April 6, 2001
Q & A with the "Tony Soprano" of the NSX World
"How did you get so much HP out of the Flamemobile engine?"
Side by side profiles of Tony Soprano and Larry
Many people have heard of Larry G., "Crew Chief/Head Technical director for the Flamemobile". I guess you could compare him to Jean Todt, but on a smaller scale (or bigger scale, if you know what I mean....). Don't ask me about the technical aspects of my engine, I have too much other stuff that I have to worry about in life. Like trying to scrape up some cash in a stock market littered with dead bodies, and doing the logistics to make sure we are ready for our next race or kart practice day. Larry gets delegated the engine, I just tell him to get me enough HP so I can turn faster lap times at the track. Each time I go to the track, I want to gain a couple of tenths of a second. Kinda like my own self-improvement course. Of course, the Wife says maybe it would be cheaper to just learn how to drive better.......
Jean Todt keeps a lot of secrets about how Ferrari builds cars that enables Michael Schumacher to capture more than his share of pole positions, overall race wins, overall points, and bringing the F1 Championship and the Constructor's award home to Italy. Jean Todt doesn't tell anyone anything about the setup of their Formula One car, just like no one else in Formula One talks about the inner workings of their cars. Well.....Larry Garcia is kinda the same. He spends lots of time with cars on the dyno, talking to qualified engine builders, testing and retesting to make my car go-fast, etc., and he doesn't really want to tell anyone how he did it. Because........then more people will come to him to get their car tuned like mine, as opposed to other NSX technicians. So I kinda understand his point. But then again, we aren't racing for big bucks like Ferrari is, nor do we have any real sponsors that we have to please except for ourselves.......and it is not like Larry is short on business, as you can tell from the nine NSXs that are at his shop waiting for various go-fast stuff to be done to them. Let's see how the interview goes.....(caveat: it is kinda like the Freedom of Information Act documents that they have on The Smoking Gun)
Pulp Racing: So Larry, can you tell us what you did to the Flamemobile in order to get the Horsepower up to 396 HP, and with a virtually flat Torque Curve that peaks at 273 ft lbs of torque? Inquiring minds want to know.
Larry Garcia: Hell no. Does Coke tell you why Classic Coca-Cola taste good? Does Microsoft publish source code for Windows 2000 so people can copy it? Does Proctor and Gamble tell you why Tide cleans your clothes so good? No, they don't. If you want the service or the product, you just buy it. You can spend time reverse engineering it, but many times that doesn't work. I have a business to run, and I want my customer to KNOW that they are getting the most performance out of their car. I also tuned Alex V.'s car to get more HP didn't I? Do I receive credit for getting more HP out of his car and your car? No, instead I get slammed on all these geeky Internet discussions. Now I know why Comptech doesn't participate in most of these Internet discussions/bulletin boards....people who are less knowledgeable just slam you and criticize what you have done and second-guess your decisions. And these other people won't back up their criticisms or "theories" by duking it out with us on the track.
PR: But Larry, the NSX Community needs to know. They HAVE to make their cars faster, or else the damn Corvette Z06 or the new BMW M3 is going to be passing our supercharged NSXs on the track. Now that would suck. And NSX owners with superchargers will be embarrassed at the track, and even more embarrassed when a $43,000 sports car blows by them as a showroom stock car. We can't have his.
LG: Let me see....I don't ever recall you being passed by an M3 or a Z06 when your car was running good. (But I do remember Eckhaus kicking your ass multiple times in his World Challenge Vette, even when you car was running at its best with 340 HP.)
PR: Ahhh.......Eckhaus is a sore subject, let's not mention him here in this interview. And besides, he was beating me PRIOR to your boosting up the HP in the NSX. So now we might be on even turf.....but he sold his Vette. Damn....he knew we was going to go looking for him at the next event.....Anyways, the point is, NSX owners across the country want to know: Is my 396 HP at the rear wheels a fluke or an aberration? Or do you really have some secret ingredients that you use to boost up the HP?
LG: I am pretty sure that the 396 HP at the wheels is legitimate. We can always re-dyno when we have time, and dyno a stock NSX as a baseline. Of course I have some secret ingredients. I really don't want to let the world know, as I want to build multiple Flamemobiles that have your HP out of my shop. Go-Fast Crack Pipe Addicts....I mean racers like you spend a lot of money to keep your cars running fast. The faster you go, the more you break. The more you break, the closer I get to buying that condo in Maui with topless hula girls outside.
COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED====
New oil cooler for the NSX is available. Cost is $585 including the installation. If you want to do it yourself, cost is $400+tax+shipping. Call 714-842-9135, and pray that the stupid answering machine isn't full again.......
Poor picture of the oil cooler interface at the top of the oil filter
Equally poor picture of the oil lines going into oil cooler of the Flamemobile
==END OF BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED==
PR: Okay, let's make a deal. I will publish this interview on the Internet. I will make you an Internet star. You will probably have hundreds of NSX drivers across the nation imitating what you are doing, but you should view that as a badge of honor that they are following in your footsteps, kinda like all those Elvis impersonators. We all know that are not the "real" Elvis, but we enjoy them anyways.
LG: But that doesn't pay for my condo in Maui. Hell, that doesn't even pay the rent that on my shop. Especially with these guys that BOUNCED CHECKS on me and refuse to make good on the checks. What's with that bullshit?
PR: Well.......I can't help you with these BOUNCED CHECKS, but I think the goodwill towards you from the NSX community for divulging what you did to the NSX will be great.
LG: I can see what happens now. As it is today, I cannot answer all my phone calls and emails. If I publish what I did, I won't be able to help everyone that is out there with their phone calls and emails, as I have a business to run, I have alimony to pay, and I have cars that customers are bitching that they want fixed today, and I have this racer geek that trys to jump in front of the damn line at the last minute everytime. I cannot spend hours and hours on the phone talking to people, even though that is my favorite thing to do in life. As people know, once I start, I can't stop talking. BUT I HAVE TO PAY THE BILLS.
PR: Okay, I will make you a deal. In this interview, you can advertise and plug whatever you want, give your political opinions, rag on people, as long as you go through the steps that you feel are necessary to give a Comptech Supercharged NSX the max possible power. Also, people who read this have to agree not to be pissed if you don't return calls or emails about the subject, as you have cars that HAVE TO GET FINISHED. Like my car, for example.
LG: Okay, it's a deal. I will tell you what I
did, in return for some blatant advertising. Let the reader beware......I
can make this work, but that is no guarantee that you can make this work at
home. Kinda like you can watch a surgeon cut open someone's chest on the
Discovery Channel and fix their heart, and sew it back and all is new. But
after watching the show, you don't just go out and grab a scapel, and put up a
sign saying, "Heart Surgeries Done Here".
You don't want to try this at home..........and if you screw up, don't be giving me urgent calls in the middle of the night, as I am getting enough damn urgent calls in the middle of the night from you and Wayne about your damn racecars, which is irritating enough for me. Don't think I am being a dick because I am not returning your calls...it is just because I have customers who want their pristine, fast NSXs back ASAP, and I need to make them happy before I make other people happy. And they are paying me to get their car done. Except for the morons that bounced the checks and now claim they can't pay me. See what happens when you trust people?
Yes, we dynoed at 396 HP at the rear wheels, with 273 ft lbs of torque. You mileage may vary. We haven't run the car at the track like this yet, and we want to get laptimes to verify the power increase. Who knows, we might be getting good power, but then the engine could blow up on the first lap and then we will look like morons. Our previous laptimes that we have that we want to beat are:
1. Willow Springs - 1:29.75 - (Previously running with about 340
HP at the wheels)
2. Laguna Seca - 1:42.75 (Note: run with a stock 92 exhaust on it, due to noise restrictions. We should be faster if we could get rid of the 90 db sound limit at Laguna. Probably had about 340 HP at the wheels)
3. Sears Point - 1:54.8 (Note: Car overheating, engine FMU screwed up. We should be able to clobber this lap time at the next Sears event)
4. Virginia City Hill Climb - 3:26.38 (Previously running with about 340 HP at the wheels)
========END OF CAVEATS=====
So what I did next was video tape Larry for 15 minutes, and had him explain what he did to the car. He then ran off to work on someone else's NSX. I then summarized what he said so I can make sense out of it, and then I transcribed it to my computer. I printed out what I had, and then had him review it to make sure I got what he said correct. Below is an edited transcript of what he said he did to my engine to increase the HP/Torque of the car. The Q&A between him and me got too tedious to transcribe, so I just summarized what he said. Hopefully this will make sense to you, or at least lead you to the right path of what you should do to increase the power of your NSX engine. No guarantees, no warranties, and don't bother calling and emailing Larry, as he can't finish the cars that he has at his shop, and some customers are getting edgy as they want their car back ASAP. One questions to him turns into 20 questions, and then 30 minutes is gone. If he does this 4 times a day, he is two hours behind, which means when a customer comes to pick up their car, they have to sit in the lobby for two hours. Larry also grabbed a black felt pen and did his own editing. I was going to publish this story a month ago in early April, but back then Larry edited out 60% of this damn story with his black Marks-A-Lot. I show this to him again in early may, and this time he only blacked out 10% of the explanation.
