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Targa Rally

Road & Track Magazine has practically been living at STILLEN documenting the build on the STILLEN GT-R.  We’re in the final stages of the build, with the BASF paint recently finished, Password:JDM dry carbon goodies, suspension, AP Racing carbon ceramic brakes and final installation beginning, including track testing in preparation for the 2009 Targa Newfoundland Rally.

Road & Track have released three new videos, one covering the GT-R in the paint booth, one highlighting the ultra lightweight Password:JDM dry carbon parts and some other upgrades, and the most recent with Steve Millen discussing the current suspension upgrades being done to the car.

Road & Track Video: STILLEN R35 GT-R Suspension Upgrades

Road & Track Video: STILLEN R35 GT-R In The Paint Booth

Road & Track Video: STILLEN R35 GT-R Lightweight Body Components and Intake System

Progress on the STILLEN GT-R continues at a maddening pace, getting the car prepared for the upcoming September deadline for the Targa Newfoundland Tarmac Rally.

With most of the lightening done, including gutting the interior, Password:JDM dry carbon panels, and even subtle lightening of other components (see below.. hey weight is weight), it was time to get the GT-R into the paint booth.

Today is the last day for entry into the STILLEN 2009 Targa Newfoundland Sweepstakes!

114 prizes are up for grabs, everything from an all-expense paid trip to follow the STILLEN team as they compete in the 2009 Targa Newfoundland with the rally-prepped STILLEN R35 Nissan GT-R, gift certificates, and Road & Track prizes and subscriptions.

No cost to enter!  Entry form here:  STILLEN Sweepstakes

One of the first stages of gutting a race car is to check your starting weights. We loaded it with a full tank of gas to see how much the car weighed, and well, as expected the R35 GT-R is no Georges St. Pierre. Godzilla is a very fitting name for this car as it weighed in at a whopping 3,900 pounds full of fuel.

Gutting the Nissan R35 GT-R for the Targa Rally

Gutting the Nissan R35 GT-R for the Targa Rally

When building a race car the ultimate goal is to achieve the best power to weight ratio possible. Over the next few days we will be stripping our R35 GT-R down and weighing all of the components that come out of it. We will be weighing the doors, fenders, hood, trunk and everything else to see what we can do to lighten up those parts of the car as well.

Here are some early pictures of the tear-down. We have completely stripped the inside of the car now except the dashboard and doors. All of the panels are out and there are more plans of further parts removal coming.

60 lb seat removed from the STILLEN R35 GT-R

60 lb seat removed from the STILLEN R35 GT-R

You would not believe the how heavy some of these parts are. It is incredible! The passenger seat weighs 60 POUNDS!!!! It’s not too surprising considering how many motors and air bags are inside them. We’re going to be replacing that with a light weight, carbon fiber seat that only weighs 15 pounds…Nearly a 100 pound weight savings just by changing seats.

Here’s some photos of the current state of the R35 GT-R:

We’ll continue to prepare the R35 GT-R for the Targa Newfoundland tarmac rally, and invite you to follow along.

STILLEN is announcing plans to compete in the 2009 Targa Newfoundland Competition Tarmac Rally being held from September 12-19, 2009.  This is a 6-day 1,400 mile paved road rally through the winding roads of Newfoundland.


With Targa Newfoundland fast approaching, STILLEN has begun preparation on the 2009 Nissan R35 GT-R rally car. For the past 7 years Steve Millen has made the annual trip to New Zealand to compete in the Dunlop Targa Rally with a Ford vehicle.

Steve Millen Preparing for the 2009 Targa Rally

Steve Millen Preparing for the 2009 Targa Rally

2009 marks the first time in 14 years that Steve Millen and Nissan will head back to the races together. With multiple world championships, race wins, and world records together this will be a tough team to beat.

