Normally one doesn’t think of Lamborghini and rally in the same sentence. What Brakim Racing’s Matt Brandenburg and his team are doing then is not what one would call normal. They are taking Lamborghini’s Gallardo and turning it into what they call the Brakimghini. In other words, a full-fledged stage rally car built to eat up miles of gravel roads and the occasional squirrel. Want to know more about this Italian stallion that is morphing into a monster of sorts? Then keep on reading and see just how brilliant (and slightly crazy) Matt and his team are.
MLAS: Why build a Lamborghini stage rally car?
Matt Brandenburg: I’ve been a huge fan of all super cars, especially Lamborghini and Ferrari, for as long as I can remember and I live to rally so why not combine the two? The Lamborghini Gallardo reminds me something of the old Group B cars… mid-engine, tons of power and style to spare. There’s something very special about it.
MLAS: How is prepping a supercar like the Gallardo different from a “normal” car like your BMW?
MB: The prepping is different in that the chassis is all aluminum so we can’t weld a cage to it like one would traditionally do. The chassis alone is about as challenging a rally car build gets.
The motor will have basically no serviceability in your typical 45-minute service at a stage rally unless we prep a spare drivetrain for hot swap which we just can’t afford (but it’s not necessary).The radiators are huge and very expensive and installed in the front left and front right of the cars front bumper literally hanging out just waiting for me to cut a corner an inch too far and blow a radiator so this requires a little reengineering but the team has it covered.
The suspension is very tricky. We’ve got to custom design and fabricate our own front and rear control arms as well as heavily modify the knuckles and design custom brake mounts for a gravel brake setup so we can fit 15″ wheels. This will also save us 20 pounds of unsprung weight per corner.
MLAS: What class will you be running in?
MB: We’ll most likely be running the Brakimghini as a RWD beast in G5 / 2WD Nationals for 2015.
MLAS: Will the drive train be kept stock?
MB: At first we’ll be running a rebuilt slightly race prep’d stock V10 and 6-speed manual transmission. We will then most likely add a 6-speed sequential and at some point do a full race prep rebuild with VAC Motorsports and some Motec goodies for a lot of reliable, tune-able power.
MLAS: How do you expect people to react when they hear a screaming Italian V10 in the woods?
MB: (laughing) Knowing that I’ll be driving, I imagine they will be screaming in fear and running for their lives in the opposite direction.
I’ve heard a small example of the beastly noise this thing makes and it’s absolutely absurd. The ground shakes and you can literally feel the vibrations coming off of the car when it goes by flat out. It’s pretty intense. But in all seriousness, I hope to see a whole lot of smiles and few bruises from gravel spray.
MLAS: Is the goal to be competitive, be impressive, or both?
MB: The goal has always been and still remains to have as much fun as possible, build the most badass Lamborghini rally car we can afford to with the help of our amazing sponsors and, hopefully, to set some new hill climb and stage time records in “The Bull.”
We don’t have any plans of going out there and looking pretty in a Lamborghini, we definitely want to race competitively.
MLAS: If I’m not mistaken I believe this is the first Lamborghini that has ever been built for stage rally in the United States. Are you pulling inspiration from some European Lamborghini stage rally builds?
MB: To our knowledge this is the first ever gravel prepared stage rally Lamborghini. We are aware of a few tarmac stage rally Lamborghinis in Europe and we have spoken with a few of those teams who have been quite helpful. We appreciate it, guys!
MLAS: Can you give us some specs on the car? Weight, drive train etc.?
MB: We are aiming to be around the 3,000 pounds and 520HP.
MLAS: How will you measure your success?
MB: Aside from having a ridiculously good time, we have a lot of goals for the Brakimghini, for instance getting big air. I think we will feel most accomplished after we finish our first gravel stage rally with a competitive time.
MLAS: Which events are on the Brakim Racings bucket list?
MB: We’d love to take the Brakimghini to Targa Newfoundland and the Nürburgring!
MLAS: Your day job doesn’t have anything to do with racing cars. Would you mind describing it for our readers?
MB: I started an internet advertising company when I was in high school and I’ve been fortunate in finding success in doing something I love. Most days it feels as if I get paid to play on computers with my friends, you can’t beat it!
MLAS: Just so the magnitude of this undertaking is fully understood, what does your budget look like to prep and race the Brakimghini?
MB: Our car is a 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo with 30,000 miles very used. It was the least expensive Lamborghini Gallardo we could find for sale in the world that wasn’t junk. Fortunately at this point that’s really all we have in it other than paying a discounted rate on some BRAID Wheels on sponsorship. We’ve received the entire roll cage free sponsored by Thompson Racing Fabrication and all safety equipment was sponsored by Rally.Build. Motor rebuild sponsored by VAC Motorsports. We will have to pay a discounted rate on the Reiger Racing Suspension depending on options and I’m sure some more random bills will come up as they always do but in general we’ve been very fortunate getting a lot of financial support from our awesome sponsors to make it all possible.
The time and testing involved in this build is certainly the biggest investment, you can’t just throw money at the Lamborghini and get a true stage rally car out of it, we’ve been through this build and test cycle with our e36 BMW builds already so I think we’ve learned a lot that will help this build move along a little smoother but it’s certainly going to be challenging getting the suspension reliably set up properly with the kind of wheel travel we need. We’re aiming for 7 and a half inches of travel which is the max we can get without a very massive suspension redesign.
MLAS: Does the Gallardo’s previous owner know what you’ve done to it?
MB: Yes, the previous owners are aware and excited to see it properly caged and raced competitively.
MLAS: Which list is shorter: supporters for this new project or naysayers?
MB: The list of supporters is so absurdly massive and broad, it overshadows the few random naysayers. We’ve barely just got started on this project and we’ve already received amazing sponsorship offers from all over the world. So many people are anxiously waiting to see a Lamborghini jump big or float sideways at 100 MPH over a crest through the trees just flinging gravel everywhere while shooting flames.
A Final Word
Find out more about Matt and the BRAKIM Racings team by visiting their official website http://brakim.com and see videos of the build at http://www.brakimghini.com/. Also don’t forget to follow them on social media: