There is a lot to be said about those among us who cre­ate with their own hands, qui­etly go­ing about their busi­ness, re­ly­ing on very few oth­ers and not blow­ing their own trum­pet — in­stead, let­ting their hand­crafted machines do the talk­ing. While some old-time naysay­ers will harp on about this type of crafts­man be­ing a dy­ing breed in the modern world, we’re here — or, more im­por­tant, Jeremy Hew­son’s 13B Star­let is here — to show you that all hope is not yet lost.

We’ve fol­lowed this build since it first hit the strip in 2014, and fol­lowed Jeremy’s devel­op­ment from a mid-10-sec­ond run­ner to win­ning the nationals in 2015, win­ning the Super Sedan ti­tle the fol­low­ing year, and now hav­ing the fastest pump-gas (98-oc­tane) 13B in the world.

You could say that Jeremy was born into drag rac­ing, hav­ing been dragged to the strip from six months old to watch top door slam­mers with un­capped, meth-burn­ing, blown mo­tors. With an up­bring­ing as proper as that and methanol in the blood, it was al­most in­evitable that he’d even­tu­ally find his way onto the other side of the Armco and into the driver’s seat.

“I had a VK Com­modore that I’d put a later model V6 in, and my boss conned me into rac­ing for his team at a team event at Taupo. I ran some­thing slow like a 16.6, but I was bit­ten, and, the very next day, I or­dered a ni­trous kit. The next meet­ing, I ran a 14.5. Af­ter that, I built a 13B turbo Hilux. But, just as I got it run­ning, I thought, this is never go­ing to be a drag car, so started look­ing around for the small­est and light­est car that I could use as a base and saw the Puerto Ri­cans do­ing crazy things with the Star­lets,” re­calls Jeremy.

The hunt led Jeremy to Mor­rinsville and this very car, al­beit in com­plete fac­tory and un­touched con­di­tion. He drove it home to Pu­taruru, and, the very next day, the grinder was sunk deep into the fac­tory floor­pan. Armed with a rule book and plenty of Puerto Ri­can Star­let im­agery, Jeremy got to work on what is his first-ever drag car build.

“It started off as a sim­ple bud­get build, just mini tubs and roll cage to maybe run nines in Sport Mod. Then, one day, I was stand­ing there with a beer look­ing at it al­most fin­ished, and felt that far too many com­pro­mises had to be made in meet­ing the class rules: it sat too high, and I just didn’t feel it was safe enough.”

A full tube chas­sis has been built in stages: first, a three-quar­ter chas­sis; then a front clip was added; and, over the win­ter months, the rear end was com­pletely re­worked to al­low for big­ger tubs and taller tyres Run­ning a Link G4+ Fury, boost is con­trolled in three stages: one to get the 13B up on the trans, the sec­ond for first, and the third for top gear

Once again, the grinder was brought out and all of Jeremy’s hard work re­moved with a few pre­cise cuts. Armed with a cheap ben­der, notcher, and welder — all bought specif­i­cally for the build — Jeremy set about build­ing a three-quar­ter chas­sis right there in his garage, shift­ing his fo­cus from Sport Mod to Super Sedan. Utiliz­ing the S4-based 13B turbo pack­age from the aban­doned Hilux build, a four-linked nine-inch diff, and C4 auto, the Star­let would be hit­ting Mere­mere and dip­ping as low as the eight-sec­ond bracket be­fore the next big change-up would oc­cur.

Run­ning a BorgWarner SX300, 98 oc­tane, water-methanol, and tuned by Green Brothers Rac­ing, the 13B was prov­ing to be a for­mi­da­ble and con­sis­tent com­peti­tor in Super Sedan, tak­ing the sea­son cham­pi­onship in 2015, but the 13B was push­ing some se­ri­ous grunt, so much so that it was start­ing to twist the front chas­sis rails on the hard launches. The idea was to add a mid plate at the fire­wall to tie the mo­tor to the chas­sis. Jeremy soon de­cided that, while he was at it, he may as well chop the en­tire front off and tube that too, turn­ing it into a full tube-frame chas­sis. Not only would this stiffen ev­ery­thing up, but the car would also lose some weight in the process, and it would al­low the turbo to be mounted much closer to the block to help spool on the trans­brake — some­thing that’s im­por­tant in bracket rac­ing such as Super Sedan. An­other big change at this point was the switch from C4 to Pow­er­glide, as teh C4 just couldn’t han­dle the revs and would re­quire a re­build ev­ery two race meets.

An­other sea­son would roll over with con­sis­tent high-eight­sec­ond passes, but a mis­take that Jeremy made when or­der­ing a set of tyres for the very last meet­ing of the year would act as the cat­a­lyst to the big­gest off-sea­son re­work to date.

“I or­dered some new tyres from Oz. When they turned up, I re­al­ized that I’d messed up and ac­ci­den­tally or­dered the M/T 31x10.5W tyre in­stead of the 29.5x10.5 that I usu­ally run. The 10.5W tyre is a much big­ger tyre, de­signed to bend the Out­law 10.5 class rules in the States. I didn’t have enough time to or­der new tyres, so thought that I’d try to shoe­horn them un­der the car and see how they went,” he says.

Built by Green brothers rac­ing, the 13B is based on an S4 block and fea­tures a mild port job. A BorgWarner SXE372 turbo does the heavy lift­ing, and pro­pels the Star­let deep into the eights

The new tyre made the car an an­i­mal off the line, but there was only one prob­lem: they didn’t fit the tubs. The call was made to cut the car up once again and re­work the rear end to al­low for the big­ger meat. Like all the pre­vi­ous re­works, the project was once again car­ried out in the workshop at home, and to a level that is very im­pres­sive to say the least. The up­grades didn’t stop there; a new turbo has made its way onto the same 13B that the car has al­ways run — a BorgWarner SXE372, which Jeremy tells us is a good com­pro­mise be­tween size and los­ing spool on the line.

“The big­ger you go turbo-wise, the harder it is to spool and the less con­sis­tent it is,” he ex­plains.

How­ever, the swap has made a huge dif­fer­ence, with the lit­tle mo­tor now mak­ing power all the way to 10,000rpm.

It’s now a mat­ter of chang­ing the diff ra­tios un­til the car is us­ing all the power, as it is cur­rently a good 2000rpm short at the traps. Find­ing all-out pace isn’t all that Jeremy is af­ter, though; he’s also look­ing for con­sis­tency and a sec­ond cham­pi­onship: “I’m cur­rently lead­ing the points and look­ing to take an­other ti­tle. I won it back in 2015 and don’t want to be a one-hit won­der.”

If the early sea­son events are any­thing to go by, the car is go­ing to be hard to beat, es­pe­cially once that all-new rear end is di­alled in. It’s only a cou­ple meet­ings old, re­mem­ber.

While Jeremy tells us that he’s pretty happy with the cur­rent pace, he has said that be­fore — and he knows as well as any­one read­ing this that it won’t be long be­fore the car goes back un­der the knife for his next round of up­grades; it’s just part of the game.

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: Kirkey Al­loy STEER­ING WHEEL: Three­step and line-lock but­tons IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: Auto Me­ter water-temp gauge, Auto Me­ter trans­mis­sion temp gauge, Auto Me­ter oil-pres­sure gauge DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: Jeremy Hew­son AGE: 34 LO­CA­TION: Pu­taruru OC­CU­PA­TION: Panel beater BUILD TIME: Three years LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Eight yearsTHANKS: Big thanks to Pu­taruru Panel and Paint, Green Brothers Rac­ing, Brins­den Au­to­mat­ics

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