We've closely followed the progress of Project NORAD over the past 11 months or so and, to be honest, it has sometimes been a frustrating experience. A project like this is bound to have its ups and downs. Team NORAD started out with a center-drive chassis design that was promptly banned by the NHRA, resulting in a complete rethink of the whole concept. Delays in the construction process caused Christian Rado to miss the majority of the 2004 season but, as radical as this car is, the end result should be worth the wait. The thing is sick.
Bob Norwood and Christian Rado battled through and are finally ready to unleash the all-new NORAD Toyota Celica. The past month or so saw the crew at Norwood's shop in Texas bolstered with the full-time addition of a couple of Rado's crew members and Rado himself.
"I think it makes a lot of sense for the crew members to be involved in the final stages of the construction," Rado commented. "This is a unique racecar and this gives the crew a chance to learn the ins and outs of the car. We are also rapidly running out of time so every extra hand is needed." The lights have been burning long into the night and the entire team has been spending just about every waking hour twisting wrenches in an all-out effort to get the beast ready for action.
Nuts N' BoltsTeam crew chief and fabricator Tony Palo has been crafting all manner of parts and because of the unique design has been letting his creative juices flow. A perfect example of this is the intercooler. Starting with a Turbonetics core Palo then added a water tank on top. The water is cycled by an integral Meziere electric water pump through the cooler and is dumped back into the tank. Mounted to the end tank is a massive, custom Ford Mustang SVO 86mm throttle body, which in turn is mounted to the custom fabricated intake manifold. The lightened Turbonetics blow-off valve is also mounted directly into the intercooler. This whole assembly mounts on the chassis forward of the left front wheel where its weight can assist in maximizing traction.
Connecting the intercooler to the turbo are custom pipes secured with "Wiggins" style quick release clamps. The whole engine package is designed to allow it to be changed out in a matter of minutes.
Over on the opposite side of the chassis, the Turbonetics T88 Y2K is mounted on Palo's custom stainless-steel header system along with a pair of Turbonetics wastegates. All of the turbocharger system components have been treated with a special Calico heat-dispersant coating, hence the matte-black finish. A JAZ two-gallon fuel cell is installed on the same side to help even up the weight balance from left to right.
Before the car was rolled out of the shop the team corner-weighed it in race-ready trim with Rado strapped in the driver's seat. It was no surprise to the NORAD team when the balance was almost exactly to the original design specifications at 50/50 from side-to-side and 70/30 front-to-rear.