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Inside Leadfoot Racing

When it comes to building unique and exciting cars, Leadfoot Racing (LFR) are at the top of their game. Run by a pair of confirmed petrol heads, Ed Sadler and Chris Evans, this dynamic duo of automotive engineers are able to turn a customer’s idea into reality. Specialists at developing bespoke turbo systems, LFR have carved out an enviable reputation for their ‘anything goes’ ethos, which means there’s always something exciting in the workshop. Ramair are proud to supply performance filtration products to these guys.

Having started out simply building fast and fun cars for themselves, Ed and Chris began working on friends’ cars. Just over four years ago, they decided to go full time doing the stuff they love – creating quirky, unusual projects that excite them. We’ve known them for years and have always supplied them with our latest products – particularly our universal kits to suit some weird and wonderful fitments. These guys build powerful cars that get used hard, so it’s a great test bed for Ramair filters.

So we decided to spend a day with Ed and Chris to look at some of their current projects and find out what makes LFR tick.Like many of the finest automotive tuners and engineers, LFR are tucked away in the countryside – in this case just outside Amesbury, Wiltshire. It’s a quiet, peaceful place, most of the time, apart from when the latest project is being tested or when the military buzz the farm in one of their £35-million Apache attack helicopters (you can see one photobombing our shot of the black 135i below). Cool.

As we arrive, the workshop is filled with the delicious aroma of bacon and sausage – just what’s needed on this bitterly cold January morning. “Great to see you,” smiles a jovial Ed, “help yourself to breakfast – the coffee is brewing.” Now that’s a proper welcome!

Over a much-needed butty and some strong coffee, Ed and Chris show us around the place. The workshop is crammed full of engineering paraphernalia, from lathes and welding kit for fabricating bespoke bits such as manifolds, to pipe benders for making roll cages and exhausts – these guys can make pretty much anything from scratch. Chris specialises in designing bespoke manifolds for turbo applications such as Harrison’s Honda S2000 that’s in the workshop today. An Integra DC5 is also having its turbo system fully refreshed to LFR spec.

“My way of working is to look at a problem and find a solution, but do it my own way, rather than follow what others may have done,” explains Chris. This allows him to focus on making the turbo set-up the most efficient it can be, rather than having to work with what’s already available. A prime example is the 600+bhp BMW 135i they recently completed.

The N54 twin-turbo set-up has been replaced with a bespoke twin-scroll single-turbo system, but the twist is that Chris has managed to fit a large GTX3584 turbo, but retain the OEM location. It would have been simpler to mount the turbo on top like others have done, but for Chris, that didn’t feel right. “We wanted the engine to look stock, so I had to engineer a way to make it all fit,” says Chris.

Like all of LFR’s creations, the BMW runs a Ramair performance filter, designed for maximum airflow and a sonorous induction sound. And take our word for it – this 600+bhp Beemer sounds incredible, especially when we go for a test drive. The power is relentless, making this humble 1-Series a bit of a sleeper.

It’s this relentless attention to detail and ability to think outside the box that sets LFR apart from many others. However, even though their work is of an extremely high standard, they don’t take themselves too seriously… “We just like having fun, “ says Ed. “Life’s too short to drive something boring, so we like to make cars that are exciting.”

As we wrap up a great day, Ed suggests we round things off by doing a burnout in their E30. So Chris backs the car into the workshop, waits for everyone to prime their iPhones and then dumps the clutch. With a beefy straight-six E46 lump installed (another LFR first), the rear wheels spin up fast and the workshop quickly fills with the unmistakable smell of burning rubber. As a final flourish, Chris lets off the brakes and the retro BMW snakes its way out of the doors and into the yard. Good work sir – a textbook burnout!

The video goes down very well on social media and has even given LFR an idea. “We had such a great response that we’ve decided to launch the LFR Burnout Challenge,” smiles Ed. “We’re inviting people with weird and wonderful cars to come to the workshop and do a 30-second burnout, which we will then judge. We’ll put them all on social media and the best one will receive a prize. Just bear in mind we’re looking for unusual cars, not just stock Clios,” smiles Ed.

We’ll be hooking up with Leadfoot Racing at some great track events this year, kicking off with the Spring Action Day at Castle Combe on 30 March – so why not come and say hi. Just look for the Ramair stand and don’t forget to like LFR on facebook too @leadfoot.racing.lfr and while you’re at it, give Ramair a like @RamairFilters

The LFR cars…

Honda S2000

LFR have fitted their own manifold and turbo system to transform Harrison’s Honda into a 500+bhp, big-boosting hooligan. With a set of ultra-light US forged rims, big brakes and a host of chassis upgrades, this is set to be one of the quickest S2000s around and a whole heap of sideways fun.

