Posted on Dec 7, 2017
By Brian Wagner
Street Outlaws star Chris “Kamikaze” Day has a reputation on the show for being a racer who never backs down from a race, no matter how much he’s out-gunned on horsepower. That battle-ready attitude has earned him respect on the streets in the 405, but not always the win due to that power deficit, but that’s about to change. Unveiled at the Speedmaster booth, Day went public at the 2017 PRI Show with the Elco’s new twin-turbo setup and he’s ready for some racing combat.
Day’s 1981 El Camino has been rocking a 500 cubic-inch big-block Chevrolet powerplant on nitrous since he made his debut on the show, but the combination was always a bit smaller than the people he was racing. Since the arms race for horsepower on the show began, Day has held onto his tried and true engine, but it was time to go bigger to keep his spot on The List.
According to Day, the switch wasn’t easy but something he had to do. “I couldn’t afford to have the engine combo needed to have a really fast nitrous car. I’ve always wanted a turbo car and after talking to Precision Turbo about what could be done with the engine combo I have, the decision was made. It sucks to lose the iconic zoomies, I know a lot of fans have expressed concerns about that on social media, but making this switch is what will really step my entire racing program up to the next level.”
Changing the Elco over to a twin-turbo setup was more than just removing the nitrous system and bolting on a pair of turbos; the process was very intense. The entire car needed to be changed from the tires to the converter, 4-link, rotating assembly, intake, and fuel system.
"There are so many new pieces I had to add or change for this switch, on top of all the things I already had in place that will work with this kind of power. First off would be the turbos, I went with Precision Turbo’s Gen 2 94mm Billet Pro Mod turbos. A new Aeromotive fuel system was added to take care of the fueling needs. I also added a Rossler three-speed transmission to help put the power down. The guys at Woolf Aircraftdid all the stainless piping on the car. I had Moser Engineering make some changes in the rearend and the brake system to work with the new set-up. Lucas Oil came on board this year as well, so that’s going to be a good one, too,” Day explains.
Driving a turbo car is something that Day has never done, but he’s ready to see what the difference is between boost and giggle juice on the street. “I have never owned a turbo car in my life, but I have always wanted one. The way a nitrous car launches so hard versus the power curve of a turbo car, it’s so different. I’m excited to see how this car pulls in the back 330 of a pass,” Day says.
Unlike many of the racers on The List that have made changes to their engine program, Day plans on staying true to his roots and keep the big bowtie power under the hood, which uses Speedmaster internals. “I will always stay big-block Chevy with FastTimes Motorworks building my engines. If everything came together and I had the budget for it, I would probably change the motor combo. I would love a billet block and billet heads, that would be the biggest change I would make to the motor if I could,” Day says.
This switch was a move that Day put a lot of thought into before he started removing parts. By going to a boosted combination Day will be more competitive and have additional time to test. “With the combo I have, the Elco will make more power, and more power is always a good thing. The switch to turbos should also lead to a little less engine maintenance which means more time spent testing, refining the setup and more time racing,” Day explains.
Adding horsepower is fun, but it can also open up a box of new challenges. Day is well aware of the fact he has a nasty curveball coming his way when it comes time to start testing the new boosted setup. “There still isn’t much chassis in the car as the way it sits. This is still just a back-half car with stock frame rails. I can’t really say for sure what I’m going to do because I’m just going to have to test and go grassroots garage with this. I’ll just see what the car likes and doesn’t like, and make changes from there,” Day says.
Day maybe staring down the barrel of some serious adjustments with the Elco, but he isn’t sweating what needs to be done and has a rock-solid plan to get the care lined out quickly.
“Pretty much if it has a steering wheel and a throttle pedal, I’ll drive the damn thing. I’ll get in the car and make changes to my process. I believe in systems, routines, so while testing I will start refining my routine. Once I get in the car I’ll try to do the same thing each time and I’ll just keep working on improving that every time. It will be a learning curve for me, the team, and the car,” Day explains.
The boosted upgrade isn’t the only thing on the radar for the Elco according to Day, he’s ready to make sure the car can handle all the power coming its way. “The chassis is lagging behind by a ton. People think we have done so many changes to the car itself, but the Elco is still basically a stock frame with just a 4-point cage. We need to do a lot of work to the chassis for this power. We will have to reinforce some areas to handle the torque and make sure the chassis can handle the new power.”
Getting the car ready for this new combination has been a challenge for Day, but one he has enjoyed.
“Change is hard sometimes, but necessary. What still just makes me stop and think sometimes is that a guy like me has an opportunity like this. I’m still just a guy in a garage with some good friends helping me competing against full teams, with stacker trailers, motorhomes, and full-time tuners on staff. These changes are going to help my program and make it where I can be more competitive,” Day says.
Day is ready to take the Elco to the top of The List with these new changes as soon as he can. The plan is for the Elco to also be raced as much as it can and everywhere it can, so 2018 is going to be a very busy year in the 405 and all points in between for Day!