Before forced induction and fuel injection were par for the course, extracting power from an engine was a dark art. Tuning was done by ear, sight, smell and feeling, not by computer and dyno.
Porting big cube cylinder heads with hand grinders until fingers curled, fiddling with carburetors and grinding camshaft profiles. Trial and error; testing, fiddling, racing, repeating. The old school.
When the world of the old school machinist meets with modern technology, amazing things happen.
Tristian Triccas, or Tricky, has been hand-making horsepower for most of his life.
Half of now-closed household name tuning shop Tricky & Mansweto, if you have ever dreamed of making it faster, odds are Tricky has already built it, raced it and won. He has built some of Australia’s most powerful engines.
A wizard with nitrous, guarding a careers worth of dyno-smoking secrets. Tricky’s skills make him sought by the country’s best tuners, wanting to ply his old school ability to advanced import RB26 and 2JZ motors built for war.
His reputation is built on a history of performance that puts drivers on top of podiums.
“I always had to figure something out. If someone gave me something and it worked – why? How does it work? Can I make it better? That’s how I always was,” said Tricky.
In a world of boost, nitrous and CNC machining, the combination makes him a unicorn in the performance game and with years of racing experience, Tricky is a triple threat on the drag strip. He has done wheel stands on every track worth racing.
Tricky’s ‘72 Ford Capri, nicknamed Roary is testament to his abilities. Regularly waggling tail lights at top end tuner turbo imports, the 440 cubic inch small block Windsor makes a vigorous 1200 horsepower.
Tricky’s introduction to mechanics came from attempts to maintain his boyhood dirt bike. He was a confident novice, and took great pleasure in showing off his efficiency, with many parts left over from rebuild attempts.
“I’d say to Dad, ‘I’ve done it! I had floats and needle seats left over and poor dad would be like ‘Oh God. Now we have to make it work again’.”
Despite excelling with computers at school, Tricky started his career as an apprentice mechanic. His boss’s SLR 5000 Torana completed the loop. Power, performance, presence. He was hooked. A modifier for life.
Moving away from the hoist and into engine building, and racing, Tricky spent thousands of hours with cylinder heads on workbenches; hand grinding, porting, polishing and flow testing. Honing his craft against the harshest measure – racing.
When Tricky realized he wanted first place, he intensified his work and racing regimen, starting a workshop with Jason Mansweto.
The Capri was purchased from a long time customer at Tricky and Mansweto, in perfect condition. Tricky didn’t want the Ford. He wore Holden boxer shorts. After some choice words from his business partner, an inspection on the hoist confirmed an impending change of sleepwear.
The Capri’s engine nears pro-stock spec. Callies crank and rods, CP pistons, Edelbrock GV2 cylinder heads and manifold, ported to suit nitrous complete with a choice of three custom ground camshafts to suit various applications. A healthy 320 shot of giggle gas helps the European Mustang burn its way down track, with it’s greatest advantage being unlimited time alone with one of Australia’s best builders.
The drag racing suspension is set up depending on the track and the way the engine is making power that day. Cootamundra’s airstrip runway, compared to Temora’s one click strip or the Cooma runway all demand unique revisions. Roll racing, different again. Tricky and his team will set the car up to punch power into pavement and keep the front wheels on the ground (disappointing, we know, but he tells us it’s faster).
More than combining worlds of tuning with extreme results, Tricky’s insane Capri does double duty. With two people, the Capri can go from dropping the kids at school to running a caged, parachute equipped drag pass in two hours. In any state of trim, the Capri runs full A/C, keeping Tricky cool in the staging lane.
Tricky has taken some heat from his fellow V8 racers bound by their commitment to cubes and rear wheel drive, for working for the AWD import crew and helping them shave tenths, edging the big aspirated V8 further from the leading edge. That’s how valued his work is.
As a new generation starts strapping in and taking advantage of horsepower almost on tap by comparison to the old days of hand grinding cylinder heads, Tricky never backs down from a dogfight.
Win, lose or draw he will be back at the tree for the next run for another crack, lined up and ready to trip the beams at the dark end of the track first.
“My dad always taught me try not to win by too much. He said, if you go to an event and you can ten cars lengths on someone, don’t.”
Very kind of you, Tricky.