VW Corrado

One of the most striking cars you’ll ever see, this full custom Corrado has been fully built by LFR. Although the diesel engine was already installed, ED and Chris have transformed the rest of it, which includes custom wide body and roll-cage inspired bumpers, to the cut out boot, under-body fuel tank and much more – guaranteed to make the OEM+ crew do a sick on their skinny jeans.

BMW E30

This cheeky little gold Bimmer is a perfect example of what LFR are all about. It isn’t the cleanest car around and isn’t meant to be. But it oozes cool, thanks to its boxy early late 80s, early 90s styling and the fact its running a straight-six lifted from an E46. Lots of custom fabrication was required to make it all work, but it looks like it was meant to go there and offers a potent performance punch.

Mk1 MR2

There are very few of the little wedge-shaped Toyota about and this one came to LFR for a full refresh. Owner Curtis wanted the tired engine rebuilding and a whole host of other issues sorting out. This may not be the most extreme car to roll out of LFR, but it’s still a cool little thing oozing retro goodness.

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Performance filtration specialists – inside RamAir

With a motorsport heritage stretching back to 1981, RamAir is one of the world’s leading air filtration specialists

When it comes to tuning a car, one of the first things on the list is a performance air filter. It’s a relatively simple way to improve airflow, which can increase power and also produce a much improved induction sound. As one of the world’s leading filtration specialists, UK company RamAir offer a huge range – with everything from old-school carb kits, to panel filters and universal set-ups, through to full heat-shield induction kits. One of their largest ranges is for VW Group cars.

Run by a bunch of dedicated car enthusiasts, RamAir’s products have been extremely well received by the VW Group community. From stunning show-car engine bays, to hard-worked track weapons, you’ll find the RamAir brand everywhere.

Although the company’s heritage stretches back to 1981, it’s the last eight years where big things have happened for the Wiltshire-based outfit. “When we took over the company, there were a lot of great products, but we wanted to grow the range to cater for the cars we were into,” says Operations Director Dan Mullan. “We began with a small building with one ramp and a little area to make the filters.” But they soon progressed, and the real growth began when they focussed on the e-commerce side of the business in 2010, which is also when they began to diversify.

The Jetstream induction kit

“I had a Mk5 Golf GTI at the time, so we decided to develop an induction kit for it,” reveals Dan. VW’s ubiquitous GTI was one of the cars-of-the-moment and with the same 2.0-litre turbo engine used in many other VW Group cars, including the Audi A3, SEAT Leon Cupra and Skoda Octavia vRS, it made sense to design a kit that would fit all applications.

“We came up with the Jetstream induction kit, with a 70mm induction pipe. This was then updated to the oversize 90mm 2.0 TFSI kit – that went on to become our best-seller,” explains Dan. With so many VW Group cars running this engine, many of which were tuned to Stage 2+, the oversize kit became one of the must-have upgrades for the 2.0 TSI/TFSI guys. Each kit is carefully designed to fit to factory mounting points and to be as OEM as possible, which is why they’re finished in a smart textured black, with black silicone hoses.

It’s fair to say, then, that RamAir has made a big impact on the VW Group market, both in the UK and abroad.

Research and development

Operations Manager Mike Fox explains: “We begin by getting a development car in for a couple of days for an initial overview – it’s usually a customer’s car or someone we know.” From drawing the kit using CAD, to the product going on sale can take anything from two weeks to two months, depending on the complexity of it. As part of this process, each air filter is tested against the stock part on RamAir’s SuperFlow flow bench.

The key criteria are that it flows air more efficiently and increases throttle response, as well as making a much more purposeful induction sound, of course. It’s interesting to note that RamAir don’t make big power claims, which is refreshing. “We say that each filter is capable of flowing more air, but the rest is up to you,” says Dan. It is clear though that being able to flow more air is key to more power when combined with supporting upgrades.

One of the great things about RamAir having their entire operation together in the UK is that products can be developed fast. Not only that, but it’s easy to make changes to add extra applications. This speeds up the development process and means they can react quickly to new model releases and be first to market. RamAir’s development team have a long list of new induction kit applications that are being worked on, with the VW Group cars taking up a healthy slice of it.

Bespoke set-ups

But it isn’t only specific off-the-shelf kits that RamAir has available. With filters and silicone hoses available in pretty much every size you could need, customers can choose their own universal set-up. “If we don’t do a specific kit, when a customer calls, we ask them to take measurements and take some pics, then send them to us. We can then advise them on which universal silicone induction hose and air filter will best suit their needs,” says Mike. So even if you drive something a little left field, perhaps a car with an engine swap, RamAir should be able to offer a solution.

