Assetto Corsa mods are ever-popular, not at last due to passion projects like the fictional Fenix 30-6 Chinook by Ryan Day. Ironically, the little road-going sportscar initially was not even planned to ever exist in its released form.
The fascination for cars and racing has always been flowing through Ryan “Ryno917” Day‘s veins. Now living on Canada’s West Coast, his roots are in another part of the country that is home to one of North America’s iconic racing circuits. “My very first memory is actually being at Mosport with my dad“, Ryan reminisces. A lifelong passion was ignited at the track.
“I was always a creative kid, drawing cars all the time“, Ryan continues. “We got our first racing games in 1994 or so and discovered the world of modding soon after. And when I was sick and not at school one day, my mom was watching Oprah. They had women with interesting and unusual jobs on the show, and one of them was a car designer for General Motors.“
Fenix 30-6 “Brand”: Already in Project CARS
While Ryan’s ambitions to become a car designer himself did not come to fruition, he does own an industrial design company focused on development of sustainable consumer products these days. That does not mean that car design ever left the Canadian’s mind, however.
In fact, he has some interesting history with it. The first Project CARS release was realized with lots of community involvement, and Ryan actually got to design the fictional RWD prototypes that rounded out the LMP1 class of the now discontinued franchise. “I basically created the 3D blueprints for them, CAD models of my own design. Slightly Mad Studios then created the in-game assets themselves, but I have since gotten the models as well as the permission to convert them.” The cars have recently been jointly released for Assetto Corsa with Chem-Flummi and can be found in the RaceDepartment download section.
Rooted in Reality
Despite the cars being fictional, Ryan’s approach for the prototypes was very much grounded in reality. “The first thing I did was grab the rule book to make sure they would theoretically be legal in the LMP1 class. They could not look out of place among the real cars on the grid, that would have broken the immersion, so making sure they adhere to the same regulations was essential“, explains Ryan.
While there may not have been a rule book involved, a very similar approach was in Ryan’s head even earlier than when he designed the prototypes. And this finally brings us around to the Fenix 30-6 Chinook, the fictional, affordable sportscar from Canada. We do have to look back quite a bit, however.
The initial idea first came up almost 14 years ago. “The original genesis of the car was around 2010. I had this small series of GT cars in my head, with cars from different countries, Canada being one of them, of cours“, shares Ryan. While some 3D modeling experience comes from his work, “that is all CAD“, says Ryan. “I needed to learn polymodeling, as that works a lot differently.“
Fenix 30-6 Chinook: First Designs on Paper
First, he took things to the drawing board, however. Early concepts of the Fenix were realized on paper, then realized as a 3D model step by step. “I designed the car as I went along, too. Of course, there were the blueprints, but you start shifting things around as you progress“, states Ryan.
The general idea stayed the same, however. An affordable, relatively simple but neat sportscar that could exist in real life as well. Just like the RWD prototypes, the Fenix is rooted in reality. Originally, it was supposed to be a bit of a stopgap, though. “I am usually not into road cars. But I wanted to create the car as a base to make sure the later GT version would look plausible“, explains Ryan.
That would have just been the model, though. Ryan was then approached by Jason “aphidgod” Coates and Arch about creating physics for the car – which the pair then did. They had to refine the physics multiple times to get them where they wanted them.
Fenix 30-6 Chinook: “Outstanding” Help With Physics
But the work paid off. The 30-6 Chinook is a joy to drive, but we shall get to that later. Ryan is more than happy with the result: “They did an outstanding job on the physics. Otherwise, the car would have just been a model I would hack apart for the racing version.“
Jason offers more insight on the physics development, which just like the model was very much rooted in reality. “As physics modders, we’re so used to trying to replicate existing designs, the freedom to just do what we want to set up a car our way was pretty enticing. So Ryan gave us really basic design constraints (hp/tq targets, physical dimensions, and a weight target) along with a desired price point and basic concept for the car, then pretty much left us to our work.“
In the alternate universe that spawned the Fenix, a cooperation with Porsche took care of the engine, with Boxster motors and gearboxes being installed “to hit our price target – that’s a ton of R&D saved“, explains Jason. “The gearing’s customized a little bit, but for the most part, we’re on a 987 H6 + 6MT combo.“
Boxster, 4C & NSX as Inspirations
Making the most of the flat-6 engine’s low center of gravity, Jason and Arch designed the suspension. “Arch in particular went through the geometry and tried to fit it as best as he could physically with the finished 3D“, states Jason. According to him, this resulted in a similar layout to that of the Alfa Romeo 4C, “with a pretty aggressive double wishbone setup, which I think has really been tuned to perfection in the latest update.” Arch even sketched out the assemblies in CAD to ensure everything would work as intended.
As for the car’s setup, the duo looked to the Honda NSX as a base. Jason continues: “It is similarly a low-weight, modestly-powered, agile mid/rear car, so it was a natural fit as a target for tuning the handling.” As a result, “the Chinook is a little lively off-throttle at high speed, but it really feels like a car that could exist – and that the lawyers mighteven allow on the road, I think.“
In total, the Chinook’s development process took over three years. “Not all of that time was work on the car, though, as I have pretty wild shiny things syndrome“, laughs Ryan. Occasionally pushing all distractions aside occasionally led to the release of the Fenix 30-6 Chinook on RaceDepartment in November.
Fenix 30-6 Chinook: “Pretty Cool To See The Result”
In a way, this was uncharted territory for Ryan: “As a professional designer, I am used to creating things and unleashing them to the public. But client work is different to the Fenix. It is pretty cool to see the result of all the work we have put in.“
And as mentioned before, the Fenix 30-6 Chinook is a pleasure to drive. It is light, nimble, but not overly powerful, and it sports an H-shifter. All of this results in an engaging experience that quickly inspires confidence to push harder and harder.
At the same time, the car’s behavior is very believable – a result of the work that went into the physics. A spiritual successor to cars such as the Pontiac Fiero, the mid-engined car is agile and probably feels quicker than it actually is. There is no absurd brute of an engine in it, but rather a modest 3-liter flat six. This engine produces 230 BHP, which is plenty for a car that weighs just 1143 kg (2520 lbs).
Ryan’s Content Plans
Of course, these specs should also make the car a great base for Ryan’s vision of a GT car. “I still want to do the series of cars that sparked the idea“, he says. Before that, though, an early model already exists for a slower category based on GT4 regulations.
First, a few other interesting projects may see the light of day, however. “I am currently working on a 1968 F2/F3 car, a 1993 Group C car, and a modern revival of the late 90s Super Touring Cars“, shares Ryan.
Additionally, a track project that started all the way back in 2018 “will get finished at some point, too“, states Ryan. Again, fictional content – but rooted in reality. And if it turns out to be as fun as the Fenix 30-6 Chinook, the Assetto Corsa community is in for another treat.
What do you think about the Fenix 30-6 Chinook and its fictional, but still somewhat real background? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!