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In exclusive interview, legendary racer tells us his plans for 1,000hp new Supra

The all-new 2020 Toyota Supra has barely arrived in dealerships, but it’s already making a big impression. Car and Driver called it Toyota’s “best driver’s car ever.”  Starting around $50,000, the Supra is not in competition with the lightweight and affordable Toyota 86, but rather aims at the Porsche 718 Cayman and the BMW Z4. It’s well known that the Supra shares quite a bit with the BMW, and that has only driven interest higher.

The Supra B56 engine is a variation of BMW’s venerable inline six-cylinder, worked up to 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque with a twin-scroll turbo. Instrumented tests have the stock Supra hitting 60 MPH in 3.8 seconds, which isn’t shabby at all.

The Supra has generated so much interest that we weren’t terribly surprised to learn that 2018 SEMA Masters of Motors winner Stephan Papadakis of Papadakis Racing is already tearing one apart looking for more performance.

Stephan Papadakis Papadakis Racing

“We’ve set this target of 1,000 horsepower but this engine is all new to me and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get there,” Papadakis admitted.

Papadakis has posted a video of the engine removal and complete teardown is fascinating because it’s the deepest look you’re going to get at the engineering of the Supra engine. The BMW/Toyota power plant has several unique characteristics, so this video is absolutely worth your time to watch. Papadakis and his team are planning a four-video series on how they boost the engine to the four-figure mark.

“It’s always a bit nerve wracking to get into an engine for the first time. You don’t know what pitfalls or obstacles you might find — and I found a couple with this one,” Papadakis said.

Stephan Papadakis standing in front of a Toyota Supra
Stephan Papadakis Papadakis Racing

Asking the relevant questions.

For us, watching the video left us with more questions, and we managed to get a little bit of Papadakis’ time to get some answers.

Why are you doing this to a brand new car?

Stephan Papadakis: At Papadakis Racing, we build cutting-edge projects, and we wanted to see what we could do with the new Supra. The engine is so new that the only way to get it was to get a car and pull the engine out of it. Even though we took it apart, the car can always be put back together – potentially with 1,000 horsepower in it.

How exactly do you plan to get to your power goal?

You’ll have to watch and see exactly how we get there, because we don’t actually know yet. That’s the exciting part of what we’re doing. There’s no roadmap or instructions for what we’re doing. We’re learning as we go and sharing this process as it unfolds. We hope to inspire builders with this project.

Based on our experience, we know that to get to 1,000 hp, we need to find ways to get a lot of air and fuel into the engine. So, we’ll do that with a larger turbocharger and a modified fuel system. And then we’ll need to make sure the engine is robust enough to handle all that extra power, so we’ll look at replacing the pistons and rods and modifying the valvetrain.

Papadakis Racing

Why the Supra and not some other sports car?

We’ve built five Toyota competition cars over the past decade or so, starting with a Scion tC in 2009, and now our 1,000 hp Toyota Corolla Hatchback that’s leading the Formula Drift series points right now. Given our long history with Toyota, it’s natural that we’re excited to work on the newest car and a new inline-six cylinder engine. 

What gives you confidence you can get this engine to 1000 hp?

When it comes to something so new like this Supra, there are no instructions or aftermarket kits available. It comes down to us doing the research and development to figure it out and that’s exciting. What we do is build unique, cutting-edge cars and engines. I started my racing career in drag racing. At that time, in the 90s, we were running 1,600-plus horsepower twin-turbocharged V6s. Now, in drifting, our current competition car is a 1,000 hp running a 2.7L four-cylinder engine that we built in-house. 

Papadakis Racing

Big car companies are developing these global engine platforms that need to work in a variety of applications. They put a ton of research and development into them to make a robust product that can be reliable for a long time in production. That helps us when we get it in the aftermarket because it means they build margin into the components. 

When you look back to the 2JZ inline-six that was in production for 20-plus years, there was a huge amount of development that went into it. The engine still lives up to demands of racers today. Now, looking at the 2020 engine, I can see looking at the closed-deck block and the high quality of components that this one has some really interesting potential as well.

The hottest engine you can’t buy

When the project is done, you’ll be able to see it on video – though we suspect Papadakis won’t reveal every secret about how it’s done. You’ll probably also see the car at SEMA this fall. What you won’t be able to do is buy it or have Papadakis Racing give the same treatment to your personal Supra. They work on their own cars exclusively. However, Papadakis is pointing the way for the rest of the aftermarket by proving that it’s possible. We’re interested to follow along and see how he does it.

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Jeff Zurschmeide
Jeff Zurschmeide is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon. Jeff covers new cars, motor sports, and technical topics for a…
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