It's a rare occasion to see the first car someone's ever owned grace the pages of Super Street. It's even more rare to find someone with a drift car that's been used and abused for nearly a decade that is still in one un-mangled piece. Both cases hold true for this heavily-modified Nissan. Nikolay Konstantinov's S13 has been a constant project since he first picked it up at the age of 16. Nikolay has made friends, learned a lot about cars and became Formula D licensed in the process. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with the owner and get the low down.
Super Street: Give us a little bit of history on this amazing car.
Nikolay Konstantinov: I bought the car back in the summer of 2001, right before my junior year in high school. About a year later I kinda' got into wanting to do the basics: header, intake, exhaust. I didn't know anything about cars at the time, I just saw the car in Initial D and wanted one. Then I came across a website, srswap.com, and they were doing the two-liter SR swap into a car so I looked into it a little more and ended up picking up a front clip from Blitz USA. I got the SR into the car and then got started drifting with the help of a couple of friends and it just took off ever since.
SS: Very cool, so how did you go about starting drifting? Was it through the interest of a friend?
NK: Yes a friend of mine, Chris. I remember there was a local forum we were on and I ended up buying a part off of him. When I came by to talk to him, he had a really cool S13. It was slammed on JDM wheels and everything so that got my attention. Then he started showing me a lot of things like Drift Tengoku magazines and JDM videos and I was like "wow this is really cool." Along with one of my other friends, Gary Webb, we started going to the parking lots to practice. I had the SR at the time but with an open diff so I could only turn to the left!
NK: Just like a lot of kids you see nowadays!
SS: Well you've gotta' start somewhere!
NK: Exactly! Then maybe six months later I got a two-way (LSD). At that time there were events happening over in Vancouver late 2003/early 2004 and it just progressed from there. Then the drift scene started to take off here in Washington around 2005, so we started having some local events. Prior to that there were only private, actually very-very private sanctioned events. But when 2005 rolled around the local track started to warm up a little to drifting and people started to like it a lot more. The crowds kept getting bigger and now it's a full-blown program up here.
SS: You're talking about Evergreen Drift right?
NK: Yup, it's been around for a bit, I'm starting to get recognized around town. (laughs)
SS: Why did you decide to go from the SR to the RB?
NK: I wanted a little more power and torque and I didn't feel the need to spend an arm and a leg for a build (on the SR). The RB was just kind of a better choice, especially after talking to my mechanic and he was saying this was the least expensive way to get the power I wanted. Being on a budget, we just did the turbo upgrade and right off the bat it was already making over 120hp more than what I was making with the SR. With the new setup and the turbos we have coming, I should be just shy of 500hp.
SS: It's definitely a more reliable motor for that amount of power and there should be less strain on the engine.
NK: Yes definitely and it requires a lot less boost to get there.
SS: I understand you are now Formula D-licensed, congratulations!
NK: Yes! Thank you sir!
SS: What was the experience like for you out here? I know Seattle actually has a pretty decent drift scene, but what was it like coming out here and seeing how serious a lot of people in Southern California and the surrounding areas are?
NK: To me the one thing that stood out the most was how welcome we were. We all have this one thing in common that kind of unites us. As far as going down there it really took a lot of organization. But when I did come down it was kind of a "wow" experience. I used to watch this stuff on TV, on tapes and on DVDs and whatnot. I was sitting in the line-up and I remembered seeing all these photos in the magazines of people lining up at D1 and Formula D, and I pictured being in this lineup myself and was like "wow... really... am I really doing this!?" It was by far one of the most rewarding experiences ever and the fact that the Formula D staff deemed me fit to be able to compete professionally is unbelievable. I really want to thank them for their choice. You know sometimes I doubt myself.
SS: We're all our own worst critic! So I heard you had a little run in with the wall, what was going through your mind when that was happening?
NK: (Laughs) I didn't want to hurt my car! The first thing I thought about was my taillights because they cost a lot! I started screaming in my car, it was not a cool experience! (Laughing) But throughout the day, I was watching how fast people were coming into the infield and my opponent came in a little too fast, he scraped the wall all the way around and I didn't really feel like doing that! So when I noticed I was coming in a little too fast I panicked and instead of staying on the gas I stepped on the brakes and that's the worst possible thing you could ever do! (laughs) If I would have spun it I would have been just fine but it's okay, it was just a little boo-boo! I got it all fixed and it's ready to go.
SS: Speaking of that, how's the rebuild coming along? What are your changes for the upcoming year?
