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Behind The Scenes, Part 1: BAR Racing and Luis De Leon Go Radial Racing

April 04, 2023

Spoiler Alert: the season is heating up and FuelTech’s Luis de Leon, Jack Greene and Xavier McBride has already pushed the Broke Azz Racing (BAR) 1969 Camaro into a runner-up position and is just thousands-of-a-second off the record for a nitrous-powered drag vehicle. It might sound easy, however breaking records and being an instant contender in the ultra-tough Radial vs. The World category wasn’t an overnight project. The planning and hard work began long before the season even started and here is the first lookbehind-the-scenes at what it takes to be one of the top door slammers in the world.

It is no secret that Luis prefers nitrous-powered hot rods—his first wicked quick street car, which he built almost 20 years ago and it utilized an early FuelTech ECU, had nitrous on it. Many years later and Luis went big with Brian Shaw and OTG Racing’s Pro Mod/RVW Camaro. In fact, it served as a rolling test bed for the PowerFT Pro Nitrous functions. And let’s not forget the dozens of high-profile nitrous combinations that Luis has influenced over the last several years that crush it in Radial Outlaw Racing Series, PDRA, NHRA, NMCA, X275, and other sanctioning bodies and categories.

So, when it came to put together a Radial vs. The World program with the BAR powerhouse race team, a nitrous combination was an obvious choice. The group picked up a 1969 Camaro that saw life in the Pro Mod ranks and it spent the winter at FuelTech being turned into a radial racing superstar.

The wheelie bars had to be discarded, a shock and strut package along with a fresh set of wheels and tires were slung the carbon fiber body, and they performed an extensive weight reduction plan—just to name a few of the many modifications made to the chassis. A FuelTech FT600 engine management system is the centerpiece of the on-board control systems, its designed to deliver Luis to record runs and allow him to be championship contender. Naturally, the rest of the FuelTech catalog was installed to keep the super-sized Buck Racing Engines running smoothly with six stages of nitrous oxide.

Power management is critical in RVW, even when the race track is prepared with an extensive amount of traction compound, and it’s a feature that the FuelTech PowerFT ECUs are renowned for handling. In addition to power management, the FT600—along with FT550 and FT550 LITE—control the transmission functions for any number of gear boxes. This application relies on an M&M TH400 that can be run as a two- or three-speed and it features a lock-up torque converter. Today’s race-oriented automatic transmissions require multi-stage line pressure controls and auto-shifting, in addition to the lock-up—all tasks the FT600 performs effortlessly.

The goal was to hit the season opening Radial Outlaw Racing Series event back in January and jump right in without any testing time. The racing gods looked favorably upon them, and the schedule changed, allowing the group more time to prepare. Luis and BAR seized the moment and rented Alabama International Raceway for a private test day. Oddly, the Camaro wasn’t run on the Mainline Hub Dyno before its maiden voyage down the track in RVW trim. Luis was confident they would be close on the tune-up because the car’s stablemate, a Pro Mod/RVW 1968 Pontiac Firebird, features a similar Buck 5.300 combination. They used that tune as the starting point, putting the car into the 3s on its first full run. By the end of the day, Luis was navigating the first 60-feet in under 1-second and making deep 3-second runs.

As mentioned earlier, the Camaro scored a runner-up finish in its maiden voyage and that happened during Lights Out 14 at South Georgia Motorsports Park when he ran a best ET of 3.57 during competition. It was a performance that has the RVW community buzzing with excitement and a month later, Luis would go even quicker with a 3.549. And that isn’t the only impressive set of numbers, the Camaro regularly cards sub .900 sixty-foot times and pulls over 4Gs at launch! Stay tuned to FuelTech’s YouTube channel for more videos showcasing the team’s adventure as they chase records, event wins, and the championship.

From the best tech support in the aftermarket ECU segment to racing at the highest levels of door slammer drag racing, there is a reason you’re seeing #FuelTechEverywhere