Wes Spry is picking up steam and running in the top ten fastest XFWD cars on the planet. He just clicked off a personal best of 8.13 @ 182 mph, and is a driver to keep an eye on! We go under the hood of his 1,300hp Acura Integra.
“My dad got me into racing motorcycles really early on – I started when I was about five years old,” says Wes Spry. “We did that until I was about 18. And honestly for a long time I wasn’t really into the car thing – I was into dirt bikes. But you get to a certain point with motorcycles where you’re tired of getting hurt, so that old saying “with age comes a cage” kind of applies here. And that’s when I started drag racing.” Wes is also the co-owner of BZE Cylinder Head Design, a Denver, North Carolina-based shop that specializes in custom CNC machining for boosted import race engines. When he’s not in the garage he can often be found at the drag strip, shaming V8-powered machines with the team’s ’99 Acura Integra.
Spry made his drag racing debut back in 2010 with a 2,400-pound ’95 Honda Civic that made about 850 horsepower at the wheels. “I didn’t really have a clear strategy going into that project, I just wanted to build a fast front-wheel drive car,” he says. “I remember the first race I ever went down the track with it. A buddy of mine that has raced for a long time said to me, ‘OK this is your first pass with some high horsepower, let’s take it easy’ and closed the door as I was pulling into the water box. I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, right.’ About half-way through the run, as soon as I got into third gear, I realized this guy wasn’t kidding – that thing was flying!”
Spry says that even though he lifted half-way down the track, he still managed to post a 9.46 @ 138 miles per hour on his first pass. That experience set the tone for Spry’s drag racing career. “These days the main class we compete in is Sport Front-Wheel Drive – little tires and lots of power,” he says. The class specifies unibody cars with a 2,400-pound minimum weight (with driver) and limits engine builds to a 72mm turbo. “They call it a street class, but these days we’re making 1,300 horsepower, so they’re not really street cars in the traditional sense.”
Spry’s Integra has a 25.5 chassis certification and gets its motivation from a B-Series motor running on ethanol that’s outfitted with a Precision 7285 ball bearing turbo and a cylinder head that’s been thoroughly gone over by the team at BZE. The grunt is sent to the front wheels through a PPG four-speed transmission with billet gears while Strange suspension components help to put the power to the ground. “With a front wheel drive car the weight bias is all up front,” he points out. “There’s literally 250 pounds of lead hanging off the very front of the car, and it kind of acts like a wheelie bar – it keeps the front of the car planted. So while we try to get all the weight out where-ever we can, between the weight bar, battery, and turbo setup, there’s a good 300 extra pounds sitting on the nose to prevent the tires from being unloaded during launches.” Earlier this year Spry ran a personal best of 8.13 @ 182 mph, climbing to the #7 spot among the top ten fastest XFWD cars in the process.
Wes tells us that he’s had a long-standing relationship with Wiseco, due in part to the success he’s had with the various piston designs that the team has used over the years. “From day one we’ve had Wiseco pistons,” he notes. “We’ve run everything from shelf-stock to custom spec stuff, and we’ve had great luck with them – we’ve never had any piston failures.”
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few challenges along the way, though. “Last August I crashed the car at zMAX Dragway on a test-and-tune night,” he recalls. “We were getting ready for one of our big races in the fall, and we just had a mishap that kicked a rod out of the front of the block. Oil got on the tires and steered me right into the wall.”
Wes says they thought the season was over. “With World Cup and the Fall Nationals coming up, we were pretty bummed. But my dad – who’s been doing bodywork for 34 years – says to me, ‘We can fix it.’ So we threw it on a frame machine and straightened it out, and by October 18th we were headed up north for the Nationals. So in a little over two months we had the car fixed, and on our first pass with it we ran a personal best. To crash, scramble to get it back up and running, and then go 8.50 for the first time on our first pass with it running again was kind of a rollercoaster.”
But posting better and better ETs has been a theme throughout the season for the team. “Our first race was in Orlando back in March, and there hasn’t been a single event where we didn’t go faster than the one before it,” Spry says. “From March until now, we’ve progressed at every outing with the car – it just hasn’t stopped performing.”
The goal for this year was to get the car into the 8.1s, and the team exceeded their own expectations. “We had sort of a long-term goal of hitting 8.19, and we ended up doing an 8.13,” Wes says. “We were blown away – all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the car were definitely worth it. So now the goal for next year is to get the car into the 7s. We want to move up in that top ten list.
Spry notes that the team is campaigning one of the few cars on that list that’s all boost. “Almost everyone else is running both turbo and nitrous, so we’ll probably add that this winter. Just to, you know, even the playing field. For the car to be that fast without nitrous – where we’re