Nitrous Oxide brings up images of hot rods, drag strips, and 200-mile-per-hour runs, but the history of its use is long in the drifting world as well. From the D1 Grand Prix to Formula Drift, nitrous use is well known and used in turbocharger setups to overcome boost lag as well as a nearly instantaneous boost in power for naturally aspirated setups. Chris Forsberg also knows nitrous and it’s more than just the name of the energy drink he’s associated with. His pro-car uses a very unique setup and his consistency shows that it’s rather reliable if tuned right and utilized in the right situation.
Even in the earliest days of professional drifting in Japan, nitrous oxide was used in cars where extra power was needed but a turbocharger wasn’t necessarily the right choice in power adder. In the early days, turbocharger and supercharger technology wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now so boost lag, where the turbocharger wasn’t being driven fast enough to produce boost, was a big concern and superchargers weren’t a great choice because they aren’t exactly an easy bolt on as installing a turbo with a log manifold. Nitrous, on the other hand, is nearly instant as soon as you hit the button to activate it, easy to install since all you are doing is plumbing it and the fuel system, and tuning nitrous for power is as simple installing a jet. Ok, that’s still making it too simple but you get the rough idea on why it’s looked to as the go-to for power adding.
NOS: Not Just for The Fast and the Furious
Nitrous is really good for naturally aspirated setups in a world of turbos and superchargers. Many of you may be familiar with the Droo-P Toyota Corolla AE86 once driven by Toshiki Yoshioka. The car made 300-horsepower with individual throttle bodies in a 1.8-liter displacement but without a turbo. That was thanks to a “twin-shot” “dry” nitrous setup by Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS), “dry” meaning no additional fuel was injected with the nitrous when activated. The opposite, a “wet” setup, injects fuel and nitrous at the same time. We’ll touch on how nitrous works in a moment but it shows the power you can get out of such a simple setup. Just imagine what kind of power you can get out of something with a bigger displacement, more cylinders, or a second type of power adder and you can see how this could start to make sanctioning bodies weary of it.
The D1GP/JAF Ban
That’s exactly what happened with the D1 Grand Prix and why you don’t see it used anymore. Prior to the prohibition of its use in competition in 2014, the D1GP and its sanctioning body the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) were already considering banning it. Not only was it expensive to use but Japan was looking into regulating nitrous oxide by making it labeled as a scheduled drug. This would have meant that use outside of medical purposes would be prohibited nationwide. What pushed the ban over the edge was an incident at the 2013 Tokyo Drift where Akinori Utsumi and Naoto Suenaga made impact and Suenaga’s car went airborne. That was all it took – the D1GP and JAF banned nitrous from use in their sanctioned events in 2014 and on. However, use in non-JAF events hasn’t been banned and is why you will still see it used when allowed in Japan. It’s still very expensive to purchase bottles and refills of it, though.
How It Works