The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), also known as The Race to the Clouds, is an invitational automobile hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in Colorado. The LYFE Motorsports team is no stranger to the event. They have competed in this before, and in fact, in 2015, LYFE was racing their R35 Nissan GT-R when they suffered a crash.
Unfortunately for the GT-R, it sat unwanted for more than six years until it was dusted off. The GT-R’s destiny now is to break the Pikes Peak diesel record that Scott Birdsall currently holds. The old diesel record before Birdsall chewed off more was 11 minutes and 37 seconds. When Birdsall took Ol’ Smokey up the mountain in 2020, the time to beat became 11 minutes and 24.065 seconds.
With this info in mind, LYFE Motorsports knew what they had to do. The GTR was dusted off and completely rebuilt. LYFE partnered with RiffRaff Diesel of Eagle Point, Oregon, and configured the car’s new powerplant. Not a turbocharged Nissan engine, not an LS engine, but an 822-horsepower, and 1,299 lb-ft of torque 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel.
Per RiffRaff, this compound turbocharged 6.0-liter made 800-plus horsepower on a break-in tune without nitrous. For those that are familiar with the Ultimate Callout Challenge, they’ll understand that just adding a more efficient tuning combined with nitrous will turn the Power Stroke into a completely different animal. To compare, the F100 that currently holds the record has a 1,200-horsepower Cummins engine under the hood. This means the LYFE GT-R should be in that neighborhood with the help of some N20.
The 2004-model 6.0-liter engine started with a factory block filled with MAHLE ceramic coated pistons. Upgraded lifters, pushrods, camshaft, and an inverted 6.4-liter intake manifold are the power-supporting parts of this 800-horsepower recipe. Making the horsepower is doable via a pair of compound turbos. A stage 1, KC Turbo Jetfire is located in the secondary position while an 80mm unit is the atmosphere (first/top) portion. The fuel system features a Terminator T500 HPOP and 250cc fuel injectors.
The R35 came from Nissan with an AWD drivetrain and while LYFE would have loved to keep it that way, the cost would have been devastating. Instead, the GT-R was turned rear-wheel-drive and is backed by a custom-built 4R100 four-speed automatic transmission. Fitting all of this under the hood and within the factory dimensional walls was never going to happen, so a new firewall and transmission tunnel was constructed.
Keeping these vehicles (diesel or not) cool is extremely important. The horsepower and torque are great, but the constant grade of the mountain makes heat creation easy. Therefore, LYFE outfitted the GT-R with a radiator in the back of the car with custom ducting for air to feed it. However, even with a large radiator, the cooling becomes less efficient the higher you go on the mountain. So they will also be utilizing a water/ice cooler tank to help with cooling.
This is a timed motorsport, and teams are looking for maximum horsepower, torque, and traction while minimizing drag and weight. LYFE focused on reducing the weight of their car and even though they’ve used carbon fiber panels, the GT-R still weighs in at over 4,000 pounds. Because of the weight, the car’s chassis was strengthened with a larger, 2-inch diameter roll cage.
With the car ready and the pressure on, the team was ready. So how did they do? Unfortunately, oil pressure issues caused the team to withdraw from the race before they could attempt the record. However, we know the LYFE team will be back next year, ready to take down that record and dethrone Ol Smokey F1.