Friday, May 14, 2010

Out of the Box: Auto Expectations/Switchback Racing

In 1981 a shop was born. Datsun Dynamics, did it all from street cars to full on race machines. Ran by Brian Downey, Ryan's father, who raced and still races to this day, Nissan's and Datsun's. Ryan always hung around his fathers shop as a kid and got his hands dirty with the rest of the gents. Datsun Dynamics ran for a wondrous 23 years until Brian's partner fell ill. 3 years ago they opened the doors to Auto Expectations.

Auto Expectations is a joint operation in part with Switchback Racing. Right next door to the shop formally was Switchback Racing's facility. The owner Hendrik Kuyt, talked things over with the Downey's and they moved switchback into the shop to help each other move forward.

Together Auto Expectations and Switchback Racing can do whatever your wallet will alloy you to do to a vehicle. From changing your oil to making you legal for Formula Drift. Its all a possibility at “AutoSwitch”. I took a ride down to the shop and talked to Ryan and spent a couple days seeing for myself what they were up to.

I talked with Ryan about his Z31 drift car and what that car is about. Ryan said, “The Z31 has always been a race car and we have had it since 1987.I'm am the second generation driver in the Z. The Z is big and heavy but you need to work with what you have. We made some suspension changes but the motor is still NA. It worked well enough to win the Joes at Drift Nirvana in my first year of drifting.WE are currently building a new car(240SX),the lack of funds makes take longer than we want.”

Ryans new 240SX will be a very interesting car once complete. Even sitting bare with its cage setup makes the mind wonder what is next....

I also asked Ryan about his future with drifting and how he felt about it. Ryan says, “I want to run more PRO AMs with new car to see how far up the drifting ladder I can get. It seems drifting is starting to grow again and I looking forward to this year.”

While I was at the shop I took a gander at the cars around and did some digging. I was shown this gem, a Honda Fit with a JDM Fit conversion. With the JDM front and rear end the car lost a total of around 9 inches. This task was of course no problem for the guys to get done for its debut in the Spocom world.

In front of the shop is the usual load of projects and customer cars just waiting to be moved inside for work.

Once inside the shop there is the big AE on the wall symbolizing you've entered a world desire. Sitting right under this would be a very one-off built Lotus Exige. Just about every piece of this car is carbon, kevlar, or lexan. The body is a one-off made piece, carbon of course. The silver “paint”, is actually a very cleanly laid down vinyl wrap. Seeing this built K-series engine shows you it is no joke. No power adder. Just not needed for this, although things are in the air for its future. We will certainly be re-writing the book on this some day!

Now this shop does it all. Once again proving this is the Camaro. This Camaro was just incredible, and why was it there? To be finished off with a sound system. From head unit to a fiberglass trunk enclosure it was getting the works.

Once again to show the field of play that goes in the shop, this EG Civic hatch time attack car. The EG was getting some modifications to its cage, aero, engine ect. Here is a fine example of the amazing fabrication work Hendrik can put down. This dump tube was ran through a tight space with very nice clearances and spotless welds.

There was also the usual s13 customer car. This car was running terribly. After being through many engines, builds, ect with the SR I knew something was up with this thing. We went over this car for hours rewiring the 02 sensor, and checking the MAF (I volunteered my personal one to drop this off the list). We found out the SAFC had been wired incorrectly. The car then still had problems so we pulled the valve cover, finding 2 rocker arms and all but 2 shims were missing on the intake cam. Nothing AE couldn't fix! 

4 AM rolled around and it was time to close up shop. However, Hendrik and the boys were still hard at work with the EG and Camaro!

I knew the moment I left the shop I would be returning to have some mad work done to my S13 (and to eat more dogs from the keg grill!) Thanks for the rad experience guys!

Part 2 will finish this visit up with a gnarly interview!
Sitting Shotgun: Hendrik Kuyt- Owner/Master Fabricator of Switchback Racing/HK Welding ...

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