The car is being prepared at here at STILLEN in Costa Mesa, CA. To prepare for the rally we have a long list of modifications to make. Some of these modifications are to be kept top secret, others are very exciting and we just can’t contain ourselves. Some of the modifications will be:

Lightening – We will be removing as much weight as possible from the car. This will include, lighter racing seats, light weight dry carbon fiber body panels, and more.

Performance – With a long list of performance parts including but not limited to performance exhaust, intercoolers, tuning, and more we hope to gain A LOT more power from this already impressive car.

Braking – This one is kind of top secret but still noteworthy. Let’s just say that AP Racing and STILLEN are working on something very special that will blow a lot of people away.

Suspension – The corners of the car will be shrouded in secrecy but we have plans for shock upgrades as well as adjustable sway bars.

Follow along the build as Team STILLEN develops their Nissan GT-R in to a full fledged tarmac rally race car.

EDIT:  Work has begun to gut the R35 GT-R – See here for photos and info

STILLEN GT-R Gutted

STILLEN R35 GT-R Gutted

Well after long last, here is the in-car footage of a couple of stages from the 2008 Dunlop Targa Rally in New Zealand.  Special thanks to Streetfire.net for providing the camera equipment.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally New Zealand 2008

These videos are both from Day 1 (of 6 days) of the rally, and are full stages, giving you some of what it’s like to be part of such a neat event such as this.

Kyle Millen’s Introductions

“This was one of the longest stages of the rally.  It offered very diverse conditions.  Some spots were tight and twisty, others were wide open and fast, and a few spots were like hill climbs.  We caught four cars in this stage and we ended up beating the eventual race winner by over 30 seconds through this stage.”

“This stage was pretty tricky.  It was mostly wet and pretty treacherous.  You can see where a few cars went off.  It wouldn’t have been to go off the road in these stages as some of the drop offs were pretty tall.  This stage was run through mainly mountain roads….It was a BLAST!!!”

Streetfire.net also came down to the STILLEN compound and got a chance to sit down with Steve and Kyle after the event to discuss the rally and plans for the 2009 Targa Rally.

Subscribe to the blog as we prepare our Nissan GT-R for Targa Newfoundland this year.  A complete build is in order, and AWD on tap.. look for even more excitement.  We encourage you to follow along through this build and Targa event.

Other 2008 Targa New Zealand Coverage, Pictures, Daily Posts – Click Here

Well, the rally has been over for about a week and a half now.  I have returned home from the 2008 SEMA show and I have finally been able to sit down and breathe a little bit.  I’ve watched the videos that you will soon be seeing.  I have sorted through all of the pictures which will be making their way on to the blogs soon.  And, most importantly, I have thought about the week’s event.

Targa New Zealand 2008 Ford GT STILLEN

As I reminisce about my time on the rally a few thoughts cross my mind. First, New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. With everything from crystal clear ocean waters, to clouds lazily floating through the sky above lush green hill sides and farmlands. There is no place in the world like it. You could fill thousands of rolls of film, hundreds of memory cards, and dozens of photo albums and you will never be able to capture the true beauty of the country.


Another fond memory that comes to mind is the people. During the rally we meet a lot of people. From young kids who can’t stop smiling when they see the GT to the good ole boys sitting on their porches as they smile and wave like school children when we rumble by, and especially the competitors. I have been to many different forms of motor racing in my life and I have never seen such a friendly environment. One of my favorite aspects of the rally has to be talking with other drivers. Many times we found that the stages were a little delayed and the teams of volunteers (great groups of people in their own right) haven’t been able to funnel all of the cars through yet. So, we jump out of the car, have a little chat, talk a little B.S. and meet new people. Prior to one stage the owner of a 3 rotor RX7 actually took the time to open the hood on his car and tell me all about his race car. New Zealand is home to the most car crazy people in the world, and some of the most friendly and hospitable people I have ever met.

