This 1500 HP E85-fueled Switzer GTR Headed to TX2K13

Switzer E1K-X

Switzer Performance has a special place in my cold, black little heart. You might think it’s because I regularly contribute to their blog, or it’s because I helped launch the company with Tym and David back in 2009, or you might think it’s because I’m especially close to the whole family. You’d be wrong, though. I love Switzer Performance because they absolutely “get it”. This car – a 1500 hp, flex-fuel, E85-powered world-beater – is just one more example of the Switzer family’s obsession with detail and efficiency.

OCD is, apparently, a totally genetic thing.

That said, if the car you see in these pictures seems familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it before – back when it was making “only” 1000 horsepower at last August’s Airstrip Attack runway drags. After running strong at all 3 days and finishing 2nd in several of the classes (making it, I argued, the “spiritual winner” of the event), the car’s owners at Boulder Nissan reached out to the Switzers and asked them if they could go further on the factory engine block without making a move to toxic race fuels (something neither the car’s owner, J, or the Switzers wanted to do).

So, how far could they go?

Apparently they could push all the way to 1500 hp, and the car is – as I write this – headed to Texas for the annual TX2K13 race. The event itself has evolved from a bunch of guys with a dyno and a dragstrip to the TX2K – one of the most exciting, all-weekend-long motorsports events a dedicated horsepower enthusiast can experience.

You can check out a trailer and preliminary schedule for the TX2K13 race, below …

… and take a look at some of the high-resolution photos taken “behind the scenes” at Switzer Performance during the re-construction of the Switzer E1K – into the E1K-X. The “X” may be for “extreme”, but it’s the E (as in “E85”) that makes this car a whole lot of renewable, clean-burning fun.

You might be wondering, how does the E85 impact the engine’s reliability?

The VR38 (Nissan-speak for “GTR engine”) is a solidly-engineered hunk of aluminum developed by Nissan-Renault. The same corporate entity responsible for the engine that powered the last 3 consecutive Formula 1 world championship-winning Red Bulls.

The amount of engineering that Nissan put into the VR engine was obvious as soon as Switzer started exploring the package in 2008, and it spoke volumes about Nissan’s engineers. The durability of the all-aluminum block and its plasma-sprayed, low-friction cylinders, however, remained to be confirmed at the power levels we intended to run. “We knew what the block and the OEM cylinder linings should have been capable of handling, thanks to our early studies,” explains Tym Switzer. “It wasn’t until our blueprinted engine program was finalized and we were getting serious miles on the cars, though, that we were able to check our early math against real-world data.” The results speak for themselves: dozens of Switzer-built engines with many thousands of hard-driven miles to their credit, and zero bottom-end failures. “My dad (Tym Sr., who runs Switzer’s engine shop and started teaching me the art of engine building at an early age) gets a lot of credit for that record of reliability,” says Tym, “but I think he’d be the first guy to tell you it’s the VR38 engine’s superior engineering that makes that possible. The way the geometry of the VR block is constantly distributing stresses across the block and Nissan’s cylinder lining is fantastic. It was on these observations that we didn’t change the way loads traveled across the block by boring the out the cylinders, and we both adamantly opposed tampering with the block’s closed-deck structure. Even with alternate fuels, which some people thought initially might cause the cylinders to de-laminate the bore lining, we haven’t seen any evidence of (damage) in the plasma sprayed bores.”

So, yeah. Take that, crazies.

Here’s to taking a gun an Apache helicopter to a knife-fight.


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Source | Photos: Switzer Performance.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.