Jesse Greenslade might be a relative newcomer to drifting, but he’s wasted no time in amassing a badass arsenal of tyre-killing machinery
When drifting first arrived here on our shores, it was incubated by bootlegged Option DVDs and Limewire-sourced sketchy potato footage of AE86s, S13s, and FC RX-7s blasting the touge in Japan. That was enough for the sport to find its footing here and solidify itself as anything but a passing trend, soon spreading like a certain pandemic and spawning a new breed of driver, this time influenced first-hand by one of the most intoxicating and addictive places you can find yourself — the passenger seat of a drift car. Like any good drug, all it takes is one hit and you’re chasing that high your entire life.
The name Jesse Greenslade is one most of you will know of, but what might surprise some is the fact he is fairly new to the sport compared with some of those he now goes door-to-door with. In fact, the very man who introduced him to the sport now finds himself regularly on the opposite side of the battle tree to Jesse. We’ll call him ‘Jesse’s pusher man’, as not only did he give him his first taste of drift, but he also found him his first drift car.
Jesse recalls: “I’m friends with Zak Pole, who invited me down to a drift day, put me in the passenger seat, and took me around the track — after that, I was hooked. Not long after, he found me a good car to learn the ropes in — Andrew Redward’s old 400-ish-horsepower [298kW] RB25 Nissan S14.”
That car served its purpose for two years before Jesse went all-in to build his version of the ultimate S15 — a true 746kW drifter that runs a billet RB, has seen action both here and in Australia, and would have also been in Japan right now for Formula Drift (FD) had the world not completely shut down for 2020.
While competition drifting is something into which Jesse puts a lot of resources and energy, it’s really just the art of oversteer that has a grip on him.
“I just want to be involved with cool stuff; it doesn’t have to be all competition. It isn’t my driving force, but I love drifting — it’s in my blood and it’s what I think about most of the time. I just want to be behind the wheel and surrounded by like-minded people just going out and having fun,” he says.
Jesse’s personal car collection borders on insanity, and, looking at everything, you’d almost be at a loss to pigeonhole him into any one thing. It’s not all drift centric, either; Jesse’s got some old American muscle, a Euro or two, and there’s even a supercar lurking in the garage. But one thing is really clear: Japanese cars — especially his pair of Mazda RX-7s — are where his heart lies.
The Series 6 Mazda RX-7 FD3S
Jesse is a self-confessed car guy and has been that way as long as he can remember. Like most of us, though, his early days were not cash-filled, meaning the dream machine at the time — an FD RX-7 — had to wait. Instead, the void was filled with all manner of four-wheel-drive machines better suited to rally stages than drift sections. It wasn’t until the age of 24 that he could eventually live out his childhood dream by purchasing an FD. The RX-7 would be Jesse’s first full build; despite that, he went all-in on the project. This meant ordering a brand-new (at the time) Rocket Bunny kit out of Japan — the first on New Zealand roads after ‘MADBUL’.
Under the bonnet went a single-turbo bridgeported 13B, which has more recently been rebuilt by Curran Brothers Racing (CBR) and fitted with a BorgWarner 8374 turbo and modified intake manifold by Pariah Custom Werks. It’s controlled by a MicroTech LT-10s, with power levels sitting at 335kW to the tyre. This is what you’d call a ‘mild build’ for Jesse, although even this has inevitably ended up seeing some track work. Soon enough, it became more a race car in street-car clothing than anything else, with a Holinger HS6 gearbox, hydro handbrake, and Cusco two-way limited-slip diff (LSD) in the rear. The steering package came from ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett, with TCP Magic billet upper arms and his own cut-and-shut knuckles — something Jesse has found to work extremely well, even to the point at which it has influenced how he sets up his dedicated track cars.
“Everyone is all about Wisefab and this and that, but for myself I just found I preferred how the cut-and-shut knuckle felt,” Jesse tells us. “We took it around the track, and, even though it’s pretty stock compared to my other cars, I was just able to throw it around and the mechanical grip it had just blew my mind. It was on radials and the grip was insane.”
The more Jesse hit the track and beat on the FD at the likes of Drift Force, the more it just didn’t seem right. This was his baby, his first build, and the one he’d never sell. All streetability had been lost, and the longer this mint FD was drifted the more likely something catastrophic would happen to it. With that in mind, the Holinger gearbox was removed last week, and a stock FD box put back in, and the hydro handbrake removed.
