A month ago I was given the opportunity to go up and visit the Nameless Performance shop and take a ride in the upgraded GT86 (Subaru BRZ) Rally “Beast” alongside 3 time Rally America 2WD Champion, Chris Duplessis. This is of course not an offer one turns down.
I met up with co-owner Jason Griffith at their new location in Woodland, Washington. Jason took me for a tour of the new facility and explained a bit of it’s history. Nameless is growing, and a new shop was necessary to deal with their massive increase in orders.
“We just moved in about 3 months ago. This used to be the Lewis River Motor Company building, which was a family owned Chevrolet dealership since 1939” …until 2012 when like so many other businesses it eventually succumbed to the down economy. “The current building was built in the late 1970’s after the original wooden structure was destroyed by fire. It has a showroom and plenty of office space. Our primary shop was the service center and we have an adjacent shop that used to be their body shop that we use for all our cutting and forming.”
There was plenty of visible construction underway and still a lot of empty shelves, but as Jason put it, they are taking their time so that they can make the space work the most efficiently for their flow of business.
These guys look at everything with an engineering mindset. They even went so far as to use CAD software to digitally map out the shipping area so that they could decide on just the right size rolling stairs to use (no joke!).
It is really cool to see a small business that makes performance tuner parts in what was a tiny logging town (as the name “Woodland” implies) leap from a minuscule 3,600 square foot “barn” to an astounding 23,000 square foot former car dealership and service center. Nameless Performance has some big ideas and this new facility is just the place to kick them up to the next level. The local community is also quite pleased as Nameless is bringing the historic family owned building back to life instead of destroying it and starting from scratch as so many larger corporations tend to do.
In the shop area I ran into Sean of Vigilant Motorsports. Vigilant has an engine room within the Nameless Performance shop space. In the course of about 45 minutes Sean had completely stripped down a recently rebuilt Subaru FA20 engine. The rebuild shop apparently wasn’t as reputable as many thought because upon closer inspection there was dirt inside the cylinders and some of the parts were not put together with the right tolerances. This is one of the reasons why Vigilante is there. Sean knows horizontally opposed engines better than anyone, even doing some work with aircraft engines. Jason said he’s the best and Nameless likes working with the best.
Among all the shiny steel bits and welding stations sits the Nameless Performance Rally Team “Beast” BRZ. Fresh from a full day of testing the day before, Chris Duplessis was just arriving to take it out again for some filming runs. We talked a bit about the testing done the day before and here’s what he had to say.
“The car is driving awesome…and I was way more comfortable with it in the woods as opposed to the desert at Seed 9. It is very quick and it handles well. We are experimenting with some suspension clicks, trying to soften it up a little bit more here and there, but mostly the setup is unchanged from Seed 9. The main thing we did was strengthen the upright. This weekend alone we drove over 100 miles of testing, equal to what would be a full distance for most rallies without any issues..”
In asking about his goals for the upcoming Oregon Trail Rally, Duplessis said
“Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that there will be a lot of 2WD cars doing the entire Rally America National Championship, ACP isn’t doing it this year, and right now it looks like it will just be Troy Miller and Cameron Steeley in their Fiesta R2s. We’ll have a pretty big advantage in horsepower. Really the goal is to see how far up on the podium we can get. It’s always fun to get a 2WD close to the top and beating SP cars…other than that it’s all about getting good exposure, making some great videos, and keep testing the car. We’ll see where it goes from there..”
Chris handed me a helmet and told me to hop inside “The Beast” and we drove it out to some logging roads for a film shoot. On our drive Chris warmed up the brakes and the tires with some quick acceleration and hard braking on our way there. I swear I couldn’t get the belts tight enough with the forces this car was able to endure. Filming was being done by Alex Tabaczka, who is a true wizard behind the camera. The routine consisted of Alex setting up a shot, followed by Chris and I tearing down the gravel road throwing rocks at Alex and his camera. Great for the film, not so great for Alex and his equipment!
As with any car that does a bunch of high speed runs, then stops and waits, and then runs hard again, one has to keep an eye on the oil and water temps. After about an hour of these sprints past the cameras and doing e-brake 180s to come back again, the Nameless BRZ was getting a little hot. We drove down to where engineer and the other co-owner of Nameless Performance John Hoyenga was parked up. John splashed some bottled water on the oil cooler and instantly the temp dropped about 10 degrees due to the evaporation effect. And this is where the brilliance of John Hoyenga comes into play. Seeing how well that worked he tells Chris to pop the hood. Inside of about 5 minutes John had pulled the windshield washer hose, re-routed it via zip ties to the cooler, then pulled out the fuse for the wiper blade motor. Now whenever the temps got a little hot, a few squirts of washer fluid doused the cooler and dropped it back down again. Genius!
Gravel spray filming was done, and John wanted to make sure a few locals who came out to see the action got a ride while there was some fuel racing fuel left in the car. Neighborhood folks big and small had smiles as big as the grand canyon as Chris took them on a short drive. Then we headed back to the shop, this time I rode with John Hoyenga in the company van where he told me details of the changes done to the car to strengthen it and how happy he is with the results of the testing they’ve done. Other than some minor tweaks to steering angle and a few other minor changes, John is confident that this car is ready to take on the national teams and be on the overall podium. Although that’s a high mark to make in such a drastically re-designed car, the confidence from both Duplessis and Hoyenga makes me feel like it’s possible.
The day wasn’t over and even though the Nameless BRZ was out of race fuel, they had another idea they wanted to try. They had a pair of wrinkle wall Hoosier tires and wanted to see how fast the car would do the 1/4 mile at Portland International Raceway. Thankfully they found an auto parts store that still had a few gallons of race fuel, and I went on a road trip to get it and met back up with the crew at the drag strip.
Obviously a rally prepped car isn’t the best at drag racing, nor is a rally driver that hasn’t learned how to properly burn out and warm tires. Regardless, the car got the crowds attention as it backfired with every gear change down the strip. 106 MPH even with the loads of wheel spin from launch control. Not bad, not bad at all.
And finally it’s great to share what was previously under wraps at the shop. It was another Toyobaru, this time a FRS being built for none other than Ryan Tuerck for the 2015 Formula Drift championship. This wasn’t public knowledge at the time I visited, but the new car debuted at Long Beach last weekend for the season opener. Nameless is very proud to be partnering with Tuerck for the 2015 season, and if the rally car was the “The Beast” then Tuerck’s car is “The Devil”. Tuerck finished 3rd place, giving the Nameless Performance crew a podium in their first try at a drift machine.
Even though the team at Nameless Performance seems to play hard, they work even harder. You can watch Chris Duplessis in the Nameless “Beast” BRZ next weekend at the Oregon Trail Rally.