Melbourne legend (and repeat offender for rad cars) Danny Howe pulled off one of the biggest last-minute Drag Challenge thrashes in history, finishing off his twin-turbo Godzilla-powered XE Falcon together in the final hours of rego day of DC23.
What’s even crazier is that Danny and Riot Lab mate Ryan O’Donohue piled into the untested car and drove it from Melbourne to The Bend in SA, trouble-free!
As you’ll read below, Danny and Ryan pulled some long hours to get the XE mobile in time for scrutineering on Day Zero. The car had no hanging panels as of the Friday before DC, and Danny was frantically modifying things like the boot hinges in-between working on customers’ cars.
It was bolted to the Tunnel Vision hub dyno on Saturday night, where it made a stonking 990hp – the biggest hub figure Frank Marchese’s seen from a mill with a stock cam and internals! A few pistons were cooked and promptly replaced in the process.
Danny and the crew set sail for Tailem Bend shortly before lunch on Monday, barely stopping on the seven-hour trip. “It was actually killer,” Danny laughed of the tight-deadline roadtrip turned shakedown run. They rolled into scrutineering that evening with just 15 minutes to spare.
The car’s first-ever pass on Tuesday morning was mainly for collecting data, with Danny getting off the pedal at half-track for a 9.7-second ET. “We blew the tyres off on the third pass at The Bend and didn’t want to wait around any longer, so we called it there with a rough idea of what the car was going to do,” Danny explains.
Day Three’s first full pass delivered a 9.13@146mph. Not too shabby for such a fresh build with all-stock guts! “We were slowly doing changes every day on the computer, just giving it a bit more each day and making sure it was happy on every pass,” Danny says. “We tried not to kill it! I would’ve loved to run an eight, but the converter is holding the car back as it’s made for more RPM than the car’s doing with the standard engine.”
To Danny and the boys’ credit, the Falcon held together beautifully on both road and track over the week. “We changed the shifter adjustment, but honestly that was the only thing,” he enthuses. “And even that was only with racing, it was fine cruising on the street – the heat was just making it a bit tight on the Tuesday.”
It’s a car that has enormous potential to match its killer stance, especially when Dandy Engines finishes building a spicier engine. Stay tuned for more on the XE in coming months!
October 4, 2023:
This year he’s upping the ante with a twin turbo 7.3-litre Godzilla V8. As far as we know, it’ll will be the first turbo Godzilla-powered streeter in Australia. Even more impressive is that Ryan and Danny started the build just nine and a half weeks ago, in-between working on their customers’ cars!
“We are definitely pushing for it,” Danny laughs. “Everyone’s onboard getting everything done; it’s still missing a lot but we should be okay. We started doing the rear clip literally 10 weeks out from Drag Challenge!”
He’s lopped a fair bit of metal from each shock tower in the engine bay to get the big mill sitting comfortably. “It’s got 50mm taken out of both sides, but because I’ve put it back in as standard, you can’t really pick up on it,” he says.
“With all the shit in there it sort of throws you off. To say there are modifications in the engine bay is an understatement!” A bolt-on front sump from Profab Motorsport Fabrications was the quickest and easiest route to solving clearance issues underneath.
It’ll run stock internals for Drag Challenge, though a spicier version is underway at Dandy Engines, who have been making yuge power with Godzillas since the first units arrived in Australia in 2021. “Stuff just took too long coming from America, so unfortunately it won’t be ready in time,” Danny says. “It’s got FuelTech everything, twin G42 Garrett turbos and an M&M converter and gearbox. I’m not too sure what these will really make standard; we’ll see when we get it dynoed.”
As per the usual Riot Lab way, the rear end features tasty barwork and a sheetmetal diff by Ryan, which is hooked to high-end Menscer shocks. “So far nobody’s really noticed the rear doors are tubbed,” Danny adds.
“I’ll have a diff tonight and tailshaft tomorrow, then the car should technically drive,” Danny says. “We’ll throw the panels on and get a wheel alignment on Friday.” If all goes well for Danny and Ryan, you’ll see the finished XE fronting up to scrutineering at The Bend Raceway this coming Monday for Drag Challenge 2023!