The Mazda still has all the suspension, the Tein coilovers, the dual rear calipers, and the MM lock kit, but now, sitting back on 19-inch Work Emotion 2Ps, it’s a streeter once more.
1996 Mazda RX-7 (FD3S)
Engine: 13B Bridgeport turbo; CBR ported Series 6 (S6) plates, Pariah Custom Werks modified intake manifold, BorgWarner 8374 (1.05 rear), MicroTech LT-10S, Davies Craig electric water pump (EWP), V-mounted Fenix radiator, ID1000 injectors, four-inch stainless exhaust, Adrenalin R muffler
Drivetrain: Holinger HS6 / Factory five-speed, Direct Clutch single-plate, Cusco two-way LSD, billet axles
Suspension: Tein Super Street coilovers, Mad Mike (MM) knuckles, TCP Magic billet upper arms
Brakes: OEM front calipers, slotted rotors, ASD hydraulic handbrake, dual rear calipers
Wheels/tyres: (F) 19×9-inch Work Emotion 2P, 235/35R19 Nitto NT555; (R) 19×10.5-inch Work Emotion 2P, 285/30R19 Nitto NT555
Exterior: Rocket Bunny V2
Interior: MicroTech dash, Sparco wheel, Turbosmart e-Boost Street 40, Recaro fixed-back
Fuel type: 98
Tuner: Brent Curran at CBR
After a few years of learning the basics of drifting in his old 298kW S14, Jesse wanted to give competition a go and build something to a pro level. It just so happened that at the time his favourite car was an S15, so a shell was picked up and a cage by BD Motorsport soon followed. Jesse’s now been competing in D1NZ for the past three years, with development never slowing thanks to his in-house crew chief Matt Gibson of Pariah Custom Werks. Barely a round goes by without things being refined somewhat, and it’s only now that Jesse feels they have a solid package.
“It took me a couple of years to get the car properly dialled in. There is so much more than just buying all the parts and putting it together,” he says. “We’re only just now getting comfortable in it, and having a good reliable package I can beat on. We’ve done like 200 tyres, and it’s going strong. From all the issues we’ve had, I forget that all that bad stuff even happened.”
The issues Jesse is talking about all stem from pushing factory parts well beyond what Nissan ever envisioned. The first RB30, which ran a factory block and crank while pushing out 450–500kW, snapped two cranks in very quick succession.
Jesse recalls, “We pulled it down to recon it after a couple seasons and then went out, kicked the clutch on the first corner, and snapped the crank. Then we spent 10 grand rebuilding it and went out and on the second corner snapped that crank.”
This led to the first Nitto stroker kit and all its forged goodness, but then the issue simply shifted to cracking cylinder wall liners in the old cast block. It wasn’t until Jesse’s trip to compete at World Time Attack Challenge (WTAC) that the answer came.
“I was walking along with Bruce Tannock and we saw these big shiny blocks on display so we went over and they showed us a billet RB block that could be 2.8, 3.2, or 3.4. I asked how much and they said 12 grand — I thought, Damn, that’s not bad, so, not long after, a big shiny billet block showed up on my doorstep.”
You’d think the woes would be over but running billet comes with its own issues, many of which the team was left to find out the hard way. or example, you need to convert from the dual factory tensioner to a custom single unit. Otherwise, the block expanding and contracting will stretch the cambelt and you’ll skip five teeth at Pukekohe. There was also an issue with a head that was flowing way too much air.
“We’ve had one head that had over 100 hours of porting on it; it flowed so much we just couldn’t get the air out the back of the turbo,” Jesse says. “It was causing the exhaust valves to float. Some people think we’ve blown four or five engines, but we keep just bending valves. So it wasn’t a major — we’d just pull the head and replace the valve. But then you have to go back on the dyno, and the effort involved, etc. etc. It became a nightmare, so we took that head off and went back to the old head, which had only about 50 hours of port work, and the problem went away. Stuffed with 292 cams from Kelford, the package has turned out over a 1000hp [746kW] on the rollers, although that’s not at normal operating psi.”
The teething issues are a distant memory now — the team persevered with the package and the result is now a rock-solid monster package, from the billet Hypertune intercooler to the brand-new Holinger RD6 sequential and Winters rear end. Truth be told, a detailed spec list would fill this entire magazine — it’s a proper race car, and the package is truly world-class.
