McCain Racing’s “Bowser” Is An Unusual Sight – And A Serious Contender

March 8, 2019 / by Bradley Iger

In a sea of Fox-Body Mustangs, Camaros, and fiberglass-bodied pro mods, The McCain Racing Datsun is a breadth of competitive fresh air. 

“It’s a family operation,” explains Ryan McCain of McCain Racing. “My pop started racing back in the early '80s, so my brother DJ and I grew up being around it all the time. These days he usually drives and I do most the tuning on the car.”

Hailing from North Augusta, South Carolina, the team cut their teeth in local bracket racing circuit in a 6.40 index class with a collection of vintage GM iron that included a Chevy II, a ’70 Nova and a ’69 Camaro, among others. “My pop had quite a few cars,” Ryan recalls. “And we were at the track almost every day, even on school nights! When he stopped driving, my brother and I took over driving. Eventually we began to move up in horsepower, and that’s when I started tuning.”

The team's 1971 Datsun B110 is powered by a 900hp LS engine with MGP aluminum connecting rods and Diamond pistons.

Ryan’s expertise with GM drivetrains led the team to build some unusual combinations. “We were one of the first teams in the area to run an LS-swapped Mustang,” he recalls. “When we were thinking about stepping up our game years back, we saw one in a magazine and thought that would be a pretty cool build to do, so we found a 5.7-liter LS in a junkyard dropped it in a ’93 notchback and the rest is history. We wanted to do something a little different to help the team stand out from the crowd. From that point on, we kind of became been known for LS swaps.”

The McCains now compete mainly in No Time grudge racing events, where they run in the small-block nitrous class with the timing clocks turned off. Class rules dictate stock bore spacing, a factory-style body, and the option of either a 275 drag radial or a 10.5-inch bias slick tire.

The team’s current weapon of choice is an LS-swapped 1971 Datsun B110 they’ve named Bowser. “We’ve been sticking to the Nintendo theme for a while now,” Ryan says. “My first car was Mario, the next one was Mario 2.0. Then we had a Mustang we named Super Mario, and now with the Datsun we’ve got Bowser.” Like the LS-swapped Mustang before it, Ryan says the motivation behind building the Datsun was about doing something unique. “Anybody can build a Mustang. We really just got tired of building cars that everyone else had, so we decided to try this and see how it would do. This thing actually used to be a show car in Puerto Rico – we’ve still got one of the show stickers on the windshield. It’s still all steel, too, and compared to everyone else in our class, that’s pretty unusual. It’s even still got the factory headliner on it.”

The interior of the Datsun is all business. The button on the steering wheel engages the trans brake and a pro-stock style roll cage keeps the driver safe. 

Motivation comes from a LSX block that is outfitted with a Callies crankshaft, MGP aluminum connecting rods, Diamond pistons, a Cam Motion camshaft, Mast-style cylinder heads, and a CID 4.0 intake. Ryan estimates the mill is good for about 900 horsepower alone and 1500 when the custom, nitrous fogger kit is in the mix.

With that much spray involved, McCain Racing needed to get the bottom end sorted out to ensure the car would run consistently and reliably. “We hooked up with Diamond and basically did a full custom, 3D-built piston. It’s gas ported, the ringlands are moved around a little bit, and it’s got a pretty good sized dome on it. This set is new for us this season, and so far they’ve been phenomenal for us – anything we put them though, they do not skip a beat – knock on wood!”

A direct-port, dry shot of nitrous is provided by an Induction Solutions nitrous system.

McCain Racing came off a strong season going into 2019 after winning the Carolina No Time small-block championship last year. “We debuted the car in December of 2017, and pretty much every local shootout we went to, we ended up winning it,” Ryan tells us. “We also went to some Limited 28” shootout stuff, which they allow big blocks in, and we won two of those and made it to the finals in another.”

He notes that the success they’ve had with the new car wasn’t by accident, though. “That car can be a full time job if you let it get to that point,” he says. “After every race we basically pull the whole car apart and check every nut and bolt.”

The team’s showing up their inaugural event for this season bodes well for the rest of the year, too. “At Lights Out 10 we ended up winning the whole event, and that was like winning the Super Bowl for us,” Ryan says. “Carolina No Time gets started in March, and we’ve looking forward to that as well. From there on out, we have a total of about 11 main races along with our local shootouts. We have about 20 races on the calendar for this year, so it should keep us busy.”

Controls for the Datsun are highly manual and driving is a raw and visceral experience. 

Ryan says the primary strategy for this year is to focus on the point series for Carolina No Time and the No Clock Small Block events, but the team is keeping their options open. “We’ll see where those events end up taking us. But if this No Time racing starts to go a little sideways, I’ve always wanted to do some class racing for like a year or so, so maybe we could give X275 or Ultra Street a try.”

He also notes that they’re always working to make the car faster. “Right now we have Brodix heads on the car, but those new Mast-style heads just got finished and we’ll be bolting those up soon. We’re also going to try to get a little bit lighter, and probably change some things with the Turboglide transmission and converter we’re using.”

But in the meantime, the team is just happy to see that the No Time events are starting to attract attention from fans and sponsors alike. “It’s nice to see this racing starting to get noticed, and I’d like to think that our team has helped to do that.”

The Datsun is an unusual bird in No-Time racing circles and gets quite the fanfare at the racetrack. At the track, the car and the McCaine team that crews it are a force to be reckoned with!


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Written by Bradley Iger

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