencing at this very moment. Starting up any project for the first time is always accompanied with great satisfaction; I can only imagine the feeling of finally getting to go sideways in a fresh car.


After he ditched a BMW E36 for a Nissan 350Z, Dalton had finally completed the step up into the LHD-converted Silvia. And for a build that was done entirely in his own garage, it’s super polished inside and out. But it’s not time to flip the party switch on just yet; loads more work will need to be done to get the car through the two Pro2 rounds – Texas and Irwindale – that Dalton will be competing in this year.


I really wish the 21-year-old the best on his journey, but in the meantime it’s helpful to me personally to look at the near-end result of this build. There are a couple projects of my own that could use a healthy dose of the dedication that Dalton’s put into this S15, and I think most of us could say the same for ourselves.

The result of any build is always directly proportional how much you put into it and how many sacrifices you make along the way. Whether it’s done incrementally or in a one-month frenzy, there is no way to avoid the monumental amount of manual labor necessary to create something truly nice for yourself. For me, this S15 is a reminder to just go out into the garage and get something done.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto

Nissan Silvia related stories on Speedhunters



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Looks like something I would have built in Gran Turismo 3 when I was in high school. Digging the LQ9 swap and the overall simplicity of this car. Very nice.

Dewade Wilson

cool car..but i think the big question is how did he get it registered in the USA??


IIRC if he is using it for track use only and does not register it, he does not need to conform to US import regulations. So I doubt it's registered seeing I don't see US plates on it in any picture, so therefore it can still be used here provided it's for track use only.


I got a challenger for ya. Joseph Lampe. Look him up. He's going for his pro 2 this season, and his 600hp ls power SC is out in the Midwest fucking shit up.


how the fuck does a 21 year old get an S15 pro 2 car? I can barely afford rent.


9 times out of 10 in pro motorsport its a rich kid if they are that young. Just the nature of the beast I'm afraid. Cars are MONEY and race cars are even MORE MONEY!!!


I have a feeling a lot of people are thinking this lol. (myself included)

Danny Grigsby

Was wondering the same thing. Even if it was just a shell a s15 isnt cheap. Im not doubting all the hard work and momey he put into the car but im willing to bet that family money had to be involed to get the car together


Many families support their children in racing. Look at motocross. Wtf


LOL! Steve i was just trying to wrap my head around that myself haha!

Graeme daily_dose27

HI Trevor Must say this post hit me hard with my ex drift build. and i just needed to push on and not give up as i was doing it alone. So i sold the cars and the engine. Was a SA22c rx7 (ex circuit racing car from the early 90's) And had a 1jz with a e30 gearbox and 1jz bellhouzing it all fitted JUST but yea limited funds and experience made it tough but hell do i wish i just PUSHED on. If you want i can tag you in the pics on instagram. or you can check it out @daily_dose27 i do wish Dalton all the best and will be following his journey. And well epic pics and writeup as always.


Sounds like it would have been fun. I have an FB RX7 with an LT1, and it drifts pretty good

Graeme daily_dose27

HI Andrew what's your Instagram handle would like to check your rx7 out.


It's LHD and a V8 swap... something tells me it isn't a real S15.

Brockhouse Products

Anyone know his IG?


Dalton gernhart


Blacked out motor sports gave him the frame to build. It’s legal and LH drive.


You guys ever do any features on Midwest drivers? Joseph Lampe he's on Instagram/ Facebook
600rwhp single turbo ls1
Car is on its way to begin 90% carbon fiber.
Going for his Pro2 license this year.


I am a huge fd fan. I frequent long beach and irwindale in California yearly and me my ex girlfriend could tell any car and driver and would bet on our favorites. Good times. Anyway, I am a fan now and looking forward to seeing him and his dope ass fuqn ride in action on Youtube and Instagram and competition. This kid is 21? Hahaha dude. This guy is ready to advance past the current champions and drivers at a young age giving him the ability to learn young and be young and fresh in a few years giving him a huge edge. I am really into this driver for what he is doing basically lol and FD needs new blood. I have moved home to Washington unfortunately and will be at evergreen speedway this year to watch Forrest Wang, Aurimias Bakchis, Piotr, to name a few of my faves... And this kid that we are all here looking at. Hope to see you there. Go for it bruh.


Tsk Tsk, a feature car on Speedhunters with knock off wheels (Cosmis Racing). Never thought I would see the day hahaha