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2002 Pontiac Trans Am - Flying Under The Radar

Ohio Boys' 8-Second Turbo Charged CETA


During the explosion of LS1Tech.com and the subsequent race series, there was quite a lot of buzz surrounding several 8-second and potentially 7-second F-bodies. Among them, the Ohio Boys turbo LS1-powered '96 Formula was attempting to steal the show-constantly jostling with the HPE LT1 Formula for bragging rights. Meanwhile the Ohio Boys 2002 yellow Collector Edition Trans Am was falling just under the radar, despite being an 8-second street car true to its name.

Co-founder of Ohio Boys Racing and owner of the CETA, Mike Brown has been quietly building this beast of a street car over the past few years using fairly modest components. With a stock bottom end and an Incon twin turbo kit, Mike was already breaking into the nines. It didn't take long before he had outgrown this combo, and decided to fabricate his own large single turbo system. Taking a suggestion from Wheel to Wheel, whom he had commissioned to build a stock crank LS2 short-block, a set of 6.0L truck manifolds were turned around backward and modified to house a 91.5mm turbo. Boost was chilled by an air-to-water intercooler fabricated to Mike's specs by Famspeed, and a 5-inch downpipe would then vent the recycled fumes into a 3-inch bullet muffler for street-going decibel levels. With the help of a transbrake-equipped Rossler 4L80E, Mike maintained total streetability while reliably and consistently running 8.50s.

When the Ohio Boys '96 Formula took a nosedive into the wall at the track, the CETA became the primary racecar for the crew and Mike began using the Rossler Turbo 400 (from the Formula) at the track. With the best ET pegged at 8.53 at 163 mph on Mickey Thompson drag radials, he decided to take ERL Performance up on its offer to provide a prototype sleeved race block. With larger 4.127-inch bores, a much stouter set of heads with larger valves could be afforded than with the previous stock castings. In addition this block also has the benefit of billet main caps to secure a Callies forged crank, whereas the previous motor kept the stock variants. Wiseco pistons and Howard Enterprises forged rods round out the short-block as assembled by LS1 gurus Wheel to Wheel. For durability, a low 8.2 to 1 compression and stock stroke are maintained to lessen wear and tear on the pistons as well as other rotating parts. Despite his intentions to go deeper into the 8s and run 27 psi of boost, Mike elected to stay with a hydraulic roller setup to avoid the hassle of adjusting valves. Just like with his previous motors, he had COMP Cams grind him a custom roller to his specs. Total Engine Airflow had just completed development on a Stage 3 porting program with Dart castings, which fit nicely with the engine combo-using large 2.10 stainless steel intake and 1.60 exhaust valves constructed of a special alloy for turbo applications. COMP Cams chrome moly pushrods and Harland Sharp 1.7 ratio aluminum rocker arms keep the valvetrain light but sturdy.

Since the new heads were capable of flowing 366 cfm at .650-inch lift (on the intake side), the LS6 intake and ported stock throttle body were deemed insufficient-making way for an Edelbrock Victor Jr. carb-style intake manifold, an elbow from IntakeElbows.com, and a FAST 90mm throttle body. The new setup flowed so well that noticeable drop-off in boost was being encountered at high rpm, so a 98mm turbo was ordered from Precision Turbo to keep the 387-cube motor happy. Moving such a serious amount of air, of course, requires serious compensation from the fuel system-necessitating 150-lb injectors, an Aeromotive boost-referenced regulator, and two Bosch 420-lph pumps to move 110 octane leaded race fuel. An FMC methanol injection kit supplements the petrol, for its resistance to detonation. A Big Stuff 3 computer governs the fuel, timing, 4L80E, and other essentials as dictated by Mr. Brown himself. Meanwhile the stock computer runs the factory gauges.

The chassis is kept in check during hard wheels-up launches with a BMR Xtreme Anti-Roll Bar and Trak Pak including a tubular Panhard bar and torque arm. Heavy-duty control arms and subframe connectors are also needed to withstand the massive torque, which also requires a Moser 9-inch with 3.50 gear, 35-spline axles and a spool. The familiar F-body recipe of QA1 coil-overs and shocks, removed front sway bar, and stock rear springs is used to plant weight on the Mickey Thompsons. Drag radials are the rubber of choice in the class Mike runs at Milan Dragway, but on occasion he does mount 28x10.5 slicks on the Weld Pro Stars for a little more bite. Best short time occurred with the drag radials at 1.36 partially owed to the Moroso skinnies, PA Racing k-member and BMR control arms that helped hang the front wheels in the air.

For an 8-second car, launches are relatively tame as Mike footbrakes to 3,500 rpm into full stage, and then goes wide open onto the two-step rev limiter at near 4,200 rpm and 10 psi. When the button on the transbrake is released, he grips tightly to the wheel while shifting at around 7,300-7,400 rpm. Though he can feel the violence this turbocharged beast is unleashing on the helpless tires and chassis, to the audience it's almost a shock to see the time illuminated on the board. But not to those who know the Ohio Boys.

Data File Car: 2002 Collector Edition Trans Am

Owner: Mike Brown
Block: LS1, 387 cid
Compression ratio: 8.25:1
Heads: Dart Pro 1, Stage 3 ported and polished by TEA, 2.10 intake, 1.60 exhaust valves
Cam: COMP Cams, hydraulic roller, secret grind
Pushrods: COMP Cams chrome moly
Rocker arms: Harland Sharp 1.7 ratio
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Rings: Wiseco
Crankshaft: Callies forged
Rods: Howard Enterprises forged
Throttle body: FAST 90mm
Fuel injectors: 150 lbs/hr
Fuel pump: Dual Bosch 420 lph
Ignition: Stock coil on plug, Taylor wires, NGK plugs
Engine management: Big Stuff 3 tuned by owner
Power adder: PTE 98mm
Boost: 27 psi
Intercooler: Custom air-to-water
Wastegate: Innovative Turbo ProGate
Exhaust system: Custom turbo manifolds, 5-inch downpipe
Transmission: TH400 or 4L80E, built by Rossler Transmissions
Torque converter: Midwest Racing 10-inch lockup or 10/11-inch non-lockup
Driveshaft: Denny's chrome moly
Front suspension: PA Racing K-member, BMR A-arms, QA1 coil-overs, removed sway bar
Rear suspension: BMR lower control arms, torque arm, Panhard bar, sway bar, QA1 shocks, stock springs
Rear end: Moser 9-inch, 35-spline axles, 3.50 gear, spool
Brakes: Strange drag front brakes, stock rear brakes
Wheels: Weld Pro Stars 15x4.5 front, 15x10 rear
Front tires: Moroso D2 26x4.5
Rear tires: MT Drag Radials 325/50/15 or Slicks 28x10.5
Fuel octane: 110 with methanol injection
Race weight: 3,700 lbs
Best ET/mph: 8.53 at 163
Best 60-ft. time: 1.36
Current mileage: 5,208



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