========Start of edited transcripts of what Larry said he did to my car=========
We are using a 3.0 engine, stock pistons, with the Comptech IEM and cams on it. The other engine with the JE pistons in was running strong, until you blew it up by downshifting into 3rd at 124 mph instead of grabbing 5th.
You cannot properly tune a car without gauges. You need a fuel pressure gauge. You need a boost gauge. You need two air/fuel gauges. You need this data to figure out what the car is doing. If you don't have these four gauges in your car, you might as well forget about tuning your car, as it is a total waste of time.
I got a diagram of the Whipple supercharger, and this is a similar one to the Comptech Supercharger, except it spits in more air. There are different superchargers that Whipple sells. I took the measurements of a more "efficient" Whipple supercharger, and applied some of those measurements to your supercharger. So, I took off your supercharger, took it to a machine shop, and had them opened up the inlets to the supercharger to allow more air to be pumped into it. In other words, I took it to a machinist and explained how large I wanted the opening(s). Thus, you have more air that can be pumped into your car. I did this after the Sears Point event.
On your supercharger, the bottom piece was extrude honed, which shaved off any imperfections. There are two theories, one believes in a rough surface that has "air pockets", so air and fuel mix better. I believe in the other theory which is smoothness, which helps to get the air/fuel there faster. So we honed your supercharger so the inside is super smooth.
Bad picture of Map Sensor. Stupid digital camera isn't WYSIWYG at close range.
The map sensor measures the amount of air in the manifold. In a supercharged car, this is very important, because what Comptech and everyone else does is to try to fool the map sensor so it won't pop an engine error code. So what I do is I go through Split Second, which sells me a box that has a resistor in it that can fool the computer .5 more, so we have a bigger range of ramming more air and fuel into the system without having an engine error code coming on.
====BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED====
Larry has a new, limited time, introductory pricing for a new clutch for the NSX for those of you who need a new clutch. Below are the details:
1. Includes a new ceramic puck clutch
2. Includes complete rebuild of factory clutch
3. Includes new pilot bearing
4. Includes new throwout bearing
5. Includes resurfacing of the flywheel
6. Includes resurfacing of the mid plate
7. Includes resurfacing off the pressure plate
8. Includes special treatment of the starter ring
9. Includes shimming the dowel pins
10. Includes polished released bearing guide (if you send your old one in)
The above setup will allow for smoother clutch travel, no resonation through the clutch pedal, and no clutch chatter. Five people currently have this installed and are happy with it. We are using this new ceramic puck clutch disk in the Flamemobile (which has a six speed single disk clutch) for the upcoming racing season. Larry examined a couple of racing clutches for other automobiles before deciding to build these for the NSX.
The introductory price for this new clutch for a five speed is $980 + shipping + applicable taxes + your old clutch core ($200 more without the core). Installation is another $450. The cost for the six speed clutch is $1180 more, so $1050 + shipping + applicable taxes + old clutch core. So if your NSX clutch is dying, you might want to give this NSX clutch a try. Call Larry at 714-842-9135 for more info, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Pulp Racing and The NSX-Files have no financial interest in NSX Modified, other than we want to make sure Larry has enough money so he can eat and work on our cars. For those of you that have not met Larry, he uhh.....eats a lot.......
