Road Race Engineering and the people who work there, are my second family. Whenever someone of interest is coming into the shop for service or dyno tuning, the owner, Mike Welch, always drops me a line and gives me a heads up. A few weeks ago on June 13, Justin Pawlak was scheduled to come in for some dyno time. I grabbed my gear and went over to the shop and waited for Justin to arrive, true creeper style.
Most people know Justin Pawlak as a full ride Falken driver, but when it comes to his personal cars, he gets down and dirty like the rest of us and pulls his car behind his truck via tow bar. Its nice to see Justin get this FC going, after the heartbreaking incident with the green FC a couple of years ago. I cannot wait to see this RX7 when Justin finishes it.
Mike Welch watches over his domain as Justin fires up the rotary and buzzes the neighborhood. A man with years of dyno experience like Mike, knows this could be a very short dyno session, or a very long one that goes late into the night. There is no between when it comes to dyno tuning.
I know absolutely nothing about rotary setups, so I was questioning if I would be able to do any sort of technical write up about this dyno session from the beginning…until I started thinking there is bound to be fire and explosions and all of that good stuff. I was back on board once cool thoughts of destruction ran through my mind.
Im not sure if you know this, but Justin wears sandals every possible chance he gets. Go to Top Drift where he judges, he might be in sandals. He probably wears sandals while welding too.
This is where things get confusing for me. I can identify a turbo, an intercooler, and a strut brace, but I know nothing about that witchcraft thing in the middle. Black magic.
Speaking of turbo, this is a big one with a nice smooth downpipe.
Before starting the engine and making some pulls, it is important to set up the software you will be using to tune.
Justin is knowledgeable in running his own tuning sessions, but Mike Welch always has a good tip and is awesome in assisting and teaching a few new tricks.
Once the engine was started, it took a while to get the mixture and timing correct, giving me time to catch a few sweet shots of the turbo and exhaust glowing red hot. You can see video of the wastegate and turbo below!
Video shot by Mike Welch of Road Race Engineering. Check out the wastegate and turbo. The wastegate actually burned a hole in the concrete floor of the dyno room.
Justin played around with the fuel mapping to get flames to shoot out of the tail pipe on deceleration. You can see him hanging out of the drivers door with a big grin on his face. That lead hammer holding the jackstand and sensor in place has a history of its own. If you are ever at Road Race, ask Mike Welch about it.
That turbo was blazing in the engine bay and you could feel the heat standing behind the car. You can always find Mike helping.
While the guys set parameters and made a couple of pulls, I checked out the rest of the car and grabbed some pics of those sweet Volk TE37 17″ in 235 wide Falken Tires. I’m not sure if Justin is going to run these when the car is completed, but they sure do look pretty awesome.
Some pretty good angle there. Just a little shot for you suspension and steering setup freaks.
We took a break late in the night while Justin and friend went out to source some parts to fix something that broke, but got right back into it once they returned.
Pull after pull after pull, the guys got closer and closer to peak power output. This was my first time being around a fully built rotary on a dyno, so I was amazed how awesome it sounded wide open and how much power it was making, out of that tiny little power plant.
All said and done, the small rotary made a whopping 467hp. Check out that torque curve all the way to mid 6,000 rpm. Thats nice!
It was almost 4am when everybody packed up and went home. Justin, with a little help from Mike Welch here and there, made a ton of power at a reliable level that both were pretty happy with.
Road Race Engineering uses a dyno system called DynaPack. Whats unique about DynaPack, is that there are no dangerous rollers and the chance of the car launching itself and damaging or hurting people. The drive wheels hook up directly to the machines after the wheels are removed. The Road Race dyno has been host to several Formula Drift drivers this year, including Justin Pawlak, Mike Essa, Danny George, Chris Forsberg, Jhonnattan Castro, Joon Maeng, Luke Pakula, and possibly a few others I didn’t have a chance to hook up with. If you need a good, reliable tune on well maintained machines at a great, friendly and fun shop, give Road Race a call. Its the best place to tune in SoCal.