Ryan Martin's Fireball Camaro is a familiar sight at Radial vs. The World races across the country. We chat with Martin about his 4,500-plus horsepower machine and his racing program.
Ryan Martin is a pretty busy guy these days. Between the three dozen or so race events on his calendar for 2018, the demanding shooting schedule of the Street Outlaws television series he’s involved with, and his obligations as co-owner of B&R Performance in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Martin doesn’t have a whole lot of time to watch the grass grow–and that’s just fine by him. “If I showed you my schedule, you’d laugh – it is out of control,” he jokes. “I don’t know how we’re going to it all, but we will.”
Although his day to day keeps him occupied, Martin’s still a racer above all else. We got a chance to catch up with him recently and talk shop about his career in motorsport, his cars, the recent Lights Out 9 event, and what the future holds from him and his team.
Fast From The Get-Go
“I was fifteen years old and, like a lot of kids that age, I’d been saving for a car for a little while,” he recalls. “I stumbled upon this ’89 5.0-liter Mustang GT just before I turned 16. It was just a few years old had about 50,000 miles on it. The previous owner had already done an exhaust system and some other bolt-on stuff, so by the time I got it, it was already a pretty quick car for a 16 year-old. So it wasn’t long before I was street racing and heading to the drag strip on a regular basis.”
Martin held on to the Mustang throughout the years, eventually prepping it to run in the X275 Radial class. After four years or so of campaigning the Mustang in the class, Martin transitioned over to a Camaro, which he now runs in Radial Versus the World.
“It’s pretty close to run-whatcha-brung on a 315 radial,” he says of RVW. “You can have a big-screw blower, you can have a twin setup, a giant 1000ci nitrous motor – whatever you want. There are some weight rules to keep the racing balanced, but that’s about it.”
Martin’s fifth-gen Camaro is powered by a 572ci Alan Johnson 481-X block which was prepped by Pro Line Racing. The cylinder heads and valvetrain were also sourced from Alan Johnson, while a Hogan intake and Pro Line’s own turbo-spec camshaft round out the package.
The Camaro’s big-block normally sports a pair of 102mm Precision turbos in Radial Versus the World trim, but a pair of 106mm units are bolted on for particular events. The grunt is sent to the rear wheels via a two-speed Mark Micke gearbox and a fabricated 9-inch rear end with either a 3.70 or 3.89 gear ratio, depending on the particular event they’re running it in. A four-link-style suspension helps put the power down.
“North of 4500 probably,” he says when asked to estimate what kind of power it makes in this configuration. And at those levels, you’d expect some carnage with the engine internals now and then. “We’ve had valves drop, but we don’t break pistons – we never have piston problems. The set we’ve been using from Wiseco are badass.”
Lights Out 9
“There’s maybe three or four big radial races every year that I like to go to, and Lights Out is definitely one of them,” Martin tells us. “So we’ll take the big tires off and throw some drag radials on it and head down. It’s always awesome – I get to see all my radial buddies – it’s just like a giant family. Everybody’s competitive but it’s always a really good time. We always run the big turbos at that event, so we had the 106mm Precisions on for that one.”
After some initial issues with surface conditions, Martin says the whole field seemed to get quicker over the first few days. “The track was kind of sketchy for testing the first day,” he says. But finally when the track came around, we started hauling ass. We just kept going a little faster with each run.”
That trend would hold throughout Martin’s runs at Lights Out 9. “We qualified with a 3.91 at 201mph and improved with every run from there, running a 3.90, a 3.88 and a 3.85 against Steve Jackson in the quarter.” Though that 3.85 pass was Martin’s fastest run of the event, it wasn’t enough to edge out Jackson, who would post a 3.81 in that quarter final round.
“I like to get in the car kind of late so I can watch everybody else,” Martin says of his race ritual. “About two or three cars from me pulling into the water box is when I’ll throw my jacket on and jump in the car. A lot of guys like to sit in their car in the staging lane the whole time, but I’m not that guy. Once I get in, I just try to stay kind of quiet and focused, make sure my belts are tight and my HANS device is on right. As weird as it is – a lot of people say they get amped up when they get in the car – I get really calm, almost relaxed. Then I pull into the burnout box and it’s on.”
Of course having a great team tends to help to calm one’s nerves. “The two guys on my crew that have been with me forever are Billy and Javier,” Martin says. “And then I’ve got a newer guy – Jonny Drama. He’s been around radial racing for a long time, but he started helping me more recently. Between those three guys – they are the ones who make it happen for me.”
2018 looks to be a big year for Martin just by virtue of how much he’s got going on, but his goals for the season go well beyond just handling all the demands of his schedule. “I’d like to go win a big radial race this year – Lights Out, No Mercy, etc,” he says. “That’s definitely one of my major goals this year.”