Feature: The S2000 With Two Lives To Live

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Behind most cars, there are stories to be told.  Some are your ordinary, every day type of stories that happen to the majority of people.  I’m sure we all have lot’s of memories that are centered around our vehicles; but I doubt that they are quite as intense as the story that surrounds this particular S2000.  Why?  Because this one was at one point engulfed in flames.  Has your car ever been on fire?  Didn’t think so.  This beautiful S2000 belongs to Nhan Doan, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Wekfest LA, where he was showing his car for the day.  I liked his car so much I asked if he wanted to snap a few pictures for NDF after the show.  He happily obliged and around 5 or so we headed to Ballade Sports, where he was to drop off the car for a new tune that week.  I was hoping to have the new website up by now, here, and have this post as a sort of ‘kick-off’ of the new layout, but as you can see it seems to be taking me longer than I thought.  So, good news for all the fans I suppose, you get it early!  Click past the break to learn more about this true fighter of a S2000.

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I would imagine by now you’re probably wondering why this car was on fire and how it started.  Well, I was talking to Nhan the day before the Raceline event at Willow Springs this past weekend, and the last thing he told me was, “double check your oil filter!” – advice I’m sure he gives out often now.  His story begins and ends at Streets of Willow Raceway.  After a few hard laps around the circuit one track day, Nhan’s oil filter unexpectedly decided to unthread it self and come almost completely off.  Resulting in some synthetic 10w-30 liquid gold to ignite after coming in contact with blazing hot exhaust.  I could try and give you details, but it’s best heard from Nhan himself:

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SpeedVenture hosted the final S2000 Challenge for 2011 at Willow Springs Streets of Willow on Saturday December 3rd, 2011 with the Clockwise configuration. The morning was cold and crisp at ~35F and the average temperature of the day was rarely seen over 60F. The event started off without a hitch for the Advance group while I was chit chatting with a couple of friends and trying to keep warm. After several sessions of the other groups, the announcement came on for the intermediate group to prepare to grid. I made a final check on my wheels and suspension to make sure nothing is loose. The day was still early so I started off nice and easy to warm up the car and get in the groove. I had a couple of nice hot laps and felt that I was clocking a pretty good time for a warm up session. I was hitting the track hard and feeling the car. It felt great and stable – it was going to be a nice track day. The checker flag came out and it was time for one last cool down lap. Then and there after exiting corner two at moderate speed was when i saw white smoke coming out of my engine bay through my cf hood. I knew this was going to be bad; however, it got worse. Within a span of less than 20 seconds prior to corner 3 there were flames coming out of my engine bay. I lost control authority and spun out into the dirt. I got out of the car and away from it as fast as I could while the car is on fire. As I stood watching my car on fire I was helpless and confused. It took the on track fire department ~1.5 minutes to come to my aid and extinguished the fire. It took two big ol’ bottles.Luckily, the fire did not damage any interior components. They towed my car back to the paddock and it was just awes, oohs and ouchs all around. A track fellow was nice enough to tow my car back to my house on his trailer. Thanks buddy! The next week consisted of me tearing down the burnt engine bay and figuring out what happened. It turned out that the oil filter had backed itself out from the engine block from engine vibration at track condition, the oil sprayed onto the exhaust manifold and the fire was started from there. All in all, it was a good wake up call for me to check everything prior to track days and hard driving. Also, my car was back together and at the track within 4 months with a newer and better set up thanks to Alex at Ballade Sports. We became good friends and track buddies. The car is now in good shape and ready for more track adventures.”

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Luckily, no one was injured, but the fire ended up heavily damaging the front of the car and pretty much destroyed the engine.  The cost and emotional drain of an incident like that is enough for most people to hang it up, total the car, ditch the track and start driving a Prius.  Not for Nhan though – this roadster was far from dead.

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The car came back to life looking better than ever.  A set of Enkei NT-03’s wrapped in Nitto NT-05’s keep the car firmly planted to the ground around the race track, while a set of Falken Azenis provide a comfortable, and probably more affordable, drive on the street.  The rear diffuser and J’s Racing GT Wing give the car maximum stability on the high speed straights.

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Honestly, I’m not sure what the Penguin is about, but it matches Nhan’s personality great.  If he was a penguin, I’m sure he’d look something like this.  Seriously though, Nhan has some positive energy around him.  If you stare at him for a while, you can almost see it – like a blueish white glow.  Try it if you ever see him.