Order direct

With a state-of-the-art distribution facility on site, all RamAir products are available for next working-day delivery. There are no middlemen to deal with and a support team is on hand to deal with any questions or fitment issues. However, with comprehensive instructions, including photographs, included with each kit, you’re unlikely to need them.

Dan says, “All of our products are available via our website, our eBay store or direct from Amazon. We want to make it as easy as possible to get hold of them, so the customer can choose their preferred service. Some like eBay, others go for Amazon, while many head to the website.” Whichever method you select, you can be sure that your RamAir product will be despatched and delivered as fast as possible, which with Amazon Prime, means genuine next-day delivery, including weekends. For those of us needing parts quickly to prepare for a track day, a show or simply to get back on the road, it’s an invaluable service.

Not only air filters

Although RamAir may be best known for their range of high-quality air filters and induction kits, they also produce a range of other performance parts, including silicone hoses – from model-specific intake pipes, to universal intakes and vacuum pipes. They also produce a select range of intercoolers and a turbo inlet elbow for the Golf Mk7 GTI and R, plus a host of supporting parts such as aluminium ducting, stainless steel W2 bolt clamps and even gold thermal heat barrier sheet and

Development cars

RamAir’s commitment to the VW Group is evident by the Golf Mk7 GTI parked outside. They still have the original Golf Mk5 GTI on the fleet, plus a new Polo GTI as well as access to every significant model for development purposes. But it’s the MQB-platform Golf 7 that is the most important, as RamAir seeks to develop a package of upgrades for this rapid and highly tunable VW.

Engineering and fabrication

RamAir has a wide range of engineering and fabrication skills available in-house. In fact, there’s not much they can’t do. At the heart of the operation is 3D computer aided design, modelling and simulation. This allows new products to be developed quickly and efficiently. A highly skilled team of TIG welders are able to work on all materials including titanium and Inconel, while complex tube and pipework can be cut and bent according to requirements.

RamAir are also able to produce silicone hose and have the capability for polymer injection moulding. This enviable skillset, combined with everything being in-house, means that RamAir is the only air filtration specialist in the UK able to offer such a wide ranging and efficient service. It also means that their Special Projects Division can offer bespoke solutions to a host of engineering needs.

Motorsport

Since 1981 RamAir has been heavily involved in motorsport, supplying filtration systems for a wide range of championships including Formula 1, Formula 3, DTM, WRC, Formula Ford, Le Mans Series, BTCC and WTCC. Testing in the heat of competition, means that RamAir gains valuable data and insights with their products tested at the very limits. And 2018 is the third year that RamAir will be proudly sponsoring the Time Attack Championship.

This exciting, against-the-clock competition attracts a diverse rage of cars and drivers, from novices in relatively stock cars, through the Pro Extreme class in heavily tuned aero-clad monsters. Around half the cars run RamAir filters, so it’s another great opportunity to test products in the heat of competition.

Air filter performance

All RamAir filter elements are manufactured using Aeriform. Comprised of two different layers of foam, it’s specially designed to offer variable stage filtration to maintain a high airflow, but also keep potentially damaging particles out of your engine. They have been proven to work more effectively than paper filters, which may work fine to begin with, but over time can soon lose efficiency, especially if they become exposed to water or humidity. RamAir also offer a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser.

The future

There are some exciting plans in store for 2018 and further ahead, as RamAir continues to drive forward and expand their business. “Through our Global Dealer Programme, we’re seeking new international partners,” says Dan.

So there we have it. Having grown into one of the premier filtration specialists and moved into other areas including silicone and intercoolers, where next for RamAir. “We see the MQB platform as a huge potential market, so we’ll continue developing products for cars such as the Golf 7. We’d like to offer packages, so for example with the Golf 7R, you can order an intercooler, silicone intake, silicone elbow and Jetstream induction kit.”

 

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RamAir 550bhp BMW 1-Series

The sleepy town of Pewsey is one of those places that where time appears to have stood still. Nestled in the rolling Wiltshire countryside, life here runs at a more sedate pace. But don’t be fooled. Like many of the UK’s smaller towns and villages, look a bit deeper and you’ll often find a lively tuning scene.

 

This area is home to RamAir, one of the UK’s fastest growing air filtration specialists. With a heritage stretching back to 1981, the last five years has seen rapid growth with a new range of performance intakes. Key to this success has been a ‘can do’ attitude and willingness to help people out with unusual fitments. People like Chris Roberts.

