News / Culture

Miami Racer Nelson Hoyos Prepares For The Race of His Life

Nelson Hoyos is a Miami transplant from Cuba. It’s a story you hear repeated endlessly if you’re from Florida. Most often these Cuban families have taken adversity and turned it into success. Nelson’s family is no different. They fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 1965 for Miami, leaving behind property, family and friends. In Miami, his family prospered and he pursued his passions. Since a young age, Hoyos was sports minded–the best runner on the team. After a severe ankle injury that stopped him from playing on foot, he took to racing cars. He lives fast. He drives fast. And this Summer, he faces the race of his life.

Hoyos is preparing to break the world record for a steam-powered engine. He will be driving a “Cyclone Engine:” a 6 cylinder beast of a vehicle that can run on pretty much any liquid, but prefers the clean ones. Nelson says, “the 6-cylinder, radial-format Cyclone Engine produces 100hp @ 3600rpm, and generates an impressive 850lbs-ft of torque at starting. With this power, no transmission is needed, making the streamliner vehicle lighter and faster, ultimately giving us the opportunity to break the World Steam Record which is now held by the British Streamliner: Inspiration.”

Here he talks to us about G-Forces, his formative years, and his goal of setting the world record and beating the Brits this Summer.

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Hoyos and his wife with the NHR championship prize.

Tell us about where you’re from.

I was born in Havana, Cuba the same year Castro took control of the government. It took us 5 years to get the Visas for my entire family and we migrated to Miami in 1965.  I’m proud to be a Cuban-born American citizen.

Where do you eat and play in Miami?

We enjoy Cuban food of course and La Carreta, Versailles, Lario’s on the Beach, Bongos. When we play there’s nothing better than the South Florida Beaches! We also are fans of Dolphins Football, Heat Basketball, Marlins Baseball, and Panthers Hockey.

How did you get into drag racing?

As a senior in High School, I played all types of sports, football, baseball, also ran track & field, but a severe ankle injury in football ended my athletic career. I was very competitive and found myself looking for another way to fuel this need for competition. My older brother introduced me to Racing and I was hooked. I truly engulfed myself into learning every aspect of building competition engines, mechanics, driving, and ultimately helping others to compete. As time went on, I polished my skills and had an opportunity to build and manage a professional race team for Ford. My team won the Championship and set multiple records during the season. The following year, I was then recruited by Chevrolet to drive one of their team drag cars. I drove for three seasons in the NHRA Sport Compact Division earning a 3rd place victory my first year, and going on to win (2) NHRA Pro Championships as a driver for GM Racing/Chevrolet brand. I also had the opportunity to drive a 4-Cylinder Turbocharged Cobalt for GM Performance Division at the Bonneville Salt Flats setting the speed record at 243 MPH, eclipsing the previous year record of 212 MPH. I earned the Turbo Magazine Driver-of the Year award for my accomplishments.

What do you do now?

Today I’m co-owner and founder of the Driven2Win Drag Racing School. We teach racing enthusiast the fundamentals of drag racing and provide advanced licensing programs to help them earn their IHRA and NHRA competition licenses. We also have an Entertainment Division that provides thrill rides to individuals or group events in a 2-Seat Dragster which runs 0-100 in 3 seconds giving them a true feeling of 2.5 G-Force launch.

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THE CYCLONE IS CAPABLE OF RUNNING ON VIRTUALLY ANY LIQUID OR GAS FUEL, INCLUDING 100% BIOFUELS.

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What are you doing with the Cyclone engine? Could you set a new standard in green technology?

I have driven fast cars and led race teams to victory most of my life, Now I’ve been given the opportunity to create a performance division dedicated to both showcasing and advancing the Cyclone Engine’s powerful, safe and efficient use in automotive applications. I’m confident that TeamSteamUSA will be able to demonstrate these attributes to the world by breaking land speed records with a truly “green engine.”

What is the cyclone engine? Why have you decided to use it for the record breaking event?

The Cyclone Engine is a compact, heat regenerative, external combustion engine that has been developed to achieve high thermal efficiencies and power-to-weight ratio. The engine, invented by Harry Schoell, operates on a Schoell cycle, and uses multiple heat recapturing processes off its cylinders, exhaust manifold and condenser to achieve thermal efficiencies over 30%. The Cyclone Engine uses water as both its working fluid and lubricant, and can operate at super-critical pressures and temperatures, which results in greater power output relative to its size.

The liquid powered Cyclone Engine car that Hoyos will drive in his race this Summer with Team Steam USA.

The Cyclone Engine car is modeled after an F16 Fighter Jet without the wings.

The Cyclone is capable of running on virtually any liquid or gaseous fuel, including 100% biofuels, and combusts these fuels much cleaner than an internal combustion engine. The 6-cylinder, radial-format Cyclone Engine produces 100hp @ 3600rpm, and generates an impressive 850lbs-ft of torque at starting. With this power, no transmission is needed, making the streamliner vehicle lighter and faster, ultimately giving us the opportunity to break the World Steam Record which is now held by the British Streamliner “Inspiration.”

Interesting. When and where do you plan on going after the record?

The initial test runs on the Cyclone-Team Steam USA Streamliner are on target for late summer 2012, and will be at the NASA-Kennedy Space Center Shuttle landing strip in Cape Canaveral Florida. It is an honor to be invited by NASA to test at their facility and ultimately break the World Steam Record and bring it back to the USA at this historical facility.

How do you handle G-forces? How do they feel?

It’s like any other Sport you need to train your body to absorb the G-Force rush at the take-off of the run. Once you have made multiple runs your body starts adjusting to the speed as well as G-Forces. I can only describe the feeling as AWESOME, like nothing you have ever felt, instant rush!!

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Explore more about Nelson Hoyos and the Cyclone Engine at Team Steam USA. Also find out here how you can help donate to the cause and help them beat the world record this Summer!