C’s Garage – Joel’s S13


We recently came on board to help the guys from C’s Garage for the upcoming D1NZ season to complete Tuning duties on Joel’s car (pictured here).  We will also be completing the wiring of a Link G4+ Storm and Tuning on the somewhat more serious S14 of Adam shortly (actually as you are reading this).

We chose to get involved frankly because we like their style.  Joel and Adam have created themselves two dedicated drift cars that would quite easily be mistaken for Japanese D1GP machines.  With their paint jobs, graphics schemes and accents right through the cars tipping their hats to the birth place of drift it all just seems right.

So check out the gallery of Joel’s recent visit and we’ll have an update shortly on the more involved work on Adam’s S14.

If you want more from the guys at C’s check out their Website, Instagram and Facebook page.  Whilst at it also check out one of Joel’s other projects Ernest if you are in the need for some sweet new gear for the workshop.

STM/Racetech Customer Trackday – September 2014

In the early hours of Saturday the 14th of September we were preparing to set off to another of of our ever popular STM/Racetech Trackdays.


Now we usually show a tonne of photo’s of cars etc as, well less face it, that’s what we enjoy.  We do however think the social side of these days are what makes them so successful.

The preparation before the event, early starts, road trips and all of the other bits and pieces around the actual driving on the track really give you a lot more to discuss later on and usually give some great stories for the next time you are sharing a few drinks.


With this in mind this time we decided not so much to focus on the cars themselves however a bit more on the people and all the moments associated with these days as they are what makes these such a great event to attend.


Once again a huge thanks for the team at Playday on Track for making these days a smooth well oiled machine.  Thanks guys!

Chasing the Targa Dream!!

We have all sat and watched the Targa on Sunday Motorsport and thought “one day I would like to do that”. Unfortunately most of us will never achieve this goal. We thought we’d take five minutes to catch up with Matt Gaskin and see what it takes to reach the realisation of a childhood dream.


So you have just competed in your first Targa with your Nissan Skyline, what inspired you to enter the event?

It was a goal I always wanted to achieve at some point. I remember watching it on TV years ago with the old man thinking, I bet that’s a hell of a lot of fun. I’d really love to give that a crack one day. I went and watched it when it used to come down to Wellington also. I guess one of the biggest motivators though was being told “I was dreaming” and “Do you know how much it costs to do a Targa”. This pushed me even harder to ask for some help and achieve my goal. Without the assistance from all my sponsors I would not have been able to enter and compete in the event.

What was the best thing about Targa? What was the worst?

The best thing by far is the roads you get to race on. Until you’ve done it, it’s hard to believe you’d be racing over such amazing roads. SH25 from Coromandel to Whitianga is a prime example. Just a magic piece of road, like the rimutakas on steroids.

Personally the worst thing is the control tyre situation. Having to use over-priced Taiwanese made tyres that you would never buy normally. There’s one place to buy them from so the price is inflated which defeats the purpose of having a control tyre to keep costs down. It annoys you most of the “top guys” run whatever tyres they like. Doesn’t seem fair to me….


What was the biggest lesson you learnt about competing in a multi day Targa Rally?

To ease your way into the stages. Especially seeing it was our first Targa. I was pretty cautious at the beginning of each day. There were a lot of crashes and most were very experienced teams. I guess when you’ve done it a few times you push harder each event. I was just happy to complete the days and ignore the time sheets. We had a lot more fun as a team this way too.

What preparation did you and your co driver do before the event?

The most important thing was making sure we were comfortable in the car and felt safe. As we are both quite tall it is always hard to fit easily in a Japanese car. Head clearance with the roll cage was the biggest issue. The seats were mounted as low as possible to achieve this. Other than that Andrew came for a few rides at events etc. We would pick everything else up as we went along.


What preparation did you do to the car? Was there anything you missed or needed as spare parts that you did not have? What do you need to do for next time?