Chris has been a mate of Dan, Chris, Mike and the rest of the RamAir crew for several years and has become their unofficial test driver. “They’ve always helped me out with products and because I’m on track a lot, everything gets a thorough testing!” he smiles. So when he needed help with his latest project, he knew where to turn.

“I’m really into to track driving and after my modified Impreza went, I wanted a new toy,” he explains. The 2009 Beemer certainly ticked all the boxes. The N54 twin-turbo straight-six produces 302bhp and sends it all to the rear wheels. It’s a fast, well-balanced car and was perfect for what Chris wanted.

Having purchased this highly-spec’d example from MCR Specialist Cars (also mates of Chris), he proceeded to drive the nuts off it at every opportunity. “I’ve lost count of the number of laps I’ve done at Castle Combe, but it must be hundreds,” laughs Chris. “I’ve also been to the Nürburgring in it and did loads of laps there – the car didn’t miss a beat.”

With so much of its time spent on track, the BM didn’t remain stock for long and the usual upgrades to the suspension and brakes were carried out to make it more capable. “It was a great handling car, but coming from a much more powerful Impreza, it felt like it needed something extra,” admits Chris. The issue was compounded by the relative girth of the 1-Series, which weighs in at around 1500kg – a fair amount for a small coupe. “I didn’t want to strip it out as it’s a nice car that I also use on the road,” says Chris. So, it was clear that more power was required.

Some research revealed that several single-turbo conversions had been carried out on the twin-turbo 3.0-litre N54 engine, mainly in the US. The logic was simple: a large single turbo would be less stressed than highly worked twins, plus it’s much easier to access. Given that this car is built to drive hard, that’s a big factor. A large single blower also comes on boost higher in the rev range than upgraded twins, which puts less strain on the N54, which can be vulnerable to high levels of low end torque. And let’s face it – opening the bonnet to be greeted by a massive ’bine is always a winner!

With no off-the-shelf single-turbo kits available, Chris turned to local turbo specialists, Davefab.

These guys (both called Dave, funnily enough) have made a real name for themselves with their home-brewed turbo set-ups, most notably on their own Mazda MX-5 demo car. They couldn’t wait to get stuck into the BMW.

Clearly a large turbo wasn’t just going to bolt onto the OEM engine, but the team soon realised they could do it without incurring huge expenses.

“The plan was to retain the stock manifolds, which would make things a lot easier and cheaper,” says Chris. “We also left the engine stock, as from what we’d gathered, the internals could take over 500bhp.” The team also knew that they could get it to run via a piggyback ECU set-up. All of this meant they wouldn’t have to pay for a built engine, fancy tubular manifolds or standalone management, which would really keep a lid on costs. Even so, a lot of thought had to go into the conversion as the 1-Series’ bay wasn’t designed for a large single turbo. Several items had to be relocated including the power steering and header tanks.

Once work had commenced, it quickly progressed, although a tight deadline did lead to an all night session before the car’s maiden outing.

“The PAAA Industry Track Day was fast approaching and RamAir asked me to bring the car along.” Says Chris. “So we worked through the night to get the car ready. We finished it and drove straight to Castle Combe.”

With some of the biggest industry figures in attendance, the large snail under the bonnet certainly raised a few eyebrows. “We were only running on low boost at this stage, but even so, it still went really well,” he says. It was clear the big turbo set-up worked and offered huge potential once the map had been fine-tuned.

Since then a lot more development work has gone into the car and it’s now running around 550bhp and 560lb/ft. But with further mapping, Chris is certain there’s more to come.

“The highlight for me so far was at the Spring Action Day, where I was keeping up with £100k+ cars,” laughs Chris. Several surprised owners were quick to check out the BMW back in the paddock and all gave a nod of respect when they saw what was under the bonnet.

“That’s what I love about this car,” says Chris, “Most people don’t realise it’s so fast. Ok, if you know what you’re looking for you might spot the 255-profile track tyres – which stick out a fair bit and give lots of extra grip, and there’s the rear wing, but it isn’t covered in graphics or stripped out with a cage.”

In fact the wheels were one of the trickiest parts to get right.

“I wanted 255s all round so that if I get a puncture, I only have to carry one spare; I haven’t got room for staggered fitments.” This meant fitting 255s on the front, which the 1-Series was never designed for. “We had to pull out the inner arches and then roll the outer arches to get the Team Dynamics Pro Race with Yokohamas to fit,” says Chris. The arch rolling technique involved placing several magazines on the tyres, then pushing down on the wings with brute force, until the magazines slipped, allowing some movement. It’s a rather crude way of doing it, but it did the trick and is a neat little hack.

