Custom-made billet camshafts:

Custom-made billet camshafts:

A few questions, some interesting answers – By Bertie S. Brown: Most camshafts look indistinguishable from one another—even custom camshafts. “Not mine,” declares blown alcohol pulling tractor champion Mike Wilhite. “Mine are 2.5 inches in diameter.” Wilhite, who runs an engine shop in Bardstown, KY, thirty miles south of Louisville, purchases a 12ft length of 2.5in case-hardened 8620 alloy steel or S7 tool steel bar stock. He then takes the long length of round bar to Russ Yoder at Erson Cams, who makes four camshafts from it. When finish-ground and heat treated, Wilhite installs the custom-made billet camshafts in the engines of his alcohol pulling-tractor customers. Six-cylinder inline engines adapted for pulling tractor competitions begin life as 200hp diesels revving to 1,500rpm, but when increased to 505ci (Light Super Stock) and converted to alcohol and assisted by three turbochargers they generate close to 4,000hp and 7,000rpm. On the topic of pulling tractors, Yoder says, “We’ve made camshafts for 7.8 liter Ford diesels to an A22 International, from Cummins to Walkinshaw, Oliver to Massey Ferguson, Allis Chalmers to antique pulling tractors with engines originating from the 1920s.” Why no shelf stock for the extreme categories? “Its common practice for competition engine builders to increase cam bearing sizes, and our shelf-stock materials accommodate increases of up to 60mm for big-block Chevrolets and also big-block Fords and for some Hemi engines,” says Yoder. “But, beyond this it just isn’t practical to inventory cam cores of such diversity.” Hence, in this regard, Erson identifies the optimum grade of steel required, the customer brings them the appropriate round bar stock (some measuring 70mm), and...
Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Small block Hemi enters Grudge racing:

Speed, adrenaline, and pure theatrics – By Fergus Ogilvy: Grudge racing has dominated the drag racing scene in the southern US States for decades. But in recent years, the Internet has conquered every part of its frenetic life, particularly Facebook postings that have expanded its Southern origins (Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas) westward to the Mississippi and north to the shores of Lake Michigan. To its masses, its chief dynamic is straight forward: betting. There is no maximum amount—when a dollar changes hands it’s a Grudge race. An addictive quality, the money won and lost, sometimes in sizable proportions, is only surpassed by pride or poor judgment of its car owners, entrants, drivers, and spectators: such an adventure, such potential for gain, such drama. Still, in the rapid passing of a one-eighth mile, the prospects of returning home $10,000 poorer are agonizing! A strictly cash economy In their pre-race negotiations, a Grudge racer attempts to learn as much as possible about his rival, his racing history, and the competitiveness of his car. They operate with “stips”, an abbreviation for stipulations that specify what is allowed: small block-powered car on 28/10.5 tires with a cast intake manifold and a single 4bl or dual 4bl carburetors.  If your opponent has a history of swapping engines, the stips might have a clause that allows his rival to view the engine before the race. When all is settled, perhaps a week in advance of the race, the deposits of the two opponents are sent to a third party, a neutral person known as the “DP” man—a further abbreviation for Deposit man. The deposit...
Aluminum repairs – parts restored, appearance improved

Aluminum repairs – parts restored, appearance improved

By Freddie Heaney:   A call from a Muscle car owner arrived out of the blue. He told us there’s an aluminum repair specialist in Doraville, whose work deserves recognition, and if you want to learn about such a service, you won’t find another closer. In Muscle car circles, Doraville, a northern suburb of Atlanta, usually suggests one name: Lamar Walden Automotive. And so it proved to be. Walden’s shop has long been prized for its machining capabilities as well as its engine and car dynamometer resources. But the firm is, perhaps, better known for pioneering performance versions of GM 409 engines of the 1960s and a front-runner in all GM performance engines, including today’s LS variants. The caller was right; their aluminum repairs department is less familiar. What were the motivations? Normally, one doesn’t think of sending car parts to a machine shop for concours d’Elegance restoration, but that’s exactly the kind of work they undertake at this shop. “My Dad, Lamar, started it.” says Rob, “He came up with the process for the many restoration cars he built. And it’s not just repairing and restoring cracked or broken intake manifolds, for there’s a steady flow of transmission casings, alternator housings, valve covers, engine blocks, and bell housings–broken and blemished parts arrive from across the country. Basically, the service includes anything aluminum.” Aluminum intakes are often warped, particularly after being changed from one engine to another. Other common problems in aluminum castings arise through over-tightened bolts that crack the bosses and damage the treaded holes The Process: The repair process begins by dismantling the component and then cleaning...
Joe Hornick: The man who mastered consultancy in racing