My Uncle always told me when I was racing speedway that “90% of races are won in the garage” so I have always been a bit OCD about prepping any race car I’ve had. Everything that could be checked was. Speedtech Motorsport had it on the dyno to check the tune and they also made sure everything under the bonnet was tight and doing what it is supposed to. The car was shipped off to Macbilt too for some pre Targa modifications. A sump guard was made and fitted. Wheel alignment, corner weighting and some brake ducting was fabricated up which goes all the way to the hubs.

I made sure the crew had spares of most things without going over the top. You can only fit so much in the back of a Ute. I can’t recall thinking afterwards; next time I will make sure we have one of those. If I’m honest maybe just some bigger testicles…..

How many people were involved in your team?

There were four of us that went away. Myself, Andrew Thomas (co-driver), Jared Rush and Matt Rule ( service crew). All Hutt Valley Motorsport Club members. Can’t thank them enough. They did a spectacular job with any task they were given. I’m hoping they are all keen to do it again next year.

Better not forget the wives and families that were left at home too. My wife has been particularly supportive and I wouldn’t be doing it without her help.


For anyone wanting to do Targa what would be the advice you would like to give them?

You can do it on a budget so to speak. Of course it isn’t cheap but I think it’s affordable if you do your homework. Best thing I did was draw up a sponsorship proposal and approach people/businesses to help you out. Whether it was financially or products/services, every bit counts.

Other advice would be to have fun and try not to take it too seriously. Yes it is a competition but unless you have a massive budget and a weapon of a car you’ll find it tough to be in the top 10.

Finally what was your result? Overall and class.

We finished 4th in our division. Division 7.

14th in modern 2wd (30 competitors).

29th overall (70 competitors).

We also won the ‘Ross Jensen memorial jealous pride award’ for best presented finisher.

If I could thank these people and businesses for allowing me to achieve my goal too.

PPG NZ, Rolrich Panel and Spray, Wellington Tyre Disposal, Premier Roofing, Gaskin Ford and Mazda, Bryan Comerford, STM, Wellington Toyota Dismantlers, Projex Electrical, Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park, Sharps Autoglass, LT McGuinness, Signworks Petone and NAC Insurance.

Not possible without the support from them.


All of the team at STM wish Matt the best of luck with future events and we feel honoured to be able to help him chase the dream!

For anyone out there wanting to keep up to date with Matt’s progress or just to show him support check out his Facebook page.

Building Drag Cars – Part 1

Michael Keen came to us a while back after purchasing one of our previous customers cars whose engine had come to an untimely demise. He quickly wanted to get the EVO 4 back up and running, not only to the condition it was previously running however slightly improved. Already being a quick streeter under the ownership of his friend Tristan, Michael went for a purely E85 drinking 450+ kW atw monster. We supplied the necessary STM forged short block and associated fuel upgrades, Michael then got to work piecing it together. After a trip from Invercargill to Wellington for tuning Michael got back to enjoying this 4wd powerhouse.

1009115_10151967414169307_1456687228_o Whilst this was happening we also were getting the last bits and pieces together to get Project Haggis certified and back on the street after Chris Rae, the owner, had decided to call off the pursuit for the world factory short block record.

Michael called one day and we threw around the idea of how we could get the EVO 4 going that little bit better and giving it a more Drag specific workload. We knew we needed a better engine/turbo package however for the changes that Michael wanted he would need to lift his game when it came to setup, tyres, roll cage etc. Michael got talking to Chris Rae and before you knew it Project Haggis had changed hands and Michael now owned two great STM prepped vehicles. The idea was simple. Swap the standard engine into the EVO 4 and put the built engine into the EVO 9, simple huh? Once we got the details sorted we knew that the built engine was not going to be able to handle the potential power Michael was looking for and some work to the bottom end would be required. This seemed wrong, as this engine was barely a few thousand kms old. We decided another bottom end would be the way to go and we could do everything once and do it properly.

