When last we saw Clint Stoneham’s RB26DET powered 260Z, it was little more than an old Datsun shell wrapped around a new Datsun body. But now things have changed. It’s been tuned, had a cage built and certified, and it finally made a few passes. After weeks of talking about it, I met up with Clint, Jason Kemp, and Melvin North. What followed were four passes interrupted by some hunting.
By the time I got there (thanks for cutting me off twice Prius!) they already had the car unloaded and were getting her ready to make the first pass of the day. After waiting in the staging lanes Clint pulled the orange sled into the burnout box and lit up the slicks. And then he made his pass which, if I’m honest, wasn’t exactly stellar. I’ll spare you the time (i.e. I forgot to write it down), but it was slower than what the car was capable of. While Clint was making the maiden pass, the rest of us heard something. We met back in the pits, and the guys got to work.
Out came the laptop, and the theories of what sounded like an ignition problem. The data logs didn’t show anything, but we all heard it breaking up. Thinking the spark plugs were amiss, Jason and Clint pulled them and Jason re-gapped them. Fun Fact: the engine of a car gets hot while making a 1/4 mile pass, and it stays that way for a minute. Guess who relearned that lesson? No, not me. I had my hands full of camera. With the plugs re-installed and the coil packs back on, we piled onto the side by side and followed Clint to the staging lanes.
Things were better, 10.87 compared to something much slower. But the ignition was still breaking up. Jason, who has a 900+whp 2JZ swapped Mk 3 Supra (!), posited that it might be weak coils. The RB26 and 2JZ are made for a similar purpose, maybe they had similar problems. Logs still showed nothing, plugs looked great, so it was back in the side by side for another pass.
Clint lined up, burned out, and proceeded to go 10.50. Still improving, and still breaking up. Back in the pits I learned that the best time he could post was a 10.00, and the fastest he could go was 135mph. Anything beyond that would require more safety equipment in the car. So with that in the air, the guys again started taking the coil packs off the engine and pulling spark plugs. The original plan was to swap in a set of HKS spark plugs, but Jason noticed something on the cylinder 3 coil pack. There was carbon tracking, which meant electricity was arcing in the pack itself. It wasn’t dead, but it was hurting. Thinking a decrease in cylinder pressure would help, they switched places between the bad #3 pack and the known good #1 pack. With the car buttoned up, we made our way back to the line.
Before we left, Jason did some slight tweaking. The boost was turned up ever so much and “a touch of fuel” was pulled out. “This will exacerbate the problem” said Jason, knowing that some of us only heard that the boost was going up to around 24 or 25psi. The 4th pass yielded a 10.33, which all things considered is not bad. Plans were made for another pass and I would have stayed to watch him make a 10.2 pass, but a supercharged Charger SRT8 decided it wanted to break after doing a burnout… then repeat the the burnout/breakdown cycle again after a few cars were waved ahead of him. Unfortunately I had a prior engagement and had to leave, BUT FEAR NOT! There is another chance for us all to see this thing go for the gusto! This Friday night, or April 25th if you’re reading this after the event, is the first Midnight Drags at RMR and Clint will be making some passes in the brisk evening air. I encourage you all to come out and watch.
Clint wasn’t the only fellow running at the Test N Tune. I snapped some photos of those characters, and included them and all of the RBZ photos in a gallery below!
Words and photos by Michael Chandler
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