How scared do you want to be? By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by the staff and Evolution Powersports
Late in 2018 we had the chance to drive some cool projects built as rolling test beds for ideas from the mad scientists at Evolution Powersports (EVP). In addition, we had sampled some project builds that chose EVP hop-ups for the engines. In all cases the performance was eye-opening and impressive whether the base car was a Can-Am, Polaris or even a Wildcat XX.
We had seen the team’s Can-Am X3 drag car that has come to be known as the “Hustler.” We asked if we could drive the Hustler, anticipating that the answer would be a clean, “No.” To our surprise, the answer was positive, but we needed to wait until it had finished racing and a four-day weekend of throwing sand at Glamis. We weren’t patient, but we were able to wait while praying that nothing untoward happened with the car before we got our hot little hands on it. As it turned out, the car made it through the weekend unscathed.
HOW IT HAPPENED
At the time the Hustler was rated at around 400 horsepower. Since the car is developed for straight-line acceleration, it was running no sway bars. It was possible to drive in the dunes, but don’t go slamming tight corners with no sway bars. We were parked along Gecko Road where impromptu drags happen on big weekends. Even though the dunes are open and rolling with mild angles at that point, when you are in a car with 400 ponies, the ground suddenly doesn’t look so smooth, and it certainly doesn’t look flat. You always hear about acceleration that takes your breath away, and the Hustler will do that, or at least make you hold your breath. Though the dunes were mild and gradual, we couldn’t find the top end. We were able to floorboard the throttle and feel the brutal acceleration, but before it ran out of gear and breath, we had to shut off for a blind rise or dip rushing up too fast.
Aside from the amazing power, the EVP X3, known as the Hustler, is shockingly civil and easy to drive as long as you keep your right foot under control. It starts easily, has clean low-rpm response and clutching, and doesn’t act like a brat.
THAT WAS THEN
Before putting this story together, we called EVP to see the status of the car today. EVP’s mantra is “we test while you ride,” so we safely assumed it had progressed in the two years since we drove it. Would you believe that the same car is now pushing 600 horsepower?! That is an enormous amount of power from an engine that is under 1,000cc. EVP’s 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 has some of the industry’s biggest wins on the sand and dirt. The company focuses its business on introducing innovative products with an emphasis on high quality and thoroughly tested performance upgrades. So EVP is not merely racing (and winning) in the official Sand Outlaw Series in the Outlaw class;, the race car is a critical component to their R&D efforts. They use it to relentlessly test products, to ensure the product being put into the market not only will last but will give customers the power gains and results they expect as consumers or racers.
Winning in any form of drag racing is expensive, and the Hustler is a case in point. Mods start with the EVP Stage 2 Power Pack. It includes the stock crankshaft balanced for CP rods and pistons. An EVP Stage 2 block has custom, oversize, cast-in cylinder sleeves to contain EVP-spec’d custom pistons with coating and ceramic barrier. A CNC-ported cylinder head with 1mm oversize valves and upgraded valve springs mates with EVP custom camshafts. Stronger EVP-spec’d head studs keep the parts together. Outside the engine is an EVP fuel-injector upgrade. That kit is not listed on the website, but it obviously is comprehensive.
Other parts are not included in the kit but are important parts of the package. One is the ultra-trick EVP billet long-runner Torrent intake to go with the injector upgrade. Add EVP charge tubes, race intercooler, blow-off valve and race exhaust. With EFI turbo motors engine management is critical, so an expensive Syvecs stand-alone ECU does the job here.
Most engines running this hard demand race fuel, but the Hustler drinks from an EVP E85 fuel system. It eases farther away from race fuel with a Radioactive Performance Reactor System. The Radioactive Performance System is a complete, ready-to-install, plug & play water/methanol-injection system specifically designed for the Can-Am X3 platform, and Evolution Powersports tuning and components. Injecting water and methanol (a type of alcohol) allows significantly cooler intake air temperatures and the option to run powerful engines on pump gas and make a claimed 10-percent-more power than with 110-octane race gas. The Reactor System includes everything for the easy install.
As you can imagine, that much power requires beefing the drivetrain. Hustler has EVP race-clutch calibration and a transmission with higher internal gearing. It extends the point when the CVT is topped out and the car is accelerating on rpm alone. In the front differential is a Halo locker, and the car employs S3 Powersports axles (and an S3 cage). At the end of the axles are Sand Tires Unlimited paddles on light, spun aluminum wheels. The rear paddles are used for sand and dirt drags, but Maxxis Rocktane tires are used for dirt drags.
Looking for less weight and easier access to the engine, an EVP bed-delete kit was installed. When we drove the car it had Fox shocks, but now it runs light, super-adjustable ORI air struts, thanks to Off-Road Innovations.
Don’t think that the Hustler is a trailer queen. It had endured a hard four-day weekend before we drove it, and the car now has over 6,000 miles on it! Naturally, this car is well-cared for, and with all the testing, the engine and transmission get lots of service and attention. We imagine that EVP will not sell a boatload of motors like the one in the Hustler. With the success the car has seen in the Outlaw series, they will sell some, and they will sell a lot of other kits. And they should. The Stage 6 engine kit cars we have driven are smooth, calm, and easy to drive on technical trails and the fast open. If you just have to have more power, you have to see Evolution Powersports.
HUSTLER PARTS LIST
CT RACE WORX: www.ctraceworx.com
Billet rear p ull plate $175
EVOLUTION POWERSPORTS: (715) 247-3862, evopowersports.com
EVP Stage 2 Power Pack: Starting at $11,700 (stock crankshaft balanced for CP Rods and pistons, stage 2 block, CNC ported cylinder head with 1mm oversize valves and upgraded valve springs, custom camshafts, EVP fuel injector upgrade, head studs and custom pistons with coating and ceramic barrier)
E85 fuel system $500
Syvecs stand-alone ECU from $3995
Race clutch calibrations $2999
Bed delete $329
Race intercooler $1299
Blow-off valve $209
Torrent Billet intake $2099
High gear transmission $2299
Charge tubes $199
Race exhaust $799
Radioactive performance reactor system (water methanol kit) from $1799
Halo locker front differential $875
RACING SUSPENSION: (770) 258-1554, www.oristruts.com
STX Air struts: From $700 each
SAND TIRES UNLIMITED: www.sandtiresunlimited.com
16.50-15 Padla Trak
18-paddle Special competition cut
STM POWERSPORTS: www.stmpowersports.com
Primary & secondary clutches $2,479
S3 POWERSPORTS: www.s3powersports.com
Roll cage $995
Titan axles $160 ea.
WOLF DESIGNS: www.utvwrap.com
Vehicle wrap From $585