Professional racing teams tend not to pick up most of their parts off the shelf. Look up any build for a pro-level car, in any racing discipline, and you’ll find that most of the high-stressed metal components aren’t bought, but crafted specifically for that car. But where do these fabricators get their materials? Where do they come up with the elements, the bare flanges, the tubing, the fittings? For the past 15 years, many of them have been turning to one name: Vibrant Performance. Which is how Vibrant’s famous VanJen couplers and V-Band flanges ended up on a 1000 hp drift car.
We’ve been buds with Vibrant for years here at Streetside, but we’re just getting acquainted with their new online community, Fabrication Life. Now, there are some things I dream about buying, and some talents I dream about having, and sometimes I forget that you can’t buy talent. I need to face the fact that I’m never going to be a professional percussionist or a world champion freerunner. And no, I’m probably never going to be good at bodywork.
But I have far less chance of ever displaying the skill of some of the artists who post their works on Fabrication Life. Machining you’ll think they did with their minds. Welds so tightly woven and intricate you’ll swear they were performed by million dollar robots. But robots could never come up with the creative solutions offered on FL.
In some ways, Fabrication Life is a place for experts, masters of their craft. In others, it’s a free educational repository for the noobs like me who have never touched a simple stick welder. It’s a place where an entire industry of professionals, most of them working independently or for small businesses, can come together and learn, hang out, and admire each other’s work. If you’re part of that industry, or if you just like to work with metal, you should check out Fabrication Life’s website or their Facebook Page.
Anyway, I was cruising Fabrication Life, dreaming of unpurchasable talents, when I noticed a particular car getting some serious hardware installed. I’d seen this car before. In Atlanta, going sideways at 80 mph. This was Chris Jeanneret’s Formula Drift car. Dang, I wish I would have talked to him when I was there, because this thing is a beast, and it’s notable for a couple of reasons.
The first is that it’s a Honda. Nobody thinks about drifting Hondas, because their only modern RWD car, the S2000, was never really designed for such abuse. In fact, Chris didn’t finish his weekend in Atlanta because his rear diff failed. Well, that’s not quite accurate. The diff, a Nissan 300zx unit, was working fine, but the 1000 hp coming out of the engine tore it out of its mountings on the subframe. That needs a #humblebrag tweet if anything does: “Oh darn. Can’t finish drifting because my engine is so powerful it pulled my car apart. OMG LOL.”
The second is that it’s sponsored by Vibrant. This isn’t terribly surprising, because Vibrant has been sponsoring motorsport in several disciplines for years, but it is cool, because that means Chris’ car gets tons of awesome Vibrant parts.
Most noticeable among them when you crack the hood are Vibrant’s now famous VanJen clamps. Used for forced induction systems, the VanJen has lately made quite a name for itself riding under the hood of the Hennessey Venom GT – the fastest production car in the world.
Vibrant’s Claudio Martinez knows why VanJens are so popular. “[They’re] third-party tested to over 200 psi operating pressure, ideal for turbo intake plumbing.”
People love their VanJens so much, they started customizing them in different colors and finishes. Fabrication Life, Claudio tells me, will soon start a weekly feature with their favorite user-submitted VanJens.
The VanJen is quick-release, too, which makes it perfect for racing teams who might need to effect pit repairs. “[It] provides a flexible connection that can withstand vibration, movements along its axis, lateral misalignment and angular deflection up to 12 degrees,” said Claudio.
That’s what Derek Chorum likes about the VanJen. Derek is a fabricator at SpeedFactory, the Tacoma-based wizards’ academy who built the S2000. “Failure’s not an option, so we decided to go with these Vibrant Performance VanJen couplers for the turbo setup. Basically, we choose these…because they’re really reliable, leak free, and they allow for some movement in the system.”
But little of this is terra nova for SpeedFactory, who know their way around a monstrously powerful Honda. They also built a Vibrant-sponsored 1000+ hp drag Civic in 2012. It runs 8s at 185. In fact, several of the Vibrant components on the Civic also went into the S2000 – AN fittings, flanges, and flex hoses for the catch can, fuel system and oil lines; intercooler aluminum piping; and V-Band flanges on the exhaust. And Vibrant’s 3 ½” stainless steel tubing was used to fabricate the custom downpipe and exhaust dump tube.
As for the rest of the S2000, it runs on a Honda K24 built to, of course, 1000 hp by SpeedFactory and Skunk 2, with Garrett supplying a 68mm turbo. From there we head through the Tex Racing G-Force dogbox and out to the Driveshaft Shop carbon fiber driveshaft. Suspension is by the experts at Bilstein, chosen because they won the Formula Drift championship last year on Michael Essa’s 750 hp M3. Rywire put together the harness, and the brain is an AEM Infinity ECU.
Vibrant’s contributions may seem small in size, but when you think about it, alot of the smallest components have to go through the most fire and come out swinging on the other end. Most of our customers here at Streetside trust Vibrant exhaust elements – Vibrant mufflers and resonators, which is how they first made their name. But building quality parts for the other end of the engine takes even more expertise, and Chris Jeanneret’s Formula Drift S2000 proves that Vibrant has it.
Check out our full Vibrant line, and follow Chris’ Formula Drift adventures with his Youtube series, Made to Drift.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.