Blown LS-powered Mini ute at Supernats

Ryan O’Hara’s tiny Clubman drew big attention at Winton Raceway


In mid-2020, Ryan O’Hara (aka TasTuned on YouTube and Instagram) was tossing up between starting a full rebuild on his radical Morris J2 van or embarking on a new project. As fate would have it, around the same time he got a call from a mate about an ideal candidate for the latter option.

“He was taking a Mini Clubman body to the scrapper,” Ryan recounts. “He’d started turning it into a ute but was getting rid of it, and things sort of snowballed from there.”

Ryan decided to transform the unfinished Clubman into a NASCAR-style miniature ute, replicating Cleetus McFarland’s full-size, LS7-powered ‘Dale Truck.’

As documented on Ryan’s YouTube channel, the build consists mostly of what he had lying around at the time. The chassis is a custom-fabricated unit, with a lift-up body for easy access to the engine and wheels.

It’s powered by an LY5-block, 5.3-litre LS, with what Ryan says is a stock or “very, very mild” cam. He initially planned to run a blow-through twin-turbo arrangement, making use of a Haltech VMS unit he’d won at Street Machine Summernats, but it wasn’t to be. “The guy who does my carbies said I’d really struggle to get enough methanol through to do the job,” Ryan explains. “So we ran it n/a initially.

“Then I looked at my supercharged Crossflow gasser and thought, ‘I only use that once a year; there’s no use buying another blower,’ so I made up an adapter plate to swap it between the two vehicles.”

As it now sits, the LS is fed by a Holley 750 carb, topped with a Weiand 177 blower. It sips E85, with engine management courtesy of the Haltech VMS. Behind the donk is a “pretty standard” Turbo 350, and a super-narrow nine-inch diff in a four-linked rear. Ryan recently swapped the 4.11 gears out for 3.25s in pursuit of bigger wheel-speeds on the burnout pad.

The front end uses Commodore coil-overs and front hubs, mated to aftermarket Nissan Silvia adjustable control arms. Ryan does his best to point the Mini with a flipped LH Torana steering rack, which gives the tiny machine its NASCAR-spec left-hand-drive layout.

Street Machine Supernats marked Ryan’s first real effort at driving the Clubman on something other than a burnout pad, and he was happy with the results. “It’s pretty tail-happy,” he laughs, “but by the second cruise session I was starting to get the hang of it!”

He also had a crack at roll racing, though he says the results weren’t as good as they could have been. “I left it idling too long and it loaded up with fuel, and it didn’t clear out by the time I had to step on it. It was also stuck in top gear or something.”

When the afternoon’s burnout competition rolled around, things didn’t quite work out either. “The alternator shat itself in the second cruise run,” Ryan says. “I charged the battery up, but it drains so quickly with the fans and electric water pump, and with the amount of stop-start to get to the burnout pad, it wouldn’t have had enough charge to last a full skid.”

Ryan’s keen to get the Mini to more events in the New Year, hopefully with a tougher auto and working alternator. Until then, keep an eye on the TasTuned YouTube channel for updates.