IMG_7136 Andre dusted of his engine building tools and got stuck in assembling a 1000hp STM bottom end including the likes of ACL bearings, STM designed drag JE piston set and Carrillo rods. This was mated with the head previously found in the EVO 4 and was all sandwiched together with a one off experimental (to us) head gasket. The long block was ready to go. Now don’t think the previous head was standard, this had some attention from Kelford’s in the way of cams etc and also included an STM solid lifter kit. The cams are of a street variety and this coupled with the original TO4 turbo in place they would limit power and give Michael some much needed seat time at a competitive level.

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From here the team got to work piecing the car back together with some of the old set up and some extra goodies Michael took from the EVO 4 like the Hypertune intake.

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Once the car was in one piece we reinstalled the STM Ghost Shifter and the Ikeya shifter to allow for gearshifts at the touch of a button. This was all possible because of one of the huge bonuses Chris had left in the car for Michael, a PPG Drag set already installed into the factory 5 speed gearbox. Things were about to get exciting!!!

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With a date set for tuning and the necessary travel arrangements made, Chris (our tuner) got the final touches completed and then we waited for the all-important Sparktech Ignition and CDI unit to arrive. With only a day to spare the courier turned up and the ignition was fitted to the car. Due to the fact we wanted to make sure all was well for our southern guests, Chris had already run the engine in on the Dyno with the standard ignition in place. This went without fault which gave us confidence moving towards the final tune.

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With Michael already on the ferry Chris bolted the car to the Dyno to do some initial runs. This didn’t go as planned and fuel pressure was falling off. After some quick diagnostic checks Chris quickly pinpointed the issue to the external fuel pump fitted to the car. By this time Michael had arrived and himself, Chris and Tristan got to work changing over the troublesome fuel pump. Once sorted tuning begun.

IMG_8067 Now in all my years at Speedtech I have come accustom to the fact that when playing with relatively large horsepower cars things do happen and delays occur so I don’t get too surprised or too disappointed if things don’t always go to plan with a drag car. However this was a shock of a different kind. At mid afternoon Chris and co emerged from the Dyno and said “we’re done” in a casual kind of a way. The car had made the figures we had hoped for with a final result of 700hp at the wheels. This was due to the limitations of the turbo and of the fuel system which we knew was going to happen and again was a good place to be for a first season of racing. It had also done this in a relatively well-behaved fashion, which we really did appreciate.

Michael Keen - Power Being that Michael is the owner of his own workshop, MAK Automotive Ltd, we thought it fitting that we left him some work. On his return the plan is to give the old girl a bit of a tidy up, a bit of a diet and for Michael to get to know the car as until the time of tuning he had not seen it in person. With the CO2 bottle and regulator still on it’s way as well as the Weld Racing wheels, that have been organised by Firestone Wainui and supplied by BG Marketing, there is still a lot to do however being that it is only July it is by no means a last minute dash.

IMG_8129 With Michael’s car effectively finished we now turn the concentration to Chris Anderson’s Ute which is currently at Sinco Customs having some major changes performed before hitting the strip this season. More to come on this soon….

Sand, Camels, Turbos and 8 Second GTR’s – A Tuner’s Guide to Dubai

Recently I had the chance to head to Dubai for a week and run some dealer training for Vipec. Dubai has always been on my ‘to-do’ list so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. From this side of the world we hear stories of unlimited budgets, gold plated Bentleys and a Ferrari at every set of lights. The stories aren’t far from the truth and Dubai is certainly an eye opener!


We were based out of Sub Zero Motorsport who have the reputation for building some of the fastest and most powerful cars in the UAE. They have a massive workshop employing around 40 staff, with three dynos (including a dedicated bike dyno), a fully equipped engine machine shop and a parts store that would rival the likes of Jegs or Summit.

Sub Zero's bike dyno

Sub Zero’s bike dyno

CP pistons. Sub Zero has them!

CP pistons. Sub Zero has them!










The first thing that struck me was the number of R35 GTRs everywhere. On just one day, I counted 8 in the shop. I literally saw more R35 GTRs in a single week than we would see in a year back in NZ. That’s only half of it though. They were all packing at least 800 whp, built engines, upgraded turbos, upgraded transmissions and all the other bits associated with getting an R35 to be reliable at these sort of power levels.


