10.27 @ 133 mph631 whp
Vince Fiore from Des Plaines, Ill., never gives up. If it wasn't for his perseverance, the lightning-quick MR2 that graces these pages of Turbo would never have been completed. When he first set out to build an MR2 drag car, most people thought he was crazy. The project was a waste of time and money.
The guys at the local performance shop wouldn't sell him anything for the "Mister 2." In hindsight, he wonders if they probably didn't know what to sell him. He had to figure it out from square one.
In the fall of 1999, Vince found a banged-up 1993 MR2 to play with. It didn't take Vince long to strap a 50-shot of nitrous on the Toyota. With 22-inch slicks out back, he was able to run 13.1 in the quarter mile. Many car enthusiasts from the Midwest send their cars in for "upgrades" during the snow-filled winter months. Fortunately for Vince, besides his bling, bling CLK 430, he owns a 4WD 1990 Honda Civic wagon-that he calls the $hit Box-for the horrid winter months. Vince ripped out the engine and interior of the Toyota and sent the shell to the body shop. He wouldn't see it until 10 months later.
During the vehicle's down time, Vince started collecting parts for his ultimate MR2 dragster. He purchased a third-generation engine, forged 8.5:1 compression pistons, forged con-rods and a turbo kit imported from Japan.
Vince sent the engine to a well-known Toyota Atlantic engine builder in Wisconsin for some massaging. The bottom end was balanced, blueprinted and assembled with 86mm low-compression pistons and forged connecting rods. The engine still displaces 2.0-liters and runs the stock crankshaft. Up top, the head features stock valvetrain parts and stock cams and adjustable cam gears. Sealing the two halves together are a modified second-generation three-layer stainless-steel head gasket and upgraded head studs.
After the body was out of the paint shop, Vince sent the MR2 in for a complete roll cage. After waiting six months for one shop to complete the job, he sent it to John at Speed Tech in Cary, Ill., a real NHRA chassis shop. Five months later, the cage was complete, along with the parachute, window net, aluminum rear wing, seat and five-point harness setup.
The built engine was next in line, which he installed by himself-without a lift. Note: It's almost impossible to perform an MR2 engine swap without a lift. One more winter passed and still he worked on it.
A ClutchMasters FX500 transfers the power to the 26x10.5 slicks out back. He also installed the turbo kit, which he custom ordered from Japan. He mounted the two fuel cells, one for the C-16 race gas and the other for the air-to-water intercooler. Vince had a long-runner intake manifold and 70mm throttle body custom fabricated. Because the vehicle would be a complete drag car, the factory wiring harness was ripped out. Vince wired the aftermarket engine management himself.
By 2002, three years after he started the project, the car was coming together. Driver's Image sponsored the odds-and-ends touch-ups before putting it on the dyno. On its first pull, the car roared to 359 hp to the rear wheels. After some fine-tuning of the engine management, the car laid 455 hp to the rear wheels at 19 psi.
Vince's car was done. After a few passes down the street, he was nearly arrested; instead, he got off with a stern warning: If the authorities ever saw the car on the streets again, not only would the car go "bye, bye," but Vince would also be thrown in jail. Yikes.
On its maiden run, the Driver's Image MR2 ran a mid-12 at 125 mph. On its second pass, the car ran a 10.78 and claimed bragging rights as the fastest MR2 in the country. Vince then installed the same 50-shot nitrous kit from three years earlier. Now the car runs 10.27 at 133 mph.
Vince tells us the car lifts the front wheels off the ground off the line. Since the 10.27 run, Vince has been busy installing a new twin-disc Clutch Masters FX700 clutch, along with an upgraded clutch-type LSD. The MR2 was retuned at 30 psi and now puts down 631 hp to the rear wheels with the aid of a 50-shot of nitrous.
Vince is planning to take the Toyota to the track and hopes the Driver's Image MR2 will be running 9s when the article hits the presses. He thanks the Driver's Image crew, Gregg and Joe, Louis at Clutch Masters and John at Speed Tech for all their help with the car. Without them the car would never be running.
To all the people who doubted him: You can achieve anything if you never give up on your dreams. We congratulate Vince on this awesome Toyota.