Nissan Silvia (S15)
Engine: Nissan RB32, six-cylinder; Bullet billet block, 3.2 Nitto stroker kit, BorgWarner EFR 9280 (1.45 rear housing), NDT Developments exhaust manifold, four-inch straight pipe, Hypertune intake manifold, Hypertune billet intercooler, Ross Performance dry-sump kit, ID1700 injectors, FuelTech FT550, Haltech PDM, R35 coils, Platinum Racing Products (PRP) crank trigger, Hi-Power Performance cam trigger, Tomei cam gears, 292 Kelford Cams, ATI damper, Fluidyne oil cooler, rear-mounted radiator (-20 braided lines), Magna fuel pump, Jaz fuel cell, 150 wet shot nitrous oxide kit, Ross Performance billet rocker covers
Drivetrain: Holinger RD6 six-speed, Direct Clutch Services twin-plate, Winters Quick Change rear, billet axles
Suspension: MCA Red coilovers, 555 knuckles, Parts Shop Max (PSM) lower arms, PSM full rear catalogue including drop knuckles, Woodward steering column
Brakes: Tilton push-type pedal box, ASD handbrake, Wilwood Superlite six-pot calipers, Wilwood two-piece rotors, two-pot Nissan dual rear calipers
Wheels/tyres: (F) 18×9-inch AL13 custom three-piece, 235/40R18 Nankang AR-1 (80 treadwear); (R) 18×10.5-inch AL13 custom three-piece, 265/35R18 Achilles 123
Exterior: Rocket Bunny V2, Pixelsaurus livery
Interior: Sparco seats/belts, BD Motorsport roll cage, Racepak switchboard, FuelTech dash, Holinger gear indicator, suit cooler
Fuel type: E85
Tuner: Brent Curran at CBR
The four-rotor GS300
To most reading this, the thought of having a certified 746kW drifter is insanity, but what if you had two in the shed? Bonkers — right!? Well, Jesse’s second 746kW drifter came about one night after he popped a bottle with his girlfriend, only to stumble on a certain 26B turbo Lexus GS300 owned by Carl Thompson.
“I had priced up a four-rotor maybe five times over the past five years and it kept coming back at 80–90 grand just for the engine. I was at the track one day and it had been booked with Carl Thompson. I didn’t know who he was. We ended up becoming sort of friends, and one night Carl posted the GS300 up on Facebook and asked how much. We got to a price, and it was just too much car for the amount of money that he was asking. We went up there, as I’d only ever seen it in photos. Before seeing it, I wasn’t a massive fan or anything but thought I’d just go have a look. As soon as he pulled the cover off and fired it up, that was pretty much it,” Jesse remembers.
Remember all the trials and tribulations he went through with the S15? Well, Carl had already been there and broke that with the GS300. NZPC has covered the car extensively over the years, as Carl was always trying new stuff, and in its final form it was making over 1044kW at the tyre on 30psi. With Jesse only planning to have fun with it, running such high numbers was deemed too much admin.
Crew chief Matt recounts, “When Jesse was looking at the car, I was just saying there is no point us getting it at that horsepower; we’ll just be breaking stuff all the time. Carl gave us three turbo options and we ended up with the Garrett GTX55.”
At the time, the car was also running on methanol, so, in the name of simplicity, a radiator was reinstalled and relocated to the boot space and a switch made back to E85. Back on the dyno and with only 17psi of boost, a party-ready 708kW at the tyre was the result.
Four-rotors are notoriously hard to keep cool, but the rear mount has made a huge difference.
“You’d do one pass of the [Hamptons] Club Circuit,” Matt explains, “and the thing’s at 110[°C], you know. When Carl built it originally, it was before people were doing rear-mount radiators, etc. — it just wasn’t a thing. We had real good success with the cooling system we built in the S15, so just mimicked that in the Aristo. We used the original radiator Carl had and built the ducting around that. The Meziere EWP even had the -20 fittings on it ready to go.”
Apart from that, the colour is about the only change the team made. It’s really been a solid car that can smash tyres whenever Jesse feels like it. The package all remains as Carl had it — the custom four-link, custom Konis, Ford nine-inch, FuelTech, capacitor-discharge ignition (CDI), nitrous, Holinger: it’s all there. As far as demo cars go, you’d have to head to Daigo Saito’s shop to find something more insane.