Rashid’s personal R35 – 800 whp on pump gas and capble of mid 9’s with the aircon cranking.

Rashid, Sub Zero’s owner took us for a spin in his own 800 whp GTR to show what it was capable of. The car runs a 4.1 litre stroker engine, Sub Zero’s own Precision Turbo kit and tuning is handled with a COBB Access Port. On the road you wouldn’t know the car was modified. It is perfectly smooth and responsive – Even the AC works (which is kinda handy when the ambient temp can exceed 50 degrees C!).


The only give away is the slight whine from a straight cut first gear. Put your foot down though and the car forces your organs into your spinal cord. The acceleration is brutal, and the dual clutch transmission provides seamless power through the gearshifts. It really is a triumph of technology. At this power level, Sub Zero have carded 9.5 second passes at the strip. Tip in some race fuel though and the car will make 1200 whp and run into the high 8’s. Plus you can drive to and from the strip!


While GTR’s are big business in Dubai, some of the Arabs prefer a more practical ride in the form of Toyota’s Landcruiser or Nissan’s Patrol. Now neither of these were ever destined to be a performance car, but that is nothing a bunch of cash can’t fix. Take for example this Landcruiser we spied. From the outside it gives nothing away, but its fitted with a fully race prepped 1FZ-FE engine and a massive Precision 8285 turbo.


On pump gas it punches out a healthy 920 whp at 1.7 bar, but on C16 it makes an insane 1280 whp at 2.5 bar! For an idea of what these guys get up to in their down time, check this video of a Nissan Patrol dusting a Lambo (we didn’t shoot it so excuse the quality, but its too good not to share).

When you are surrounded by sand and you have a passion for massive power, it makes sense to combine the two – yup, sand drags are big business in the Middle East! Sub Zero are known for building some of the fastest sand drag cars in the Middle East and their own   Landcruiser shows why.


A race-rprepped 1FZ-FE 4.5 litre straight 6 engine with a massive 105 mm Garrett turbocharger is the basis of the build. Up to 70 psi boost is enough to lay down in excess of 1700 whp. The entire package is controlled by a Vipec v88 ECU.











It’s no surprise that with these engines making so much power, failures are common. This is probably one of the attractions of the sport and one of the reasons it’s so popular – There is never a shortage of action. Or carnage. Check out the body work of Sub Zero’s Nissan Patrol sporting a hole from where a conrod exited the block!

To see the car in action, here is a short clip of Sub Zero’s Landcruiser winning the 2014 Liwa Hillclimb, despite blowing the head gasket on the start line. Credit to Bjp Race for the video. Subscribe to his channel for more insane action from Dubai.


There is more to any trip than just the cars though and we had a little time to look around Dubai. One thing you won’t find is alcohol, with the UAE being predominantly alcohol-free.

It’s a weird experience not being able to order a beer at a restaurant, but if you really do need to quench your thirst, alcohol is served at hotels.

This is a selection of the non-alcoholic beers available at a local service station. Extensive but none of them will have you lose your licence!


While Dubai is in the middle of the desert, you will also find the world’s largest indoor ski field, built right inside the Mall of the Emirates – which coincidentally was across the road from our hotel.


Dubai is very westernised now and the selection of food available is pretty wide and varied. While traditional Middle Eastern food is always on offer, we felt right at home seeing NZ’s very own ‘Burger Fuel’ chain. If you prefer, the US ‘Shake Shack’ is another easy option that is sure to pack on some pounds.

IMG_2960We also took in a little sight seeing including a compulsory visit to the Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building. You can take a ride to the top of this for about $40 NZD but my suggestion is don’t try it at 6 pm on a Friday night – The wait time was estimated at 3 hrs!


All good things come to an end though, and it was finally time to board the Emirates A380 and head back home. If you get the chance, Dubai is highly recommended. It is a very safe and friendly place to visit with plenty to see and do. If you love cars, its even better, but the shopping should also keep your other half occupied for a while too!

Thanks to Sub Zero for looking after us on our stay. You can check out what they do here.