The Saiki's have won the Pacific Street Car Association's Limited Street championship five times in six years. Mike, the younger and his hot, red '72 Corvette turned 1.34-second short times on an ET Street Radial, tiny things barely 8.7 inches wide. That anemic-looking tire with its minimal rolling resistance flattened out another 1/2 inch on the tarmac and was all that the Corvette's hard-working suspension needed to blast the car off the line rocketlike. "Why drag along any more than I need?" quipped Mike.
Now the father-and-son team campaign this '68 Camaro. Gordon bought the roller from another PSCA team and repowered it with the 377-inch small-block pirated from the Corvette. It is similar to one they worked in the Corvette, but modernized with some pertinent upgrades for its new mission. The hydraulic cam is out. A custom-ground solid roller is in. Lift is higher, duration is longer. The headers and exhaust system are a scosche larger. The 377 hosts a 400hp nitrous shot. The sump holds just as much lube as the old one but is of different shape and origin.
Gordon bought the piece about two years ago, and it lounged in silence for about a year and a half before being called up. The project got off to a ripping start. The Saiki team tends to go nonstop until it's finished and they finally drop the hood. Mike built his Corvette in 40 days. They first cracked the torch on the Camaro in April 2008, and three weeks of 14-hour days later the welterweight (3,200 pounds) F-body was ready to burn rubber at the May PSCA race.
The rapid pace continued past the mechanical arrangement and right on to the body of the car. "We welded up 66 holes in the firewall and flattened [it] all in one day," said Mike. They mini-tubbed it. They saved time and loot because the car already had a 25.5 safety certification. Then they sent the creature to Siggy's for the paint. No jail time, either. It was finished within a week. What do Mike and Gordon know that the rest of us don't? We think that maybe Mike showed them a pump-action alley sweeper right at the outset.
"After we sent it to paint, things got carried away. We redid everything-wiring, suspension, new grille, emblems, lights, fuel system, rearend-and put in our own motor and transmission combo." Yeah, you guys got carried away, but you're only about doing things one way, with maximum effort. Others are hip to the Saiki psyche. They know Mike and Gordon will go out of their way to help them, and that's a big part of why they have a strong return business at Motivational Engineering that goes beyond inanimate objects and cold cash. What comes around goes around. Sure as hell it does. Adjunct to this fine attitude, the Saiki boys are just as into the prep and the journey as they are in completing the car and making concrete results.
These guys are no strangers to doing things on the run, either, like finishing the setup at the track on race day. Mike: "We fired it up the Thursday night before the race and put it in the trailer. Friday morning after it went through tech, we finished wiring up the nitrous system and made a few test passes. On Saturday we qualified. Sunday we were eliminated first round. So we had some minor new-car glitches, but all in all, we got it done. The second time we took it out, we won PSCA Limited Street."
At Bakersfield for a West Coast Hot Rod Association test, they switched to a 275 radial and went 8.82 at 155 mph (1.35-second 60-foot). They are very happy with the performance on the radials and plan to use them exclusively in next year's competition. Yes, they want to go faster.