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Joey Redmond: Drifting Into an LS3 Swap

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Joey Redmond: Drifting Into an LS3 Swap

Joey Redmond's trajectory in the automotive scene may best be described as a "slippery" slope. And we mean that literally. As one of the drifting world's key proponents and the founder of Wrecked Magazine, the largest drifting website and information source for the sport today, Joey's voice is one that is highly respected.

First catching the drifting bug after filming 'Slide America', a documentary that chronicles the early days of the drift movement in the U.S., his passion for the sport is unparalleled. Joey's near ubiquitous presence at Formula Drift events are pretty much a testament to that fact.

We recently linked up with Mr. Redmond and he was eager to tell us all about his current project, a Nissan 240sx that underwent a Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine swap, as part of his new endeavor, Fuelculture.com. The site, an enthusiast's dream, pools product information, part vendors and reviews, in an attempt to educate and assist consumers in making the proper purchases for their own build projects.

"We hope our new web project will help simplify the project car build process for all users so we can have more complete cars on the road regardless if you're drag racing, drifting, rock crawling, or just using the car for a daily commute. At the end of the day we're just hardcore car enthusiasts with a passion for building cars and an irrational love for Chevrolet Performance LS engines," says Joey.

Being that we know there's no such thing as an "irrational" love for the LS, we invite you to read on and get sideways with us as we go in depth with Joey Redmond to find out about his passion for the LS platform and why he chose it for his 240sx, as well as why he feels many other tastemakers in the sport are following suit.

Tell us a bit about your early exposure to drifting?

Joey Redmond

I originally discovered drifting in 2005 when I was a photographer for a popular Import magazine. They sent me out to Formula Drift and I was blown away at how exciting all of it was. Since that weekend at the race I have missed less than five total in the series history.

When was the first time you saw an LS motor competing in drifting?

Joey Redmond

At my first event, before the LS revolution came to Formula Drift, there was a Chevrolet El Camino with a supercharged LS1 engine. The car was run on a very tight budget with a young driver but they managed to finish out the 2005 season in the top five. I think this was when everyone in the paddock realized that the LS engine platform was the future.

Did you feel that the LS-powered vehicle had an advantage over the other cars competing?

Joey Redmond

The big reason we put in a Chevrolet Performance LS3 into our Nissan 240sx comes from the obvious reasons, such as affordable horsepower. Chevrolet Performance has such a huge support system behind their engines you would be foolish to look anywhere else. They have the largest dealer network in America so no matter where race day is, or wherever you are driving around America, you have quick access to parts and labor.

You can also simplify your build with an LS engine by removing a turbo, intercooler, blow off-valve, waste gate, and all the other stuff you need for a forced-induction engine. This just adds weight, forces you to run expensive gasoline, and creates undesirable power bands.

How soon after that did you feel that the LS was the best way for your team to be competitive?

Joey Redmond

If you want to be competitive in drifting you are left with very few options. Low-end torque and a huge aftermarket really make this platform an easy choice. Within competitive racing you always want to get points and never miss a chance to compete because something dumb has happened to your engine – like a broken water pump. Our 240sx originally had a SR20 engine and if we lost a water pump we would have to hope for the best which most likely would result in shipping one over from Japan.

Regardless, at that point, the weekend of racing is finished and you're sidelined; costing you championship points and making you look bad in front of your respected sponsors.

When you received your engine what was the first thing you thought?

Joey Redmond

The feeling of opening a crate engine shipped from Chevrolet Performance was more exciting than any other gift I've opened in my life. You almost can't put into words how exciting it is!

Had you ever done a V8 swap before? And how difficult was it to get or fabricate parts needed for the swap?

Joey Redmond

This was indeed my first ever V8 engine swap. Thankfully the guys at Sikky Manufacturing make LS swaps into a 350z/G35/240sx a piece of cake. The motor mounts place right into my factory locations and mount right to the LS engine. These mounts allow for hood clearance and space for everything else to fit perfectly.

The swap kit comes with an oil pan to clear the crossmember, motor mounts, transmission mount, headers, and a driveshaft making this swap kit literally a breeze. With this swap kit it's probably easier than almost any other swap into our chassis and required no fabrication on our end. We just needed your standard tools and a big hammer to make the bell housing fit.

What parts made up your swap?

Joey Redmond

Our engine swap and build was all done through Fuelculture.com. We started off with an Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine and a Corvette accessory drive. A QuickTime bellhousing helped mount a Tremec T56 Magnum transmission to the engine with a SPEC clutch and flywheel making everything work. A Sikky Manufacturing driveshaft connected the car together with a Kaaz differential finishing up the build.

For horsepower we have a SCT flash, Chevrolet Performance Parts hot cam, K&N intake for a 2010 Camaro we modified a tad, along with some Sikky headers, and a custom ARK exhaust system. All of this provides a great platform for performance and connects to our STACK unit for reports on speed, temperatures, and RPM.

The first time you were able to drive the car and lay into it -- can you tell us how large the grin on your face was?

Joey Redmond

Oh man, ear-to-ear! The first time the car fired up I just couldn't believe it. Then, after driving it, I was blown away. A 2,600-pound 240sx with an LS3 is breathtaking. Sadly while driving it up and down the shop parking lot we attracted a lot of attention, so our fun time was cut short. Ironically people were more curious about how and why we put an LS3 engine into our 240sx than anything else. One guy jokingly asked us to keep it down, but told us it probably wasn't possible since they heard us from over a mile away.

Do you think that the LS swap is becoming the norm on the drifting circuit?

Joey Redmond

Yes, it is the best option for a drift car on the market. Regardless of your feelings or favoritism towards other brands or products you cannot deny the LS platform is a success. Right now over 30% of the grid in Formula Drift is running a Chevrolet Performance-based LS engine platform, easily. Affordable and reliable power mixed with tons of low-end torque just helps put your race program one step ahead of the competition.

Can you see it evolving?

Joey Redmond

Motorsports are always evolving as time goes on. If you look five or six years ago most drivers were running standard LS1 engines and now people have been migrating to the LS7 platform. The opportunity for bigger displacement to make more horsepower is tempting and justifies the extra cost of the bigger engine. I imagine in the next few years people will be converting to superchargers, turbo kits, or nitrous to add even more power to these engines in the future.

For what you're looking for is a forced induction LS needed? If so, what's your poison?

Joey Redmond

I really want to add a Nitrous Express plate kit to make some extra horsepower with our LS3 engine build. Most of the nitrous kits in drifting right now are being used to help keep forced induction moving along or to keep air temperatures cooled. I really just want to make some huge horsepower with a nitrous kit.

We hear you have quite the traveler's foot. What was the wildest car you've seen an LS installed in and where did you see it?

Joey Redmond

When I was in the United Arab Emirates I got a ride in a twin turbo Chevrolet Performance LS7-powered sand rail, and that was one wild ride. That thing could barely keep the front end on the ground when flying around the dunes outside of Dubai. That's the coolest thing I've seen with an LS engine -- on wheels at least!

The BLOCK would like to sincerely thank Joey Redmond for his time and contributions to this story. Have you conducted an LS swap? Check out some more pics, compliments of Joey, below, then sound off in the LS Forum and let us know about your project!