How the racing slick was born

By Ben Mozart Photography courtesy of Jim White When Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen, now 76, speaks of racing you are often struck by his power of recall and his perceptiveness, which is never more apparent than when he gets on the subject of race tire development. “The only reason we have tread on a tire,” says McEwen, “is to allow us to drive in the rain. As drag racing isn’t conducted in the rain, we would put our tires in a lathe in the early days, back in the 1950s, and we’d cut off the tread in an effort to put more rubber on the track.” Though shaving off the tread gave the early racers greater contact area it also created a problem: the rubber between the bottom of the treads and the top of the cords wasn’t always consistent. Invariably it was much too hard. Then in the mid-nineteen-fifties, a company called Bite by Bruce who produced recap tires in Arizona for road vehicles and represented by a most menacing logo, introduced the first tire with a slick surface. According to “Mongoose” McEwen, these recaps represented the origins of the modern racing slick tire. Before Burn-outs “In the old days before the practice of burnouts,” McEwen recalled, “when the cars approached the starting line, mechanics would soak rags in gasoline and wipe them around the circumference of the slicks in an attempt to soften the rubber and thus make the tire grip better.” Then in 1957 in Watertown, Massachusetts, Marvin Rifchin with his father Harry of M&H introduced the first dedicated racing slicks. Initially these offered less than...
How to make a Street Stock racing clutch survive

How to make a Street Stock racing clutch survive

By Freddie Heaney. Courtesy of Speedway Illustrated, Photos by Moore Good Ink: Racers frequently face the inconvenient fact that some clutch-flywheel assemblies are so light they fail prematurely, often during the taxing process of getting the car into the trailer. Curiously, most professional clutch makers agree that you quickly reach a point where the ultra light clutch unit has no advantage at all and instead its arch attribute, lightness, undermines the process bringing decreased durability. A stroke of marketing brilliance some might say! Racer purchases ultra light clutch, racer quickly destroys ultra light clutch, racer purchases successive ultra light clutch. You may think racers would resent these dubious practices, but there is no evidence to suggest they do. In all likelihood if you added a little strength to the unit you would probably gain 50 percent greater clutch longevity without any perceptible loss in power. In either case, to reduce these often unnecessary costs here are a few tips intended to prolong the life of the racing clutch.  Read Speedway Illustrated’s story...