Joe Hornick: The man who mastered consultancy in racing

By Bertie S. Brown: At the lower rear corner of the rear wing of 2017 Funny Car National Champion, Robert Hight, a decal displays three letters: JHE, an abbreviation of Joe Hornick Enterprises. Hight won this year’s national championship at Pomona, Calif., and JHE, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, assisted them with technical know-how throughout the year. Since the beginning of this century, Hornick has been the hidden hand in a long series of racing successes. His business model is entirely his own: he offers his company’s complete services to just one racer in each category. Their complete service is an interesting proposition. JHE uses a test pool that serves to advance research and development in race engines with similar characteristics. Let’s say they have four customers running blown alcohol engines in four different racing categories—a blown alcohol pulling tractor, Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car. In the test pool program, each engine runs different components or systems and, in so doing, each race team shares a quarter of the R&D costs and receives the cumulative results from all four. Additionally, they have a base of consulting customers like John Force Racing or Earnhardt Childress Racing. They also have a race engine-builder base. “If an engine builder is an existing valve spring customer,” says Hornick, “I’ll help them with any engine problem at no cost. That’s part of the service we provide as a spring supplier, because we have no consulting customers that compete against our valve spring customers.” “When first starting out and working long hours,” recalls Ernie Elliott, renowned NASCAR race engine tuner,...
A life lived one-quarter mile at a time:

A life lived one-quarter mile at a time:

The story of Bob Ida. By Ray T. Bohacz:   By the time Neil Diamond’s single, “Brooklyn Roads”, made it to the Billboard Top 100 in May of 1968, Bob Ida was already more than a decade into what would eventually become a lifetime of automotive and racing legendary. His journey was inspired by a ’32 Ford hot rod. The one he saw on 79th Street when he was around 12 years old. The same Brooklyn Street that had spawned dreams of castles and kings by the young Mr. Diamond, filled Bob Ida’s mind with thoughts of “what if”: What if the Tucker Corporation had succeeded in business? Would this life of a first-generation Italian-American young man—the son of a Tucker dealer that was in business for only three days—be different? What if a blown 354 Hemi could be successfully installed in an Austin-Healey? What if the camshaft was advanced by three degrees? What if Ida Automotive fails? A modern Comp car throttle-stopping its way down the “thirteen-twenty” with fits and jerks seems a suitable metaphor for his life—even more fittingly, the days that comprise Bob Ida. Ida’s story is one of determination, passion, and talent with the requisite stumbling blocks, heartaches, failures and tears that were not viewed as setbacks but instead growth spurts on the road to destiny. It was America in the 1950s and ’60s where nothing was impossible. It was and is Bob Ida. Does the man make the car or the car make the man? The chance encounter with the ’32 Ford had been both inspirational and challenging, for when he looked at it,...
Showing off new vitality of Slant Six at Mopar Nationals

Showing off new vitality of Slant Six at Mopar Nationals

Contagious qualities embedded at its center – By Freddie Heaney: TorqStorm unveiled their new Slant-6 supercharger kit at this year’s Mopar Nationals held at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, 11-13 August 2017. To its followers, the Chrysler Slant-six is an icon. From the moment the concept settles in the mind, it seems to mark the beginning of a curious adventure; an innovation now almost sixty years old, its appeal endures. Created in 1959 in cast iron with 170cu in displacement and soon after 225ci, its characteristic cylinder block installed at thirty-degrees from vertical extols the virtues of lower center of gravity and diminished hood height. Nor was its production a brief excursion for Chrysler. Offered in various configurations, it served in cars until 1983, in trucks until ’87 and in marine and agricultural applications as well as for industrial use until ’91. Its presence was further distinguished by the production of replacement engines until the year 2000. Initially conceived to fit under the stylish low-line Valiant hood, its familiar semi-recumbent visual consistency not only lowered hood lines but also exploited engine bay space. Most notably, it enabled the water pump to be mounted with a lateral offset, reducing the six-cylinder engine’s length. Efficient exhaust and particularly the intake manifold with its long nearly-equal-length wide radii runners produced uniform air-fuel distribution. But now Torqstorm has pioneered a supercharger, further raising its charm and technical prowess. From a boosted capacity of 6psi to around 12psi—and perhaps more, the TorqStorm could increase the Slant-six’s power output to 700hp. TorqStorm’s Chris Beardsley says, “The Slant-6 probably won’t see that, but if you use...
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