Gaz Whiter is back in the fold, this time rocking a supercharged LS
Ask anyone in the New Zealand drifting fraternity who they most fear in battle and, nine times out of 10, the name ‘Whiter’ will be mentioned. Catching a glimpse of his S14 chasing you down through the thick of your own tyre smoke is a formidable sight and one that strikes fear into the hearts of even our most steadfast pedallers. It’s a reputation that’s been carved out over 14 years of hard-fought competition, resulting in four National Championship titles, countless round wins, and more spent champagne than in Lil Dicky’s VIP booth on a Saturday night.
Over that time, much has changed in competitive drifting, and Gaz and his team have continually adapted to keep him at the forefront, with the one constant being his choice of chassis: the humble Nissan S14. It’s the chassis that he got his start in, that he has travelled the globe competing in, and the one that his team certainly knows how to dial.
An S14 with Whiter on the door card has been a fixture in D1NZ, so his absence last season was a kick to the championship. However, even the country’s best drifters are not immune to having to do a bit of adulting. He had sold his LS7-powered S14 to help fund his self-built home for his young family. Although rumours of retirement from the sport were circling the pits, this was never his intention. In fact, as part of the deal for the LS7 S14 with new owner ‘Philthy’ Phil Southerland, an ex–Drift South S14 was now in Gaz’s possession.
As humble as that DS S14 may have been, when you’ve drifted a chassis long enough, you can bet that you’ve amassed more than a few boxes of spares that would whip it into shape. “I knew we pretty much had enough parts to put a car together,” Gaz recalls. “I had Leadfoot coming up, and I didn’t want to miss it, as it’s just such a good event.” Thus, the Tony Whiter Automotive parts bin was raided and relieved of anything useful. But make no mistake — that bin is no offshoot of a pick-a-part wreckers; it featured some baller parts, like a set of Work CR 2Ps, Tein Super Drifts, and a full suite of adjustable suspension arms, all of which found their way onto the chassis in a flurry.
The LS3 powerhouse is built around a Texas Speed 6800cc stroker kit with 12.0:1 compression. Boost is a conservative 4.8psi, and the rev limit is set at 6800rpm, which does the damage making 480kW. If compression was lowered and the cam changed, a bump in boost would net well over 745kW at the wheels. “Build everything to take 1500hp [1120kW], and then use it at 700 [520kW],” explains Tony
Although the car wasn’t built with the intention of competing, there was no way that Gaz and father Tony were messing around staying the SR route and returning to the dark days when they blew five SRs in one season. A bare LS3 block and heads were sourced, and as with the previous LS7, it was straight on the phone to Texas Speed for a K1 Technologies stroker kit, increasing capacity to 6800cc thanks to a four-inch stroke. The heads remain unported LS3 items, with double valve springs and modified factory rockers. Originally, it was intended to simply be naturally aspirated (NA), so compression was pushed to 12.0:1, making a very impressive 380kW. The Harrop supercharger came a year later. “As soon as we had the Smartcookie8 deal and knew I’d be running D1NZ, we knew we needed more power, as you’d really need to be driving on the ragged edge trying to keep up with the 800–900hp cars,” he says.
A Harrop supercharger intended for a Commodore was adapted to fit, with a custom pulley set-up of Tony’s design. Interestingly, the compression remains the same, and the long-duration Texas Speed cam has also been retained, which means that the blower is only spinning at 4.8psi yet produces another 100kW. Tony’s plan was for a low boost–and–high torque package, and he comments that, while it revs less than a street car, revving is unnecessary when the bulk of the torque is in a window between 4000 and 5500rpm anyway.
A rear-mounted Fenix radiator is fed via a CVR Extreme electric water pump. The smaller cooler is a converted Fenix oil cooler, which feeds the water-to-air cooler of the Harrop supercharger
Although the rev limit is set at a conservative 6800rpm, although you wouldn’t know it listening to Gaz vaporize a set of Tri-Ace Racing Kings. The soundtrack is more Formula 1 than push-rod American, thanks to the eight-into-one header design — an idea picked up from road racing and cemented the moment they heard Tanner Foust tearing up the Leadfoot driveway.
While the sound might be the main driving force, there is some justification in performance, in that such designs fatten the torque curve, making it less peaky and even more linear than before. A local engineering firm, Greg Smith Engineering, was tasked with its complex construction. The only problem was the real estate required by the giant merge collector. It now resides in the front of the bay, forcing the Fenix cooling system to relocate southwards to the boot, a space it shares with a small cooler for the blower and the Jaz fuel cell. As a positive side effect, the added rearwards weight has helped the S14’s grip levels, which are noticeably better than those of the old chassis, despite the mismatched components found underneath.
Although the car may have been born in the barn from spares, there was no way the exterior was going to let it down, with a fresh stack of Origin Labo fibreglass, those Work CRs, and a new livery from Big Brown. Truth be told, to the untrained eye, it was hard to tell that Gaz had even swapped chassis in the first place. And, with back-to-back first-place podiums at Mad Mike’s Summer Bashes (MMSBs), it was as if Gaz had never left.
