Before Cole founded LYFE Motorsport, he used to work as a Porsche mechanic. But once the dice started rolling, he quickly grew his name and fame in the racing world, competing in several classes worldwide. After several successful years as a mechanic and racing instructor he decided to start his own workshop in 2014. LYFE Motorsport was born. It has a strong focus on engineering, preparing and building race cars. Four years later Cole also started producing the SIERRA Cars, an adrenaline-pumping, single-seater. In 2020 he became part of the infamous Pikes Peak nine-minute club riding the SIERRA Alpha up the hill. We gave the talented racing entrepreneur a call to find out more.
COLE POWELSON: MECHANIC, RACER, ENGINEER, CAR BUILDER AND MOTORSPORT PROMOTER
Cole, please talk us through the start of SIERRA Cars. It’s been quite a rollercoaster, hasn’t it?
Absolutely. I started SIERRA Cars after seeing the popular European RX Rally Cross karts. I wondered, why don’t we have this in the United States? The average American off-road racer thinks a ‘normal’ Cross kart is just not tough enough. That fact triggered my imagination and we started to build the first SIERRA Car. Basically, the idea consists of a reinforced single-seater capable of riding on any surface, whether it’s asphalt, dirt or ice. We started by using 13-inch wheels to be able to use the excellent range of racing slicks. But we also made it possible to run bigger 14 & 15-inch wheels for access to decent rally and off-road tyres. For the last two years we have been building about 10 cars per year for our customers.
What engines are powering the SIERRA Cars?
We rely on two engines with a proven track record. The entry model is powered by the Yamaha Raptor 700cc engine, while the faster models use the Suzuki Hayabusa 1300cc. The latter has proven to be reliable, even if we install our Garrett Turbo on it for our top models, which brings the total boosted power output to 450hp. That’s quite some power from a 1.3-litre engine.
What’s the reason you are relying on Motul’s lubricants for the first fill?
It's simply a logical choice. As a mechanic I’ve been using Motul before I started LYFE Motorsport. Basically, we experience fewer issues with our engines, but the same goes for Motul’s cooling and braking fluids. We use a Sadev sequential gearbox with a wet clutch. We rev the turbo engine to 13,000rpm, so we need to be 100% sure all the engine parts are perfectly lubricated. The Motul 300V oil has already proven so much in motorsport. It’s a good quality oil. In general, Motul is an ‘easy’ brand to stand behind with such a racing pedigree regarding performance engines. I also refer it to all my clients.
You have several types of SIERRA Cars on display today, correct?
Yes, for the last four years our focus has been about bringing the best single-seater to our customers. A true world-class, high-performance automobile. That also implies the car needed to be versatile. We currently have four models with three different power outputs. The 700R is the entry model powered by the Yamaha 700cc engine and can manage track and off-road surfaces. Secondly, we developed the RX3, which is born and bred on the rallycross track. It can be equipped with racing slicks or 30-inch off-road tyres. Our top model, the Alpha, is also the car that we used to successfully attack the iconic Pikes Peak Hill Climb competition as it’s fully asphalt oriented. Equipped with a turbo, slicks and all the aerodynamics to provide the necessary downforce to cope with the 450 horsepower. It brought me into the iconic nine-minute club in 2020. Finally, we have the SIERRA Bravo model which is more desert-oriented.
What’s the company’s objective for its customers?
We focus on the driving experience! The SIERRA Cars are so much fun. It’s not about the money, we do it for the smile on our client’s face. We also offer an achievable way to enter the world of racing. It’s a fully adjustable turnkey racecar. Over the years we’ve invited so many talented race drivers, such as Travis Pastrana, Andreas Bakkerud… who literally have driven cars with much more horsepower and five times the price, but the grin on their face when they step out of the car after a test ride is priceless! That’s keeping us motivated. That’s the SIERRA spirit.
You also drive another track record breaker that your team built?
Yes, our Nissan R35 GT-R owns the production car track record at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, Autoclub speedway and Utah Motorsport Complex. We are also racing the Time Attack during the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Last Friday you made a big announcement. Can you tell us more?
Indeed, we were very pleased to announce we will have an international series with our SIERRA Cars in 2022. The planning is not final yet, but we’re looking to organise races in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia. I’m really looking forward to it, not only from a business perspective but because we like to travel, race abroad, discover new tracks and meet enthusiastic people who want to have fun in racing.