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 |   |  Behind the Scenes w/ Formula D Driver, Corey Hosford
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Behind the Scenes w/ Formula D Driver, Corey Hosford

Raised on Horsepower

Brad Iger
Aug 21, 2018
Photographer: Louis Yio

For some folks, the gearhead life is almost a foregone conclusion from birth. "I come from a family of racers - my dad was a flat track racer out in California, a factory AMA rider for Yamaha and Honda," explains Corey Hosford. "I was exposed to racing at a young age, and started racing go karts when I was six years old." In his formative days his racing interests had also led him to the drag strip, where he competed in Junior Dragster classes with aspirations of eventually ending up in Top Fuel.

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 2/10   |   Hosford's nickname, "The Boss" was given to him by Formula Drift's announcer, Jarod DeAnda. "He's the guy that dictates the nicknames of all the drivers," Hosford says with a chuckle. "Everybody has to kind of wait for DeAnda to give you a name - it could take two days or two years. I was in a competition and after one of my runs my spotter got on the radio and said, 'Well, I guess Jarod just announced your nickname - Corey "The Boss" Hosford.' That's a cool moment for us - when Jarod gives you a nickname it means you've kind of made it."

Hosford would also continue his karting career throughout his teenage years, eventually leveraging his car control expertise into an instructing gig at the Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Arizona. "I was an instructor there for 13 years, and that's where I ended up working with some of the best racers in the world," Hosford says. "We had guys like Johnny O'Connell, Michael McDowell, and of course Bob Bondurant, who was still very actively involved at the time. So that started creating this drive in me to go compete in race cars."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 3/10   |   Corey says one of the reasons he chose a 240SX is because the model is still attainable to your average enthusiast. "That particular car I picked up for $600," he says. "We evolved it into what it is now, but I wanted something that would remind people that you can still get started on a project drift car on just about any budget."

Hosford turned his attention to SCCA, NASA and ProAutoSports road racing programs, focusing on production-based classes like SC and Street Touring. "It was kind of about getting familiar with the weight and higher center of gravity versus open wheel cars and karts," he says. "At the same time my brother was racing sprint cars and I started to fall in love with dirt track racing too."

Clearly Hosford's thirst for motorsport was pulling his attention in many different directions. But then in 2004, he attended his first Formula DRIFT event. "It was actually the second round in Formula DRIFT's history, and my first time experiencing competitive drifting in the United States," he recalls. "At that point I realized there was a passion out there for it, and I loved the entertainment aspect - the spectacle of it."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 4/10   |   Hosford's 240SX sports one of the original Rocket Bunny "Boss" body kits, a widebody setup he helped the company develop.

By 2011 Hosford was competing in the sport and quickly amassed a collection of podium finishes in the Southwest Drift Series, finishing third overall that year. "That's how I was awarded my Formula DRIFT license, so the 2012 season was my Formula DRIFT debut," he notes.

At that point Hosford's steed was a Nissan 350Z that was motivated by a built LS3 with a Magnuson blower. "At that time it was the start of a horsepower arms race in Formula DRIFT," he tells us. "Everybody was looking for 800 to 1000 horsepower, so we built this crazy supercharged LS for our Z, and it was definitely a learning experience."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 5/10   |   Along with the Formula Drift series, Hosford also competes at Gridlife events across the country. While Formula Drift is a points-based series, Gridlife is something a little different. "It's one of the first motorsports festivals in the United States," he says. "What Gridlife is doing is bridging the gap between different forms of racing by creating a hub for motorsports enthusiasts - it's an exhibition event, but it's also a music festival and a place for the gearhead community to gather and have a good time."

While you might expect a tried and true, big displacement V8 to be fairly bulletproof in an application like this, that was not the experience Hosford had. "The LS made great power and it was a cool setup, but we were running into some issues with the belt drive system on the supercharger - there would be some inconsistency of belt stretch and heat that would cause the power to fluctuate. We'd start with 14 pounds of boost and end up with 7 or 6 pounds when the belt would stretch. There were just a lot of variables that were fighting against us and we were doing constant maintenance because of them. Running a Roots-style supercharger and a big water-to-air intercooler also put a lot more weight on the car, and stuffing all of it into the engine bay of a 350Z didn't leave a lot of room to breathe, so heat management was also a concern."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 6/10   |   "This season so far has been one for the books," Corey says. "We've changed so much this year and I feel like we still have so much to learn. Every year prior we have run an LS-based setup, so converting over to a wildly built 2JZ has been a new experience. As a team we are continuously going out there to learn and collect data on how we are currently performing."