==END OF BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED==
FUEL MANAGEMENT UNIT
FMU's can be tuned to fuel pressure, boost, bleed, and vacuum. When you are running your boost at 9 lbs. or more, you want to drop down the fuel pressure. So you get a fuel pressure regulator that will go from 33 lbs to 65 lbs of pressure. We use dual sequential Porsche fuel pumps that we got from Comptech. We run a Haltech Microfueler, that allows you to tap in more fuel, and it is vacuum operated. I use this NOS kit and instead of running NOS into it, I use it to run more fuel into the engine, using the Hal Tech. Normal people use the NOS kit to run NOS, we use it to just inject more fuel under boost. So you have two lines of fuel going into it, one that is controlled by the Haltech. Doug won't let me put NOS on the car for road racing events, as he feels that NOS is for geeks that race on the streets.
NOS kit used for extra gas, not NOS
====BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED====
For Sale: 1996 NSX Factory rims, powder coated new, with 75% tread on rear Bridgestones, and 75% tread on front Falkens. $2300
====END OF BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED====
Any car running boost should have a catch can installed to prevent any oil blowby from leaking out of the motor.
SUPER TRAPP MUFFLER
Comptech used to sell a Supertrapp muffler many years ago, and Supertrapp was at a weird angle. I just made it straight back from the header, and this way I can get the back pressure that I need. Straight pipes don't give you back pressure, and the NSX motor needs some back pressure. There are other exhaust systems that are more complicated, such as the F355 F1 exhaust that has a baffle that opens up under full throttle. The Supertrapp muffler is relatively cheap, you can tune it so around down you can quiet it by removing the discs from the muffler. When you go to the track, you add more discs.
Right now we are using a 3 inch straight pipe, with a silicon adapter, that goes into the throttle body, and has a large K&N air filter. I bored out the throttle body all the way to the supercharger, so it is flowing through the whole system. I took my dremo and made sure it was matched correctly. Between the intake and the chamber, there are no grooves, no restrictions. Kinda like matched porting.
====BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR
GT1 style body kit for NSX. $6000. Pictures on the net soon. Buyer must sign release not to go out and copy the pieces and made duplicates.
====END BLATANT COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING FOR NSX MODIFIED====
The Flamemobile is running about 10-11 lbs of boost. The normal Comptech pulley is about 3.75 inches in diameter, and I had a pulley machined to about 3.5 inches. Smaller pulley equals more boost. BUT, remember, more boost DOES NOT equal more HP. You have to do fuel and air management along with boost to make it go fast. We have some RC injectors that were made especially for your car per my specifications. So more boost, combined with more air (machining the Supercharger to enlarge the inlets), combined with more fuel (using the NOS plumbing to give more fuel under boost), combined with correct timing, combined with making sure the mixture doesn't run too lean via the Haltech+O2 Sensors, equals more HP. The equation isn't exact, you have to dick around with the various components until the engine sounds right, the meters indicate the mixture is correct, and then you take it to the dyno to verify that you think you got it right, and then you give the whole package to the driver and tell him the car is running strong, don't give me any excuses if you are slow at the track, 'cause it ain't the car.
========End of edited transcripts of what Larry said he did to my car=========
PR - Do you have any regrets?
LG - I regret that my sometime over zealous, but well meaning friends that help me out at the shop sometimes send out email under my account name to the list server. They see something derogatory about me, and they immediately hop to my defense, like good friends normally do. I apologize for some of the emails that have been sent out over the past 12 months under my account name. Usually I don't have time to respond to any of the emails on the list, but my friends/employees do seem to the find the time to respond under my account name, as the DSL line is on 24/7, and I am usually logged onto email to support my existing customers here in Socal. You can tell when you get an email from me, as it has a lot of spelling errors. I am technician, not a blimey English major.
PR - Next step is to take the car to Willow Springs, and see if we can drop our lap times without blowing up the engine or overheating. We are thinking about doing a test day at Willow Springs on April 17, just to make sure the car is running okay. Once we get the car running okay, we are off to Pahrump on April 27th to hang out with the NSXCA guys, and then we plan on trailering to Willow Springs that night, as the Touring Car Racing Association is having a race/time trial on the 28th and 29th. Rumor has it that a huge contingent of Viper Club drivers and the 3rd gen RX-7 drivers there will be duking it out on the race group. Sounds like good competition......if we don't blow up the car before then.
LG - The car is running fine. If you can't beat a 1:29.75 at Willow, it is a human problem, not a mechanical problem......
Larry "I get no respect" Garcia, sitting in the cluttered Pulp Racing building