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A pair of Bride Low-Max buckets and Willans 4 points keep Nhan and his passenger firmly and safely seated as he weaves in and out of turns.  Cusco provides some roll-over safety in the form of a full cage that’s been painted black.  I like Cusco blue, but it’s a bit too flashy.  The black matches the rest of the car much better.

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Not that I totally dislike OEM S2000 mirrors, but one of my favorite mods on this car are the Craft Square GT side mirrors.  Totally bad ass and super rare.

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While the engine is now a  fresh F22 and shows no sign of fire damage, you can still see traces of the incident if you look closely.  The bubbled and burnt kevlar air intake is one obvious sign.  The new engine is intermediately built with Supertech and BC components..  The new tune didn’t go as planned, so the cams were removed and replaced with an OEM set.  I love the look of the J’s Racing half lip.  It’s a great compromise between track and street, although this is predominantly a track car.

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I’m glad to see that this S2000 has persevered through near death and lived to drive another day.  I know I say it all the time, but I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to meet people involved in this hobby, industry, lifestyle – whatever you want to call it, on an almost weekly basis.  They are always some of the most laid back, positive people I know, and Nhan is no exception.  Actually, just this weekend he made the drive to Long Beach all the way from Lancaster and we went to KBBQ with some other S2000 guys; a little reunion of sorts.  It was good times.  He’s a great guy and he obviously has great taste in his build.  Thanks for the impromptu shoot and I’ll see you on the track!  Check out that sweet black couple in the background haha.  See below for a full mod list – there’s no doubting that this is a true track car.  Hope you enjoyed – cheers.

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Modification List:

Propulsion:

2005 F22C1

NRG Mugen-style carbon fiber intake (track)

OEM gutted airbox + Spoon snorkle (street)

K&N air filter

Private Label Manufacture header (wrapped)

Mishimoto radiator hoses

Exedy Clutch kit

Ballade Sports stainless steel clutch line

Competition Clutch light weight flywheel

Hondata intake manifold thermal gasket

Supertech dual valvesprings

Supertech titanium retainers

Supertech flat valves

Brian Crower stage 3 N.A. cams

J’s Racing strut bar

J’s Racing engine torque damper

J’s Racing header heat shield

Ballade Sports AP2 secondary drive gear

Berk’s 3-inch header back exhaust

    Cusco radiator cover
J’s racing oil filter stopper

Ballade Sports custom timing chain tensioner

TopFuel oil catch can

AEM EMS Version 2. Programable ECU

Motul motor oil

Suspension:

Buddly Club N+ coilovers

Whiteline front sway bar

Wicked Racing front tie-rod ends

T1R front bumpsteer kit

J’s Racing front Roll Center Adjusters w/camber plates

GT Spec front lower tie brace

Science of Speed front x-brace

ASM ladder bar

Megan Racing rear bumpsteer kit

Spoon-style rear brace

Exedium drive shaft spacers

Exedium differential collar mounts

T1R rear spacers

Ballade Sports steering rack solid bushings

Resistance:

Powerslot cryo-treated slotted front and rear brake rotors

Cobalt Friction race pads (track)

OEM brake pads (street)

GT Motoring stainless steel braided brake lines

Motul 600 racing brake fluid

Silicon hose brake ducts

Wheels and Tires

Track:

17×9 +40 Volks CE28N

255/40-17 Toyo R888

Street:

18×9.5 +40 Enkei NT03+M

255/35-18 Falken Azenis R615K

Mutegi forge open ended lugnuts

Exterior:

J’s Racing half lip spoiler

J’s Racing dual CF canards

VIS Spoon cf hood

BeatRush aluminum under panel diffuser

Extreme Dimension side diffusers

Craftsquare CF racing mirrors

Custom front OEM fender flares

Shines ASM-style rear overfenders

GT Motoring CF dual exhaust cap

VIS Spoon-style rear diffuser

VIS cf trunk

J’s Racing Type 1 GT wing

Evasive Motorsports high rise wing stands

Password:JDM hood dampers

Veilside spoiler

NRG stubby antenna

T1R Tow hooks (track only)

Interior:

Bride VIOS Low Max seats

Buddy Club seat rails

OEM S2000 CR shift knob

Prosports Oil temperature gauge

Prosports Oil pressure gauge

Prosports A/F gauge

Cusco 4-point roll cage, custom color

Willans 4 point harness (driver)

Momo Tuner steering wheel

Works Bell Hub

Modifry rear camera mount