Posted: Oct 08, 2014
2014 OUSCI Preview- AJ Santiago's 2011 Nissan GT-R
Nissan GT-Rs have been competing in the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) for several years now. However, to date, none have been able to ascend to the top of the OUSCI mountain and claim the title of the Ultimate Street Car. The 2014 field is once again stacked with at least four GT-Rs, including AJ Santiago's 2011 Nissan. Will this be the year of the GT-R and will Santiago be the guy to finally make it happen? We won't know for sure until November 9th, but Santiago is leaving little to chance.
AJ has not sat back content with being in the show, after picking up his invitation at the Ultimate Street Car Association event at Road America. Since, qualifying, Santiago has been very busy preparing the car not only for SEMA and the OUSCI, but subsequent USCA events. "I know this is a different process for everyone, but I'm working in a different direction," says Santiago. "I'm focusing on aircraft-specific components that can help me gain an advantage on the competition."
One noticeable example would be the polycarbonate miniature vortex generators he installed on his GT-R. "These VGs are actual aircraft components that help promote proper airflow over the chassis," says AJ. With a background in design engineering and time spent at US Army Aviation school, it sounds like Santiago's modifications have some practical application behind them, but by themselves may not be the difference-maker. Fortunately, Santiago did not stop there. A rear diffuser should also help the car's aero profile and upgrades have been made under the hood as well.
"I have added a bulk of adjustable suspension components from Cobb Tuning to help promote better track manners for the GT-R and I have also moved to a larger set of highly-efficient 110-lb fuel injectors, high-flow downpipes and a set of twin intakes to open up the turbos," says Santiago. New brake rotors from Stillen have also been added, as well as Hawk DTC pads.
He'll need it, because RS Motors has re-calibrated his engine and he now expects his 3,750-lb land rocket will be launched by 900 horsepower and 940 lb.-ft. of torque! Any past OUSCI champion will tell you the event is not won on the track alone. A strong showing in the Lingenfelter Performance Design Engineering Challenge makes a difference. To that end, custom seats, more carbon fiber body components, wider rear tires and a custom full-body, full-color, printed wrap will be on the car when it arrives at the SEMA Show.
Santiago may not have a closet full of SCCA or NASA National Championships at home, but he is no stranger to the track, running in six to ten events each year. He has not yet been to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he has been researching the new home of the OUSCI. "I think it will favor the competitors who can accurately read a racetrack and develop an attack strategy," says Santiago. He is hoping he will be in that group.
Santiago knows domestic entries have six-year winning streak coming into 2014, but he thinks this year the outcome will be VERY different. "I understand that the ranks are stocked with great drivers, but I think the newcomers will surprise everyone," says AJ. He's not really going out far on a limb there, as many of the fastest times in USCA events this season have been posted by import drivers, often working with half the horsepower and half the cylinders of many of the domestic competition.
"This tells me that the Vegas event with be sure to turn the tables on past years," says Santiago. "I think the deciding factor will be power to weight ratio. Do the math and I'll be surprised if the winner is not a new contender with a favorable power to weight ratio." You can find out for yourself, by buying tickets to the 2014 OUSCI online.
AJ has ad some great sponsors and supporters backing him throughout the year and he would like to acknowledge RS Motors, Cobb Tuning, Auto Trimmers, Speed for Sale, SEIBON CARBON and Difflow for their assistance.