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2004 VW R32 - Conception

Innovative Racing Concepts developed this 630hp, 10.6sec VW R32 turbo drag racer

By , Photography by Justin Morrison

Why do we do what we do? Not to get too philosophical here, but it’s a perfectly legitimate question. Perhaps more so when you consider what we do to our cars. Aside from the odd junkyard-save, we often take perfectly fine automobiles and doing unspeakable things to them.

Ultra-low ow suspension, wide wheels, pulled fenders, de-badging, big brakes, big turbo, notched frame rails – the engineers who design them must be thoroughly disgusted with us!

But we can’t help it. It’s like asking a bird not to fly or a fish not to swim. Some people are simply compelled to do certain things.

It goes without saying that what Adrian Gordon did to his ’04 Golf R32 was totally unavoidable from the start. “I graduated high school in ’96 and pretty much started building cars,” he began.

Growing up in NYC around family and friends with modified cars, he cut his teeth on a ’84 Rabbit GTI. Now relocated to Sarasota, FL, he’s built this VW R32 for one thing only: speed.

No concessions were made for style, no nod to the scene, just performance on the street and dragstrip. “I mainly do drag racing,” Adrian confirmed.

One of the prerequisites of going fast is horsepower and, as the demo car for Adrian’s shop Innovative Racing Concepts, the R32 had to deliver.

After a brief stint at Fifteen52, he opened the shop and set about making the Golf represent the work his crew is capable of. It was also Adrian’s daily driver, so had to be reliable as well.

The R32 is no stranger to high-power applications. As one of VW’s most capable chassis in recent memory, the all-wheel drive 3.2L VR6 24v just begs for a turbo. So Adrian duly obliged and fitted a Precision 6765 billet blower, regulated by a 46mm wastegate and HKS EVC5 boost controller.

The pressurized air has a short distance to travel before being chilled by an Innovative Racing Concepts (IRC) air-to-water intercooler. It then passes through a 90mm Accufab throttle body and IRC short-runner intake manifold before being ingested by the VR6.

The engine retained the stock internals, but the compression was lowered with a stainless head spacer. Electronically, everything was binned, so a Wolf 3D stand-alone management system from AEM replaced the Bosch ECU, telling the MSD DIS 4Plus digital ignition and 1000cc Precision injectors precisely what to do.

Fuel is supplied by two Walbro 255 lph fuel pumps, an Aeromotive pressure regulator and IRC fuel rail.

As you’d expect, this added up to a potent package. In race trim, Adrian dials in about 24psi for a solid 631hp to all four wheels. Even more impressive, when running lower-octane fuel at 15psi on the street, the motor still cranks out 527awhp.

Adrian is, to say the least, enthusiastic when describing the power delivery, “Oh man, wow! Spooling is pretty quick, right around 3900rpm. In fact, I’m over 330hp at 3800rpm.”

Adrian credits his brother Mark at NMK Tuning in NY for the power delivery. But channeling all that power to the ground is a Spec twin-disc clutch on a stock 02M six-speed gearbox, including the differential. “It’s been holding up,” Adrian said. “I haven’t broken a gear set yet. Knock on wood.”

An IRC transmission mount prevents excessive drivetrain movement under power, while an IRC billet transfer case and rear diff brackets are key to the car’s reliability. “We have test and tune sessions at the track every Thursday night,” he said. “And up until last summer, it was out there damn-near three times a month, every month.”

One of the more remarkable aspects of Adrian’s R32 is the adaptation of the Haldex AWD system to the Wolf stand-alone, since the Haldex doesn’t typical function correctly when the factory ECU is removed. “It’s the factory Haldex controller with a power switch, and I modified the box itself,” he explained. “It gives you the ability to lock the front or rear on the fly.”

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