Video: Saving This 130-MPH Slide Deserves An Award

You’ve got to be a bit nutty to build a racing car of this caliber and then take big chances between the walls. Well, if not completely crazy, that rare breed of driver/builder/psychopath must be a workaholic with masochistic tendencies.

Sasha Anis is a singular creature—few grassroots racers have gone from tinkering on Nissan Silvias to racing professionally among the KONI Challenge crowd and then building the world’s first hybrid-powered 350Z. That Z, nicknamed Kels, now beats current IMSA GTD times at Mosport. In fact, Sasha’s best time of 1:16.9 is only a couple seconds off that of an LMP car from two decades ago.

Since Kels was last featured, it’s been upgraded with a couple choice modifications. A set of KW Competition 4-way coilovers replaces the aging Koni shocks that left it bouncing around Toronto Motorsports Park. Also, a three-turn electric motor supplements the 4.2-liter VQ to bring the total power output to 613 horsepower at the rear wheels. Although that extra power comes with an additional 230 pounds of weight, the grunt does make a difference at the fast, flowing Mosport.

The engine made 619 whp in hot weather with the airbox lids on. In better conditions, Sasha Anis suspects they’d be closer to 650 whp! Photo credit: Jordan Lenssen

An Unwelcome Surprise at 130

Thankfully, he didn’t opt for a faster steering rack with reduced steering angle. When the rear let go as he entered Turn 1 at a sphincter-tightening 130 miles per hour (3:20), he threw all the available lock at it. After collecting the drift and letting his heart rate return to something sub-200 bpm, Sasha parked Kels for the remainder of the day.

“The rate at which the car let go was totally unexpected. Usually the rear moves around a little—you catch it and it’s no big deal. But in this case, it was almost like the rear tires were on oil or water!”

In a car with real aerodynamic grip, Mosport’s Turn 1 doesn’t require much braking—it’s one where you lean on the car and hope you’ve tightened the seatbelts enough. Therefore, driver error was not the likely cause.

The flat floor, front splitter and broad rear wing make a major difference at Mosport. Photo credit: Jordan Lenssen

The data suggests that it was likely a combination of minor issues that caused the rear to snap. The rear had been sliding slightly in Turns 8 and 10, so it’s possible the tires were already a little overheated. “The car has always been extremely stable on entry—front heavy, front-engine cars tend to be entry understeer/exit oversteer-biased—so it was a shock when it snapped on me,” Sasha starts.

Perhaps the mixture of a bump at the turn-in point, overheated tires, and the combined braking forces of the engine and the regen system was enough to cause a snap. Sasha’s still assessing the data to try and determine the specific cause of this freak incident, so, always precise in all he does, he can only speak to what he’s certain of at the present moment.

“What is clear is that there’s not enough rear downforce,” Sasha laughs.

Photo credit: Jordan Lenssen

It takes a sturdy person to shrug off a slide that might make others hang up their helmet. With a little more time and analysis, Sasha Anis should be able to eke another second out of this garage-built beauty and give every aspiring builder something to strive towards.

 

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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