When you hear names like Shockwave, Juggernaut, Flamethrower and Neo, you'd probably guess the names belong to comic book, movie or video game characters. But for Fireballed! Racing in Torrance, CA, they describe a different approach toward modifying Euros; in particular, Mini Coopers.
"People treat these cars like pets," explained Tim Lawrence, president of Fireballed! Racing. "Each one has a name chosen by the owner. So it's more important to know who they are than what they want for the car."
This unique concept gave birth to several Minis with the names above, as well as one of Fireballed! Racing's employee's cars, Brian White's '05 Cooper S named "Widow." "It's short for widow maker," Tim explained. "It's the last car you want to deal with on the street. It'll ruin you. It's also a car that you can take on the track and smoke the competition with, or show off at an auto show. It has the perfect balance."
Tim molded the car using the influence of Brian's straightforward personality. "It's a blunt fist, in your face type of car, similar to how Brian is in real life."
After speaking with the crew at Fireballed!, we concurred with Tim's summary of Brian and his passion for cars. For several years, Brian worked for Meguiar's Car Care but recently moved to Fireballed! to pursue a more exciting position, wrenching on cars and advancing Mini tuning. He's currently the head of operations at Fireballed! and manages a significant portion of their project car development.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the Widow project is the motor. According to Hubie Fuh of Fireballed!, the motor was going to be strong from the start. "We're not here to redesign the car. We make the car work with the factory components and use as many factory parts as possible. Instead, it's about understanding the limits of the car and where we can push it."
With this belief, Fireballed! set out to squeeze more power from the motor by first figuring out the bottlenecks of the supercharged 1.6 liter. "Space is a major limitation, as well as the design of parts," Hubie continued. "We found a turbo is more efficient for more power than the supercharger. So we developed our own system around the factory components. The motor is low compression and uses forged rods and crank. As a safety margin, we used forged JE pistons for more durability since we needed a good base to build upon to handle the abuse we were going to put it through. We also needed to maximize what's there. After all, it's a Mini and things are smaller, so it's important to maximize flow and velocity."
By engineering a higher flowing head, intake manifold and fuel system, Fireballed! created an effective system to utilize a Garrett GT3071R turbocharger. A 75mm throttle body was also added for better airflow, while a water-to-air intercooler helps reduce charge temperatures.
Exhaust flow was helped by a dual A'PEXi 3" system with catalytic converter. The same company also helped tune and monitor the motor with its airflow controller.
Because the car would see drag strips on the weekends, Fireballed! added a 75-shot nitrous system, with the tank sitting neatly in the trunk.
"With the turbo, intercooler, electronics and fuel management, the car has become fast and flexible," Hubie told us. "It still maintains the factory ECU, and we can still turn up the boost. This car represents a true tuner philosophy, using what's there and working with it." After the turbo conversion, the Widow was taken to the dyno and put down 478hp and 380 lb-ft.
In order to put the power to the pavement, the original six-speed manual transmission received an Exedy clutch and flywheel, along with a Quaife limited-slip differential.
Suspension tuning was another important aspect, so Fireballed! fitted adjustable Bilstein PSS9 coilovers to lower the car. A host of products from H-Sport reduced body roll and chassis weakness, including a front sway bar, upper and lower camber links, adjustable end links plus strut braces. R-Speed was contacted for a rear sway bar, and M7 provided a lower front strut brace.
Ireland Engineering supplied the big brake kit in order to help stop the Widow Maker from high speeds.
For wheels and tires, 18x8" Axis Decade wheels with Falken FK452 tires were used for the streets.
Outfitted with performance elements, the Mini's exterior continued the interpretation of the Widow Maker. The factory Jet black paint was retained, but Fireballed! had the fenders color-matched, while the grille, head- and tail lights were smoked.
For a cleaner appearance, the windshield wiper arms were deleted. Oriciari cowl vents added a menacing look up front. Improving downforce for high speed is a carbon front splitter and GP rear wing. Finally, OE Aero side skirts compete the aggressive Mini.
The interior received similar treatment, with Recaro seats and leather components throughout. A Turbosmart e-boost 2 controller was wired to adjust boost levels for the track and street. Defi gauges allow Brian to monitor his boost and fuel pressure. Finally, a four-point roll-bar gave the exclamation mark to uphold the Widow name.
Fireballed! Racing isn't done with Brian's Mini. In fact, it'll be competing in our etGP Tuner Grand Prix '07, so stay tuned to see how it fares. Fireballed! revealed to us they will be striving to break 500hp for the event and with that much power in a FWD car, this Mini deserves the name Widow Maker.
2005 Mini Cooper S
Owner: Brian White
Location: Torrance, CA
Occupation: Mini Performance Specialist
Engine: Fireballed! Racing Mad Mod head, intake manifold and fuel system, Garrett GT3071R turbo conversion, JE pistons, 75mm throttle body, water-to-air intercooler, HKS SS blow-off valve, Powerflex motor mount bushings, 3" exhaust with dual A'PEXi N1 black tips, 3" catalytic converter, Nology cool wires, XRP plumbing, Meziere water pump, 75-shot nitrous oxide, A'PEXi Afc
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with Exedy clutch and flywheel, Quaife LSD, B&M short shifter
Suspension: Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, R-Speed 22mm rear sway bar, H-Sport front bar and upper and lower camber links, adjustable end links, front and rear strut braces, M7 under strut brace, Powerflex control arm bushings, urethane rear strut bushings
Brakes: Ireland Engineering brake kit with brass bushings
Wheels & Tires: 18x8" Axis Decade wheels, 215/35-18 Falken FK452 tires
Exterior: painted fenders, smoked grille, headlights and tail lights, Oriciari cowl vents, GP rear wing, carbon front splitter, OE Aero side skirts, shaved wiper arms
Interior: Recaro seats, leather shifter and e-brake boot, Whalen shift knob, JCW leather dash and down tubes, four-point roll-bar, OE European parcel shelf, Turbosmart e-boost 2 boost controller, Defi Link boost and fuel pressure gauges, Innovate IC-1 wideband controller
Audio/Visual: Infinity Kappa front and rear speakers, Pioneer Avic-N1 head unit, 10" subwoofer and five channel amplifier
Thanks: Peak Performance, JE Pistons, M2Race, Meguiars, XRP, Recaro, South Bay Mini, Garrett, Armar Body Works, Meziere Enterprises, Burns Stainless, Exedy, Quaife, Axis Wheels, Falken Tire, M&H Tires, 1320 Autos, Whalen Shift Machine, Mynes Performance, Moss Mini
Contacts: Fireballed! Racing