SLIDEWAYS IN SHANE WHALLEY’S PURPOSE-BUILT ’06 GTO DRIFT MACHINE
By Justin Cesler
Photography by Justin Cesler
“The drive is rough. Loud, hard, and uncomfortable. An overall terrible car to drive...” Meet Shane Whalley, the owner, builder, and driver of the rough and tumble ’06 GTO drift car you see before you. It’s Shane Whalley with two l’s for you readers already booting up your laptops or getting out your prison ruled paper to write us angry hate mail about running a drifter in the pages of GMHTP. Or maybe it’s not the sideways glory that’s got you mad, maybe you’re a die-hard GTO enthusiast that can’t stand the idea of Shane ruining a perfectly good GTO to go battle it out with lesser rivals from overseas? Well, in that case, you should know up front that Shane is a real GTO enthusiast too. In fact, this very car was his daily driver for over 4 years before he went and started drifting it competitively. “On a limited budget and time, I said to hell with it, and set my sights on my GTO. A car I bought with 9,000-miles on it and daily drove for 4 years. It was a good car and a hard decision to make, but knowing this was something that I wanted to do, I tore into the project never looking back.”
Never looking back meant taking a big risk, a severe financial hit, and cutting up the only drivable street car that Shane owned at the time, but in the name of the slide, it was on. “I had just over 30 days to take my stock GTO and build it into a track ready drift car.” As you can imagine, that’s a tight time frame to do anything on this scale, but Shane made it work with help from his good friend Jason Ritter, who graciously opened up some shop space for the project, allowing Shane to borrow tools and welding equipment to get it done. To fund his endeavor, Shane had to sell the majority of the stock parts in his Goat on LS1GTO.com, which he attributed as being a major help in both the selling and researching portion of his project. And research was important, because building a capable drift car out of a touring sedan isn’t as easy a task as one may imagine.
“With not much product development for the car, it was difficult to build and most of the parts I had to make myself.” Fortunately, unlike most modern drifters who first have to swap their stock 4-cylinders for LS power before they even begin the build, Shane’s GTO was already equipped with 8-cylinders of LS2 glory, along with a T56 transmission, which meant he only had to concentrate on the suspension and handling portion of his ride. The LS2 is high-mileage (after 4 years of daily driving), but Shane chose to leave it almost completely stock, adding only a 4-inch custom air intake system and a Spectre air filter to the LS2. That’s it... simple as can be. The transmission is also stock, although Shane did install a South Bend 6-puck sprung clutch and a matching South Bend lightweight flywheel in the mix to keep everything spinning from the crankshaft back. Out back, the GTO still sports the factory 3.42 ring and pinion, although Shane did a little welding on the differential to make a quick and dirty mini-spool.
Now, this is where the stock stuff ends and the real custom work begins. In order for the GTO to compete with the best of them, every inch of the suspension needed to be modified for maximum grip, control, and steering angle during a high-speed drift. Up front, Shane modified a set of factory lower control arms, and built new steering knuckles, a new steering shaft, and modified tie-rod ends to allow for maximum steering angle in any scenario. The new front suspension design also allowed Shane to build custom sway bar endlinks, all of which add up to around 55-degrees of steering angle at full lock. Additionally, Shane installed a set of BC Racing coilover shocks along with BC Racing 9K springs. Both the front and rear sway bars were left stock, along with most of the rear suspension, although Shane did have to modify the rear control arms to install a set of GForce Engineering coilovers and Hypercoil springs. Much to our, and Shane’s surprise, the factory axles remain in place, although they may well be on borrowed time. Lastly, Shane had to construct a legal and safe roll cage for the Goat and, instead of farming it out, he just jumped in there with a welder, some tubing, and a plan, welding up the entire cage in just a short couple of hours.
“After 30 days of non-stop wrenching, the car was done and ready for testing.” Up against one of the best drivers in the Midwest Drift Union ProAm Series, Shane knew he had to hang it all out and drive 100-percent early on, a move that well... yeah. “I found the limit and then some, crashing directly into a banked wall at about 50 miles an hour. When I hit, I clutch kicked and put my foot to the floor to try and push off the wall and finish my run. Unfortunately, when I hit the wall I broke my steering knuckle so the only thing I ended up doing was riding the entire wall at full throttle. It was one hell of a ride. Nothing to do other than get out of the car with a smile on my face, wave to the crowd, and go home happy with my 4th place finish.” When he got back, the damage was pretty bad, having ripped the subframe from the chassis and bending a bunch of custom stuff in the process. Three days later, the GTO was back out on track and better than ever... That’s just how Mr. Whalley rolls. And for this year, and the remainder of last, Shane’s drift team has come a long way thanks to a key partnership with Keith Strong and Omar Guiterrez of the Ice Nine Group / MotorCity Project, who backed the GTO project after seeing Shane’s driving skill and unwavering passion go round after round in tight competition.
“Now to answer the question everyone is wondering and I get asked more than any other question is, why? Why would I take such a nice car, a car I bought almost new, a car that was a reliable daily driver that never let me down, and turn it into a drift car that I can never use as a practical street car again. The simple answer is because it’s what I wanted to do... If I could go back and do it all again I would, because I can in all honesty say, I have had more fun drifting, crashing, and rebuilding this car in the last summer than I have had in the last 4 years I have owned it.” And that’s that.
CAR: 2006 Pontiac GTO
OWNER: Shane Whalley
BLOCK: LS2, 364cid
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.9:1
HEADS: LS2, 2.000 intake, 1.550 exhaust valves
CAM: Stock hydraulic roller, 204/211 duration at .050, .525/525 inches of lift, 117 LSA
ROCKER ARMS: Stock, 1.7-ratio
PISTONS: Stock, hypereutectic
CRANKSHAFT: Stock, nodular iron
RODS: Stock, powdered metal
THROTTLE BODY: Stock 90mm
FUEL INJECTORS: Stock 28 lb/hr
FUEL PUMP: Stock, in-tank
IGNITION: Stock coil-near-plug
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: Stock
EXHAUST SYSTEM: Stock manifolds, 3-inch straight pipes, no mufflers
CLUTCH: South Bend Clutch 6-puck
FRONT SUSPENSION: BC Racing coilovers, custom lower control arms, steering knuckles, sway bar endlinks, tie rod ends, stock sway bar, Revshift polyurethane bushings
REAR SUSPENSION: GForce Engineering coilovers, custom lower control arms, stock sway bar, Revshift polyurethane bushings
REAR END: Stock GM IRS, 3.42 gear, axles, welded differential
BRAKES: Stock GM, Hawk Performance pads
FRONT WHEELS: Stock 17x8
REAR WHEELS: Stock 17x8
FRONT TIRES: Falken Azenis RT615K 245/45/17
REAR TIRES: Kenda Kaiser KR20 245/45/17