A Motorsport Career is Possible – Zamil’s “The Joker” S15 Silvia
Nissan has given us car enthusiasts a lot of goodies over the years. They gave us the Skyline & consequently the GT-R, the Z-cars or Fairlady (from the Datsun days), the S-Chassis, and even some crazy small cars like the Nissan March Super Turbo. The S15 is the last of the long line of S Chassis cars and is a popular choice for a drift car. Despite having a design that dates way back from 1999, the Silvia S15 fits right in in 2018.
This is Zamil’s S15 which he calls “The Joker”. Unlike most of us who put brand decals on our cars for no reason, Zamil is actually sponsored by the likes of Borg Warner, Pakelo, and F-Tuned Racing. Borg Warner sponsors the turbocharger, Pakelo sponsors the lubricants, and F-Tuned sponsors the suspension on this purple Silvia. Other sponsors include Turbosmart, Everco Motorsport, EUROASIA Autoworks, Drift House, Maxx ECU, and Under6ix Exhaust Specialists.
How does one get sponsors like this?
By making yourself relevant in the motorsport or automotive scene through competitions and promotional activities.
Zamil’s involvement in drifting began way before he obtained a driver’s license. He was a big fan of drifting, and like most young guys, he started with taking photographs with an entry level DSLR camera (link to his work). Some illegal drifting happened after obtaining his driver’s license but later on he decided to take this activity more seriously. So, he enrolled in a Professional Drift Lesson Course (Beginner) by Team Sync Optima.
Footage from the early days with the KE70 before it became "Cheeserolla":
Footage from the early days with the KE70 before it became "Cheeserolla":
It’s not easy to get into motorsports (it requires a lot of skill, patience, and it is financially demanding) so obviously Zamil didn’t start out with this Silvia S15. He started out with a humble KE70 (Cheeserolla) that later went kaput after filming for a music video with Goldfish & Blink and Elizabeth Tan (Somewhere New). Only after that did he decide to get his hands on the S15.
"Cheeserolla" in action
Learning to drift or learning advanced driving skills can be costly (fuel, tyres, & car parts) and you are risking your own safety every time you get in the car. A more cost-effective and safer way to start out would be through simulators and that is what Zamil did. The simulator he used? Live for Speed, a simulator developed by a small team of three guys. He still plays on Live for Speed occasionally but currently he spends more time on Assetto Corsa, a driving simulator developed by Kunos Simuziolani.
The first cars he drove were a UK Spec Proton Iswara and his family’s 1997 Nissan Serena (age 16). Both cars were automatic and the first manual car he drove was an AE86 Trueno (also at age 16). The Hachiroku was probably too much to handle for the young Zamil and he still remembers the burnt clutch smell at the end of the drive.
Not all of us are as lucky as most F1 drivers who are able to start their careers at a very young age. Most of the top guns we see in motorsports started karting at 10 years old or below. Like it or not, our family background and the community we grow up in have a huge effect on what career we end up choosing. For most of us, motorsport is barely even a side income. It’s a hobby and hobbies are where money is spent and not made. And if you’re going to spend your money, you better get your money’s worth. You can always start with a simulator and slowly get into real life competitive driving with a low-cost project car.
You can view his chronology of activities on his facebook supporter page.
During an Autocross Event in Shah Alam
This is a 2001 Nissan Silvia S15 Spec R. The drivetrain is FR, the engine is a SR20DET, and the car was originally white. The Silvia is a 2-door, RWD, Inline 4-cylinder, Japanese Sports Coupe, which is something we don’t get any more these days. The closest we have to this recipe would be the Toyota GT86 (with a flat four engine) or a Nissan 370Z (V6 engine). Currently the S15 has no successor but there are rumours of an S16 Silvia. Will it happen? We don’t know, they’re just rumours.
The powerplant is an SR20DET with a stock block, Stage II High Lift Cams by JUN, HKS Valve Springs, and a turbocharger by Borg Warner (EFR7163 Twin-Scroll). There are more details of what has been done to this S15, JIC you’re curious*. One concern that Zamil has for new drifters is that they tend to rely too much on power. We can’t blame them either since new age drift cars usually boast 900hp and above and it is easy to be fooled into thinking that massive power is needed to drift. Of course, we mean no disrespect to the big-name drifters. They are highly skilled and all start out with less powerful cars. It’s just that cars with massive horsepower put up a much more interesting show with more drama and exhilarating sound. Zamil’s S15 currently produces 362whp at 1 bar of boost and that’s more than enough to have fun with.
*Full Mods List at the end of article
How is the S15 set up for events (Drifting, Autocross, and Gymkhana)?
For drifting, autocross and gymkhana the difference lies in the rear alignment setup. For drifting the car would run 0 or -0.5 camber as it evens out tire wear. For gymkhana the car would run a little more like -1.25 to -1.5 as for more grip in the rear. For circuit the setup is around -1.5 to -2.0 camber. The front usually remains at -3.5 or -4 camber, only few adjustments on caster or toe.
On the Silvia, the toe is best left at 0, though Zamil usually prefers a bit more toe out in front and toe in at the rear. For normal driving, the alignment usually remains as how the car is set up for previous event as Zamil likes it to be "event ready" in case of last minute issue.
Will we see more changes on “The Joker” in the future?
Yes, we will. Zamil is going for a Japanese inspired drift car look for the car so we’ll wait and see how that turns out.
Why call it “The Joker”?