NK: We're redoing the rollcage up to the Formula D standards for the 2010 rulebook. Then we're upgrading the turbos and I'm going to be running a water/methanol injection kit as well. And maybe running a different wheel setup. In the photos I have those Mag Blue TE37 rims and I'm basically gonna' be running those instead of running what I did at Irwindale. So it's going to look as sharp on the track as it does when it's parked. I'm hoping I can go a little lower too without screwing up my suspension geometry too much. It's understandable why a lot of cars are at the ride height they're at because that's where the suspension works for you. But when you drop it down really low, it looks cool but your suspension doesn't do anything. It's more of a race-oriented environment yet you still have the kid in you that wants to show off and look cool.
SS: It's all about looking cool! What are your plans for the drift season for 2010?
NK: Due to budget I'm only able to do four Formula D events. Starting here I'm going to do Evergreen then down to Sonoma then Las Vegas and finally down to LA/Irwindale. I wanted to go to Long Beach but it just didn't work out as far as getting the car ready in time. I just don't want to rush it because I've rushed things a few times and it doesn't work out too well.
SS: Better to do it right the first time!
NK: Exactly. I just want to make sure I do good and maybe get some recognition. My biggest thing is I hope I can get picked up for a sponsor for tires at least. I work for Discount Tire Company so I'm actually talking to a few people over here and seeing if they can do anything for me. The less I have to spend the better I can concentrate on driving. I'm not much of a car guy, I just drive and put wheels on cars and make them look cool! (laughs)
SS: Best of luck with that, hopefully someone will come through for a tire sponsor!
NK: Thank you! To me this is out of the blue because of all of this - Formula D, the car and even this article you're writing - all the exposure that my car has gotten is very overwhelming. And this is all very new to me so I'm still dazed from everything. I'm just a Russian kid who got into this country 14 years ago and with the help of my parents, got to where I am. All I do is cars, I can barely afford to eat.
1991 Nissan 240SX
Owner Nikolay Konstantinov
Hometown Lynnwood, WA
Occupation Assistant Manager At Discount Tire Company
Power 387hp 366lb-ft
Engine 2.5L Turbocharged RB25DET; Subaru STI 550cc injectors; GReddy intake manifold; Infiniti Q45 90mm throttle-body; Nissan R32 radiator, R34 GT-R turbos; UP Garage USA engine mounts, downpipes, metal 200 cell catalytic converter, intercooler, RB25 front cover, harness/wire tuck, catch can and breather system; Cosworth metal head gasket; HKS 4'' exhaust
Engine Management Vi-Pec MAP conversion ECU
Drivetrain R33 4.36 rear end; Cusco type-MZ LSD
Footwork & Chassis Zeal comp S street coilovers; Nissan S15 five lug conversion, 180SX rear sway bar; Cusco TC rods, upper control arms and rear toe link; TEIN tie rods
Brakes R32 GT-R front and rear brakes
Wheels & tiRes 17X9.5 +12 (front) 18X10.5 +15 Mag Blue Volk TE37 wheels; 235/40/17 (front) 265/35/18 (rear) Dunlop Direzza DZ1 star spec tires
Exterior Custom pistachio paint by JMI Motoring; OEM 180SX Kouki front bumper w/optional lip, side skirts, rear valences, taillights, optional carbon Kevlar RPS13 garnish, power folding mirrors, rear quarter glass, rear wing; 20mm front over fender, 30mm rear over fender
Interior OEM 180SX Kouki optional gradation floor mats, front seat belts, gauge cluster, digital climate control, shift knob; UP Garage USA carbon center console, carbon glove box, carbon ash tray, carbon cluster surround, shift boot; C's RB26 short shifter; Status Racing bucket seats; D1 legal rollcage; Defi boots, water temp and oil pressure gauges; MOMO steering wheel, black door inserts; power windows
Thanks You I would like to say thank you and acknowledge Erik Rittscher and Doug Smith's awesome work - they have one of the best shops around and they are awesome guys and great fabricators, everything that comes out of their shop is superb. Jeff Miller your paint jobs and body work are works of art. My Mom Marina Konstantinova for being my biggest support mentally and emotionally. Also Sean Edwards Chris Carisostomo, Irina Belzetsky, Konstantin Konstantinov.
www cusco.co.jp; greddy.com; endlessusa.com (Zeal); mackinindustries.com (Volk); dunloptires.com; statusracing.com; upgarageusa.com