From the outside looking in, the formula for a modern-day time-attack vehicle like this 2010 Mitsubishi Evo X isn't all that complex: big power, a lightweight chassis, sticky tires and extreme aero; and if you're up to snuff behind the wheel, you should be able to hang with the big boys, right? Suffice to say that what you see on race day is but a portion of what actually goes into building something of competitive caliber against some of the fastest vehicles and most talented drivers on the face of the earth. Along with the countless dollars, frustrating quirks and gremlin chasing adventures (usually at the worst possible times,) there's a steep learning curve that comes along with aligning a visionary, driver, chassis builder, tuner, etc., and it becomes a reality check for some, including Ravi Dolwani, Director at CSF Cooling, who has no problem admitting the uphill battle that comes along with the ride.
Versions 1 and 2
You've seen this car before, and actually you've seen it served up in two different ways. The first was back in late 2017 when I spotted it fresh out of paint, sitting proudly at the CSF booth during SEMA Show week. Fortunate enough to find it a day before the doors officially opened, we broke the story before the car was to be hounded by show-goers and media who couldn't get enough of the sleek, widebody conversion and obsessively detailed engine bay layout that went hand-in-hand with the scratch fabricated interior tin work and motorsport-level electronics. Was it a race car or a demo/show car? As Ravi puts it, the Evo was "race-inspired." The car did exactly what it was supposed to in that it served as a marketing tool and pulled in exceptional interest during SEMA week and in the year following and it even showed up on the cover of Super Street. It gave the world a peek at what Ravi and his hand-selected group of contributors were capable of with the platform.
After having run its media course throughout 2018, it was time to continue the car's progression, but not the standard wheel swap and vinyl wrap that most would opt for and refer to as a "refresh." Ravi adds, "It had gone from a crashed Pirelli World Challenge car originally, to a SEMA car and it had potential to become a race car but was really more built for show up to that point. I thought, let's turn this into a real racecar and see what it can do, and in early 2019, I decided to go race." Motorsport-level electronics and custom fabricated power-producing components could be found masterfully routed throughout the entire sedan and promised to deliver the sort of performance you'd expect from a build of its caliber, but the reality was, much of it wasn't going to work.
The dollars invested and the incredible work done to the Evo, Ravi found, were but a few ingredients of the much larger performance recipe. He recalls, "We quickly found out that many of the parts just wouldn't cut it in competition. The kit's front bumper was essentially a widebody bumper fused to a stock bumper with push-connected pieces and it wasn't holding up to the downforce at speed. The exhaust setup wouldn't work either. Then there was the off-balance front and rear aero setup, the steering wheel and pedal box, for a pro driver, wasn't nearly what it needed to be. We started to see all the limitations during 2019's testing." Things wouldn't get much better in 2019 as Ravi and his group made some of the changes needed to improve on-track performance but during Global Time Attack, the Evo experienced an engine fire. "It was disheartening. Here we are trying to see how far we can take the car and it catches fire. The custom wiring harness, hoses, plumbing, were all gone. The shift cables, power steering components, all melted. The whole front end would basically have to be redone. It was either cut our loses and start over or save whatever we could and ditch what we couldn't to continue on with the car."
Rather than going back to square one, Ravi chose to see the build through and address as many shortcomings as possible in order to improve on the chassis in phases. The revamp began by delivering the car to Brian Kono of Afterhours Composite Works, who would address driver ergonomics first by engineering a 3-way adjustable steering column that can be tilted in two directions as well as "telescoped." The factory pedals were replaced by a Tilton pedal assembly with up to two inches of adjustability using a clever bolt-in design that Kono created, making the system removable and serviceable with just a few bolts. In addition, a complete fire suppression system was added, as was a cool suit and fan system both for safety and driver comfort.
In the rear of the car, Afterhours worked with Verus Engineering to create custom chassis-mounted wing stands and extend the fuel cell's fill point all the way to the trunk lid, which is accessible through a port in the trunk and the entire carbon trunk lid can be removed without having to unbolt the wing or its pedestals.
With the rebuild fully underway, a new look was in order. Ravi adds, "I wanted something that would change it up and signify that it was a new version of the build. Leaving it white would have just looked like the same thing all over again and wouldn't have really drawn people's interest, so I decided to basically go the opposite direction and chose Ferrari Red." The white treatment would remain on the interior and engine bay as Ravi likes the contrasting colors, but due to the fire, a complete respray under the hood was required, and LTMW once again stepped in to handle the body and paint work.
CSF Radiators EvoX Feature Stories
The Evo was making more than enough power in version 2, but the crew noted some damage done during testing and it only made sense to rebuild while the power plant was out. New pistons and a freshened up bottom end were joined once again to the 4Piston Racing CNC head and new, dual Turbosmart wastegates with the ability for water cooling were added. Speaking of cooling, as expected, this Evo carries a bevy of CSF Radiator cooling components including a full-size Evo 7/8/9 slim radiator with 12-in. Spal fan, CSF's Boss oil cooler for the rear differential, and the previously used CSF bar and plate engine oil cooler, as well as a power-steering cooler.
As nice as the up-pipes are, they've caused their fair share of headaches while lapping, and to help remedy, Ravi had Sheepey Race create a new setup that sees the center hood-exit exhaust moved over toward the passenger side to clear driver view and push fumes way from the pilot.
As with the previous incarnation, Rywire Motorsport Electronics was once again called upon to create a custom engine harness to replace the version lost in the fire. Back on the dyno, this time the car blasted a solid 720whp and, more importantly, unveiled a lengthy list of issues that the crew tackled right away in time to make the next test day.
The Good & The Bad
That dyno session took place on November 2nd and just three days later the car was let loose on Buttonwillow for shakedown testing, and everything seemed to be working as it should. "Things were going pretty well, and the power steering was working ok during testing, but when we put the car on stickier tires and competed at Global Time Attack, it was having major issues. Turns out the pump is simply undersized, and I've got to make a decision on if we now go to an electric power assist setup, something remote, etc." The other issue at GTA was dealing with heat management near the exhaust system. "We're going to look into fixing some of the heat problems with these longer sessions using improved ducting to help blow heat out of the bay. The other thing is figuring out if we go to a traditional style exhaust setup to help with the heat issues. That would mean ditching the hood exit and having something completely new fabricated, which in turn would mean reworking some of the hoses and plumbing to make room for that it's going to be very expensive. Not only that, it's going to be time consuming and I'm not sure I want more downtime on the car.
In the 15 laps that the CSF Evo put down with pro driver Michael Essa behind the wheel during Global Time Attack 2020, invaluable data was acquired and the crew got a taste of the car's potential, even with the heat and power steering issues that loomed over the entire event. Ravi notes, "It's been a journey with all of the emotional ups and downs. This is the car's third version but now I have a pro-level team and I want to be able to put this car at a place that it can compete around the country, whether that's at Pike's Peak, COTA, Global Time Attack, or wherever."
Weight of the World
Along with the spirit crushing dollars required to get a build up to this level after some agonizing setbacks, the pressure that Ravi puts on himself to not only see this project through but to make a statement can certainly be felt. "I want this to be successful to prove it to myself and CSF but especially to everyone involved. There's a level of ROI (return on investment) that I feel this car needs to reach to make the crew, the contributors and the sponsors proud to be a part of this program."
If you ever thought that building a time attack car to compete at the highest levels was as simple as big power, a lightweight chassis, sticky tires and extreme aero, let Ravi's experience enlighten you. Like any motorsport, it's the moments you don't see, the countless hours you're not privy to, and the sleepless nights that both builders and owners go through as the pressure of a lack of money and never enough time tend to run side-by-side as you go further down the rabbit hole. You've seen more than enough SEMA builds that look the part and builders that often talk the part, but Ravi Dolwani and his crew have accepted the challenge and are dead set on turning a SEMA show car into a true racecar.