Because it’s purple. And you rarely see a purple S15 in Malaysia. There’s no serious reason to this. It’s just for laughs.
The Japanese decal just spells out “magician” and “joker”. Any Japanese speaking reader wanna verify this?
On a side note, the S15 is commonly referred as “Ichigo”. “Ichi” is one and “go” is five in Japanse. “Ichigo” also means Strawberry in Japanese. So Silvias with S15 front end conversions are usually called Strawberry Faces.
Just like the rest of the world, the world of marketing and advertising
is ever changing. And some businesses took a blow when social media advertisements
became accessible. Getting featured in a post by an influential social media
page is the modern equivalent of being featured on a television talk show. The
video of “The Joker” by TGTR had its shot at fame when it was shared by Car Throttle. The sponsors were
delighted when this happened.
Personally, I find advertising in motorsports to be rather limited. Unless you’re Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Colin McRae, Valentino Rossi, Max Verstappen, or any other world-famous motorsport athlete, it’s hard to make a living with advertising and sponsorship money.
Marketing stunts can also be tricky and people get bored easily. The first few videos of Ken Block’s Gymkhana Video were exciting and out of this world, but Gymkhana 457 won’t be as exciting and interesting as the Gymkhana 1. Staying relevant in advertising and marketing requires us to be increasingly creative and constantly evolving. We don’t know what Zamil has in store for us next and we wish him all the best in his career.
Last thoughts on the car?
Well, I can’t think of a modern equivalent for the S15. (Perhaps the GT86 somewhat fits in the role of an affordable 4-cylinder RWD coupe). The S15 looks relevant in 2018 and has a domineering long & wide stance. There is quite a huge number of S-Chassis cars in Malaysia and I was lucky enough to see almost all of them in one place during S-Chassis Day 2017 (Link to Event Article). The Silvia could be responsible for launching the careers of some drifters you may know today. For the benefit of Nissan, it might be best to keep the S15 where it belongs - in the past. Cars are becoming hybrids and electrics and the focus now is on mobility. Perhaps after this transition in the auto industry (and everybody gets bored with normal efficient cars), will we see an increase in appreciation for analogue sports cars like the S15.
And hopefully Zamil’s story might just be that extra nudge you need to get a project or competition car for yourself. Zamil does not race or drift full time and there’s no pressure for you to do so too. You can always start small.
2001 Nissan Silvia S15 Spec R
SR20DET, 1998cc (2.0)
Stock, SARD 2mm high performance metal head gasket
JUN Stage II High Lift Cams, HKS Valve Springs, HKS Solid Lifters & ARP Head Studs
Turbocharged, Borg Warner EFR7163 Twin-Scroll Turbo, Turbosmart IWG-75 Wastegate, Turbosmart Raceport Blow-off Valve
Simota Air Filter
Walbro 255 LPH Pump, Turtle Factory Fuel Regulator, 550cc injectors & KTS Extended Oil Sump
Fuel & Lubricants
RON 97 for normal drive, RON 100 for race duties, Pakelo Krypton Racing 10X-60, Pakelo Global Gear Oil DLS SAE 75W90
MAXX ECU Street Standalone Engine Management
Custom made K20A Coil Plugs, NGK Iridium IK22 Iridium Spark Plugs, Modified Distributor, Mil-Spec Harness
Mishimoto Aluminium Radiator, SARD Dual core intercooler, MOCAL Oil Cooler Kit, TOMEI Style N2 Super Oil Block Adapter, Custom made high-speed Volvo fan, Panasonic Twin Fan (Secondary Cooling), Pakelo Coolant G30 ® Red Long Life
Aftermarket 2-point strut bar, Nismo extended wheel studs, Turtle Factory oil catch can, Aftermarket aluminium power steering tank, Works Engineering Boost Controller, Brembo brake reservoir sock, GKTech Eccentric Throttle Wheel V2
HKS Hi-Power Exhaust, Under6ix Custom Twin-Scroll IWG Manifold with custom made stainless steel downpipe
Moroso Oil Relocater Kit
Stock 6-speed Gearbox with KAAZ 1.5 way LSD, Ogura (ORC) Super Single Clutch
Custom F-Tuned Roadtrack GT Series Coilovers, D-MAX Japan Complete Adjustable Arms Set Front/Rear (Caster, Toe, Camber), GKTech Roll Center Correction Kit, GKTech Solid Steering Rack Mount
Nissan Fairlady 350Z Brembo ventilated brake disc and cross drilled calliper set, R33 GT-R Rear Brake Assembly Conversion, Project μ D1 Spec Handbrake shoes, Custom Steel braided brake and clutch hose
ADVAN Racing RS-II 17”, Wedsports SA15R 17”
Bride Zeta III, Razo RA25 Gearknob, KTS Handbrake Knob, Nardi Gara Type 3 Steering, Sschroth Racing Profi-III 5 Harness, NRG Short Hub Boss Kit, NRG Quick Release, Carbon Fiber Interior Trim, Genuine Defi Advance ZD Club Sport Package, NRG Boost Gauge, Apexi Pen Turbo Timer, Killswitch, Battery relocater box, carbon pedals
C-West Aero Rear Bumper and Sideskirts, Garage Mak Type II Front Bumper, Top Secret Style Rear Diffuser, Carbon Kevlar FRP Front Vented Hood, Best Kit Fiber FRP Rear bonnet with integrated spoiler, JURAN multi-deflector
EUROASIA Autoworks, SA-Autotech