Dale Amy
February 1, 2003

Horse Sense: We know it's confusing. Joe's full family name is DaSilva, the version currently lettered on his car and used for his new DaSilva Racing shop. But he's just as happy to be called by the shortened Silva moniker.

It was a long time coming and no doubt a great relief. On August 18, during the Fun Ford Weekend at Epping, New Hampshire, Joe Silva lined up his turbocharged red-and-white Pro 5.0 against the ever-dangerous Chuck Samuel, and proceeded to win his first final in nearly two years with a 6.71-second pass at 213 mph. The burden was finally lifted, the monkey was off his back. Maybe now the spoken and unspoken wondering of "What's wrong with Silva?" that had been dogging him since his much anticipated return to Pro 5.0 competition would be silenced, hopefully once and for all.

Though with its '98 body skin it may resemble the ride that took Joe to the '00 NMRA Pro 5.0 championship, this year's car is all-new from the ground up. Currently riding on a 101-inch wheelbase, the car will likely stretch to 105 inches for 2003. Joe Van Overbeek gets credit for the carbon-fiber body.

To be winning again was surely sweet, but just to be racing again must have been good too. A year prior, the question had simply been "Where is Joe Silva?" After winning the '00 NMRA Pro 5.0 championship, there was no sign of the affable Canadian during the entire '01 race season. The answer was simple. Despite his huge success in 2000, and knowing the competition wasn't about to stand still, Joe had decided to order a brand-new car for his switch to Fun Ford. Building it just took a little longer than expected, was all. And don't be fooled by the fact that this new one carries the same first-generation SN-95 look as his pre-vious red-white-and-blue racer-the only carryovers from the old car are the roof and rear quarter-panel skins.

The construction job was assigned to Wolfe Race Craft, where chassis guru David Wolfe apparently refuses to be rushed-he'll do it right, or he won't do it at all. The resulting chassis might loosely be described as Pro Stock-style but with a 101-inch wheelbase and Funny Car-type cage. David even fabricated the four-link-located rearend housing and filled it with 9.5-inch components from chief sponsor Reider Racing, including 4.30 Precision Gear cogs and 40-spline axles. The aerodynamic body consists of carbon-fiber pieces from Joe's fellow countryman Joe Van Overbeek. Rest assured that throughout 2001 Joe earned many air-miles points flying between his Toronto-area home and David's Arlington, Texas, facilities to check on the body's progress and to help out. Even so, there was still a bit of a thrash to be ready for the '02 Fun Ford season opener in Florida.

In the meantime, Joe's brother, Paul, was wrenching together a matched pair of 414-inch iron-block Windsors, each strong enough to handle upward of 30 pounds of boost from a 105mm Innovative Turbo hairdryer. In a departure from past practice, Joe anted up for Ford Racing Performance Parts Yates heads in place of the old car's hogged-out Trick Flow Street Heats, nourishing the free-breathing castings through a combination of Hogan lower and rear-feeding Wolfe Race Craft upper manifolds. On the way, the turbo's hot breath is chilled by custom Vortech Igloo coolers riding in insulated comfort inside the cockpit. As in the past, the job of tuning the combo falls to Turbo People's Job Spetter, working his calibration magic through ACCEL's latest Gen VII DFI.

As did most of you, we kind of expected the long-awaited missile would go on a tear right out of the launcher at its '02 debut, but instead it was plagued by an assortment of new-car gremlins early in the season. First, the new clutch ahead of the Lenco had to be sorted out-a much-modified Crower unit that bore no resemblance to the double-disc version in Joe's previous car. Make no mistake: Clutch adjustment is absolutely critical in the six-second zone. Also, the suspension setup itself had to be massaged, as, with an iron block, the nose is admittedly somewhat heavy at about 56 percent. On top of everything else, the car had debilitating ignition problems that proved devilishly hard to track down.

Joe's companion during his six-second joy rides is an enormous, custom Vortech Igloo intercooler. The diminutive Joe virtually disappears when tucked way, way back in his Van Overbeek carbon-fiber race seat. Imagine driving a Mustang at 216 mph from the back seat and you'll get the idea.

But Joe admits the issues weren't all mechanical, as he had to adapt to going from his old car's roughly 1,700 hp to "well in excess of 2,000" under the hood of the new one. Even a new driving position that places Joe much farther back and lower than in his old car has taken some getting used to. "The [rear wheel] tubs are higher than my head," Joe says. These factors and more kept the car from even approaching the 6s until well into August, much to Joe's considerable consternation. But Joe-who seemingly possesses more energy than a Saturn V booster-persevered until, quite suddenly, things changed for the better. First came the win at Epping, along with 60-foot times in the 1.06-second range, and then an even-quicker 6.62 at 216-mph performance during the next event at Cordova. Joe and his talented team are confident the car is capable of 6.40s in its present form.

Joe's primary engine displaces 414 ci and is the handiwork of his brother, Paul, as is the twin spare in the trailer. David Wolfe crafted the turbo duct work with neat touches such as O-ringed connectors to speed assembly/disassembly and to provide a positive seal. Joe's stock of turbos is from Innovative Turbo Systems. He currently favors a 105mm unit.

As we write this in mid-September, Joe hopes to finish out the '02 season on a high note and then get really serious during the winter in preparation for 2003. Planned enhancements include having Wolfe stretch the wheelbase to 105 inches, swapping to an FRPP aluminum block to lighten the car in unballasted form and improve its balance, and once again spraying on a fresh paint scheme to celebrate Joe's new DaSilva Racing shop. Yup, he's back all right. Enjoy the show.

5.0 Tech Specs

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP cast-iron 351
Bore 4.080
Stroke 4.00
Displacement 414 ci
Crank Scat billet steel
Rods MGP
Pistons JE
Compression 8.5:1
Cam Turbo People
Heads FRPP Yates, ported by Paul Silva
Valves 2.160/1.625
Intake Hogan lower/Wolfe upper, ported
  by Paul Silva
Throttle Body Wilson 106mm
Injectors Creative Performance
  Racing 160 lb/hr
Fuel Pump Aeromotive
Headers Kooks Custom
Power Adder Innovative Turbo
  Systems 105mm
Intercooler Custom Vortech Igloo
Transmission Lenco
Clutch Modified Crower
Rearend Wolfe housing,
  9.5-in Precision Gear internals, 4.30:1
Chassis Wolfe Race Craft

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management ACCEL GEN VII
Ignition MSD
Gauges Auto Meter
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member Wolfe Race Craft
Control Arms Wolfe Race Craft
Springs/Struts Strange coilover
Brakes Strange
Wheels Weld
Tires Mickey Thompson
REAR SUSPENSION
Springs/Shocks Strange coilover
Axle Location Wolfe four-link
Brakes Strange
Wheels Weld
Tires Mickey Thompson
  16x17x34.5