Ravi would like to thank his crew and partnerships with:
Car 2010 Mitsubishi Evo X
Owner Ravi Dolwani
Engine Manley 94mm crank; Carillo rods & rod bolts; Mahle Motorsports custom-spec pistons; 4Piston Racing CNC head; Kelford cams, valvesprings, retainers; Beryllium seats; Cosworth head gasket; ARP head studs, main studs; King bearings main crank & rod bearings; WPC treated block, pistons, crank, rods, cams; Sheepey Race custom turbo manifold, TiCon titanium exhaust with up-pipes, overflow canister, swirl po w/integrated filler neck w/CSF 1.4 bar mini radiator pressure cap; dual Turbosmart Gen-V WG40M w/individual positioning sensors, blow-off valve; Magnus Motorsports intake manifold, 82mm drive-by-wire throttle body, ruel rail; KTN Thermodynamics intake manifold spacer; XRP HS-79 PTFE hose, AN fittings; Burns stainless Hydraflow clamps; CSF Radiators Evo 7/8/9 radiator, bar and plate oil cooler, power-steering cooler, Boss bar and plate oil cooler for differential, black thermal dispersion coating; Custom Crossflow intercooler w/integrated air ducts by Afterhours Composite Works; Injector Dynamics 1700x injectors; Radium Engineering fuel dampener; dual AEM fuel pumps; DW mini pumps in fuel bladder; Downstar Inc. engine bay hardware; custom Chasing J's titanium CSF coil pack cover
Tuning 720whp; Wayne Potts International Speed Consulting; Jon Drenas 5150 Racing
Electronics Rywire Motorsport Electronics custom mil-spec engine harness; Syvecs S8 ECU; Ignition Projects coil packs; AEM Electronics sensors; HP Electronik PDM; AIM Sports MXS Strada 5-in. color display dash, GPS system
Drivetrain Sheptrans Performance transfer case service; Tilton twin disc clutch, flywheel; CAE Performance billet short shifter
Suspension KW custom-spec Competition coilovers w/external reservoirs; Whiteline high-performance tie rod ends; AK Motorsports front & rear tubular subframes, aluminum front LCAs, front outrigger arms, front & rear ARB links, anti-roll front arm brackets, rear triangle wishbones, rear short & long wishbones, custom fab camber/caster plates
Brakes Stoptech Trophy kit 4-pot brakes, Aero rotors, 660 race brake fluid; Tilton brake proportioning valve; Rywire brake lines
Wheels & Tires matte black/gloss black Rotiform LAS-R 3-pc. forged 18x11 +5 front, 18x11 -25 rear; Toyo Tires Proxes RS1 275/35; white/polished Rotiform WGR 3-pc. concave forged 18x11 +5 front, 18x11 -25 rear; Toyo Proxes R888 275/35; Yokohama A005 280/65 (for Global Time Attack spec rules)
Exterior Custom molded Streetfighter LA widebody kit and Ferrari red paint by LTMW based on rendering by Jon Sibal Design Works; Chargespeed front bumper modified by Afterhours Composite works w/ducting and molding; chassis-mounted Verus carbon fiber wing and end plates with CAD designed and CNC machined uprights by Afterhours Composite works; lexan windows; Varis LED taillights; Jun x Craftsquare carbon fiber side mirrors; Mike Kojima & MotoIQ Garage designed carbon fiber race aero created by Afterhours Composite Works; Downstar Inc. billet hardware on aero components; Chasing J's titanium hood-exit exhaust trim plate; custom livery designed by CSF radiators installed by Rhino Films & Detailing
Interior Sparco steering wheel, Circuit II driver's seat, Rev II passenger seat reupholstered by Rogelio's Upholstery in black alcantara/red stitching, widow net, race harnesses; GMG FIA spec roll cage; Afterhours Composite Works 3-way adjustable steering column, modified dash pod, dead pedal, adjustable brake bias knob under electronic control, fire suppression system, cool suit system with fan, fire extinguisher behind driver, fuel filler neck w/mount in trunk for quick fill up; ASC Speed Metal interior paneling