When Hosford decided to change up his program in 2015, he once again turned his sights toward Nissans. "I have an attraction to older Japanese cars, and I think the culture behind the 240SX is the root of what helps drifting grow as a sport - the car symbolizes so much," he explains. "There also something cool about taking a 23 year-old car and making it competitive in modern times."

Hosford teamed up with widebody manufacturer Rocket Bunny, who wanted to create a kit for the 240SX. "We communicated back and forth with some renderings," he recalled. "And my car ended up being the first one to have the Rocket Bunny "Boss" kit. He asked me what I wanted to name the kit, and since my nickname's The Boss, I figured that fit."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kit Photo 7/10   |   A Momo Dayton Evo racing seat keeps Hosford in place during tail-out maneuvers, while an AEM CD7 digital dash relays information about the car's vitals. The car's low and mean stance comes courtesy of KW Clubsport coilovers and a Wisefab front and rear angle kit.

The car made its public debut at SEMA 2014 at the AutoMeter booth - the first non-domestic car to be showcased at AutoMeter's booth since SEMA started.

Under the hood of the 240SX currently sits a Toyota 2JZ six-cylinder mill built by Universal Machine in Las Vegas, Nevada. The setup includes a polished and forged crankshaft, a Kelford 272 camshaft, a Kelford spring set and titanium retainers, a Universal Machine ported and polished cylinder head, a Radium fuel rail, 1200cc fuel injectors from Evolved Injection, a custom AEM intake system, a Tial 44mm wastegate, and an UnderPressure Development custom turbo manifold that's paired up with a Garrett GTX3582 Gen2 turbocharger.

Corey hosford nissan 240SX rocket bunny boss kitg Photo 8/10   |   The 2JZ's fury is routed to the rear wheels through a G-Force four-speed gearbox with a McLeod twin-disk clutch rated for 1200 pound-feet of torque.

"We stuck with the stock 3.0 displacement to take any unnecessary stress off all the engine components," Hosford says. "We are running 29lbs of boost and making near 800 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. We decided to run a much smaller turbo than most people running a 3.0 2JZ because we wanted to create more low-end torque without having to add any other type of power adders like nitrous or meth injection. Simplicity is really the key. By running the GTX3582 we start producing power right around 3,000 rpm, and we continuously make solid power all the way up to our 8,200rpm redline."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX motegi MR404 wheel Photo 9/10   |   "The maintenance on the car has been very simple," Corey tells us. "We do the typical fluid changes as well as a full nut and bolt check after each event we participate in. The idea was to create a reliable engine and chassis package so we can spend more time driving on track instead of wrenching on the car in the pits."

Considering the mechanical issues Hosford dealt with in the past, it's not surprising that one of the main focuses with this build was putting together a reliable bottom end that could handle the forced induction setup. "We are running the Wiseco BoostLine rod and piston package for the 3.0 2JZ VVTi, and we are using a slightly higher compression piston to produce a little bit more torque on the bottom end," he says. "The Wiseco setup has been awesome. After each round we compression test the motor just to ensure we are continuously getting a consistent reading on all compression tests, and after three full days of track abuse our compression has not changed one bit. Our blow-by is little to none."

Corey hosford nissan 240SX Motegi MR404 Photo 10/10   |   The 240SX rides on custom two-piece forged Motegi MR404 wheels that that measure 18x10 inches up front and 18x12 in the rear. Nexen N'Fera SUR4G rubber puts the power to the pavement.

With his car setup sorted out, Hosford says he's ready to get back in the hunt. "This year for us is all about getting on the track and doing as much driving as possible. We have a fully packed schedule this year between Formula DRIFT Pro 2 and multiple Gridlife events across the United States. Now that we have an extremely reliable engine package, it's time for us to get acclimated to the new car so that by next season we will be ready to chase some podiums."

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