Chasing records for a specific vehicle platform is an obsession for some racers and they won’t stop going after the top spot until they have it. When Extreme Turbo Systems (ETS) decided to chase the EVO X world record, it was only able to get so far, so it enlisted the help of Myles Kerr and English Racing. Together they have built the world’s first 7-second EVO X, known as DRAG X, and this is their story.
The partnership between ETS and Kerr began back in 2013 when ETS brought English racing onboard to help with the car. At the time, DRAG X had been a best of 9.90 in the 1/4-mile and was the only 9-second EVO X in the world. The EVO was still a full-weight street car, making around 850 all-wheel-drive horsepower — not a slouch by any stretch — but still had a long way to go to reach the lofty goals set by everyone who was a part of the project.
“All we wanted to do at the time was go faster. In June of 2015 we ran an 8.81 at 172 in Bakersfield and I believe that made us the first EVO X to run in the 8-second zone. At the 2018 World Cup Finals, I got the car down to an 8.27 at 172mph and I felt like at that time we could totally run an 8.1 just putting a bigger turbo on it. It wasn’t until 2019 at TX2K19, when we ran an 8.16 at 180 mph, where we thought the car had 7-second potential,” Kerr explains.
After that 8.16 pass, the sole purpose of DRAG X was to be the first EVO X to run in the 7-second zone. Kerr and his team would soon learn the path to break that magical barrier was littered with obstacles. The first thing they discovered is that a 3,400-pound EVO X has the tendency to break final drives, gear sets, differentials, and transfer cases when you start to push it hard. To remedy this problem, DRAG X was put on a big diet and shed nearly 600 pounds of weight.
Getting the car slimmed-down solved one problem but was then followed by another: the struggle to keep the engine together. The 4B11 engine that powered DRAG X was a totally new platform and it required an entirely fresh approach to make power for Kerr. Aluminum connecting rod development became the focus to help keep the rods from bending and that led to changes being made to the crank that allowed for bigger rod bolts. Now that the bottom end of the engine would stay together, Kerr turned his focus to the valvetrain, and GSC Power-Division helped come up with a solution for the engine. The final piece of the puzzle was an upgrade to a MoTec M150 ECU with a custom John Reed Racing development package — this gave Kerr the latitude he needed to tune the car for maximum performance.
Kerr actually took over driving duties of DRAG X in 2018 and it was his first experience piloting a car that made this much power. After a few trips to the track, Kerr was laying down 8-second passes and was gearing up for his first appearance in competition with DRAG X at the World Cup Finals. At the event, Kerr reset the EVO X record several times with a best pass of 8.27 at 174 mph. After the World Cup, the team converted the car to run on methanol and bolted up a Precision 7685 turbo — this led to a blistering 8.16-second pass at 180 mph during TX2K19.
After the 2019 World Cup Finals Kerr made a giant leap towards earning the 7-second time slip he had been chasing. During the test session following the event, Kerr ran an 8.03-second elapsed time, but it came at a cost. The cylinder head cracked and dumped water into the cylinders and there wasn’t enough time to swap the engine out before the test session ended.
Kerr didn’t’ want to miss the chance to break the 7-second barrier, so the team drained all the water out of the engine, removed the cooling system, and pushed the car up to the starting line to make another pass.
“I fired the car up, did my routine, put it on two-step and made the pass. The car went a 1.489 60-foot, as I shifted into second it felt good and I knew I was on a pass. Now, as I shifted into third gear the car felt slower, the same thing as I shifted into fourth gear, it still didn’t feel as fast as the pass before. I had my hand on the parachute handle because I felt like there was something going on. The car ended up running an 8.01 at 183 mph, which didn’t’ make sense. Come to find out the wastegate line on the turbo fell off and instead of making over 70 psi of boost, it only ran 60 psi in third and fourth gear — that’s why it was down 5 mph,” Kerr says.
The first big event of 2020 where Kerr could take another shot at it was at TX2K20. To make sure he was prepared, Kerr rolled through the gates with a spare engine, transmission, axles, transfer cases, and anything else that would fit in the trailer. After some challenges during qualifying that included a brake caliper falling off, Kerr made it to eliminations but was sent home in the semi-finals before he could record the 7-second pass.
Kerr went to the event organizer and asked to make some exhibition runs, because the conditions were perfect for big horsepower. The waiting game began as Kerr was told they could make a pass after racing was complete. He got the call to suit up and make his way to the staging lanes.
“We added some more timing down low to get the car to have some more mid-range power. I just had to nail the launch and shift the car like a man while hoping it all stays together. I launched the car and it felt okay, then I shifted second gear and that’s when it started to feel really good. The same thing with the third gear and fourth gear shifts: it just felt fast. I pull up to the ticket booth and when the guy hands me the slip I see 7.93 at 185 mph.I called one of our guys from the shop who assembles all our engines and told him that we did it, the car still runs, and it’s ready for another pass if needed,” Kerr says.
Needless to say, that was a huge moment for Kerr, ETS, and the whole team at English Racing. Breaking so many barriers with a single car is an impressive feat and that’s not something that Kerr has ever lost sight of.
“If you would have told me at the start of the event we would not only run in the sevens, but also drive the car back into the trailer, I would have probably laughed at you. It was really cool to be a part of history like this. The changes this car has seen over the years, seeing where it was six years ago, three years ago, to a year and a half ago when I started driving it, have been pretty extensive. We as a team here at English Racing have all put in hundreds of hours into the car over the years. Not a single person here has not worked with the car at some point,” Kerr says.
The journey that Myles Kerr, ETS, and the team at English Racing took to accomplish their goal was truly magical. They proved that when you dedicate yourself to achieving a certain level of performance, it can happen.