Daniel Pharris takes pride in being unique in all facets of his life, from how he runs his business, to the kinds of cars he drives. That taste for the different has led Daniel down some interesting paths in his racing career, and his newest ride is the best example of this yet. The former EKanoo Racing 2014 Lexus RC-F has been on his wish list for a while, and now he gets to race it here in the United States as he chases the Limited Drag Radial series championship.
Ebrahim Kanoo, owner and founder of EKanoo Racing, has a reputation for building record-setting and state-of-the-art cars in his home country of Bahrain. His stable of horsepower is based around cars you normally wouldn’t see pressed into drag racing service, like his wild and record-setting Toyota GT-86. When he came out with his interpretation of a Lexus RC-F with twin-turbo American horsepower under the hood, many fell in love with the car, including Pharris.
The fondness for the Lexus went beyond the appearance of the car for Daniel; it was the fact the car could flat out fly. The minds behind the machine included some of the brightest tuners in the world like Shane Tecklenburg, Josh Ledford, Jamie Miller, and Tim Davis, so the potential to smash records was there from the start. After the car was sorted out by the talented tuners who were in charge, it went on to set a Super Street V8 class record in Bahrain. At the time the 4.17-second blast at over 203 mph was the record for the quickest pass ever on a true 10.5-inch slick.
Daniel watched on from the United States as the Lexus performed at a high level, quietly hankering for an opportunity to climb behind the wheel of the white beauty.
“Honestly, I’ve been a fan of the whole scene over there for several years. Tim Davis, who works for DeWayne Mills, is a good friend of mine, and actually goes over there during the winter here to work for teams during their racing season. The Lexus was actually the car he was the Car Chief on, so he took care of everything on that car and knows it front to back. I told him a few years ago that if Ebrahim ever wants to get rid of that car to let me know because I’d love to have it,” Daniel says.
It’s not like Daniel was hurting for cars to race. He’s still making laps and winning races behind the wheel of Andrew Alepa’s amazing twin-turbo Radial vs The World Chevrolet Corvette, plus he also has his own Mustang Pro Mod that was ready for action, along with his Street Outlaw Mustang Cobra. Each of those cars are super-cool and fast in their own right, but the Lexus had its own sensational pop that Daniel wanted all to himself.
More often that not, being able to purchase a car of this caliber from overseas has a low probability, but for Daniel things fell into place. On a random day in February, Daniel received a phone call that made the dream of owning the Lexus a reality.
“I was sitting down to eat some barbecue on a Wednesday, and Tim called me up and told me Ebrahim was ready to get rid of the Lexus if I still wanted it.” After getting over the shock of the opportunity to purchase the car, Daniel began working quickly to bring the Lexus home.
“It only took about three hours, and we had a deal together for me to take possession of the car, and he was paid. I didn’t want to let it slip through my fingers, and it was a pretty straightforward deal. He told me this is what it is, this is what it comes with, take it or leave it,” Daniel explains.
The big question that many would have for Daniel was, why bring a car like this all the way to the United States to race? There are plenty of cars here that are more than capable of competing at the highest levels of radial tire racing and are ready to go. The answer is simple for Daniel — in a sea of Camaros and Mustangs, why not stand out with a car that’s just radically different?
It only took about three hours, and we had a deal together for me to take possession of the car, and he was paid. – Daniel Pharris
“If you ask me the sport needs more diversity when it comes to the cars. The Lexus brings out different people to the track who want to see the car and check out drag racing for the first time. I doubt you’ll ever see another car like this in the United States racing, so that makes it fun to own and drive. I’ve been talking with a few companies about taking it to SEMA and PRI. Their thinking is it will draw a different and large crowd to any booth we put it in. The younger generation likes the car because it’s something they can identify with it. I’m a fan of Lexus cars myself since I’ve owned and driven a couple, so that makes the car fun to race,” Daniel explains.
When asked what it would look like if he were to draw up his own Lexus race car in his mind, Daniel’s response is simple, “Yes, this is absolutely what I would draw up and build myself if I was starting from scratch. The car keeps enough of the styling, you know what it is, and just looks so cool as a racecar.”
Another reason Daniel purchased the Lexus as a running car was to avoid the downtime of building a car and save some money over building one from scratch.
“I’ve always said it’s cheaper to buy a car that someone already has figured out to start with. I’ve built cars before, and don’t get me wrong, it’s fun since you can build it how you want, but I never thought I would have the chance to own one of those cars from over there, so I had to jump on this. I already had plans to build a Limited Drag Radial car for this year and the phone call happened, so things just worked out to get this car. It’s 100 percent set up for it and made life easier.”
Daniel has always been a radial tire racer at heart — it’s where his heads-up racing career began and where his roots are at the track. After his experiment with Pro Modified racing, he made the choice to come back to small tire racing full-time with the Lexus to run in the LDR class.
“I think the LDR class is going to grow with more cars and races in the future. This class will continue to have some really good competition, so it seemed like a great place to put the car. It’s an appealing class that keeps a level playing field. With that Lexus, we have the heaviest combination in the class at 3,340 pounds, and I think Jason Rueckert has done a really good job keeping everything in line and not letting one particular combination run away with things,” Daniel says.
Before the Lexus even landed on American soil, the internet rumor mill was swirling about the car coming to the LDR class and how it would run away from the competition. Daniel states that the car is actually almost tapped out on performance potential under the current LDR rules.
“I can tell you right now, this car won’t be a class-killer in its current form because it’s really hard to go super fast with this car at the weight we’re running. We showed Jason our data. It’s got a couple more numbers in it. It might go in the 4.0s but that’s it. There’s really nothing more past that. There’s going to be a lot more new teams coming to LDR, and the competition is really only going to get tougher for everybody, and that’s what will make this class amazing,” Daniel explained.
After taking delivery of the car, Daniel immediately pressed it into service at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion V where it snatched up the event crown. The Lexus is a dream to drive, according to Daniel, and that’s a testament to the thought and build quality EKanoo put into the car.
“That whole car was built in-house at EKanoo Racing from the chassis to the paintwork. The level of craftsmanship is just unreal on this car from front to back. I think that really plays into how easy the car is to drive based on how well it was built to start with. It’s incredible and I would never have thought that someone from overseas could build such a high-caliber of a car like this. The thing is perfect.”
I can tell you right now, this car won’t be a class killer in its current form because it’s really hard to go super fast with this car at the weight we’re running. – Daniel Pharris
To keep the Lexus running its best and winning races, Daniel plans on using a top notch crew to assist him. Josh Ledford is Daniel’s long-time friend and been his tuner for many years. Ledford was involved with the car from the start, so it’s only natural to keep him onboard. Shane Tecklenburg, who does all of the tuning for EKanoo Racing on their MoTec-controlled cars, helped get the car set up and will work remotely as a consultant when needed.
“All these guys — Josh, Jamie Miller, Tim, and Shane shared this as a project, so it’s sentimental to them. This was the first car over in Bahrain that they put their heads together on, so they still want to be a part of it over here. They still want to see it do well, and I’m going to make sure that happens. As a team, we’re not going to make any big changes to the car. We’ll make some small changes to help it through the summer months of racing, but we’re going to leave the combination alone and just run it as-is,” Daniel says.
After experiencing such stellar success in the opening outing for the Lexus here in the United States, Daniel intends to make as many LDR points races as possible, with the ultimate goal to win an LDR points title and push the car into the 4.0s in LDR trim.
Daniel Pharris has proven that he has no problem doing what it takes to win at the highest levels of small-tire racing, and acquiring a dream machine like the EKanoo Lexus now allows him to further his pursuit of perfection in style.