Apex Motoring Alpha 16 Results and Full Review
The Apex Motoring Alpha 16 was the most challenging and rewarding build I have personally ever been a part of. It was also the most difficult, mentally. On many fronts.
I have now been a part of "uncharted" builds many times, when no one knows what to expect with a platform and/or technology that is brand new and being one of the first to try.
Additionally, this was the most powerful build I have ever been a part of to this day. By a wide margin. I doubt I will be ever be a part of anything quicker and faster - that I own at least.
For those who have flirted with builds like this or even bigger, I will caution you; you have to be VERY patient.
Extremely patient in fact. Some people forget how powerful these builds are or just simply how difficult it is at this level of racing. Test. Tune. Break. Fix. Repeat.
So it is a slow (but in our case) steady course. One step at a time.
From not being able to make it down a full 1/4 mile, to being stuck driving back from the track, to having my Tuner in the car with me trying to figure out how to get us home...it was an experience. And that was just the tuning.
The car was built almost bullet proof for the power it was ultimately tuned to – almost right from the beginning; 1642 awhp and 1189 awtq. From an actual build perspective, Nathan and his Team got it right the first time. We never had a mechanical issue. Not once.
There were some limitations in parts for the builds in those days however (*cough* head gaskets), that no one would admit to, but that was ultimately fixed later on through the innovation that comes after multiple Shops testing and Vendors building bespoke solutions (this was after we were done our last season unfortunately). So, in short, we were stuck at the second to highest boost setting – at around 39ish PSI or somewhere around 1500-1550 awhp as, though sponsored, I did not have the funds to risk lifting the head just for one glory pass . Add to that tuning with the Syvecs was still pretty early in the game in Canada, and we could not break the 1.3x 60' barrier (which is still solid, but nothing like today's 1.2x and even high 1.1's).
The power of the car - for me - was nothing short of breath-taking. I have been racing a long time, and can easily jump into anyone’s mid 9 second GTR and turn out a solid ET. This car was on a different level for me. From mid 9's to low 8's - was a world apart it seemed. This car flat out scared me (which had never happened to me before). Even my Builder, Nathan, who being younger, is scared on nothing called me one day during testing by his Shop and only saying; the Alpha 16 is...different. I asked him what he meant and he said I will just have to see for myself.
And see for myself I did. I tested the car at the track, having four drag radials on the car. Unlike any car I have ever owned or driven, the HTA3794 turbos did not lose steam at the top end. In fact they never seemed to lose steam. Ever. The car just got faster and faster. And the faster it went the harder it pulled. Scariest? I was only on setting two of four. Nathan had just run an 8.6 at 169 MPH on this setting.
Now although every tenth counts in racing - and every tenth is exponentially harder to attain the quicker you go, to those who don’t race, the 8.6 to 9.4 I had run many times previous may not seem to be that much of a difference, especially having gone 153-158 MPH in the earlier build. It’s “only” 10-15 more MPH. But, it IS a huge difference. It was also the WAY the power came on. The earlier build, I felt the cars limits and felt safe knowing exactly where they were. This setup felt like it would never stop accelerating. Now - I know - there are much bigger and faster builds than an Alpha 16 today - but this was my first experience with a setup like this. Having both a 60-130 MPH and 100-150 MPH of under 3 seconds for each - and it starts to give you an idea of the pulling power of this car. If not, the 0-60 MPH of ~1.6 seconds and 0-100 MPH in just under 3 seconds, may help further. And again, the faster it went - well - the faster it went.
Now for some personal truth: I did not run an 8 second pass with this car. Not even on setting 1, which was somewhere in the 8.8 at 162 MPH range. That was something, even then, I am sure I could have done.
Yes - it is painful to admit - but true. There was a healthy fear. Part of it was I was having a baby and to quote Cougar from Top Gun, I lost "the edge". The other part was not feeling comfortable with the car and the idea of letting Nathan continue to dial it in.
Well, over time, and at this power level, when the car was starting to work, Nathan would dial it in further get a great time and MPH and either I would want him to turn it up and go for another record, or something small would go wrong; like a boost pipe deep inside the car where we couldn't re-attach it (although the boys tried for over two hours one time) - would pop off, or we would split some belts. It was a cycle; as we got quicker, I would want Nathan to try first and get the best time possible (as this car was also the Apex Motoring Shop car - and being sponsored - getting a solid ET and MPH was important to him as well). We were renting the track, which was very expensive, and we wanted that ET. We wanted that slip and the Canadian record.
In the end, for better or worse in my case, we got it with a best ET of 8.3 at 173 MPH. While playing around with the tune - we hit 176 MPH. This is all with Nathan driving. Of note, we had two wheel combos and had just started using the 15" rear slick with 17" drag radial (DR) fronts from the 17" slick rears. That 15” tire combo was much more stable and consistent. With more time and better air - I believe even with being on the second highest setting - we would have seen an 8.1x ET. And I would have had my own 8 second pass.
Considering the quickest Alpha 16's were hitting high 7's at about the same MPH (173-178 MPH on average) on the highest settings with 1.2x 60 foots - I felt we did very well. Our car was also FULL weight. And I mean full weight. Yes, full disclosure, we removed the passenger seat (as everyone does), but there was no gutting of the car at all. The full 11 speaker and sub woofer stereo was still inside as well as fully functioning AC. Heck I still had full electronics and navigation. We added weight with an FJ Smith roll cage. For 2014-2015, the car did amazingly well.
I have to give significant props to Nathan, and his Apex Motoring Team; Andrew and Kafiele – they were at every track rental and event dialing in the car and just making sure everything was both available (like fuel) and running right. The dedication of Apex Motoring was astounding.
In the end, it was a great ride – both beating records and driving around the city like stock. I can hear the groans of "no way it drove like stock!" from hear as you read this - but that is one of the great things about the R35 GTR - with a solid tune, it can operate and shift just like stock or even better. Spool was somewhat tardy with the 67.5 mm turbos, but with innovations like "rolling boost" - the ability - inside the car - to go to ~26 PSI without brake boosting, simply by pressing a button on the steering wheel - and literally launching the car from a roll - and well, it didn't really matter in the end. It drove around and through traffic with no issues – and with no one really knowing if it was any different than a stock GTR. Until I pressed the gas pedal.
After taking a break and letting even more innovations come to the fore - I am now ready to both jump back into the GTR to begin a new build and finally run my own 8 second pass.
I got my edge back you could say.
Stay Tuned for the future build of the CarNRacer, Apex Motoring GTR!