As much as I love the country, the people, and the overall atmosphere, at the end of the day/week we were in a rally and nothing can beat that.  No experience in life can compare to flying through closed roads with a fire breathing 700 horsepower engine screaming right behind you, propelling you into the unknown.  One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know these roads that we race on.  Sure, some of the roads are repeats from previous years but good luck trying to remember every part of it.  All you can do is put your faith in your driver and do your best to provide him or her with the information they need to get you both home safely, while still pushing hard for the win.  Then of course there is always the unknown.  What lies behind this left hand turn?  A cliff?  A car?  Maybe the roads have washed out?  Or worse yet, maybe there’s gravel strewn across the road?  The unknown is one of the most exhilarating aspects of the rally.

Steve Millen Kyle Millen Targa Rally

 

I am extremely fortunate.  This year, I was able to do the rally with a man that is not only one of the greatest race car drivers… A man that has won numerous championships all around the world in many different forms of motorsport.  I was able to do the rally with my Dad.  Every son looks at their Dad as the “benchmark.”  How can you be better, faster, stronger, bigger… Whether it be a game of basketball, golf, hockey, or racing, every son thinks “I can’t wait til I can beat the old man!”  Well, after spending some time with my Dad in his element, I am pretty comfortable just learning, and seeing what I can pick up from him.  The videos you will soon see are very exciting, but they don’t show the whole story.  When we prepared the GT for the 2008 Targa we added an AP Racing rear big brake kit that moved the braking bias 2% to the rear of the car from the factory settings.  2% is pretty small and easily controllable and under normal even extreme conditions would not cause the car to spin or lose control.  Well, Steve Millen is a little different than most people.

About half way through the second day I started noticing that we were pushing harder, we were coming into corners a lot harder and faster and if the corner tightened up, the back end of the car seemed to quickly and abruptly turn in.  I started thinking about how or why that would happen.  Then I remembered the rear brakes were so much bigger.  In the middle of the stage I asked “Are you using the brakes to turn the back of the car?  Are you coming into these corners so hot that we’re just pushing through, then you brake a little harder to use the back brakes to turn the back of the car?”  In the most matter of fact way you could imagine I heard “Yep, these rear brakes and tires are really helping the back end.”  I was blown away.  In the few split seconds that we have in these corners he was actually able to figure out how to use the rear brakes to turn the back of the car without using too much pressure and spinning the car.  Rear braking is pretty common in forms of motorsport like rally racing or drifting but the main difference is that most of those cars are equipped to use the handbrake for the rear brakes… He never touched the handbrake!  All of his pressure application was done through the factory pedals that come in the car.

I know this blog post was extremely long and wordy but I can never fully explain the week I had in New Zealand.  The only way I can think to share my experience is to invite you down and live it for yourself.  The New Zealand Targa Rally is an unbelievable, unforgettable experience that every car guy should experience.  I can’t wait to see what Targa Newfoundland has in store for us.

The original posts from New Zealand as the event was taking place can be found here:

 

Well, the rally is over and I’m exhausted…It has been a VERY long week. We are extremely excited with how the week went. The car performed relatively flawlessly. If it weren’t for the rear suspension issues the only service performed to the car would have been fuel, brake pads, oil change, a new set of spark plugs, and two new rear tires. Even then the only reason we put the tires on was because of the rain.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally

Otherwise we could have left the Michelins on for the entire week and they would have been fine. They are an incredible tire.

We are proud to announce that we won many awards. Even though I had to hand over my seat as co-driver I was able to complete over 50% of the stages before getting out of the car. Which earned Dad and I the first father and son team. We also won first V8, and first Ford. Dad is pretty sure that we came in first in our class and we know that we came 8th overall.

If a few little things hadn’t happened we are confident that we would have had a top 5 finish. But, that’s racing and you just have to roll with it. At the end of the week we are very proud of our results and our entire team’s performance.

I am really tired so I’m going to keep this entry short but I will be writing a complete wrap-up of the week’s events soon.

Thanks!

Kyle

 

Other Targa Posts:

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