It’s a “WE” deal

» Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Current projects and Tech Notes, ThinkFast Engineering | 9 comments

It’s a “WE” deal

Lee Sicilio’s outlook on racing is “This is a WE deal, not a ME deal”. He is eager to grant the credit for his spectacular successes to the major contributors who helped him get there. This approach is both commendably noble and very smart. The key team members that he has attracted with this approach are quite possibly the best in the sport, and their loyalty is absolutely the best in the sport. Spectacularly stunning is not adequate to describe just how good these guys are.

I wish that I could show you every detail of the design and build quality that Ryan Fain put into “Twilight Zone”, which is Lee’s newly constructed land speed racing car. The sheet metal is 100% original steel from a 1969 Dodge Charger, with an aftermarket Daytona nose and rear wing that are faithful to the original parts. That’s the end of the original content. Everything inside that classic skin is pure Ryan Fain brilliance. Ryan is a genuine artist whose medium is high speed steel. From his base at Brink Racecraft in Irving, TX, the chassis, suspension, and everything else inside Twilight Zone was designed and built by Ryan with unbelievable quality. For example, Ryan fabricated the hood scoop entirely by hand, in steel. The car was built to the Blown Altered Coupe rules established by the Southern California Timing Association. Here’s a quick photo of Ryan through the windows:

Ryan through the car

 

Twilight Zone at the Bonneville starting line

Lee has set numerous Bonneville class records in another ’69 Charger Daytona, and his new one was built to a higher-performing, more ambitious rule set with significantly more speed potential. Lee is the kind of guy who is so dedicated to land speed racing that he has the logo signifying his membership in the Bonneville 200 mph club tattooed on his arm. The primary purpose of the new car is to carry him to membership in the 300 mph chapter, no doubt to be followed by that “3 Club” tattoo on the other arm.

Lee Sicilio in his office

Randy Hughes is the team Crew Chief, making it all happen. He’s also the paint and body artist, so the smooth shine is all his. The highly competent but low stress environment within the team is a credit to his leadership style. The fact that everything that was needed was right where it should be, and everything that was in the trailer had a good reason to be there, shows how organized he is.

The other side of Scott Clark

Scott Clark is the team’s engine tuner / electronics engineer / data acquisition system developer / performance analyst, and boy does he ever know a lot about what’s going on! I didn’t get a photo of his face, but this angle displays his attitude and enjoyment of the festivities just as well. He is an absolute jewel, so I don’t want to make him too famous! The depth of his knowledge of the inner workings of ultra-high performance automotive engines is unmatched by anyone else I have ever met.

Ray and David Barton developed the twin-turbo 498 ci Mopar Elephant motor that ran like a clock the whole time. This engine was one of many monster-power engines they have created over the years for a multitude of champions.

It says a lot that Twilight Zone has no sponsor logos, only credits for the key team members. Although my name is on the trunk lid, my contribution was miniscule compared to everyone else’s.

A trunk lid covered with team member credits

So how did the first outing of this brand new car go? The class record for A/BGALT was 257.201 mph. Here are the time slips for the first two full-length passes that the car ever ran:

Record-breaking time slips

The team took a very cautious, incremental approach to testing the performance limits of the car, and because the car is so new, neither of those runs were anywhere near the full potential of the car. For example, the 267 mph pass was done at less than 3/4 throttle all the way down the track, and Lee didn’t even use 5th gear! There is a LOT of speed left in the car as it sits, and a lot of development remaining to be done. Despite that, the average of those two runs produced a new class record of 273.514 mph, besting the previous record by 16.313 mph.

Congratulations to the whole team for a spectacularly successful first outing! It’s a very good feeling to know that there is a lot more easy speed to be had, and that the car is rock-solid stable at speeds beyond the limit of nearly everything else on the planet.

9 Comments

  1. Great job Neil and a great writeup! Looking forward to seeing more top speed stuff!!

  2. Congratulation to Lee and everyone involved in the project. I met Lee at my booth at the PRI show and after talking with him I engineered a wiring system that was unique but yet simple for him to install. I am so glad you got the record and every think work out for you. All the hard work payed off. The car and pictures look great!!

    Thank You
    Bob at Spaghetti Menders Inc.

    • Bob, your electric components made wiring this car absolutely simple!! Also, your tech support during the installation was very much appreciated. If you ever need a customer testimonial or reference, send them directly to me!

      -Scott Clark, #97 Tuner/Engineer

  3. I’m writing to congratulate Lee and everyone on an outstanding project.
    I’ve know Lee for 20 years, and the way he tirelessly persues the things he wants and forges his dreams has always been great inspiration to us all !!
    Keep up the great work !!!

    God Speed and God Bless,
    Mark (& Wendi)

  4. Another great accomplishment!
    We’re all envious, that is definitely too much fun.
    So does this car have any connection the Hell’s Charger?
    And how is that project coming along?
    Take Care and ThinkFast!

    • The common elements between Hells Charger and Twilight Zone are many. The obvious similarity is that both cars are 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona replicas. Ray Barton Racing Engines, Scott Clark, and myself are the names that are common to both projects.

      While Twilight Zone’s purpose is crystal clear, Hells Charger is a missile in search of a target. It’s massive-overkill performance potential has made it way too fast for open road racing, so the only other challenge for it that makes sense (to me, anyway) is going after the FIA world closed course speed record.

  5. Hotrod & team – – – congratulations!! An overnight success that took several decades of hard work and dedication. It’s days like this that make the effort all seem worthwhile, and helps erase those difficult days and years. Love it – – well deserved success!! ~~ Craze

  6. I was lucky enough to stop by the shop from time to time and see this creation being built, I always left scratching my head and wondering “how does he think up these ideas”, usually followed by ” that will never work” or “that can’t be done” and then the nest time I stop by I see that it did get done and obviously it did work. All anybody has to do is tell Ryan “you can’t do that” and stand back. Any Article done on “Twilight Zone” will fall painfully short of doing it justice, There is no magazine thick enough to scratch the surface on the build of this car. Congrats to Lee and Crew

  7. Neil, I am so glad you finally were able to get to the Salt. It is definitely an addicting place to race! Seeing Lee’s car in person is absolutely unreal, the quality and attention to detail is unmatched. I think your aero expertise will definitely put this car into a different league when he really gets to open it up.