Project Infiniti G20 Racecar: Keeping it Running
By Steve Rockwood
Engine problems are not a good time, and there is usually a period of denial where you keep flooring your already toast motor, thinking it'll somehow “clear up” and fix itself. Eventually, you hear the bang, and you're greeted by the sound of once meticulously formed pieces of metal, now turned slag, bouncing around under the car. Then the smoke. Lots of smoke. Sweet Mary, this car's on fire smoke.
It's amazing how fast you can exit a vehicle that's on fire.
|It's best if your car is able to drive up onto the trailer under its own power. Unfortunately, reality and desire sometimes don't agree. Ah, the smell of extinguisher in the morning.|
Which brings us to this article. We know, we've read the comments: you've been jonesing to hear about how we made the mighty SR20 mightier. However, before we set out on the quest for more power, we need to let you in on a lot of the lessons we've learned about how racing can take even the mighty SR20 and reduce it to a pile of slag. For the record, we are on engine number five. Yep, we've killed four SR20s that could've pulled quite a premium before Race Wars. Engines that never even cleared 200hp at the wheels. Racing, it turns out, is hard on engines.
Fact is, we needed to address our alarming ability to ventilate or melt the usually strong-like-bull SR20. One of the biggest problem areas for the SR20 is, like many racecars, fluid management. Overheating the coolant and oil brought a lot of problems to our table, and the cascade-effect from this overheating uncovered a new problem every time we fixed one. Along the way, we also put on our Carnac the Magnificent hats, pressed our foreheads to the car's hood, and fixed problems before they surfaced. Sweating in your car for 20 minutes while waiting for the tow truck to rescue you, or scrambling out of the car to put out an engine fire, royally sucks.
The most well-known reliability problem with the SR20 is overheating the coolant. This comes from many fronts, but chief among them was the woefully insufficient radiator. The OEM unit is pencil-thin, has plastic endtanks, and the overall design obviously sacrifices cooling ability for cost-cutting measures. Luckily, Koyo has stepped up to the plate and provided a solution for us.
|Our Koyo Radiator, fresh out of the box showing off the girthy 53mm R-spec core. While Koyo does not make a P10-specific application, we were easily able to adapt this unit meant for a 1991-1994 Sentra SE-R.|
While Koyo does not make a P10-specific application, we were easily able to adapt the Sentra SE-R version (Koyo part # R1977) to work in our P10. The mounts themselves are close enough to the P10 mounts to work without modification, and the only part that won't carry over are the fans. The OEM fans, while capable of huge flow numbers, were heavy, bulky, and unnecessary since our car would rarely travel at less than 35mph, let alone end up in bumper to bumper traffic with the air conditioning on. While stock fans from a Sentra SE-R would have bolted on without modification, we decided to use an aftermarket 12″ slim fan wired and mounted as a puller fan to increase exposed surface area on the front of the radiator.
|We mounted a 12″ Derale slim fan to the back of the radiator to expose as much of the front of the radiator as possible. Here, it is mounted with the “zip tie” kit that comes with the fan. We are currently working on a hardmounted solution that utilizes the stock fan mounts built into the Koyo radiator.|