Chris Forsberg launches 2023 Nissan Z Competition Drift Car with 1,300 horsepower
For a car to compete in Formula Drift in 2022, it seems it has to have more power than sense. Anything below 1000hp is going to stay in the tire smoke of the most powerful car. That’s why it’s not strange to hear that Chris Forsberg’s 2023 Nissan Z produces 1,300 horsepower and 1,300 lb-ft of torque. It’s also not unusual power for the engine he’s placed under the Z’s carbon fiber hood: the VR38DETT. Forsberg’s Z will also be the first competition outing of the new Nissan, even beating Nissan’s factory Super GT efforts by two weeks.
A bit new, a bit not
While many enthusiasts will view Nissan’s reuse of the Z34 chassis – a design that is now 13 years old – as a bad thing, for racers and drift car builders, it’s more of a good thing. This is a proven chassis with parts readily available from the start and makes tuning the chassis easy as you will only have to skim through your notes from last year. Trust us, team and car managers hate new cars because nothing works like last year. That said, it’s also not like the Z34 chassis hasn’t been upgraded either, and that’s partly reflected in Forsberg’s new Z.
A V6 VR Twin-Turbo, but not the VR30DDTT
The only common part making a return for 2022 between Forsberg’s outgoing 370Z and this new Z is its engine. Rather than using the tram’s VR30DDTT, Forsberg’s Z will use the VR38DETT. It is a proven engine for high power and the environment in which Forsberg uses it. The heart of this BoostLogic-built engine is the Sunny Bryant Billet 3.8-liter crankshaft with BoostLogic’s custom piston set strapped to Manley rods, resulting in 9:1 compression. report.
The Supertech Performance valvetrain – opened by a set of GSC Power Division S2 camshafts and capped by a pair of Mad Sweeden valve covers – is fitted into the VR38DETT cylinder heads and maintains its boost pressure from the pair of turbochargers Garrett G30-770 contained inside the combustion chamber. Boost pressure is controlled by two Turbosmart Hypergate 45 wastegates and they dump directly up and out of the hood. The rest of the exhaust is custom made using Magnaflow parts and when turned off the MoTec ECU can trigger an anti-lag system to keep those turbos spooled up and the wastegates continually popping crowd-pleasing flames and detonations.
These two turbos feed a custom CJ Motorsports intake manifold while Deachwerks fuel pumps located inside the Fuel Safe fuel cell feed Deachwerks fuel injectors. The fuel obtained by these injectors is also regulated and filtered by Radium Engineering components. Finally, a PWR radiator keeps the engine cool while its lifeblood Valvoline is pumped through a dry sump oil system and filtered by an Oberg 600 oil filter. For extra power, a nitrous system is also fitted every times it needs more than its twin Garrett turbos can provide. Everything the engine does is monitored and recorded by a MoTec data logger.
Inside the office
A racing driver’s desk must be usable for the function for which it is intended. Being a drift car means the driver needs to be comfortable and safe while the shifter and handbrake are always close at hand. Once the king of cable-operated handbrakes, Forsberg has transitioned to using hydraulic handbrakes in his cars, this one being a 0.75-inch Wilwood master cylinder powering a second set of Wilwood calipers on the rear axle and operated by a Forsberg Racing Drift Stick handbrake handle.
The master cylinder of these auxiliary calipers is mounted so that the grip is just in front of the signature Grip Royal Chris Forsberg steering wheel. This wheel is mounted to a Woodward SFI Spec 42.1 quick release and mounted to a Woodward Motorsports steering stem. Directly above this column is an AEM CD-7 Digital Dash display which relays all vital information to Forsberg while seated in the Z.
Ballroom dancing in a steel cage during a vape rave
Surrounding Forsberg – and occasionally a passenger – is a custom roll cage for the Z, but both occupants are still held down by a set of Recaro Pro Racer seats with Takata six-point harnesses. An addition to its drift car interior comes from the off-road world with a “Parker Pumper” helmet air system from Rugged Radios. This filtered, forced air system ensures Forsberg gets cool, forced air into his helmet and reduces the amount of tire debris and smoke he has to inhale in a subsequent race. Or even in a lead race, when he really puts the power down and the smoke from his own GT Radial SX2RS tires pours into the cabin. Finally, all of the body controls – from the lights to the wipers to its cool suit – are controlled by a MoTec PDM15 with its control panel located where the infotainment system used to be.
For its footwork, a floor-mounted Tilton Engineering three-pedal box is tuned to match Forsberg’s styling, including the pressure the brake pedal sends to its twin master cylinders which feed the front and rear Wilwood calipers. back on the Z that actively slow the Z. down. His clutch pedal activates a prototype OS Giken clutch system attached to their flywheel. This prototype system sends the VR38’s power through a four-speed GSR transmission before heading to the Z’s rear gearcase which is equipped with an OS Giken limited-slip differential.
A body sculpted by the best in the business
Now that we’re out, you’ll probably notice that the Z’s body is wider than what you’ll see on dealer lots. Its visually subtle gain in width is due to the work of legendary designer, Jon Sibal, as well as the use of CAD design by Streethunter Designs to ensure that this all-new, never-before-produced kit fits perfectly on the body of the Z. It adds width without distracting from the original Z design.
In many ways, the kit complements it, as the Rotiform WGR-S 18×10 -6 offset wheels don’t stick out like many drift cars do. It really speaks to the work of Sibal and Streethunter Designs and best of all there will be a street version of this kit so it won’t just be a one off for Forsberg. The paint and decal work was done by King’s Auto Body Shop in Hunting Beach, Calif., which continues Forsberg’s dark body era with signature NOS Energy Drink color accents. They flow with much of the body work, emphasizing the car’s natural lines and still calling out its main sponsor without being too distracting.
Finally, the functional stance and control of the Rotiform wheels and GT Radial tires are provided by a set of custom BC Racing coilovers. Giving Forsberg maximum chassis angle and adjustability comes down to Parts Shop Max, especially with their Z34 Super Angle kit. Additional chassis body roll is controlled by a custom adjustable stabilizer bar setup that uses an adjustable blade on one side of the right hollow stabilizer bar.
As the blade is turned more up (where the wider side is facing out), the bar is effectively made “harder” because the blade is stronger in this position. Turning it down (where its widest side is facing down) effectively softens the sway bar because this position flexes more and reduces the movement the control arm “sends” to the sway bar. To put it more simply, if you take a ruler and try to bend it along its narrower side, it doesn’t flex, but bending it on its wider side allows it to flex more.
The very first New Z competition
When Chris Forsberg drifted his 2023 Nissan Z around the first corner of the streets of Long Beach for the first round of Formula Drift 2022, it became the world’s first-ever competition Z. Even beating the factory effort of Nissan and its factory NISMO teams in their native sports car series, the Super GT, by two weeks. It was a momentous occasion that was also punctuated by the fact that Forsberg only had six weeks to build the Z from the ground up.
Yes, not only was this the first round of competition for the new Z, but it was the first run outside of practice that Forsberg had to adapt to quickly. Fortunately, the new Z and Forsberg were ready and able to qualify in eighth place. This incredible effort shows how good the new Z is and the experience of the Forsberg Racing team. An experience that ended up bringing back their accelerated work time.