However, the budget build was not without its mechanical challenges, as Gaz recalls: “We went with Wisefab, as TDP was going out of stock, and guys seemed to be breaking the lower arms.” Gaz had been a big fan of the TDP, because, with its infinite adjustment, they had simply set it up just like days of old, something the team only ever does with alignment strings. But, with Wisefab, there is little-to-no adjustment; you just run it as is and get used to it, something Gaz was forced to do on the Leadfoot driveway, where catastrophe via a pine tree is only ever a millimetre away: “I came close to writing it off.”
A full-spooled Winters quick change and Driveshaft Shop axles allow the team infinite adjustability to keep Gaz in the torque range while in top gear. This, along with the carbon Xtreme twin- plate and G-Force GSR four-speed make for a proven bulletproof combination
Those first few tastes of being back at the track in late 2016 / early ’17 clearly had an effect on Gaz’s dad, Tony, who is the driving force behind all of Gaz’s builds, so much so that he went ahead and fitted a Winters Quick Change in the car without so much as telling the four-time Drift King, just in case of a return to D1.
“It’s the best upgrade you can make to a car, hands down,” explains Tony, who clearly had a crystal ball, as a sponsorship deal did manifest with Smartcookie8 that saw Gaz and the team back in the fold of D1NZ for the 2018 season. Although it’s been a trying one, to say the least, with the S14 plagued with a mysterious intermittent electrical gremlin that destroyed any chance of a fifth title, let alone a podium spot. Thankfully, that has now been diagnosed as a loose terminal, although a full rewire is still on the cards to bring it up to competition spec.
In this world of uber-expensive, mega-horsepower competition drift cars, this article might shock a few who have witnessed Gaz taking scalps in this car, expecting it to be something it’s not. The fact is, this is something of a basic build with investment in only the necessities that gain maximum effect, performance, or reliability. With Gaz behind the wheel, it’s capable of embarrassing plenty of $100K builds, proving that it’s not all about having a super flashy car if you don’t have the set-up to back it up.
The funny thing is that this barnyarder is now headed onto the world stage for the first ever international Drift Shifters, in an all-expenses-paid trip earned at his last MMSB win. We suspect that it will again be punching well above its weight. It’s a lesson to anyone thinking that they need a stacked bank account to run with the best — you just need people like Tony Whiter in your corner and some natural talent, like Gaz.
DRIVER/OWNER: Gaz Whiter
BUILD TIME: 4 months
THANKS: Stu and Linda at Smartcookie8, the crew, Adrian at Fenix Radiators, Jerry and Kimmi at Big Brown Industries, Tony Whiter
Sponsors: Smartcookie8, Fenix, BNT Automotive, Link ECU, Hytech Engines, Xtreme Clutch, Big Brown Industries, BG World Wheels, Harrop Engineering, Origin Labo New Zealand, Greg Smith Engineering and Western Blasters, Tein, Elwood
ENGINE: GM LS3, V8, 6800cc
BLOCK: Texas Speed 418 Stroker Kit, K1 Technologies four-inch stroker crank, K1 Technologies rods, Texas Speed camshaft, Wiseco pistons, Clevite race bearings, Texas Speed push rods
HEADs: LS3 heads, modified factory rockers, double valve springs
INTAKE: Four-inch, K&N filter
EXHAUST: Four-inch straight-pipe, Greg Smith Engineering two-inch eight-into-one headers, 3.5-inch collector
SUPERCHARGER: Harrop FDFI1900 supercharger (2650), water-to-air intercooler
FUEL: Jaz fuel cell, twin Bosch 044 main pumps, Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator, in-line fuel filter
IGNITION: Factory coils
ECU: Link G4+ Storm
COOLING: Rear-mounted Fenix radiator, CVR Extreme electric water pump, alloy radiator for supercharger, Fenix oil cooler, alloy header tank
EXTRA: Accusump, Moroso sump, catch-can
GEARBOX: G-Force GSR, four-speed dogbox
CLUTCH: Xtreme twin-plate carbon
DIFF: Winters Quick Change, full spool, Driveshaft Shop axles
STRUTS: Tein Super Drift coilovers
BRAKES: Wilwood pedal box, Godspeed handbrake; (F) slotted rotors, factory four-pot calipers, (R) Wilwood Superlite calipers, S14 rotors
EXTRA: Eight-point roll cage, Wisefab lock kit, Parts Shop Max rear control arms, Cusco traction arms
WHEELS: (F) 18x9.5-inch Work CR 2P, (R) 18x10.5-inch Work CR 2P
TYRES: (F) 235/40R18 Tri-Ace Racing King, (R) 265/35R18 Tri-Ace Racing King
PAINT: Wrapped by Big Brown Industries
ENHANCEMENTS: Origin Labo fibreglass bonnet, Origin Labo Racing Line bumpers, Origin Labo Racing Line side skirts, Origin Labo 45mm front guards, Origin Labo 55mm over-fenders, Lexan rear windows, Rocket Bunny wing
SEATS: Sabelt GT-620, OMP HTE-R
STEERING WHEEL: OMP
INSTRUMENTATION: Link dash
TUNER: Glenn at GDS Automotive
This article origin ally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No 258 — to get your hands on a copy click the cover below: