Recalling Sig Erson: the rise of an unusual mind

Recalling Sig Erson: the rise of an unusual mind

This story languished for a month, at least; materials revealing the timeless technique of racing camshaft development seemed uncomfortably far away. Then Californian Lyle Larson, the accomplished former drag racer, emerged with illuminating experiences from the nineteen sixties and seventies that we feared had been lost. Two weeks later, we found Steve Tanzi near Lake Tahoe with a further treasure trove of material, turning possibility into reality during the 1990s and early years of this century. More recently, Jack McInnis discovered some wonderfully evocative printed materials and photographs that illustrate much of what has long been relevant to hot rodders and motor racers and like-minded persons.     By Sam Logan.   Five and a half decades ago, in 1963, the shop foreman at Isky Racing Cams in Los Angeles departed to form his own camshaft company. He called it Sig Erson Racing Cams. He orchestrated its agenda, and he led its pursuits until he sold it in 1982. In business, his central aim was inseparbly linked to the tricky concept of keeping his customers and distributors happy. In outdoor activities, Erson was unusually adventurous and in practical terms, particularly in surviving the austerity of desert life, he was unsurpassed. In his youth, there were periods when he lived on the beach by himself and could readily sleep beneath the night skies unperturbed. In Mexico’s austere landscapes, both mountainous and arid, he would embark alone on an entire Baja 1000 pre-race reconnaissance. In spending his nights in the barren wilderness, he was undismayed by the threat of being stranded or perishing on the vast, silent desert soil or alarmed...
Obituary: Tom “Mongoose” McEwen 1937 – 2018

Obituary: Tom “Mongoose” McEwen 1937 – 2018

By V. Moore: The man who achieved more for modern drag racing than any other has departed. Tom “Mongoose” McEwen died in his sleep sometime on Sunday night or Monday morning 10-11 June 2018 at the age of 81. McEwen was a rare bird: he had an intelligent, productive mind, a gambler’s nerve, and his word was dependable. He was also one of the most popular and charismatic personalities on the US drag racing scene. More importantly, his horizon extended beyond the dollar bill. He kept racehorses, as many as twenty, and though some were uncompetitive he preserved and loved them anyway. During his heyday with Coors sponsorship, he had earned between 3 and 4 million dollars a year. Yet, on the topic of finances he described himself as “not too reliable”. On matrimony: “not easy to live with day in and day out.” On diet constraints, where his compulsive nature was well known, he regarded himself as, “on the goofy side—impossible to control.” On the topic of Prudhomme and others, he would warn: “By nature, racers are self-centered and often ruthless, at least most of the successful ones. To sustain relationships in professional racing, you have to bite your lip often.” And, on plotting a successful career? “The trick in getting ahead is getting started,” he would say. His darkest hours came with the appalling tragedies of his two sons; Jamie died at the age of 13 of leukemia and Joey at 35 as a result of a car collision. No miracle of thrift was McEwen, and he consequently toiled with financial burdens and also with family troubles...
Hot Rod Power Tour visits Chattanooga

Hot Rod Power Tour visits Chattanooga

Sunday, 10 June 2018: The grounds of the Chattanooga State Community College, located on the banks of the Tennessee River, hosted the first stop for the participants of this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour. Hundreds of Long Haulers, many revisiting the vivid images of previous tours, poured into the grounds of the Community College. Around noon, it would seem to any curious onlooker that a miracle of efficiency was occurring—how could the arrival of so many be accommodated? But accommodated they were, providing all a further glimpse of an extraordinary festival where the hot rod flourishes. Here in this limited photo library are a few of the more unusual.   Click here to view photo...
Competition valve locks:  Brief guide.

Competition valve locks: Brief guide.

