Taylor Hull Dares Greatly in his 2016 Comp Cams Drift Cadillac

Cadillac has sought to shatter the status-quo and push innovation forward with its ad campaigns in recent years. It has suggested that success lies in the hands of those who take risks, that only the bold drive a Cadillac, and challenges enthusiasts to dare greatly.

Drifting is a motorsport that has captured a generation of sideways loving, tire smoke admiring kids, and continues to refine itself at events across the country. Drift cars are the purest expression of that passion. In the United States, Formula Drift is the highest form of competitive drifting.

In 2018, Taylor Hull broke the internet with his 2016 Cadillac ATS-V, the first Cadillac ever to compete in professional drifting. As if that wasn’t enough, Hull shared that he found the car in Dallas, shell stripped and wrecked. He picked it up for $2,200 and transformed it into a pro-level Formula Drift car in 9 months while working as a heavy equipment rental manager.

Hull started his racing career in 2003 at the age of 13, though things didn’t really take off until he got behind the wheel of a Legends car when he turned 15. He won roughly 100 races over the following 8 years in different states and divisions before moving into thunder roadsters and winning the national championship his rookie year.

A desired change of pace led him to seek another form of motorsport.

Putting a car right next to the wall run after run seemed an alluring challenge for Hull. “One small mistake on any run could mean you are building a new car. The risk is not nearly as high in most forms of driving,” Hull said.

Formula Drift Comp Cams 2016 Cadillac ATS-V:

  • Engine: RHS aluminum block 427 LS7. Callies crank and rods, JE pistons, RHS heads
  • Power Adder: Magnuson Heartbeat 2.3L
  • Transmission: G-Force T101a
  • Rearend: Winters with DSS axels
  • Driveline Parts: Advanced Clutch, DSS driveshaft
  • Horsepower: 910
  • Torque Numbers: 875
  • Chassis/Suspension: Yellowspeed coilovers, Top Garage tube work/cage
  • Brakes: Factory Cadillac    
  • Tires/Wheels: Achilles 123S 285/35/18 and Cosmis Wheels
  • Exterior: Foxy wraps with ATS-V panels.
  • Interior: OMP Racing seats, harness, suit, etc.

Walk us through the beginning of the build. How did it start?

TH: Right before my rookie season in 2017 I started looking at what kind of car I wanted. I knew I wanted to have something extraordinary that I genuinely love the look of and something I thought fans and partners alike would respond well to.

Once I decided on what I wanted to build, I laid under many types of cars at dealerships taking measurements and pics before I settled on the Cadillac ATS-V because it was so unique. It had never been done before and anyone that knows me, knows ‘I’m a domestic guy at heart, so all signs pointed to it.

I found this car in Dallas, Texas, and got it for $2,200. It had been hit in the left fender and right rear and needed some repair, but the frame was all good. It took 9 months to get it done, and I still missed the long beach due to mechanical issues in 2018.

What was the hardest decision to make during this build?

TH: We went back and forth on suspension some, but the big one was probably powerplant. I wanted to do a circle track big cubic inch high compression engine but eventually came to terms that an LS based engine made more sense.

Describe some of the trial and error portion of the build. Was there ever a point where you wanted to throw in the towel?

TH: Not during the initial build, but halfway through the year when the engine had been taken apart the sixth or seventh time, yeah that thought entered my mind for sure.

We had a lot of mechanical failures in 2018, so that worries me to some degree, but we ‘didn’t give up, and I think we are seeing the rewards for that perseverance now. There is little to no aftermarket support for these cars, so anything we did had to be made custom. We developed a lot of parts for this car that only we have, and we have spent a lot of time, effort, and money working with Comp and Jon Kaase Racing to get a reliable car together. I think 2019 will show that.

If you did it again, what would you do differently?

TH: I chose someone to build the engine initially, I ‘shouldn’t have. Goes to prove that not all sponsorships are worth accepting. I spent more money and WAY more time than I would have if I had just taken it to Jon Kasse or someone his caliber from the beginning. Do it right the first time, and not all sponsorships are worth having.

What is one hurdle you ran into during the off-season gearing up for 2019?

TH: Time. ‘It’s always time. Trying even to refresh the car while working a full-time job is challenging. Most of the work in the shop during the offseason and between events, I do alone.

This is the first car I have ever had this much help building, I did probably 40 to 50 percent of the work myself. Working with others was both good and bad, but I would never have gotten it done otherwise in time.

We changed coilovers over the offseason, got a lot of weight out of it, and made some small upgrades for reliability and a little more power. We also got Top Garage to do the tube rear, it was still stock back there in 2018.

What are your future plans with the car?

TH: I don’t think any comp car is truly finished. You will always be searching for more. More speed, more grip, more angle, more drivability. We want to play with different sway bars, I am in the process if having Kaase build a backup motor which will be great.

Other than that, I just want to progress the setup and continue to learn the car and the best techniques behind the wheel.

What do you like most about the car?

TH: It’s a neat experience, and it’s always fun to do something for the first time and develop it. Even though ‘there’s another one now, I still love how unique it is and how shocked new fans are to see it every time. The way I look at it is we must be doing something right if someone else thinks the best direction to take their program in should be following in the trail we blazed.

The best part of the build is that its running good! Really though, it’s everything. Bringing Comp into the sport through the build was really cool. It actually started by a cold call email that blossomed into what it is today, probably the best email I have ever sent and proof that there is still value in cold calls.

The car is just really damn cool if you ask me and it is a monster to drive! That’s why it got named “Balerion the Black Dread,” a Game of Thrones reference. 

How often do you drive it?

TH: Usually, I go out to 4-5 events outside of FD stuff with the Cadillac, but I go to another 10-15 that I ‘don’t drive it at. We have a Missile Mustang as well as a 1974 Duster set up for drift, I try and stay in a seat as much as possible.

What track are you most excited about this season?

TH: We are most excited to be going back to the track with data from last year. This makes us have a good baseline and just refine the car instead of starting from scratch.

Special Thanks:

  • Tamarah Hull
  • Nick Gross
  • Elliot Bares
  • Ethan Parnell
  • Jimmy Mondragon

Sponsors: 

Comp Cams
, Achilles TireMy Business CoachFuel Air Spark TechnologyCallies Racing ProductsYellowspeed USA
, Magnuson SuperchargersRacing Head Service
, Driven Racing Oil
Drift Line
Cosmis Racing Wheels
, Driveshaft ShopCanton RacingTop Garage
, Foxy Wraps
, JE Pistons
, Advanced Clutch TechnologyOMP RacingThunderbolt FuelThe Firm
, Chase GraphicsAloha Green Tea Hawaii
, Asphalt Anarchy

About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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