When we think of New Zealand battling the rest of the world, we usually think of sports. Be it epic rugby encounters between the All Blacks and Australia, South Africa, England or France; classic league biffo matches between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos; or our small crop of Olympic athletes proving that, per capita, we do just fine. One thing we don’t tend to think of as often, though, is motorsport — and even less, if at all, the form of motorsport known the world over as drifting.
Veteran NZ drifter Johnny Udy wanted to build something to represent New Zealand in his fight against the world’s best drifters. We think he’s got the first half of the equation sorted
Sideways in style
Drifting is a concept that originally came about as a result of a racing technique made popular over three decades ago in the Japan Touring Car Championship. It owes its roots to the late-night runs along the tight and twisty mountain roads of Japan. The popularity of the driving technique grew, and it eventually resulted in an internationally recognised competition, with the first drift-specific event held off the streets back in the late 1980s (see ‘Automotive Ballet’, p67, for more).
From its early days in Japan, drifting has come along like any other form of motorsport. It has developed into a fierce battle worldwide, and the build quality of high-ranking competition drift cars has risen to that normally seen in top-level touring car championships.
HOW IT BEGAN
Aucklander Johnny Udy has been at the forefront of local drifting since it debuted on circuits in New Zealand back in 2003. He hails from a motorsport-fuelled family (you may remember Johnny’s father’s Super GT Dodge Viper circuit car back in issue #28), so when he jumped on the drift bandwagon it wasn’t his first foray into motorsport; he’s competed in both karts and Super GT previously. Johnny drifted for a couple of seasons locally before deciding, as all good Kiwi blokes should at some point in their lives, that he wanted to take a crack at the Australians.
Sending his competition Nissan four-cylinder overseas, he competed a few rounds before landing himself an opportunity few would turn down in a hurry. “Current Drift Australia champion Robbie Bolger and myself became mates back when I first began competing in Australia,” Johnny says. “After running my Nissan there for a while, an opportunity arose through Robbie to drive the sister car in his CAPA Performance team: a supercharged 1022hp [762kW] Holden ute. It was without doubt the scariest thing I have ever driven in my life. It was like trying to wrestle a raging bull. While great for exhibition work, as a competition car it had its pitfalls due to lack of traction. And ironic as it may sound, we need plenty of traction in a competitive drift car.”
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
As you would expect, the 1000hp Holden ute left a lasting impression on Johnny, one he wasn’t prepared to let go of in a hurry. “After driving that animal, I decided I enjoyed the challenge as they’re not the easiest car to drive in comparison to the Japanese cars I was used to. And as a marketing choice, it made sense to build something similar of my own as the car is appreciated by fans young and old.
“I knew that Robbie’s Monaro was a good base, and used it to model this one off. They share a number of components and technologies, except we decided to run with an LS1 engine as we didn’t have the budget to slot in a Chevy Supercar engine like Bolger.”
With his eyes set on Holden’s platform, Johnny got in contact with Holden Australia and sourced a brand-new Monaro chassis fresh off the production line, unmolested and ready to be turned into a racer. Originally, Johnny began work on the car over in Australia. This work involved seam welding the body, and the fitment of the chromoly roll-cage and custom Bilstein suspension. But living in New Zealand and only travelling to Australia to complete, it became a difficult task. “It was too hard to organise and too costly to complete the build of the car in Australia; you couldn’t just go and do work on the car or organise it yourself. We knew we had a good team of guys back over here in Hamilton’s Mitchell Motorsport who could piece it together for a fraction of the price, so it just made sense.”
HIS OWN ANIMAL
Beneath the V8 Supercar-like livery lies a 2005 Holden Monaro VZ shell. While off the factory floor the Monaro is typically a well-set package, Johnny wanted more, and he had a blank canvas to start with. At the heart of this drift setup is Holden’s GEN III 5.7-litre LS1 V8. “We had a couple of choices when it came to our setup,” he says. “We could have supercharged it like the ute was, or we could have built up a big-power naturally aspirated engine. In the end, though, we settled on running with an LS1 Gen-TT twin-turbo kit as it would provide us with excellent response right through the rev range, and complement the large torque curve of the V8, which is precisely what you need for drifting.
“Should the package have trouble footing it on a competition level, a simple turbocharger upgrade for additional power is easy to undertake if need be, as the rest of the setup has been built to accommodate this,” he says.
While the bottom end is internally standard, mild head work has been carried out, and a comprehensive fuel system installed to ensure the LS1 never runs dry. Over at ProTune Automotive, the guys re-flashed the factory engine management system with the EFI Live software and worked their magic to achieve a dyno-proven 376kW (505hp) at the rear rubber.
With the goal of making the Monaro capable of competing against the best the world has to offer, it was engineered to last. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Johnny looked to the V8 Supercar realm and incorporated a number of Supercar pieces into this build. Most notable is the Hollinger dog engagement gearbox that was removed and freshened from a 2007 car.
As gearboxes and clutches are consumables in drifting, this aspect of the build had to be tough. The H-pattern gearbox is backed up by a Tilton triple-plate clutch and Quartermaster flywheel package. Further driveline modifications come in the form of a custom two-piece driveshaft, with Mark Williams yoke and a factory differential with mini spool. Other Supercar technology sneaking its way into this package includes the custom rear centre-lock hubs and drive pins. These allow Johnny the use of OZ Racing V8 Supercar wheels on the rear. On the front are matching numbers, but of the multi-studded variety. Inside, the car sports very little in the way of componentry. Aside from the obligatory safety measures, a single Auto Meter tachometer and two Scan Gauge gauges are present. Identical in their functionality, the gauges allow Johnny to tap into the 03 port of the engine management system and display twice the amount of crucial information.
Additional interior pieces include a custom switch box for the few controls installed, a Tilton pedal box with matching brake-bias adjuster, and a D2 hydraulic handbrake so that he can tighten his line and grab additional angle mid-slide.
Gaining his international wings when he first competed in Australia and as part of the V8 Supercar stunt team both here and in Australia, Johnny has since competed as part of an invitational line-up of drifters in China alongside top drivers from the sport’s homeland. Now with a competitive package beneath him, he will be returning to China later this year, before looking to take his fight to the rest of the world. “Our main thing is to represent New Zealand both locally and abroad. Wherever we go, we’re not just going to turn up and fill a place in the field. We’re going after the win,” Johnny says. And with the best-prepared drift car in New Zealand, and one of the more highly engineered drift cars floating about the world, we’re not just pretty sure he’ll do us proud, we know he will.
Jonny Udy - Owner Profile
Driver: Johnny Udy
Occupation: Commercial and industrial property maintenance/project manager at UDPS
Previously owned cars: Nissan 180SX drift car, Nissan Silvia S13 drift car
Dream car: You’re looking at it
Why the Monaro? It’s a V8! To represent New Zealand on a global scale against the world’s top drifters
Build time: Three years
Length of ownership: Three years
Johnny thanks: “My ever supportive family and fiancé Kirsty, UDPS Commercial Maintenance, www.kiwidrift.com, Robbie Bolger, www.ls1turbo.com.au, Mitchell Motorsport, Bilstein Australasia, Raceline Suspension, ProTune Automotive, CNC Design, Sam at Wave Race, Top Town, Simon at Vetro, Carlyon Civil, Matt at Stuntz Inc, the Kiwidrift team – Lynn Graysky, Hadyn, James, NZV8 magazine, New Zealand Performance Car magazine
2005 Holden Monaro GTO Specifications
Engine: Gen III LS1 5.7-litre V8, Comp 921 valve springs and retainers, Yella Terra roller rockers, Gen-TT turbocharger kit, custom alloy drop tank, Bosch lift pump, Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pump, custom surge tank, Siemens 60lb/610cc injectors, Gen-TT boost-proof fuel rails, SX fuel regulator, -8 fuel lines, three-inch exhaust, PWR triple-pass alloy radiator, PWR oil cooler, power steering cooler, custom alloy header tank, 160-degree thermostat, EFI Live re-flashed factory ECU, oil catch tank, two thermo fans, ?de-loomed engine bay, Noltec engine mounts
Driveline: Hollinger six-speed V8 Supercar dog engagement gearbox, custom bellhousing, custom mounts, Tilton triple-plate clutch, Quartermaster flywheel, factory differential with mini spool, custom two-piece driveshaft, Mark Williams yoke, factory axles
Suspension: Bilstein adjustable coil-over shocks, Raceline dampening, Dobi Sport springs, adjustable lower arms, adjustable Z bars, custom front hubs, custom tie-rods, Noltec strut top mounts, custom rear subframe bushes, custom IRS rear centre-lock hubs/drive pins
Brakes: AP Racing four-pot callipers, DBA5000 rotors, Endless pads, front; Harrop HSV front-pot callipers, HSV rotors, Endless pads, rear
Wheels/ tyres: 17x9-inch OZ Racing V8 Supercar five-stud magnesium wheels, 235/45R17 Toyo Proxes R888 semi-slicks, front; 17x11-inch OZ Racing V8 Supercar centre-lock magnesium wheels, 265/40R17 Toyo anything and everything, rear
Exterior: Flared rear guards, Mitchell Motorsport G-Force fibreglass front guards, G-Force fibreglass front splitter, G-Force rear wing, Racepro fibreglass bonnet, Lexan side windows, custom light covers, Chevrolet bowtie Monaro VZ grille, full black respray, custom Waikato Signs decals
Interior: Recaro driver’s seat, SRS five-point harness, Racepro passenger seat, Momo four-point harness, Momo suede steering wheel, 1.5:1 steering quickener, custom gear knob, Tilton pedal box, Tilton brake bias adjuster, D2 hydraulic handbrake, Auto Meter Pro-Comp tachometer, Scan-gauge LCD gauges, flocked dash, push-button start, custom switch box, chromoly eight-point roll-cage, air-jack provision
Performance: 376kW (505hp) at wheels
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