By Fergus Ogilvy: Even a brief assessment of the valve lock will quickly convince us it’s at the heart of the competition valve train. If engines are exposed to over-revving—provoking valve springs and sometimes valve retainers to float—we are dependent upon the valve lock to remain locked or else… Pioneered by the original equipment manufacturers and virtually fail-safe, the ubiquitous 7-degree valve lock has been the standard for decades. Its 7-degree outer tapered shape fits into a similar taper on the valve spring retainer. Some engineers refer to its 7-degree angle as a locking taper. But, the shallower the taper, the harder it is to separate and remove, and drag racers constrained by time, understandably, grew impatient. It was infernally tedious, frustratingly tight and thus inconvenient. In their desire for efficiency, the 10-degree taper emerged. Though the 10-degree valve lock offers faster dismantling, the wider angle, unfortunately, cannot function reliably for sustained periods of valve float as the retainer can become separated from the valve lock, potentially causing the locks to fall out. Thus an 8-degree configuration is often the better compromise for the racer. It offers better retention during valve float than its 10-degree counterpart and remains in unity with the retainer under severe conditions. In addition, the 10-degree design will reveal wear on parts during valve float that don’t usually sustain wear.      Identifying the telling signs of over revving Engine builder Jon Kaase says, “Sometimes if the valve train gets out of control and it’s bouncing around, the valve locks get chafed on their bead locks or scored on their half-round portion beneath the bead...
2018 Hot Rod Power Tour: World’s largest traveling car show

2018 Hot Rod Power Tour: World’s largest traveling car show

  Meet the TorqStorm crew on the Long Haul.   TorqStorm co-founders Scott Oshinski (third from right) and Chris Brooker (far right), together with their factory crew, have committed to the Long Haul option of this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour, Saturday 9 June to Friday 15. Leaving their native Michigan on Thursday morning, they’ll roam 500 miles southward through Indiana to Bowling Green on the southern Kentucky border for Friday check-in. Chris Brooker will drive the TorqStorm Cuda accompanied by his long-suffering navigator Rick Lewis! Scott Oshinski is taking the Twin TorqStorm-powered ‘69 Chevelle wagon, known as the TorqWagon, with Jeff “The Chef” Applehof, who’s charged with keeping the team nourished. Jeff Neibarger will tour in his TorqStorm-powered 2011 Camaro SS, providing social media updates along the way. Mickey Davis is taking his 2002 Chevrolet Silverado, using TorqStorm power to transport the extra necessities. Last but not least of the factory crew is Chris Beardsley, who will be driving his ‘86 Saleen Mustang, now on its 4th long haul but first time as the TorqStang. As always, the knowledgeable Beardsley will be driving and fielding TorqStorm calls from the road. More twin superchargers on the long haul Also participating in the TorqStorm group of Long Haulers are three close friends and customers, Wild Wes, Jay Mielke and Todd Mitchell. Wes is bringing his twin TorqStorm Wildcat Cougar and Jay is driving his twin TorqStorm ‘71 Camaro while Todd will campaign his 2007 Dodge Charger. The event Active since 1994, this year’s highly anticipated Hot Rod Power Tour is expected to attract over 6,000 vehicles and 100,000-plus spectators, making...
Joe Hornick provides technical aid to three top finishers at NHRA Topeka

Joe Hornick provides technical aid to three top finishers at NHRA Topeka

Courtney Force, Robert Hight, and Shawn Cowie. TOPEKA, Kan., 21 May 2018: Courtney Force captured her first career back-to-back NHRA Funny Car victories on Monday afternoon at the 30th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals. Poor weather postponed track activity until 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, resulting in only two rounds of eliminations for Top Fuel and Funny Car, and one round for Pro Stock. Funny Car: Courtney Force snatched Topeka dominance by powering her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to a pass of 3.928-seconds at 329.83 mph to defeat defending national champion and teammate Robert Hight in the final round. Number 1 qualifier for the event, Force seized her third win of the season and 11th of her career. In the final round, they were fairly evenly matched until the 600ft mark where Hight hazed his tires, liberating Force to claim victory. Courtney Force’s incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft (-0.012), 330 ft (0.001), 660ft (0.033). MOV: 0.1534 seconds (approximately 60 feet). Courtney Force’s incremental times: 60ft-0.894 sec., 330ft-2.271, 660ft-3.187/282.30 mph. Robert Hight’s incremental times: 60ft-0.888 sec., 330ft-2.278, 660ft-3.226/257.97 mph. Hight, who struggled throughout qualifying and consequently landing in 14th spot, pedaled his way through the first round, defeating Cruz Pedregon. In round two, he raced to a fine 3.924-second pass at 330.23mph. Then, during Monday’s semifinal round, he recorded a 3.911 pass at 330.55mph, setting fastest lap of the event and simultaneously defeating Shawn Langdon. In the final, Hight was obliged to concede lane choice to his teammate and smoked the tires towards the finish line of the trickier right lane. He ended his racing weekend with a 4.087...
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