Inside, the stock interior remains, including the leather seats, which offer a surprising amount of support, even when flinging it around a track. The only giveaway is the iPhone mounted in a cradle on the dash, which shows an array of gauges. “It links to the JB4 ECU and allows me to control the boost, fuelling, check oil temps– you name it,” says Chris. The boot is home to that precious spare – from an M3 and the water/meth injection tank.

So what’s next for this ballistic BMW?

“I’m going to spend the summer on track and represent RamAir at shows and events,” says Chris. “There’s more mapping to come, so it’ll make more power, but to be fair it goes pretty well as it is.” He’s not wrong. As we wrap up the shoot, he asks if we can try a few ‘smoky shots’ and proceeds to nail the throttle and lay down some rubber. As the smoke clears, a smiling Chris gets out of the car and says, “I’ve never done that before; I’m no drifter, but that was fun.” Look out for this ballistic BM at a track near you, soon…

Spec
BMW 135i (E82)

Engine
Stock 3.0-litre N54 engine, Davefab single-turbo conversion utilising the standard manifiolds, all joints V-banded for easy assembly/disassembly, Davefab custom 3in downpipe, Davefab custom water pipe, Davefab custom rocker cover/coil-injector loom heat shield, BorgWarner EFR 7670.92 internal gated turbo, Turbosmart twin-port actuator with 17psi base spring, R-spec/Mac 4-port boost solenoid, RamAir custom ‘short’ air filter, Forge uprated charge pipe with 50mm dump valve and water/methanol nozzles fitted, Goodridge fittings and braided lines throughout on the turbo, Motamec 26-row oil cooler with black braided lines, torques oil block take off and fittings, Devils own/coolingmist water/methanol injection kit with twin cm7 nozzles, water header and power steering tanks re-located due to single-turbo conversion, Wagner intercooler, Protuner Stage 2 drop in uprated fuel pump, standard exhaust cut up and gutted/straight through with quad twin-exit exhaust, Burger Motorsport JB4 ecu with Bluetooth interface connection allowing mapping/control from iPhone, BMS oil catch can, Rob Beck PCV valve, RamAir gold reflective tape for heat management, lambda sensors re-located pre-turbo in manifold runners, BMW 550i OEM clutch, NGK 1 step colder spark plugs gapped down to .20

Power
Around 550bhp and 560lb/ft @ 20psi boost (more to come when fully mapped)

Suspension
BC br coilovers with adjustable top mounts and 30-way adjustment, set up for 2.5-degrees camber all round for track, Eibach uprated 25mm front and 15mm rear anti-roll bars

Brakes
Factory-fitted 6-pot front and 2-pot rear Brembo brakes re finished in Renault Liquid yellow, Pagid Motorsport RS29 pads all round, M-tech brakes ‘J’ hook discs all round, Hel yellow braided brake lines all round, Castrol SRF brake fluid

Wheels and tyres
Custom made Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.3 18×8.5 et50 square set up alloys in gloss black, 15mm spacers front – 10mm spacers rear, Toyo R888r/Yokohama AD08r 255/35×18 tyres, 25mm wheel stud kits, custom gel badge black/white BMW flat centre caps

Exterior
Factory fitted M-Sport bodywork, Itec Tuning BMW M3 GTS rear carbon spoiler with alpine white ends, BMW carbon fibre lip spoiler, BMW carbon wing mirrors, carbon aerial cover, Kerscher carbon front splitter, all arches rolled, pulled and cut to accommodate wider wheels for track, black/white BMW badges, rear bumper cut and modified to house quad twin-exit exhaust, roof wrapped in gloss black vinyl, facelift 2010 LCI dark line rear lights, fully loaded with every optional extra including xenons, parking sensors, tinted windows, headlight washers etc.

Interior
Fully loaded BMW interior including black Boston leather, iDrive, full professional Harmon Kardon stereo and sound system, E92 M3 traveller spare wheel kit, Devilsown/coolingmist water/methanol injection kit mounted in the boot

Thanks
Dave Massey and Dave Nicholls at Davefab, Dan Mullan, Chris Yates and the gang at RamAir, Chris Beaven for all his help as without him the car would not of been possible, Paul Kang at BTN turbo, Greg Gush at Protuner, Mike Chalk and the Crew at MCR Specialist Cars, Jamie Williamson at Dick Lovett BMW Hungerford for the OEM parts, all my family for help and support, thanks also to Swindon Karting Arena for the location