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Netflix "Hyperdrive" Champion Diego Higa’s Cars - Powered by FuelTech

September 11, 2023

Netflix stepped into the high-performance automotive world in 2019 with the release of its television series called Hyperdrive. The idea was to push the drivers and cars to the max using the wildest obstacle courses ever designed for automobiles. A young Brazilian drift driver, Diego Higa, captured the victory using a 2005 Mustang GT, but promptly parked it following the show’s filming. Four years later, Higa pulled the S197 Mustang out of storage and brought it back to FuelTech to prepare it for action.

The FuelTech staff, led by its founder Anderson Dick, worked with Higa on the initial build almost six years ago to ensure the vehicle performed flawlessly. The high stakes courses required precision driving; even a minor imperfection in the vehicle's performance or handling could spell disaster on the challenging Hyperdrive courses. The Mustang was wired with a FuelTech FT600 and the team ensured it was tuned for maximum power, superior drivability, and to be extremely reliable with its 520 rwhp.  

The show filmed for 27 days with only one day off during filming, testing the mental and physical limits of the drivers as well as the durability of the vehicles. The car’s performance was not without its challenges from a faulty water temperature sensor to an unexpected change in gasoline. The team initially tuned it for 93-octane fuel, the show provided the teams with high octane race gas, but the FuelTech ECU handled the change flawlessly.

After its stint in storage, Higa has dusted off the Mustang and bolted it to the Mainline Hub Dyno at FuelTech USA’s headquarters to prepare it for some fun action on the drift course. The supercharged 4.6L roared to life and unleashed 549 whp. It didn’t require any fiddling and picked up right where they left off before it was put in storage. The team rented the hub dyno for the day and with the Mustang taking up such little time on the dyno, they decided to get Higa’s real racecar out of the trailer, a Toyota GR86. He had a few turbos to test before his next Formula Drift event. Maximum power isn’t the goal in drifting and despite the turbo engine making 829 whp, the boost lag wasn’t ideal for drift competition.

Higa explained to the crew that throttle control is extremely vital in drifting success and they compared three turbochargers to determine the best one. The smaller ones were snappy and responsive, getting the nod over the larger and more powerful turbo unit.

Both cars utilize an FT600 engine management system and is part of the PowerFT ECU family, which also includes the FT550, FT550LITE, and FT450. The systems offer a complete line-up of standard features including sequential injection and ignition, O2 Closed Loop, data logger, delay box, Boost Controller, Nitrous Controller, and so much more. All PowerFT ECUs include a closed loop option for advanced and efficient fuel function, aiding in engine safety.

The FT450, FT550, and FT600 ECU units house an LCD display and touchscreen on the actual unit, showing real-time data and allowing the user to adjust ECU parameters without a PC connection. Not only does the ECU display the real-time information from the assortment of sensors wired into the engine management system, all PowerFT ECUs can data log each sensor and that eliminates the need for an additional system to be built into the vehicle. In the case of the FT600, it can record up to 256 channels of data if configured properly.

From the high stakes reality TV show that demands reliability and performance to the professional ranks of Formula Drift, there is a reason you’re seeing #FuelTechEverywhere