2003 Lexus GS300
Engine: CBR quad-rotor; Precision Engineering crank, bridgeported plates, Garrett GTX55, twin 60mm TiAL wastegates, 16x1600cc Bosch injectors, Peterson dry-sump system, custom intake plenum, 90mm throttle body, M&W CDI, FuelTech FT550, Griffin radiator (rear-mounted)
Drivetrain: Holinger HS6 six-speed, Direct Clutch twin-plate, Competition Engineering nine-inch housing, Strange alloy head, Endevour Engineering floating hubs and axles
Suspension: Custom Koni adjustable coilovers, Rolling Addiction four-link, M3 blade sway bars, Rolling Addiction roll-centre adjuster
Brakes: (F) Endless six-pot calipers, two-piece rotors; (R) dual four-pot Endless calipers, two-piece rotors
Wheels/tyres: (F) 18×9-inch AL13 custom three-piece, 235/40R18; (R) 18×11-inch AL13 custom three-piece, 265/35R18 semi-slicks
Exterior: Custom grey, custom factory-look fibreglass stretched bumpers, custom stretched guards, Lexan windows
Interior: Sparco Evo 2, Sparco harnesses, Sparco wheel, FuelTech dash, liquid-filled Auto Meter gauges, full homologated cage
Power: 708kW (17psi)
Fuel type: E85
Tuner: Brent at CBR
Jesse is a man of wide tastes, and his latest build is well restrained when compared with the others in the garage, even if his original intentions were to hack it up for a quad-rotor.
“When I bought it, I planned to butcher it and put an NA [naturally aspirated] four-rotor in it, but it’s so mint — it’s such a time capsule — I couldn’t bring myself to cut it up. When you go down this path of even just bridgeporting and dogboxes, they are no longer nice to drive on the road, so I decided to just make it look tough. I got it off a 55-year-old Air New Zealand pilot who had owned it forever. I hopped in and it was so nice to drive.”
But stock standard is also not something Jesse is interested in, so it was back on the phone to Japan. His third Rocket Bunny kit was soon on its way, this time the Pandem FC kit was ordered along with what are now-discontinued Rocket Bunny wheels.
Apart from that, things have been kept rather stock. There’s an upgraded turbo, exhaust, and ECU, and that has helped push power up to 261kW at the tyre. Otherwise it’s stock, including a very mint interior. Jesse plans to keep it that way — at least for the time being. “I actually use it quite a bit, it starts better than most of my European stuff. But when the motor blows I will look at butchering it.”
Despite the fact that it’s near stock, especially compared with the two race cars, this car has earned its spot as a lifelong garage occupant next to the FD that Jesse is hoping to hand down to his kids one day or, failing that, stuff into an oversized living room. We kinda hope that old-stock 13B keeps on puffing. Cars like this, in this survivor state, are thin on the ground, and getting thinner by the day.
1990 Mazda RX-7 (FC3S)
Engine: Upgraded turbo, 3-inch exhaust
Wheels/tyres: (F) 18×9-inch Pandem 3-piece, (R) 18×11-inch Pandem 3-piece
Exterior: Pandem widebody
Power: 260kW (350hp)
Where to from here?
Jesse already has another quad-rotor project under way. Remember the mention of FD at the beginning? Jesse wants to shift his focus to an international stage, and would have been getting his first taste of FD Japan had Covid-19 not completely killed 2020. The goal is to have one car here and one based in Japan, so that he can start to take advantage of opportunities “to do rad stuff”, if they arise. With nothing in the stables FD legal, and a fresh FD licence in his wallet, a new car had to be built — one that will make both the S15 and Aristo look mild in comparison. This is a car built off everything learned from all those that came before it, taking influence from those first drives on track in the street FD.
The chassis is an FD RX-7, but the engine is something never before seen anywhere on the planet. Yeah, it’s a turbo-quad like the GS300, but very little Mazda is to be found in this one, as it’s a full CBR billet, taking everything Brent of CBR has learned over many years and implementing it all in one engine. A revised cooling package, some trick porting — the list goes on! Best of all, this isn’t some pipe dream years away from firing into life; the chassis has been progressing, and the engine is almost ready for assembly. This is one FD that will be worth the wait to hear fire into life later this year. From there, it will be shipped off to contest the 2021 running of FD Japan, and then who knows? Jesse is just keen to get in and do what he loves: kill tyres and have a damn good time while doing so
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 284 — purchase a copy here